Even though I've often said that spiritual formation is about more than just knowing more things, there is the reality that reading is a rich and fertile place to find new growth ideas and challenges. I wanted to share three recent reads that have been significant for my own formation so that you might find some goodness there too. Renovation of the Heart (Dallas Willard)
You don't have to read this blog for long to realize how much of an influence Willard has been on me. I recently began reading through Renovation of the Heart again in preparation for some teaching and was reminded of how important this book is to getting my head around what is happening in spiritual formation. It is dense, thick and full of ideas but there are gems that pop up that are worth the work of reading. For example,
"(Jesus) way is truly the way of the heart, or spirit...He saves us by realistic restoration of our heart to God and then by dwelling there with his Father through the distinctively divine Spirit. The heart thus renovated and inhabited is the only real hope of humanity on earth." (18)
I'd recommend this book to anyone who is looking to be challenged about what it means to life life "with God" in a world filled with brokenness and despair.
Okay, so that sounds like a Sunday school answer but these four chapters of the Gospel of John have drawn me down to the core of what it means to live with Jesus everyday. The love of Jesus to wash the disciples feet (13), the promise of the Spirit (14), the abiding/producing fruit teaching (15), the grief to joy movement (16) and finally Jesus' prayer for the disciples (17) form a very whole and complete teaching on what our lives should look like if we are longing to be like Jesus and being formed into His character and activity. Read through these chapters slowly and imagine what your life would look like if these teachings and promises would become reality.
Falling Upward (Richard Rohr)
I recommend this book with one note - you must be ready for Rohr to challenge your sensibilities. He is a Franciscan priest living in New Mexico, and he is broad and wide in his ideas and that may put some of my readers on edge. I understand, and if you begin this book and decide to put it away for a while you have my blessing. However, if you are willing to live in the tension of some of his ideas you will find powerful and potent direction for your soul. Such as,
"We do not make or create our souls; we just grow them up. We are the clumsy stewards of our own souls. We are charged to awaken, and much of the work of spirituality is learning how to stay out of the way of this rather natural growing and awakening. We need to unlearn a lot, it seems, to get back to that foundational life which is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3)."
Rohr presses us beyond what he calls "surviving successfully" which is the very basic way of staying alive, into the deeper life of Jesus where we find our deepest and most significant purpose in Christ. It is well worth the read if you are searching for deeper paths in your life with Christ.
I pray these help as you walk this path and engage in this transformational conversation with Jesus. Peace friends.