Hostility to an Unbarred Mind

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Hostility towards an unbarred mind is a phenomenon among humans persisting since time immemorial. What exactly is hostility to the unbarred mind?  Depending of our psych, social, bio, and spiritual makeup and design each person has formed a worldview.  Based on the four factors long held beliefs especially regarding religion will become solidified.  Individuals will find it difficult to change their minds on certain fundamental beliefs of their religion.

Why So Serious?

The issue is not a person’s faith; the issue is the often unwavering fundamentals possessed by the adherent. The very history of the world has been formed based on fundamentals of faith; often with terrifying results.  How many millions have died as a direct result of religion?  Or, should I say the direct result of someone who possesses hostility towards an unbarred mind.

Hellfire has taken its toll on the masses. Fears of death, unscrupulous interpretations of scripture have scourged the earth.  Cries of the martyrs of reach heaven.  Today the cries of those killed by modern day terrorist in the name of God are ringing in our ears.  The heretic persecution continues in America; while the violence has decreased the tyranny continues.

Evangelical Christians desire to spread the word of God, but because of their fundamental ideologies people are pushed away rather than pulled towards the church. Try to sit down and reason matters concerning the legitimacy of other faiths, LGBT inclusion, women in leadership, and a variety of other issues.  Often this is a concern based on the exegesis of the religious text.  It is very difficult for one fundamentalist to agree to disagree on even seemingly small issues such as woman in leadership.  Try getting a complementarian to visit a church with a female pastor; it is not going to happen.

To agree to disagree and support each other out of common love for God and man is nonexistent; generally the fundamentalist is not going to budge. Life would be much easier if we just let be.  Why can’t we stop being afraid and understand God as the loving creator he is?  Maybe the idea of deconstructing everything that we thought about Christianity is not an option.  After years within a certain set of beliefs allowing other interpretations of doctrines is a humbling experience.

Breaking into the Citadel of the Mind.

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Breaking into the fortress that is the mind is not an easy task.  Yes modern manipulation takes place with every television commercial that you watch but those prey on your outer more susceptible regions.  The new soap commercial is probably not going to change your worldview.  Generally what must take place is a profound experience that is on somewhat a “supernatural” level.  This is difficult as most fundamentalist generally do not experiment with DMT or psilocybin mushrooms.  A terrible accident or disease, maybe a family member comes out as gay or lesbian.  Maybe it is just something that starts small and grows into a full blown spiritual awakening.  Until a person has reached the point in which he or she declares “I know nothing” It will be impossible to know anything.  Until the Christian says yes, Jesus is my savior, but maybe I do not have all the answers and neither does my church.  The hostility to an unbarred mind is ferocious and exact.  Much of the hate and anger that is dividing America is due to fundamentalist who refuse to compromise.

The Unbarred Mind.

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The advantage of the unbarred mind is endless.  A few benefits these special individuals have is a lack of fear, an ability to reason, the ability to learn new concepts improving their lives, and a true sense of freedom.  Jesus possessed an unbarred mind along with nearly every other catalytic figure of the world’s religions.  Today we are seeing an emergence of Christians who are tearing down the walls of the mind.  More Christians are identifying as progressive, liberal, and tolerant.  Many are proud of their heretical label, wearing their damnable doctrinal beliefs as badges of honor.

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Is Being Christ Like a Burden?

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Is being Christ like a burden? Are we not supposed to be one with the father as Jesus was?  “That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.” (John 17:21, NIV).   I am sure there may be some who have reached this supreme initiation of glory to glory; I have yet to meet one. A worthy goal, it causes many problems.  We begin chasing divine alignment through works. Seeking the approval of others, for our own ego satisfaction.  The result is guilt, anxiety, fear and worry.

No More Shame.

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The Apostle speaking of our death, “Now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known.  But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” (1John 3:2, NIV).  As spiritual children, we will miss the mark.  Not that we should be ashamed of our humanity.  God knows this, “Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God.” (2 Corinthians 3:4-5).  Christians will struggle endlessly to be like Christ.  Understanding that 99.99 percent of us will never reach perfection on earth.  I leave a possibility of .01 percent because I just do not know.  To get bent out of shape because of our mistakes and failures is playing into the hands of the evil one.

Sex, Drugs & Rock & Roll.

The Apostle writes, “We demolish arguments and pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5, NIV).  Thoughts of sex, drugs, and rock and roll; should not create guilt.  We are human; we are going to think like humans.  Rid ourselves of the shame of humanity.  It is not our fault!  Being Christ like should not be a burden.  We are spiritual children and will continue to be till we see him.

Be Happy!

