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Every Mind Is A Universe December 10, 2006

Posted by rattazzimedia in Christianity, Church, God, Religion, Spiritual, Spiritual Overview, Spiritual Study, Spirituality, Theology.
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In every mind is a world of thought.  Each mind defines its own reality by creating an order and set of priorities.  Just as God set the order of the universe, you set the order in your universe.  The world for an infant does not exist much beyond his or her own feelings.  For example an infant feeling discomfort will cry and not consider that it is four in the morning and everyone is sleeping.  In the beginning the infant is the supreme being in his or her own universe.  As the infants own universe grows and expands it can take in other important considerations.  Who is the supreme being in your universe?  In your mind what is most important?  The order you set in your universe can make you the supreme being or you can choose some other “god” or you can choose the LORD God.

Going back to our infant child analogy, the newborn infant has no understanding of the physical world he or she was recently born into.  Quickly though, the infants mind grows and expands to master basic functions of the physical world like walking and talking.  In like manner the adult mind needs to grow beyond an understanding of the flesh and begin to master basic functions of the spirit.  If your mind never grows beyond the world of the flesh you will not even understand that there is a conflict between the flesh and the spirit and as a result you will remain in opposition to God.  So if you become aware of some instruction from God that helps to reveal his mind and the order of his universe and you do not follow that instruction, who is God in your universe?  If you decide not to follow Gods instruction are you then the supreme being in your universe?  For example Jesus said in the sermon on the mount:

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

If you are not indeed seeking his kingdom first you are not following his instruction.  You are either placing yourself or something else ahead of God.  He is then not the Supreme Being in your universe.  The way most people today order their universe is to first take care of various pressing physical concerns and then if time permits pay some attention to God.  For many people that time never comes.  There are many immediate concerns that must be dealt with, we all have responsibilities, plans and ambitions.  But Christ reasoning with a wisdom greater than the wisdom we get from this world says no to this order.  Christ says first seek his kingdom and everything else will follow.  The wisdom of this age is absolutely opposed to his order of priorities.  Seeking his kingdom and his righteousness first is the same thing as acknowledging God as the Supreme Being in your universe.  It’s the same thing as saying, “Jesus is Lord”.  It’s the same thing as acknowledging God as the LORD.  There is a God.  God is not you.  Every mind is a universe.  Who is the supreme being in your universe?

Interpreting The Silence December 8, 2006

Posted by rattazzimedia in Christianity, Church, God, Religion, Spiritual, Spiritual Overview, Spiritual Study, Spirituality, Theology.
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I’ve heard people say: “You can use the Bible to say just about anything, it’s all a matter of interpretation”.  Those of us who have carefully studied the Scriptures in an unbiased manner know this is not true.  But in fact this type of thinking is so pervasive that I usually avoid using words such as “interpret” or “interpretation”.  The Bible speaks clearly and with authority. Then how did the Bible get this widely held reputation?  This brings us to the topic of today’s post: “Interpreting The Silence”.  Often a preacher or instructor would like to speak on a topic concerning something that his listeners would do well to avoid.  This may even be something that the teacher feels strongly about but the particular topic is not specifically spelled out in God’s word.  The teacher then must build a platform of inferences connecting his topic to things the Bible does indeed speak on.  Even though his reasoning may be by and large sound, his inferences are just that, inferences.  They may be correct, incorrect or (and this is the most dangerous) just a little off.  What often happens is that the teacher does not clearly separate his own inferences and conclusions from what the Scripture actually says.  This leaves the listener with the impression that the teachers inference is the word of God.  I’ve seen it happen time and time again.

The problem with this type of reasoning is that over time you begin to add to God’s word, this is just what the Pharisees did and this is what every religion tends to do over time.  Therefore we must make every effort to be as clear as possible.  We must make every effort to separate our body of inferences from what the Bible actually says.  What makes this process so insidious is that often the teacher is indeed speaking out on something his listeners would do well to avoid.  Also sometimes the instructions from God are violated in connection with the offending practice (but only in some applications).  But the teacher oversteps his authority by making a blanket statement that something is sin that God has not declared so.  Let me give you an example of something that I have heard taught that seems very obvious to me.

