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UNDERSTANDING LENT (with a few laughs thrown in!)

While it’s still early in our Lenten Season, I thought it a good time to review again some of the basics of Lent. The more we understand what Lent is about and what it means, then the more we become able to commit to Lent as a vital part of our faith life. 

This week, I’ve borrowed an article about Lent by Norton Herbst from the website “exploreGod.” And along the way, I have inserted a few Lenten cartoons (almost seems like an oxymoron, doesn’t it?) to keep reminding us that while Lent is a very solemn and reflective time, it doesn’t necessarily need to be a dark or depressing time. Hope you enjoy!

Pastor Bob <>< 

“A WILDERNESS JOURNEY” By Norton Herbst

The idea of Lent began during the third and fourth centuries. The number of days is based on the biblical significance of the number forty—specifically, the forty years the Israelites wandered in the desert and Jesus’ forty-day fast in the wilderness.

Thus, Christians describe the forty-day Lenten season itself as a journey in the wilderness. Lent represents a time of searching for God amidst the brokenness of life, a season of intentional fasting before a time of feasting. Historically, Christians have given up something during Lent as a symbolic way to mark their journey and refocus their energy on their relationship with God.

  Most often, this includes fasting from certain foods or drinks. Some skip a meal each day or give up specific things such as meat, caffeine, alcohol, or sweets. Others give up more modern luxuries such as the Internet, social media, or e-mail; reading books, magazines, or newspapers; shopping; watching television; or listening to music.

It is important to remember that none of these things are inherently bad, sinful, or evil. Yet any of these pleasures can easily become overly important in our lives. We likely have all experienced that.

The idea of a Lenten fast is to abstain from these subtle but powerful influences in our lives in order to become less distracted and better equipped to give one’s full attention to the spiritual journey. It is an occasion to relinquish something one typically enjoys in order to identify with Jesus and the sacrifice he made on Good Friday.

Significantly, “Lent should never be morose—an annual ordeal during which we begrudgingly forgo a handful of pleasures.” Lent should be considered an opportunity to realign ourselves with God and pursue a renewed relationship with him.

Many Christians adopt something new during Lent as well. They choose to pray at fixed times each day, read the Bible, serve the poor, observe moments of silence and meditation, or engage in habits that enrich the soul.

On Ash Wednesday, some Christians attend special church services and place ashes on their foreheads as an outward symbol of the repentance and fast they are undertaking. The day before Ash Wednesday has become known as Fat Tuesday, or more familiarly, Mardi Gras. The day is considered one’s last chance to indulge in rich foods, intoxicating drink, or anything else one is giving up for the following six weeks.

    A STRANGE RITUAL?

This yearly ritual may sound strange to anyone who has never observed Lent. But the point of Lent is not to do something “religious” to somehow impress God. Nor is it about drawing attention to what you are doing. Jesus himself warned his followers about fasting or praying in a public and prideful manner.     

Rather, Lent is about recognizing the regular seasons of life and embracing the rhythm of fasting before feasting. And this fasting—however one chooses to observe it—is a journey of faith. A journey of reflection and self-examination. A journey that provokes repentance and transformation.

Lent is a journey that culminates in the hope of Easter morning.

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LENT IS A GROWING SEASON

Tonight,is the beginning of your Lenten journey for 2021. Lent is just another one of the amazing opportunities for spiritual growth that God continuously puts in front of you. But for many of these opportunities, one of the first barriers we need to overcome is commitment. Many of us have trouble making the personal commitment to our own spiritual growth, and thus we end up missing opportunities from God to grow in our faith and live closer to the Way of Jesus. If you’re like me, you’ve probably missed more of these opportunities than you care to count. 

Starting tonight, and for the next 40 days of Lent, we have again, an opportunity to renew our commitment to God and to our own spiritual growth. I want to encourage you to not miss this one! I believe that in your heart, you are ready for this, and indeed, you are needing this. So, I urge you; Do not miss this opportunity.

Allow me to suggest some things that might help you get out of the starting gates. First, as with anything that has to do with God, you must be honest with yourself about where you are today in your spiritual life. After all, God already knows all about it. Like right now … God knows your fears and weaknesses about making a commitment to Lent 2021. God knows exactly what your needs, and God will help you all along the way by putting opportunities constantly in front of you. God will also be your personal mentor known as the Holy Spirit, and will help you hear things, see things, or find things, that you could not have done by yourself. 

