Archive for the 'Newsletter for December 2009' Category

‘Finding Jesus on Christmas Eve’


November 29th, 2009


If Jesus walked the earth on Christmas Eve, where Would He go to worship or pray? Adorned in old clothes, a Hebrew shawl, and a pair of old sandals, who Would welcome Him in to grace their hall? With pockets empty of gold coin or plastic to swipe, who Would give Him a morsel of food or
a roof for the cold night? If He knocked on the door of B’nai Jeshurun, Would they not say, take a left down that road, my friend, to show Him the Salvation Army? If He wandered to your walkway beside your reindeer and red sleigh, Would you not send him swiftly on His way? Would you invite Him in to warm Himself by your fire, give Him a cookie from Santa’s stash, and a cup of spiced eggnog with rum? Or Would you call the police and report a bum?So where Would you find Jesus, the poor Jew, if He walked the earth this Christmas Eve? Would He knock on the door at the Church of Christ and sit among the parishioners and listen to a mass in a foreign language ? You Would think not.You Would probably not see Him, because He Would be standing on line with the hungry and poor at your local soup kitchen. He Would not be quoting scripture and verse, nor ask what religion or faith you be. He Would be sitting beside a homeless veteran in some darkened doorway on the edge of town. He Would be standing on a Bridge next to a jumper ready to plunge or he Would be holding the hand of prostitute child strung-out on dope. He Would not attend his own birthday party, because the Spirit Would move Him another way, just as it did 2000 years ago. That’s where you Would find Jesus on Christmas Eve.

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what holidays would Jesus celebrate?


November 29th, 2009


Cultures around the world have a lot of holidays. Some have grand national significance, while others seem virtually meaningless. But some, like Halloween, find their meaning deeply rooted in paganism. What are we to make of that?

In the midst of all this, it’s interesting to consider the question: What holidays would Jesus celebrate? Would He be looking forward to Halloween and organizing parties for little witches and ghosts? Or would He be more interested in promoting holidays that come from a different source—God’s message and His activity?

We don’t really have to guess. All you have to do is see what He celebrated when He lived here on earth.

Many Christians have been intrigued by the mentions of little-known festivals throughout the New Testament. For example, Jesus went to Jerusalem with His parents at age 12 for the Passover, and a number of other Passovers are highlighted in the Gospels, especially the one that marked His crucifixion.

The apostle John also notes that one year Jesus went to Jerusalem for the “Feast of Tabernacles” even though His life was threatened (John 7:1-2, 8-10).

The Church was founded on another festival, Pentecost (Acts 2:1), and the apostle Paul celebrated the Feast of Unleavened Bread (1 Corinthians 5:6-8) and the Day of Atonement (Acts 27:9).

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GRACE FOR LIFE


November 25th, 2009



Many people can remember times when, in great personal distress, they called out to GOD and he answered. This might be called “grace for crisis”.

If, however, our only relationship with GOD is at the point of crisis then we have two serious problems.

Firstly, over time our attitude becomes one of presumption. Proverbs 13:10 tells us that the only thing that comes from presumption is strife. God does desire to give us grace but not on the basis of presumption.

The second point is that God actually desires to give us grace for living. Grace to be more than conquerors in this world, grace to face the tyranny of age and weariness of loneliness.

In Acts 13 we see the apostles encouraging Christians to continue living in the grace of God. Later we hear that we are to be heirs of the grace for life.

Christ laid his life down for us, so that our suffering might become our participation with him. -This is true grace. Through this “grace for living’, when our race is run, we can boldly declare: death where is your victory, where is your sting?

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Are You Still a Cave Dweller?


November 25th, 2009


 

 

I remember going to Jenolan Caves many years ago and we went on one of the guided tours into the Lucas Cave system. At one point our guide got us to stand still and make sure we were feeling safe. Then she turned off the lights so that we were cast into thick darkness.

 

After the initial exclamations and giggles had died down, we heard our guide explain that if we stayed in darkness for about 10 minutes, then waved our hands in front of our faces, we might imagine we could see them, but it would be an illusion.

 

Then she told us something even more intriguing: if we remained in this darkness for 45 minutes we would find ourselves lying on the cave floor with absolutely no sense of direction at all!

 

1 John 1: 6 reveals to us that if we say we have fellowship with God and yet walk in the darkness, then we lie and do not practice the truth. We must be honest and realise that whenever we lie or are hypocritical we are actually in total darkness. If we stay in darkness we will quickly become confused and lose our sense of the Lord’s clear direction for our life.

 

Thankfully, if we confess our sins to our brothers and sisters we will again walk in the light and have fellowship with one another and with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ (1 John 1:3-10).

 

So it’s true after all- we dont have to be a cave dwellers anymore!

Please consider these amazing words prophisied by John the Baptist’s father about Jesus: the sunrise from high shall visit us, to shine on those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. Luke 1:79, We can all leave our caves and discover the “way of peace”.

