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

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

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

“Consider the lilies.”
Luke 12:27

Moving From Head to Heart

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

Abba, content me with simplicity.

For More: The Solace of Fierce Landscapes by Belden Lane

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Thanks for reading/sharing my blog! – Bill

Daily Riches: The Crippling Effect of Discontent (Miroslav Volf)

“ ‘Look at the birds of the air,’ Jesus said to the crowds gathered around him (Matt. 6:26). I’ve been looking at the birds lately, and it strikes me that today our lives are more akin to the frantic scurrying of rats and the disciplined marching of ants than to the contented and joyous singing of birds. In some regards, we humans are more like rats and ants than like birds. But there’s more to today’s dearth of contentment and joy than just the elements of human nature. Cultures of postindustrial societies encourage and reward scurrying and marching more than they do rejoicing. They reach into what seems like the most intimate regions of our hearts, and by affecting our desires and our sense of responsibility, they disturb the peace of contentment and suppress the buoyancy of joy. …’The eye is not satisfied with seeing, or the ear filled with hearing,’ writes the author of Ecclesiastes (1:7–8), describing the ancient experience of insatiability. We are finite, but our desire is infinite, limited, it seems, mainly by our need for rest. Insatiability is a human condition—but one that the modern market economy magnifies. According to Kenneth Galbraith, the modern market doesn’t so much re­spond to existing needs by supplying goods, but rather “creates the wants the goods are presumed to satisfy.” Desire, hunger, and dissatisfaction are the market economy’s fuel. The more fuel it has, the faster it can run, and so it creates the void it seeks to fill. The result is a rushing stream of both amazing and not-so-amazing goods and services—along with a perpetual lack of contentment and diminished capacity for joy. The relation between joy and contentment at any given moment is straightforward: the less content you are, the less joy you will have (though discontentment often precedes joy). Joy celebrates the goodness of what is, what was, or is to come; the market economy fuels insatiability and malcontent, systematically erodes the goodness of what is, and cripples joy.”  Miroslav Volf

“I have learned how to be content
with whatever I have.”
Philippians 4:11

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you often find yourself “scurrying?” Does scurrying seem normal or good?
  • Are you an “insatiable” consumer? If so, why?
  • Can you recognize and reject artificially created “needs?”
  • Are you willing to be a person who has less than others? …who is “learning” to be content?

Abba, In my work, may I be motivated, not by anxiety or greed or ego, but by gratitude and the desire to lovingly serve you and others.

For More: The Living God and the Fullness of Life by Miroslav Volf

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God after you. I appreciate your interest! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

 

Daily Riches – Publishing Changes

I’ve realized lately that it’s time for me to take a break from the daily publishing of this blog. I need to step back, rest, attend to some other things and other people, and give myself more time to live with the content before I publish it. I’ve resisted doing this for some time because of my love for the project, my sense of responsibility to my readers–and other things like ambition and worrying about what others would think–or how the project might lose momentum. I realize that I have to commit the fate of this project to God without regard to those things, and free up time to do more of what I have been writing about: loving well, resting and relaxing, slowing down, being less driven, and making space for contemplation. I always want this blog to be an overflow of what God is doing with me and never turn into something more like a deadline to meet. (It’s more work than I ever imagined to post something of quality six days a week.)

I’m still planning to write Daily Riches, but I’m afraid the name won’t fit so well anymore–not as far as the “Daily” part. I’m still going to post, but only when I want to, and when I can without interfering with the things I’m mentioned that need more attention. Maybe eventually, like after a sabbatical, I will return to the regular schedule. Thank you so much, faithful readers and new friends for your support–many of you have been reading almost since the beginning over two years ago. I hope you’ll still stay tuned for Riches that will come your way–albeit less frequently. And certainly, and especially if you’re a more recent subscriber, you may want to work through the archives. There’s a lot of great stuff there–most of it definitely worth reading more than one or two times. I still believe this project is important and unique, and I have really appreciated the support and feedback from many along the way.

Please pray for me in the meantime, and for the continuing influence and success of this project. As always, I wish the best for you, as you seek after God, and as God seeks after you.

