Daily Riches: Encountering Others in Love (Johannes Baptist Metz)

“Every stirring of genuine love makes us poor. It dominates the whole human person, makes absolute claims upon us (cf. Mt. 22:37), and thus subverts all extra-human assurances of security. The true lover must be unprotected and give of himself or herself without reservation or question; and must display lifelong fidelity. Every genuine human encounter must be inspired by poverty of spirit. We must forget ourselves in order to let the other person approach us. We must be able to open up to the other person, to let that person’s distinctive personality unfold–even though it often frightens or repels us. We often keep the other person down, and only see what we want to see; thus we never really encounter the mysterious secret of their being, only ourselves. Failing to risk the poverty of encounter, we indulge in a new form of self-assertion and pay a price for it: loneliness. Because we did not risk the poverty of openness (cf. Mt. 10:39), our lives are not graced with the warm fullness of human existence. We are left with only a shadow of our real self.” Johannes Baptist Metz

“If you cling to your life,
you will lose it;
but if you give up your life for me,
you will find it.”
Jesus, in Matthew 10:39

Moving From the Head to the Heart

When you think about attempting to lovingly encounter another (an Other)…

  • Are you able to “forget” yourself, opening up so that the other person can approach you? …where you make the encounter about them, not you?
  • What do you do when someone’s “distinctive” personality frightens or repels you? …do you abort the encounter–or trust God and attempt to engage anyway?
  • Can you ask God to show you what ego issues, expectations or biases you may have that make conversations with others simply “a new form of self-assertion” for you?

Abba, help me love others as you have loved me.

For more: Poverty of Spirit by Johannes Baptist Metz

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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)

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

Daily Riches: The Alternative to Religious Liberty (Robert J. Morgan)

“For years England had seesawed between Catholic and Protestant mandates, depending on the monarch in power. When the king was Catholic, Protestants were burned. When Protestant, Catholics died. In both situations, Puritans and non-Anglicans (Dissenters) were hunted down with such vengeance that they finally rebelled. King Charles I was beheaded, his young son fled to France, and a Puritan government was installed. But the people missed their monarchy, and in 1658 young Charles II headed home from France promising religious liberty. He entered London on his thirtieth birthday, May 29, 1660. Twenty thousand soldiers escorted the young king through flower-strewn streets. Trumpets blared, crowds cheered, bells pealed from every tower. His love life and his dubious faith in God made him the most scandalous leader of his time. But his easy smile and approachability caused few to dislike him. Some did. In 1661 a pack of religious fanatics known as Fifth Monarchy Men tried to overthrow him and set up a kingdom awaiting the return of Christ. They failed, but the experience left Charles more suspicious of Dissenters than ever. Such preachers as John Bunyan found themselves languishing in prison, and a series of laws put the screws to Dissenters. Five different acts were passed: (1) the Corporation Act of 1661 excluded all Dissenters from local government; (2) the Act of Uniformity in 1662 required all ministers to use The Book of Common Prayer as a format for their services. It was this act that drove 2,000 preachers from their pulpits in a single day; (3) the Conventicle Act of 1664, aimed primarily at Baptists, forbade religious meetings by Dissenters; (4) the Five Mile Act of 1665 prohibited dissenting ministers from coming within five miles of any city or town in which they had ministered; and (5) the Test Act of 1673 excluded Catholics from civil and military positions. Baptists, Catholics, Quakers, Presbyterians, and Congregationalists all found themselves again under the lash. In the jail. At the stake.” Robert J. Morgan

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given …
And he will be called …Prince of Peace.”
Isaiah 9:6

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you read this story as a frightening example of the legislation of religious bigotry and prejudice? …as violence fueled by fear and intolerance?
  • Is defending the your own religious liberty and that of others who differ from you (like Muslims) important to you? If not, why not?
  • Can you imagine Jesus treating religious bigotry, hatred and intolerance as virtuous?
  • Are you thinking, “This could never happen here?”

Abba, deliver us from the evil one. As people of faith, may we be known as people of love.

