Daily Riches: If You Lose Your Mind (Janice Hicks)

“Early Christian theologians generally attributed the image of God ( imago dei) in humans to the mind/spirit or soul, which was ranked higher than the body. Basil said that ‘the rational part is the human being.’ Augustine believed the mind has two parts: ‘The higher part contemplates eternal truths and makes judgments’ and God communicates with us through it. French philosopher René Descartes further emphasized the supremacy of rationality with his dictum ‘I think, therefore I am.’ Many of us today still fall into the Cartesian idea that the rational part, thinking, defines ‘who I am.’ Rationality is important, but rationality as a determinant of the status of personhood is greatly problematic. . . . Seeing a person as ‘less than’ promotes an attitude of stigma . . . . Contemporary theologians have developed a more balanced view of what makes us human. In Eccentric Existence, theologian David Kelsey proposes that the basis for the value and relationship of the human being lies in God, that is, outside the human beings themselves. Kelsey says that personhood is ‘a status before God’ dependent on God’s relating to who I am . . . . ‘Personhood is not even a function of how we relate to God,’ Kelsey writes. Our ‘personhood is entirely a function of how God relates to us in creating us . . . and hardly at all from anything else.’ God’s relating to us is surely not lost in dementia [for instance] or any illness. According to Kelsey, other qualities beyond rationality make us human, including emotion, love, spirituality, awareness, and courage. These traits have been observed in people with dementia . . . . When a person develops dementia, are they less of a person? Do they lose their connection to God? Indeed, we value infants, and infants are not rational. We are all dependent at times. We are all limited. . . . Perhaps those with dementia remind us of our limitations and that makes us uncomfortable.” Janice Hicks in Sojourners

“We turned our backs on him
and looked the other way.”
Isaiah 53:3c NLT

Moving From Head to Heart

  • In truth, do you see (or treat) stigmatized people as “less than?”
  • Imagine if “our personhood is entirely a function of how God relates to us” rather than of how we relate to God. Imagine what that means.
  • Do you hope others will still treat you with dignity if you live long enough to lose your memory? Can you give such dignity to others now?

Abba, may I look with compassion on those less “able” than me.

For More: Redeeming Dementia by Dorothy Linthicum and Janice Hicks

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Sources:

Linthicum, Dorothy and Janice Hicks. Redeeming Dementia: Spirituality, Theology, and Science. Church: 2018.

Also helpful:

Dettloff, Dean. “After Deadly Van Attack . . . .” America. May 28, 2018.

Keenan, James F. “The Francis Effect On Health Care.” America. May 28, 2018.

 

Daily Riches: God Often Keeps Us Waiting (J. I. Packer, Annie Dillard, Henri Nouwen, Søren Kierkegaard, and Jeanie and David Gushee)

“. . . ‘Wait on the Lord’ is a constant refrain in the Psalms, and it is a necessary word, for God often keeps us waiting. He is not in such a hurry as we are, and it is not his way to give more light on the future than we need for action in the present, or to guide us more than one step at a time. When in doubt, do nothing, but continue to wait on God. When action is needed, light will come.” J. I. Packer

“The death of the self of which the great writers speak is no violent act. It is merely the joining of the great rock heart of the earth in its roll. It is merely the slow cessation of the will’s sprints and the intellect’s chatter: it is waiting like a hollow bell with stilled tongue. Fuge, tace, quiesce. The waiting itself is the thing.” Annie Dillard

“The word patience comes from the Latin verb patior which means ‘to suffer.’ Waiting patiently is suffering through the present moment, tasting it to the full, and letting the seeds that are sown in the ground on which we stand grow into strong plants. Waiting patiently always means paying attention to what is happening right before our eyes and seeing there the first rays of God’s glorious coming.” Henri Nouwen

“As my prayer became more attentive and inward
I had less and less to say.
I finally became completely silent.
I started to listen–
which is even further removed from speaking.
I first thought that praying entailed speaking.
I then learnt that praying is hearing,
not merely being silent.
This is how it is.
To prayer does not mean to listen to oneself speaking,
Prayer involves becoming silent,
And being silent,
And waiting until God is heard.”
Søren Kierkegaard

“Since ancient times no one has heard,
no ear has perceived, no eye has seen
any God besides you, who acts
on behalf of those who wait for him.”
Isaiah 64:4

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you in a hurry?
  • Can you adjust yourself to a God who is “not in such a hurry?”
  • Do you pay attention to “what is happening right before [your] eyes?