Bill

Daily Riches: The “Benedictine Century” (Joan Chittister)

“The Rule of Benedict was a spiritual document written for males raised in Imperial Rome. But to Roman men in the patriarchal culture who were trained that domination and status and power were their birthright and their purpose in life, the Rule insisted on new ideals: humility, listening, community, equality, and service. …Benedictine spirituality, then, is first and foremost a practical way to live the good news of the gospel today. This society is a complex, consumer society; we can be simple. We can reverence creation. We can refuse to have one thing more than we need. …We can refuse to keep anything we are not using. We can give one thing away for every one thing we receive. …This society exploits. It breaks the back of sugar workers; it destroys farm workers; it wipes out the working person; it discards the middle-aged and forgets the elderly. We can minister to the world by calling for justice. This society dominates and is selfish and has it’s own goals as the inner force of its life. We can be community. We can say by our lives that there are times when it is important for us to step back in life so that others can gain. This society depends on power. We can practice the power of the powerless who show us all how little it really takes to live, how rich life is without riches, how strong are those who cannot be owned…. We can be the voice of those who are not heard and the hands of those who have no bread and the family of those who are alone and the strength of those who are weak. We can be the sign of human community. Finally, this society is anxious and angry and noisy. We can be contemplative. In the midst of chaos, if the Scripture is in our hearts, if we are faithful to lectio, if we build the Jesus-life in our own souls, we can see God where God is. Everywhere. Those are the elements of Benedictine vision that saved the Western world over the centuries again and again and again. Then they can save us from ourselves once more.” Joan Chittister

“even more blessed
are all who hear the word of God
and put it into practice.”
Jesus in Luke 11:28

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Was God speaking to you at some point in this reading?
  • Do you long to be part of such a community of faith?
  • Have you adopted a “rule of life” which guides your practice of these ideals of Jesus?

Abba, change me as I rediscover and embrace these ancient ideals.

For More: Wisdom Distilled From the Daily by John Chittister

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Thanks for reading and sharing this blog! – Bill

Daily Riches: Can One Obey Without Actually Obeying? (James Hannay and William James)

The desert hermits “understood the sayings of the Lord and adopted them as a practical rule of life. For most men there is need of certain explanations, of an effort of the intellect, of casuistry, before the Lord’s commands can be reconciled with the maxims which direct the ordinary life. It is necessary to write some gloss beside the saying–’If any man take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.’ Otherwise we cannot but be conscious of a divergence between the conduct which life seems to render necessary and that which is recommended by the Lord. For the hermits and their admirers no such necessity existed. They took the commands of Christ and obeyed them as if such obedience involved no absurdity. …It is perhaps especially interesting to notice that even in the case of postulants, whose hearts shrank back from the prospect of offering the other cheek to the smiter, there is no effort to evade the direct literalness with which the hermits interpreted our Lord’s commands. They hoped, apparently, to be somehow excused from obedience. It did not occur to them to cast round for an explanation of the words which would enable them to think of themselves as obeying while they refused to obey literally.” James Hannay

“…throughout the annals of the saintly life, we find this ever-recurring note: Fling yourself upon God’s providence without making any reserve whatever–take no thought for the morrow–sell all you have and give it to the poor–only when the sacrifice is ruthless and reckless will the higher safety really arrive.” William James

“If someone slaps you on one cheek,
offer the other cheek also.
If someone demands your coat,
offer your shirt also.”
Luke 6:29

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • When you hear Jesus say to turn the other cheek, to give to someone who asks, or to take no thought for tomorrow, do you find yourself saying, “He can’t really mean that.”?
  • Are you familiar with Christians who have refused to reconcile these commands with common sense (the desert hermits, St. Francis, MLK, Nelson Mandella)?
  • If you were to simply do what Jesus says, and at the same time “fling yourself upon God’s providence without making any reserve whatever”–what frightening thing might happen? …what good thing?

Abba, teach me to fling myself upon your providence without making any reserve. Hold my hand, for I hardly know the way.