Once you honestly reflect upon who you are today, and where you would like God to take you, then surrender the complete journey to God. The whole thing … none of this “co-pilot” stuff. Let God pilot and take your seat back in coach. 

God’s will is the only way to go, but we have to surrender our self-will for God’s will to have a chance. And even with all that about God’s will, you still have the most important role in this spiritual process, because God has made a promise to all of us that God will not intrude into our life uninvited, nor will God force any decision on you that you are not willing to make. 

So, you see, God and you … need each other. Think about that for a minute! The almighty and all-loving Creator of the universe and maker of all things in it, needs you to help build his Kingdom – whether that be in Arthur or your local community, or at Vine Street CC or your local church, or in your family, or in any area of your life that is in need of help from above. If you become willing, then God’s will can impact every single part of your life, and the more God’s way becomes your way, then the better your life is becoming. 

After honest reflection about where you are on your spiritual path; and after a sincere and intentional effort to surrender to God the things that you need help with (no limit!); now the time comes to take the leap. And that requires a decision, made by you, to sacrifice your instinctual urge to mold your own life, and instead, put all your trust in God. But whether it happens or not is all in your hands. God will come to your door, but you have to open it. God cannot, and will not, do this alone. 

Sometimes I stop to reflect on where I am spiritually by comparing a “religious person” with a “religious thinker.” So many of us start out by being a religious person … that is, a person who comes to know a great deal about religious things – like the Bible, the church, the members, the hymns, the prayers, and even the pastor! As for me, I didn’t start out that way, but I know many of you did. The church, with all its things to know about, was your religious life. 

The danger of being a religious person is that you become susceptible to “growing” comfortable with all the things you know so much about, and thus “change” becomes very challenging for you. The truth is, God is a constantly changing revelation in our world. God is always revealing himself to us in new ways, each and every minute of our lives.  Many of us miss God in our midst because we haven’t developed the eyes to see or the ears to hear. And encountering God is encountering change. Alas, many religious people close their doors to change, and thus to spiritual growth and the revelation of God in their own lives.

For all of us religious people out there, the message that God has is to take the leap … to make the transition from being a religious person to becoming a religious thinker. Look at it this way: Knowing about things is not the same (not even close) as knowing things. Religious thinkers know about what most religious people know about, but on top of that they know, through their own personal relationship with them, what all these religious things mean for them in their daily life. It’s a personal thing … there’s a spiritual relationship with them.  

So, for example, religious folks know about the Bible in some detail, but they may not know how to read the Bible with the Holy Spirit. Thus, they probably don’t see that they have a personal stake in the words of the Bible, nor an understanding that the Bible they know about, is really about them, and that it’s telling their story on a daily basis. When you know the Bible personally, then it becomes “living word” to you, and it meets you right where you are at, on any given day. 

Still, the most important difference between religious people and religious thinkers is their relationship to Jesus. Religious people claim to know a lot about Jesus, while the thinkers have a personal relationship with Jesus. They don’t just have knowledge about Him, but they receive His wisdom in their hearts.  Jesus truly becomes their Lord, and their God, and their Shepherd. They’re not so much focused on knowing about the gospel sayings of Jesus as much as they are reliant on what Jesus says to them personally about gospel things. Big difference! 

Vine Street Christian Church is in spiritual transition. All Jesus-centered and religious thinking churches are. Unlike many denominational churches, Vine Street asks of everyone, to step out and take the leap. Could it happen that every member, and nonmember for that matter, jumps into a new way of life based on having a personal experience with all the religious things in your life … starting with Jesus. 

All of us need spiritual growth. No one ever reaches the final destination in this world. And Lent is the ideal time to take this leap. So … Let’s all, in our own way, with God, make a personal commitment to Jesus that wherever our relationship is with Him today, we will spend the next 40 days with Him personally, each and every day, surrendering to His Father’s will and to His Way – the Way of Jesus. 

No, you can’t do it alone. Yes, you need to embrace Jesus as a personal friend to take even the first step. But try it. Make this Lent your “Leap of Faith Lent.” And if you commit to that, then 40 days from now, when Jesus rises from an empty tomb, and looks you in your eyes, he will call you by your name, because you’ll be best friends! 

Off we go — Walking this path together … Pastor Bob <><


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BECOMING A MATTHEW 25 CHURCH

In last Sunday’s message, I offered an abbreviated walk through the Gospel of Matthew. 

