Below are notes from Dallas Willard's talk at Tree of Life Community in Orange, CA. A video of the teaching is at the end of these notes.
Conversation / Q & A with the pastors:
Question: "What is the primary barrier to being a disciple of Jesus?"
Answer: The default system of thinking that you can be a Christian without being a disciple. This belief is rooted in the current reigning understanding among Evangelicals of what it means to be saved. Too many think salvation is only about a guarantee of going to heaven when we die. This understanding really requires nothing of believers. We only expect to have to profess certain things and perhaps associate with certain people. Discipleship then feels like a "bait and switch" in this understanding of the gospel. It wasn't part of the original invitation.
If you are bored with worship, you won't like heaven at all.
Will the gospel we preach be an invitation to discipleship?
The New Testament calls the default system around us "the world." It always puts selffirst. "The customer is always right" is one the ways this is stated.
Question: Spiritual disciples and rhythms are difficult. Where do young parents find the time?
Answer: This is where the battle sets in. You have to plan and think about why you don't have time for what matters to you.
Here's a good question to ask ourselves: Does God ever give us too much to do? If I find myself feeling like I have too much to do, I must ask myself where those jobs came from? Who am I trying to please? What have I taken on myself that God didn't give me?
There is value in sharing life creatively with others who can help us in our discipleship.
How does success relate to the fruits of the Spirit? The Spirit and grace do not make us passive, but the goal isn't necessarily success as it is usually understood.
We are tempted in our spiritual lives to think that it's all about our work. Then, if things don't seem to work out, we just work harder.
The good news isn't just about getting into heaven when we die. It's about getting heaven into us now while we are alive. By trusting Jesus we can live eternal life now-eternal living. We enter into eternal life now under His reign.
I should count on what Jesus says about spiritual reality. Trust the things that Jesus said. The beatitudes, for example, are a statement about spiritual reality. We put the teachings of Jesus into practice for this reason.
Eternity is now in process. It is the life of God. It is a quality of life.
We are being caught up in the life Jesus is now living on earth.
Question: Dallas, what are your daily rhythms of life? Daily constants?
- Before I get out of bed, I go through the Lord's prayer and Psalm 23. I work through them a few times each. I linger with each phrase.
- When I then sit up, I proclaim aloud, "The Lord is here."
- What happens next depends on the day. I want my "quiet time" to last all day long.
- On some days, I can study scripture or pray for others before I leave home.
- I will often take a break here and there to remember God. I renew my awareness of "Our Father in heaven."
One good way to think about spiritual disciplines and how we use them is how we feel if we don't practice them. If we feel guilt, then we need to rethink our plan. Guilt doesn't help us much. Spiritual disciplines aren't righteousness, but wisdom. We do them joyfully and receive grace through them.
I have daily, weekly, monthly and annual rhythms in my life. Fasting. Solitude days. Etc.
Question: Where should I begin if I am new to the disciplines?
Answer: Be experimental. Don't be heroic. Be easy. Take things slow. Begin small.
Breaking bad habits will cause us discomfort. Come to God as a happy student of Jesus. Expect resistance. Focus on the friendly face of Jesus.
When something doesn't work, figure out why it didn't before just trying the same thing again.