“Some wait in confident expectation–others wait in quiet desperation. This night I close my eyes in darkness and yearn for Your Light, brighter than a thousand suns.” (Jeanie and David Gushee)

For More: Knowing God by J. I. Packer

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Daily Riches: The Hardest World to Leave (Belden Lane, Francis of Assisi and Donald Demaray)

“Who enjoys tranquility? The one who doesn’t take seriously either praise or lack of it from people.” Thomas ‘a Kempis

“In the desert, one inescapably confronted the threat of nothingness, the loss of all one’s activities, distractions, evasions . . . . There in the desert they knew the very scaffolding of their lives to be wholly dismantled. Games were called for what they were. Utter honesty was demanded by unrelenting spiritual directors, hard as the rock beyond the cloister where they prayed. The unbending John Climacus, for example, insisted on laying bare the pretenses of people in the religious life. He spoke of those who bless silence but cannot stop talking about it; those who fast without drawing attention to themselves but then take pride in such remarkable modesty; those who weep over death and then, with tears still in their eyes, rush off to dinner. Amma Syncletica refused to let anyone deceive herself by imagining that retreat to a desert monastery meant the guarantee of freedom from the world. The hardest world to leave, she knew, is the one within the heart. In the desert Christian’s understanding of renunciation, dying to oneself also meant a dying to one’s neighbor. They knew how easy it was to invest oneself in what other people think, measuring oneself by the accomplishments of others, remaining enmeshed in a hopeless pattern of jealousy, subservience, manipulation, and resentment. ‘To die to one’s neighbor is this,’ said Abba Moses the Black, ‘to bear your own faults and not to pay attention to anyone else wondering whether they are good or bad.’ Comparing oneself to others, being concerned about their approval or disapproval, was entirely foreign to the desert way. Watching the sweep of wind over desert sand inevitably gave one practice in studied indifference.” Belden Lane

“Dear friends, I warn you as ‘temporary residents and foreigners’
to keep away from worldly desires
that wage war against your very souls.”
1 Peter 2:11 NLT

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • When you think of “worldliness”, do you think about your heart? . . . how entrenched the world is there? . . . how “hard” it is to war against that?
  • Would it be hard to quit pretending about your spiritual life?
  • Would it be hard to become “indifferent” to the approval of others?

Abba, help me to be real before you and others–no posturing, no pretending.

For More: The Solace of Fierce Landscapes by Belden Lane

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Daily Riches: Worn Of My Falsehoods And Saved By Love (Mark Nepo and Fred Rogers)

“Let me say plainly that gratitude and humility swell when thinking of those who’ve held me up, who’ve helped me endure the many ways I’ve been reduced and worn of my falsehoods through the years. I smile deeply when thinking of those who’ve opened me to the joy of simply being here. I would be less without these friendships. I love you all. I keep telling strangers: to be in the presence of those who can both share pain and celebrate just waking up, this is the answer to loneliness. Such friendship makes sharing pizza in a noisy pub and standing in silence as the old oak creaks all one could ask for. In truth, this process, of being worn to only what is raw and essential, never ends. It’s as if a great bird lives inside the stone of our days and since no sculptor can free it, it has to wait for the elements to wear us down, till it is free to fly. Thank you for holding me up to the elements, and for freeing yourselves, and for the joy of these unexpected moments together.” Mark Nepo

“I believe that appreciation is a holy thing–that when we look for what’s best in a person we happen to be with at the moment, we’re doing what God does all the time. So in loving and appreciating our neighbor, we’re participating in something sacred.” Fred Rogers

“Use your freedom
to serve one another in love.”
Galatians 5:13b

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you understand the never-ending process of “. . . being worn to only what is raw and essential?” Have you embraced it as a something good? . . .  as God’s loving care?
  • Friends who share our pain and celebrate our “waking up” can sustain and save us. Do you have some friends like that? Can you really do without such loving friends?
  • Presenting your “sculpted” self to God to love others is “something sacred” you can do. Are you available?

Abba, your strong love has freed me to fly. May I love others that way myself.

For more: Reduced to Joy by Mark Nepo.

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Sources:

Nepo, Mark. Reduced to Joy. Berkeley: Viva, 2013.

