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.”

Daily Riches: Death and the Temptation to Despair (Dan Clendenin and Atul Gawande)

“Atul Gawande has written a best seller about about dying well: Being Mortal; Medicine and What Matters in the End. Gawande argues that instead of acknowledging ‘the natural order of things,’ we’ve been seduced by ‘the prevailing fantasy that we are ageless.’ Instead of acknowledging the limits of medical treatments, we’ve turned mortality into an almost purely ‘medical experience,’ which in turn has led to denial, dishonesty, arrogance, and, for the elderly and the dying, horrible social isolation. This reduction of mortality to medicine, says Gawande, harms instead of heals. Acknowledging your mortality is a tremendous gift. It reorders your desires. It narrows your focus and gives you a new perspective that’s rooted in reality instead of futile medical fantasies. Medical interventions are only justified, says Gawande, ‘if they serve the larger aims of a person’s life. When we forget that, the suffering we inflict can be barbaric. When we remember it the good we do can be breathtaking.’ … Various writers describe this experience in similar ways. The Benedictine nun Joan Chittister calls it a ‘spirituality of struggle.’ The Orthodox theologian John Chryssavgis calls it a ‘spirituality of imperfection.’ The Presbyterian pastor Don MacCullough has written about the ‘consolations of imperfections.’ …Luther famously reminded us that God’s ultimate act of redemption and revelation was through suffering on a cross. A ‘theology of the cross’ affirms that we often experience God’s power in our human weakness. …Paul is a realist, not a sentimentalist. And his realism is liberating and refreshing. He begins and ends his reflections on ‘wasting away in the body’ with the identical words: ‘we do not lose heart’ (2 Cor 4:1, 16). That counsel of encouragement is necessary because the temptation to despair is real. In the end, Paul is an optimist: ‘Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.’ Daniel Clendenin

“we are being renewed day by day”
2 Corinthians 4:1

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you in denial about your approaching death?
  • Are you letting losses in your life now prepare you for the Great Final Loss?
  • Is your faith a “spirituality of imperfection” in which you discover “consolation?”

For More: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

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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 daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

 

Daily Riches: Aging and Life In the Body (Dan Clendenin and Sherwin Nuland)

“Last week I read The Art of Aging: A Doctor’s Prescription for Well-Being by Sherwin Nuland, a Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Yale School of Medicine. There’s a very thin line, observes Nuland, between denial and despair, between pretending nothing has changed and doing nothing at all. And a big difference between living long and living well. Beyond the standard advice about diet, exercise, genetics, intellectual stimulation, and social connections, Nuland explores the intangibles of our attitudes, dispositions, and religious faith. It’s not just about eating granola, he says. Cultivating equanimity over entitlement, contentment over complaining, or determination over discouragement, are only three examples of the attitudes we can choose about aging. Aging brings both gains and losses. Cultivating the wisdom to separate fact and fantasy is huge, as is learning to live with uncertainty and adversity. One of the biggest lessons of aging, says Nuland, is that ‘choice exists for each of us.’ Aging is not a disease, it’s a natural condition of every life. And if it’s handled wisely, there really is more sugar at the bottom of the cup. …In 2 Corinthians 4 and 5, Paul mentions the ‘body’ seven times. He uses unflattering metaphors to describe the body – it’s like a flimsy tent, a clay jar, a ‘nakedness’ when we are exposed as ‘unclothed.’ Life ‘in the body,’ says Paul, is a time of ‘troubles’ when we are ‘away from the Lord.’ Paul is brutally realistic about life ‘in the body.’ He yanks us out of fantasy and into reality, from denial into candor. He would move us from despair to wisdom in order to live well today. But make no mistake, for Paul, life ‘in the body’ is hard. Growing old isn’t for sissies. While ‘in the body,’ we are ‘hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.'” Dan Clendenin

“We always carry around in our body
the death of Jesus.”
2 Corinthians 4:10

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • As you age, how are you doing when it comes to “equanimity over entitlement, contentment over complaining, … determination over discouragement?”
  • …when it comes to learning to live with limits? … “with uncertainty and adversity?”
  • Are you discovering “sugar at the bottom of the cup?”

Abba, help me age like a fine wine.

