29 November 2008
26 November 2008
24 November 2008
"Holding on to anger, resentment and hurt only gives you tense muscles, a headache and a sore jaw from clenching your teeth. Forgiveness gives you back the laughter and the lightness in your life. " Joan Lunden
I don't know what you think, but I'm of the opinion it's the battles I have with my own 'issues' which are causing these symptoms. So, I'm trying very hard today to keep cheerful, despite feeling lousy. Well, that's not easy, and I've got it wrong already today. Forgive me my friends when I get it wrong!
Remember, Jesus said "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick". (Matthew 9:12, NIV) Having consulted the Great Physician I have a fair idea of what to do now.
19 November 2008
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean."
I understand that the term 'hypocrite' comes from a Greek word, 'hypokrinesthai', meaning someone who is pretending, acting a part. The Greek word 'hypokritēs' in fact means actor. While I'm considering my part (and indeed learning my lines!) for this year's Corps Carol Service I am very aware of the difference between playing a part and revealing the real me. And revealing the real me is very scary!
I can understand why so many actors spend their lives as a recluse. They are practiced at 'playing a part' and often seem to be living their lives under a mask. Make a wrong move or a bad performance and the critics savage you relentlessly. Being pursued by the press would only increase the pressure on them. No wonder so many have problems with drink or drugs, the pressure must be unbearable.
17 November 2008
Where Christ leads, though it may be through sorrow;
If the strife should fiercer grow tomorrow,
Never mind, go on!
Cheerful be, it will your burdens lighten,
One glad heart will always others brighten;
Though the strife the coward’s soul may frighten,
Never mind, go on!
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
15 November 2008
The place where you feel you belong should be a place where you feel emotionally safe. I've recently read a book by Chick Yuill called 'Others' (a copy was on sale at our charity shop!) and in it Chick makes reference to three things that are required of church membership - people need to belong (be accepted as part of a caring and welcoming fellowship), believe (explore and discover a living faith for themselves) and behave (discern and embrace God's will in every area of their lives). And apparently these should be in that order. Of course, as a church we already have that 'common symbol system' that I referred to previously; both my religion and my denomination are of course steeped with symbolism...
Members of the church do get a chance to influence the leadership via regular and irregular meetings with the leadership team. Church members should feel that do have some influence in the group; however, I know from experience that if they feel they are ignored or not listened to then they will lose interest. However, they should also remember that a degree of influence by the leadership team on its members, and a suitable response, is needed for group cohesion.
Members of the church should feel rewarded in some way for their participation in the community. The rewards would depend on your level of participation - "you only get out to it what you put into it". Thus, the rewards enjoyed by those who are 'committed' will usually be different from those on the periphery of the church fellowship.
There are plenty of examples of members of my church having a strong sense of 'shared history' - you only have to go back to the recent 'Battle For Bull Centre' celebrations for that. Shared participation will of course depend on the individual, as discussed above.
A point to emphasise is of course to remember that as a Christian community, our own Saviour is an integral part of our fellowship. You may like to reread the four points above in the light of that. And remember that when we read about 'influence', it's often via biblical teachings that God influences us, even the leadership team, and for all of us to respond.
11 November 2008
Apparently, sociologists often talk about people needing to have an experience of belonging, a need for a 'Sense of Community'. Noted psychologist Seymour B. Sarason even called it "one of the major bases for self-definition." In layman's terms, you need to have somewhere where you feel you belong! Without that experience, it's as if you don't belong. This could well be your family home - a group or club - or indeed your local church. The title for this feature is taken from the theme song to 'Cheers', an American sitcom about a Boston bar, and the community that frequents it.
The place where you feel you belong should be a place where you feel emotionally safe. Interestingly, psychologists also say that the community should have a 'common symbol system'.
This can be experienced both ways - members need to feel that they have some influence in the group, and some influence by the group on its members is needed for group cohesion.
Integration and fulfillment of needsMembers should feel rewarded in some way for their participation in the community.
Shared emotional connection
Members should have some sort of shared history and of course shared participation (or at least identification with the group's history).
One generation plants the trees; another gets the shade.
Keep in mind that our community is not composed of those who are already saints, but of those who are trying to become saints. Therefore let us be extremely patient with each other's faults and failures.
8 November 2008
6 November 2008
"You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light."
4 November 2008