Backhuysen, Ludolf - Christ in the Storm on th...
Backhuysen, Ludolf – Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee – 1695 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been writing lately about the spirit of things—the mind of the Spirit, the spirit of love, gaining a clean spirit that can love even enemies, what constitutes a toxic, adulterous spirit, etc.

This week, I stumbled upon a radio interview with my favorite Christian author, Dr. Dallas Willard, that puts it all together in a wonderfully practical, down-to-earth way. I’d love to share the audio with you.

The radio host is Frank Pastore of KKLA 99.5 in Southern CA. His show is “The Intersection of Faith and Reason.” The interview is from May 18, 2011, but the topic is timeless (although it begins briefly with the “messy situation” between Arnold Schwartzenegger and his estranged wife, Maria Shriver, over his affair).

That sets the stage for the topic of confusion over forgiveness and love in all sorts of messy situations and relationships. What does it look like and how do you apply it? What does it mean to love enemies? Love yourself? How do you fire someone in Christian love? How do you discipline kids in Christian love? What do we do with anger?

A ton of insight is packed into this 39-minute audio clip (edited to be commercial-free). If real-life Christ-like love confuses you, as it does most of us, you probably don’t want to miss this little gem. You may not be suddenly blessing those who curse you, but at least you’ll have an idea of what direction to face.

Note: for Windows/Internet Explorer users like me (I know, I know…I should upgrade my browser), I found that the link didn’t work initially. But I simply closed the dialog box after Windows “diagnosed” the problem (no answer found), and the media player launched as intended. I don’t know—I can fly airplanes, but I’m a techno-peasant with computers. I should also look into getting a WordPress theme that can embed a media player right into the blog, but, honestly, childbirth seems easier.

Enjoy!

Frank Pastore interview with Dallas Willard

Dallas Willard giving a Ministry in Contempora...

Dallas Willard giving a Ministry in Contemporary Culture Seminar at the George Fox Evangelical Seminary in Portland, Oregon in 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Talk about wisdom, insight, and a heart for God, this video interview of Dallas Willard says it far better than I can. So, today I’ll keep it short and let someone much smarter do the talking.

Video link: Dallas Willard on Living in the Kingdom

Enjoy!

Sunburst over Earth

Image via Wikipedia

What did Jesus mean when he said that the kingdom of heaven is “at hand”? I always thought he meant “out there, but coming soon.” I assumed it was meant as a threat for sinners and an insider’s promise for those on the spiritual A-list.

But it was actually meant to encourage sinners and put religious peacocks in their place. That’s why it was (and is) such good news.

Those who considered themselves spiritually elite—namely, the Pharisees, chief priests, and religious “experts”—were far from God. Whereas they wouldn’t associate with “unclean” sinners lest they defile themselves, Jesus not only associated with them, but physically touched them. The folks that religious elitists had labeled as outsiders were the very people with whom Jesus walked, dined, conversed, and lived.

So his context of heaven at hand was really a divine myth-buster, as I’ll attempt to show in this series of posts. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” holds multiple surprises today just as it did in the first century!

Kingdoms Clarified

We normally think of kingdoms as political realms or state entities having a physical location, such as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or the United Kingdom. While this is partially true, a kingdom is actually a system; and it may or may not have physical boundaries. (more…)

Creation of Adam, hands in detail

In today’s evangelism, work (or effort) is erroneously equated with earning. I suspect it’s rooted in a very old misapplication of Paul’s teaching that ends up overriding Jesus’ teaching. But I think we can straighten it out.

When a farmer tills the soil, plants the seed, or waters the earth, is he earning a crop? Has he overstepped his bounds or robbed God of His glory? No, he’s just doing his part to make it come about, working with God who makes it grow, which brings glory to God rather than steals it. And they share the rewards.

Should the farmer do nothing? The Bible calls that laziness. If the farmer were to apply the phrase “by myself I can do nothing” the way many churches misapply it today, he’d reap what he sows and have a whole crop of nothing. He’d be paralyzed. Dis-abled. I’ve heard church pros insist that, through the cross, God did everything for us and there’s literally nothing left for us to do but to accept, claim, and trust our saved “position in Christ.”

By making every work-related noun and verb synonymous with “earn,” we become terrified blobs who can’t even move, much less obey, for fear of “works salvation.”

For Theirs is the Kingdom of Blobs?

There are several popular analogies to describe this “position” in Christ. One is the slab of marble where God is the Master Craftsman who chisels and carves away at us to conform us to His image while we slabs sit passively in “surrender,” waiting to see the beautiful statue of Himself He comes up with. Thus, according to many, it’s never about what we do; it’s only about what God does. (more…)

Question mark

Image via Wikipedia

We must understand the nature and purpose of grace. Christians are all over the map, embroiled in all sorts of debates because we fail to comprehend that grace isn’t a one-time thing; it is God’s ongoing action in our lives. As Dallas Willard says, it works like fuel to enable us to do something.

We also fail to understand that salvation isn’t a one-time decision; it’s a process, a journey, a course designed by God. The definition of salvation is, simply, life with God. The result is “new life from above.” That new-life course is fueled by grace to obey because grace and obedience go hand in hand. If we treat either one as a stand-alone, we suffer the consequences in this life and the afterlife.

Jesus explains very clearly that no one enters the kingdom of heaven unless they’re born twice. First, physically, i.e., by “water,” then spiritually, by Spirit. (Jhn. 3:5) No one considers the moment of physical birth to be the whole life. It’s simply the beginning. So also, the moment of spiritual birth isn’t the whole new life with God, i.e., salvation. It’s merely the beginning. (more…)