Biblical and Theological Foundations for Spiritual Formation in Christ 3

Dallas Willard Part 3 of 22

Dallas agreed to teach two separate weeks for the Renovaré Institute in Atlanta, a cohort of 40 students, mostly in ministry positions. He rehearses many of the themes from his speaking ministry elsewhere, so there is little new to be heard, but with more time with the group he is able to be more comprehensive than usual.


I am wondering if we can sing this song. [Absolutely] I am afraid you can’t see it from over there to here because of the odd layout of the room but this is a song we use a lot in Renovare conferences. George Skramstead is our music worship leader and just tears it up, I’ll tell you. It is just a wonderful experience to be with him. So I think what we’ll do is just to try it and see what happens.


Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
in light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
almighty, victorious, thy great name we praise.

Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light,
nor wanting, nor wasting, thou rulest in might;
thy justice like mountains high soaring above
thy clouds which are fountains of goodness and love.

To all, life thou givest, to both great and small;
in all life thou livest, the true life of all;
we blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree,
and wither and perish, but naught changeth thee.


Great Father of Glory; dear Father of light;
thine angels adore thee, all veiling their sight;
all praise we would render: O help us to see
’tis only the splendor of light hideth thee.


Well, you “done good!” [Laughter] It’s very difficult to express the greatness of God and sometimes you find a hymn or poem or passage of scripture that really does do what is needed. I think that’s one of the best ones that we find. [3:12]


Now, going back to your outline—we want to pick up here and spend a little time on the four great questions of life and they are in the back of your book pretty close to the back and the reason we take these up is because we have been dwelling upon the calling of the human being, what we are here for and the questions that come up in connection with that are really these four. Are you able to find that close to the back? It doesn’t look like that—it’s a little different shape. [It’s toward the back in the very last section.] Pretty close to the back.


It is called “Things Great Teachers Must Teach” and Jesus, of course, teaches us these things and when we present Him and His teaching and His Kingdom, we really are presenting that in the context of the alternatives. When you look at what He has to say, when you think about His gospel and we will be talking more about that tomorrow, you will always want to think of it in terms of the alternatives. I will occasionally have a student who finds out that I am a Christian and they will comment that they find that surprising and will comment and beats around all the available bushes and finally says, “Well, why are you a follower of Christ?” And I like to respond with a question, which can lead on to a further discussion and so in one way or another I gently reply by saying, “Who else did you have in mind?” [Laughter] Because that’s the real question. “Who else did you have in mind? I am willing to consider the alternatives” and when we present spiritual transformation and Christlikeness, then really the question is “What are the alternatives?” and certainly there are those that can be discussed. [6:17]


But, what I have there on your sheet, some response to these questions:

What is reality? That is a question about what you can count on. What can you count on, and in your action and as a creative person, that’s a primary question that you are going to need to have a response to. So, you are going to live as a creative person in this world and devote your life to something—what do you have to count on?


I also like to put that as a question, What are you going to run into if you are wrong? Because reality is what you run into if you are wrong as well as what you can count on and that’s a really tough question for most people frankly. They look at their prospects in life. Some of them have a lot of confidence in themselves and that is certainly not a thing to be scorned but is that adequate to your life as a creative person in God’s world? Of course Jesus’ answer is, “The Kingdom of God.” What is reality? It’s God and His Kingdom. Now, that includes nature, for example and we have to talk a little more about the Kingdom of God tomorrow as that’s really a central thing to have clear in our mind but basically it is God in action. The Kingdom of God is God in action and sometimes He can act very directly but apparently He loves indirection as well and nature is appealed and history is appealed where He is in action and He an can be found there and people can learn to rely on that and that’s a major part of spiritual transformation is learning how to rely on God—how His Kingdom works. [8:52]


