The Spirit of the Disciplines
A strong call to biblical obedience and discipline, this book presents a fresh look at the eternal--and comtemporary--relevance of the Scriptures. --Ted E. Engstrom, president emeritus, World Vision

The Spirit of the Disciplines Details

TitleThe Spirit of the Disciplines
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseFeb 6th, 2009
Publisher HarperOne
Rating
GenreChristian, Spirituality, Religion, Theology, Christianity, Faith, Nonfiction, Discipleship, Christian Non Fiction, Reference

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The Spirit of the Disciplines Review

  • Mike Conroy
    January 1, 1970
    My wife disappeared into the dark. I caught up with her again and we continued down a dark, confusing winding path. It was mid-October and the air had a slight chill in it. We were at a local corn maze and had gotten so lost and disoriented that we forgot what we were supposed to be doing. That’s how I felt reading The Spirit of the Disciplines by Dallas Willard. I will summarize the main teaching of this book, then detail the reasons for my confusion in reading it and finally explain the one th My wife disappeared into the dark. I caught up with her again and we continued down a dark, confusing winding path. It was mid-October and the air had a slight chill in it. We were at a local corn maze and had gotten so lost and disoriented that we forgot what we were supposed to be doing. That’s how I felt reading The Spirit of the Disciplines by Dallas Willard. I will summarize the main teaching of this book, then detail the reasons for my confusion in reading it and finally explain the one thing this book helped me to see, which makes me glad I read it.The main purpose of the book is to explain how by seeking after God through the use of disciplines (solitude, fasting, reading, etc) we grow closer to Him and better imitate the life that Jesus lived. It is by neglecting these disciplines that the witness of the church is weak, many Christians have moral failures, and the mission of Christ’s people is not being accomplished.The first reason for my confusion was that it took him so long to say what he set out to say. He says that this is the one insight that will be developed throughout the book, “Full participation in the life of God’s Kingdom and in the vivid companionship of Christ comes to us only through appropriate exercise in the disciplines for life in the spirit.” (pg. 26 italics original). But, it’s not until page 156 that he starts to explain what those disciplines are. The majority of the book is his complaints about how few Christians can give practical explanation to how to live as followers of Jesus, as he says, “Our most serious failure today is the inability to provide effective practical guidance as to how to live the life of Jesus.” (pg. 110) The irony is that this quote is still around 40 pages from when he will start giving practical guidance. The second reason for my confusion reading this book were the many untrue statements. He said that the Apostle Paul’s understanding of the term ‘Redemption’ was, “progressive sequence of real human and divine actions and events that resulted in the transformation of the body and the mind.” (pg. 111) Whereas, the Apostle Paul understood redemption as only a divine action. He also overstates the importance of the discipline of solitude as the only way to have a stable, radical relationship with God (pg. 105). Not to mention how he built his understanding of some of the disciplines from speculating on Biblical texts (see pg. 151).However, even with some of these negative components, here was the thing I took away from it that made me glad I read it. I was challenged for my laziness in pursuing Christ. Mr. Willard gave an analogy of how children try to mimic only how their favorite athlete acts in the game, but not in their private life that is filled with proper diet, exercise, and training. This is often how Christians try to imitate Jesus: only with His public acts not His private training. (pgs 3-5) I have been challenged to break away from my public acts: my family and church, to seek after God in quiet, like Jesus did. This has been a weakness of mine and Mr. Willard helped me to see how frequently Jesus did this. He helped me to read Mark 1 in a better light. When Jesus broke away from everyone to seek after God and then came back prepared to leave all the crowds who wanted Him because He was sent to preach, helped me to see the priority solitude and seeking God in prayer has for me to stay focused on the mission that Christ has given to me.For this reason I have been challenged and helped to love God more and to seek after Him with more effort.
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  • Johnny
    January 1, 1970
    Dallas Willard is a Southern Baptist-ordained theologian who has a refreshing way of overturning my assumptions. In The Spirit of the Disciplines, he hammers on the tendencies of people like me to slough off disciplines such as solitude, silence, fasting, and frugality in favor of more saccharine interpretations that are more mental than physical. Yet, Willard makes the case that authentic Christianity is physical and that, if Jesus became flesh and used these disciplines to enhance His relation Dallas Willard is a Southern Baptist-ordained theologian who has a refreshing way of overturning my assumptions. In The Spirit of the Disciplines, he hammers on the tendencies of people like me to slough off disciplines such as solitude, silence, fasting, and frugality in favor of more saccharine interpretations that are more mental than physical. Yet, Willard makes the case that authentic Christianity is physical and that, if Jesus became flesh and used these disciplines to enhance His relationship with the Father, how much more do believers need to express their faith in literal physical ways. I found myself in profound agreement with him from the following two lines in the preface, forward. “Holiness and devotion must now come forth from the closet and the chapel to possess the street and the factory, the schoolroom and boardroom, the scientific laboratory and the governmental office.” (p. xii) “The Spirit of the Disciplines I snothing but the love of Jesus, with its resolute will to be like him whom we love.” (p. xii)I stood convicted from that page forward. In that sense, there were parts of the first eight chapters in which I wanted to say, “I’m convinced; let’s move forward.” Of course, even as I type that, I realize that I gained something from every chapter. To illustrate this, I’ll try to share one choice morsel out of each chapter.“The Secret of the Easy Yoke” posits the idea that anything less than walking with the Lord Jesus Christ is doomed to: “…a life of crushing burdens, failures, and disappointments, a life caught in the toils of endless problems never resolved….The ‘cost of discipleship,’ though it may take all we have, is small when compared to the lot of those who don’t accept Christ’s invitation to be a part of his company in The Way of life.” (p. 2)“Making Theology Practical” demonstrated that the reason Protestants have discounted the disciplines is because, “Centuries ago, disciplines such as fasting, service, and giving were confused with meritorious works, as well as with a useless and destructive ‘penance.’” (p. 25) Naturally, denominations which focus on “grace alone” would reject this “works-oriented” approach but ironically, this has probably led to “cheap grace” on their end (p. 25).“Salvation as a Life” cites Soren Kierkegaard as noting, “…how there is always a certain worldliness that desires to seem Christian, but as cheaply as possible.” (p. 39)In “Little Less Than a God,” Willard contends, “The sober truth is that we are made of dust, even if we aspire to the heavens.” (p. 46)While explaining the “Nature of Life,” we read: “Very simply, spirit is unembodied personal power. Ultimately, it is God who is Spirit (John 4:24). Electricity, magnetism, and gravity, by contrast, are embodied non-personal power.” (p. 64)“Spiritual Life: The Body’s Fulfilment” teaches, “Our experience of others is also inescapably an experience of their embodied existence.” (p. 83) “The disciplines for the spiritual life, rightly understood, are time-tested activities consciously undertaken by us as new men and women to allow our spirit ever-increasing sway over our embodied selves.” (p. 86)The chapter on “St. Paul’s Psychology of Redemption” offered the interesting insight that, not only did Paul emphasize the idea of self-control throughout his writings but, the idea of self-control appears five times in the first two chapters of the Letter to Titus (p. 102). “History and the Meaning of the Disciplines” is an interesting chapter because Willard clearly demonstrates where past practices have encouraged the belief that certain extremes are useful to gaining God’s favor or forgiveness. There are some horrifying descriptions of instruments of torture used to “earn” forgiveness. Portions of the chapter are nauseating, but necessary.Finally, in Chapter 9, “Some Main Disciplines for Spiritual Life,” Willard offers a short taxonomy of spiritual disciplines, bisected into Disciplines of Abstinence (solitude, silence, fasting, frugality, chastity, secrecy, sacrifice) and Disciplines of Engagement (study, worship, celebration, service, prayer, fellowship, confession, submission) (p. 158). This is really the meat of the book as he discusses the advantage/necessity of each discipline for bringing one closer to God.Chapter 10 attempted to help believers see that there is nothing virtuous in poverty for its own sake (p. 194) and Chapter 11 served as a sermon to pound home the insight that what believers do actually matters in terms of God’s long-term plans for the redemption of this world and the people within it. This is a much needed corrective to much preaching, as is the entire book.I find The Spirit of the Disciplines to be valuable primarily for Chapter 9. However, those who are not already open to the idea of spiritual disciplines will certainly want to experience the solid foundation that Willard brings before he actually considers the disciplines themselves. For me, this book is useful, but it is not as stimulating as The Divine Conspiracy--even though it touches on some of the same themes in places.
