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: Training Not Trying (Phillips Brooks, C. S. Lewis, John Ortberg and Dallas Willard)

“We can become like Christ by doing on thing–following him in the overall style of life he chose for himself.” “The way to liberation and rest lies through a decision and a practice.” Dallas Willard

“Someday, in years to come, you’ll be wrestling with the great temptation, or trembling under the great sorrow, of your life. But the real struggle is here, now, in these quiet weeks. Now it is being decided whether, in the day of your supreme sorrow or temptation, you shall miserably fail or gloriously conquer. Character cannot be made except by a steady, long-continued process.” Phillips Brooks

“Any time you make a choice, you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. Taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this thing into either a heavenly creature or a hellish creature. That is, either a creature that is in harmony with God, its fellow creatures, and itself, or else into a creature that is in a state of war and hatred with God, its fellow creatures, and itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven, joy, peace, knowledge, and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other.” C. S. Lewis

Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things.
They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.
Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim;
I box in such a way, as not beating the air;
but I discipline my body and make it my slave,
so that, after I have preached to others,
I myself will not be disqualified.”
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is your approach to the spiritual life characterized by “a practice”–a training regimen like that of an athlete? …a studious approach like that of an apprentice?
  • The Lewis quote is hard to hear but also hard to ignore. What’s your reaction?
  • Are you training your body now for success, or just hoping in that future day of testing to win by just trying really hard?

Abba, by practicing may I learn to do “the right thing at the right time in the right way with the right spirit.” (John Ortberg)

For More: Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Moving From the Head to the Heart

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

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

For More: On This Day by Robert J. Morgan

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

Daily Riches: Reading the Bible, Read by the Bible (Gary Moon and Brian McLaren)

“What if instead of reading the Bible, you let the Bible read you?” Brian McLaren

“Hal … only had three fingers on his left hand. There should have been four. He lost one legitimately while working with his skilsaw. The second finger was lost while showing a friend how he lost the first. After that he let his wife tell folks about the accident(s). Hal was known for reading the Bible. Before he retired and back when he had all ten fingers, he was known for flipping through the well-worn pages of his Bible really fast so he’d be the first in the congregation to locate the sermon text. As soon as the preacher would say, ‘I’ll be speaking from John 1:1–10,’ there would be a quick rustling of pages. Hal was off like a hummingbird on crack! And before the preacher could read, ‘In the beginning was the Word,’ Hal would have his right index finger on the spot. When Hal retired he decided to become more serious and systematic with his Bible reading. He bought one of those ‘Read-the-Bible-in-a-Year’ Bibles, and he did just that. And apparently he really enjoyed it because on New Year’s Eve the following year he determined to read all the way through the Bible in a month. And he did. Apparently Hal liked that as well, because he resolved to read the Bible through once per month for every month of that new year. And he did. From all his Bible reading, Hal thought he had figured out that God seemed to be partial to some numbers more than others. The numbers 3, 7, 12, 40, and 144 seemed particularly important to God, and this gave Hal an idea. He determined that he would continue reading the Bible through once each month until he had read from cover to cover 144 times. And he did! When Hal died, he was known for being one of the meanest, angriest, and most hateful people you could ever meet. Hal made a mistake. He got all the way through the Bible many times, but he never got certain key passages all the way through himself.” Gary Moon

“give me life through your word.”
Psalm 119:37

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • As time goes by, is your thirst for the Bible growing? Are you in it daily, or rarely?
  • Do you read the Bible in such a way that it “gets through” to you?
  • What would it mean to let the Bible “read you?” Can you make a short list?

Abba, I seek you behind the pages of your Word.

