Daily Riches: The Church In Politically Troublesome Times (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

“A state that threatens the proclamation of the Christian message negates itself. There are thus three possibilities for action that the church can take vis-à-vis the state: first, . . . questioning the state as to the legitimate state character of its actions, that is, making the state responsible for what it does. Second, is service to the victims of the state’s actions. The church has an unconditional obligation toward the victims of any societal order, even if they do not belong to the Christian community. ‘Let us work for the good of all.’ (Gal 6:10) These are both ways in which the church, in its freedom, conducts itself in the interest of a free state. In times when the laws are changing, the church may under no circumstances neglect either of these duties. The third possibility is not just to bind up the wounds of the victims beneath the wheel but to fall [ourselves] within the spokes of the wheel itself. Such an action would be direct political action on the part of the church. This is only possible and called for if the church sees the state be failing in its function of creating law and order, that is, if the church perceives that the state, without any scruples, has created either too much or too little law and order. It must see in either eventuality a threat to the existence of the state and thus to its own existence as well.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“So [Jesus] made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle;
he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.”
John 2:15 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Think about that first sentence. Does government have a genuine self-interest in protecting Christian proclamation?
  • Bonhoeffer says the church must bind up the victims’ wounds in an unjust state. When a government is really out of control, such victims could include large parts of the population–even its majority. In such a case, wide-spread neighbor love (likely in some form of “direct political action”) is required. (Matthew  22:39) Is your church even thinking about these responsibilities? Are you?
  • Does the church where you live focus on other things rather than these things? If so, on what?

Abba, give me a heart for any of my neighbors who are victims.

For more: Works (Vol. 12) by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Daily Riches: How Government and Religion Can Endanger a People (Eric Gritsch)

“By 1543, Luther was … utterly frustrated by the Jews’ refusal to convert to Christianity: ‘A Jewish heart is as hard as a stick, a stone, as iron, as a devil.’ Luther did not, however, hold Jews responsible for the death of Christ. As he wrote in a hymn, ‘We dare not blame … the band of Jews; ours is the shame.’ And he felt that at least a few Jews might be won for Christ. Yet rabbinic teaching was madness and blindness that blasphemed Christ, Mary, and the Holy Trinity. Luther could not ‘have any fellowship or patience with obstinate [Jewish] blasphemers and those who defame this dear Savior.’ Blasphemy was a civil crime. To allow it to continue, Luther feared, meant Christians would share in the guilt for it. Thus, Luther now proposed seven measures of ‘sharp mercy’ that German princes could take against Jews: (1) burn their schools and synagogues; (2) transfer Jews to community settlements; (3) confiscate all Jewish literature, which was blasphemous; (4) prohibit rabbis to teach, on pain of death; (5) deny Jews safe-conduct, so as to prevent the spread of Judaism; (6) appropriate their wealth and use it to support converts and to prevent the lewd practice of usury; (7) assign Jews to manual labor as a form of penance. Luther advised clergy, their congregations, and all government officials to help carry out these measures. Since most Jews had been expelled from Germany before 1536, Luther’s counsel was implemented by few officials. Yet a harsh anti-Jewish measure in 1543 mentioned Luther’s On the Jews and Their Lies. Both Luther’s friends and his foes criticized him for proposing these measures. His best friends begged him to stop his anti-Jewish raving, but Luther continued his attacks in other treatises. He repeated as true the worst anti-Semitic charges from medieval literature. Jews killed Christian babies; they murdered Christ over and over again by stabbing Eucharistic hosts; they poisoned wells. Luther now thought what he had accused Catholics of thinking in 1523: Jews were dogs. ‘We are at fault for not slaying them,’ he fumed shortly before his death. … Luther was not an anti-Semite in the racist sense. His arguments against Jews were theological, not biological. Not until a French cultural anthropologist in the nineteenth century held that humankind consisted of ‘Semites’ and ‘Aryans,’ were Semites considered inferior. Alfonse de Gobineau’s views were quickly adopted by European intellectuals and politicians, and Jews became the scapegoats of a snobbish colonialist society in England, France, and Germany. The rest is history—including the Jewish holocaust perpetrated by Adolf Hitler and his regime. National Socialists used Luther to support their racist anti-Semitism, calling him a genuine German who had hated non-Nordic races.” Eric Gritsch

