The CEB Lectio Divina Prayer Bible Review

LDLectio Divina is a method to reading Scripture that supports and assists the reader to listen for God to speak and guide in the current moment. It is much more than simply reading words off the page, but rather, Lectio Divina is “divine reading” or “sacred reading.” This process and method of reading and meditation produces deep and intimate times spent with God, listening, learning, and delighting in Him. The Psalmist said, “But their delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night” (Psalm 1:2 NRSV).

Lectio Divina includes four phases within its practice, which include: lectio – read, mediatio – reflect, oratio – respond, and contemplatio – rest. These four stages take time and attention; something not to be rushed. This is quality time spent learning and gathering from God; deepening and strengthening one’s relationship with Him through communication. On this topic, Jan Johnson stated: “a relational view of God views Scripture reading as a place of meeting God for real interactive conversation. Therefore, we read Scripture unhurriedly and attentively. We are attentive to what God is saying to us in the passage” (Johnson 2017, 47).

For many Christians, reading the Bible is something common and understood. Yet, Lectio Divina is different and unique. Rather than gobbling down large sections of the Bible at a time, the reader spends time with less than ten verses, spending quality time with them and following the reading with heart-felt meditation and even imaginative contemplation. Richard Foster says that “…reflection defines the significance of what we are studying. To reflect, to ruminate, on the events of our time leads us to the inner reality of those events. Reflection brings us to see things from God’s perspective” (Foster 1998, 66).

The newly released CEB Lectio Divina Prayer Bible is a wonderful supplement and means to practicing Lectio Divina (sacred reading, devotional reading) in one’s life. The Bible includes areas of reading, praying, and acting upon small sections, usually chapter by chapter, of Scripture. This allows the reader to avoid speed-reading, or attempting to read large sections at a time, but instead taking their time and using Scripture to savor one’s time with God.

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After this time of reading and reflecting on how God is connecting with the reader through this particular Scripture, there is a time to pause, and respond if necessary. During this process, God is active, God is offering an invitation to allow emotion and pray to flow from one’s heart.

The author of Hebrews said: “Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb 4:12 NRSV). Engaging God through Scripture allows for an intimate, heartfelt, transformative, relational experience with Him, followed by devoted rest. Jan Johnson stated: “God speaks to people, speaks to them well, and speaks to them exactly what they need to hear today. We can rejoice that we exist; we can rest in the assurance that we are loved and known by the God of the universe” (Johnson 2017, 53).

The current speed and quantity of reading by many people is far too fast and large to truly hear with the ear of the heart. The CEB Lectio Divina Prayer Bible reminds us and guides us into a slower, more intimate approach to spending time with God in Scripture. The benefits of laying down one’s agenda, submitting one’s time and energy to Scripture, and listening to the voice of God, are abundant through Lectio Divina.

I highly recommend this Bible.

 

You can buy your copy through Amazon, Christianbook, or other retailers.

 

*Foster, Richard. 1998. Celebration of Discipline. San Francisco, CA: HarperCollins Publishers.

*Johnson, Jan. 2017. When the Soul Listens. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.

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Psalm 139

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Psalm 139 is a treasured, well-known, and often recited and memorized psalm in the lives of believers. Many Jews and Christians, throughout the years, have read, prayed, and clung to this psalm as inspiration, encouragement, and devotion. James Mays said, “It is a doctrinal classic because it portrays human existence in all its dimensions in terms of God’s knowledge, presence, and power. It reflects the understanding of the human as enclosed in divine reality” (Mays 2011, 425).

Psalm 139, as beloved as it may be, is sometimes read without the full picture of it’s context and the neglect of it’s lament. Tremper Longman stated, “Such a reading simplifies the psalm and ignores the final stanza, which is an intense statement of hatred towards the psalmist’s dangerous enemies and includes an appeal to God to realize that the psalmist is innocent” (Longman 2014, 452).

The psalmist begins their prayer to the Lord expressing and describing many attributes of the Lord in the psalmist’s life; a major component being the Lord’s knowing and knowledge of the psalmist. Although complete transparency and full exposure is a frightening concept for many, the psalmist almost seems to take comfort and delight in the Lord’s ability to do so. It is this same disclosure and confession that begins to build rationale and intention towards the imprecatory statements that are revealed near the close of the psalm. Mays said, “What the psalm confesses to be the case at the beginning is sought in an appeal at the end. The initial address and concluding request form a parenthesis around the whole psalm to indicate that the whole is a continuous unfolding of their one theme and concern” (Mays 2011, 426).

