Sunday Everyday

Friday Arts Day

Friday Arts Day:  Experiences of Art, Nature and Spirituality with Carolyn Gregoire
Carolyn Gregoire Headshot

Carolyn Gregoire

Become a fan Carolyn.Gregoire@huffingtonpost.com

Experiences Of Art, Nature and Spirituality May Help Prevent Disease, Study Finds.

Posted Huffington Post: 02/04/2015 5:19 pm EST Updated: 02/06/2015 3:59 EST

Taking in the glory of nature at the top of a mountain peak, joining in a song of worship or viewing a breathtakingly beautiful piece of art re some of the experiences that fill us with awe and make us feel most alive.  And according to new research, moments like this are both spiritually invigorating and god for our physical and mental health.

A University of California, Berkeley, study, published in the journal Emotion in January,suggests that the feeling of awe we may experience during encounters with art, nature and spirituality has an anti-infalmmatory effect, protecting the body from chronic disease.

The researchers found a correlation between feelings of awe and lower levels of cytokines, markers that put the immune system on high alert by triggering a defensive reaction known as inflammation. While inflammation is essential to fighting infection and disease when the body is presented with a specific threat, chronically high levels of cytokines have been linked to a number of health problems, including heart disease, Alzheimer’s, depression and autoimmune conditions.

Thailand Sunset by Libby Mc Connell

Thailand Sunset by Libby Mc Connell

“That awe, wonder and beauty promote healthier levels of cytokines suggests that the things we do to experience these emotions -– a walk in nature, losing oneself in music, beholding art -– have a direct influence upon health and life expectancy,”

Berkeley psychologist Dacher Keltner, a co-author of the study, said in a press release.In a previous paper, Kelter defined awe as a feeling”in the upper reaches of pleasure and on the boundary of fear,”that is often inspired by encounters with the beautiful and the sublime. Study co-author Jennifer Stellar told The Huffington Post that experiences of awe are most commonly inspired by being in nature, followed by witnessing the impressive feats of others, participating in spiritual and religious events, and engaging with art and music.

Andrews Guitar by Lisa Hunt-Wotton

Andrews Guitar by Lisa Hunt-Wotton

To test the effect of awe on physical health, Keltner’s team asked two separate study groups of young adults how much they experienced positive emotions such as awe, amusement, compassion, contentment, joy and pride on a given day. On the same day, the researchers took samples of participants’ gum and cheek tissue to measure cytokine levels.

The samples revealed that in both groups, those who had experienced awe, wonder or amazement that day had lower levels of cytokines, and therefore less inflammation, in their bodies.

While awe is relatively under-studied compared to other emotions, previous research has found that feelings of awe can also boost creative thinking, help create a sense of having enough time in the day, and inspire profound personal transformation.

The UC Berkeley study’s findings join a growing body of research suggesting that positive emotions play an important role in promoting physical health.

Studies have linked positive emotions with improved heart health and longevity, and some research has suggested that mindfulness practices — which are known to improve emotional well-being — can reduce inflammation.

“Rather than seeing a walk through the park or a trip to the museum as an indulgence, we hope people will view these kind of experiences as important ways to promote a healthy body in addition to a healthy mind,” Stellar said.

“Folding these kinds of positive experiences into your daily routine may be more important for health than we previously realized.”

Hope  you enjoyed this as much as I did

Shalom Lisa.

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What is Justice?

Wednesday What is it?  What is Justice?

This weekend I had the privilege of attending The Justice Conference Australia hosted by TEAR Australia. Ken Wystma, the founder of The Justice Conference, was also one of the key note speakers.   I have only been introduced to the work and writings of Ken Wystma in the last few months through my connection with The Justice Conference.  Let me tell you, he is an incredible speaker.   I love the way that he thinks.   With Ken’s background in Engineering, Masters Degrees in both Philosophy and Biblical Studies Ken brings an incredible paradigm to his teaching on Justice.  He has excellent communication skills and a thoughtful and creative approach to the topic.

