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Posts Tagged ‘Spirit’

by Jordan Hathcock

How do you make any sense of history, art or literature without knowing the stories and iconography of your own culture and all the world’s main religions? – Polly Toynbee

When we Westerners create our icons, we do delve into the human figures throughout our history. There is something to say about the way an icon moves us to heal and liberate ourselves and the people around us. An icon can also have the opposite affect: Imprison and damage our way of being and others. We can see from human history, not all icons were worthwhile. In the end, it’s all about how we interpret the figure that we wish to iconize and how we put that vision into practice.

The origins of iconography take place within Christianity; with the images of Jesus and the saints after him. Western culture has taken this them and has made it into a more “secular” phenomenon. We see this with past presidents, sports figures, social activists, etc. Some religious practitioners (fundamentalists mostly) find this to be disturbing due to the reasoning of making humans out to be “gods”.

How can we bring out these secular beings into the space of Jesus (they would say)? Aren’t we making icons into idols, then? I would say: Hell no! Here is why: By making humans into icons we begin to step into the reality of the incarnation of Christ. We experience that we all can make some type of change through healing and liberation. Its what Jesus did by being his true human self.

Let’s take the tragic death of Kobe Bryant for example. We have seen Kobe do some amazing things on and off the court. He became a great father, husband, activist, and friend. By his example and iconic status, others followed in his footsteps and made a difference. Is this not Christ-like? Others do not see it that way. This is from a tweet from an individual who did not see it this way:

“Kobe dies & the world goes crazy; the son of God dies for wicked humanity & very very few care”

Without going into too much of a critique with this quote, I would just like to point out how this individual missed the point of the significance of Kobe Bryant’s death and the death of Jesus’. When we come to the realization that all deaths from the beginning to the end of time, from the ages of ages, have always been connected to the death of Jesus, we see that all deaths carry the importance of resurrection. This doesn’t always need to be the physical resurrection (although important) but also the symbolic resurrection, that helps all to wipe of the ashes of our current sadness and rise to a new transformed existence.

This is what the ancient church attested to the iconography of saints. It was the correlations that death has been trampled by death, and that Jesus resurrection involved the whole creation. The point of icons is not to idolize them, but to participate in their healing and liberating life. We are not these perfect beings that have no flaws and scars! To think an icon is any different from us is to fail to see the point of being an icon in the first place. To think that to see one as some sort of icon is a way to be irresponsible for ourselves and how we act in the world, is being bamboozled. When we depend solely on an icon, without seeing that icon in our enemies, we will never bring about a world of peace and love. It is why icons exist, to enable us to see the least of these as God. The Universal Spirit is calling us to the oneness of it all. Maybe we can beckon to Her call and embrace the unity of a curative icon…

Modern man has been in search of a new language of form to satisfy new longings and aspirations – longings for mental appeasement, aspirations to unity, harmony, serenity – an end to his alienation from nature. All these arts of remote times or strange cultures either give or suggest to the modern artist forms which he can adapt to his needs, the elements of a new iconography- Herbert Read

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By Mike Edwards

Most, whether believing in God or not, would agree One claiming to be God would always do the moral or right thing. A less than morally perfect God is not worth believing in. Being morally perfect doesn’t always mean doing the easiest thing. It may be best to show a wayward teen tough love for their future’s sake. Do you wonder what God would do in the situation you face? What do we advise others who seek spiritual guidance?

We all have an innate knowledge of right and wrong on major moral matters.   

Please don’t read this and think I am suggesting you can do whatever the hell you want. Just because I am convinced God doesn’t try to control our decisions doesn’t mean I think it isn’t obvious what to do in many situations. Laws are not really needed for murder, stealing, physical abuse, etc. I am not into running peoples lives but you can’t murder or assault anyone.

Please don’t tell people what to do because the Bible says so.  

All literature requires interpretation; interpretations aren’t infallible. Scholars who respect the Bible as authoritative disagree what God thinks about homosexuality, gender roles, divorce, etc., to name only a few critical issues. We can’t declare something immoral because the Bible says so. The overall message of the Bible is clear to most – love others unselfishly. Jesus didn’t always answer directly because circumstances vary – the issue is our heart in solving problems.

What job or partner would God suggest choosing?  

You pray and ask God to guide which job to accept or who will you remain happily married forever. The underlying assumption is that future outcomes are knowable so one job or partner is a better decision in the long-run. A predetermined future suggests freedom is an illusion. Even an all-powerful God can’t know an unknowable future. A loving, uncontrolling parent or God in an open future would surely advise to access your gifts and passions and make the wisest choice you know at that time.

What about decisions somewhat moral in nature such as whether to divorce your partner?

A partner may respond with gratitude for a second change or another chance may simply enable bad behaviors to continue. God is supportive of the wisest decisions we know under current circumstances which may include the counsel of others. God can’t promise you a certain outcome and still be a respecter of freedom. It is complicated but consider all the lives impacted by your decision and act as unselfishly as possible. If you regret past decisions – who doesn’t – make what amends you can and strive to make different decisions in your future.

