Thrive Spiritually | 3 Practical Ways To Thrive In Spirit

Expounding on Practical Spirituality

In my article, How I Approach Practical Spirituality [a starting place], I communicate the need for body and mind to be cared for in order to thrive spiritually. Now, I’m not saying that there are not spiritual practices that also go into practical spirituality [right?], simply, that if the plane can’t fly… we’re not going anywhere.

How do you thrive spiritually [practically speaking]?

Again, there is no exact method, but here are three practices that surface when I process how to thrive spiritually through the framework of caring for body and mind.

Sleep [margin of the body]

 As obvious as this sounds, if I’m not getting enough sleep, then I’m not thriving physically… in other words, the vehicle gifted to me by God to house my spirit and to navigate life on this planet is out of fuel and will not propel me anywhere. How’s this for practical? -> I own a fitbit watch that keeps track of how much I sleep at night. It tracks good sleep, restless sleep, and intermittent waking during the night. After using it for several months, I found that if I don’t average somewhere in between 7–7.75 hours of sleep a night, I immediately move out of the thriving category and land back in the out of fuel and going nowhere category.

Headspace [margin of the mind]

When I’m overwhelmed with work, projects, or new ideas, it can be easy for me to become distracted during times that I do have carved out for meditation, prayer, reading scripture [practices that help me cultivate a posture toward listening to God], and even sleep. When I find that my mind doesn’t have room for it all [and it doesn’t take much], I cling to my homemade bullet journal as a lifeline. In it, I have a calendar of my productive work and include actionable steps for each project that allow me to focus on small anxiety free steps. In the back of my bullet journal, I also keep a section for notes and ideas that I can come back to when I have time blocked off to process new ideas or thoughts. As my mind begins to clutter, I simply jot ideas down and release them from my mind [especially effective at night when I’m trying to wind down and get to sleep… sleep? yep… sleep— see aforementioned paragraph].

Downtime [margin as a lifestyle]

When our family finds that we are too busy during the evenings, we get out the calendar and look to the coming month and book evening after evening with what we call the no fly zone. These are evenings that we are committed to nothing. We try to make a habit of having two no fly zone boxes each week. This doesn’t mean we have to sit quietly on these evenings, but just means we can do whatever sounds fun to our family in the moment on those evenings. You may be way better at this than we are, so you may not need the boxes, but this has been SO helpful for us!

What would you add to the list?

There you have it! Just a quick group of Phil Rice practices that first come to mind when I think about being intentional in caring for body and mind in order to thrive spiritually. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and process. Feel free to leave a comment in the comment section so that all can benefit from our continued conversation!

Cheers,
Phil Rice

 

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find me here too —philrice.blogPractical Spirituality —Ember

On Experiencing God — Exodus 33 [a practical, devotional study of scripture]

Excerpt from Devotional Sessions | Practical Spirituality

And it came to pass, when Moses entered the tabernacle, that the pillar of cloud descended and stood at the door of the tabernacle… So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend (Exodus 33:9-11, prompted from Devotional Sessions – Phil Rice).

Go ahead and read through this passage several times. As many times as you need to let the scene settle into your heart. Moses and God experienced one another in friendship. They experienced one another face to face.

Jesus says, I no longer call you servants, I call you friends. Jesus is friendship with God. He came to the earth to call us to friendship with him. What does friendship look like between you and him? Is that a new thought for you? Why don’t you take some time and ask God what friendship looks like for you two. Write down any thoughts that come to mind and thank him that he wants to relate to you in these ways.

My personal engagement with this session

What do I have if not friendship with God? This is the very purpose of Emmanuel [God with us]. He no longer calls us servants, but friends. For me, to only experience God as a far off and distant creator is to entirely miss what Jesus came to us to restore. He is Emmanuel, God with us! This is staggering to me. What is my response? I begin with friendship as a primary filter for my process. God, my friend, I want to know what you think about this situation/circumstance/individual/etc. God, my friend, this is how I think about…

I have been brought into the family/community of God and into real conversation with God. I’m not just saved from death. I am brought into a community of friends. Friendship is an ever evolving experience. My experiencing God continually evolves. He is not summed up in the words of a devotional text. Nor is he a far off, distant God. He is my friend. I experience him and he experiences me.

 

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

Not at church? — Phil Rice

I want to continue the Phil Rice story in unpacking one way that my family and I have been walking out Practical Spirituality in our own world.

While on the earth, Jesus did a pretty incredible thing [a pretty incredible series of things]. Though for now, let’s just focus on a single piece of the puzzle. Jesus, Emmanuel — God among us. This piece of who Jesus is has always resonated with me. Jesus, came to the earth, he left his home, he left his omnipresence, and he became a man. He did this in order to relate to me [you] specifically, he knows me, knows my culture, knows the human condition. He’s in. Talk about being spiritually practical [and actionable].

I love this about Jesus… but I’m having trouble with it… so take this as a Phil Rice wrestling through a thing, kind of thing [Mmk?].

So, if you’re up for it, I’d love for you to join me in walking through a few thoughts.