For more: Apprenticeship with Jesus by Gary Moon

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. Thanks! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

 

Daily Riches: Jesus and His Convulsive Earthquake (Brennan Manning and Thomas Merton)

“Jesus Christ has irreparably changed the world. When preached purely, His Word exalts, frightens, shocks, and forces us to reassess our whole life. The gospel breaks our train of thought, shatters our comfortable piety, and cracks open our capsule truths. The flashing spirit of Jesus Christ breaks new paths everywhere. His sentences stand like quivering swords of flame because He did not come to bring peace, but a revolution. The gospel is not a children’s fairy tale, but rather a cutting-edge, rolling-thunder, convulsive earthquake in the world of the human spirit. By entering human history, God has demolished all previous conceptions of who God is and what man is supposed to be. We are, suddenly, presented with a God who suffers crucifixion. This is not the God of the philosophers who speak with cool detachment about the Supreme Being. A Supreme Being would never allow spit on his face. It is jarring indeed to learn that what He went through in His passion and death is meant for us too; that the invitation He extends is Don’t weep for Me! Join Me! The life He has planned for Christians is a life much like He lived. He was not poor that we might be rich. He was not mocked that we might be honored. He was not laughed at so that we would be lauded. On the contrary, He revealed a picture meant to include you and me.” Brennan Manning

“Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth!
I came not to bring peace, but a sword.”
Jesus, in Matthew 10:34

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Is yours a “comfortable piety?”
  • Is the “convulsive earthquake” of Jesus continuing with you?
  • Do you need to reacquaint yourself with Jesus of the gospels?

Why should I want to be rich, when You were poor? Why should I desire to be famous and powerful in the eyes of men, when the sons of those who exalted the false prophets and stoned the true rejected You and Nailed You to the Cross? …My hope is in what the eye has never seen. Therefore, let me not trust in visible rewards. My hope is in what the heart of man cannot feel. Therefore let me not trust in the feelings of my heart. My hope is in what the hand of man has never touched. Do not let me trust what I can grasp between my fingers. Death will loosen my grasp and my vain hope will be gone. Let my trust be in Your mercy, not in myself. Let my hope be in Your love, not in health, or strength, or ability or human resources. –  Thomas Merton

For More: The Furious Longing of God by Brennan Manning

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Thanks for reading/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: How Good a Christian Are You? (Gregory Boyd)

“John [the apostle] sums up the matter bluntly. ‘Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars’ (1 John 4:20). To truly love God includes loving others with the same love God has for us and the same love God has for them. This is part of what it means to be a participant in the divine nature. It is, in fact, what it means to be Christian (Christ-like). ‘Whoever does not love,’ John wrote, ‘does not know God, for God is love’ (1 John 4:8). Our capacity to love—to fulfill the greatest two commandments—is the definitive evidence that we are in fact abiding in Christ and participating in the perfect love of the triune God. Christians sometimes try to assess how they or others are doing on the basis of such things as how successfully they conquer a particular sin, how much prayer and Bible study they do, how regularly they attend and give to church, and so forth. But rarely do we honestly ask the question that Scripture places at the center of everything: Are we growing in our capacity to love all people? Do we have an increasing love for our sisters and brothers in Christ as well as for those for whom Christ died who are yet outside the church? Are we increasing in our capacity to ascribe unsurpassable worth to people whom society judges to have no worth? If there is any distinguishing mark of the true disciple from a biblical perspective, this is it!” Gregory Boyd

“If we love our brothers and sisters who are believers,
it proves that we have passed from death to life.
But a person who has no love is still dead.”
1 John 3:14
 .
Moving From the Head to the Heart
  • With what criteria do you measure how you’re doing as a Christian?
  • Do you focus on your beliefs? …the opinions of others? …abstaining from big sins? …approval by your church? …practicing spiritual disciplines? …tireless service to Christ?
  • What would change if you mostly asked yourself, “Am I growing in my capacity to love all people?”

Abba, I’m not too bad at loving those that love me (except when I’m not), but loving others that dislike, disregard or disrespect me–that’s where I need to love like you do. Help me learn that Lord. May that be my “practice.”

