Daily Riches: Lent–The Grand Reduction (Alicia Britt Chole)

“The sabbatical started more suddenly and violently than anticipated. A high fever, a few scans, multiple masses, possibly a lethal abscess . . . the specialists convened, conferred, counseled me to cancel all engagements, and began cutting. The reduction had begun. Waking from surgery, my first memory was seeing a dear friend place a hand over her mouth. Later she told me, ‘I’d never seen anyone that color, alive.’ The masses, thankfully, were all benign. But my body did not respond well to the invasion. The area’s organs went into hibernation and for the first time in my life, I became familiar with breathtaking pain. The experience redefined that word for me. It hurt to be awake. It hurt to see my children’s fear. It hurt to hear, ‘We don’t know why.’ In time, it would even hurt to hope. Reductions, it seems, have blurry release dates. Days stacked upon one another in vain like whisper-thin blankets with no warmth to offer. Though technology blinked, beeped, and buzzed noisily around me, the organs slept on. This healing simply would not be hurried. The wound was evidently too great to risk haste. After eight days in the hospital, the doctors sent me home. ‘At this point, I give you a fifty-fifty chance that the organs will come back online,’ the specialist offered. With those words, my entire recovery-time ‘to do’ list vaporized in the desert heat of pain. All I could do was sit and be loved—a need that my family filled extravagantly. Little did I know that the pain was under assignment: it was making room in my life for another operation well beyond the reach of any surgeon’s scalpel. I would not trade that desert of pain for the world. Deserts unclutter the soul. The hot desert sun vaporizes all manner of luxuries. Then the cold, shelterless nights expose the essential guts of life. I needed to eat, to sleep, to be protected, and to not be alone. Lent had come half a year early. God asked me to fast mental and physical strength. He invited me into holy weakness. I found Jesus there. We often think of Jesus’ fast beginning when He stepped into the Judean wilderness. But the fast actually began three decades earlier when the Glory of heaven was wrapped in plain paper and given as a gift to mankind. The Grand Reduction had begun. Jesus fasted omnipresence and clothed Himself with flesh. He fasted being worshiped by angels and accepted the disregard of man. He fasted the Voice that birthed planets and submitted to the silence of thirty hidden years: How must it have felt—knowing he had the power to heal—to have to walk past children suffering with leprosy? What would it have been like—knowing that his conception was miraculous—to be unable to defend his mother when others whispered about her past? And how agonizing would it be—when his Word could one day raise the dead to life again—to stand by while those he loved (perhaps even Joseph his father) died? We are duly thankful, challenged, and inspired by Jesus’ forty-day fast from food in the Judean wilderness. Perhaps we should likewise be grateful, awed, and humbled by His thirty-year fast from praise, power, and potential in Nazareth. It takes a great deal of strength to choose weakness. Jesus chose voluntarily. I did not possess the courage or wisdom to volunteer. So God, for the sake of my soul, took me there involuntarily. His drafts are merciful indeed. When He calls us to fast strength—when He drafts us into decrease—God’s purposes are clear: Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. (Deuteronomy 8: 2– 3) To humble us, to test us, to know what is in our hearts . . . such is the sifting power of helplessness. In our daily lives, we may prefer self-reliance. But perhaps utter dependence is the truer friend of our souls.” Alicia Britt Chole

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have you ever considered meeting Jesus in the midst of your “breathtaking pain?” … your “utter dependence?”
  • Are you perhaps waiting for a healing that you shouldn’t rush–that will not be hurried?
  • Is God inviting you into a decluttering “holy weakness?” Have you followed? Have you found Jesus there?

Abba, unclutter my soul. Use my decrease for increase.

