Daily Riches: The Temptation to be Relevant, The Need to Be Respected (Henri Nouwen and Brennan Manning)

“The first temptation with which the devil accosted Jesus was that of turning stones into loaves of bread. This is the temptation to be relevant, to do something that is needed and can be appreciated by people – to make productivity the basis of our ministry. How often have we heard these words: ‘What is the value of talking about God to hungry people? What is the use of proclaiming the Good News to people who lack food, shelter, or clothing? What is needed are people who can offer real help and support. Doctors can heal, lawyers can defend, bankers can finance, social workers can restructure. But what can you do? What do you have to offer?’ This is the tempter speaking! This temptation touches us at the center of our identity. In a variety of ways we are made to believe that we are what we produce. This leads to a preoccupation with products, visible results, tangible goods, and progress. The temptation to be relevant is difficult to shake since it is usually not considered a temptation, but a call. We make ourselves believe that we are called to be productive, successful, and efficient people whose words and actions show that working for God’s Reign is at least as dignified an occupation as working for General Electric, Mobil Oil, or the government. But this is giving in to the temptation to be relevant and respectable in the eyes of the world.” Henri Nouwen

“The world will respect us if we court it, it will respect us even more if we reject it in disdain and anger, but it will hate us if we simply take no notice of it or it’s priorities or what it thinks of us. In John’s gospel the Jews are said to be incapable of believing because ‘they receive glory from one another.’ There is a radical incompatibility between human respect and faith in Jesus Christ.” Brennan Manning

“… you accept glory from one another
but do not seek the glory
that comes from the only God”
John 5:44

Moving From the Head to the Heart
.
  • Are you “hooked” on others’ approval? What does that mean?
  • In Jesus’ day, it was the religious community “receiving glory from one another.” Pleasing the world is probably not our gravest danger.
  • Are you prepared for the day when you seem unproductive?

Abba, may your approval be all I need.

For More: The Signature of Jesus by Brennan Manning

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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)

Daily Riches: The Furious Love of God (Brennan Manning, John Chrysostom and Edwina Gateley)

“Many Christians have never have grabbed ahold of God. They do not know, really know, that God dearly and passionately loves them. Many accept it theoretically; others in a shadowy sort of way. While their belief system is invulnerable, their faith in God’s love for them is remote and abstract. They would be hard-pressed to say that the essence of their faith-commitment is a love affair between God and themselves. Not just a simple love affair but a furious love affair. How do we grab ahold of God? How do we overcome our sadness and isolation?  …How, how, how? The answer comes irresistibly and unmistakably: prayer. …The task of contemplative prayer is to help me achieve the conscious awareness of the unconditionally loving God dwelling within me.” Brennan Manning

“God loves us more than a father, mother, friend, or any else could love, and even more than we’re able to love ourselves.” John Chrysostom

Be silent.
Be still.
Alone.
Empty
Before your God.
Say nothing.
Ask nothing.
Be silent.
Be still.
Let your God look upon you.
That is all.
God knows.
God understands.
God loves you
With an enormous love,
And only wants
To look upon you
With that love.
Quiet.
Still.
Be.”
“Let Your God Love You” by Edwina Gateley

“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me.”
Jesus, to his disciples in John 15:9

  • Year’s ago a Christian friend embarrassed me by asking, “So, do you love the Lord?” I wanted to talk about my “invulnerable belief system.” Is your relationship with God “a furious love affair?”
  • Manning makes it clear that many of us struggle with this. We know God’s love for us in a “shadowy way” or “theoretically.” It’s difficult for us to overcome “our sadness and isolation” from God. Are you able to be still and quiet, just “letting God look upon you” with the same love he has for Jesus his son – soaking in it, soaking it in? Why not do that now?
  • Is the way you practice prayer likely to lead you into a growing sense of God’s love for you? If not, what needs to change?

Abba, help me want you and seek you as much as you want and seek me. Dissatisfy me with theory. Move me past theology. Unnerve me with your furious unfailing love for me.

For More: The Signature of Jesus by Brennan Manning

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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: Hitting Bottom, Engulfed in Darkness (Barbara Brown Taylor, Brennan Manning and Richard Rohr)

“I have learned things in the dark that I could never have learned in the light, things that have saved my life over and over again….” Barbara Brown Taylor

“When we have hit bottom and are emptied of all we thought important to us, then we truly pray, truly become humble and detached, and live in the bright darkness of faith. In the midst of the emptying we know that God has not deserted us. He has merely removed the obstacles keeping us from a deeper union with Him. Actually we are closer to God than ever before, although we are deprived of the consolations that we once associated with our spirituality. What we thought was communion with Him was really a hindrance to that communion. …The theology of the dark night is simplicity itself. God strips us of natural delights and spiritual consolations in order to enter more fully into our hearts.” Brennan Manning

“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

“…God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.” Hebrews 12:10

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • We might think we want a “deeper union with God” until we learn what God does to “remove obstacles” that hinder that. He may empty us of “all we thought important”, and leave us feeling deserted and deprived of pleasures we depend on. Our usual consolation in God’s presence and gifts may evaporate. Is your desire for deeper union with God greater than your desire to escape this painful “path of transformation?”
  • Imagine how confusing and unpleasant this can be, especially for someone who is unaware of this necessity. Are you aware of the likelihood that such an experience is in your future? If you minister to others, are you warning them?
  • We have probably learned and perhaps teach others that learning “doctrines” is the key to spiritual formation. Is this your approach? Can you see why this approach is not enough in itself? If so, what are the implications for you? For your ministry?

Abba, help me to want you more than the other things that compete for your place. Sustain me in the journey to deeper union with you.

For More: The Signature of Jesus by Brennan Manning
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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.”