What would God do when your mother favors one sibling over others.

I grew up with 4 siblings. We got involved in business together but one sibling made decisions for all of us without our knowledge. My elderly Mom chose to favor that decision though the other four siblings independently told Mom one sibling is acting selfishly. She chose to not remain impartial but sided with one brother. Should the other children simply ignore Mom’s decision and act as if a relationship is possible? Or should favoritism not be ignored thus possible enabling such behaviors to continue? Each child must decide the kind of relationship to have with Mom if at all. 

Even the Bible claims God’s Spirit guides us not a Book.

Jesus when leaving this earth said His Spirit, not some Book, would guide us in truth (Jn. 14:16-17; 16:13). Jesus didn’t seem worried that Truth always requires discernment. Uncertainty because of an inaudibly Spirit doesn’t have to lead to chaos. Certainty or the morality of our opinions often leads to imposing such beliefs on others. That is not God’s nature. Avoid declaring the Spirit only speaks truth to you and not others. It is not God’s nature to impose beliefs on others. 

What would God do or advise you?

We know what God would do in many moral issues. We know God’s mentality when making decisions impacting the lives of others. How would we want to be treated? What is best not only for you but all involved! We can recognize God’s voice when we confess wrongdoing and make amends. What one may do in relational situations describe above may be different from another. Seek God’s help in making the wisest decision you know to make.

What do we advise others what God is telling them? It isn’t always comfortable claiming uncertainty what God would do. It is easier giving advice due to supposed certainty rather than listening and helping one make their own decisions. People often don’t need our advice but our love as they make their own decisions with the help of God if inclined to seek God’s influence.

 

 

 

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It is amazing to me the variety of voices and views there are in the christian world vying for our attention.

Everyone has their own views and interpretations. I think we can learn something from everyone. Whether it is something new, a better way of doing things, a different way of thinking or just realizing we do not agree with what we hear and it bolsters our own faith.

The problem is that everyone has an opinion. That does not mean everyone is right or wrong. God works in each of us in different ways and what may be right for one person is not right for another.

We need to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit each day, listen for his voice and ask that He will lead us into truth. God will speak and lead us through the Spirit, through the bible and through words spoken from fellow believers. The bible says his sheep know his voice so we need to be sure we are hearing from him, yet we can be assured we can know his voice.

Our relationship with the Father is a day by day experience. What we know and understand today may be completely different from what we believed when we were younger. What we believe today will probably change in the future. God leads us into His truth in His timing as we are ready and open to it.

Our goal is to daily seek the guidance of God through the Spirit and seek His truth. To many of us want to put our focus on a man, a popular evangelist or pastor. Obviously, we can learn from listening to others views and opinions but when we focus on people we can get off track and confused very easily.

Everyone has a different opinion. You can listen to one person or group and hear what they think is the truth, then find another person or group who has a completely different take on the same subject. Putting our trust in people and their opinions often leads to fighting and arguing. Many times, when we have been shown something or led in a particular way we expect everyone to see it our way and to believe the same thing.

The only way to get past all the different views and opinions is to focus on Christ. He will teach us and lead us into the truth. That is not to say we are all going to think and feel the same way on everything. God deals with us personally and in different ways and as followers of Jesus there are many different paths we will walk throughout this life.

We need to remember that the Spirit speaks from within us, he speaks to us from the written word and he can speak to us through other people. We need to be sure we are hearing his voice and know he does not always speak the same way and does not always have the same life experiences for everyone.

It is time we become followers of Jesus and stop being followers of men. Nothing wrong with listening and hearing the views of others, but take it as that. It is their view and opinion. Only Jesus is the one to follow and to be our everything.

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It’s hard accepting the fact that God lives within us. We’ve been taught to live our lives trying to follow the commandments and do good things, and one day we will go to heaven and live with God face to face. We have an image of God sitting on a throne way up in heaven, and here we are, far, far away down on earth.

We talk about going to a meeting and the Spirit showing up, or being at a specific place because God is there. We pray and talk with God, yet we wonder if our prayers are even getting to Him.

The more I read, I’m finding that we really have the whole thing backwards.

The Old Covenant has been fulfilled in Christ and we are living under a New Covenant. We no longer have to try to be good enough. The law was a tutor that led us to Christ, but now that Christ has come, we no longer need a tutor. We are free from the law, and children of God through the gift of his grace.

Jesus came to live among us and show us the love of God. When Jesus left, he said he would send us the Spirit. God has now come to live within us. Jesus said the kingdom of God is within you. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit and we have the mind of Christ. Jesus prayed in John 17 that we would be one with God, just as he and the Father are one.

Sounds to me that we are missing the main point. We do not have to wait to die and go to heaven to enjoy kingdom living. We do not have to wait to be united with the Father. We no longer need to look to a human guide, teacher or preacher. We have the living, powerful, perfect Word of God living inside us, the Spirit of Jesus.

There is nothing wrong with listening to others, getting their thoughts and ideas, and being encouraged by other believers, but we do not need to rely on other humans. We have the Spirit within us, teaching us and guiding us in the way he has for us.