The major tone change that occurs with the fourth strophe (verses 19-24), reveal what the psalmist has been working towards. Walter Zorn said, “When we take the imprecatory (cursing) section seriously (vv.19-22), and we must, we realize the psalmist is really protesting his innocence throughout the psalm” (Zorn 2004, 477). Unfortunately, this tone change, though important and necessary for the overall understanding of the psalm, is neglected. Zorn said, “They are often deleted in liturgical readings in many church groups. Even in evangelical churches where the worship is more flexible, one seldom hears the imprecatory sections of the psalms” (Zorn 2004, 482). This may be because the content is viewed as “clashing” (Anderson 2000, 94) with the teachings of Jesus concerning enemies, or simply because the modern believer finds it hard to relate or communicate with God in this manner. For the Psalmist, however, this was a necessary form of appropriate prayer. Mays said, “In the worldview of the psalms, the wicked and their dangerous threats to those who base life on God are an important part of the reality in the midst of which faith must live. To speak of them in speaking of one’s relation to God was completely consistent, especially where the relation was to God in his judging discernment of one’s life” (Mays 2011, 428).

The modern believer need not shy away from the imprecatory language of the Psalmist. Although the hatred of the enemy may seem harsh and anti-Sermon on the Mount, the raw emotion reflected the Psalmist’s plea for God to make things right in the world. Zorn said, “The righteousness of God demanded justice. The psalmist wishes to uphold the righteousness of God, even if he must “curse” in the presence of the very God he is defending!” (Zorn 2004, 483). Loving one’s enemy does not mean that one must be happy with their actions and behavior, especially if it is infringing upon the wellbeing and faith of the believer. Bernhard Anderson noted, “These faceless enemies, apparently, are impugning the person’s integrity with false accusations and therefore undercutting the person’s place in the community of faith” (Anderson 2000, 95).

The modern reader/believer should find comfort and relief in imprecatory prayer language, even in its explicit nature, when directed appropriately, honestly, and with proper motivation towards “the enemy.” This enemy (sin, evil, unrighteousness, etc.) threatens to diminish or destroy one’s relationship with God, therefore, should be dealt with intensity and passion before the only One who can fully and completely make things right.

The beautiful and powerful flow of Psalm 139 is best experienced in the wholeness of the context, revealing the fullness of the intense prayer language, in relation to the Psalmist’s desire for righteousness, orientation, and an intimate relationship with the Lord. Zorn said, “For the psalmist the doctrines of the omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence of God are not just a teaching, it is a lifestyle as one walks with a holy and righteous God. Indeed, it can be fearful, and fleeing or hiding may on occasion be an instinctive desire or impulse, but ultimately “the everlasting way” can only be found with God” (Zorn 2004, 484).

 

Psalm 139 (NRSV)
The Inescapable God
To the leader. Of David. A Psalm.

1 O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from far away.
3 You search out my path and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
O Lord, you know it completely.
5 You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is so high that I cannot attain it.
7 Where can I go from your spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light around me become night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is as bright as the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
13 For it was you who formed my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.
In your book were written
all the days that were formed for me,
when none of them as yet existed.
17 How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 I try to count them—they are more than the sand;
I come to the end—I am still with you.
19 O that you would kill the wicked, O God,
and that the bloodthirsty would depart from me—
20 those who speak of you maliciously,
and lift themselves up against you for evil!
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
22 I hate them with perfect hatred;
I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my thoughts.
24 See if there is any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

BOOK GIVEAWAY: Becoming Dallas Willard

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Five years ago this month Dallas Willard, after a battle with cancer, entered into the presence of his Father in Heaven. Dallas left a lasting impression on innumerable amounts of people through his teachings, books, and personal influence.

In his recent release, Gary W. Moon explores the life and spiritual journey of Dallas Willard in the biography entitled, Becoming Dallas Willard (IVP, Formatio).

In celebration of Dallas’ life and the book’s release, I want to give away one physical hardcover copy to a reader of this blog.

Simply comment below with your name and please also mention the title of your favorite Dallas Willard book or resource.

The winner will be notified on June 1st 2018.

(USA mailing residents only please, unless you are willing to help pay for international shipping rates).

Thank you!

“Dallas Willard was a personal mentor and inspiration to hundreds of pastors, philosophers, and average churchgoers. His presence and ideas rippled through the lives of many prominent leaders and authors, such as John Ortberg, Richard Foster, James Bryan Smith, Paula Huston, and J. P. Moreland. As a result of these relationships and the books he wrote, he fundamentally altered the way tens of thousands of Christians have understood and experienced the spiritual life.”

