Daily Riches: God’s Way Is Through The Desert (Belden Lane)

“Biblical religion, from ancient Israel to the early church, takes shape in a geographical context dominated by desert-mountain topography. Yahweh is a God who repeatedly leads the children of Israel into the desert, toward the mountain. Of the recurring traditions that undergo transformation in Israel’s life the wilderness motif is one of the most significant. At every subsequent period of testing–from Assyrian threat to Babylonian invasion and beyond–the Jews interpret the loss and possibilities of the present in light of their collective memory of the wilderness experience. Having once been taken to the edge, they view all succeeding passages into the wilds of unpredictability in light of that metaphorical paradigm. The god of Sinai is one who thrives on fierce landscapes, seemingly forcing God’s people into wild and wretched climes where trust must be absolute. In the Talmudic tradition of the rabbis, this geographical preference on God’s part came to be discussed in connection with a difficult text in Exodus 13:17. The text affirms, in its most usual English translation, that when Pharoah let the people of Israel go, Yahweh did not lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines, although that would have been closer; they were not taken along the Mediterranean coast and into Palestine, by the easier, more direct route to the north. Instead, they were pointed toward a longer route, further south, more deeply into the desert, toward Mount Sinai. …God’s people are deliberately forced into the desert–taking the harder, more onerous and hazardous route–as an exacting exercise in radical faith. They are shoved down the difficult path so there will be no thought of ever turning back. They cover grueling miles of terrain so tortuous they will never be tempted to recross it in quest of the leeks and onions they remembered in Egypt. Perhaps others can go around the desert on the simpler route toward home, but the way of God’s people is always through it.” Belden Lane

“When Pharaoh finally let the people go,
God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory,
even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land.”
Exodus 13:17

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Has God led you into a long, onerous, desert place which you would never have chosen?
  • In  that “exacting exercise in radical faith” do you find yourself being shaped by God?
  • If you had it to do over, would you take the “simpler route?”

Abba, meet me in the desert place.

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: The Painful Process of Spiritual Formation (Geri Scazzero, Parker Palmer and Belden Lane)

“Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel is one of history’s greatest artistic triumphs. From 1508 to 1512, the artist lay on his back and painted the creation, fall, and destruction of the human race by the flood. The images, however, started to fade almost immediately after he painted them. Within a hundred years no one remembered what the original colors really had looked like. In 1980, a scaffold was erected and plans made to clean the ceiling of Michelangelo’s priceless masterpiece. The director of the restoration project did a critical experiment using a special solution on one or two square inches at a time. For the next twelve years they cleaned the entire ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. No one expected the results to be so stunning! No one realized Michelangelo was such a master of color—of azure, green, rose, lavender. Beneath centuries of grime and dirt, passionate colors lay buried. For the first time in over 450 years, people could view the masterpiece as it was originally intended, in all its color and beauty. Stripping off the false layers and dirt that cover up your unique destiny and life is complex. Parker Palmer describes it like this, ‘Most of us arrive at a sense of self only through a long journey through alien lands. But this journey bears no resemblance to the trouble-free “travel packages” sold by the tourism industry. It is more akin to the ancient tradition of pilgrimage – “a transformative journey to a sacred center” full of hardship, darkness and peril.'” Geri Scazzero

“The way of purgation involves an entry into what is unnerving, even grotesque in our lives, into what quickly reveals our limits. It seems at first, like most beginnings in the spiritual life, a mistake, a false start, an imperfection in God’s planning, a regression in our own growth. Only through hindsight do we recognize it for the unexpected gift that it is.” Belden Lane

“And I saw the river over which every soul must pass to reach the kingdom of heaven
and the name of that river was suffering
and I saw the boat which carries souls across the river
and the name of that boat was love.”
John of the Cross

“Through many tribulations
we must enter the kingdom of God.”
Acts 14:22

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Are you aware of things in your life that need to be “stripped away?”
  • Are you willing to take that (often difficult) “transformative journey?”
  • Have you experienced a great loss, only to recognize it later as an “unexpected gift?”

Abba, strip away what keeps me from being the person you imagined and need.

