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

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

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

Moving From Head to Heart

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

Abba, help me to believe that Christ is enough.

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

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

Daily Riches: 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: Glory Without the Big Splash (Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.)

“How hard it is to see real glory when we think glory is all about making a splash! We miss the real thing…. John has a different view of glory. In his Gospel, Jesus changes water to wine at a wedding to make people joyful. He washes his disciples’ feet, hoping to model and ignite a heart of service in them. He feeds the disciples bread at the table where they reclined–including Judas–and then submits himself to arrest. In all three cases–the wine (chap. 2), the bathwater (chap. 13), the bread for a traitor (chap. 13)–the evangelist tells us that it was a sign of his glory. This is a glory he shares with his Father. Jesus makes lots of wine at Cana because he comes from a wine making family. Every Fall God turns water into wine in France and Chile and the Napa Valley. …Jesus on his knees before his disciples is just doing what he sees his Father doing, and the gospel finds glory here, because it is so much like God humbly to clean people up. …Jesus hands Judas a piece of bread because he just does what he sees his Father doing, and the gospel finds glory here, because it is so much like God to feed enemies even while you oppose their evil. The gospel finds glory where we are not looking–in the wine, and the water, and the bread, and even in the blood of Jesus. The Son of Man will die and fall into the earth in an event so devastating that it will seem to turn creation back into chaos; but Jesus says that this is the hour in which the Son of Man will be glorified. We grope for his meaning. Getting glorified on a cross? Is that like getting enthroned on an electric chair? Is it like being honored by a firing squad? …Jesus, the friend of sinners, was crucified between his kind of people in a godforsaken place where all the lights go out…. Yet the gospel wants us to find glory in this disaster, because Jesus Christ is pouring out his life for the world God loves.” Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.

“the Son of Man came not to be served
but to serve others”
Matthew 20:28

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you still hoping to make a “big splash?”
  • Are you looking for the glory of God in unexpected, unnoticed places?
  • Are you trusting and expecting God to work gloriously, although perhaps subtly, in your day? your situation?

Abba, open my eyes to your glory all around me.

For more: Feasting on the Gospels: John

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Thanks for reading/sharing my blog. I appreciate your interest! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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

Daily Riches: Imitating the Action of God (Darryl Trimiew)

“[Jesus] combined his model of service with his theology. His way of being in the world was to serve God and to serve God best by first serving the most vulnerable and needy persons in his society. This modeling by Jesus was intended …to encourage his disciples to do likewise. Further they were to understand theologically that this action by Jesus was a modeling of the action of God, whom Jesus sought first and foremost to imitate. …He served the most vulnerable because this was the will of God. In welcoming a child we are welcoming the God who has first welcomed us. Whatever else service in the reign of God may entail, it begins in participating in the ministry and service that God initiated. We are called to imitate Jesus….Welcoming the most vulnerable members of our society is itself sacrificial, demanding, and sometimes dangerous. Of course, in doing so, Jesus gets in trouble, is arrested, and finally is killed. This is the service to which we are called, and it is this perilousness that made the disciples slow to learn, slow to grasp, slow to act, and afraid to ask Jesus. We do not want to serve others first, especially those who cannot reciprocate, but this is what Jesus wants us to do.” Darryl Trimiew

“After they arrived at Capernaum and settled in a house, Jesus asked his disciples, ‘What were you discussing out on the road?’ But they didn’t answer, because they had been arguing about which of them was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve disciples over to him, and said, ‘Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.’ Then he put a little child among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them,Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not only me but also my Father who sent me.'” Mark 9:33-37

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • In most cases the peril to the disciples was much greater than most of us face. Why are we still often so “slow to act?”
  • Does your practice of the life of faith involve imitating Jesus as he imitated God?
  • Do you know the God who sent Jesus as a God who serves?

Jesus, wean me of my desire for greatness without service to others.

For More: Feasting on the Gospels: Mark by Darryl Trimiew et al.

