CRI March 2019 Resource

When God made us he made creatures of astonishing presumption. We humans can almost forget that we are dust. Perhaps we must in some measure forget in order to carry on. Yet, as we breathe and eat and sleep, we also think and aspire — and that is amazing. In that paradox, that puzzle in which the pieces do not truly fit together, we can either applaud ourselves for such a rare and amazing accomplishment or we can begin to understand that we are touched by powers beyond ourselves. We are creatures given such diverse possibilities that they can actually lead us to heaven or hell.”

– from The Spirit of the Disciplines, Dallas Willard

Yes, Hank.  We should not expect dynamic disciples when we forget essential disciplines. It’s not an overstatement to say that as our spiritual disciplines go, so goes Christ’s church. Enclosed is my special gift to continue equipping Christians at home and abroad with the knowledge, insights, and disciplines to be effective agents of change in a needy world. Please send the resources requested below.

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The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives
by Dallas Willard

“Pleads eloquently for a renaissance of traditional spiritual disciplines
among all Christians….If that plea is heeded, there will be…transforming
consequences in both the church and society.”
– Vernon Grounds, president emeritus, Denver Seminary

Excerpts: 

“We vigorously reject shallow thinking and erroneous conceptualization on
the part of the computer analyst or a bridge designer or a brain surgeon. For
some strange reason, though, we find it easy to put our minds away when it
comes to religion, when it comes to bringing the same type of care to our faith
as we would to other subjects. But, in reality, we need to be even more careful
with our religious teachers and theologians. The religion teacher’s subject
matter is at least as inaccessible as that of other professionals and, of course,
it is much more important….One specific errant concept has done inestimable
harm to the church and God’s purposes with us — and that is the concept that
has restricted the Christian idea of salvation to mere forgiveness of sins.”

“The distance between the aspirations and the physical realities of humanity can be the stuff of the ridiculous,
the cynical, and the tragic but at the same time be filled with compassion, faithfulness, heroism, and creativity. In
short, that distance is life as we know it…

When God made us he made creatures of astonishing presumption. We humans can almost forget that
we are dust. Perhaps we must in some measure forget in order to carry on. Yet, as we breathe and eat and sleep,
we also think and aspire — and that is amazing. In that paradox, that puzzle in which the pieces do not truly
fit together, we can either applaud ourselves for such a rare and amazing accomplishment or we can begin to
understand that we are touched by powers beyond ourselves. We are creatures given such diverse possibilities
that they can actually lead us to heaven or hell.”

The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God
by Dallas Willard

The Divine Conspiracy has revolutionized how we think about the true
meaning of discipleship. In this classic, one of the most brilliant Christian
thinkers of our times and author of the acclaimed The Spirit of Disciplines,
Dallas Willard, skillfully weaves together biblical teaching, popular culture,
science, scholarship, and spiritual practice, revealing what it means to
“apprentice” ourselves to Jesus. Using Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount as his
foundation, Willard masterfully explores life-changing ways to experience
and be guided by God on a daily basis, resulting in a more authentic and
dynamic faith.

Excerpts: 
“‘Jesus is Lord’ can mean little in practice for anyone who has to hesitate
before saying, ‘Jesus is smart.’”

“To become a disciple of Jesus is to accept now that inversion of human
distinctions that will sooner or later be forced upon everyone by the
irresistible reality of his kingdom. How must we think of him to see the
inversion from our present viewpoint? We must, simply, accept that he is the
best and smartest man who ever lived in this world, that he is even now ‘the
prince of the kings of the earth’ (Rev. 1:5). Then we heartily join his cosmic conspiracy to overcome evil with good.”
“The idea of having faith in Jesus has come to be totally isolated from being his apprentice and learning how to do
what he said.”

“One of the greatest deceptions in the practice of the Christian religion is the idea that all that really matters is our
internal feelings, ideas, beliefs, and intentions. It is this mistake about the psychology of the human being that more
than anything else divorces salvation from life, leaving us a headful of vital truths about God and a body unable to
fend off sin.”

“Jesus calls us to him to impart himself to us. He does not call us to do what he did, but to be as he was, permeated
with love. Then the doing of what he did and said becomes the natural expression of who we are in him.”
“We must understand that God does not ‘love’ us without liking us—through gritted teeth—as ‘Christian’ love is
sometimes thought to do. Rather, out of the eternal freshness of his perpetually self-renewed being, the heavenly
Father cherishes the earth and each human being upon it. The fondness, the endearment, the unstintingly affectionate
regard of God toward all his creatures is the natural outflow of what he is to the core—which we vainly try to capture
with our tired but indispensable old word ‘love’.”

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