“Whether great or small, everyone who met Dallas was impressed by his personal attention, his calm confidence, his wisdom, and his profound sense of the spiritual. But he was not always the man who lived on a different plane of reality than so many of the rest of us. He was someone who had to learn to be a husband, a parent, a teacher, a Christ follower.”

“The journey was not an easy one. He absorbed some of the harshest and most unfair blows life can land. His mother died when he was two, and after his father remarried he was exiled from his stepmother’s home. Growing up in Depression-era, rural Missouri and educated in a one-room schoolhouse, he knew poverty, deprivation, anxiety, self-doubt, and depression. Though the pews he sat in during his early years were not offering much by way of love and mercy, Dallas, instead of turning away, kept looking for the company of a living, present, and personal God.”

“In Gary W. Moon’s candid and inspiring biography, we read how Willard became the person who mentored and partnered with his young pastor, Richard Foster, to inspire some of the most influential books on spirituality of the last generation. We see how his love of learning took him on to Baylor, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of Southern California, where he became a beloved professor and one of the most versatile members of the philosophy department.”

“The life of Dallas Willard deserves attention because he became a person who himself experienced authentic transformation of life and character. Dallas Willard not only taught about spiritual disciplines, he became a different person because of them. He became a grounded person, a spiritually alive person as he put them into practice, finding God, as he often said, “at the end of his rope.” Here is a life that gives us all hope.”

(From the description found on IVP’s website, found here)

IVP has made available Chapter One of Becoming Dallas Willard available on their website, linked directly below:

Read Chapter One of “Becoming Dallas Willard” by clicking HERE

Finding Favor by Brian Jones – Book Review

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“We’re all looking for “the thing” that will help us become everything God created us to be in every area of our life. God’s favor is that thing.” – Brian Jones

Finding Favor: God’s Blessings Beyond Health, Wealth, and Happiness is Brian Jones’ fourth book; and quite like his other three, this one was a fun, informative, pleasure of a read. In this book, Jones, a pastor of a large multi-site church outside of Philadelphia, thoughtfully and good-humoredly draws in the audience with entertaining, enjoyable, easy to follow stories that apply directly to the purpose of exploring God’s favor. For Jones, even as a seasoned pastor with graduate degree, the notion and perception of God’s favor didn’t really hit him until a significant moment in his life changed all that.

This book is a much-needed look at a topic that, although we may have heard the term: favor, can easily be misunderstood, misapplied, mistreated, and mishandled. In a culture and society that flocks to hear the latest message of health, wealth, and prosperity, it is refreshing and relieving to receive such real-world, beneficial teachings built on Jones’ own experience and knowledge of the Bible.

“God’s favor is rarely understandable or predictable. But it is always exactly what we need.” – Brian Jones

Finding Favor is a thorough, useful, engaging, and practical examination of what it truly means to live in, seek after, and recognize God’s favor. At 170 pages with ten chapters, the only disappointment was realizing that I was finished reading it so quickly.

I highly recommend grabbing a copy for yourself and a friend!

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary publicity copy from the publisher (IVP Books). (This in no way affected my honest review of the book)

Talking with God by Adam Weber – Book Review Repost (Re-released today)

 

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A lot of books on prayer read in a typical format.  They define prayer.  They explain the definition of prayer.  They give examples.  Then they conclude with a challenge to pray.  This book, Talking with God: What To Say When You Don’t Know How To Pray by Adam Weber, is a different breed of prayer books.

Talking with God is sectioned into four parts: The God We Talk With, The Way We Pray, How to Pray When…, and Only The Beginning.  These sections essentially function to help the reader understand a small momentum shift has occurred in the focus of the topic.  Other than that, the author maintains what I found was a wonderful conversational style of writing, which made for extremely fast reading.  Also, the type font is super easy on the eyes, which makes this book very enjoyable to digest.

I highly recommend this book.  It is clear, concise, yet full of Weber’s personal stories of reflection, humor, and typical life situations to bring a “realness” to prayer.  One can understand the definition of prayer, but applying that to the often hectic, busy, overwhelmed lives that most of us live becomes a challenge.  Weber simplifies prayer into what it should be: talking with God.

Don’t think that because the book is a quick read and a simplification of prayer that it lacks depth, because it certainly does not.  Weber cites and addresses many passages of Scripture, explaining how they apply to the prayer life of the individual.  Weber also pulls from past prayer teachers such as Brother Lawrence.  Beyond the research, Weber uses many personal stories from his church and pastoral ministry to give the reader insight as to why this book was written and why it’s necessary in the climate of our culture.