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

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

Daily Riches: The Only Thing That Matters (Brennan Manning)

“The apostle Paul may have understood the mind of Jesus better than anyone who ever lived. He sums up his whole understanding of the message of Jesus in Galatians 5:6 when he writes, “the only thing that matters is the faith that expresses itself in love.” According to Paul’s criterion … the person who is the most Christlike, closest to the heart of Abba, is not the one who spends the most time in prayer. It’s not the one who has the most PhDs. It’s not the one who has the most responsibility entrusted to his care. It’s not the pastor of the biggest megachurch. No, it’s the one who loves the most. That’s not my opinion. Those are the words in Galatians 5 that will judge us. According to that mysterious substitution of Christ for the Christian, what we do to one another, we do to Jesus.  …Jesus expected the most of every man and woman, and behind their grumpier poses, their most puzzling defense mechanisms, their coarseness, their arrogance, their dignified airs, their silence, and their sneers and curses, Jesus sees a little child who wasn’t loved enough–a least of these who had ceased growing because someone had ceased believing in them. How have we gotten it so screwed up?” I was speaking to the Navigators not long ago and they asked, ‘Do you have a word for us?’ I said, ‘Yes, I do. Instead of being  identified as a community that memorizes Scripture why not be a community of professional lovers that causes people to say, ‘How they love one another!’ Why do we judge Jesus’ criterion for authentic discipleship irrelevant? Jesus said the world is going to recognize you as His by only one sign: the way you are with one another on the street every day. You are going to leave people feeling a little better or a little worse. You’re going to affirm or deprive them, but there’ll be no neutral exchange. …We’re denying to the world the one witness Jesus asked for:

“Love one another as I’ve loved you.” Jesus, in John 15:12

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Are lots of people in your church working really hard to become “professional lovers?” Is your pastor regularly calling for that?
  • Your church is probably great (as are the Navigators), but have you settled for something other than loving the least?
  • What would this look like in a church? How would you have to change?

Abba, let me be known for love.

For More: The Furious Longing of God by Brennan Manning

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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. – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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

 

Daily Riches: The Worship of Might and the Bitter Irony of History (Abraham Heschel and J. Mullenburg)

“Why were so few voices raised in the ancient world to protest against the ruthlessness of man? Why are human beings so obsequious, ready to kill and ready to die at the call of kings and chieftains? Perhaps it is because they worship might, venerate those who command might, and are convinced that it is by force that man prevails. The splendor and pride of kings blind the people. The Mesopotamian, for example, felt convinced that authorities were always right. . . . The prophets repudiated the work as well as the power of man as an object of supreme adoration. They denounced ‘arrogant boasting’ and ‘haughty pride’ (Isa. 10:12), the kings who ruled the nations in anger, the oppressors (Isa. 14:4-6), the destroyers of nations, who went forth to inflict waste, ruin, and death (Jer. 4:7), the ‘guilty men, whose own might is their god’ (Hab. 1:11) … The end of public authority is to realize the moral law, a task for which both knowledge and understanding as well as the possession of power are indispensable means. Yet inherent in power is the tendency to breed conceit.’ . . . one of the most striking and one of the most pervasive features of the prophetic polemic [is] the denunciation and distrust of power in all its forms and guises. The hunger of the powerful knows no satiety; the appetite grows on what it feeds. Power exalts itself and is incapable of yielding to any transcendent judgment; it “listens to no voice” (Zeph. 3:2) .'[2] It is the bitter irony of history that the common people, who are devoid of power and are the prospective victims of its abuse, are the first to become the ally of him who accumulates power.” Abraham Heschel

My power works best in weakness.”
2 Corinthians 12:9

Moving From Head to Heart

  • How much of what Heschel describes from the ancient world do you see today? (e.g., the worship of power? the “bitter irony” of the manipulation of the powerless?)
  • Do you agree with the Hebrew prophets “denunciation and distrust of power in all its forms and guises?” How does this affect your reading of the news? … your politics? …your life of faith?
  • God spoke through the prophets, and those prophets often focused on governments and what we might consider “political” issues. Do you think of God as being concerned with the politics of human history? Does it matter?

Abba, may we always speak up for the powerless – never contribute to the exploitation of the weak.

