Daily Riches: Crossing Boundaries to Where God Is Revealed (Belden Lane)

“The desert loves to strip bare.” Jerome

“Desert and mountain places, located on the margins of society, are locations of choice in luring God’s people to a deeper understanding of who they are. Yahweh frequently moves to the boundary in order to restore the center, calling a broken people back to justice and compassion. When Ahab brings the worship of Baal into the court of Israel, God sends fire on the mountain to refocus the direction of Israel’s praise (1 Kings 18). At the peripheral place, unsettling and ‘eccentric’ as it may be, the core of a people’s identity is reconceived. Scholars sensitive to the function of place in biblical narrative observe that Jesus, in a similar way, frequently presses the people closest to him into places they find threatening. Jesus is always redefining the nature of ‘center.’ He moves regularly beyond the safety and exclusiveness of the Jewish homeland in Galilee to include Gentiles in outlying regions where his disciples are reluctant to go. He functions repeatedly as a boundary crosser, pushing his disciples to edges they find exceedingly uncomfortable. In Mark 6:45, he uses the harsh language of a sailor in forcing them to cross the Sea of Galilee, raising sail for Gentile Bethsaida. ‘Just shut up and get in the boat,’ he seems to be saying. They don’t want to go, but Jesus insists. He knows that places on the edge, those considered God-forsaken by many, are where his identity as Messiah has to be revealed. Out in the wilds anything can happen. He pushes to the east coast of the Sea of Galilee, to the swine-herding country of the Geraenes to heal the demoniac (Luke 8:26-39). He goes north over the border into Tyre and Sidon to affirm the faith of the Syrophenician woman and cure her daughter (Matt. 15:21-28). He heals in Decapolis, on the far side of the Jordan. He feeds a multitude on the eastern or foreign side of the lake, even as he had done on the western or Jewish side (Mark 8:1-10). Ever dragging his disciples away from the familiarity of home, he declares present the power of the kingdom in the alien landscapes of another land.” Belden Lane

“Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples
get back into the boat and head across the lake to Bethsaida”
Mark 6:45

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is your Jesus a “boundary crosser?”
  • Has he been dragging you “away from the familiarity of home?”
  • If not, why not?

Abba, use me as I move out of my comfort zone.

For More: The Solace of Fierce Landscapes by Belden Lane

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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. I appreciate your interest! Please leave a question or comment. – 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: Disruptive Jesus (Alexandra Petri, Albert Einstein, H. G. Wells)

“The gentleman arrested Thursday and tried before Pontius Pilate had a troubled background. Born (possibly out of wedlock?) in a stable, this jobless thirty-something of Middle Eastern origin had had previous run-ins with local authorities for disturbing the peace, and had become increasingly associated with the members of a fringe religious group. He spent the majority of his time in the company of sex workers and criminals. He had had prior run-ins with local authorities—most notably, an incident of vandalism in a community center when he wrecked the tables of several licensed money-lenders and bird-sellers. He had used violent language, too, claiming that he could destroy a gathering place and rebuild it. At the time of his arrest, he had not held a fixed residence for years. Instead, he led an itinerant lifestyle, staying at the homes of friends and advocating the redistribution of wealth. He had come to the attention of the authorities more than once for his unauthorized distribution of food [and] disruptive public behavior…. Some say that his brutal punishment at the hands of the state was out of proportion to and unrelated to any of these incidents in his record. But after all, he was no angel.” Alexandra Petri

“I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene…. No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life.” Albert Einstein

“I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history.” H.G. Wells

“He was despised and rejected”
Isaiah 53:3

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Jesus was homeless, poor, hung out with seedy characters, and broke many social customs and religious laws. What would you think about such an outsider today?
  • Jesus was arrested, tried and convicted of capital crimes–but by false testimony, political machinations, and a sham trial. Has the story of Jesus made you more aware of how easily someone can be treated unfairly by the criminal justice system? …how routinely dissent is suppressed?
  • The religious and political leaders of the day condemned Jesus as dangerous and subversive because of their own self-interest. Has the story of Jesus made you more skeptical of authority, both political and religious?

