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

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  6,904 ratings  ·  554 reviews
As a society, we are no less obsessed with the immediate than when Eugene Peterson first wrote this Christian classic. If anything, email and the Internet may have intensified our 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 ...more
Paperback, 212 pages
Published July 28th 2000 by IVP Books (first published June 1980)
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Vanessa Dargain Consider it as a self-help book and approach the text from that perspective .
H. Lamar From Chapter 1:

"The essential thing 'in heaven and earth' is . . . that there should be long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results, a…more
From Chapter 1:

"The essential thing 'in heaven and earth' is . . . that there should be long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living."
--Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil(less)

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Average rating 4.23  · 
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Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This, GR friends, is THE BOOK that hauled me up from the Slough of post-retirement Despond some fifteen years ago and put me back firmly on an even keel.

Where our Heart is, therein lies our Duty.

And what a duty! To once again turn our hearts to the task of ascending the hills of Jerusalem, as Jesus did so grimly, at his last Passover.

For these are King David’s Psalms of Ascent - psalms that tell a compelling story of once again putting our shoulders firmly to the wheel, ‘keep(ing) calm and carr
Barnabas Piper
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book really deserves 6 or 7 stars. It is a balm, a kick, a nudge, a lesson, counsel, conversation, realistic, hopeful, and profoundly biblical and beautiful. Peterson is a master of the simple yet profound, the accessible yet expansive. And in that way he reflects the teachings of Jesus. This book is a treasure.
Jun 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
To be brief: this is one of the best books I've ever read. Ever. And I'm so thankful that I read it.
There's no gimmicks here, no easy answers, no quick fixes. This book is saturated in scripture and truth. This will be a new regular re-read, and one I'll suggest and give away to many others.
Tracy Groot
Jul 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I'm convinced there's a time for every book. This one sat on my shelf for about 600 years. I'm not sure what made me take it down, but I did, and I read it, and I loved it. I read it bit by bit, a few pages at a time, because that's how I usually roll with books about Christianity, either the disciplines thereof or the adventure thereof. This book is about the maintenance thereof. It's well-written, inspiring, strengthening, and heartening. It's a book for the long haul, about the long haul, wit ...more
Knowlton Murphy
Mar 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wise, practical, beautiful, and immensely helpful.
Jun 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bible
I thoroughly enjoyed this devotional on Psalms 120-134, and used it for my quiet time. I read the psalm (each chapter begins with the actual text - a big plus to me), the chapter in the book (which focus' on a theme of the Christian life as presented in the psalm), the psalm in my Bible (different translation) and then the African Bible Commentary on the Psalm.

I found this to be a nourishing read. Encouraging. Good. Simple. Principles for Christian life. Not necessary groundbreaking, but walking
Nov 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was so rich... a true treasure. Every believer should read it. I was so challenged and encouraged by Peterson’s words. I am so grateful for his life and his willingness to share what God taught him.
Oct 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bible
I didn't get as much out of this as some of his other stuff I've read, but anything written by Peterson is required reading as far as I'm concerned. I would follow him around his house and write down everything he said if he'd let me.

In this book he teaches through the Psalms of Ascent (120-134). The Psalms are my least favorite book of the Bible because I'm not really an abstract thinker, but Peterson brings them to life. He says "The Psalms are great poetry and have lasted not because they app
Feb 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My favorite thought in the entire book is this: “All the water in all the oceans cannot sink a ship unless it gets inside. Nor can all the trouble in the world harm us unless it gets within us.”

That is a pretty decent summary of the entire book. It’s an honest look at the reality of the current condition of this fallen world, but more importantly, it is a gentle (but insistent) reminder that we are entirely and constantly surrounded, kept afloat, and protected by the presence of our powerful God
Jack Bobo
Dec 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nuggets and nuggets and nuggets of wisdom
Kenny Smith
Feb 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Great reminder that we are pilgrims on a long, slow, rugged faith journey and God has given us the way, Jesus Christ. I really like how EP writes, e.g., “Psalm 120 is the decision to take one way over the other. It is the turning point marking the transition from a dreamy nostalgia for a better life to a rugged pilgrimage of discipleship in faith, from complaining about how bad things are to pursuing all things good.” and “Everyone who travels the road of faith requires assistance from time to t ...more
Mary Pickens
Sep 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book wasn’t what I was expecting but I really enjoyed it. I thought it would be an instruction on how to disciple others. Instead it was a simple journey through the Psalms of Ascents (Psalms 120-134). A great book for thinking on, processing, and meditating on scripture. I’d love to read it again with another person or in a group to discuss. Paired this book with walking and listening to Psalms 120-134.
Aaron Frasier`
Jun 29, 2019 rated it liked it
I love the concept of the title of this book and it’s something I have to remind myself of regularly. Following Jesus is not a quick and easy weekend experience. It is a long lifetime process of going in the same direction which is often difficult. I was a little surprised to find out Peterson took this idea from a Friedrich Nietzsche quote, who was by no means a Christian. This book looks at the Psalms of Ascent. They are Psalms 120-134. The Jews would sing these psalms as they climbed (ascende ...more
Feb 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book is phenomenal. Perhaps it came at exactly the right moment in my faith and my appreciation for artistic writing style, but I loved it and would now rate it as one of my top 5 favorite books ever. Peterson writes beautifully, and with clarity, using the Psalms of Ascent as springboards to discuss aspects of long-term discipleship. The result is an honest assessment of the joys and tribulations of a walk with Christ. He does not candy-coat the faith or make apologies for sin, but instead ...more
Apr 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I bought this book when it was celebrating 20 years in print. I finally read it now that it is celebrating 40 years in print. Why did I wait so long?

