Archive for the ‘Christianity’ Category

Often when we think of Satan we think of a spiritual entity that is at war with God and humans. While I am not writing to dispute this, I am writing to dispute the idea the actual devil is around every corner, and or filling our heads with Satanic ideas. My argument is that we are Satan. We cannot remove Satan from our lives when we do not realize that we are the very driving force of his existence.
Let us look at why Jesus used the name Satan. In the Hebrew the word means “adversary, someone who resist” The Greek is similar although the writers of the New Testament give him more personality. He is known as the master of destruction, one who sends wrath to sinners, an accuser, someone who opposes the gospel of Jesus, ultimately Satan is found bound and thrown into an abyss in the book of Revelation.
Examining Satan esoterically we can certainly find within these quick definitions that we are our own Satan. Let us look at the basic definition again.
1. Adversary
2. Master of destruction
3. Accuser
4. Opposes the gospel
I argue that these four elements of Satan are found within each one of us. I believe
The key to living a victorious Christian life is to ultimately control Satan, binding him and sending him to the pit of the abyss. We must first understand what Christians call the sinful nature of man is Satan within us, the “flesh” so to speak. We are our own adversary, we create our own destruction, we accuse ourselves, and we reject the good news of Christ because that is the very thing that will send Satan, our egos to the abyss.
We have this major tendency to be hard on ourselves, to live a life as a defeatist, to self-destruct. We accuse ourselves, blame ourselves. When the guilt gets bad enough we pick up habits that often cause harm. We overeat, drink to much, indulge in drugs, sexual promiscuity, and any number of destructive behavior. In my opinion this is the ultimate cycle of destruction. First, we accuse ourselves, then we try to run from the self-accusations with destructive behavior. We are the enemy and the enemy is us. We pray to God to help us in our struggle without knowing who or what we are struggling against. The actual evil spiritual forces have an easy job when we do all the work for them. Or, maybe part of the test of spiritual growth in our lives is to face the Satan that is us, call him up, bind him, and cast him into the abyss.
Realization and acceptance. We must understand that our very satanic nature is cunning and baffling, we must let go of ourselves. This is the importance of the gospel of Christ. Through faith in Christ we let go of what is within and take on our divine nature through the advocate. We learn to see past the Satan and see the Christ within. We do as many say, “let go and let God.” I am also sorry to say that this is not a one and done. This is a journey of faith, a lengthy battle that we all share, some with more victory than others.
How exactly can one live a life of victory? The best answer is to examine how Jesus did it. The story of the temptation of Jesus found within Matthew 4:1-11 is a battle within his own mind, which is also our own battle. Jesus bathed himself in prayer, he used his knowledge of the scripture, and he then allowed God to comfort him. We too must bathe ourselves in prayer, we must understand the scriptures, this also involves understanding ourselves, and be humble enough to allow our divine nature to increase, gaining the knowledge of what some would call our Holy Guardian Angel and by doing so throw Satan into the Abyss which we then cross as we find who we really are within God.
On a final note as I mentioned this is a journey of faith. The book of Revelation is clear that Satan is thrown into the abyss, the text is also clear that he finds his way out of the abyss as well. Eventually we will leave this life finding our eternal victory, until then we will be “fighting the good fight of faith.”

 

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As Christians where is the country? Are we a bunch of closed minded dominionist? People who have it my way or the highway? Absolutist who do not think for themselves? Nate does not have the answers but I do know how to talk about some possibilities. My only hope is that Christians in America are not so willing to sell their souls for political power.

Jesus denied Satan’s offer of the kingdoms of the world.  Jesus reminded Satan he was to only worship God, he denied the world to eventually save it.
Later Jesus once again alludes to this. “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?”
I know as a Christian I have been tough on my fellow believers especially due to the political climate.  I feel based on observation many evangelicals and I count myself a modified version of one. That they are willing to give up Christian values for power.
Many have looked the other way despite Trump’s unrepentant actions, are supporting a very questionable candidate for Senate Roy Moore, even here in Iowa we have a Representative Mr. King who openly states “Diversity is a bad idea.”  The bottom line is many Christians especially those of the dominionist and absolute theological positions seem to say yes to corrupt power and deny the Kingdom, the people of Jesus.
Jesus did not come to create an earthly Kingdom. Not a Kingdom of earthly power at all cost.

Many of the enemies of Christ, in fact the very ones who nailed him to the cross claimed to be moved by the laws of God.  They were the religious leaders.  Today many Christians support very questionable people only because they pray and mention God.
Let us not find ourselves giving into Satan’s temptation of gaining the world only to lose our souls.

