The Backyard Preacher # 185″Fear Not”

Have no fear Nate is here.  I can’t save you but I can guide you to the edge of the cliff and allow you to choose to step off into either death or life based on your faith.  No harm will come to you no matter what you do.  You are the center of your solar system.  You are the maker of your reality.  You choose to fear or stand courage’s! Now decide.  

Fear Not
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The Backyard Preacher Podcast # 163 (You are not successful, you are lucky.)

You are not successful; you are just lucky.  Success obvious is about perspective yet speaking materialistically many people have similar skill sets of the most “successful” people on earth.  The difference is some just so happen to have all of the right events happen at the right time.  This luck goes back to the day you are born.  

You are not successful, you are lucky.

Why I am a Proud Heretic

Why would anyone within the Christian faith desire to be known as a heretic? Cast out like a leper, always on the verge of getting stoned; and not the good kind of stoned! Sooner or later your orthodox friends will stop arguing with you, they will either accept you for who you are or pray for your eternal soul. Some may tell their friends that it is best not to associate with you because your heresies could lead them astray. I personally have been deleted on Facebook by many people including pastors who did not wish to view or argue my questions. Some have removed me from their social media as they fear I may influence their friends. I am flattered by the attention. I ask questions, but what I ask may not be what I believe. What if I do not know what I believe? What is wrong with asking questions pertaining to the very core of the faith? After all, as a Christian we are devoting our lives to this thing; might as well know what is really going on!

Here is the deal; the last execution for heresy took place in 1826 his name was Cayetano Ripoll. He was a Spanish school teacher who was put to death for supposedly teaching beliefs that were said to be deist. Yes, 1826 that was only about 200 years ago. Up until the modern era people have been frightened by the idea of thinking for themselves. Over the span of hundreds of years we have micro evolved into a people who give religious authority to the supposed chosen. This is very sad. The United States was founded by prominent deist who insisted on a separation between the church and the state. No longer will religion and government mingle; no longer will religion have authority over someone’s life. For the sake of freedom, for the love of country and my fellow Americans I am a proud questioner of the faith. I am a proud heretic!

Those that made decisions during the religious councils were no better than you or I. Generally as Protestants, like it or not, most orthodoxy is derived from the early councils.  These guys did not even have a consensus of the divinity of Jesus. They created the doctrines of the faith based on early text which would become the Bible as we know it today and by the opinions of the members of the ecumenical councils which was led by the Pontifex Maximus. This was not a priest trained in theology this was the pagan Empower of Rome; Constantine. The Roman emperor was the high priest of all the Roman religions and this would now include Christianity.  Of course they changed the name from College of Pontiffs to ecumenical councils to distance themselves from the pagan past. What is important is just as the council members rendered their opinion so you have authority in your opinion. Contrary to popular belief we can have a church with doctrines as different as its members.

A church with different opinions and beliefs, how can this be? Simple, the members of the church only need to live within the love of God. You may not believe the same way as your fellow but love teaches to be forever patient and kind. You may wish to dictate your opinion of the faith, but love teaches we should not be self-seeking. We should not hate, we should not boast, we should not hurt others. We must hope all things, believe all things, and when this world passes away we will one day know all things. Until then we know nothing. In fact we know less than nothing. The first step is to admit to yourself and God that we are lacking. If it is that simple, why do we make it so hard? We are human, that is my excuse. My simple teaching comes from 1 Corinthians 13 because of this teaching I am generally viewed as a heretic. I cause division because I seek to ultimately unite. I would have once been burned at the stake yet here I stand a proud heretic!

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Die Without Regrets

I recently read an article about regrets people have when they come to the end of their lives. I completely agree with the study’s conclusion. Most people regret not doing things that they wished they would have. The study shows that people do not regret finding a good job, raising a family, and paying their bills. These are what are expected of a good citizen. What is not expected so much is to write that book, earn that degree, travel to another country, apply for that job you believe you are not qualified for etc.

So if you are reading this you are more than capable of doing something before you die you may be afraid of doing. What if you married the wrong spouse? Or, maybe someone you wanted to be with did not marry you? Did you tell them? Maybe you should, or shouldn’t? I have heard that something’s are better left unsaid, but that could be complete bullshit if you are going to have regrets about it later.

We are often just scared and lazy. We could write that book. Write a page a day and in less than a year you will have completed something only people dream about. You could go back to school for a degree, with so many online options no one has an excuse. Yet there is the money that it will take. So what? Take out the loans and do it; especially if it is a master’s or doctorate. I am a current doctoral student and am in debt because of it; yet I would rather be in debt for a short while than die knowing I did not accomplish a desire of my heart.

Often people do not exactly obtain their childhood dream job. Some people do. I know how it is to be intimidated by job descriptions and not apply. I feel inadequate, and then I think to myself these people are no better than me, with enough practice I can do it. We get secure in our positions and then get mad at the guy with the large bank account. It is not his fault, it is yours. Go for it. I have a good job that I am happy with at the moment; I would not have it if I did not apply for it once get rejected then applied again and received an offer. You are your own boss never be intimidated.

There are countless examples that I could give. Getting in shape, learning martial arts, taking a painting class, buying a motorcycle; hell go to Colorado and get stoned if you never have before. Go shoot guns, date multiple people, give money to the poor and volunteer for the children. Buy the new car, build the new house, and move to California to take up surfing.