The “sin” is dancing, the catch phrase often employed is: “it’s a vertical expression of a horizontal idea”.  Now while no one can argue that sexual immorality is very strongly condemned in the Scriptures and indeed sometimes individuals may engage in the act of dancing as a prelude or inducement to sex, this is not always the case.  Dancing can sometimes be an expression of joy or an artist’s expression of a great deal of study, discipline and love.  The point is, the Bible does not say “dancing is a sin” so any teaching concerning this practice is based on inferences that may or may not be correct or perhaps should not be universally applied.  Now the teacher can talk about some of the dangerous scenarios and follow the example of the apostles in Acts chapter fifteen and say: “You will do well to avoid these things”.  But the teacher should clearly identify his own conclusions as his, no matter how firmly based on Scripture he feels his conclusions are.  The apostle Paul was careful to do this.  

Presenting ones own inferences and conclusions as gospel also causes division among those who disagree with the conclusion (wether or not it is with good reason).  Also this practice promotes endless and tedious arguments among believers and non believers alike as they run through applications where the teachers inferences clearly do not apply.  There are many other examples of things being declared as “sin” based on this sort of reasoning.  I’m sure many of you have your own pet disputes with your local religious establishment.  Please feel free to add your comments.  This is a very important discussion and I hope to continue this theme in later posts.  I would especially like to encourage those that disagree with me (some I know personally) to weigh in on the topic: Interpreting The Silence.

Spirituality And Disputes December 6, 2006

Posted by rattazzimedia in Christianity, Church, God, Religion, Spiritual, Spiritual Overview, Spiritual Study, Spirituality, Theology.
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There is an expression people use: “preaching to the converted” to express the idea that the listener agrees with what the speaker is saying.  Although agreement or unity in thinking is a crucial spiritual concept and what we all should be striving for, disagreement and disputes can serve a useful purpose.  Our disagreements on spiritual matters indicate differences in our thinking.  These disputes can serve as useful indicators or benchmarks to aid us in correcting our thinking and achieving the unity God expects from us.  I have had some long standing disagreements with people who consider themselves Spiritual, who consider themselves Christian.  The reason these disputes remain unresolved is the lack of dialog, the lack of effort being put into working out the underlying differences in thinking that these disagreements indicate.

It has not been because my door is closed, in fact my door has been wide open all these years.  Why not step through?  Why not make every effort to achieve the unity in Spirit we should all be working towards?  Some believe they are doing right by withdrawing from an individual who (in their thinking) continues to do wrong, but that should only be a last resort and done in a way that will ultimately benefit and correct the person in the wrong.  If clarity has not been achieved by clearly laying out the principles involved, withdrawal serves no purpose.  We all need to exhaust every possible avenue to reason together, to struggle together and bring our thinking into agreement with God and with each other.  There needs to be a face to face meeting between the various warring parties.  Our disputes and disagreements are a symptom of our disunity in Spiritual issues.  In other words we disagree because we are not one in the Spirit.  Christ prayed to the Father for us to be one just as he and the Father are one:

All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them.  I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name — the name you gave me — so that they may be one as we are one ….
My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,  that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one:  I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

Clearly this is an important matter as far as Jesus is concerned so those of us who consider ourselves disciples of Jesus Christ need to also make this a priority.  There needs to be dialog, there needs to be interaction for there to ever be any peace.  Everyone sits in their separate corners and as time goes by each side becomes more entrenched, more and more convinced that they are absolutely right.  It is not until all offended parties sit down together and truly strive to understand each other that we can hope to have unity.  We need to be an example to the world of the unity That Jesus Christ demonstrated he has with the Father.  We all need to understand the relationship of spirituality and disputes and work through our differences to become one under God.