For More: The Wisdom of the Desert by James O. Hannay

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

 

Daily Riches: The Unquenchable Yearning for Even More (Ian Morgan Cron, Gerard Straub, Evelyn Underhill, John Michael Talbot)

“There’s probably no dimension of Francis’s life that makes people more uncomfortable than his contempt for money, consumerism, and materialism and his love affair with Lady Poverty. In the century where the middle-class and conspicuous consumption were born, Francis questioned the absurdity of relying on material possessions to provide happiness. Although he didn’t set out to indict the opulence of the church or his fellow Christians, his manner of life served as a much-needed correction to their unthinking participation in the materialism of the Middle Ages. Many consumerism-weary aristocrats found his message inspiring, gave all they had to the poor and followed him. Some believe that twenty-first-century Christians have lost credibility in the West because they have failed to make countercultural choices when it comes to their personal economics. We proclaim that faith in God is the route to authentic happiness, but our hyper-acquisitive lifestyles contradict that assertion. When it comes to money, we don’t believe the words of our Founder. Rather, we are ‘behavioral atheists.'” Ian Morgan Cron

“Francis believed the Church’s languishing spirituality could be directly attributed to her vast wealth and rise to great political power, and that the Church need to be reminded of and strongly exhorted to follow–the example of absolute and voluntary poverty, along with the resulting detachment of worldliness, as exemplified by Christ and the apostles.” Gerard Straub

“Mystics know that possessions dissipate the energy which they need for other and more real things; that they must give up ownership, the verb “to have,’ if they are to attain the freedom which they seek….” Evelyn Underhill

“Like the branches of an unpruned tree, our attachment to possessions and wealth often chokes our lives, enslaves our souls, and hinders both human community and union with God. Francis prescribed simplicity as an antidote to our often unquenchable yearning for more and ever more.” John Michael Talbot

“The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God’s word,
but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life,
the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things,
and so no fruit is produced.” Jesus in Mark 4:18, 19

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Can you sense the danger to your soul that the “lure of wealth, and the desire for other things” creates?
  • Are your possessions dissipating “the energy [you] need for other and more real things?”
  • Are you willing to embrace “simplicity as an antidote to … unquenchable yearning?”

Abba, lead me into practices, like radical generosity, that will loosen the hold things have on me.

For More: Chasing Francis by Ian Morgan Cron

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and God seeks after you. Thanks for your interest! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Five Most Popular Posts in 2015

Happy new years and major thanks for all of you who subscribe to (or otherwise follow) and share my blog. It’s definitely a labor of love for me, and your interest, prayers and support mean a lot.

My Stats:

  • Posted 295 times  (602 posts in the archives)
  • Read in 18 Countries (including Zimbabwe)
  • Viewed 33,000 times in 2015

The most popular post on my busiest traffic day (167 views) was Daily Riches: When More Knowledge, Enthusiasm and Motivation Doesn’t Work (Pete Scazzero).

So, especially to the many who encourage me, to those who are giving prayerful consideration to the posts, to those who read on a daily basis–but really to everyone involved in this project … THANK YOU. I love the connection we have, the “riches” we can share together, and the knowledge that God is at work in all of it.

May you live in the love of God, surrounded by the grace of God–and may God be glorified.

Bill

Daily Riches: That’s Me … Losing My Ambition (The Order of Julian of Norwich)

“What matters is to make space for God by embracing His will. In Advent the most beautiful exemplar goes ahead of us: ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to your word.’ I am yours absolutely, do your will in me and through me. I turn over to you all my ambitions even of the most religious and spiritual kind. Do your will in darkness or in pain if necessary; I do not ask to understand. I commit myself to you completely. However Mary spent her days, we are told the only things that matter and those things—surrender, holding fast to God’s promises, expecting fulfillment—must be true of all who belong to Christ. The contemplative life has this Marian attitude or mode of being writ large into it. The dynamism of this perspective comes from living out of the hand of God, and not our own resources. Otherwise, it is not a dramatic way; faith keeps us in the here and now—in this moment and no other; in this situation and no other. Here is my Jesus, here in this moment, this duty, this set of circumstances. What a test of faith is the daily round of duties, the pressure of seeming trivialities, in the dull, wearying pain, lacking all glamour and grandeur. Especially when, as Mary in her lifetime, we are among those who fall below the radar of the worthwhile, where nobody notices, no stories or articles are written, no photos appear, and we ourselves seem utterly forgotten and swept along by events, The essentials for Mary were offering herself absolutely, hearing the word and living it in all its challenges, and the final consummation of perfect faith and surrender.”