The reality is you are not intimidated by others; you are actually intimidated of yourself. Self-doubt equals failure. Fear not and live a life of no regrets!

Nate Sprott

In the Beginning; You!

            In the beginning; you!  “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1, NIV).  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1, NIV).  Dare I say again, in the beginning; you.  You have been with God and you are of God, you were amongst the creation of the heavens and the earth.  This is a truly beautiful and powerful statement if you take into consideration what this means for your identity.

            With so much going on in the world it is easy to get become mentally overwhelmed.  It’s easy to lose sight of our spirituality.  We see divided lines that separate us by religion and even within our own religions often even deeper trenches of division.  We can easily forget who we are in the universe.  This lack of identity is the cause of much of the negativity that is taking place in the world.

            We do not have to try to understand God, we are God.  It is our birthright.  The angels have looked upon us with envy.  We are given the keys to the kingdom, but often have forgotten how to use them.  Taking hold of our birthright, waking up as Christ on earth is the ultimate in self-realization.  This will also take an extraordinary amount of faith.

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            Faith is the power of the universe; it is the action that creates.  Faith declares what exist before manifestation. “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see,” (Hebrews 11:1, NIV).  “The God who gives life to death and calls into being things that was not.” (Romans 4:17, NIV).  These are powerful verses of the creating power of God; your creating power.  You are only limited by your doubt.

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            What is then the beginning if there is no end? There is then beginning and only landmarks that light the path of eternity.  You are this, and this is you.  We are often blinded by the constantly growing scales of doubt and deception.  It is not easy being assigned to live within these bodies; we long for our redemption.  Yet as a fresh seed planted must go through the stages until death in order to be rebirthed to greater life.  Hold to the faith; create a life for the benefit of others, and accept no limitations.

 

 

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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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The Backyard Preacher # 156 (Be The Prophet)

Be The Prophet

Be the prophet. Spiritual gifts especially that of prophecy can be a confusing subject. People go their whole lives without tapping into spiritual gifts. Listen to this podcast, and learn how to be the prophet!

The Church and I; An Honest Look.

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           I know often my writings can be a bit critical of the church.  So essentially I am being critical of God’s people; maybe even critical of God?  While I would not be the first one, or the last to be very opinionated, having the desire, or dare I say the need to question my faith.  I want to share some inspirational words to those who feel that they do not belong in the church; or feel the church is not what it once was to them.  I can write this because the church is not what it once was for me.

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            When I was in my late teens and twenties the church was the place to be.  It was the happy bliss first time heroin users feel.  Unfortunately it is something we often chase for a lifetime, always trying to find that new spiritual high that kept us coming back.  Yet just as good as it feels the chasing will let us down and soon we have spiritual track marks from injections of the next paradigm shift.  It takes a real good spiritual junkie to make it through a whole life dedicated to the church.  Although some great sages who often lurk, not in the pulpit so much as the pews.  These guys are real Christ like gurus.  They have it figured out and make us wonder why not me?  Or, maybe they are junkies too and just have a good way of hiding it.

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            Through my personal adventures I have racked up a lot of study and prayer time.  I even have a good amount of formal theological education.  Yet it seems like the more I think I know, the more cynical I become.  This has happened especially as I have entered my later 30’s.  I do not feel the need to impress anyone.  For many years I attended church and had one major intention, to get a job as a pastor.  I found out unless you have parents in ministry within the flavor of Christianity that I am from it can be a difficult task.  That on top of my own baggage I carry as an ex-felon and someone who has abused alcohol and other drugs in the past and carry a scarlet letter and guilt, that I know does not belong, but still lingers.  I think that can be a driving force behind many of us in similar situations.  For me it is about reaching to higher heights academically; probably the reason I am a doctoral student.  I want to prove I am better than my doubters.  Probably the reason I started my own flop of a ministry “The Backyard Preacher” which consists of this blog and a podcast.  It is probably why I am critical of many preachers and ministries; especially the ones that think they have the answers, I hate that!  No one has all the answers!  The church has not done me wrong for say, I have just not yet achieved what I thought I wanted out of the church.  I wanted to be a great leader, preaching with passion to thousands of people.  I wanted to be a world changer for Jesus and live the life of the preacher on TV.  Houses, cars, women, lots of money; I would probably be in jail faster than Jim Bakker can sell a tub of apocalypse food.

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            Here is the inspirational part of my story.  My church attendance is not what it used to be.  My ego centric desire to become a Christian leader is shrinking, as I have been humbled.  While the desire and “calling” to the pastorate is still there; If I never hold the official position It is whatever.  I am becoming more satisfied morphing into one of those Christian sages who can which can only be attained though trials, disappointment, and acid trips.  Understanding that the Christian life is fully emotional, but at the same time fully built upon faith that requires no action.  I have written much about faith and how we innately feel we must do some kind of performance to be worthy.  The sage understands that there is no amount of work that can make us worthy.  Basically what it boils down to is that we stop playing church.  We stop acting like Jesus took all our evil desires away and that life is grand.  We stop trying to be someone we are not.   What is inspirational about all this?  I have, and I am continuingly coming to realize that I can just be me.  If being me is good enough for God, it is good enough for the church.

 

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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!