Daily Riches: The Slow Work of God … In You (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and Carl Jung) *

“Above all, trust in the slow work of God. We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay. We should like to skip the intermediate stages. We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new. And yet it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some states of instability – and that it may take a very long time. And so I think it is with you; your ideas mature gradually – let them grow, let them shape themselves without undue haste. Don’t try to force them on, as though you could be today what time (that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will) will make of you tomorrow. Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be. Give our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you. And accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.”   Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

“The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine,
even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ ” Matthew 25:40

“What if you discovered that the least of the brethren of Jesus,10171841_10151987010386851_1794316792549983598_n
the one who needs your love the most,
the one you can help the most by loving,
the one to whom your love will be most meaningful –
what if you discovered that
this least of the brethren of Jesus … is you?
Then do for yourselves
what you would do for others.”
Carl Jung

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Think of all the ways you are “impatient to reach the end” of something or other. Now think about the inevitably “slow work of God.” Obviously, patience is necessary!
  • It seems to me that Teilhard’s words make a powerful springboard for prayer. Read though what he says slowly. Let it sink in, and see if you can let it turn into prayer, phrase by phrase.
  • Teilhard counsels us to “accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.” Think about “accepting” anxiety, and feeling yourself “in suspense and incomplete.” Can you do that? How will you?

Abba, help me to trust in your slow work in me – to not give up on you, or on me. May I find you in my incompleteness and the anxiety that so often comes when I look in the mirror.

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For More: Hearts on Fire by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God, and as he seeks after you. My goal is to provide you with something of uncommon value each day in 400 words or less. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it with others. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: The Great Enemy of Spiritual Life (John Ortberg) *

“Hurry is not just a disordered schedule. Hurry is a disordered heart. …The most serious sign of hurry sickness is a diminished capacity to love. Love and hurry are fundamentally incompatible. Love always takes time, and time is one thing hurried people don’t have. …It is because it kills love that hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life.”  John Ortberg

“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

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • When you’re in a hurry, do you have a sense that your heart is “disordered?” Can you move around in a hurry and still experience a sense of connectedness or union with God?
  • “Love always takes time, and time is one thing hurried people don’t have.” That’s probably convicting to many of us, but it powerfully points out the problem with hurry. How often do you think you fail to love as you should simply because you “don’t have the time?”
  • If hurry is “the great enemy of the spiritual life” it’s quite a threat. What daily practice can you adopt, or what kind of change to your routine, so that you address the problem of hurry?

Abba, it seems I was born in a hurry – and that when I hurry it is often for no good reason. I know it’s causing me to fail at loving well. Help me to cease striving and know that you are God – to learn that it’s not necessary for me to live frantically for you to be exalted in my world, in my life – or in this day.

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For More: The Life You Always Wanted by John Ortberg

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God, and as he seeks after you. My goal is to provide you with something of uncommon value each day in 400 words or less. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it with others. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Exposed Before God (Thomas Merton) *

“ … we should let ourselves be brought naked and defenceless
into the center of that dread
where we stand alone before God in our nothingness,
without explanation, without theories,
completely dependent upon his providential care,
in dire need of the gift of his grace,
his mercy and the light of faith.”
Thomas Merton

“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.’ At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.Woe to me!’ I cried. ‘I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.'”  Isaiah 6:1-5

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Can you imagine being “brought naked and defenceless … before God?”  … “standing alone before God in your nothingness?”  feeling “undone” in the presence of God?
  • Why would Merton suggest that we not resist this? (“we should let ourselves be brought…”)
  • Teresa of Avila prayed, “Let me not be afraid to linger here in your presence will all my humanity exposed. For you are God – you are not surprised by my frailties, my continuous failures.” Can you use these words as the basis for a prayer of your own?

Abba, it’s dreadfully painful to have “all my humanity exposed” before anyone, including you. It’s in your presence though, that I am exposed yet safe. In spite of my all my humanity, may I linger before you today, presenting myself for healing – and may I do this without any attempt to lessen the pain by offering up explanations or excuses.