Then, another question that we need help with if we are going to live creatively is Who is really well off? Who has it made? Again, that’s a question that people struggle with and hurt themselves on because they are pursuing the wrong things with the idea that this will enable them to be the people that they want to be and to create the things that are good and right and they can pursue the blessedness, which offered on many hands for what they call “the good life,” see? Human life is full of stuff that is bad but is being presented because something wants to sell you something and I would love to illustrate this with a silly commercial or advertisement that used to appear in the Los Angeles Times some time ago. It was an advertisement for Peugeot and it said, “Pursue happiness in a car that can catch it.” Well, you know having seen a few Peugeot drivers, I had my doubts about that [Laughter] and I would think to buy a Puegeot on that principle would be severely misguided but then you think about all the other things and what WILL give you a blessed life? Jesus’ teaching about that is simply anyone who is alive in the Kingdom of God is blessed—anyone. [10:59]


And He was especially concerned to correct the views that human beings put forth so when you look at the list of Beatitudes in Matthew 5 or the list of Beatitudes and “Woe be’s” in Luke 6, you see He is just picking up the people that are thought not to be blessed and saying, “In the Kingdom of God they are blessed too.” And then of course in the Luke version where you get the “Woe be’s; He’s got a list of those that are taken to “be blessed” and saying “woe.” “Woe be to you that if you are rich and so then human beings take off from that and think that all the rich people are in trouble. You’ve heard that. That is one of Satan’s devices for messing people up is to teach them that blessedness lies in being poor. I shouldn’t say that too loudly here: thank you for closing the door. Poverty is not a condition of blessing but you have all these attempts to confuse people about Jesus’ teaching and when He gives you the Beatitudes, He doesn’t say that the blessing is in the condition. He doesn’t say, “Blessed are the poor because they poor.” He never suggests that. Blessed are the poor if they are in the Kingdom of God. Right? They can have it too. See? [12:47]


So, the teaching about wellbeing, and just very quickly because I want to get on to a few other things—you have a teaching about who is really good. Who is a really good person? And, you know you take a few moments to just think about what is the message of our culture about that? Who is a really good person? Well, today, very often, you have people say, “Well, there aren’t any.” [Mother Teresa…but she is dead.] So, you get answers to that and even if you say there aren’t any, you still have a problem with it and the failure to be a good person is something that people carry deeply inside and it hurts them badly and actually, you can get in a fight quicker over that one thing you can over who is well off?—Because if you threaten someone’s sense of righteousness, they are ready to battle you. Intellectual self-righteousness is a particular problem in the place where I spend most of my time and the intellectual world is tied to being a good person because you have the right views and you are clever and you are smart and can outdo others. [14:20]


Then the last question that you confront is—How do you become a really good person? I think that people try to salvage the best they can because that question of being a good person is so deeply embedded in us and then how do you get that? Those questions often affect your health and your sense of wellbeing deeply and so they are very important. How do you become a good person? The answers to this in our society are really very chaotic, I think: perhaps more so than the others. But, if you had decided that a really good person is a person who is filled with agape love—suppose you decided that was it? And actually more people than not will identify being really good with love than anything else. That’s a part of the influence sometimes subterranean of Jesus in our world is that. Then on the other hand, people know how important love is and whether they have a theory about it or not.  Now, the Christian tradition of course is very explicit about it and it gets stronger as it moves along in the New Testament and when you get to the late letters of John, I mean, it’s just almost brutal the way it comes out. You don’t love; you don’t know God. So, being permeated with agape love, if that’s it, then the question is How do you get that? And the answer I think would be, well, discipleship to Jesus would be the way you get that. [16:32]


And now then, I think that provides a basis for us to talk about transformation because we have a picture of where we are headed and something of the alternatives and then how do you get there? Now, right now, we are going through a period where there is a great cultural disillusionment with the church. I think that’s something everyone knows. I think it’s unfair and unfortunate but there it is and a lot of it is due to the judgment of people whether they are in churches or out that these are not people of God. Then that ties into all kinds of social issues and the arguments that you hear about if you were loving, you would do this and if you were not loving, you won’t and so forth and so on are constantly predicated on this idea that love is the real thing but love again, is not distinguished from desire. [17:45]


