Posts Tagged ‘Dallas Willard’
“He bore our sins that we might die to sin and live for justice. By his wounds we are healed.”
♦ Psalm 146
♦ Gospel - John 17:20-26
“Jesus died to gather into one family all the children of God who are scattered abroad.”
Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow. Come now, let us argue it out, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. -Isaiah 1:16-18
O LORD, you are the God of our salvation. Make known to us your ways; teach us your paths, and lead us to your truth. Give answer as we pray: LORD have mercy; for all of us called to new life in Christ, that our willingness to live for others brings hope to our world.
A thoughtless or uninformed theology grips and guides our life with just as great a force as does a thoughtful and informed one. -Dallas Willard
It boggles my mind to consider the great reconciliation that God offers to us. We are children of the divine; each of us born with DNA of the immortal One, the Great Ancient of Days. Though we are fallen, His plan to provide a means of restoration and right standing is complete—justice has been meted out. I long for God’s Kingdom to come in the full. At times my spirit feels tired, like a child on a long road trip wondering “are we there yet?” The scenery of this life as it passes is often beautiful and the moments shared with loved ones are cherished, but the promises of eternity in the presence of God, living with the host of unified creation is the hope that has been seared into my soul.
While I wait, I will continue on as a faithful foot soldier for my Savior-King. I will offer myself up to Him surrendered in whole to His will, seeking His counsel to understand and to learn more of His way. My prayer to Him: “Make me your own, King Jesus, transform me into your image and likeness. Teach me who I really am—expose and remove all the false identities I have assumed. Show me the false notions and improper ideas that I have about you. Teach me truth, so I might walk in it.” These are the things I pray. Amen.
Praise the LORD! Let all that I am praise the LORD. I will praise the LORD as long as I live. I will sing praises to my God even with my dying breath. Put no trust in the powerful, mere mortals in whom there is no help… But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in the LORD their God. He made the heavens and all the earth, the sea, and everything in them. He keeps every promise forever. He gives justice to the oppressed and sets the captive free. He is the one who feeds the hungry and opens the eyes of the blind. He raises up those who are under heavy loads. The LORD will reign forever. He will be my God forever.
Book Review: The Kingdom Life
By: Alan Andrews; Gen. Ed.
Publisher: NavPress ISBN: 9781600062803
I like this book; I like this book a lot. I don’t fully understand why it doesn’t seem to have gained more traction or popularity on the “spiritual formation” reading list. Maybe this book is more popular than I imagine, but as a person who stays fairly up-to-date with books circulating in the field of Christian education and spiritual formation, I simply haven’t heard a lot about The Kingdom Life. If my suspicions are correct, it is sad because I believe this is an excellent piece of work and I plan to use it as a primary resource for teaching the basic elements of spiritual formation. I have not found a single resource that can match the elements of process and theology contained in this one book. Best of all, I believe it is accessible to every person wherever they may be in there spiritual journey and wherever they may be in their maturity thereof. I have been working on curriculum and study presentation where I plan to use this book for both 101 and 201 level teaching and it is for that reason I am baffled that more hasn’t been written or reviewed for this book.
The contributors of this book are a veritable gold mine of experience and knowledge, many of them having authored books individually on various topics and teaching involving spiritual formation. This collaborative work came out of the formation of a group named TACT (Theological and Cultural Thinkers Group). It seems the group experienced a number of growing pains, but through perseverance and humility was able to come together with diversity of background, experience, and tradition to compile this book which represents a generalized common experience for believers on the path of spiritual formation.
The book is separated into two main sections; Part One consists of the Process Elements of Spiritual Formation and Part Two consisting of the Theological Elements of Spiritual Formation. Each section features specific “elements” which lend shape and substance to the theology and the process of spiritual formation. For instance, under the process elements there are chapter titles discussing the Gospel of the Kingdom as it pertains to spiritual formation, communities of grace, and transformation. While the theological elements are discussed in chapters titled The Trinity, the Holy Spirit, and The Bible to name a few.