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Remember, “For God hath not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7 KJV).  Christianity has a high burn out rate.  People have the “saved” experience creating a buzz of excitement.  Slowly manifesting a heavy weight of guilt.  Guard your hearts and minds from the guilt that our fellow Christians place upon us.  This may mean deconstructing everything that you once thought about Christianity. Is being Christ like a burden?  My answer.  Do not worry about it, be happy, love God, love people and forget about the rest!

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Jesus Freaks, Control Freaks!

Why are Christians such control freaks? I think that it has been embedded into Christianity itself. Many believe that one must stay away from the “world” whatever that means?  That the Christian must watch every move they make so carefully that they do everything in order to please God or be a good “witness.”  The way I look at it, this causes nothing but, anxiety, depression, panic and fear.  Supposedly we were saved by grace and not of ourselves; but that is not good enough.  We always seem to need to add something to the program.  We just cannot leave well enough alone.  Maybe it seems too easy to really believe we are loved.  That a kind God loves us so much he sent his son to die for us.  While the Bible is filled with what I like to interpret as Christian suggestions; Jesus said to love.  That includes loving ourselves enough to not become anxious over the faith that saved us.

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We poison our youth with teaching of abstinence and staying away from the opposite sex as if they were the evil from man’s rib; and vice versa. Even as adults sexuality is such a huge issue within the church.  Please, maybe if we talked about sex more openly we would not have these scandals.  Yet this is just one way that many in church leadership control the people.   I remember growing up not being able to watch TV on Sunday or doing any extra work.  Yet we went out to eat after church with no one ever complaining about the restaurant workers; looking back it is confusing.  I guess it is just human nature.

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Examining our American society we all have been trained, you just do not get something for nothing. You have to work hard to live; that kind of sucks.  God; I did not ask to be born here, couldn’t you have made me an angel?  We must go to school, just to get a job, go into debt, now I must keep that job or loose the house and car; forced labor at its finest, what a scheme!  Who invented this crap?  What if I want to sit around all day and smoke bong hits, read my Bible and go about getting into adventures, helping people as I wonder the earth?  Would they call me a Christian or a homeless man?

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Time to rid ourselves of the shame! When Jesus was walking the earth he would complain about the heavy moral weight that the Pharisees would place on their converts.  Often we come to Jesus and then decide now it is time to be a moral crusader.  Is that what Jesus taught us to do?  Go around teaching people how they should or should not live?  I do not think so.  He taught us to love one another and even that is an impossible feat.  All we can do is try our best and not worry about it.  Jesus said not to worry, so do not worry.  Simple enough, but our human nature insists that there is more to it.  I Wish I could tell you that there was a way out of this mindset.  I do believe that some people are living lives of more freedom than others.  As the apostle sad we need to crucify this flesh daily.

 

 

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Be the Prophet: Understanding Your Ability to Prophesy.

Because of the scope of the topic this post is limited, I only desires to argue the basic definition of prophecy from the Judeo-Christian tradition.  Growing up not only an Evangelical but also a Pentecostal, prophecy is normal place in my theological conversations.  I have found that many people do not understand prophecy and even worse many feel that it is something reserved for a select few.  In the next few paragraphs I will give a basic definition of prophecy and also give you some tips on becoming a prophet yourself.

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When thinking of prophecy many look to the Old Testament books that are considered to be written by prophets.  The Old testament books include; Isaiah, Jeremiah, Laminations, Ezekiel, and Daniel.  These five books are known as the Major Prophets this is because of the size of the text not anything special. The Minor Prophets include Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.  The New Testament has one prophetic book, that being Revelations.  What makes these books prophetic?  First let us examine what Biblical prophecy is.

Prophecy is a foretelling of something yet to possibly take place. Many prophecies are inspirational or an interpretation of an event.  These certain individuals made proclamations that were interpreted by people as messages from God to man.  These texts were then formed into a large part of the Old Testament.  Only Revelations is considered a prophetic book in the New Testament.  The obvious question then is how did people realize these prophets were speaking in the name of God?  We can look at the life of King Saul Israel’s first king.  The Spirit of God came upon Saul, Saul prophesized: we do not know what he said, yet it was presumably inspirational words, predictions, and admonitions.  So the act of prophesying was not limited to a certain group of people, or just the prophets known in the Old Testament.  The New Testament also gives some details concerning prophecy.  First off, according to Paul prophecy should be the most sought after of all spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 14).  Essentially the Christian prophet receives a message from God which should be shared with the church.  I have found with my own experiences as a prophet that this is not limited to the church.  Prophecy is an act in which you become inspired and then you speak the words that have bubbled up inside you.  You begin to understand that it is through faith that what you know what you are saying is from God.  Of course there is the human interface which is corrupt, that is why it is important to also test the prophets.  Basically to test the prophets, simply do not believe something just because they said it was prophetic; this is Biblical, so is common sense.  Not everything a prophet speaks is from God.

