Willard Wisdom - Spiritual Disciplines

Short Video Clips

This is a collection of short video clips of Dallas answering questions about Spiritual Disciplines. The questions include:

  1. Can You Explain the Discipline of Frugality?
  2. Can You Talk About When to Break a Fast?
  3. How Do You Prevent the Spiritual Disciplines from Becoming Ends in Themselves?
  4. What Should I Plan to Do When Practicing Solitude?
  5. Do you recommend Eastern meditation?
  6. Can You Talk About Celebration, Worship and Submission?
  7. Can I Practice a Spiritual Discipline in Five Minutes?
  8. Is Forgiveness a Discipline?
  9. What Role Do Spiritual Experiences Have in Formation?
  10. Discipleship, Legalism and Obedience
  11. What is the biggest problem in practicing spiritual disciplines?

Resources

1: Can You Explain the Discipline of Frugality?

Dallas looks at the discipline of frugality, challenging conventional notions of sacrifice and luxury. Drawing from personal experiences and spiritual insights, he navigates the delicate balance between necessity and excess, offering profound reflections on simplicity, humility, and authentic living. 

2: Can You Talk About When to Break a Fast?

Dallas emphasizes that we need to learn how to both eat and fast as unto the Lord. He points out the example of the desert fathers, which illustrates well how disciplines can flexibly coexist with the demands of hospitality and human connection. 

3: How Do You Prevent the Spiritual Disciplines from Becoming Ends in Themselves?

Dallas explores the spiritual disciplines and the dangers of allowing them to become ends in themselves, much like jogging or bodybuilding can shift from health goals to self-glorification. He delves into how these practices should be approached as tools for personal growth rather than badges of honor, offering practical advice on maintaining humility and focusing on the essence of spiritual life.

4: What Should I Plan to Do When Practicing Solitude?

Dallas explores the profound yet often overlooked practice of solitude in spiritual life. He illustrates the transformative power of letting go and allowing experiences to unfold without force or intent. Dallas invite us to turn loose and let things happen. Listen quietly to the winds blowing through mountain pines or the sound of a gently flowing brook.

5: Do you recommend Eastern meditation?

Meditation and its role within spiritual disciplines is the subject of this clip. Rejecting the idea of meditation as a standalone practice, Dallas argues that it should be interwoven with all disciplines to foster a deeper connection with the divine. Dallas emphasizes the importance of filling the mind with scriptures, rather than seeking to empty the mind during meditation.

7: Can I Practice a Spiritual Discipline in Five Minutes?

Dallas explores the necessity of dedicating sufficient time to spiritual disciplines, likening them to physical exercises that require persistence to yield benefits. He highlights the liberating effect of serving others and the profound impact it can have on personal spiritual growth.

8: Is Forgiveness a Discipline?

Dallas clarifies that forgiveness, while profoundly impactful, operates more as a gift than a discipline. He delves into the transformative effects of forgiveness and repentance in personal growth and spiritual healing. Dallas discusses the broader impacts of these actions on human life, emphasizing their significance beyond mere disciplined practices.

9: What Role Do Spiritual Experiences Have in Formation?

Dallas explores the nuanced roles of spiritual experiences in spiritual formation, offering deep insights into how these moments shape our faith and character. He distinguishes between crisis experiences and ongoing disciplines, arguing that while spiritual experiences are significant, they are not substitutes for continuous spiritual discipline. 

10: Discipleship, Legalism and Obedience

Dallas focuses on Matthew 28:20, "Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you..." and discusses the difference between telling people what they ought to do (legalism) as opposed to teaching them in such a way that they choose to do the things Jesus taught and did.

11: What is the biggest problem in practicing spiritual disciplines?

Dallas explores the challenges and solutions related to establishing a system of spiritual disciplines in the modern world. He addresses the overwhelming sense of having "too much to do" and the impact of modern technology on our spiritual lives. Dallas offers candid reflections on how pride and fear contribute to these challenges and discusses the role of various spiritual disciplines, such as solitude and worship, in overcoming these obstacles and enhancing our relationship with the God.

Can You Explain the Discipline of Frugality?

This excerpt is from "Disciplines for a Holy Life - Part 2"  - Renovare National Conference (1989).

Highlights:

  • Contrasting Frugality with Sacrifice: Dallas distinguishes between frugality and sacrifice, highlighting that while sacrifice involves giving up things you genuinely need, frugality entails living without luxuries and gratifying desires.
  • Living within Necessary Bounds: Dallas emphasizes the importance of practicing frugality by staying within the bounds of what is deemed necessary for the kind of life to which God has led us, allowing for variations based on individual circumstances and needs.
  • Rejecting Lavishness: Dallas shares personal anecdotes to illustrate his commitment to frugality, emphasizing simplicity of style over lavishness and the importance of not impressing others but rather focusing on genuine connections and communication.

