Understanding the Person 2

Dallas Willard Part 9 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.

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OK; looks like we are all here. If we are not all there, we are all here! I want to talk a little more now about the interaction—especially between the will and the mind and between the mind and the character. We can’t do all of the dynamics here but we do want to recognize something of how the progression in Christlikeness moves and of course it moves when the word of God of Christ and His Kingdom, but of course it may come in many ways addresses our minds. [1:33]

 

The first important question is what is your will going to do with the word that has come into your mind? This is a very subtle kind of issue but if your will is set against the Word of God you will go nowhere. The primary function of the will is to trust God. That’s what the will is primarily supposed to do. Now, the will itself has very little power. The ordinary human being far overestimates the power of their will and the power of their mind. They think that they can accomplish much more with those than they can and even the mind itself is tremendously limited—even the brightest mind is tremendously limited.

 

As you grow older, you get a deeper sense of that because the mind runs on energy and habit and it gets clogged up with lots of stuff.  So, it simply doesn’t work as well as it did because as you grow older, it’s over loaded. It’s kind of like what they say about Alzheimer’s where you just get your synapses clogged up with “stuff” and the human mind, apart from that has the same tendency to get “bogged” down in stuff and especially a lot of stuff that is false and wrong and misleading. [3:31]

 

So, the first dynamic is what does the will do with what it receives of the Word of God which is addressed to the mind? This is where the parable of the sower comes in and that is one of the most important parables that Jesus gives us about the Kingdom of God. Why doesn’t it have the affects that one might hope for?

 

So, He gives lessons drawn from bitterly sowing seed. The first thing you know that happens is there is an enemy watching and in various ways, he simply takes it out of your mind and from our point of view then you want to emphasize how important it is to hold on to the Word—how important it is! But now, you know if you think you are smart enough you will say, “Oh, I don’t need to do that!” Or if you think there is something else that you need to do—Lewis tells in Screw tape Letters about a man who was working on a line of clothe and he was just about to conclude that “God is real” and he was working on that and it struck him that it was lunch time and that’s the way the mind works. [5:28]

 

So, the set of the will and that includes things like pride and humility. If you are humble, you are more likely to reach out to the wounded. If you are proud, well, you know, you don’t really need to pay attention to that. You don’t need any help. Your Kingdom is doing fine and so forth and so on. That’s what that parable is really about. It’s about how the will responds and you know, you have the other categories.

 

The second category is one where the person says, “Whoopee,” he jumps up and down and says, “This is wonderful.” But, the level of reality in themselves, which is represented by the depth of the soil doesn’t receive the Word and the roots don’t have anything to take hold on and so, then we see the person with the wheat or word to plant but now, in our religious groups, we don’t have any way of identifying those people and saying, “You know, you just didn’t take root.” And then you have others that took root or some depth but there were also other things—riches, cares of this life and so on, crowded up so that’s where now, we must think about that interaction. [7:31]

 

The will and the mind work together in interesting things because what is before the mind may determine what the will does. But on the other hand, the set of the will may determine what is before the mind. It’s a very important thing to understand that. Where is your mind and why is in there?

 

Now, the truthful interaction is for the mind to receive the word of God and hold onto it and act in terms of it and that’s what the will is supposed to do but in our fallen condition, our mind is turned away and our will often can’t even think the thoughts it needs to think and so it will not turn to God so now we have to really, if the word begins to catch, we have to understand that a fundamental part of our investment is to take care of our minds—to take care of our minds. You can’t let just anything run through there and you have to say, “There are some thoughts I will not think” and that is primary to dealing with temptation. Most failure in positive and negative respects that you see in people is because they have not taken care of their mind. [9:27]

 

Some day you may want to read the chapter in William James’ “Larger Psychology on the Will” (The Principles of Psychology). That’s a very helpful thing to read and you will learn what you might learn from your own experience that the will works off of thoughts that obsessive—maybe obsession doesn’t involve your choice but also your choice. So, the understanding of the will is crucial and then understanding through relationship of the will, the thoughts. If you want to grow spiritually, you are very careful to cultivate your thoughts.

 

Now, in a moment we are going to talk more specifically about this list of things here and what, for example, silence and solitude and so no have to do with that but I want to just interrupt that discussion for a moment and point out some distinctions that will be helpful and I am afraid this is not in your notebook—I’m sorry about that—but with reference to sinning and you can think of that in omission or commission and you want to understand that the thought of sin only with no inclination to do it, that’s not wrong but you still need to be careful about what you let into you mind. [11:15]

 

Now, one of the ways that Satan has of defeating you is to say that if you have had a thought, you have sinned already. It’s not true. On the other hand, thoughts are very powerful and temptation comes at the point where you have the thought and the inclination but your will does not relent. You don’t say yes to it. Now, again these are things you have to think about and write about and study about and teach about because at a certain point, temptation needs to sin.

