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“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15).
 
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April 2020

Middle Sabbath Service – April 29 ( Wednesday)

“Middle Sabbath Service – April 29 ( Wednesday)”.


Middle Sabbath Service — April 22 ( Wednesday)



Middle Sabbath Service — 1st week of Eastertide



Maundy Thursday Evening Service

“Maundy Thursday Evening Service”.


Sabbath Sunday Service — Palm Sunday

“Sabbath Sunday Service — Palm Sunday”.


Middle Sabbath Service – April 1

“Middle Sabbath Service – April 1”.


March 2020

Sunday Sabbath Service – 5th Sunday

“Sunday Sabbath Service – 5th Sunday”.


Middle Sabbath Service 2 — March 25th

“Middle Sabbath Service 2 — March 25th”.


Sunday Sabbath Service – 4th Sunday

“Sunday Sabbath Service – 4th Sunday”.


Middle Sabbath 1 — March 18 (Wednesday)

“Middle Sabbath 1 — March 18 (Wednesday)”.




 
 
 
 
 
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Recent Posts

Becoming a Person of Spiritual Wisdom Part II

Now that the previous Vision article on “Becoming a person of Spiritual Wisdom” has been soaking in our soul for a couple weeks, let us now turn to Part II. Part I taught us about the process of developing spiritual wisdom, and it informed us of the 7 concepts that are the foundation for becoming a person of spiritual wisdom. Each one of the concepts are essential to your personal spiritual quest, and to our spiritual walk together as a church … a beloved community … a tribe of Jesus followers … and a family of faith! And yet, each one of us has our own unique path into this realm of divine glory – and it’s a lifelong journey.

 

We will now present a summary of the most important features about each concept. But before we start, I want to remind you why these concepts and the journey to become a person of spiritual wisdom is so vital to our life here on earth. To be blunt, all of us reading this article share one divine calling from God in this life … it’s the one thing that God gifted us with that provides the remedy and sometimes, the cure, for everything in the world that is not part of God’s plan. That calling is God’s call for you to live spiritually first, and worldly second. And the double blessing of that is that when you put the spiritual pursuit first, then all of the other pursuits become better, sometimes in miraculous ways! 

 

Here is a a line I wrote in Part I that I think will be motivation to you as a Christian and a follower of Jesus:

 

“Without spiritual wisdom, it is not possible to absorb, interpret, or understand what the teachings of Jesus and scripture mean.”

KEY TEACHINGS FOR EACH OF THE 7 CONCEPTS

 

  1. Becoming a person of spiritual wisdom is a matter of learning.

 

  • Learning is the only possible way to become a person of spiritual wisdom.

 

  • To become a person of spiritual wisdom is the end result of a personal journey – not a sudden and dramatic acquisition, nor imposed by or borrowed from another person. 

 

  • The task of becoming a person of spiritual wisdom is open to anybody who wishes to pursue it. 

 

  • Once initiated, the matter of learning becomes an unending quest to the end. 

 

 

  1. Becoming a person of spiritual wisdom requires an “unbending intent.” 

 

  • Having “unbending intent” means having a self-will that can muster up all its powers with the sole focus being to propel you forward on your lifelong journey of becoming a person of spiritual wisdom.

 

  • Unbending intent is composed of 1) frugality, 2) sound judgment, and 3) willingness to stick with the necessary processes and procedures of the timeless spiritual exercises.

 

  • Frugality – refers to the need for a person on this path to focus largely on the spiritual journey they have undertaken, and become frugal with one’s time and resources regarding the everyday activities of life. 

 

  • Sound Judgment – refers not to common sense, but rather to one’s ability and willingness to apply their evolving wisdom capacity when assessing the circumstances and situations of daily life, before acting.          

 

  • Willingness to Stick to the Plan – refers to the ability to resist when your self-will tells you that there are easier and simpler ways of doing the things that the pursuit of becoming a person of spiritual wisdom requires – one must stick with the traditions and practices of our elders … including our predecessors from thousands of years ago.   

