What Is Spiritual Authority? Am I under it?

How do we determine spiritual authority?

Spiritual Authority is a phrase we hear a lot in Christian culture, but what does it look like practically? When I think of Practical Spirituality, there is an initial introspection. ‘What is Phil Rice currently doing internally to fortify his own spirituality and his connection to God?’ But to stop at the introspection is to miss much of what it means to be a spiritual Jesus follower. He called us to one another.

I’m no expert on Christian togetherness [and how it relates to Spiritual Authority], but these are my thoughts…

I’ve had many conversations about ‘what is church?’ over the last number of years. Half of these conversations seem to percolate over dinner or coffee with friends who have for one reason or another found themselves lacking spiritually communal momentum. The other half have been with people amidst normal coming and going asking me, ‘So… what church do you go to?’.

My response to the latter is typically, either, ‘I’m a part of a small house church,’ or ‘I don’t go to church.’ Both would be true, depending on the context. I am numbered among a group of people who follow Jesus alongside one another, who care for one another, who encourage one another as we journey toward knowing God more deeply.

Do we meet together every Sunday morning? No. Do we ever meet all together as a group? No. Do we all live in the same city? No [some of our hang outs are even over Facetime]. Do we have a head pastor or group leader? No.

As this conversation typically continues, there is the inevitable question… well, if this is the case, who’s spiritual authority are you under? Who is your covering?

What does it mean to be submitted to another person?

Ephesians 5 communicates that we who count ourselves as followers of Christ are to submit to one another in the fear of God. So what does that mean for us? How do we submit to one another?

Submit defined – accept or yield to a superior force or to the authority or will of another person.

We are to submit to one another, meaning, we are to yield to the authority and perspective of other God fearing human beings, as we [each] read his scripture and listen daily to his Holy Spirit.

Are you covered [under spiritual authority]?

Another phrase I hear from well meaning people, when I communicate that I am not part of an organized church is, ‘I just feel that it’s important that you are covered.’ As if putting me in an organizational structured umbrella magically covers my life the moment I join a church organization. I think of spiritual covering less like a structured umbrella and more like a band of brothers [and sisters], to use the wartime analogy. Being covered means, you have my back and I have yours, that I’m looking out for you from your unguarded sides and you’re looking out for me. We are covering each other.

Not a matter of structure or non structure

Whether gathering every Sunday morning in a large building, spontaneously around the dinner table, biweekly around an iPad Facetime call, or during a monthly group therapy session, the structure of our gathering does not [within itself] solve for the problem of authority and covering.

Who are my people?

The phrase one another communicates a back and forth, a give and take – I submit to you, my fellow sojourner. I’m committed to you, love you, and trust you. You submit to me, your fellow sojourner. You’re committed to me, love me, and trust me.

The answer to the question of authority, in my opinion, is more appropriately answered when we first begin with another question; Who are my people?

Who are the people I can count as fellow sojourners, who hold common values of how we will, over time, pursue Jesus together?

How then shall we live?

I want to reiterate that spiritual authority is not a question of how we gather [gather in whatever structure makes most sense for you and your tribe in this particular season of life], but rather, who we commit ourselves to.

So let’s continue the conversation from here. Who are your people? Who has your back? Who are the people who hold your values and challenge you to be more like Jesus? Go be with those people and, together, bring light and understanding to dark and confusing places.

What are your thoughts on spiritual authority?

Whether you agree or disagree, I would love to continue the conversation in the comments section so we can all benefit from one another’s perspectives. You’re welcome to pick it up from here!

Cheers,
Phil Rice

 

find me social —Instagram —Twitter —Facebook —Soundcloud

find me here too —philrice.blogPractical Spirituality —Ember

On Experiencing God — 1 John 3 [a practical, biblical study of scripture]

Excerpt from Devotional Sessions | Practical Spirituality

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God (1 John 3, prompted from Devotional Sessions – Phil Rice).

To experience God, we must know the truths of his character. In this pursuit, the reality of our identity as a son or daughter of God is of key importance.

Take some time away from distraction and productivity. Don’t bring your iPhone or your todo list. Don’t bring your prayer list or your bible reading checklist. Just come before Jesus and ask…

Why do you love me? Do you desire me? Why did the father send you to me? You say to behold the manner [kind] of love… but what manner [kind] of love is it that would give me entrance into your family a child of your father?

I find it helpful to give these questions some time. If it seems helpful, set an alarm on your phone or watch at a certain time [or certain times] of the day remind yourself to approach God for deeper understanding of this manner of love.

 

My personal engagement with this session:

This reality of the father’s love makes all the difference. For me, coming to God because I desire to be near him vs simply following a ritual I’ve created [or worse, coming to him because I feel like I have to in order to be in good standing with him] is where our relationship is vibrant and filled with life.

