Spiritual Formation & Resources
is a common experience among Christians
longing for spiritual fulfillment, transformation and maturity. What is the road to
becoming truly spiritual
and godly? Are we
enough? Are we
praying in the right way
and for the right things? Are
and studying the Bible enough and in the right way?
Are we reading the right books? What about fasting and
should we be doing? Are
we doing enough? How do we become
spiritual? How do
we become truly mature
here is no process for becoming
graciously gives us
everything we need for life and godliness.
In our spiritual journey we rely on Jesus
Christ from the beginning to
the very end. Everything
comes from God. Christian
spirituality is simply following
Jesus and receiving from Him. Spiritual
formation is not a process of self-development.
God does the forming.
spiritual life is something graciously given to us by God.
why write about or spend any time focusing on
called to pursue the Lord and to be receptive to what He has given us. As we practice spiritual
disciplines we take
in and receive Godís nourishing Word that feeds our soul. Jesus teaches us to pray
and He intercedes
for us. We receive
what we need from Him
as we read, pray, meditate and fast.
gives us His Spirit. He
gifts. In each
encounter in spiritual
battle God guides us with His Word and His Holy Spirit.
We depend on Him and He empowers us. We need to be spiritually
awake and ready for
suffering, temptation and
failure form us into the image of Jesus Christ as we learn to cling to
depend on Him.
What is Spiritual Formation?
Spiritual formation is the process by which believers become more fully
conformed and united to Jesus Christ. It is the intentional
development and nurturing of our relationship with God. It is
being transformed by the Spirit of Christ. It is the shaping
of a believer's inner character and outward actions into the likeness
of Jesus Christ.
It does not take being in Christian ministry very
long to realize that simply having a daily "quiet time" will not create
the transformation and depth needed to sustain a person who is
ministering spiritually for the long hull; especially those who
minister in hard situations. Spiritual maturity and growth is
not instantaneous. The process of transformation is more
involved and is a long-term process. There is no short cut to
spiritual formation and transformation. Our spiritual life is
Some approaches and aspects of spiritual
formation include following: Cultivating the
spiritual disciplines (i.e.: prayer, study, fasting, meditation,
confession, worship, journaling, etc...); developing a Biblical value
system; cultivating a growing love for and intimacy with God
(devotional life); understanding who we are in Jesus Christ (our
identity); developing a love for others; walking in the power of the
Holy Spirit; being prepared and equipped for spiritual battle; being
involved in a community of believers; and being involved in ministry
(evangelism, discipleship, service). (Note: This is
not intended to be an exhaustive list.)
Is your relationship with Jesus Christ shallow or
deep? Is your spiritual life healthy and growing?
God desires to transform us from the inside out and bring our thoughts,
attitudes, actions, habits and character into conformity to His
The following are some books that may be
helpful in developing your spiritual life. There is a link
from each book title to amazon.com where you can find out more or
purchase the book.
Formation, Personal Growth & Walk with God
of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth, Richard J. Foster - The
classic study on the spiritual disciplines.
Character of God: Discovering the..., R. C. Sproul
to His Image: Biblical and Practical Approaches to Spiritual
Formation, Kenneth Boa - Kenneth
Boa - This is a great and fairly comprehensive introduction to the
subject of spiritual formation. If you want a great overview
on the subject start with this book. This also is written as
a textbook for seminaries or Bible Colleges.
God: Meditations of a Christian..., John Piper
is No Fool,
Lois A. Cheney - Devotional meditations that have greatly inspired and
blessed me. Out of print for many years this book is not back
God Who Hears, W. Bingham Hunter
Its Nature, Hindrances,..., J. C. Ryle
Holiness of God, R. C. Sproul - A profound look at the character of God,
especially His holiness and how God's holiness affects every aspect of
our lives. R C Sproul is one of my favorite
theologians. This book is profound and very insightful, yet
easy to read, understand and apply. A classic and one of my
to a Journey: A Road Map for Spiritual Formation,
M. Robert Mulholland - A good basic
overview of spiritual formation.
in Step With the Spirit, J. I. Packer - Packer focuses on the work and ministry of
the Holy Spirit in this book. It is a strong encouragement to
a deeper Christian experience and to acquire a spirit-filled character.
God, J. I. Packer
Knowledge of the Holy: The Attributes of God, A. W.
Tozer - A classic! A
study on the attributes of God.
for Prayer, Matthew Henry
Mortification of Sin, John Owen - A classic study on mortification by one of
the most highly regarded Puritan theologians. This study
provides great biblical principles to help believers live lives of
Pilgrim's Progress in Modern English..., John Bunyan
Pleasures of God: Meditations on..., John Piper
of God, A. W. Tozer - Another
spiritual formation classic by A. W. Tozer.
Pursuit of Holiness, Jerry Bridges - One of the best practical books available on
what it means to live a holy life.
A People Saturated with God, Brian H. Edwards - This study on revival from Scripture and
from history is designed to inform the mind and inflame the
heart. This book gives a greater understanding of revival and
creates a longing for God. I was greatly motivated by reading
this book to long for revival and to pray that God would be glorified
and bring personal and corporate revival.
