Although Dallas Willard's Renovation of the Heart is an accessible handbook for learning about spiritual formation, it's not lightweight by any stretch of the imagination. It compels the reader to take in the concepts slowly, underline important passages, scribble notes in the margins, and slowly absorb and put into practice the ideas Willard espouses. "Although there is much talk about 'changing lives' in Christian circles, the reality is very rare, and certainly much less common than the talk," writes Willard. But, he adds, no one need live in spiritual and personal defeat. Rather, the way of change is through inner transformation and taking the small steps that lead one to it. Beginning with an introduction to spiritual formation, he then outlines the avenues through which transformation takes place, including thoughts, feelings, choices, social context, the body, and the soul. Each chapter concludes with questions for personal or group reflection. Read it once, then keep it close for further reference--it's a book that will continually refresh a spiritual journey. --Cindy Crosby
From the Back Cover:
BACK: Take on the character of Christ through the transformation of your spirit. We aren't born again to stay the way we are. But how many times have we looked around us in dismay at the lack of spiritual maturity in fellow believers? It is evident in the rising rate of divorces among Christian couples. We find it in the high percentages of Christians, even pastors, who regularly view pornography. And we face it each time a well-known leader in the Christian community is found in sexual sin or handling finances dishonestly. Perhaps you have struggled with your own character issues for years, even decades, to little avail. There's good news. You can experience significant growth in your Christian walk, shed sinful habits, and increasingly take on the character of Christ. In Renovation of the Heart, best-selling author Dallas Willard calls it "the transformation of the spirit"––a divine process that "brings every element in our being, working from inside out, into harmony with the will of God or the kingdom of God." In the transformation of our spirits, we become apprentices of Jesus Christ. Willard suggests that many Christians today are crying out, "Lord, I want to be a Christian in my heart." If that is your heart's cry, this book is the tool to take you to the next level in your quest for true, inward Christlikeness. FRONT FLAP: A high school student raised in a Christian home who turns to drugs and alcohol. A woman who has tried to stop criticizing others––for ten years. A father who knows he needs more patience with his children, but his efforts seem in vain. What do these people have in common? They are all in desperate need of further renovation of the heart, of transformation of the spirit. But just what is this transformation? Author Dallas Willard explains that its ideal end is when "all of the essential parts of the human self are effectively organized around God, as they are restored and sustained by him. Spiritual transformation in Christ is the process leading to that ideal end, and its result is love of God with all of the heart, soul, mind, and strength, and of the neighbor as oneself." Although you may acknowledge this as the ideal, you may still wonder, How do I get there? Renovation of the Heart helps to answer that inquiry. It lays a foundation for understanding the ruin and restoration of humanity, by discussing human nature and its components, how they operate, and how they are renewed. It describes common misunderstandings about our human nature, and the discipleship process. Most important, it outlines the general pattern of personal transformation––not as a formula, but as a systematic process that we have the responsibility to undertake as intentional apprentices of Jesus. Only then will our transformation be accomplished, through interaction with the grace of God in Christ, the presence of the Holy Spirit, and spiritual treasures stored in the body of Christ.
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