Daily Riches: How We Learn Altruism (Robert Lawrence Smith)

“Like turning the other cheek, helping the stranger is a fundamentally counterintuitive act. We …are basically a self-interested species. Our instinct is to husband our resources and share them only with close family and friends – people we know well and love and who are likely to reciprocate when we ourselves are in need. Why, after all, should we care about strangers? My belief is that altruism is actually a deep-seated human instinct … a mysterious drive to express the best that is in us. When we listen for and hear the cries of the needy, the oppressed, or the sick, something inside us instinctively responds. …But we are also driven by a countervailing instinct: the fear of the unknown, of people whose cultures and values we don’t understand. This tug-of-war between our fear of strangers and our need to connect with those outside our own experience is the dynamic force that draws men and women to each other, and drives them apart. It’s what moves us to travel to foreign lands and meet foreign people, and what compels to erect Berlin Walls and adopt restrictive immigration policies. Service to others is the way we break down the walls that keep us isolated in our own lives and in our own communities. It’s how we grow as human beings. …you learn about life through interactions with others who are different from yourself, not by looking inward. Doing physical labor side by side with total strangers who needed help taught me lessons that went far beyond anything I had learned in a classroom or in [Quaker] Meeting about the commonality that transcends differences, about the kinship engendered by shared labor. I benefited as much by my efforts as the family I was trying to help. I learned that not only are we our brother’s keepers, our brother is our keeper too – the keeper of our soul.” Robert Lawrence Smith

“And Cain said … ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’”
Genesis  4:9

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have you hoped to learn altruism from books or church?
  • Are you involved in helping people in need who are not your family or friends?
  • Have you experienced being helped by those you were helping?
  • Do you think of yourself as “your brother’s keeper?”

Abba, help me to see and care for my brother who is not my brother.

For More: A Quaker Book of Wisdom by Robert Lawrence Smith

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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 and share my blog. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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

Daily Riches: Joining God in His Dream for the World (Amy Grant, Dallas Willard, Pete Scazzero)

“No more lives torn apart

That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end.
This is my grown-up Christmas list.”
Amy Grant

“…the kingdom of God …is the domain where what he prefers is actually what happens. And this very often does not happen on this sad earth…. In human affairs other ‘kingdoms’ may for a time be in power, and often are. This second request [“hallowed by thy name”] asks for those kingdoms to be displaced, wherever they are, or brought under God’s rule. … Jesus’s own gospel of the kingdom was not that the kingdom was about to come, or had recently come, into existence. … his gospel concerned only the new accessibility of the kingdom to humanity through himself. …So when Jesus directs us to pray, ‘Thy kingdom come,’ he does not mean we should pray for it to come into existence. Rather, we pray for it to take over at all points in the personal,  social, and political order where is it now excluded: ‘On earth as it is in heaven.'” Dallas Willard

“The kingdom of God is God’s dream for the world.” Pete Scazzero

 “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
for the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
and to proclaim that captives will be released
and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent me to tell those who mourn
that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,
and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.”
Isaiah 61:1-2

Moving From Head to Heart

In many ways our dream for the world and God’s dream for the world are alike: healing of broken lives, peace, comfort to the brokenhearted. God’s dream also probably transcends ours: prisoners and slaves freed, good news for the poor – and a judging of evil.

  • Is your “wish list” inclusive enough that you can pray “thy kingdom come?”
  • Are you praying for God’s kingdom (petitioning), or merely wishing for it – or perhaps neither?
  • Are you praying for God to break into not only the personal, but also the “social, and political order?”

Abba, thy kingdom come, thy will be done – here and now in this place.

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. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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

Daily Riches: Pray Better (Ted Loder, Arundhati Roy and Dawna Markova)

“Disturb my indifference,

Expose my practiced phoniness,
Shatter my brittle certainties,
Deflate my arrogant sophistries,
And craze me into a holy awareness
of my common humanity
And so, of my bony, bloody need
To love mercy,
Do justly,
And walk humbly with you – and with myself,
Trusting that whatever things it may be too late for,
Prayer is not one of them.”
Ted Loder

“To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never, to forget.” Arundhati Roy

“I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible; to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. I choose to risk my significance, to live so that which came to me as seed goes to the next as blossom, and that which came to me as blossom, goes on as fruit.” Dawna Markova

“The Lord receives my prayer.” Psalm 6:9

Moving From the Head to the Heart

Only the first of these portions is technically a prayer or, it seems, explicitly Christian. Nevertheless, all three readings strike me as useful resources for praying more wisely, and thus more wildly (or vice versa) as a person of faith. Perhaps this is one of those times when we can learn something from those outside our usual circles of influence:

  • Notice the verbs in Loder’s prayer. Are you’re prayers sometimes “wild” like that? If not, is there good reason to hold back?
  • Notice the values in Roy’s powerful words of determination. Are your prayers often “wise” like that? Can you focus on one phrase and pray from that?
  • Notice Markova’s testimony. Are your prayers filled with such longing? abandon? purpose? Can you lift up your longings to God in prayer right now?

Abba, teach me to pray better than I pray.

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For More: Guerrillas of Grace: Prayers for the Battle by Ted Loder

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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: Pray More Wisely, Pray More Wildly (Ted Loder, Arundhati Roy and Dawna Markova)

“Disturb my indifference,

Expose my practiced phoniness,
Shatter my brittle certainties,
Deflate my arrogant sophistries,
And craze me into a holy awareness
of my common humanity
And so, of my bony, bloody need
To love mercy,
Do justly,
And walk humbly with you – and with myself,
Trusting that whatever things it may be too late for,
Prayer is not one of them.”
Ted Loder

“To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never, to forget.” Arundhati Roy

“I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible; to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. I choose to risk my significance, to live so that which came to me as seed goes to the next as blossom, and that which came to me as blossom, goes on as fruit.” Dawna Markova

“The Lord receives my prayer.” Psalm 6:9

Moving From the Head to the Heart

Only the first of these portions is technically a prayer or, it seems, explicitly Christian. Nevertheless, all three readings strike me as useful resources for praying more wisely, and thus more wildly (or vice versa) as a person of faith. Perhaps this is one of those times when we can learn something from those outside our usual circles of influence:

  • Notice the verbs in Loder’s prayer. Are you’re prayers sometimes “wild” like that? If not, is there good reason to hold back?
  • Notice the values in Roy’s powerful words of determination. Are your prayers often “wise” like that? Can you focus on one phrase and pray from that?
  • Notice Markova’s testimony. Are your prayers filled with such longing? abandon? purpose? Can you lift up your longings to God in prayer right now?

Abba, teach me to pray better than I pray.

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For More: Guerrillas of Grace: Prayers for the Battle by Ted Loder

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Thanks for reading!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)