For More: Repenting of Religion by Gregory Boyd

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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 appreciate your interest! – Bill

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

 

Daily Riches: The Impact of Others on Your Emotional Health (Pete Scazzero, Francis Fenelon, Oswald Chambers and Thomas Merton)

“We can often do more for other men by trying to correct our own faults than by trying to correct theirs.” Francis Fenelon

“Before we can conquer the world we must conquer the self.” Oswald Sanders

“In this journey of emotionally healthy spirituality, we are talking about radical change at the core of our being. At least two critical forces hinder such a profound shift. First, the pressure of others to keep us living lives that are not our own is enormous. And second, our own stubborn self-will is much deeper and more insidious than we think. The possibility of self-deception is so great that without mature companions we can easily fall into the trap of living in illusions.” Pete Scazzero

“A current of useless interior activity constantly surrounds and defends an illusion. I cannot find God unless I renounce this useless activity, and I cannot renounce this activity unless I let go of the illusion it defends. And I cannot get rid of an illusion unless I recognize it for an illusion.”  Thomas Merton

“I want to do what is good,
but I don’t.
I don’t want to do what is wrong,
but I do ….”
Romans 7:19

Moving From the Head to the Heart

We must “correct our own faults” and let God deal with the faults of others. Most of us don’t do this easily, and, as Scazzero points out, when we do manage to focus on radical change at the core of our being “at least two critical forces hinder such a profound shift.”

  • Change is not only hard for us, but for others who are comfortable with the “system” we share with them. Change shakes up everything and everyone. Have you noticed others working hard to resist your determined efforts to change? If so, how do you handle that?
  • Have you learned that your own “stubborn self-will is much deeper and more insidious than you think?”
  • Are you perhaps under the illusion that those around you want you to change? or that personal change will occur somewhat efficiently now that you are seriously motivated?

Jesus, grant me mature friends to help me recognize the illusions at work in my life.

For More: No Man Is An Island 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: New Gestures for a Changed Life (Mark Buchanan)

“Repentance is a ruthless dismantling of old ways of seeing and thinking, and then a diligent and vigilant building of new ones. …We need to change our minds, yes, but we also need to change our ways. And for this we require practices to embody and rehearse our change of mind. The physical is a handmaiden to the spiritual, but a necessary one, without practices—without gestures with which to honor fresh ways of perceiving—any change of mind will be superficial, artificial, short-lived. We might attain a genuinely new thought, but without some way of putting it into practice, the thought gets suck in abstractions, lost in forgetting. Good practices are both catalysts and incubators for new thoughts, they initiate them, and they nurture them. But they do even more: they make real our change of mind. It’s like marriage. When I married my wife, Cheryl, I had to change my mind about who I was. I was no longer a bachelor. My habits of thought had, for more than twenty years, taken shape around the fact of my singleness. I had bachelor attitudes about how to spend time and money, about the ideal color to paint a bedroom, about the best car to drive, about other women. It all had to go through a dramatic shift, in some cases a complete about-face, when I took vows (actually, the change began a long time prior to that, and continues lifelong.) I had to–have to–change my mind. But if I changed only my mind and never changed my behavior, I doubt I’d still be married. I have needed, at every turn, practices that embody and rehearse–that make real–my change of mind. [cf. Zacchaeus’ story in Luke 19] …When salvation comes to your house, first you think differently, then you act differently. First you shift the imagination with which you perceive this world, and then you enact gestures with which you honor it.” Mark Buchanan


“Jesus said to [Zacchaeus], ‘Today salvation has come to this house….’” Luke 19:9

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Has “salvation come to your house” but left you frustratingly unchanged?
  • Have your resolutions to change been “short-lived?”
  • Are there practices (“gestures”) that you can adopt to build change into your daily routine, and thereby, your life?

Abba, help me as you and I work out my salvation.