One thing that I kept thinking about while I read, was that this book seemed to be targeted directly at my age group.  (25 to 40)  Weber uses a lot of illustrations that relate to someone who grew up during the 80s and early 90s.  I do not see this as a hindrance to anyone younger or older, but there might be a small disconnect.

Let me share one of my favorite paragraphs from the book:  “We don’t need to impress God.  He’s the one who wants to be friends with us.  Just be you.  The real you, not some weird version of you.  Don’t try to sound all prim and proper.  Don’t use strange religious words.  Don’t worry about saying the wrong thing.  Don’t make it complicated.  Just talk with him.  We can’t mess it up!  My best advice on prayer: say exactly what’s inside you.  Don’t edit your words.  Say whatever you’re feeling.  Tell God in a few words.  But don’t hesitate to ramble either.  Let it be unpolished.”

If you feel like your prayer life is lacking.  Or if you don’t have one at all.  I urge you to give this book a try.  It’s a prayer book unlike most prayer books.  It’s a call into a deeper, intimate, yet real-life, raw, conversational relationship with God.

Talking with God re-releases today (February 27th 2018) in paperback.

You can order it on Amazon HERE

 

 

Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher for this review.

Life Without Lack by Dallas Willard – Book Review Repost (Released today)

LWL

Dallas Willard has been instrumental in my life at helping me move from being simply someone who says that believe in Jesus, to someone who actively and intimately loves Christ Jesus. I was presented with Willard’s The Divine Conspiracy at a point in my life when I was heavily considering walking away from my calling into ministry. I was done. I didn’t want to go down that path anymore. I still “believed in Jesus”, whatever that really means, but I didn’t find significance or purpose in ministry. I’d rather just watch from the sidelines. Exposure to Willard’s books changed all that. Not that Willard pushed the for call back into ministry, but his explanation of the intimacy found in Christ Jesus and what he means to truly follow Him, helped me to see life through a new lens, a new perspective. I will forever be grateful and thankful for Dallas Willard.

When Dallas Willard died in May of 2013 I was heartbroken. No one knew it until today, but I cried in my car on my way to work after finding out. Although I knew Dallas was experiencing the wonderful presence of Christ, I grieved the loss of an incredible man of God and the end to his books and teachings.

Thankfully, through the work of Gary Black Jr., Gary Moon, John Ortberg, Jan Johnson, and more, Dallas’ influence and work has continued.

Life Without Lack: Living in the Fullness of Psalm 23 is another beautiful continuation and extension of Willard’s work posthumously. Through the efforts and collaboration of Larry Burtoft (a friend of Willard) and Becky Willard Heatley (Willard’s daughter) another public addition to Willard’s catalogue has been preserved.

Life Without Lack is a compilation of Willard’s eight-week teachings series on Psalm 23 originally taught in early 1991 to a group of roughly thirty people at Valley Vista Christian Community. The teaching was preserved on cassette tape, and transposed into this book, a project that Burtoft had planned on for years, but never found fruition until after Willard’s death. As a Dallas Willard enthusiast, I was absolutely delighted to hear the news of the release of this book.

The book is broken into eight chapters, which follow the eight original teaching sessions. Each chapter richly and deeply defines and explains life with God, through the context of God’s ever-present character. Psalm 23 provides the foundation of the teaching yet is not overly expounded. If one were looking for a commentary on Psalm 23, this is not the book for that. What is elucidated is the fact that the Good Shepherd as described in Psalm 23, offers true freedom and peace in an intimate relationship with Him.

Life Without Lack is meaty. It is not a quick read. It is a book that is meant to take time to digest, time to apply to one’s life, and time to dwell upon. This is not a new concept to those who are familiar with Willard. For me, at least, while reading Willard, to read and re-read the same chapter in a sitting, is commonplace. Good content takes time and reflection to grasp and process.

Overall, I highly recommend this book. Read it slowly. Read it purposely. And read it with the hopeful expectation that you’ll be enlightened, encouraged, and invigorated by it. May you grow deeper in your relationship with Christ Jesus through it. If this is your very first Dallas Willard book, then I recommend you borrow or purchase Hearing God, The Spirit of the Disciplines, The Divine Conspiracy, or Renovation of the Heart to read beforehand or closely afterward. Dallas Willard writes and speaks with a breadth of knowledge, worth taking the time to ponder and apply.