 

That’s James’ analysis in chapter one—where does evil come from? It comes from desires.  Well, but desires run on thoughts and then desire moves you on beyond inclination into action. It’s the relenting of the will that matters. That is why Jesus said that if you cultivate lusting by what you are looking at, you have already committed adultery in your heart. Now, of course, no one has ever gotten a sexually transmitted disease from that. No one has ever gotten pregnant in that way.

 

What is Jesus referring to? He’s referring to the fact that your will has already relented to the deed and it’s like I said yesterday I think about killing, ok, “you didn’t kill them but would you have been glad to see them drop dead?” That’s set of the will is extremely important but if we want to control it, we don’t start there. If you want to control these things, you start with the thought and there are some thoughts you just don’t need. Generally speaking, a lot of those thoughts come in language and so there are just some things you don’t need to be talking about or listening to and that’s un-American! Right? “Well, I ought to be able to listen to anything I want to.” Yeah, okay, you can choose that but you can’t choose the affects and that’s true with reference to all of these stages but the way to deal with this is working with your thoughts and your will and recognizing the connection here and using your will to direct your thoughts. [14:33]

 

That’s what Paul is talking about in Romans 12 where we left off where he starts out talking about “submit your body as a living sacrifice.”  “Well, how do you do that?” Not everyone can, of course but if you are in a position where you can do that, you choose to use your body in a certain way.  That might begin with solitude and silence or with other disciplines that are suited to the particular things in my body. You use your body and as you use your body in the right way—you might be memorizing scripture—it might be physical exercise. It might be sleep.

 

Sleep is a spiritual discipline. If you get it, you can do what you can’t do without it. It’s very hard to be loving if you are exhausted. Sleep is a good way of turning loose of the world. If you can’t turn loose of it, you probably can’t sleep. But on the other hand, if you can get some good sleep, you might be able to turn loose of it. When you go to sleep, you have to leave God in charge. As the lady said, “He’s going to be awake anyway.” [16:05]

 

So, that interaction now is tremendously important if we wish to grow, we will direct our minds and as Paul says, “We will be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Now having said that, now you can go back and understand why that is. What is in your mind affects your parameters of choice. It also evokes feelings of various kinds. If you are troubled with fear, it’s probably because you maintain the wrong stuff in your mind. So, you find what’s the root of the problem and you deal with that. [16:54]

 

Now, character—let’s talk about character. One is tempted to try to think in terms of character again as just will and of course that’s central but not will as just this pre-floating little thing that can go this way or that, right? You want your will imbedded in your body and character involves your body.

That lady in Proverbs 30 says, “The law of kindness is in her tongue.” That’s where you want it. You don’t want it in her brain or her mind. You want it in her tongue. That happens because of training. So, how could we get the law of kindness in our tongue? Well, one way is to shut-up. Practice not saying anything. That’s a good way of training your tongue. What the Bible says about the tongue is “scorching.” James says, “It’s a great evil. It sets the world on fire and is set on fire of hell.” Maybe the tongue is your closest bodily member to hell. Think of how much is involved in other kinds of wrongdoing because of the tongue. You want that tongue to be a virtuous tongue. You want it to be something that does not go in the wrong direction. It goes in the right direction without you having to think about it.

So many lessons are given—good lessons—about speaking before you think and how much trouble that causes and how it is impossible to take words back and so forth and so on.

 

And yet the tongue can be a member of great blessing. In Ephesians 4, there is this verse that I certainly mediate on a lot—verse 29 of chapter 4 of Ephesians, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need that it may give grace to those who hear”—a grace laden tongue. Proverbs says that “the tongue of the righteous is a tree of life” so that’s the positive side. [20:16]

 

Now, of course you can’t really do that just by trying. You have to have a deeper transformation of the body to have a tongue that does like that. It’s like Jesus saying, “Don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” You can’t do that consciously because by talking to your left hand about what your right hand is doing so that it won’t notice it, it won’t work. Like that old Bill Cosby routine you remember when he is talking about when he was a kid, the older kids didn’t want to play with him and they would say to him, “Now, you have to go sit in the corner and not think about a polar bear for fifteen minutes.” How do you mange to not think about a polar bear without thinking about a polar bear? See? And all of these just refer to the fundamental structure of human personalities and says, you know, it has to get there in your body. When it does that, that’s where character is taking over. [21:32]

