Spiritual Formation Articles

  • Joanne J. Jung — 

    We are made in the image of God, an image that is tarnished yet has survived the fall. Who we are is intrinsically connected to who God is. Our spiritual depth, our being able to know ourselves, is linked to knowing God and who He is. This is where God’s word comes into the equation, because the Bible is one of the primary ways God discloses himself—what He’s done, what He’s doing, and what He promises to do. Spiritual depth is far more than how much you know the Scriptures or even how well you know it. It is knowing the Word of God and the God of the Word, the book and its author. We come away with a better, more thought-filled understanding of what He is like, what He says, what He expects of those who bear His image, and why, and how He empowers those who follow His son Jesus ...

  • Joanne J. Jung — 

    Symptoms of unattended souls are wide and many. Self-diagnosis is not difficult. Pridefulness and self-centeredness. Bitterness. Loneliness. The tendency to doubt. The tendency to compare. Regrets. Depression. Envy. Anger. Fear. Hopelessness. Guilt. Feeling insecure. Feeling unlovable. Being short-tempered with the people I love most. Being short-tempered. Experiencing waves of unworthiness. Fake. Empty. Motivated by peer approval. Inadequate. Controlling. Defensive. Engage in only small talk. Mask-wearing. Hold grudges more and longer. Waste hours on the computer or in front of the T.V. Intolerant. Unforgiving. Apathetic ...

  • Joanne J. Jung — 

    It is a sad but accurate appraisal that in our contemporary society we are held captive by television viewing, commercials, and the Internet. We are victims of a repertoire of fast-food menus, instant gratification, and overcrowded, conflicting, and unrelenting schedules. This entertainment-soaked culture, wrestling with boredom, thrills, and materialism, has contributed to the sensory overload common to urban life. Our addiction to and with information technology with its online connections, news and internet communication, websites, blogs, and streaming (to name a few) exacerbates the preexisting flood of intruding must-haves and must-dos that demand our time, attention, affections, and devotion ...

  • Andy Draycott — 

    Then Charlottesville, now Sutherland Springs. In contemporary America. Islamabad. Cairo. Worshippers gathered together are met with unprovoked lethal violence. And we mourn. We mourn as fellow humans, we grieve as fellow believers, we mourn as a world-wide church. We grieve as those who hope in the resurrection of the dead assured by our anointed King and Savior Jesus who will come again to establish righteousness and equity through judgment ...

  • Betsy A. Barber — 

    When my father died, I grieved. My father died on a Sunday morning, early. His hospital roommate told us that Dad had spent his last night—the whole night—praying softly for his family, person by person, before dying peacefully in the early morning. Even though we’d known that he would die soon from bone cancer, and knew that he was eager to be home with the Lord, it was still a shock. It was still too soon. Death is like that: it always surprises us and it interrupts our lives. We stop, and we grieve.

  • Steven L. Porter — 

    I just returned from visiting a hole. The last time I met this hole in the ground was twenty-two years ago. I was in my mid-20s and probably in the best shape of my life. I was just beginning my daily 5-mile run and, if I remember right, I was feeling great about myself. I was young, healthy, thriving. As I ran through La Mirada Regional Park in the prime of my life there was a little 6 inches long by 3 inches wide hole under some pine needles up ahead. My foot found the hole or perhaps the hole found my foot and in a fraction of a second I went from a vigorous young man to a pathetic young man, lying on the ground, writhing in pain. As I hobbled back to my house, barely able to walk on my freshly sprained ankle, I found myself keenly aware of how incredibly fragile and vulnerable I was. Of course, the truth was that I was that fragile and vulnerable seconds before the hole, but it took the hole to bring that ever-present reality into awareness. I was painfully right-sized ...

  • David L. Talley — 

    There is no end of opportunities to be blessed with the teaching and preaching of God’s word. Great preachers can be heard on the radio. Podcasts can be automatically downloaded to our phones or iPads. The teaching of God’s word is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, on cable television networks. Christian bookstores are full of books by the greatest authors of our day. Electronic books can be carried with us everywhere with ease. Churches have program after program geared toward teaching God’s word, not to mention a worship service every week, which includes a Bible-based sermon. From the cradle to the grave, opportunities abound ...

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    About ten years ago, some of my fellow professors and I began to observe a trend among undergraduate Biblical & Theological Studies majors at Biola. We noticed that freshman students arrived on campus eager and ready to learn, but at some point during their sophomore year, these Biblical Studies majors became aware that on average they generally knew more theology than did the average Biola student ...

  • Sean McDowell — 

    There has been a lot of discussion recently about why kids leave the faith. People have rightly drawn attention to the role of poor theology, the importance of kids owning their faith, the significance of intellectual issues such as the apparent tension between science and religion, and more. But there seems to be a core issue that is often overlooked—to develop a lasting faith, kids need to grasp their need for God. Let me explain ...

  • Sean McDowell — 

    Along with asking good questions, cultivating the art of listening well is one of the most important skills for Christians to develop today. And it is especially important for those who want to be effective apologists in our “argumentative” culture ... So, how does one develop the art of listening well? Here are four tips I have learned from personal experience as well as through my undergrad Communication Studies program at Biola University ...

  • The Good Book Blog — 

    Dr. Matt Williams (Professor of Biblical & Theological Studies) recently released a new DVD Bible study series titled The Forgiveness of Jesus (a DVD Bible study, in the Deeper Connections series). We were able to catch up with Dr. Williams to learn more about this exciting series ...

  • William Lane Craig — 

    Dr. Craig, I have noticed something that troubles me while surveying common devotional books and guides that many Christians rely on in their daily lives. I have noticed that a common template for your average devotional tends to quote a Bible passage but then follows it with a well-meaning anecdote, or inspirational messages that are vaguely relevant to the quoted passage, or sometimes even trite aphorisms re-packaged with Christian overtones ...

