Daily Riches: Those Annoying Children (Michael Card and N. T. Wright)

“Some of the Passover pilgrims who are traveling along with Jesus and his disciples to Jerusalem have brought their young children with them. They ask Jesus to do a very rabbinic thing: to lay his hands on the children and impart a blessing, a berakah . . . . His disciples, who already seem to have forgotten his last lesson about humility, try to prod the parents away. Their rabbi is too important for such trivial things. . . . [But] The children themselves are parables that need to be listened to. People will not be allowed to enter the kingdom of God unless they can enter innocently and unashamed to receive it freely.” Michael Card

“Luke emphasizes how young the babies were that people were bringing to Jesus. Jesus’ rebuke to the disciples rings out still today in a world where thousands of children are treated as sub-human, as disposable commodities. These are the ones, he says, who most truly show us what it means to accept and enter God’s kingdom. There is something about the helplessness of children, and their complete trust of those who love and care for them, which perfectly demonstrates the humble trust he has been speaking of all along. Jesus doesn’t offer a romantic or sentimental view of children; he must have known, in the daily life of a village, and through growing up as the oldest of several children, just how demanding and annoying they can be. But he sees to the heart of what is means to receive God’s kingdom; it is like drinking in one’s mother’s milk, like learning to see–and to smile!–by looking at one’s mother’s eyes and face.” N. T. Wright

“Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary,
and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas?
Aren’t all his sisters with us?”
Matthew 13:55-56a

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you “see” children, or are they just like “background noise?”
  • What is it that you can learn from children?
  • Can you still yourself in God’s presence, and gaze into the face of Jesus, like a child gazes into its mother’s face? Why not try this each day for a month, and see what happens.

Abba, I admit my helplessness. It is only you who can bring me into your kingdom.

For More: The Spiritual Life of Children by Robert Coles

Daily Riches: “It’s Good That You Exist!” (Josef Pieper)

“If a human being already exists anyhow, could we not say that it does not matter whether a lover finds it wonderful and affirms it? Does it really add or take away anything that someone says, ‘It’s good that you exist?” . . . We are basically asking what is the ‘function’ of love within the whole of existence; what it is supposed to do and accomplish in the world. . . . It admittedly does not suffice to analyze, no matter how precisely, the lover’s intention and what is ‘really’ willed and meant by the one who feels loving concern. We must . . . examine the matter from the point of view of the person who happens to be loved. What is really taking place on his side? . . . What does it mean for a person that another turns to him and says . . . ‘It’s good that you exist?’ . . . It does not suffice us simply to exist; we can do that ‘anyhow.” What matters to us, beyond mere existence, is the explicit confirmation: It is good that you exist; how wonderful that you are! In other words, what we need over and above sheer existence is: to be loved by another person. That is an astonishing fact when we consider it closely. Being created by God actually does not suffice, it would seem; the fact of creation needs continuation and perfection by the creative power of human love. But this seemingly astonishing fact is repeatedly confirmed by the most palpable experience, of the kind that everyone has day after day. We say that a person ‘blossoms’ when undergoing the experience of being loved; that he becomes wholly himself for the first time; that a ‘new life’ is beginning for him–and so forth. For a child, and to all appearance even for the still unborn child, being loved by the mother is literally the precondition for its own thriving.” Josef Pieper

“I will betroth you to me forever;
I will betroth you in righteousness and justice,
in love and compassion.”
Hosea 2:19 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you have someone in your life who rejoices over you?
  • Who do you have in your life who is looking to you for love?
  • When is the last time you let someone know “It’s good that you exist!”?

Abba, I desire that people who encounter me would feel much loved.