For More: 40 Days of Decrease: A Different Kind of Fast by Alicia Britt Chole

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Thanks for reading and sharing my blog! (Sorry, longer than usual, but too awesome to clip.) – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: When the Darkness Descends (Barbara Brown Taylor and Gerald May)

“John’s answer [John of the Cross] is not simple, but in the simplest possible terms, he says that the dark night is God’s best gift to you, intended for your liberation. It is about freeing you from your ideas about God, your fears about God, your attachment to all the benefits you have been promised for believing in God, your devotion to the spiritual practices that are supposed to make you feel closer to God, your dedication to doing and believing all the right things about God, your positive and negative evaluations of yourself as a believer in God, your tactics for manipulating God, and your sure cures for doubting God. All of these are substitutes for God, John says. They all get in God’s way. The late Gerald May, who wrote his own book about John, called them addictions. In many cases, he said, we should give thanks for them, because it is our addiction to some God substitute or another that finally brings us to our knees, by helping us to realize how far we have strayed from our heart’s true desire.  …Those who have come through dark nights of their own, not just once but over and over again, often cannot find the words to say why they would not trade those nights for anything. ‘Yes, they were nights of great loss. Yes, the soul suffered from fearful subtraction. Yes, a great emptiness opened up where I had stored all my spiritual treasures, and yet.’ And yet what? ‘And yet what remained when everything else was gone was more real than anything I could have imagined. I was no longer apart from what I sought; I was part of it, or in it. I’m sorry I can’t say it any better than that, There was no place else I wanted to be.’” Barbara Brown Taylor

“Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God
shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator
in doing what is right.”
1 Peter 4:19

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Do you see pain, loss and confusion as experiences God uses to make you more mature, loving, wise?
  • Is it possible that in your life, your family, your nation–God is taking away idols, false assumptions, the sense of control–so that some profound “emptiness” can open up for you and others?
  • The Biblical idea that one must go down to go up (downward mobility) is commonplace. As you read these words, do you feel like you’re “going down” (perhaps “for the count”)? Can you trust God in that now, even though you’re hurting and confused?

Abba, meet me in my pain. Shape me. Better me.

For more: Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor

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Thanks for reading/sharing my blog! – Bill

Daily Riches: What Would Jesus Do? (Preston Sprinkle)

“I love the phrase ‘cruciform suffering,’ which means ‘cross-shaped suffering,’ because it gives theological meat to suffering. Jesus’s cross and resurrection infuse suffering with value and hope—hope that Jesus-following sufferers will be raised from the dead; hope that God will judge the wicked and reward the righteous; hope that believes Jesus triumphed over evil through suffering and invited us to join Him in victory. This is what I mean by ‘cruciform suffering’: suffering that embraces the journey Jesus took to Calvary, who ‘continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly’ (1 Pet. 2: 23). …From beginning to end, Peter tries to pry the church’s gaze away from its earthly kingdom and onto the Lord Jesus. Peter refers to the church as ‘exiles,’ sojourners and aliens living in a strange land. We are ‘a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession’ (1 Pet. 2: 9). All of these images underwrite Jesus’s claim that His kingdom is not of this world. And the most visible form of Jesus’s not-of-this-world kingdom is the radical, head-turning love of one’s enemies, even (or especially) when we are suffering at their hands. Peter mentions this cruciform enemy-love no fewer than ten times in five chapters, making it the artery of the letter. Peter commands the church sojourning in Rome’s kingdom to ‘honor everyone,’ endure while suffering, revile no one when reviled, never ‘repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling’ but bless your reviler. If you want to be like Jesus, Peter says, then you need to live as Jesus lived. You need to turn from evil, do good, seek peace and pursue it vigorously. To those who attack you verbally, respond with gentleness and respect. To those who attack you physically, respond as Christ responded to His attackers (1 Pet. 2: 20– 22). Peter even uses military language ironically to speak of the believer’s posture of weakness, not might: ‘arm yourselves’ with the sufferings of Christ (4: 1); abstain from sinful passions that ‘wage war against your soul’ (2: 11)—passions such as retaliation. The entire letter of 1 Peter gives sustained attention to what Paul says in Philippians 2. The church is to follow Jesus in His posture of weakness and suffering, because this is the pathway to glory.” Preston Sprinkle

“He was oppressed and treated harshly,
yet he never said a word.
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.”
Isaiah 53:7

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you find this argument convincing and convicting?
  • Scripture emphasizes it, but not most churches. Is it central for you?
  • Where are you failing to do what Jesus would do?