 

 

  1. Becoming a person of spiritual wisdom brings clarity to your mind. 

 

  • Gaining clarity to your mind will secure a sense of direction in your life.

 

  • Clarity of mind will continuously reaffirm and validate the decision to take this “unending quest” of becoming a person of spiritual wisdom. 

 

  • Clarity of mind helps one to remain fluid in their life, and not so sterile and stiff.

 

  • And clarity of mind allows us to understand that there is a specific purpose for every action in the world, and knowing this gives us the ability to continually grow our own wisdom capacity.

 

 

  1. Becoming a person of spiritual wisdom is a matter of strenuous labor. 

 

  • A person of spiritual wisdom needs to possess or develop an all-around capacity for exertion, but not necessarily physical.

 

  • “Strenuous labor” refers to 1) making a firm and full embrace of the pursuit, sometimes requiring rather dramatic displays of commitment; 2) the ability to achieve a desired result or meet a goal at each step along the journey; 3) meeting the challenge.

 

  • Full exertion may seem at times like acting, but actually it is the result of a profound state of belief that one has been acquiring along the path.  

 

  1. Becoming a person of spiritual wisdom makes you a spiritual   “warrior.” 

 

  • To be a spiritual warrior is a form of self-discipline that emphasizes personal spiritual growth … other personal interests not compatible with this pursuit should be reduced to a minimum.

 

  • Leading a warrior’s life provides the way to achieve emotional stability.

 

  • A spiritual warrior respects everything in life related to the purpose of becoming a person of spiritual wisdom and gains the wisdom to place all things in life in a meaningful perspective.

 

  • Spiritual warriors learn to be “wide awake” in life and filled with a self-confidence that allows one to see the truth that becomes wisdom, which then becomes power. 

 

 

  1. Becoming a person of spiritual wisdom is an unceasing process.

 

  • To become a person of spiritual wisdom is not a condition of permanency … and it’s a task that can never be fully achieved in this life. 

 

  • The unceasing process is comprised of 1) the realization that one must continuously renew the quest; 2) the comprehension of one’s own impermanency; and 3) the realization that one must follow the path with the heart leading.

 

  • The unceasing process will ask you to find a path with your heart, and and then travel it’s length – the journey alone is sufficient. 

 

 

  1. Becoming a person of spiritual wisdom requires an “ally” – known to us as the Holy Spirit.

 

  • To have the Holy Spirit as your ally is the single most important concept, and the only one capable of explaining what it means to become a person of spiritual wisdom. 

 

  • The Holy Spirit provides one with a power capable of transporting a person beyond the ordinary limits of their self – and can allow one to transcend the realm of ordinary reality.

 

  • Having the Holy Spirit as your ally makes one different from those “ordinary” folks who don’t.

 

  • The Holy Spirit 1) is formless; 2) is perceived as a quality, not as a person or creature; 3) can be embraced and molded into our own distinctive person that we each are; and 4) provides us with a “Way” of life (an exact reflection of the life of Jesus) that calls us to abide by and fully embrace.

 

Special acknowledgement again goes to Carlos Castaneda and his book “The Teachings of Don Juan,” from which my words above were inspired.  

 

Looking forward to joining everyone along the spiritual path ahead of us!

Pastor Bob <>< 

       

 


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Are We Really Worshiping the Right Way?

It’s been far too long since the Christian Church in America has asked these questions. Church worship services have been going on in the world since the 2nd or 3rd centuries. Over the course of those almost 20 centuries, in many cases the worship service has evolved into a cross between an entertainment show filled with energy and emotion and a hopeful dose of instant gratification.

Indeed, many church attendees think of themselves in the worship service as “the audience.” (Don’t be like that!) And the people leading the service are seen as “the performers.” And just to be clear, the audience expects the performers to either entertain them or inspire them. After all, that’s why they get up early on Sundays and come to church. 

