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Adventure in Living Through the Spirit
Session 3: Delusions, Reality and Release
Interactive Response Version

Welcome to Friends in Christ's interactive course, Adventure in Living through the Spirit. This course is presently being held at Greenbelt Middle School. If you can attend these classes, you will benefit from the interaction among those who attend. If you are unable to attend in person, then this interactive web site will hopefully give you a sense of the course and the spiritual potential it can open for you.

If you have not already done so, please review the Introduction and Mind and Heart sections of the curriculum, and also read our piece on Using the Bible.

In this class, we will attempt to delve into the issue of self awareness. It is so difficult and yet so important to look at ourselves honestly. Without a sense of honest self awareness, we can not look to God for our true needs. It always seems easier to see faults and problems in others than in ourselves. The barrier to honest self awareness lies in our attachment to our self image. Over the years, we cultivate a concept of ourselves which we like others to see and which we ourselves like to see. This self image protects us from the painful admission of our faults and problems. It is like a protective coating over the truth. It takes determination to pursue honest self awareness, the first step to repentance and new spiritual growth.

Write a list of your own actions (or failures to act) for the last month. Characterize each of them as positive or negative in God's sight. Be as honest with yourself as you can.

Now read the Bible selections for this session. As you read, listen carefully for Christ speaking to you through the words.

Luke 18:10-14
tax collector and the Pharisee
1 John 1:8-9
admit sin

The parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18:9-14 sets out a vivid contrast. To enhance this teaching story, Jesus has described each person in extreme. Dismissing the Pharisee as a bad person misses the powerful challenge of this story. The Pharisee has many good moral qualities. He is trying to behave as a virtuous person. All of us know this is no easy task. We should admire him for this effort. His one and serious problem is that in his heart he feels in control of his own spiritual life. Although he pretends to pray and thank God, he is not really doing so. You can tell that he feels that he already has things under control himself. He does not need God. His pride has separated him from God and other people. On the other hand, the tax collector is acutely aware of his continual sinfulness. Daily, he is in the business of exploiting others, especially the poor and weak. He deeply feels the need for God's pity and love. When he turns to heaven in prayer, we feel that he is genuinely reaching out to God. There is no sense that he is in control of his life. Jesus is teaching us that our inner recognition of our need for God is essential for a true relationship with God. The lesson in 1 John 1:8-9 sums this up bluntly: @quot;if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves ... But if we confess our sins to God, ... he will forgive us our sins and purify us ...@quot;

Remember the story of the man with the demons in Mark 5:1-13. Review your life. Are you struggling with a moral dilemma, an addiction or a weakness which is like a demon imprisoning you? If so, name that demon and pray for God's healing power. Write down with what you are struggling.

In each class session, we discuss and use a spiritual practice which Christians have employed over the centuries to be open to a deeper relationship with God. Today's practice is the Jesus Prayer, long used and valued in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Its most popular form derives from the tax collector's cry in today Bible selection. See Jesus Prayer handout. Try this practice for ten minutes. Write down your experiences. Then try it for ten minutes on a daily basis for a week.

We suggest you end this session in silent prayer. If you would like Bill Samuel and/or John Smallwood of the Friends in Christ Core Ministry Team to respond to the thoughts you have written above, please give us your name and email address (and what further information you choose) and submit it using the Submit button below. If not, we suggest you print it for your own use using the print function of your browser. (Our tests indicate you should not try to email it to yourself using the Send Page function of your browser, as you will get only the preprinted information, not what you've written.) If you choose not to send us what you've written, but would still like to be in touch with us, please communicate with us using our Feedback form.

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Document last modified on Saturday, 27-Dec-2003 09:34:20 EST