For More: On This Day by Robert J. Morgan

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Thanks for reading/following my blog! –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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

Daily Riches: Following His Majestic Lead (Walter Brueggemann)

the one who had nowhere to lay his head,
no safe place,
no secure home,
no passport or visa,
no certified citizenship.

We gather around him in our safety, security, and well-being,
and fret about ‘illegal immigrants.’
We fret because they are not like us
and refuse our language.
We worry that there are so many of them
and their crossings do not stop.
We are unsettled because it is our tax
dollars that sustain them and provide services.
We feel the hype about closing borders and heavy fines,
because we imagine that our life is under threat.

And yet, as you know very well,
we, all of us–early or late–are immigrants
from elsewhere;
we are glad for cheap labor
and seasonal workers
who do tomatoes and apples and oranges
to our savoring delight.

And beyond that, even while we are beset by fears
and aware of pragmatic costs,
we know very well that you are the God
who welcomes strangers,
who loves aliens and protects sojourners.

As always, we feel the tension and the slippage
between the deep truth of our faith
and the easier settlements of our society.

We do not ask for an easy way out,
but for courage and honesty and faithfulness.
Give us ease in the presence of those unlike us;
give us generously amid demands of those in need,
help us to honor those who trespass
as you forgive our trespasses.

You are the God of all forgiveness.
By your gracious forgiveness transpose us
into agents of your will,
that our habits and inclinations may more closely
follow your majestic lead, that our lives may
joyously conform to your vision of a new world.

We pray in the name of your holy Son, even Jesus.”

Walter Brueggemann

“He ensures that orphans and widows receive justice.
He shows love to the foreigners living among you
and gives them food and clothing.”
Deuteronomy 10:18

Moving From the Head to the Heart
  • Is your God one “who welcomes strangers, who loves aliens, and protects sojourners?” Has God welcomed you in this way?
  • How, do you suppose, God “gave food and clothing” to foreigners living among Israel (Dt. 18) or ensured “that orphans and widows receive justice?”
  • Helping those in need can be a discomforting, even dangerous act. It’s also not always easy to know how to help. As one who belongs to God, how can you be an “agent of his will”, following God’s majestic lead?

God of the helpless–help me follow your majestic lead.

For More: Prayers for A Privileged People by Walter Brueggemann (2010)

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. Thanks so much for following and sharing my blog! – Bill

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: 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: Take the Trouble to See … And Then Love (Anthony de Mello, Pete Scazzero)

“Love springs from awareness. It is only inasmuch as you see persons as they really are here and now and not as they are in your memory or your desire or in your imagination or projection that you can truly love them; otherwise it is not the people that you love but the idea that you have formed of them. Therefore, the first act of love is to see this person…. And this involves the enormous discipline of dropping your desires, your prejudices, your memories, your projections, your selective way of looking…. When you set out to serve someone whom you have not taken the trouble to see, are you meeting that person’s need or your own? So the first ingredient of love is to really see the other. The second ingredient is equally important: to see yourself, to ruthlessly flash the light of awareness on your motives, your emotions, your needs, your dishonesty, your self-seeking, your tendency to control and manipulate. This means calling things by their names, no matter how painful the discovery and the consequences. If you achieve this kind of awareness of the other and yourself, you will know what love is.” Anthony de Mello

One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to have dinner with him, so Jesus went to his home and sat down to eat. When a certain immoral woman from that city heard he was eating there, she brought a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume. Then she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his feet and putting perfume on them. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him. She’s a sinner!’” Luke 7:35-39

Moving From Head to Heart

“Simon the Pharisee did not really see the sinful woman as a human being loved by God. He saw a sinner, an interruption, a person without a right to be at the dinner table. Jesus saw her differently.” Pete Scazzero

  • Think about it, how would you have seen her?
  • What can you do to gain more “awareness of the other and yourself?”

Abba, open my eyes to reality as you know it.