For More: An Anthology by Joseph Pieper

Daily Riches: The Approachability of Jesus (Shannon Jung)

“People were bringing even infants, presumably those so young that they needed to be carried, and other children to Jesus ‘that he might touch them.’ Perhaps they had heard of Jesus’ miraculous healing powers and wanted to gain some of that for their children. However, that is partly to impose our more caring view of children onto first-century people. The literature on how children were viewed then suggests that people then did not value children very highly. Children were, in one interpretation, seen to be on the same social level as slaves: with few rights, open to abuse, and lacking protection under Jewish law. Other, more moderate views are that children were merely treated with indifference. . . . Clearly there is more than a metaphor here; there is an emotional image for us who would be disciples to imitate. There is something about Jesus that is a blessing, a hospitality, an approachability, a charisma that draws others into him. Luke the author wants us to get that image. . . . No one can merit or achieve the kingdom; it must be received without merit, as a child receives everything. . . . We, like the disciples, are to welcome as Jesus welcomed. We are to follow the example of Jesus, who called the marginal and the despised to himself. What we can do out of gratitude is to call the socially rejected to physical and spiritual life in Christ. Like the early church, we are to transform society by not just accepting but seeking out the outcasts and the marginalized. We are to treat them as Jesus did the children. . . . Ministry to, with, and for those who are on the margins is our response to God’s welcome of us. . . . What is the quality that commends children? Precisely their dependency. Their dependence on adults mirrors our dependence of God; that is one of the marks of the kingdom, which belongs to them (v. 16b). Here is exemplified the equal unworthiness, marginality and dependence of us all before God.” Shannon Jung

“Whoever does not receive
the kingdom of God as a little child
will never enter it.”
Luke 18:17 NLT

Moving From Head to Heart

  • What would a church look like that called the “socially rejected to physical and spiritual life in Christ?”
  • How would that impact it’s philosophy of ministry? . . . congregational demographics?
  • Have you ever been an outsider? Are there many socially rejected people in your congregation? . . . in your list of friends?

Abba, thank you for our approachable Jesus.

For More: Feasting on the Gospels, Vol. 2 by Cynthia Jarvis and E. Elizabeth Johnson, eds.

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Daily Riches: Jesus Calls Us To the Chutes, Not the Ladders (Mark Ralls and D. L. Moody) *

“We may easily be too big for God to use, but never too small.” D. L. Moody

“There is a game for children that has been around for generations, and I expect almost every reader has played it at one time or another. . . . The game is Chutes and Ladders; since it is a game for little ones, the rules are about as simple and straightforward as you can get. Spin the wheel and move around the board. As you go, you wish for ladders and hope to avoid the chutes or slides. Land at the base of a ladder—All Right!—you get to climb all the way to the top, advancing beyond where even the highest spin can take you. Land at the top of a chute—Oh No!—you must slide all the way to the bottom, back toward the square where you started. Chutes and Ladders gives us some insight into the culture in which Jesus lived. Scholars tell us that first-century Mediterranean culture operated under the binaries of shame and honor. This basically means that people’s behavior was shaped by two things: the threat of being publicly shamed and the promise of being publicly honored. It is difficult to grasp the emotional power of one’s reputation in the ancient world. Our individualistic culture has muted its force. To be shamed was a terrible setback. To be honored moved you forward in the eyes of everyone who mattered most to you. It was akin to Chutes and Ladders. One evening Jesus tells two parables while he is a guest at a dinner party that includes the most honorable folks in town. Sitting there, Jesus cannot help but grin as he observes that this dinner party has all the social subtlety of a junior high cafeteria. Everyone is jockeying for a seat at the cool table. . . . So what does Jesus do? He stands up and tells all those guests a little story . . . . ‘Here is a little tip,’ Jesus says. ‘The next time you are invited to a wedding, do not take the best seat in the house. What is going to happen if someone more distinguished than you shows up? Hard to imagine, I know, but it could happen. When it does, you will find yourself at the top of the chute, and you will have to slide from the seat of honor all the way down to the seat of shame. Oh, what a long, lonely walk it is, from the first table to that one in the back, right beside the swinging door of the kitchen!’ To sharpen his point and to make sure we do not confine his advice to dinner parties, Jesus adds this: Those who make their own honor the goal of their lives will be ashamed of themselves in the end, and those who are humble, repeatedly putting others first, will experience the true, deep, and lasting honor of the kingdom of God. . . . these parables go much deeper than practical advice. They speak to the general arc of our lives. What if the point of our lives is not about climbing all the right ladders of achievement and prestige and power? What if our true purpose is to slide down as many chutes as possible to offer compassion and service and love to all those on the rungs below? While our culture may operate under different rules than honor and shame, we still live in the land of Chutes and Ladders. We fool ourselves into thinking that contentment lies on the rung just above us. So we reach for ever-new heights and climb as fast as we can. The rest is simple math. The more time and energy we dedicate to this all-consuming endeavor, the less we notice those who reside on the rungs below. We forget those we have passed along the way. It is just as true that we will most likely miss Christ himself. Born in the back room of a barn, spending his days bending his back to touch the hands of lepers, to caress the cheeks of widows, to place children on his knee, this humble Savior rode a donkey through the gates of Jerusalem and then knelt before his disciples to wash their feet. The only time he chose to ascend was up a hill called Calvary, where he bore our sins and carried our sorrows on his bent and holy back. On Easter morning, we discovered that his humility is what God truly honors. Climbing up, we are likely to pass right by the Son of God, who is intent on coming down. According to Jesus, we have completely misunderstood the point of the game. We are out there looking for ladders, when Jesus is calling us toward the chutes. We are climbing up, when he is calling to come down. If we dare to follow, he promises that in the end we will find deep blessing and true honor.” Mark Ralls

