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: 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: 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: A Sense of the Mystery Beyond All Things (Einstein, Heschel, Maslow, Julian, Manley, Shakespeare)

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.” Albert Einstein

“The fullness of joy is to behold God in everything.” Julian of Norwich

“The world is charged with the grandeur of God.” Gerard Manley

“If you could understand a single grain of wheat you would die of wonder.” Martin Luther

“The earth has music for those who listen.” William Shakespeare

“Awe is more than an emotion; it is a way of understanding, insight into a meaning greater than ourselves. The beginning of awe is wonder, and the beginning of wisdom is awe. Awe is an intuition for the dignity of all things, a realization that things not only are what they are but also stand, however remotely, for something supreme. Awe is a sense for transcendence, for the reference everywhere to mystery beyond all things. It enables us to perceive in the world intimations of the divine, to sense in small things the beginning of infinite significance, to sense the ultimate in the common and the simple: to feel in the rush of the passing the stillness of the eternal. What we cannot comprehend by analysis, we become aware of in awe. ” Abraham Heschel

“This is the gift–to have the wonderful capacity to appreciate again and again, freshly and naively, the basic goods of life, with awe, pleasure, wonder, and even ecstasy.” Abraham Maslow

“The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;
where morning dawns, where evening fades,
you call forth songs of joy.”
Psalm 65:8

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Does your pace or your focus tend to make you oblivious to “the grandeur of God” all around you?
  • Are you trying to develop a sense–an appreciation–for the transcendent in your world?
  • It’s by God’s grace that we have the “capacity to appreciate … the basic goods of life, with awe, pleasure, wonder and even ecstasy”–but it’s also a capacity we have to develop. What are you doing to learn to “behold” and to “listen” in new ways?

Abba, teach me to behold you in everything–and in everyone.

For More: Asked for Wonder by Abraham Heschel

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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 comment or question. – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Where God Prefers to Live (Thomas Merton)

“God seeks Himself in us, and the aridity and sorrow of our heart is the sorrow of God who is not known in us, who cannot yet find Himself in us because we do not dare to believe or to trust the incredible truth that He could live in us, and live there out of choice, out of preference. But indeed, we exist solely for this, to be the place He has chosen for His presence, His manifestation in the world, His epiphany. But we make all this dark and inglorious because we fail to believe it, we refuse to believe it. It is not that we hate God, rather that we hate ourselves, despair of ourselves. If we once began to recognise, humbly but truly, the real value of our own self, we would see that this value was the sign of God in our being, the signature of God upon our being.” Thomas Merton

“But God showed his great love for us
by sending Christ to die for us
while we were still sinners.”
Romans 5:8

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • God desires to live in you. That’s God’s choice, God’s preference. When you consider that, what feelings arise?
  • “We exist solely … to be the place He has chosen for His presence, His manifestation in the world, His epiphany.” Why would God do that?
  • Do you hate yourself too much to believe that in his love, God seeks you, chooses you–and desires to live in you?
  • Now imagine God loving all of God’s human creation in this way–with each person as God’s “epiphany.” How does that effect your thoughts about those who are different from you racially, in economic status or gender, in religious conviction or sexual preference–politically?

Abba, may I be transformed by a growing sense of your unfailing love for me.

For more: The Hidden Ground of Love by Thomas Merton

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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

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Thanks for reading/sharing my blog! – Bill

Daily Riches: Grace Makes Beauty Out of Ugly Things (Gerald May, Frederick Buechner, Bono)

“For Christians, grace is the dynamic outpouring of God’s lov­ing nature that flows into and through creation in an endless self-offering of healing, love, illumination, and reconciliation. It is a gift that we are free to ignore, reject, ask for, or simply accept. And it is a gift that is often given in spite of our inten­tions and errors. At such times, when grace is so clearly given unrequested, uninvited, even undeserved, there can be no au­thentic response but gratitude and awe.” Gerald May

“Here is your life.
You might never have been, but you are,
because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you.
Here is the world.
Beautiful and terrible things will happen.
Don’t be afraid.
I am with you.”

Frederick Buechner

.

