Daily Riches: Our Illusions When Serving Others (Belden Lane, Meister Eckhart and Oswald Chambers)

“A Christian servant is one who perpetually looks into the face of God and then goes forth to talk to others.” Oswald Chambers

“Meister Eckhart insisted that ‘if a person were in a rapture as great as St. Paul once experienced and learned that his neighbor were in need of a cup of soup, it would be best to withdraw from the rapture and give the person the soup he needs.’ The contemplative returns to the ordinary, not in spite of her detachment from it, but because of that detachment. No longer driven by fear of rejection and loss, she is able now to love others without anxiously needing anything in return. …The author of The Cloud of Unknowing argued that the person steeped in apophatic [wordless] prayer is able to love everyone, without ‘special regard for any individual, whether he is kinsman or stranger, friend or foe.’ Where one is free from the need to impress the one or to fear the other, all can be loved. Eckhart said that people who, through prayer, have become dead to all things and in touch with nothingness, become powerfully and perhaps even dangerously free. They are able to ‘aim at nothing in their works, to intend nothing in their minds, seeking neither reward nor blessedness.’ They move through the world with a compassionate indifference to all its threats and promises. …The truest impulse toward work for social justice, therefore, grows not out of an anxious sense of pity for others or a grandly noble desire to serve, but out of the abandonment of the self in God. A love that works for justice is wholly uncalculating and indifferent, able to accomplish much because it seeks nothing for itself. …In the apophatic way, love is not directed toward an attractive, lovable object. Indeed, it is drawn to that which appears as nothing, to that which is least in this world…. It flourishes in receiving no response, expecting nothing in return. …One’s work for social change, when rooted in such a truth becomes altogether free–released from all the illusions and expectations we usually bring to our service to others.” Belden Lane

“I was caught up to paradise and heard things so astounding
that they cannot be expressed in words”
2 Corinthians 12:4

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you love “expecting nothing in return?”
  • Do you “move through the world with a compassionate indifference to all its threats and promises?”
  • How could you perpetually “look into the face of God” before attempting to care for others?

Abba, teach me this often unfamiliar, always counterintuitive love.

For More: The Solace of Fierce Landscapes by Belden Lane

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Thank you for sharing/following my blog! Please leave a question or comment. I appreciate your interest! – Bill

 

Daily Riches: Praying For One Good Humiliation A Day (Richard Rohr, Krista Tippett and Francis of Assisi)

“Blessed is that servant who does not think himself better when he is praised and exalted by men, than when he is despised and considered simple and good-for-nothing, for what a man is in the sight of God, this he is and no more.” Francis of Assisi

Krista Tippett recently interviewed Richard Rohr: “So recently, I took a break. I got some rest that I needed badly, and I was staying at a retreat center, and …it was a meditation session I went to. And the person who was leading it read a passage from your book, Falling Upward and read the line— … ‘I have prayed for years for one good humiliation a day, and then I must watch my reaction to it,’ which sounds so uncomfortable. There’s nothing in me that wants to pray for one good humiliation a day.”

No, and there isn’t in me either. I just said that to that group of millennials two weeks ago. Some years ago, I started recognizing that I was getting an awful lot of adulation and praise and some people treating me far more importantly than I deserved. And I realized I was growing used to it, that the ego just loves all of this admiration and projection. And a lot of it was projection. And I didn’t want fame and well-knownness and guru status to totally destroy me, and so for me, this became a necessity, that I had to watch how do I react to not getting my way, to people not agreeing with me, to people not admiring me—and there’s plenty of them—and that I actually needed that. And so I do, I still, I ask God for one good humiliation a day, and I usually get it, one hate letter or whatever it might be. [laughs] And then what I have to do, Krista, is I have to watch my reaction to it. And I’ve got to be honest with you, my inner reaction—I’m not proud to tell you—is defensive, is, ‘That’s not true. You don’t understand me.’ I can just see how well-defended my ego is. And of course, even your critics—and I have plenty of them—at least 10 to 20 percent of what they’re saying is usually true.” Richard Rohr

“What sorrow awaits you who are praised by the crowds,
for their ancestors also praised false prophets.”
Jesus in Luke 6:26

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have you ever seen humiliation as something positive?
  • The next time you’re humiliated, “watch your reaction” as if from outside yourself. What do you learn?
  • Are you as defended against praise as you are against criticism?