After reading his book ‘The Grand Paradox’ I feel like the light has gone on for me to the true meaning of Justice and for this I am very thankful.  Justice is something that we consider periodically.  Some churches make Justice a focus of a series or a weekend service or portion of the allocated church budget.  It has often been that mysterious partner to ‘mercy’ but we have not often grasped the true depth and meaning of what it means for our daily lives as Christ Followers.  Indeed how integral Justice is to the character and posture of God.

Justice

What IS Justice: 

“Justice is the single best word, both inside and outside the Bible for capturing Gods purposes for the world and humanity’s calling to the world”.(Wytsma).

“JUSTICE IS A GARMENT, A BILLION THREADS, INTERWOVEN, INTERLOCKED, KNIT TOGETHER WITH STRENGTH AND INTEGRITY.

Pull one thread from the fabric and the garment begins to fray. Pull ten million threads and justice unravels into injustice.

The work of justice is to mend the holes injustice inflicts upon the garment. It is a brave, challenging, courageous work and it does not begin with expertise or duty. It begins with love… and love is a thread‘(TJC).

Justice is like a mosiac. It’s not only about single pieces–it’s about all the pieces working together in a stunning whole. All too often we believe that our desire to pursue justice can only be lived out or understood in a single shard. Criminal justice. International development. Creation care. Education. Anti-trafficking. Works of mercy and love.   All of these shards are vital parts of God’s mosaic of justice. (Wytsma,Pursuing Justice 6-7)

“Justice is, in fact, the broadest, most consistent word the Bible uses to speak about what ought to be, and it has been used throughout the centuries by Christians and non-Christians alike to describe vital areas of human and divine concern”(Wytsma).

  • Justice is the foundation of Gods throne and the sceptre by which He rules (Psalm 97:2, Psalm 45:6).
  • Justice is inseparable from Jesus.
  • Justice is the mission of Jesus, Jesus and justice are so clearly linked that whatever we do for the marginalised and poor we do for Him (The Grand Paradox p50).
  • Justice is the very heart and nature of God.
  • Justice is the lens through which we do and see everything.

What Justice is not:

Justice is not an allocated budget or part of our church programming plan.

Justice is not separate from Jesus.

Justice is not someone else’s problem.

Justice is not just ethics.

Justice is not a month, a season a topic.

Justice is not a fad or a task for the liberals.

If we want to understand who God is.  If we want to understand his nature and character and plan for us and for the earth then we need to fully understand Justice.

Justice is what God is trying to teach us.  Justice is what it means to know God.

‘He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?” declares the LORD’ (Jeremiah 22:16).

Justice is the fair, moral, and impartial treatment of all persons.  In Christ there is no jew, no gentile, no male, no female, no slave, no free.  All are equal (Galatians 3:28).

Shalom – Lisa.

RECOMMENDED READING

I highly recommend both of these books  by Ken.  Click on the book to order through Amazon.

The Grand Paradox: The Messiness of Life, the Mystery of God and the Necessity of Faith 
Ken Wytsma

Pursuing Justice:  The call to live and die for bigger things.

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Monday’s Meditation: Solitude, Community, Ministry.

Monday’s Meditation

Over the last two months as we have begun this journey together on Mondays Meditation, we have been looking at different ways to meet with God and to engage in spiritual work.  We have looked briefly at meditation, prayer, mindfulness, Visio Divina, our thought life, weeds and wheat, rhythm, solitude, creation and theological reflection.  

Last week we looked at the person and character of Jesus.

Over the next few weeks I want us to work through a beautiful piece called;

“Moving from Solitude to Community to Ministry” written by Henri Nouwen.

Copywrite Henri Nouwen Spring 1995.  www.leadershipjournal.net

Moving from Solitude to Community to Ministry

‘Jesus established the true order for spiritual work’.

The word discipleship and the word discipline are the same word.  That has always fascinated me.  Once you have made the choice to say, “Yes, I want to follow Jesus,” the question is, “what disciplines will help me remain faithful to that choice?”  If we want to be disciples of Jesus, we have to live a disciplined life.

By discipline I do not mean control.  If I know the discipline of psychology or of economics I have a certain control over a body of knowledge.  If I discipline my children, I want to have a little control over them.