 

My grandmother, the worst thing she could think to say was, “Shucks and tobaccer.” That’s the worst thing she could come up with. That’s where her mind was but her tongue was loaded with grace and it flowed out to the women in the community and she was a great blessing, just because of her words. So, that’s just another illustration of the body. [22:06]

 

There is a wonderful passage in Job that again shows the wisdom of the Bible about how things develop and don’t develop. This is Chapter 31 of Job where he is pleading his innocence. The bodily nature of all of this is what I am trying to impress upon you. “I have made a covenant with my eyes. How then would I gaze at a virgin? Does not God see my ways? Verse 4—the number of all my steps. If I have walked with falsehood, if my foot has hastened after deceit, let Him weigh me with accurate scales. Let God know my integrity if my step has turned from the way and my heart has followed my eyes or if any spot has stuck to my hands.” See, that’s just bodily realism—body realism and of course, on the side of sin, you remember all the things that Paul says in Romans 3 where he makes a collection of the Old Testament sayings about the eyes and the body and the mouth and all of that and how they rule. [23:37]

 

So, now, we want to recognize the centrality of the will and how it relates to the mind and then we want to direct our body into practices that change its habits; and that’s a great challenge. Many of our people that we talk to and that we associate with are really people who simply don’t want to change their habits, and that’s partly because they don’t know whom they would be. Right? What would my life be like if I were not an angry person? Who would I be? I don’t what to be somebody else. I want to be me but we have to see the connection.

 

Now there is so much more that we can talk about on this topic and on integrating the parts of the self but we are limited in time here and I want to just spend a little time going back to the list of disciplines and talking about some of the things they do for us. [24:59]

 

Again, this not a law. It’s not righteousness. It’s wisdom. If we decide that we want to be a different kind of person, there is actually a way to do it and in God’s grace, a lot of other things that to begin with at least are not especially under our control but we begin and we do what we can.

 

Now, solitude is I think is the most radical of the disciplines and the most necessary one if you start on this path. The reason for that is it is so good at breaking our habits of dependence on the wrong thing. When you practice solitude as it should be practiced—and one doesn’t want to get sticky about all that but just do the best you can—but basically, you do nothing.

 

You are in a situation where you are not in contact with people and you are not trying to accomplish anything. You are not even trying to accomplish being Godly. If you do that, it will break the power of solitude. You want to put your will in abeyance and solitude basically means do nothing. It is strongly associated with Sabbath because in Sabbath, you are to do no work. That’s God’s way and for many things in general work, man, that’s like a death sentence almost. They are tied to their work. They think of their wellbeing and their respectability as being busy and solitude breaks that. It is if you want to break the power of busyness, practice solitude and you will learn lessons as you go through. [27:15]

 

One that you will learn is that all the people who said they desperately needed you got along pretty well without you. And you may learn how much you depend upon other people needing or saying that they need you. You know, we have to think thoughts like, well, when you die, they will keep going. They won’t say, “Well, he’s gone? I guess I’ll quit.” Give up. No, they will keep going. The world will move on; that’s a good thing.

Escape busyness is one of the things that we have to do in order to turn our minds away from the things that we desire to the things that are good for us. Then, desire is okay if you bring it in under that heading and it’s very difficult to have solitude if you don’t have silence.   [28:17]

 

Silence comes in two forms. One is no noise and the other is not talking. They are actually different disciplines and you need to explore both of them. We talk about in the books and others discuss that. You need to experience silence and you could probably do a little of that out here. It’s rather hard where most of us live but if you know someone who has a sound booth or a cork-lined room of some sort, you might try going in there and just sitting down and spending an hour to experience silence. You find out that silence is not emptiness. Silence is a kind of fullness that we run from when we go into noise. Then of course, that we need to find out that we really are something, we still exist. We have a soul. We are alive without all this stuff coming at us through our ears.

 

Not talking has another dimension or two to it. For example, if you don’t talk, you lay down the burden of manipulating how people think of you and see you. So much of our talk is adjustment of how we are perceived and we need to get out of that business. That’s a part of what is called the lust of the eyes—the desire to look at them and if you pull out of talk, what happens because of that desire, a lot of it will disappear. And that’s something you can practice when you are with people and they are talking, be reflective on where all the talk comes from. Your talk and others. OK?

