Friday, January 31, 2014

Dallas Notes: Memorial Service (May 25, 2013)

Memorial Service
(Memorial Page)

"Father, make us the kind of persons that would make other people glad that God made the world and he put us in it."

Bill Dwyer
Dallas’ last words were ‘thank you’

Because he developed his character, when suffering came, his spirit continued to radiate
Special insight or pearl of wisdom about every painting
You will have all of eternity to fill in the gap.
The spiritual discipline of not having the last word.
[I need that kind of wit, that is not caustic]

Give ‘em Heaven

Metaphysical and epistemological realism
'The greatest privilege of my life was studying under the man.'
[I can read JP Moreland’s stuff now, too]

Lead, Kindly Light
The night is gone,
And with the morn those angel faces smile,
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile!

I believe in sufficient depravity
What we love most in Dallas is the Jesus in him.
Hell is the best God can do for some people.
What has Dallas found out he was wrong about?
This will be a test of your joyous confidence in God
Felt he trusted too much to his cleverness with words. It must have been hard to be so smart.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Dallas Notes: Understanding the Person: Including the Invisible Parts (February 22, 2013)

This was a talk Dallas gave at the February 2013 Dallas Willard Center "Knowing Christ Today" conference in Santa Barbara, California.

IVP has made them available on a DVD called Living in Christ's Presence: Final Words on Heaven and the Kingdom of God and this is talk five.

Grace is God acting in our lives to do what we cannot do on our own
it goes beyond unmerited favor

Present your body, a living and holy sacrifice
     we are a nonphysical being with a physical body
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind

If we don't think Jesus was the smartest man who ever lived, we will think someone else is...

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and your neighbor as yourself. Mk 12

the will or spirit
source of creativity, power to originate
executive center of self
have will set on what is best for God above everything else, that's how you love God with all your heart
love is the disposition to bring good into the object that is loved
we are able to participate in His life by setting our will toward what is good for Him
to love God with all your heart is to have your will and spirit entirely set on what is good for God

thoughts and feeling, capacity to represent things
will depends on mind and vice versa
what is on your mind sets scene for will to choose
and reflects where heart is
to love God with all of your mind is to take your feelings and thoughts and devote them entirely to what is good for God
when this happens, many things won't show up in your mind
and, therefore, you'll never think about doing it
revealing of character: if you have to think about whether or not you're going to do things that are wrong, there's something wrong with your mind. you have to work on your mind. may be feelings or representations (and they go together)
what you habitually feel is a major feature of your mind and it is tied to what you think about

to love God is to love neighbor as self
inject what is good for God in all relationships

Dallas Notes: How to Step into the Kingdom and Live There (February 22, 2013)

This was a talk Dallas gave at the February 2013 Dallas Willard Center "Knowing Christ Today" conference in Santa Barbara, California.

IVP has made them available on a DVD called Living in Christ's Presence: Final Words on Heaven and the Kingdom of God and this is talk three.

Seeking is the key to entering and living in the KoG
God wants to be wanted and sought
the promise is never to half-hearted seeking
[whole-hearted seeking takes humility]
we have to want the Kingdom more than anything else
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength
Seeking: looking everywhere [like when I lost my wallet]
Look for it to be present and in action and to identify yourself with that action
[like Experiencing God]
especially in face to face relationship w/ another person
the most important people are the ones closest to us. we can bless them
it's only in seeking that we're pulled out of who we were and into who we can be in the freedom of Christ
we do not change quickly and seeking is designed to pull us as quickly as we can stand it (including allowing those around us time to respond to our change)

2 Chr 15. 4, 15 (context below)
4 but when in their distress they turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought him, he was found by them
15 And all Judah rejoiced over the oath, for they had sworn with all their heart and had sought him with their whole desire, and he was found by them, and the Lord gave them rest all around.

God is active in this process and we will not find Him until He is ready to be found of us
Seeking allows us (and those around us) to grow and change
allows us to grow into the kind of people who can receive X into our lives
[and maybe more of X...]
[they thought 'fencing the Torah' would fulfill God's demands for righteousness. but it did not. in fact, it made them less righteous by their legalism and the idolatry thereof. so when Jesus attacked the fence and their legalism and their hearts and said their method didn't work, they became homicidal. They had to kill Him.]
Beyond the righteousness of the scribe and the Pharisee is where we experience the Kingdom
we have to believe in X, and believe X, and believe what He believed

Joshua 1.8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

the Law is designed to line us up with the KoG

Psalm 1
1 Blessed is the man[a]
    who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law[b] of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree
    planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
    and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
4 The wicked are not so,
    but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
6 for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked will perish.

All that is good is God in action
we are called to want the Kingdom more than anything else, like the pearl of great price or the treasure hidden in a field.
--how do i see the Kingdom that way? please help me, Lord.
what is defeating me?

there are so many passages on seeking the Lord, it's crazy

Deuteronomy 4:29 But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.

1 Chronicles 28:9 “And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever."

2 Chronicles 7:14  If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Psalm 27:4 One thing have I asked of the Lord,
    that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
    and to inquire in his temple.

Psalm 63:1 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
    my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
    as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

Isaiah 55:6 “Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call upon him while he is near;

Jeremiah 29:12-13 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and [its -- Dallas says] righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Matthew 7:7-8 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

Colossians 3:1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Ps 105 Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;
    make known his deeds among the peoples!
2 Sing to him, sing praises to him;
    tell of all his wondrous works!
3 Glory in his holy name;
    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!
4 Seek the Lord and his strength;
    seek his presence continually!
5 Remember the wondrous works that he has done,
    his miracles, and the judgments he uttered,
6 O offspring of Abraham, his servant,
    children of Jacob, his chosen ones!

2 Chronicles 15
The Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded, 2 and he went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Hear me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: The Lord is with you while you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you. 3 For a long time Israel was without the true God, and without a teaching priest and without law, 4 but when in their distress they turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought him, he was found by them. 5 In those times there was no peace to him who went out or to him who came in, for great disturbances afflicted all the inhabitants of the lands. 6 They were broken in pieces. Nation was crushed by nation and city by city, for God troubled them with every sort of distress. 7 But you, take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded.”

8 As soon as Asa heard these words, the prophecy of Azariah the son of Oded, he took courage and put away the detestable idols from all the land of Judah and Benjamin and from the cities that he had taken in the hill country of Ephraim, and he repaired the altar of the Lord that was in front of the vestibule of the house of the Lord.[a] 9 And he gathered all Judah and Benjamin, and those from Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon who were residing with them, for great numbers had deserted to him from Israel when they saw that the Lord his God was with him. 10 They were gathered at Jerusalem in the third month of the fifteenth year of the reign of Asa. 11 They sacrificed to the Lord on that day from the spoil that they had brought 700 oxen and 7,000 sheep. 12 And they entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and with all their soul, 13 but that whoever would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, should be put to death, whether young or old, man or woman. 14 They swore an oath to the Lord with a loud voice and with shouting and with trumpets and with horns. 15 And all Judah rejoiced over the oath, for they had sworn with all their heart and had sought him with their whole desire, and he was found by them, and the Lord gave them rest all around.