Spirituality And Redemption December 4, 2006

Posted by rattazzimedia in Christianity, Church, God, Religion, Spiritual, Spiritual Overview, Spiritual Study, Spirituality, Theology.
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Redemption can be defined as deliverance by payment of a price.  Once we begin to truly comprehend how each of us has been separated from God by embracing the corrupt traditions and culture passed down to us by a world that has strayed from God it is logical to ask the question: What can be done about this?  Fortunately God understands that for each of us this presents an impossible problem.  In other words just me by myself can’t fix this.  But God, from the beginning, had a plan that together you and me in harmony with God can be bought back, can be rescued from the bondage of this corrupt world.  I think it is a good idea to bring this out at this time because I am often making the point that we all have wandered away from God.  But thankfully God has provided a solution for those of us who choose to take it.  Christ payed the price for our redemption so that through him we can be declared righteous.  The apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans made the point that this redemption is offered to all and not just the Jews (which was a new thing for them at that time):       

This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

This is good news for you and me.  It can be discouraging to understand how much this world over the years has separated it self from God, but God has provided a straightforward and easy to understand plan of redemption.  Jesus Christ paid the price for our redemption and if we follow him we can be redeemed.  Our response to this should be to make every effort to understand what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ and integrate that understanding into our day to day lives.  We can be one with God and one with one another if we fix our hearts and minds on Jesus who became salvation for us by paying for our redemption.  The apostle Peter makes this point in the following passage: 

Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.  As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.  But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.  For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers,  but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

I am not trying to explain this completely with this post.  What I am trying to do here is spread the news that there is a solution to our spiritual problem.  The key to understand spirituality and redemption lies with Jesus Christ and each of us must look into this.  Please feel free to offer your questions or comments and let me know if I can be helpful to you in understanding this vital truth. 

From God Or From Man? December 2, 2006

Posted by rattazzimedia in Christianity, Church, God, Religion, Spiritual, Spiritual Overview, Spiritual Study, Spirituality, Theology.
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There are some who say that the Bible is from God and therefore speaks to us with authority.  Now some people object to the use of the word “authority” in any spiritual discussion, but the point I am trying to bring out is that if some sort of instruction is from God then who can disregard it?  Who is a higher power than God?  Now is this line of reasoning my own idea or did I get it from somewhere, from God perhaps?  When the religious establishment in Jerusalem challenged Jesus and questioned his authority he posed this question:

“I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things.  John’s baptism — where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or from men?”

Jesus is focusing their thinking on the only true source of spiritual authority when he poses the question: From God or from man?  In other words, if John the Baptist was just acting on his own initiative or if it was his own idea to go into the desert, preach repentance and start baptizing people, why should you have to listen to him?  But if he was doing the will of God, if it was God’s idea to do this, then we had better pay close attention to what is going on.  Christ got to the meat of the question concerning the authority of any religious teaching or spiritual mind set.  From where does it come, from God or from man?  If you read the entire passage from Matthew chapter twenty one that the above quote comes from you will see that the religious “authorities” that were questioning Jesus did not want to answer the question.  Things are much the same today.  Many religious instructors don’t teach the line of thinking Jesus establishes here because they do not want this test (Is it from God or man?) being applied to what they are teaching. 

This is the key question even more today because people can dream up all sorts of things.  People will advance their ideas with a great deal of zeal and conviction.  But if these ideas, no matter how heartfelt, have their origins in the imagination of man then why should I be bound by them?  Especially in the realm of religious activity it is necessary to make a distinction between what is from God or from man. The religious leaders who challenged Jesus did understand that instruction from God must be followed, as opposed to instruction from man which does not have the same absolute authority. In fact a characteristic of religious instruction that has wandered away from God is this lack of clarity and authority. Jesus Christ taught with authority and this was in sharp contrast to the religious establishment in Jerusalem that had wandered away from God.  This was the reaction to Jesus’ teaching:

When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.

This is another observation we can apply today.  Much teaching today is unclear, confusing or lacks a firm foundation.  These ara all qualities of religious teaching and tradition that has wandered away from God.  Jesus spoke with authority because his teaching is from God. Jesus made this reply to his amazed listeners who asked how he got such teaching:

Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me. If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.

Jesus Christ adds this additional insight to this question, the one who has set his heart on doing God’s will can start to understand what is the source of Jesus’ teaching and wisdom.  The one who chooses to bring himself into agreement with God will be able to answer the question concerning Christ’s teaching or any other teaching for that matter: is it from God or from man?