 

Now you can see that both solitude and silence are designed to break our capacity to manipulate our life. In other words, we are going now to resign our Kingdom—signing off—resigning our Kingdom. And that ‘s why these two are so radical is because they just go right to the heart. They just cut the root and now, people will often say, “Well you gotta do something. You’ve got to lie down or sit or stand up.” “Yeah, well, you can do that. “ That doesn’t count as work. You can keep breathing. That’s okay. Just lay aside all that has to do with accomplishment of any kind. [31:28]

 

Q: I found very liberating your statement that having nothing to do is up to you and it seems simple. [It does indeed.] That was very liberating for me, and it caused me to be able to be okay with that.

 

Dallas: Yes, that’s one of the greatest things about practicing solitude and silence. You are still there. You have a soul. The world is still there and you are not running it and this thing that Gary mentioned about C.S. Lewis, “Only lazy people are busy.” Well, you have to make plans to get into solitude and learn how not be busy.

 

So, it’s a challenge. Now, all of the disciplines have this in common—they become easier and easier and easier. They become a part of your life. They are no longer an extra job. They are just a part of your life and what you do to do what you do in the Kingdom of God. [32:43]

 

Q: You take your Bible into solitude and silence?

 

Dallas: I wouldn’t! [No?] [Laughter] You will work if you do that. [Isn’t that good though?] [Laughter] It’s not good work for solitude. That’s what we are trying to wean you off of and so…….

 

Comment: That would give you a sense of accomplishment too if you take your Bible in there!

 

Dallas:  That’s the problem. That’s the problem. Maybe just taking it with you would say, “Well, I’ve got that!” Now, you can break out in song if joy overwhelms you. Just don’t work at it.

 

If you need to be distracted, find something that is ridiculous and watch it. A duck is a good thing to watch….ducks. [Pandas?] Pandas are rarer. If you watch a panda, you will be overwhelmed with the sense that there is absolutely no reason for this. Isn’t that true? [Laughter] You see God has given us a lot of gratuitous things to look at and that frees us up from work. Who wants to work while the panda is doing what they do? I don’t know; they may be working. I don’t know their inward internal states but they sure don’t look like it. [Laughter] [34:43]

 

Q: Walking a dog? Is that work?

 

Dallas: It depends on the dog I think. [Laughter] Don’t you think? Some dogs; that’s real work.  You need a dog that is in the spirit. Some dogs, man alive, they work you to death. [Laughter]

 

Comments: [Various comments made by students] We just don’t want to do nothing, do we? You did say that you couldn’t read; did I hear that correctly?

 

Dallas: I wouldn’t take a book, especially people like you and me. I wouldn’t.

 

Comment: We could make a law out of this, couldn’t we?

 

Dallas: We could make a law out of it and then it wouldn’t do you any good and some people do. I mean, again here in this setting, you have people who take silence and live that way. It’s associated with a kind of righteousness and we can do that with any of these things. It’s just the endless human guide to accomplish something and say, “I’m important because of what I do.” [36:16]

 

Comment: The Italians have a saying, “dolce far niente” and it’s “the sweetness of doing nothing.”

 

Dallas: The sweetness of doing nothing and that’s an Italian saying? Well, that’s a lot of wisdom. That’s a lot of wisdom.

 

Comment: My favorite musical word is an Italian word is “Adagio” which means, “at ease.”

 

Dallas: So, you can hang that on your cell—“Adagio.” That’s good. [36:52]

 

OK; just a word or two about some of these others. Then I want to just comment briefly on that handout on loving your neighbor and we will take that up, I think in the morning.

 

See, all of these are designed to accomplish some definite purpose—fasting. Now, fasting is abstaining basically from food, maybe drink. There are varying degrees and so on but fasting is fundamentally designed to teach us how to be strong and sweet when we don’t get what we want. It means you are not getting what you want. Now, that’s the negative side.

 

The positive side is fasting aligns you with God’s action because fasting turns out to be feasting. Here you can read your Biblical references and see that whenever Deuteronomy 8 and Matthew 4 says, “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that precedes out of the mouth of God,” you learn that the Word of God is a substance that sustains you and nourishes you, right?