Abba, undefend me.

For More: Falling Upward by Richard Rohr

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Thank you for sharing/following my blog! – Bill

 

Daily Riches: The Modern Prejudice Against Joy (Friedrich Nietzsche and Tom Hodgkinson)

“Even now one is ashamed of resting, and prolonged reflection almost gives people a bad conscience. One thinks with a watch in one’s hand, even as one eats one’s midday meal while reading the latest news of the stock market; one lives as if one ‘might miss out on something.’ ‘Rather do anything than nothing’: this principle, too, is merely a string to throttle culture and good taste.  …Virtue has come to consist of doing something in less time than someone else. …How frugal our educated—and uneducated—people have become regarding ‘joy!’ How they are becoming increasingly suspicious of all joy! More and more, work enlists all good conscience on its side; the desire for joy already calls itself a ‘need to recuperate’ and is beginning to be ashamed of itself. ‘One owes it to one’s health’—that is what people say when they are caught on an excursion into the country. Soon we may well reach the point where people can no longer give into the desire for a vita contemplativa (that is, taking a walk with ideas and friends) without self-contempt and a bad conscience.” Friedrich Nietzsche

“Well, formerly, it was the other way around: it was work that was afflicted with the bad conscience. A person of good family used to conceal the fact that he was working if need compelled him to work. Slaves used to work, oppressed by the feeling that they were doing something contemptible. ‘Nobility and honour are attached solely to otium [leisure] and bellum [war],’ that was the ancient prejudice. Nietzsche’s point is: if we managed to remove our collective guilt about enjoying ourselves, then the culture of only taking time off when we are allowed by some outside force or by some inner self-controller might be damaged. The word leisure, incidentally, comes from the Latin licere, meaning “to be permitted.” We have given responsibility for our free time to others, and we only have ourselves to blame.” Tom Hodgkinson

“And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while:
for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.”
Mark 6:31

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • You can see the “ancient prejudice” against work. Can you also see the modern prejudice against leisure?
  • Do you feel you need to justify days off? …recreation? …taking a walk? …a nap?
  • Would you rather “do anything than nothing?” Do you keep moving out of a sense of guilt?

Abba, break my obsession with doing and my pride in rejecting joy.

For More: How To Be Idle by Tom Hodgkinson

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God. I hope you’ll follow/share my blog. Thanks! – Bill

Daily Riches: Hearing God’s Voice Over All the Noise (Karen-Marie Yust, Thomas Merton and Chris Tomlin)

“Advertising treats all products with the reverence and the seriousness due to sacraments.” Thomas Merton

“The danger in the rampant commercialization of abundant life is not so much in the particular value (or lack thereof) of a specific product being marketed, but in the insidious ways in which advertising campaigns steal a person’s ability to discern what is necessary for a fruitful life and what is extraneous. Advertisers kill an individual’s sense of self-worth and uniqueness in the eyes of God by promoting excessive regard for the approval of others and competition for the most stuff, rather than promoting good living as collaboration with each other. …Christians need to embrace spiritual practices that will enable them to identify and resist commercial messages that undermine their primary identity as children of God and disciples of Christ. …One critical spiritual practice for discernment is attentiveness. First, Christians need to pay attention to the number of commercial messages to which they are exposed daily and the common themes embedded in those advertisements. With researchers estimating that individuals view or hear as many as five thousand messages each day, paying attention could quickly become a full-time job! What matters here is not a comprehensive attentiveness but an increasing awareness of the pervasive and corrosive nature of commercial influences. Second, Christians need to pay attention to God’s voice as a counterpoint to the negative aspects of advertising. Such attentiveness can occur when individuals, families, and congregations deliberately separate themselves from the noisiness of everyday life and spend time in the set apart ‘pastures’ [John 10:9] of personal and communal prayer, contemplation, and worship.” Karen-Marie Yust