Life Without Lack released today (February 27, 2018). It is available in hardcover, ebook, audiobook, and more. You can order on Amazon, Christianbook, and through all major book retailers.

Disclaimer: I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher. (This in no way affected my honest review of the book)

God-Soaked Life by Chris Webb – Book Review

GSL

I first became acquainted with Chris Webb when he was the president of Renovaré USA. For those unfamiliar with Renovaré, it is a Christian ministry “that models, resources, and advocates fullness of life with God experienced, by grace, through the spiritual practices of Jesus and of the historical Church.” Currently, Webb acts as Deputy Warden of Launde Abbey and Diocesan Spirituality Adviser to the Diocese of Leicester.

God-Soaked Life (InterVarsity Press – Formatio) is Webb’s second book, after previously releasing the delightful and beneficial The Fire of the Word in 2011, and it certainly lives up to his previous accomplishment.

God-Soaked Life takes the reader through seven chapter-sections each with four sub-chapters within, all pointing and progressing towards the aim of living one’s life in the presence of God and in the reality of the Kingdom. Webb reveals and emphasizes the significance of the Christian living in community. Living alert to the Kingdom and conscious of the ever-loving care and compassion of the Father, motivates the Christian to live with that same desire. A loving Christian community is the natural outworking of a God-soaked life.

Chris Webb beautifully articulates the deep meaning of living as the community of God, the church, here on the earth. Life is not a precursor to eternity. Life is not a waiting room before we get to Heaven. Life is the marvelous opportunity to live in the presence of Christ, furthering and continuing His ministry, His Kingdom, now.

A quote from the book that summarizes well the direction the author is leading the reader, comes near the end of the book: “To follow Jesus is to accept his call to participate in the gift of God’s kingdom realized in our own time and place, and so to live as members of the God-soaked community of love” (Webb 2017, 170).

Rather than simply defining or outlining how one should live, think, or act within the Kingdom, or God-soaked life, Webb also sympathizes and identifies some of the struggles and mistakes we all make as human beings. This establishes authenticity and credibility between the author and reader, but also allows for feasibility, user-friendliness, tangibility, and practical application into one’s life.

I highly recommend reading God-Soaked Life. It is an easy read (under 200 pages), but not lacking in profound communication and insight. Although the intriguing stories and illustrations keep the reader turning pages, I suggest reading this book slowly, prayerfully, and contemplatively. The magnitude of the transformation that a God-soaked life necessitates is worth the time and patience.

One characteristic of the book that I absolutely loved was the Scripture and Reflection pages, found at the end of each of the seven sections. These extra reflections allow the reader to not only engage the topic in a more profound manner, but also to provoke thought and behavior change. Don’t read past these. Take the time and effort to “soak” it all in.

Overall, God-Soaked Life was a thorough, comprehensive, and transformative look at what it truly means to live in the Kingdom of God right now.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary publicity copy from the publisher. (This in no way affected my honest review of the book)

Silence & Solitude – Five Minute Moments

Today in Five Minute Moments, we explored the spiritual disciplines of silence and solitude.  A practice of removing oneself from the hurry and busyness of one’s life, in search of quiet and isolated time with God.

In the video presentation we read a brief excerpt from Ruth Haley Barton’s book Invitation to Solitude and Silence, as well as practice a short meditative devotional listening time focused on Psalm 46:10.

I hope you enjoy, as we seek to connect deeper and more intimately with God through the spiritual disciplines.

Life Without Lack by Dallas Willard – Book Review

LWL

Dallas Willard has been instrumental in my life at helping me move from being simply someone who says that believe in Jesus, to someone who actively and intimately loves Christ Jesus. I was presented with Willard’s The Divine Conspiracy at a point in my life when I was heavily considering walking away from my calling into ministry. I was done. I didn’t want to go down that path anymore. I still “believed in Jesus”, whatever that really means, but I didn’t find significance or purpose in ministry. I’d rather just watch from the sidelines. Exposure to Willard’s books changed all that. Not that Willard pushed the for call back into ministry, but his explanation of the intimacy found in Christ Jesus and what he means to truly follow Him, helped me to see life through a new lens, a new perspective. I will forever be grateful and thankful for Dallas Willard.

When Dallas Willard died in May of 2013 I was heartbroken. No one knew it until today, but I cried in my car on my way to work after finding out. Although I knew Dallas was experiencing the wonderful presence of Christ, I grieved the loss of an incredible man of God and the end to his books and teachings.