Can You Talk About When to Break a Fast?

This excerpt is from "Disciplines for a Holy Life - Part 2"  - Renovare National Conference (1989).

Highlights:

  • Importance of Flexibility in Spiritual Disciplines: Dallas discusses the desert fathers, highlighting their approach to fasting with flexibility. He emphasizes that they would break their fast to be hospitable, showing that spiritual practices should not prevent one from being compassionate and accommodating to others.
  • Balancing Eating and Fasting: Dallas explores the dual nature of eating and fasting as religious functions, stressing that both are vital. He articulates that just as fasting is significant, the act of eating holds equal importance in spiritual life. "We need to know how to eat and drink unto the Lord also."
  • Guidance and Personal Judgment in Spiritual Practices: Dallas touches on the necessity of personal judgment in the absence of clear divine guidance. He encourages the audience to adopt general rules to guide their actions while remaining humble and receptive to the guidance of others, illustrating a balanced approach to spiritual life.

How Do You Prevent the Spiritual Disciplines from Becoming Ends in Themselves?

This excerpt is from "Disciplines for a Holy Life - Part 2"  - Renovare National Conference (1989).

Highlights:

  • Peril of Self-Glorification: Dallas begins by comparing spiritual disciplines to physical activities like jogging, which can start as healthful practices but transform into ends in themselves. He emphasizes the risk of spiritual disciplines turning into mere actions done for their own sake. 
  • Spiritual Disciplines as Marks of Need: Dallas stresses that spiritual disciplines are not indicators of merit but are responses to our inherent needs. He advises maintaining a clear understanding that these practices are undertaken out of necessity rather than spiritual superiority.
  • Balancing Discipline with Other Spiritual Needs:  Dallas reflects on the limitations of spiritual disciplines. He clarifies that these practices are not panaceas; they cannot replace rest, faith, or understanding the gospel. Dallas advises that sometimes, instead of more discipline, individuals need ministry from others, highlighting the importance of a balanced approach to spiritual growth.

What Should I Plan to Do When Practicing Solitude?

Highlights:

  • Embracing Solitude: Dallas begins by encouraging the audience to embrace the practice of doing nothing as a form of spiritual exercise. He emphasizes the importance of letting go of the need to control or direct the experience, illustrating how true solitude involves surrendering to the moment and allowing oneself to be truly present without expectations. 
  • Pitfall of Intentions in Solitude: Dallas discusses the common pitfalls that people face when seeking solitude, particularly the misconception that solitude should produce specific outcomes. He advises against entering a solitary state with predetermined goals, as this often leads to frustration and defeats the purpose of the practice. "You go in and you turn loose." "Don't try to make anything happen."
  • Sabbath Connection: Dallas ties the concept of solitude to the Sabbath principle of no work. "Let it happen. Don't make anything happen!" 

Do you recommend Eastern meditation?

Highlights:

  • Understanding Meditation: Dallas articulates that meditation should not be isolated as a separate discipline but integrated into all aspects of spiritual practice. He explains that meditation is about centering oneself, not withdrawing, and this process involves actively engaging with one's thoughts rather than emptying the mind.
  • Role of Simplicity: Simplicity arises as a result of disciplined living rather than being a discipline itself. Dallas describes simplicity as closely tied to frugality, which involves foregoing unnecessary indulgences that satisfy personal desires for security or pleasure.
  • Meditation and Scriptural Engagement: Dallas stresses the importance of filling one’s mind with the Word of God and the reality of Christ during meditation. He highlights Joshua 1:8 as the greatest disciplinary verse in the Bible. "This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate therein day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written therein;
    then you will make your way prosperous, then you will have good success."

Can You Talk About Celebration, Worship and Submission?

Highlights:

  • Essence of Celebration: Celebration, according to Dallas, involves throwing one's whole self into ascribing greatness to God. It's not merely about giving thanks for personal blessings, but about acknowledging God's power and intervention in one's life, akin to David's triumphant experiences recounted in Deuteronomy 14.
  • Power of Submission: Dallas emphasizes that submission isn't about coercion but about allowing another person, especially those with authority, to guide one's actions. It's a relinquishment of personal will in deference to recognized authority, which can lead to growth and harmony within a community.
  • Learning from Tradition: While cautioning against misunderstandings like those seen in past movements, Dallas suggests exploring historical traditions like the Benedictine order to understand the beauty and meaning of submission in a communal context. By examining the nuances of such practices, individuals can appreciate the transformative potential of submitting to rightful authority.