Dallas Notes: What Skepticism Is Good For (Claremont Consortium, February 12, 2013)

What Skepticism Is Good For

1. To undermine illegitimate authority claims
2. Initiates and stimulates inquiry

Two kinds of skepticism:
1. Extreme
usually dogmatic
shuts down serious inquiry
2. Targeted
can be responsible
Responsible skeptic seeks to discover and know [not just disclaim]
intellectual duty. Comes out of need for truth in responsible living

What should we be skeptical about? Not the things everyone else is. Skepticism has a way of creating its own social conformity.
Especially things typically assumed to be obvious
you are your brain
Marriage should be based on romantic and sexual feelings

[Something we really need to be skeptical of is our self-interest. Do I want there to not be a God? Do I want God to be distant?]
Universities and colleges used to be concerned with ultimate issues. Pastors used to be college presidents, even of ‘secular’ colleges.
John 3.16
Familiarity first breeds non-familiarity (b/c people stop thinking about it), then it breeds contempt.

Would you like for there to be a god roughly of the sort represented by Jesus?

[Part of the deal with walking by faith and not by sight is that we don’t limit our objects of knowledge to the physical/material. The spiritual world is much larger and still knowable.]

Targeted skepticism is in many ways the only hope of humanity.

We need more skepticism, not less. But it needs to be well channeled and targeted. It needs to be under logical control and not at the behest of social impulses. It has often been socially impelled, not logically impelled.

At least every other day you might doubt your doubts and believe your beliefs.
Natural trajectory should be following belief to knowledge (like Galileo)

Look at the details and be willing to change
Empirical and logical grounds are the two main avenues of pursuit of religious knowledge (as with any other pursuits of knowledge). 
E.g., look into Jn 3.16 empirically. Did He? What’s the evidence? 
Instead, people are content with operating within the assumptions that are accepted in their field.
'All that religion requires of philosophy and science is a fair field and no quarter given.'
Authority is an important part of empirical reasoning. Most of what we know is known on the basis of authority [i.e., we have not proved it or observed it ourselves]

[Dallas is so frail in this talk. It was about 3 months before his physical death and he’s just not as capable of handling questions on the fly as he used to be. But he’s still gracious, of course, and a great witness. The prepared presentation was excellent. The answers aren’t bad, just not as good as the younger, not-sick Dallas.]

Part of the temptation of extreme skepticism is just to be thankful you’re off the hook

Morality teaches what it is to be a good person and what that would be like and something about how a person would get there.
How can I do what I should do to be a good person when I don’t want to do it and how can I not do what will make me a bad person when I want to do it?
The conflict b/t desire and good is the primary element in systems of morality.

Dallas Notes: The Genius of Jesus (Ohio State University, January 1, 2013)

The Genius of Jesus

[Note: I have adapted the notes below from html slides that are available on Dallas' website.]

Any system of education that ignores the moral and religious nature of the student is fundamentally defective
I don't have time to tell you all the things I don't mean by the things that I will say :-)

1 Ohio State Veritas: Theme: The Genius of Jesus
•Human beings are responsible for their future.
•They determine what their future will be and who they will be by what they do now.
The Human Burden: To find an adequate knowledge basis for life.

2 What is Knowledge?
the only point of taking classes is gaining knowledge
Our ability to represent things as they are, on an appropriate basis of thought and experience. Knowledge involves truth.
NOTE: We must define knowledge in such a way that it does not presuppose answers to substantial questions. For example, does not presuppose secularism or naturalism, or their opposites.
We have defined knowledge today in such a way that the most important matters of life cannot be knowledge.

3 What is Truth?
A thought or statement is true if what it is about is as that thought or statement represents it.

4 The University’s Role
•“Standard 1:A of the WASC handbook is: Integrity in the pursuit of truth.
•The first sentence under that standard is: “An institution of higher education is, by definition,dedicated to the search for truth and its dissemination.”
•Later: “Those within an educational institution have as a first concern, knowledge, evidence, and truth.”

5 Belief
We are in tension b/t truth and desire
•Belief is readiness to act as if what you believe were true.
•We often believe what we don’t know and even fail to believe what we do know. Such is human life.
We know a lot of things we don't believe b/c our will is set against it
•Leadership requires followers to believe that leaders KNOW, that the leader has TRUTH.
•Thus, mere rumors of knowledge are often used by leaders to govern belief and action in individual and group life. – Remember Enron,etc.

6 "Our contemporary society with its..."
•Our contemporary society with its “news” is a thriving rumor mill: rumors touted as knowledge by “experts.”
•The danger is that our beliefs and our policies will be based on mere rumors of knowledge, and not on knowledge.
•Rumors of knowledge originate from those who have authority in our culture.
•But they often are responses to desire and will, not necessarily to truth.

7 The Four Great Questions Of Human Life
• The nature of reality?
what you have to deal with. what you run into when you're wrong.
truth enables you to harmonize your life with reality
• Who is well-off?
– Blessedness
– The Good Life
• Who is a “really good” person?
• How to become a “really good” person
Buddha, Plato, Freud, Derrida, Oprah, etc. etc. Of course these questions should always be open to the most serious and searching inquiry.

8 The University Gives Answers To These Questions
•Not in a straightforward and responsible manner, but by how it proceeds.
•By what is regarded as ‘adequate’ teaching and research in the various fields, or ‘adequate’ course content.
•For example: that expertise in no field of knowledge requires knowledge of God.

9 The Three Stories About Our World
•The Theistic Story: everything derives from a personal God who is ultimate
•The Nirvana Story: everything derives from a reality that is undifferentiated – the realm of “no thing.”  ‘New Age.’
•The Materialist Story: the physical universe itself is the only ultimate reality.

10 Agnosticism
•“I don’t know” is the default position from The Three Stories.
•It looks innocent, but it really isn’t because it doesn’t just mean “I don’t know,” it means we can’t know!
•And to defend “we can’t know,” is as tough a job as defending one of The Three Stories.

11 The Historical Power Of Jesus
•Arguably the most influential person inhuman history—who else?
•Book: “What If Jesus Had Never Been Born?” (Kennedy)
•Current influence on people in other religions. (Nov. ’02 issue of Touchstone magazine)

12 Why So Influential?
•Because of His answers to the four great questions of life.
–His vision of reality, and
–His teaching about how we can become the persons we ought to be.