For More: The Prophets by Abraham Heschel

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. By goal is to share something of value you with in 400 words or less. Thanks for following and sharing my blog. – Bill

[2] J. Mullenburg, The Way of Israel

Daily Riches: With Passion Withheld and Devotion Impaired (Margaret Clarkson and Walter Brueggemann)

In the course of her life, Margaret Clarkson became intimately acquainted with pain. She suffered initially with “migraines, accompanied by convulsive vomiting, and then arthritis—two ailments that accompanied her continually. In Destined for Glory, she related sadly that her mother told her that her first words were ‘my head hurts.’ At age three …she contracted juvenile arthritis and became bed bound. She recalled the pain as well as the bald spot worn on the back of her head from lying in bed so long.” …And that was just the beginning of a difficult life of loneliness, financial strain and disappointment. Through it all, Clarkson also developed an intimacy with God, and a transformative perspective on Christian ministry. Her hymn “So Send I You” has been called the greatest missionary hymn of the twentieth century.

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“So send I you–to labor unrewarded,
To serve unpaid, unloved, unsought, unknown,
To bear rebuke, to suffer scorn and scoffing,
So send I you to toil for me alone.

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“So send I you–to bind the bruised and broken,

o’er wandering souls to work, to weep, to wake,

to bear the burdens of a world a’weary

So send I you to suffer for My sake.

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“So send I you–to loneliness and longing,
With heart a-hungering for the loved and known;
Forsaking home and kindred, friend and dear one,
So send I you to know my love alone.

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“So send I you–to leave your life’s ambitions,
To die to dear desire, self-will resign,
To labor long and love where men revile you,
So send I you to lose your life in mine.

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“As the Father has sent me,

So send I you.”

“So Send I You” by Margaret Clarkson

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“But we confess…
we love you imperfectly;
we love you with a divided heart,
with a thousand other loves
that are more compelling,
with reservation and qualification,
and passion withheld and
devotion impaired.”
Walter Brueggemann

.

“As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.”
Jesus in John 20:21

Moving From Head to Heart

  • I was trying to imagine how this hymn would be received in church today. Can you?
  • “To leave your life’s ambitions, to die to dear desire, self-will resign, to labor long and love where men revile you”–is there room in our idea of ministry for this today? What emotions do these words stir up in you?
  • Are we hoping to be useful to God “with passion withheld and devotion impaired”–as “a privileged people?”

Abba, may I give myself for you, as you gave yourself for me–without reservation.

For More: Prayers for a Privileged People by Walter Brueggemann

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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 my blog. Thanks! – 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
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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: 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
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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: Where God Goes … And Where God May Be Found (Henri Nouwen, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Karl Barth and Eugene Peterson)

“But it is not said of Jesus that he reached down from on high to pull us up from slavery, but that he became a slave with us. God’s compassion is a compassion that reveals itself in servanthood. Jesus became subject to the same powers and influences that dominate us, and suffered our fears, uncertainties and anxieties with us. …He gave up a privileged position, a position of majesty and power, and assumed fully and without reservation a condition of total dependency. Paul’s hymn of Christ does not ask us to look upward, away from our condition, but to look in our midst and discover God there. …In the Gospel stories of Jesus’ healings, we sense how close God wants to be with those who suffer. But now we see the price God is willing to pay for this intimacy. It is the price of ultimate servanthood, the price of becoming a slave, completely dependent on strange, cruel, alien forces. …Jesus moves, as Karl Barth says, from ‘the heights to the depth, from victory to defeat, from riches to poverty, from triumph to suffering, from life to death.’ Jesus’ whole life and mission involved accepting powerlessness and revealing in this powerlessness the limitlessness of God’s love. Here we see what compassion means. It is not a bending toward the underprivileged from a privileged position; it is not a reaching out from on high to those who are less fortunate below; it is not a gesture of sympathy or pity for those who fail to make it in the upward pull. On the contrary, compassion means going directly to those people and places where suffering is most acute and building a home there.” Henri Nouwen

“God had looked upon the poor of the world and had himself come to help. Now he was there, not as the Almighty One, but in the seclusion of humanity. Wherever there are sinners, the weak, the sorrowful, the poor in the world, that is where God goes. Here he lets himself be found by everyone.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.”
John 1:14 (Eugene Peterson)

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Consider this. Jesus made himself “completely dependent on strange, cruel, alien forces” in order to serve you.
  • Does your compassion (like that of Jesus) transcend sympathy and pity and involve “servanthood?”
  • Do you think it’s realistic to talk of going “directly to those people and places where suffering is most acute and building a home there?” (In many ways Nouwen’s life shows what he must have had in mind.)

