Tabletalk

2012 (filmed March 15-18, 2011)
Hearing God DVD featuring Dallas Willard, Richard Foster and John Ortberg

Richard Foster, John Ortberg, and Dallas Willard enjoy a fireside chat at picturesque Camp St. Malo, CO. Enjoy these wide-ranging life-giving conversations about life in the Kingdom of God. 

Resources

1: Tabletalk: A Friend of God and Frank Laubach

Dive into a fascinating conversation among three friends exploring the nuances of being a friend of God. John, Richard, and Dallas unpack divine friendship, demonstrated powerfully through the life and practices of Frank Laubach. They discuss Laubach's journey to constantly turn his mind toward God, with his "Game of Minutes," and how communication is simply directing someone's thoughts.

2: Tabletalk: What Does it NOT Mean to Hear God?

John, Richard, and Dallas discuss the dangers of treating divine guidance as a crutch for every decision, the value of meditative scripture reading as practiced by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and the distinction between genuine spiritual life and mere superstition. This fireside chat illuminates the transformative power of authentic prayer and ethical living within the framework of God's kingdom.

3: Tabletalk: Fellowship with the Trinity

Dallas, John, and Richard examine the spiritual life through the lens of everyday experiences. Discussing the timeless example of Brother Lawrence, they explore how ordinary actions can become profound spiritual practices, revealing the hiddenness of the divine in mundane tasks. This dialogue illuminates how personal and communal spirituality can be cultivated through simple acts, fostering a deeper connection with the divine and each other.

4: Tabletalk: Thomas Kelly and Being Distracted, Bored or at Peace

John Ortberg and Richard Foster join Dallas to discuss the 20th-century-philosopher, Thomas Kelly, who sought to make his life a miracle. They get into a fascinating and helpful conversation concerning distractedness and boredom, the critical role of solitude and silence, and the unique process of recognizing and being guided by God's voice. 

5: Tabletalk: Julian of Norwich and the Trinity

​John Ortberg and Richard Foster join Dallas to discuss Julian of Norwich, her admiration of Jesus, the way the Trinity admires one another, and how meditating on something allows it to fill your life. God is Creator, God is Protector, God is Lover. 

6: Tabletalk: George Fox and Hearing God as a Life

John, Richard, and Dallas discuss George Fox and hearing God as a life. Fox's intent was to "take people off men and put them onto Christ. They discuss how Fox’s emphasis on silence facilitated direct encounters with Christ, creating a deeply personal and communal religious experience. The conversation also explores the broad relevance of seeking a voice that can truly understand and speak to our conditions, and the transformative power of recognizing Christ’s presence in every individual. 

Tabletalk: A Friend of God and Frank Laubach

Highlights:

  • Friendship with God: Understanding Its Depth: John Ortberg introduces the discussion by highlighting the profound yet simple idea that humans can be friends with God. He references Frank Laubach's experiences in the Philippines, which sparked his own understanding of what it means to actively live as a friend of God.
  • Laubach's Signal Hill Revelations: Dallas recounts Laubach's transformative moments on Signal Hill where he would communicate with God, leading to spontaneous poetic expressions. This intimate spiritual practice helped Laubach cope with personal tragedies and fostered a deeper sense of divine presence.
  • Practical Applications of Divine Communication: Dallas explains how Laubach's spiritual exercises, including his "game with minutes," allowed him to maintain a constant awareness of God's presence. These practices were not just personal but were designed to be accessible to anyone seeking a closer relationship with God.
  • Mysticism and Modern Skepticism: John and Dallas discuss the skepticism surrounding mystical experiences where individuals claim to hear God's voice. They emphasize the importance of discernment and the impact of such experiences on personal faith and broader teachings.

Tabletalk: What Does it NOT Mean to Hear God?

Highlights:

  • Misunderstanding Divine Communication: Dallas emphasizes that hearing from God isn't about receiving continuous messages for every decision. He critiques the misconception that being directed by God in every aspect implies freedom from personal responsibility, suggesting that this approach can lead to abdicating one's ethical and moral decision-making.
  • Practice of Reflection: In discussing Dietrich Bonhoeffer's approach to faith, Dallas admires Bonhoeffer’s practice of meditating on a single scripture for an entire week at his underground seminary. This method encouraged deep reflection and understanding, contrasting sharply with superficial or superstitious religious practices.
  • Perils of Superstition in Faith: John and Dallas discuss the fine line between living in a supernatural realm and falling into superstition. They point out how attaching religious significance to random events, like the example of choosing a spouse based on a song on the radio, misrepresents genuine spiritual interaction and reduces it to mere chance.
  • Ethical Transformation Through Prayer: Dallas argues that true prayer and communication with God should lead to ethical transformation and a deepened understanding of God's kingdom. He stresses that prayer isn't just reciting words but involves a natural connection with God that transforms the individual ethically.

