Archive for September, 2016

Many people get the wrong idea about the word religion especially in this post-modern world of Christianity. I am not knocking post-moderns I am one of them, but most look at the word religion as something that involves organized churches, denominations, a set of creeds, dogma, tradition, and of course the biggie legalism. So let us break down the word religion and what it really means. Granted the word religion can be very complicated to break down. Over the centuries “religion” has been attached to many belief systems yet simply put, religion is divine sacred union with God and yourself. This definition can be applied to all belief systems, ones that many would not think of. Even an Atheist has a god, be it money, family, work, friends, etc. So we are all essentially religious. I am going to stay within the realm of my faith and worldview of Christianity. When I think of religion I think of the special bond I have between God and myself. It is not church, organization, traditions, creeds, or rules it is simply relationship. A relationship with a divine being in which I call Father.

Not too long ago I was out to lunch with a friend who asked me what religion meant to me. I did not hesitate to tell my friend that religion is union with the divine. Religion is this conversation between you and I, religion is the life in which I live as we are all gods, living amongst gods. Now before you think that I have went off the deep end understand I use the little g. We are not God, yet we are sons and daughters of God that is very specifically laid out throughout scripture. We are the sons and daughters of Adam the man in which God breathed the very breath of life. So when I was sitting with my friend, I was sitting with god. Most Christians would agree with my statement as long as it is worded in a different manner. We all have heard the sayings “knowing who you truly are in God” or “Christ resides in you” Jesus even said believe and it will be done for you, and greater works than these will you do. I suppose I am just claiming my position as we should. We may even accept this point of view reluctantly as Christians among our fellow Christians, but what about the Buddhist across the street or the Muslim you work with? What do we think about them, like souls that need to be saved or souls which need to be accepted? I don’t fully know, that is why I am asking the question. Yes I could simplistically say that we need to evangelize all non-Christians and there is plenty in the Bible that would lead to such a conclusion, yet there is plenty in the Bible that would lead to the idea that God is pure love with many of the earths religions represent different faces of the same God. Maybe, maybe not? Like I said I do not know, it is hard for me to believe that our God of love would banish billions to hell because they were just situationally unlucky to grow up in an Islamic household. Don’t get me wrong I believe in spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, to go into all the world, but maybe not from a pulpit or television show, maybe through my actions whatever they are worth. The act of giving a cup of cold water in His name. To reach out and help the “Samaritan” who does not hold to the same beliefs as yourself, and instead of trying to convert shows love and understand teaching us that all people are your brothers and sisters that the world itself is the church building and the people of earth the church.

I believe that the death and resurrection of Jesus was a cosmic event of proportions in which we cannot fully understand. It is of course good news, the “foolishness of God” because if it was not His foolishness, we mere cosmic babes would never be able to understand it. Did this cosmic event which took place in time change the very nature of the human race? The dimension of time, possibly being outside of the realm of the spiritual was effected by the cross both past, present, and future peoples and faiths of varies kinds. I will say I do not consider myself a Universalist but I do like to question. I believe as Christians we should question everything. So as a Christian minister I wish for all people to come to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, yet this knowledge of Christ may just open our eyes to the bigger picture, the love of God in which He has for His children. Not what we think of when we think of religion of the 21st century. It is religion of all, religion of life, and life which points to the creator.

As I said when sitting with my friend when asked about religion, it is a union with God and man. In fact as I sat there I said I am sitting at this time with God. In fact when I am with anyone I am with God. Are we not the body of Christ? When you do something good for someone are you not doing something good for God? Are we not all I AM, and is not I AM in everything? Granted the Spiritual world is eternally vast we know so very little. The prophets and sages of old, the apostles and preachers of scripture have gave us a bit of information in which they knew very little about. We have the wisdom of other faiths which many of my fellow Christians reject as demonic, based on a past down fear of a controlling church to keep its people in line. This control is how many people look at religion. We are living in a time of spiritual awakening, a time in which the church does not have as much control as it once did, I will not get burnt at the stake for writing this but many may look upon me as a heretic for even asking the questions I propose. So the “religious” church still has a great deal of psychological control on people, pushing people to do certain things out of fear of God and eternal hell is a powerful tool used against many people raised in environments in which fundamental Christianity is taught. So where I am I going with this, as the title states “Are we gods?” As the body of Christ we are all god one to another as scripture clearly states we are His children. A human begets a human and a God begets a God. We are not superior to God we are His offspring created and made alive in Christ for good works. Just as God is alive for good works, for only good and perfect things come from Him. I believe the more we let go and allow God to speak into our lives through scripture and experience, to release our legalistic thinking in fact completely loose yourself in the act of knowing nothing, so that you may possibly gain everything.

