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Spiritual Formation Articles

  • Alan Hultberg — 

    A while ago, I got a letter from a friend (whom I’ll call “Mary”) struggling with why God allows evil. Some people had told her that God was working through terrible tragedies to produce a greater good (Rom. 8:28). Others had told her that Satan was the cause of evil and that greater faith and use of her authority in Christ would deliver her from difficulties. Mary found little comfort in these well-meaning professions, and in fact was beginning to think that God was either cruel, impotent, or worse, non-existent, a classic case of the problem of evil ...

  • Steve Porter — 

    “It’s the thought that counts,” we say and, of course, thoughts do count. But the mere thought to do something—the desire and intention to do it—falls short of actually doing it. “I thought about getting you a birthday present, but … I didn’t.” And yet, there is something about the desire and intention to do good that is itself good. It is the right place to start. We desire and then intend to do something good and that desire/intention is an essential part of being a good person ...

  • Clinton E. Arnold — 

    Without any hesitation we can say that yes, God wants you to be happy. The Bible (as well as experience) tells us that the Christian is given happiness in an incredible number of ways. But Christ has actually sweetened the deal and offered us something even better. While happiness is used to describe a basic feeling of gladness and contentment, what Christ offers is joy, which includes happiness, but runs much deeper, lasts much longer, and is felt much more strongly than happiness. The word joy shows up roughly four hundred times in the Bible, and it is no coincidence. Christ wants you to experience the joy that comes from him ...

  • Karin Stetina — 

    This past fall a friend shared an article from the New York Times entitled The Microcomplaint: Nothing Too Small to Complain About. It was amusing to read about all the silly complaints that celebrities tweeted to the world. Everything from the misery of only decaf coffee being available to what the writer deemed a “complaintbrag” of not being able to buy a Persian rug with cherub imagery. This habit, however, does not appear to be limited to celebrities. Cruise ship directors have received equally amusing complaints. For example, one passenger reported that the sea was “too loud” while another passenger grumbled about there being no celebrities on the Celebrity Cruise ship. In the past complaining was something often reserved for private ears. Today, however, it is not only acceptable to publically complain about the littlest inconvenience, it is often encouraged. It has even been identified as a communication style, particularly of Americans, who frequently see themselves as victims. Are Christians exempt from “microcomplaining” or are we part of the “culture of complaint”? What does Scripture have to say about complaining? ...

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    ... When I was younger, I would try to get rid of doubts by closing my eyes (really really tightly) and concentrate (really really hard) on pushing out the doubtful thoughts. And when I (inevitably) started thinking about my doubts again, I’d simply try again (really try this time!) to expel those doubts. But you can’t push doubts out of your mind any easier than you can push other thoughts out of your mind by valiantly trying ...

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    A spiritually-minded friend of my wife and me recently made this comment: “I struggle with the idea of praying according to the will of God. Since I know that some things are clearly according to God’s will, why can’t I just pray directly about those things and know for certain that they’re going to happen? But that’s not the way it works with my prayers. For example, I know that God doesn’t want Christians to get divorced. But I’ve sometimes prayed that God would preserve a struggling marriage that still ended up in divorce ...

  • Joanne Jung — 

    ... Learning Management Systems (LMS) continue to make video conference sessions more user friendly with clear, strong connections conducive to conversations without video or audio delays. Many LMSs have this feature built into them, thus eliminating the need to use a program outside of the learning platform that instructors and students would have to download and install separately on their computers ...

  • Joanne Jung — 

    ... Collaborative learning focuses on both content and the process of learning. C.S. Lewis stated, “It often happens that two schoolboys can solve difficulties in their work for one another better than the master can” (Lewis, 1958). Participation, dialogue, and reciprocity are key elements necessary for students to sense and know they are included in something greater than themselves. Meaningful dialogue in a variety of formats inspires critical thinking and reflection, combats mental inertia, and fosters transformation. Students may come curious, but they leave inspired ...

  • Joanne Jung — 

    ... Character formation begins with a proper understanding of the heart and soul. The heart is often misrepresented in American culture, for the heart has much more to do with how we live than what we might be led to believe. Perhaps the closest we can come to this idea is when we speak of doing something “whole-heartedly.” In Proverbs 4:23, believers are warned: “Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life” (HCSB). Mentioned nearly one thousand times in God’s word, it is clear that the heart is important to God. Three components make up the human heart: mind, emotion, and will (Coe, 2011). The mind, the thinking function of the heart, is where our thoughts are received, processed, and formed. Emotions are tied to thoughts as we have feelings about all thoughts. The will is an expression of what we actually do (or do not do) with our thoughts. Components of the heart—mind, emotion, and will—are often examined separately but were created to function together. They make up who we are. Our lives are our hearts in motion because the heart is the control center of the soul ...

  • Joe Hellerman — 

    This year we are studying 1 Corinthians at Oceanside Christian Fellowship. I preached the message on 6:12-20, with the above title. I began by explaining Paul’s foundational principles in verse 12: (1) not all things are helpful, and (2) I will not be dominated by anything. The rest of the sermon outlined the “Five Good Reasons” (subtitle, above) as follows ...