Abba, thank you for the luminous Nazarene.

For More: Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis

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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: Desert Spirituality (Belden Lane, Bruce Berger and David Douglas)

“The significance of desert and mountain is not who resides here, but what we ourselves have left behind in coming.” David Douglas

“One has to consider the surly, discourteous piety of the desert fathers and mothers. They were ‘resident aliens’ in a world that fostered gentility and comfort. They simply did not fit. As Bruce Berger observes, ‘the desert notoriously harbors the loner, the misfit, the only child.’ It attracts a people who are downwardly mobile, often cantankerous, ill at ease in polite society. Shun the city and all of it niceties, growled Jerome from his desert lair. His Christianity required the hard solace of open spaces. …The discipline of the desert was gradually acquired in the methodical weaving of palm fronds into mats and baskets, the practice of long exposure to desert loneliness, the reduction of everything in one’s life to a radical simplicity. Growth in the spiritual life came to be measured in microparameters, in how much could be give up, how much one could be emptied. …To use the provocative language of Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon, the desert Christians understood the church as an alien community no longer caught up in the anxious, self-interested preservation of the world-as-it-is. Their practice of indifference to the dominant social values of their age, exercised from the desert’s edge, stood in stark contract to the accommodating spirit of post-Constantinian, urban Christianity. …The desert as metaphor is that uncharted terrain beyond the edges of the seemingly secure and structured world in which we take such confidence, a world of affluence and order we cannot image ever ending. …[People like these desert fathers and mothers] are what the church has been summoned to be, a community of broken people, painfully honest, undomesticated, rid of the pretense and suffocating niceness to which ‘religion’ is so often prone.” Belden Lane

“Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers
to abstain from fleshly lusts
which wage war against the soul.”
1 Peter 2:11

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Would anyone say of you that you are apathetic (indifferent) to many of your world’s values?
  • How dependent are you upon the “affluence and order” of our world for your sense of security?
  • These desert Christians viewed themselves as “aliens and strangers.” Would those words aptly describe you? …your faith community?
  • What are these desert Christians saying that you need to hear?

Abba, show me what to leave behind.

For More: The Solace of Fierce Landscapes: Desert and Mountain Spirituality by Belden Lane

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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 in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest! – Bill

Daily Riches: Christianity’s Apologia for the Weak (Bonhoeffer)

“Have you ever seen a greater mystery in this world than poor people, ill people, insane people–people who cannot help themselves but who have to rely on other people for help, for love, for care? Have you ever thought what outlook on life a cripple, a hopelessly ill person, a socially exploited person, a coloured person in a white country, an untouchable–may have? And if so, did you not feel that here life means something totally different from what it means to you, and that on the other hand you are inseparably bound together with such unfortunate people, just because you are human like them, just because you are not weak but strong, and just because in all your strength you will feel their weakness? Have we not felt that we shall never be happy in our life as long as this world of weakness from which we are perhaps spared–but who knows for how long–is foreign and strange and far removed from us, as long as we keep away from it consciously or subconsciously? …Christianity has been blamed ever since its early days for its message to the weak. Christianity is a ‘religion of slaves’ [Friedrich Nietzsche], of people with inferiority complexes; it owes its success only to the masses of miserable people whose weakness and misery Christianity has ‘glorified.’ It was the attitude towards the problem of weakness in the world, which made everybody followers or enemies of Christianity. Against the new meaning which Christianity gave to the weak, against this glorification of weakness, there has always been the strong and indignant protest of an aristocratic philosophy of life which glorified strength and power and violence as the ultimate ideals of humanity. We have observed this very fight going on up to our present day. Christianity stands or falls with its revolutionary protest against violence, arbitrariness and pride of power and with its apologia for the weak.–I feel that Christianity is rather doing too little in showing these points than doing too much. Christianity has adjusted itself much too easily to the worship of power. It should give much more offence, more shock to the world, than it is doing. Christianity should take a much more definite stand for the weak than to consider the potential moral right of the strong.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”
Psalm 82:4

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Where is the Christian apologia for the weak today?
  • Has the Christianity you know “adjusted itself … to the worship of power?”
  • Does your church stand for the weak? Do you?