“life does not consist
in an abundance of possessions.”
Jesus in Luke 12:15

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Do you see good living as “collaboration” with others rather than competition with others? What does your answer say about you?
  • Do you have practices that allow you to hear God’s voice over the “noisiness of everyday life” and act as a counterpoint to all the “pervasive and corrosive” ad campaigns?
  • Are you fighting this battle alone–with no “communal” support? …just depending on what you receive at church? …failing to seek God for yourself to discern what “is necessary for a fruitful life and what is extraneous?”

Abba, you’re a good, good father–it’s who you are … and I’m loved by you–it’s who I am…. (Chris Tomlin)

For more: Feasting on the Gospels: John (Part II), eds, Cynthia Jarvis and Elizabeth Johnson

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. My goal is to share something of real value with you in 400 words or less. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. I appreciate your interest! Please leave a comment or question. – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

 

Daily Riches: Glory Without the Big Splash (Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.)

“How hard it is to see real glory when we think glory is all about making a splash! We miss the real thing…. John has a different view of glory. In his Gospel, Jesus changes water to wine at a wedding to make people joyful. He washes his disciples’ feet, hoping to model and ignite a heart of service in them. He feeds the disciples bread at the table where they reclined–including Judas–and then submits himself to arrest. In all three cases–the wine (chap. 2), the bathwater (chap. 13), the bread for a traitor (chap. 13)–the evangelist tells us that it was a sign of his glory. This is a glory he shares with his Father. Jesus makes lots of wine at Cana because he comes from a wine making family. Every Fall God turns water into wine in France and Chile and the Napa Valley. …Jesus on his knees before his disciples is just doing what he sees his Father doing, and the gospel finds glory here, because it is so much like God humbly to clean people up. …Jesus hands Judas a piece of bread because he just does what he sees his Father doing, and the gospel finds glory here, because it is so much like God to feed enemies even while you oppose their evil. The gospel finds glory where we are not looking–in the wine, and the water, and the bread, and even in the blood of Jesus. The Son of Man will die and fall into the earth in an event so devastating that it will seem to turn creation back into chaos; but Jesus says that this is the hour in which the Son of Man will be glorified. We grope for his meaning. Getting glorified on a cross? Is that like getting enthroned on an electric chair? Is it like being honored by a firing squad? …Jesus, the friend of sinners, was crucified between his kind of people in a godforsaken place where all the lights go out…. Yet the gospel wants us to find glory in this disaster, because Jesus Christ is pouring out his life for the world God loves.” Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.

“the Son of Man came not to be served
but to serve others”
Matthew 20:28

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you still hoping to make a “big splash?”
  • Are you looking for the glory of God in unexpected, unnoticed places?
  • Are you trusting and expecting God to work gloriously, although perhaps subtly, in your day? your situation?

Abba, open my eyes to your glory all around me.

For more: Feasting on the Gospels: John

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Thanks for reading/sharing my blog. I appreciate your interest! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: When Ego Is Celebrated (David Benner, Parker Palmer and Sogyal Rinpoche)

“Our society is dedicated almost entirely to the celebration of the ego, with all its sad fantasies about success and power, and it celebrates those very forces of greed and ignorance that are destroying the planet.” Sogyal Rinpoche

“Ego is a usurper. We are neither the center of the universe nor should ego be the center of our being. At some deep level of spirit we know that we were meant to live in alignment with forces transcendent to our self. We long to be able to put our trust in someone or something greater than us. To refuse to find our place in relation to that which transcends the ego is to be lost within the illusion of being in control. To not become free in relation to something or someone beyond self is to become un-free in relation to tyrannizing powers within self.” David G. Benner

