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Practice Makes Perfect  Week Three Lecture
<ul><li>“ What then is keeping Christianity from being that </li></ul><ul><li>guide to life which it alone can be?  Christ...
<ul><li>In the preface to his modern classic,  The Spirit of the Disciplines , Dallas Willard asks and answers a burning q...
<ul><li>Properly understood, the word “discipline” is an appropriate term for that which a disciple actively practices in ...
<ul><li>By the same token, the term has negative connotations among many today, as people often equate spiritual disciplin...
<ul><li>The challenge of discipleship rests in moving our faith from head to heart; it’s about moving faith from intellect...
<ul><li>For decades, moderns have emphasized faith in terms of a correct set of beliefs.  Faith is understood primarily in...
<ul><li>On the other hand, the Bible indicates that Jesus is more concerned that we “believe in,” or more directly, that w...
<ul><li>In these instances, faith is not merely a set of propositions we embrace to get to heaven; instead, faith is livin...
<ul><li>Paul was right:  “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is t...
<ul><li>PLEASE ADDRESS THREE OF THESE FIVE QUESTIONS IN THE DISCUSSION BOARD:   </li></ul><ul><li>Based on your own experi...
<ul><li>4. Which spiritual practices do you tend to embrace more readily?  Which do you avoid?  Why is that? </li></ul><ul...
 
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Spiritual Practices Lecture

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Spiritual Practices Lecture

  1. 1. Practice Makes Perfect Week Three Lecture
  2. 2. <ul><li>“ What then is keeping Christianity from being that </li></ul><ul><li>guide to life which it alone can be? Christianity </li></ul><ul><li>can only succeed as a guide for current humanity if </li></ul><ul><li>it does two things. </li></ul><ul><li>First, it must take the need for human </li></ul><ul><li>transformation as seriously as do modern </li></ul><ul><li>revolutionary movements. The modern negative </li></ul><ul><li>critique of Christianity arose in the first place </li></ul><ul><li>because the church was not faithful to its own </li></ul><ul><li>message – it failed to take human transformation </li></ul><ul><li>seriously… </li></ul><ul><li>Second, it needs to clarify and exemplify </li></ul><ul><li>realistic methods of human transformation. It must </li></ul><ul><li>show how the ordinary individuals who make up </li></ul><ul><li>the human race today can become, through the </li></ul><ul><li>grace of Christ, a love-filled, effective, and </li></ul><ul><li>powerful community.” – Dallas Willard </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>In the preface to his modern classic, The Spirit of the Disciplines , Dallas Willard asks and answers a burning question of both moderns and postmoderns alike, shown on the previous slide. </li></ul><ul><li>As we move from information to formation in Module Two, we will take human transformation seriously by framing our new study on the application of spiritual disciplines to our lives. </li></ul><ul><li>Spiritual disciplines are often called “holy habits,” but their power ultimately rests on the habitation of the Holy Spirit in the life of the follower of Christ. </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>Properly understood, the word “discipline” is an appropriate term for that which a disciple actively practices in response to a loving God. </li></ul>disciple: 1. one who embraces and assists in spreading the teachings of another. b. An active adherent, as of a movement or philosophy. 2. often Disciple; one of the original followers. – American Heritage Dictionary
  5. 5. <ul><li>By the same token, the term has negative connotations among many today, as people often equate spiritual disciplines with punishment. </li></ul><ul><li>Having considered both sides, a growing number of people today prefer to use the term “spiritual practices” over “spiritual disciplines.” </li></ul><ul><li>Spiritual practices include such things as prayer, Bible study, fasting, service, and generous giving, to name just a few. </li></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><li>The challenge of discipleship rests in moving our faith from head to heart; it’s about moving faith from intellectual assent to making our faith the foundation for all things that guide us. </li></ul><ul><li>I’ve heard Len Sweet describe the spiritual practices as the equivalent of aerobics; in the same way that aerobics add one more year to our lives, the spiritual disciplines add more life to all our years. </li></ul><ul><li>By the same token, the thirteenth century Dominican monk known as Meister Eckhart recognized the challenge, observing that “The danger in finding a way to God is that people grow to love the way more than they love God.” </li></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><li>For decades, moderns have emphasized faith in terms of a correct set of beliefs. Faith is understood primarily in terms of something we “believe that …” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ I believe that the Bible is inerrant…” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ I believe that the resurrection occurred…” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ I believe that Paul wrote the book of Hebrews…” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ When I die and God asks me, ‘Why should I let you into my heaven?’ I’ll respond, ‘Because I believe that Jesus is my Savior.’” </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>On the other hand, the Bible indicates that Jesus is more concerned that we “believe in,” or more directly, that we “believe him.” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>&quot;Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me.” – John 14.1 New American Standard Bible </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, ‘What do you want?’ They said ‘Rabbi’ (which means Teacher), ‘where are you staying?’ ‘ Come ,’ he replied, ‘and you will see.’” – John 1.37-39 New International Version </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. ‘ Follow me ,’ Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.” – Luke 5.27-28 New International Version </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. <ul><li>In these instances, faith is not merely a set of propositions we embrace to get to heaven; instead, faith is living out our confidence in Christ and personally trusting him with our everyday lives. </li></ul><ul><li>The distinctions are subtle but involve viewing faith not as a set of passwords to memorize in hopes of gaining eternal life someday but as a lifestyle to embrace that brings eternity into the present day. </li></ul><ul><li>A classic illustration of the difference between “believing that ” and “believing in ” is found in James 2.19: “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder.” </li></ul><ul><li>James shows us that even for the enemy of our souls, it is possible to believe something but not act upon it. </li></ul>
  10. 10. <ul><li>Paul was right: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2.8-9) </li></ul><ul><li>Our faith cannot be rooted in beliefs alone, but must be grounded in a living, dynamic relationship with Jesus that we live out each day. </li></ul><ul><li>Faith is not something we defend, but something we demonstrate by our lives. Spiritual practices are the steps we take on the journey of becoming more like Christ. </li></ul>
  11. 11. <ul><li>PLEASE ADDRESS THREE OF THESE FIVE QUESTIONS IN THE DISCUSSION BOARD: </li></ul><ul><li>Based on your own experience, how accurate is Dallas Willard’s assessment from the introduction to this lecture? Illustrate your answer. </li></ul><ul><li>Which do embody more: a “belief that” mindset or a “belief in” lifestyle? How have you transitioned from one to the other? </li></ul><ul><li>What does Meister Eckhard mean when he writes, ““The danger in finding a way to God is that people grow to love the way more than they love God.” How have you seen this? </li></ul>
  12. 12. <ul><li>4. Which spiritual practices do you tend to embrace more readily? Which do you avoid? Why is that? </li></ul><ul><li>5. The instructor indicates that “Spiritual practices are the steps we take on the journey of becoming more like Christ.” How have you experienced this personally? </li></ul>

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