Remembering Dallas Willard

Dallas Willard died Wednesday.  It is a great loss.

Unlike any other writer, he worked tirelessly to correct the failure of the modern church in its duty to “provide effective practical guidance” on how to live as a follower of Christ.

….this was his whole life—encouraging, challenging and most of all demonstrating a close walk with God.

As I was putting together my book about overcoming lust a few years ago, Willard graciously took time to correspond a few times with me—a no-name, unpublished writer.

Last summer my son, Richard, and I were blessed to attend one of Willard’s all-day discipleship conferences in Long Beach.  This allowed me to chat briefly with him and he was again encouraging.

Of course, this was his whole life—encouraging, challenging and most of all demonstrating a close walk with God.

Willard is best known for teaching what is called spiritual formation.   A teacher of philosophy at USC for fifty years and steeped in the academic world, his writing can be challenging.  However, the fresh insights he delivered about how we are to become transformed in Christ have made a lasting impact.

I have been heavily influenced by Dallas Willard.  His deep walk in Christ allowed him to expound on Scripture in a unique, practical and penetrating way.

For example, consider his explanation of Matthew 5:29-30, where Jesus speaks of plucking out eyes and cutting off hands.  “Being acceptable to God is so important that, if cutting bodily parts off could achieve it, one would be wise to cut them off.”

By unwinding this “difficult” teaching, Willard showed that Jesus was not in favor of self-mutilation or any other solution for lust that stopped short of removing adultery from our hearts.

Every attempt to restrain your body or especially your mind and imagination will fail if you harbor the enticing illicit sexual buzz within your heart.

Another example of Willard’s insight is the VIM template that outlines how change can take hold in our lives.

This was the basis of the four blog posts I wrote and posted recently on how to overcome lust.   Instead of swimming in circles, Willard logically presented the idea that success could only come if we had a clear Vision of where we needed to be, a firm Intention to achieve this and the Means to bring it about.

I encourage you to read what Willard has written.  He was a master teacher through his words and example.


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