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  • Kent
    January 1, 1970
    Only one chapter is given to the listing and explaining of the various disciplines. The bulk of the book is a persuasive argument for the practice of the disciplines with appropriate disclaimers and caveats (though those take very little space). Basically the author argues that the transformation of the Christian life comes through living life the way Jesus did, following his example. (And of course we understand this doesn't mean tunics and sandals and no phones.) But it does mean things we bui Only one chapter is given to the listing and explaining of the various disciplines. The bulk of the book is a persuasive argument for the practice of the disciplines with appropriate disclaimers and caveats (though those take very little space). Basically the author argues that the transformation of the Christian life comes through living life the way Jesus did, following his example. (And of course we understand this doesn't mean tunics and sandals and no phones.) But it does mean things we build into our routine, physical activities, that enable us to align ourselves with the spiritual power of God's Kingdom. When people first come to Christ, their spirit is willing but their flesh is weak. Their spirit has been touched by the power of God, but their flesh has the old habits of the sin nature layered within it. Those habits are gradually rehabilitated through the practice of various disciplines (fasting, solitude, Scriptures study, prayer, worship, silence, etc.) so that eventually the flesh becomes strong in service of the willing spirit.The author's premise in his own words:Instead, we will establish, strengthen, and elaborate on this one insight: Full participation in the life of God’s Kingdom and in the vivid companionship of Christ comes to us only through appropriate exercise in the disciplines for life in the spirit. (Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines 26)A couple explanations of the disciplines in the author's own words:The disciplines are activities of mind and body purposefully undertaken, to bring out personality and total being into effective cooperation with the divine order. They enable us more and more to live in a power that is, strictly speaking, beyond us, deriving from the spiritual realm itself, as we “yield ourselves to God, as those that are alive from the dead, and our members as instruments of righteousness unto God,” as Romans 6:13 puts it. (Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines 68)The disciplines for the spiritual life, rightly understood, are time-tested activities consciously undertaken by us as new men or women to allow our spirit ever-increasing sway over our embodied selves. They help by assisting the ways of God’s Kingdom to take the place of the habits of sin embedded in our bodies. (Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines 86)Here the author favorably quotes and comments on Oswald Chambers:“The question of forming habits on the basis of the grace of God is a very vital one. To ignore it is to fall into the snare of the Pharisee—the grace of God is praised, Jesus Christ is praised, the Redemption is praised, but the practical everyday life evades working it out. If we refuse to practice, it is not God’s grace that fails when a crisis comes, but our own nature. When the crisis comes, we ask God to help us, but He cannot if we have not made out nature our ally. The practicing is ours, not God’s. God regenerates us and puts us in contact with all His divine resources, but He cannot make us walk according to His will.”He goes on to stress that when we obey the Spirit and practice through our physical life all that God has put in our hearts, then when crisis comes we will find we have not only God’s grace to stand by us, “but our own nature also.” (Oswald Chambers; qtd. in Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines 118)
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  • David
    January 1, 1970
    This is the last of three of Willard’s book I read this summer, and it may be my favorite. Many themes he only touched on in his later works are fleshed out fully here. Willard does not go into great detail on the disciplines, though there is one chapter on them. The emphasis here is more on why such disciplines are so important. Willard often says grace is opposed to earning, not to effort and this book, to some degree, is a detailed explanation of how this is the case.Willard argues that the c This is the last of three of Willard’s book I read this summer, and it may be my favorite. Many themes he only touched on in his later works are fleshed out fully here. Willard does not go into great detail on the disciplines, though there is one chapter on them. The emphasis here is more on why such disciplines are so important. Willard often says grace is opposed to earning, not to effort and this book, to some degree, is a detailed explanation of how this is the case.Willard argues that the choices we make will shape who we become. Thus we can either take steps, discipline ourselves, to become disciples of Christ or we can do nothing. This doing nothing is a choice too and our natural inclinations will put us on a path. So if we resist disciplines for fear of works-righteousness we will find ourselves never really changing into a more Christ-like person. Having been around the Christian church my whole life, I think Willard is right on. We go to church week after week, maybe read the Bible occasionally because we feel like we have to but year after year most of us find our lives to be more or less the same. We cry out to God asking for our sins to be purged, before living a life filled with choices that contribute to those sins becoming habits.While this is my favorite of the three books, I do wish Willard had spent more time on practical issues. Specifically, how does this apply to people with families and jobs? I can see the college students I work with diving into the practices. But what happens to solitude when you are caring for a toddler all day? How does silence happen between the noise of kids and coworkers? As much as Willard talks of these disciplines as time-tested, most examples throughout history are still superstars of faith – monks and other unattached people who had the flexibility to do such things. I do think the disciplines can be applied to the daily life of normal people with jobs and kids. I just think how that happens is different then how it may happen for students, single people, the elderly or anyone else. It is not a one-size fits all sort of thing.
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  • Matthew
    January 1, 1970
    Challenging. Heady. Willard is a philosopher, so you will find all the reason and logic/arguments behind 'why' questions. 'Why' should we do the spiritual disciplines. He offers a 'theology of the disciplines', etc. Willard also offers a lot of great thoughts on other topics such as poverty & holiness, and how to create true & lasting change in culture, society, political & global structures, etc. But, if you want a practical, 'how-to' book on spiritual disciplines, this is not the b Challenging. Heady. Willard is a philosopher, so you will find all the reason and logic/arguments behind 'why' questions. 'Why' should we do the spiritual disciplines. He offers a 'theology of the disciplines', etc. Willard also offers a lot of great thoughts on other topics such as poverty & holiness, and how to create true & lasting change in culture, society, political & global structures, etc. But, if you want a practical, 'how-to' book on spiritual disciplines, this is not the book. Willard even says so himself, he puts in a plug for Richard Foster's 'Celebration of Discipline' for a practical 'how-to' guide. That's definitely high on my reading list right now. I'm almost salivating. But, Willard does offer a great understanding as to the reasons 'why' for the spiritual disciplines, and a call to their diligent practice. If I was a philosopher, I would probably have rated it a 4 star instead of 3. Just a little heady for my taste at times.