First, we learned about the man born blind as Jesus taught us that in the Kingdom of God there are no preferences among people. We are all welcome equally into His Father’s grace – no one earns, no receives, more than anyone else.

Then we learned about the attendees at the wedding banquet hosted by the King. Jesus taught us that the Kingdom of God is open, and available, to everyone. No invitation needed. Come just as you are. Nothing about you, not one thing, will keep you from feasting at the banquet table.

But, it’s the third lesson that tells us how we are called to live in the world. Jesus simplifies it for us! We either live like sheep, or live like goats. Only the sheep receive the spiritual gifts of God and enter into an eternal life now. And what is it that the sheep did, that the goats didn’t do? Jesus summarized how we’re supposed to live in 6 simple (but not easy!) ways:

  • <>< Give the hungry something to eat
  • <>< Give the thirsty something to drink
  • <>< Invite the stranger in
  • <>< Give clothes to those who need them
  • <>< Look after the sick
  • <>< Visit those in prison

So, we learn that by putting our self-centered desires aside, we can actually receive all the blessings of heaven by trying to bless others in need. Who? Well, Jesus makes it clear throughout the gospels that there is no person that is considered beyond our help. Indeed, Jesus goes on to say that it’s those most in need that should be our priorities. He says, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matt. 25:40)

Many things can hold us back from living this way. Most of these things are “taught” to us through our own live experience and through the training we receive from our family and our culture. And almost all the time, these lessons are based on worldly and cultural values, not the gospel values that Jesus taught us. And almost all of those are based on the powerful belief that the most important thing in the world is ME! Particularly, the lesson of putting yourself first in all things and being fearful of anything that violates this code. 

Jesus didn’t teach any of those values. Instead, He taught us about eternal and universal truths that exist both in this world and beyond it. He told us we must die to ourselves first, so that we can be re-born into the person God created us to be. He said we have to put away the ways of the world so that we could enter into the Kingdom that He has come to prepare for us.

And Jesus knew that one of the biggest barriers to following His way in this world would be fear. Fear can sap the gospel spirit (and Jesus with it) right out of any of our good intentions because fear and divine love are not compatible. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus shares these thoughts: 

  • <>< “I tell you my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that can do nothing more” (Luke 12:4)
  • <>< “Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life” (Luke 12:22)
  • <>< “Do not be afraid little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32) 

When we become willing to let Jesus help us with our fears, then we gain a new way to see. In fact, the ones we were most afraid of become Jesus to our new eyes. And when that happens, then our journey with Jesus has become our primary way of life. Worldly and cultural values are now seen for what they are; illusions to keep us in our place. 

Jesus never wants us to stay the way we are, even when we’re following Him. Walking with Jesus is a new revelation every single day. And you can rest assured, Jesus will bring those He calls you to help, right to your doorstep. They’re all around you every day. That’s why every day with Jesus is a mission trip experience! 

Valentine’s weekend at Vine Street Christian Church will be a big step forward toward becoming a Matthew 25 church. Some members of our church will be taking clothes that the congregation has donated to the Hour House recovery center in Charleston – giving clothes to those who need them. Some members of our church will be taking food donated during our Advent “Place for Kids” to our local food pantry at the Methodist church – giving food to the hungry. Some members of our church will be delivering or sending Valentine’s gift bags to those in nursing homes, to those in the military, and to local neighbors who may not even know us – giving gifts of love to those who may be sick, strangers, or just good old neighbors. (And every gift bag will have a Valentine’s Day card created by our precious Vine Street kids!) 

And trust me – those who reaching out and giving to the neediest this Valentine’s weekend will be the ones most blessed, for they will be the ones finding Jesus all around them, in every person they give to. 

Wouldn’t it be great if every member or friend of VSCC found a way to be part of the Matthew 25 effort? Let this be my personal invitation to you to find a way to join in the giving. I promise, if you say yes, then we will find a way to meet you where you’re at in life and either hook you in to something already started, or create a new way for you to be a part of the blessings. 

If you are even interested a little bit, then text me or email me (859-351-9585; bobsilvanik@gmail.com). It’s not about me wanting you to help the church, but about Jesus wanting to change your life in a way only He could. Pray about it. Think about it. Reflect upon it. Then reach out to me. 

Just imagine if we had a spontaneous explosion of giving and serving whereby every one of us was on board. Think about what that would mean to the least of us … and even more so, to each and every one of us – including you! 