But in the spiritual life, the word discipline means ‘the effort to create some space in which God can act’.  

Discipline means to prevent everything in your life from being filled up.  Discipline means that somewhere you’re not occupied, and certainly not preoccupied.  In the spiritual life, discipline means to create that space in which something can happen that you hadn’t planned or counted on.

 

sole e luna

I think three disciplines are important for us to remain faithful so we not only become disciples, by also remain disciples.  These disciplines are contained in one passage from Scripture with which we are familiar, but one that we may be surprised to find speaks about discipline. 

 “Now it happened, in those days that Jesus went onto the mountain to pray, and he spent the whole night in prayer to God.  When day came, he summoned his disciples and picked out twelve of them and called them apostles…he then came down with them and stopped at a piece of level ground where there was a large gathering of his disciples.  There was a great crowd of people from all parts of Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon, who had come to hear him and be cured of their diseases.  And people tormented by unclean spirits were also cured.  Everyone in the crowd was trying to touch him because power came out of him that cured them all (Luke 6:12-19). 

This is a beautiful story that moves from night to morning to afternoon.  Jesus spent the night in solitude with God.  In the morning he gathered his apostles around him and formed community.  In the afternoon, with his apostles, he went out and preached the Word and healed the sick.

  • Notice the order – from solitude to community to ministry.
  • The night is for solitude, the morning is for community, the afternoon for ministry.

So often in ministry I have wanted to do it by myself.  If it didn’t work, I went to others and said, “Please!” searching for a community to help me.  If that didn’t work, maybe I’d start praying.

But the order that Jesus teaches us is the reverse.  It begins by being with God in solitude; then it creates a fellowship, a community of people with whom the mission is being lived; and finally this community goes out together to heal and to proclaim good news.

I believe you can look at solitude, community, and ministry as three disciplines by which we create space for God.  If we create space in which God can act and speak, something surprising will happen.  You and I are called to these disciplines if we want to be disciples. 

Next week on Monday’s Meditation we will look at Solitude.

REFLECTION:

  • What stood out to you in this reading? 
  •  What are you doing in your life to create space for God to act? 
  •  Are you constantly occupied or preoccupied? 

I hope that you enjoyed this as much as I did.  I was quite challanged by the meaning of discipline.  I’d never heard it put like that before.  In our hyper busy worlds, the discipline to create time and space to be with God and to allow Him to act is a challenge. 

Nouwen says,“ to prevent everything in your life from being filled up.  Discipline means that somewhere you’re not occupied, and certainly not preoccupied”.  Wow this will certainly take some readjusting for some of us including me.

 Love Lisa

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RECOMMENDED READING:

Life of the Beloved by Henri Nouwen.  Click on Book to order through Amazon.

Theology Thursday: Radical Teachings of Jesus by Brandan Robertson

Theology Thursday:

Teachings of Jesus that his followers (almost) never take seriously.

 Originally Posted: 12/18/2014 4:51 pm by Brandan Robertson.

Brandan Robertson is a progressive evangelical writer, activist, speaker, and spiritual entrepreneur who is committed to getting Jesus second hearing among the cynical, skeptical, burned, and spiritual but not religious people. He desires to build-bridges across cultural, theological, and political divides and to help others rethink, reform, and renew what it looks like to be a follower of Jesus in our post-modern, post-Christian world.

It’s no secret that those of us who claim to follow Jesus Christ consistently fall short of living up to the way of life of our Rabbi. Being a disciple of Jesus is a lifelong journey towards conforming ourselves to the image and way of life that Jesus taught. However, so often, followers of Jesus chose to blatantly ignore some of the clearest instruction of our Rabbi and obscure it with vague theology so that we can get off the hook. Other times, followers of Jesus are taught something explicitly contradictory to the plain words of Jesus and then spend their lives obeying the instruction they received instead of the commands of Jesus.

Below I have compiled a short list of 4 clear teachings of Jesus that most of us who exist within Evangelicalism have either never heard, refuse to acknowledge, or believe the exact opposite of. It’s my hope that by rereading these teachings of Christ, you will be inspired, like I have been, to return to the Gospels and begin to reshape your faith and life around the way and teachings of our Master, Jesus. Get ready and buckle up, because most of what Jesus says is pretty bold and potent. It’ll shake up your faith!