For More: The Art of Aging by Sherwin Nuland

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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 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: The Often Misguided Urge for Power (Henri Nouwen)

“From the moment we set out on our climb to the top we make ourselves believe that striving for power and wanting to be of service are, for all practical purposes, the same thing. This fallacy is so deeply ingrained in our whole way of living that we do not hesitate to strive for influential positions in the conviction that we do so for the good of the Reign of God. …But the mystery of our ministry is that we are called to serve not with our power but with our powerlessness. It is through powerlessness that we can enter into solidarity with our fellow human beings, form a community with the weak, and thus reveal the healing, guiding, and sustaining mercy of God. …As followers of Christ, we are sent into the world naked, vulnerable, and weak, and thus we can reach our fellow human beings in their pain and agony and reveal to them the power of God’s love and empower them with the power of God’s Spirit. …The true challenge is to make service to our neighbor the manifestation and celebration of our total and undivided service to God. Only when all of our service finds its source and goal in God can we be free from the desire for power and proceed to serve our neighbors for their sake and not our own. …in serving God we find our true self which no longer needs social affirmations but is free to offer a powerless ministry.  …When we find ourselves able to continue to serve our fellow human beings even when … we have little or no power, we come to know ourselves as God knows us, as sons and daughters hidden in God’s love.” Henri Nouwen

“[Jesus] instructed them that they should take nothing for their journey,
except a mere staff – no bread, no bag, no money in their belt”
Mark 6:8

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you believe you must you be powerful to “be of service” to God?
  • How will you be in solidarity with needy people if not by weakness?
  • Are you willing to be personally weak to be effective for God? To depend only on the power God grants?

Abba, may I give up my little strength, which will only create barriers with others, and settle for the weakness that creates a powerful context of solidarity and effectiveness with the needy.

For More: The Selfless Way of Christ by Henri Nouwen

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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 daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Good Friday and Embracing Endings (Pete Scazzero and Parker Palmer)

“On Good Friday we remember that at the cross Jesus wipes away our sins, becoming a global magnet that draws the whole world to Himself. Good Friday also reminds me that embracing endings (deaths) and new beginnings (resurrections) is the pattern of life for every Christian. Nothing new takes place without an ending. A real ending – a final death – often feels like disintegration, falling apart, a coming undone. It feels that way because that is what death is. It is an ending that requires walking through a completely dark tunnel, not knowing when or if any light will come again. If we embrace these losses for the severe mercies they are, God does a profound work in us and through us in ways that are similar to what the apostle Paul describes as “death is at work in us, but life is at work in you” (2 Cor. 4:12). As a person who tends to resist accepting the necessity of endings, I consistently do four things to keep me on track:

  • I face the brutal facts of situations where things are going badly and ask hard questions, even when everything inside me prefers to distract myself or flee.
  • I remind myself not to follow my feelings during these times of embracing endings as a death.
  • I talk with seasoned mentors who are older and more experienced, asking for their perspective and wisdom.

I ask myself two questions: What is it time to let go of in my personal life and in my leadership? What new thing might be standing backstage waiting to make its entrance in my personal life and in my leadership? This second question especially encourages me to move beyond my fears, reminding me that God has something good for me in the future – even though I may not see any hints of what that might be. Parker Palmer sums it up well: ‘On the spiritual journey…each time a door closes, the rest of the world opens up. All we need to do is to stop pounding on the door just closed, turn around – which puts the door behind us – and welcome the largeness of life that now lies open to our souls.’” Pete Scazzero

“death is at work in us”
2 Corinthians 4:12

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Can you “embrace losses for the severe mercies they are?”
  • Can you trust that God still has something good for you when that “door” closes?
  • Can you wait well in the in between time, instead of acting out in some destructive way?

Abba, help me trust in your love when I experience the darkness of endings.

For More: Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Pete Scazzero

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I appreciate your interest in Daily Riches! Please share! –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Death and the Great Physician (John Donne and Philip Yancey) *

“Our last day is our first day; our Saturday is our Sunday; our eve is our holy day; our sunsetting is our morning; the day of our death is the first day of our eternal life. The next day after that … comes that day that shall show me to myself. Here I never saw myself but in disguises; there, then, I shall see myself, but I shall see God too…. Here I have one faculty enlightened, and another left in darkness; mine understanding sometimes cleared, my will at the same time perverted. There I shall be all light, no shadow upon me; my soul invested in the light of joy, and my body in the light of glory. … That voice, that I must die now, is not the voice of a judge that speaks by the way of condemnation, but of a physician that presents health.” John Donne

“A turning point came for Donne as he began to view death not as the disease that permanently spoils life, rather as the only cure to the disease of life, the final stage in the journey that brings us to God. Evil infects all of life on this fallen planet, and only through death–Christ’s death and our own–can we realize a cured state.”  Philip Yancey

“Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.
Remind me that my days are numbered—
how fleeting my life is.
You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.
My entire lifetime is just a moment to you;
at best, each of us is but a breath.”
Psalm 39:4,5

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • St. Benedict says to “keep death daily before your eyes.” How often do you consider your approaching death? How could doing that benefit you?
  • John Donne suggests we shall only really know God, ourselves, and true health, on the day that we die – that death is “… the final stage in the journey that brings us to God.”  Can you think about your death that way? If so, how does that make you feel?
  • If your life is “a moment … a breath”, what does that mean for how you want to live?