Blessings along the Way … and may the peace of God fill your heart,                            

Pastor Bob <><


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LET’S TAKE A (well deserved) LAUGH BREAK!

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A pastor and a priest stood alongside the road with signs saying “The end is near!” And “Turn your ways before it’s too late!”

A man drove by and saw their signs and yelled out his window “You guys are nuts!!” And continued driving. A few moments later they heard the sound of screeching tires followed by a splash. The pastor looked at the priest and said, “Maybe this isn’t the best way to let people know that the bridge collapsed.”

 

<>< <>< <>< <>< <><

 

The pastor told the Congregation: “Spiritually, we’re comatose. We all need to wake up.” The worshippers’ refrain went, “We’re waking up, reverend, we’re waking up.”

“Then we need to start standing up.” “We shall stand, reverend, we shall stand.” “After that, we need to start walking.” “We shall walk, reverend, we shall walk.” “After that, we need to start running.” “We shall run, reverend, we shall run.” “And to run,” the pastor thundered, “we shall need money.” They went silent for a minute. Then their refrain went: “We shall walk, reverend, we shall walk.”

 

 

<>< <>< <>< <>< <><

 

A man is sleeping peacefully in his comfortable bed.
His mother suddenly yells at him, “GET UP! YOU’LL BE LATE FOR CHURCH!”
He groans. “I don’t want to go to church.”
Mom: “Why not?”
Man: “I don’t like any of the people there. They’re such goodie goodies, it’s boring.”
Mom: “But you have to go to church!”
Man: “Give me one good reason I should go to church.”

Mom: “Because you’re the dang pastor Phil.”

<>< <>< <>< <>< <><

A pastor and an airline pilot meet St Nick at the Gates to Heaven. The airline pilot is first to approach the saint.

Peter: Name and profession please
Pilot: John Williams, Ryanair pilot.
Peter: *riffles through a massive book* John Williams…John Williams… umm… ah yes!
Peter: clicks his fingers and a beautiful silk robe and ornate golden staff appear out of thin air.
Peter: please take these, and you may enter the kingdom of heaven!
Pilot: alright! *takes robe and staff and runs through the gate.

Pastor approaches.

Peter: Name and profession please.
Pastor: Frederick Adams, pastor, preacher, religious leader.
Peter: Frederick… Adams… pastor… yes… here you are.
Peter snaps his fingers and a simple cotton robe and plain wooden staff appear.
Peter: Please take these, and you may enter the kingdom of heaven!

 

 

The pastor pauses, and chooses his words carefully.
Pastor: St Peter, I really don’t mean any disrespect, and I trust and have faith in his ways… but why does John, an airline pilot, of all people, get a golden staff and silk robe, and I, a man who had dedicated his life to god, get a cotton robe and wooden staff?
Peter: Oh, well you see, here in heaven, we work on a merit system, and when you were preaching, people were sleeping.
But when John was flying, people were praying!

 

<>< <>< <>< <>< <><

 

A pastor walked outside walked outside of the church because he heard the children being loud. He sees the kids all grouped up. “What are you doing?” The children make the circle wider to show a puppy they had found. “It’s a beautiful dog, who will take it home?” The pastor asks. The children look at each other until one of them speaks up. “I know! Whoever tells the biggest lie can take it home! Would you like to play pastor?” The pastor shrugs his shoulders and says, “I don’t know, it will be hard because I’ve never told a lie.” The child picks the dog up and hands it to the pastor, “Here you go. You win.”

 

<>< <>< <>< <>< <>< 

 

One Sunday morning, the pastor noticed little Alex standing in the foyer of the church staring up at a large plaque.
It was covered with names and small American flags mounted on either side of it.

The six-year-old had been staring at the plaque for some time, so the pastor walked up: stood beside the little boy: and said quietly, “Good morning, Alex.”

“Good morning. Pastor,” he replied, still focused on the plaque. “Pastor, what is this?”

The pastor replied, “Well, son, it’s a memorial to all the young men and women who died in the service.”
Soberly, they just stood together, staring at the large plaque.

Finally, little Alex’s voice, barely audible and trembling with fear asked, “Which service, the 8:00 or the 10:30?”

<>< <>< <>< <>< <><

 

A church pastor is invited to dinner at the house of a parishioner.

