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

_________________________________________________

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

Daily Riches: What Does It Mean that God Is In Control? (John Sanders, Paul Helm)

“In Romans Paul give … reasons why we should maintain our confidence in God amid trials. First, God can use the difficult times in our lives to produce christlikeness in us. Paul says that tribulations can produce patience and build character. Seeing tangible evidence of the Spirit’s work in our lives, we should expect even more growth (Rom 5:3-5). Second, ‘in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose’ (Rom 8:28 NIV). Paul does not say that all things do in fact ‘work together for good’ (contra NRSV and NASB) but that God is working to accomplish good in all things. …Sometimes even people of faith are worn down by trials. Tribulations do not always strengthen people’s trust in God. Just because God is at work in our lives does not assure his victory. …The purposes of God meet with resistance, and even God does not always get what he desires. Furthermore, the verse does not say that God specifically sent the trouble into our lives. Rather, God makes use of the sin, evil and tribulations–which he has not ordained to come about–attempting to bring good out of evil.” John Sanders

[One view is that] “God exercises exhaustive control over each situation, which means that only what God purposes to happen in that particular time and place to that specific creature will happen. God …micromanages every detail. According to this model of providence, there is a specific divine reason for ordaining each and every particular occurrence of evil and suffering. According to Paul Helm, since ‘God works everything for good’ (Rom. 8:28), there are no such things as accidents and there are no real tragedies in life.” Sanders

“Oh, how often they rebelled against him in the wilderness
and grieved his heart in that dry wasteland.”
Psalm 78:40

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • What exactly do you mean when (if) you say “God is in charge?” or “Jesus is still on the throne?” Do you mean that whatever occurs is God’s will? …that there are no accidents? …no real tragedies?
  • Why do we pray “thy kingdom come, thy will be done” if all that is done is God’s will?
  • If God always gets his way, in what sense is Satan the “god of this world?” (2 Cor. 4:4)
  • Has God ordained our various sins? When we sin are we actually doing what God ultimately wants?
  • Why would the Bible say that God’s heart sometimes “grieves” if God’s will is always achieved?

Abba, forgive me for all the times I’ve grieved you by my action, inaction–even by my thoughts about you.

For more: The God Who Risks by John Sanders

________________________

Thanks for reading/sharing my blog! Please leave a comment or question. – Bill

 

Daily Riches: The Church of the Future (Joseph Ratzinger)

“The church will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes … she will lose many of her social privileges. …As a small society, [the Church] will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members…. It will be hard-going for the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification will cost her much valuable energy. It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek…. But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church. Men in a totally planned world will find themselves unspeakably lonely. If they have completely lost sight of God, they will feel the whole horror of their poverty. Then they will discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new. They will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, an answer for which they have always been searching in secret. And so it seems certain to me that the Church is facing very hard times. The real crisis has scarcely begun. We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already, but the Church of faith. She may well no longer be the dominant social power to the extent that she was until recently; but she will enjoy a fresh blossoming and be seen as man’s home, where he will find life and hope beyond death.” Joseph Ratzinger (These words are from 1969.)

“At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him.
Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, ‘Are you also going to leave?’”
John 6:66,67

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • If the church shrinks through atrophy and persecution, so that only those who are truly committed to Christ remain, will you still be there?
  • Would you still be a Christian if it didn’t come with social privileges and power? …if it meant being part of  something “weak”–”a little flock of believers?”
  • Think of your church. Does it need to become “poor” before it can rich enough to be seen as “man’s home?”

For more: Faith and the Future by Joseph Ratzinger

________________________

These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and God seeks after you. 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: 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

________________________

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

________________________

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

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

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

________________________

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: 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

________________________

Thanks for reading, sharing and following my blog! Bill

 

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

_________________________________________________
Thanks for reading/sharing this blog! – Bill

Daily Riches: The Unquenchable Yearning for Even More (Ian Morgan Cron, Gerard Straub, Evelyn Underhill, John Michael Talbot)

“There’s probably no dimension of Francis’s life that makes people more uncomfortable than his contempt for money, consumerism, and materialism and his love affair with Lady Poverty. In the century where the middle-class and conspicuous consumption were born, Francis questioned the absurdity of relying on material possessions to provide happiness. Although he didn’t set out to indict the opulence of the church or his fellow Christians, his manner of life served as a much-needed correction to their unthinking participation in the materialism of the Middle Ages. Many consumerism-weary aristocrats found his message inspiring, gave all they had to the poor and followed him. Some believe that twenty-first-century Christians have lost credibility in the West because they have failed to make countercultural choices when it comes to their personal economics. We proclaim that faith in God is the route to authentic happiness, but our hyper-acquisitive lifestyles contradict that assertion. When it comes to money, we don’t believe the words of our Founder. Rather, we are ‘behavioral atheists.'” Ian Morgan Cron