In the first re-post April 9th Brandon talked about

1:  Jesus not the Bible is Gods living and active word that brings life.

2:  The only way to enter the Kingdom of Heaven is through doing the will of God.

Today we continue with:  3. Condemnation isn’t Jesus’ style.

I have not come to condemn the world, but to save it.” John 3:17 ESV “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”– John 8:11 ESV

Many modern day Evangelical preachers spend a lot of time talking about the kinds of people that God is opposed to and who he condemns. They spend time talking about how to transition from a position of condemnation before God to a position of Grace through believing the right things about Jesus. They often talk about those who disagree or live contrary to their understanding of what is “righteous” as those who are under condemnation from God. But what’s funny is that as one examines the teachings and life of Jesus, we find him not only befriending, loving, and affirming some of his societies most despised and vile people, but chastising the religious leaders who condemned them for their sin.

Whether it is Jesus’ conversation with Rabbi Niccodemus in John 3 where Christ explains that it is his mission to redeem the world and not to condemn it or the instance where a woman is caught in the act of adultery and is taken outside to be stoned by the religious officials (as the law required) and Jesus steps in to stop the condemnation and proclaim freedom and forgiveness to the broken woman, it is clear that Jesus is not in the condemning business. Instead, it seems Christ is in the business of restoring humanity to the most broken and wicked of people.

It seems that his passion is to see the weak, sick, and broken become strong, healthy, and whole in his Kingdom. It seems that he spends very little time (almost none) telling sinners why they’re wrong or speaking words of condemnation over them, but rather practically loving and extending grace to the most screwed up of individuals. Maybe we Evangelicals, who are known for our condemnation of entire people groups with whom we disagree, could learn something from Jesus on this point.

4. You’re supposed to sacrifice yourself and speak words of blessings for those you disagree with the most.

“Love Your Enemies and Bless Those Who Persecute You” Matthew 5:44 ESV

It seems like every week there is a new major controversy taking place within the Church. Most of the time, the situation revolves around one group of Christians disagreeing with another and then taking to the internet to write slanderous posts about the other. If it’s not infighting, then it is Christians engaging in culture wars, working to defeat those whom we disagree with politically and socially by painting them as soul-less monsters. But that response is absolutely contrary to the way of Jesus.

Jesus calls his followers to love the people they disagree with most and to speak blessings over them when all we really want to do is curse them out. No matter what the situation is or what kind of enemy we have, Christians are called to bless the people who hurt us the most. This includes in theological battles, political disagreements, national wars, and personal conflicts.

Christians are called to a radical position of nonviolence and forgiveness, grace, and even blessing of our enemies. There is no way around it. And when Christians chose to ignore these clear teachings, our hypocrisy is glaringly obvious to the watching world. The point of this post is to encourage those of us who claim to be followers of Jesus to reexamine how we are living our lives and practicing our faith. It is so easy to get so caught up in the flow that we fail to recognize just how far away from shore we have been carried.

The words of Jesus are pretty darn clear, but oftentimes in our zealousness for our faith, we often get pulled away from the basics and eventually end up living in a way that we believe is honoring to God, but is actually contradictory to everything he has taught us. In this post, I have offered just four examples. There and hundreds of teachings contained in the 4 Gospels of the New Testament, teachings that, if we obeyed, would absolutely flip our lives and world upside-down for the glory of God and the good of all people.

What the Church as a whole and Evangelicals in particular desperately need in this age is a return to the plain teachings of Jesus. We need to be willing to set aside out theological debates and meanderings for a season and focus on simply reading, conforming, and obeying the will of Christ, both as revealed in Scripture and as we are led by his Spirit.

The world is desperately longing to encounter Jesus through us and for far too long we have been giving them a cheap knock off that we have exported under his name. But it’s clear to everyone that what is passing for Christianity today is almost totally divorced from the teachings of Jesus Christ.

My prayer is that we would all turn our faces towards our risen Savior and seek to selflessly follow his commands. I am convinced that the Jesus’ way is the only way that will heal our broken world.

