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Posts tagged ‘theology’

Do not be afraid – Fr. Richard Rohr

Do Not Be Afraid – Fr. Richard Rohr

One could sum up the Bible as an interplay of fear and faith. In general, people are obsessed and overpowered by fears; we all fear whatever we cannot control. God is one of our primary fears because God is totally beyond us. The good news, the gospel, according to Luke, is that God has breached that fear and become one of us in Jesus. God says, in effect, “It’s okay. You don’t have to live in chattering fear of me.” God’s response to Mary’s quaver at the angel’s appearance is, “Do not be afraid” (Luke 1:30), and in fact, I am told it is the most common one-liner in the whole Bible, appearing maybe even 365 times!

In Luke’s infancy narrative, Mary is presented as prototypical and archetypal, because God comes into her life and announces the Divine Presence within her. Through the same Spirit, God comes into our lives and announces the Divine Presence within us. This annunciation event is a paradigm of every mystical experience. God offers the Godself to us even before we invite God to do so. There is no indication of previous holiness or heroics in Mary’s life. All we can do is be present and open. When Mary manifests this presence and openness, she becomes the Christ-bearer to the world. It is the same for us.

Adapted from The Good News According to Luke: Spiritual Reflections, p. 66

Every 3.6 seconds a real person dies from hunger somewhere in the world!!!
Feed a hungry person today:
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John Mark Ministries
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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

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/

Hippie Rant: John 3:16

First let me state for the record that I believe a Christian. A flawed Christian. A liberal Christian. But a Christian who tries to follow Jesus Christ,

I trally am coming close to hating John 2:16. If you aren’t aware or don’t have or read the Bible, it’s a “verse” in the Bible.

I don’t hate the Bible verse itself, but how it tends to be used and seen.

I’ve seen the “John 3:65” held up on signs at sporting events, everything from Baseball ganes to rpofessional wresting events. I’ve seen it on billboards, teashirts, flyers on telephone/light poles. The verse doesn’t appear on the signs, just “John 3:15”.

So what are those display “John 3:16”?

Here is the text of John 3:15:

John 3:16
New King James Version (NKJV)
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

This how I think Conservative Christians think it really means this:

For God so loved and loves the USA – as long as they are not gay, White, English speaking and under the authority of males – that Jesus that who ver claims to believe in him and expects Jesus to fit their image of who he was and whar he said should go to heaven not matter what they done, providing they hold the GOP and the Tea Party more important than Jesus.

Now, am I being unfair?

Why should I, or anyone for that matter, believe that these displays of John 3:16 are anything more than a punlivty stunt?

Just asking.

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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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

IMPORTANT NOTICE

You may have noticed the increased amount of notices for you to notice. Some of our notices have not been noticed. This is very noticeable. It has been noticed that the responses to the notices have been noticeably unnoticed. This notice is to remind you to notice the notices and respond to the notices, because we do not want the notices to go unnoticed.

“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/

Meeting God – a story

This is one of my favorite stories…

A little boy wanted to meet God. He knew it was a long trip to where God lived, so he packed his suitcase with Twinkies and a six-pack of Root Beer and he started his journey.

When he had gone about three blocks, he met an old man. He was sitting in the park just staring at some pigeons. The boy sat down next to him and opened his suitcase. He was about to take a drink from his root beer when he noticed that the old man looked hungry, so he offered him a Twinkie.

He gratefully accepted it and smiled at him. His smile was so pleasant that the boy wanted to see it again, so he offered him a root beer.

Again, he smiled at him. The boy was delighted! They sat there all afternoon eating and smiling, but they never said a word.

As it grew dark, the boy realized how tired he was and he got up to leave, but before he had gone more than a few steps, he turned around, ran back to the old man, and gave him a hug. He gave him his biggest smile ever.

When the boy opened the door to his own house a short time later, his mother was surprised by the look of joy on his face. She asked him, “What did you do today that made you so happy? “He replied, “I had lunch with God.” But before his mother could respond, he added, “You know what? God’s got the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen!”

Meanwhile, the old man, also radiant with joy, returned to his home. His son was stunned by the look of peace on his face and he asked,” Dad, what did you do today that made you so happy?” He replied, “I ate Twinkies in the park with God.” However, before his son responded, he added,” You know, he’s much younger than I expected.”

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The cynic and the optimist both think they are observing reality.
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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.

‘God does not share his love between all of his creatures; He gives *all* of his love to *each* of His creatures!’ (Hugh of St. Victor).

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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/

Why God never got His PhD – its too laugh

(If you don’t have a sense of humor, or are easily offended you should skip this “offering”)

Why God never got His PhD

1. He had only one major publication.
2. It was in Hebrew.
3. It had no references.
4. It wasn’t published in a refereed journal.
5. Some even doubt he wrote it by himself.
6. It may be true that he created the world, but what has he done since
then?
7. His cooperative efforts have been quite limited.
8. The scientific community has had a hard time replicating his results.
9. He never applied to the ethics board for permission to use human
subjects.
10. When one experiment went awry he tried to cover it by drowning his
subjects.
11. When subjects didn’t behave as predicted, he deleted them from the
sample.
12. He rarely came to class, just told students to read the book.
13. Some say he had his son teach the class.
14. He expelled his first two students for learning.
15. Although there were only 10 requirements, most of his students failed
his tests.
16. His office hours were infrequent and usually held on a mountain top.
17. No record of working well with colleagues.