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The big question that some of you may have is can I be a prophet?  The overwhelming answer is yes!  Not only is being a prophet something all Christians have the ability to become; the apostle Paul says that it is the spiritual gift that should be most sought after.  I am going to skip a lot of technical details and get straight to the point when it comes to prophecy.  The first thing you need is faith.  Faith in this situation is having the crazy idea that; yes I am a prophet.  That’s right you are a prophet and you can prophesy. Okay, now that you are cool with the fact that you are a prophet, you have to stir yourself up and speak some prophetic words.

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Stir myself up?  Basically what I mean is to get emotional.  Often times we speak prophecy without realizing it.  We can become angry with our current life situation and speak the desires of our heart into the Universe and what may come back is what you asked for.  This has happened to me.  In church a prophetic word can start filling up inside you during a time of prayer or worship.  You might be thinking that this is not from God; yes it is.  Now you must proclaim it, or at least tell someone.  What I do is work myself up through prayer, maybe listen to some inspirational music and get into a trancelike state.  Then cut loose and proclaim with the power of my words.  Remember that heaven and earth was created through sound; so you being God’s creation have the gift of words to create just as God.  You must however believe the words you speak; you must know that they are divine.

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What if I am wrong?  What if I give a prophetic word and it never comes to be?  Simple answer; this will happen all the time.  While you may be influenced by the Spirit of God, the words are still coming from you.  The words then are coming through an interface that is marred by limitations.  I can prophesy that I will win the lottery; it doesn’t mean it will happen.  Will it increase your odds?  I believe that it will.  The thing is, do not be afraid to be the prophet that you are called to be.  Prophesy, have fun it, it is a gift God has given you.  This ability does not only helps yourself, it helps others as well. Be the prophet.

 

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Progressive Christianity; A Christianity for All People.

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            Progressive Christians ARE Christians, we are not a sub group of Christianity, rather we feel we have found a flavor of Christianity that Jesus would best be associated with. We are Christians who preach the gospel of love and salvation from self.  A message of love, a desire for peace and tolerance to all people; this is a general description of what progressive Christianity is about.  This is counter to many in the conservative evangelical world who hold to strict theological doctrines and dogmas in fear of hellfire and brimstone.  Progressive Christianity does not embrace fear. As the scripture states “perfect love cast out all fear.” (1 John 4:18).  In many ways our flavor of Christianity can bring many together in unity around the simple idea of love.

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            It is time to forget about your mother’s Christianity and step into the new age.  I am speaking primarily of hardcore fundamentalism.  When I was growing up it was all about hellfire and brimstone and salvation of souls.  I was so scared half the time that I think I was “saved” every Sunday.  You do not need to be a theologian of any status to understand that this is not what Jesus wanted.  Bringing people into the church by way of fear is no better than putting a knife to ones throat and telling them “convert or die.”  Who wants to enter heaven under compulsion?  Would you really be entering heaven? Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of Heaven being within our mist.  Yes, Jesus did also speak of hellfire, sin, and evil; yet humanity has overemphasized the darkness and forgot the light.

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            Progressive Christians are often very political and lean towards liberalism.  This is often due to our stance on love and inclusiveness.  We do not want to compete for ownership of the church; we just want to be the church.  Conservative Christians are generally republicans who vote primarily for the “pro-life” candidates even if the candidate drops bombs on refugees and sends men and women to die for self-interest.  They may not always admit it, but generally their churches are primarily white, anti-LGBT, nationalist, who would rather have a theocracy instead of freedom.  Progressive Christians are “pro-choice” although that is misleading as well.  Abortion is not a laughing matter and we take it very seriously.  We support the LGBT community and often our most senior leaders are members of this community.  Many of us believe in workers’ rights, universal healthcare, and tax payer funded education; that a person working a full time job should earn a living wage with enough for leisure.  We do not believe in a water downed gospel; instead we hold to the gospel of Jesus, understanding we are all on a journey of faith that cannot be outlined and fit into a box.  We are looked upon as liberal because our faith compels us to be like Jesus.  God is a globalist and loves all people.  Progressive Christians do not believe that you can contain the love of God.  God’s love is too big for that!  God’s love is for all.  Our love is for all!

The Backyard Preacher Podcast #127 (Being Christian)

What is it to be a Christian? Is it saying a prayer? Living a certain way to fit in with other “Christians.” If you are a politician and quote verses to get votes, is that Christian? Maybe it is just simply being human?

The Backyard Preacher Podcast #123 (Create Your Own Way)

Nate talks about the power of the Word! Our words are more powerful than any of us realize. The ignorant speak life and death without any hesitation. Let us not be ignorant but use the power of the word to the glory of God.

The Satan Within

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.”

 

American Evangelicals, It is Not Worth Your Souls!

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.