“I believe [in], what Thomas Merton calls ‘true self.’ This is not the ego self that wants to inflate us (or deflate us, another from of self-distortion), not the intellectual self that wants to hover above the mess of life in clear but ungrounded ideas, not the ethical self that wants to live by some abstract moral code. It is the self-planted in us by the God who made us in God’s own image–the self that wants nothing more, or less, than for us to be who we were created to be… True self is true friend. One ignores or rejects such friendship only at one’s peril.” Parker Palmer

“But you said in your heart,
‘I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne above the stars of God,
And I will sit on the mount of assembly
In the recesses of the north.
‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.’”
Isaiah 14:13,14

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Think of someone you know with an oversized ego. Can you sense the danger?
  • Are you in touch with “the self-planted in you by the God who made you in God’s own image?” If not, can you ask God for help with that?
  • In what ways are you “living in alignment” with the transcendent One who created you, rather than “refusing to find your place” and insisting on control?

Abba, I want only to be who you created me to be. No more and no less.

For more: Care of the Soul by David Benner

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. I appreciate your interest! Please leave a comment. –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

 

Daily Riches: The Quiet Member of the Trinity (Thomas Merton)

“It is generally safe to say that noise and turmoil in the interior life are signs that proceed from our own emotion or from some spirit that is anything but holy. The inspirations of the Holy Ghost are quiet, for God speaks in the silent depths of the spirit. His voice brings peace. It does not arouse excitement, but allays it because excitement belongs to uncertainty. The voice of God is certitude. If he moves us to action, we go forward with peaceful strength. More often than not his inspirations teach us to sit still. They show us the emptiness and confusion of projects we thought we had undertaken for his glory. He saves us from the impulses that would throw us into wild competition with other men. He delivers us from ambition. The Holy Spirit is most easily recognized where he inspires obedience and humility. No one really knows Him who has not tasted the tranquillity that comes from the renunciation of our own will, our own pleasure, our own interests, without glory, without notice, without approval, for the interests of some other person. The inspirations of the Spirit of God are not grandiose. They are simple. They move us to see God in works that are difficult without being spectacular.” Thomas Merton

“you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.” John 14:17

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you aware of the seemingly universal tendancy to look for the Holy Spirit in what is “grandiose” and “spectacular?” What might be missed doing that?
  • Are you accustomed to the Holy Spirit telling you to “sit still?” Are you able to identify the dark side of “ambition?”
  • Do you minister and make sacrifices for others even when it will certainly be “without glory, without notice, without approval?”
  • How do you protect yourself from “noise and turmoil in the interior life?”

“Spirit of God, descend upon my heart;
Wean it from earth; through all its pulses move;
Stoop to my weakness, mighty as Thou art;
And make me love Thee as I ought to love.”

George Croly

For More: The Ascent to Truth by Thomas Merton

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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. My goal is to share something of unique value with you in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  Please leave a comment or question. –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: Where Busyness is a Fetish (Mark Buchanan, Marva Dawn, Eugene Peterson, Tim Keller and Pete Scazzero)

“In a culture where busyness is a fetish and stillness is laziness, rest is sloth. But without rest, we miss the rest of God: the rest he invites us to enter more fully so that we might know him more deeply. ‘Be still, and know that I am God.’ Some knowing is never pursued, only received. And for that, you need to be still. Sabbath is both a day and an attitude to nurture such stillness. It is both time on a calendar and a disposition of the heart. It is a day we enter, but just as much a way we see. Sabbath imparts the rest of God—actual physical, mental, spiritual rest, but also the rest of God—the things of God’s nature and presence we miss in our busyness.” Mark Buchanan

“A great benefit of Sabbath keeping is that we learn to let God take care of us—not by becoming passive and lazy, but in the freedom of giving up our feeble attempts to be God in our own lives.” Marva J. Dawn