“When he had finished washing their feet,
he put on his clothes and returned to his place.
‘Do you understand what I have done for you?’ he asked them.”
John 13:12 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you listening to Jesus about the Chutes?
  • Are you climbing up, whereas he was always bending down?
  • Jesus’ humility (his “downward mobility”) was for the purpose of showing compassion to those at the bottom of the Chutes. Isn’t he a beautiful person? Is this the person you’re making known with your life?

Abba, keep me off the Ladders . . . for the sake of compassion.

For More: The Selfless Way of Christ by Henri Nouwen

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Cynthia A. Jarvis & E. Elizabeth Johnson. Feasting on the Gospels–Luke, Volume 2: A Feasting on the Word Commentary. Westminster John Knox Press. Louisville, 2014.

Nouwen, Henri. The Selfless Way of Christ: Downward Mobility and the Spiritual Life. Maryknoll: Orbis, 2007.

*One of the great things about making the rules, is that you can break them when you want. I thought that what Mark Ralls wrote was worth breaking my rule to limit posts to 400 words.

 

Daily Riches: The Hardest World to Leave (Belden Lane, Francis of Assisi and Donald Demaray)

“Who enjoys tranquility? The one who doesn’t take seriously either praise or lack of it from people.” Thomas ‘a Kempis

“In the desert, one inescapably confronted the threat of nothingness, the loss of all one’s activities, distractions, evasions . . . . There in the desert they knew the very scaffolding of their lives to be wholly dismantled. Games were called for what they were. Utter honesty was demanded by unrelenting spiritual directors, hard as the rock beyond the cloister where they prayed. The unbending John Climacus, for example, insisted on laying bare the pretenses of people in the religious life. He spoke of those who bless silence but cannot stop talking about it; those who fast without drawing attention to themselves but then take pride in such remarkable modesty; those who weep over death and then, with tears still in their eyes, rush off to dinner. Amma Syncletica refused to let anyone deceive herself by imagining that retreat to a desert monastery meant the guarantee of freedom from the world. The hardest world to leave, she knew, is the one within the heart. In the desert Christian’s understanding of renunciation, dying to oneself also meant a dying to one’s neighbor. They knew how easy it was to invest oneself in what other people think, measuring oneself by the accomplishments of others, remaining enmeshed in a hopeless pattern of jealousy, subservience, manipulation, and resentment. ‘To die to one’s neighbor is this,’ said Abba Moses the Black, ‘to bear your own faults and not to pay attention to anyone else wondering whether they are good or bad.’ Comparing oneself to others, being concerned about their approval or disapproval, was entirely foreign to the desert way. Watching the sweep of wind over desert sand inevitably gave one practice in studied indifference.” Belden Lane

