Simple Spirituality and NASCAR Racing

The more I dig into this concept of the spiritual person, the more I realize how uncomplicated it really is.

Because of my religious upbringing, and my dedication to church work, I have kept spirituality within a religious context.

One of the favorite thoughts of the past 10 years has been the contrast of spirituality with religiosity. People say things like, “What is the difference between being religious and being spiritual?” Or, “I’m spiritual but not religious.” There has been a strong move to separate the two in our thinking and practice. This is good.

Can religion be separated from spirituality?

The answer should be an obvious, “Yes,” since we all know many religious people who haven’t an ounce of spirituality in their life.

However, the flip side is much more open to debate, because it is harder to define–“Does spirituality hinge on religion? Must one be religious in order to be spiritual?” A definition of terms is required for a meaningful discussion of these questions.

“Spiritual” is the term I am seeking to define with this series of articles. For the moment, I will leave it as “a person who manifests the positive qualities of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (We have not yet determined if ALL of these must be present in order to be considered spiritual.)

“Religion,” however, is a bit more difficult to limit, because we use the word and its cognates in a broad range of concepts. For instance, “He is religious with his workouts at the gym.” “She is religious with her diet.” “NASCAR racing is his religion.”

The underlying/overriding idea is that of ‘regularity’ or ‘discipline.’ Due to the original meaning of the word “religion,” we can also see the idea of ‘worship’ in these various uses.

Therefore, I return to, “Must one be religious in order to be spiritual?”

If spirituality is defined as and by the characteristics listed, and religious is defined by regularity and discipline, then the answer should also be an obvious “Yes.”

Why?

Look at the list of positive qualities and point out which one comes naturally to a human. Not one. Each one of those are qualities that must be cultivated, developed over time–ie, disciplined.

Therefore, if one is to become a spiritual person, one must possess the discipline of practice in order to develop each particular quality. It is the “discipline of practice” that makes one ‘religious.’ However, it is the realm of that which we practice that makes all the difference. This is what sets most of the Judeo-Christian people apart from most other religious practitioners.

For most Christians, their practice consists of going to church, Bible study, prayer, and fellowship–commonly referred to as religious activities. For many other religions outside the three Judeo-Christian ones, their practice is focused on developing the qualities of love, joy, peace, patience, etc.

This ought not to be. It should be the same for all who are seeking spirituality or godliness.

 

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On Being Gentle

Whenever I teach a yoga class, I preface almost every change in position with the words, “Now please gently…”

One time a student called out, “Why do you always say gently?”

Good question.

Gentleness is not something most Americans know much about. Our approach to life is marked by force, attitude, determination, control, tenacity, a ‘git-r-done’ mentality. While none of that is wrong in and of itself, they most often militate against any “gentleness consciousness.”

We speed down the road in a hurry to get to our next task. We jockey for the best parking space at the store. We set things down with a bang/clang. We consume our meal as if it is the “Passover” and we need to be ready to flee. Even the way we tread upon the earth lacks gentleness.  Rice Paper Walk

When we are trying to persuade another of the rightness of our opinion, we raise our voice, intensify our language or tone–not gentle.

The Buddhist practice of “ahimsa” keeps gentleness in the forefront of the practitioner’s consciousness so that all they do is wrapped with gentleness.

What do Christians have in the way of a gentle practice? “A bruised reed he will not break, nor a smoldering flax will he not put out.” (Matt. 12:20) (When was the last time you heard a sermon from that verse?)

We often see the phrase referring to the “gentle Savior,” but we rarely find a gentle disciple. Yet Jesus said, “It is enough that the disciple be as his master.” (Matt. 10:25)

Gentleness should mark the life of one who considers himself spiritual. Gentleness should be the characteristic of all that we do in thought, word, and deed.

Why is gentleness in such short supply?

In what way could you practice being gentle today?

 

 

 

Spiritual Life

What does a spiritual life look like? How do we know if we are spiritual? How can we tell if someone else is spiritual?