“If you don’t take a Sabbath, something is wrong. You’re doing too much, you’re being too much in charge. You’ve got to quit, one day a week, and just watch what God is doing when you’re not doing anything.” Eugene H. Peterson

“You cannot have a proper work theology unless you have a proper rest theology.” Tim Keller

“This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
‘Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved.
In quietness and confidence is your strength.
But you would have none of it.’”
Isaiah 30:15

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you positioned to receive what cannot be obtained by pursuing? What might you be missing because of busyness and hurry?
  • Are you gradually being freed from your “feeble attempts” to be God in your own life? Are you learning to let God take care of you?
  • Do you have a “rest theology?” Are you running on fumes? How often do you bring your “best self” to the task or relationship?
  • Is whatever you’re doing now helping you “to know God more deeply?” Why not block out a day soon to “stop, rest, delight and contemplate” (Pete Scazzero), and see what a difference that can make?

Abba, help me live my theology of rest.

For More: The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath by Mark Buchanan

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and God seeks after you. My goal is to share something of unique value with you in 400 words or less. Thanks for following and sharing my blog. Please feel free to leave a comment or question. – Bill

Daily Riches – Publishing Changes

I’ve realized lately that it’s time for me to take a break from the daily publishing of this blog. I need to step back, rest, attend to some other things and other people, and give myself more time to live with the content before I publish it. I’ve resisted doing this for some time because of my love for the project, my sense of responsibility to my readers–and other things like ambition and worrying about what others would think–or how the project might lose momentum. I realize that I have to commit the fate of this project to God without regard to those things, and free up time to do more of what I have been writing about: loving well, resting and relaxing, slowing down, being less driven, and making space for contemplation. I always want this blog to be an overflow of what God is doing with me and never turn into something more like a deadline to meet. (It’s more work than I ever imagined to post something of quality six days a week.)

I’m still planning to write Daily Riches, but I’m afraid the name won’t fit so well anymore–not as far as the “Daily” part. I’m still going to post, but only when I want to, and when I can without interfering with the things I’m mentioned that need more attention. Maybe eventually, like after a sabbatical, I will return to the regular schedule. Thank you so much, faithful readers and new friends for your support–many of you have been reading almost since the beginning over two years ago. I hope you’ll still stay tuned for Riches that will come your way–albeit less frequently. And certainly, and especially if you’re a more recent subscriber, you may want to work through the archives. There’s a lot of great stuff there–most of it definitely worth reading more than one or two times. I still believe this project is important and unique, and I have really appreciated the support and feedback from many along the way.

Please pray for me in the meantime, and for the continuing influence and success of this project. As always, I wish the best for you, as you seek after God, and as God seeks after you.

Bill

Daily Riches: A Life Uncluttered By Ambition (Wayne Simsic, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, St. Francis)

“Anyone who thinks that his time is too valuable to spend keeping quiet will eventually have no time for God and his brother, but only for himself and for his own follies.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Responding to God’s presence like a child who trusted completely in a loving Parent, his relationship with God was spontaneous, uncluttered by ambition and calculation. Rather than promote his own agenda or hide behind fear, anxiousness, and other barriers to trust, [Saint] Francis humbly accepted the mystery of his life and relied on the guidance of the Spirit.” Wayne Simsic

“At some point when we’ve made ourselves available for service to God–for some kind of ministry or other–the question will arise, ‘Is this the best use of my time?’ It’s at the same time an unsurprising and provocative query. And just look at what underlies that question: ego, drivenness, a sense of hurry–striving. But in truth, as Francis demonstrated, it’s not necessary to keep busy. It’s necessary to ‘trust completely.’ It’s not necessary to accomplish anything. It’s necessary to ‘humbly accept the mystery of my life.’ It’s not necessary to be productive. It’s necessary to ‘rely on the guidance of the Spirit.’ My time is not so valuable. I’m not so necessary as I think. Any equation will be essentially unchanged by my absence. The way of St. Francis, ‘spontaneous, uncluttered by ambition and calculation’ rebukes my anxious way–my craving for an agenda, my insistence on significance. And Bonhoeffer’s insight is critical: ‘keeping quiet’–seemingly doing nothing, accomplishing nothing, producing nothing, is not only essential, but if ignored leads only to fruitlessness and folly. The ego always lurks nearby, insidious, subtly undoing the best intentions. Both St. Francis and Bonhoeffer insisted upon, and themselves lived, a contemplative life of faith–a life of ‘keeping quiet’ and ‘making time for God.’ Only such lives create a spaciousness where God can meet us in our folly, take us again into the clutch of his parental love, and purify us–making us useful after all.” William Britton