Abba, teach me the way of peace.

For More: Fight by Preston Sprinkle

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Thanks for reading and sharing my blog! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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

Daily Riches: Filling Up What Is Lacking in Christ’s Afflictions (John Howard Yoder and Henri Nouwen)

“We use the word cross in our hymns, in our piety, in our prayers, and in our pastoral language. But we use it too cheaply. We say that a person has to live with some sort of suffering in life: a sickness that cannot be cured, an unresolvable personality conflict within the family, poverty, or some other unexplainable or unchangeable suffering. Then we say, ‘That person has a cross to bear.’ Granted, whatever kind of suffering we have is suffering that we can bear in confidence that God is with us. But the cross that Jesus had to face, because he chose to face it, was not—like sickness—something that strikes you without explanation. It was not some continuing difficulty in his social life. It was not an accident or catastrophe that just happened to hit him when it could have hit somebody else. Jesus’ cross was the price to pay for being the kind of person he was in the kind of world he was in; the cross that he chose was the price of his representing a new way of life in a world that did not want a new way of life. That is what he called his followers to do.” John Howard Yoder

“Jesus has a different vision of maturity: It is the ability and willingness to be led where you would not rather go…. The servant leader is the leader who is being led to unknown, undesirable, and painful places. The way of the Christian leader is not the way of upward mobility in which our world has invested so much, but the way of downward mobility ending on the cross…. It is not a leadership of power and control, but a leadership of powerlessness and humility in which the suffering servant of God, Jesus Christ, is made manifest. Jesus sends us out to be shepherds, and Jesus promises a life in which we increasingly have to stretch out our hands and be led to places where we would rather not go.” Henri Nouwen

“I do my share on behalf of His body,
which is the church,
in filling up what is lacking
in Christ’s afflictions.”
Colossians 1:24

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Suffering is ultimately inevitable, but not the suffering that is “filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.” Is any of your suffering that kind of suffering?
  • Are you willing to be “the kind of person” who will suffer in this world? …to be led by God “to places you would rather not go?”
  • Is your discipleship at all “radical?”

Abba, may my life advance your redemptive work in this world, even it if costs.

For more: Radical Discipleship by John Howard Yoder

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Thanks for reading, sharing and following my blog! Bill

 

Daily Riches: What We Do With Our Pain (Richard Rohr, Simone Weil and John Wooden)

“All great spirituality is about what we do with our pain. …By trying to handle all suffering through willpower, denial, medication, or even therapy, we have forgotten something that should be obvious: we do not handle suffering; suffering handles us in deep and mysterious ways that ironically become the very matrix of life. Suffering–and sometimes awe–has the most power to lead us into genuinely new experiences. As Simone Weil said, ‘Grace fills empty spaces but it can only enter where there is a void to receive it, and it is grace itself which makes this void.’ When life is hard we are primed to learn something absolutely central. Our wounds are God’s hiding place and hold our greatest gifts. It is no surprise that a dramatically wounded man became the central transformative symbol of Christianity. Once the killing of God becomes the redemption of the world, then forevermore the very worst things have the power to become the very best things. Henceforth, nothing can be a dead end; everything is capable of new meaning. We are indeed saved by gazing upon the wounded one–and loving there our own woundedness and everyone else’s too (John 3:14, 12:32, 19:37). We can dare to be mutually vulnerable instead of trying to protect ourselves and impress each other. This is the core meaning of the Christian doctrine of Trinity; the very character of God is mutual deference, recognition, and love, not self-assertion, much less domination or manipulation of the other. …Followers of the Crucified One will pray for the grace to do what he did: hold the pain until it transformed him into the Risen Christ. If you do not transform your pain, you will almost certainly transmit your pain to others through anger, blame, projection, hatred, or scapegoating.” Richard Rohr

“Adversity is the state in which man most easily becomes acquainted with himself, being especially free of admirers then.” John Wooden

“I want to know Christ—yes,
to know the … participation in his sufferings”
Philippians 3:10

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Has God used your “woundedness” to “acquaint” you with yourself? with him?
  • Do you deal with personal pain in a way that makes you more useful to others?
  • What would it look like for you to “hold your pain?”

