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: Pray For the Church As For a Terrible Sinner (Dorothy Day and Romano Guardini)

“The Church is the Cross on which Christ was crucified.” Romano Guardini

“I felt that the Church was the Church of the poor, that St. Patrick’s had been built from the pennies of servant girls, that it cared for the emigrant, it established hospitals, orphanages, day nurseries, houses of the Good Shepherd, homes for the aged, but at the same time, I felt that it did not set its face against a social order which made so much charity in the present sense of the word necessary. I felt that charity was a word to choke over. Who wanted charity? And it was not just human pride but a strong sense of man’s dignity and worth, and what was due to him in justice, that made me resent, rather than feel proud of so mighty a sum total of Catholic institutions. …When I see the church taking the side of the powerful and forgetting the weak, and when I see bishops living in luxury and the poor being ignored or thrown bread crumbs, I know that Jesus is being insulted, as He once was, and sent to his death, as He once was. The church doesn’t only belong to officials and bureaucrats; it belongs to all its people, and especially its most humble men and women and children, the ones He would have wanted to go see and help…. I am embarrassed–I am sickened–when I see Catholics using their religion as a social ornament. Peter [Maurin] used to tell me that a good Catholic should pray for the church as if it is a terrible sinner, in bad need of lots of prayers. I remember being surprised for a second to hear him say that; he was such a devout Catholic. But then I realized that it was precisely because he was so devout that he said what he said. …I think the life of our Lord is constantly being lived out: we are betraying Him as well as honoring Him–we in the church as well as those who are outside of it.” Dorothy Day

“I will build my church,
and all the powers of hell
will not conquer it.”
Jesus, in Matthew 16:18

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Can you be honest about the failings of your church, or do you insist on leaving this to outsiders and haters?
  • Can you see the church as “a terrible sinner” and still love and pray for her?
  • Can you see in yourself, a member of the church, how you both constantly honor and betray the Lord?

Jesus, as your church, may we set our face against the social order.

For More: Dorothy Day: A Radical Devotion by Robert Coles

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Thanks for sharing/following my blog. I appreciate your interest! – 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: Christianity’s Apologia for the Weak (Dietrich 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, 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 needy;
Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.”
Psalm 82:4

Moving From the Head to the Heart

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

For More: The Collected Sermons of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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

Daily Riches: A King Clothed In Rags (Belden Lane and Flannery O’Connor)

“To the the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost-blind you draw large and startling figures.” Flannery O’Connor

“Our image of God doesn’t prepare us for a truth realized in brokenness. We need to be shaken out of our expectations. …The grotesque reminds us who we are, but even more it discloses the mystery of God’s presence. Repeatedly in biblical faith we discover a broken and despised people calling upon a god made accessible in pathos and tears. God is never what Pharoah, Ahab, and Herod expect. There’s a shocking, almost comic quality about the annunciations one finds in scripture. Angels announce to shepherds standing in a field of sheep dung the birth of a king clothed in rags. A figure clad in white announces to John of the Apocalypse the majestic Lion of the Tribe of Judah, but when he turn to look there’s only a slain and bloody lamb (Rev. 5:5-6). In biblical experience what you see isn’t necessarily what you get. This is the mystery of God as Deus absconditus. The God of scripture is equally revealed in vulnerability and in triumph. This is because both actions are rooted in love. God wills us to be broken for the sake of a strength to make whole. Divine love is incessantly restless until it turns all woundedness into health, all deformity into beauty, all embarrassment into laughter. In biblical faith, brokenness is never celebrated as an end in itself. God’s brokenness is but an expression of a love on its way to completion. Hence we never can accept, much less romanticize, the plight of a people rejected by the world as aberrant and unfit. They invite us to share in the ‘groaning of all creation’ for a redemption yet to be revealed (Rom. 8:19-21). The paradox of the grotesque is that it summons those who are whole to be broken and longs for those who are broken to be made whole.” Belden Lane

“His appearance was marred more than any man
And His form more than the sons of men.”
Isaiah 52:14

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you familiar with the vulnerable God of the Bible?
  • Do you think of God’s love as “incessantly restless until it turns all woundedness into health, all deformity into beauty, all embarrassment into laughter?” Is God doing that for you?
  • In what ways are you whole needing to be broken? …broken needing to be make whole?

Abba, thank you for your love that will not rest until I am whole.

