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Posts Tagged ‘spiritual’

by Jordan Hathcock

“It’s difficult to avoid all the crisis talk that fills the airwaves: climate change, debt, food deserts, clean water, masses of discarded plastic filling the oceans, populism nationalism, racism, shootings, stabbings, the list goes on and on. And apparently it is not just the poor and the middle-class who are feeling the pressures and concerns of all this, we all seem to have lost sight of the future.”- Barry Taylor

Within the Christian tradition, the future has always been more geared towards a more doom and gloom outlook. This is due to several factors: church doctrine, theological perspectives, biblical hermeneutics, and cultural influences. This isn’t just a religious position, from the Western eyes, an apocalyptic future has always been in our scopes. We love the hopeless end times so much that we have become contagious to any other possible future outcomes. Screw a compassionate eschatology, we want that blood, guts and fire!

Here is the thing, when it comes to the future, I think we all would agree that we want it to be a bright and hopeful existence for our kids. Yes, religion has played a huge part in the pessimistic future position that a lot of us hold. The Abrahamic faiths have not helped! When we view God as an executioner, riding the dark horse coming in the clouds to seek and destroy, who would want to trust in a faith like that?! With that being said, I do believe that we have numerous issues in the world today and in our day to day lives. This world is fucked up in many ways! How are we supposed to react and position ourselves?

I don’t know for sure, but I think having a compassionate and enduring view of the future puts us on a more beautiful trajectory. It does takes steps and action to get this type of faith moving. Recently, I just finished a course with LA Hatchery called: Spiritual Entrepreneurship. Through this course, we discussed, critiqued, questioned, and proposed innovated ideas that would propel us into a brighter faith of the future. One of the course instructors, innovated theologian Barry Taylor, described a great perspective in retrospect of the future with using the Mt. of Transfiguration:

“In the story of the Transfiguration, Jesus’ closest friends witness an amazing encounter and want to build a monument on the site and make it a place of pilgrimage and retreat. In some sense they seem to want an escape from the hardships of life and to bask in the light of this revelatory moment. But Jesus has other ideas. He leads them back down the mountain, back to the world, to ordinary existence where life is dominated by uncertainty and anxiety. He calls them to live in the dust of an uncertain world and to bring a different future to it.”

Boom! That is what I think we must do! We are going to experience all the uncertainties, anxieties, and doubt when it comes to the future. No way around that. I don’t think it’s so much about happy endings but instead, its more about collaborative beginnings. It’s all about the process. We need to start being creative in how we react to our current world situations, collectively and individually. We cannot let fear of letting go of old traditions that are no longer viable in bringing a brighter future to existence (Mark 7:8).

News flash: from all the data from social researchers, when it comes to religion and its participants- its not working! The nones and dones are piling up! It’s time to use a little of that death & resurrection that Jesus spoke about and put it into practice. If we want to see any type of productive future of this faith for our kids, I think we better hop on this approach pronto…

“When tradition is thought to state the way things really are, it becomes the director and judge of our lives; we are, in effect, imprisoned by it. On the other hand, tradition can be understood as a pointer to that which is beyond tradition: the sacred. Then it functions not as a prison but as a lens.” – Marcus Borg

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It has always amazed me how we Christians can be so argumentative. We just don’t know how to accept one another’s differences in doctrine or interpretation.

Following Jesus is obviously based on loving God and loving others. Yet we have nearly 40,000 different denominations, mainly because we can’t agree and accept one another.

We argue and defend our doctrines and interpretations, and we get mad when others disagree or have a different viewpoint. Even when we partly agree, we feel the need to point out where we differ because we think that our way is right, and everyone else is a little off.

I understand that we are not going to agree on everything, and each of us have a little different way of seeing things and understanding things, but we go too far when we let these differences separate us. We want to keep in our own particular group, which we usually feel is the more correct way to believe, and we do not want to associate with some of the others. This should not be, we can have our differences yet without separating ourselves from other brothers and sisters in Christ.

In regard to spiritual things, we are all people of faith. Whether we are Christian, Atheist, Muslim, Buddhist or whatever label we place ourselves under, we all live by faith. That does not mean we are all followers of Christ, but we are all people of faith. We do not have to be afraid to associate with people who do not have a faith in God. We just may be the only view of God they get to see, and love and acceptance should be what they feel through the power of the Spirit within us.

Faiths

None of us can prove beyond a doubt that our way is right. People have faith there is a God, or there is not a God, faith in the after-life and heaven, or faith in reincarnation, faith there is no hell, or faith that there is just an end to our existence. We can’t prove any of it either way you look at it, yet we all seem to fight and argue amongst ourselves trying to defend our viewpoint.

