This is the last blog after last Sunday’s sermon. Some have asked me what are some good resources out there about the spiritual disciplines. Rather than giving you academic resources I’ve included more accesible resources.
Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun. A must have resource that not only describes the practice but offers some spiritual exercises that help “drive” the practice deeper than simply a bodily exercise. Calhoun also connects the action to a heart desire. Don’t be overwhelmed by the long list of disciplines nor should you approach them like a check list. Remember, you have a lifetime to practice!
Spiritual Disciplines for Life by Don Whitney. What’s outstanding about Whitney’s understanding of the disciplines is he connects real freedom that comes from the gospel to discipline – those who have disciplined themselves are most free. My only hesitation is I wish he had emphasized more that there is not a direct correlation between these spiritual practices and godliness (as if you do them and you will be godly). The fact that godly character will naturally come out of us as we “get on the highway” focusing our attention on the beauty of Christ, is apparent in later interviews and lectures he gave.
Habits of Grace by David Mathis. This is the newer book on the spiritual disciplines written by Mathis, who works for Desiring God Ministry. It’s a thoughful book that emphasizes not only our part but also God’s part in cultivating the fruit through His Spirit’s work. Where it succeeds in its practicality is he takes into account the multi-layered lives people are currently living and how we practice these disciplines.
Beloved Dust by Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel. Yes, I forgot this but while the focus is on prayer, there are connections to our devotional time in God’s Word as well as the practice of silence. I know these two and they are gospel-centered while focusing less on moral formation but formation by the Spirit of God. That is a very important distinction as many of these practices can be taught by appealing directly to people’s will to “just do them”. My first Life Group read through this and I would say we would all agree our prayer life benefitted!
Here are a couple of harder reads. As JP Moreland would say, “It’s always good to throw a few high and tight fastballs to keep people honest.”
Renovation of the Heart by Dallas Willard. Truthfully, this is a book that you need to read with someone who can help you as a “guide”. It can be “thick” reading for some (I’ve had seminary students who had difficulty). That said, many of us look to the late Dr. Willard as the one who helped clear the fog in our thinking about what sanctification looks like in the Kingdom of God. From my experience, people get stuck with Willard’s anthropology (chapter 2 – The Heart in The System of Human Life) but reading the book is like sitting with your grandfather who turns out to be the wisest (and smartest) person you know.
Formed for the Glory of God: Learning from the Practices of Jonathan Edwards by Kyle Strobel. I wanted to list the book as pretty accessible but I’ve found that the theology of Jonathan Edwards and his practice is often difficult for people to fully take in. This book will take some digesting on both ends of the theological spectrum. I wrote a note to myself in the beginning of the book that it will help those who are theologically minded to think more spiritually (the heart) and the spiritual formation fok to think more theologically.