Just as babies drink milk and mature people eat solid food, new followers of Jesus require spiritual milk and need to be fed; whereas established followers should be able to feed themselves, that is, grow spiritually. When believers can spiritually feed themselves, they are spiritually mature.
Spiritual gifts are abilities and powers that Jesus gives to each of his followers, as he sees fit for the effective functioning of his church. Three key passages about spiritual gifts are 1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12:4-8, and Ephesians 4:7-13.
A list of the gifts are:
- administration / ruling
- apostleship / pioneering
- creative communication
- encouraging / exhorting
- pastor / shepherding
- prophecy / perceiving
- serving / ministry
- showing mercy
Spiritual disciplines are practices we willingly pursue in response to a God who created us, saved us, and guides us. Spiritual disciplines draw us closer to God, deepen our understanding of who he is, and help make us into the men and women he desires us to become.
Spiritual disciplines are not something we do out of guilt or obligation; they are not a way to gain God’s attention or earn our salvation.
The list of spiritual disciplines is varied and inexact. Prayer, Bible study, fasting, and meditation are commonly cited examples of spiritual disciplines. Many people end the list with these four, whereas others add additional activities.
Q: What is a spiritual discipline?
A: A spiritual discipline draws us closer to God, deepens our understanding of who he is, and helps make us into the men and women he desires us to become.
Spiritual disciplines are practices that we willingly pursue in response to the God who created us, saved us, and guides us. Spiritual disciplines aren’t something we do out of guilt or obligation; they aren’t a way to gain God’s attention or earn our way to heaven.
The list of spiritual disciplines is inexact. Prayer, Bible study, fasting, and meditation are common spiritual disciplines. Some people end the list with these four, whereas others cite additional activities.
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Many churches have a time of greeting at some point in their service. This can range from awkward to inviting.
At some of these churches people merely shake hands and mumble a rote greeting. Other congregations actually make eye contact and smile as they greet one another. And at a few places, a meaningful connection begins.
One of the 52 churches we visited carried this to an extreme. The minister told us to “greet one another with a holy kiss.” It was a bit creepy, marking one of my more uncomfortable moments that year. Fortunately, few people attended that Sunday, so the number of holy kisses we received was minimal.
I know this is biblical, with Paul mentioning it four times. But I don’t really know what it means. Even after experiencing it, I can’t describe it, except for creepy. And Paul doesn’t explain it or offer instructions; he just says to do it. But we can infer a few things.
Church: Each time Paul mentions holy kiss, it’s in a letter to a church, so it must be just for the church community. I take this to imply that outsiders (or in our case, visitors) are not included.
Intimate: A kiss is an intimate sign of affection. Since the context is church, we might want to dismiss a holy kiss as being an act of physical intimacy, instead understanding it as spiritual intimacy.
Holy: Something sacred or hallowed.
This implies a holy kiss is a sacred act of spiritual intimacy for a church community, but I still don’t know how to do it.
The Bible says that our being — our entity — is comprised of spirit, soul, and body. That is something to contemplate.
At first glance, I’d be inclined to reverse the order, from the most tangible (body) to the least (spirit).
However, considering that God — who is spirit — made us in his image, it is appropriate to list spirit first, thereby making it foremost. Seemingly, it is our spirit — not our body — where our primary essence exists.
My friend Nate explains it this way: We are a spirit, we have a soul (comprising of mind, will, and emotion), and we live in a body.
Our body, where our spirit and soul currently resides, is both temporal and temporary; it is finite and will one day end.
Our spirit, however, is not likewise restricted. That is another thing to contemplate.
Could there be a spiritual realm that is more real than the physical realm in which we live? I hope so; I think so.
[1 Thessalonians 5:23]
We live in a physical world. We can interact with it though our senses; it is tangible; it is real.
While this is true, there is more — much more. There is a spiritual reality that is even more real then the physical realm that we call home. Consider that God exists in the spiritual realm; it existed first and always has. It is from this spiritual reality that he created our physical world in which we live. (Don’t get distracted on how this creation occurred.)
In his letter to the people who lived in Thessalonica, Paul talks about our spirit, soul, and body. How do these three aspects of who we are interact and co-exist?
It’s been said that we are a spirit, we have a soul, and we live in a body. Furthermore, our soul is comprised of our mind, will, and emotions. That puts things in the proper order, giving us a good perspective on our existence and what is most important. Although our body is temporal and will die, our spirit will live on, existing in the spiritual realm. Though it is good and right to take care of our body, it is wiser and better to care for our spirit, because we are a spirit, we just live in a body.
[1 Thessalonians 5:23]