“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 the Head to the Heart

  • Can you imagine something like this happening today, as it did then? Here is the U.S., as it did in Germany?
  • Would people in your church or religious tradition know how to correct these racist views from a Biblical point of view? Would you?
  • Karl Barth, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Niemöller and many others stood up against the Nazi’s in their day–risking their citizenship, income, career, family and lives. Will you have the courage to do that if a similar test occurs in your day?

Abba, strengthen me, not only as I clasp my hands in prayer against the disorder of the world, but as I speak unpopular truth and stand with hated victims.

For More: Preaching In Hitler’s Shadow: Sermons of Resistance in the Third Reich by Dean Stroud

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

 

 

Daily Riches: A Life Uncluttered By Ambition (Wayne Simsic, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, St. Francis)

“Anyone who thinks that his time is too valuable to spend keeping quiet will eventually have no time for God and his brother, but only for himself and for his own follies.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Responding to God’s presence like a child who trusted completely in a loving Parent, his relationship with God was spontaneous, uncluttered by ambition and calculation. Rather than promote his own agenda or hide behind fear, anxiousness, and other barriers to trust, [Saint] Francis humbly accepted the mystery of his life and relied on the guidance of the Spirit.” Wayne Simsic

“At some point when we’ve made ourselves available for service to God–for some kind of ministry or other–the question will arise, ‘Is this the best use of my time?’ It’s at the same time an unsurprising and provocative query. And just look at what underlies that question: ego, drivenness, a sense of hurry–striving. But in truth, as Francis demonstrated, it’s not necessary to keep busy. It’s necessary to ‘trust completely.’ It’s not necessary to accomplish anything. It’s necessary to ‘humbly accept the mystery of my life.’ It’s not necessary to be productive. It’s necessary to ‘rely on the guidance of the Spirit.’ My time is not so valuable. I’m not so necessary as I think. Any equation will be essentially unchanged by my absence. The way of St. Francis, ‘spontaneous, uncluttered by ambition and calculation’ rebukes my anxious way–my craving for an agenda, my insistence on significance. And Bonhoeffer’s insight is critical: ‘keeping quiet’–seemingly doing nothing, accomplishing nothing, producing nothing, is not only essential, but if ignored leads only to fruitlessness and folly. The ego always lurks nearby, insidious, subtly undoing the best intentions. Both St. Francis and Bonhoeffer insisted upon, and themselves lived, a contemplative life of faith–a life of ‘keeping quiet’ and ‘making time for God.’ Only such lives create a spaciousness where God can meet us in our folly, take us again into the clutch of his parental love, and purify us–making us useful after all.” William Britton

“I do not even judge myself.”
1 Corinthians 4:3
 .
Moving From the Head to the Heart
  • How often are you aware of unconscious forces that affect your behavior? (e.g., ambition, drivenness, ego)
  • Does your behavior show that you grant too much importance to being “productive?” (Are you ever hurrying, obsessed with “calculation?”)
  • How can you practice humbly accepting “the mystery of this life” and relying on the “guidance of the Spirit?” How might that redefine “success?”

Abba, in the midst of my folly, meet me in your love, and purify me.

