Daily Riches: The Painful Process of Spiritual Formation (Geri Scazzero, Parker Palmer and Belden Lane)

“Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel is one of history’s greatest artistic triumphs. From 1508 to 1512, the artist lay on his back and painted the creation, fall, and destruction of the human race by the flood. The images, however, started to fade almost immediately after he painted them. Within a hundred years no one remembered what the original colors really had looked like. In 1980, a scaffold was erected and plans made to clean the ceiling of Michelangelo’s priceless masterpiece. The director of the restoration project did a critical experiment using a special solution on one or two square inches at a time. For the next twelve years they cleaned the entire ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. No one expected the results to be so stunning! No one realized Michelangelo was such a master of color—of azure, green, rose, lavender. Beneath centuries of grime and dirt, passionate colors lay buried. For the first time in over 450 years, people could view the masterpiece as it was originally intended, in all its color and beauty. Stripping off the false layers and dirt that cover up your unique destiny and life is complex. Parker Palmer describes it like this, ‘Most of us arrive at a sense of self only through a long journey through alien lands. But this journey bears no resemblance to the trouble-free “travel packages” sold by the tourism industry. It is more akin to the ancient tradition of pilgrimage – “a transformative journey to a sacred center” full of hardship, darkness and peril.'” Geri Scazzero

“The way of purgation involves an entry into what is unnerving, even grotesque in our lives, into what quickly reveals our limits. It seems at first, like most beginnings in the spiritual life, a mistake, a false start, an imperfection in God’s planning, a regression in our own growth. Only through hindsight do we recognize it for the unexpected gift that it is.” Belden Lane

“And I saw the river over which every soul must pass to reach the kingdom of heaven
and the name of that river was suffering
and I saw the boat which carries souls across the river
and the name of that boat was love.”
John of the Cross

“Through many tribulations
we must enter the kingdom of God.”
Acts 14:22

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Are you aware of things in your life that need to be “stripped away?”
  • Are you willing to take that (often difficult) “transformative journey?”
  • Have you experienced a great loss, only to recognize it later as an “unexpected gift?”

Abba, strip away what keeps me from being the person you imagined and need.

For More: I Quit! by Gerri Scazzero

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. Thanks for sharing/following my blog! – Bill

P.S. I’ve been working on a book that would be a collection of 365 daily readings–similar to and based on this blog. I’m looking for a publisher for this complicated project. If you have a contact or advice, please contact me.

Daily Riches: The Longest Journey … The Journey Inward (Howard Thurman, Geri Scazzero and Dag Hammarsjold)

“We have become adept at exploring outer space, but we have not developed similar skills in exploring our own personal inner spaces. In fact the longest journey is the journey inward.” Dag Hammarsjold

“All travelers, somewhere along the way, find it necessary to check their course, to see how they are doing. We wait until we are sick, or shocked into stillness, before we do the commonplace thing of getting our bearings. And yet, we wonder why we are depressed, why we are unhappy, why we lose our friends, why we are ill-tempered. This condition we pass on to our children, our husbands, our wives, our associates, our friends. Cultivate the mood to linger. …Who knows? God may whisper to you in the quietness what [God] has been trying to say to you, oh, for so long a time.” Howard Thurman

“Honoring our different rhythms involves respecting and negotiating our needs and preferences at work, with friends, at church, in our marriage, our extended families, and even our parenting. To begin listening to your inner rhythms, consider the following questions: Do you know when it is time to be with people and when it is time to be alone? Do you know when it is time to rest or time to play? What are your most optimal work hours? How much sleep to you need? When is it time to eat? Is it time for you to wait on something or is it time to move on? How does the pace of our life feel? What can you do to establish an enjoyable routine and healthy balance in this season of your life? And finally, what are the one or two changes you can make in order to get more in step with your God-given inner rhythms?” Geri Scazzero

“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 cultivating the “ability to linger?” …to be quiet enough for long enough to sense what God is showing you about your life?
  • Have you been listening to your “inner rhythms?” …asking the kind of practical questions Scazzero suggests?
  • What changes can you make to the way you live to build in more lingering and listening?

Abba, I know not everything is fine, and that you can show me where change is needed. Help me to listen for that.