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Nate talks a little bit about the Presidential debates and how he sees them, but his topic is stress as he shares an honest review of his stressful weekend.  Enjoy and be blessed!

Stress, we all have felt it, medical research shows that too much stress can be very damaging to the body, and in my opinion the soul. For example I just recently had a very “stressful” weekend, I had issues with my teenage son, I was talked into getting a puppy and yes the puppy sounds nice but as I am writing this the little thing is running around not giving me time to concentrate. When will I have time to write, do my podcast, or my promised weekly videos? On top of working a full time job, making sure my son stays on track to graduate high school and trying to maintain some sort of spirituality! Now you may be reading this thinking that I am overreacting, and I am sure I am. In fact I believe I have been sinning, as I have written in previous articles that to sin is to miss the mark of God’s perfect will for our lives, I believe I have not been in God’s will all weekend. On top of that my frustration and anger has created an even more mentally destabilizing atmosphere for my household. So in this, I repent, I will just breathe and know that everything will be okay. I know many may not agree with this, I do not even know if I am correct as if I know anything of the spiritual, but our lives seem to be as a record being played on a cosmic record player and when we sin it skips. As in my weekend it seemed to have been skipping for two days straight. God wanted me to be within the grooves which he had preordained and I chose to allow myself to skip and scratch the record until it came back in line. To do this I needed to acknowledge and accept what I have done, repent to God and those I have offended by my behavior. So I could get back into His groove. I like you desire to live in complete serenity and within the groove of Gods record of my life. Yes Jesus said do not get anxious, but He walked on water, calmed the storms, I cannot do that, or can I? It all boils down to choice, are you going to allow the situations in life create even greater stress through giving in to the fleshly urge of trying to carve out your own groove, or are you going to try to skip your way back into God’s grove in which He has already established for you, making life much more easier?

I call it the domino effect of stress and frustration. It can start out small or large but if you give in the dominos are lined up and ready to fall over creating a mess. It takes a lot longer to set up the dominos that it does to watch them fall. We all know that recovery is hard no matter what it is. Let me look back at this weekend. My son skipped half the day at school and is not doing so hot grade wise, my fiancée always makes sure to point these things out as I often overlook what I deem as trivial teenage mischief, all I wanted to do after work on Friday was to get ready, go out to eat and listen to some live music, we did that as well as talking about the kid all night, boy oh boy what a buzz kill! The next day while I was still a little upset about the night before I am informed of a puppy that she wanted to purchase. She is addicted to the animal pages on Facebook which I wish she would remove because I am constantly asked to let her get a dog. I was already talked into a cat which turned out great, cats are easy, but a dog, let alone a puppy! That’s a lot of work! I will spare you all the in-betweens let me just say I wasn’t the happiest new puppy owner. I like my quiet lifestyle and my alone time to read, pray, and meditate. If you have not noticed by now I had been running away from things and holding on to what I thought was important, I blew up more than a few times and did not spend much time in prayer, if any!

Rewinding the script, what could I have done better? Instead of knocking over the mental dominos of stress, creating a mess that I am picking up on Monday morning which by the way is much worse than any mess which the puppy or my son made, I could have acted completely different and stayed with God’s groove. First, Friday night could have been spent at home doing a family activity instead of wanting to do something my way, second the eventual getting a puppy was inevitable at some point, as I look at her now I cannot help but smile at the little precious. I was looking at my weekend off as something I could control, as if I were God and I could cut out my own groove on the record. I know we all try, and unfortunately I am sure I will sin in this way again, I am human. I decided to write this today because I think that you can relate. It may not be about a teenage son and a puppy, but many other issues of life in which you have tried to control but just could not. While we do not have to allow life to control us we must be able to carefully discern what we can control and what we need to allow. We need to control our actions and emotions instead of knocking over the dominos and doing things “my way.” Not just most of the time, all of the time when we try to do things “our way” outside of the will of God we will cause undue stress upon our bodies and soul. I know that it may be hard to discern these things even for the most mature Christian, which I am not. We live in the ultimate proving ground called earth, staying within God’s will for us is one of the hardest things we can do, but I will say most rewarding. My final thoughts, do not skip out of your groove into an awful repeating struggle of stress and misery, instead pray for peace and discernment as you follow along the path God has already established for you. Blessings my friends, I pray that you find a peace filled week and not allow this world to take you out of your groove!