Is spirituality really necessary? Is it necessary to know about someone else’s spirituality?

The answer to the last two questions is YES, it is necessary. The answer to the first three is fraught with difficulty. This article seeks to alleviate some of the difficulty while acknowledging that complete elimination of the difficulties is next to impossible.

The Greek word translated “spiritual” is used 26 times in the New Testament. (You can bypass this article and gain much insight simply by reading and meditating on each of those verses.)

It is necessary for us to determine what spirituality looks like, because of the passage under consideration in this series on the Fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 6:1 tells us that the restoration of someone overtaken in a fault is to be restored by those who are spiritual. Obviously, therefore, recognizing spirituality is a prerequisite for this tender endeavor.

I recently read someone’s comment that they point out people’s blind spots. They used Gal. 6:1 as justification for their critical nature. (I’ve known this person for more than 40 years.) Pointing out “blind spots” is not restoration, and is not being spiritual.

Gal. 6:1 follows directly after the listing of the fruit of a spiritual life, which follows after a listing of the works of the flesh. So, there is no change in thought in what Paul is writing about. He is now telling us what a spiritual person should do.

It is in the contrast of the “carnal/spiritual” where we gain the greatest insight as to what a spiritual person looks like.

You know the feeling you have when you are looking for something that you can’t really describe. You know when you see it. You also know when it’s NOT it.

The same is true here. We can tell what spirituality is not by observing the listings of the carnal person.

This is important, because we allow many people to influence our lives who are more carnal than they are spiritual. This is a dangerous practice, because what we are is imparted to others much moreso than what we say. Truth is imparted life to life, not mind to mind. (1 Cor. 15:33)

So, the evidence of carnality should be a warning. The lack of carnality, however, is not solid proof of spirituality.

Many think that because I know so much about the Bible that I am therefore spiritual. That has little or nothing to do with spirituality. I could do that simply with my intellect. Going to church regularly doesn’t prove one spiritual. Praying doesn’t prove one spiritual. Obeying the commandments doesn’t prove one spiritual. All these things may be tools to aid in the development of spirituality, but they are not proof that one is truly spiritual.

The proof of spirituality is in the visible fruit of a spiritually centered life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness, self-control.

What do each of these look like?

Is it necessary for one to possess all nine of these in order to be considered spiritual?

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Have a godly day.

Gal. 5:22 tells us what a spiritual person looks like.

Are You Spiritual?

Are You a Spiritual Person?

Gal 6:1 ESV – Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.

There are many who are overtaken in faults within the church today, but they do not get restored. Why is that? Are there no spiritual people in the church? Or, do we not know what it means to be spiritual, and therefore cannot find anyone to restore them? Are preachers the only ones who can be spiritual?

It is those who are spiritual who are to do the restoring. Who are they?

Taken within the context, they are the ones who manifest the previous qualities of the fruit of the spirit (5:16, 22) 

“Spiritual” is an after-Pentecost word—it does not show up in the Gospels nor in the LXX.

There is a difference between being spiritual and being religious. Spiritual = of things pertaining to spirit. Religious = of things pertaining to formal duty.

There are many religious people who are not spiritual.

There are many spiritual people who are not religious.

There are many spiritual people who are religious.

The Bible distinction is not between spiritual/religious (the world has this figured out), but between spiritual/carnal. It is either one or the other. It is not possible to be carnally spiritual or spiritually carnal (1 Cor. 3:1).

We often assume Christian = spiritual. But we know from our experience that is not true. It is possible to be a Carnal Christian (as we can see from this verse in Corinthians).

Now, here is an interesting thing for your consideration: Carnality is defined in the Bible, but spirituality is not!! Spirituality is inferred and implied, but not defined. Carnality, however, is clearly explained.

Characteristics of Carnality: 1Cor. 3: 2-3 

We could say here that Paul is referring to babies, and we know that babies need to be cared for.