Abba, in my pain be near, and do your necessary work in me.

For More: Adam’s Return by Richard Rohr

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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 and share my blog. 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: Jesus and His Convulsive Earthquake (Brennan Manning and Thomas Merton)

“Jesus Christ has irreparably changed the world. When preached purely, His Word exalts, frightens, shocks, and forces us to reassess our whole life. The gospel breaks our train of thought, shatters our comfortable piety, and cracks open our capsule truths. The flashing spirit of Jesus Christ breaks new paths everywhere. His sentences stand like quivering swords of flame because He did not come to bring peace, but a revolution. The gospel is not a children’s fairy tale, but rather a cutting-edge, rolling-thunder, convulsive earthquake in the world of the human spirit. By entering human history, God has demolished all previous conceptions of who God is and what man is supposed to be. We are, suddenly, presented with a God who suffers crucifixion. This is not the God of the philosophers who speak with cool detachment about the Supreme Being. A Supreme Being would never allow spit on his face. It is jarring indeed to learn that what He went through in His passion and death is meant for us too; that the invitation He extends is Don’t weep for Me! Join Me! The life He has planned for Christians is a life much like He lived. He was not poor that we might be rich. He was not mocked that we might be honored. He was not laughed at so that we would be lauded. On the contrary, He revealed a picture meant to include you and me.” Brennan Manning

“Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth!
I came not to bring peace, but a sword.”
Jesus, in Matthew 10:34

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Is yours a “comfortable piety?”
  • Is the “convulsive earthquake” of Jesus continuing with you?
  • Do you need to reacquaint yourself with Jesus of the gospels?

Why should I want to be rich, when You were poor? Why should I desire to be famous and powerful in the eyes of men, when the sons of those who exalted the false prophets and stoned the true rejected You and Nailed You to the Cross? …My hope is in what the eye has never seen. Therefore, let me not trust in visible rewards. My hope is in what the heart of man cannot feel. Therefore let me not trust in the feelings of my heart. My hope is in what the hand of man has never touched. Do not let me trust what I can grasp between my fingers. Death will loosen my grasp and my vain hope will be gone. Let my trust be in Your mercy, not in myself. Let my hope be in Your love, not in health, or strength, or ability or human resources. –  Thomas Merton

For More: The Furious Longing of God by Brennan Manning

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Thanks for reading/sharing this blog! – Bill

Daily Riches: Left Only With Neighbors (Preston Sprinkle, Oscar Romero, Martin Luther King)

“The church believes in only one violence, that of Christ, who was nailed to the cross.” Oscar Romero

“For early Christians, enemy-love was the hallmark of what it meant to believe in Jesus. …Unless you love your enemy, you actually don’t love your neighbor. …When Jesus talks about His suffering on the cross, He often commands His followers to do the same: ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me’ (Matt. 16: 24). Jesus suffers injustice on a Roman cross to die for sin, but He also intends it to be a nonviolent pattern for us to follow. When Jesus washes His disciples’ feet—even the feet of His betrayer—He tells His followers to do the same: ‘I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you’ (John 13: 15).  …Jesus rebukes James and John for their thirst for violent retaliation (Luke 9: 51– 56), encourages His followers to endure patiently when violently attacked (Mark 13: 9– 13), and disarms Peter when he violently resists evil by hacking off the ear of a man trying to arrest Jesus. ‘Put your sword back into its place,’ …Nonviolence is the astonishing rhythm of Christianity ….The Sermon on the Mount constitutes Jesus’s radical kingdom ethic. Heads will turn as we turn our cheeks. Our inexplicable behavior will call attention to our inexplicable God. Light will beam across our dark world as we love the spouses who don’t love us back, keep our word when it hurts, judge ourselves rather than others, and—most shockingly—love our enemies who are harming us. When we are cursed, we bless. When we are hated, we love. When we are robbed, we give. And when we are struck, we don’t strike back with violence. A person who chooses to love his or her enemies can have no enemies. That person is left only with neighbors.” Preston Sprinkle