“I do not even judge myself.”
1 Corinthians 4:3
 .
Moving From the Head to the Heart
  • How often are you aware of unconscious forces that affect your behavior? (e.g., ambition, drivenness, ego)
  • Does your behavior show that you grant too much importance to being “productive?” (Are you ever hurrying, obsessed with “calculation?”)
  • How can you practice humbly accepting “the mystery of this life” and relying on the “guidance of the Spirit?” How might that redefine “success?”

Abba, in the midst of my folly, meet me in your love, and purify me.

For More: The Wisdom of St. Francis by Wayne Simsic

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Thanks for reading and sharing my blog! Please pray for God’s blessing on this ministry. – Bill

Daily Riches: That’s Me … Losing My Ambition (The Order of Julian of Norwich)

“What matters is to make space for God by embracing His will. In Advent the most beautiful exemplar goes ahead of us: ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to your word.’ I am yours absolutely, do your will in me and through me. I turn over to you all my ambitions even of the most religious and spiritual kind. Do your will in darkness or in pain if necessary; I do not ask to understand. I commit myself to you completely. However Mary spent her days, we are told the only things that matter and those things—surrender, holding fast to God’s promises, expecting fulfillment—must be true of all who belong to Christ. The contemplative life has this Marian attitude or mode of being writ large into it. The dynamism of this perspective comes from living out of the hand of God, and not our own resources. Otherwise, it is not a dramatic way; faith keeps us in the here and now—in this moment and no other; in this situation and no other. Here is my Jesus, here in this moment, this duty, this set of circumstances. What a test of faith is the daily round of duties, the pressure of seeming trivialities, in the dull, wearying pain, lacking all glamour and grandeur. Especially when, as Mary in her lifetime, we are among those who fall below the radar of the worthwhile, where nobody notices, no stories or articles are written, no photos appear, and we ourselves seem utterly forgotten and swept along by events, The essentials for Mary were offering herself absolutely, hearing the word and living it in all its challenges, and the final consummation of perfect faith and surrender.”

“Mary responded, ‘I am the Lord’s servant.
May everything you have said about me come true.’”
Luke 1:38
.
Moving From the Head to the Heart
  • It’s common to make too much of Mary, and also to dismiss her. Instead, can you learn something valuable from Mary’s example?
  • Most of us “fall below the radar of the worthwhile” while wishing to be noticed or remembered. Can you offer yourself to God in the “daily round of duties … [and] seeming trivialities” and be unconcerned about the impact you’re making?
  • It’s “seeming trivialities” right? We never know what will matter in the end. Do you have a practice that “keeps you in the here and now?” … grounded? …above the circumstances? …unconcerned about your own “grandeur?”

Abba, teach me this Marian mode of being.