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For More: Contemplative Prayer by Thomas Merton;
Let Nothing Disturb You by Teresa of Avila

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God, and he seeks after you. My goal is to provide you with something of uncommon value each day in 400 words or less. Please follow and share my blog. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Listening Well (Henri Nouwen) *

To listen is very hard, because it asks of us so much interior stability that we no longer need to prove ourselves by speeches, arguments, statements, or declarations. True listeners no longer have an inner need to make their presence known. They are free to receive, to welcome, to accept. Listening is much more than allowing another to talk while waiting for a chance to respond. Listening is paying full attention to others and welcoming them into our very beings. The beauty of listening is that, those who are listened to start feeling accepted, start taking their words more seriously and discovering their own true selves. Listening is a form of spiritual hospitality by which you invite strangers to become friends, to get to know their inner selves more fully, and even to dare to be silent with you.”  Henri Nouwen

“You must all be quick to listen,
slow to speak and slow to get angry. …
If you claim to be religious
but don’t control your tongue,
you are fooling yourself,
and your religion is worthless.”  
James 1:19b, 26

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you have a strong enough sense of “inner stability” so that you don’t feel compelled to explain, defend or interpret yourself to others?
  • How often, if ever, do you have a conversation where you don’t feel the need “to make your presence known?” What would be the point of that anyway?
  • Loving listening is a “form of spiritual hospitality.” No wonder then that James says it’s a test of our religion. How can you make a plan for upcoming conversations, to extend loving hospitality more effectively?

Abba, help me to be quick to listen and slow to speak today. Help me to receive, welcome and accept what others have to give instead of striving to make my presence known. I ask that people I meet today would feel accepted by me, and by you – valued, heard and loved.

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For More: Bread for the Journey by Henri Nouwen

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These “Daily Riches” from RicherByFar are for your encouragement as you seek after God, and as he seeks after you. My goal is to provide you with something of uncommon value each day in 400 words or less. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it with others. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Asceticism (Kathleen Norris) *

“Asceticism … is a way of surrendering to reduced circumstances
in a manner that enhances the whole person.

It is a radical way of knowing exactly who, what, and where you are,
in defiance of those powerful forces in society –
alcohol, drugs, television, shopping malls, motels –
that aim to make us forget.”
Kathleen Norris

“Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry.”   Luke 4:1,2

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • At the start of his ministry, Jesus was “led by the Spirit” into an extreme ascetic experience. What was the reason for this? Think about it in light of what Kathleen Norris says.
  • What forces do you notice in your life that make you “forget exactly who, what, and where you are?”
  • How can you voluntarily “reduce your circumstances” (or accept reduced circumstances) in order to “enhance” your whole self and be better grounded?

Abba, whether I choose less (things, activity, talk) or less is chosen for me (opportunity, health, affirmation), I pray that you would work in that empty space to teach me “who, what and where” I am.

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For More: Dakota: A Spiritual Geography by Kathleen Norris

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God, and as he seeks after you. My goal is to provide you with something of uncommon value each day in 400 words or less. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it with others. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Loving Well (Anthony de Mello) *

What does it mean to love?
It means to see a person, a situation, a thing as it really is,
not as you imagine it to be. And to give it the response it deserves.
You can hardly be said to love what you do not even see.
And what prevents us from seeing?
Our conditioning. Our concepts, our categories, our prejudices, our projections,
the labels that we have drawn from our cultures and our past experiences.”
Anthony de Mello

[Jesus said] “… you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’  ‘Teacher,’ the man replied, ‘I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.’ Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him.” Mark 10:17-21a

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Think about it. Why do you think Jesus felt “genuine love for the man?” (v. 21) Was it only because of who Jesus was, or was it also something about the man?
  • What keeps you from seeing people “as they really are?” Is it one of the factors de Mello mentions, or something else? Can you name it?
  • What do you suppose would change if you made a point to take the trouble to see each person as they really are?

Abba, I know I judge people unfairly and superficially all the time. Help me to see and love others as Jesus did, with understanding and grace.

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For More: The Way to Love by Anthony de Mello

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The “Daily Riches” from RicherByFar are for your encouragement as you seek after God, and as he seeks after you. My goal is to provide you with something of uncommon value each day in 400 words or less. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it with others. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

 

Daily Riches: Faith (Nadia Bolz Weber, Romero, Tillich, Stott, Packer, Edman, Bounds, LLoyd-Jones, Yancey, Cook, Brueggemann, Merton, Willard)

“Catholic theologian James Allison [talked] about how we think faith is about striving – keeping parameters, calling people out for not having it right, spiritual practices, doctrinal purity… whatever – but that really faith is about relaxing. Specifically, relaxing in the way we do when we are with a friend who we know for certain is fond of us. We don’t have to strive around them and we somehow still become our best self – funny, spontaneous, free. Allison suggests that faith is trusting so much that God is fond of us that we just …relax”. Nadia Bolz Weber