I am convinced that the whole earth is groaning as it waits for men and women to take of their crosses and follow in the way of redemption. I am convinced that when those of us who call ourselves “Christian” re-orient ourselves in Jesus, the power of God will flow through us in an unprecedented and miraculous way that will bring salvation to the ends of the earth. Oh how I long for that day.

“Those who aren’t following Jesus aren’t his followers. It’s that simple. Followers follow, and those who don’t follow aren’t followers. To follow Jesus means to follow Jesus into a society where justice rules, where love shapes everything. To follow Jesus means to take up his dream and work for it.”― Scot McKnight 

This is a re-post.  The original post can be found in the The Revangelical Blog on Patheos.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brandan-robertson/4-teachings-of-jesus-that_b_6343320.html

Follow Brandan Robertson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/BrandanJR

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To The Loved Ones Who’ve Gone Silent

This is a great article by John Pavlovitz on Silence in regard to relationships. I find that this more common than we realise. I would call it passive aggressive behaviour. Have a read and let me know what you think.

john pavlovitz

LonelyMan
Over the last few months as I’ve talked with people reeling from the devastation of fractured relationships, those standing beneath the painful fallout of lost and broken friendships, marriages, and family bonds; a simple but tragic truth keeps repeating itself:

Words can be really cruel, but they can’t hold a candle to silence.

The beginnings of the stories I hear every day are often so very different, but they all eventually resolve to the same place; stated or unstated disagreement—and then disconnection.

Once in possession of the disapproval of the choices or words or beliefs of another, the other person chooses not to yell or argue or confront, but simply disappears.

They make no grand exits with impressive speeches, they just quietly slip away and go incommunicado.

Whether those delivering this silence realize it or not, it is frequently the most vicious kind of attack because it makes one person do the work specifically designed to be done by two. 

Not knowing the other’s…

View original post 478 more words

Thursday Theology: Radical Teachings of Jesus 1 & 2

4 Teachings of Jesus That His Followers (Almost) Never Take Seriously

Brandan Robertson is a progressive evangelical writer, activist, speaker, and spiritual entrepreneur who is committed to getting Jesus second hearing among the cynical, skeptical, burned, and spiritual but not religious people. He desires to build-bridges across cultural, theological, and political divides and to help others rethink, reform, and renew what it looks like to be a follower of Jesus in our post-modern, post-Christian world.

It’s no secret that those of us who claim to follow Jesus Christ consistently fall short of living up to the way of life of our Rabbi. Being a disciple of Jesus is a lifelong journey towards conforming ourselves to the image and way of life that Jesus taught. However, so often, followers of Jesus chose to blatantly ignore some of the clearest instruction of our Rabbi and obscure it with vague theology so that we can get off the hook. Other times, followers of Jesus are taught something explicitly contradictory to the plain words of Jesus and then spend their lives obeying the instruction they received instead of the commands of Jesus.

Below I have compiled a short list of 4 clear teachings of Jesus that most of us who exist within Evangelicalism have either never heard, refuse to acknowledge, or believe the exact opposite of. It’s my hope that by rereading these teachings of Christ, you will be inspired, like I have been, to return to the Gospels and begin to reshape your faith and life around the way and teachings of our Master, Jesus. Get ready and buckle up, because most of what Jesus says is pretty bold and potent. It’ll shake up your faith!

Graffiti with red heart

1. Jesus, not the Bible, is God’s living and active Word that brings life.

“You don’t have His word living in you, because you don’t believe the One He sent. You study the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them, yet they testify about Me. And you are not willing to come to Me so that you may have life.”– John 5:39-40 HCSB

The Christian life is one that is fundamentally rooted in the reality that Jesus Christ is living and active. He interacts with us on a day to day basis and desires that we cultivate an intimate relationship with him. The more we commune with the Spirit of Christ, the more life and truth we are exposed to and are able to comprehend. However, for many Evangelicals, we rely more on the Bible than we do on the living and active Spirit of God within us. We fear that following the Spirit could lead to confusion and subjectivity and so we root our faith in the Bible. The problem is that a faith that is rooted in the Scripture alone is not sustainable. It will dry up and wither on the vine.