Thankfully, through the work of Gary Black Jr., Gary Moon, John Ortberg, Jan Johnson, and more, Dallas’ influence and work has continued.

Life Without Lack: Living in the Fullness of Psalm 23 is another beautiful continuation and extension of Willard’s work posthumously. Through the efforts and collaboration of Larry Burtoft (a friend of Willard) and Becky Willard Heatley (Willard’s daughter) another public addition to Willard’s catalogue has been preserved.

Life Without Lack is a compilation of Willard’s eight-week teachings series on Psalm 23 originally taught in early 1991 to a group of roughly thirty people at Valley Vista Christian Community. The teaching was preserved on cassette tape, and transposed into this book, a project that Burtoft had planned on for years, but never found fruition until after Willard’s death. As a Dallas Willard enthusiast, I was absolutely delighted to hear the news of the release of this book.

The book is broken into eight chapters, which follow the eight original teaching sessions. Each chapter richly and deeply defines and explains life with God, through the context of God’s ever-present character. Psalm 23 provides the foundation of the teaching yet is not overly expounded. If one were looking for a commentary on Psalm 23, this is not the book for that. What is elucidated is the fact that the Good Shepherd as described in Psalm 23, offers true freedom and peace in an intimate relationship with Him.

Life Without Lack is meaty. It is not a quick read. It is a book that is meant to take time to digest, time to apply to one’s life, and time to dwell upon. This is not a new concept to those who are familiar with Willard. For me, at least, while reading Willard, to read and re-read the same chapter in a sitting, is commonplace. Good content takes time and reflection to grasp and process.

Overall, I highly recommend this book. Read it slowly. Read it purposely. And read it with the hopeful expectation that you’ll be enlightened, encouraged, and invigorated by it. May you grow deeper in your relationship with Christ Jesus through it. If this is your very first Dallas Willard book, then I recommend you borrow or purchase Hearing God, The Spirit of the Disciplines, The Divine Conspiracy, or Renovation of the Heart to read beforehand or closely afterward. Dallas Willard writes and speaks with a breadth of knowledge, worth taking the time to ponder and apply.

Life Without Lack releases on February 27, 2018. It will be available in hardcover, ebook, audiobook, and more. You can preorder on Amazon, Christianbook, and through all major book retailers.

Disclaimer: I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher. (This in no way affected my honest review of the book)

Five Minute Moments

5 Minute Moments Title

When I reflect on spiritual formation and disciplines, my mind always seems to lean towards Paul’s words in Romans 12, when he said: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2 NRSV).

The process and progress found in spiritual formation is the lifelong transformation of the heart, mind, and soul in one’s connection, relationship, and pursuit of God.

Dallas Willard once said, “Spiritual formation in the tradition of Jesus Christ is the process of transformation of the inmost dimension of the human being, the heart, which is the same as the spirit or will. It is being formed (really, transformed) in such a way that its natural expression comes to be the deeds of Christ done in the power of Christ.”

As one draws closer to Christ Jesus, in relationship, obedience, and connection, their very whole being begins to change and transform, becoming more Christlike. This moral, character, and soul change activates within the depths of one’s self through the workings of the Spirit.  As Richard Foster said in Celebration of the Disciplines: “The classical Disciplines of the spiritual life call us to move beyond surface living into the depths. They invite us to explore the inner caverns of the spiritual realm” (Foster 1998, 1).

The practice of the spiritual disciplines is not limited to certain exercises, although the classics are presented. Rather, the practice of the spiritual disciplines flow from within, in a natural stream towards a connection with God.

Although these practices and disciplines are beneficial, they achieve nothing outside of a deep connection and relationship with God.  Jan Johnson, in her book When The Soul Listens, said: “The contemplative approach isn’t so much about doing these practices as about living with Christ in the midst of them so that they shape my life with God” (Johnson 2017, xx).

I am in the process of creating “Five Minute Moments”, a video series focused on living a life with Christ.  Through these videos I hope to engage certain topics within Christianity, and focus on how to apply them to our spiritual lives.

In this “first season” of Five Minute Moments, I will be concentrating my attention on the spiritual disciplines.  You can check out the introductory video here:

It is my goal that you grow closer and deeper in your relationship with Christ.  Even if it takes just five minutes at a time.

I believe that the life-long process of spiritual formation and the practice of spiritual disciplines are a fulfilling and transforming path towards Christlikeness in the believer through the power of the Holy Spirit. This God ordained transformation can and will naturally lead followers into a deeper relationship with Him as we seek to become disciple-making disciples of Christ Jesus here on earth.