Nate talks about the ongoing situations regarding the national anthem and police shootings.  Of course the main message of this episode is based out of 2 Corinthians 12 involving “The Third Heaven.”  Nate gives his opinions and understanding of the subject.  I hope you enjoy!

What is the “third heaven” in which the apostle Paul talks about in his second letter to the Corinthians? Let’s look at the text.

“I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know God knows. And I know that this man whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows  was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.” 2 Corinthians 12:2-4

The term third is generally accepted as the heaven in which God lives. Some say it is the highest level of heaven contrary to the popular “seven or even nine heavens.” Paul is the man in which he is describing, it is interesting that Paul with all of his ambitions to change the world and win over the people with the message of Christ would not try to explain what took place during this experience. He does state he heard inexpressible things which he is not permitted to tell. What we do know is that the event took place fourteen years prior to his writing of the letter. This more than likely indicates many of his methods and beliefs about Christianity may have been based on this life altering event. It may have taken place a multitude of times, we just do not know. But why mention the event at all if he could not speak of them? Some in fact believe this was an event that defined his life, giving him even more legitimacy as an apostle of Jesus Christ, this was a struggle for Paul who was often looked upon as an illegitimate apostle. Many other preachers were critical of Paul, he expressed in the previous chapter a long explanation of his friction between himself and who he calls “super-apostles.” I think it is fair to say Paul is using this experiences to help bring legitimacy to his ministry and position.  Paul seems to let go of his ego placing himself as just one part of an amazing experience, then going on to later discuss his “thorn in the flesh.” It is disappointing that Paul chose not to go into detail about his experience instead choosing to stay silent about the mysteries. Paul also could be using this discussion as a way to gain leverage with the Corinthians who were steeped in the mystical arts and mystery schools of the time. This would be appealing to the Corinthian church. I will just take him at face value and believe he could not speak of the divine experience, it may have been virtually impossible for Paul to explain what he had seen. So glorious and magnificent, words of such wisdom that what Paul witnessed is only the tip of the iceberg of the heavenly experience in which awaits us all.

 

Two other Biblical figures come to mind when discussing visions into the heavenly realms that is of Ezekiel and Daniel. The visions of these two men were much more detailed but still strangely blurred. Ezekiel sees God in some type of heavenly contraption or throne with descriptions of non-earthly beings. (Read Ezekiel chapter 1) Daniel similarly sees heavenly creatures and is shown mysterious visions in which many try hard to explain. But can we explain them? And if it was supposed to be explained wouldn’t it not be easier if God would have just gave us better instructions? I will answer that God did indeed send better instructions he sent them with the incarnation of Jesus Christ. All that we need to know of the father is found in the Christ, if you have seen him you have seen the Father. The gospels beautifully lay out the plan of God and the needed insights to live out a Christian life. I think we must remember that we are children of God, but the key word “children” must be understood as we have not yet completed our stay in the earthly proving grounds, we are still bound to the flesh and unable to fully be set free from it till it wears out and dies.

 

What about today, can we experience visions of Biblical proportions? My answer is yes, I think we are capable of connecting with the universal consciousness that is God through many different means while I am not 100 percent of any, nor can I completely verify, yet it is through faith that we believe anything at all. Some would say that DMT or Dimethyltryptamine which is naturally produced in the human brain is a sort of gateway substance which some say allows the connection of our Spirit to the divine. This chemical can be released both externally by smoking, or drinking the chemical, or internally through prayer, mediation, or various forms of yoga. Other psychedelic substances such as LSD and psilocybin mushrooms which may give the user a similar experience but at a much less potency, none the less the author believes that psychedelics and other exercises which release DMT into the body is some sort of gateway into the spiritual realm. The brain is a powerful tool in which our spirits use which this author personally believes we have only tapped into just the beginning of our psychic development.

 

So what does all of this mean to Christians? Well it means a lot. It means that our minds have the ability to look into the unknown, that God can reach out to us through visions both internally and externally as Paul himself did not know if he was out of the body or in the body. As Christians we do not base our Christianity on supernatural experiences but through faith. Although I think that it is honorable to seek out supernatural experiences for it is our place to do so as children of God. We are much more “powerful” than we think, we are not just a body, but a spirit. We are more than likely all interconnected with each other and God. Quantum physics is proving this more and more every day. Through mass communications and articles such as this, spiritual mysteries do not have to be something that only the few understand but something we humans can try to understand and practice in order to make a better world.

