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Posts tagged ‘inspiration’

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

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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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.

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“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/

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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“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/

Tell me whom you love – a thought for today

(~) TELL ME WHOM YOU LOVE

The following story is one of my favorites. It comes from Max
Lucado’s book, “And The Angels Were Silent.” I have shared it before but want to share it again.

“John Blanchard stood up from the bench, straightened his Army
uniform, and studied the crowd of people making their way through Grand Central Station. He looked for the girl whose heart he knew, but whose face he didn’t, the girl with the rose. His interest in her had begun thirteen months before in a Florida library. Taking a book off the shelf he found himself intrigued, not with the words of the book, but with the notes penciled in the margin. The soft handwriting reflected a thoughtful soul and insightful mind. In the front of the book, he discovered the previous owner’s name, Miss Hollis Maynell. With time and effort he located her address. She lived in New York City. He wrote her a letter introducing himself and inviting her to correspond. The next day he was shipped overseas for service in World War II. During the next year and one month the two grew to know each other through the mail. Each letter was a seed falling on a fertile heart. A romance was budding. Blanchard requested a photograph, but she refused. She felt that if he really cared, it wouldn’t matter what she looked like.

“When the day finally came for him to return from Europe, they
scheduled their first meeting – 7:00 PM at the Grand Central Station in New York. ‘You’ll recognize me,’ she wrote, ‘by the red rose I’ll be wearing on my lapel.’ So at 7:00 he was in the station looking for a girl whose heart he loved, but whose face he’d never seen.

“I’ll let Mr. Blanchard tell you what happened: A young woman was coming toward me, her figure long and slim. Her blonde hair lay back in curls from her delicate ears; her eyes were blue as flowers. Her lips and chin had a gentle firmness, and in her pale green suit she was like springtime come alive. I started toward her, entirely forgetting to notice that she was not wearing a rose. As I moved, a small,
provocative smile curved her lips. ‘Going my way, sailor?’ she murmured. Almost uncontrollably I made one step closer to her, and then I saw Hollis Maynell. She was standing almost directly behind the girl. A woman well past 40, she had graying hair tucked under a worn hat.. She was more than plump, her thick-ankled feet thrust into low-heeled shoes. The girl in the green suit was walking quickly away. I felt as though I was split in two, so keen was my desire to follow her, and yet so deep was my longing for the woman whose spirit had truly companioned me and upheld my own. And there she stood. Her pale, plump face was gentle and sensible, her gray eyes had a warm and kindly twinkle. I did not hesitate. My fingers gripped the small worn blue leather copy of the book that was to identify me to her.

“This would not be love, but it would be something precious,
something perhaps even better than love, a friendship for which I had been and must ever be grateful. I squared my shoulders and saluted and held out the book to the woman, even though while I spoke I felt choked by the bitterness of my disappointment. ‘I’m Lieutenant John Blanchard, and you must be Miss Maynell. I am so glad you could meet me; may I take you to dinner?’

“The woman’s face broadened into a tolerant smile. ‘I don’t know
what this is about, son,’ she answered, ‘but the young lady in the green suit who just went by, she begged me to wear this rose on my coat. And she said if you were to ask me out to dinner, I should tell you that she is waiting for you in the big restaurant across the street. She said it was some kind of test!’

“It’s not difficult to understand and admire Miss Maynell’s wisdom. The true nature of a heart is seen in its response to the unattractive.

“‘Tell me whom you love,’ Houssaye wrote, ‘And I will tell you who you are.'”

The story carries its own application, so I will add no thought of my own. Simply this scripture:

“Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the
least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” (Matthew 25:40)

Tell me whom you love, and I will tell you whom you are.

Have a great day!

Alan Smith
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Disclaimer: Pursuant to the UCC (Uniform Comedy Code), all depictions of events and persons on this site are more real than reality itself, and therefore any resemblance to reality is not really real.

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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

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


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/

Say Uncle – a Still speaking Devotional

Say “Uncle”

1 Kings 19:4-6
[Elijah] came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.”

Dwight Lee Wolter

As the youngest child in my family, all three of my siblings could easily overpower me. I always put up a good fight, but the outcome was never in question. The struggles usually ended with me being pinned against the floor and my siblings demanding, “Say Uncle!” Only then would they let me go.

Today, many years later, I looked out the window of my soul and softly said, “Uncle.” This has been a difficult winter in many parts of the country, with environmental crises such as horrendous hurricanes, blinding blizzards and crippling drought. And there have been many excruciating crises of human origin such as the slaughter of innocent children and adults in Newtown, Connecticut. Enough already! On the count of three let’s all say, “Uncle!”

Many are quick to remind me that things could be much worse; that we should hold fast to an attitude of gratitude; and that God never gives you more than you can handle—but sometimes I wonder. While I am pleased and proud of what many have mobilized and accomplished in the aftermath of these and other tragedies, sometimes I allow myself to hunker down under the broom bush in my soul and surrender to the sweet agony of grief.

Eventually, when I have had enough, some angel comes along and tells me it is time to get up and eat. Nourished by bread and grief, I find strength to return to my quest of being a useful advocate once again.

Prayer
God of many names including Mother, Father and Uncle—wherever we are on our spiritual journey, be with us as we avail ourselves of the heights and depths of your creation.

About the Author
Dwight Lee Wolter is the author of Forgiving Our Parents, Freedom Through Forgiving (a workbook), and Forgiving Our Grownup Children. He is pastor of the Congregational Church of Patchogue on Long Island, New York.

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

“The Lord sets the prisoners free; the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the strangers; [the Lord] upholds the orphan and the widow.”
– Psalm 146:7-9

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

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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