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  • Stevie
    January 1, 1970
    Dallas is good as usual. I think his chapter on money and poverty is the most insightful and biblical perspective I have ever read on the idea of money. Good read.Poignant Quotes:“It costs a man just as much or even more to go to hell than to come to heaven.” – Soren KierkegaardA successful performance at a moment of crisis rests largely and essentially upon the depths of a self wisely and rigorously prepared in the totality of its being – mind and body.And in this truth lies the secret of the e Dallas is good as usual. I think his chapter on money and poverty is the most insightful and biblical perspective I have ever read on the idea of money. Good read.Poignant Quotes:“It costs a man just as much or even more to go to hell than to come to heaven.” – Soren KierkegaardA successful performance at a moment of crisis rests largely and essentially upon the depths of a self wisely and rigorously prepared in the totality of its being – mind and body.And in this truth lies the secret of the easy yoke: the secret involves living as he lived in the entirety of his life – adopting his overall life-style.We intend what is right, but we avoid the life that would make it reality.These responses, generally and rightly understood to be characteristic of Christlikeness, were set forth by him as illustrative of what might be expected of a new kind of person – one who intelligently and steadfastly seeks, above all else, to live within the rule of God and be possessed by the kind of righteousness that God himself has…There is no realization that what he (Jesus) did in such cases was, in a large and essential measure, the natural outflow of the life he lived when not on the spot.Practical theology studies the manner in which our actions interact with God to accomplish his ends in human life.If the steady, longtime faithful devotes to our ministries are not transformed in the substance of their lives to the full range of Christlikeness, they are being failed by what we are teaching them.They could not help but see that spiritual growth and vitality stem from what we actually do with our lives, from the habits we form, and from the character that results.Failure to act in certain definite ways will guarantee that this transformation does not come to pass.It is precisely obscurity and confusion here that led to the abuses of the disciplines history reveals and ultimately to today’s exclusion of them from the mainstream of Protestant religious life.…a thoughtless theology guides our lives with just as much force as a thoughtful and informed one.Full participation in the life of God’s Kingdom and in the vivid companionship of Christ comes to us only through appropriate exercise in the disciplines for life in the spirit.The faith of the New Testament is a distinctive life force that originates in the impact of God’s word upon the soul, as we see in Romans 10:17, and then exercises a determinating influence upon all aspects of our existence, including the body and its social and political environment. Governance by a person, whether over other people or animals, is at its best when the outcome is harmony, understanding, and love, and at its best then the governed experience that “rule” as merely doing what they would want to do anyway.The disciplines are activities of mind and body purposefully undertaken, to bring our personality and total being into effective cooperation with the divine order.The spiritual and the bodily are by no means opposed in human life – they are complimentary.“Spirituality is not a pious pose. It is not a “Thou shalt not”; it is “Thou shalt.”But talk will not win the race. Zeal without knowledge or without appropriate practice is never enough. Plus, one must train wisely as well as intensely for spiritual attainment.It is solitude and solitude alone that opens the possibility of a radical relationship to God that can withstand all external events up to and beyond death.Most to whom I have spoken about this matter are shocked at the suggestion that the “wilderness,” the place of solitude and deprivation, was actually the place of strength and strengthening for our Lord and that the Spirit led him there – as he would lead us there – to ensure that Christ was in the best possible condition for the trial.Our most serious failure today is the inability to provide effective practical guidance as to how to live the life of Jesus.The Pauline doctrine of “reckoning” reminds us we have the power to identify and dismiss wrong thoughts, to separate them from our “selves,” and thus by grace to escape them.And if I do not submit my actions through the disciplines that fit my personality, I will not enter into the powerful, virtuous new life in a psychologically real way.We must accept it and submit ourselves to it, knowing that the rigors of discipline certainly lead to the easy yoke and the full joy of Christ.Outward manifestations and inward motivation must both be right.The activities constituting the disciplines have no value in themselves.Personally, I would never undertake to pastor a church or guide a program of Christian education that did not involve a continuous program of memorization of the choicest passages of Scripture for people of all ages.…whether in our natural life or in our spiritual life – the mark of disciplined persons is that they are able to do what needs to be done when it needs to be done.Until we have taken the steps to achieve such unconscious readiness, we cannot honestly intend to carry out the good deed, any more than we can honestly intend to speak Japanese without engaging in learning activities that prepare us to speak that language.Disciplines of Abstinence: solitude, silence, fasting, frugality, chastity, secrecy, sacrificeDisciplines of Engagement: study, worship, celebration, service, prayer, fellowship, confession, submissionFasting confirms our utter dependence upon God by finding in him a source of sustenance beyond food.Fasting unto our Lord is therefore feasting – feasting on him and on doing his will.Persons well used to fasting as a systematic practice will have a clear and constant sense of their resources in God.Fasting teaches temperance or self-control and therefore teaches moderation and restraint with regard to all our fundamental drives.Healthy abstention in chastity can only be supported by loving, positive involvement with members of the opposite sex.With secrecy we abstain from causing our good deeds and qualities to known.But as we practice this discipline, we learn to love to be unknown and even to accept misunderstanding without the loss of our peace, joy, or purpose.We allow [God:] to decide when our deeds will be known and when our light will be noticed.Secrecy at its best teaches love and humility before God and others. And that love and humility encourages us to see our associates in the best possible light, even to the point of our hoping they will do better and appear better than us.If we see needs met because we have ask God alone, our faith in God’s presence and care will be greatly increased. But if we always tell others of the need, we will have little faith in God, and our entire spiritual life will suffer because of it.Our need to give is greater than God’s need to receive, because he is always well supplied.…the disciplines of abstinence counteract tendencies to sins of commission, and the disciplines of engagement counteract tendencies to sins of omission.…study involves giving much time on a regular basis to meditation upon those parts of the Bible that are most meaningful for our spiritual life, together with constant reading of the Bible as a whole. We should also make every effort to sit regularly under the ministry of gifted teachers who can lead us deeply into the Word and make us increasingly capable of fruitful study on our own. Beyond this, we should read well the lives of disciplines from all ages and cultures of the church, building a small library as we make them our friends and associates in the Way.When we worship God we fill our minds and hearts with wonder at him.We engage in celebration when we enjoy ourselves, our life, our world, in conjunction with our faith and confidence in God’s greatness, beauty, and goodness. We concentrate on our life and world as God’s work and as God’s gift to us. Typically this means that we come together with others who know God to eat and drink, to sing and dance, and to relate stories of God’s action for our lives and our people.Holy delight and joy is the great antidote to despair and is a wellspring of genuine gratitude – the kind that starts at our toes and blasts off from our loins and diaphragm through the top or our head, flinging our arms and our eyes and our voice upward toward our good God. …a healthy faith before God cannot be built and maintained, without heartfelt celebration of his greatness and goodness to us in the midst of our suffering and terror.Talking about Mark 10:43-45, Willard says, “we misunderstand this passage if we read it merely as instructions on how to become great. It is, rather, a statement on how those who are great are to behave.