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Essence Of Christianity

I have been/am blessed to Rowland personally, and he is one of those rare people who is always learning. growing, and asking the hard questions This is one of his sermons….

Essence Of Christianity

by Rowland Croucher

Human beings have three basic needs – for unconditional love, a sense of belonging, and a purpose for their lives.

When I was asked to speak about the essence of Christianity tonight, I thought of these these three basic human needs – they partly explain why I am a follower of Jesus.

1. ACCEPTANCE / UNCONDITIONAL LOVE

When a child is born – and, indeed, from conception – it receives messages, non-verbal and verbal, from the significant people in its life about its worth. A person’s mental and emotional health right through life is built on that foundation.

An article in the March 2002 issue of Scientific American, ‘The Neurobiology of Child Abuse’ (Dr Martin Teicher, Harvard Medical School) claims that child abuse actually affects the structure of the brain. Later in life this causes depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, post-traumatic stress disorders, etc. Dr. Teicher: ‘Early maltreatment damages the hippocampus by over-exposing it to stress hormones.’ Research into all this has produced the discipline of ‘biopsychiatry’. So all the little, caring inputs to a child’s life are incredibly important. When you cradle your child gently and sing ‘Rock-a-Bye Baby’ there are long-term effects of that gift of gentle love…

Is this negative process curable? To a considerable extent, yes (which is one reason why the motto of our little counseling practice is ‘It’s never too late to have a happy childhood’!) And that’s one reason I believe in Jesus. He set us an example of relating to others in terms of their being made in the image of God. His habit, when meeting ‘damaged’ people, was to offer them unconditional love – love-before-worth, not love responding to worth.

The Pharisees and other religious leaders in Jesus’ day didn’t understand that. (They still don’t). Some of them taught, for example, that Gentiles were created to be fuel for the fires of hell. They defined people in terms of their sinfulness or their otherness. To the woman caught in the act of adultery Jesus first said ‘I do not condemn you’ before ‘Go and sin no more’. Even the early church fathers couldn’t understand that, which is why the story went missing from many manuscripts between 140 and 400 AD!

At a prayer breakfast in Melbourne a year or two ago I offered a little prayer which included the line: ‘Lord, thank you for loving us before we change, as we change, after we change, and whether we change or not.’ The emails I received were astonishing. Many experienced Christians had never thought of God like that!

2. BELONGING. A child – indeed anyone of any age – needs a sense of belonging to be a whole person. ‘This is my family, my people, my place.’ The institution Jesus founded to fulfil this need is the church. Which raises some interesting and disturbing questions. Why are there more people who claim to pray, and who believe in God, NOT in church these days than at any time in the church’s history?

That’s a complex question, and there are many articles on the John Mark Ministries website about it all. Briefly: our commercial culture has rejected the ‘one size fits all’ notion, and people’s expectations have become highly specialized in terms of ‘what they want’ from church. Also, I believe, there’s more ‘projection/transference’ going on as the tender fabric of our community life unravels. We want the church to be a substitute for the ‘family values’ we did not experience, and are usually disappointed.

‘The church is full of hypocrites’. Of course it is. That’s what the church is for. The people in it are not yet fully redeemed. They’re in process of becoming whole, and that includes those who get into leadership in the church.

But I believe that a follower of Jesus has to ask another question: What does he think of the church? He loves it. It’s his bride. He delights in the church. We humans have been infected with this ‘you get the love/esteem you deserve’ mentality. Jesus doesn’t think like that. He offers the church – even the church! – unconditional love. We live in families to experience love-in-the-midst-of- imperfection. Ditto the church. As we mature in the faith of Jesus we too will love the church, in spite of its imperfections.

If sociology has taught us anything, it has affirmed (in the words of Robert Merton) that ‘all institutions are inherently degenerative.’ The evil in institutions is greater than the sum of the evil of the individuals within them. Institutions organize themselves to organize the behaviour and beliefs of the humans. So the church-as-institution, for example, offers us creeds to regulate our beliefs and constitutions to regulate our behaviour. Part of it is explained in the notion of ‘the routinization of charisma’: where prophets bring us life, the commissars step in after a generation or two to regulate everything!

Jesus comes into this fallen world of institutions and invites us to be realistic and penitent. Realistic about the effects of our sinning when we relate to institutions, and penitent about our lovelessness in not handling the imperfections of people as individuals and in groups as well as Jesus did. But there’s hope! If we allow the spirit of Jesus to rule our hearts and motivations, we can change and grow and become whole.