In America it is popular to say we “earned” something. Yes, 99% of the country are earning at the same time getting ripped off. 
Do you ever get that feeling driving home from work that you should be getting paid more? That you agreed to work for what you did because you really were not given much of a choice? You should, and probably did. 
The thing is you are not going to get paid equal to what you produce. You will always be paid less than your worth in order for the employer to take the rest. So yes, you earned your portion. Yet did the employer earn the extra money you created for him? No, it was collectively earned by the workers for the owner. 
In a capitalist society generally you must either inherit, or be an entrepreneur to become very wealthy. Most people do not inherit, and most do not manage to create something like “Facebook” for example. Most of us are workers. 
What I am suggesting is a complete restructuring of society. One in which the money and power is centralized in the people. 
At this moment a new tax bill is soon to sit on the Presidents desk.  This bill will only help the rich get richer. The 1% of Americans will only help themselves, while their misguided followers believe that the 1% will actually “trickle down” the wealth. 
This brings me to my final thought. Growing up as a conservative Christian I was led to believe that Capitalism was created by Jesus and socialism or communism was created in the heart of hell.  This is in part due to social programming by the United States government.  But, what if any system would Jesus follow?  One which enslaves, or one that shares?  Why is it that so many evengelical Christians love capitalism and were so ready to elect a billionare Donald Trump and disregard Bernie Sanders?  
I do not dislike capitalism the drive for profit has created a remarkable world. I do not dislike socialism it is a system of the people. There is good and bad in both. Can we have the best of both worlds?
Maybe we should start by simply treating people better, paying people closer to what they are worth, and truly care about them. A little bit more always goes along way.

Nate talks about the huge increase in pay that corporations in America will receive if all goes as planned for the Republican party, in their efforts to pass a new tax bill.  The old trickle down scam!  Do you really think that corporations are going to increase your wage?

How many of us ask the question, are you there God? Sure we do. Most of us, even those not of a religious persuasion have a general idea how to pray. Even us who are religious, who think we know how to pray usually do not believe in an actual conversation with God. Many find the Bible as God speaking to us through inspired writing and recorded history. While we most certainly take away many life lessons using the Bible as the major text for practicing the Christian religion, especially the use of the Pauline text. The Bible was still technically written for others. We must use the art and science of hermeneutics to create a relevant interpretation of the text for today. I am not undermining the powerful messages contained in Holy scripture, what I am alluding to is that it is not always easy for many to relate to. We tell people we can have a personal relationship with Christ; but do we really? What if you could have a real personalized message from God that you can channel right now?
Please before you stop reading, thinking this is some new age mumbo jumbo, please let me assure you that it is not. Remember that, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8, NIV). The same God who inspired the words of the Bible though ordinary men, is more than capable of inspiring you. You may still be ready to quit reading and say, well if this is the case why even have the Bible? I support the Bible. The Bible has been tested over time, the books contained within have been deemed by Godly men to be Holy cannon not to be added or replaced with our own inspirations. (Even when we believe they are from God.) What I am talking about is having a relationship with God; not writing new scripture based on our conversation with Him. Remember even when you do find yourself in actual conversation with God it may not always be clear or 100% God speaking to you. Let us remember the words of the Apostle Paul. “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12, NIV). Think of this conversation as trying to tune into a radio connection, it may be true and accurate, or hard to understand. We create bias because of the weakness of the flesh. I say all of this as a preamble so that you may understand what I am trying to communicate for your benefit.
Let us understand Jesus spoke plainly to us how to pray. “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words” (Matthew 6:7, NIV). So if this is the case, we must wonder what Jesus was doing when we read verses such as Matthew 14:23, “After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone” (NIV). In my imagination I would assume that Jesus was not rambling as he obviously was not fond of, but probably listening and conversing with his Father. We are also Christ-like, so we also can listen and converse with our Father as well.
It is of my opinion that God is always speaking to us. The book of Genesis tells us that God would walk with man in the cool of the day. It was people who put up a barrier between himself and God. Through the incarnation of Jesus this walk is reestablished. Often, when we should be listening and talking with God, we continue to wear fig leaves, hiding because we believe the lie of shame. We must establish that you have no shame, you can talk with God, and God is not looking at you in anger but in love. Now let us begin as I lay out the basic steps that I use to talk with God. I may not have the right formula for you. This is what works for me, I hope it will also work for you as well.
1. Bathing ourselves in prayer.
2. Listen in silence until you hear.
3. Start a conversation.
First, we must be people of prayer. We must bathe ourselves in prayer. The Apostle Paul tells us in the book of Thessalonians to pray without ceasing. This of course does not mean that we constantly use words in our prayer. To bathe oneself in prayer is to possess constant knowledge of the presence of God in your mist. To always be conscious of God, to understand that all people are representatives of God. That God is in everything big and small, God consumes like fire your thoughts, actions, and desires.
Second, we must remain silent before God. Often a good method is to use what those in the east call meditation. This is done by focusing on the breath. Sitting still, deeply breathing in and out, clearing the mind and simply breath. Yes, there will be thoughts that enter your mind, that is ok. It is perfectly natural for unwanted thoughts to remain. Simply continue to breath and ignore the unwanted thoughts, knowing this is natural. Sitting in silence is missing within most Christian circles. Do we really think that Jesus spoke all night long to God without listening? Of course not! Being able to sit in silent prayer is an essential step to clear away all the distractions that our minds possess which creates a barrier to the Spirit of God.
During this time of sitting in silence you may begin to start hearing. You may be thinking that you are just hearing thoughts created by your own mind; yes, they are created by your mind, but most importantly, is it God inspiring your thoughts? As you continue to pray and sit in silent meditation those thoughts which you might wonder are of yourself, or are of God become clearer. This takes faith, you certainly will try to resist; you will say “how can this be God?” To be honest I believe it is a little bit of both God and yourself. Yes, it is you, yes, it is God. Therefore, what you hear in your mind is not “Thus sayeth the Lord” of course there will be bias in the message as the Spirit is talking to you through the conduit of your mind. Remember when Abraham was given the message from God to leave his home town? Abraham had to step out in faith and just believe. So, it is with hearing from God. Granted we must use discernment and base everything that we hear against the Biblical text.
Finally having conversation with God. Some would say it is like having conversation with your higher self. God who is in all things is also a part of you, there is no part of you that is not of God. Some would call this your Holy Guardian Angel, or simply the true you, which is connected to the ultimate divine source. This may seem like you are talking to yourself. In some ways you are, yet that is not actually the case. What is taking place is your Spirit is talking with God’s Spirit and in the middle, is your mind (the conduit).
So, let us begin to have a conversation with God. I have heard from many people who question having a conversation with God. “I can not hear God” “God does not speak to me” What I ask of you is to take that step of faith. If you wish to hear God, know he is constantly speaking to you. We must just tune in. Set aside 30 minutes every day, within that time pray as you would regularly pray, then begin to sit and listen to the sound of your own breath. Allow your mind to be at peace, one with all things, then start to listen. Did you hear that? He said I love you. Now respond, I love you God, thank you for speaking with me. Respond back however you wish. Remember God walking in the cool of the day with man? Now you, through your mind are now walking in the cool of the day with God!

