For the past year or so I’ve been going back through a lot of the writings and teachings of Dallas Willard (some great messages are available on YouTube and on this website). His teachings have impacted my life more than any other writer outside of the Bible. This week I’ve been re listening to a biography of sorts called Eternal Living: Reflections on Dallas Willard’s Teaching on Faith and Formation. With that in mind, this is a re-post from a few years ago that highlights an incredible trilogy of books.
This trilogy of books by the late Dallas Willard focuses on the spiritual life. The first one was written to make real and clear the intimate quality of life with God as “a conversational relationship with God.” Since that is something that doesn’t automatically happen, the second book “explains how disciples or students of Jesus can effectively interact with the grace and spirit of God to access fully the provisions and character intended for us in the gift of eternal life.” The third book presents “discipleship to Jesus as the very heart of the gospel.” This is a must read trilogy (I hope you’ll invest the time to check them out — not easy reads but well worth the time and effort):
“Being close to God means communicating with him, and this communication is a two-way street—telling him what is on our hearts in prayer and hearing and understanding what he is saying to us. It is this second half of our conversation with God that is so important but can also be so difficult. How can you be sure God is speaking to you? The key is to focus not so much on individual actions and decisions as on building our personal relationship with our Creator. Hearing God is but one dimension of a richly interactive relationship, and obtaining guidance is but one facet of hearing God. This updated classic, originally published in 1984 as In Search of Guidance, provides rich spiritual insight into how we can hear God’s voice clearly and develop an intimate partnership with him in the work of his kingdom. The reader will learn that divine guidance goes beyond the anxious, sometimes neurotic, quest for “what God wants me to do,” to having a critical role in my becoming a responsible co-laborer with Him, the kind of person He expects me to be. God is inviting us to reorganize our lives in a way that keeps us walking so closely with him that it becomes easy to know his mind and hear his voice.”
“To perform appropriately in the moment when you’re “on the spot” you must be preparing when you’re “off the spot.” We understand this principle when we think of great athletes or musicians, but rarely see it’s application in our own efforts to be a “good Christian.” The Spirit of the Disciplines presents a way of living that enables ordinary men and women to join with God and realize their highest aspirations of well-being and -doing. The key to this self-transformation resides in the practice of the spiritual disciplines. Readers will learn why the disciplines work and how their practice affirms human life to the fullest.The Spirit of the Disciplines places solitude and silence, prayer, simple and sacrificial living, meditation upon God’s word and ways, and service to others at the heart of the gospel. “We can increasingly resemble Christ in character and in power by following him in his overall style of life … This was the method of his earliest disciples, and it is as valid today as it was then.” After all, if Jesus regularly engaged in these activities, how is it that we simple humans expect to get by without them? To enter into the spirit and practice of the disciplines is to move toward the authentic life of faith in Christ and active participation in the Kingdom of God around us.”
“Is Jesus part of your daily life—here and now? Or, by failing to take him seriously, have you relegated him to the realm of the “hereafter”? In The Divine Conspiracy, biblical teaching, popular culture, science, scholarship, and spiritual practice are weaved together to capture the central insights of Christ’s teachings in a fresh way and show the necessity of profound changes in how we view our lives and faith. Christians for the most part consider the primary function of Christianity to be admittance to heaven. But a faith that guarantees a satisfactory afterlife, yet has absolutely no impact on life in the here and now, is nothing more than “consumer Christianity” and “bumper-sticker faith.” In an era when so many consider Jesus a beloved but remote savior, readers of The Divine Conspiracy will explore a revolutionary way to experience God—by knowing Him as an essential part of the here and now, an integral part of every aspect of our existence. The Divine Conspiracy calls us into a more authentic faith and offers a practical plan by which we can become Christ-like. It challenges us to step aside from the politics and pieties of contemporary Christian practice and inspires us to reject the all too common lukewarm faith of our times by embracing the true meaning of Christian discipleship.”
Erich’s note: You can read more about my thoughts on this book in the post Three Books That Have Impacted My Life the Most.
Your turn… If you’ve read any of these 3 books take a moment to share your impressions.