“Dear friends, I warn you as ‘temporary residents and foreigners’
to keep away from worldly desires
that wage war against your very souls.”
1 Peter 2:11 NLT

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • When you think of “worldliness”, do you think about your heart? . . . how entrenched the world is there? . . . how “hard” it is to war against that?
  • Would it be hard to quit pretending about your spiritual life?
  • Would it be hard to become “indifferent” to the approval of others?

Abba, help me to be real before you and others–no posturing, no pretending.

For More: The Solace of Fierce Landscapes by Belden Lane

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Daily Riches: The Imperialism of the Self . . . In Marriage (Frank Sheed)

“Marriage . . . is not all magic. Husband and wife must work hard at it. If one is making no effort, the other must work twice as hard. Love helps, though it is precisely love that is in danger of losing its elan with so much to depress it; prayer helps tremendously. But, in the purely psychological order, nothing helps so much as the reverence that flows from a right vision of what man is–that this loutish man, this empty-headed woman, is God’s image, an immortal spirit, loved by Christ even to the death of the Cross: whatever the surface looks like, this is in the depth of every human being, this in him is what God joined together with this in her. The realization that there is this welding of two into one in the depths of their being, below the level that the eye of the mind can see, is the most powerful incentive to make that union in depth effective through every layer of personality. This reverence is a safeguard against one of the great dangers of family life–the tendency of one partner to form, or re-form, the other . . . in his [or her] own image. There is a sort of imperialism to which the self is liable, the desire to impose its own likeness. As we have already seen, one should not lightly try to re-make another: but, if re-making there must be, assuredly the only image in which any one should be re-made is the image of God in which he [or she] was made.” Frank J. Sheed

“Above all, love each other deeply,
because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
1 Peter 4:8 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you have a “right vision” of who you are? . . . of your spouse? Take some time to picture your spouse as God’s beloved image-bearer, as one treasured by God.
  • Prayer and loving like Jesus (Ephesians 5:25) will also be necessary. Are you praying God’s blessing on your spouse? How does your love for your spouse resemble God’s love for you?
  • Do you have an “imperialistic” attitude where you’re insisting on what you know is best for your spouse? Can you humble yourself instead, and allow God to work in your spouse (and in you) in God’s way and time?

Abba, I need your work in me. I’ll leave my spouse to you. Help us both.

For more: Marriage and the Family by Frank J. Sheed

Daily Riches: The Practice Of Waiting (William Britton)

“Simone Weil considered patient waiting to be ‘the foundation of the spiritual life.’ And John Ortberg condemns hurry, which is the rejection of patient waiting, as ‘the great enemy of the spiritual life.’ Obviously, for me to flourish spiritually will require that I learn to wait, and like with anything else, that will require practice. I can practice waiting as I refuse to take matters into my own hands (being controlling or vengeful)–and instead wait on God to do as God see’s fit. I can practice waiting as I refuse to indulge in despair or cynicism–instead looking for evidence of God’s coming yet present Kingdom. I can practice waiting as I refuse to forge ahead when I don’t know what to do–admitting my limitations and need for help. (From the outside my waiting may look like doing nothing–but really it’s creating a space for God to do what only God can do.) I can practice waiting as I refuse to give in to temptation–refusing to insist on what I want, or feel I need–trusting the one who knows better than me what I need. I can practice waiting as I refuse to complain bitterly (or worse) curse angrily–reminding myself that things aren’t necessarily supposed to go as I planned. I can ‘sit tight’ in anticipation of something transcendent–something that transcends my oh-so-important strategy. I can practice waiting as I refuse to make happiness my primary motivation for the day. God invariably has something better than happiness in mind for me–and it’s not about me anyway. Finally, I can practice waiting as I refuse to worry. I can remind myself that God is always at work for good, that my worrying won’t add anything to that, that my rushing ahead will only make a mess and create a lot of needless anxiety.” William Britton

“I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.”
Psalm 40:1

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Think of all the things that seem “foundational” to you in your Christian life. Is waiting well one of them?
  • How can you practice waiting? Can you think of some ways to make this personal for you?
  • Are your convictions about the need to wait strong enough to cause you to wait the next time you feel like “forging ahead?”