13 Jesus On Reality
•Reality is God and his kingdom.
•The ‘Kingdom’ of God is the range of His effective will.
•It is where what God wants done is done.  
•As your ‘kingdom’ is the range of your effective will.
Atheists are embarrassed when they feel grateful and have no one to be grateful to. -- Chesterton

14 The Trouble With My Kingdom Or Yours
•It cannot run on its own.
•Kingdoms in conflict.
•The impossibility of being who we ought to be by our own efforts and devices.
•We must have grace, from others, from God.
•Only life in His kingdom harmonizes the lives of human beings.

Only loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength can enable us to love our neighbor as ourself
God invites us to live in a spiritual reality in which all of the aspirations of the human heart for welfare and being a good person can be realized.
Jesus understood what would make life work, that the basic problem for human beings is to find a spiritual home in which they can know that they are eternally cared for and from which they can care for others
Can't we all just get along? Obviously no because we want our way and we can't find a larger kingdom in which to live with others

15 What Is Morality?
A shared (public) understanding, with associated emotional postures, concerning which types of persons are to be (or are not to be) admired, approved, imitated, encouraged and supported, without regard to whether they prosper or are able to accomplish what they desire.

As long as we take humanity as the ultimate reference point, we won't be able to be moral
the historical power of Jesus came from the fact that he knew what to do and could enable people to do it. He provided a morality that would actually make people good

16 The Good Person: A Matter of the Heart
The morally good person is a person who is intent upon advancing the various goods of human life with which they are effectively in contact, in a manner that respects their relative degree of importance and the extent to which the actions of the person in question can actually promote the existence and maintenance of those goods.
a lot of people don't love themselves, to say nothing of their neighbor
in a consumer culture, the pursuit of pleasure is confused with the pursuit of happiness
Jesus refines 'love your neighbor as yourself'
Love one another as I have loved you.
Greater love has no one than this, that they lay down their life for their friends
do I love my neighbor? am I learning to?
if we follow what is the good life with 'how do you become a good person?' that is where, above all, Jesus shined

17 How To Live It
•By serious inquiry and personal testing.
•That will require honest comparison of Jesus and his teaching with others.
You have to regard Jesus as someone who is seriously dealing with the facts of life. 
•And surrender of ‘what I want’ as ultimate point of reference
•If there really is a better way, Jesus would be the first to tell you to take it.

18 Truth Will Not Set You Free!!!
•One of the most misquoted lines in human history.
•The statement is: “If you continue in my word <put it into practice> then you really are my apprentices; And then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31)
•Free from inability not to do evil.
We know a lot of good but systematically don't do it
We must see Jesus as providing the most essential knowledge about the most important areas of human life (switch from seeing him as nice)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Dallas Notes: What Jesus Said About Following Him (Day of Discovery, May 6, 2012)

What Jesus Said About Following Him
May 6, 2012

The New Atheists don’t major on arguments but are mostly sick of what they see in professing Xians
We should be reproached for this. In a sense, they’re beating us with our own stick and it’s legitimate.
Instead of looking at Xians (which you are free to do), it is better to look at the substance of Xian faith that has made it a movement of such proportions.
If you obsess about Xian weakness you won’t find anything good and your own condition will get worse. But if you look for the good in X and Xians who have made the movement vital, you will find something worth looking into.
Example: Bertrand Russell. People who knew him and loved him thought he was a failure as a person. What does atheism give you to help you live your life?
[Or is it to some degree an excuse to do what you want?]
Most people don’t know what Xianity is and don’t associate with followers who are demonstrating life in X
Our culture views Xians as ex-bullies who are still unkind and judgmental.
People think Xianity is obviously bad, boring or wrong and don’t feel any need to inform themselves, particularly about X. Indeed, He is the source of many things they hold dear. The root of diversity as a value is in neighbor love like J taught
Misunderstanding: you can have justice w/o love
The ideal and J and that’s what we measure people against.
Many of our Xians don’t understand the Xian faith much better than nonXians
There’s a gap b/t what people believe and what they say they believe. We bring them in to our churches based on professions.
The best thing to do is to base our beliefs on knowledge when we can.
We always live up or down to our beliefs. We rarely live up to our professions.
You don’t have to be a disciple to be a Xian.
You don’t have to be a disciple to be a church member.
We are learning from Jesus to live our lives as He would if He were we.
Is the KoG real? Can I depend on it? Can it make a difference in my life?
The KoG is just God at work, what He’s doing.
You can become a good person in d’ship to Jesus.
Having a category for Xians who aren’t disciples is a curse upon the earth
Walking with Him is what makes the calling easy and the burden light.

Dallas Notes: Interview with Dallas Willard

Interview with Dallas Willard
(unknown date, but before Dallas got sick)

My work is to teach the teaching of X and live them
We have cultivated a devotional life that leaves life out of it. We don’t have a life of devotion.
We have a (little) prayer life. What we need is a praying life.
We put what Jesus said into practice. Think of your church as a place where people are doing that.
It’s a whole life thing, not just on Sundays. And then you come back together with people who love you.
Guilt is not constructive. People feel guilty about witnessing and giving.

Church is where people form a com’ty of love where all the bad habits gained in world apart from God are broken. we discover we can trust love.
Partly we found that out when things don’t go smoothly in church.
Conviction of sin is not just guilt but also a vision of change.
Confession can be the point where you abandon yourself to God. It’s not just guilt.
Ministry will teach you abandonment to God. We should count on God. It’s not something I just talk about. It’s real presence I can see and know.

Rejection is buying us back from rejecting the supremacy of God in our lives.
We live as people creating good under His power.
God comes to us in history. The story of redemption is the story of Incarnation.
He establishes His place in human history
1 Cor 15: If X is not risen, your faith is in vain
You have to start with Creation (Gen 1.26) if you’re going to make sense of Redemption
Starts with responsibility for fish. By Ps 8, it’s domesticated animals. People have lived on the back of animals for a long time. What do we have dominion over today? What are we responsible for?
The great threat to God’s K in my life is my kingdom.
We learn to trust JX and live in His K by bringing our life into position of dependence on Him.

Dallas Notes: The Divine Conspiracy Group Bible Study (February 2012)

The Divine Conspiracy Group Bible Study

If you want to go to heaven, now is the time to do it
become a student of Jesus; put into action what He said
then you know by experience the reality of God's kingdom
that's why He said 'seek more than anything else the KoG'
seeking is a process and you enter into it by becoming a student/disciple/apprentice
learn a practice from Jesus
trust Him enough to think the things He said to do should be put into practice
then we come to know the KoG
think well enough of Jesus to trust Him

[the 'Gospel' of Sin Management: the real Gospel::
Psychology (focus on illness): Positive Psychology]

Dallas Notes: Planning for Spiritual Formation in the local church (Rolling Hills Covenant Church, January 2012?)