Abba, let me be an apologist for the weak.

For More:  The Collected Sermons of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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

Daily Riches: Disguised Comes God (Rudolf Bultmann)

“Just where God’s call meets each individual, you and me, in the course of our everyday life at work, in the hustle and bustle of daily affairs, I cannot tell you, nor should I even try. For that is the secret of the encounter with Jesus, that he meets us always disguised in different forms; that is the secret of God’s call, that it always sounds new, where and when one least expects it. I can only urge that each is prepared to hear the call, that each is ready to listen to it. The folktale of the poor and the rich with which we are all familiar certainly knows that encounters with God often are improbable and that whoever is not prepared for them misses them to his own detriment. The folktale relates how God once wandered the earth as a simple wanderer and was looking for lodging for the night. He knocked at the door of a rich man and requested shelter for the night. The rich man saw the unimpressive wanderer at his door–he did not exactly appear as if he could pay well–and he turned him away with all sorts of excuses; it just wasn’t convenient. Then God knocked at the door of a poor man and found a friendly reception. As the folktale later explains, the rich man had punished himself while the poor man received a rich blessing. Indeed, joyfulness and goodness, patience and willingness to sacrifice belong to the readiness that is required of us–eyes open for whatever the hour may demand of us. Disguised comes God, comes Jesus to us. And we have deprived ourselves of that hour’s blessing. For this reason we should make room in our restless and often hectic life for hours of quiet and reflection in order to examine ourselves and ponder the questions: What have I neglected? Who needs my help? Who longs to hear a kind word from me? We should not be consumed by the noise of the day, in our daily work with its cares, its joys and sufferings! We should not forget to notice what God wants to tell us here and there! … So it is that always and everywhere our brother’s need requires our sympathy and helping hand, there he [God] meets us, there his call sounds for us.” Rudolph Bultmann

“there was no room for them in the inn”
Luke 2:7

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • What have you neglected?
  • Who needs your help?
  • Who longs for a kind word from you?

Abba, may I prepare myself to hear you when you call.

For More: “A Sermon about the Parable of the Great Banquet” by Rudolph Bultmann

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

Daily Riches: Fat Women Walking (Gary Thomas)

After the Women’s March on Washington D.C., a Texas judge posted: “Just think about this. After just one day in office, Trump managed to achieve something that no one else has been able to do: he got a million fat women out walking.” An Indiana State Senator reposted a meme stating “In one day, Trump got more fat women out walking than Michelle Obama did in 8 years.”

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The man who originally posted the meme has since expressed regret: ‘I want to apologize for the insensitive social media post  …This represented a momentary lapse in judgment on my part for which I am truly sorry, …This does not reflect my feelings toward women….’

We all make mistakes, and perhaps jokes at women’s expense is one of the most common–and most commonly accepted–ones. In fact, so accepted that many men probably feel it’s a “non-issue.” But think about this:

“Those who have advanced in the Christian life have learned to develop an almost mystical memory that keeps them attuned to the fact that God is always with them … always watching, always caring, always hearing. …do I look at women through the eyes of God? Do I listen to them and hear them as God hears them? Do I think about them as God thinks about them? And do I speak of them as God would have me speak of them? …A man who refrains from lust but who looks at women with condescension and disrespect is not a godly man. His corruption may be of a different sort from the one who undresses women in his mind, but he certainly can’t live a compelling life. Why not? Because he hasn’t learned what it is to truly love.” Gary Thomas

“So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.”
Genesis 1:27

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Men, are you sensitive to how women are often treated “with condescension and disrespect” (or worse) simply because they’re women? Do you notice this in others around you? Do you notice it in yourself?
  • Women, have you grown so accustomed to being invisible, powerless or unappreciated that you have come to expect it and settle for it?
  • As a Christian, are you putting up with these kinds of attitudes in your political party? …in your church? …in your home?