Abba, I want to live at a the pace of god-fearer, and in a calmness that comes from taking my cues from you. Help me to make this my way in the world.

For More: Godspeed

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

Daily Riches: The Downward Path To Freedom (Richard Rohr)

“Jesus himself taught and exemplified the path of descent, which Christians have often called ‘the way of the cross.’ The path downward is much more trustworthy than any path upward, which tends to feed the ego. Like few other Christians, it was Francis of Assisi who profoundly understood that. Authentic spirituality is always on some level or in some way about letting go. Jesus said, ‘the truth will set you free’ (John 8:32). Once we see truly what traps us and keeps us from freedom we should see the need to let it go. But in a consumer society most of us have had no training in that direction. Rather, more is usually considered better. True liberation is letting go of our small self, letting go of our cultural biases, and letting go of our fear of loss and death. Freedom is letting go of wanting more and better things, and it is letting go of our need to control and manipulate God and others. It is even letting go of our need to know and our need to be right—which we only discover with maturity. We become free as we let go of our three primary energy centers: our need for power and control, our need for safety and security, and our need for affection and esteem. Francis sought freedom in all three parts of life. My good friend Fr. John Dear puts it very well: ‘Francis embodies the Gospel journey from violence to non-violence, wealth to poverty, power to powerlessness, selfishness to selfless service, pride to humility, indifference to love, cruelty to compassion, vengeance to forgiveness, revenge to reconciliation, war to peace, killing enemies to loving enemies. More than any other Christian, he epitomizes discipleship to Jesus. . . .'” Richard Rohr

“the truth will set you free”
Jesus in John 8:32

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • We often think of spiritual formation as mostly an “adding on” of virtues–for instance patience or love. Have you even thought of approaching spiritual formation by subtracting behaviors–like hurry–a practice that prevents love and contradicts patience?
  • To say “we have no training” in this is an understatement. Everything in our society teaches us the opposite. Are you seeking out other voices to teach you these kinds of truths and reinforce them in your heart and mind?
  • What can you do to more effectively “epitomize discipleship to Jesus?”

Abba, help me to join Jesus and Francis on the path of descent.

For More: You Will Be My Witnesses by John Dear

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

Daily Riches: A World Without Mirrors … Or Gravity (Rebecca Solnit, Isak Dinesen, St. Benedict, Søren Kierkegaard)

“To be a person is to have a story to tell.” Isak Dinesen

“Listen and attend with the ear of your heart.” St. Benedict

“I finally became completely silent. I started to listen–which is even further removed from speaking.” Søren Kierkegaard

“I have often run across men (and rarely, but not never, women) who have become so powerful in their lives that there is no one to tell them when they are cruel, wrong, foolish, absurd, repugnant. In the end there is no one else in their world, because when you are not willing to hear how others feel, what others need, when you do not care, you are not willing to acknowledge others’ existence. That’s how it’s lonely at the top. It is as if these petty tyrants live in a world without honest mirrors, without others, without gravity, and they are buffered from the consequences of their failures. …Equality keeps us honest. Our peers tell us who we are and how we are doing, providing that service in personal life that a free press does in a functioning society. Inequality creates liars and delusion. The powerless need to dissemble—that’s how slaves, servants, and women got the reputation of being liars—and the powerful grow stupid on the lies they require from their subordinates and on the lack of need to know about others who are nobody, who don’t count, who’ve been silenced or trained to please. This is why I always pair privilege with obliviousness; obliviousness is privilege’s form of deprivation. When you don’t hear others, you don’t imagine them, they become unreal, and you are left in the wasteland of a world with only yourself in it, and that surely makes you starving, though you know not for what, if you have ceased to imagine others exist in any true deep way that matters.” Rebecca Solnit

“Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says
is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and,
after looking at himself, goes away
and immediately forgets what he looks like.”
James 1:23,24

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is it important to you to hear “how others feel?”
  • Are you approachable enough–safe enough–that others will tell you the truth?
  • “The ability to really listen and pay attention to people was at the very heart of Jesus’ mission….” (Pete Scazzero) Are you developing that ability?

Abba, help me learn to quiet myself and really hear others.

For More: Listening Is an Act of Love by Dave Isay

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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. I appreciate it! – Bill

Daily Riches: The Most Despised, and Important, Word of Our Time (Helmut Gollwitzer)

“The word ‘repentance’ turns the door into the narrow gate, the most despised, and yet the most important word of our time. It is a time when no one wants to repent, and yet is is precisely in this unwillingness to repent that we find the secret to the misery of our time. Because ours is a time that cannot tolerate this word, the most vital thing linking people to each other lies broken and shattered: the ability of a person to give another his rights, the ability to admit one’s own error and one’s own guilt; the ability to find the guilt in himself rather than in the other, to be gentle with the other but strict with oneself.  …Who cannot admit his guilt before God can no longer do so before men. Then begins the insanity, the insanity of persecution that must make the other person into the devil himself in order to make himself into a god. Where repentance stops, inhumanity begins…. Repentance wipes away everything we think important, it sweeps away ruthlessly our interests and considerations, and it dries up everything that we hoped to mention in our favor. This contradiction is not without reason; whoever repents denies his own life, whoever allowed himself to be baptized here in the Jordan by John, said in effect: I am a man or a woman who must be drowned. Here all noteworthy conduct is for naught: ‘My wounds stink for my sins reach above my head; like a heavy burden they have become too much for me’ (Ps. 38:6,7,5). Repentance is the terrible discovery that I live under a death sentence, and even worse, that I must say yes to this condemnation to death. I am convicted not only outwardly by the sentence itself but inwardly by my own guilt. This is what happens with repentance: my life is annihilated and destroyed not only outwardly but also inwardly. All my defensive weapons–both those pointing externally toward others and those pointing inwardly toward myself–have been lost.” Helmut Gollwitzer

“Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.”
Jesus in Matthew 3:8

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you convinced of your need for repentance as a way of life?
  • Has admitting the need for repentance made you easier on others? …on yourself?
  • This is holocaust-era preaching. Serious. Today seems less so, right? What about that?

Abba, let me be serious about repentance.

For More: Preaching in the Third Reich by Dean Stroud (ed.)

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

Daily Riches: Praying For One Good Humiliation A Day (Richard Rohr, Krista Tippett and Francis of Assisi)

“Blessed is that servant who does not think himself better when he is praised and exalted by men, than when he is despised and considered simple and good-for-nothing, for what a man is in the sight of God, this he is and no more.” Francis of Assisi

Krista Tippett recently interviewed Richard Rohr: “So recently, I took a break. I got some rest that I needed badly, and I was staying at a retreat center, and …it was a meditation session I went to. And the person who was leading it read a passage from your book, Falling Upward and read the line— … ‘I have prayed for years for one good humiliation a day, and then I must watch my reaction to it,’ which sounds so uncomfortable. There’s nothing in me that wants to pray for one good humiliation a day.”