Abba, may you be found by everyone.

For More: Compassion: A Reflection on the Christian Life by Henri Nouwen

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Thanks so much for reading and sharing this blog! – Bill

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: Ministry and Contentment (Pete Scazzero, John Calvin)

“Looking over our shoulder to more ‘successful’ ministries is one of the most frequent sources of pain for leaders.  …We can learn a lot from the pattern of John the Baptist’s leadership as he responded to the news that he was losing people to the ‘new, big thing’ happening around him (John 3:26-30): (1) I am content. I am exactly where I am supposed to be. “A person can receive only what is given him from heaven.” Yes, God gives gifts and abilities that we want to steward well. But each place of service, employment, success, or failure (a lot of God’s closest servants seem to suffer martyrdom) is under God’s sovereignty. It is tempting to strive, manipulate, and anxiously toil to push doors open that God does not have for us. But we want to receive as a gift each task given to us by God regardless of the where it leads. … (2) I am second. “I am not the Messiah…I am a friend of the Bridegroom, who stands and hears him.” John’s self-knowledge enabled him to escape the deadly trap of envy. …May we never lose sight of the pure happiness found in listening to the lovely voice of Jesus in Scripture, as well as the privilege given to us to speak His words to the world. (3) I am disappearing. “He must increase, but I must decrease.” John is happy to decrease, even to disappear. Are we? Calvin said it well: ‘Those who win the church over to themselves rather than to Christ faithlessly violate the marriage they ought to honor.’ You and I will disappear some day and God will continue to build his kingdom. May we too rejoice in that process whenever God opens doors for us to disappear.” Pete Scazzero

“A person can receive only what is given him from heaven.” John 3:27

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • If you live by the numbers, you’ll die by the numbers. Do you measure ministry success by numbers? Is your identity based on competition and out-doing others?
  • Many leaders are tempted “to strive, manipulate, and anxiously toil to push doors open” that God has closed. When doors close, what’s your response?
  • Your ego has a plan for you as a pastor – and it’s not “disappearing.” Are you aware of it? prepared to handle it?

Abba, give our leaders great contentment serving you.

For More: Open Secrets by Richard Lischer

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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: Imitating Jesus, Not Just Worshiping Him (Richard Rohr)

“One of the earliest accounts of Saint Francis, the ‘Legend of Perugia,’ quotes him as telling the first friars that ‘You only know as much as you do.’ His emphasis on action, practice, and lifestyle was foundational and revolutionary for its time and at the heart of Franciscan alternative orthodoxy (“heterodoxy”). For Francis and Clare, Jesus became someone to actually imitate and not just to worship. Up to this point, most of Christian spirituality was based in desert asceticism, monastic discipline, theories of prayer, or academic theology, which itself was often founded in ‘correct belief’ or liturgy, but not in a kind of practical Christianity that could be lived in the streets of the world. Many rightly say Francis emphasized an imitation and love of the humanity of Jesus, and not just the worshiping of his divinity. That is a major shift. Those who have analyzed the writings of Francis have noted that he uses the word doing rather than understanding at a ratio of 175 times to 5. Heart is used 42 times to 1 use of mind. Love is used 23 times as opposed to 12 uses of truth. Mercy is used 26 times while intellect is used only 1 time. This is a very new perspective that is clearly different from (and an antidote to) the verbally argumentative Christianity of his time, and from the highly academic theology that would hold sway from then on. …Francis and Clare’s approach has been called a ‘performative spirituality’ which means that things are only found to be true in the doing of them. At the level of idea, issues will be forever argued about, because thinking is invariably dualistic. Francis wanted us to know things in an almost ‘cellular’ and energetic way, and not just in our heads. This knowing is a kind of “muscle memory” which only comes from practice.” Richard Rohr

“…faith by itself isn’t enough.
Unless it produces good deeds,
it is dead and useless.”
James 2:17

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • What’s wrong with “verbally argumentative Christianity?”
  • Does your faith require you to “imitate Jesus” in specific ways? How so?
  • In reality is your Christian life more about ideas and words (right doctrine), or actually imitating Jesus (loving practices)?
  • If … “You only know as much as you do.”, how much do you know?

