On Taming Jesus

When do we tame Jesus? when is the Jesus of the Gospels and the Jesus of our faith tamed? If spirituality is formation into Christlikeness then taming Jesus diminishes spiritual formation. Where has our formation been shortened by taming the Jesus toward whom we are to grow? Most of our taming of Jesus is invisible to [Read More...]

Reading the Bible vs. Being Read by the Bible

This set of images comes from a wonderful article by James Bryan Smith, at Friends University and with Apprentice Institute, and illustrates the differences of reading the Bible for information vs formation or reading the Bible vs being read by the Bible: [Read more...]

The Middle Ground in Prayer

The one and only prayer book of the Bible is the Book of Psalms but it does not begin with a prayer but with a meditation, what Tim Keller calls “a meditation on meditation” (Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God, 146). That is, Psalm 1 is a “pre-prayer act” of recollection. We cannot jump [Read More...]

What is Spiritual Formation?

If the Christian life is defined as being spiritually formed, without suggesting for a moment this is all about spirit and not at all about body, what would it look like to be spiritual formed? Diane Chandler, at Regent University in Virginia Beach, offers this definition in her new book, Christian Spiritual Formation: An Integrated [Read More...]

When Worship becomes Formative

There is a lot of chatter today about the formative dimension of church worship. One can be forgiven for thinking that if we would just get our worship right we’d all be formed into model Christians. My observation is that if gathered worship is formative then the best liturgies should produce the best Christians, and [Read More...]

Tim Keller’s Rules for Prayer

Most of the great theologians of the church have addressed the topic of prayer, and it is one of the highlights of Tim Keller’s book on prayer (Prayer) to sketch what Augustine, Luther and Calvin said about prayer — each expressing a pastoral theology of prayer in a letter to someone. Luther, for instance, said [Read More...]

Unanswered Prayer (John Frye)

This post is by John Frye. What John is talking about in this first paragraph was a long-time coming and I’m grateful to pastor after pastor who has helped me “get it.” Thanks John. I have often felt in Scot McKnight’s writings that he has a genuine pastor’s heart. This is not to detract from [Read More...]

What does it mean to “Encounter” God?

Tim Keller, as we have noted in an earlier post, sees prayer as a conversation, but this conversation has a particular shape: God speaks in the Word (the Bible) and we respond in learning to communicate with God in light of that word-y revelation. Thus, Timothy Ward has shown that the words of God given [Read More...]

A Pastor and Energizing Prayer (John Frye)

By John Frye: A charming mechanical bunny beating a bass drum crosses our TV screen. Known affectionately as the “energizer bunny,” it is hawking long-lasting batteries that have more energy than the competitors. What gives long-lasting energy to prayer? Scot McKnight makes this observation: “As the Son of the Father, Jesus shows the disciples how [Read More...]

Spiritual Disciplines: What should we expect?

Ah, those spiritual disciplines. What are they? What do they accomplish? Which ones are most important? What are we to expect from the spiritual disciplines? Barry Jones just might capture the whole picture in these words from his book Dwell: Life with God for the World, and I have reformatted these into “teaching points” (pp. 102-103): Whether [Read More...]