For More: The Wisdom of St. Francis by Wayne Simsic

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Thanks for reading and sharing my blog! Please pray for God’s blessing on this ministry. – Bill

Daily Riches: The Transformational Power of the Psalms (Philip Yancey, Anatoly Shcharansky, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Walter Brueggemann)

“In 1977, at the height of the Cold War, Anatoly Shcharansky, a brilliant young mathematician and chess player, was arrested by the KGB for his repeated attempts to emigrate to Israel. He spent thirteen years inside the Soviet Gulag. From morning to evening Shcharansky read and studied all 150 psalms (in Hebrew). ‘What does this give me?’ he asked in a letter: ‘Gradually, my feeling of great loss and sorrow changed to one of bright hopes.’ Shcharansky so cherished his book of Psalms, in fact, that when the guards took it away from him, he lay in the snow, refusing to move, until they returned it. During those thirteen years, his wife traveled around the world campaigning for his release. Accepting an honorary degree on his behalf, she told the university audience, ‘In a lonely cell in Chistopol prison, locked alone with the Psalms of David, Anatoly found expression for his innermost feelings in the outpourings of the King of Israel thousands of years ago.'”  Philip Yancey

“The psalms wonderfully solve the problem of a praise-deficient culture by providing the necessary words. We merely need to enter into those words, letting the content of the psalms realign our inner attitudes. Dietrich Bonhoeffer suggests that the psalms are God’s language course. Just as infants learn the mother tongue from their parents, Christians can learn the language of prayer from Psalms. …Walter Brueggemann has coined the term ‘psalms of disorientation’ to describe those psalms that express confusion, confession, and doubt. Typically, the writer begins by begging God to rescue him from his desperate straits. He may weave poetic images of how he has been wronged, appeal to God’s sense of justice, even taunt God: ‘What good can I do you when I’m dead? How can I praise you then?’ The very act of venting these feelings allows the authors to attain a better perspective. He reflects on better times, remembers answered prayers of the past, concedes favors that he may have overlooked. By the end of the psalm, he moves toward praise and thanksgiving. He feels heard and cleansed. The psalm, or prayer, works out the transformation.” Yancey

“Holy Scripture is the table of Christ,
from whence we are nourished,
from whence we learn what we should love
and what whence should desire,
to whom we should have our eyes raised.”
Alcuin

Accept, Lord, the willing praise of my mouth
Psalm 119:107

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • What do the Psalms mean to you?
  • Have you prayed through them lately?
  • Will you let them teach you what to love, what to desire, and to whom to raise your eyes?

For More: The Bible Jesus Read by Philip Yancey

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I hope you’ll follow and share “Daily Riches.” I appreciate your interest! –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

 

 

Daily Riches: The Lord’s Prayer and Structural Evil (Dallas Willard, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Tim Keller)

“But in human affairs other ‘kingdoms’ [other than God’s kingdom] may for a time be in power, and often are. This second request [of the Lord’s prayer] asks for those kingdoms to be displaced, wherever they are, or brought under God’s rule. …And we are especially praying about the structural or institutionalized evils that rule so much of the earth. These prevailing circumstances daily bring multitudes to do deeply wicked things they do not even give a thought to. They do not know what they are doing and do not have the ability to distance themselves from it so they can see it for what it is…. We therefore pray for our Father to break up these higher-level patterns of evil. And, among other things, we ask him to help us see the patterns we are involved in. We ask him to help us not cooperate with them, to cast light on them and act effectively to remove them.” Dallas Willard

“Jesus, in his incarnation, ‘moved in’ with the poor. He lived with, ate with, and associated with the socially ostracized (Matt 9:13). He raised the son of the poor widow (Luke 7:11-16) and showed the greatest respect to the immoral woman who was a social outcast (Luke 7:36ff). Indeed, Jesus spoke with women in public, something that a man with any standing in society would not have done, but Jesus resisted the sexism of his day (John 4:27). Jesus also refused to go along with the racism of his culture, making a hated Samaritan the hero of one of his most famous parables (Luke 10:26ff) and touching off a riot when he claimed that God loved Gentiles like the widow of Zarephath and Naaman the Syrian as much as Jews (Luke 4:25-27). Jesus showed special concern for children, despite his apostles’ belief that they were not worth Jesus’s time (Luke 18:15).” Tim Keller

“We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath wheels of injustice; we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“How long will you defend the unjust
and show partiality to the wicked?
Defend the weak and the fatherless;
uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”
Psalm 82:2-4

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you asking God to help you “see the patterns of evil” that you’re involved in? that you allow by your consent or “cooperation?”
  • Are you asking God to help you “cast light on” these structural evils and “act to remove them?”
  • Does your relationship with Jesus give you a burden to “drive a spoke into the wheel” of injustice?

