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Dallas Willard – The Spiritual Realm as Jesus Knew It
Human condition as a search for how to live your life to the fullest potential. Not necessarily a spiritual condition but part of the human condition.
4 questions –
1) What is reality? What ultimately defines how we live our lives?
2) Who is well-off? Issues of prosperity.
3) Who is a really good person? Issues of value.
4) How does one become a really good person? Personal action to produce a desired result.
5) How do you know the answer to the above 4 questions?
These questions help define who we are and what we believe and how we interact with other people. These questions lend themselves to our worldview. These questions have varying answers depending on the culture and climate that we find ourselves in.
Where do our answers to these questions come from?
Spirituality as living an interaction with God. Spirit is personal, un-bodily power. Christian spirituality revolves around the fact that we cannot manipulate, it is something that we have no control over. For Jesus when we choose to manipulate power and spirituality then we enter into sin. Religion (in any form) always involves 2 things – a transcendence source and techniques for interacting with that source.
Help and identity and power are things that people desire from religious sources.
Jesus puts spirituality in perspective in terms that it is something that we do with our entire body – heart, mind, soul. His instruction is that we find ourselves within the character of God. We cannot personally create spirituality – spirituality is found in God. Jesus is someone who is capable of helping us to understand these issues.
Dallas Willard – The Soul and Its Transformation
When we begin to understand Jesus, we begin to see that his message can be the only way to answer life questions. God wants us to grow with the intention that he can enable us to do what we want to do. This also requires us during the growth process to grow to desire the things that God desires. When God wants to enable us, his hope is that our desires line up with his. Are we truly practicing what God teaches? God desires for us not only to listen to the teachings of Jesus but the idea of our soul being transformed is directly related to how we practice what we are taught. Jesus’ message about living the kingdom of God is something that we can actualize instead of observe or wait for. We have to be active participants in the fact that God is doing things here and now. We retreat to nature and beauty because we are desiring to see God in action. The problem that arises in the fact that the kingdom is not something that is distant or coming but it is something that is present and available. God makes himself as available as possible to each and everyone of us.
Spiritual disciplines as practices. Jesus as example of how to put faith into practice – solitude, silence, scripture, prayer, fasting.
Notes about Dallas Willard: For me I didn’t really hear anything that I hadn’t really thought about before. I think that comes from my background in philosophy and theology. But I do admire his knowledge and insight into the character of God. It was nice to finally hear him lecture/speak. I think for many his insights will be new and something that they may have not thought about before. I really like his demeanor. The dry humor and quick quips. Great! Truly a great apologist for the faith and I do look forward to actually reading some of his work.
John Burke – God, Jesus and the World’s Religions
Paul + Mars Hill Acts 17
Understanding God’s presence in a world that finds itself spiritual but not sure of what is true, right or universal. How do we understand that God is near or present and that we can reach out and understand who he is, if we try? As people of faith we need to understand the idea of tolerance. When we can listen to other people’s ideas and thoughts with an open mind. This does include the option to disagree with what is being said. The thought that tolerance leads to a wishy-washy understanding of truth is misguided. Being tolerant is something that we can practice without giving up our beliefs. Religion when entered into the conversation about tolerance can either be a preference or a truth. This leads to us wanting to know who God is and how we can interact with him.
“There is a common core of sound morality and prescriptive truth in all or most of the major religions.” Adler, Truth in Religion
Tenets found in most of the world’s religions:
1 Don’t do harm to another human by what you do or say (the golden rule)
2 Honor your father and mother
3 Be kind towards brothers and sisters, children and the elderly
4 Do not have sex with another’s spouse
5 Be honest in all of your dealings (don’t steal)
6 Do not lie
7 Care for those weaker or less fortunate
8 Dying to self is the path to life
adapted from Lewis, The Abolition of Man
Instinctively we all are aware that there are problems, with ourselves and with the world, which leads to us understanding that we need help.
The question to all religions is: has God revealed himself to us?
“Only three religions claim to have a supernatural foundation to be found in a sacred scripture that purports to be a divine revelation…among the other religions…the truth they claim to have is of human, not divine, origin.” Adler, Truth in Religion
The three are Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.
John stresses that we don’t have it all figured out. Christians as a religion can be used for both good and bad. God’s understanding is that he wants to interact with us through the world and is doing so.
