of a Godly Man.
Edition. By R. Kent Hughes.
Crossway Books, 2001, 304 pp.
leadership gurus enjoy purveying motivational ideas, inspiring anecdotes and
compelling success stories to readers who hunger for such saccharine encrusted
books. They are attracted, especially to authors who espouse gain without
pain, and better still, the promise of quick results! Such writers are in
demand because they are disarmingly sanguine about their lustrous principles.
It should not come as a surprise then, that they are predictably taciturn when
it comes to the subject of discipline. The reason is obvious. Discipline
requires effort, self-control, self-denial, determination, perseverance and
single-mindedness. Most people are fearful of submitting themselves to any
form of regimen that restricts their freedom or requires personal sacrifices.
While effort is an integral and indispensable part of discipline, it will not
necessarily consign a person to a life of miserable enslavement, if one uses
it judiciously. It will, in fact, eventually awaken the person to a new
consciousness of his or hr own spirituality and personhood.
book like Disciplines of a Godly Man has its hidden hazards. Besides risking a
small readership, the writer may be misread as a self-righteous manipulator
who uses guilt as a honing instrument, or as an inflexible dogmatist who
promotes legalism. Kent Hughes, himself a pastor, is well aware of such
dangers. He explains that “the
difference is one of motivation: legalism is self-centred; discipline is God-centred.
The legalistic heart says, ‘I will do this thing to gain merit with God.’
The disciplined heart says, ‘I will do this thing because I love God and
want to please Him.’ There is an infinite difference between the motivation
of legalism and discipline” (p. 15).
The title of
the book offers a preparatory hint of its content and purpose. It directs
one's attention to the fact that men are less spiritually inclined and
disciplined than women (pp. 15, 84, 179) and disciplined Christian lives are a
rarity these days given the consumerist “McChristian” mentality of many
"who exist as nomadic hitchhikers without accountability, without
discipline, without discipleship” (p 170). Kent’s main intent is to break
the discomfiting nonchalance towards one’s spirituality because “we cannot
excuse ourselves by saying this has always been the case” (p. 15).
Discipline is invasive and meant to change this unacceptable status
addresses four major areas of one’s life that include relationships, soul,
character and ministry. These four areas encompass the 17 different
disciplines of purity, marriage, fatherhood, friendship, mind, devotion,
prayer, worship, integrity, tongue, work, perseverance, church, leadership,
giving, witness and ministry. If the reader does not find the list
intimidating, then perhaps, he will be discouraged by the number of
prescriptive “do this” injunctions, because
“each of the seventeen headings contains an average of seven recommended
disciplines – which amounts to over 100 ‘do’s!’” (P 224). Here,
Kent is caught within the barbs of an unenviable dilemma. Reducing the
number of disciplines and “do” list, will make the book look like a
half-hearted attempt to wake up the entrenched mind-set of the majority.
Leaving the seemingly monstrous number of "do's" intact could lead
readers to turn the book into a “Draconian structure for a harsh legalistic
hybrid” (p 224). His risky approach is precariously double-edged. It could
help the reader to work out a “spiritual sweat” (p 14) in his cultivation
of godliness or it could repel the reader from even wanting to try. The
inherent strength of the book may well be its potential weakness. The reader
is left to make that judgment.
comes with study questions at the end of each chapter. Unfortunately, and
perhaps ironically, the reader may not have the discipline to work through
those questions The questions are mainly self-evaluative and the exercise
requires concentration and honesty. The
recommendation is to read this book with another person or a group if one
desires to establish some form of personal accountability. The reviewer has
personally worked through this book with two pastors.
The book also
comes with a very useful “Resources” section. The resources provide
practical aids like the M’Cheyne’s Calendar for Daily Readings, Reading
Through the Bible, Topical Guide to Daily Devotional Bible Reading in a Year,
Hymns for Personal Adoration and Praise, and other helpful resources.
This book was
first published in 1991. It appears that there is still a demand for it as the
publishers commemorated its 10th year with the revised edition. The
new edition has two additional features. It has a section on the discipline,
"perseverance" and a resource guide regarding the "tongue"
based on the book of Proverbs. The value of the book is as good as the
reader’s readiness to follow its disciplines and “do list.”
If you are
ready to take the challenge, do not borrow it. Buy it!
At chapel on
31st March, Mr Song Cheng Hock spoke on the true essence of "the good
life" based on Solomon's investigations in Ecclesiastes 1:12-2:26.
Solomon's experiential research on the commonly perceived components of the
good life (i.e. wisdom, worldly pleasures, worthy values and work) draws a
dismal conclusion - it is an illusion. However, in an apparent dramatic
turn-around, he states that "a man can do nothing better than to eat and
drink and find satisfaction in his work" (2:24a). The answer is, of
themselves those desired components do not provide meaning. What matters is
our understanding of them. They have to be enjoyed as a gift from God,
"for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?" (2:25).
for the month of April will be
Apr - Dr Philip Satterthwaite
Apr - Dr Aquila Lee
Apr - Mr Lewis Lew
Apr - Mr Alan Goei
INTRODUCING OUR FACULTY MEMBER
Song Cheng Hock served as a pastor for 16 years before making the vocational
change to be a Christian counsellor. He received his theological training from
the Singapore Bible College (B.Th.,Hons) and the Australian College of
Theology (M.A.), and did his training in counselling with the University of
South Australia (M.Soc.Sc. in Counselling).
extensive experience in pastoral work has given him the passion to support and
journey with those needing assistance in coping with life's difficulties and
challenges. He prefers an integrative approach to counselling and does not
restrict himself to one particular model of counselling as no person or
problem is ever the same and no counselling model is complete in itself.
Besides counselling, he also regularly conducts seminars on pre-marital
preparation, marriage enrichment, parenting, personal effectiveness, stress
and anger management.
Mr Song enjoys outdoor activities (walking and cycling), bowling, watching Chinese opera and reading. His wife Nellie works in a pre-school and they both have four children - Ben (23), Joy (19), Mark (17) and Luke (15). As a family, they enjoy playing board games together.
A Blessed Birthday to ...
Lai Siew Lian 29/3
Jeanie Kou 29/3
Audrey Lao 29/3
Lim Hock Bin 30/3
Koh Tse Yuen 30/3
Lee Hui Ling 31/3
Wong Kai Yun 31/3
Benny Fang 1/4
Johnson Tan 1/4
Rupert Tsang 2/4
Genevieve Goh 5/4
David Lim 6/4
Ng Geok Har 7/4
Emily Wan 8/4
Alan Tay 10/4
Peter Wong 10/4
Jimmy Boh 10/4
Ms Tan Khai Nee 10/4