I had a special God moment this past week when I opened up yet another used book I had recently bought, and out fell a stapled 2-page article from the 1994 edition of the Anglican Digest. I’m convinced that since it’s been more than 20 years since it was published, God wanted that very article to literally land in my lap. And, by God, it did!

So, in the interest of God’s will, I want to share some excerpts from the article with you, because I want you to be reminded why we really worship God like I was.

Excerpts from “Worship” (1994) by Rev. Samuel R. Todd, Jr.                                                          Rector, Church of the Reconciliation; San Antonio, Texas  

  • The first, most basic thing the Church has always offered to God is worship. The purpose of worship is to honor God, to pay Him homage. Worship is a service we carry out and speak of it as such. 
  • Who is it that we are serving? Clearly it is God and not ourselves. I’m not sure this fact is altogether obvious because I have heard so many people over the years speak as if the purpose of worship was to serve them. Some folk come to worship not to offer praise to God, but to “get something out of it.” 
  • At least the ancient Hebrew farmer, who walked to the Temple in Jerusalem with his grapes (the first fruit of his harvest) or the firstling of his flock, knew exactly what he was doing and why he was doing it. It would never have crossed his mind to say, “I think I’ll go to the Temple today to see what I can get out of it, or … I think I’ll go to the Temple and maybe I will be inspired.” 
  • I am not saying I never get anything out of worship; I am saying that I make a grave mistake if I go to worship with that as a goal. Good worship needs to be God-centered, not self-centered. 
  • We worship God because of Him, because of who He is. We worship Him also because we belong to Him and we are drawn to adore Him. We come into His house to do Him honor, not to be entertained or even inspired. 
  • Some people speak as if worship were a performance put on by the clergy and choir for the benefit of the congregation, who is the audience. I am not sure that a “performance” is a terribly good analogy for worship, but insofar as it is, all of us are the performers. You are not the audience. God is the audience. He is the One we are trying to please. 
  • What we want to do is offer God the very best that we have. I want the clergy, the choir, the organist, the acolytes, the lectors, the ushers, and everyone, to do his or her part to the very best of his or her ability: because nothing less does honor to God. 
  • Do we get anything out of worship? That depends on us and what we are looking for. But something is offered to everyone. We are offered the opportunity to draw apart from “the changes and chances of this mortal life,” to offer our hearts and minds to God and center ourselves in Him who is eternal.

See you this Sunday. And I can’t wait for all of us to perform for the audience of one – God! 

Pastor Bob <><

 


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Becoming a Person of Spiritual Wisdom

Among the several books I read over the Christmas season was the story of an interesting journey about learning and living a different and deeper way: “The Teachings of Don Juan” by Carlos Casdaneda. 

 

The author’s intent was to offer lessons on how to live a “Yaqui” way of  life. The Yaquis are an indigenous people of Mexico who live in the valley of Rio Yaqui in the Mexican state of Sonora, and in parts of the Southwestern United States. They are a “Uto-Aztecan” speaking “nation” and are the only “non-native” Indians in Arizona. Some refer to them as the “Apache” of Mexico because of their strong resistance to “outsiders” coming onto their land. Others refer to them as the “Fighting Farmers of Mexico” due to their reliance on an agricultural economy for subsistence. 

 

The Yaquis are indeed an interesting people with some compelling aspects to their culture and way of life. But as I read deeper and deeper into the story of Carlos Castaneda, I realized that his story had a much broader application. Many of the lessons Castaneda was teaching in his book were much more universal and spiritual then even he thought. 

 

As an example of this more universal teaching, I am going to extrapolate from some of the lessons in his book and rework them so that non-Yaquis like me and you can actually come to understand better the challenges we face in our own quest for the spiritual life. Below are my words laid on top of Castanedo’s story so that the meaning and significance of his lessons become relevant and inspirational for our own stories. And, with that as an introduction, I present for you my first lesson on “Becoming a Person of Spiritual Wisdom.