Planning for Spiritual Formation in the local church

The Bible is a book of spiritual formation. You won’t find that phrase, but you do find the process.
Great Commission is about world revolution
Jesus did spiritual formation with His disciples
Jesus knew only successful revolution is in character of human beings.
A result of that kind of revolution is going to all kinds of people and not just one group.
Baptize them into (eis) the name. Immerse them in Trinitarian reality.
Teach them not what they should do but to do the things Jesus said.
Disciples are apprentices of Jesus learning to live int he KoG like He did

[FWIW, I don’t agree with Dallas’ translation of ‘oligopistoi’ here at all. I think Eugene Petersen captures it much better: ‘You little-faiths’. It can even be a term of endearment]

The big thing about the community of disciples is what inhabits them.
If you’d like to go to heaven, go now
[And if you don’t want to go now, do you really want to go at all? Will you like it? It’s not your dream for yourself. It’s God’s dream for you.]
D’ship is a status. Spiritual formation happens to people in that status.

We teach people to do what Jesus taught
[Maybe it would be a little better to talk about being: We teach people to become the kinds of people Jesus taught us to be.]
Spiritual formation is not behavior modification. [It’s character development in partnership with God.]
If you teach people to do what Jesus said and word gets out, you won’t have a problem with outreach.
Without the example of changed lives and the ability to replicate it, you might get some people into heaven, but you won’t get heaven into many people.

Why don’t we do it? We pay too much attention to things that don’t matter.
Leith Anderson quote fro RotH
[If you’re trying to be an NT church, shoot for the same emphases as the NT. What is major there? What do Jesus and Paul spend their time doing? At least shoot for a better balance than what we have today. We get so consumed with the business and busy-ness of church.]
If your church is centered around d’ship, everything else will take care of itself.

Spiritual formation is actually spiritual transformation b/c everyone is already spiritually formed.
The phrase isn’t Biblical, but cp. taking on the character of X:
Rom 5.1-5
Col 3.1-17
2 Pet 1.5-10
We can’t do it on our own, but we have work to do. It’s an interactive process in which the Trinity acts with us as we step out toward the transformation of our lives.
If we don’t do something, nothing will happen. If God doesn’t work with us, nothing will happen.
Willpower won’t get you far. Will has to be integrated with learning and training.
The Great Omission from the Great Commission is not having a plan to train disciples in a way that they naturally obey.
If you only try without learning and training, you’ll either become a Pharisee or a ‘miserable sinner’ (it’s hopeless; I can’t change).
Transforming the Whole Person [RotH diagram]
In a fallen world, most of us live in the dominance of social relations and the body.
We’re not talking about perfection, but doing better.
‘Sinners aren’t perfect, just forgiven.’
There’s a long distance between forgiven and perfect
1 Cor 13: Since love does not envy, if you don’t want to envy, fill yourself with love.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Dallas Notes: Knowledge in the Context of Spiritual Formation (EPS Apologetics Conference, November 11, 2011)

Knowledge in the Context of Spiritual Formation
To Everyone an Answer: 10th Annual EPS Apologetics Conference

[The whoops at the beginning of this talk are so fun to hear. Evangelical philosophy geeks like me ;-) ]

Knowledge that comes from the experience of Xians with God is among the most precious on earth.
Knowledge on the basis of which I live the spiritual life and then knowledge of the spiritual life that is available to others.
Apologetics can be defensive, but I think of it more as laying out answers
Maybe apologetics should be more in answer to sincere questions than defending against attacks.
Why are you hopeful in suffering? What makes you tick? 
1 Pet 3.14-15
What if a large part of the job of the apologete was to explain why Xians are so happy and full of righteous deeds and love?
Different ministries to those who want to know and those who don’t
Having real, live people who are good witnesses in their living changes everything.
One part of spiritual knowledge is knowledge of Xian living
To read: The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life
If we don’t have knowledge, we’re just trying to get people to do things.
The lives of the saints are worthy of enquiry. Hypothesis: Such lives are lived based on knowledge gained by engaging with the spiritual realm of God
What does the Bible do to you? You can’t take it like little pills. They’re not entering it a domain of knowledge
you have to seek knowledge to gain it. it won’t come any other way.
spiritual growth is a process of gaining knowledge, so prayer is theological research
If you don’t have to get what you want, you won’t be plagues by disappointment and depression.

Pascal’s Pensees 233
way of experience can be opened by taking simple steps
abate passions. learn of those who stake all their provisions on God.
the know the way you would follow. they’ve been cured of an ill you want to be cured of. follow the way they began by acting as if they believed.
the way of experience is open to everyone. it is a way of grace.
At each step you will see great certainty of gain over against nothing (by comparison) ventured.

[Why don’t I have more of an effect on those I know? I don’t pray for them much, for starters.]

If you dwell in my teachings, then you really are my apprentices, and you will know the truth, and truth will make you free. Jn 8.31-32
The truth by itself will not make you free. It’s more likely to make you flee. We don’t come to the truth. We come to Jesus. We step into His teaching as best we can.

Apologetics and evangelism would be helped a lot by visible fruit in the lives of Xians.

Dallas Notes: Moral Knowledge (Psychiatry & Spirituality Forum, U. C. Irvine, 2011)

Moral Knowledge (1 of 2)
one reason there can't be any moral knowledge these days is b/c we would have to agree on where it came from, and no one will agree to that.
one reason we can't say others are wrong is that we have been so judgmental and hypocritical. another is that it tends to be the case that not everything in a culture is right or wrong.

Moral Knowledge (2 of 2)
Is our current thinking any better than the old thinking? Wouldn't we just be better off if we went back to old moral thinking?
we were, of course, undermined by those who purported to agree or even propounded morality and didn't live it out, in many cases active hypocrites
but you can still make a pretty good case we'd be better off

Dallas Notes: Aprentis Institute's 2011 National Conference

Aprentis Institute's 2011 National Conference
Dallas Willard & James Bryan Smith

Work on vision [for yourself and others]. When you have it, you’ll find the intention and means
We should say the church is in the business of character formation and it is achieved by being a student of Jesus
You have to embody it as the leader
[If the leader preaches the vision but doesn’t really live it (embodying it consistently, over time, coming back to it again and again, working it out in administration, etc.), then it won’t make a difference. And it will feel fake.]

Asking questions can get past people’s defenses. Let the question be there. Too much of our is spent answering questions people aren’t asking. They might even need to be asking them.

[That’s certainly how Jesus taught]

How are you doing with your kingdom?
Then people can assess religions/philosophies by how they address our kingdoms (what we’re in charge of) and how to handle them.

But don’t fake it. That’s the path to hypocrisy and Pharisaism: trying to achieve high standards, but faking it when they’re not attained.