The pastor sits at the table with the family. The mom requests her daughter, age six, say grace before the meal. She sits in silence. “It’s okay, dear,” the mother calms her. “You can do it. Just repeat what you heard daddy say before breakfast this morning.”

The little girl folds her hands, bows her head, and says in a loud voice, “Oh Christ, why did you invite the pastor over for dinner tonight?”

 

<>< <>< <>< <>< <><

 

A greedy old miser dies alone. In his will he’s divided his fortune between his pastor, his doctor, and his lawyer with one last request…

The old man’s will states that he wishes to take his fortune with him. His final request is that these three, the last man on earth he feels he can trust, each bring their allotment of his fortune to his funeral, ten million each, and deposit the money in his coffin and bare witness as it’s sealed and lowered into the ground.

On the day of the funeral, unsurprisingly, the pastor, doctor and lawyer are the only three on attendance. As they gather around the coffin the pastor speaks first.

“I’m sorry, gentlemen. I could not fully honor our friends dying wish. His money can do nothing for him in the afterlife, but here on earth it can still do some good. So, I confess that I’ve donated one million to several reputable charities I know are in need of funds and used another million to sponsor missionaries to spread the word of God. But look.” he opened a bag of cash he had with him.

“I still have the remaining eight million. I trust this will be enough to satisfy our friend and justify me before the Lord.” And he dumped the money into the coffin.

The doctor spoke next.

“I too have partially betrayed the trust of our friend. I feel a little guilty, but I can’t condone burying all this money while so many people are suffering. I gave two million to my hospital to help them update and replace all our old, outdated equipment and I donated two million to Doctors Without Borders to help them save countless lives in the developing world.

“But I’ve brought the other six million.” With that he opened the bag he carried and dumped the cash into the coffin.

“Our greedy friend can still rest in peace and I can still live with myself.”

The lawyer glared at the other two with a stern expression.

“How dare you? Both of you ought to be ashamed of yourselves! It’s not a question of what this money could or could not be used for. It’s a question of legal and moral responsibility. Our poor friend wasn’t benevolent, or generous, or even very nice. That caused everyone he knew to abandon him. Everyone but we three. We were the only three in the world he trusted to honor his last request.”

At this he produced an envelope from his coat pocket.

“That is why I will leave this check for the full ten million with our dearly departed friend.”

 

Now keep that smile on your face all day long, and share it with everyone you meet!

<>< Pastor Bob


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KEEPING IT SIMPLE

In 1901, Charles Wagner published his second book titled, “The Simple Life.” His first book was “The Better Way.” In “The Simple Life,” Wagner claims that once we get past all of the individual causes for the distractions in our life, the reality is that the one general cause of our complicated lives is this: “confusion of the secondary with the essential.” In other words, we who live complicated and distracted lives tend to make many things in our lives “essential,” though in truth they are not.  

This is true especially of material things, Wagner claims. But the truth is, the essential things in our lives are not material possessions, but rather, he says, our conscience, our character, and our will. Wagner was on to something then, but he just came up short at the end. His secular world view left out the most important thing of all, our spiritual life and our relationship with our God. 

Wagner goes on to say that, “(s)implicity is a state of mind” that “dwells in the main intention of our lives.” And that’s half right too. The cause of our complicated and distracted lives is because we confuse the main intention of our lives quite often. There is only one main intention, and that is to live for the glory of God. And yet we make many things our temporary gods in our lives, from money to fame to winning – all closely related to serving our self-will. But rather than being a “state of mind” matter, the main intention in our lives is a matter of the heart. And whether or not we’re willing to lead with our heart as we give our heart away to Christ. 

It’s as if Wagner wants to come to terms with the spiritual primacy of our lives on earth, but doesn’t quite know how to say it. Here’s how he puts it in his book: “At bottom, (simplicity) consists in putting our acts and aspirations in accordance with the law of our being, and consequently with the Eternal Intention which willed that we should be at all.” That’s the long and vague way of saying that the main intention in our lives is to live for God and God alone. Indeed, it’s what Jesus told us 2,000 years ago. You can see it on bumper stickers today: “Know Jesus, Know Peace; No Jesus, No Peace.” 

If you’re really interested in removing the complications and distractions in your life, and finding the simple way, it all starts with God, and your personal relationship with God. The reason that is, is because we find our peace when we find our true selves – when we become the person God created us to be, and turn that relationship into the “main intention” of our lives. Then we can find a way to simplify our life by minimizing the impact of all those false temporal gods that intrude so rudely into our lives, and to turn our will and our life over to God. Like Jesus tells us; Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and all these other things will be added unto you – alleluia, alleluia! 