3. COMMITMENT.

Humans need a cause to live – and die – for. The best cause I know is to be committed to doing in our world what Jesus did in his. A summary can be found in Matthew 23:23 and Luke 11:42 – pursuing justice, loving God, practising compassion, and encouraging faith. Justice is relating to others as being made in the image of God (rather than primarily as sinners, in the image of the devil). It is the urgent task of followers of Jesus to resist evil and the abuse of power (as when, for example, Jesus ‘cleansed the temple’ of those who ‘ripped off’ pilgrims).

Justice deals with the causes of pain; compassion with the symptoms of pain. Compassion asks ‘What kind of resource can I be for you in your need?’ Faith helps us believe that the world and our lives have meaning. And love for God is the spiritual dynamic/energy which fuels the process of becoming more like Jesus.

The ‘essence of Christianity’ hasn’t got much to do with creeds and constitutions and liturgies and religious formulas for this-and- that. It’s all about turning from whatever in our lives impedes our becoming whole (the traditional words are ‘sin’ and ‘repentance’) committing our lives to Jesus, following him in a sad and disintegrating world, belonging to a community-of-faith which can strengthen those commitments, and, perhaps above all, ‘accepting our acceptance’.

Shalom! Rowland Croucher http://www.pastornet.net.au/jmm

Is your mind normal?

@=@ Is YOUR Mind Normal?

Have you ever wondered if your mind is normal? Well, do this little mind exercise and find out! Free will or neurological wiring? You decide!

Try the following exercise, guaranteed to raise an eyebrow. There’s no secret trick to it!

Just follow these instructions, and answer the questions one at a time and as quickly as you can. Remember, do it as quickly as you can, but don’t advance until you’ve done each of them.

Now, scroll down (but not too fast, so you don’t miss anything)…

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QUICK! THINK OF A VEGETABLE!
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You’re thinking of a carrot, right?

If not, you’re among the 2% of the population whose minds are different enough to think something else. 98% of people will think of a carrot when they do this exercise!

It’s the sick who need a doctor (via The Gadsden Times)

It’s the sick who need a doctor (via The Gadsden Times)

Published: Friday, May 3, 2013 at 7:12 p.m.
(Shared on this Hippie’s blog, 2013)

The Pharisees and teachers of the law prided themselves on being God’s chosen nation and on their strict adherence to the Law of Moses. Most of them were extremely critical of the sins of others, but saw themselves…

(more…)

A year to live – something to think about

If every time we look up we find ourself failing to make a commitment, we are given the given the gift to start keeping ir from that moment on. – Ninure Da Hippie

A Year to Live
Stephen Levine

I committed myself to living a year as though it were my last. To practice dying. To be fully alive. To investigate the dread of, and resistance to, life and death. To complete my birth before it’s over. To investigate that part of myself that refuses to take birth fully, and hops about as though it still had one foot in the womb. To enter the healing I have seen so many times as miraculous growth during a final illness. To place both feet on the ground at last. To live with mercy and awareness in the midst of the consequences of love, or the lack thereof. To explore this ground, the ground of being, out of which this impermanent body and ever-changing mind originate. To cut through a lifetime of confusion and forgetfulness. To undertake a life review with gratitude and forgiveness. To explore that which holds to its suffering, and cultivate a heart that cannot be distracted even by death.
Source: A Year to Live

Live simply. Love generously.
Care deeply. Speak kindly.
Leave the rest to God.

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FAIR USE NOTICE:

This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc.

This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law.

This material is distributed without profit

“I trace the rainbow through the rain and see the promise is not in vain.”


Every 3.6 seconds a real person dies from hunger somewhere in the world!!!
Feed a hungry person today:
http://www.hungersite.com

My YouTube Channel
http://www.youtube.com/Ninure

God is still speaking
http://www.stillspeaking.com

John Mark Ministries
http://jmm.aaa.net.au/

The Ministry of Holding One’s Tongue – a thought for today

You don’t need/have to be a Christian to do this kind of ministry!

The Ministry of Holding One’s Tongue
Dietrich Bonhoeffer
e

It must be a decisive rule of every Christian fellowship that each individual is prohibited from saying much that occurs to him….

Where this discipline of the tongue is practiced right from the beginning, each individual will make a matchless discovery. He will be able to cease from constantly scrutinizing the other person, judging him, condemning him…. Now he can allow the brother to exist as a completely free person, as God made him to be.