We will go briefly back to what we were talking about in the last session. It’s hard to come to grips with the fact that loving someone might be precisely that you don’t help them do what they want and then Christians are somewhat confused about this. They don’t understand what it is to love your enemies. How can you love someone and think they are wrong? Well, of course, we do it constantly with children and thank God, we do because that way we are able to help children grow up but when people become adults in our society, we tend to drop that understanding and when we come to our enemy, we are apt to think that to love them would be to go along with what they are wanting and doing and so really, difficult issues like, how do you love someone if you are shooting? How could you do that? Or a slightly more common idea is for example, firing someone in love. Suppose you are in a responsible position in an organization. Can you fire someone with love? Now, the normal situation is that we don’t try. If we fire them, we get out and they get out and that’s the end of that but Jesus doesn’t really seem to be saying that’s the end of the story and so often, Christian people who are in positions of responsibility have a lot of difficulty because they don’t understand love and how love works. You may want to talk about that more as we go along but this is just a kind of picture of how you go on from ruling—being responsible in God’s work. You are gonna do it within a framework of those questions and your answers to those questions will determine how you live as a creative will in God’s world. [20:07]


Now, I give others who have the answers and of course they are important. Cultures are built on them. Classical civilization was built on a set of answers to those questions. Christianity came into that situation and changed it and a different set of answers and now, today, we have of course all the spiritualties and many of the technologies—psychoanalysis and whatever is—the brain stuff is in the same area. The idea that, well you become a good person and not just a good person but at least better if you have your brain worked on or DNA or something of that sort. All of that is important. At least, don’t understand me as saying that it’s not; it is important. The question is simply—What can you accomplish in that way? And what I would like to emphasize is simply that “you as a personal spiritual being and other human beings have access to their own life directly and though some things can be done by manipulating the body or the social circumstances, the main avenue toward a life of creative responsibility under God for what is good in your life lies in the transformation of your experience into Christlikeness. That involves action on your part, cooperation with others, the grace of God and all of that but that   I think is the direction we have to look. [22:00]


All right. Now, I want to today to try to say some things about the last section on your outline and the first thing is talking about Salvation as a Life. Life is—there are three marks that we can use for life and one is Self Initiating Activity. That’s one thing about life. Secondly, Self Directing and thirdly, Self Sustaining. So, just think about this a little while and inanimate things don’t have these qualities—self initiating, self directing, and self sustaining and when, you know, your child has a little goldfish or something and one day it goes in and sees the goldfish upside down floating around, then we have to explain its death and death means the departing of life.  So, now, God said to Adam and Eve, “If you do this, you are going to die.” Well, they didn’t die at least for a while; they didn’t die. What happened? I think our answer is there was a quality of life in them that was lost and I think that we can express that simply in terms of being inhabited and we know that from our later teaching—what is the big thing? Well, it’s Christ IN you. That preposition “in” gets such heavy use in the Gospels and in the later parts of the New Testament. God dwelling in you—the mystery that has been hidden from the ages, especially with reference to the Gentiles as Paul talks about “Christ in you, the hope of Glory.” [25:18]


Then Jesus in John 14 where He is trying to ease His followers through this really terrible, wrenching transition of Him dying and He’s talking to them about knowing Him and “the One who Has known Him has known the Father” and so on. He winds up talking about, “Well look, Philip, don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? If you can’t believe me, just believe for the Word’s sake. I am not the one who does it.” Jesus says, “It’s the Father in me. He does the work. I say the words and He does the work” and that is carried out.