Abba, teach me what it is to truly love.

For More: Simply Sacred 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 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: How Government and Religion Can Endanger a People (Eric Gritsch)

“By 1543, Luther was … utterly frustrated by the Jews’ refusal to convert to Christianity: ‘A Jewish heart is as hard as a stick, a stone, as iron, as a devil.’ Luther did not, however, hold Jews responsible for the death of Christ. As he wrote in a hymn, ‘We dare not blame … the band of Jews; ours is the shame.’ And he felt that at least a few Jews might be won for Christ. Yet rabbinic teaching was madness and blindness that blasphemed Christ, Mary, and the Holy Trinity. Luther could not ‘have any fellowship or patience with obstinate [Jewish] blasphemers and those who defame this dear Savior.’ Blasphemy was a civil crime. To allow it to continue, Luther feared, meant Christians would share in the guilt for it. Thus, Luther now proposed seven measures of ‘sharp mercy’ that German princes could take against Jews: (1) burn their schools and synagogues; (2) transfer Jews to community settlements; (3) confiscate all Jewish literature, which was blasphemous; (4) prohibit rabbis to teach, on pain of death; (5) deny Jews safe-conduct, so as to prevent the spread of Judaism; (6) appropriate their wealth and use it to support converts and to prevent the lewd practice of usury; (7) assign Jews to manual labor as a form of penance. Luther advised clergy, their congregations, and all government officials to help carry out these measures. Since most Jews had been expelled from Germany before 1536, Luther’s counsel was implemented by few officials. Yet a harsh anti-Jewish measure in 1543 mentioned Luther’s On the Jews and Their Lies. Both Luther’s friends and his foes criticized him for proposing these measures. His best friends begged him to stop his anti-Jewish raving, but Luther continued his attacks in other treatises. He repeated as true the worst anti-Semitic charges from medieval literature. Jews killed Christian babies; they murdered Christ over and over again by stabbing Eucharistic hosts; they poisoned wells. Luther now thought what he had accused Catholics of thinking in 1523: Jews were dogs. ‘We are at fault for not slaying them,’ he fumed shortly before his death. … Luther was not an anti-Semite in the racist sense. His arguments against Jews were theological, not biological. Not until a French cultural anthropologist in the nineteenth century held that humankind consisted of ‘Semites’ and ‘Aryans,’ were Semites considered inferior. Alfonse de Gobineau’s views were quickly adopted by European intellectuals and politicians, and Jews became the scapegoats of a snobbish colonialist society in England, France, and Germany. The rest is history—including the Jewish holocaust perpetrated by Adolf Hitler and his regime. National Socialists used Luther to support their racist anti-Semitism, calling him a genuine German who had hated non-Nordic races.” Eric Gritsch

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile,
neither slave nor free,
nor is there male and female,
for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Galatians 3:28

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Can you imagine something like this happening today, as it did then? Here is the U.S., as it did in Germany?
  • Would people in your church or religious tradition know how to correct these racist views from a Biblical point of view? Would you?
  • Karl Barth, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Niemöller and many others stood up against the Nazi’s in their day–risking their citizenship, income, career, family and lives. Will you have the courage to do that if a similar test occurs in your day?

Abba, strengthen me, not only as I clasp my hands in prayer against the disorder of the world, but as I speak unpopular truth and stand with hated victims.

