For Such a Time As This

February 23-24, 2004
Church Staff Retreat - Baylor University

Priceless, timely wisdom for ministry leaders and volunteers, educators, parents, business leaders…all those working with Jesus to multiply His Apprentices!  Dr. Willard shared these messages at the Baylor University and Truitt Seminary church staff retreat February 23-24, 2004.

Resources

1: Streams in the Desert and Wells of Living Water

Dallas taught three sessions at a church staff retreat hosted by Baylor University in 2004. This is the first half of the first session, focusing on the important place of the church in our world. Christ’s congregations should be streams in the desert, wells of living water, and fountains of light and life. There isn’t anything on earth that can take the place of what comes through the people of Christ.

3: The Transforming Power of Obedience

Week after week, churches call their people to share their faith and then celebrate the number of converts made. That's wonderful, but how are we doing with second half of the Great Commission, "teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age?" In this teaching Dallas explains that, "Obedience is the organ of knowledge in the spiritual life." But he warns, "Our aim is not to do what Jesus said, but to become the kind of people who would naturally do that." The power of obedience does not come from outward obedience, but from a  transformed life.

4: Who is an Apprentice of Jesus?

Dallas gets to the core of Jesus' teaching on discipleship/apprenticeship by unpacking crucial passages in "The Sermon on the Mount" and "The Great Commission."

5: Living Without Hurry and Worry: Kingdom Living

In this first half of the third and final session, Dallas leads us further into Kingdom Living by teaching us how we can learn to be content (with a deep dive into Philippians 4:4-13), and how spiritual disciplines enable us to cultivate and grow in grace,  thus partnering with God's action in our lives to be inwardly transformed. Follow along with the fill-in-the-blank notes.

6: Living Without Hurry and Worry

The greatest challenge to our faith is to make sure that we do the things that we need to do to keep ourselves centered in God and environed in grace. Dallas wraps up the conference with encouragement to "relentlessly eliminate hurry" from our lives, helping us understand the importance of managing our time. If we aren't enjoying the fullness of God ourselves, we'll have a hard time bringing it to others. Follow along with the fill-in-the-blank notes.

Streams in the Desert and Wells of Living Water

Highlights:

  • Local Congregation as God's Gift to Humanity: Dallas emphasizes the irreplaceable role of the Christian congregation in bringing Jesus Christ and the reality of His kingdom to ordinary people. He speaks to the unique contribution that followers of Christ offer through local congregations, serving as conduits for God's gifts to humanity. 
  • Perseverance in Ministry and Personal Growth: Reflecting on Paul's advice to Timothy, Dallas highlights the significance of personal diligence and perseverance in one's teaching and self-care as essential for ensuring salvation for oneself and one's listeners. This advice serves as a foundational principle for ministry, stressing the high regard Paul held for the task of ministering to people and the transformational power of receiving God's grace.
  • Living Water: Dallas delves into the metaphor of living water, a theme present throughout the Bible, to illustrate the transformative power of Christ's teachings and presence in individuals' lives. He discusses the significance of receiving and allowing this "living water" to flow through us, symbolizing the sustenance and guidance provided by the Holy Spirit. 
  • Sufficiency of God and the Joy of Having the Lord: Dallas reflects upon on the sufficiency of God, arguing that understanding and embracing God's complete sufficiency is the key to unceasing joy and fulfillment. He emphasizes that when God is our portion, we possess everything we need.

The Four Most Important Questions in Life

Highlights:

  • Nature of Reality and Spirituality: Dallas emphasizes the fundamental question of the nature of reality, challenging the secular notion that the physical universe constitutes ultimate reality. He argues for the recognition and inclusion of spiritual reality as an ultimate and irreducible principle, pointing out the shortcomings of secular humanism and its attempts to sideline spiritual reality as mere aspects of physical or social realms.
  • Knowledge and the Kingdom of God: He stresses the importance of asserting the teachings of Jesus Christ as knowledge of reality, not merely tradition or faith. Dallas highlights the disconnect in academia and professional fields where spiritual reality is often disregarded. He calls for leaders and congregations to understand and present the reality of God and the teachings of Jesus as an essential body of knowledge, crucial for navigating life.
  • Becoming a Good Person through Love and Discipleship: Dallas defines a truly good person as one who is pervaded by agape love, the selfless love that intends good for others. He discusses how this form of love originates from being loved by God and how discipleship in Jesus Christ transforms individuals, enabling them to live out this love and become genuinely good people, aligned with the kingdom of God.
  • Reality of God in Daily Life: He urges believers to recognize and rely on the reality of God in every aspect of life, not just in times of trouble. Dallas discusses how understanding and living within the kingdom of God transforms our approach to life's challenges, relationships, and our very sense of self. He emphasizes the shift from managing personal kingdoms to surrendering to God's rule, leading to a life of truth, love, and empowerment by God's presence.