For More: I Quit! by Gerri Scazzero

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. Thanks for sharing/following my blog! – 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: 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: Lent–The Grand Reduction (Alicia Britt Chole)

“The sabbatical started more suddenly and violently than anticipated. A high fever, a few scans, multiple masses, possibly a lethal abscess . . . the specialists convened, conferred, counseled me to cancel all engagements, and began cutting. The reduction had begun. Waking from surgery, my first memory was seeing a dear friend place a hand over her mouth. Later she told me, ‘I’d never seen anyone that color, alive.’ The masses, thankfully, were all benign. But my body did not respond well to the invasion. The area’s organs went into hibernation and for the first time in my life, I became familiar with breathtaking pain. The experience redefined that word for me. It hurt to be awake. It hurt to see my children’s fear. It hurt to hear, ‘We don’t know why.’ In time, it would even hurt to hope. Reductions, it seems, have blurry release dates. Days stacked upon one another in vain like whisper-thin blankets with no warmth to offer. Though technology blinked, beeped, and buzzed noisily around me, the organs slept on. This healing simply would not be hurried. The wound was evidently too great to risk haste. After eight days in the hospital, the doctors sent me home. ‘At this point, I give you a fifty-fifty chance that the organs will come back online,’ the specialist offered. With those words, my entire recovery-time ‘to do’ list vaporized in the desert heat of pain. All I could do was sit and be loved—a need that my family filled extravagantly. Little did I know that the pain was under assignment: it was making room in my life for another operation well beyond the reach of any surgeon’s scalpel. I would not trade that desert of pain for the world. Deserts unclutter the soul. The hot desert sun vaporizes all manner of luxuries. Then the cold, shelterless nights expose the essential guts of life. I needed to eat, to sleep, to be protected, and to not be alone. Lent had come half a year early. God asked me to fast mental and physical strength. He invited me into holy weakness. I found Jesus there. We often think of Jesus’ fast beginning when He stepped into the Judean wilderness. But the fast actually began three decades earlier when the Glory of heaven was wrapped in plain paper and given as a gift to mankind. The Grand Reduction had begun. Jesus fasted omnipresence and clothed Himself with flesh. He fasted being worshiped by angels and accepted the disregard of man. He fasted the Voice that birthed planets and submitted to the silence of thirty hidden years: How must it have felt—knowing he had the power to heal—to have to walk past children suffering with leprosy? What would it have been like—knowing that his conception was miraculous—to be unable to defend his mother when others whispered about her past? And how agonizing would it be—when his Word could one day raise the dead to life again—to stand by while those he loved (perhaps even Joseph his father) died? We are duly thankful, challenged, and inspired by Jesus’ forty-day fast from food in the Judean wilderness. Perhaps we should likewise be grateful, awed, and humbled by His thirty-year fast from praise, power, and potential in Nazareth. It takes a great deal of strength to choose weakness. Jesus chose voluntarily. I did not possess the courage or wisdom to volunteer. So God, for the sake of my soul, took me there involuntarily. His drafts are merciful indeed. When He calls us to fast strength—when He drafts us into decrease—God’s purposes are clear: Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. (Deuteronomy 8: 2– 3) To humble us, to test us, to know what is in our hearts . . . such is the sifting power of helplessness. In our daily lives, we may prefer self-reliance. But perhaps utter dependence is the truer friend of our souls.” Alicia Britt Chole

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have you ever considered meeting Jesus in the midst of your “breathtaking pain?” … your “utter dependence?”
  • Are you perhaps waiting for a healing that you shouldn’t rush–that will not be hurried?
  • Is God inviting you into a decluttering “holy weakness?” Have you followed? Have you found Jesus there?

Abba, unclutter my soul. Use my decrease for increase.