We do not have to look up in the sky to some far-away place and wonder if God is listening. We can turn our thoughts inward and realize the Spirit is right there within us, listening, loving us and ready to teach us as we begin to hear his voice from within.

We are all at different stages along the path we walk with him, and we need to remember none of us have it all figured out. We so often want to fight and argue from the understanding we currently have without realizing that we have not reached completion. There is more the Spirit wants to teach us as we become ready to accept it.

For my wife and me, we have changed a lot over the past few years, but we realize we have not come to perfection. We will change over the few next years also. So why argue over doctrine, interpretations and beliefs, as if we had it all figured out and everyone else is wrong. We all have a lot more to learn as we walk with the Spirit each day.

We should come to accept each other where we are currently, realizing what we know and believe today will more likely be different a little further down the road. We can love each other, learn from one another and accept each other as we are, just like Jesus loves and accepts us just as we are.

We should be looking deep within ourselves, listening for the voice and guidance of the Spirit, rather than putting all hope in others, and to those we think are more spiritual because they have been trained, educated and paid to do so. Remember, we are all kings and priests and have the same Spirit within us. Each of us are equal and important parts of the body, with Christ as the head. His Church is not a building, not a denomination, but a people.

This is not saying we are all God, but the Spirit lives within us and we are one with our Father. It would do us all good to start focusing on this fact rather than what we have been taught in the past, that being one with God is a future event after we die. Kingdom living is now. Listening to the Spirit, being taught by him and living day by day in communion with the Father is a reality that we all need to realize.

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I wanted to again state what the purpose of this website and my writings are about. I will borrow the words from Mick Mooney, which he wrote in his new book ‘An Outsider’s Guide to the Gospel’ to explain:

 

“I guess all this is my little disclaimer. I want to clarify that I’m not writing in the hope I can somehow teach you something. I’m sharing, that’s it. I’m sharing my thoughts and experiences. If they help you, great. If not, no problem. These words I’m writing are just that. Just words. Take them with a grain of salt.

You know who you should trust? Trust the Spirit within you, that’s who. Let him lead you into all truth. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, to seek answers, and to discover the abundant life along the way”.

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Galatians 5:16 But I say, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.

We are made in the likeness of God, that is, three in one. We are spirit, soul (mind) and body.

We were born under the curse of the law because of the fall of man through Adam. Our spirit man, soul and body were subject to trying to earn our salvation by following the law, which we could not do, eventually leading to death.

Through Christ and the grace He provided through His perfect life, death and resurrection, we were made new creatures in Him. Our old sinful spirit man was crucified and buried with Christ. He took our sins and nailed them to His cross.

We now have a new righteous spirit man within us. We still have a soul (mind) that needs renewed and an earthly body that will one day be changed into a spiritual body, but for now, God sees us as the righteousness of Christ, who lives within us by His Spirit.

Naturally speaking we will never be perfect on this earth, but because of the grace of Christ, God sees us spiritually as perfect already.

This doesn’t give us permission to live as we want and do whatever, but now we live for God and do what pleases Him out of love and not out of obligation. We now take up our cross daily and follow Him, allowing Him to increase as we decrease.

When you make a mistake, it is covered. We don’t have to repent each time, but we do acknowledge we made a mistake and thank God for His Grace that covers it.

A good thing to confess out loud after allowing our mind or body to take control is ‘I am the righteousness of God’. This will help us to remember God’s gift of grace and get us focused on our spiritual position in Christ.

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It’s amazing to me how many different voices there are in the ‘Christian’ world vying for our attention.

Everyone has their own thoughts and interpretations. I think we can learn something from everyone. Whether it is something new, a better way of doing things, a different way of thinking, or just realizing we don’t agree with what we heard and it bolsters our own view.

The problem is that everyone has an opinion. That doesn’t mean everyone is right or wrong. God works in each of us in different ways, and what may be right for one person isn’t right for another.

We need to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit each day, and ask that He leads us into truth.

Our relationship with the Father is a day by day lifestyle. What we know and understand today may be completely different from what we believed when we were younger. What we believe today will probably change in the future. God leads us into His truth in His timing, as we are ready and open to it.

Our goal is to daily seek God’s guidance through the Spirit, and seek His truth. We need to focus on Christ. To many of us want to put our focus on a man, a popular evangelist or pastor. Obviously we can learn from listening to others views and opinions, but when we focus on people we can get off track and confused very easily.

Everyone has a different opinion. You can listen to one person or group and hear what they think is the truth, then find another person or group who has a completely different take on the same subject.

The only way to get past all the different views and opinions is to focus on Christ. He will teach us and lead us into the truth. That isn’t to say we are all going to think and feel the same way on everything. God deals with us personally and in different ways. The problem is when we are shown something or lead in a particular way, we expect everyone to see it our way and believe the same thing.

It’s time we become what we say we are, followers of Christ. Stop being followers of men. Nothing wrong with listening and hearing others views, but take it as that. It is their view, it is not Gospel. Only Christ is the one to follow. Only Christ is to be our everything.

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