Abba, help me practice daily what I believe.

For More: Eager to Love by Richard Rohr

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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.”

Daily Riches: Explaining Jesus (Hans Küng)

“Jesus apparently cannot be fitted in anywhere: neither with the rulers nor with the rebels, neither with the moralizers nor with the silent ascetics. He turns out to be provocative, both to right and left. Backed by no party, challenging on all sides: ‘The man who fits no formula.’ He is neither a philosopher nor a politician, neither a priest nor a social reformer. Is he a genius, a hero, a saint? Or a religious reformer? But is he not more radical than someone who tries to re-form, reshape things? Is he a prophet? But is a ‘last’ prophet, who cannot be surpassed, a prophet at all? The normal typology seems to break down here. He seems to have something of the most diverse types (perhaps more of the prophet and reformer than of the others), but for that very reason does not belong to any one of them. He is on a different plane: apparently closer than the priests to God, freer than the ascetics in regard to the world, more moral than the moralists, more revolutionary than the revolutionaries. Thus he has depths and vastnesses lacking in others. It is obviously difficult both for friends and enemies to understand him, still less wholly to penetrate his personality. Over and over again it becomes clear that Jesus is different. Despite all parallels in detail, the historical Jesus in his wholeness turns out to be completely unique –  in his own time and ours.” Hans Küng

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’  They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?'” Matthew 19:13-15

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you in awe of the “vastnesses” in Jesus? Do you give others the impression that you have him pretty much figured out?
  • Can you think of anyone like him in ancient or modern times? Anyone you’ve ever known?
  • If he was “provocative” both “to right and left”, do you think that either the right or left can fully represent him today? Does Jesus challenge the positions of your political party? …your denomination?

Abba, I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene….

For More: On Being a Christian by Hans Küng

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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 (Psalm 90:14)

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

Daily Riches: Freed From the Need to Impress (Henri Nouwen)

“‘Truth’ in our culture has become so largely determined by statistics that is is easy for us to truly believe that the number of people who listen, watch, or attend is a measure of the quality of that which is presented. It is difficult for us to believe that salvation came from the remnant of Israel. …that something very good came from an unknown place. …that our God is a God who came in the unspectacular form of a servant, who entered Jerusalem on an ass, and who was killed as a common criminal. And it is even more difficult to believe that a few unsophisticated fishermen brought God’s good news to the world. We act as if visibility and notoriety were the main criteria of the value of what we are doing. It is not easy to act otherwise. …How do we overcome this all-pervading temptation? is it important to realize that our hunger for the spectacular – like our desire to be relevant – has very much to do with our search for selfhood. …Who am I when nobody pays attention, says thanks, or recognizes my work? The more insecure, doubtful, and lonely we are, the greater our need for popularity and praise. Sadly… the more praise we receive, the more we desire. The hunger for human acceptance is like a bottomless barrel. … Jesus responded to the tempter, ‘You must not put the Lord you God to the test.’ Indeed, the search for spectacular glitter is an expression of doubt in God’s complete and unconditional acceptance of us. It is indeed putting God to the test. It is saying: ‘I am not sure that you really care, that you really love me, that you really consider me worthwhile. I will give you chance to show it by soothing my inner fears with human praise and by alleviating my sense of worthlessness by human applause. …The basis of all ministry is the experience of God’s unlimited and unlimiting acceptance of us as beloved children…. This experience of God’s acceptance frees us from our needy self and thus creates new space where we can pay selfless attention to others. This new freedom in Christ allows us to move in the world uninhibited by our compulsions….” Henri Nouwen

“whoever takes the lowly position of this child
is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 18:4

 Moving From Head to Heart

  • Have you fallen for the “numbers” trap?
  • Are you trying to “soothe your inner fears” with applause? to receive from people what God must give?
  • Can you sit quietly before God and just let him love you?

Abba, deliver us from illusion.

For More: The Selfless Way of Christ by Henri Nouwen

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Thanks for reading and sharing “Daily Riches.” –  Bill