At the end of each chapter there are questions and points for reflection and discussion. While these can be used for individual study and edification, I believe a small group or class setting would be most beneficial allowing for social interaction and diverse points of view (this in my personal opinion). Also included at the end of each chapter is a list of titles for further reading relevant to the material covered in said chapter. Finally, the book is very well cited and documented with resource material; this annotated index is included in a “notes” section at the end of the book.
As I mentioned, I don’t know why I haven’t heard more about The Kingdom Life…perhaps it may be that it reads somewhat like a textbook and that may be true, but it should not be discounted or put aside for those reasons. This book is full of great information and resource material and would be an invaluable addition to the library of anyone working in the area of discipleship.
By: Trevor Hudson Publisher: IVP Books ISBN: 9780830810925
This is a superb book. Not only is it insightful with its presentation of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ, it provides deeply life-changing exercises and practices that will help any “follower” along the way. I have read and worked through the exercises of many, many spiritual formation/disciplines books and I think this one has been one of my favorites. Maybe it was the way the author, Trevor Hudson, writes… maybe it is the formatting of the book, or maybe it is simply the exercises themselves. Maybe it is all of the above. In any event, this has been a delightful read. I continue to think about the concepts introduced in the exercises, and as such, my thoughts are continually brought back to focus on the object of those thoughts, Christ Jesus. I believe this is the resultant objective of the book, Discovering our Spiritual Identity, and that would qualify it as a success to my thinking.
The book is sectioned into sixteen sessions consisting of an objective idea (aka Holy Experiment), a reading to introduce the idea-experiment, a written assignment or two, and practical assignments with discussion points. While the book (workbook) is certainly capable for individuals, I think it would be best served working through it with a partner or in a group of 3-5 people.
As I mentioned, I have participated in workbooks teaching spiritual disciplines and I have taught them in groups as well. I am thankful for this resource as it has provided me with another means of expressing with “utter simplicity and clarity the profound truths of Jesus Christ” (Dallas Willard).
Trevor Hudson concludes the workbook and exercises with pastoral gentleness, but somber warning and reminder; “Spiritual disciplines are not a way of earning salvation. They do not accumulate for us any heavenly merit or spiritual capital. Our acceptance by God, as we are, rests on grace alone.” This is our reminder, but the reality of God’s grace does not exclude the responsibility of those who are recipients of His grace from being diligent in the exercises of their growth to maturity as disciples of Christ. In that, Hudson shares the summary of activities worked through the book as spiritual commitments that will prove helpful in translating the life of Christ into “our” lives with specific and concrete terms. Ultimately, this translation is the formation of the Christ-life in every aspect and arena of life.
As always, I am grateful for books that are annotated well and provide a bibliography for additional research and reading; Hudson has included a list of both at the end of the book. I have marked this book and placed it alongside my most treasured resource material in my library for my own edification and for teaching others. I recommend it very highly.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Intervarsity Press to read and post a review on my site. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
The Jesus Way Conference – part 4
Recovering the lost content of discipleship… (Final Session and going home)
So, let me tell you about the awesome blessing my King showered upon me today before I share highlights from this morning’s final worship session. Okay…we dismiss from the conference sessions and I head back to the hotel to complete check-out. I get my bags and make my way outside to find a ride (either shuttle or taxi) to the airport. I had saved $20 for this ride; I knew the shuttle cost eighteen dollars, but thought I’d check taxi rates only to find they were $22 – $25. I started back inside the hotel to order up a shuttle when I heard a gent holler out his window, “Hey need a ride somewhere?” As it turned out it was a fellow pastor at the conference who lives in San Antonio and he offered me a ride to the airport at no cost, AND I got a wonderful conversation about what Jesus was doing in his life and ministry (pray that God would bless and lead his church plant – his name is Jerry www.bluejeanchurch.org). Thank you, Jerry, for the ride and the Jesus conversation!