For More: The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan

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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: Why Racism Continues in the Church Today – Part I (Pete Scazzero)

Pete Scazzero pastored New Life Fellowship in Elmhurst, Queens for over 25 years. The church reflects the demographic diversity of Elmhurst – perhaps the most demographically diverse zip code in the country. Over the years, the church has been forced to deal with racism in unsuspected and painful ways. Here’s why, according to Scazzero, this problem is so persistent:

“1. Failure to capture Scripture’s vision of the church as a multi-racial community that transcends racial, cultural, economic and gender barriers.

The gospel is the power of God that bridges the infinite gap between humanity and God as well as the ‘dividing wall’ between races, cultures, ethnicities, social classes, and genders.

2. Measuring success primarily by numbers.

We want to grow our churches. We want it to happen quickly. The problem is that bridging racial barriers is slow and will rarely produce ‘big’ numbers.

3. Superficial discipleship.

We focus on getting people ‘over the line’ into salvation and connected. We don’t spend an equal amount of time equipping them to be deeply transformed in their interior lives. ‘Who can your child not marry?’ The answer to that question tells us a lot about how deeply the gospel has penetrated a person’s life.

4. Failure to break the power of the past.

Sins like racism are passed on from generation to generation. At New Life we like to say, ‘Jesus may live in your heart but Grandpa lives in your bones.’ Each of us – African American, Latino, White, Russian, Jew, Arab, Serbian, African, Chinese, Korean, and Pole – must take the journey of Abraham. We must decisively leave our family, our culture, and our country and learn to do life in the new family of Jesus.

5. An inadequate, biblical theology of grief and loss.

If I don’t deeply feel my own losses, how am I going to deeply enter the world of those who suffer the sting of racism? Trauma is passed from one generation to the next. We see this most powerfully in overwhelming historical events such as the Holocaust and slavery. Unresolved loss gets buried behind a curtain of silence, incubating fear and shame. Biblical grieving powerfully heals and transforms.” Pete Scazzero

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

Moving From Head to Heart

  • How well is the foundational principle of Galatians 3:28 being worked out in your church? If favoritism is on display, can you show others a better way?
  • Are you sensitive to your own prejudices? How much does “grandpa in your bones” still affect you?
  • Is your church experience transformative? Are people growing more loving, inclusive, more humble over time?

Abba, teach us a better way in the family of Jesus.

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Thanks for reading. Please share!  –  Bill

Daily Riches: The Impact of Others on Your Emotional Health (Pete Scazzero, Francis Fenelon, Oswald Chambers and Thomas Merton)

“We can often do more for other men by trying to correct our own faults than by trying to correct theirs.” Francis Fenelon

“Before we can conquer the world we must conquer the self.” Oswald Sanders

“In this journey of emotionally healthy spirituality, we are talking about radical change at the core of our being. At least two critical forces hinder such a profound shift. First, the pressure of others to keep us living lives that are not our own is enormous. And second, our own stubborn self-will is much deeper and more insidious than we think. The possibility of self-deception is so great that without mature companions we can easily fall into the trap of living in illusions.” Pete Scazzero

“A current of useless interior activity constantly surrounds and defends an illusion. I cannot find God unless I renounce this useless activity, and I cannot renounce this activity unless I let go of the illusion it defends. And I cannot get rid of an illusion unless I recognize it for an illusion.”  Thomas Merton

“I want to do what is good,
but I don’t.
I don’t want to do what is wrong,
but I do ….”
Romans 7:19

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Change is not only hard for us, but those who are comfortable with the “system” we share with them find it difficult too. Have you noticed others working hard to resist, or even sabotaging, your determined efforts to change?
  • Have you learned that your own “stubborn self-will is much deeper and more insidious” than you think?
  • Are you learning to leave changing others to God and focus on the changes needed in your own life?

Abba, help me change in spite of powerful forces, within and without, and not to fall short of the change you have planned for me.