Abba, may thy kingdom come, may thy will be done – on earth as in is in heaven.

For More:  The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard
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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 very rare exception!] I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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

 

Daily Riches: Reigning in a Critical Spirit (Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Henri Nouwen) *

“Often we combat our evil thoughts most effectively if we absolutely refuse to allow them to be expressed in words. It is certain that the spirit of self-justification can be overcome only by the Spirit of grace; nevertheless, isolated thoughts of judgment can be curbed and smothered by never allowing them the right to be uttered…. Thus it must be a decisive rule of every Christian fellowship that each individual is prohibited from saying much that occurs to him.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“If we could control our tongues,
we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.
We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth.
And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go,
even though the winds are strong.
In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches.
…People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue.
It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father,
and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God.
And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth.
Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!”
James 3:2-10

“It is a good discipline to wonder in each new situation if people wouldn’t be better served by our silence than by our words.” Henri Nouwen

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Think about your conversations at church. Do you tend to say whatever occurs to you? Could you determine never to speak in defense of yourself or in judgment of another?
  • Does your congregation have a “decisive rule … that each individual is prohibited from saying much that occurs to him?”
  • Both James and Bonhoeffer admit the difficulty of controlling our words. Even so, both men seem to suggest that we will control ourselves by controlling our words. Can you control your words?

Abba, may my words be surrounded by much silence and informed by much love.

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For More: Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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These “Daily Riches” from RicherByFar are for your encouragement as you seek after God, and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it with others. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: What God Must Do to Live In Us (Dietrich Bonhoeffer and John Donne) *

“In life with Jesus Christ, death as a general fate approaching us from without is confronted by death from within, one’s own death, the free death of daily dying with Jesus Christ. Those who live with Christ die daily to their own will. Christ in us gives us over to death so that he can live within us. Thus our inner dying grows to meet that death from without. Christians receive their own death in this way and in this way our physical death very truly becomes not the end but rather the fulfillment of our life with Jesus Christ. Here we enter into community with the One who at his own death was able to say, ‘It is finished.’” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Here I never saw myself but in disguises; there, then, I shall see myself, but I shall see God too…. Here I have one faculty enlightened, and another left in darkness; mine understanding sometimes cleared, my will at the same time perverted. There I shall be all light, no shadow upon me; my soul invested in the light of joy, and my body in the light of glory.” John Donne

“We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”
2 Corinthians 2:10

Moving From Head to Heart

  • “Christ in us gives us over to death (crucifixion) so that he can live (resurrection) within us.” What has this meant in your life?
  • These mini-deaths are “free” in that we choose them or submit to them. Have you been able choose to receive these kinds of difficult losses and trials as Christ’s “gift?”
  • “Our inner dying grows to meet that death from without.” How do these words affect your feelings about your own death?
  • Take a few moments to think about your physical death becoming “not the end but rather the fulfillment of [your] life with Jesus Christ.” Sit with that in quietness. What emotions arise from that?

Abba, the experience of death from within is both painful and frightening. Even so, I want to embrace the “deaths” you send my way so that Jesus will live more fully in me. Please help me “die to my own will” as I submit to your will for me when it comes to this “daily dying with Jesus Christ.”

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For More: Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas

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“Let us, on both sides, lay aside all arrogance. Let us not, on either side, claim that we have already discovered the truth. Let us seek it together as something which is known to neither of us. For then only may we seek it, lovingly and tranquilly, if there be no bold presumption that it is already discovered and possessed.” Augustine   My prayer is that these Daily Riches will always be offered and received in this irenic, unpresumptous spirit. Thank you for reading and sharing my daily posts. Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: When Silence Is Better (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