   Our American culture today is fascinated with the concept of “simplicity.” We crave a simple life, because we have made such a complicated and confusing, not to mention stressful, mess of our daily existence that we hunger for relief and meaning. And Wagner, and so many other writers and religious leaders and practitioners, know that the remedy for our malady is found within. Nothing that the world can give you will offer you the peace that God can give you. So, buying more and more _______ (you fill in the blank) will not result in what we seek the most. Indeed, more and more things lead ultimately to more and more distractions in our life. 

We can fill our drawers with more clothes (or socks, in my case!); we can fill our refrigerators with more food; we can fill our bank accounts with more money; we can fill our houses with more stuff; we can fill our garage (or garages!) with more cars; and we can even fill our storage spaces to the brim, and start looking for more storage space to rent, but that will never, ever take us to the promised land that God has prepared for us. Maybe you’ve heard this: The most important things in life are not things!

And so, we come to the point of this week’s article. If you really want to simplify your life, remove, or at least minimize, the complications and distractions, and find the inner peace of mind and heart that you know deep down you crave, then it’s time to come to terms with your spiritual life. 

In recent weeks. I have written 2 articles about the nature of the spiritual life and the key concepts involved in seeking to become a person of spiritual wisdom. Perhaps you have never considered yourself for the spiritual life. I hear that often. We tend to think that because we’ve never been told about, much less taught, the simple way of the spiritual life. The sad irony of this situation is that you, and everyone else, were created for the spiritual life first, and then the earthly and material life on earth would all fall into place. But without the spiritual life leading us, we eventually find ourselves buried under a mountain of complications and distractions. For some of us, we literally suffocate our true lives by putting all our focus on the false gods in our life, and making them all “main intentions” for us. No one can survive that weight!

On the other hand, God tells us that mountains can be moved, and that peace can be found, by seeking God first. You see, God created us all, and made each of us uniquely gifted to live an “abundant” life on earth. Not “abundant” in terms of many things, but “abundant” in terms of the authenticity and integrity of your life – which always begins and ends with your Creator. 

If you want to find the simple way … live the simple life … and come to know peace in your heart on a daily basis, then start with God. Don’t just put “God” on your “to do” list each day, or make church a priority, or occasionally read scripture – but make a personal and sincere effort with God to surrender your life away, each and every day, so that God can recreate your life in a way that you on your own could never do. 

Finding the simple life seems to have been a desire for human beings since the beginning of time. Even Adam and Eve chose to complicate their lives and become distracted from God by their own act of self will; desiring to be more of god themselves, rather than letting God continue to offer them a perfectly simple and peaceful life in the garden of paradise. And, of course, we all make the same mistake. (That’s why it’s a story of eternal and universal truth!) 

But there is good news in the midst of our struggle for peace. Jesus came to show us exactly and precisely how to live an abundantly good life … and it’s not about accumulating all the stuff we can. Rather, the good and simple life we all seek is found in the “way of Jesus.” God showed us the answer when Jesus came to show us how to live. Jesus lived in radical simplicity. He may have owned a few articles of clothing, and maybe some sandals, but all He really needed He trusted God for. Even for basic needs such as food and shelter. And I’m pretty sure he didn’t crave the new infomercial gadgets nor did He peruse Amazon in His free time to find something else to make Him feel better. 

Jesus kept it simple. He kept the main thing (God), the main thing. And He asks us to do the same; to make God the center of our lives, and to surrender our own will for the sake of His Father’s will. The peace we all crave, and think impossible, is right before us. Jesus is living with each us through the Holy Spirit. Isn’t it time to simply admit that, and to turn our lives toward God, and away from all the complications and distractions of the world? 

No … it’s not easy. And each one of us has our own challenges in doing this. So, each one of us must make and walk this path with Jesus alone. But so many have chosen to do this, and in so doing, have discovered that the peace that comes from God is the single most valuable part of their lives. 

It can be for you, too. It’s not impossible. It is hard. But, anything so cherished is always hard … and worth the effort. So, isn’t it time for you, too? Go ahead: give in, give up, and embrace the simple way of Jesus Christ.

Letting the Lord Lead!

Pastor Bob <><


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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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