For More: No Man Is An Island 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: Called Out of Yourself to Love the “Other” (Gary Thomas)

“This man or this woman seems so different from you, I know. That’s why it seems so difficult to love him or her. When you think on one level, she thinks on another. When you’re certain this perspective matters most, he brings in another angle entirely. And you ask yourself, ‘How can I possibly love someone who is so different from me?’ And yet consider, if you can ask this question with integrity, try asking yourself this one: How could you possibly love God? He is spirit, and you are encased in flesh and bones. He is eternal, and you are trapped in time. He is all holy, perfect, sinless, and you – like me – are steeped in sin. It is far less of a leap for a man to love a woman or for a woman to love a man than it is for either of us to love God. But I think it’s more than that. I think marriage is designed to call us out of ourselves and learn to love the ‘different.’ Put together in the closest situation imaginable – living side by side, sleeping in the same room, even, on occasion, sharing our bodies with each other – we are forced to respect and appreciate someone who is so radically different. We need to be called out of ourselves because, in truth, we are incomplete. God made us to find our fulfillment in Him – the Totally Other. Marriage shows us that we are not all there is; it calls us to give way to another, but also to find joy, happiness, and even ecstasy in another. …Christianity involves believing certain things, to be sure, but its herald, its hallmark, its glory is not in merely ascribing to certain intellectual truths. The beauty of Christianity is in learning to love, and few life situations test that so radically as does a marriage.” Gary Thomas

“Above all, love each other deeply.”
1 Peter 4:8

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you find people who are nothing like you hard to take?
  • Can you see marriage as the place where we care called “out of ourselves and learn to love the other?” …even, where we learn to love God, the “Totally Other?”
  • Is learning to love those who are “different” a priority for you? If not, why not, since this is undoubtedly the “hallmark” of Christianity?

Abba, use my marriage to teach me to love those who are not like me.

For More: Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas

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

Daily Riches: That Holy Place Where God Makes Himself Known (Gary Thomas, Brené Brown)

“There’s an old rabbinical story about how the spot was chosen for God’s holy temple. Two brothers worked a common field and a common mill. Each night they divided whatever grain they had produced and each took his portion home. One brother was single and one was married with a large family. The single brother decided that his married brother, with all those kids, certainly needed more grain than he did, so at night he secretly crept over to his brother’s granary and gave him an extra portion. The married brother realized that his single brother didn’t have any children to care for him in his old age. Concerned about his brother’s future, he got up each night and secretly deposited some grain in his single brother’s granary. One night they met halfway between the two granaries, and each brother realized what the other was doing. They embraced, and as the story goes, God witnessed what happened and said, ‘This is a holy place — a place of love — and it is here that my temple shall be built.’ The holy place is that spot where God is made known to his people, ‘the place where human beings discover each other in love.’ Marriage can be that holy place. The site of a relationship that proclaims God’s love to this world… Notice what makes this story so moving, two individuals who had greater empathy for the difficulties the other faced rather than their own. Selfish marriage is the opposite: each partner feels their own pain more intensely and are either unaware or calloused in regards to their spouse’s pain.” Gary Thomas

“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment…. If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.” Brené Brown 

“Above all, clothe yourselves with love”
Colossians 3:14

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • If you’re married, do you see your marriage as a “holy place…where God is made known?”
  • If you’re married, you know how decidedly painful this process can be. Are you willing to submit to it?
  • Imagine what your spouse can do for you if you are “seen, heard and valued” – if he or she responds to your vulnerability with “empathy and understanding.” Imagine what you can do for your spouse.

Abba, make yourself known in the dailyness and difficulties of our marriages.

For More: Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas

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

Daily Riches: “Go to God”… But How?