Jesus [Emmanuel] left his palace in the sky [the description of this place is pretty wild… you should check it out if you haven’t] — Ezekiel 43, Revelation 4, Revelation 21. He left his culture, his closest relationships, his servants [can’t relate there… or with the palace in the sky actually], his place of influence… and he came to a new place. He came to the earth, he was born into our world [like really born… slimy, bloody, bodily fluid born]. He lived the life of an outcast. He didn’t fit into his family. He didn’t fit into his culture. And he definitely didn’t fit with in the religious system [he didn’t fit in so much that those overseeing the system actually killed him].

Why did he come to us? Because we wouldn’t go to him.

So, why did Jesus come to us? Because we wouldn’t go to him. Every time God tried to reach in to communicate his desire for nearness with humanity, we eventually silenced him in one way or another. So he came to us.

No problem so far? Cool… well… here’s the Phil Rice wrestle… no… actually, here’s a brief story…

At the end of 2015, Becky and I said goodbye to an amazing church community here in Norman, Oklahoma. This community and its leadership impacted our lives in ways that have changed us forever. In the fall of 2015, it was decided that the organization would fold. Families and individuals sought the Lord for what was next [from beginning to end and beyond, an incredibly painful and challenging season of time for everyone involved]. In the end, people landed in one place or another. Many families joined other church organizations in the area, a few families continued meeting together regularly in homes, and then a few of us just waited. And, to be honest, two years later, Becky and I are waiting.

Waiting for what?

Something that Becky and I immediately noticed in January of 2016 was the state of our calendar… it was empty. For the first time ever [like…ever], it was empty. We went from being at the center of a large community of weekly gathering, passionately worshipping, friend inviting, communally praying, followers of Jesus… to just being… us. No plan, no strategy, no organizational mechanism to move us forward. We were us. And, you know what we found? It was so refreshing.

It wasn’t refreshing because we didn’t love our church community of 12 years and grieve it’s end. It wasn’t refreshing because we were so glad to be done with church. It was refreshing because there was space. There was space to listen to God and to one another. There was space to ask questions about what it could look like for Rice party of four to follow Jesus together. Those 12 years were a most incredible bootcamp. We were given tools, values, perspectives, and then… we were released into the wild with a piece of rope and a snickers bar. Going to find another bootcamp just didn’t feel like the answer for us, we were ready, we were waiting… we are waiting… but waiting for what?

Here’s the Phil Rice wrestle… the magnetic pull of organized church

Our family calendar reflects the values of our family, explicitly or implicitly. When Becky and I were part of a church community of 200 people, our calendar was magnetically pulled toward the center of the community — the relationships we were pulled towards, the activities we participated in, the practices we adopted. This would probably be true of anyone in any group. And… We loved it. We loved the people, we aligned with the practices. We were in.

But then we looked around. And we found that our calendar was filled to the brim with meaningful activities with other Jesus followers. We had created our own palace, filled with all the comforts of adoring Jesus in a culture that adores Jesus. We gaped when we realized the level of energy we [personally] were spending managing “discipling relationships” with people who were already followers of Jesus and how little of our energy went to knowing and discipling those still on the path to knowing him.

That’s not to say we didn’t reach out to people outside of our palace to invite them in. We did. But it just wasn’t their palace. It was’t their culture. Don’t misunderstand, we had individuals meet Jesus through our community of friends and join our community. Their lives were impacted, they were impowered, and I love their stories. But it took a lot of social bravery on their behalf to leave their culture and to come into ours. But what of their friends and what of their families? What if they weren’t as brave?

Is there another way we could approach some of this?

I can’t help but ask the question. Does the way we organize hinder many from experiencing God’s spirit through genuine, real relationship with the Jesus follower? Does the way we organize bar the Jesus follower from being the extension of Emmanuel, the God who brings relevance from within a culture, simply because there isn’t relational time on the calendar?

So here we are… in the midst of the wrestle

So here we are. Two years later. Just us. We haven’t joined a church. We haven’t started a church. Now, we do have close friends who also follow Jesus. We share meals and experiences with these friends. We’ve had book clubs with these friends. We are even in group therapy with some of these friends [are you part of a small group? … um… I go to therapy?]. But something really helpful is happening… there’s no magnetic pull to the palace at the center. Because there’s no center and there’s no palace.

Taking our cues and taking our time

In the spring of 2016, we spent some time in Portland with Paul Watson — read his book, it’ll change your life… not kidding. We walked away from our time with him with 3 things God spoke clearly to us.

  • Be near to me
  • Love my words
  • Love your life

I can honestly say, if we’ve done nothing else these last two years, we’ve done these things. We have sought to be near to the Lord. We have continued to meditate on his words and we have listened for his direction. We’ve loved our life. We’ve given ourselves permission to love things, to enjoy things… What if I took this pottery class? Or I went to yoga in the park? What if we started this book club? How about a special dinner Sunday evenings with close friends and family, giving us space to remember God’s goodness together? What if my business went in this direction or yours went in that direction? And we’ve found ourselves among lots of different people. We’ve had real conversations about real things. We’ve listened. We’ve shared. We’ve received. We’ve offered help and experience.