“Grace, she takes the blame
She covers the shame
Removes the stain
It could be her name
Grace, it’s the name for a girl
It’s also a thought that could change the world
And when she walks on the street
You can hear the strings
Grace finds goodness in everything

Grace, she’s got the walk
Not on a ramp or on chalk
She’s got the time to talk
She travels outside of karma, karma
She travels outside of karma
When she goes to work
You can hear the strings
Grace finds beauty in everything

Grace, she carries a world on her hips
No champagne flue for her lips
No twirls or skips between her fingertips
She carries a pearl in perfect condition
What once was hurt
What once was friction
What left a mark no longer stings
Because Grace makes beauty
Out of ugly things
Grace finds beauty in everything
Grace finds goodness in everything.”
Bono

“For God saved us and called us to live a holy life.
He did this, not because we deserved it,
but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—
to show us his grace through Christ Jesus.”
2 Timothy 1:9

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you aware enough of God’s “endless self-offering” that you’re often filled with “gratitude and awe?”
  • Are you waiting well, as you look for God to make “beauty out of ugly things” in your life and world?
  • God looks for and finds unexpected beauty in hidden places–in unlikely people. How are you doing at that?

Abba, catch me up in your endless self-offering of healing, love, illumination, and reconciliation in this, my broken world.

For more: Addiction and Grace by Gerald May

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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)

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

Daily Riches: The Far Too Simple Command to Love (Jonathan Martin and Thomas Merton)

“God loves you…without disclaimers. God loves you…without conjunctions. God loves you…without an addendum.” Jonathan Martin

“We have to resolutely put away our attachment to natural appearance and our habit of judging according to the outward face of things. I must learn that my fellow man, just as he is, whether he is my friend or my enemy, my brother or a stranger from the other side of the world, whether he be wise of foolish, no matter what my be his limitations, ‘is Christ.‘  …Any prisoner, any starving man, any sick or dying man, any sinner, any man whatever, is to be regarded as Christ–this is the formal command of the Savior Himself. This doctrine is far too simple to satisfy many modern Christians, and undoubtedly many will remain very uneasy with it, tormented by the difficulty that perhaps after all, this particular neighbor is a bad man, and therefore cannot be Christ. The solution of this difficulty is to unity oneself with the Spirit of Christ, to start thinking and loving as a Christian, and to stop being a hairsplitting pharisee. Our faith is not supposed …to assess the state of our neighbor’s conscience. It is the needle by which we draw the thread of charity through our neighbor’s soul and our own soul and sew ourselves together in one Christ. Our faith is given us not to see whether or not our neighbor is Christ, but to recognize Christ in him and to help our love make both him and ourselves more fully Christ.  …corrupt forms of love wait for the neighbor to ‘become a worthy object of love’ before actually loving him. This is not the way of Christ. Since Christ Himself loved us when we were by no means worthy of love and still loves us with all our unworthiness, our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. …What we are asked to do is to love; and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbor worthy if anything can. Indeed, that is one of the most significant things about the power of love. There is no way under the sun to make a man worthy of love except by loving him. As soon as he realizes himself loved–if he is not so weak that he can no longer bear to be loved–he will feel himself instantly becoming worthy of love. He will respond by drawing a mysterious spiritual value out of his own depths, a new identity called into being by the love that is addressed to him.” Thomas Merton

From Head to Heart

  • Why do we find so many reasons not to love?

Abba, teach me to love.

For More: Disputed Questions by Thomas Merton

Daily Riches: The Suffering of Passionate Love–God’s and Ours (Alan Jones, Karen Drescher, Jürgen Moltmann and Origen)