“Mary responded, ‘I am the Lord’s servant.
May everything you have said about me come true.’”
Luke 1:38
.
Moving From the Head to the Heart
  • It’s common to make too much of Mary, and also to dismiss her. Instead, can you learn something valuable from Mary’s example?
  • Most of us “fall below the radar of the worthwhile” while wishing to be noticed or remembered. Can you offer yourself to God in the “daily round of duties … [and] seeming trivialities” and be unconcerned about the impact you’re making?
  • It’s “seeming trivialities” right? We never know what will matter in the end. Do you have a practice that “keeps you in the here and now?” … grounded? …above the circumstances? …unconcerned about your own “grandeur?”

Abba, teach me this Marian mode of being.

For More: the website of The Order of Julian of Norwich

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. Thanks for following and sharing my blog. I appreciate it! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: With Every Emotion (Saint Francis and Wayne Simsic)

“What is the ‘spiritual heart?’ It is our deep longing for God, the center of our humanness. Francis recognized the hunger for the fullness of God’s love in his own life, in the lives of others, and in the world. In the early days of his conversion, he walked into the abandoned church of San Damiano and knelt before its Byzantine crucifix. He prayed: ‘Most high, glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my heart….’ From the beginning, Francis had a strong awareness of a center where he struggled to discern God’s will. As adults in a busy world, we find it difficult to act from a heart center. We are too often tired, distracted, or goal oriented. We think too much, and our thoughts are the source of anxieties, guilt, and fears. We allow ourselves to be pulled into the past, into the future, and into fantasy. Thoughts split our minds from our hearts. Francis reminds us of our fundamental desire for wholeness. We yearn to integrate mind and heart. We begin by first getting in touch with our heart, in other words, cultivating a desire for God’s love. In time, thought will be guided more and more by a deeper spiritual energy. We will experience the revelation of the Spirit in the here and now–in these people, these birds, this landscape. The heart knows no boundary and gives us the capacity to engage others and the world with surprising intimacy and as truly unique and deserving of our respect. Francis’s childlikeness was a sign that he truly acted from his heart-center. He knew that he could not make himself a child of God–he simply needed to open his heart and allow God to love him. Responding to God’s presence like a child who trusted completely in a loving Parent, his relationship with God was spontaneous, uncluttered by ambition and calculation. Rather than promote his own agenda or hide behind fear, anxiousness, and other barriers to trust, Francis humbly accepted the mystery of his life and relied on the guidance of the Spirit. Cultivating a childlike trust of God in our own lives, we do not forfeit but enhance our deepest selves. Like Francis, we will uncover an unusual sensitivity to people, animals landscapes, and special places. The world will come alive and possess soul. The Spirit will reveal itself in surprising ways, unleashing a dynamic energy in all our relationships. Truly, a life is measured by the capacity of the heart.” Wayne Simsic

“Love the Lord your God
with all your heart….”
Jesus in Matthew 22:37
.

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Are you “too often tired, distracted, or goal oriented?”
  • How often do you “experience the revelation of the Spirit in the here and now?”
  • Does your answer to the first question explain your answer to the second question?

“Let us love [you] Lord God … with every effort, every affection, every emotion, every desire and every wish.” St. Francis

For More: Living the Wisdom of St. Francis by Wayne Simsic

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

 

Daily Riches: Consumption as a Sacrament (Thomas Merton, Noam Chomsky, Bob Dylan and Oliver Wendell Holmes)

“We live in a society whose whole policy is to excite every nerve in the human body and keep it at the highest pitch of artificial tension, to strain every human desire to the limit and to create as many new desires and synthetic passions as possible, in order to cater to them with the products of our factories and printing presses and movie studios and all the rest. …Advertising treats all products with the reverence and the seriousness due to sacraments.” Thomas Merton

“You cannot control your own population by force, but it can be distracted by consumption.” Noam Chomsky

“Advertising signs they con
You into thinking you’re the one
That can do what’s never been done
That can win what’s never been won
Meantime life outside goes on
All around you”
Bob Dylan, “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)”

“I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity.”  Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

“Then [Jesus] said to them,
‘Watch out! Be on your guard
against all kinds of greed;
life does not consist
in an abundance of possessions.’”
Luke 12:15

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you “distracted” by consumption? Are you a passive consumer of advertising?
  • Are you sensitive the attempts of advertisers to feed your ego? …to influence and control you?
  • Are you on guard against common premise that life consists “in an abundance of possessions?” What are you doing to live more simply?