That’s a big theme for the Gospel of John that you know so you come down to the 17th chapter—the great High Priestly prayer and He is praying with that same adjective “in.” “You are in me, Father and I am in them.” So, what is that referring to? Well, I think it refers to a quality of life in this sentence that they have lost and is being restored through what we call “the birth from above.” See, in John 3, you never find the idea “born again.” Now, it’s in 1 Peter but it’s not in John 3. John 3 is “born from above.” Now, from above refers to the presence of God in the surrounding atmosphere and however far we want to go but that’s what it refers to. “Born from above”—the same language there is used when Jesus is before Pilot and Pilot is saying to Him, “Look, don’t you now I have the power to kill you?” and Jesus says, “Well, you know, you wouldn’t have any power at all unless it were given to you from above.” Same language—“from above.” This is a part of what we can begin to return to in this idea of being responsible because we are meant to be responsible in a power that is not our own and that’s what the new birth is about is the restoration of a life that is from above. Now, that life has a certain quality and that’s what enabled John to say, “that if anyone does not love, they don’t know God.” [28:28]


Now, remember, “know” is interactive relationship, okay? They have to kind of string all of this stuff I am saying together and you will find that it makes a wonderful interwoven pattern of intelligibility when you do that. Now, knowing God doesn’t mean being an expert theologian. It means being engaged in an interactive relationship with Him and if you are living in that relationship, that means His life is coming through you and His life is love. Right?—different kinds of love. [29:13]


We talked about the bonsai. See, bonsai works on a kind of life and if you shape that little plant in a certain way, then it will never recover because you have broken a cycle that’s built into its nature. That’s the kind of life—different things have different lives. You have a dog and it has a certain kind of life. A cat has a certain kind of life. Cabbage has a certain kind of life. So, what this means in their case—self-initiate, self-directing, self-sustaining—is something different. Now, human life without the presence of God in it does not function as it is meant to function. That’s the nature of life, and the life from above is a life that has a particular nature. We are meant to be indwelt by it and when we are not, then we cannot flourish. We can’t know the blessedness of the life that God intended for us. [30:48]


So now, at the new birth, the “birth from above,”—this new kind of life—old kind of life, but now new in our present circumstances begins to come out.  So, on the evening before Jesus is crucified, He tells them, “By this will all men know you are my disciples” because you really have rip-snorting services. [A student comments, “I like that version.” Laughter] You like that one? Okay. What do we do in church? Well, Jesus said, “the love you have for one another.” He didn’t say love everyone. He never says that. That is never said in the Bible that we are supposed to love everyone. Now, you love your neighbor. You love the stranger that is in your midst. You love your enemy. You love one another. He never says, “Love everyone.” That is not something that we could do and the more we try to do it, the more we are certain to miss the ones that we are called to love. Who is my neighbor? My closest neighbor is my wife, Jane. That hasn’t always been true because I was a child once and my closest neighbors were in my family but basically, she’s my neighbor and then a few other people—my children, Becky and John; they are my neighbors and then others that are in the natural connections. And in those natural connections, my calling and my gift is to manifest the life of God in those relationships. [33:06]