 

But then you go back to statements like Jesus’ statement in John 4 where the guys have gone into the 7-11 to bring some food out and they bring it out and say, “Well, eat,” and He says, “No, I have meat to eat you know not of. My meat is to do the Will of my Father.” Now, is that meat or pretty word?  How about meat?  [38:41]

 

So, fasting is learning to draw from the substantial presence of the Word of God to us wherever we are. That’s not our usual statement but we want to know about that especially when we are in service and learn to draw from God’s presence so that that statement about, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength” becomes a familiar reality. You have to practice that. [39:14]

 

Well, there are other disciplines of abstinence there. Disciplines of abstinence are always designed to break a wrong dependence—every case—a wrong dependence. This is not a complete list. There are other things that you can list on there. I hope you will experiment with that as I have challenged you to experience with The Beatitudes and other things and see what comes out of that. [39:45]

 

Disciplines of engagement are designed to fill the person with what is good. Now, I think it’s important to learn the order here because when I was much younger, I thought the stuff under disciplines of engagement; that was the good stuff, but that’s because I didn’t understand disciplines at all. Those are activities that are good that are things that we can and should engage in but if that’s all we have, they will drive you into burnout. You have to have the “emptying out.”

 

Then the disciplines of engagement enable you to fill yourself with good things. Good things! If you can’t fast well, you need to learn that; then after you’ve learned that, you need to learn how to celebrate, right? All of these are disciplines in the sense I have described them. They also are other things.

 

Service is an act of love but it also has incredible disciplinary effects and that’s why Jesus said, “I am like as one who serves. He that is greatest among you is He that is a servant of all.” Now, if we had time, we could talk about the relationships between these and how they supplement one another and so on. [41:36]

 

One of the greatest disciplines is prayer but it’s not just for discipline but it is a discipline because when you pray, it changes everything. If you have learned how to pray and even if you haven’t, I mean, the one thing about learning to pray is just do it and keep doing it and you will learn as you go,

and so are the other things on here.

 

Well, that’s about all we can do with it now but what I am just saying in concluding is each of these is designed to work on that nexus between will and mind; feelings go with the mind, the body, relations, the order of the soul and that’s what they do is they change the “stuff” that is in these circles. They change the “stuff” that is in the circle and because they change the “stuff” that is in the circle, they change what comes out of the person. That’s the indirection. That’s where we want to do the work, not with what comes out. That will take care of itself. [42:48]

 

If we use our disciplines well, then we will see the restructuring of the self and we will finish our talking a little bit about that tomorrow.

 

Right now, I would like to just ask you to look at this sheet. We won’t work through it. We don’t have time and that’s okay. I just want to say that here you can find a way to actually love your neighbor as yourself and there are some things that we need to be sure we get—right in the middle of the first page—what love is. We really suffer from not understanding this and I describe here as saying we love something when we are devoted to its good or wellbeing. So, to love your neighbor, is to be set to do what is good and then that comes from being a person of compassion. You can’t turn love on and off like a spigot. You become a person of compassion. That means you heal with other people. [44:04]

 

What was the difference between the Good Samaritan and the priest and the Levite? When the Samaritan saw the man, what does it say? [He had compassion.] He had compassion. Now, why did he have compassion? Well, because he was a man of compassion. It wasn’t because he had a little picture over here with compassion in it and he said, “Oh, this is the place where I look for compassion.” It isn’t like that. To love your neighbor means that you are going to become a person who is sensitive to what is going on with the people near you. [44:49]

 

Now, that’s not the whole story but if you don’t have that, you go nowhere and if you try to love your neighbor without compassion, they will very quickly decide they don’t need that. So, the decision if you are a person of compassion is up front.

 

Then you have to decide who your neighbors are and you don’t have many of them. You have a few people that are your neighbors. Not everyone in your congregation is your neighbor and this can trip Christians up very strongly because they want to love everybody and they want everyone to love them. They don’t. Love your neighbors. My closest neighbor is my wife and then I have some other family members, some people who live close to me and people I work with. There aren’t a lot of them and if you are going to love your neighbor, you have to decide who your neighbor is. It isn’t the person just walking by. Now, there is a place for compassion there but that’s not your neighbor. Your neighbor is a person who is basically their life is in your hands to some significant degree. So, you decide who they are and then turn over the sheet just a moment to the third paragraph there. [46:33]

 

The second step is actually rather complicated but it can be described as the decision to have compassion upon these closest to us wherever we are.

 

Then the third step—two paragraphs down—list the few people who are most intimately engaged with us with our life in life. It will be a pretty small number. Don’t think no more than eight or ten.

