Friday, February 22

What is joy?

I especially like the second line of this quote, which I've put in bold: 

"We do well to note, however, that love is the foundation of the spiritual life and joy is a key component in the Christ life. Joy is not pleasure, a mere sensation, but a pervasive and constant sense of well-being. Hope in the goodness of God is joy's indispensible support."

--Dallas Willard, The Great Omission

Sunday, February 17

The Great Omission

I find these comments by Willard deeply insightful and challenging:

"The overshadowing event of the past two centuries of Christian life has been the struggle between orthodoxy and modernism. In this struggle the primary issue has, as a matter of fact, not been discipleship to Christ and a transformation of soul that expresses itself in pervasive, routine obedience to his "all that I have commanded you." Instead, both sides of the controversy have focused almost entirely upon what is to be explicitly assered or rejected as essential Christian doctrine. In the process of battles over views of Christ the Savior, Christ the Teacher was lost on all sides.

"Discipleship as an essential issue disappeared from the church and with it there also disappeared realistic plans and programs for the transformation of the inmost self into Christ-likeness. One could now be a Christian forever without actually changing in heart and life. Right profession, positive or negative, was all that was required. This has now produced generations of professing Christians who, as a whole, do not differ in character, but only in ritual, from their nonprofessing neighbors; in addition, a massive population has now arisen in America who believe in God, even self-identify as spiritual, but will have nothing to do with churches . . ."  --The Great Omission, pp.109-110. 

I highly recommend this book! Strikingly, I read a couple days ago in Mother Teresa's writings that in founding the new Missionaries of Charity, her plan was for all new members of her order to go through a two-year orientation process. The second year would be active service among the poor, but--listen to this--the first year was devoted to formation: almost complete solitude, spiritual direction, much prayer and meditation. She understood that without this kind of personal transformation, no one could sustain the kind of ministry envisioned. To this day Missionaries of Charity spend hours in prayer daily, take communion daily, and take retreats after every several weeks in active ministry. 

Striking that one of the few places in our world where the character of Jesus has shone like a light in the darkness has been where formation of people as disciples--students--of Jesus has been taken seriously. 

Tuesday, February 12

Calm and Joyful Noncompliance with Evil

"Vision of God secures humility. Seeing God for who He is enables us to see ourselves for what we are. This makes us bold, for we see clearly what great good and evil are at issue, and we see that it is not up to us to accomplish it, but up to God--who is more than able. We are delivered from pretending, from being presumptuous about ourselves, and from pushing as if the outcome depended on us. We persist without frustration, and we practice calm and joyful noncompliance with evil of every kind."  --Dallas Willard, The Great Omission: Reclaiming Jesus's Essential Teachings on Discipleship

Amen! I love that--delivered from pretending, and from pushing as if the outcome depended on us. May that be so more and more in our lives. May Your Kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven!

Monday, February 11


My friend Derek used to quote someone (I think it was Martyn Lloyd-Jones) who said, "Read a little biography every morning to humble you, and a little theology at night to build you up." I recently started reading Mother Teresa * Come Be My Light: The Private Writings of the "Saint of Calcutta", and wow, has it been humbling. I'll post some of the most striking quotes.

At age 18, she left her family in Albania and moved to Calcutta to follow what she felt was Jesus' calling to love and serve people there. Shortly after arriving, she wrote:

"The heat of India is simply burning. When I walk around, it seems to me that fire is under my feet from which even my whole body is burning. When it is hardest, I console myself with the thought that souls are saved in this way and that dear Jesus has suffered much more for them. . . . The life of a missionary is not strewn with roses, in fact more with thorns; but with it all, it is a life full of happiness and joy when she thinks that she is doing the same work which Jesus was doing when he was on earth, and that she is fulfilling Jesus' commandment: 'Go and teach all nations!'"

Her passionate, focused love of Jesus has been inspiring and challenging. Lord, cause my heart to grow in love and passion for you!

Tuesday, February 5


I heard Thomas Merton quoted in a sermon, and I really like the way he puts this:

"There is no greater disaster in the spiritual life than to be immersed in unreality. For life is maintained and nourished in us by our vital relationship with reality."