Affections, Jonathan Edwards - Edwards is an intellectual giant and one of
the greatest theologians who ever lived on the American
continent. This is Edwards classic work
distinguishing between true and false religion, by showing what are the
genuine signs of a saving work of the Holy Spirit. In doing
this He encourages the development of the spiritual life of the
reader. It is not easy to read but it does challenge your
thinking and move you to delight in God.
of the Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ,
Dallas Willard - How can I be
changed into the likeness of Jesus Christ? This book
insightfully sets out to answer this question. His approach
is not simplistic but it is deep, clear and practical instruction on
what it means to live as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Your Soul: Restoring the Heart of Christian Spirituality,
Bruce Demarest - A wise
study of the life-long process of inner transformation.
Balanced, biblical and practical. One of the top three books
I recommend to our missionaries on spiritual formation.
Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis
Seeing God: Jonathan Edwards and Spiritual Discernment, Gerald R. McDermott - McDermott makes
Jonathan Edwards' insights in his book Religious Affections practical
and understandable for today. He clarifies the signs of
genuine Christianity so that we can have insight into true and false
spirituality. If you have trouble getting a handle on what
Edwards is saying this will help a lot. You will also gain
insight that will help your spiritual life; your appreciation, delight
and enjoyment of God should grow and develop.
Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life, William Law
- The classic by William
Law. Not an easy read but worth the effort.
Soul Guide: Following Jesus As Spiritual Director,
Bruce Demarest - A great book! Demarest provides practical
soul guidance using the example of Jesus Christ as a spiritual
mentor. Great biblical and practical wisdom for life's
Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives,
Disciplines for the Christian Life, Donald S.
Whitney - Good practical study on
practicing the spiritual disciplines.
Formation, Bob Krepps - The material used in
Bob's Spiritual Formation course that he has taught throughout the
by Suffering, R. C. Sproul - A biblical, practical and compassionate look
at suffering and death.
Spirituality, Francis Schaeffer
Valley of Vision: A collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions,
Arthur Bennett, Editor - Many
of the Puritans had a deep and genuine spiritual life. They
regarded prayer and meditation as of first importance. This
is a collection of very inspiring written prayers and
meditations. This is a very inspiring devotional work that
will help lead you into God's presence and encourage you in your walk
Would See Jesus, Roy
and Revell Hession - I have read
this short book again and again. It is easy to read, profound
and life-changing. It has had a great impact on my personal
walk with Jesus Christ. Great insight into walking with Jesus
and living the Christian life. Other than the Bible, I have
given away more copies of this book than any other.
& Evangelism & Missions
, Bruce Olsen - The
true story of Bruce Olsen, missionary to a South American
tribe. Very inspiring and uplifting.
International Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties ,
Gleason Archer - I have often
opened this book when I received a call from someone asking me a
question on a hard Bible passage.
On Counseling Youth, Josh McDowell & Bob
Hostetler - Good practical advice
on how to help people covering a wide range of issues.
the Nations Be Glad!: The Supremacy of God in Missions,
John Piper - Good study on the
Biblical basis of and God's heart for missions.
Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community,
Master Plan of Evangelism, Robert E. Coleman - Great introduction to the art of personal
World: When We Pray God Works, Patrick Johnstone - Very informational and a very practical way
to get to know and pray for the nations of the world.
to Believe, R. C. Sproul - Easy
to read, practical book on apologetics. Honest answers to
questions people are asking.
Bible for Study Groups -
A great resource for small group leaders. Has group
discussion questions on every passage in the Bible.
Leadership: Principles of Excellence for Every Believer,
J. Oswald Sanders - A study on the
principles of spiritual leadership. The emphasis of the book
is not on methods but on character. There is a study guide
with great questions on each chapter. I have used this study
to help develop ministry leadership teams.
at Last, Bob Sjogren - A
great book on the Biblical basis for missions. He shows that
a unifying theme in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation is God's heart
for the nations.
to Winners of Souls, Horatius Bonar - A call to humility, confession of sin and
compassion for those without Christ. This classic, written
over 100 years ago, is still challenging and convicting.
Pioneer Missionaries, Banner of Truth Trust - Short sketches of the lives of Henry Martyn,
John G. Paton, John Eliot, David Brainerd and William Chalmers Burns
Life and Diary of David Brainerd, Jonathan Edwards,
Editor - The classic biography of
David Brainerd, early missionary to the Native Americans.
This book has inspired and encouraged thousands of missionaries and
Christian workers because of David's honest and intimate walk with God
recorded in his diary. His diary at times reads like a
the Golden Shore: The Life of Adoniram Judson,
Courtney Anderson - A wonderful
and insightful biography of the pioneer missionary to Burma and the
first foreign missionary to be sent from America. In this
biography Judson's entire character; his strengths, weakness,
struggles, intense suffering and great triumphs are all explored.
and Letters of Henry Martyn, John Sargent - Biography about the short but very
influential life of this missionary to India.