On Experiencing God — Matthew 25 [a practical, biblical study of scripture]

Excerpt from Devotional Sessions | Practical Spirituality

…at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ (Matthew 25:1-13, prompted from Devotional Sessions – Phil Rice).

Take a moment, steal away to a quiet spot. Now, whether behind closed doors or safely tucked away into the music of your earbuds, take a few deep breaths. Notice how you feel. Am I tired/awake? Is this room too warm/cold? Does my heart feel settled or am I anxious? Be present with yourself and invite God into your space.

Read though our passage several times. Readiness. The passage says that the virgins who were ready went into the wedding with the bridegroom. Take some time and ask Holy Spirit, Am I ready? Spirit, what does readiness look like?

The wise virgins in the story were the ones who had enough oil to last the night. Holy Spirit, what does the oil symbolize in Jesus’ story? How do I acquire it? How do I hold on to it? Thank you Holy Spirit for helping keep my heart ready for Jesus.

My personal engagement with this session

I so love this passage! When I ask Holy Spirit to deepen my understanding of the oil that Jesus is talking about in this story I can just feel my heart opening up to know Jesus more deeply. For me the oil is the substance that carries my longing for God both now and in the life to come. It’s the catalyst of connection between me and God — manifest in joy, desire for him, expectancy for his relational presence [experiential presence].

I use this story as an anchor when I’m tired or distracted. When I need to refocus my heart. I want to be one who continually knows him more. Not in large hyped moments or events, but in slow and steady ways over the course of a lifetime.

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

My 3 Rhythms for Personal Retreat | Phil Rice

My [Phil Rice] Rhythms of Retreat

I had a conversation with a friend recently that led me to write out my own personal rhythms of retreat. This being the beginning of a new year, I thought this would afford us the opportunity for meaningful conversation.

I categorize my rhythms of retreat into 3 parts — daily, weekly, yearly. These rhythms have been crafted over a number of years and are always changing to meet the needs of a given season of time. I’ve also included some assessment tools that I gleaned from Tim Ferriss [found in The 4 Hour Workweek] that I have found exceedingly helpful.

Why are Rhythms of Retreat important to Practical Spirituality?

This is probably no shocker to anyone who has journeyed with me for any length of time. But I believe that our personal rhythms of rest and recovery [retreat] directly impact practical spirituality and the overarching momentum we bring to our life — mentally, physically, and of course… spiritually.

So here we go!

 

Rhythms of Retreat  Individual Assessment

Daily Rhythms – What daily rhythm(s) will brings me joy [renewal] in this season?

  • Must bring energy/inspiration/encouragement/clarity
  • Must be easily added to schedule
  • Examples: early morning with coffee, morning run, reading poetry, meditation, morning/evening walk
  • Current [Phil Rice] Rhythms include — morning rhythm of hot lemon water, Wendell Berry poetry, and some silent space to commune with God

Weekly Rhythms – What weekly rhythm will bring me joy [renewal] in this season?

  • Must bring energy/inspiration/encouragement/clarity
  • Must be consistent
  • Examples: extra early time [or extra late time] for self care – extended reading, doing a project, working in the garage, extended drive, extended time of meditation, extended time alone with God – if you’re an extrovert, just add a few people to these experiences 😉
  • Current [Phil Rice] Rhythms include — Monday evening yoga class with friends

Quarterly [Yearly] Rhythms – How should I retreat in this season?

  • Create quarterly [yearly] rhythms of retreat.
  • These can be just a single day at the coffee shop or a 3-4 day trip to more beautiful scenery [or even at a local airbnb].
  • Fill this space with that which things that bring you joy[renewal], along with time to plan for the coming quarter.
  • Current [Phil Rice] Rhythms include — a couple day retreat filled with reading [like, major kindle binge reading… stack em up!], access to a hot tub [if at all possible], yoga, extended quiet space for God to bring impression to my heart for the coming season
  • Note: Becky and I both try to get 1-2 of these in a year [alone… meaning… without spouse or kids]. Even if you can only swing 1x per year for each of you… totally worth it. Becky always comes back from these feeling refreshed and envisioned for not only herself, but also for our family. This rhythm for families is a total game changer. Dudes [men], it’s totally worth it. Give your wife a weekend to herself [at least] and watch it impact your family culture. You’re welcome.