For More: the website of The Order of Julian of Norwich

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. Thanks for following and sharing my blog. I appreciate it! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Insisting on Human-to-Human Connections (Omid Safi)

“In many Muslim cultures, when you want to ask them how they’re doing, you ask: in Arabic, Kayf haal-ik? or, in Persian, Haal-e shomaa chetoreh? How is your haal? What is this haal that you inquire about? It is the transient state of one’s heart. In reality, we ask, ‘How is your heart doing at this very moment, at this breath?’ When I ask, ‘How are you?’ that is really what I want to know. I am not asking how many items are on your to-do list, nor asking how many items are in your inbox. I want to know how your heart is doing, at this very moment. Tell me. Tell me your heart is joyous, tell me your heart is aching, tell me your heart is sad, tell me your heart craves a human touch. Examine your own heart, explore your soul, and then tell me something about your heart and your soul. Tell me you remember you are still a human being, not just a human doing. Tell me you’re more than just a machine, checking off items from your to-do list. Have that conversation, that glance, that touch. Be a healing conversation, one filled with grace and presence. Put your hand on my arm, look me in the eye, and connect with me for one second. Tell me something about your heart, and awaken my heart. Help me remember that I too am a full and complete human being, a human being who also craves a human touch. …How is the state of your heart today? Let us insist on a type of human-to-human connection where when one of us responds by saying, ‘I am just so busy,’ we can follow up by saying, ‘I know, love. We all are. But I want to know how your heart is doing.’” Omid Safi

“The swiftest runners won’t be fast enough to escape.
Even those riding horses won’t be able to save themselves.”
Amos 2:15
.

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Many people commented on Safi’s original post, deploring how busy they are and how trapped they feel. How about you?
  • How is your heart doing at this moment? …yesterday? …typically?
  • I’ve gotten to the point where I sometimes answer the question “How’s it going?” with just “Hi.” Isn’t that sad?
  • Do you ask people how they are–and then wait for an answer? …a real answer? Do you listen to the answer? Is your response evidence that a “human-to-human connection” has occurred?

Abba, break me of busyness that keeps me from experiencing loving human connections, and from hurry that cannot save me.

For More: Crazy Busy by Edward Hallowell

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Thank you for your support of my blog! I wish you a new year full of divine favor. – Bill

Daily Riches: Purpose Driven or Just Driven? (Mark Buchanan)

“Drivenness may awaken purpose or be a catalyst for purpose, but it rarely fulfills it: More often it jettisons it. A common characteristic of driven people is that, at some point, they forget their purpose. They lose the point. The very reason they began something – embarked on a journey, undertook a project, waged a war, entered a profession, married a woman – erodes under the weight of their striving. Their original inspiration may have been noble. But driven too hard, it gets supplanted by greed for more, or dread of setback, or force of habit. Drivenness erodes purposefulness. The difference between living on purpose and being driven surfaces most clearly in what we do with time. The driven are fanatical time managers – time-mongers, time-herders, time-hoarders. Living on purpose requires skillful time management, true, but not the kind that turns brittle, that attempts to quarantine most of what makes life what it is: the mess, the surprises, the breakdowns, and the breakthroughs. Too much rigidity stifles purpose. I find that the more I try to manage time, the more anxious I get about it. And the more prone I am to lose my purpose. Truly purposeful people have an ironic secret: They manage time less and pay attention more. The most purposeful people I know rarely overmanage time, and when they do, it’s usually because they’re lapsing into drivenness, into a loss of purpose for which they overcompensate with mere busyness. No, the distinguishing mark of purposeful people is not time management. It’s that they notice. They’re fully awake.” Mark Buchanan

“And there arose also a dispute among [Jesus’ disciples]
as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest.”
Luke 22:24

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Which do you see as more valuable, “managing time” or “paying attention?” Which describes the way you live?
  • How often do you forget your real purpose and “lapse into drivenness?” Do you recognize it when it happens? If so, how?
  • Are you too rigid to benefit from the somewhat routine “surprises, the breakdowns, and the breakthroughs” of life?

Abba, when I lapse into drivenness, when I overcompensate with busyness, remind me not to hurry, remind me to be fully awake, remind me to listen well, to love well, and to choose a pace that allows for depth and intimacy with you and others.