While the Bible is an important and authoritative guide for Christian faith and practice, it isn’t the foundation or center of our faith- Jesus is. And if we truly believe that he is alive, we should also have faith that communing with him will produce spiritual life within us. He is the living Word that we can ask anything to and expect, in faith, to receive and answer. Sometimes he will speak through Scripture. Other times he will speak through our friends and family. Other times he will find unique and special ways to reveal himself to us. But in order to maintain a vibrant and living faith, we must not make the Bible our substitute for communion with the living Word of God. Studying scripture is valuable, but nowhere near as valuable as cultivating a day to day relationship with the God incarnate.

15886624036_d7fe834bbb_o

Photo Courtesy of Attila Siha

2. The only way to enter the Kingdom of Heaven is through DOING the will of God. 

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21 ESV

“An expert in the law stood up to test Him, saying, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?””What is written in the law?” He asked him. “How do you read it?”He answered: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”You’ve answered correctly,” He told him. “Do this and you will live.”– Luke 10: 25-28 HCSB

“We are saved by faith alone, apart from works!” This is a very popular Protestant catch phrase. The doctrine of sola fide (faith alone) was developed by the Reformers in response to the Roman Catholic Churches corrupted teachings that emerged in the 16th Century teaching that one could gain favor with God and shave off years in Hell and Purgatory by giving money to the church or doing acts of penance. The intention of the doctrine of faith alone was very good- to correct the error that our salvation could be earned or that God’s grace could be manipulated. But like most doctrines that are formulated in response to another group’s doctrine, it often goes too far.

One of the clearest teachings throughout all four Gospel accounts is that the way to enter the Kingdom of God is through living in obedience to the Law of Christ. Time and time again, Jesus makes very clear statements that condemn those who think that they will be saved because they believe the right things or do the right religious rituals. Jesus responds to people who believe they are religious and deserve heaven by saying that their outward religiosity is detestable to God and the only thing God desires is that they would exercise their faith by obeying the command of God- to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly. (Micah 6:8)

Jesus says if anyone claims to be right with God but doesn’t serve the poor, needy, oppressed, marginalized, sick, diseased, and sinful, then they do not have a relationship with God. No matter what they proclaim with their lips. No matter how religious they may appear. Jesus says those who don’t obey will have no part in his Kingdom. He makes very clear that the way to “inherit eternal life” is through loving God and loving our neighbor. Isn’t it astonishing, then, how many Christians today have been taught that salvation comes through right believing instead of right practice- a message that is fundamentally contrary to the words of Jesus. (And even more to his little brother James who says, “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” James 2:24 ESV)

There and hundreds of teachings contained in the 4 Gospels of the New Testament, teachings that, if we obeyed, would absolutely flip our lives and world upside-down for the glory of God and the good of all people. What the Church as a whole and Evangelicals in particular desperately need in this age is a return to the plain teachings of Jesus. We need to be willing to set aside out theological debates and meanderings for a season and focus on simply reading, conforming, and obeying the will of Christ, both as revealed in Scripture and as we are led by his Spirit. The world is desperately longing to encounter Jesus through us and for far too long we have been giving them a cheap knock off that we have exported under his name. But it’s clear to everyone that what is passing for Christianity today is almost totally divorced from the teachings of Jesus Christ.

My prayer is that we would all turn our faces towards our risen Savior and seek to selflessly follow his commands. I am convinced that the Jesus’ way is the only way that will heal our broken world.

I am convinced that the whole earth is groaning as it waits for men and women to take of their crosses and follow in the way of redemption. I am convinced that when those of us who call ourselves “Christian” re-orient ourselves in Jesus, the power of God will flow through us in an unprecedented and miraculous way that will bring salvation to the ends of the earth. Oh how I long for that day.

“Those who aren’t following Jesus aren’t his followers. It’s that simple. Followers follow, and those who don’t follow aren’t followers. To follow Jesus means to follow Jesus into a society where justice rules, where love shapes everything. To follow Jesus means to take up his dream and work for it.”― Scot McKnight 

Next Week on Sunday Everyday we will finish with the last two points.