…the effect of conversing with God cannot fail to have a pervasive and spiritually strengthening effect on all aspects of our personality.Personalities united can contain more of God and sustain the force of his greater presence much better than scattered individuals.Confession alone makes deep fellowship possible, and the lack of it explains much of the superficial quality so commonly found in our church associations.The walk with Christ certainly is one that leaves room for and even calls for individual creativity [in the spiritual disciplines:] and an experimental attitude in such matters.Which disciplines must be central to our lives will be determined by the chief sins of commission and omission that entice or threaten us from day to day.They call for a comparably hard-nosed, tough response on our part, supported by infinite grace.The activities mentioned – when we engaged in them conscientiously and creatively and adapt them to our individual needs, time, and place – will be more than adequate to help us receive the full Christ-life and become the kind of person that should emerge in the following of him.The idealization of poverty is one of the most dangerous illusions of Christians in the contemporary world.To trust in riches, on the other hand, is to count upon them to obtain or secure what we treasure most.Those poor people whose faith is in riches they neither own nor can use are among the most unhappy people on earth.A simple test reveals an individual’s attitude toward the religious and moral significance of wealth. Suppose that by owning a great deal of property and money you are able, in the long run, to give much more away and do much more good for others or the promotion of God’s purposes than if you simply gave your surplus away to the poor as it came to hand or if you followed some other course of service that dissolved your financial base. Plus, as a prosperous industrialist, businessperson, merchant, government official, publisher, farmer, or university administrator, suppose that you have a wide range of influence over your employees or associates and others in the community and you use that influence to set an example in living and to testify to the reality of Christ’s Kingdom.But would it not have been equally well, or even better, had he been found to have had great possessions carefully managed for the good of others and the glory of God? Especially if it turned out that he did more good in that way than he could have done by giving it all away?While certain individuals may be given a specific call to poverty, in general, being poor is one of the poorest ways to help the poor.It may be said with assurance that most rich people do trust and serve mammon.It is not money or gain, but the love of it, that is said by Paul to be the root of all evil (1 Tim. 6:10), and none love it more desperately and unrealistically than those without it.Let’s be clear about one thing. Whoever cannot have riches without worshiping them above God should get rid of them, if that will enable him or her to trust and serve God rightly. If it does not enable them to do that, then there well may be no point at all in getting rid of the riches. And whether or not there is a point to it will depend upon the effect on those who receive the given-away money. There is no guarantee the recipients will actually benefit from it. The wealth may actually do harm.Our possessions vastly extend the range over which God rules through our faith.But to abandon the goods of this world to the enemies of God is to fail the responsibilities we are given at creation to have dominion, to rule over all life forms above the plants (Gen. 1:26).The truly poor of the earth know poverty for what it is: it is crushing deprivation and helplessness.[we must:] understand that possession and right rule over material wealth is spiritual service of the highest order. And our response must be to develop a ministry that prepares people for that service.Poverty, for example, whether in spirit or in pocketbook, is not the cause or reason for blessedness – entry into the Kingdom of God is the reason…The essential point can be put into one shocking statement: under the rule of God, the rich and the poor have no necessary advantage over each other with regard to well-being or well-doing in this life or the next.But much can and must be done in all dimensions of life to eliminate the harmful effects of the rich/poor distinction in a fallen world, such as freeing those with ethnic and cultural differences from socially enforced economic deprivation.While the biblical teachings do not speak of eliminating poverty; they always insist that the needy are to be cared for, that the poor are not to be taken advantage of but defended and given opportunity, and that they are to be taken into consideration in all aspects of life.[Living among and near the poor will do more for our understanding of the poor than any charity we may give or be a part of:]...giving is only a part and by no means the largest part of stewardship before our Lord.…it is as great and as difficult a spiritual calling to run the factories and the mines, the banks and the department stores, the schools and government agencies for the Kingdom of God as it is to pastor a church or serve as an evangelist.…[the hard part:] is to live simply, even frugally, though controlling great wealth and power.We continue to be misled by the world’s view of well-being, which holds riches to be well-being, and that is why we react by thinking of possessions as inherently and essentially evil, instead of as a domain of spiritual work of the purest sort.Riches are not holy, riches are not evil. They are creations we are to use for God.Of course giving must have a great place in the life of Christ’s disciple, no matter what else. But it cannot take the place of keeping, using, and controlling possessions as responsible stewards of God’s creation for our individual time in his world.[Wesley’s:] famous formula, “Get all you can; save all you can; give all you can,” must be supplemented. It should read: get all you can; save all you can; freely use all you can within a properly disciplined spiritual life; and control all you can for the good of humankind and God’s glory. Giving all you can would then naturally be a part of an overall wise stewardship.…to make [poverty:] the especially holy calling is to destroy all possibility of Christ’s people guiding the world for the best of all people, which requires that the godly substantially own and otherwise control the wealth of the earth.The church certainly is to lead the way in charitable works……we wish to continue living as we now live and continue being the kinds of people we are. We do not want to change. We do not want our world to be really different. We just want to escape the consequences of its being what it truly is and of our being who we truly are.…we do not want to bother with becoming the sort of people who actually, naturally [practice the fruit of the Spirit.:]We are drawn to evil, excited by it. Yet, interestingly enough, we seem surprised when it becomes reality.Human wrath is an explosive, unrestrained impulse to hurt or harm.Thus, if in our lives we are not protected by a hearty confidence in God’s never failing and effective care for us, these “readinesses” for various wrongdoing will be constantly provoked into action by threatening circumstances.…the righteous can stop the wave [of evil:] before it starts, if they are stable in their righteousness, empowered by God, and distributed through society appropriately. The impersonal power structures in the world are, though independent of any one person’s will and experience, nevertheless dependent for their force upon the general readiness of normal people to do evil.Living and dying are the only options and both are transcendentally wonderful, because liberation from fear of death is an inevitable result of living in the faith of Jesus (Matt. 10:28, Heb. 2:15)I believe…that the coming rule of God is to be a government by grace and truth mediated through personalities mature in Christ.Thomas a Kempis – “Occasions make not a man fail, but they show what the man is.”…power makes corruption apparent, and absolute power makes corruption absolutely apparent.Continued in DocApplication:Love GodKnow GodBecome Like Christ – Live in the biblical knowledge of the disciplines and wealth/povertyMake Disciples – help others become holy through the practice of the disciplinesLove People - help others see the desirability of becoming like and knowing Christ through a healthy and habitual practice of the disciplines
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  • Bob
    January 1, 1970
    Summary: Dallas Willard's classic work explaining why and how spiritual disciplines are vital for transformation into the character of Christ as his disciples.This book, along with Richard Foster's Celebration of Discipline, were instrumental in introducing spiritual disciplines and spiritual formation into the parlance and practice of both mainline and evangelical Protestant Christianity. This work has been in print for 27 years and it may be time to take a fresh look at what has become a class Summary: Dallas Willard's classic work explaining why and how spiritual disciplines are vital for transformation into the character of Christ as his disciples.This book, along with Richard Foster's Celebration of Discipline, were instrumental in introducing spiritual disciplines and spiritual formation into the parlance and practice of both mainline and evangelical Protestant Christianity. This work has been in print for 27 years and it may be time to take a fresh look at what has become a classic reference work on spiritual disciplines.Willard contends that one of the major challenges facing the church is the transformation of character in the lives of Christians. He contends that spiritual disciplines, which may be observed in the life of Jesus, are in fact the "easy yoke" of Jesus. He likens transformation to the athletic feats of sports figures, that only are possible through years of practicing certain disciplines. His thesis is that:"The disciplines for the spiritual life