Most recently, my retreated moments with the Lord are in the quietness of the morning. And, I’ve been trying something that feels good to my heart, so I thought I would share. Instead of picking up my daily bible reading or looking to a prayer list to jump start my time of connection with him, I simply wait in the quiet. This has brought a nuance to the dynamic nature of our relationship. I don’t simply fit God into my structure, I make space for him to speak. It’s been quite refreshing. Structure is not bad, but must not come before the dynamic of responding to his spirit in a given moment.

 

An added note from Phil Rice

I hope you’ve benefited from this excerpt from Devotional Sessions | Practical Spirituality. Share this session with anyone you think would be impacted and don’t hesitate to leave questions or comments for our mutual benefit of continued conversation.

Thanks for journeying alongside,
Phil Rice

 

find me social —Instagram —Twitter —Facebook —Soundcloud

find me here too —philrice.blogPractical Spirituality —Ember

Hearing God? [some thoughts]

Hi all! Phil Rice here. In my introductory article to Practical Spirituality, I mention caring for ones body and mind  in order to thrive spiritually. But the key energy for actually thriving spiritually is regular [continual] communion with God. We reach for God and our spirits are fed by this communion and connection with him. So… here’s the big question… How do we hear God? The topic of Hearing God can feel daunting and unattainable. But the reality is, God wants us to hear him.

Hearing God… some Phil Rice thoughts

Here are a few quick thoughts that help me navigate hearing God.

A filter for differentiating God’s voice from other voices:

  • A good tree bears good fruit, a bad tree bears bad fruit (Matthew 7). If submitting to an internal voice causes bad fruit, it is not the voice of God and we need never heed it ever again.
  • As we navigate our internal and external worlds, take note of the good fruit. God clearly articulates the fruit of experiencing him in scripture and as we are mindful of the good fruit, we are able to trace it back to him.
  • Jesus says of his followers, ‘My [followers] hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.’ (John 10). His promise to us is that as we follow him, we will know his voice and we will be led by him.

Hearing God applied…

  • Are there voices/influences that I am allowing to impact me that are growing bad fruit? If so, bring them before God in prayer and invite him to expose these voices for what they are. Ask him to give you the strength to stop receiving these voices as truth.
  • Jesus says, I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. Take a few moments and invite Jesus to share the reality of his abundance with you. Invite him to speak.
  • Share your thoughts with the philrice.blog community in the comments section, we’d love to hear your perspective!

And as Samuel postured himself before the Lord, may we all posture our hearts before him saying, speak Lord, your servant is listening.

Phil Rice

 

find me social —Instagram —Twitter —Facebook —Soundcloud

find me here too —philrice.blogPractical Spirituality —Ember

On Knowing God — Romans 1 [a practical, devotional study of scripture]

Excerpt from Devotional Sessions | Practical Spirituality

Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever (Romans 1:24-25, prompted from Devotional Sessions – Phil Rice).

There is a reality that we humans, for all kinds of reasons, exchange the truth of God for lies. It is also reality that we hinder our knowledge of him when we refuse his truth.

The beautiful thing is that we who have given ourselves to Christ are seen by the father through Christ’s sacrifice and his righteousness. And because of his sacrifice alone, we can approach the father with confidence.

Take some undistracted space to ask: Father, are there truths that I have exchanged for lies? Will these truths help me know you more deeply? Father, if I release these lies to you, how did you create me to experience this truth? Thank you for your truth, Father.

My personal engagement with this session:

This passage gets right in there for me. It’s so easy to navigate life by what feels good or what is easiest or best through the filter of what works best for Phil Rice. But really, that is all secondary. It’s important that my heart is part of my navigational compass, and it is important to run things through the filter of how I do feel about something. But those things must still come under the submission of God’s words — both in scripture and by his spirit. So this passage brings me back to that place. God, help me see what you see. Help me love what you love and hate what you hate. For me, this is the place of continual, daily surrender.

 

An added note from Phil Rice

I hope you’ve benefited from this excerpt from Devotional Sessions | Practical Spirituality. Share this session with anyone you think would be impacted and don’t hesitate to leave questions or comments for our mutual benefit of continued conversation.

Thanks for journeying alongside,
Phil Rice

 

find me social —Instagram —Twitter —Facebook —Soundcloud

find me here too —philrice.blogPractical Spirituality —Ember

Introducing the Devotional Sessions | Practical Spirituality

Devotional Sessions | Practical Spirituality

Hey everyone, Phil Rice here! If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you’ve probably noticed some devotional snippets mixed into my posts. I wanted to officially introduce them to you. Everyone, meet the Devotional Sessions… [They are pleased to meet your acquaintance].