More: Begin the Journey with the Daily Office by Pete Scazzero

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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: Your Enemy the Savage (Thomas Merton, Martin Niemöller and Richard Rohr)

“It took me a long time to learn that God is not the enemy of my enemies. He is not even the enemy of His enemies.” Martin Niemöller

Today, if African American protests turn into riots, the offenders are often referred to as “animals.” In the early American West, native Americans were called “savages”, and wartime slurs dehumanized Jews, Germans, and Japanese. Richard Rohr reminds us that we all have a viewpoint, and that each viewpoint is “a view from a point.” Consequently, he says “…we need to critique our own perspective if we are to see and follow the full truth.” To love our enemies, as Jesus commands, and to escape our own unconscious biases, we will need such a critique.

“Do not be too quick to assume your enemy is a savage just because he is your enemy. Perhaps he is your enemy because he thinks you are savage. Or perhaps he is afraid of you because he feels that you are afraid of him. And perhaps if he believed you were capable of loving him he would no longer be your enemy. Do not be too quick to assume that your enemy is an enemy of God just because he is your enemy. Perhaps he is your enemy precisely because he can find nothing in you that gives glory to God. Perhaps he fears you because he can find nothing in you of God’s love and God’s kindness and God’s patience and mercy and understanding of the weaknesses of men. Do not be too quick to condemn the man who no longer believes in God, for it is perhaps your own coldness and avarice, your mediocrity and materialism, your sensuality and selfishness that have killed his faith.”  Thomas Merton

“I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”
Jesus in Matthew 5:44

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you understand your enemy well enough to understand his motives? his fear of you? your common humanity with him?
  • Do you understand yourself and your fear of your enemy? How you or your nation, political party, religion or race may have helped make him your enemy?
  • Does faith as you practice it tend to disarm others or to make them suspicious and defensive? Do you approach those of other faiths or persuasions based on prejudices and stereotypes – perhaps the way they do with you?

Abba, may practiced love transform my enemy into my friend.

For More: Seeds by Thomas Merton

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God. 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: Hindrances to Hearing From God (Soong-Chan Rah)

“What is considered good, sound, orthodox theology is a Western theology that emphasizes a personal relationship with Jesus with its natural and expected antecedent of an individual sanctification…. The critical issues and discussion in theology lean toward understanding issues relevant to individuals and Western sensibilities. …Theologies that speak of a corporate responsibility or call for a social responsibility are given special names like: liberation theology, black theology, minjung theology, feminist theology, etc. In other words, Western theology with its individual focus is considered normative theology, while non-Western theology is theology on the fringes and must be explained as being a theology applicable only in a particular context and to a particular people group. Orthodoxy is determined by the Western value of individualism and an individualized soteriology rather than a broader understanding of the corporate themes that emerge out of scripture. Because theology emerging from a Western, white context is considered normative, it places non-Western theology in an inferior position and elevates Western theology as the standard by which all other theological frameworks and points of view are measured. This bias stifles the theological dialogue between the various cultures. …We end up with a Western, white captivity of theology. Western theology becomes the form that is closest to God.” Soong-Chan Rah

“Then a voice told him, ‘Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.’
‘Surely not, Lord!’ Peter replied.
I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.’”
Acts 10:13,14

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Christianity began in the East and was entirely Jewish. Much of today’s church is Western and Gentile. Imagine the difference in perspective. Has your theology ever been challenged like Peter’s was?
  • Many churches in the U.S. are mostly white, suburban, middle-class and led by men. Imagine how unreflected the concerns and problems of people of color, urban and/or poor people might be in such churches. Have you tried listening in your church with the ears of a poor person, a minority or a woman?
  • Considering “non-Western theology” as theology “on the fringes” only feeds our tendency towards ego-centricity as individuals and a culture. Do you try to learn from those parts of the world, or from cultures, that are different from yours?

Abba, make me aware of my biases and prejudices, and help me transcend them. Help me know you better as my horizons expand and I think in new ways.