Notes about Jon Burke: From his bio I understand where he is coming from in creating community that revolves around the idea that a church doesn’t have to be perfect or that we as individuals don’t have to (and can’t) be perfect. John sees life as understanding, knowing and interacting with God on all levels. His theology spurs from a depraved stance of the world, with a redemptive nature coming from God alone. In his time I didn’t hear much about an objective understanding of other religions in relation to Christianity. I heard (which isn’t bad) that God is the center of it all and other religions (including Christianity) are and can be used by God for redemptive purposes. I love what Rob Bell has to say and I think it relates: “The point isn’t Christianity, the point is being a follower of Jesus.” I’m not sure if his point was to help people have a better understanding of world religions or if it was apologetics cloaked in a “world religions” format. Again like Dallas, I feel that I’ve heard this before and didn’t really challenge me to think differently about God and his relation to those who put faith in other religions. I clearly acknowledge my elitism and tendency to think that I’ve not learned much. You may find more of that as you read the rest of the day. I think for me, personally I need to be challenged to interact with the world and how my faith relates to the people that surround me. Especially those who hold other religious beliefs.
John Ortberg – It’s Morphing Time
Redefinition of terms. Jesus uses the phrase “you have heard it before, but let me say this to you.”
Gospel – held view (summed up) – the minimal requirements to get to heaven, redefinition – mark 1:14-15, repent and believe the kingdom of God is at hand, it is possible to live in the power and presence of God now.
Kingdom – is what y
ou choose to be, actually is.
Pray this: “god make up there (heaven) come down here (earth)”
To trust Jesus means that we first believe everything he says and then we do it.
How does this kingdom kind of life become realized in me? – It must take the need for human transformation as seriously as modern revolutions.
If we do not change/transform we are doomed not to fully realize the power and reality that is found in emulating Christ-like behavior.
People often settle for pseudo-transformation. When actual transformation is not possible/not achieved.
Boundary markers – things that determine identity within a certain group of people to distinguish those who fit in and those who don’t.
When we use boundary markers to elevate ourselves in order to distance ourselves from others, we begin to move into pseudo-transformation which misses the point completely.
We should not let faith deteriorate into mere boundary markers, instead when we pursue genuine faith we find ourselves truly and authentically transformed and we grow and others see changes in us that is a direct result of transformation. Instead of us not transforming and merely setting up boundary markers for ourselves, therefore alienating those who do not exhibit those same markers.
Train – I arrange around those activities that enable me to do what I cannot now do by direct effort.
When we live our lives around the idea of training for a life of Christ we are enabling ourselves to begin to do things that we were incapable of doing/achieving prior to this point in time.
If we want joy and patience and a Christ life then we need to train for joy and patience and a Christ life. Training is a daily effort. We must align our lives around activities that allow us to be fully immersed in the training for life with Christ.
Spiritual disciplines are training for how to live out a life of Christ.
Notes on John Ortberg: I enjoyed his demeanor, very engaging, somewhat “traditional” yet presents progressive ideas about how we view faith and is not afraid to confront long held beliefs of the church and is willing to redefine them and challenge them. I like the coffee cup that is always in his hand as he speaks. Though I had hoped he would touch more on actual practices of spiritual living. I’m glad that Tony is speaking next as I know he is very practical and will be a good conclusion to this conference…if people will listen to what he has to say and not get caught up in the things that they find “controversial”.
Ken LaMont – Universal Gift of Giving and Receiving
(The Spiritual Practice of Giving and Receiving)
Uses example of going to Mexico to demonstrate giving and realization of luxury that they live in at home in the States. He states that change occurs and that lives are started to be transformed and become enamored with the life of giving.
World traditions/religions have built into them a sense of giving and generosity.
Makes a case that we are engrained with in our human nature to give in some capacity.
Why should we give?
We need to give because we have been given to.
Giving in relation to building relationships with those who we give to.
When we think of giving we hesitate because we think about the lack of control of when we give.
We also hesitate to take/receive because it means that we have to proclaim our need and then to have the loss of control in what we get. Because we are receiving what is given, not taking what is asked for.
When we give money sometimes it is hard for people realize that time is also a resource, money is a convenient non-obligatory way of giving.
Talks about the fact that we as a society treat time as a commodity and that it is an acceptable offering/giving, as well as forgiveness and encouragement and skills and touch and smile.
Notes on Ken LaMont: Takes a stance in the idea of giving in relation to stats and stories of outcome. At this point I hope he talks more about developing life-long giving habits. Instead of just making a case for giving as a whole. Especially in letting us know that giving is something more than just loving God, it is part of an entire lifestyle. Has touched on it some in the example of his evaluation of giving one hundred 1 dollar bills instead of one 100 dollar bill. One of the ideas that I think about when I think about giving is the fact that it is my job to instill in others the idea of continual giving so I no longer have to constantly urge people to live up to the call to give. Here is where I see the failings of the “giving” message. Mexico, offerings and so many other things are good, but do they really inspire to live a lifestyle of giving, instead of producing people who give when they are asked to or hear a compelling argument or a specific need. Responding to dire need is one thing and I think it is a good thing, but how do we get people to live giving lives and then on top of a giving lifestyle give more when there is dire need? You can search my blog for posts about giving/money.