For More: Preaching In Hitler’s Shadow: Sermons of Resistance in the Third Reich by Dean Stroud

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

 

 

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 Whole Scripture In It’s Briefest Form (Martin Luther)

“Here it is seen that [Christ] loved us and did everything for our benefit, in order that we may do the same, not to him, for he needs it not, but to our neighbor. This is his commandment, and this is our obedience. Christ helps us, so we in return help our neighbor, and all have enough. …if you see your neighbor going astray, sinning, or suffering in body or soul, you are to leave every thing else and at once help him in every way in your power and if you can do no more, help him with words of comfort and prayer. Thus has Christ done to you and given you an example for you to follow. …What more do you need, if indeed you know Christ, as above set forth, if you walk by faith in God, and by love to your neighbor, doing to him as Christ has done to you. This is indeed the whole Scripture in its briefest form: that no more words or books are necessary, but only life and action. Let everyone examine himself in the light of the Gospel and see how far he is from Christ, and what is the character of his faith and love. There are many who are enkindled with dreamy devotion, and when they hear of the poverty of Christ, they are almost angry with the citizens of Bethlehem. They denounce their blindness and ingratitude, and think, if they had been there, they would have shown the Lord and his mother a more kindly service, and would not have permitted them to be treated so miserably. But they do not look by their side to see how many of their fellow humans need their help, and which they ignore in their misery. Who is there upon Earth that has no poor, miserable, sick, erring ones around him? Why does he not exercise his love to those? Why does he not do to them as Christ has done to him?”

“This is my commandment,
that you love one another;
even as I have loved you.”
Jesus in John 15:12

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Would you have done better than the residents of Bethlehem?
  • Is the way you treat the “poor, miserable, sick, erring ones” around you evidence?
  • Take some time today to think of all that Christ has done for you–where you would be without him.

Abba, may I not look away from my fellow humans in need.

For more: Watch For The Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas

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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 (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: A Voice Crying in the Wilderness (Robert Morgan)

“On December 21, 1511 Antonio des Montesinos stood before his church in Hispaniola with fire on his lips:

I have climbed to this pulpit to let you know of your sins, for I am the voice of Christ crying in the desert of this island, and you must not listen to me indifferently. You are in mortal sin; you not only are in it, but live in it and die in it because of the cruelty and tyranny you bring to bear on these innocent people. By what right do you wage your odious wars on people who dwelt in quiet and peace on their own islands? Why do you oppress and exploit them, without even giving them enough to eat? They die, or rather, you kill them, so that you may extract more and more gold every day. Are they not human? Have they no souls? Are you not required to love them as you love yourselves? How can you remain in such profound lethargy? I assure you, in your present state you can no more be saved than Moors or Turks who reject the faith of Jesus Christ.

His audience was stunned, and his words leaped the oceans. In Spain a furious King Ferdinand told Christopher Columbus, ‘I have seen the sermon … and although he was always a scandalous preacher, I am much surprised by what he said, which has no basis in theology or law.’ Montesinos refused orders to retract his statements, and increasing numbers joined him in reminding the world that not everything done in the name of Christianity is of Christ.” Robert J. Morgan

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul
and with all your mind and with all your strength.’
The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
There is no commandment greater than these.”
Jesus in Mark 12:30,31

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Nations, just like individuals, can be blind to injustice–”in profound lethargy” towards God–commiting atrocities while believing they’re serving God. Are you aware of times like that in your nation’s story?
  • Where are the wilderness (non-establishment) voices calling out in the wilderness today? Are you listening?
  • What is happening in your world “in the name of Christianity” that is not “of Christ?” Are you dissenting?

Abba, help me to hear your voice in the often overlooked voices that cry out for justice in my day.