  • Greg Ganssle — 

    Each age has its particular hazards. Each age encourages certain vices and devalues certain virtues. Because we are immersed in our age, these hazards are often invisible to us. We simply cannot see the effects of certain cultural ideas and practices on our characters ...

  • David Talley — 

    ... Grace is a concept that we have fully received, but one that we will never fully comprehend. Throughout all of eternity we will be “grow(ing) in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). Our worship and praise of the One who has bestowed grace on us will only increase, ever and always … there will be no end of our awe ...

  • David Talley — 

    This article builds on “Hidden Sins, Part One,” which was written previously (August 24, 2012). I forgot to post Part Two, so here it is. The next question to be asked is: What are the results of “hidden sins”, and what can we do about it?

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    Columnist Joel Stein in the December 21 issue of TIME (p. 174) labeled 2015 as “The Year the Adults Gave Up" ...

  • John McKinley — 

    This devotional is a reminder that God works through us as his instruments in ways we don’t choose. While there are many valuable things of research and teaching that God works through us in various ways, a primary mode of God’s work is easy to forget.

  • Mick Boersma — 

    It was Christmas 1984. The snow was flying and the roads slippery, but Rolane and I had paid $120 for four seats to take our daughters to the ‘Nutcracker’ in Seattle and nothing was going to stop us from enjoying the show. We crammed into our old VW and made the opening curtain. What great seats they were! Front row, first balcony – the kind of view reserved for royalty! ...

  • Thaddeus Williams — 

    What gifts does God give us in the person and work of Christ? How can we unwrap and enjoy them every day with the wide-eyed wonder of a kid on Christmas morning? Dr. Williams offers some Christmas reflections.

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    Praying for peace is good. Praying for justice is good. Praying for your Christian brothers and sisters who are facing torture and death is good. Praying for non-Christians who are facing torture and death is also good. But there is one crucial thing you can pray about that could change the course of history in the Middle East.

  • The Good Book Blog — 

    An Interview with Talbot's Dean, Dr. Clinton E. Arnold, and his son, Jeff Arnold, about their most recent book: Short Answers to Big Questions about God, the Bible, and Christianity.

  • David Talley — 

    Voice of the Martyrs has offered an excellent idea for those who may be travelling during this Thanksgiving season or who might be looking for some special activities to do while gathered with families and friends.

  • Dave Keehn — 

    The national pastime has become a sacred holiday: shopping on “Black Friday.” The day after Thanksgiving has developed into a manic state of sales and spending as retailers, seeking bigger holiday profits, offer new bargains and longer hours to lure holiday shoppers to good deals and great values on amazing products. The spending hype reaches fever pitch as stores open earlier and earlier each year, replacing the day dedicated to gratefulness with unashamed greed and giddiness for a purchase that is meant to show our love for another, bought in rushes of grabbing items that has led to fights, stampedes and debt. Many justify this intense season of shopping with the value of the purchase – the money saved on an item they would buy at a higher price later indicates this was a good value-based purchase ...

  • John McKinley — 

    ... Deeper than the recent history, we seem to be pushing against the same thing that Martin Luther identified as the theology of glory. Luther recommended to us the contrast of the theology of the cross ...

  • Mark Saucy — 

    You know that part of your Bible where the gold leaf on the pages still looks pretty fresh? Some of the pages might still even be stuck together. Or, more au courant, the portion you rarely scroll to on your phone or iPad … That’s right, for most of us it’s that part of the Bible starting right after Psalms and going all the way to Matthew. A lot of prophets big and little, and a good bit of Israel’s Wisdom tradition—but it just doesn’t get a lot of air-time in most evangelical churches or personal Bible-reading. Now, I’m the first to admit that last claim stems from my own highly subjective internal polling data, and I’m glad to be proven wrong; but I don’t think I am, because I know a good bit of it’s true in my own life ...

  • David Talley — 

    I believe that we are at a place in the history of the church where we need to have a vision for what we are seeking to produce in people through the ministries of the church. It can be increasingly difficult to maintain a simple focus on our main purpose to “make disciples” in light of the diverse needs of any church body and, therefore, it is easy to get caught up in the “monster of ministry” activity. I believe that we need to think more strategically in terms of what we are seeking to produce in a person and make this a focus for the church. Our biblical mandate is to present every person complete in Christ. What would this look like? Where should our sights be set? What should the life of disciple look like? ...

  • Joe Hellerman — 

    Seminary students are among the busiest people I know. Church + Family + School + Work makes for a challenging time of wise prioritizing. A Talbot professor back in the early 1980s gave his busy seminarians some pointed advice. He instructed us not to spend a lot of our time in local church ministry. “This is your training time,” he asserted, “and seminary is where you need to focus for this season of your life.” At the time it sounded like good advice. Now I’m not so sure ...