This is a publication from the desk of Pastor Gene Yotka depicting his and other people’s observations of God’s Presence in and around our Epworth UMC community and beyond.
Hi Everyone, I pray blessings upon you, that you are experiencing the presence of God in every moment of your days. Now is a good time to be still and let God speak in your heart.
Over the past three weeks our focus has been on the spiritual dispositions of humility, compassion, and love. During this time I have received many inquiries regarding the concept of spiritual dispositions. This has come in the form of four basic inquiries. 1) What is meant by spiritual disposition? 2) How many are there? 3) Where do they come from? 4) Can they be developed and how so? These are all very important questions, so for the rest of the summer we will explore spiritual dispositions and their relationship to spiritual formation.
Spiritual Disposition: a person's inherent God given qualities of mind and character that flow out of the predominant or prevailing tendency of one's spirit in relationship with God.
The exploration of spiritual dispositions, at its core, is an exploration of our inner spiritual landscape. The goal of this exploration being for us to become more aware of the important spiritual movements embedded deeply in our inner selves. By becoming aware of our spiritual dispositions we find a way by which we come to better know our true inner self. This is an incredibly valuable path of self-discovery that reveals our inner spiritual tendencies, both positive and negative, as we traverse the way of sanctification and holiness by God’ grace in our lives.
As we explore our inner spiritual landscape we quickly find that this landscape has been formed by choices (both conscious and unconscious) that we have made over the years. This presupposes a God given ability for us to choose for, or against, thegiven characteristics, called dispositions, which come into play during the everyday events of our lives. Thus, these dispositions are not something we summon up for specific events or times but are something we realize as gifts from God that we practice as the fruit of our relationship with God. For example a person who has a disposition toward compassion does not think to act compassionately when a situation arises; they simply act in a compassionate manner habitually. The disposition toward forgiveness is not something that happens at the point of an offense as much as it is already done well in advance, thus comes forth naturally, without effort or thought. The choice therefore to develop spiritual dispositions comes well in advance of the need for these dispositions to manifest in the actions of our lives. In a sense we do not do spiritual dispositions, we become them, by the grace of God. The goal therefore is for us to intentionally choose to develop ways to become well dispositioned spiritually. In so doing we bear spiritual fruit and exhibit godly characteristics every time the opportunity arises, in a natural and authentic manner. This cannot be taught didactically as much as it can be understood by experience. All the spiritual dispositions that we will address are gifts by the grace of God. But they must be recognized, received and practiced. Thus, good spiritual dispositions can be developed through spiritual disciplines such as prayer, meditation, Scripture reading, service and the like. Therefore, we will approach this important aspect of our spiritual self- knowledge through a series of meditations on love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faith (faithfulness), gentleness, self-control, hope, gratefulness, humility, compassion, justice and forgiveness. These will be broken down into four categories:
1. Dispositions of attitude.
2. Dispositions of relationship. 3. Bridge dispositions.
4. Love: the deposition of union.
Our goals are 1) to hear God’s word in Scripture so as to invite God’s word to orient our hearts to these various dispositions. 2) To become more aware of the presence (or lack thereof) of these dispositions currently in our own life. 3) To begin developing ways we can allow these dispositions to become holy habits that color all we think, say, and do in a natural and authentic manner. 4) The end goal, “teleos”, is the disposition of love (perfection).