“Francis believed the Church’s languishing spirituality could be directly attributed to her vast wealth and rise to great political power, and that the Church need to be reminded of and strongly exhorted to follow–the example of absolute and voluntary poverty, along with the resulting detachment of worldliness, as exemplified by Christ and the apostles.” Gerard Straub

“Mystics know that possessions dissipate the energy which they need for other and more real things; that they must give up ownership, the verb “to have,’ if they are to attain the freedom which they seek….” Evelyn Underhill

“Like the branches of an unpruned tree, our attachment to possessions and wealth often chokes our lives, enslaves our souls, and hinders both human community and union with God. Francis prescribed simplicity as an antidote to our often unquenchable yearning for more and ever more.” John Michael Talbot

“The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God’s word,
but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life,
the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things,
and so no fruit is produced.” Jesus in Mark 4:18, 19

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Can you sense the danger to your soul that the “lure of wealth, and the desire for other things” creates?
  • Are your possessions dissipating “the energy [you] need for other and more real things?”
  • Are you willing to embrace “simplicity as an antidote to … unquenchable yearning?”

Abba, lead me into practices, like radical generosity, that will loosen the hold things have on me.

For More: Chasing Francis by Ian Morgan Cron

_________________________________________________

These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and God seeks after you. Thanks for your interest! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Where God Goes … And Where God May Be Found (Henri Nouwen, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Karl Barth and Eugene Peterson)

“But it is not said of Jesus that he reached down from on high to pull us up from slavery, but that he became a slave with us. God’s compassion is a compassion that reveals itself in servanthood. Jesus became subject to the same powers and influences that dominate us, and suffered our fears, uncertainties and anxieties with us. …He gave up a privileged position, a position of majesty and power, and assumed fully and without reservation a condition of total dependency. Paul’s hymn of Christ does not ask us to look upward, away from our condition, but to look in our midst and discover God there. …In the Gospel stories of Jesus’ healings, we sense how close God wants to be with those who suffer. But now we see the price God is willing to pay for this intimacy. It is the price of ultimate servanthood, the price of becoming a slave, completely dependent on strange, cruel, alien forces. …Jesus moves, as Karl Barth says, from ‘the heights to the depth, from victory to defeat, from riches to poverty, from triumph to suffering, from life to death.’ Jesus’ whole life and mission involved accepting powerlessness and revealing in this powerlessness the limitlessness of God’s love. Here we see what compassion means. It is not a bending toward the underprivileged from a privileged position; it is not a reaching out from on high to those who are less fortunate below; it is not a gesture of sympathy or pity for those who fail to make it in the upward pull. On the contrary, compassion means going directly to those people and places where suffering is most acute and building a home there.” Henri Nouwen

“God had looked upon the poor of the world and had himself come to help. Now he was there, not as the Almighty One, but in the seclusion of humanity. Wherever there are sinners, the weak, the sorrowful, the poor in the world, that is where God goes. Here he lets himself be found by everyone.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.”
John 1:14 (Eugene Peterson)

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Consider this. Jesus made himself “completely dependent on strange, cruel, alien forces” in order to serve you.
  • Does your compassion (like that of Jesus) transcend sympathy and pity and involve “servanthood?”
  • Do you think it’s realistic to talk of going “directly to those people and places where suffering is most acute and building a home there?” (In many ways Nouwen’s life shows what he must have had in mind.)

Abba, may you be found by everyone.

For More: Compassion: A Reflection on the Christian Life by Henri Nouwen

_________________________________________________
Thanks so much for reading and sharing this blog! – 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

_________________________________________________

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: The Crack in Everything (Leonard Cohen, Richard Rohr, Bill Wilson)

“Forget your perfect offering,

There is a crack in everything,
That’s how the light gets in.”
Leonard Cohen (“Anthem”)

“Bill Wilson [the founder of AA] …understood that the only way to give everyone equal and universal access to God is to base salvation/enlightenment on woundedness instead of self-created trophies. If we are honest, this utterly levels the playing field. Julian of Norwich, my favorite English mystic, understood the great turn around and said proudly: ‘Our wounds are our very trophies!’ They are the ‘holes in the soul’ where the Light and the Life can break through. …The way of the Twelve Steps is remarkably similar to Jesus’ Way of the Cross, St. Francis’ Way of Poverty, and St. Thérèse of Lisieux’s Little Way. These and many other saints and mystics teach the power of powerlessness either directly or indirectly. …Until you bottom out and come to the limits of your own fuel supply, there is no reason for you to switch to a higher octane of fuel. Why would you? You will not learn to actively draw upon a Larger Source until your usual resources are depleted and revealed as inadequate to the task. In fact, you will not even know there is a Larger Source until your own sources and resources utterly fail you. None of us go to the place of powerlessness on our own accord. We have to be taken there. Sad to say it, but it is largely sin, humiliation, failure, and various forms of addiction that do the job. Sometimes, having ruined your marriage, your children, your job, or your sterling self-image, you have to say, ‘My way isn’t working.’ Maybe there is another way, maybe I really do need to change. That is very often when you are finally ready to begin a sincere spiritual journey. At that point your religion morphs into a living spirituality.” Richard Rohr

‘Those who are well do not need a physician,
but the sick do.
I did not come to call the righteous
but sinners.”
Jesus in Mark 2:17

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have you experienced enough bone-crushing pain that you’ve begun “a sincere spiritual journey?”
  • Do you have “cracks” where the lights get’s in – and from which it shines?
  • Have you discovered the value of “cracks” and powerlessness? Do you give thanks for these things?

