Living in Christ’s Presence

It reads like a series of reflections about Willard’s lifelong ministry. Some high points:


*Evangelism isn’t manipulating people to “feel” a new experience. It primarily includes bringing them new information.
*Urges Evangelicals to read John Cassian and the Philokalia.
*Ask Jesus into your heart as your personal teacher.

The spiritual disciplines disrupt bad bodily habits. The single most unifying discipline is worship.

Restoring the soul includes seeing the “conflicted will” and bringing it to Christ.

The great commandment of Mk. 12 lists every dimension under the governance of Jesus’s kind of love. We bring all of the parts of the person under his governance. Redeeming mind, thoughts, emotions.

This plays a role in how we choose and feel and act about things. We have to go to the depths of the person before we can understand how the harmony of goodness and godliness can manifest. All of this happens in redemptive community.

Great section on dying: we suddenly find ourselves in Christ’s presence.

The Soul

Focusing on the soul. The disciplines don’t try to “find the soul.” Rather, they practice something that allows the soul to make itself known. Kind of like an inner river that pulls everything in our world together and makes everything one life. When the soul isn’t functional our experiences are shattered and set against one another.

We need people to speak to us with some degree of intelligence and experience.

When the soul is “lost” it means your life doesn’t have a center. God can restore the soul (Ps. 19). Often involves waiting for the Lord to make a context.

When you “confess” you give up splitting the self.

*Expounds upon Willard’s idea of kingdom: range of my effective power.

Spiritual Disciplines

Celebration of Discipline:

I arrange my life around practices to gain power to do what I cannot do by willpower alone currently. A discipline is an activity I engage in to receive power. We tend to overappreciate what we can do through trying and underappreciate what we can do through training.

Significant transformation comes through training, not just trying. Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life. Busy is not the same as hurry. Ortberg then hits the high points of the disciplines:

*Study: among other things it forces our minds to focus on the Good and when focusing on the Good, we can’t fill our minds with vapidity like we find on TeeVee and the internet.

*Solitude: just practicing doing nothing. Removes the need to “hurry” and “rush.”


I listened to the audio tapes of this book. Willard gave it not long before he went to glory. He spoke with true unction and power.

About J. B. Aitken

Interests include patristics, the role of the soul in the human person, analytic theology, Reformed Scholasticism, Medievalism, Substance Metaphysics
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