So, again John can get rather mean about this and in the 2 chapter of 1 John, he says, “If anyone says I know God and does not keep His commandments, he’s a liar.” I’m glad I didn’t say that and if we take a passage like that or the passage from John, chapter 14 where he says, “the one who has my commandments and keeps them is the one who loves me.” Well see, that really puts us on an investigative journey. How does that work? And basically it works by growing in the life of God that has come to us through the “birth from above” and now, once we are born from above, we have different abilities and different possibilities and now, we are going to learn and grow in those. Disciplines in every area of life are God’s gift to us so that we can be responsible for the kind of person we become. See, if you would like to become a person who speaks excellent French; well, okay, you can do that but in order to do that, you are going to have to do a lot of other stuff which will involve speaking a lot of non-excellent French. But if you wish to come to be a person who speaks French well, you can do that but it will be up to you and that is the reason why in human life, there is such a thing as disciplines and we have to talk more about that but a discipline is basically an activity that you can do that’s in your power that enables you to do what you can’t do by trying. So when you look at the law, whether it’s The Ten Commandments or the Sermon on the Mount, you don’t want to say, “OK, I am going to do that” and start trying to do it. What you say is, “I want to become the kind of person who would do that” and that way it works. Otherwise, it will bring you into bondage and it will kill you and you may get involved in a group that is trying to enforce these laws on you and you will have a terrible problem with legalism. When Jesus says, “He who has my commandments and keeps them is the one who loves me;” see, He is not saying, like we often say in human affairs, “Well, if you love me, you’ll do this, that, and the other.” He’s not saying that. He’s explaining how you come to be a person who does what Jesus says because you love Him. Now, if you love him and you’re still very imperfect but because you love Him, you become His student or disciple and that explains why you then keep His commandments. It’s the love that leads to the discipline and the discipline leads to obedience.  So, if you want to keep The Ten Commandments, you aim to become the kind of person who would do that or if you want to do what Jesus said, it’s the same thing. Well, I better take my lessons and better stay with Jesus and learn how you do it. He actually knew how and He can teach us. [37:34]


Q: In your own mind how, if you have a relevant and sincere desire to keep the Lord’s Commandments—I have been exposed to Messianic Jews and to 7th Day Adventists that would have you keep the Old Testament laws, how in our own lives is that fleshed out into our journeys?


Dallas: With the realization that what is important in the New Testament law is given for our good but that it has a center and that center is love of God and love of neighbor and that if you take care of that, the rest of it will follow. [38:14]


Now, I don’t encourage people to think in terms of perfection as keeping the letter of those laws but I am sure that if you will focus on loving God and in the strength of that, loving your neighbor, you will begin to see the things that are stated in the Law pulling the branches. See, the things that are stated like in the Ten Commandments and the Ten Commandments are really good and important instruction for us, and if you want to find the kingdom, just try to do this. You will find the Kingdom and it will find you but not by human effort. Yet, you must do something, right?


So, the teachings of the Ten Commandments are indications of how God does things and we identify with those and learn how to do them and they become our nature. Now, I don’t know that you are going to have to worry about perfection in any sense for some time, but the intent is to come to be the kind of person who sees the goodness of the Law and learns to live there but you don’t become picky over the details. You go to the heart of the matter and that is emphasized repeatedly both in the Gospels and in the letters. Paul in Romans 13, for example, says, “Well, the whole deal is love our neighbor as yourself.” Of course, you are not going to be able to love your neighbor as yourself unless you love God with all your heart, soul, mind and spirit. That will take a little time but that’s the path. See, that’s the path we step into and when Jesus says, “the one who has my commandments and keeps them, he’s the one who loves me.” He’s explaining how you come to that place. It’s by loving Him and living in that love as His disciple. That’s what gets left out and so many groups fall into legalism and the legalism becomes a system of social control and condemnation and blame and that just makes everything worse. [40:51]


Q: Would you say maybe that an example of walking through verses living out the life would be with the concept of Sabbath and perhaps Shabbat……………………….where perhaps………………… than the idea of practicing salvation? [This was a student question that was difficult to hear where the …….s are.]


Dallas: Right! One of the things you learn is that all of the regulations like Sabbath and so on can be done to perfection and the light not involved. With reference to Sabbath, for example, you can turn Sabbath into an immense piece of labor by trying to keep the regulations and that’s what had been done by Jesus’ day. But, that’s why the importance of Him saying, “The Sabbath was made for man. Man was not made for Sabbath.” That’s true of all the commandments and that puts the focus where it should be; namely, what it is good? See, that’s the focus—what is good? Now, we need rules to help us educate ourselves, and others and so on but we get lost in the rules and it’s always true that you can keep the rule without keeping the heart. Every command is like that and that’s why God doesn’t allow us to stay there. [42:34]


Q: So, I have a similar question and I think one of the things that they said is that and you are saying if you love God, you will keep His commandments. [Not totally understandable.]