For More: The Next Evangelicalism by Soong-Chan Rah

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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: Reading the Human Story Beneath the Frightened Face (Brennan Manning) *

“Compassion for others is not a simple virtue because it avoids snap judgments of right or wrong, good or bad, hero or villain: It seeks truth in all it’s complexity. Genuine compassion means that in empathizing with the failed plans and uncertain loves of the other person we send out the vibration, ‘Yes, ragamuffin, I understand. I’ve been there, too.’ … Judgment depends on what we see, how deeply we look at the other, how honestly we face ourselves, how willing we are to read the human story beneath the frightened face.” Brennan Manning

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God;
and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”
1 John 4:7-9

Moving from the Head to the Heart

  • Do you often make “snap judgments of right or wrong, good or bad, hero or villain?”
  • Do you categorize people with labels (“lame”,”lazy”, “needy”) or amateur diagnoses (“low functioning”, “compulsive”, “addicted”) or plainly insulting terms (“clueless”,”hopeless”, “loser”)? How about when you’re driving? looking around at church? scanning the crowd at your kids concert or ball game? Can we agree that it’s easy not to love well?
  • Manning suggest we will judge less, and love more, if we look deeply within ourselves for explanations, and if we look beyond the surface (“deeply”) at others – “to read the human story beneath the frightened face.” Will you join me in working on that?

Abba, I desperately want to read the human story behind the frightened face. Help me to learn a new way of looking at people – to look deeply beyond the fears and defenses, the disguises and the masks. Help me to breathe in your love, and breathe it out as your and my gift to the world.

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For More: The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brannon Manning

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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)

Daily Riches: Loving Well (Brennan Manning)

“Compassion for others is not a simple virtue because it avoids snap judgments of right or wrong, good or bad, hero or villain: It seeks truth in all it’s complexity. Genuine compassion means that in empathizing with the failed plans and uncertain loves of the other person we send out the vibration, ‘Yes, ragamuffin, I understand. I’ve been there, too.’ … Judgment depends on what we see, how deeply we look at the other, how honestly we face ourselves, how willing we are to read the human story beneath the frightened face.” Brennan Manning

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God;
and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”
1 John 4:7-9

Moving from the Head to the Heart

  • Do you often make “snap judgments of right or wrong, good or bad, hero or villain?”
  • Do you categorize people with labels (“lame”,”lazy”, “needy”) or amateur diagnoses (“low functioning”, “compulsive”, “addicted”) or plainly insulting terms (“clueless”,”hopeless”, “loser”)? How about when you’re driving? looking around at church? scanning the crowd at your kids concert or ball game? Can we agree that it’s easy not to love well?
  • Manning suggest we will judge less, and love more, if we look deeply within ourselves for explanations, and if we look beyond the surface (“deeply”) at others – “to read the human story beneath the frightened face.” Will you join me in working on that?

Abba, I desperately want to read the human story behind the frightened face. Help me to learn a new way of looking at people – to look deeply beyond the fears and defenses, the scars and the masks. Help me to breathe in your love, and breathe it out as your and my gift to the world.

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For More: The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brannon Manning

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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)

Daily Riches – Loving Well (Anthony de Mello)

What does it mean to love?
It means to see a person, a situation, a thing as it really is,
not as you imagine it to be. And to give it the response it deserves.
You can hardly be said to love what you do not even see.
And what prevents us from seeing?
Our conditioning. Our concepts, our categories, our prejudices, our projections,
the labels that we have drawn from our cultures and our past experiences.”
Anthony de Mello

[Jesus said] “… you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’  ‘Teacher,’ the man replied, ‘I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.’ Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him.” Mark 10:17-21a  NLT

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  •  Think about it. Why do you think Jesus felt “genuine love for the man?” (v. 21) Was it only because of who Jesus was, or was it also something about the man?
  • What keeps you from seeing people “as they really are?” Is it one of the factors de Mello mentions, or something else? Can you name it?
  • What do you suppose would change if you made a point to take the trouble to see each person as they really are?

Abba, I know I judge people unfairly and superficially all the time. Help me to see and love others as Jesus did, with understanding and grace.

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For More: The Way to Love by Anthony de Mello

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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 provide you with something of uncommon value each day in less than 300 words. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it with others. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)