Next, I arrive at the airport and get through check-in and security; I stop at the gates display to find my flight when I look over my shoulder to see Pastor Joshua Choonmin Kang standing next to me! I turned to him grabbing his hand and thanked him for his ministry and blessed him for being an inspiration and mentor in my own spiritual journey. It was wonderful to meet and offer a blessing to him. I’m floating along pretty good about now and thought I’d grab a salad or something with the $20 that Jerry saved me, so I stopped by one of the many eateries in the airport. I ordered up a salad and looked for a place to sit when my eyes locked on Eugene and Jan Peterson! I stepped over to their table and asked them if I could join them for lunch. We had a wonderful conversation reflecting on the awesome morning of shared worship we had just left. We talked about family, ministry, and the Jesus Way! What an incredible joy to be able to converse with these incredibly gracious and humble servants of God; so winsome and down to earth. I learned a lot just sitting with them for the short time we had; both of them asking me questions about my family, my ministry, my children, and genuinely caring enough to try to take the time to get to know me for a minute…just a Jesus minute…experiencing the unity that comes from the kingdom of God…here…now. Man! The gift of conversation and caring is enormous as it relates to “what God is doing in the here and now…” I thank you, Lord Jesus, for this lesson; and thank you for the privilege of it coming from the Petersons.
Ok, so back to the final session…
We started this morning with liturgical readings, singing, and chanting ending in a celebratory rousing Celtic praise chorus with interpretive dance. I was simply blown away by the presence of God delighting in the worship of His people. I could barely utter words as tears just streamed down my face shouting hallelujahs and “I Worship You” to my King. Following our worship we heard testimony from Juanita Rasmus. One word; outstanding! I was touched by her authenticity and “rawness” as she let 2500 people peer into her soul and see some of the glorious work that God has done in it. Juanita introduced John Ortberg who shared some concluding thoughts about The Jesus Way. Oh my…was this some good stuff; again, my mind just started working double-time and my thoughts were fused with the words that John was sharing. While he didn’t use these words, the sum of his message was “i”Crucified, and for that, I can relate (no wonder my soul was resonating with his words). What follows is my interpretation of John’s words which my heart seized upon. If I have taken anything out of context, I apologize, but this is what my soul was hearing as it was “cracked” and the life of Jesus was flooding in. My notes follow:
You are not your project; you are God’s project. The Jesus Way is the way of the Spirit. His message is icrucified!!! I love you Jesus!
Out of your belly will flow living water-the belly is a deep place; it is the most inner place…the locus of our soul. To be cut off from the Spirit of God is to be on the cusp of death. The Bible begins with the story of a river and the Bible ends with a story of a river. JESUS IS THE RIVER! Jesus desires to run through us.
Our culture is capable of enormous deception…our church is part of our culture. What does that say? How often do we quench the Spirit of God when He is leading? When we shut Him out even a little, then we shut Him out a lot…we grieve, offend, and quench the Spirit.
Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and all your strength…
People should have the freedom to experiment with their spirituality and the disciplines because spiritual maturity is handcrafted by God and not mass produced by man.
A “round table” conversation with Chris Webb, Eugene Peterson, Dallas Willard, Richard Foster, and John Ortberg followed John’s talk on The Jesus Way. We ended the session with more worship with the community; an awesome ending to an awesome 4 days! I have much to take home and God has already started new work in my soul. I fully submit to Him with renewed vigor. God, Lord Jesus, may it be unto your servant (me) according to Your will. Always, and forever, I am Yours to do with as You will. Love, Your servant, Jeff. [Amen]
The Jesus Way Conference
Recovering the lost content of discipleship…
I arrived in San Antonio, TX for the Jesus Way conference on Sunday around noon. It’s now 9:30pm on Monday night after the first FULL day of main sessions and workshops. The metaphor of “taking a sip from a fire hose” is an understatement for what I’ve experienced the last 36 hours or so. I’m still digesting the sessions and information that has been shared. I think the greatest joy I’ve had so far is the true ecumenical heart and unity that I have sensed among all the people. This is an international conference, people are attending from all points of the globe; even more impressive is how fully represented the Christian people of God are. Every denomination and flavor of Christianity is here…I think. Anyway, to the sessions.
