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?

excerpt: On Knowing God — Psalm 27

One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple (Psalm 27).

A few things that stick out to me in this passage are the phrases — [one thing I ask] and [only do I seek]. Take a few moments and think through the single mindedness of these phrases. Take them to the Lord and ask him, Lord, is this how I seek you? Is this how I gaze on your beauty? Or are there other things that take my attention?

As things come to mind, write them down. Invite Holy Spirit to show you how to take these distractions and set them aside, so that you will more fully be able to pray to the Lord, One thing I ask…

excerpt: On Knowing God – Exodus 33

So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend (Exodus 33).

Find a quiet place away from distraction [whether a park bench near the office or a pair of headphones in a crowded cafe]. Read over this section from Exodus, and take a moment and reflect on a few questions: What do I like to do with friends? What do we talk about? Where do we go? What do we do?

Then, shifting gears a little, ask God [out-loud or in your thoughts], God, what do you like to do? What do you like to talk about? Where do you like to go when we talk? Allow yourself some additional quiet space to wait. Does anything come to mind? Does any place stand out to you in this moment? Plan some time to think through your next few weeks and see where you can incorporate some time with God in these places, doing these things [be sure to pick things from both your list and his].

Before you end your session, read over this passage from Exodus one more time and invite the Lord to bring you into deeper friendship with him.

 

Phil Rice — philrice.blog
Executive Director of Ember