For More: On This Day by Robert J. Morgan

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. My goal is to give you something of real value in 400 words or less. Thanks for reading /sharing my blog. I appreciate your interest! –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: You Give Them Something to Eat (Rachel Held Evans and Pope Francis)

“[Millennials are] tired of the culture wars, tired of Christianity getting entangled with party politics and power. Millennials want to be known by what we’re for …not just what we’re against. We don’t want to choose between science and religion or between our intellectual integrity and our faith. Instead, we long for our churches to be safe places to doubt, to ask questions, and to tell the truth, even when it’s uncomfortable. We want to talk about the tough stuff—biblical interpretation, religious pluralism, sexuality, racial reconciliation, and social justice—but without predetermined conclusions or simplistic answers. We want to bring our whole selves through the church doors, without leaving our hearts and minds behind, without wearing a mask. …Millennials aren’t looking for a hipper Christianity …We’re looking for a truer Christianity, a more authentic Christianity. …we’re looking for Jesus–the same Jesus who can be found in the strange places he’s always been found: in bread, in wine, in baptism, in the Word, in suffering, in community, and among the least of these.” Rachel Held Evans

“I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security. …More than by fear of going astray, my hope is that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits which make us feel safe, while at our door people are starving and Jesus does not tire of saying to us: ‘Give them something to eat’ (Mk 6:37).” Pope Francis

“‘Send the crowds away
so they can go to the nearby farms and villages
and buy something to eat.’
But Jesus said,
‘You feed them.’ ”
Mark 6:35-36

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is your church focused on “starving people” or mostly on blessing members?
  • Can people talk about difficult topics (religious pluralism, sexuality, racial reconciliation, social justice)? Is conversation characterized by loving listening and allowance of diverse opinion? Is doubt permitted?
  • Are church people leaving their comfort zones to minister–and sometimes getting bruised, hurt or dirty in the process–or is there a culture of “playing it safe?”

Abba, help me find Jesus in all the “strange places”–as I meet him there anew.

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 he seeks you. My goal is to give you something of real value in 400 words or less. Thanks for reading /sharing my blog. I appreciate your interest! –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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

 

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

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

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

Moving From the Head to the Heart

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

For more: Faith and the Future by Joseph Ratzinger

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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: 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.”

Daily Riches: The Most Revolutionary Man on Earth (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

“To become free does not mean becoming great in the world, not becoming free from your brother, nor even free from God, but to become free from oneself, one’s lie. It means to become free from thinking only of myself, from being the center of my world, from hate, by which I despise God’s creation. It means to be free to be for the other: the person for others. Only God’s truth can enable me to see the other as he really is. It tears out the twisted image that I have of the other within me and shows him to me in a new light. And insofar as God’s truth does that, it bestows upon me the action, the love, the grace of God. It destroys our lies and creates the truth. It destroys hatred and creates love. God’s truth is God’s love and God’s love makes us free from ourselves for others. To be free means nothing less than to be in love. And to be in love means nothing less than being in the truth of God. The man who loves because he has been made free by God is the most revolutionary man on earth. He challenges all values. He is the explosive material of human society. He is a dangerous man. For he recognizes that the human race is in the depths of falsehood. And he is always ready to let the light of truth fall upon his darkness; and he will do this because of his love. But this disturbance, which such people bring, calls forth hatred from the world. And therefore this knight of truth and love is not the hero that men long for or honor, not one who is without enemies; but one whom they would do away with, outlaw, indeed kill.  The way of God’s truth leads to the cross. From now on, we know that all truth which is true before God must face the cross. The church that follows Christ must go with him to the cross.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“use your freedom to serve one another in love.”
Galatians 5:13
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Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you aware of sometimes having “a twisted image … of the other”–perhaps based on race, religion or social status?
  • Will you “let the light of truth fall upon your darkness”–to free you to love?
  • How would it make you feel to be described as “the person for others?”
  • Are you free enough of yourself–”from being the center of your world, from hate”–to be that person?

Abba, free me of the lies I tell myself that ensnare me in hatred.

For More: Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Christmas Sermons edited by Edwin Robertson

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 Thanks for reading and sharing this blog. I appreciate your interest! – Bill

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