Dallas: Well, you will learn how to—see, don’t leave out that………….. [Not understandable] because you wind up trying to love God. Give us a break. You can’t do that.


Q: But I guess the way that they say is what it means to love God is to keep His commandments. [Dallas inverts, “I don’t think so.”] Obviously, the way that thinking of loving God is a misunderstanding, what would your response be?


Dallas: To love anything means to seek what is good. To love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength is to be devoted in those aspects of your personality to what God says is good. It starts with Him. He is good. Okay? And so doing the will of God means doing what is good for God and that’s how you love Him. Right? [43:57]


So, now let’s hang with it because you’ve got an important question there—a very important question. How do you learn to love God? Well, you can begin by paying attention to what He has done and that always comes into forms mainly creation and covenant relation—those two things. And in covenant relationship, His greatest indication of His love is He gave. He gave; and of course, you know how to go on from there but we are apt to go past that too fast. He gave. God commends his love towards us in that while we were yet sinners in rebellion, He died for us.  In other words, God loves His enemies. Who are His enemies? It’s me.  I’m His enemy. Until I am reconciled to Him, I am His enemy. See, we have to think through those questions. What does it mean to love God? What does it mean to have your soul, body, mind and strength all devoted to that? See? So, that’s what we learn in the presence of Christ—is to love God. [45:33]


Now, we will have a big battle with desire in that because that will not run in harmony with what we want. That’s why in the process of Christian redemption from the side of the spiritual life, the cross is so important because the cross is the end of our desires. The cross says, “Your desires do not run your life.” And it says, “Somebody much better is in charge.” So, we want to think about how can we come to love God and that opens the doorway. [46:28]


Q: [Not understandable…..person taping is shuffling papers.]


Dallas: Now we need to say to others, and ourselves “Why is it important? and answer that question. Why is obedience important? That of course, the whole human scheme of “well, I am earning something. I am meriting something” and all of that—you have to shift off of that basis. Why do you love God? Well, the short answer is He’s lovely. Why do you love the rose? Hmmm? It’s beautiful, isn’t it? It’s lovely. You love God because He is lovely. Now, in order to do that, then you have to concentrate on His loveliness. See? That’s the path through which you come to know that what He says is a good thing and then we begin to find how that love is embedded in those. Why do they do not steal? Because I love people. And why not covet; I love people I’ve glad they’ve got it. See? [48:07]


Q: Sometimes I struggle with loving an unseen God and not bringing Him down to my level but my Father and there is lots of different imagery and there is difficulty with keeping the evidence and making it real enough to love.


Dallas: Well, I think that is a general problem; not just for loving but if we are in trouble with the invisible, one thing we can do is to go back to what we were talking about as spirit and recognize that you are invisible.  Now, that’s going to be a challenge but see we are turned away from the spirit in ourselves as elsewhere in others. And so, for example, in our relationship to others, often we are dominated by how they look to us. Right? Just think of how much goes into how you look in human life. So, that’s a matter of re-training our mind. How do you love other people if they bother you? [49:50]


This is a pointed line in John 14 again which is so rich in all of these points where it says, “The world can’t received the Holy Spirit because it doesn’t see it.” And then you come to think about the world, the flesh and blood and so on and you see how heavily invested that is in the visible. The world passes away and the lusts thereof John says but those who do the will of God will abide forever. Now if we can’t accept ourselves as spiritual beings, that’s why I start where I do on this; then we are really in a hard place and we, for example, won’t relate to others as physical beings. Of course, that’s where so much grief comes from and all the issues of race and color and gender and so on come out of treating people in terms of their visible attributes.  Diversity is not a value in itself. It’s often treated that way in our culture but diversity is just one of—you know, you look out at that grass over there and all of those blades are diverse from one another and you would think you would just flip out in ecstasy because they are different. The emphasis on diversity is only to allow us to discern the sameness. People take hold that she’s a woman, she’s a man, she’s black, she’s white—and so on and reject the sameness that is there. The recognition of diversity is only to help us see past it. It’s not valuable in itself. I don’t owe anything to a woman because she is a woman. I owe something to a woman because she is a person; the same way with race and all the other things that have been used historically to brutalize people and that’s why that God has become an issue. The difference is physical and that makes it impossible for us to seize the sameness. This is a spiritual being—an unceasing spiritual being with an eternal destiny in God’s great universe—so I should not let them drink from the same fountain that I drink from. No? Doesn’t make much sense, does it? But, that’s how I think we have to work on that. It’s a very big deal. [52:42]