Sunday night was our welcome and first session; our speaker was Eugene Peterson author of the Jesus Way. Eugene was introduced by Max Lucado who shared a scripture meditation and beautiful story illustration around Jesus’ calming of the seas from the gospels. I can’t say what I enjoyed most from Eugene’s talk because I just love listening to him. He is one of my favorite Christian writers of all time, certainly my most favorite living authors. The general session ended and we adjourned to our respective hotels. While waiting in line for the elevator, I had the privilege to meet Eugene and his wife, Jan, they are very charming people.
I have written here on numerous occasions about Joshua Choonmin Kang and his wonderful book Deep-Rooted in Christ. This morning I had the joy of getting to hear Pastor Kang myself; he was the lead-off speaker for our first general session today. Although Pastor Kang speaks English, we were told he is more comfortable speaking Korean. I was able to hear his talk twice today…once in Korean and once through an interpreter and it was great both occasions. The topic of his talk was Abraham and the Jesus Way. The highlights of the talk were the correlation of Mt. Moriah to Sinai to Mt. of Transfiguration to Golgotha. Another point brought out during the talk was the length of Abraham’s journey and the connection with spiritual formation. Pastor Kang said; “spiritual formation doesn’t happen in a day, it takes a lifetime…” I’ve got lots of notes that mean a lot to me, but the context of their content is all in my head; for that, I recommend (again) Deep-Rooted in Christ by Joshua Choonmin Kang.
My workshops were awesome! My regret is that I will only be able to attend four workshops and there is a huge amount of them offered. My first workshop was titled “How we lost the way: Learning from the Historical Neglect of Spiritual Formation.” One word: Fabulous! I loved this session and found it fascinating as well as enlightening. I have a few leads on some more resources and reading I would like to investigate to help me understand this more. The importance of it will be helpful in reaching the people God has called me to minister to.
Workshop number two was; “Entering God’s World: The Kingdom of God as an Ever-present Reality.” It was led by Glandion Carney. The most delightful part of this session was the openness of people sharing their personal experiences with and in the living of God’s Kingdom. After the session, I was able to speak personally with Glandion about training as a spiritual director. God is so good!
The next general session was led by Randy Frazee and Chris Webb. Chris serves as the current president of the Renovare’ Group. He spoke with us about “imperfection,” David, and the Jesus Way. The last general session of the day was introduced by James Bryan Smith and led by Dallas Willard. Uhhhhh, I’ve got scratched notes and furious short-hand things all over my notebook. Dr. Willard shared with us about “Servanthood” and the Jesus Way. LOTS of awesome stuff from Dallas during this session.
I know I haven’t said a lot about the conference specifically, but I’m having a wonderful time enjoying the people of God and great inspiration. I look forward to the next couple days. Live the Kingdom [Amen]
I received this book about a week ago after I managed to make the cutoff for a group that had been asked to review it. I am so glad that I responded to the invitation! A Faith and Culture Devotional isn’t just another devotional style reading; I found this out within the first few minutes of scanning through and browsing the book. I’ve read (and continue to read) devotional compilations as a regular part of my spiritual disciplines; these compilations, in my experience, have taken many different forms and styles. The work that has been completed by Kelly Monroe Kullberg and Lael Arrington with the Faith and Culture Devotional follows a very unique approach as they endeavor to help the reader “find God” in the everyday existence that is our spiritual journey through life.
Allow me to share a few specifics; the devotional is bundled in a collection of readings spanning fifteen weeks. The subject and context of the readings are gathered from art, science, life, history, and theology to name just a few, as the subtitle implies. As diverse as the topics and subject matter are, the contributing authors are equally so. The readings are short, probably taking no longer than 5 minutes for even the most deliberate of readers. At the end of each reading follow a few reflective discussion points that serve equally well for the individual or a group. Read the rest of this entry »