Category Archives: Emergent Church

The Other Team Sport?

2019-01-01_waterdrops-8-1184377-1599x1066The human concept of religious freedom is our acknowledgment that spiritual beliefs, practices, and understanding can be as individual as the number of humans. The recognition and respect for all individuals to freely express their personal beliefs are fundamental as breathing.

So, why do so many people participate in their spiritual development as a team sport? Also, why have many people allowed their personal spiritual identity to become entangled with a religious organization? Organizational religion has two main goals. One is to aid in the spiritual training of those that join its organization. The second is to transmit to future generations the teachings and practices that are part of the religious culture for which it represents.

Many Sunday morning worship services in America have morphed to resemble sports and political gatherings with people supporting their home teams. The Sunday morning gatherings in America used to be a time of spiritual devotion where any visitor could join the community practice. It was an opportunity for people to temporarily escape from of their personal lives to reflect on the actions they committed or omitted during the busy week. It was a time for quiet reflection while being washed in spiritual words of encouragement. It was an opportunity for personal transformation.

Do you gather in huge a stadium or do you gather in a smaller group, and is it with people and friends that have the same perspective or worldview? Is there time for quiet devotion and reflection or does the gathering put on a production and presentation to keep you excited so you will come back again? Is the overall point of view being shared one that says, there is only one way to God and all others perspectives in the marketplace need to be driven out, so the world can become transformed? If someone holding a different worldview happens to visit or is invited to attend your service are they accepted as they are if they never change, or are they made to feel especially uncomfortable if they fail to cheer on the home team and its perception of the world?

This may be fine for sport and political gatherings, but it violates the concept for spiritual freedom. Yet, religious institutions have adopted this format as a method to support and bolster its organizational goals. Religious institutions train their membership in groups to maximize efficiency, but they fail to reinforce the idea that a person’s spiritual identity is as personal as their fingerprint and that it belongs to them. More important and because of tradition, many members freely abdicate their responsibility for spiritual development and trade in their personal identity for a group identity. Many people do this in hopes that God’s heart is moved by numbers when standing in faith on an issue. Have you given over your identity in hopes that it will be used as a political force that can influence the material world issues in a spiritual way?

For many years religious organizations, worldwide, have been more than happy to let people give them their identities so they can be the ones representing their spiritual lives. Just prior to the Protestant Reformation in the Christian culture, the most popular religious institutions were accused of having to much power and abusing that power. Back then the power was in the form of a financial tax on individuals, and families. From birth to death these organizations formulated a strategy of dispensing and withholding blessings to influence and control various parts of a persons moral and spiritual life.

Today people volunteer to be members of their religious institutions and have the freedom to terminate the relationship whenever they want. However, for those that choose to evolve spiritually, most never do it outside of a religious organization. Therefore, today these organizations continue to yield tremendous power from birth to death. They do not directly tax individuals, but the relationship has financial obligations and when it comes to political power, they strongly influence the beliefs and thoughts of most of its members. There is a valid chicken and egg argument to be made, however, within the membership only a few members hold differing beliefs from the membership at large.

But be encouraged, many people are waking up to these trends as it concerns personal spiritual development. The Spiritual But Not Religious (SBNR) movement and specifically within Christianity the Emergent Church movement and the Red Letter Christian movement are examples of pushbacks towards this trend. However, just switching teams is not a solution to the trend of spiritual development being a team sport.

Only the act of taking personal responsibility for one’s spiritual training can truly reverse this trend. It does not require everyone to exit organize religion, but it does require everyone to set personal goals and partake of training materials that they have sought out. With the advent of human technological advancements, especially in the area of social networks, individuals in the western world are without excuse when it comes to seeking spiritual enlightenment. Do you avail yourself of the spiritual resources available on the social network at least once a week?

To remained pigeonholed into a way of thinking spiritually from birth to death reflects truly on one’s beliefs about all things spiritually. Fear is the primary tactic that keeps many people from exploring spiritually. In every other area of life, people exercise freedom except when it comes to their spirituality. It is kind of like when a stockbroker or a doctor discourage you from getting a second opinion, you should automatically know that something is wrong. However, many falsely believe they will be better off not knowing the truth.

Again, be encouraged that you will not be the first pioneer to strike out on your own and do something spiritually on one of the other six days of the week and still show up on Sunday for the religious pep rally. Odds are that there are more than a few members already doing it. Social media sites like Meetup.com provide links with information about meetings and groups that have planned alternative events for exploring and finding people with awakened spiritual points of view.

For every charlatan standing in the pulpits in America, there is probably one on social media with the fraudulent intents, and yet my experience over the last 5 years has been all good and left my desire to explore peaked and all the while feeling safe. As human understanding grows some religious tradition will not stand the test of truth. What is true is that our spiritual identity as a created child of God is secure as God’s very Presence. That is our spiritual heritage and it has nothing to do with human tradition or the team we choose for our spiritual training.

One reason that unconditional love is in short supply among the human population, is because love has been made conditional to the spiritual identity of the spiritual team a person trains with. Yet, the true source of unconditional love is God. This is the reason that Jesus made love the only condition for a true relationship. While the religion of Jesus day had 613 ways to break the relationship, Jesus made love the only condition for a relationship.

So, let each of us stay mindful that we have the right and the freedom to develop our personal spiritual training. If nothing else, explore the limits of your current training organization. Ask questions of God, your organization’s leadership and other members. Open your heart and spiritual ears to God and determine where you want to end up when this earthly life is finished.

Do you want a personal faith relationship in your spiritual team or personal faith relationship in God? There are 52 Sundays this year, will your personal spiritual development remain as the other team sport?