are available, concrete activities designed to render bodily beings such as we ever more sensitive and receptive to the Kingdom of Heaven brought to us in Christ, even while living in a world set against God" (p. 252).A critical aspect of Willard's thinking is his understanding of what it means to be humans who are meant to image God in their embodied existence. What has been overlooked in much of the church is that the "spiritual life" which is a vital part of being human is one lived out through our physical bodies. Salvation is not a moment but a life of transformation worked out in our bodies. He spends several chapters laying out this theology of the body, culminating in a look at the life of Paul and how his own understanding of spiritual life exemplifies this embodied understanding.Willard then in two chapters outlines the history of the disciplines and enumerates some of the most important. Critical in his survey of history was a monastic asceticism focused on forgiveness of sin. Willard contends that Protestantism either continued or reacted to this mistaken focus. He argues instead for a kind of asceticism focused on the discipline of the body through which spiritual transformation occurs as it positions us to interact with God. He then describes key disciplines in two groups, those of abstinence (including solitude, silence, fasting, frugality, chastity, secrecy, and sacrifice) and those of engagement (including study, worship, celebration, service, prayer, fellowship, confession, and submission).The final two chapters take up the issues of poverty and power. First, on poverty, Willard argues that the idea that it is more spiritual to be poor. While we are not to show preference for the rich and should care for and even patronize the businesses of the poor and live among them, the issue is using resources under the grace of God for the good of people and the glory of God. He also has an interesting take on power--we idolize power when the radical character transformation of disciples leads to a situation akin to life under the judges in Israel. In the church Willard argues that:"The leader's task is to equip saints until they are like Christ (Eph. 4:12), and history and the God of history waits for him to do this job. It is so easy for the leader today to get caught up in illusory goals, pursuing the marks of success which come from our training as Christians or which are simply imposed by the world. It is big, Big, BIG, and BIGGER STILL! That is the contemporary imperative. Thus we fail to take seriously the nurture and training of those, however few, who stand constantly by us" (p. 246).The book concludes with an epilogue which is a personal appeal to apply the truth of the book. There are two appendices, the first of which is an excerpt from Jeremy Taylor "on the Application of Rules for Holy Living." The second is an article on Discipleship that first appeared in Christianity Today in 1980. Don't skip over this--it is a bracing challenge for church leaders to devote themselves to the work of making disciples. I was struck afresh with how important this book for any of us who teach the spiritual disciplines and are committed to their practice in our lives. The disciplines are so much richer when we understand how God works through the disciplines for our growth in Christ. The central section, which can be a bit heavy going, is vital in a church that still often is "gnostic" in its view of the body. Most of all, it is a critically important book for any who are tired of nostrums and empty ritual and long for the experience of transformation.
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  • Mary
    January 1, 1970
    So this was my June reading. Since I was REALLY WORKING hard at Kijabe Hospital, trying to relearn everything I used to know as a pediatrician and apply it to a totally Kenyan context it was a relief to have someone, my second night there, tell me I was invited to their book study. Since it occured in the living room of where I was staying it worked out great. I have been telling myself I needed to read this book ever since I read Foster's the Celebration of Disciplines a year ago. Perhaps my in So this was my June reading. Since I was REALLY WORKING hard at Kijabe Hospital, trying to relearn everything I used to know as a pediatrician and apply it to a totally Kenyan context it was a relief to have someone, my second night there, tell me I was invited to their book study. Since it occured in the living room of where I was staying it worked out great. I have been telling myself I needed to read this book ever since I read Foster's the Celebration of Disciplines a year ago. Perhaps my interest in the spiritual disciplines come from my profound lack of or understanding of them. It was an interesting group that I read the book with. I joined a group of surgeons (a breed unto themselves) and I was the only physician from the US. Canada, Madagascar, Etheopia, Sweden, Denmark, and Kenyan surgeons. So yes, I felt rather out of place in that respect, but also way behind in the understanding of what it means to suffer for the cause of Christ. Half of the group were in training, to become the first pediatric surgeons in Madagascar or Etheopia. The other half were their mentors. I was the sole pediatrician-and I don't cut anything except my meat at dinner.This book needs to be slowly processed. Which the group of course was doing. I of course read it in the first three weeks, but we only got to discuss two chapters, because of clinical demands. This is one book I am coming back too, and not because I am board of TV reruns. I may need some encouragement however. Embracing the disciplines is a challange.
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  • Chris
    January 1, 1970
    It's been at least five years since I read this book. Pretty heavy going. Instructive and convicting. Clearest ideas for me seemed to come in the last 20 pages. We've been so focused on winning converts that we've failed to do much in the way of training, sometimes hiding behind phrases like, "People should quickly become self-feeders." Or, "We're not going to do so much hand-holding." Willard really challenges that kind of thinking. My bright insight is a simple tracking sheet for the people I It's been at least five years since I read this book. Pretty heavy going. Instructive and convicting. Clearest ideas for me seemed to come in the last 20 pages. We've been so focused on winning converts that we've failed to do much in the way of training, sometimes hiding behind phrases like, "People should quickly become self-feeders." Or, "We're not going to do so much hand-holding." Willard really challenges that kind of thinking. My bright insight is a simple tracking sheet for the people I shepherd. Kind of a Dallas Willard meets David Allen?Goal 1: Know ChristGoal 2: Grow in his likeness1) Presuming you already know Christ, do you want to grow in his likeness? 2) Do you have a plan doing that?3) Where do you seem to be stuck right now?4) What's your next step? 5) How can I help you turn this into a prayer?5) Let's talk again in 90 days and see how you're doing.
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  • Casey Taylor
    January 1, 1970
    If Richard Foster's "Celebration of Discipline" is the classic manual for spiritual disciplines, this book is it's companion, explaining the "why" of spiritual practice. Willard explains why the classical spiritual practices work as God's instruments of human transformation. Willard is philosophic and practical, but, as a philosophy professor, tilts to the former. Readers who don't want the in depth philosophic exploration may want to skip some middle chapters.Willard's final chapters on wealth, If Richard Foster's "Celebration of Discipline" is the classic manual for spiritual disciplines, this book is it's companion, explaining the "why" of spiritual practice. Willard explains why the classical spiritual practices work as God's instruments of human transformation. Willard is philosophic and practical, but, as a philosophy professor, tilts to the former. Readers who don't want the in depth philosophic exploration may want to skip some middle chapters.Willard's final chapters on wealth, chastity and Christian influence in the civil/social/cultural sphere are fascinating. His perspective is both traditional and boldly novel.Anyone seeking to better understand and practice the spiritual disciplines will want to carefully read this. Pastors especially should give it a careful reading.
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  • Ann
    January 1, 1970
    I have again read through much of this book that I read a number of years ago. The author does a wonderful job of showing how God has made our bodies and spirits dependent on each other as far as living out our spiritual lives. To ignore the fact that we need to discipline our bodies to help reinforce our relationship with God is to ignore the previous mentioned truth.The author powerfully makes the case for reintroducing the "spiritual disciplines" into our modern lives ... ie. solitude, fasti I have again read through much of this book that I read a number of years ago. The author does a wonderful job of showing how God has made our bodies and spirits dependent on each other as far as living out our spiritual lives. To ignore the fact that we need to discipline our bodies to help reinforce our relationship with God is to ignore the previous mentioned truth.The author powerfully makes the case for reintroducing the "spiritual disciplines" into our modern lives ... ie. solitude, fasting,frugality, study, worship, celebration, confession ....