ACCEPTING DIVERSITY

Thw following article I was written by a dear friend of mine, and near as I can tell I added to my “must save collection” sometime in 2002. I had to chuckle as I re-read it as my computer kept indicating where it thought I misspelled words. Te computer had no way of knowing that what might be misspelled in the USA might be correctly spelled in another English speaking county!!

Anothe ecample of Diversity. – Ninure da Hippie

ACCEPTING DIVERSITY

Rowland Croucher

Galatians 3:10, GNB; James 2:17, GNB; Romans 12:4-5, GNB; 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 18-20, GNB; 1 Corinthians 13:12-13, GNB; Romans 14:13 and 19, GNB; John 13:34-35, GNB; Romans 15:7, GNB; 1 Peter 4:8-10, NEB.

Snoopy was typing a manuscript, up on his kennel. Charlie Brown: ‘What are you doing Snoopy?’ Snoopy: ‘Writing a book about theology.’ Charlie Brown: ‘Good grief. What’s its title?’ Snoopy (thoughtfully): ‘Have You Ever Considered You Might Be Wrong?’

This points up a central Christian dictum: God’s truth is very much bigger than our little systems.

Our Lord often made the point that God’s fathering extended to all people everywhere. He bluntly targeted the narrow nationalism of his own people, particularly in stories like the Good Samaritan. Here the ‘baddie’ is a hero. It’s a wonderful parable underlining the necessity to love God through loving your neighbour – and one’s neighbour is the person who needs help, whoever he or she may be. But note that love of neighbour is more than seeking their conversion, then adding a few acts of mercy to others in ‘our group’. Jesus’ other summary statements about the meaning of religion and life in Matthew 23:23 and Luke 11:42 involve justice too: attempting to right the wrongs my neighbour suffers.

‘Ethnocentrism’ is the glorification of my group. What often happens in practice is a kind of spiritual apartheid: I’ll do my thing and you do yours – over there. Territoriality (‘my place – keep out!’) replaces hospitality (‘my place – you’re welcome!’). I like Paul’s commendation in Philippians 2:19-21 of Timothy ‘who really cares’ when everyone else was concerned with their own affairs.

Sometimes our non-acceptance of others’ uniqueness has jealousy or feelings of inferiority at its root. You have probably heard the little doggerel, ‘I hate the guys/ that criticise/ and minimise/ the other guys/ whose enterprise/ has made them rise/ above the guys/ that criticise/ and minimise…’

In our global village we cannot avoid relating to ‘different others’. Indeed, marriage is all about two different people forming a unity in spite of their differences. Those differences can of course be irritating – for example when a ‘lark’ marries an ‘owl’ (but the Creator made both to adorn his creation).

Even within yourself there are diverse personalities. If you are a ‘right brain’ person, why not develop an interest in ‘left brain’ thinking?

The Lord reveals different aspects of divine truth to different branches of the church. What a pity, then, to make our part of the truth the whole truth. Martin Buber had the right idea when he said that the truth is not so much in human beings as between them. An author dedicated his book to ‘Stephen… who agrees with me in nothing, but is my friend in everything.’ Just as an orchestra needs every instrument, or a fruit salad is tastier with a great variety of fruits, so we are enriched through genuine fellowship with each other.

A Christian group matures when it recognises it may have something to learn from other groups. The essence of immaturity is not knowing that one doesn’t know, and therefore being unteachable. No one denomination or church has a monopoly on the truth. How was God able to get along for 1500, 1600 or 1900 years without this or that church? Differences between denominations or congregations – or even within them – reflect the rich diversity and variety of the social, cultural and temperamental backgrounds from which those people come. But they also reflect the character of God whose grace is ‘multi-coloured’.

If you belong to Christ and I belong to Christ, we belong to each other and we need each other. Nothing should divide us.

…..

A Prayer: Lord God our Creator, when you made all creatures great and small in their rich diversity you were so delighted. And when you made human beings (in your image) to be so diverse, they must represent somehow the rich diversity of the Godhead itself. Lord, our Redeemer, when Jesus Christ died to draw all unto him, it was in prospect of heaven being populated by people from every tribe, language, nation and race.

Lord, help me to appreciate all this richness; may my theology not be too eccentric, peripheral to the central concern of the gospel which is to increase love for God and others. So teach me how to stay close to you, close to humankind, and make it the goal of my life to bring God and humankind together. Help me to move from law (with its tendency to reduce everything to a common denominator) to grace (where individual differences are celebrated). May my view of myself be conditioned more by my being bound up in life with others, rather than my separateness from them. Help me to be big enough to be all things to all people, to help in their saving to keep the bridges between me and others in good repair…

A Benediction
May God be merciful to us, and bless us; look on us with kindness, so that the whole world may know your will; so that nations may know your salvation. May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you! (Psalm 67: 1,2).

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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