For More: I Quit! by Gerri Scazzero

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. I hope you’ll follow/share my blog. My goal is to regularly share something of unique value with you. I appreciate your interest! – Bill

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

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

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

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

Moving From the Head to the Heart

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

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

For More: How To Be Idle by Tom Hodgkinson

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

Daily Riches: Beyond Life on the Edge (Belden Lane and Teilhard de Chardin)

“Do not forget that the value and interest of life is not so much to do conspicuous things … as to do ordinary things with the perception of their enormous value.” Teilhard de Chardin

“…I continued to participate in my mother’s painfully slow process of dying. Having survived the initial shock of her battle with cancer, I learned quickly that life (and death) goes on. We adjust to traumatic experiences more readily than we might expect. Crisis brings its own rush of energy. …There’s a strange comfort about the extraordinary, even the extraordinarily bad. We’re convinced that it simply cannot last. But sometimes it does. There are times when life fails to deliver that long-awaited, glorious moment of conclusion and release. Sometimes the height of drama drags into tedious repetition. Such was the case with my mother’s illness. …Difficult as it was, at first, to discern grace in the grotesque, it became even more difficult to discover grace in the prolonged redundancy of ordinariness. How could I adjust to life’s untheatrical regularity when I’d been prepared for grand opera and dark tragedy? I could handle bad news. I’d worked at it all of my life. Crisis is the only invariable constant for people schooled in codependency. But how would I deal with the uneventful and commonplace? It was the disconsolation of the ordinary that I found most difficult to accept. I need a book about When Ordinary Things Happen to Average People. I need a spirituality of the uneventful, of the low places in one’s life that are neither deep nor exhilaratingly high. …The temptation of dramatize death–to imagine ourselves defeating its claim in the triumph of violence–is rife in our culture. Never content with ordinariness, unable to address our fears, we pump up the volume on every dramatic (and violent) possibility. We live from one moment of fear-stifling exhilaration to the next. Only in this way to we feel engaged with life. In our best-selling novels, current films, and the tensions of urban life and foreign policy …[we are reminded] that if we’ve survived the terrors of death, we must be alive. Supervivo, ergo sum. But when the drama fails, when we grow weary of the intense pressure of life on the edge, we’re forced to reconsider the myths by which we live. War is not the principle metaphor of human existence. Death is not always an enemy. Life is more than a matter of breathless contention, triumphing over obstacles, denying the monsters of our own feelings. The dragons of the ordinary invite us back to simplicity and a quiet acceptance of life’s rhythms.” Belden Lane

“Consider the lilies.”
Luke 12:27

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Why is tragedy sometimes easier to take than tedium?
  • Are you living by some unchallenged “myths?”
  • Can you learn to see the “enormous value” in ordinary things?

Abba, content me with simplicity.

For More: The Solace of Fierce Landscapes by Belden Lane

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Thanks for reading/sharing my blog! – Bill

Daily Riches: When Things Happen Too Fast (Carl Honore and Milan Kundera)

“When things happen too fast, nobody can be certain about anything, about anything at all, not even about himself.” Milan Kundera

“Speed has helped to remake our world in ways that are wonderful and liberating. Who wants to live without the Internet or jet travel? The problem is that our love of speed, our obsession with doing more and more in less and less time, has gone too far; it has turned into an addiction, a kind of idolatry. Even when speed starts to backfire, we invoke the go-faster gospel. Falling behind at work? Get a quicker Internet connection. No time for that novel you got at Christmas? Learn to speed-read. Diet not working? Try liposuction. Too busy to cook? Buy a microwave. And yet some things cannot, should not, be sped up. They take time; they need slowness. When you accelerate things that should not be accelerated, when you forget how to slow down, there is a price to pay. …For a chilling vision of where this behaviour leads, look no further than Japan, where the locals have a word—karoshi—that means ‘death by overwork.’ One of the most famous victims of karoshi was Kamei Shuji, a high-flying broker who routinely put in ninety-hour weeks during the Japanese stock market boom of the late 1980s. His company trumpeted his superhuman stamina in newsletters and training booklets, turning him into the gold standard to which all employees should aspire. In a rare break from Japanese protocol, Shuji was asked to coach senior colleagues in the art of salesmanship, which piled extra stress onto his pinstriped shoulders. When Japan’s stock bubble burst in 1989, Shuji worked even longer hours to pick up the slack. In 1990, he died suddenly of a heart attack. He was twenty-six. …All the things that bind us together and make life worth living—community, family, friendship—thrive on the one thing we never have enough of: time.” Carl Honore

“Everyone should be quick to listen,
slow to speak and slow to become angry”
James 1:19

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • How often do you realize you’re hurrying for no reason? Do you then slow yourself down?
  • Do you feel compelled or driven to be more productive? What does your answer say about you?
  • Does the way you live allow enough time for “community, family, friendship?”