“Negroes who engage in the demonstrations and who understand nonviolent philosophy will be able to face dogs and all of the other brutal methods that are used without retaliating with violence because they understand that one of the first principles of nonviolence is the willingness to be the recipient of violence while never inflicting violence upon another.” Martin Luther King

“For all who take the sword
will perish by the sword.”
Matthew 26: 52

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you think of nonviolence as “the astonishing rhythm of Christianity?” …as the way of Jesus?
  • Could you be “the recipient of violence” while refusing to inflict violence upon another?
  • Is enemy-love the “hallmark” of your Christianity?

Abba, grant me to have no enemies, only neighbors.

For More: Fight by Preston Sprinkle

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I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. Thanks! – Bill

Daily Riches: With Passion Withheld and Devotion Impaired (Margaret Clarkson and Walter Brueggemann)

In the course of her life, Margaret Clarkson became intimately acquainted with pain. She suffered initially with “migraines, accompanied by convulsive vomiting, and then arthritis—two ailments that accompanied her continually. In Destined for Glory, she related sadly that her mother told her that her first words were ‘my head hurts.’ At age three …she contracted juvenile arthritis and became bed bound. She recalled the pain as well as the bald spot worn on the back of her head from lying in bed so long.” …And that was just the beginning of a difficult life of loneliness, financial strain and disappointment. Through it all, Clarkson also developed an intimacy with God, and a transformative perspective on Christian ministry. Her hymn “So Send I You” has been called the greatest missionary hymn of the twentieth century.

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“So send I you–to labor unrewarded,
To serve unpaid, unloved, unsought, unknown,
To bear rebuke, to suffer scorn and scoffing,
So send I you to toil for me alone.

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“So send I you–to bind the bruised and broken,

o’er wandering souls to work, to weep, to wake,

to bear the burdens of a world a’weary

So send I you to suffer for My sake.

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“So send I you–to loneliness and longing,
With heart a-hungering for the loved and known;
Forsaking home and kindred, friend and dear one,
So send I you to know my love alone.

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“So send I you–to leave your life’s ambitions,
To die to dear desire, self-will resign,
To labor long and love where men revile you,
So send I you to lose your life in mine.

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“As the Father has sent me,

So send I you.”

“So Send I You” by Margaret Clarkson

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“But we confess…
we love you imperfectly;
we love you with a divided heart,
with a thousand other loves
that are more compelling,
with reservation and qualification,
and passion withheld and
devotion impaired.”
Walter Brueggemann

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“As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.”
Jesus in John 20:21

Moving From Head to Heart

  • I was trying to imagine how this hymn would be received in church today. Can you?
  • “To leave your life’s ambitions, to die to dear desire, self-will resign, to labor long and love where men revile you”–is there room in our idea of ministry for this today? What emotions do these words stir up in you?
  • Are we hoping to be useful to God “with passion withheld and devotion impaired”–as “a privileged people?”

Abba, may I give myself for you, as you gave yourself for me–without reservation.

