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A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society (1980)

de Eugene H. Peterson

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Society today is no less obsessed with the immediate than when Eugene Peterson first wrote this Christian classic. If anything, email and the Internet may have intensified the quest for the quick fix. But Peterson's time-tested prescription for discipleship remains the same: a long obedience in the same direction. Tucked away in the Hebrew Psalter, Peterson discovered 'an old dog-eared songbook,' the Songs of Ascents that were sung by pilgrims on their way up to worship in Jerusalem. In these songs (Psalms 120-134), Peterson finds encouragement for modern pilgrims as they learn to grow in worship, service, joy, work, happiness, humility, community, and blessing.… (mais)
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"Every day contemporary culture invites me to rush about in a hundred different directions that tear at my soul. I have found Eugene Peterson to have no patience for such crazed busyness. Instead, he shows me how to stay focused on the long, biblical direction home to God." (Craig Barnes, author of When God Interrupts)

"I've never read a book by Eugene Peterson that didn't stir and challenge me." ( Max Lucado, author of In the Grip of Grace)

"I thank God for A Long Obedience. It is a pioneer message, first coming to us at a time when no one was talking about either 'long' or 'obedience.' And while, thankfully, others have added their voices in the intervening years, A Long Obedience retains its prophetic edge . . . . Rooted in the ancient psalmist's Songs of Ascents, it invites us to journey with Jesus into the rich spiritual landscape of 'righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.'" (Richard J. Foster, author of Celebration of Discipline)

"There is a clean, bright rigor to honest life before God. Burnishing the language of the Psalms, Eugene Peterson makes that life sing like a taut wire. A long obedience is the only path of discipleship to Jesus, and this is a message we desperately need to hear and implement today."
(Dallas Willard, author of The Divine Conspiracy)

"Into a world that does its best to deceive us into believing that everything changes, God speaks his unchanging Word. Ours is a time and a world that needs to hear in fresh ways all that that Word might mean if we would only listen. Eugene has listened. In this book he tells us all that he has heard about those fixed facets of that unchanging Word." (-- Michael Card, recording artist)
  staylorlib | Jul 20, 2021 |
Commentary on Songs of Ascent. Practical thoughts on how we live lives in the midst of a fallen world. ( )
  memlhd | Jan 23, 2016 |
Commentary on Songs of Ascent. Practical thoughts on how we live lives in the midst of a fallen world. ( )
  memlhd | Jan 23, 2016 |
Highly Recommended. ( )
  delenburg | Jan 3, 2015 |
Seventeen publishers rejected this manuscript.

Peterson recalls being informed that "there was no 'niche' in the market, ... that it was irrelevant to the concerns of contemporary North Americans" (202). Who wants to purchase a book on Spiritual Growth with the words "long" and "obedience" in the title, anyway?

Fortunately, InterVarsity Press took a risk and published a book that spoke honestly about Spiritual Growth. Life with God is not a sprint—it's a decade-long path of obedience. Whether or not the message is popular is irrelevant: it's true.

This book is a meditation on the 15 Songs of Ascent (Psalms 120-134). Even at the beginning of his career, Peterson had a knack for taking ancient scripture with all its obscurity (Kedar? Meshech?) and making it deeply understandable and personal. As a pastor, I'm amazed at his skill. The modern applications he explores are so obvious in hindsight—but it takes someone like Peterson to point them out in the first place.

I don't recommend many devotional works. I'm probably too cynical, but I find that most of Christendom's best-sellers are little more than pop-psychology with a Christian veneer. This is not the case with Peterson. A Long Obedience in the Same Direction runs counter to the spirit of our age even as it aligns with God's paths.

I suspect this is one of those books that will be reprinted in perpetuity for the life of the church. ( )
2 vote StephenBarkley | Mar 29, 2013 |
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Society today is no less obsessed with the immediate than when Eugene Peterson first wrote this Christian classic. If anything, email and the Internet may have intensified the quest for the quick fix. But Peterson's time-tested prescription for discipleship remains the same: a long obedience in the same direction. Tucked away in the Hebrew Psalter, Peterson discovered 'an old dog-eared songbook,' the Songs of Ascents that were sung by pilgrims on their way up to worship in Jerusalem. In these songs (Psalms 120-134), Peterson finds encouragement for modern pilgrims as they learn to grow in worship, service, joy, work, happiness, humility, community, and blessing.

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