Now the other person, in the freedom with which he was created, becomes the occasion of joy, whereas before he was only a nuisance and an affliction. God does not will that I should fashion the other person according to the image that seems good to me, that is, in my own image; rather in his very freedom from me, God made this person in His image. I can never know beforehand how God’s image should appear in others.
Source: Life Together
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Live simply. Love generously.
Care deeply. Speak kindly.
Leave the rest to God.

FAIR USE NOTICE:

This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc.

This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law.

This material is distributed without profit


Every 3.6 seconds a real person dies from hunger somewhere in the world!!!
Feed a hungry person today:
http://www.hungersite.com

My YouTube Channel
http://www.youtube.com/Ninure

God is still speaking
http://www.stillspeaking.com

John Mark Ministries
http://jmm.aaa.net.au/

Proverbs – The Strange Version

Proverbs – The Strange Version

1.. Eat well, stay fit, die anyway.
 
2. Men are from earth. Women are from earth. Deal with it.
 
3. No husband has ever been shot while doing the dishes.
 
4. A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand.
 
5. Middle age is when broadness of the mind and narrowness of the waist change places.
 
6. Opportunities always look bigger going than coming.
 
7. Junk is something you’ve kept for years and throw away three weeks before you need it.
 
8. There is always one more imbecile than you counted on.
 
9. Experience is a wonderful thing. It enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again.
 
10. By the time you can make ends meet, they move the ends.
 
11. Thou shalt not weigh more than thy refrigerator.
 
12. Someone who thinks logically provides a nice contrast to the real world.
 
13. Blessed are they who can laugh at themselves for they shall never run out of material.
 

Live simply. Love generously.
Care deeply. Speak kindly.
Leave the rest to God.

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FAIR USE NOTICE:

This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc.

This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law.

This material is distributed without profit


Every 3.6 seconds a real person dies from hunger somewhere in the world!!!
Feed a hungry person today:
http://www.hungersite.com

My YouTube Channel
http://www.youtube.com/Ninure

God is still speaking
http://www.stillspeaking.com

John Mark Ministries
http://jmm.aaa.net.au/

Saying No – a thought for today

A “No” uttered from deepest conviction is better and greater than a “Yes” merely uttered to please, or what is worse, to avoid trouble.
-Mahatma Gandhi

I think it is fair to say that many people do not care for conflict. As a matter of fact, if we were honest with ourselves, most of us would probably say we work hard to “keep the peace” at home, work, church, etc. There’s nothing wrong with working hard to get along with one another, either. The Bible commends such efforts.
 
At the same time, there are times in our lives when it is necessary for us to say, “No”–even when we might be the only ones saying it. The challenge, however, is not really saying “No;” I believe the challenge lies in both why and how we say “No.”  Does our “no” come from a deep moral or ethical conviction, or does it come from another place; say, for example, our resistance to looking at issues from very different perspectives, or otherwise being nudged from our comfort zones?
 
How we say our “no” is important, too. Do our “no’s” say to others, “I’m right; you’re wrong; so it is either my way, or I’m taking my toys and going home;” or do they say, “I strongly disagree with you; I’m not even sure I can ever agree with you; I am, however, willing to listen to and dialogue with you.”  “No”–while always having the potential of changing our relationships with others–does not always have to mean the end of those relationships.  It is possible for us to say “no” to one another passionately, yet respectfully.
 
Who knows? By uttering our “no’s” from a place of passion and respect, we might even be able to solve more problems than we ever will by avoiding these tough discussions altogether.
 
Of course, we’ll never know until we try, will we?
 
Grace and Peace,
Pastor Dan,
Holy Covenant MCC, Brookfield, IL

People often say with pride, “I’m not interested in politics.” They might as well say, “I’m not interested in my standard of living, my health, my job, my rights, my freedoms, my future, or any future.”
    — Martha Gellhorn, writer/journalist   (1908-1998)

Live simply. Love generously.
Care deeply. Speak kindly.
Leave the rest to God.

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FAIR USE NOTICE:

This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc.

This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law.

This material is distributed without profit

“I trace the rainbow through the rain and see the promise is not in vain.”

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Every 3.6 seconds a real person dies from hunger somewhere in the world!!!
Feed a hungry person today:
http://www.hungersite.com

My YouTube Channel
http://www.youtube.com/Ninure

God is still speaking
http://www.stillspeaking.com

John Mark Ministries
http://jmm.aaa.net.au/

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