For More: Prayers for a Privileged People by Walter Brueggemann

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

Daily Riches: Can One Obey Without Actually Obeying? (James Hannay and William James)

The desert hermits “understood the sayings of the Lord and adopted them as a practical rule of life. For most men there is need of certain explanations, of an effort of the intellect, of casuistry, before the Lord’s commands can be reconciled with the maxims which direct the ordinary life. It is necessary to write some gloss beside the saying–’If any man take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.’ Otherwise we cannot but be conscious of a divergence between the conduct which life seems to render necessary and that which is recommended by the Lord. For the hermits and their admirers no such necessity existed. They took the commands of Christ and obeyed them as if such obedience involved no absurdity. …It is perhaps especially interesting to notice that even in the case of postulants, whose hearts shrank back from the prospect of offering the other cheek to the smiter, there is no effort to evade the direct literalness with which the hermits interpreted our Lord’s commands. They hoped, apparently, to be somehow excused from obedience. It did not occur to them to cast round for an explanation of the words which would enable them to think of themselves as obeying while they refused to obey literally.” James Hannay

“…throughout the annals of the saintly life, we find this ever-recurring note: Fling yourself upon God’s providence without making any reserve whatever–take no thought for the morrow–sell all you have and give it to the poor–only when the sacrifice is ruthless and reckless will the higher safety really arrive.” William James

“If someone slaps you on one cheek,
offer the other cheek also.
If someone demands your coat,
offer your shirt also.”
Luke 6:29

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • When you hear Jesus say to turn the other cheek, to give to someone who asks, or to take no thought for tomorrow, do you find yourself saying, “He can’t really mean that.”?
  • Are you familiar with Christians who have refused to reconcile these commands with common sense (the desert hermits, St. Francis, MLK, Nelson Mandella)?
  • If you were to simply do what Jesus says, and at the same time “fling yourself upon God’s providence without making any reserve whatever”–what frightening thing might happen? …what good thing?

Abba, teach me to fling myself upon your providence without making any reserve. Hold my hand, for I hardly know the way.

For More: The Wisdom of the Desert by James O. Hannay

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I really appreciate your interest! – 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
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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: Waiting As Receiving the Future From God (Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Edwin Robertson)

“A longing emerges within us, which will not be silenced, a longing that all should be fulfilled amidst all the failures and against all the evidence, yet, we protest its fulfillment all the stronger. This is a waiting within us for nothing less than that this world will be redeemed through and through—not by this or that political means, but by God. When God himself comes to us, then Advent truly begins to become real. When we see all our hopes and dreams shattered by questioning, by fruitless efforts and failures, when the narrowness of our existence wounds us; when suddenly we are tormented by the thought that all is lost and fallen into oblivion; and when the cry is wrenched from us: ‘Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down”’ (Isaiah 64:1), then perhaps we can understand what the Bible means by ‘waiting.’ …Thus we live today under the shadow of his coming, not some dreaded disaster or some fate, but the coming of the God of justice, of love, and of peace. Not finding our own way to God into the future, but receiving the future from God. We know that we cannot go to God, but God comes to us, enfolding us in his unbelievable grace, otherwise our life is lost, and our waiting is in vain. We can only wait, watchfully wait; that means patiently waiting, totally deaf to those who would sow doubts in our mind, blind to every power that stands between us and that future which God wills for us. One thing is needful: the conviction that we shall see God, we shall hear God, we shall receive God, we shall know God, we shall serve God. In some incomprehensible way, God will—otherwise nothing, absolutely nothing else, counts.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer
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“Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down.”
Isaiah 64:1
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Moving From the Head to the Heart
  • Can you wait in such a way that you’re “deaf to those who would sow doubts in your mind?”
  • While you wait can you be “blind to every power that stands between you and that future which God wills for you?”
  • Can you wait, confident of the fact that “God will” – and counting on “absolutely nothing else?”

Abba, every day I’m waiting for the future you have for me.