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Life & golf


November 25th, 2009

I sit here at my laptop, considering what to share with you. There is always so much that I could say. This thought will go to many, but know that I focus on that it reaches you and I hold that in my attention so that I write from the heart considering you as an individual.

Life is always teaching us, sometimes in the most unexpected ways, so I thought today I’d share a simple analogy which I was reminded of a time. I went to the driving range to practise golf (yes golf). I have only attempted to play golf a few times (realizing quickly that it is a most humbling sport). Consider this insight and how it will support you in your life.

Standing with a golf club in my hands, ready to try hit a little white ball onto a small grass island surrounded by water about 140 meters ahead, remembering that over the last 6 years I had come here very occasionally, to practise golf at a driving range near my home, try as I might I have never reached the island. I have smashed, cursed and focused, but that little ball has never landed on the island.

Do you have anything in your life that seems as hard to reach, that you try and try, but miss?

In fact just think about your life and all the parts of your life, relationships, work, finances, spirituality, etc and ask yourself “Where am I TRYING?” Where does it feel like you are pushing away from one thing to get something else? Like pushing water uphill.

The word trying is very revealing. Trying to be loving, is different from being loving. Trying to be patient is not being patient. “Trying” tells at that we are at war! Yes, that we are at war with something that is.

The war robs us, not the thing we are at war with. If you are trying to be patient, but feel impatient, your war is with impatience. Impatience is not stealing something from you, your war with impatience is. Accept your impatience, let yourself be human. Give all of you a place and you will be free. TRY to not feel “it” (whatever it is for you) and you will lose yourself.

I’ve lived this as a truth for a while, but was most surprised to notice that it helped me hit a little white ball.

I can’t call myself a golfer, because as yet every attempt of mine to play golf has not looked at all like golf. 1 shot out of a dozen looks like it wants to be golf, but most are “humbling” to say the least. It intrigued me that I can stand on a stage in front of an audience of 700 (and have) with calm purpose and skill, but on a tee in front of a bunch of golfers I feel dread and I want to climb into the hole we are all aiming for and disappear.

If you are surprised to hear me talking about golf, so am I. But I have recognized that we can learn deep spiritual and personal growth lessons from any aspect of life if we look and are open to it. Hospitals have taught me so much, so why not golf?

Golf forces you (if you are paying attention) to notice the role of your mind and how quickly we can lose the “flow” and natural ease of the body’s wisdom and skill. We lose this to the war of MENTAL “trying”. You see, like in life, your body has so much wisdom and intelligence. You don’t have to think about healing, breathing and growing cells, your body’s wisdom does that all for you. So when you learn a new skill, like golf, or driving a car, or playing guitar – after a certain amount of training, your body just “knows” how. If you from that moment let your mind try to drive, or strum or hit the ball – it goes wrong. Your mind can’t play golf, your mind can’t play life either. Only your body can. So if you sink your awareness into your body and let it do what it knows how to do, magic happens. Your body has grace, it has deep intuitive rhythm, balance and power.

Once you have learned how to hold the club, how to stand and how to move your body – your body has grooved the learning. Just like it does when learning to drive a car, ride a bike, play guitar etc. It takes time and practise but the moment you don’t have to think about it and can just do it – that’s the moment when your body has the new skill in its bones. Now the mind has finished its job – its job was to take the knowledge and hold a framework for learning.

The driving range is busy but it’s a peaceful place. We find a few empty tees and look out at the expanse of grass ahead, dotted with thousands of white balls and in the distance a few colour flags to help us mark our distances. About 140 metres out is the little island, with a moat of water around. This is the most appealing of targets, to try and get your ball that far. And it’s the one my ball can’t get to despite all my trying.

Watching others hitting balls and teaching their bodies something new – all great fun. So I put a ball down and begin to practice. Now you must know that I usually only get 1 out of every few shots to look like “golf”, but most of the time I hit the ball badly (it rolls along the ground, I miss it all together, I hit it but it doesn’t go very far or it’s not straight). When I hit it well I get excited, my mind says OK maybe I’ve got it now, then wham “not!” as the next shot is usually a dud. But this time I’ve decided to experiment with something I use in my life. It’s a little technique that I teach in all my courses and, wow, it even works for golf. It’s how I help my mind to not go to war, and to end the “trying” game. So try it out for your life, it takes practise but it’s worth it.

Take a breath. And imagine that you can feel your body, sense it. Not visualizing, but feelings, emotions and sensations. Feel your skin, feel and sense your stomach area (that’s how you would know if you were hungry or not, afraid or not). Take your awareness to the centre of your body. Notice the subtle or strong shift in the way your body feels as you do this. Compare it to holding your attention in your head. It’s subtle (not Hollywood) but is very, very helpful to learn to do. I used to place my hand on my stomach to remind myself to go there. It keeps me centred, it plugs me into intuition, it’s a great stress buster and I can be more connected to life from there. In my head I feel the mind strongly and this is not helpful as the mind is like a little mouse running on a wheel – going fast and getting nowhere.