  • David L. Talley — 

    Overall point: The major battle we face in this life is not what is seen, but what is not seen—Satan is intensely and intentionally opposed to what God is doing. AND the greatest defense we have is not our offense, but rather our dependence. Jesus is prayerful and successful; the disciples are prayerless and careless ...

  • John E. McKinley — 

    In Part 1, I observed that Christian forgiveness includes several conditions leading to reconciliation of a relationship that was violated by one person sinning against another. Jesus’ commands that the person wronged must “show him his fault” (Matt 18:15) as the first condition, to be followed by his repentance, and then we may respond by forgiving him. Common Christian talk about forgiveness tends not to include the necessity of repentance; consequently, many Christians attempt forgiveness and yet fail to live in it. Along with this claim that repentance is necessary to forgiveness, I am aware of the need for at least four caveats ...

  • John E. McKinley — 

    The problem I notice is that many times Christians have ongoing difficulty in forgiving those who have wronged them. The strain may go on for many years even as they keep trying to forgive. They frequently assume that there is something wrong with them as being hardhearted and otherwise unloving. They fault themselves for not being able to forgive others. Perhaps these unforgiving Christians are trying to do something that God has not called them to do. Perhaps one-sided forgiveness is actually impossible in the absence of a necessary condition for forgiveness ...

  • Sean McDowell — 

    I love reading. And what better time is there to read than summer? While there are certainly plenty of good books to read, here are five of my personal favorites. While they tend to be in the category of apologetics and culture, these books were all “game changers” for me that either led me to act or see the world differently ...

  • Steven L. Porter — 

    Recently I was in discussion with a friend who was concerned about the tendency of some Christians to spiritualize death and dying by appeal to the afterlife. To “spiritualize” death and dying is to utilize spiritual beliefs to avoid dealing with unwanted feelings over the loss of a loved one. “I just try to think of how happy she is with Jesus.” “When we see him again in heaven it will seem like no time has passed.” “I am just glad she’s finally at rest in Jesus’ arms.” To spiritualize death and dying in these and other ways is a defense mechanism. It is a way to defend against experiencing some painful part of reality as it actually is ...

  • Octavio Javier Esqueda — 

    Cada vez estoy más convencido que ser un “trabajador obsesivo” es la adicción más común entre las personas que están en el ministerio cristiano. Evidentemente esta condición se presenta entre todas las personas sin importar su ocupación o religiosidad. De hecho en inglés el término “workaholic” ya forma parte del vocabulario común ya que representa una realidad cada vez más presente en nuestras sociedades. Pero es fácil convertirse en un trabajador obsesivo y disfrazar esta situación con piedad y buenas intenciones. De la misma manera es muy atractivo sumergirse en el trabajo y echarle la culpa a Dios o a la obra de Dios como excusa por esta situación ...

  • Dave Keehn — 

    Where does inspiration come from? Where does the motivation to use one’s gifts and passions to make a difference begin? Jane Goodall said, “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” Are we the source of action or does that spark come from something else? I would like to propose God is the beginning of movements that bring change; history is the record of mankind’s response to the divine prompting ...

  • Karin Stetina — 

    What is my purpose in life? This is a question that plagues each and every one of us. The Westminster confession puts the question this way: "What is the chief and highest end of man?" Countless books and blogs have addressed this question. But are we really asking the right question? ...

  • Mark R. Saucy — 

    Reading the other day in Luke’s Gospel I ran across some arresting words aimed indirectly at John the Baptist. In Luke 7:23, right after the account of John sending a delegation of disciples to inquire whether Jesus is the “Expected One,” Jesus cites his deeds and words to say in effect, “yes, indeed I am.” But then Jesus closes the episode with another “beatitude” seemingly made in John’s direction: “Blessed is the one who takes no offense at me" ...

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    Why does the Bible use so many metaphors and analogies to describe the Spirit’s activities and our relationship to those activities? Why not employ concrete language to teach us what we need to know about the Holy Spirit and our relationship to him? ...

  • John E. McKinley — 

    Romans 6:5-6 has puzzled me by the statement that the believer has in effect already been crucified with Christ. “For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin.” (nasb) My problem may have been that I viewed the crucifixion of my “old self” as having been accomplished entirely in the past, at my conversion. We are to “consider [ourselves] to be dead to sin” (6:11) so that we respond by denying the impulses and attractions to sin that (unfortunately) continue throughout this life. In practice, I have liked the idea of knowing that I am no longer a slave to sin, that I am not obligated to give in to temptations, and that I have a new capability from the Holy Spirit to live as God calls me to do. Is there importance of crucifixion for understanding my present condition? ...

  • John E. McKinley — 

    As the second part in this post on four protections to create a safe relational space for small groups, here I focus on the fourth condition. This fourth condition has four pieces to it for limiting communication that tends to shut people down. The goal is to be able to accept others as they are, with their true sharing of their real mess in daily life as a Christian. Often we can get in our own way and so fail to love them in this way because we are so busy with the speck of sawdust in their eye. In a sentence, this four-part fourth condition is the log in our eyes that prevents meeting with others.

  • David L. Talley — 

    There are many helpful resources for those who want to engage the Bible on a deeper level. The big question is how to know which resources might be the most helpful. Periodically, I encounter resources that I think distinguish themselves from the myriad of available options. It is a safe bet that a resource book on Bible charts, maps, and timelines will not hit the bestseller list. However, Jack Beck’s The Baker Book of Bible Charts, Maps, and Timelines has recently been published, and I think it will benefit Christians, pastors, and scholars, who want to engage the Bible more deeply. I have reached out to Jack and asked him to answer a few questions that might help you in understanding the purposes behind this new book ...