For More: Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Christmas Sermons edited by Edwin Robertson

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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: Emotions as Sirens (Richard Rohr)

“Bill Wilson saw ’emotional sobriety’ as the final culmination of the Twelve Steps. Full sobriety is not just to stop drinking, but to become a spiritually awakened person who has found some degree of detachment from your own narcissistic emotional responses. The word emotion comes from the Latin for movement. It’s a body-based reaction that snags you quickly and urgently. The body holds shame, guilt, hurts, memories, and childhood conditioning. Emotions feel like truth. So it’s very hard to ‘unhook’ from our feelings. This is true for all of us. Emotions in and of themselves have no moral value; they are neither good nor bad. They are just sirens alerting us of something we should pay attention to. If we learn to listen to them instead of always obeying them, they can be very good teachers. We need to be aware that our emotions can mislead us because we often misread the situation. Emotions are far too self-referential and based in … what some call our defense mechanisms. Our basic ‘programs for survival,’ which are the source of most emotions … we falsely assume will give us happiness. The problem is, these programs will not work in the long haul. They are almost entirely dependent on outside events and other people conforming to our needs. They are inherently unstable because your happiness moment by moment is based outside of yourself. All the great religions of the world at the highest levels would say God alone–something stable, inside us, and reliable–is the source of all sustained happiness. Once you encounter a Loving God … you have found both your Ground and your Goal. John of the Cross, Teresa of Ávila, and many other mystics believed the experience of absolute union between God and the soul is essential to transformation. Then happiness is an ‘inside job’ and not dependent on outer circumstances or other peoples’ response to you. Of course, you will still have ups and downs and emotions of all kinds, but they don’t have you. You don’t identify with them; you let them come and you let them go.” Richard Rohr

“Fools vent their anger.”
Proverbs 29:11

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Are you aware that emotions “feel like truth” but aren’t?
  • How can you learn to listen to your emotions rather than obeying them?
  • Do your emotions “have you” or can you feel them and then “let them go?”

Abba, help me learn from, rather than be mastered by, my emotions.

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For More: Breathing Under Water by Richard Rohr

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it with others! My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. – Bill

Daily Riches: The Most Crippling Belief of All (Don Miller, Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Larry Crabb, Emma Herman, and Richard Rohr)

“The most crippling belief a person can have is ‘life was supposed to be EASY.'” Don Miller

“If you cannot refuse to fall down,
refuse to stay down.
If you cannot refuse to stay down
lift your heart toward heaven
and like a hungry beggar,
ask that it be filled,
and it will be filled.
You may be pushed down.
You may be kept from rising.
But no one can keep you
from lifting your heart
toward heaven —
only you.
It is in the midst of misery
that so much becomes clear.
The one who says nothing good
came of this,
is not yet listening.”

Clarissa Pinkola Estés

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“Comforting thoughts about God’s faithfulness can keep us living on the surface of life, safely removed from a level of pain and confusion that seems overwhelming. But God is most fully known in the midst of confusing reality. To avoid asking the tough questions and asking the hard issues is to miss a transforming encounter with God. …One thing that seems clear is that movement toward pain is suicide. But exactly the opposite is true! The fact that the path to life often feels like the path to death, and that the path to death can feel like the path to life, is a tragic commentary on how far we have gotten off track. The process of becoming aware of our thirst is terrible. It hurts. It feels like the path to death. …But to explore and embrace our deepest hurts puts us in a small company of thirsty people who, because they feel their thirst, know what it means to come to Christ in deep and quiet trust.” Larry Crabb

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“The true meaning of words is only learned in the school of affliction.” Emma Herman

“The path of descent is the path of transformation. Darkness, failure, relapse, death, and woundedness are our primary teachers, rather than ideas or doctrines.” Richard Rohr

“I have refined you in the furnace of suffering.”
Isaiah 48:10

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Were you expecting life to be easy?
  • Has “so much become clear” for you in the midst of misery? …in the midst of “confusing reality?” …in the “school of affliction?”
  • Are you seeking transformation primarily through “ideas or doctrines?”

Lord, I will not fail to lift my heart to heaven. I will turn to you in deep and quiet trust.