This is an incredibly insightful book that applies the Psalms of Ascent to Christian discipleship. It is an amazing work. Far too much to describe here. But, if you've read anything by Eugene Peterson, you know his writing style and his spiritual insight. This book, which was apparently his first, delivers both readability and insight into living th
Katie Krombein
Mar 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book took me longer than others, because I wanted to think about the individual sections a little longer. Each chapter is another of the Psalms of Ascent, and he uses the Message version of them. He picks a theme for each psalm and titles the chapter accordingly, with the vision of the Christian life being the interplay of scripture and prayer, which outworks across a lifetime (long obedience).

Some bits I was thinking about:
Repentance (Ps 120): p. 27: "Christian consciousness begins in the
David Zimmerman
Jul 20, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I decided to read this because I had heard a favorite speaker reference it several times over the years. I have to admit, it wasn’t at all what I expected. Based on the title, I presumed It was about discipleship, as one might write about soul winning, or Bible study … a practical “How To” tips on being a better follower of Christ. Instead, this is a practical, mostly expository study of the Psalms of Degrees (120-134). The author, using his own “translation” of these psalms, has written an enga ...more
Rachel B
Jun 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, christian
This book is based on the Songs of Ascent (Psalms 120-134). Each chapter focuses on one of these psalms and an aspect of the Christian life to which it speaks. (Except for the first chapter, based on Jeremiah 12:5.) The topics are: Discipleship, Repentance, Providence, Worship, Service, Help, Security, Joy, Work, Happiness, Perseverance, Hope, Humility, Obedience, Community, Blessing.

Overall, I quite liked this book. I loved Peterson's emphasis that the Christian life is not based on our emotion
An overall decent book, but one I would recommend to people looking to disciple others. New Christians especially should wait on this book and read something else.

Pro: Peterson delves into Psalms that are pretty well-known but little discussed or preached on, and many of his insights are fascinating.

Con: There is very little talk of Jesus or the gospel, and while I know you can write books about God that don't talk about these subjects (because there is so much to talk about when it comes to Go
Nathan Seale
Jan 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is a treasure on discipleship. I can't recommend it enough; I just finished reading through it with friend. In the book, Peterson examines the Ascent Psalms (Ps 120-134) and gleans truths from each chapter about living and walking the Christian life.

We live in a society that looks for the quick solution for every situation, and Peterson reminds us that Discipleship is not a quick solution but a lifelong journey. So dive in, read slowly, let Scripture mold and change you as you seek to
Feb 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
This was my first time reading a Eugene Peterson book and I absolutely loved it. His heart for the pastoral care of people just flows from the pages. It was a joy to read (I especially loved the last five chapters). He speaks in the Epilogue about how the cornerstone of Christian spirituality is "Scriptureprayer or Prayerscripture" and I am confident he was a living example of how existing deeply in prayer and Scripture changes our relationship with God. ...more
Troy Solava
Feb 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Peterson writes simply and beautifully. He writes to the common person- he knows their doubts and concerns and aspirations. He is empathetic. He also writes poetically- his use of imagery and language is brilliant.

This work is a wonderful book on what it means to follow Jesus. Sanctifying look at 15 psalms.
Nov 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Can I give it six stars? I’ve had this book for a while and was prompted to read it after Eugene Peterson’s passing. It was wonderful. Both encouraging and life-giving, Peterson is a brilliant writer who makes the Bible accessible without losing any of the meaning.
Alex Strohschein

I began reading this modern spiritual classic as soon as I heard that Eugene Peterson was in hospice, with the forecast that he only had a few months left, hoping to finish this before the end; within a few days he had passed away.

I expected to give this a higher rating, though when I purchased it my friend told me her own reaction to it had been rather subdued. I enjoyed many of Peterson's observations, his unrelenting declaration that God is for us, that He stoops to be among us, that Ch
Alan Briggs
Jun 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It's a classic for a reason. Solid, like every Eugene does and writes. ...more
Laurie Reyes
Nov 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a dear friend.
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I like Eugene Peterson. He states things in a way that I can easily understand, and I found this book to be really helpful to my understanding of Christian discipleship. Each chapter addresses a particular psalm and an accompanying concept related to life in Christ. I'd highly recommend reading this in a group so you can discuss with others. But even if you read it alone, as I did, take it in slow gulps--2-3 chapters at a time so you can digest it. Excellent material. ...more
Apr 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society by Eugene Peterson, is a sixteen-chapter book which, while the scope is limited to fifteen Psalms of ascent, the broader purpose of discipleship is not limited in its scope. Indeed, Peterson calls this small volume, writing which has characterized “everything I’ve written since.” This idea is important because through this book one can see Peterson’s heart for “men and women who believingly follow Jesus” to be “best guide ...more
Jul 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Good writing and a few great quotes. I appreciate some of what Peterson has to say about discipleship, but he doesn't really engage with the text (and the exclusive use of The Message throughout didn't help). It's more of a "riffing" on some Psalms. ...more
Jared Totten
Aug 11, 2011 rated it it was ok
Peterson wrote A Long Obedience in the Same Direction thirty years ago and it's fifteen chapters are based on the Songs of Ascents (Psalms 120-134), Psalms that were most likely sung as Jewish pilgrims made their ascent to Jerusalem for their holy feast days.

Each chapter begins with one of the fifteen Psalms in The Message translation which provides the framework for the chapter. In fact, it was actually the work done during the writing of this book that, as Eugene says, "provided the impetus fo
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Eugene H. Peterson was a pastor, scholar, author, and poet. For many years he was James M. Houston Professor of Spiritual Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. He also served as founding pastor of Christ Our King Presbyterian Church in Bel Air, Maryland. He had written over thirty books, including Gold Medallion Book Award winner The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language ...more

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