 

What is there really to be thankful for?  Holiday stress, family with happy fake smiles living in homes they can not afford thankful for the bank to give out a loan.  It seems like the most thankful people are the people with the least.  Holidays are a high point in our lives.  Days of remembrance in which should carry over all year long.  Listen as Nate talks about Thanksgiving and much more!

 God is not some type of trickster, but we can certainly through our human eyes create great schisms through our view of God. Within Christian theology as well as other religions of the world, based upon our view, interpretation, experience and so on.
Let me tell you a short story.

God was walking through town one day and his left side was in the form of a woman, and his right side the form of a man. Later on, people at the local pub started talking about the goddess who visited the town. Others over heard the conversation of the group who saw the goddess and said no, no, it was a man.
Both groups grew heated and eventually began to fight forgetting why God may have came to visit them in the first place. 
When we act this way within our own faith system, let alone when trying to understand another, we never will be in unity.
I tend to beleive the best way to understand theology is to listen, and understand. Nobody has ever seen God, we can read about Jesus. We can say Jesus was this or that. We form groups called denominations and divide ourselves because we cannot allow our ego to possibly be wrong. 
Today as we head into this thanksgiving week let us be thankful for our differences. Let’s listen and understand one another. Maybe through our empathy others will also understand us.
The Backyard Preacher

 In the East they call it meditation in the West it is contemplation. Regardless of the terminology I believe it is important to relax our minds. Often as Christians we pray with our lips without giving thought to our ears. How can the Spirit speak to us when we are filled with thoughts of “us”?  
We can take example from Jesus. “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:16. I highly doubt the Lord spoke all night during these times.  He took time to listen. He took time to remove himself from the cares of the world to be better prepared to accomplish his will on earth.  So if Jesus needed this strength, we do also! 
Take time everyday to pray, not with just words, but also with your ears.

To find the experience of direct conversation with the Spirit, bringing us closer to God, and in many ways equivalent to Jesus.  This is after all why we are called Christians. 
The Backyard Preacher

Nate talks about true, vs. false spirituality.  Specifically mind altering substances.  In Nate’s opinion the most spiritual people are those with or with past substance issues.  The people who are seekers of something outside of themselves.  Yet the substance method comes at a high price.  While True spirituality is found within yourself through natural means of journeying.