I attended one of those rare unforgettable Saturday day conferences. Unforgettable because so often investing a Saturday day-block is not rewarded. Unforgettable because the lead input hosted by Renovare was from a man I’d so appreciated in books and podcasts, but never before met in real life.

Julie and I went south of the river here in London town and found ourselves inspired and humbled by Dallas Willard’s input. Amongst the many wise words, the genius and gracious replies to questions, there was a tangible godliness manifest through it all.

His teaching straddled more disciplines than most with brilliance, humility and grace. Dallas Willard has through the Holy Spirit birthed a revolution of true living faith in me: helping me to re-imagine discipleship and meaningfully root how change actually happens. There is so much texture and soul to his writing. Dallas calls us to actually follow Jesus without ducking it, persuasively banishing notions of vampire-Christianity and inhabiting the counter-intuitive power of the upside-down kingdom, right here-and-now! Many generations after will be shaped by the pathways he’s laid and the clues offered to a different and more excellent way.

Here are some of my favourite lines from my dog-eared books of his.

“It’s not how hard we try—it’s how easy it becomes to do the things Christ told us to do.”
God’s words are never “just words,” but power.
Joy is a pervasive sense of well-being.
“Most problems in contemporary churches can be explained by the fact that members have never decided to follow Christ.”
“In the end, what God gets out of your ministry is you!”
“Grace is not opposed to effort, it is opposed to earning. Earning is an attitude. Effort is an action. Grace, you know, does not just have to do with forgiveness of sins alone.”
“Does the Gospel I preach and teach have a natural tendency to cause people who hear it to become full-time students of Jesus? Would those who believe it become his apprentices as a natural ‘next step’? What can we reasonably expect would result from people actually believing the substance of my message?”
If you devote yourself to the teachings of Jesus it will be evident to everyone.
Our primary task as pastors is to be an example, not to think of fancy things to say, our primary job is to be a certain kind of person.
One of the most difficult things in life is being right without hurting people.
The mark of a disciple of Jesus is the ability to do what needs to be done when it needs to be done.
Temptation to sin is always temptation to not trust God.
“The world can no longer be left to mere diplomats, politicians, and business leaders. They have done the best they could, no doubt. But this is an age for spiritual heroes- a time for men and women to be heroic in their faith and in spiritual character and power. The greatest danger to the Christian church today is that of pitching its message too low.”
“A disciple is anyone whose ultimate goal is to live as Jesus would live if he were in their place.”
“An indication of our greatness, for all our dustiness, is found precisely in the fact that God pays attention to us, meets us, and gives us work to do.”

Despite losing him from this world, far too early. I am one of so many that are indebted for hiss life and faithfulness. Dallas challenged me to look further into my soul than I could have ever imagined, walk paths I would have never travelled, and helped me challenge myself towards a transformed soul.  Thank you Dallas for engaging with discipleship fruitfulness here and now!

I’m marked by the little-and-large impact of Willard’s life. The legacy of the books written and influence of a life lived saying ‘Thank-you’ right to the final breath. Immense.