Abba, help me see through the illusions of my day, through all the artificially induced complexity, to the true simplicity on the other side.

For More: The Seven Story Mountain by Thomas Merton

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

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

Daily Riches: Hooked On Productivity (Jan Johnson, Evelyn Underhill and Eugene Peterson)

“We mostly spend [our] lives conjugating three verbs: to want, to have and to do. Craving, clutching and fussing, we are kept in perpetual unrest.” Evelyn Underhill

“My jabbering prayers have been full of what I want, what I think I should have, and what I want God to do. …Instead of fussing, striving, and monitoring, we surrender ourselves to God over and over again. For those of us who are hooked on productivity, this approach is radical. …Letting go of the need to perform for God sets our hearts on things above and turns our backs on self-importance. Instead of trying to have an accomplishment-driven relationship with God, enjoying God’s presence points us toward:

  • resting instead of productivity,
  • being silent instead of talking,
  • listening instead of giving advice,
  • empowering others instead of preaching to them,
  • asking questions instead of knowing answers,
  • surrendering instead of gritting your teeth,
  • giving instead of consuming,
  • striving for brokenness instead of upward mobility, and
  • gearing down to simplicity instead of gearing up to empire building.” Jan Johnson

“In our religious striving, we are usually looking for something quite other than the God who has come looking for us.” Eugene Peterson

“Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
Psalm 46:10

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you “kept in perpetual unrest?” Are you “hooked on productivity?”
  • If so, what do these things say about your need to seem important to others? …to seem important to God? Could that be what you’re “usually looking for?”
  • The Scripture reminds us that God does not require or want our anxious striving. The list above spells out what a relaxed, trusting life might look like. Look at that list again. Is God speaking to you about anything there?

Father, May I rest instead of striving.
walk instead of racing.
receive instead of grasping.
listen instead of speaking.
endure instead of quitting.
May I trust instead of worrying.
appreciate instead of griping.
forgive instead of blaming, and
above all, may I love.

For More: When The Soul Listens: Finding Rest and Direction in Contemplative Prayer by Jan Johnson

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

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

Daily Riches: Learning From Quaker Silence (Anyushka)

“For a number of years, the thought of attending a Quaker meeting crossed my mind from time to time … yet, I hesitated, imagining how uncomfortable I could end up being, sitting quietly for an hour in a group of quiet people. …I walked into the presence of God in a way I could never have imagined. I sat there stunned by the realisation that, in Quaker meetings, silence is worship and worship is silent. I found myself in the silence of people for whom feeling the need to worship is their common ground, who know that God is present and that there is nothing that could possibly have to be said by anyone else but him. This silence felt like the most honest and right worship I had ever experienced–no liturgy to get between me and God, no distractions, no words trying to describe a reality beyond the limits of language and imagination. …[Quakers] honour ‘that of God’ within themselves and in everyone else. …There is no ‘method’ setting out what the experience should be like for everyone. Quaker silence feels neither like silence for the sake of silence, nor like a discipline to bend the Self into. This silence is a place beyond our Selves. My whole being is in tune with God who I listen to, and with everyone who listens with me. God is here, and has calmed the storm in my mind. God is here, and creates order and clarity and peace. God becomes so spacious in this silence that I know again how small I am–and that I do not have to pretend to be anything else but small.  …I am welcome to speak, as a woman, as a lay person, as a visitor. This is a place as free of judgment or prejudice as it can get between people…. We all left our egos at the door for an hour, and I was glad to get a break from mine. …When I left after the meeting, I knew that everything I needed had been given to me. I had experienced Communion, in the most direct and uncomplicated way. This kind of silence is hard to describe and, I find, hard to forget.” Anyuska

“Listen in silence before me.” Isaiah 41:1

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Could you sit quietly for an hour?
  • Can you imagine worship with no need for human speech? …no liturgy between you and God? …no words trying to explain the inexplicable?
  • When was the last time you left church feeling that “everything you needed” was given to you?

Abba, envelop me in deep silence.