Rogers, Fred. “Commencement Address at Middlebury College May, 2001.”

Daily Riches: The Sabbath as “Sacred Stasis” (Michael Fishbane and Walter Brueggemann)

“The Sabbath, along with the other practices [Michael Fishbane] exposits, concerns the maintenance of a distinct faith identity in the midst of a culture that is inhospitable to all distinct identities in its impatient reduction of all human life to the requirements of the market. . . . [He argues that] Sabbath is a sphere of inaction.” Walter Brueggemann

”One enters the sphere of inaction through divestment, and this release affects all the elements of the workaday sphere. Business activity and exchange of money are forbidden, and one is urged not just to desist from commerce but to develop more interior spheres of settling the mind from this type of agitation. . . . Slowly, under these multiple conditions, a sense of inaction takes over, and the day does not merely mark the stoppage of work or celebrate the completion of creation, but enforces the value that the earth as a gift of divine creativity, given to humankind in sacred trust. On the Sabbath, the practical benefits of technology are laid aside, and one tries to stand in the cycle of natural time, without manipulation or interference. To the degree possible, one must attempt to bring the qualities of inaction and rest into the heart and mind. . . . The Sabbath is thus a period of sacred stasis, a duration of sanctity through the cultivation of inaction in body and spirit. . . . The heartbeat of repose may thus suffuse the mind and limbs of one’s being, and generate an inner balance poised on quietude and a settled spirit.” Michael Fishbane

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work,
but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God.”
Exodus 20:8-10b NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Imagine joining your Jewish friends for several months as they practice “the heartbeat of repose” the way Fishbane describes it. How would that feel?
  • Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could experience more “quietude and a settled spirit” in our lives? . . . our homes? . . . our churches?
  • Brueggemann points out the profound external, societal implications for God’s people. Sabbath is a major way we resist our inhospitable culture. Are you resisting a culture that wants to shape you?

Abba, may we regularly enter into inaction of body and soul–into quietude and a settled spirit.

For more: Sabbath As Resistance by Walter Brueggemann

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Sources:

Brueggemann, Walter. Sabbath As Resistance: Saying NO to the CULTURE OF NOW. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2014.

Fishbane, Michael. Sacred Attunement: A Jewish Theology. Chicago: University of Chicago, 2008.

 

Daily Riches: Make Peace with the “Groan Zone” (Gregory of Nazianzus)

“Make peace with the groan zone. The groan zone is the place where the conversation is most difficult and may feel overwhelming or hopeless. Too many people walk away at this point. But use the mediator’s secret here–sticking it out through the groan zone is often the way to crack a difficult conversation’s tough nut. Whenever you notice yourself experiencing a ‘get me outta here!’ moment, pause and remind yourself this is where the greatest opportunities lie. Instinctively we abhor nondefensiveness and when we feel attacked or even confronted, we lash out immediately in hurt and anger. Most of us are either too reactive to stay calm or too reactive to stay present. Some, hoping to avoid the discomfort of confrontation are so unreactive they are never really present. It is over-reactivity that dooms many arguments between loving couples. Uncovering the real issue happens when people feel safe enough to be vulnerable. How do you do it? It’s actually very easy. Take a deep breath and just validate. Repeat back what you’re hearing. Be a mirror. If it’s easy, why don’t we all do it all the time? Because there’s a hard part too: Managing your own discomfort. Can you be OK with the feelings of others? Can you listen without judging? Can you listen even though you might feel threatened?”

“Everyone must be quick to hear,
slow to speak
and slow to anger . . . .”
James 1:19 NASB

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you too reactive to stay calm? . . . or present? . . . to love well? . . . not to jump to conclusions or judge? . . . or try to fix?
  • Does emotionally laden conflict feel like death to you? (Join the club.)
  • Are you safe enough in God to allow yourself to be vulnerable? . . .  not to run?
  • Can you allow God to love you in your failed, good intentions–and try again the next time?

“O Word of Truth! in devious paths
My wayward feet have trod;
I have not kept the day serene
I gave at morn to God.

“And now ’tis night, and night within;
O God, the light hath fled!
I have not kept the vow I made
When morn its glories shed.

“For clouds of gloom from nether world
Obscured my upward way;
O Christ the Light, Thy light bestow
And turn my night to day!”