The Transforming Power of Obedience

Highlights:

  • Sufficiency of God: Dallas emphasizes the central message that God's sufficiency is what we must experience within ourselves and share with others. It is in the living Christ we find unending joy and true satisfaction, encapsulating the essence of God's sufficiency in our lives.
  • Living in the Vine: By referencing Jesus' teaching, "I am the vine and my Father is the vine keeper," Dallas conveys the beautiful imagery of our lives being intertwined with God's care and sustenance. This metaphor from the Psalms and Old Testament illustrates the concept of living in constant connection with God, highlighting the importance of abiding in Him to lead a fruitful life.
  • Obedience as the Organ of Knowledge: Dallas presents a profound insight into the spiritual life by stating that obedience is the means through which we gain knowledge of God and His kingdom. He articulates that obedience is more than just following commands; it's a journey that transforms us from within, enabling us to naturally embody the teachings and character of Jesus.
  • Aim of Discipleship: Dallas challenges common perceptions of discipleship by stating that our goal is not merely to do what Jesus said but to become the kind of people who naturally live out His teachings. This distinction moves us away from legalism and towards a transformational relationship with Christ, shaping us into individuals whose actions reflect our inner being transformed by God's grace.

Who is an Apprentice of Jesus?

Highlights:

  • Integration of Jesus and His Kingdom: Dallas emphasizes the inseparability of Jesus and His Kingdom, illustrating that having one without the other is either problematic or fatal. He advocates for a hermeneutic of the New Testament that portrays the Kingdom of God and Jesus in unity, highlighting the importance of preaching both to understand the full scope of the Christian message. This perspective serves as a foundation for Christian practice, stressing the significance of placing confidence in Jesus and living out His teachings.
  • Discipleship as the Heart of Christian Living: Dallas underscores the critical role of discipleship in the Christian journey, noting the unfortunate disconnect between being a Christian and being a disciple in contemporary Christianity. He posits discipleship, not just profession of faith, as essential for growth and transformation into Christ-likeness, challenging the notion that discipleship is optional or merely an advanced level of Christian commitment.
  • Transformative Power of Living in the Kingdom: By exploring the teachings of Jesus, especially through the Sermon on the Mount, Dallas reveals the transformative potential of living according to the Kingdom's principles. He discusses the internal transformation required to surpass the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, moving beyond mere adherence to rules towards a heart and life radically changed by Jesus' teachings on love, anger, contempt, and reconciliation.
  • Vision for a New Humanity: Dallas presents a vision for a new humanity shaped by discipleship and the teachings of Jesus, aiming for a global spread of this Kingdom-inspired way of living. This new humanity embodies the beatitudes and Jesus' instructions on how to live in the Kingdom, leading to lives marked by the absence of anger and contempt and characterized by love, generosity, and peace. 

Living Without Hurry and Worry: Kingdom Living

Highlights:

  • The Kingdom of God and Individual 'Kingdoms': Dallas emphasizes the importance of preaching the availability of God's kingdom to everyone, inviting them to bring their own 'kingdoms'—their realms of influence and control—into alignment with God's kingdom. He touches on the innate human desire for dominion and control, seeing it as a reflection of being made in the image of God, who is the ultimate creator and ruler. This perspective offers a powerful way to engage with others about their spiritual state and their 'kingdoms', suggesting a deep, inherent drive for governance and creativity within each person.
  • Contentment and Reliance on God: He discusses the concept of contentment in any situation, underlining it as a result of fully trusting and relying on God. By learning to humble ourselves under God's mighty hand, we embody the essence of His kingdom. This humility and trust translate into a life free from anger, contempt, and worry, redirecting our energies towards righteousness and peace.
  • Grace and Spiritual Disciplines: Dallas highlights the critical role of grace in the Christian life, defining it as God's action in our lives to achieve what we cannot do on our own. He argues that spiritual disciplines are not about earning God's grace but about positioning ourselves to receive and grow in it. These practices are crucial for cultivating a life of contentment, peace, and effectiveness in ministry, enabling believers to experience the fullness of life in God's kingdom.
  • Power of the Mind and Scriptural Meditation: Dallas underscores the transformative power of renewing our minds through the discipline of scriptural meditation. By consciously choosing to fill our minds with the truths of Scripture, we align our thoughts and lives with God's will. This practice is foundational to living out the realities of God's kingdom on earth.

Additional Assets

Living Without Hurry and Worry

Highlights:

  • Inward Transformation Through Grace: Dallas emphasizes the power of grace in transforming our lives. He suggests adopting practices like solitude and silence, not as efforts to forcibly change ourselves but to foster inward change. This inward transformation leads to a natural alteration in our automatic thoughts and feelings, highlighting the crucial difference between trying to change versus allowing grace to change us from within.
  • Radical Choice in Managing Our Time: He confronts the common excuse of not having enough time for spiritual disciplines by positing that God never gives anyone too much to do. Dallas argues that the greatest challenge to our faith is ensuring we do the things necessary to keep ourselves centered in God and enveloped in grace. He stresses that spiritual disciplines are not works of righteousness but wisdom that helps us remain in the place of grace.
  • Distinguishing Between Job, Ministry, Work, and Life: Dallas delineates the differences between our job, ministry, work, and life, urging us to keep them distinct to avoid confusion and imbalance. He posits that while our job is what we're paid to do, our ministry involves God's special work for us, our work is the total amount of lasting good we produce in our lifetime, and our life is fundamentally about the person we are becoming, which he argues is of greatest interest to God. 
  • Living Without Hurry and Embracing Rest: Dallas advocates for a lifestyle free from hurry and worry, urging us to eliminate hurry from our lives. He highlights the importance of working from a restful position and putting control over outcomes back into God's hands. This approach not only enriches our own lives but also enhances the impact of our job, ministry, and the work we do, by allowing us to operate from a place of rest and faith in God's goodness.

Additional Assets