Babies–

  • Need milk (1Peter 2:2—there is a place for milk)
  • Can’t eat meat (Heb. 5:12-14)
  • Manifest envying, strife, divisions (1Cor. 3:3) [this usually comes from the main characteristic of the ‘me’ generation–MINE!] {also notice that these are contrary to the fruit of the spirit}

Where does carnality come from? It comes from where you place your mind–what you allow your mind to dwell on. You become what you feed your mind on.

 Rom. 8:5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.

The word translated ‘mind ‘ is phroneo (fron-eh’-o); [from NT:5426]; to exercise the mind, i.e. entertain or have a sentiment or opinion; by implication, to be (mentally) disposed (more or less earnestly in a certain direction); intensively, to interest oneself in (with concern or obedience).

How do we move from being carnal to becoming spiritual? By no longer being carnally minded.

1. Repent (metanoia = change your mind) [this is definitely a religious word] Decide that you no longer want to be carnal, but that you want to be spiritual (though not necessarily religious).

2. Reveal–ie, confess your carnality–James 5:16 (exomologeo = speak it out)

3. Renew your mind Rom. 12:2 (Jesus said to cleanse the inside first–Matt. 23:25-26)

4. Replace your thinking style–Col. 3:2

5. Reflect–ie, take control of your thoughts (Phil. 4:8)

Notice that the last three are all about what goes on in your head. This is your area of control.

Someone may say, “But, I have no control over what comes into my mind.”

That may be true. But, you don’t have to pull up a chair and offer that thought any hospitality!

 And anytime you find yourself moving into carnality, you can use this to change your mind and your practice. It may be difficult at first, because you’ve had many years of practicing being carnally-minded. But, stay with it, and you will soon find yourself in a spiritual condition you may have only dreamed about.

NOTE: This is the sixth in a weekly posting on the Epistle to the Galatians. I am not the only one who is writing on this book. There are others who will be posting something on their blog each day of the week. We are each bringing something that the Lord gives us from chapter six of the epistle. You will be greatly blessed and encouraged, and your heart will be filled if you will take the time to read each day’s posting from one of the other saints involved in this collective effort. Put this link in your “favorites” or on your link bar at the top of your browser: http://www.philter48.com/bbs/ and make it a point to visit everyday.

The Dead Can Hear

John 5:28-29  “Do not be amazed at this, because a time is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice…”

I know that the Lord is speaking about the end times here–more specifically, the resurrection.

But there is something else that I see that relates to our current hour.

There is another strong move of the Spirit happening around the globe, and it is exciting to see and be a part of.

There are many who are dead who are hearing the voice of the Lord.

There are those who are dead in their trespasses and sins who are hearing His voice calling them to life.

There are those who are dead because of the lack of life within their church community. They have not heard the voice of the Lord for a long time–have actually experienced the famine of Amos 8:11. But now His voice is calling to them to come out of their tomb.

Either condition equates with being “in the tombs.”

His voice is going out and many are hearing.

Thanks be to God who gives the hearing ear, I am one of those!!

Child of God

Ro 8:16
The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:      KJV

How great and wonderful it is to be a child of God!!

Many, though, must rely on the various verses of scripture that ‘prove’ that we are a child of God. (1 John 5:13; John 17:3)

How much better to have the witness of the Spirit within our spirit!!

Sadly, though, we have not had the training, the teaching, the emphasis on learning the life of the spirit. We have had more training and teaching on the sense life. This comes from both the pulpit and the world–mostly from the world, because we do not hear the kind of teaching that helps us to not be of the world.

We would do ourselves a heavenly world of good if we would begin to train ourselves to walk in the Spirit, be led by the Spirit, to listen to the Spirit. This is simple, but not easy.

In fact, being led by the Spirit is an absolute must for those who claim sonship with God:

Ro 8:14  For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.     KJV

This verse reads in an emphatic sense in the Greek: Ie, “these and no others are the sons of God.”

Does that put a different light on your walk with the Lord?

Does that put a different light on ‘greasy grace?’