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  • Amy
    January 1, 1970
    I love reading Dallas Willard's work. For me, his words hit home and I truly feel moved. He is gentle, intelligent, and writes how to become the disciple Jesus is calling all Christians to be. I have read several of Dallas' book, this one got a bit dry at places, but I still read it all, as I didn't want to miss anything Dallas had to say. I found Renovation of the Heart an easier read, also with that book the way its laid out it has small bit size points (1-2 pages) you could quickly read (and I love reading Dallas Willard's work. For me, his words hit home and I truly feel moved. He is gentle, intelligent, and writes how to become the disciple Jesus is calling all Christians to be. I have read several of Dallas' book, this one got a bit dry at places, but I still read it all, as I didn't want to miss anything Dallas had to say. I found Renovation of the Heart an easier read, also with that book the way its laid out it has small bit size points (1-2 pages) you could quickly read (and re-read) and then put down through out the day.
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  • Ragan Sutterfield
    January 1, 1970
    This is my second reading of Willard's classic and I am struck again with his insight. Willard was one of the most original Christian thinkers of our time and this book is among his most important. His attention to the place of the body in the spiritual life as well as his challenge to long held beliefs around power and poverty make this a critical read for anyone interested in living into the life of Christ. I will certainly return to this book again--it is that rich.
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  • Nicolas Valin
    January 1, 1970
    Libro fundamental para toda persona que quiere llegar a ser como Jesús de una manera alcanzable y práctica. Dallas Willard nos explica como las Disciplinas Espirituales (como la oración, el silencio, la soledad, etc) en compañía con Dios, nos ayudan a moldear y transformar nuestras vidas para, como resultado, llegara ser así agentes de cambio para nuestra sociedad. El tema de las Disciplinas está exelentemente desarrollado y fundamentado por Dallas Willard. Libro totalmente recomendable.
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  • Liz
    January 1, 1970
    Whew. This is an intellectual read. If Foster's Celebration of Discipline is the how of practicing spiritual disciplines, Willard's The Spirit of the Disciplines is the philosophical, theological why the disciplines are important and vital to following Jesus.Read this slowly to digest all the good content.
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  • Carol
    January 1, 1970
    "How to live as Jesus lived." Willard reveals how the key to self-transformation resides in the practice of the spiritual disciplines (which are solitude and silence, prayer, simple and sacrificial living, meditation upon God's word and ways, and service to others).
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  • Andrew
    January 1, 1970
    In my view, Willard has few parallels in terms of practical advice on growing in virtue. There are some flaws in his theology, but the gold far, far outweighs whatever dross might be here. I have personally benefitted in countless ways from his teaching.
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  • Summisse
    January 1, 1970
    This book changed my life!
  • Tim Chavel
    January 1, 1970
    This book is written by a college Philosophy Professor. Therefore, I little warning, it is a deep book and takes time to read and ponder. I'm glad I read this book, but do not think I will reread it at least not anytime soon. I trust the quotes from the book listed below will give you not only a flavor of the book but will challenge you to take a stronger stand for Christ!The Sermon on the Mount is not a set of principles to be obeyed apart from identification with Jesus Christ. The Sermon on th This book is written by a college Philosophy Professor. Therefore, I little warning, it is a deep book and takes time to read and ponder. I'm glad I read this book, but do not think I will reread it at least not anytime soon. I trust the quotes from the book listed below will give you not only a flavor of the book but will challenge you to take a stronger stand for Christ!The Sermon on the Mount is not a set of principles to be obeyed apart from identification with Jesus Christ. The Sermon on the Mount is a statement of the life we will live when the Holy Spirit is getting his way with us. ~Oswald ChambersAsking ourselves, “What would Jesus do?” when suddenly in the face of an important situation simply is not an adequate discipline or preparation to enable one to live as He lived. It no doubt will do some good and is certainly better than nothing at all, but that act alone is not sufficient to see us boldly and confidently through a crisis, and we could easily find ourselves driven to despair over the powerless tension it will put us through. The secret of the easy yoke, then, is to learn from Christ how to live our total lives, how to invest all our time and our energies of mind and body as He did. We must learn how to follow His preparations, the disciplines for life in God’s rule that enabled Him to receive His Father’s constant and effective support while doing His will. We have to discover how to enter into His disciplines from where we stand today – and no doubt, how to extend and amplify them to suit our needy cases. ~Dallas WillardMany Christians were suddenly prepared to look at traditional methods of spiritual formation. They could not help but see that spiritual growth and vitality stem from what we actually do with our lives, from the habits we form, and from the character that results. ~Dallas WillardWhere is our Christ, who is alive and lives in power? In the preaching of our churches, He has become a beautiful ideal. He has been turned into a myth, embodying a theological concept. The witness to His objective reality has largely been lost. Most liberal Protestant churches have never even heard of the prayer of power in His name. The church has become an organization of well-meaning idealists, working for Christ but far from His presence and power. ~Flora WuellnerWhen we think of “taking Christ into the workplace” or “keeping Christ in the home,” we are making our faith into a set of special acts. The “specialness” of such acts just underscores the point – that being a Christian, being Christ’s isn’t thought of as a normal part of life. ~Dallas WillardProceed in your career of cruelty, but do not suppose that you will thus accomplish your purpose of extinguishing the hated sect [the Christians]. We are like the grass, which grows the more luxuriantly the oftener it is mown. The blood of Christians is the seed of Christianity. Your philosophers taught men to despise pain and death by words; but how few their converts compared with those of the Christians, who teach by example! The very obstinacy for which you upbraid us is the great propagator of our doctrines. For who can behold it, and not inquire into the nature of that faith which inspires such supernatural courage? Who can inquire into faith, and not embrace it, and not desire himself to undergo the same sufferings in order that he may thus secure a participation in the fullness of divine favour? ~TertullianWe who are saved are to have a different order of life from that of the unsaved. We are to live in a different world. ~Colossians 1:13O, this faith is a living, busy, active, powerful thing! It is impossible that it should not be ceaselessly doing that which is good. It does not even ask whether good works should be done; but before the question can be asked, it has done them, and it is constantly engaged in doing them. But he who does not do such works, is a man without faith. He gropes and casts about him to find faith and good works, not knowing what either of them is, and yet prattles and idly multiplies words about faith and good works. ~ Martin Luther[Faith] is a living well-founded confidence in the grace of God, so perfectly certain that it would die a thousand times