In the Judeo-Christian tradition both heart (Proverbs 4:23) and mind (Romans 12:2) play a critical place in the spiritual life, but true religion can be defined (James 1:27) and measured (Mt. 25:31ff.) without mentioning these things, because as important as correct thinking (doctrine, theology) and proper feeling (affections, passions) are, they pale in significance to proper behavior (lifestyle, practices). Both change of heart and mind are penultimate to change of behavior. Life-change is always the ultimate end in view, always the goal. (James 2:20) Unfortunately, in the churches, the call to character or Christian living is often where the story ends. We’re reminded, motivated, inspired, informed and challenged – but often left to ourselves to figure out how to make it work. Yes, be more patient, loving, compassionate. Yes, be a person of prayer, joy, grace, peace. But how? The ancient answer is new again – practice traditional spiritual disciplines. By them we make space for God to enter our equation. We position ourselves to receive from God and hear from God. By practicing spiritual disciplines we train ourselves to be able to do by the grace of God, what we cannot consistently do now: “the right thing in the right way at the right time for the right reason.” Since the learning-curve of the Christian life extends over a lifetime, we need to return repeatedly to these core practices – just as you would repeatedly work through the “twelve steps” in A.A. or N.A. It’s rare that you hear many of these core practices emphasized in church (e.g., the need to slow down, the need for silence and solitude), and some typical practices might just be off the radar of your particular faith tradition – and for that reason not ever mentioned (contemplative prayer, fixed-time prayer, keeping of a sabbath). We look to God to change us, but merely looking is not enough. Nor is it enough merely to learn more, or try harder. The practice of spiritual disciplines transcends eras of Christian history, continents, cultures and denominations. Christians of influence in the Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant traditions all testify to its value. As you join me in thoughtfully interacting with the “riches” of this blog, my prayer is that we will all succeed at actually living more the kind of life that Jesus lived. That’s what God wants for us – and what our world needs from us!

 “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” 1 Timothy 4:7

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have you settled for merely more information or inspiration? Is your solution to try harder?
  • What you’re doing to be more like Jesus – is it working?
  • Are you actually training yourself to do “the right thing, in the right way, at the right time, for the right reason?”
Abba, keep me moving along the journey of transformation.
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For More: The Life You’ve Always Wanted by John Ortberg
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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 (with today being a rare exception). I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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

Daily Riches: Seeking God, Escaping Illusion (Thomas Merton)

“This is what it means to seek God perfectly: to withdraw from illusion and pleasure, from worldly anxieties and desires, from the works that God does not want, from a glory that is only human display; to keep my mind free from confusion in order that my liberty may be always at the disposal of His will; to entertain silence in my heart and listen for the voice of God; …to love all men as myself; to rest in humility and to find peace in withdrawal from conflict and competition with other men; to turn aside from controversy and put away heavy loads of judgment and censorship and criticism and the whole burden of opinions that I have no obligation to carry; to have a will that is always ready to fold back within itself and draw all the powers of the soul down from the deepest center to rest in silent expectancy for the coming of God, poised in tranquil and effortless concentration upon the point of my dependence on Him; to gather all that I am, and have all that I can possibly suffer or do or be, and abandon them all to God in the resignation of a perfect love and blind faith and pure trust in God, to do His will.” Thomas Merton

“So like a fish going towards the sea, we [monks] must hurry to reach our cell*
for fear that if we delay outside we will lose our interior watchfulness.”
Anthony the Great

“Any trial whatever that comes to you can be conquered by silence.” Abbot Pastor

“Go, sit in your cell, and your cell will teach you everything.” Abbot Moses

*an ancient term for a quiet, private place to be with God

“But when you pray,
go into your room [and]
close the door”
Jesus, in Matthew 6:6

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • What two or three aspirations in Merton’s words resonate most with you? Can you form a prayer around them?
  • The dessert fathers had a plan for escaping the grip of illusion, confusion and judgment, and for cultivating liberty, peace and “silent expectancy for the coming of God.” Do you have such a plan?

Abba, help me to abandon myself to you in the resignation of a perfect love.

For More: The Wisdom of the Desert 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. 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.”