Gregory of Nazianzus

For More: Before the Door of God, Jay Hopler and Kimberly Johnson, eds.

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Sources:

Hopler, Jay and Kimberly Johnson, eds. Before the Door of God: An Anthology of Devotional Poetry. New Haven: Yale, 2013.

[I’m no longer able to find the source of the “Groan Zone” quotation.]

Daily Riches: Staying At Marriage (Wendell Berry)

“The meaning of marriage begins in the giving of words. We cannot join ourselves to one another without giving our word. And this must be an unconditional giving, for in joining ourselves to one another we join ourselves to the unknown. We can join one another only by joining the unknown. We must not be misled by the procedures of experimental thought: in life, in the world, we are never given two known results to choose between, but only one result that we choose without knowing what it is. . . . Because the condition of marriage is worldly and its meaning communal, no one party to it can be solely in charge. What you alone think it ought to be, it is not going to be. Where you alone think you want it to go, it is not going to go. It is going where the two of you—and marriage, time, life, history, and the world—will take it. You do not know the road; you have committed your life to a way. . . . The Zen student, the poet, the husband, the wife—none knows with certainty what he or she is staying for, but all know the likelihood that they will be staying ‘a while’: to find out what they are staying for. And it is the faith of all of these disciplines that they will not stay to find that they should not have stayed. As the traditional marriage ceremony insists, not everything that we stay to find out will make us happy. The faith, rather, is that by staying, and only by staying, we will learn something of the truth, that the truth is good to know, and that it is always both different and larger than we thought.” Wendell Berry

“As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven,
Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.”
Luke 9:51 NLT

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Did you enter marriage thinking you knew what to expect? Don’t most of us marry with illusions?
  • In staying at marriage we may learn something “different and larger than we thought.” If you’re married, what has that meant for you?
  • Think about Jesus’ life from the point of view of “staying.” What does his example show?

Abba, what do you want me to discover as I stay?

For More: Standing by Words: Essays by Wendell Berry

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Daily Riches: How Success Demands Self-Care (Michael Hyatt and Jack Nevison)

“Here’s the hard truth: Time is fixed. It can’t flex. You get 168 hours no matter how important you may think you are. But here’s another truth: energy can flex. You can’t give yourself more time. That’s true. But you can bring a sharper, more energized you to bear on the time you have available. . . . Productivity is less about managing time and more about managing your energy. Most people get this entirely backward. As a result, they work more and more, less and less efficiently. The research shows that after a certain amount of time we’re just chasing our tail. Jack Nevison crunched the numbers from several studies on long work hours, and here’s what he found: there’s a ceiling for productive work. He calls it the law of fifty, and it stands in stark contrast to the hustle fallacy. Push past 50 hours a week, and there’s no productivity gain. Zero. In fact, it could go backward. One study found that 50 hours on the job only yielded 37 hours of useful work. Push that up to 55 hours, and it drops to 30. In other words . . . there’s an inverse relationship between how much you work and how productive you are. You’re not a robot. You’re a person who needs rest to be at your best. As you think about self-care, you have to acknowledge that your self is at the center. . . . I’m asking you to acknowledge the fact that your self is central. Your health, your relationships, your children, your hobbies, your work. . . . At the center of all these is you. You’re all you have to offer these various facets of your life. If you’re not nurturing yourself, if your self is not thriving, then the influence you bring to these other dimensions is going to be less than what it could be.” Michael Hyatt

“I discipline my body and make it my slave,
so that, after I have preached to others,
I myself will not be disqualified.”
1 Corinthians 9:27 NASB

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you feel like a slave?
  • Do you sense that God made you for something more?
  • Hyatt’s principles could come from a book on spiritual formation. Can you use them to give yourself permission to practice self-care?

Abba, may I bring my cared-for self (my best self) into every situation.