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For More: Soul Survivor: How My Faith Survived the Church by Philip Yancey

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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 God Must Do to Live In Us (Dietrich Bonhoeffer and John Donne) *

“In life with Jesus Christ, death as a general fate approaching us from without is confronted by death from within, one’s own death, the free death of daily dying with Jesus Christ. Those who live with Christ die daily to their own will. Christ in us gives us over to death so that he can live within us. Thus our inner dying grows to meet that death from without. Christians receive their own death in this way and in this way our physical death very truly becomes not the end but rather the fulfillment of our life with Jesus Christ. Here we enter into community with the One who at his own death was able to say, ‘It is finished.’” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Here I never saw myself but in disguises; there, then, I shall see myself, but I shall see God too…. Here I have one faculty enlightened, and another left in darkness; mine understanding sometimes cleared, my will at the same time perverted. There I shall be all light, no shadow upon me; my soul invested in the light of joy, and my body in the light of glory.” John Donne

“We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”
2 Corinthians 2:10

Moving From Head to Heart

  • “Christ in us gives us over to death (crucifixion) so that he can live (resurrection) within us.” What has this meant in your life?
  • These mini-deaths are “free” in that we choose them or submit to them. Have you been able choose to receive these kinds of difficult losses and trials as Christ’s “gift?”
  • “Our inner dying grows to meet that death from without.” How do these words affect your feelings about your own death?
  • Take a few moments to think about your physical death becoming “not the end but rather the fulfillment of [your] life with Jesus Christ.” Sit with that in quietness. What emotions arise from that?

Abba, the experience of death from within is both painful and frightening. Even so, I want to embrace the “deaths” you send my way so that Jesus will live more fully in me. Please help me “die to my own will” as I submit to your will for me when it comes to this “daily dying with Jesus Christ.”

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For More: Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas

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“Let us, on both sides, lay aside all arrogance. Let us not, on either side, claim that we have already discovered the truth. Let us seek it together as something which is known to neither of us. For then only may we seek it, lovingly and tranquilly, if there be no bold presumption that it is already discovered and possessed.” Augustine   My prayer is that these Daily Riches will always be offered and received in this irenic, unpresumptous spirit. Thank you for reading and sharing my daily posts. Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Spiritual Formation Every Moment, Every Day (J. I. Packer) *

“Cross-bearing is the long lesson of our mortal life. It is a part of God’s salvation, called sanctification. It is a lesson set before us every moment of every day. It concerns this strange and daunting business of how strain and pain–passion, in the sense of conscious suffering voluntarily accepted–may be transmuted into glory. If life were an art lesson, we could describe it as a process of finding how to turn this mud into that porcelain, this discord into that sonata, this ugly stone block into that statue, this tangle of threads into that tapestry. In fact, however, the stakes are higher than in any art lesson. It is in the school of sainthood that we find ourselves enrolled and the artifact that is being made is ourselves.” J. I. Packer

“Surely it was for my benefit
  that I suffered such anguish.”
  Isaiah 38:17
(King Hezekiah, after recovering from a near fatal illness)

From the Head to the Heart

  • What could you do on a daily basis to be more aware of God’s work in you, “transmuting” you, in “every moment of every day?”
  • What kinds of things keep you from this awareness?
  • Packer reminds us that this is “the long lesson of our mortal life.” Can you be patient with yourself and God during this long, gradual process of “strain and pain” and “anguish?”

Abba, help me to be mindful each day of the ways you’re working to change me through my circumstances – especially when it comes to “conscious suffering voluntarily accepted.” Help me in this school of sainthood.

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For More: Christianity: The True Humanism by J. I Packer and Thomas Howard

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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 give 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 as we learn together to find our satisfaction in our unfailingly loving God. (Psalm 90:14) . I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it with others. I appreciate your interest! – Bill

Daily Riches: The Spiritual Journey is a Series of Humiliations (Thomas Keating and Richard Rohr) *

“The spiritual journey is not a career or a success story. It is a series of humiliations of the false self that become more and more profound. These make room inside us for the Holy Spirit to come in and heal. What prevents us from being available to God is gradually evacuated. We keep getting closer and closer to our center. Every now and then God lifts a corner of the veil and enters into our awareness through various channels, as if to say, ‘Here I am. Where are you? Come and Join me.'” Thomas Keating

“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 am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.
Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He lifts up;
and every branch that bears fruit,
He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.”
John 15:1,2 [my trans.]

