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Living in the Spirit
Loving One Another
Rickey Cotton's Blog
Sunday, 1 August 2010
Silence and Writing
Greetings, Spiritual Friends. I am posting a poem I wrote some time ago about silence and writing. Blessings to all, Rickey


Yes, I submit to you, silence,
and gladly, too.
I have learned that those
who would use words well
must understand what words cannot do,
must realize that words
emerge from silence
and must find the ground of their meaning
in their silent source.
Perhaps later I will write.
But now I will sit in your presence,
still and open,
resting in your quiet embrace.

Posted by rickeycotton at 9:04 PM EDT
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Saturday, 4 April 2009
The Desert Experience

In the desert you must face yourself, every aspect of yourself, your fears, temptations. You confront your own heart and your heart’s deepest desires, without any scapegoats, nothing hidden. In it you wrestle with the rebellious forces of your nature.


Yet in the desert one also encounters the call to divine encounter. In the desert you encounter your true state and must face it without blaming others or your past. You are invited to shape off all forms of idolatry and distraction and fully engage the divine reality. You enter into a deeper, more complete relationship with the transcendent realm, the presence of the boundless God whose grace is without limits. The desert is the call to go beyond oneself and be transfigured in the presence of the Holy One. The desert mothers and fathers did not go to the desert to prove a point but to prove themselves.


For us the desert signifies not a place but a way. We do not have to literally go to a desert—though we may chose to for a time. But on the spiritual level we do have to go through the desert. The desert is a necessary stage on the spiritual journey. To try to avoid it would be to refuse the fullness of God’s call.


As most of us know, we usually do not have to seek the desert—the desert will seek us. Everyone goes through the desert in one way or another, really multiple times. The forms of desert experience may include failure, suffering, breakdown, divorce, loss of loved ones—any or several of the traumas that life brings. We all suffer.


We will be tempted at times to try to escape or to distract ourselves with activity, food, addictive behaviors, work.


But accepting the utter loneliness and inner fearfulness of the desert experience is vital deep and genuine spiritual growth. If we go through desert experiences involuntarily, they can crush us. But if we welcome them and seek God in them, we can be transformed. God desires not to deliver us from desert experiences, but to join us in them.

Posted by rickeycotton at 1:28 PM EDT
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Sunday, 4 November 2007
Remaining in Christ: the Contemplative State
Topic: Union
John 15:4: “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” 

The “remaining” Jesus speaks of in this passage is translated in the King James version as “abiding.” I believe it refers to living in and from the Spirit of Jesus. Other ways of thinking of it are as “communing” with the Spirit or “resting” in the Spirit even in the midst of action. Mystics have described it as the contemplative state as opposed to contemplative prayer. The point is a permanent state of connection and responsiveness to Jesus. It requires a transformation of consciousness, a change in our awareness so that we are able to have a sense of God’s presences and move in step with him as reality develops and unfolds moment by moment. In this way we can be his witness and his instrument. Coming to this place is a long-term process, a journey. Humility and a tender spirit are essential. Developing this kind of relationship with the Lord is my prayer for us all.

Posted by rickeycotton at 8:33 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 4 November 2007 8:35 AM EDT
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Sunday, 21 October 2007
True Self/False Self
Topic: Living in the Spirit

Colossians 3:8-11: But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

Paul speaks in these verses of the old self and the new self. Some contemporary writers use the terms false self and true self to address this issue—which makes a good point. Ephesians 4:22 speaks of the old self having deceitful desires, so, yes, it is false, it is deceiving, it is misleading. But to the degree that we abide in Christ we are free of this old self, this false self, with its misleading desires and all the confusion and pain it brings. Achieving this freedom to be our new self, our true self, is not a quick process; it takes time and much spiritual experience to learn to live in communion with the Spirit, to be able to abide in Christ. But it is our calling—our promise—and as we persevere, we experience more and more the reality that truly “Christ is all, and is in all.”