For More: “Self-Care As a Leadership Discipline” by Michael Hyatt

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Daily Riches: Stability–Looking for God Where You Are (Paul Wilkes, Lynne Baab, and Amy Peterson)

“The first vow laid out in Benedict’s Rule is stability. To a monk or sister, it means being committed to stay in this particular monastic house with these particular people. It means being willing to look for God here in the constancy of this place in this rhythm of life, rather than seeking God in ever-changing places and varied routines. In Beyond the Walls: Monastic Wisdom for Everyday Life, Paul Wilkes calls stability a ‘sense of where you are,’ and he believes that our disjointed lives and fragmented society present ample evidence that we desperately need to embrace stability. ‘What was needed, Benedict taught, was maddeningly simple. It was a commitment to trust in God’s goodness–that he was indeed there, in that very place; and that holiness, happiness, and human fulfillment were to be found, not tomorrow or over the hill, but here–today. . . . Stability’s goal is that we might see the inner truth of who we are and [where] we are going. That we might be still long enough to be joined intimately to the God who dwells within . . . . It is difficult–no, it is impossible–to find and maintain that center if our waking hours are a blur of mindless activity, without the presence and practice of stability in our lives.’” Lynne Baab

“I begin to wonder if I, like the brothers at Taize and the desert monks, need to learn the discipline of stability. Do I need roots, when this earth is not my home? That third instruction from Saint Anthony sinks like a seed into the dark recesses of my heart and lies dormant for a long time: ‘In whatever place you live, do not easily leave it.’” Amy Peterson

“So Boaz said to Ruth, ‘My daughter, listen to me.
Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here.
Stay here with the women who work for me.'”
Ruth 2:8 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you tend to give up too easily on a place? . . . a call? . . . a relationship?
  • Will you determine to “wait for the right moment?” . . . to wait for God’s permission before you decide to “move on?”

Abba, slow me down when my instinct is to flee.

For More: Beyond the Walls by Paul Wilkes

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.
Peterson, Amy. “Wanderlust: A Personal History.” Essay in The Other Journal: Geography, No. 24.
.
Wilkes, Paul. Beyond the Walls: Monastic Wisdom for Everyday Life. New York: Doubleday, 1999.

Daily Riches: Daily Emotions . . . They Come Bearing Gifts (William Britton)

“I feel hungry, but really it’s thirst.
I feel tired, but really it’s hunger.
I feel like I’m dying, but I’m not
like I’m forsaken, but I’m not.
It seems things will never change
but they will.
–Loneliness passes.
–Sadness ends.
–Confusion clears.
–Depression lifts.
–Love returns.
–Lust slithers off.
I often can’t trust my feelings,
but my feelings have a lot to teach me
if only I will learn from them.

It’s like with my eyes.
I see the sun “rise and set.”
I see “color.”
As I lift my eyes
I see the edge of the world.
I often can’t trust my eyes
but my eyes have a lot to teach me
if only I will really see with them.

My ears fool me too.
I hear sounds that aren’t,
and miss sounds that are.
I misunderstand the words.
I filter out, not just the noise,
but the beauty in the background.
I often can’t trust my ears,
but my ears have a lot to teach me
if only I will really hear with them.

I often can’t trust my eyes, my ears, or my feelings,
but each of them have a lot to teach me.
They come bearing gifts
if only I will welcome those gifts.”

William Britton

“A fool is hotheaded and yet feels secure.”
Proverbs 14:16b NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you afraid to really feel your emotions because you’ll be overwhelmed, or misled? Why do you suppose God gave you emotions?
  • Can you attempt to learn from your emotions? . . . to listen to what they’re telling you? Can you ask, “What does this emotional response say about me?”
  • Can you imagine Jesus without emotions? Who would want that? And who wants an unemotional you?

Abba, I’m glad that I can feel love, joy, grief, loneliness–even guilt and shame. They each make me “more.” They each teach me. You speak to me in each.

For More: Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero

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Daily Riches: Rushing Down the Trail of Life (Joyce Rupp)

“I recall the time that I was in British Columbia participating in a wilderness retreat. On the first evening that our group gathered, we listened to the wilderness advice of a wise forest ranger named Ferguson. He warned us about taking necessary clothing and provisions in our packs, about staying on the trails, and what to do it we were to get lost. ‘If you get lost,’ he said, ‘don’t try to keep finding the way out. [Stay put.] Wait for someone to come and show you the way home. Whatever you do, don’t panic.’ The ranger assured us that he and his associate knew those paths well and that they would come and find us. He also commented that getting lost and waiting to be found could be an ‘exalted’ thing; one could get in touch with the woods and earth, really look and see in a way that one would not when hiking busily down the trail. . . . Years later, I realized how wise the ranger’s advice was, not only for hikers, but also for midlife journeyers. I have gotten lost in the mystery of who I am. I have needed a wise companion to help me find the way home to my true Self. I had to learn how to trust another with my lostness. . . . And, yes, it has been a most exalted time when I stopped to look deep and long at my inner world. I saw things that I missed entirely when I was fully in control, rushing down the trail of life.” Joyce Rupp

“Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
Psalm 46:10 NASV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • What might you have failed to see while “rushing down the trail of life?”
  • What will it take to slow you down? Will it require some great loss?
  • Is routinely missing what is precious, important or “exalted” acceptable to you?
  • Do you give excuses for not slowing down? Have you genuinely tried it?