3:  Condemnation isn’t Jesus style

4:  You’re supposed to sacrifice yourself and speak words of blessings for those you disagree with the most.

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Who is Jesus – Easter Monday

Mondays Meditation:  Who Is Jesus  by Lisa Hunt-Wotton

Well its Easter Monday.  I haven’t said a lot in the lead up to Easter but I hope that you have all had a beautiful Easter weekend however you chose to celebrate and remember it.   I love Easter Sunday.  I love the message I love the man – Jesus.  I don’t mind the chocolate either.

Empty grave

Who is Jesus?

There is nothing to be afraid of in the risen Jesus. We have in him the perfect icon of a God who is safe and a universe that is safe. We have a God who does not blame, does not punish, does not threaten, does not dominate. We have a God who breathes forgiveness.

The Resurrection of Jesus tells us that there is no victory through domination. There is no such thing as triumph by force. By his life, death and resurrection Jesus stops the cycle of violence and challenges the notion of dominating power. This is a power that seeks to change things from the top down, from the outside in. Instead, Jesus invites us to relational or spiritual power, where we are not just changed but transformed. And not transformed from the top down but from the bottom up, not from the outside in but from the inside out. Transformed into God…. (R.Rohr).

“You have to trust that inner voice to show you the way…You know that inner voice.  Only by attending constantly to the inner voice can you be converted to  a new life of freedom and joy”  (Henri Nouwen)

This is the message of Jesus, He is alive and He is alive in me.  He brings freedom and life and joy.  He is safe and He breathes forgiveness.  He doesn’t just forgive, HE IS forgiveness.

Meditate on these words.  Say them to yourself.  Say them out loud.

Jesus is the one who speaks lovingly ‘I will never leave you.  I am with you always’.

I will love you forever.  My love NEVER fails.

I am faithful, I am righteous.  I am just and I am truth.

Following Christ is both the safest and the most exhilarating thing that you will ever do.

He is: comfort, compassion, love, acceptance, forgiveness.

He is:  good, peace, hope joy, gentleness, freedom.

He does NOT:  reject, abuse, abandon, condemn, dominate or control.

HE IS:  gracious, kind, merciful, creative, wondrous, ingenious.

He is rest…………..

Happy in the mountains

He fights for the oppressed.  He hates injustice.

He came to set prisoners free from every trap that they have been caught in. Every addiction, every bondage, every fear and terror.  He has the power and He can free us.

He knows the beginning from the end.  His love NEVER fails.  When we fail, he lifts us up.  By HIS power we can stand.

He knows us intimately, He knows we weep and grieve and that we are frail.

My hope is in Jesus.

My trust is in Jesus

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus Christ, my righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

He is alive and He lives in me.

We see in Jesus the divine being who is also the perfect human being. Jesus comes in a human body to show us the face of God, the One who is eternally compassionate and eternally joyous, who stands with us in our sufferings and our joys. As Christians, our vocation is to unite with both Christ crucified and Christ risen.

(R.Rohr)

When you think on these things you can feel hope rising in your heart.

SELAH

love Lisa

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Recommended Reading:

Henri Nouwen:  The Inner Voice of Love

This is Henri Nouwen’s “secret journal.” It was  written during the most difficult period of his life, when he suddenly lost his self-esteem,  his energy to live and work, his sense of being loved, even his hope in God. Although he experienced excruciating anguish and despair, he was still able to keep a journal in which he wrote a spiritual imperative to himself each day that emerged from his conversations with friends and supporters.