We’re taking our cues from Emmanuel — God with us, God among us. We left the palace. And now we’re asking God, What does it look like to bring light and understanding to places without? We don’t have lots of answers, but we do have our questions, our compass bearing. So, I guess it’s not really waiting at this point. It’s simply listening for his voice at each step and knowing that we are on the path he has set before us.

Any thoughts?

I’d love to continue the conversation in the comments section. Please feel free to share how our process hits you personally. As I said, this is a journey— an un-plotted map on an extended adventure. We would love to glean from your experience.

Cheers,
Phil Rice

 

find me social —Instagram —Twitter —Facebook —Soundcloud

find me here too —philrice.blogPractical Spirituality —Ember

On Experiencing God — Revelation 1:18 [a practical, devotional study of scripture]

Excerpt from Devotional Sessions | Practical Spirituality

Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen (Revelation 1:18, prompted from Devotional Sessions – Phil Rice).

In the quietness of the morning [or evening] take some extended time to experience Jesus as the one who is first and as the one who is last. Meditate on Jesus, the one who has always been, who was within the the fullness of God before the earth was even created… so wild. Meditate on Jesus, the one who will always be, the ruler, the king, the Lord of Lords and the God of Gods, the one who will be worshipped forever… [like forever forever].

 

My personal engagement with this session:

I mean… if this doesn’t completely fry my mental capacity, then I’m not really listening. I love this. In this passage of scripture, Jesus is absolutely communicating that he is God, he is the great being who is beyond our comprehension, the one who’s throne resides in heaven, in unapproachable light. He is not simply a man who did amazingly noteworthy things while on the earth. Nor was he simply a man who had a special connection to God. Jesus has always been God and there is no one like him. What a powerful distinction.

As I meditate on this reality, I realize that I know so little about him. Nor can I experience the fullness of him. I am grounded by his vastness and his power. I am astounded by his meekness. God, the one who spoke all that exists into being, came into his creation, unnoticed by mankind. God, left his omnipotence in the form of a man, he left his palace, and he came to be with us.

Thank you Jesus. You are glorious. You are more than I can comprehend or experience. As I meditate on you, the one who has always been and will always be, let me experience you, God, just a little more. Open my heart to know you more and more. Open my heart to experience you in a greater capacity.

 

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

4 Practices I’ve Found Helpful for Spending time with God

These are a few practices I’ve found helpful for spending time with God.

Walks — If I find that my heart is having trouble engaging while spending time with God and I can’t sit still… I don’t. I walk with God [literally]. Even a lap around the neighborhood or the park is helpful. If I put in my iPhone ear buds, I can talk to God out loud and it looks like I’m just walking and talking on the phone [fantastic].

Fasting — Fasting is such a powerful practice. Even if you’re just fasting breakfast and lunch, there’s something special about going without food in order to hear more clearly from God. He loves to come close as we reach for him. If you’re new to fasting, The Rewards of Fasting by Mike Bickle and Dana Candler is a really helpful resource. You can even get a free PDF version from Mike’s website. It’s a quick read and it’s full of gold!

Get Specific — When I’m having trouble finding space in my schedule to be alone with God. I find it helpful to block out specific times in my calendar. It’s also helpful to come into these blocks of time with a plan, even if that plan is simply to sit and make room for God to speak. The Read Scripture App from the Crazy Love team has been something I’ve really been enjoying. I don’t read everything and check all the boxes, it’s just a nice, consistent rhythm when I need one.

Shake It Up — Be spontaneous! Go be alone with God in a public place. Find a coffee shop, go to a wooded area, find a park bench, and be with God.

That’s my short list. How about you? What does spending time with God look like?

If you have any other practices that have been helpful for you, please continue the conversation in the comments section for all to benefit from!

Cheers,
Phil Rice

 

find me social —Instagram —Twitter —Facebook —Soundcloud

find me here too —philrice.blogPractical Spirituality —Ember

On Experiencing God — John 6 [a practical, biblical study of scripture]

Excerpt from Devotional Sessions | Practical Spirituality

But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life (John 6:68, prompted from Devotional Sessions – Phil Rice).

Take some quiet space, away from distraction and ask the question… How do I experience Jesus? Do I experience him in a compartment of my life? As an auxiliary experience or luxury? Or is he my end, the fullness of my experience?

Jesus, I want to experience you as my all, my end. I want to be one who says, where else could I go? I have searched and I have found no other like you. I have searched and I have found no other thoughts like your thoughts. You are my end.

My personal engagement with this session:

This passage of scripture brings such refreshing dimension to my conversation with God. It’s as if all of the little things feeding the worries of this life are set aside for a moment and we begin interacting around real things… deep things, the things well below the surface. These thoughts allow me to experience Jesus for who he truly is, not commodity, not auxiliary. But all.

Thank you Jesus that you have invited me to be with you where you are. Thank you that you’ve invited me to know you as the fullness of life, as the beginning and as the end.

What life. What refreshment.

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

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