rather than surrender its conviction. Such confidence and personal knowledge of divine grace makes its possessor joyful, bold, and full of warm affection toward God and all created things – all of which the Holy Spirit works in faith. Hence, such a man becomes without constraint willing and eager to do good to everyone, to serve everyone, to suffer all manner of ills, in order to please and glorify God, who has shown toward him such grace. ~ Martin LutherHe [Peter after the resurrection] now understood that he and the church were to exercise a transcendent power that did not depend upon having a kingdom or government in any human sense, for it was literally a “God government” in which they were participants (Acts 1:6-8). ~Dallas WillardIt is also to be noted that one of the characteristics of true spirituality is that it supersedes lesser desires and issues. The Biblical, as well as practical, cure for “worldliness” among Christians is so to fill the heart and life with the eternal blessings of God that there will be a joyous preoccupation and absentmindedness to unspiritual things. … A dead leaf cannot remain where a new bud is springing, nor can worldliness remain where the blessings of the Spirit are flowing. Lewis Sperry ChaferThe Spirit, we are told, led Him into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Was this not to put Jesus in the weakest possible position before Satan, starving and alone in the wilds? Most to whom I have spoken about this matter are shocked at the suggestion that the “wilderness,” the place of solitude and deprivation, was actually the place of strength and strengthening for our Lord and that the Spirit led Him there – as He would lead us there – to ensure that Christ was in the best possible condition for the trial.In that desert solitude, Jesus fasted for more than a month. Then, and not before, Satan was allowed to approach Him with his glittering proposals of bread, notoriety, and power. Only then was Jesus at the height of His strength. The desert was His fortress, His place of power. Throughout His life He sought the solitary place as an indirect submission of His own physical body to righteousness (e.g. Mark 1:35, 3:13, 6:31, 46). That is, He sought it not as an activity done for its on sake, but one done to give Him power for good. All of those who followed Jesus knew of His practice of solitude, and it was greatly imitated in the centuries after His death. ~Dallas WillardPaul followed Jesus by living as He lived. And how did he do that? Through activities and ways of living that would train his whole personality to depend upon the risen Christ as Christ trained Himself to depend upon the Father. ~Dallas WillardThe question of forming habits on the basis of the grace of God is a very vital one. To ignore it is to fall into the snare of the Pharisee – the grace of God is praised, Jesus Christ is praised, the Redemption is praised, but the practical everyday life evades working it out. If we refuse to practice, it is not God’s grace that fails when a crisis comes, but our own nature. When the crisis comes, we ask God to help us, but He cannot if we have not made our nature our ally. The practicing is ours, not God’s. God regenerates us and puts us in contact with all His divine resources, but He cannot make us walk according to His will. ~Oswald ChambersI submit my tongue as an instrument of righteousness when I make it bless them that curse me and pray for them who persecute me, even though it “automatically” tends to strike and wound those who have wounded me. I submit my legs to God as instruments of righteousness when I engage them in physical labor as service, perhaps carrying a burden the “second mile” for someone whom I would rather let my legs kick. I submit my body to righteousness when I do my good deeds without letting them be known, though my whole frame cries out to strut and crow. ~Dallas WillardOf course, we do the righteous deed because of our redemption, not for our redemption. ~Dallas WillardDiscipline, strictly speaking, is activity carried on to prepare us indirectly for some activity other than itself. We do not practice the piano to practice the piano well, but to play it well. ~Dallas WillardAlmost everything worth doing in human life is very difficult in its early stages and the good we are aiming at is never available at first, to strengthen us when we seem to need it most. ~Dallas WillardIf we feel that any habit or pursuit, harmless in itself, is keeping us from God and sinking us deeper in the things of earth; if we find that things which others can do with impunity are for us the occasion of falling, then abstinence is our only course. Abstinence alone can recover for us the real value of what should have been for our help but which has been an occasion of falling. … It is necessary that we should steadily resolve to give up anything that comes between ourselves and God. ~W.R. IngeThose who deny themselves will be sure to find their strength increased, their affections raised, and their inward peace continually augmented. ~Bishop Wilson of the Isle of ManSome of those who stop in inns are given beds, while others having no beds stretch themselves on the floor and sleep as soundly as those in beds. In the morning, when night is over, all alike get up and leave the inn, carrying away with them only their own belongings. It is the same with those who tread the path of this life: both those who have lived in the modest circumstances, and those who had wealth and fame, leave this life like an inn, taking with them no worldly comforts or riches, but only what they have done in this life, whether it be good or bad. ~St. AntonyThe organized churches must become schools of spiritual discipline where Christians are taught how to own without treasuring (Matt. 6:21); how to possess without, like the “rich young ruler,” being possessed (Mark 10:22); how to live simply, even frugally, though controlling great wealth and power. ~Dallas WillardMinisters pay far too much attention to people who do not came to services. Those people should, generally, be given exactly that disregard by the pastor that they give to Christ. The Christian leader has something much more important to do than pursue the godless. The leader’s task is to equip saints until they are like Christ (Eph. 4:12), and history and the God of history waits for him to do this job. It is so easy for the leader today to get caught up in illusory goals, pursuing the marks of success which come from our training as Christians leaders or which are simply imposed by the world. It is big, Big, always BIG, and BIGGER STILL! That is the contemporary imperative. Thus we fail to take seriously the nurture and training of those, however few, who stand constantly by us. ~Dallas WillardChurches are filled with “undiscipled disciples,” as Jess Moody has called them. Most problems in contemporary churches can be explained by the fact that members have not yet decided to follow Christ. ~Dallas WillardLeo Tolstoy claimed that “Man’s whole life is a continual contradiction of what he knows to be his duty. In every department of life he acts in defiant opposition to the dictates of his conscience and his common sense.” In our age of bumper-sticker communications some clever entrepreneur has devised a frame for the rear license plate that advises: “Don’t follow me. I’m lost.” It has had amazingly wide use, possibly because it touches with humor upon the universal failure referred to by Tolstoy. This failure causes a pervasive and profound hopelessness and sense of worthlessness: a sense that I could never stand in my world as a salty, light-giving example, showing people The Way of Life. Jesus’ description of savorless salt sadly serves well to characterize how we feel about ourselves: “Good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men” (Matt. 5:13), and not even fit to mollify a manure pile (Luke 14:35). ~Dallas WillardThe Christian stands, not under the dictatorship of a legalistic “You ought,” but in the magnetic field of Christian freedom, under the empowering of the “You may.” ~Helmut ThielickeI recommend this book for those who enjoy a deep book and desire to grow in their Christian life!