Tabletalk: Fellowship with the Trinity

Highlights:

  • Practical Spirituality: Dallas Willard shares an inspiring story of Brother Lawrence, highlighting the profound simplicity in which Lawrence found the presence of God in daily tasks, like washing dishes. He emphasizes that spiritual intimacy doesn't require grand actions but can be nurtured through ordinary activities, likening these experiences to being as sacred as participating in the Holy Eucharist.
  • Legacy of Hidden Figures: John Ortberg discusses the enduring impact of figures like Brother Lawrence, who lived a life of quiet spirituality without fame during his lifetime. He points out that such individuals often leave a lasting spiritual legacy that outlives the more celebrated figures of their time, showing that the kingdom of God often manifests in hidden, humble settings.
  • Building Spiritual Intimacy: Dallas speaks on the nature of intimacy with God, describing it as sharing in God's life where even mundane tasks do not obstruct this relationship but enhance it. He uses the metaphor of "living waters" to illustrate how a deep, personal connection with God turns one into a source of spiritual nourishment and strength for others.
  • Experience and Shared Lives: The conversation turns towards how experiences shape personal intimacy and communal bonds, with Dallas explaining that shared experiences are foundational to building relationships. They emphasize that even a shared moment of beauty, like viewing a mountain, can deepen connections and enhance the sense of community.

Tabletalk: Thomas Kelly and Being Distracted, Bored or at Peace

Highlights: 

  • Struggle and Transformation: Dallas discusses Thomas Kelly's significant personal crises, including his failure during a second PhD attempt and the emotional impact of World War Two. These events catalyzed a profound change in Kelly, leading him to a deeper intimacy with God, which he later articulated in his influential writings.
  • Importance of Solitude and Silence: Dallas emphasizes the connection between spiritual practices like solitude and silence and the ability to hear God's voice. He points out that these practices help mitigate the "intolerable scramble" of life, allowing for a deeper spiritual connection and calmness.
  • Cultural Shifts in Attention and Stimulation: John highlights the modern challenge of constant external stimulation and its impact on our ability to focus and find peace. He reflects on historical perspectives on boredom and the need for spiritual practices to manage attention and foster internal fulfillment.
  • Recognizing God's Voice: The discussion shifts to the nuances of learning and recognizing the voice of God, comparing it to how one becomes familiar with any voice through repeated exposure. This process enriches one's spiritual life and provides a sense of inner fullness and direction.

Tabletalk: Julian of Norwich and the Trinity

Highlights:

  • Revelation of Julian's Visions: Richard Foster discusses Julian of Norwich, the first woman to write in English, who had 16 revelations about the kingdom of God. Her life was devoted to exploring these divine experiences, deeply engaging with her spiritual insights and attaching herself to a church.
  • Meditation on the Crucifixion and the Trinity: Dallas Willard reflects on one of Julian's visions where she meditated on the crucifixion and how it led her to a profound understanding of the Trinity. He finds it fascinating that her contemplation brought forth a joyous revelation about the Trinity being the source of everlasting joy and protection.
  • Concept of Divine Admiration and Inclusion: Dallas continues to explore Julian's thought process, emphasizing how the admiration among the Trinity members extends to include humanity in the kingdom of God. He highlights the interconnectedness and mutual admiration within the Trinity, which perpetually expands to embrace all believers.
  • Julian's Symbolism with the Hazelnut: Dallas expresses admiration for Julian's ability to find deep theological meaning in ordinary objects, like a hazelnut. He discusses how Julian perceived it as a symbol of God's creation, love, and preservation, which she believed encapsulated the essence of divine care and providence.

 

To learn more about Julian of Norwich, we recommend her book, Revelations of Divine Love. 

The book John Ortberg referenced is Frederick Dale Bruner's The Holy Spirit - Shy Member of the Trinity. 

Tabletalk: George Fox and Hearing God as a Life

Highlights:

  • Revelation in Quietness: Richard and Dallas discuss George Fox's practice of seeking God through silence, emphasizing that the quiet was not an end in itself but a means to hearing God's voice. This approach helped Fox and the Quakers focus directly on Christ as their inner light.
  • Historical Connection: Reflecting on his experience in a meeting house built from the Mayflower's timber, Richard shares how the setting evoked a deep sense of communal spirituality. He described the tenderness and unity felt by those gathered, underscoring the shared experience of God's presence.
  • Universal Resonance: John highlights the universal desire to find someone who can speak to our personal conditions, a role that Jesus fulfills according to Christian belief. This insight connects deeply with people's inherent need for guidance and understanding in their lives.
  • Seeing Christ in Everyone: Dallas explains one of Fox’s teachings, which urged followers to recognize Christ in everyone, even those who mistreat them. This perspective was intended to transform interpersonal relationships by acknowledging the divine in every individual.