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

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Thanks for reading and sharing my blog! (Sorry, longer than usual, but too awesome to clip.) – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Music–The Best Therapy (William Cowper, Teresa of Avila, William and Randy Peterson)

“William Cowper, whose poems appear in most collections of great English literature, was beset with emotional problems throughout his life. His mother died when he was six, at school he was teased and ridiculed, and his father prevented him from marrying the girl he loved. Forced to study law, he panicked when he learned he would have his bar exam before the House of Lords–and tried to commit suicide. After a year in an insane asylum, he was released into the care of a Christian couple. It seemed that hymnwriting was the best therapy Cowper could get. But mental illness continued to plague the poet, and he frequently lapsed into deep depression. You can almost see his self-portrait [below] in the ‘fearful saints’ who need to take ‘fresh courage’ in the future blessings of God. Intellectually he knew the truth of these lines, but emotionally he was still trying to grasp it.” William and Randy Peterson

“God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

“Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

“Judge not the Lord by feeble sense.
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

“His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

“Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own Interpreter,
And He will make it plain.”

William Cowper

“Let nothing disturb you. Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away. God never changes.
Patience obtains all things. Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.”
— St. Teresa of Avila, from her bookmark

“Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
for my hope is in him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress where I will not be shaken.”
Psalm 62:5-6

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Both Cowper and Teresa are “talking to themselves”–like the psalmist. Do you talk to yourself? What do you say?
  • “Intellectually [Cowper] knew the truth of these lines, but emotionally he was still trying to grasp it.” Isn’t that often our experience as well? And what would you say was the truth of those lines?
  • The story refuses a typical happy ending. Cowper still suffered. He still struggled. Is there space in your view of the life of faith for that? …for people like that? …for yourself, when you’re like that?

Abba, thank you for the therapy of music.

For More: The One Year Book of Hymns, edited by Brown and Norton

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

Daily Riches: Desperation, Loneliness and Fear (Nas, Macrina Wiederkehr and Jim Palmer)

“Life …

I wonder,
Will it take me under?
I don’t know.”
Naz – “If I ruled the world.”

“My loneliness attracts me to the feet of Jesus. Like a magnet I am drawn there, longing to be all one with God. The separateness I keep choosing makes me desperately homesick, and so I am willing, at last, to surrender my divided heart. I am homesick to be one with God. Union with God is the only heaven there is, and it begins here on earth. …There is someone I must become. There is someone I must be grafted onto, and how lonely I am until it is accomplished. My loneliness blesses me because it shows me that I’m not enough all by myself, and so I am impelled to reach out my arms and heart to God and to others. My loneliness blesses me because it encourages me to allow myself to be vulnerable. My loneliness blesses me because it won’t let me hide in the illusion of my self-sufficiency.” Macrina Wiederkehr

“Fear, guilt and shame can be useful on your spiritual journey. When you experience these, follow the trail back to the idea, notion, belief or concept that was the source.” Jim Palmer

“Whom have in heaven but you?
I desire you more than anything on earth.
My health may fail,
and my spirit may grow weak,
but God remains the strength of my heart;
he is mine forever.”
Psalm 73:25, 26

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Have you wondered if “life will take [you] under?” Have you felt “desperately homesick?” …desperately afraid of something (or many things) out of your control?
  • Can you “follow the trail [of that feeling] back to … the belief or concept that was the source?” Pause now, and try that.
  • Is there a way that your desperation–your loneliness, your fear, your powerlessness–“blesses” you?

Abba, in my loneliness and fear may I turn to you.

For More: A Tree Full of Angels by Macrina Wiederkehr

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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: 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: Love Expands to Overcome Evil (Alan Watts and Preston Sprinkle)

“Evil is the attempt to pick a quarrel with God, and because it cannot, it wears itself out with exasperation. Although evil struggles to exclude and oppose God, it never succeeds because he always embraces it in His all-inclusive love. …Not only is evil unable to oppose and exclude God, but it also achieves the very contrary of its aim. In spite of itself, it achieves greater and greater demonstrations of the divine love, just as in trying to destroy Christ, Judas achieved unwittingly the salvation of the world. This was because Christ accepted the injury done to Him with all-inclusive love of God. ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ The greater the evil, the greater it proves the love of God to be, because that love simply ‘enlarges’ itself to include and embrace it.” Alan Watts