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Are you able to think of the Christian journey as “a series of humiliations?”  as a painful cutting away? as a “path of descent?”
  • If the “false self” consists of all the masks we wear, our defense mechanisms and egocentric way of life, can you see why it must be “humiliated” or put in its place? Can you see the need for this in your life?
  • Can you see God’s good behind it (availability, fruitfulness, transformation) and hear his invitation: “Here I am. Where are you? Come and Join me.”?

Abba, thank you for seeking greater intimacy with me – for evacuating and pruning away what hinders me from that intimacy – and from fruitfulness. Here I am Lord, willing to embrace the necessary humiliation and loss to be made more whole.

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For More: The Human Condition: Contemplation and Transformation by Thomas Keating

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Thomas Merton’s goal is his writing is the same as mine in this blog: “The purpose of a book of meditations is to teach you how to think and not to do your thinking for you. Consequently if you pick up such a book and simply read it through, you are wasting your time. As soon as any thought stimulates your mind or your heart you can put the book down because your meditation has begun.” I’m not Thomas Merton (!), yet I hope these Daily Riches will lead you into much life-enriching mediation. – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Desolation’s Gift (Ruth Barrows and Kathleen Norris) *

“‘God is trying to get us to accept a state where we have no assurance within that all is well … where no clear path lies before us, where there is no way; a state of spiritual inadequacy experienced in it’s raw, humiliating bitterness.’ Only when we admit that we have “no way” do we have any hope of finding one. Out of what seems desolate a newly vigorous faith can arise, a certainty that is not subject to changes in moods or feelings, or the vicissitudes of life.” Kathleen Norris, quoting Carmelite Ruth Burrows

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way,
consider it an opportunity for great joy.
for when your endurance is fully developed,
you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
James 1:2,4

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Our first response is not usually to look at “desolation” and “troubles” as gifts or an “opportunity for great joy.” Burrows, Norris and James team up to convince us otherwise.
  • Being “complete” (James) sounds a lot like Norris’s “vigorous faith” … not subject to changes in moods or feelings, or the vicissitudes of life.” Have you experienced the kind of faith that transcends feelings and circumstances? If so, did you learn it in times of ease, or in times of trouble?
  • Have you ever thought of desolation as God’s gift to you as his child – “giving” trouble into your life so you enter a state where “there is no way?”  where you experience “spiritual inadequacy” and “humiliating bitterness?” I imagine for many who follow Jesus, that would be a new, and perhaps disturbing thought. It sounds pretty brutal. Might it be true?
  • Can you embrace desolation in your life in order to receive its gift? Perhaps if we can remember the ministry of desolation in our lives, we won’t refuse it. Is there desolation at work right now in your life? Will you embrace it?

Abba, thank you for working in me to make me whole. Help me to embrace your sometimes painful love.

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For More: Acedia & Me by Kathleen Norris

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“There grows in me an immense dissatisfaction with all that is merely passively accepted as truth, without struggle and without examination. Faith, surely, is not passive, and not an evasion. And today, more than ever, the things we believe, I mean especially the things we accept on human faith—reported matters of ‘fact,’ questions of history, of policy, of interpretation, of wants—they should be very few.” Thomas Merton   These Daily Riches are designed to encourage examination of convictions, of faith, so that we increasingly trust in the God who is really there, and less in our ideas of Him. Thanks for reading and sharing my daily blog. –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Contemplation (John Eudes Bamberger) *

“When you are faithful in [silent meditation] … you will slowly experience yourself in a deeper way.  Because in this useless hour in which you do nothing ‘important’ or urgent you have to come to terms with your basic powerlessness, you have to feel your fundamental inability to solve your or other people’s problems or to change the world. When you do not avoid that experience but live through it, you will find out that your many projects, plans, and obligations become less urgent, crucial, and important and lose their power over you.” John Eudes Bamberger

“Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child rests against his mother,
My soul is like a weaned child within me.”
Psalm 131:2

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you able to go to the place the Psalmist writes about, where your soul is quieted and you experience great love, peace, protection, and acceptance from your heavenly parent?
  • Do you have a deep sense of your own “basic powerlessness … to solve your or other people’s problems?” Do you attempt to “avoid that feeling” or try to “live through it?” What is the result?
  • In the press of a busy day, time spent sitting quietly before the Lord can seem “useless” or like “doing nothing.” Have you established a daily practice to keep from skipping such time so that you can more powerfully sense his love for you and your own limitations and needs?

Abba, I pray that the false urgency of my world would lose it’s grip on me as I linger in your presence. I pray that, more and more, I would sense your great love towards me. Help me to breathe in that love, and then exhale it out as my gift, and your gift, to my world.

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For More: The Way of the Heart by Henri Nouwen

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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: 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)

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