“In his mercy God suffers with us; for he is not heartless.” Origen

“What, then, has our pilgrimage to do with suffering? Is this not simply yet another instance of religion’s morbid and masochistic fascination with the subject? The believer has always struggled with the issue of suffering, both with his own and with God’s. Does God suffer or is he ‘apathetic,’ without suffering? The doctrinal tradition always insisted on God’s ‘apathy’ as a way of insisting that God was above human emotions and passions. God was unchangeable. Unfortunately, it comes to be believed in such a way that God seemed uncaring and untouchable. The concern was for God’s faithfulness. God is indeed, unchangeable; but in the sense that his love and his faithfulness are constant and steadfast. Moltmann is one of the few modern theologians who insists on God’s passion. The word ‘passion’ has a useful double meaning here. There is suffering that is passion, and there is a passion for life. God’s Passion is not the glorification of suffering, nor an admission of it’s terrible necessity. God’s passion shows us a passion that is ‘the voluntary laying oneself open to another and allowing oneself to be intimately affected by him; that is to say the suffering of passionate love.” Alan Jones

“Search the Scriptures,
for in them you will find
this God of the loveless,
this God of Mercy, Love and Justice,
who weeps over these her children,
these her precious ones who have been carried from the womb,
who gathers up her young upon her wings
and rides along the high places of the earth,
who sees their suffering
and cries out like a woman in travail,
who gasps and pants;
for with this God,
any injustice that befalls one of these precious ones
is never the substance of rational reflection and critical analysis,
but is the source
of a catastrophic convulsion within the very life of God.”
Karen Drescher

“You have abandoned me
and turned your back on me,” 

says Yahweh.”
Jeremiah 15:6
 .

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Consider how “the voluntary laying oneself open to another” describes God’s interactions with us in Christ, and otherwise.
  • Are you attempting to have redemptive relationships without such risky openness? …without allowing yourself to be “intimately affected” by others?
  • How much of God’s “suffering of passionate love” has come to characterize your love for others?

Abba, teach to me accept the risks and even the suffering involved in loving others. Thank you for loving me.

For More: Soul Making by Alan Jones

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. My goal is to share something of unique value with you in 400 words or less. Thanks for reading/sharing! – Bill

Daily Riches: Imitating the Action of God (Darryl Trimiew)

“[Jesus] combined his model of service with his theology. His way of being in the world was to serve God and to serve God best by first serving the most vulnerable and needy persons in his society. This modeling by Jesus was intended …to encourage his disciples to do likewise. Further they were to understand theologically that this action by Jesus was a modeling of the action of God, whom Jesus sought first and foremost to imitate. …He served the most vulnerable because this was the will of God. In welcoming a child we are welcoming the God who has first welcomed us. Whatever else service in the reign of God may entail, it begins in participating in the ministry and service that God initiated. We are called to imitate Jesus….Welcoming the most vulnerable members of our society is itself sacrificial, demanding, and sometimes dangerous. Of course, in doing so, Jesus gets in trouble, is arrested, and finally is killed. This is the service to which we are called, and it is this perilousness that made the disciples slow to learn, slow to grasp, slow to act, and afraid to ask Jesus. We do not want to serve others first, especially those who cannot reciprocate, but this is what Jesus wants us to do.” Darryl Trimiew

“After they arrived at Capernaum and settled in a house, Jesus asked his disciples, ‘What were you discussing out on the road?’ But they didn’t answer, because they had been arguing about which of them was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve disciples over to him, and said, ‘Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.’ Then he put a little child among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them,Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not only me but also my Father who sent me.'” Mark 9:33-37

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • In most cases the peril to the disciples was much greater than most of us face. Why are we still often so “slow to act?”
  • Does your practice of the life of faith involve imitating Jesus as he imitated God?
  • Do you know the God who sent Jesus as a God who serves?

Jesus, wean me of my desire for greatness without service to others.

For More: Feasting on the Gospels: Mark by Darryl Trimiew et al.

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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. I appreciate your interest! Please leave a comment or question. – Bill

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

Daily Riches: The Impotence of Criticism (Tullian Tchividjian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Mother Teresa)