“Jesus grounds enemy-love in the character of God. We are to love our enemy so that we might be ‘sons of the Most High’ who is ‘kind to the ungrateful and the evil’ and is merciful to the undeserving (Luke 6: 35– 36). We renounce power and become servants because ‘even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve’ (Mark. 10: 45). We love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, bless those who curse us, extend kindness to the ungrateful, and flood evil people with mercy not because such behavior will always work at confronting injustice, but because such behavior showcases God’s stubborn delight in undelightful people. Faithfulness rather than perceived effectiveness motivates our response to evil. We are faithful conduits of God’s undeserved love when we do good to those who hate us. In a world swimming in violence, in a land where ‘messiah’ meant militancy, Jesus never acts violently. Whenever violence is addressed, Jesus condemns it. Whenever His followers try to act violently, they are confronted. Whenever Jesus encounters people who deserve a violent punishment, Jesus loves them. And in doing so, He leaves His followers with a nonviolent example to follow. When people around the globe think that American Christians are pro-war, enamored with violence, and fascinated with military might, something is terribly wrong. No one in the first century would have made the same conclusion regarding Jesus and His followers.” Preston Sprinkle

“but where sin increased,
grace abounded all the more”
Romans 5:20

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is the God you worship one who overcomes evil with love?
  • Do you sincerely believe that love is more powerful than hate? …forgiveness, than judgment?
  • What would first century Christians think of your version of the faith?

Abba, daily teach teach me the way of peace.

For more: Behold the Spirit by Alan Watts

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Thanks for reading and sharing my blog! – Bill

 

Daily Riches: What Would Jesus Do? (Preston Sprinkle)

“I love the phrase ‘cruciform suffering,’ which means ‘cross-shaped suffering,’ because it gives theological meat to suffering. Jesus’s cross and resurrection infuse suffering with value and hope—hope that Jesus-following sufferers will be raised from the dead; hope that God will judge the wicked and reward the righteous; hope that believes Jesus triumphed over evil through suffering and invited us to join Him in victory. This is what I mean by ‘cruciform suffering’: suffering that embraces the journey Jesus took to Calvary, who ‘continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly’ (1 Pet. 2: 23). …From beginning to end, Peter tries to pry the church’s gaze away from its earthly kingdom and onto the Lord Jesus. Peter refers to the church as ‘exiles,’ sojourners and aliens living in a strange land. We are ‘a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession’ (1 Pet. 2: 9). All of these images underwrite Jesus’s claim that His kingdom is not of this world. And the most visible form of Jesus’s not-of-this-world kingdom is the radical, head-turning love of one’s enemies, even (or especially) when we are suffering at their hands. Peter mentions this cruciform enemy-love no fewer than ten times in five chapters, making it the artery of the letter. Peter commands the church sojourning in Rome’s kingdom to ‘honor everyone,’ endure while suffering, revile no one when reviled, never ‘repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling’ but bless your reviler. If you want to be like Jesus, Peter says, then you need to live as Jesus lived. You need to turn from evil, do good, seek peace and pursue it vigorously. To those who attack you verbally, respond with gentleness and respect. To those who attack you physically, respond as Christ responded to His attackers (1 Pet. 2: 20– 22). Peter even uses military language ironically to speak of the believer’s posture of weakness, not might: ‘arm yourselves’ with the sufferings of Christ (4: 1); abstain from sinful passions that ‘wage war against your soul’ (2: 11)—passions such as retaliation. The entire letter of 1 Peter gives sustained attention to what Paul says in Philippians 2. The church is to follow Jesus in His posture of weakness and suffering, because this is the pathway to glory.” Preston Sprinkle

“He was oppressed and treated harshly,
yet he never said a word.
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.”
Isaiah 53:7

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you find this argument convincing and convicting?
  • Scripture emphasizes it, but not most churches. Is it central for you?
  • Where are you failing to do what Jesus would do?

Abba, teach me the way of peace.

For More: Fight by Preston Sprinkle

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

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

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

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

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

Frederick Buechner

.