Dallas Notes: The Kingdom of God (Christ Church London, 2011)

The Kingdom of God

you don't find sin interesting and you find righteousness powerfully interesting
[this is a main part of what I need: a more compelling vision of the Kingdom. that it is the treasure hidden in a field. that it is the pearl of great price. that it is better than winning the lottery]

If you want to obey Jesus' teaching about seeking first the KoG, you have to find what God is doing and get with it. identify with it. move into it. bless it. approve it. advance it.
4 main areas where God is in action:

1. Nature
bless the first good thing that meets you
Actually bless your food

2. God's Law
Ps 1
if you delight in the Law of the Lord and bring your life up against it and into conformity with it, you will experience the KoG -- God in action
don't try to keep the law but to become the kind of person who keeps it

3. the gifts of the Spirit
outcome is greater than we can humanly explain
the mark of the Spirit is always the incommensurability of the output to the input.
I challenge you to study the 'with God' principle from the beginning of the OT to the end [of the OT?]

4. the fruit of the Spirit
character. common to everyone.
love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control
in the same way, the outcome is more than we can humanly produce
love is to will good for
the amazing thing is not that God loves you. it would be amazing if God did not.

the practice of the presence of God
Pr 3.5-6: Don't trust your own abilities, but in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will smooth your path.
Unless you become like a little child you cannot enter the KoG. What characterizes little children? Receptiveness, even presumptive
we presume upon the Kingdom in everything we do in our lives.
[we couldn't stop if we tried. it's how God set up the world.]
if you do everything with the KoG, the KoG will act with you
you need a little practice. God will help you. and if you intend to do it, you will learn it very quickly, because it's really good.
[Lord! Please let me learn to seek and find and live in Your Kingdom! I want to! I want to learn it quickly! Yes, Lord!]
Take your kingdom and everything that concerns you into the KoG
then when people see you they will say 'God is good'
You are the light of the world

Dallas Notes: Pain and Suffering (Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, 2011)

Pain and Suffering

Hume: If your God is big enough, there is no power of evil

Pray expectantly
You might even say something like 'Let me see something tonight'
Your faith will be encouraged

You want to be prepared for suffering by relationship with God before it comes.
We need to practice the presence of God before we get into suffering so we will be familiar with it when suffering comes.
keep the greatness of God before our minds when we're not suffering so we'll be prepared
then we can even receive suffering with hope

We may not know we've died until later because we're in such good company :-)

Dallas Notes: Taking Theology and Spiritual Disciplines into the Marketplace (Talbot School of Theology, September 16, 2011)

Taking Theology and Spiritual Disciplines into the Marketplace

Col 3.17: whatsoever you do, in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ giving thanks to the Father through Him
in the name means on His behalf and from his resources
Col 3: whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing from the Lord you shall receive the inheritance. it is the Lord Christ whom we serve
Rom 5.17: for if by the transgression of the one death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the one, Jesus Christ
grace is God acting in your life to accomplish what you can't accomplish on your own
if all you know about grace is forgiveness, you don't know much about grace
the greatest barrier to whole life discipleship in our world is a theory of salvation that does not include it

  • theology
  • anthropology
    • we are limited will, intellect and energy. we have just enough to relate to God, who is limitless in those respects. we are made to be subject to Him
  • soteriology
    • are we preaching a Gospel that has a natural tendency to produce disciples?
    • as Jesus' disciple, I'm learning from Him how to lead my life in the Kingdom of God as He would lead my life if He were I
    • spiritual formation is the process that happens to those who are disciples
    • as a disciple, i am being transformed in all dimensions of my personality toward loving God with all my heart, soul, strength and mind and my neighbor as myself
    • faithful dependence on X in whole life
    • the Ten Commandments are really good. if you try to do them, you'll end up trusting God for sure
    • we're not trying to become the kind of people who only obey the 10Cs, we're trying to become the kind of people who would routinely do them, that naturally think 'Who would want to do anything else?'
we can determine the person we become. God has put discipline in ordinary human life to allow people to achieve things which would otherwise simply go by them
we can improve our condition, in nature alone, like weightlifting
musician, speak another language
discipline is part of our equipment under grace. grace won't impose itself, but it's available
human beings are given disciplines by God, they are part of the Good News. and if we don't teach them, we are depriving people of what they can be in the Kingdom of God
disciplines are activities in my power than allow me to do what i cannot do by direct effort
there's not a single thing Jesus tells us to do that we cannot do if we will discipline ourselves under grace
Power doesn't corrupt. Power makes corruption apparent. And absolute power makes corruption absolutely apparent.

Dallas Notes: Biblical Wisdom for the Business World (Talbot Faculty Retreat, September 15-17, 2011)

Panel discussion excerpt from the Leadership Lecture Series - Biblical Wisdom for the Business World.
Recorded September 15-17, 2011 at the Talbot School of Theology Faculty Retreat in La Quinta, CA.

Finding God in Business

Business is a primary arrangement on God’s part for people to love and serve one another
The big question is What is God doing here?
God is always out in front of the church working in many ways
God is working for His glory
[We are not only made aware of God in the brokenness of the world, but also in the love of God and the good things He sends even to those who don’t acknowledge Him, e.g., rain on the just and unjust.]
Let your light so shine…
People want to hear about more than just career advancement

Private Property and Character

The individual is responsible before God
What kind of person am I becoming?
What God gets out of our lives is the person we become.
Our current life in negligible in length compared to eternity.
The kind of person we become will last forever.
The expenditure of energy (is it done under God) is the primary determinant of character.

Business is Ministry

Full time Xian service can happen in business
Work came before the fall

Struggling to See the Value of Work

Humans are meant to be inhabited by God and God is a worker. He projects him selves through the lives of individuals.
When we participate in work we [can] produce a value in terms of what God is already doing
We contribute to the lives of others in our work b/c work is a communal activity
Work is fundamentally God’s work
the effect of work is the development of persons
wealth comes in as a partner b/c if you have money your kingdom is extended
the glory of our future is continuing creativity in the life of God
Heaven is not going to be a resort
Process of surrender to God in work
reintegration of person into the KoG to exercise dominion is what work is about
work’s eternal significance:
1. outcome that is shared (allows us to give) and creative
2. what it does for me, growing character. should be learning how to act with God and others in the production of value

Spiritual Gifts in the Workplace

Do you expect people who run banks and schools to live in the power of God?
That’s what spiritual gifts are for
Abraham and Isaac were scary to people b/c God was with them
The blessing of Abraham: God was with him

Dallas Notes: Westmont College Chapel (Sept. 12, 2011)

Westmont College Chapel (Sept. 12, 2011)
Spiritual Formation and Theology
How to Save Your Life

how do we get good people?
so many people intent on blowing others up
come from human heart
malice and anger dominate human relationships
Our government oozes with contempt and anger at one another, so that the business of government that affects each one of us deeply often doesn't get done.

would you like to save your body and mind in addition to your soul?
if you got into heaven, do you think you'd like it?
if you don't like worship, you don't want to go to heaven.
if you do like it, you'll spend a lot of time on it here and it will affect the kind of person you become
spiritual formation is the process of shaping the person so they love God with all their heart, soul, strength and mind and their neighbor as themselves
love God with your assignments