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” Mother Teresa

“Most parents and spouses, siblings and friends—even preachers—fall prey to the illusion that real change happens when we lay down the law, exercise control, demand good performance, or offer ‘constructive’ criticism. We wonder why our husbands grow increasingly withdrawn over the years, why our children don’t call as much as we would like them to, why our colleagues don’t confide in us, why our congregants become relationally and emotionally detached from us. In more cases than not, it happens because we are feeding their deep fear of judgment—by playing the judge. Our lips may be moving, but the voice they hear is that of the law. The law may have the power to instruct and expose, but it does not have the power to inspire or create. That job is reserved for grace–grace alone. In Romans 7, the Apostle Paul makes it clear that the law illuminates sin but is powerless to eliminate sin. That’s not part of its job description. It points to righteousness but can’t produce it. It shows us what godliness is, but it cannot make us godly. The law can inform us of our sin but it cannot transform the sinner. Only the gospel can do that. As Martin Luther said, ‘Sin is not canceled by lawful living, for no person is able to live up to the Law. Nothing can take away sin except the grace of God.’ The law may expose bad behavior, but only grace can woo the heart.” Tullian Tchividjian

“Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating. By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus
that we are saved, just as they are.”
Acts 15:11

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have you been “playing the judge?” What does your answer say about you?
  • Grace works by “wooing the heart.” Does that describe how you influence others?
  • Can you trust God to bring about needed change in the lives of others–and just focus on loving them?

Abba, make me a conduit for your inexhaustible love and grace.

For More: One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World by Tullian Tchividjian

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Moving From the Head to the Heart

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

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

For More: Adam’s Return by Richard Rohr

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

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

Daily Riches: God Will Use You Anyway (Brant Copeland, Joachim Neander and Thomas Chalmers)

“The striking thing about the Twelve is their utter lack of qualifications. …The fact is, by the time Luke takes up the story of the early church, most of the Twelve have become bit players. Peter has a supporting role, but it is Paul and James, the brother of Jesus–not members of the original Twelve–who take center stage in Acts while the Twelve dissolve into the wings. …What strikes this pastor is the close resemblance between the Twelve and the folks in ordinary congregations. The Twelve might not impress, but they sure do look like church. …It is through intimate, day-by-day association with Jesus that these twelve misfits become the twelve apostles. They do not cease to be what there are …–but after having been with Jesus, they are sent out with power and authority to accomplish amazing things (Mark 6:7-13).” Brant Copeland

The typical and first response to God’s call is often “I am not worthy.” Think of Moses or Isaiah–or of many people asked to lead in the local church. Are you weak and unqualified? God will use you anyway. Are you “who you are”, afraid you many never change, you may never overcome that “signature sin” of yours? God will use you anyway. Does your church, your missions group, your outreach team resemble a “bag of mixed nuts”–a phrase my Pastor sometimes affectionately uses to describe our church? God will use you anyway. But, the God of heaven, in all God’s power, won’t automatically use you. God won’t do what God expects you to do. You have to do your part–show up, leave your couch, forget your comfort zone. God won’t do it without you, but God will certainly do it through you. After all, mixed nuts is a very nutritious snack. It’s not everything. It’s not perfect. But it works. God won’t be limited by you and me and our abilities, bad habits, bad track record–even by our besetting sins. God uses what (who) is available. Are you available?

“Praise to the Lord, Who doth prosper thy work and defend thee.

Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.

Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,

If with His love He befriend thee.”

Joachim Neander

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • On judgment day, if you could only be praised for one thing–correct doctrine, powerful ministry, or love for Jesus–which would you choose? What does your answer say about you?
  • The Apostles could get by without qualifications, but not without “being with Jesus.” They had to know him (not necessarily understand him!). They would be defined, motivated and empowered by their love for Jesus himself. Are you spending enough time with Jesus for this expulsive power (of affection for him) to be transformative for you?
  • Have you settled for having a proper understanding of Jesus (orthodoxy), or even for serving Jesus (ministry), when Jesus is calling you to a deep love relationship with him?

Jesus, you have befriended me in your love. Draw me deeper into a new affection for you.

For More: The Expulsive Power of a New Affection by Thomas Chalmers

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Thanks for reading and following my blog! – Bill
.
Having just returned from a local missions outreach to the homeless, I want to dedicate this post to the “bag of mixed nuts” I was part of in that outreach, and to New York City Relief, whose teams of mixed nuts do it every day.