Abba, in practicing more slowness may I discover more bountiful living.

For More:  In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honore

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

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: Silence Shall Be My Answer (Oswald Chambers, John Keats and and Thomas Merton)

“When God gets us alone through suffering, heartbreak, temptation, disappointment, sickness, or by thwarted desires, a broken friendship, or a new friendship–when He gets us absolutely alone, and we are totally speechless, unable to ask even one question, then He begins to teach us. …Jesus cannot teach us anything until we quiet all our intellectual questions and get alone with Him.” Oswald Chambers

“Negative capability … is being capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.” John Keats [In this regard] “I am reminded of a Zadie Smith quote on Shakespeare in her essay Speaking in Tongues, in which she praises Shakespeare for “understanding what fierce, singular certainty creates and what it destroys.” J. M. Coetzee

“Questions arrive, assume their actuality, and also disappear. In this hour I shall cease to ask them and silence shall be my answer.” Thomas Merton

“Surely I have stilled and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child with his mother,
Like a weaned child is my soul within me.”
Psalm 131:2

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have you come to the place where (at least sometimes, in some measure) you can be “alone with God?”
  • Are you “capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries [and] doubts?” …refusing to reach for the security of dualistic or binary thinking? …for the “security” of “fact and reason?”
  • How does certainty help you–what does it create for you? How does certainty hurt you–what does it destroy for you?

Abba, silence shall be my answer.

For More:  Entering the Silence by Thomas Merton

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

Daily Riches: Music–The Best Therapy (William Cowper, Teresa of Avila, William and Randy Peterson)

“William Cowper, whose poems appear in most collections of great English literature, was beset with emotional problems throughout his life. His mother died when he was six, at school he was teased and ridiculed, and his father prevented him from marrying the girl he loved. Forced to study law, he panicked when he learned he would have his bar exam before the House of Lords–and tried to commit suicide. After a year in an insane asylum, he was released into the care of a Christian couple. It seemed that hymnwriting was the best therapy Cowper could get. But mental illness continued to plague the poet, and he frequently lapsed into deep depression. You can almost see his self-portrait [below] in the ‘fearful saints’ who need to take ‘fresh courage’ in the future blessings of God. Intellectually he knew the truth of these lines, but emotionally he was still trying to grasp it.” William and Randy Peterson

“God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

“Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

“Judge not the Lord by feeble sense.
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

“His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

“Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own Interpreter,
And He will make it plain.”

William Cowper

“Let nothing disturb you. Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away. God never changes.
Patience obtains all things. Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.”
— St. Teresa of Avila, from her bookmark

“Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
for my hope is in him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress where I will not be shaken.”
Psalm 62:5-6

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Both Cowper and Teresa are “talking to themselves”–like the psalmist. Do you talk to yourself? What do you say?
  • “Intellectually [Cowper] knew the truth of these lines, but emotionally he was still trying to grasp it.” Isn’t that often our experience as well? And what would you say was the truth of those lines?
  • The story refuses a typical happy ending. Cowper still suffered. He still struggled. Is there space in your view of the life of faith for that? …for people like that? …for yourself, when you’re like that?

Abba, thank you for the therapy of music.

For More: The One Year Book of Hymns, edited by Brown and Norton

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

Daily Riches: What It Means to Love (Gary Thomas, Radiohead)

“If I could be who you wanted … all the time … all the time” Radiohead – “Fake Plastic Trees”

“’Gary, I kind of locked the keys in the car.’ I put down the phone, ready to drive over and bail Lisa out, but when I went to retrieve another set of keys, I noticed the empty hooks where we keep Lisa’s car keys. Apparently, Lisa had lost the last set. I had to go through her coats, her pants, her purse, her shoulder bags—anything I could think of—to find a key so I could get her home. Lisa is a lastborn, and she does lastborn things. She loses stuff. She ‘forgets’ her purse or leaves her wallet at the store.  …I grew up in a household where my mom had enough food, toilet paper, light-bulbs, and batteries stockpiled to last us at least a year. You could have stretched our supply of toilet paper from Seattle to Tacoma. Lisa shops from an entirely different perspective. She buys stuff a day or two (or occasionally a week or two) after we run out. Some mornings, it’s milk. Some nights, it’s toilet paper. Some afternoons, we’re out of keys. …I could read a how-to book that might tell me how to communicate my frustration. Lisa and I could have several talks about being more proactive. Maybe I could draw up charts, or we could try to redivide responsibilities. Or after two decades of marriage I could just accept that some things will never change, because they won’t. I can’t expect Lisa to become a different person just because she’s married to me—just as she must put up with countless episodes of my own quirks, limitations, and irritating qualities embedded in me as if they were encased in granite. Rather than let little disappointments and minor annoyances steal what is most important, it’s healthier to have a spiritual funeral and bury certain expectations. That, sometimes, is what it means to love.” Gary Thomas

“and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those
who sin against us.”
Jesus, in Matthew 6:12

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you expect your spouse to be like you? Consider what that might look like.
  • Did you enter marriage with realistic expectations? Do you have realistic expectations now?
  • If loving means simply ignoring a lot of bothersome things, are you a loving spouse?

