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Spiritual Formation Articles

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    Actually, there are lots of ways to kill a prayer meeting. Display bitterness or hostility to someone just before you start praying; that’s sure to do the job. Or thoughtlessly rush into a prayer meeting, without any spiritual preparation, cracking jokes up until the moment you bow your head. That, too, has a good chance of killing a prayer meeting ...

  • John McKinley — 

    Does God speak to Christians in dreams or in our hearts? If we have never had this experience, then are we missing something and should expect it? Is there a danger of relying on a personal word from God instead of looking to the definite word of God given as the Bible? ...

  • Karin Stetina — 

    What is the purpose of life? How does work fit into the purpose? As a college student I spent many hours contemplating these important questions and many others, such as: Do we have free will or are we predestined? What is the best form of worship- hymns or praise songs? How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? Maybe you have asked some of these same burning questions? ...

  • William Craig — 

    Good Morning Dr Craig, Thank you so much for having answered my last e-mail in your reasonable faith podcast of 11-08-2015. I listened it in the bus to work, and was really surprised and glad to tears. Thank you. I've read with a great interest your Q&A #52, about personal productivity, and it has raised more questions to me (as I begin to write myself and find a way to worship by writing): Do you pray during your work, Augustine style? How do you pray for your writings in general? How do you do your devotions? ...

  • The Good Book Blog — 

    Digital courses taught by a growing number of Biola’s professors are now available through Logos Mobile Education ...

  • John McKinley — 

    The meaning of regeneration features in one of the ongoing disagreements between dispensational theology and covenant theology when we compare the experience of salvation before and after Pentecost. Covenant theology typically reasons that regeneration is necessary for saving faith (as in effectual calling and grace), so anyone experiencing saving faith was regenerate (e.g., Abraham, other OT saints). This reasoning is part of the assertions about the continuity of the people of God, the continuity of experience of salvation, and the combination of Israel with the church across history (resulting in the church’s replacement of Israel) ...

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    I started the New Year by worshiping, fellowshipping, and preaching at Taft Avenue Community Church in Orange, California. At one point in the service, Pastor Bob Burris read aloud a short explanation of why Christians sing during times of worship. I appreciated what he read and want to share it with you today. The reading was adapted from a blog post by Kevin DeYoung, cut down to a length that could be used in a worship service. Why do we sing when we worship together?

  • John McKinley — 

    Regeneration (gennao anothen, “born again” or, “born from above”) is most clearly stated in John 1:12-13 and 3:3-8. While Nicodemus thinks Jesus is talking about a second birth (“He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” John 3:4, all quotations are from nasb), the alternate possible meaning of birth from above is better since the source of the birth of God that makes one a child of God is more important than the idea of simply being alive again. Perhaps best is to hold both ideas of enlivening spiritual renewal and birth from God (as the new source for one’s existence) ...

  • John McKinley — 

    Regeneration seems to be one of those topics that theologians argue about while non-experts give little thought to it. Since this is a biblical topic that appears in nearly every book of the New Testament, we should consider this major theme closely and repeatedly. Regeneration is implicated not only in the term “born again,” but also in the many references to Christians as children of God, sons of God, the new self, new creation, having been made alive, and the new Christian familial identity as brothers and sisters to each other. I offer three controversial theses about regeneration to provoke consideration of this important doctrine ...

  • Ryan Peterson — 

    At the heart of human identity is the fact that God made us in his image. In other words, at the heart of human identity is a reference to someone else. This is a striking reality! One of the foundations of the biblical account of the world and our purpose in it is an indication that we can’t look to ourselves in order to know what our purpose is. We have to look to God since we are made to be an image of God ...

  • David Talley — 

    I have grown in prayer through the years, although there have been numerous ups and downs. As a result, there are certain practices that have helped me. I want to share one of them with you today, and perhaps add another in a later blog post ...

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    The title of this post is the exact title of a new little book written by Andrew David Naselli & J. D. Crowley and published by Crossway. This new book is intended for a general Christian (non-academic) audience, addressing an oft-neglected subject: the conscience. Discussions of this topic have been few in recent years, despite the fact that the Greek word for “conscience” (συνείδησις) appears 30 times in the New Testament (20 times in the writings of Paul). The book is short (142 pages without the appendices and indices). Thankfully, it is also clearly written. One can easily imagine a book dealing with the so-called grey areas being less-than-clear. The authors have done a fine job in making a complicated subject easy-to-understand.

  • Clinton E. Arnold — 

    This was a question posed to me by NBC News reporter John Larson a few years ago. The interview was part of a Dateline episode that explored the topic of Satan, evil spirits, and supernatural evil. As often happens in the editorial process, only a small portion of the 45-minute interview was included in the show. I thought I would share a more complete account of the interview.

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    As you daily walk in the Holy Spirit, God will fill you with his Spirit in such a way that your desires to sin lessen. Galatians 5:16—set in a chapter that parallels Romans 8 in many ways—says it so well: “Walk in the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh.” The one who walks in the Spirit will not give in to the desires of the flesh. Walking in the Spirit and carrying out the desires of the flesh are mutually exclusive ideas; you cannot do one at the same time as you engage in the other.