“Faith consists in accepting God without asking him to account for things according to our standard. Faith consists in reacting before God as Mary did: I don’t understand it, Lord, but let if be done in me according to your word.”  Oscar Romero

“Faith is the courage …to accept that God loves me as I am and not as I should be, because I’m never going to be as I should be.”  Paul Tillich

J. I. Packer – “self-abandoning trust in the person and work of Jesus”
Raymond Edman – “trusting in the dark what God told you in the light”
Martin Lloyd-Jones – “the refusal to panic”
Philip Yancey – “trusting in advance, what will only make sense in reverse”
Bob Cook –  “expecting God to act like God.”
Thomas Merton – “convinced of the reliability of God.”
Dallas Willard –  “confidence grounded in reality.”
Walter Brueggemann – “openness to wonder and awe in glad praise.”
Oswald Chambers – “unutterable trust…which never dreams that He will not stand by us”
Martin Luther – “permitting ourselves to be seized by the things we do not see”
John Stott – “a trust which reckons thoughtfully and confidently upon the trustworthiness of God.”

“Though He slay me,
yet will I trust Him.”
Job 13:15a

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Can you relax with God like you do with your best friend?  Does he love you “as you are and not as you should be?”
  • Are you “seized by” things unseen? trusting what will often only make sense later? refusing to ask God “to give an account?”
  • Can you “abandon” yourself to God like Martin Luther, Oscar Romero and Job did? If not, why not?

Abba, I will trust in you. Only you have the words of life.


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Thanks for reading!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

 

Daily Riches: Take a Deep Breath and Relax (Peter Scazzero and Dallas Willard)

“When we sleep, God works. God wants to sow this seed into the soil of your heart and mine. If we can slow down and receive this one truth of how He works, thirtyfold, sixtyfold and a hundredfold, fruit will come forth (Mk. 4:20). Our personal lives, our marriages, our leadership, our sermons, our churches will be transformed. God holds the universe together. We don’t have to. God holds the oceans in His hand. He gives drink to every living creature. …He grows the grass and waters the trees. He cultivates every plant and flower. …God invites us to lay aside our bread of anxious toil and receive sleep as His beloved. He alone “builds the house,” not us.  God illustrates this with the creation and growth of a child. We engage in one brief moment of sexual intercourse and He then takes over to grow a fetus, a baby, and eventually an adult human being who engages the world (Ps.127). God does 99.9999% of the work. The kingdom of God grows “all by itself” – even when we sleep (Mark 4:26). Take a deep breath. Sit at Jesus’ feet, remembering that His love brought you into existence and sustains you today. He is working all over the world at this very moment building His kingdom – apart from you and me. Ask Him what small, small part He may have for you to do today.” Pete Scazzero

“Suppose our failures occur, not in spite of what we are doing, but precisely because of it.” Dallas Willard

“Unless Yahweh builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless Yahweh guards the city,
The watchman keeps awake in vain.
It is vain for you to rise up early,”rel
To retire late,
To eat the bread of painful labors;
For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.”
Psalm 127:1,2

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Think about how relaxed Jesus was. Are you relaxed? If not, what does that say about you?
  • It’s counter-intuitive to think of your seemingly imperative labors as “vain” – so what is God saying to you in the quote from the Psalm?
  • Could your striving and laboring actually be hindering God’s work? Explain how that could be. What needs to change?

Abba, what small, small part to you have for me to do today?

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For More: Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Pete Scazzero

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Thanks for reading! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

 

Daily Riches: Owning Our Littleness, Discovering Our Greatness (Macrina Wiederkehr and Richard Rohr)

“What God most longs to discover in us is our willingness to embrace ourselves as we are at our beginning – empty, little, and poor. Our willingness gives God free space within us to work out the Divine Plan. …Our potential for greatness is tremendous. Acceptance of our littleness makes it possible for our greatness to emerge. Our littleness is not a choice. It is simply the way we are. Our greatness, however, is a choice.  …when we allow God to fill our emptiness, we are choosing greatness. This is our story! It is a glorious story. We are little and great. Both aspects must be embraced if we are to discover our true selves. In owning our littleness we come to discover our greatness. They are two gifts that become one when they are understood and owned. A lack of understanding of these gifts can lead only to frustration and denial of our true selves. If we become preoccupied with our littleness, it can lead only to discouragement. If we become preoccupied with our greatness, it can lead only to disillusionment.”  Macrina Wiederkehr