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

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

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

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

Moving From the Head to the Heart

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

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

For more: Addiction and Grace by Gerald May

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and God seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. I appreciate your interest! Please leave a comment or question. –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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

Daily Riches: Feeling Joy In a World of Pain (Lynne Baab)

“I find it quite challenging to accept the notion that we have some sort of responsibility before God to enjoy the good things of life. For most of my adult life, I’ve had an inner dialogue running through my brain along these lines: ‘How can I truly enjoy this wonderful event when 22,000 children will die today of the effects of hunger?’ – ‘How can I relish this beautiful weather when 11.4 million Syrians are displaced from their homes?’ Ever since my mid-twenties, I’ve been much, much better at mourning with those who mourn rather than rejoicing with those who rejoice. However, I’m doing better these days enjoying God’s good gifts. I want to reflect on how that happened. …

The Sabbath.  …In Jewish tradition, prayers of intercession are not appropriate on the Sabbath because it’s a day of rest. In contrast, prayers of thankfulness are encouraged. On my Sabbath day, when I start thinking about any kind of pain in the world, the kind of situations that might motivate prayers of intercession, I tell myself, You can think about that and pray about it tomorrow. Today’s focus is rest and being present to all of God’s good gifts.’ Over many years, that Sabbath habit has helped me turn off anxiety and sorrow, albeit briefly, and focus on the gifts of the moment. …

The Psalms. In the Psalms, confession, lament, praise and thanks recur over and over, reinforcing in my mind that there is a time for everything and that life should be lived in a rhythm. Yes, it is completely appropriate to grieve over Syria and to pray for refugees. But it is equally appropriate to stop and look and enjoy the beautiful clear eyes of a small child or a flower newly unfurled.

This reality has become more real to me over time as I have practiced lack of worry and sorrow on the Sabbath and as I have practiced thankfulness. My habits have changed my thoughts. None of the shifts described here happened very quickly for me. But I can see movement over time, and I have to say that after decades of feeling so much sorrow and sadness, having a good number of moments of joy is pretty wonderful.” Lynne Baab

““For everything there is a season…
A time to grieve and a time to dance.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1,4

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Would you like a break from “feeling so much sorrow and sadness” over our pain-filled world?
  • Do you have a day in your weekly calendar where you can allow yourself to be “sorrow free?”
  • Can you see the value in such a day?

Abba, let me both weep and rejoice as I should.

For more: Sabbath Keeping by Lynne Baab

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Thanks for reading/sharing my blog. – Bill

Daily Riches: Filling Up What Is Lacking in Christ’s Afflictions (John Howard Yoder and Henri Nouwen)

“We use the word cross in our hymns, in our piety, in our prayers, and in our pastoral language. But we use it too cheaply. We say that a person has to live with some sort of suffering in life: a sickness that cannot be cured, an unresolvable personality conflict within the family, poverty, or some other unexplainable or unchangeable suffering. Then we say, ‘That person has a cross to bear.’ Granted, whatever kind of suffering we have is suffering that we can bear in confidence that God is with us. But the cross that Jesus had to face, because he chose to face it, was not—like sickness—something that strikes you without explanation. It was not some continuing difficulty in his social life. It was not an accident or catastrophe that just happened to hit him when it could have hit somebody else. Jesus’ cross was the price to pay for being the kind of person he was in the kind of world he was in; the cross that he chose was the price of his representing a new way of life in a world that did not want a new way of life. That is what he called his followers to do.” John Howard Yoder

“Jesus has a different vision of maturity: It is the ability and willingness to be led where you would not rather go…. The servant leader is the leader who is being led to unknown, undesirable, and painful places. The way of the Christian leader is not the way of upward mobility in which our world has invested so much, but the way of downward mobility ending on the cross…. It is not a leadership of power and control, but a leadership of powerlessness and humility in which the suffering servant of God, Jesus Christ, is made manifest. Jesus sends us out to be shepherds, and Jesus promises a life in which we increasingly have to stretch out our hands and be led to places where we would rather not go.” Henri Nouwen

“I do my share on behalf of His body,
which is the church,
in filling up what is lacking
in Christ’s afflictions.”
Colossians 1:24

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Suffering is ultimately inevitable, but not the suffering that is “filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.” Is any of your suffering that kind of suffering?
  • Are you willing to be “the kind of person” who will suffer in this world? …to be led by God “to places you would rather not go?”
  • Is your discipleship at all “radical?”

