Twelve Christian leaders respond.

What hook has influenced you most in recent years?
Some surprising answers emerged when CT asked this question of a wide ranging group of Christians.

WILLIAM H. LESLIERichard Foster, Celebration of Discipline (Harper & Row, 1978). Dr. Leslie is pastor of the LaSalle Street Church in Chicago and a specialist on the role of the church in urban areas.

A thorough “burnout” early in 1979. during which I felt “raped” both by God and his friends, pressed me into moving into a new place. As an activist pastor in a crisis-oriented inner-city parish, my pursuit of an intimate relationship with the Lord was frequently put aside in order to care for very pressing needs. Then I hit rock bottom—completely depleted, with nothing to give.

A visit with a nun and Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline profoundly altered my life, and brought into better balance the outward and inward journeys. The nun made an analogy between my experience and a farm pump. She reflected that I had spoken as if everyone I encountered in life took the handle and pumped off resources, without giving anything back. My problem, she said, was that the pipe attached to the pump was too short, reaching only to the surface water, which was soon pumped dry. A longer pipe would connect with the cool, inexhaustible underground streams that never run dry. Connecting this image with Jesus’ saying in John 7:39 where he envisaged “streams of living water which would flow from within.” she issued a clear call to undertake an inward journey.

About that time. I was given a copy of Richard Foster’s book describing 12 historic Christian disciplines associated with both the inner and outer journeys. What I now know to be the best “port-of-entry” book ...

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