Posted by rickeycotton at 6:15 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 21 October 2007 6:23 PM EDT
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Sunday, 14 October 2007
Spiritual Dialogue
Topic: Loving One Another

Ephesians 4:2: Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Spiritual dialogue means dialogue that is radically open to God and to one another. It is dialogue in which we do not try to get things done but instead seek to be fully present to one another and to God in the present moment, to the unfolding of his life in our lives in the present moment. While we should desire to bring this kind of dynamic more and more into our everyday lives, we need to set aside special times with one another for this practice, recognizing that much of life does require being task oriented and getting things done. Spiritual dialogue involves intentional, skillful humility and vulnerability.

Posted by rickeycotton at 3:46 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 21 October 2007 6:24 PM EDT
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Saturday, 6 October 2007
That All May Be One
Topic: Union

John 17:20-21: "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” 

This is a startling section of scripture. I wonder how often we think about what it really means and ask what the practical implications are. Sadly it often seems we already have our ideas about God and the Christian life, and that what the Bible actually says or the way God actually operates doesn’t alter our preconceptions.  

It matters where we think God is and what our position in regard to him actually is. This scripture states as fact that we are to be in God as the Father is in the Son and the Son is in the Father and that we are to be one as they are. It’s what Jesus prayed for. If we love God and are serious about our love, we need to make it a reality in our lives, to actualize it. Not in our own strength or time, but by cooperating with God’s presence and action in our lives. It’s a process, I think, a journey. But God is serious about it. And if we are serious about it, it will make a dramatic difference in the way we relate to God and to one another. We will seek more and more to love like God and actually live in and live as expressions of him.


Posted by rickeycotton at 8:24 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 21 October 2007 6:17 PM EDT
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Thursday, 4 October 2007
Blessed Are The Peacemakers
Topic: Peacemaking

Matthew 5:9: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Peacemakers are not much honored in contemporary American society. Americans too often honor assertiveness or even aggressiveness. But there is a tension, I think, between being an American and being a Christian, a certain paradox that we are called to live out. The words of Jesus have to matter to us. We need to struggle understanding and implementing them. It isn’t fully clear to me how to be a peacemaker in our time. These days it seems to me that we might say, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be shot at by both sides.” But this isn’t how Jesus saw it. He said, “…for they will be called children of God.” I want this—to be recognizable as a child of God. And I bet you do, too. So let’s try to help one another understand how Jesus wants us to be peacemakers in our time. And help one another find the strength and courage to do it, so that we too may be called children of God.

Posted by rickeycotton at 3:15 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 4 October 2007 3:29 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 3 October 2007
A New Command
Topic: Loving One Another


John 13:34—“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” 

The Golden Rule seems hard enough. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” That’s a difficult challenge. In fact, early in his ministry Jesus said it was like the greatest command, the one about loving God with all our being. But in John 13, late in his ministry, Jesus gives a new command in regard to love. No longer are his followers to love their neighbors as themselves. Now they have to love like Jesus did. To love like God does. That is, to love others more than you love yourself, to love them even at the expense of your own life. Let us pray for ourselves and one another that we will develop the maturity and skill to love in this way, to love like Jesus. It’s our calling.

Posted by rickeycotton at 10:38 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 14 October 2007 4:10 PM EDT
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Sunday, 30 September 2007
Reflection on Rom. 8:4-9
Topic: Living in the Spirit

Roman 8:4-9Walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God's law—indeed it cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you….  

This scripture speaks of our great calling to “live in the Spirit.” But to lean how to effectively live in the Spirit is a long-term process, a spiritual journey. We are given the Spirit in a moment, but to live in accordance with the Spirit must be learned. Our primary teacher is the Holy Spirit himself; for him to teach us we must spend regular time simply being in his presence. This requires the practice of silence and solitude, seeking the Giver and not his gifts. Over the course of church history this has often been called Contemplative Prayer or Contemplation. What these words really mean is to “rest in the Spirit” or to “be in the presence of the Spirit.” By simply being in the presence of the Lord we become more and more like him.

Posted by rickeycotton at 6:58 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 30 September 2007 7:59 PM EDT
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