Tony Jones – Contemplative Spiritual Practices
Tony suggests that whenever people encounter Jesus, no matter what they say or do, their ultimate intention is “what do I need to do to be saved?”
When we understand the relationship of God as a three-head, Tony suggests that it revolves around the paraklesis – dance or being intertwined.
Tony tells of his personal journey into his research and development of The Sacred Way.
“The spiritual life is simply the increasing vitality and sway of God’s Spirit in us.” – Marjorie Thompson
“The practice of the presence of God.” – Brother Lawrence
“The goal of Christian spirituality is to be enlivened by God’s Spirit.” – Tony Jones
I’m not really going to comment of the actual practices that Tony talks about. I’ll just tell you to go buy the book. I use a lot of the things often if not almost daily. The Sacred Way by Tony Jones.
Tony Jones – Active Spiritual Practices
Notes on Tony Jones: I enjoy Tony much and dont know if I’ll even take notes. I enjoy his company and look forward to meeting with him in the future.
Today is Monday Monkey Matinee day.
Let the Monday Monkey Matinee day begin!!!
Someone please explain why today in church I heard the name of the guy who was going to be the guest vocalist and entertainment for our valentines dinner mentioned more than the name of Jesus?
Mind you I was only really in church for about 30 min and most of that was worship and announcements. But I heard less about God and Jesus than I did about this guy and how wonderful he was and what a nice voice he had (which he does) and how much his music was supposed to help me focus on God.
Sorry…It wasn’t worship…it was a concert.
I came to church today to worship my God. Not to hear some songs that maybe mention God, but was part of a concert, more of less.
I should have pumped Jesus Walks through the speakers. That has Jesus’ name too.
As you can probably tell, I’m a bit upset and once again left without a place that feeds my spiritual needs and wants. God is more real in my backyard than he is during our “worship service”.
< /vent >
Is evangelism dead?
I mean evangelism in the sense of crusades and Billy and standing on boxes in the streets?
If we are continuing to stress the importance of relationships and the necessity of allowing people to come to realize Christ instead of being asked to make a “decision” on the spot, does that mean that we need a new word or outlook on what it means to make “new” disciples of Christ?
With Billy soon to pass, (and what great work he has done) and tracts and rallies seeming to lose effectiveness, does this mean that we must re-invent/re-think what it means to draw people who don’t profess faith into a communion with God?
In all my years of ministry I have yet to “convert” someone, in the sense that I talked to someone, (possibly) developed a relationship with them, then was there when they made a “decision” for Christ. That’s not to say I haven’t impacted many lives for Christ. But I’ve never been a part of an “evangelism” ministry.
I don’t know and don’t really want to know how many people have decided to follow Christ because of me.
I don’t want to find myself saying things that point to a person and say I was responsible for their faith. I’m not responsible, God is.
I think one of the underlying themes in “evangelism” is that we become personally responsible for people’s relationship with God. I saved this person, now I am responsible to make sure they grow in their faith. Or I saved this person, now let me find someone else to save.
I can remember a point in college (mind you it was a Christian college) where I seriously became envious that one of my friends said to me that they had just had a long conversation with someone and then that person accepted Christ.
I remember all that really did was make me feel like a failure that I hadn’t done the same or didn’t have anyone on my radar to “save”.
Has “evangelism” come to the point where a person’s relationship with Christ has taken a backseat to the actual moment of conversion or the pride that is expressed in the conversion itself?
Maybe it’s just me. But when I think about people’s relationships with God, I want to stress longevity and earnestness, not just a moment or a person who lead me to Christ. I might help someone discover how God has constantly been working in their life, but I want to keep the focus on God reaching down from space and time to be involved with that person’s life at that moment and from then on. Not just getting someone to say the right words, have a cry and start coming to my church.
Is it time to kill the “evangelism” beast and start over when we talk about a relationship with God?
I don’t know. Think about it. Question. Respond. Dialogue. (That’s what the comments are for.)
I really want to know how much more this administration can get away with, like continuing to reveal information late and after the fact, lying, corruption, and who knows what elese we’ll find out next week and still hold credibility in the eyes of people and congress.