Can I Practice a Spiritual Discipline in Five Minutes?

Highlights:

  • Understanding Commitment: Dallas emphasizes that spiritual disciplines require more than a fleeting engagement to be effective. He argues that a mere five minutes is insufficient to encounter the full challenge and benefit of these practices, suggesting that a longer duration is essential for substantial spiritual growth.
  • Role of Service: Dallas discusses service as a crucial spiritual discipline, describing it as deeply liberating and strengthening. He advocates for acts of service not only for the benefit of others but also as a vital practice for personal spiritual growth.
  • Long-Term Engagement: Highlighting the parallels between physical and spiritual exercises, Dallas stresses the importance of intensity and duration in spiritual practices. He suggests that like physical training, spiritual disciplines require significant commitment and become more joyful and enriching over time, eventually becoming a source of strength.

Is Forgiveness a Discipline?

Highlights:

  • Nature of Forgiveness: He clarifies that forgiveness, while profoundly impactful, operates more as a gift than a systematic practice. This perspective invites listeners to appreciate the spontaneous and grace-filled nature of forgiving.
  • Impacts of Spiritual Practices: Dallas contrasts disciplines with experiences like hearing the gospel or undergoing deliverance ministry, which are not disciplines but still significantly affect individuals. He explains that while not all impactful experiences qualify as disciplines, they play essential roles in spiritual and personal development.
  • Encouraging Forgiveness: Dallas emphasizes the importance of encouraging forgiveness and repentance despite not considering them disciplines. He suggests that enabling and supporting people in these areas are crucial for overcoming major life obstacles and fostering an environment of healing and growth.

What Role Do Spiritual Experiences Have in Formation?

Highlights:

  • Role of Crisis Experiences: Dallas emphasizes that spiritual or crisis experiences play a crucial role in spiritual formation but cautions against relying solely on them. He underscores that these do not replace the necessity for disciplined spiritual growth.
  • Character vs. Experience: He elaborates on the distinction between the fruits of the Holy Spirit—which relate to character—and other spiritual experiences, which do not inherently develop character. Dallas stresses the importance of understanding the different roles each plays in a believer's life, advocating for a balance between expecting spiritual experiences and engaging in disciplined practice.
  • Revivals and Spiritual Growth: Dallas discusses the historical context and contemporary perspective of revivals within American Protestantism, pointing out that revivals are often mistaken for genuine spiritual renewal. He argues that real transformation requires steady, disciplined growth rather than merely transient experiences, signaling a need for a deeper, more sustained approach to spiritual development.

Discipleship, Legalism and Obedience

This clip is from the first talk, "What Does Holiness Look Like Shorn of its Legalistic Expressions? 1" from the series The Human Contribution to Holiness.

Highlights:

  • Understanding Discipleship: Dallas emphasizes the foundational importance of understanding what it means to be a disciple before one can effectively make disciples. He stresses that being a disciple is crucial to successfully guiding others in their spiritual journey.
  • Teaching Through Being: He articulates a critical distinction in teaching, highlighting that it's not about instructing others to do something as if they were learning to ride a bicycle; rather, it's about teaching in a way that integrates the lessons into everyday life actions.
  • Love as Commandment: Dallas discusses Jesus’s response about the greatest commandment—to love God with all one's heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself. He explores the practical aspects of this commandment, questioning how one can embody such love in daily life.
  • Avoiding Legalism: He addresses the pitfalls of legalism in Christianity, which often reduces spiritual life to a set of rigid actions. Dallas criticizes this approach for overshadowing the true essence of Jesus’s teachings and often leading to division within communities over superficial issues.

What is the biggest problem in practicing spiritual disciplines?

This excerpt is from "Disciplines for a Holy Life - Part 2"  - Renovare National Conference (1989).

Highlights:

  • Balancing Life and Spiritual Disciplines: Dallas identifies the major hurdle in maintaining spiritual disciplines as the modern predicament of having "too much to do." He emphasizes the need for balance, rest, and understanding the energetic nature of seemingly passive activities like solitude and silence.
  • Technological Impact and Spiritual Practice: He critically examines the role of technology and modern lifestyle changes in shaping our spiritual practices. Dallas stresses that these advancements often lead to a constant state of fatigue and distraction, which can hinder our ability to engage deeply with spiritual disciplines.
  • Pride, Fear, and Spiritual Remedies: Dallas reveals a personal insight into how his feelings of pride and fear have influenced his tendency to overwork. He discusses how spiritual practices such as worship and reflection on divine actions help shift focus from self to God, thereby alleviating the burdens of pride and restoring perspective.