Daily Riches: What Empowers the Christian Claim? (Greg Boyd, Charles Marsh, Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

“Bonhoeffer told Barth [who misunderstood Bonhoeffer’s conspiratorial work against the Nazis] he could imagine no greater, rarer, or happier blessing than that of erring on the side of charity when a friend appears to be moving in strange ways.” Charles Marsh

“The thing that more than anything else demonstrates the reality of the loving, triune God is that we embody the reality of the triune God in our relationships with one another and with the world. Nothing less than the credibility of the gospel, the reputation of God, and the salvation of people hangs on our fulfilling the commandment to love. Consider that Jesus was the perfection of holiness (Heb. 7: 26), yet he did not claim that the world would believe in him because of the unique holiness of his followers. Jesus was the very manifestation of the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1: 30), yet he did not claim that the world would believe in him because of the unique wisdom of his followers. Jesus had all the authority of heaven to work signs and wonders (Matt. 28: 18), yet he did not claim that the world would believe in him through unique demonstrations of power. Rather, he leveraged everything on love. …as God ‘is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked’ (Luke 6:35), and as he allows the blessings of nature to come ‘on the evil and on the good’ (Matt. 5:45), so our love must be given without consideration to the relative merits or faults of the person we encounter. We are to love like the sun shines and like the rain falls: indiscriminately. We are to ‘be merciful, just as [our] Father is merciful’ (Luke 6:36). We are to give to beggars, lend to those in need, not resist evildoers, and give without expecting anything in return (e.g., Matt. 5:39–42; Luke 6:31–36). In other words, we are to love without strings attached, without conditions, without any consideration whatsoever of the apparent worthiness of the person we encounter.” Gregory Boyd

“If you are kind only to your friends,
how are you different from anyone else?
Evan pagans do that.”
Jesus in Matthew 5:47

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Are you “kind to the ungrateful and wicked?”
  • Do you do all you can to bless both “the evil and the good?”
  • Is your love indiscriminate, “without any consideration whatsoever of the apparent worthiness of the person?”

Abba, help me to look on others only with love.

For More: Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Pete Scazzero

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

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

 

Daily Riches: Following His Majestic Lead (Walter Brueggemann)

the one who had nowhere to lay his head,
no safe place,
no secure home,
no passport or visa,
no certified citizenship.

We gather around him in our safety, security, and well-being,
and fret about ‘illegal immigrants.’
We fret because they are not like us
and refuse our language.
We worry that there are so many of them
and their crossings do not stop.
We are unsettled because it is our tax
dollars that sustain them and provide services.
We feel the hype about closing borders and heavy fines,
because we imagine that our life is under threat.

And yet, as you know very well,
we, all of us–early or late–are immigrants
from elsewhere;
we are glad for cheap labor
and seasonal workers
who do tomatoes and apples and oranges
to our savoring delight.

And beyond that, even while we are beset by fears
and aware of pragmatic costs,
we know very well that you are the God
who welcomes strangers,
who loves aliens and protects sojourners.

As always, we feel the tension and the slippage
between the deep truth of our faith
and the easier settlements of our society.

We do not ask for an easy way out,
but for courage and honesty and faithfulness.
Give us ease in the presence of those unlike us;
give us generously amid demands of those in need,
help us to honor those who trespass
as you forgive our trespasses.

You are the God of all forgiveness.
By your gracious forgiveness transpose us
into agents of your will,
that our habits and inclinations may more closely
follow your majestic lead, that our lives may
joyously conform to your vision of a new world.

We pray in the name of your holy Son, even Jesus.”

Walter Brueggemann

“He ensures that orphans and widows receive justice.
He shows love to the foreigners living among you
and gives them food and clothing.”
Deuteronomy 10:18

Moving From the Head to the Heart
  • Is your God one “who welcomes strangers, who loves aliens, and protects sojourners?” Has God welcomed you in this way?
  • How, do you suppose, God “gave food and clothing” to foreigners living among Israel (Dt. 18) or ensured “that orphans and widows receive justice?”
  • Helping those in need can be a discomforting, even dangerous act. It’s also not always easy to know how to help. As one who belongs to God, how can you be an “agent of his will”, following God’s majestic lead?

God of the helpless–help me follow your majestic lead.

For More: Prayers for A Privileged People by Walter Brueggemann (2010)

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