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian, Christianity, Church, Emergent, Emergent Church, Evidence, Evidence Locker, Faith, God, Jesus, Religion

Most Overlooked and Most Abundant Substance of Our Reality

2016-10-01_ripple-1181181-1279x794Love is one substance in the earth realm that will never be in short supply. God is love, and therefore the substance that makes everything manifest is infinite. The real problem with seeing the infinite has to do with the way we see. Let us start with the population count of humans on earth as a dynamic demonstration of love in action. Is the population getting too large or can the earth sustain a population of 21 billion?

What many overlook, with such an example is a tendency to focus on the places and things that seem to stand out and displaced the background and nature of existence. The beauty of people and their personal lives capture our attention and seize or focus. The story on the screen of our lives is like a 3D movie overwhelming our attention. When this happens, we fail to comprehend the screen and overlook the background substance of which 7.5 billion people get existence and are manifest. It is this loss of our attention towards the infinite that steals our happiness and peace in life.

Recently, I heard an inspirational story which may help illustrate why our focus is often misplaced. The story goes on to say that a professor passed out a surprise exam to each student placing the exam paper face down on each desk. The professor then instructed the students to turn over the paper and describe what they saw. Everyone was surprised that there were no questions just a single black dot in the middle of the page.

After collecting and reading out loud all responses describing the dot, its size, and its location on the page, the professor observed out loud that not one student described the white space on the page.  The professor informed everyone the exam would not be graded.  The professor wanted to stress the point that everyone focused on the black dot and not the white space and how this is true in our lives. We focus on health issues, complicated relationships, global temperatures and global markets.

Even in a world where spirituality trends of meditation and mindfulness are becoming popular, the human focus remains on the objects of the material world. To quote Rupert Spira “Matter is not what is seen, but a way of seeing.” In the Hindu philosophy, there is a term called “Maya” which is Sanskrit for illusion. In other words, material reality distracts us by misdirecting the focus of our attention.

For those that believe in and acknowledge the existence of God are not immune to this mode of how we interpret and perceive reality. The focus of our attention falls only on the objects of reality. However, there is a background and substance that permeates everything and out of which the whole of our existence emerges. Known by many names like spirit, consciousness, awareness, and love, this actual substance of our realm mostly goes undetected by our human attention.

Those that can relax the focus of their attention will experience the essence of reality. This essence is the infinite substance of love which yields peace. God could confidently make the statement and promise “I will never leave you or forsake you” because the very presence of God is the infinite substance of love out of which all existence emerges. This is the reason scripture records that “In God, we live and move and have our being.”

Whenever we have a difficult time seeing love in the world, it is probably because our attention is being carried away by the movie of life playing out before your eyes. Practicing the Presence of God is the name in the Christian culture for defocusing from the people and objects of the material world. Every religious tradition in the world has a way to help us humans set and keep our focus so we can see the love and experience the peace we deserve as children of God.  Right now, are you seeing and experiencing the infinite substance of love?

Leave a comment

Filed under Emergent Church

Is there room in your Inn?

2017-12-31_water-drops-1314990While on our spiritual journey through life, one of the profound discoveries is that we will have many moments of enlightenment. In other words, as we get to a new peak, our overview of the landscape provides us with a new perspective. As humanity continues its climb toward truth and deeper understanding we each notice that certain life events contain the revelation needed to give us that next profound change in perspective which leads us to the flashes of enlightenment. Understanding this pattern is wisdom that sets us up and provides the context for our next experience in life.

At the end of every year we humans enter a worldwide celebration of reflection for the year that is passing and hopefulness for the new year approaching. One of the timeless questions presented to us regardless of culture, asks a simple question. Is there room in your Inn? As spiritual people we take time each day to turn away from the business of the material realm and still ourselves enjoying the peace at the heart of our being listening for the information that gives us insight. Many times, however, we are not willing to make room in our lives to be informed by new messages from our still place.

Some cultures believe that God sends external messengers or avatars to give us information and others believe that internal to our being God or the Universe communicates directly with us. When we recognize the messenger, we accept the message and if the messenger is unfamiliar we usually reject the message. Let’s set aside the reasons for rejecting a message based on tradition or protocol. Let’s for this discussion focus on our capacity and willingness to receive new messages.

Most of us tend to understand ourselves as having a limit on the amount of information we are willing to process or fit into our lives for whatever phase in life we are currently living. If information and outside activities demand our attention, then information from our “spiritual” life must wait until we can schedule time to process it. This, is the reason humans of most cultures slow down toward the end of every year for much needed reflection.

In a world where size is a status symbol one would think having a greater willingness or capacity to process new spiritual information would be a coveted asset. Making room and giving attention to the messages that find their way to our Inn is critical for human well-being in these days. Messages of peace, hope, love, unity, happiness, and joy are powerful, profound, transformative and life changing for us human beings.

Like the babe, who’s birth many celebrate this time of year, new spiritual messages are small, not overwhelming, and mostly overlooked because of its size. However, like the new child, the initial growth of these small packages are tremendous and require attention and nurturing. For this reason, many turn away these true gifts.

We humans are design with infinite capacity like the creator. However, we tend to focus on the limits of our physical capacity and try to manage the influx of additional information through technological means. In the technology driven society with its material global conscious we forget to rely on and develop our spiritual capacity looking only for feedback from the data streams of our material technology. While we focus on the development of Artificial Intelligence we ignore our infinite spiritual capacity.

So, consider this one message reaching out to you through your technical data streams. Make room for the child. Be still and know God. It is the end of another glorious year, and I put this simple question to you. Is there room in your Inn?

Leave a comment

Filed under Christianity, Emergent Church, Evidence Locker, God, non-duality, Spiritual, spiritual but not religious, Spirituality