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  • John Martindale
    January 1, 1970
    This is my favorite word by Dallas Willard. Willard argues how behind the incredibly high standards and high expectations in the New Testament, there is the assumption that we take on a certain kind of life, embracing the disciplines that make obedience to such commands possible and even easy. If we just simply try to obey God's commands whenever it comes across of mind, without taking on a disciplined life, will likely find the commands hard and burdensome. If we are halfhearted and undisciplin This is my favorite word by Dallas Willard. Willard argues how behind the incredibly high standards and high expectations in the New Testament, there is the assumption that we take on a certain kind of life, embracing the disciplines that make obedience to such commands possible and even easy. If we just simply try to obey God's commands whenever it comes across of mind, without taking on a disciplined life, will likely find the commands hard and burdensome. If we are halfhearted and undisciplined, we will always relate with the passage “I don't do what I want to do, and I do do what I hate.”When Jesus said “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” -Matt 11:28-30, We often fail to take seriously the “Take my yoke and learn from me.” part. After baptism, Jesus was in solitude and fasted for a month and a half. After starting his ministry, Jesus often departed to be alone, sometimes spending entire nights in prayer. If we to embrace the disciplines which Jesus practiced, we will eventually find his yoke is easy and his burden is light. Willard wrote: “Think of certain young people who idolize an outstanding baseball player. They want nothing so much as to pitch or run or hit as well as their idol. So what do they do? When the are playing in a baseball game, they try to behave exactly as their favorite baseball star does. The star is well known for sliding head first into bases, so the teenagers do too. The star holds his bat above his head, so the teenagers do too. These young people try anything and everything their idol does, hoping to be like him—they buy the type of shoes the star wears, the same glove he uses, the same bat. Will they succeed in preforming like the star, though? We all know the answer quite well. We know that they won't succeed if all they do is try to be like him in the game—no matter how gifted they may be in their own way. And we all understand why. The star performer himself didn't achieve his excellence by trying to behave in a certain way only during the game. Instead, he chose an overall life of preparation of mind and body, pouring all of his energies into that total preparation, to provide a foundation in the body's automatic responses and strength for his conscious efforts during the game” “...Our mistake is to think that following Jesus consist in loving our enemies, going the “second mile”, turning the other cheek, suffering patiently and hopefully—while living the rest of our lives just as everyone around us does. This is like the aspiring young baseball player mentioned earlier. It is a strategy bound to fail and to make the way of Christ “Difficult and left untried.” in truth it is not the way of Christ anymore than striving to act in a certain manner in the heat of a game is the way of the champion athlete.” -Dallas Willard But yeah, all in all, I agree with Willard, but still, if we are not one of those blessed with the drive and zeal of of the Apostle Paul, where do we find the will power, diligence and consistency to practice the disciplines until they bear fruit? Sadly, few things are more clear than that God can absolutely not be trusted to provide that extra oomph, ability or consist source of motivation, no matter how much I have hoped, plead, believed and prayed. I suppose ultimately there needs to be community, and one needs to remind oneself of the importance of embracing a way of life, until gradually the fruit of the spirit become the overflow of ones heart—ones automatic response.
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  • Raymond C Odom
    January 1, 1970
    Timeless Truth The paradox of Christ's light burden and easy yoke and call to hate spouse, children, parents and your own life to follow Him is explained by the joyous disciplines of being a disciple. The proof of God's hand in this book is in its accurate diagnosis of impotent Christianity and encouraging challenge to embrace training for righteousness. The good news os that this book is a must read and a needed referenxe manual. The bad news is that you muT read Divine Conspiracy, and Renovati Timeless Truth The paradox of Christ's light burden and easy yoke and call to hate spouse, children, parents and your own life to follow Him is explained by the joyous disciplines of being a disciple. The proof of God's hand in this book is in its accurate diagnosis of impotent Christianity and encouraging challenge to embrace training for righteousness. The good news os that this book is a must read and a needed referenxe manual. The bad news is that you muT read Divine Conspiracy, and Renovation of The Heart to complete the trilogy. But not to worry, reading them carefully will be the equivalent of havong read thru the Bible several times so in the end you will have saved youraelf time and perhapa saved your life.
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  • Sam Victor
    January 1, 1970
    "The disciplines for the spiritual life, rightly understood, are time-tested activities consciously undertaken by us as new men or women that allow our spirit ever-increasing sway over our embodied selves. They help us by assisting the ways of God's kingdom to take the place of the habits of sin embedded in our bodies."Willard spends most of the book talking about the spirit behind the disciplines rather than the disciplines themselves. He does spend a chapter talking about specific spiritual di "The disciplines for the spiritual life, rightly understood, are time-tested activities consciously undertaken by us as new men or women that allow our spirit ever-increasing sway over our embodied selves. They help us by assisting the ways of God's kingdom to take the place of the habits of sin embedded in our bodies."Willard spends most of the book talking about the spirit behind the disciplines rather than the disciplines themselves. He does spend a chapter talking about specific spiritual disciplines and ways that he has incorporated them into his own life. Very convicting book that lead me to a lot of heart examination and making changes in my own life. Would definitely recommend.
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  • Mike
    January 1, 1970
    I appreciate that Willard spent more time talking about the need for disciplines and how the lives of Christians would be if they incorporated those disciplines into their regular routines - thus being true "disciples" of Jesus (as he argues in a 1980 article that he included as an appendix) - and less time talking about what specific activities are spiritual disciplines and how are they to be completed (which he does in chapter 9).I count Willard as one of the great Christian thinkers and autho I appreciate that Willard spent more time talking about the need for disciplines and how the lives of Christians would be if they incorporated those disciplines into their regular routines - thus being true "disciples" of Jesus (as he argues in a 1980 article that he included as an appendix) - and less time talking about what specific activities are spiritual disciplines and how are they to be completed (which he does in chapter 9).I count Willard as one of the great Christian thinkers and authors whose words greatly challenge me on my own journey of faith.
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  • Dennis Podryadchikov
    January 1, 1970
    As much as this is more of a collection of essays, Willard skillfully gathers under one umbrella topics of theology, history, salvation, and others. Each topic receives a proper treatment in a separate chapter, which allows the author to unload a wealth of thought-provoking related information. Anyone interested in spiritual formation will find plenty of food for thought in this book. A worthy mention is stages of spiritual formation using the example of the Apostle Peter, where Willard provides As much as this is more of a collection of essays, Willard skillfully gathers under one umbrella topics of theology, history, salvation, and others. Each topic receives a proper treatment in a separate chapter, which allows the author to unload a wealth of thought-provoking related information. Anyone interested in spiritual formation will find plenty of food for thought in this book. A worthy mention is stages of spiritual formation using the example of the Apostle Peter, where Willard provides a detailed review of how one can go through different stages while striving to be Christlike.
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  • Cole Ragsdale
    January 1, 1970
    "As a response to this world's problems, the gospel of the Kingdom will never make sense except as it is incarnated--we say "fleshed out"--in ordinary human beings in all ordinary conditions of human life.""This way of life come to the whole-hearted disciples of Christ who live in the disciplines of the Spiritual life and allow GRACE to bring their BODIES into alignment with their redeemed SPIRITS."
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  • Ben
    January 1, 1970
    Wonderful, scholarly deep-dive into spiritual disciplines. This book was so meaty there was hardly a spot where I could read more than 10 pages at a time. Took lots of notes and walked away with a renewed commitment to increase the disciplines in my life. Would highly recommend- I enjoyed the philosophical and scholarly treatment - if you are looking for a more practical guide, I'd suggest (along with Dallas Willard) checking out Celebrating the Discipleship by Richard Foster.
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  • Richard Fitzgerald
    January 1, 1970
    One of the Most Challenging Books I've Read RecentlyWillard has given us a good book that becomes great in the final chapter. His handling of theodicy is maybe the most astute I've ever read. His insistence that there is no Christian but a disciple of Jesus is an important message that needs to be heard, digested, and become a persistent message from pulpits everywhere. This is an incredibly important message.
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  • Fred
    January 1, 1970
    It's as relevant now as it was when first published, a work of pure genius. Dallas Willard showed us all not only what the spiritual disciplines are but why they are necessary and what they do in us. His explanation of taking on the whole life of Christ was ground breaking and worth reading a second time.
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  • sohyun choi
    January 1, 1970
    Great read but also kinda dryReally helpful but at times loses me maybe because of the writing style. Definitely rich though. One of those books where I can probably reread and continue to get something new out of it. Good for understanding the big picture behind the spiritual disciplines
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  • Jared Braun
    January 1, 1970
    Theologically grounded practicality Willard's book was a good, deep look at the necessity of spiritual disciplines for all believers. His connection to the biblical mandates, tied to contemporary examples helped it all to be very relevant.
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