Abba, may my life advance your redemptive work in this world, even it if costs.

For more: Radical Discipleship by John Howard Yoder

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Thanks for reading, sharing and following my blog! Bill

 

Daily Riches: When God Seems Absent (Philip Yancey)

Job teaches …that we need faith at the precise moment when it seems impossible. When tragedy strikes, we too will be trapped in a limited point of view. Like Job, we will be tempted to blame God and see him as the enemy. Job asked God poignantly, ‘Does it please you to oppress me, to spurn the work of your hands?’ (10:3). The view behind the curtain in chapters 1—2 reveals that Job was being exalted, not spurned. God was letting his own reputation ride on the response of a single human being. At the time when Job felt most abandoned, at that very time God was giving him personal, almost microscopic scrutiny. God seemed absent; in one sense God had never been more present. I hesitate to write this because it is a hard truth, one I do not want to acknowledge: Job convinces me that God cares more about our faith than our pleasure. That statement does not fit with the cloying, teddy-bear image of God often presented by Christians. I may not arrive at such a conclusion if Job stood alone, but think back to the trials some of God’s favorite people have undergone. …Even the Son of God on earth felt a sense of being abandoned by God. Like the Israelites in the wilderness, Jesus went through a trial by ordeal to ‘know what was in his heart.’ Later, in a far more severe trial, Jesus cried out on the cross (quoting Psalm 22), ‘My God, why have you forsaken me?’ Like Job, he continued to trust God despite the God-forsaken feeling: ‘Into thy hands I commit my spirit.’ For him too, at the very moment when God seemed most absent, at that moment the Father had never been more present. Paul tells us that on the cross God was ‘in Christ … reconciling the world to himself.'” Philip Yancey
“Though he slay me,
yet will I trust him.”
Job 13:15
.

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • What is your usual response when you feel forgotten or abandoned by God?
  • Does it make sense that God would care more about your growth in faith than your comfort?
  • Have you determined like Job did that you will commit yourself into the “hands” of God no matter what may come?

Abba, I will never not trust you.

For More: The Bible Jesus Read by Philip Yancey

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and God seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. I appreciate your interest! Please leave a comment or question. –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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

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

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

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

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

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

says Yahweh.”
Jeremiah 15:6
 .

Moving From the Head to the Heart

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

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

For More: Soul Making by Alan Jones

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

Daily Riches: Wilderness Times (Barbara Brown Taylor, Terry Tempest Williams, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Richard Rohr and Ben Johnson)

“He knows not his own strength that hath not met adversity. Heaven prepares good men with crosses.” Ben Johnson

“Popular religion focuses so hard on spiritual success that most of us do not know the first thing about the spiritual fruits of failure. When we fall ill, lose our jobs, wreck our marriages, or alienate our children, most of us are left alone to pick up the pieces. Even those of us who are ministered to by brave friends can find it hard to shake the shame of getting lost in our lives. And yet if someone asked us to pinpoint the times in our lives that changed us for the better, a lot of those times would be wilderness times.” Barbara Brown Taylor

“If the desert is holy, it is because it is a forgotten place that allows us to remember the sacred. Perhaps that is why every pilgrimage to the desert is a pilgrimage to the self. There is no place to hide and so we are found.” Terry Tempest Williams

“No water tastes so sweet as that which springs amid the desert sand. And no faith is so precious as that which lives and triumphs through adversity. Tested faith brings experience. You would never have believed your own weakness had you not needed to pass through trials. And you would never have known God’s strength had His strength not been needed to carry you through.” Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“The path of descent is the path of transformation. Darkness, failure, relapse, death, and woundedness are our primary teachers, rather than ideas or doctrines.” Richard Rohr

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have the events of your life ever led you into a “wilderness?” …into a kind of “descent?”
  • Did you make discoveries there? …about yourself? …about your God? Was it transformative? If not, why not?
  • Are you so willing for God to change you and shape you that you can be thankful for wilderness times?

Abba, thank you for meeting me in the wilderness.

For More: An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor

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

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