 

Inventory for Quarterly [Yearly] Retreat

Observation

  1. Joy/Delight | What 20% of my responsibilities cause 80% of my overall level of joy/delight?
  2. Anxiety/Stress | What 20% of my responsibilities cause 80% of my overall level of anxiety/stress?

Practical Steps

  1. What practical ways over the next quarter [year] can I can increase my amount of joy/delight based on my answer to question 1? (activities, rhythms)
  1. What practical ways over the next quarter [year] can I mitigate the amount of stress based on my answer to question 2?
  1. Write a list over the course of your retreat of the craziest ideas [personal goals, life-giving thoughts, refreshing activities, wildest dreams] that come to mind. Toward the end of your retreat, or when you are back to normal life, take some time to determine which ideas [or some version of an idea] are plausible and exciting to think about executing in this coming season or over the coming year. Take these ideas add them to your calendar with actionable steps.

 

Continue the conversation

There it is! I hope some of these rhythms and tools are sparking your mind toward your own practical spirituality. As I mentioned, the specifics change from season to season. It’s the value for rhythms of retreat that stays constant.

I would love to hear your thoughts as you process this content and integrate them into your own experience. As always, drop a comment to continue the conversation. Happy 2018!

Cheers,
Phil Rice

 

find me social —Instagram —Twitter —Facebook —Soundcloud

find me here too —philrice.blogPractical Spirituality —Ember

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

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

intention for philrice.blog

I thought I would take a moment and briefly articulate my intention for philrice.blog.

Hey guys! Phil Rice here. I created philrice.blog as a way to give my music and my thoughts on practical spirituality a place to live. It’s as a resource for people looking for additional perspective on living in-tune with self and connected to God.

And that’s it, really.

Practically speaking…

If you don’t currently follow my written content, but would like to, you’re welcome to join in here -> CLICK

Or if you’ve been following for a while, but would like to delve into more music driven content through my membership community [$3/mo], you can do so here -> CLICK

The philrice.blog membership community is the place I’m able to give more personal interaction around my writing. It also includes monthly worshipful/meditative music content. If you’d like more details on either subscription or membership community, you can find them here -> CLICK

In short — I’m committed to showing up and I’d love to see you when I do.

 

Cheers!

Phil Rice

 

find me social — Instagram — Twitter — Facebook — Soundcloud

find me here too — philrice.blog — Ember

 

excerpt: On Knowing God — Colossians 2

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form (Colossians 2).

To know Christ is to know the Father. To know Christ is to know the fullness of the Deity – the fullness of God. Wild, yeah? Take a little time tucked away and read through this excerpt from Colossians 2. Think about what it means. What does fullness mean? What does Deity living in bodily form mean? As you begin to connect those dots back to the third word in this excerpt — Christ — ask Holy Spirit to give you understanding on who he is. Ask him to help you connect Christ and fullness and Deity lives in bodily form. Write down some of your thoughts about who Christ is and what it means for him to be both Deity and human being.

Spend a few moments thanking God specifically for each new phrase of understanding he gives you.

Whisper

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, Sarah Bingaman’s Heart Living content has been incredibly impactful to me these last 12 months. One of my big take aways is her content on the Journey out of Religiosity. I wouldn’t have considered myself a destructively religious person, but as I continued to relate with the Lord through the last 12 months I realized that in many areas I was hanging on to self constructed scaffolding instead of responding to the movement of his Spirit.

The idea that I was actually created to hear and respond to the whispers of his spirit so challenges my desire for consistency and control. I began to take inventory of all of the places that structure and scaffolding was actually perpetuating my regular connection with God and then the realization… there’s another way.

A mold is put in place in order to set that which is inside. The mold is not the final experience. The intention from the beginning [like Adam + Eve beginning] was that we would commune with God in a fluid natural experience of relational response.

I found it to be a helpful process to begin to ask the questions: In what areas am I simply leaning on my scaffolding? Is this scaffolding still necessary for the season that I’m in? Does God want to relate to me more naturally? God… do you want to relate to me differently… if so… how?