“The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists in listening to them. Just as love to God begins with listening to His Word, so the beginning of love for brethren is learning to listen to them. It is God’s love for us that He not only gives us His Word but also lends us His ear. So it is His work that we do for our brother when we learn to listen to him. Christians, especially ministers, so often think they must always contribute something when they are in the company of others, that this is the one service they have to render. They forget that listening can be a greater service than speaking. Many people are looking for an ear that will listen. They do not find it among Christians, because these Christians are talking when they should be listening. But he who can no longer listen to his brother will soon no longer be listening to God either; he will be doing nothing but prattle in the presence of God too. This is the beginning of the death of the spiritual life, and in the end there is nothing left but spiritual chatter and clerical condescension arrayed in pious words. One who cannot listen long and patiently will presently be talking beside the point and be never really speaking to others, albeit he be not conscious of it. Anyone who thinks that his time is too valuable to spend keeping quiet will eventually have no time for God and his brother, but only for himself and for his own follies.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Speak only when your words are more beautiful than the silence.” Arabic Proverb

“[Job’s friends] sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights.
No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering
was too great for words.” Job 1:13

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Can you give others your ear as God gives you his?
  • Do you tend to think that by speaking you “contribute something” and that by listening or silence you don’t?
  • Can you trust God to use your silence as much as, or even more than, what you have to say?

Abba, may I trust your work in my silence as much as in my words.

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For More: Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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This blog is for your encouragement. Thanks for reading! –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

 

Daily Riches: Reigning in a Critical Spirit (Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Henri Nouwen)

“Often we combat our evil thoughts most effectively if we absolutely refuse to allow them to be expressed in words. It is certain that the spirit of self-justification can be overcome only by the Spirit of grace; nevertheless, isolated thoughts of judgment can be curbed and smothered by never allowing them the right to be uttered…. Thus it must be a decisive rule of every Christian fellowship that each individual is prohibited from saying much that occurs to him.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“If we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way. We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. …People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!” James 3:2-10

“It is a good discipline to wonder in each new situation
if people wouldn’t be better served by our silence
than by our words.”
Henri Nouwen

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Think about your conversations at church. Do you tend to say whatever occurs to you? Could you determine never to speak in defense of yourself or in judgment of another?
  • Does your congregation have a “decisive rule … that each individual is prohibited from saying much that occurs to him?”
  • Both James and Bonhoeffer admit the difficulty of controlling our words. Even so, both men seem to suggest that we will control ourselves by controlling our words. Can you control your words?

Abba, may my words be surrounded by much silence and informed by much love.

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For More: Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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These “Daily Riches” from RicherByFar are for your encouragement as you seek after God, and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it with others. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Death Daily (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

“In life with Jesus Christ, death as a general fate approaching us from without is confronted by death from within, one’s own death, the free death of daily dying with Jesus Christ. Those who live with Christ die daily to their own will. Christ in us gives us over to death so that he can live within us. Thus our inner dying grows to meet that death from without. Christians receive their own death in this way and in this way our physical death very truly becomes not the end but rather the fulfillment of our life with Jesus Christ. Here we enter into community with the One who at his own death was able to say, ‘It is finished.’” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”
2 Corinthians 2:10

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • “Christ in us gives us over to death (crucifixion) so that he can live (resurrection) within us.” What has this meant in your life?
  • These mini-deaths are “free” in that we choose them or submit to them. Have you been able choose to receive these kinds of difficult losses and trials as Christ’s “gift?”
  • “Our inner dying grows to meet that death from without.” When you consider this, how does it affect your feelings about your own death?
  • Take a few moments to think about your physical death becoming “not the end but rather the fulfillment of [your] life with Jesus Christ.” Sit with that in quietness. What emotions arise from that?

Abba, the experience of death from within is both painful and frightening. Even so, I want to embrace the “deaths” you send into my life so that Jesus will live more fully in me. Please help me “die to my own will” as I submit to your will for me when it comes to this “daily dying with Jesus Christ.”

__________

For More: Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas

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The “Daily Riches” from RicherByFar are for your encouragement as you seek after God, and as he seeks after you. My goal is to give you something of uncommon value each day in less than 400 words. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it with others. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)