Abba, if I could be who you wanted.

For More: Simply Sacred: Daily Readings by Gary Thomas

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

Daily Riches: Desperation, Loneliness and Fear (Nas, Macrina Wiederkehr and Jim Palmer)

“Life …

I wonder,
Will it take me under?
I don’t know.”
Naz – “If I ruled the world.”

“My loneliness attracts me to the feet of Jesus. Like a magnet I am drawn there, longing to be all one with God. The separateness I keep choosing makes me desperately homesick, and so I am willing, at last, to surrender my divided heart. I am homesick to be one with God. Union with God is the only heaven there is, and it begins here on earth. …There is someone I must become. There is someone I must be grafted onto, and how lonely I am until it is accomplished. My loneliness blesses me because it shows me that I’m not enough all by myself, and so I am impelled to reach out my arms and heart to God and to others. My loneliness blesses me because it encourages me to allow myself to be vulnerable. My loneliness blesses me because it won’t let me hide in the illusion of my self-sufficiency.” Macrina Wiederkehr

“Fear, guilt and shame can be useful on your spiritual journey. When you experience these, follow the trail back to the idea, notion, belief or concept that was the source.” Jim Palmer

“Whom have in heaven but you?
I desire you more than anything on earth.
My health may fail,
and my spirit may grow weak,
but God remains the strength of my heart;
he is mine forever.”
Psalm 73:25, 26

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Have you wondered if “life will take [you] under?” Have you felt “desperately homesick?” …desperately afraid of something (or many things) out of your control?
  • Can you “follow the trail [of that feeling] back to … the belief or concept that was the source?” Pause now, and try that.
  • Is there a way that your desperation–your loneliness, your fear, your powerlessness–“blesses” you?

Abba, in my loneliness and fear may I turn to you.

For More: A Tree Full of Angels by Macrina Wiederkehr

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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: Subterranean Rivers of Grace (Eugene Peterson and Tim Keller)

“… the conditions that so often induce hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth among so many of us are relativized by Jesus’ prayer of thanksgiving. Hidden kingdom energies surge just beneath the surface all around us. Huge subterranean rivers of prayer–faith and obedience and praise, intercession and forgiveness and deliverance, holiness and grace–glow freely underground. And in virtually every nook and cranny on earth, obscure in the shadows, overlooked in the crowds, are the ‘infants.’ These are the ‘babes and infants’ that God has always used as a bulwark to ‘still the enemy and the avenger’ (Ps. 8:2) Jesus does not minimize the ‘conditions.’ He takes them very seriously indeed. He confronts and rebukes. He exposes pretension and weeps over hardened hearts. But he doesn’t despair. He doesn’t second-guess the Father. He doesn’t dilute his holy resolve with something less than holy.” Eugene Peterson

“I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned,
and revealed them to little children.”
Jesus in Matthew 11:25

“The Bible never counsels indifference to the forces of darkness, only resistance, but it supports no illusions that we can defeat them ourselves. Christianity does not agree with the optimistic thinkers who say, ‘We can fix things if we try hard enough.’ Nor does it agree with the pessimists who see only a dystopian future. The message of Christianity is, instead, ‘Things really are this bad, and we can’t heal or save ourselves. Things really are this dark—nevertheless, there is hope.’ The Christmas message is that ‘on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.’ Notice that it doesn’t say from the world a light has sprung, but upon the world a light has dawned. It has come from outside. There is light outside of this world, and Jesus has brought that light to save us; indeed, he is the Light.” Tim Keller

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Terrible “conditions” in our world may make us oblivious that “hidden kingdom energies surge just beneath the surface all around us.” Are you aware of these energies?
  • The opposite mistake minimizes the conditions. Failing to notice, confront or rebuke injustice falls short in another way. For one thing, it fails to love victims the way Jesus did.
  • Can you admit the darkness, confront the injustice, and continue to live with hope because you know God works in our world in innumerable, powerful, hidden ways–and that “light” will prevail in the end?

