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The Spiritual Life

"The Spirit of the Disciplines Understanding How God Changes Lives" by Dallas Willard

I did not know when I purchased this book that it was recommended by Richard Foster in his book "Celebration of Discipline" which I am currently reading. I love it when I read a book that recommends another book and I just happen to already have it! The book by Dallas Willard is the first book that I have read of his, it is not a book to be read quickly, often I re-read sentences, or paragraphs, in order to more fully understand them, and in order to soak in what the author was trying to express. Dallas Willard makes powerful statements, for example; "A spiritual life consists in that range of activities in which people cooperatively interact with God and with the spiritual order deriving from God's personality and action. And what is the result? A new overall quality of human existence with corresponding new powers. A person is a spiritual person to the degree that his or her life is correctly integrated into and dominated by God's spiritual kingdom." The spiritual life of a Christian means that every area of one's life must be in total, complete, and full cooperation with and interaction with God. "It is not just a commitment and it is not just a lifestyle, even though these things will come from it." Dallas Willard gives a list of disciplines, disciplines of abstinence and disciplines of engagement. In the area of disciplines of abstinence is fasting, "Fasting confirms our utter dependence upon God by finding in him a source of sustenance beyond food. Through it, we learn by experience that God's word to us is a life substance, that it is not food alone that gives life, but also the words that proceed from the mouth of God." Matthew 4:4 and 32, 34. The author also addresses another important and often heated debate among Christians, the poor. I have heard Christians comment "that we will always have the poor", or, "most of the poor people that are living on the street are there because they want to be." Dallas Willard writes, "Our problem is not primarily with how we see the poor, but with how we see ourselves. If we still think and convey by our behavior that in some way we are fundamentally different and better as persons from the man sleeping in the discarded boxes in the alley, we have not been brought with clear eyes to the foot of the cross, seeing our own neediness in the light of it."
"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." Matthew 22: 36-40 NIV