 

 

Lesson 1: 7 Important Concepts in Becoming a Person of Spiritual Wisdom

 

If I haven’t explained it well enough to you yet, let me first say that all of my preaching and teaching and counseling and devotions are all about one thing: to show you, and me, how to become a person with spiritual wisdom. To me, this is the starting goal for anyone pursuing a Christ-like life and calling themselves a follower of Jesus. Without spiritual wisdom, it is not possible to absorb, interpret, or understand what the teachings of Jesus and scripture mean.

 

And, when we lack spiritual wisdom, we rely on our own, or another person’s, knowledge about these things. That leaves out the one and only “teacher” that Jesus says we need – the teacher He left for us as our new “friend” – the teacher that He says will teach us everything we need to know! You see, when we rely on our own knowledge, we leave out the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

Whether you have ever thought about it or yet realized it, your religious life is intertwined with, and dependent upon, your spiritual wisdom. Many religious leaders, churches, and denominational principles and practices minimize, or completely ignore, this amazing, transformative, enlightening teacher called the Holy Spirit. In its place, they substitute their own human knowledge, which again, as Jesus teaches us, is “foolish in the eyes of God” and to the way of Jesus. Maybe you’ve noticed that I feel so strongly about this as to call out at times the misguided and heretical view of Jesus and the Bible that so many human religious teachers offer. 

 

My brothers and sisters in Christ: getting to know Jesus is not something you or anyone else is capable of without the power of the Holy Spirit. As humans, learning and accepting that truth is one of the simplest and hardest teachings in our effort to live like Jesus. We are not intellectually or emotionally equipped to accomplish what we so desire and need – a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Only when we submit to the power of the Holy Spirit can we begin to “see” all that God has done for us, and what that means for how we are called by Jesus to live. No one – only the Holy Spirit – can do that. And for that to happen, we must surrender our own need to understand these universal and eternal lessons so that the Holy Spirit can enter into our hearts and lead our intellect to these otherworldly truths that can save us, revive us, resurrect us, and make us true disciples! This is Lesson 1! 

 

If we all can come to accept this as our first truth about God … our fundamental understanding of who Jesus is and what it all means … then we have made the most important discovery in our whole life. We (all of us) are spiritual beings created by God with a divine (otherworldly) capacity to live as a “Godly person” in this world. But nothing in this world is able to teach us that truth. It is beyond this world because it is directly from God. Your truth is not determined by the world. It is determined by God and consummated when we let go of our egotistical belief that we can figure it all out and be in charge of our own spiritual life. The truth is; God has already figured it all out, and God wants to be in charge of our spiritual life. Agree and accept that, and you are on your way! 

 

I will end Lesson 1 with the 7 concepts that are critical to our efforts to become a person of spiritual wisdom … for the rest of our lives. Here they are:

 

  1. Becoming a person of spiritual wisdom is a matter of learning.
  2. Becoming a person of spiritual wisdom requires an “unbending intent.” 
  3. Becoming a person of spiritual wisdom brings clarity to your mind. 
  4. Becoming a person of spiritual wisdom is a matter of strenuous labor. 
  5. Becoming a person of spiritual wisdom makes you a spiritual “warrior.” 
  6. Becoming a person of spiritual wisdom is an unceasing process.
  7. Becoming a person of spiritual wisdom requires an “ally” – known to us as the Holy Spirit. 

 

These are the themes of a person on the spiritual path. I wonder whether you relate to any of them, or all of them perhaps. Can you see these concepts working in your life … in your own quest to become a person of spiritual wisdom? 

 

We will continue this journey into spirituality next week, when I will focus more deeply on these 7 concepts, so that we can better understand what the spiritual life requires of us and how we can best grow and flourish as we walk together toward Jesus and His truth. 

 

Until then, spend this week thinking about this stuff! It may be the most important thing I have ever written … or at least written this year! 

 

Blessings on your new year, and your new life. 2021 is here … and so is the Holy Spirit. The only question is how much of your life this year will be guided by the power of the Holy Spirit …

 

Pastor Bob <><

 


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