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    I remember sitting in my office with a student who was thinking about moving out of evangelical Protestantism and into a different church tradition. He began thinking this way after he had started reading widely in the writings of Christian authors from earlier eras. After being exposed to various authors who sometimes expressed divergent viewpoints from his own, he became increasingly unsure about whether the Bible on its own was clear in what it taught. He was considering changing to a church tradition that could interpret the Bible for him. Since, in his thinking, we can’t be certain what the Bible actually means when we read it, we need an authoritative guide. Let me assure you, there are people out there who will gladly tell you what the Bible means if that’s what you want! Another conversation with a different student also comes to mind. She wasn’t sure whether she could really give herself to Christ in faith because she didn’t know if the message of the gospel was actually true. But the more we talked together, the more I realized that she wasn’t struggling with which truth claims were correct and which were false; she was struggling with whether anyone could know something was true at all. So whenever I appealed to the Bible I didn’t get any traction in our discussion because she didn’t think we could actually come to know truth through a written text. Both of these students were struggling with whether the Bible was clear.

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    Following are seven reasons you might be struggling to love Muslims. The seventh reason is probably the most important ...

  • Steve Porter — 

    By now, most of us know about the Pokémon GO craze. My son downloaded the app on my cell phone the week it came out and while I don’t play much, I understand enough of the game to capture Pokémon and cash in on the rewards dished out at PokéStops (for the uninitiated, Pokémon are monsters of various species that appear on the game display based on where players are physically located and PokéStops are places where players can collect needed items—thus, people play this game on the move). So, the other day while on a prayer walk in a local park, I had my Bible app open to Colossians 3 and my son’s Pokémon GO app open as well. It turns out that parks are fruitful places for capturing Pokémon.

  • Karin Stetina — 

    In Scripture God bids us to “love our neighbor” no fewer than eleven times. Yet centuries later the church still struggles with its calling to do so. From the pulpit to the pew, Christians interpret this command in a variety of ways. In his book Word vs. Deed, Dr. Duane Litfin, president emeritus of Wheaton College, addresses this struggle writing, “The gospel is inherently a verbal thing, and preaching the gospel is inherently a verbal behavior. If the gospel is to be preached at all, it must be put into words” (20). Though this is not a new topic in theology, the Evangelical church in the West is seeing the urgent necessity to find the balance between word and deed in the dynamic culture of the 21st century. The church is more aware than ever of the pressing needs of the world. Technology has given us unprecedented access to seeing the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs that exist worldwide. On our smart phones and computers we can watch natural disasters destroy cities and wars and violence destroy lives. While knowledge of the needs of the world is growing, there is a great necessity to understand how the church is to respond. What is the biblical view of how the church is to care for others, particularly in light of the growing awareness of the pressing needs both near and far? ...

  • John McKinley — 

    When reading the book, When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor ... and Yourself,[1] one passage stood out to me as an important analogy for understanding God’s providential work in sanctification. We often wonder why God allows, directs, or initiates difficulties and trials in our lives. The Bible is full of these promises that we will have to face many troubles (e.g., Rom. 8:17; Acts 14:23; John 16:33). Paradoxically, Scripture also assures us that we can count such problems in a positive way since we understand that God is doing good to us by means of the negative things we suffer (James 1:2-5). I decline to give a facile explanation of the problem of evil (more needs to be said than what can be done here). I aim to take on difficulty of God’s providence in our sanctification by looking at the observation of Corbett and Fikkert about helping the poor in economic development ...

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    Today is my 30th wedding anniversary. Thirty years ago I vowed faithfulness, friendship, and my entire future to Trudi Lynn Wilson. Apart from following Christ, it was the best decision I ever made. Trudi has shown more love, compassion, and grace than I could have ever hoped for, and far more than I deserve. She has willingly tramped all over the world with me, setting up home, family, and ministry in Portland, Berlin, two cities in Turkey, Los Angeles twice, Philadelphia, and New York. But this post isn’t a veiled attempt to get you to send notes of congratulation (though gifts are welcome). I decided today might be a good day to share a song I wrote for Trudi about five years into our marriage ...

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    Just inside the door of Sandie Weaver’s office in the lower level of Metzger Hall hangs a framed quotation from Oswald Chambers. Sandie is the Senior Director of Financial Planning & Operations at Biola University, which means that she is on a mission to make sure Biola University carefully plans for its financial future and lives within the constraints of whatever funds God brings into the university. I love walking into her office and immediately encountering this quote from Oswald Chambers. Sandie has had these words hanging on the wall of her office for more than 30 years to remind her that she labors to do what she does—not merely because it is wise and necessary—but because God called her to do it ...

  • David Talley — 

    A few years ago, I was playing basketball with a friend, but it was very different from the way most people play basketball. We called it “Basketball Heaven Style.” We had certain unusual rules ...

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    I’ll bet you’re curious to know what this post is about! Actually, I love curious people, and find those who lack curiosity to be a bit boring. Still, there are some things that are good to be curious about, and others that vie for our attention that are not edifying. Here are two things worthy of your curiosity, and three that are not ...

  • K. Erik Thoennes — 

    The study of theology is considered by many to be dry, boring, irrelevant, and complicated. But for those who want to know God, the study of theology is indispensable. The word “theology” comes from two Greek words, theos (“God”) and logos (“word”). The study of theology is an effort to make definitive statements about God and his implications in an accurate, coherent, relevant way, based on God’s self-revelations. Doctrine equips people to fulfill their primary purpose, which is to glorify and delight in God through a deep personal knowledge of him. Meaningful relationship with God is dependent on correct knowledge of him ...

  • David Talley — 

    I have been studying discipleship lately so that I can become more intentional in “finishing my course,” to use the words of Paul. There is much written about it, but I am offering my own definition so that it might help you in your own journey of being faithful. First, I want to begin by simply showing you the different aspects of my definition, presented in an organized flow ...