 

Often when we think of the ideal spiritual life we envision Jesus praying on the mountain alone with his thoughts, or his simple life of traveling from town to town healing the sick and giving hope to the lost. Oh how wonderful! I often wish I had the courage to leave everything behind and wander the earth like Samuel L Jackson from Pulp Fiction looking for adventure. To live a simple yet powerful life, full of spirit and love, changing the world one person or situation at a time. Yet the majority of us including myself are trapped, I love the video someone made of Joe Rogan giving a talk about life and named it Society Trap check it out here: https://youtu.be/zvfy5Enz6-c We have families, we must work because we are in this strange world of money and those who seek financial gain by destroying their fellow man. It is just so strange! I never looked at life this way before, maybe I am getting older, or maybe I would like to think more spiritual, regardless life is getting weirder and weirder. So my fellow Christians involved in busy schedules and family obligations can we ever find ourselves living within the simplicity of Jesus, or any of the other spiritual leaders including Samuel Jackson! I do not suggest taking the Pulp Fiction route to enlightenment. So can we find simplicity in complexity or is it more like complexity of simplicity? Well friends I think we can find a little simplicity within our busy modern lives.

First, just breathe, breathing is an amazing action our bodies automatically perform from birth until death, yet many of us forget to actually take our breathing to the next level. Many studies have proven the impact of meditative breathing, therapist teach breathing techniques to clients with anxiety, and meditation itself revolves around the breath. In meditation the breath is the anchor in which you set your mind upon when it begins to wander. I suggest you take time to meditate every morning. I have talked with many who say they cannot sit still long enough, or they do not have the time to give to meditation. I understand, that but you have time for the sugar filled, heart damaging energy drink! Start with just one minute and work yourself up to ten or longer I guarantee that you will become addicted and will not be able to live life without meditation. For me it is a time to sit in silence and allow God to speak to me. I make no request, I just sit and listen. Believe me this is a perfect addition to the antidepressants and benzodiazepines most of us are on.

Second, stop worrying, I know, I know this is easier said than done. Our Lord talked much about this, his famous quote which believers and non-believers alike know well, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Mathew 6:34, NIV) Jesus being incarnated into this crazy world understood how difficult it was and knew that life is not necessarily about tomorrow it is about the “right now.” The apostle Paul speaks to us in similar manner, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6, NIV) How do I even try to do this! We live in a fast paced, overworked, world which demands productivity to gain what we call money so we do not end up in a homeless shelter. On a side not I lived in a homeless shelter for five months and to be honest with you it was a very spiritual experience not exactly a comfortable one, but the simplicity of living out the words of Christ, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:20, NIV) The saying is true, “more money more problems.” Yet I do not suggest we sell everything and go homeless that is not going to help anything. The late great Napoleon Hill stated so beautifully, “There are myriads of forms of fear, but none are more deadly than the fear of poverty and old age. We drive our bodies as if they were slaves because we are so afraid of poverty that we wish to hoard money for-what-old age! This common form of fear drives us so hard that we overwork our bodies and bring on the very thing we are struggling to avoid.”1

 

Third, just give it to God, oh yes another one of those easy sayings. Sometimes I call it the, I do not give a crap, whatever happens, happens. Is that healthy? I think so, I think we try so hard to carve out a life from the chaos we miss the simplicity that is found in following the path of Christ. So let us do as the apostle said and cast our cares upon him. Some theologians, and I think I can agree believe that the past, present and future are all within God himself. So when you mess up at work, or do something stupid at home, embarrass yourself, get turned down, etc. Then I suggest don’t give a crap. God loves you with a love in which we cannot even come close to imagining, basically no matter what, you will be alright. One of the keys that I have found is to just keep moving forward, not allowing the negative influences of life to take up much space in my head and create within myself the ideal thought pattern’s to create if you will my own universe. That may sound strange but it is not, we are born as sons and daughters of the greatest creator so god forbid you do not use your own nature as a child of God to create your world. Largely this is done by giving this crazy chaotic complex world to God and then keep the simplistic world of Jesus on the mountain alive within ourselves. Remember everything’s going to be just fine regardless of the circumstances.

I do not say this without experience, I have gone through much in my 36 years. My goal is for us to find simplicity within the complexity of this life. Or in other words take away the perception or the illusion of complexity and focus in on the real, the simplistic, and the wonderful life found within the Christ. Amen.