Abba, it’s all about the striving. Help me to reject the striving.

For more: Dear Heart, Come Home by Joyce Rupp
and my new book:
Wisdom From the Margins: Daily Readings (click link)

Thank you for your interest in Daily Riches! Please subscribe and share!

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Daily Riches: Approval From the Father (Belden Lane)

“The death of the father had left within me a yawning, empty place, something no amount of approval ever seemed able to fill. My temptation was to seek out substitute fathers everywhere, trying to be the perfect son, the ideal student, the one so anxious to please–as if to guarantee that no one would ever abandon this child again. Yet the compulsive need to be nice, to avoid every possibility of rejection becomes itself dangerous and seductive. ‘Being nice’ as a way of acquiring love is often not very nice at all. The desperate need to be loved can keep one from love itself. True intimacy is only possible where emptiness is accepted as gift, where people don’t use one another to try to fill (and to fix) each other’s hollowness. Yet neither do they leave. Intimacy is participation in each other’s unalterable emptiness, the sharing of a vulnerability that grows even deeper in being shared. If the desert has taught me anything, it’s that love can only blossom in abandonment. Only now, as the father–and the mother–are irretrievably gone, as the son retraces the path of his long search for the blessing of the firstborn son, does he find it possible (because now also necessary) to release these anxious dependencies of the past. Without parents, without anyone left to mend him, he’s cast into this desert night, thrown on its darkened God as if nothing else were left. Maybe this desolate, desert God is the one he’s sought all along in the endless quest for a lost father.” Belden Lane

“But while he was still a long way off,
his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him;
he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”
Luke 15:20 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Can you relate to the sense of a “yawning, empty place, something no amount of approval” seems ever to fill?
  • Have you tried to fill up that space with human approval? . . . even with a substitute father or mother? . . . by performing?
  • Sometimes only when we lose our last hope of being “mended” by others, do we cast ourselves upon God, the only father who never disappoints. Have you done that yet?

Abba, you’ve thrown your arms around me, and you’ll never let go. I’m so grateful.

For More: The Solace of Fierce Landscapes by Belden Lane

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Daily Riches: The Imperialism of the Self . . . In Marriage (Frank Sheed)

“Marriage . . . is not all magic. Husband and wife must work hard at it. If one is making no effort, the other must work twice as hard. Love helps, though it is precisely love that is in danger of losing its elan with so much to depress it; prayer helps tremendously. But, in the purely psychological order, nothing helps so much as the reverence that flows from a right vision of what man is–that this loutish man, this empty-headed woman, is God’s image, an immortal spirit, loved by Christ even to the death of the Cross: whatever the surface looks like, this is in the depth of every human being, this in him is what God joined together with this in her. The realization that there is this welding of two into one in the depths of their being, below the level that the eye of the mind can see, is the most powerful incentive to make that union in depth effective through every layer of personality. This reverence is a safeguard against one of the great dangers of family life–the tendency of one partner to form, or re-form, the other . . . in his [or her] own image. There is a sort of imperialism to which the self is liable, the desire to impose its own likeness. As we have already seen, one should not lightly try to re-make another: but, if re-making there must be, assuredly the only image in which any one should be re-made is the image of God in which he [or she] was made.” Frank J. Sheed

“Above all, love each other deeply,
because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
1 Peter 4:8 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you have a “right vision” of who you are? . . . of your spouse? Take some time to picture your spouse as God’s beloved image-bearer, as one treasured by God.
  • Prayer and loving like Jesus (Ephesians 5:25) will also be necessary. Are you praying God’s blessing on your spouse? How does your love for your spouse resemble God’s love for you?
  • Do you have an “imperialistic” attitude where you’re insisting on what you know is best for your spouse? Can you humble yourself instead, and allow God to work in your spouse (and in you) in God’s way and time?