Rom 5.8ff: God demonstrates his own love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
keep reading
'much more than having now been justified by His blood, we shall now be saved from wrath through him.'
[I think Dallas might be wrong about whose wrath here]
'for while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His son, much more having been reconciled, we will be saved by His life.'

salvation is being caught up in the life that Jesus is now living on earth
He lives in us
the basic idea of salvation in the Bible is deliverance, and not just from guilt

Eph 5.8-9: you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord, for the fruit of light consists in all goodness and truth
15-16: therefore, be careful how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise, redeeming your time because the days are evil

translation issue: not just 'making the most'. redeeming concerns something that has already been lost
normal time has to be redeemed or it will be lost
our challenge is to be active bringing everything that fills our time back into God's time
religion can be good, but it's never life

how do you redeem your time? by making sure your gentle but persistent focus is on all goodness, all righteousness, all truth
start by being thankful.
'Thank you for this exam.'
being thankful is right up front in working with God
--is he in charge or not? is he working everything for good or not? there is no other time to live. this is the only time we have. the is the only time when God is going to bless me.
this is going to take some effort. God will help you.
i'm going to look for Your hand to bring to light the righteousness, good and truth that is in this situation
[don't forget: salvation is here. it's never there. 'now is the day of salvation']

Paul: in everything give thanks. 'whatever is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, any virtue, anything to praise--keep your mind on these things'
that's where God is. that is keeping our minds on God
we have a version of salvation that isn't concerned with spiritual formation
want to be characterized by love? find something and start loving it.
you fill your life with God by constantly submitting where you are to love, joy, etc.
the world is set up, in a way, to waste your time.
the main way is by convincing you that what you're doing is not of value
then you wind up having to be distracted
distraction is one of the main enemies of the human soul. you begin to invest your time in things that don't matter.
you live your life of spiritual formation and growth by experimenting with God on the things that you're going to have to live through anyway

the outcome is the fruit of the Spirit -- love, joy, peace and patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
there are many passages you just have to memorize. so they'll be right there, present in your mind and heart. then the Word of God is at work in your body. it is a substance and a power that will work on its own if you take it in.
the fruit of the Spirit
a lot of people get addicted to the feeling of joy, but joy is a condition that has some feeling, but it can be there without the feeling. if you go for just the feeling, you'll fall into addiction.

many people love love
if you have learned to live in the fruit of the Spirit by the presence of God in your life by taking the events of life and turning them over to God, you're going to find that patience is a walk in the park
what is the saved life? a life devoted to beauty, truth and goodness in the power of the risen and living Christ who is with you in all you do
beauty, truth and goodness are where God dwells with us concretely in our lives
beauty is goodness made present to the senses
truth is a reflection of reality including beauty and goodness. it enables us to seek and find what is good. that's why Jesus said 'if you live in me and are my disciples, you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.'
goodness is all that nourishes you and strengthens you in life in a proper order

if your salvation does not include living with God in beauty, truth and goodness, it's going to be a very dry haul
so much of our difficulty today for Xians in this world and the world without vital Xianity comes from having a X with no association with beauty, truth and goodness

a X w/o beauty, truth and goodness is a testimony against the glory and grandeur of God
you have to go to the cross, but you don't live there. you live in resurrection. the cross is necessary, but you live in resurrection life with Jesus. the cross is there to cut off all of the things that would keep us from the life of beauty, truth and goodness. beauty, truth and goodness without Christ is a wretched, failing human substitute for the life we are meant to have.
[i.e., striving after them, because they can't exist in their fullness for our good outside of Christ
they go sour and become harmful]

Dallas Notes: Eating the Flesh and Drinking the Blood of Jesus (St. Peter's Anglican Church, Birmingham, Ala., August 7, 2011)

Eating the Flesh and Drinking the Blood of Jesus: The Substance of Jesus Through His Word

He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in Him.
That's the truth he's getting at.
the mystery of communion is not the bread and wine, but the impartation of Himself
eternal life is making our life eternal by bringing it into the life that God is living
it is God's life
Because X has extended the life of God to us, our life becomes eternal by making what we do a part of what God is doing
the KoG, God in action
Seek first the KoG: find out what God is doing and join Him in it
Jesus teaches us to live in such a way that God acts with us
God acting with us is what makes our lives eternal
there is more to eating His flesh and drinking His blood than taking the elements of communion
we take the elements with the attitude 'X, we receive you by surrendering our lives into your life'
the elements have power in them, including for physical healing
but that power is available all the time, not just in communion. the elements of communion drive it home.
if this causes you to stumble, just wait until you see the rest of the story
we eventually find out cosmic things about Jesus in the rest of the NT, including that Creation is held together by Him
'It is the Spirit which give's life. The flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are Spirit and Life.'
By means of the spiritual reality of the words of Jesus, we consume His substance, we take in His reality
The Word of God is living and powerful. (cp. Heb)
When we receive the Word of X we receive His Life through the Word of X and the Spirit moves with the Word and suddenly what we are what we're doing takes on a different meaning altogether
When we take His Word in, when we receive it, then it begins to order our life in such a way that our life becomes eternal living
And eternal living is the life of God. And those who are living in the life of God never die
when we receive the Word of X and we set Him before us and we keep Him there and we treasure His words, the transformation sets in.
that's what Jesus is talking about in this passage
do you eat His flesh and drink His blood?
Hopefully we can say yes: I glory in His Gospel about the K. I glory in His teachings about how the K works.
as we go forth into the world, we go forth with God b/c He is already there. and we go forth as those who are nourished by the flesh and blood or JX

Dallas Notes: Hearing God (August 5-6, 2011)

Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God
The recordings are from a conference led by Dallas Willard and Bill Heatley at St. Peter's Anglican Church in Birmingham, AL, August 5-6, 2011

Hearing God 1 Dallas
seek the Lord with all your heart and then you will find him
not with half or any other amount
seek God everywhere, seek to hear God everywhere

But from there you will seek the LORD your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.
Dt 4.29

Deuteronomy 6:5
Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

Deuteronomy 10:12
And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul,

Proverbs 8:17
I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.