Abba, unleash the power in my brokenness for the healing of others.

For More: Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps by Richard Rohr

_________________________________________________

These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. If you liked this, please share it! I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: The Descent of God (Augustine, Joseph Hallman, Thomas a Kempis)

“To have no opinion of ourselves,

and to think always well and highly of others,
is great wisdom and perfection.”
Thomas a Kempis

“The Son of God came down and was made humble. …God was made humble for you.” Augustine

“…this is the truth unknown to philosophy. …not found in Epicureans, Stoics, Manichees, or Platonists. Although discovering the best precepts of custom and discipline, they never find humility. This comes only from Christ who became humble even to death on the cross. The humility exhibited by the Word in the Incarnation is the cure for pride, the worst of all sins. Only divine humility is true medicine for superbia [haughtiness]. …It is indeed correct to say that, for Augustine, ‘it is the humility of Christ which is the most striking feature of the Incarnation.’ Augustine has grasped precisely that the core of Christian faith is an acceptance of the divine kenosis in Jesus of Nazareth. To get a sense of the impression Phil. 2:6-8 made on Augustine one should consult the Index at the end of [his Corpus Christianorum]…. There are two hundred or more citations or allusions to this text in De Trinitate alone. Even more impressive is the fact that in Augustine’s entire corpus he cites part or all of this passage 422 times, and alludes to it 563 times. Thus he had it in mind nearly a thousand times when he wrote.” Joseph Hallman

“Though he was God,
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
he took the humble position of a slave
and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal’s death on a cross.”
Philippians 2:6-8

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • When you look at today’s church–today’s Christian–at yourself in the mirror–do you see humility?
  • Consider the practices of silence, sabbath, listening well, loving well, receiving instruction, simplicity – think how each of these requires or teaches humility.
  • How formative is the Incarnation of Jesus in your life? Has what he did for you in that way ever really gripped you?

Abba, help me to learn to consistently think well and highly of others.

For More: The Descent of God: Divine Suffering in History and Theology by Joseph M. Hallman

_________________________________________________

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: 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

.

“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

.

“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

_________________________________________________

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: Your Worst Day As Your Best Day (Julian of Norwich, S. Trevor Francis, William A. Barry)

“The love of God most High for our soul is so wonderful that it surpasses all knowledge. No created being can fully know the great, the sweetness, the tenderness, of the love that our Maker has for us. By his Grace and help therefore let us in spirit stand in awe and gaze, eternally marveling at the supreme, surpassing, single-minded, incalculable love that God, Who is all goodness, has for us.” Julian of Norwich

“O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love.
Leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above!”
S. Trevor Francis

“In Jesus, God saves us by becoming so vulnerable that we are able to kill him in a vile and humiliating way. The crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus assure us that God’s offer of friendship will never be withdrawn, no matter what we do. If the cross did not result in a withdrawal of the offer, then nothing we do will lead to a change of God’s heart.” William A. Barry

“I sank beneath the waves,
and the waters closed over me.
Seaweed wrapped itself around my head.
I sank down to the very roots of the mountains.
I was imprisoned in the earth,
whose gates lock shut forever.
But you, O Lord my God,
snatched me from the jaws of death!
As my life was slipping away,
I remembered the Lord.
And my earnest prayer went out to you
in your holy Temple.” Jonah 2:5-7

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • How terrifying to be rolled over and swept along by the ocean! Seaweed “wrapped itself around [Jonah’s] head” and it seemed his “life was slipping away.” Have you ever been swept away by overwhelming force in some threatening, terrifying experience?
  • In Francis’ hymn and Jonah’s account the person’s “worst” day becomes perhaps their “best” day. Jonah is “snatched … from the jaws of death” and restored to God’s service. The hymn writer discovers that the frightening current sweeps him along “homeward.” Do you have a terrible day that, in retrospect, was really a great day?
  • The day Jesus was crucified was horrendous–and yet that day now assures us that God’s love for us can never end. How do these examples change your thinking about your “worst day”–either the one past, or the coming one?

Abba, I will remember you, even as I sink beneath the waves.

For More: Revelations of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich

_________________________________________________

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. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)