Art and Soul

Friday Arts Day:  Art and Soul with Michelle Sanders

Michelle Sanders is an artist, pastor, teacher.  Michelle has planted an alternative- style church called Kaleidoscope, its focus is on the arts and social justice.  Its heart is to reach out to those who would not normally step inside a church. She holds a doctorate of ministry and has many years of experience as associate minister in a large church and is heads up the Arts at Tabor College.
Michelle’s vision is to reclaim the arts and use them as a medium for discussing things that matter and communicating the good news of Christianity. Sanders uses painting to invite people to tell their story.  She also runs an “Art and Soul” course to teach people who suffer from anxiety and depression to paint, and “Art for Justice” involvement at local markets.
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Michelle has recently written a book called ‘Art and Soul – Generating conversations with the community throughout the medium of art’.  This book surveys several initiatives for connecting with people through art.  It will inspire and encourage Christ followers to step out and create places to engage with their community.
“The church is in major decline in the Western world. We cannot continue to use past evangelistic models to reach out to our modern world. Art and Soul explores ways of generating missional conversations in the community through the medium of art, offering theological reflections as well as practical strategies on how to connect with people outside of the church”.
Art has always been used to tell the story of the bible.  In mediaeval times when most of the community could not read, the  story of the bible in pictures, was told through the art of the stained glass windows.
Photo by Atilla Siha

Photo by Atilla Siha

Our challenge today is how to use art to connect people with Christ.  This is the message behind Michelle Sanders book Art and Soul.
“How do we engage people with Gods story who aren’t and won’t come to church” (x).
Art is the answer.  We need to find a way to engage people with the Good News.  Approximately 40% of scripture is about story.  Yet most unchurched people see scripture and Christianity as being all about rules and harsh doctrine.  They also view the church as being a place only for Christians.
The whole point of the Gospel is to take it out into the community, into their lives and into the worlds in which they live.  This is the main premise of the book.  Art and Soul looks at creative ways that we can connect, that we can be a bridge between the world and Christ.
“There is a cultural divide between the church and community that needs ago be crossed” (p14).
The point of mission is to contextualize the message of Jesus to all cultures including our own.  We must be able to move out of the four walls of the church.  Unfortunately the majority of Christians do not have a clue how to relate to people outside the church.  They are ill-equipped to understand social issues like depression, anxiety, abuse, loneliness, homelessness, domestic violence etc.  In other words, the real issues that most Australians are facing.  We the church should be bringing hope and life out of the walls of the church into a broken world.  Unfortunately the church is too focused on maintaining itself.
Michelle shares about using art as the language to bridge the community to the hope of the world, Jesus.  Art transcends barriers and reasoning and can ‘open up the curiosity within’.
“A missional engagement requires immersion in culture, to listen and to ask questions” (p43).
Michelle spends the last two chapters explaining practical ways to do this. She shares about how she engages in missional immersion.  She takes art into the market place, into prisons to develop understanding around reconciliation.  She offers Art and Soul courses to help people navigate depression and anxiety.  She shares stories, strategies and powerful examples encouraging us to explore ways of generating conversations in our communities through the medium of Art.
This review by Dr John Drane sums the book up well.
‘Michelle Sanders offers an exciting vision for art as a vehicle of spiritual transformation combining insights from theology and culture with her own stories of using art to explore and celebrate the presence of the divine in today’s world’.
Stage Design Lisa Hunt-Wotton photo by Mal Austin, Art by Michelle Sanders

Stage Design Lisa Hunt-Wotton photo by Mal Austin, Art by Michelle Sanders

Art & Soul is a 10-week program that uses art to explore emotional responses and thinking that can lead to depression and anxiety. It is designed in a unique way; each week commences with an overview of the relevant topic including; Identity, Core Beliefs, Power & Shame, Holistic Health, Loss & Grief, and other themes and how it might be outworked in the participant’s lives.

This is followed by a 90-minute art lesson built around the theme, each week the participants do a complete painting, including tonal painting, perspective, colour and more – the night is completed by small group discussions around the theme of the night. all the different groups run in a similar format.

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Any one can join  Art and Soul –  the next one commences in July and Michelle is taking bookings for that one now.  You can connect with Michelle on FB:  https://www.facebook.com/michelle.sanders.737001 or through this blog.
The church website Kaleidoscope is www.kscopecc.org.au
Kaleidoscope meet at 4:30 pm on a sunday afternoon and are moving to Beaconsfield Community Centre O’Neil Rd Beaconsfield on 12th April.
You can purchase the book Art and Soul on Amazon – link below.  Love Lisa.

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http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1625644698/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1625644698&linkCode=as2&tag=sundaevery-20&linkId=37B73NXLKLLVNZBU

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