Isaiah 55:6-7
“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

1 Chronicles 16:11
Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!

Hebrews 11:6
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

2 Chronicles 7:14
If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:13

Mt 6. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Mt 7.7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

when you turn your kingdom back into God's Kingdom, you get a situation like Ps 23
the Lord is my Shepherd (I'm under someone else)
I shall not want (lack anything)
seek first the KoG and His righteousness and everything else will be added
He makes me lie down in green pastures
a sheep lying down is full
He leads me beside still waters
sheep like to to drink from still waters, not running waters, so a sheep led beside still waters is not thirsty
and Jesus said 'the water I give, they will never thirst again. it will be a well springing up to eternal life.'
Ps 23 is a picture of a person who has taken their kingdom back under the KoG, a picture of the with-God life
abundance and righteousness
Word comes to us through Bible, fellowship and personally

  • rela'p
    • communication
      • hearing

life lived in the Spirit. mind turned to Trinity
Word can fill our lives if we want it, but we have to want it, seek it
if we don't, God will allow us to live the with-me life, the source of all our troubles
as we seek, increasingly everything we do will be accompanied

most of what God will tell us is not directions what to do, but light on what is going on in us and around us, what is moving other peopl
then we will know more and more what to do, many times without asking
real relationships have communication, sharing, learning, fellowship

in most cases, you should always know.
after 55 years of marriage, I don't need to ask what she wants and likes, by and large

and God especially will speak to us so we can know Him better
as we know Him, he speaks in our hearts

Hearing God 2 Bill Heatley
What is work for?
What is the purpose of work as God intended it?
Work is about answering prayers
like the air traffic controller
Larissa's prayer for daily bread
[what prayers does my job answer?
how do I include God in my work?]
conversational, interactive relationship as described in Hearing God on the job
how would Jesus do my job if He were I?
how has God gifted you?
God wants to use me where I am. He will work with me to meet the needs that need to be met.
He will bring people around you with the necessary gifts
1. What am I good at?
[interacting with ideas in relationships. eg teaching sunday school
I did a great job with the CallCom]
2. What brings me joy?
Ministry: what God has given to me to do in my life. My purpose.
I enjoy it. I say no to other things to say yes to it.
check: disposition, personality, giftedness, where you see God working in your life.
look back over career: what were occasions were the outcome was beyond what you could expect?
[we had a great CallCom experience]
Constant communication
1. prayer
2. listening and hearing
[3. NOT breaking fellowship]
When did God speak to you? What was it like? How did it work?
[Be single
Marry Christine
Pastor Fred
Recent answers to prayer in context of seeking God]

['Take' God with me to work. Father, please go with me. Guide me. Help me to see where you are at work in my work and to join you there.]

Hearing God 3
the parable of the sower applies to all of us all the time
eg, we get distracted and lose track of God's Word

Daily Kingdom access. Knowing if God has something to say, He will say it and we will hear it.

8 -- Q&A
prayer is a power-sharing relationship for recovering sinners

what gets measured is what gets done. what are you measuring?
instead on ABC: Attendance, Buildings, Cash
move on to D: Discipleship
take ABC expectations off of pastor
be the individual in your church who, through your transformed life, becomes a church withtin a church. people ask why you're so different. have them come under your instruction.
pastor: I want you to invest as much of your time in d'ship as you can. how can I help you do that?
be a brother to him. care about his d'ship. take iron yoke off his neck.
it's going to begin with you and it will stretch you beyond yourself
responsible for children and helping wife and disciples in the church who look to me

be cautious. don't announce the revolution. this is revolution.
shift basis of gatherings from performance to d'ship
Kirkegaard: people think they're the critic, the pastor is the performer and God is the prompter
rather: people are performer, pastor is prompter and God is critic
be patient but persistent. you'll get there b/c God will bless you
'as you go make disciples' is the greatest church growth program in history. nothing else has come close.
it will work. you don't need a budget, another degree or a building
you just need to set it before you as your goal and it will explode
being disciples will cure every problem you have in church
read 'The Great Omission'

Dallas Notes: How is God with Us? How Can We Know It? (May 26, 2011)

can't separate from the love of God that is in XJesus
His presence in our life and our presence in His life
perfectly safe, no matter what may happen
this universe is a perfectly safe place to be no matter what happens
good basis for mental health. no grounds to fear.
able to be at peace no matter what
God is there with you and will take care of you
Ps 23
'I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me'
[said in different interview he prays through every morning]
God's sufficiency is the basis of our security, mental health, Godly character, anointing for service
He is with us and has authority over everything in heaven and on earth

Heb 13: let your lives be without greed and be content with what you have b/c He has said I will never leave you or forsake you.