No, and there isn’t in me either. I just said that to that group of millennials two weeks ago. Some years ago, I started recognizing that I was getting an awful lot of adulation and praise and some people treating me far more importantly than I deserved. And I realized I was growing used to it, that the ego just loves all of this admiration and projection. And a lot of it was projection. And I didn’t want fame and well-knownness and guru status to totally destroy me, and so for me, this became a necessity, that I had to watch how do I react to not getting my way, to people not agreeing with me, to people not admiring me—and there’s plenty of them—and that I actually needed that. And so I do, I still, I ask God for one good humiliation a day, and I usually get it, one hate letter or whatever it might be. [laughs] And then what I have to do, Krista, is I have to watch my reaction to it. And I’ve got to be honest with you, my inner reaction—I’m not proud to tell you—is defensive, is, ‘That’s not true. You don’t understand me.’ I can just see how well-defended my ego is. And of course, even your critics—and I have plenty of them—at least 10 to 20 percent of what they’re saying is usually true.” Richard Rohr

“What sorrow awaits you who are praised by the crowds,
for their ancestors also praised false prophets.”
Jesus in Luke 6:26

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have you ever seen humiliation as something positive?
  • The next time you’re humiliated, “watch your reaction” as if from outside yourself. What do you learn?
  • Are you as defended against praise as you are against criticism?

Abba, undefend me.

For More: Falling Upward by Richard Rohr

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Thank you for sharing/following my blog! – Bill

 

Daily Riches: In Praise of Uncertaintly and Doubt (Maria Popova and Wislawa Szymborska)

“Doctors, teachers, gardeners—and I could list a hundred more professions. Their work becomes one continuous adventure as long as they manage to keep discovering new challenges in it. Difficulties and setbacks never quell their curiosity. A swarm of new questions emerges from every problem they solve. Whatever inspiration is, it’s born from a continuous ‘I don’t know.’ In a sentiment of chilling prescience today, as we witness tyrants drunk on certainty drain the world of its essential inspiration, Szymborska considers the destructive counterpoint to this generative not-knowing:

All sorts of torturers, dictators, fanatics, and demagogues struggling for power by way of a few loudly shouted slogans also enjoy their jobs, and they too perform their duties with inventive fervor. Well, yes, but they ‘know.’ They know, and whatever they know is enough for them once and for all. They don’t want to find out about anything else, since that might diminish their arguments’ force. And any knowledge that doesn’t lead to new questions quickly dies out: it fails to maintain the temperature required for sustaining life. In the most extreme cases, cases well known from ancient and modern history, it even poses a lethal threat to society.”

This is why I value that little phrase ‘I don’t know’ so highly. It’s small, but it flies on mighty wings. It expands our lives to include the spaces within us as well as those outer expanses in which our tiny Earth hangs suspended. If Isaac Newton had never said to himself ‘I don’t know,’ the apples in his little orchard might have dropped to the ground like hailstones and at best he would have stooped to pick them up and gobble them with gusto. Had my compatriot Marie Sklodowska-Curie never said to herself ‘I don’t know’, she probably would have wound up teaching chemistry at some private high school for young ladies from good families, and would have ended her days performing this otherwise perfectly respectable job. But she kept on saying ‘I don’t know,’ and these words led her, not just once but twice, to Stockholm, where restless, questing spirits are occasionally rewarded with the Nobel Prize. Such surrender to not-knowing, Szymborska argues as she steps out into the cosmic perspective, is the seedbed of our capacity for astonishment, which in turn gives meaning to our existence…. Granted, in daily speech, where we don’t stop to consider every word, we all use phrases like ‘the ordinary world,’ ‘ordinary life,’ ‘the ordinary course of events’ … But in the language of poetry, where every word is weighed, nothing is usual or normal. Not a single stone and not a single cloud above it. Not a single day and not a single night after it. And above all, not a single existence, not anyone’s existence in this world.” Maria Popova

“I have said things that I did not understand,
things too great for me, which I did not know.”
Job 42:3

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Are you ever “drunk on certainty?”
  • Can you gladly embrace “not knowing?” …doubt?
  • What do your answers say about you?

Abba, help me see past the “ordinary.”