When I used to do karate it was the same, if you focus your awareness into your body instead of into your head, you gained strength, time slows a little and you move with greater ease and skill. Notice in the day, that when you are most natural, most at peace, most happy you will be in your centre. When you are stressed or disconnected you will be in your head. So instead of letting it happen unconsciously, move yourself to your centre consciously.

So I tried it. I heard all the noises around me, dozens of people hitting their golf balls, children talking, I acknowledged my mind’s endless talking – it’s wanting to smash the ball and be as good as the others, it’s not wanting to look like an idiot, hoping not to miss the ball entirely (which I have done soooo many times). And now just to notice the mind, letting it talk, letting it compare and complain, hope and push. Then gently directing my attention and my awareness to the centre of my body, to the heart and stomach area (which I teach to our ministers as a coaching communication technique, to businessmen and women as a professional speaking technique) and now here I am trying it with golf on a driving range.

I feel for my centre and then pretend that I can also sense the ball, feel it over there lying on the ground. I let go and let my body move – my arms pull back without the thought that they should. And then they release back down to strike. I hear the “ping” that the ball makes when you hit it well, and feel the little current of impact run through my arms as I complete and my arms rise. I now look and see my ball flying straight and true, up. Then so far as my eyes strain to see, there it lands for the first time on the island. I finally did put several golf balls on the island; and reminded myself that universal truth will help us in any aspect of our life, even golf.

 

 

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Insight


November 25th, 2009


Early this morning I had 2 insights in a dream that I wanted to share with you. The insights are about why we suffer emotionally and how we can heal our suffering. I hope they support you as they do me. I’ll share it with you in the same way it came to me.

Picture a baby child learning how to get by in the world. He feels hungry and so he cries from the discomfort. Someone comes and gives him food (hopefully) – he is now satisfied. This happens again and again and he learns that “when he feels empty inside he can get something from the outside world to make the emptiness go away. So one of original conditioned programs we all learn is emptiness inside = seek fulfillment from the outside. Stay with me, I hope to be able to explain this well, because it’s a simple but really important insight.

Again picture a baby child, let’s make is a girl now. She is learning to walk and stands on a sharp toy. It hurts and she cries, some part of her remembers to avoid the sharp toy because it caused pain. If an adult had seen, they might even have pushed away the toy, to make the source of the pain go away. So here is a 2nd conditioned program, when you feel pain = push the source of the pain away.

Both these work well in the physical outer world of survival. It’s a good idea to seek food and water, also a good idea to push away physical danger. But what if we can’t tell the difference between emotional and physical pain? What if when we feel emotionally empty we also look externally for fulfillment? What if when we feel emotional pain we also try to push away the source of the pain? Isn’t this true? This is exactly what we do.

And the incredible thing is that this NEVER works long term. In fact it actually creates even more suffering.

So the insights are:

1. We try to fill emotional emptiness the same way we fill physical hunger, we look externally. Think about it, we look to other people, for love, for worth, for respect or for whatever we are hungry for inside of us. The big problem about this is…. it does not work. We can’t succeed. Emotional hunger is different from physical hunger but we treat it the same way, and because we see it work with food, we think it will work with emotions, but it simply does not. In fact we need to fully see that they are different and need completely different approaches. In fact, many eating problems (over eating, under eating) are from this entanglement, the mind’s inability to tell physical hunger from emotional hunger.

2. We try to free ourselves from emotional pain the same way we fix physical pain, we push the source of the pain away. Think about it. If we feel afraid of being emotionally hurt, we push away the person or thing we feel may be the source of pain (the sharp toy). If we think a part of us in in pain, we even push that part of ourselves away (or try to anyway). The thing is, this just doesn’t work. Emotional pain is not the same as physical pain, no matter how much the mind thinks it is. And sadly the very “pushing” away causes long term pain, broken relationships and loss of the true self.

So how do you truly feed emotional hunger? And how do we truly free ourselves from emotional pain? Firstly, NOT by doing the same thing we do with physical hunger and pain, in fact the exact opposite is the real solution. Don’t look externally rather look internally for fulfillment. And don’t push away the source of pain, stay with it and give it support and a place in your heart and then watch it transform itself.

Remind yourself that physical pain and emotional pain are different. Physical hunger and emotional hunger are different. Honor their differences.

Feed your emotional hunger with the food of your soul, nurture emotional pain within the loving embrace of your heart.

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The Price of Freedom


November 25th, 2009

Jesus Christ said the truth would set a person free (John 8:32). Most people want truth—as long as it doesn’t mean any major changes for them. Truth does set us free from the ultimate results of error and falsehood, but because it is not always convenient, people tend to choose an easier route.
It takes courage to follow truth when that path is narrow and difficult—and the Bible tells us that the right, best and only successful way is indeed narrow (Matthew 7:14). When a person determines to follow what is right, he or she also grows in strength of character, developing many positive traits along the way. There is danger in everything we do. Why not take the risk with something worthwhile?

 

 

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