For More: Invitation to Solitude and Silence by Ruth Haley Barton

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If you benefited in some way from this, please share it with others! – Bill

Daily Riches: Opening Up Space for God in Your Life (Keri Wyatt Kent and Brian Mclaren)

“Dallas Willard once wrote that the secret of the easy yoke is to live your life as Jesus would it he were in your place. How do you do that? I believe the first step is to slow down the pace. That allows you to be fully present, to be mindful, to be intentional, to create space, and to notice where God is working and join him in that work. …[My focus is] on three Christian practices that help us live as Jesus would if he were in our place: simplicity, slowing, and Sabbath-keeping. …Notice that these three create space for practices such as solitude, service, prayer, meditation on Scripture, and others. …Any spiritual practice, from solitude to service, must be approached in an unhurried fashion or the benefits of the practice itself will be lost. Connection with God, which is the reason for any spiritual practice, begins with changing our focus (from ourselves and our problems to God and his sufficiency) and changing our pace (from hurried and distracted to deliberate and focused). That is what simplicity, slowing, and Sabbath-keeping force us to do. They move us toward a life, an easy yoke, which if you let it, will open up space for God. …[redirecting] you toward a simpler lifestyle with more of God in it and to help you find rest for your soul and lighten your burden.” Keri Wyatt Kent

“Resting in the presence of God, without work or speech … one becomes more aware of the companionship, grace, and love of God than one has been of the companionship, demands, and duties associated with other people. …Contemplative practices … are exercised more or less in solitude, making the first cluster [solitude, sabbath, and silence] in many ways the key to the rest.” Brian Mclaren

“For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” 

Jesus in Matthew 11:30

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Imagine Jesus living your life. How would that differ from how you’re living it?
  • Are you able to approach your life with God “in an unhurried fashion?” Is it “deliberate and focused” or improvised and impromptu?
  • Can you imagine “opening up space for God” in your life? Try it. What would that look like?

Jesus, help me as I try to imagine how you would live my life.

For More: Breathe: Creating Space for God in a Hectic Life by Keri Wyatt Kent

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. If you liked this, please share it! I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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

Daily Riches: Emulating Rabbi Jesus (Keri Wyatt Kent, Rob Bell)

“When Jesus spoke of his ‘yoke,’ his listeners in that day and culture would understand it a bit differently than we might. A rabbi like Jesus would tell his followers how he interpreted the Torah … and the Prophets. His interpretation of how to apply God’s law, how to live it out, was called his yoke. For example, a rabbi’s yoke was simply his teaching on what it means, practically speaking, to ‘love your neighbor’ or ‘honor your parents.’ What specific things did you need to do to comply with those rules? And which rules were the most important? That’s what a rabbi’s yoke addressed. A rabbi’s disciples would take on his yoke, that is, try to emulate their master, try to live out God’s law by using the rabbi as a role model. That’s why, in the gospel stories, you often find people asking Jesus questions such as ‘Which is the most important commandment?’ or ‘Who is my neighbor?’ They are asking, okay, Jesus, what’s your yoke? Learning this (thanks to Pastor Rob Bell) was revolutionary for me. I had always thought of a yoke as a heavy burden, and I was confused about how a yoke could be easy or light. If a yoke is simply a way of life, a lifestyle that Jesus modeled, a way of life that says simply love God and love each other, then it is entirely possible. It could be something light. …The metaphor also reminds us that we are not working by ourselves. Instead, we are yoked to Jesus, and he shares equally in the burden of our transformation. He is at our side and is for us. We’re not carrying the burden of living the Christian life alone. Jesus is not the farmer driving the ox; he’s the other ox pulling with us. We need to slow down enough to notice that he’s there and work with him, not against him.” Keri Wyatt Kent

“Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you … and you will find rest for your souls.”

Jesus in Matthew 11:29

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Before we can “do what Jesus did” we need to live as Jesus lived. Jesus practiced simplicity, slowness and sabbath. Are you “emulating Jesus” in any of these ways?
  • Jesus loved God and others. Can you do that?
  • Do you ever feel like Jesus is “the farmer driving the ox” – and that you’re the ox? Where does that come from?

Abba, help me remember you’re right beside me. Help me work with you, not against you.

For More: Breathe by Keri Wyatt Kent

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. If this was helpful, please share! –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)