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! – Bill

Daily Riches: Listen to Your Insecurity (Alicia Britt Chole, Jeremy Taylor, Gerald May)

“[ A] religion without mystery must be a religion without God.” Jeremy Taylor

“Uncertainty is quite revealing. The unknown triggers different reactions in different hearts and exposes our souls’ defaults. Ambiguity reveals where we instinctively go to feel the illusion of security again. In response to a yet-unnamed but imminent storm, some hide, some run, some live in denial, some escape into fictional worlds, some feast, and some stake out their territory. The latter we see in John and James’s response to Jesus’ continued cross-talk. [Mark 10:32-40] All the uncertainty triggered something deep within the brothers. As they wrestled with the seemingly mixed messages of Jesus as Messiah and Jesus crucified, they reasoned it was time to take control. …To change our defaults we must first address our theology of uncertainty. And to address our theology of uncertainty, we must first befriend mystery. …Mystery is a given for relationship between the Infinite and the finite. As we follow Jesus into uncertainty, we are free, in the words of Gerald G. May, to ‘join the dance of life in fullness without having a clue about what the steps are.’ …Today, pay attention to avoidance mechanisms that surface when you face the unknown, unknowable, uncomfortable, or unavoidable. Do you eat more? Sleep more? Domineer more? Disappear more? Why? Ask God’s Holy Spirit to sensitize you today to the existence of avoidance defaults in your life. Prayerfully consider what beliefs might underlie any avoidance that emerges when you are facing uncertainty. Return to John the Baptist’s words, ‘He must increase, but I must decrease’ (John 3:30 NASB), and consider what relevance John’s wisdom might have as a guide through the unknown.” Alicia Britt Chole

“Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here.
If you wish, I will put up three shelters—
one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’”
Matthew 17:4

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • How do you tend to respond to uncertainty? Do you somehow try to banish it? …to take control? …to otherwise distract yourself?
  • Do you crave certainty when it comes to your beliefs, your relationships? What does your answer reveal about you?
  • Imagine how life with Jesus forced his disciples to learn to “befriend mystery.” Is something like that happening with you?

Abba, make we aware of when I’m simply attempting to avoid uncertainty, and teach me to befriend mystery.

For More:  40 Days of Decrease: A Different Kind of Hunger. A Different Kind of Fast. by Alicia Britt Chole

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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 (Psalm 90:14)

 

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

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

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

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

Moving From Head to Heart

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

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

For more: Tell It Slant by Eugene Peterson

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

 

 

Daily Riches: 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: Entering The Realm of Virgin Territory (Loretta Ross-Gotta)

“What matters in the deeper experience of contemplation is not the doing and accomplishing. What matters is relationship, the being with. We create holy ground and give birth to Christ in our time not by doing but by believing and by loving the mysterious Infinite One who stirs within. This requires trust that something of great and saving importance is growing and kicking its heels in you. The angel summoned Mary, betrothed to Joseph, from the rather safe place of conventional wisdom to a realm where few of the old rules would make much sense. She entered that unknown called ‘virgin territory.’  She was on her own there. No one else could judge for her the validity of her experience. She can measure her reality against Scripture, the teachings of her tradition, her reason and intellect, and the counsel of wise friends.  But finally it is up to her. …God asks us to give away everything of ourselves. The gift of greatest efficacy and power that we can offer God and creation is not our skills, gifts, abilities, and possessions. The wise men had their gold, frankincense, and myrrh, Paul and Peter had their preaching. Mary offered only space, love, belief. What is it that delivers Christ into the world—preaching, art, writing, scholarship, social justice? Those are all gifts well worth sharing. But preachers lose their charisma, scholarship grows pedantic, social justice alone cannot save us. In the end, when all other human gifts have met their inevitable limitation, it is … the bold virgin with a heart in love with God who makes a sanctuary of her life, who delivers Christ who then delivers us. Try it. Leave behind your briefcase and notes and proof texts. Leave behind your honed skills and knowledge. Leave the Christmas decorations up in the attic. Go to someone in need and say, “Here, all I have is Christ.” And find out that that is enough.” Loretta Ross-Gotta

“Mary responded, ‘I am the Lord’s servant.
May everything you have said about me come true.’”
Luke 1:38

Moving From Head to Heart

  • If you gave your “skills, gifts, abilities, and possessions” to God–how could that not be the ultimate gift?
  • Have you considered the “inevitable limitation” of any gifts you could give to God? …to others?
  • How could you practice ministering with an “all I have is Christ” approach this advent season? Would that be “virgin territory” for you?

Abba, help me to believe that Christ is enough.

For more: Letters From the Holy Ground by Loretta Ross-Gotta

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

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

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

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

Moving From the Head to the Heart

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

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

For more: The God Who Risks by John Sanders

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

 

Daily Riches: 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)