“There are two moments that matter. One is when you know that your one and only life is absolutely valuable and alive. The other is when you know your life, as presently lived, is entirely pointless and empty. You need both of them to keep you going in the right direction. …The first such moment gives you energy and joy by connecting you with your ultimate Source and Ground. The second gives you limits and boundaries, and a proper humility, so you keep seeking the Source and Ground and not just your small self.”  Richard Rohr

“Though [the mustard seed] is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows,
 it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree….
Matthew 13:32

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you embrace both your “littleness” and your “greatness?” Which do you tend to focus on? What does that say about you?
  • Are you tempted to despair that God can bring greatness out of your smallness? What does your answer say about you?
  • What can you do to “practice” your littleness? your greatness?

Abba, I offer you my open hands, with little to give. Make something great of me.

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For More: A Tree Full of Angels by Macrina Wiederkehr

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Thanks for reading!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: “Practicing the Presence” (Peter Scazzero and Thomas Merton)

“As emotionally mature Christian adults, we recognize that loving well is the essence of true spirituality. This requires that we experience connection with God, with ourselves, and with other people. God invites us to practice his presence in our daily lives. At the same time, he invites us “to practice the presence of people,” within an awareness of his presence, in our daily relationships. The two are rarely brought together. Jesus’ profound, contemplative prayer life with his Father resulted in a contemplative presence with people. Love is ‘to reveal the beauty of another person to themselves,’ wrote Jean Vanier. Jesus did that with each person he met. We see this in his interaction with the woman with a twelve year bleeding problem in Mark 5. This ability to really listen and pay attention to people was at the very heart of his mission. It could not help but move him to compassion. In the same way, out of our contemplative time with God, we too, are invited to be prayerfully present to people, revealing their beauty to themselves. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day, the ‘church leaders’ of that time, never made that connection.” Peter Scazzero

“Our contemplative practice is a ‘laboratory’ in which we learn to die to our passing emotions and thoughts and to receive the always-permanent Divine gaze. The rest of our life becomes the field in which we live out this participation in Love, bouncing back the gaze of grace to the Other and then having plenty left over for all others besides.” Richard Rohr

“But the goal of our instruction is love….” 1 Timothy 1:5

Moving From Head to Heart

  • When you think of the “essence of true spirituality”, to you think first of “loving well?”
  • Does being “present” to God make you more effective at being “present” to others?  and vice versa? Does either increase your compassion?
  • Is your love for others what is “left over” from your “participation in Love” with God?
  • Have you tried a contemplative approach to your faith? If not, what is stopping you?

Abba, teach me to receive and return your loving gaze as a starting point in being a person who loves.

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For More: The Daily Office by Peter Scazzero

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God, and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. Thanks!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Attending to God (Eugene Peterson)

“Worship is the strategy

by which we interrupt our preoccupation with ourselves
and attend to the presence of God.
[It’s the] time and place
that we assign for deliberate attentiveness to God …
because our self-importance is so insidiously relentless
that if we don’t deliberately interrupt ourselves regularly,
we have no chance of attending to him at all
at other times and in other places.”
Eugene Peterson

“I have set Yahweh continually before me ….
You will make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.”
Psalm 16:8a, 11

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Even in times of worship, we often focus on ourselves. What are your thoughts during worship? the feelings of your heart? How much do they revolve around you?
  • Our self-absorption can be illustrated even in our prayers. How many of your prayer requests are in some way about you? (your life, your family, your friends, your job, your church, etc.)
  • Most of us can hardly escape this “insidiously relentless” preoccupation with ourselves. On the one hand, it’s only human, it’s typical. On the other, it’s something that needs to be interrupted. Is this a problem for you? If so, what are one or two changes you can make in your worship or prayer time to more effectively “interrupt” your focus on self?

Abba, I’m in danger, even when I’ve come to do so, of not really attending to you. Teach me how to come into your presence and really be with you – waiting, pausing in silence, listening, praising – offering you my love.

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For More: The Peterson quote is from Disappointment With God by Philip Yancey

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The “Daily Riches” from RicherByFar are for your encouragement as you seek after God, and as he seeks after you. My goal is to provide you with something of uncommon value each day in 400 words or less. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it with others. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)