Okay, but really. These devotional sessions will begin on philrice.blog and will make their way into short devotional eBooks for ease of use. So here’s the run down.

What can you expect from these devotional sessions?

  • regular engagement with the word of God – We are changed as we internalize the truth found in scripture.
  • short sessions – The goal with these sessions is not quantity, but rather, to take a single truth and mull it over for an extended period of time.
  • practical application – All devotional sessions include some actionable step to more fully engage with the things God specifically speaks to us through our time of meditation.
  • consistency – I promise to show up with new sessions and I’d love for you to join me!

What can you expect from regularly engaging with these sessions?

  • closeness to God – There is a promise in scripture that as we posture ourselves toward God, he will draw near to us.
  • practical understanding – Use these sessions as a launching point to work through how, in a regular way, you will engage and practically respond to God’s words.
  • extended opportunity for momentum – these sessions are spread apart for a reason. Change takes time. As you meditate on a given session several times in a given week, the words that God speaks take root in your heart and bring about Christ directed movement over time.

 

Thanks for following alongside. I look forward to the continued conversation!

Cheers,
Phil Rice

 

More From Phil Rice

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find me here too — philrice.blog — Ember

On Knowing God — Colossians 2 [a practical, biblical study of scripture]

Excerpt: Practical Spirituality | Devotional Sessions

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ (passage from Colossians 2, prompted from Devotional Sessions – Phil Rice)

We are influenced by our culture, our childhood normals, our theological upbringing. These influences often go unchallenged, since they are simply the ways things have always been.

Take some time in prayer today and ask God to uncover beliefs that are rooted in the basic principles of the world. Write down any that come to mind. Invite Holy Spirit to come and to replace these beliefs with the ways of Christ. Write down anything that comes to mind as you ask Holy Spirit to show you the ways of Christ. Whether or not something comes immediately to mind, consider building a regular practice of bringing these questions regularly before God.

Lord, continue to lead me in your ways, according to Christ and not according to the practices and beliefs of the world.

 

My personal engagement with this session:

Man… It’s so easy to simply be swept up in a given culture, believing something because you’ve never thought to question it. This passage and coming back again and again to the Holy Spirit with this question is so helpful for me. My filter is human. I am ordinary. But Holy Spirit what truths I need. He knows how my vision is lacking. Yes Lord, so come lead me according to Christ.

 

An added note from Phil Rice

I hope you’ve benefited from this excerpt from Practical Spirituality | Devotional Sessions. Share this session with anyone you think would be impacted and don’t hesitate to leave questions or comments for our mutual benefit of continued conversation.

Thanks for journeying alongside,
Phil Rice

 

find me social — Instagram — Twitter — Facebook — Soundcloud

find me here too — philrice.blog — Ember

How I Approach Practical Spirituality [a starting place]

What is Practical Spirituality?

Spirituality is one of those words that we hear a good amount, but what is it’s substance? How does it then become Practical Spirituality? How do we participate in a spiritual activity? You might even ask yourself, how do I function as a spiritual person? Ask one hundred people, get one hundred answers. I don’t think there is one overarching answer the questions of how to interact spiritually, but in any case, here are a few Phil Rice introductory thoughts on spirituality.

Spirituality — the quality of being concerned with the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.

While I agree that concern with the human spirit is [of course] the basis of spirituality, I also believe that in order to thrive spiritually, one cannot stop with this one-dimensional definition. The condition of my spiritual experience is completely tied to the condition of my physical and mental condition. So, what does that actually mean in practical terms?

We are more than spirit [the guts of practical spirituality]

God is spirit. We connect with him in spirit. Humans are both spirit and body, so we have some additional pieces, given to us by God [intentional on his part] in which to care for — our physical and mental capacities. And for some crazy reason, God made us this way on purpose! So, I assume there must be something to this whole mind, body, spirit equilibrium. To be a spiritual is not to ignore body or mind, but rather, to care for and harness body and mind, in order to thrive and increase in spirit. One cannot ignore the body and mind and expect the spirit to thrive. It’s a matter of stewardship. God gave us each piece and each piece has a purpose in connecting spiritually to the father [God].

Practical Spirituality for Phil Rice [and beyond…]

This is a cornerstone piece of the way I process and experience life, an important filter as we move forward together in the philrice.blog community. So as we continue to increase spirit, my hope and prayer is that we continue to make room for God to speak to our care of body and mind.

May God continue to disclose himself to you in deeper and more intimate ways.

Cheers,
Phil Rice

 

find me social — Instagram — Twitter — Facebook — Soundcloud

find me here too — philrice.blog — Ember