For More: Map by Wislawa Szymborska

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Thanks for following my blog! – Bill

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: Unperturbed In Jerusalem (Søren Kierkegaard)

“Although the scribes could explain where the Messiah should be born, they remained quite unperturbed in Jerusalem. They did not accompany the Wise Men to seek him. Similarly we may know the whole of Christianity, yet make no movement. The power that moved Heaven and Earth leaves us completely unmoved. What a difference! The three kings had only a rumor to go by. But it moved them to make that long journey. The scribes were much better informed, much better versed. They sat and studied the Scriptures like so many dons, but it did not make them move. Who had the more truth? The three kings who followed a rumor, or the scribes who remained sitting with all their knowledge? What a vexation it must have been for the kings, that the scribes who gave them the news they wanted remained quiet in Jerusalem! We are being mocked, the kings might have thought. For indeed what an atrocious self-contradiction that the scribes should have the knowledge and yet remain still. This is as bad as if a person knows all about Christ and his teachings, and his own life expresses the opposite. We are tempted to suppose that such a person wishes to fool us, unless we admit that he is only fooling himself.” Søren Kierkegaard

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.’  When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. (Matthew 2:1-4)

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • The status quo surrounds us. Sometimes it takes an outsider to help us see our mistakes. Are you open to the voices of those from outside your usual circle? …even, as in the story, from outside your religion?
  • Everyone is wrong somewhere, and everyone is right somewhere. Are you more intent in pointing out the wrongs of others, of in learning from others where you might be wrong?
  • Could you be described as “sitting with all [your] knowledge?” What needs to change?

Abba, don’t let me fool myself about myself.

For more: Meditations from Kierkegaard translated and edited by T. H. Croxall

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

Daily Riches: The Church as Refuge (Rachel Held Evans, Kathy Escobar and Dallas Willard)

“Any successful plan for spiritual formation . . . will in fact be significantly similar to the Alcoholics Anonymous program.” Dallas Willard

“As a counselor, Kathy had encountered Christians who kept their battles with pain and depression a secret from their churches, so she helped found and pastor The Refuge, an eclectic and growing faith community in Denver inspired by both the Beatitudes and the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. Kathy discovered that when a church functions more like a recovery group than a religious organization, when it commits to practicing ‘honesty for the sake of restoration,’ all sorts of unexpected people show up.

People who make $600 on mental health disability and never graduated from high school are hanging out with friends who have master’s degrees and make $6,000. …Suburban moms are building relationships with addicts. People from fundamentalist Christian backgrounds are engaging those with pagan backgrounds …orphans, outcasts, prostitutes, pastors, single moms and dads, church burnouts and everything in between are all muddled up together…. It’s wild.

…Rather than boasting a doctrinal statement, the Refuge extends an invitation: The Refuge is a mission center and Christian community dedicated to helping hurting and hungry people find faith, hope, and dignity alongside each other.

We love to throw parties, tell stories, find hope, and practice the ways of Jesus as best we can. We’re all hurt or hungry in our own ways. We’re at different place on our journey but we share a guiding story, a sweeping epic drama called the Bible. We find faith as we follow Jesus and share a willingness to honestly wrestle with God and our questions and doubts. We find dignity as God’s image-bearers and strive to call out that dignity in one another. We all receive, we all give. We are old, young, poor, rich, conservative, liberal, single, married, gay, straight, evangelicals, progressives, overeducated, undereducated, certain, doubting, hurting, thriving. Yet Christ’s love bind our differences together in unity. At The Refuge, everyone is safe, but no one is comfortable.

Imagine if every church became a place where everyone is safe, but no one is comfortable. Imagine if every church became a place where we told one another the truth. We might just create sanctuary.” Rachel Held Evans

“I will build my church.”
Matthew 16:18

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is your church a place where “everyone is safe?”
  • Is your church a place where “no one is comfortable?”
  • Do others experience you as a “safe” person? …as comfortable with discomfort?

Abba, lead us into good places.

For more: Searching For Sunday by Rachel Held Evans

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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. – Bill

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

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