Abba, deliver me from settling for hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth.

For more: Tell It Slant by Eugene Peterson

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

 

 

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

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

 

Daily Riches: How Is the State of Your Heart? (Joshua Becker)

“In many Muslim cultures, when you want to ask them how they’re doing, you ask: in Arabic, Kayf haal-ik? or, in Persian, Haal-e shomaa chetoreh? How is your haal? What is this haal that you inquire about? It is the transient state of one’s heart. In reality, we ask, ‘How is your heart doing at this very moment, at this breath?’ When I ask, ‘How are you?’ that is really what I want to know. I am not asking how many items are on your to-do list, nor asking how many items are in your inbox. I want to know how your heart is doing, at this very moment. Tell me. Tell me your heart is joyous, tell me your heart is aching, tell me your heart is sad, tell me your heart craves a human touch. Examine your own heart, explore your soul, and then tell me something about your heart and your soul. Tell me you remember you are still a human being, not just a human doing. Tell me you’re more than just a machine, checking off items from your to-do list. Have that conversation, that glance, that touch. Be a healing conversation, one filled with grace and presence. Put your hand on my arm, look me in the eye, and connect with me for one second. Tell me something about your heart, and awaken my heart. Help me remember that I too am a full and complete human being, a human being who also craves a human touch. …I want us to have a kind of existence where we can pause, look each other in the eye, touch one another, and inquire together: Here is how my heart is doing. I am taking the time to reflect on my own existence; I am in touch enough with my own heart and soul to know how I fare, and I know how to express the state of my heart. How is the state of your heart today?” Joshua Becker

“So stop telling lies.
Let us tell our neighbors the truth,
for we are all parts of the same body.”
Ephesians 4:25

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Can you be “present” to yourself? …aware of the state of your heart?
  • Can you be honest with another? …revealing the state of your heart? Do you long to do that?
  • Think about others who long for a real human connection. Are you available for that?
  • How does your life with God affect the state of your heart?

Abba, I want to be a safe person for others who want to be real.

For More: A Helpful Guide to Becoming Unbusy by Joshua Becker

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

 

 

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: Feeling Joy In a World of Pain (Lynne Baab)

“I find it quite challenging to accept the notion that we have some sort of responsibility before God to enjoy the good things of life. For most of my adult life, I’ve had an inner dialogue running through my brain along these lines: ‘How can I truly enjoy this wonderful event when 22,000 children will die today of the effects of hunger?’ – ‘How can I relish this beautiful weather when 11.4 million Syrians are displaced from their homes?’ Ever since my mid-twenties, I’ve been much, much better at mourning with those who mourn rather than rejoicing with those who rejoice. However, I’m doing better these days enjoying God’s good gifts. I want to reflect on how that happened. …

The Sabbath.  …In Jewish tradition, prayers of intercession are not appropriate on the Sabbath because it’s a day of rest. In contrast, prayers of thankfulness are encouraged. On my Sabbath day, when I start thinking about any kind of pain in the world, the kind of situations that might motivate prayers of intercession, I tell myself, You can think about that and pray about it tomorrow. Today’s focus is rest and being present to all of God’s good gifts.’ Over many years, that Sabbath habit has helped me turn off anxiety and sorrow, albeit briefly, and focus on the gifts of the moment. …

The Psalms. In the Psalms, confession, lament, praise and thanks recur over and over, reinforcing in my mind that there is a time for everything and that life should be lived in a rhythm. Yes, it is completely appropriate to grieve over Syria and to pray for refugees. But it is equally appropriate to stop and look and enjoy the beautiful clear eyes of a small child or a flower newly unfurled.

This reality has become more real to me over time as I have practiced lack of worry and sorrow on the Sabbath and as I have practiced thankfulness. My habits have changed my thoughts. None of the shifts described here happened very quickly for me. But I can see movement over time, and I have to say that after decades of feeling so much sorrow and sadness, having a good number of moments of joy is pretty wonderful.” Lynne Baab

““For everything there is a season…
A time to grieve and a time to dance.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1,4

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Would you like a break from “feeling so much sorrow and sadness” over our pain-filled world?
  • Do you have a day in your weekly calendar where you can allow yourself to be “sorrow free?”
  • Can you see the value in such a day?

Abba, let me both weep and rejoice as I should.

For more: Sabbath Keeping by Lynne Baab

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Thanks for reading/sharing my blog. – Bill