For More: Inside Out by Larry Crabb

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks 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

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

Daily Riches: Carry Your Cross (James Hanney and Brennan Manning)

“Perhaps some man will say, ‘how can a man carry his cross? How can a man who is alive be crucified?’ Hear, briefly, how this thing may be. …one who is crucified no longer has the power of moving or turning his limbs in any direction as he pleases, so we ought to fix our wishes and desires, not in accordance with what is pleasant and delightful to us now, but in accordance with the law of the Lord in whatsoever direction it constrain us. Also, he who is fastened to a cross no longer considers things present, nor thinks about his likings, nor is perplexed with anxiety or care for the morrow, [nor] is inflamed by any pride, or strife, or rivalry, grieves not at present insults, nor remembers past ones. While he is still breathing in the body, he is dead to all earthly things, and sends his heart on to that place to which he doubts not he shall shortly come. So we, when we are crucified by the fear of the Lord, ought to be dead to all these things. We die not only to carnal vices, but to all earthly things, even to those indifferent. We fix our minds there whither we hope at every moment we are to go.” James Hanney [quoting one of the desert fathers]

“Because of the (the cross of … Jesus Christ),
my interest in this world has been crucified,
and the worlds’ interest in me has also died.”
Galatians 6:14

 Moving From Head to Heart

  • Imagine finding consolation for the very difficult circumstances of your life in the fact that you will soon be leaving this life for heaven.
  • Now imagine that you intentionally created the difficult circumstances of your life (the desert hermits did) to escape the faith-wrecking pull of “earthly things” – and not only sinful ones.
  • Does the Christianity you know encourage you to “be dead to all earthly things?” Has your “interest in this world … been crucified” in some measurable way?
  • The one “fashioned to a cross”, among other things, “grieves not at present insults.” Many of the desert hermits were known for this (refusing to be moved by or to respond to insults) and for many others of the virtues mentioned. It seems like we take these matters so lightly compared to them. Why do you suppose that is?

Lord Jesus …Lead me into the crucified life …Lead me away from every lesser thing. (Brennan Manning)

For More: Wisdom of the Desert by James Hanney

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. Thanks!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Community, Stability and Spirituality (Joan Chittister)

“Everything in life, contrary to Madison Avenue’s guarantees, can’t be cured or resolved or eliminated. Some things must simply be endured. Some things must simply be borne. Some things must simply be accepted. Community and relationships enable us to do that. …It is in community where we find out who we really are. It is life with another that shows my impatience and life with another that demonstrates my possessiveness and life with another that gives notice to my nagging devotion to the self. Life with someone else, in other words, doesn’t show me nearly as much about his or her shortcomings as it does about my own. In human relationships I learn how to soften my hard spots and how to reconcile and how to care for someone else besides myself. In human relationships I learn that theory is no substitute for love. It is easy to talk about the love of God; it is another things to practice it. That’s how relationships sanctify me. They show me where holiness is for me. That’s how relationships develop me. They how me where growth is for me. If I’m the passive-victim type, then assertiveness may have something to do with coming to wholeness. If I’m the domineering character in every group, then a willingness to listen and to be led may be my call to life. Alone, I am what I am, but in community I have the chance to become everything that I can be. And so, stability bonds me to this group of people and to these relationships so that resting in the security of each other we can afford to stumble and search, knowing that we will be caught if we fall and we will be led where we cannot see by those who have been there before us.” Joan Chittister

“Iron sharpens iron,
So one man sharpens another.”
Proverbs 27:17

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you discovering “who you really are” through your life in community – perhaps as a spouse, sibling, parent, roommate, employee, church member, neighbor? What about you needs to change?
  • Have you discovered in your relationships that some things won’t change and “must simply be endured?” Are you doing that well?
  • Are you engaged in community life so that, you are not only learning about yourself, but changing? Is a probationary approach to relationships hindering your transformation?

Abba, help me to submit to this messy but essential part of spirituality.

For More: Wisdom Distilled From the Daily by Joan Chittister

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog.  I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill

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