so you have everything that you need and can't be separated from it by any circumstance
'The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want'
Ps 73: the nearness of God is my good
The Lord is my portion. I've got the Lord and that is enough
beyond omnipresence (physical fact)
relationship, manifest presence of the Lord
Aaronic blessing
  • Perception
    • since God is invisible, if we're going to be aware of Him, we have to turn our minds toward Him
    • Paul in 2 Cor 4: while the outer person is going downhill, the inner person is being renewed day by day. we look not at the things that are seen, but at the things that are unseen. for the things that are seen are temporal and the things that are unseen are eternal
    • the main way that God is with us is our awareness of His presence.
    • God is gentle. if you don't want to see Him, you don't have to (at least for now)
    • i expect there will be a time when everyone will see him, an unhappy time for people who are not used to seeing him now
    • if we want to see God, we have to seek him. it's the key to this way of God being present with us
    • 'seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near' -- Is
      • He's not always near and seeking Him is the condition of awareness of Him
    • the awareness of God is not something that just happens to us. we have to focus on it
    • sometimes, of course, God makes it happen. God gives you an awareness of Him and His presence. certainly that happens to people in the Bible
    • and even if that's happened to us, we still have to seek Him. 'seek ye first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness...'
    • how?
    • turn our mind to God. fix our minds on God.  
    • can be difficult at start. but that's the way seeking goes.
    • if you're going to see something in the physical realm, you have to turn your attention to it. and if you're going to see it well, you have to examine it closely. you may have to move toward it. you may have to take steps. you may need a microscope or a telescope.
    • does not develop passively. you have to commit yourself and pursue it.
    • God wants us to want Him. Your life is kind of like a party that God wants to be invited to.
    • the main way we seek Him is by dwelling on Him in our minds
    • how and what we perceive determines the character of our lives
    • when you have trouble with something, the key question is 'what are you putting your mind on?'
    • students who are not doing well in a course do not have their mind on the content of the course
    • goes for family, occupation, community, etc.
    • we have a choice about where we place our minds and, if we want God present in our life, we have to hold Him before our minds
    • Practice of the Presence of God
      • putting your mind upon God and keeping it there
      • took Brother Lawrence 10 years to get the hang of it
    • 'I can't play Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata'
      • if you want to and will it and practice, it wouldn't take 10 years
    • you put your attention on God and the habits of your mind gradually change so that God is always present in your attention
    • then God becomes increasingly present. it becomes an awareness that is different from just thinking about God. it becomes like perception
    • in his later years, Brother Lawrence said 'I no longer believe, I see'
    • if you want that, you can develop it
    • we come to be aware of when God is acting and speaking
    • we can use Scripture to help us keep our minds on God
    • that's one reason various disciplines involve the meditative use of Scripture, to make the presence of God real in our lives
    • once you decide to do this, you begin to track what's before your mind
    • Paul says be not conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind
    • the renewing of the mind is primarily changing what it is occupied about
    • Lectio Divina is one way
  • Provision
    • if we try to supply our needs on our own, generally speaking, God will let us do it
      • --the problem is, we try to supply our wants, and it doesn't work or it doesn't make us happy.
      • [I concluded in the past that i can't trust God to supply my needs, but it's really my wants that He won't supply, and maybe even sometimes my needs, if i am not seeking Him
    • generally speaking, if we want to know God's presence in our lives, then we abandon the project of taking care of ourselves
    • we still do our best, but we don't trust our best, we trust God and then come to know His action in our lives
      • [ok, Lord. then i can trust you with my old age. i have been a little worried about not having any/enough retirement and having to do stuff i don't want to do to make ends meet. but Willard must be right here, and if i get with this program, your presence and provision will be joyful and no burden.]
    • that's what it means to 'seek first the Kingdom and its righteousness and all these things will be added'
      • [to 'seek first', which i have been praying about, means to seek constantly, not just 'first' in some cursory way]
    • want and need are two different things, and very often we don't know what we need. by trusting God's presence, we are freed from the burden of doing what we want
    • it is only as we abandon ourselves to the love of God that we are in a position to watch what is good be provided in our lives
      • [it is not about being right all the time or appearing smart. it's about trusting God and seeking His presence and letting Him provide. people who do that, including many who raise support, get to see Him provide and work.]
      • ['Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her']
      • [Father, I want to be free from worrying about providence, things like houses and cars and college and retirement. i want to trust you and enjoy your presence]
    • you can't trace the provision. God works through natural processes
    • God doesn't always provide for us with identifiable acts
    • mostly we see what God has done by looking backwards
  • Power
    • we see results we were a part of but can't account for the full effect
    • the outcome of your actions far exceeds the possibilities of your outcome and your efforts
      • [so this is what we need, and especially what I need, when it comes to living my life and being a husband and father and all my other relationships and work and ministry. if I will seek you first, I can hope to see progress in formerly intransigent situations including evangelism]
      • that's the mark of the presence of God with a person in the Bible
      • Dwight Moody example -- 'there's no way we can account for your results in terms of your natural abilities'
        • Moody said he preached the old sermons to triple effect!
    • Paul reported 'what God had done with him'
      • Paul himself was not impressive by his own description
      • showed up and talked. the effects were so powerful that it made others envious
        • the same thing that happened to Jesus
    • Ps 16.9: I have set the Lord always before me. He is at my right hand. I shall not be moved.
      • [God is his copilot, in a sense (a sentiment often derided)]
      • I act with Him and He acts with me
    • same theme in Is: God's strong arm went at Moses' right hand
    • where's your mind: on a talk show host? movie? the Lakers? they won't help you.
    • cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you
    • when we cast our burdens on the Lord and see them supplied, we know that He is with us
    • RA Torrey example. no salary. 'If you walk up to a window every day and ask for what you need and it is provided, you're bound to think there's someone on the other side'
    • this is why Scripture says 'Count it all joy whenever you fall into all kinds of troubles '
      • b/c in them you will come to know God's presence and be established in your life with him
    • we should be trying to do things that are beyond what we can reasonably accomplish. that is how we know God's presence in our lives.
      • anointing, gifts of the Spirit, fruit of the Spirit and manifestations of God being with us
  • how to secure these things
    • take available means for fixing your mind upon God: the written Word, the living Word, mediation on Christ, holy people you know (learn from them)
    • as we use these things to direct our mind, then the awareness of God's presence with us increases and comes more and more to be like ordinary seeing.
    • experiment with how God comes to mind when you think of Him.
      • as present, vividly standing before you, speaking to you, looking at you?
      • not an oblong blur!
      • utilize written word, images you have of Christ, invoke HS to help you, build habit of letting mind dwell on God
    • how do you cast your burdens on the Lord and look for provision?
      • stop striving, stop trying to do it all yourself
      • don't try to make it happen.
      • express to him your expectation and anticipation of Him meeting your needs
      • possibly share with others
      • you will see his yoke is easy and his burden is light?
        • why? b/c He's carrying it
    • how do we enter into the power of God?
      • by attempting, in His will, what we cannot accomplish

[I want to grow up to be like Dallas Willard: wise, productive, not crabby, gracious
[One big takeaway: i can use media as a way of encouraging God's presence without necessarily studying it or paying attention like i was studying it. it's more devotional (to put it one way). I'm not necessarily paying attention to the sermon (for example) all the time. My mind might wander, but it might wander to God.

Ask 'How can I spend time with God?'
Brother Lawrence
Frank Laubach
Thomas a Kempis]

Dallas Notes: Westmont College Commencement 2011 (May 7, 2011)

YouTube video: Westmont College Commencement 2011: Dr. Dallas Willard, May 7, 2011
Duration: 19:07

eternal life is eternal living. replace in Scripture, if helpful
our lives are caught up in God's life, what God is doing where we are
we can make our lives and moments eternal by making sure we are acting in the presence, character and power of God
we acknowledge His presence where we are and expect Him to be involved
Paul: Phil 3: foundation on Christ and then building with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble
very few of us end up where we expected to be
the three little pigs made it to brick, but we have an opportunity to go far beyond that
fire will test qualities of each man's work
I believe the fire is God Himself
morning discipline (and throughout day): God is here
the great danger is not knowing we are building eternal structures and we will only build in the visible world
we're likely to be overwhelmed by sufferings and disappointments, by what others do. you may give up and build with wood, hay and stubble
Jacob wound up in a ditch. he turned to the visible. his mother helped him. built with a lot of wood, hay and stubble
surely the Lord is in this place and I did not know it
Heidegger. geworfenheit: thrown-ness
life can be unexpected
but God is still with us
as you go into the world, people will say your faith is baloney, and you will be challenged to say i have spiritual knowledge
I know Whom I have believed
not just faith, but faith with knowledge
God will be with you and will manifest Himself in ways that cannot be denied by those who are willing to know
knowledge just not jump down people's throats. you have to want it and seek it.
expect God's presence and action
have to keep and guard heart
Prov 4.23: keep your heart with all diligence. what your life amounts to comes out of your heart
heart is direct connection with God and His kingdom. you must learn to keep your heart present to God
He is the way. not a map. a person.
have to seek Him, call upon Him, lean upon Him, cling to Him
that's the secret of the spiritual life
hope may be some time coming
watch and wait in knowledge of future to which present sufferings are not worth being compared, the glory that is to be revealed
patiently put into practice right where you are the things that Jesus teaches us to do
the key is to do it, even if you don't know what's going to happen
you will fail some, but you will learn and gradually your life will be one with the life of Christ
you know the truth and the reality of the life that sets us free by putting into practice the words of Jesus and the companionship with Jesus
you become assured of who you are as God's creature, child and co-laborer. nearly everything you meet will try to turn you away from that knowledge
being with Him and Him with us becomes a tangible fact as our life progresses
I am an unceasing spiritual being with an eternal destiny in God's great universe.