 

  1. Hill, Napoleon. The Law of Success: In Sixteen Lessons. Blacksburg, VA.: Wilder Publications, 2011.107.

 

 

Please, Stop Looking for Sin!

Posted: September 9, 2016 in Uncategorized

finger-pointing

The apostle Paul rightly states in his epistle to the Romans that we have all sinned. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23, NIV). Let me translate the word sin into a more easily understood phrase. Sin is another word for “missing the mark” or missing God’s purpose in our life. We have all done missed the mark for our lives from childhood rebelling like Adam against our parents. What I am wishing to speak to my fellow believers and to exhort you in the good works of God is to stop looking for sin; that is stop looking for sin in people around you. Many in churches around America tell us to “come as you are” “we won’t hold anything against you” Yet when you light up that cigarette in the parking lot after service, or another church goer sees you at the bar in a local restaurant or God forbid you take cannabis for medicinal purposes (or recreational) etc. The list goes on and on of grey areas in which the church wishes to impose rules upon the body. Defining sin in a person’s life is harder than we may think. The Ten Commandments gives us a good base, yet underneath that we have etched hundreds of sub sins which we think are correct. Yes as the Lord says we should “go and sin no more.” Yet one man’s sin is not another’s, or in other words we each possess a different life path giving each one of us different types of missing the mark, or the desire God has for our lives. In the paradox of free will and Gods will, we must move forward and with faith live out our lives believing we are living how God desires us to live. Yes I used the word faith, the evidence of what is not seen, like Abraham leaving his home town into the unknown so we walk on the path of Christ. As the writer of the book of Hebrews states “it is impossible to please God without faith.” Maybe we of the church of Christ should start to look for faith, to strengthen one another in what truly pleases God, rather than what we cannot change our sins are covered and we are made holy through our faith in Jesus Christ. If we get real people lie, cheat, steel, fornicate, get drunk, and fill all kinds of fleshly desires. I say this not to promote the works of the flesh which only lead to destruction but to understand that is the human condition, not to live in denial of our nature but to understand it. Maybe through our understanding we can start living a better life. Remember it is our faith that allows us to live above this human condition and take on the likeness of Christ as we grow in Christian maturity.

Some say the hardest thing that we will go through in our existence is being human. These words I find true. Jesus will probably tell you the same thing when we meet him, he left the heavenly realms came to earth to be placed in this fleshy entrapment which we call the human body. As hard as life is we should not try to make it harder on our fellow brothers and sisters by pointing out the faults of others or gossiping behind their backs. Yes we all do it, it is in our human nature but as Christians we are called to love and through the power of the Spirit we possess the ability to love, and we can point out the love that is found in the image of God found in every human on the planet. God is not surprised by our sin, he knows it will happen, what he may be surprised about is our faith, it is what pleases God. Our faith covers us and blinds God’s eyes of our sin. We are born with a nature to sin, but to live by faith is a choice. Let us stop looking for sin in people and the world and start looking for faith. Jesus stated in a parable “when the Son of man returns will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8, NIV) Often when we look for sin in others we may just be masking our own deficiencies, our own sin, our own missing the mark for God’s will in our life! As psychologist may call it, overcompensating our own self-righteousness for our own lack of self-worth. Through faith in Christ we should find ourselves complete and holy, lacking in nothing, in union with God.

So what good does it do when we point the finger at those who we think are sinners? What it does is undermine us as the church. It tarnishes who we represent, it creates the hypocritical image the world has of Christians. In fact we are all hypocrites and many of us are trying so hard to work their way into heaven they do not even realize it. Jesus said to follow Him, does that mean that we are to strive to be sinless? Life would be easier if we could, yet the struggle of living a sinless life will only lead to depression, create a difficult relationship with a holy God. Maybe, just maybe Jesus was referring to our faith. The faith that has already been given to us, the faith that creates our oneness with God, we just have to wake up and realize it. How much more peace of mind would one have, how much fear would be erased once we come to a point in our lives that we are in God, and God is in us, without having to earn it! I will finish by saying that we cannot get anymore of God, or any less through faith we already have it all. It is impossible to be sinless like Jesus in this fleshly suit which we wear, but we can possess His faith, we can do our best to live out a moral and ethical life without self judgement, we can evangelize the world by being Jesus through faith to our neighbors without pointing out their sin. We can be the light of the world not the accuser of the brethren who is also called Satan (Revelation 12:7-12). So let us not accuse, let us point our fingers towards Jesus, towards love and kindness and through faith in Christ we may just change the world.