For More: The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan

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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. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: What Drives Us (Henri Nouwen)

“When you keep going anxiously to the mailbox in the hope that someone [outside the monastery] …has thought about you; when you keep wondering if and what your friends are thinking of you; when you keep having hidden desires to be a somewhat exceptional person in this community; when you keep having fantasies about guests mentioning your name; when you keep looking for special attention from the abbot or any one of the monks …then you know that you haven’t even started to create a little place for God in your heart. When nobody writes anymore; when hardly anyone even thinks of you or wonders how you are doing; when you are just one of the brothers doing the same things as they are doing, not better or worse; when you have been forgotten by people – maybe then your heart and mind have become empty enough to give God a real chance to let his presence be known to you.” Henri Nouwen

Psalm 46 emphasizes God’s presence with us in chaos and crisis. We can relax in their midst (as Jesus did in his day) – receiving rather than grasping, and relinquishing control to God as a modus operandi. Our response in chaos and crisis, rather than being overwhelmed, can be to remember our limits and trust. The difference between striving, which here is condemned, and working hard, which elsewhere is commended, depends on what is in the head and heart in each case. Once might resemble the other, but the kind of peace found resting in God’s presence, striving cannot give. In its posture, pace, and motives, striving falls short. The mention of Jacob’s God is ironic since Jacob’s ‘preconversion’ name means ‘to grasp’ (cf. Gen. 25:26). It also encourages, since God condescends to use and bless Jacob – and by extension, us. This passage is my permission to ‘relax’ when it comes to work, finances, parenting, marriage – even spiritual formation. I can talk, walk and drive slowly. I can cease striving for control, healing, satisfaction, meaning, companionship, success and happiness – in other words, in all things.” William Britton

“Cease striving and know that I am God;

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth.

Yahweh of hosts is with us;

The God of Jacob is our stronghold.”

Psalm 46:10,11

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Life in a monastery doesn’t eliminates the desire to be exceptional, noticed and admired. Do such desires lead to striving in your life?
  • Can you differentiate between working hard and striving?
  • Are you learning to “relax” as Jesus did in the midst of chaos and crisis?

Abba, the “God of Jacob” is perfect for me.

For More: The Genesee Diary by Henri Nouwen

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If you liked this, please share it! – Bill

Daily Riches: Hooked On Productivity (Jan Johnson, Evelyn Underhill and Eugene Peterson)

“We mostly spend [our] lives conjugating three verbs: to want, to have and to do. Craving, clutching and fussing, we are kept in perpetual unrest.” Evelyn Underhill

“My jabbering prayers have been full of what I want, what I think I should have, and what I want God to do. …Instead of fussing, striving, and monitoring, we surrender ourselves to God over and over again. For those of us who are hooked on productivity, this approach is radical. …Letting go of the need to perform for God sets our hearts on things above and turns our backs on self-importance. Instead of trying to have an accomplishment-driven relationship with God, enjoying God’s presence points us toward:

  • resting instead of productivity,
  • being silent instead of talking,
  • listening instead of giving advice,
  • empowering others instead of preaching to them,
  • asking questions instead of knowing answers,
  • surrendering instead of gritting your teeth,
  • giving instead of consuming,
  • striving for brokenness instead of upward mobility, and
  • gearing down to simplicity instead of gearing up to empire building.” Jan Johnson

“In our religious striving, we are usually looking for something quite other than the God who has come looking for us.” Eugene Peterson

“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

  • Are you “kept in perpetual unrest?” Are you “hooked on productivity?”
  • If so, what do these things say about your need to seem important to others? …to seem important to God? Could that be what you’re “usually looking for?”
  • The Scripture reminds us that God does not require or want our anxious striving. The list above spells out what a relaxed, trusting life might look like. Look at that list again. Is God speaking to you about anything there?

Father, May I rest instead of striving.
walk instead of racing.
receive instead of grasping.
listen instead of speaking.
endure instead of quitting.
May I trust instead of worrying.
appreciate instead of griping.
forgive instead of blaming, and
above all, may I love.

For More: When The Soul Listens: Finding Rest and Direction in Contemplative Prayer by Jan Johnson

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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. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”