 

And finally, there will be a larger circle that you are going to pay attention to but they are not your neighbors. Being faithful to the people who are nearest to us is the greatest part of loving our neighbors and one of the things that happens repeatedly among Christians is that they love the world but their neighbors get short-changed and their neighbor, very often will say, “Well, okay, I understand they are engaged in an important work.” [47:42]

 

The fourth step—third paragraph from the bottom—devotes serious attention, thought, prayer and service to two or three people. Now, that’s going to—you will find it necessary to practice a range of disciplines to do that. You can’t do that by willpower and so that will require some arrangement of your life. I summarize the steps in the last paragraph and all I am asking you to do is just think about those and we will begin talking about them in the morning and see if you have it.

 

Jesus never told us to love the world or to love everyone. God does that, but you and I aren’t there. We are not God and if we try to do that, the result will be we will not love our neighbors. So, any questions or comments about that or what else we’ve talked over?

 

Q: Something you said earlier about the preacher who kind of lives at church and doesn’t get out into the world that he is not in the Kingdom of God, is that what you said? I wonder if I got it.

 

Dallas: Every preacher lives in a larger world than the church.

 

Q: So, I am wondering about the community that we are in and they don’t really get out of the cloister. Isn’t the Kingdom of God here for people like this?

 

Dallas: I’m sorry, what kind of people? [The monks.] Oh, the monks. Well, Jesus was not a monk. [49:31]

 

Comments: But is there anything wrong with them not getting out into the world?

 

Dallas: If they have a special calling from God to do that, then they should do it, but the idea that it is more holy to do that is dangerously wrong. I read you earlier that selection from Eusebius about the people who are living _________. [He whispers something that I cannot hear.] Now everyone who knows the history of this knows that monks don’t do that. They have their problems because actually if you are in a monastery, that’s in the world. You can’t get out of the world. If someone feels like they have a special calling to live a secluded life or whatever, well, by all means, do it but the idea that somehow this has a special status is what I think is extremely harmful and extremely wrong. An honest monk who was asked by a person, “What do you do up there in the Monastery?” said, “Well, we fall and get up and we fall and get up and we fall and get up.” That’s the way it is. That’s the way it is here. That’s the way it is in any Monastic community and the problem comes from supposing that there is something very special about that, that doesn’t mean that they don’t have to go through the stuff that everyone else goes through. A monk has to still love their neighbor and that can be pretty tough under those conditions. Yes? [51:22]

 

Q: On your list of disciplines of abstinence, I noticed you listed prayer under disciplines of engagement and it may also be under disciplines of abstinence?

 

Dallas: Well, I would have a little hard time thinking how that would work. Perhaps, abstinence from self-dependence because that will drive you to prayer or prayer will drive you to that and so, I am sure there is some connection there. Yeah! But, don’t try to make these classifications and all that too precise. If you’ve read Richard Foster’s, Celebration of the Disciplines, he sets things up differently and he has disciplines that I don’t mention and so that’s why I say, get the concept and you apply it in a lot of places and you know what you are doing and you see the affects but keep thinking about what’s happening and watch for the consequences—practice experimentally. [52:35]

 

One of the most important things about disciplines is, do not be a hero. Don’t make things hard. Right?

 

Q: Dallas, do you think disciplines are done individually or can we do disciplines together?

 

Dallas: Oh, yes, that’s why we have fellowship and submission and confession—worship……..

 

Comments: So, we can encourage one another in some of the disciplines.

 

Dallas: Oh, yes, we should. By all means, you should but if you have a list of disciplines that are all just individual, you know that’s not enough. The outcome is to be love and at least if you are going to love, you need someone to love. The communal side of this is absolutely important.

Any other questions or comments?

 

Q: The solitude will make the communal stuff much better?

 

Dallas: Yes, it will. It will and fasting will make celebration go well.

 

Comment:  And the communal stuff will make you go back to solitude. [Laughter]

 

Dallas: It very well might but fellowship is absolutely essential and they work together. No one or two of them is adequate to do the job. [54:02]

 

Comment: It would seem like secrecy would be important and if you are doing a discipline together there might be the temptation to appear righteous for doing that but if it’s done in solitude and there is secrecy, then you are not doing that discipline for anyone else to know or be seen differently.

 

Dallas:  Good man. Absolutely!  Secrecy is the practice of not letting your good deeds be known and confession is the practice of letting your bad deeds be known. Confession they say is good for the soul but bad for the reputation but that sometimes is exactly what your reputation needs.

 

So, these all work together and other things, as I have said, so make up your list. What would be on your list?  Those who have gone before us, Jesus and His followers, that’s always a good thing to be thinking about but after all, you are in a lot of circumstances today that they were never in and never will be in and they can serve as a discipline for you.

 

Jan, are you going to help us out now?

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