Q: This business of learning to love God—I am just wondering if in your experience you have some idea of what kind of training activity we might participate in that would grow us into thinking magnificently of God and magnifying His providence and so on. There just seems like there should be something out there…


Dallas: No, no, there is something out there. It is well known. It is called practicing the presence of God and that’s how you do it. The primary rule you make in practicing the presence of God is learning to hold him before your mind. That is something you learn to do. And as you hold him before your mind, you will learn more about His goodness and His greatness and that will help you love Him more but that’s really—I hate to say it but that’s all there is to it. [54:00]


Q: I mean how do I hold you before your mind?…. [Not understandable]


Dallas: You know what it is to direct your attention to something? Do you have grand kids? [I do.] Can you hold them before your mind? Yes, you can. Now, they have images that God doesn’t have. [Laughter] But it’s true, you see? It’s like people who say, “I can’t pray.” Well, I’ve asked them, “Can you worry?” If you can worry, you can pray. And so, it really is—it’s a kind of an effort because we are used to paying attention to everything else but the main part of practicing the presence of God is to simply hold him before your mind. Now, you learn how to do that. You learn how for example to involve Him in everything you are doing. It’s a kind of constant invocation. You learn to watch for his action in your life and it just grows. It really does and it sounds really hard when you are not into it. All you have to do is just begin to practice turning your mind toward God. Frank Laubach has a wonderful technique called the game of minutes. You don’t know the game of minutes? I hope you will become acquainted with it. Laubach was well trained psychologist as well as a theologian and preacher—a wonderful mind and he knew that if you returned your mind to something every—roughly once a minute—he wasn’t picky about it but it would come in and go out of your mind and you would come to live in the presence of God and when you did that, you are going to love God. That’s our part and of course the other side is He has a part in it too. He will help us. But there has to be the turning of the mind and learning how that goes and what happens when you do it.


Now, ordinarily if we love anything, we already have our mind turned towards them. “I can’t get you out of my mind, baby!” See, that’s a kind of natural response and it’s coming into _______. On the other hand, we can learn how to love God and actually how to love our neighbors by how we bring them before our mind because that’s that part too because often our neighbors aren’t particularly lovable from the ordinary point of view but we learn to think about them in ways that help us have compassion. [56:51]


That goes with as we mentioned this morning about pornography. It is very difficult to engage in pornography if you have compassion on the people that are involved. So, it’s changing the way we think about them. It goes back to this issue of will as deliberative and as expanding the view. The more we do that, the more good allows His moving in our lives.


Q: In kind of like the other way of expanding the view, I’ve seen that a lot of times when people can’t see God, it’s because they think that by seeing God they won’t feel certain pain but really their pain is drowning out God and so sometimes rather than pursue God so passionately we need to sometime look at the healing of pain that drowns Him out.


Dallas: Well, I certainly think that’s true and this really causes a lot of problems when we are pursuing God for our benefit because He is very likely not going to do the things we’d hoped He would do. Sometimes He will but He also like, we with our children, has a different viewpoint on what’s going on and so that’s an excellent point. Thank you. [58:23]


We are very close to the experiential.

I don’t want to crowd that. Please come up and help us!

Listen to all parts in this Renovaré Institute: Atlanta Cohort series