No matter what we believe, how much we love God, or how much we are convinced there is or is not a spiritual side to life, we cannot prove our point, it is all by faith.

As mentioned in the Bible, we walk by faith, not by sight. I am glad I have a faith in a God who created me and loves me, a God who has provided freedom from my sinful nature, and a God who has come to make His home within me, and that I will forever be in His presence.

I also respect the rights of others to feel differently. I don’t think it is my responsibility to expect anyone to believe the same as me, or to put their faith in the same things that I do. It is the Holy Spirit’s place to draw others to the Father, and convince others of their need of Christ. It is the Spirit who teaches us and leads us into truth. My responsibility is to love and accept everyone as they are, and be ready for God to show His love through me.

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My wife and I enjoy watching our grandkids play sports. Some of them are involved in baseball, some soccer, some football or basketball. So many grandkids, so many sports, so there is always someone to go watch.

This got me to thinking about trophies. I’ve noticed how the younger kids always get trophies at the end of the season. No matter how well or how bad they played, everyone gets a trophy, and they all look forward to that trophy.

Trophies

Once kids get a little older, it all changes. It becomes only the best teams get trophies and only the best players get awards.

In the world system everything is based on competition, and on how hard you work and how much effort you put forth. Only those willing to work hard, play hard and who win the most get the trophies.

In the spiritual world it is completely different. Spiritually speaking, all who are in Christ are winners and everyone gets a trophy. It does not depend on how hard you work, what you do or how successful you are.

Our trophies come as a result of the work of Christ. It is by grace we are saved and by grace we live in God’s Kingdom each and every day.

There are no upper level Christians, or those who work harder and get rewarded more. There are those we consider well-known and in the spotlight, then there are those who are behind the scenes and usually unrecognized. It does not matter, we are all winners with God. The important thing is we are all important and useful to our Father and we all get trophies because of His work.

Life in Christ is a priesthood of all believers, not a chosen few. It is not because of our work but it is the fruit of the Spirit. It is God’s work from within us that makes us all important in His Kingdom.

The trophies and rewards are actually the good works that come forth in the form of the fruit of the Spirit because we are part of the Vine. It is by grace and not anything we do. Good works, or fruit becomes apparent in our lives as Christ shines forth from within us. These good works will draw others to him and his love as we live for him day by day.

Do not think you are a nobody in the Kingdom of God. Don’t look up to others and wish you could do what they do for God. Realize you are who you are because God designed you that way and uses you best that way. It is His strength and love that does the work from within.

We can rest in God knowing our efforts and works are not what God requires. We can rest in Him and let the Spirit work and touch others through us with his love. Then be ready to get your trophy.

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A recent mishap the other day made me think about objects, things and relationships.

Those of us who have lost a loved one know how objects or things that belonged to our loved one has special meaning. The person is gone and all we have are the special items that used to be theirs.

sugar bowl

On Mother’s Day, I got up and was making coffee for my wife and myself. We have always kept my mom’s sugar bowl and used it each day. When I was putting it away, I hit the bottom of the cabinet and it slipped out of my hand and shattered all over the counter. I felt so bad, it was like another piece of my mom was gone.

This brought to mind how we get so caught up on things. It makes sense in the human aspect, the loved one is gone and all we have are the things that bring to mind good memories. These things are not the person, but they help us think about the person.

Spiritually speaking, we seem to do the same thing. We have been taught that God is up in heaven, separated from us and we are waiting for some future day when we will be united. Because of this, we get caught up on the things of God more than on God directly. We look at things about God that help us think about Him, learn about Him, remember Him, yet they are not Him.

We start looking to the Bible as the only way to hear from God. Sometimes we go so far as to make the Bible part of the God-head and worship it, not seeing it as a book inspired by God. We look to a building we call the church for a place to go and meet with God and his people. We pray for God to show up or the Spirit to fall when we meet in ‘God’s house’.

The truth of the matter is the living Word of God, Jesus, actually lives within us through the Spirit. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit, we are God’s house. We are one with God as Jesus prayed in John 17: 20-22: “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one.

Humanly speaking, when a loved one dies, all we have are things that were from our loved ones. All we can do is use those things for pleasant memories of the relationship we once had with that person.