Abba, I need your work in me. I’ll leave my spouse to you. Help us both.

For more: Marriage and the Family by Frank J. Sheed

Daily Riches: The Center of Our Relationship with Jesus (Joni Eareckson Tada)

“The cross is the center of our relationship with Jesus. . . . the cross is where we die. We go there daily. It isn’t easy. Normally, we follow Christ anywhere–to a party, as it were, where he changes water into wine, to a sunlit beach where he preaches from a boat, to a breezy hillside where he feeds thousands . . . But to the cross? We dig in our heels. The invitation is so frighteningly individual. It’s an invitation to go alone. . . . Thus we live independently of the cross. Or try to. As time passes, the memory of our desperate state when we first believed fades. The cross was something that happened to us ‘back then.’ . . . We would hardly admit it, but we know full well how autonomous of God we operate. This is where God steps in. He permits suffering. . . . Suffering reduces us to nothing . . . . To be reduced to nothing is to be dragged to the foot of the cross. It’s a severe mercy. . . . . When suffering forces us to our knees at the foot of Calvary, we die to self. We cannot kneel there for long without releasing our pride and anger, unclasping our dreams and desires–this is what coming to the cross is all about. In exchange, God imparts power and implants new and lasting hope. We rise, renewed. His yoke becomes easy; his burden light. But just when we begin to get a tad self-sufficient, suffering presses harder. And so, we seek the cross again, mortifying the martyr in us, destroying the self-display. . . . God reveals more of his love, more of his power and peace as we hold fast the cross of suffering.” Joni Eareckson Tada

“We who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake,
so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.”
2 Corinthians 4:11 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you sense the cross at work in you in a necessary and daily way?
  • Are you letting it strip you of what needs to go?
  • Suffering is “severe.” It’s the “mercy” no one wants–but it is mercy. It is love. Unfortunately, the life of Jesus just isn’t formed in us without it. Can you remember this during the next round?

Abba, thank you for your unfailing love in the midst of your severity with me.

For More: When God Weeps by Joni Eareckson Tada and Steven Estes

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Daily Riches: Having the Courage To “Go There” (Katie Couric)

“I learned the story of Elizabeth Lawrence, a schoolteacher in Birmingham who scolded a group of white children after they threw stones at her. The children told their parents. A mob came to her home, murdered her, and burned her house down. I learned the story of Thomas Miles, Sr., of Shreveport, Louisiana, a black man who was accused of writing a letter to a white woman. After a judge acquitted him, he was abducted by a mob outside the courtroom and taken to a tree where he was beaten, stabbed, shot, and hanged. I learned the story of Mamie, who was a child in Mississippi when her father and his friend were threatened with lynching. Mamie’s family fled; her father’s friend stayed and was hanged. . . . Lynchings occurred at any time, for many reasons: allegations of a serious crime or a casual transgression, fear of interracial sex, or desire for public spectacle. The terror it induced is impossible to describe, a burden still carried today. We haven’t learned to talk about lynching–or the nation’s racist history–in an open and honest way. It’s difficult to face the past, to acknowledge the role of some of our ancestors in the brutality inflicted upon their fellow humans. Despite what we were taught in grade school, our collective shame does not fit neatly in the time period between the Civil War and the civil rights movement. It’s time to understand the complete picture of our history, to have the courage to go there, to absorb it.” Katie Couric

“And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man,
so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.”
1 Corinthians 14:48b NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • The deaths by lynching of 4,400 people, mostly in Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi, have been documented by the Equal Justice Initiative. If we were going to talk about this, who would talk to who, and about what?
  • Jesus Christ came into our world to “set the captives free” (Luke 4:18), and as an act of love for all our world’s people–the kosmos (John 3:16).  Jesus practiced and emphasized loving those in great need (Luke 10). In the verse above, the Apostle Paul argues that “we” (any who bear Adam’s image) are equal candidates to bear God’s image. Given just these few facts, can you think of a way to justify 4,400 lynchings?
  • If our culture won’t have the courage to talk about this, can at least the church model how to “go there?”

Abba, may we do what we can that these dead shall not have died in vain.

For More: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

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Couric, Katie. “Hallowed Ground.” National Geographic (April 2018): pp. 150-151.

Staples, Brent. “When Southern Newspapers Justified Lynching” New York Times, May 6, 2018.

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