Spiritually, we do not have to focus on the things of God, we have God right here within us. We can enjoy reading the Bible and seek truth as the Holy Spirit guides us. We can attend services together in a building, or anywhere else two or three gather, but we do not have to look to another human being as our spiritual guide. We should not make the things of God the main and only way of knowing our Father. To do this is to miss the most important part, which is a daily relationship with the living God who is within us.

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As Easter approaches, a popular morning TV program has been doing a series on the topic, ‘Can you be Spiritual without being Religious?’.

Now I don’t agree with every opinion given, but that the topic is being discussed is a good thing, bringing to light that there is a difference between being spiritual and being religious.

Obviously these days when you use the word spiritual, you can get into all kinds of strange thoughts and ideas. When I say spiritual, I am talking about a daily life following Christ and allowing His love to flow through us.

Spiritual Religious

My wife and I are no longer religious, but we are more aware of the spiritual, day-to-day life with God.

We realize that God is not a being up in heaven, coming down to visit us only when the conditions are right, or we are in a certain building, or we have been extremely ‘good’ over the past week.

No, God is spirit, and He is with us constantly. More than that, we are the temple of the Holy Spirit and God dwells within us. He never leaves us nor forsakes us.

I am not sure why it is we have always thought of God as a being who is way up there somewhere. The bible makes clear that we are one with God, and that God dwells within us.

We  seem to think that the Kingdom of God is a place we go one of these days when this life on earth is over. I think this also is a big misconception. God says His Kingdom is within us. That means right now, not some future date.

If we could only get these truths in our head and in our spirit, I think we could live a life that would really make a difference. People would see such a change, a life of love, caring, power and compassion. Unfortunately, we have been taught by religion that this just isn’t the case. We rely on trying to work hard, follow the rules and just survive until we get to heaven. So we go on, living life without the power of the Kingdom of God, arguing amongst ourselves over doctrine and belief, and letting people see we really don’t have anything to offer them that is meaningful and different.

It is time we come to understand that God and His Kingdom are within us. He is not up there in heaven waiting on some future day when we go to join Him. God lives in us and is with us constantly.

Jesus was the perfect example of God living in man. We can be Jesus to the world today. We can show love, compassion, and acceptance to the world around us each day. We are not God, but we are one with God. The Spirit is within us and he will teach us and guide us daily. Listen for the voice of the Spirit in every situation. Realize God is within you and allow His love to touch those around you every day.

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Marriage is an institution that’s been around since the very beginning.

Adam and Eve were married, although not in the traditional way we think of marriage. God joined them together and they became one. No ceremony, no pastor, no license.

Marriage was given as a representation of what God intended for His Church….humans becoming one with God.

Yes, God is not out there somewhere. He is right here, right now. When we accept His gift of grace through Christ, we become one with Him.

Just like the couples who unite in marriage become one, the Church, which means the people, become one with God. We aren’t talking about a building, but those who unite with God through faith in Christ. The true Church is not a building made by hands, but those of us who have had the old sin nature crucified with Christ. We have been raised up with Him as new creatures, and are now one with Him.

God isn’t up in heaven sitting on a big throne looking down on us. No, He is right here within us through the Spirit.

Jesus prayed to the Father in John 17 asking that we might be one just as He and the Father are one. Through the work Jesus did on the cross, we have become the temple of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of Christ lives within us and we have become one with God.

That doesn’t mean we are God, but His Spirit is within us. The Kingdom of God is within us.

We should focus each day on the fact the God is within us. We don’t have to go somewhere and hope He shows up. We don’t have to wait until we die to be with Him. He loves us and lives within us each and every day. We are living in the kingdom right now, daily in His presence.

In this world, it is by faith that we live the spiritual life, but when this earthly life is done, we will see naturally what is already taking place in the spirit.

Thank God for marriage and the joy we have in this world. Even better than that is the wonderful marriage between the Lamb of God and us, the Church, united as one.

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Isn’t it amazing how much we focus on food? We get up and think about breakfast, we go through the morning wondering what to eat for lunch, we look forward to eating dinner. So much emphasis, thought and money are devoted to food. Obviously we need food to survive. Our body needs food for energy.

If only we would put that much thought into our spiritual food. Our spirits need nourishment to survive. That can come from many ways. We can feed on the words that were inspired by God in his written word. We can feed on words that come to our spirit through the living, inerrant word of God which is Jesus. We can be fed from circumstances, friends, brothers and sisters in Christ. God can and does speak to us in many ways, and his words are spiritual food to our souls.

There is nothing wrong with food and the importance we place on it for our bodies. More importantly, we should be just as concerned about the spiritual food that is needed for our spirits to function as God intended.

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