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: Only Love Can Do That (Parker Palmer, Martin Luther King, and Thomas Merton)*

“Where love rules, there is no will to power; and where power predominates, there love is lacking.” Carl Jung

“Violence is any way we have of violating the integrity of the other. Racism and sexism are violence. Derogatory labeling of any sort constitutes violence. Rendering other people invisible or irrelevant is an act of violence. So is manipulating people towards our ends as if they were objects that existed only to serve our purposes. …Violence is not just about bombing or shooting or hitting people. To create peace in our lives–and our world–we need to be able to sit with frustration and hold the tension of opposite views.” Parker Palmer

“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The child is totally available in the present because he has relatively little to remember, his experience of evil is as yet brief, and his anticipation of the future does not extend very far. The Christian, in his humility and faith, must be as totally available to his brother, to his world, in the present, as the child is. But he cannot see the world with childlike innocence and simplicity unless his memory is cleared of past evils by forgiveness, and his anticipation of the future is hopefully free of craft and calculation. For this reason, the humility of Christian nonviolence is at once patient and uncalculating. The chief difference between nonviolence and violence is that the latter depends entirely on its own calculations. The former depends entirely on God and on his word.” Thomas Merton

“How I wish today that you of all people
would understand the way to peace.”
Jesus in Luke 19:42

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you have the humility required to “hold the tension of opposite views?”
  • Is your past flooded with forgiveness so that, like a child, you have “little to remember?”
  • As you anticipate the future, are you depending on “your own calculations” or depending “on God and on his word?”
  • How can you begin practicing a new “way?”

Abba, help me understand the way of peace.

For More: “The Violence of Our Knowledge” by Parker Parker

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Thanks for reading and sharing my blog! – Bill

Daily Riches: Our Illusions When Serving Others (Belden Lane, Meister Eckhart and Oswald Chambers)

“A Christian servant is one who perpetually looks into the face of God and then goes forth to talk to others.” Oswald Chambers

“Meister Eckhart insisted that ‘if a person were in a rapture as great as St. Paul once experienced and learned that his neighbor were in need of a cup of soup, it would be best to withdraw from the rapture and give the person the soup he needs.’ The contemplative returns to the ordinary, not in spite of her detachment from it, but because of that detachment. No longer driven by fear of rejection and loss, she is able now to love others without anxiously needing anything in return. …The author of The Cloud of Unknowing argued that the person steeped in apophatic [wordless] prayer is able to love everyone, without ‘special regard for any individual, whether he is kinsman or stranger, friend or foe.’ Where one is free from the need to impress the one or to fear the other, all can be loved. Eckhart said that people who, through prayer, have become dead to all things and in touch with nothingness, become powerfully and perhaps even dangerously free. They are able to ‘aim at nothing in their works, to intend nothing in their minds, seeking neither reward nor blessedness.’ They move through the world with a compassionate indifference to all its threats and promises. …The truest impulse toward work for social justice, therefore, grows not out of an anxious sense of pity for others or a grandly noble desire to serve, but out of the abandonment of the self in God. A love that works for justice is wholly uncalculating and indifferent, able to accomplish much because it seeks nothing for itself. …In the apophatic way, love is not directed toward an attractive, lovable object. Indeed, it is drawn to that which appears as nothing, to that which is least in this world…. It flourishes in receiving no response, expecting nothing in return. …One’s work for social change, when rooted in such a truth becomes altogether free–released from all the illusions and expectations we usually bring to our service to others.” Belden Lane

“I was caught up to paradise and heard things so astounding
that they cannot be expressed in words”
2 Corinthians 12:4

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you love “expecting nothing in return?”
  • Do you “move through the world with a compassionate indifference to all its threats and promises?”
  • How could you perpetually “look into the face of God” before attempting to care for others?

Abba, teach me this often unfamiliar, always counterintuitive love.

For More: The Solace of Fierce Landscapes by Belden Lane

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Thank you for sharing/following my blog! Please leave a question or comment. I appreciate your interest! – Bill

 

Daily Riches: Disguised Comes God (Rudolf Bultmann)

“Just where God’s call meets each individual, you and me, in the course of our everyday life at work, in the hustle and bustle of daily affairs, I cannot tell you, nor should I even try. For that is the secret of the encounter with Jesus, that he meets us always disguised in different forms; that is the secret of God’s call, that it always sounds new, where and when one least expects it. I can only urge that each is prepared to hear the call, that each is ready to listen to it. The folktale of the poor and the rich with which we are all familiar certainly knows that encounters with God often are improbable and that whoever is not prepared for them misses them to his own detriment. The folktale relates how God once wandered the earth as a simple wanderer and was looking for lodging for the night. He knocked at the door of a rich man and requested shelter for the night. The rich man saw the unimpressive wanderer at his door–he did not exactly appear as if he could pay well–and he turned him away with all sorts of excuses; it just wasn’t convenient. Then God knocked at the door of a poor man and found a friendly reception. As the folktale later explains, the rich man had punished himself while the poor man received a rich blessing. Indeed, joyfulness and goodness, patience and willingness to sacrifice belong to the readiness that is required of us–eyes open for whatever the hour may demand of us. Disguised comes God, comes Jesus to us. And we have deprived ourselves of that hour’s blessing. For this reason we should make room in our restless and often hectic life for hours of quiet and reflection in order to examine ourselves and ponder the questions: What have I neglected? Who needs my help? Who longs to hear a kind word from me? We should not be consumed by the noise of the day, in our daily work with its cares, its joys and sufferings! We should not forget to notice what God wants to tell us here and there! … So it is that always and everywhere our brother’s need requires our sympathy and helping hand, there he [God] meets us, there his call sounds for us.” Rudolph Bultmann

“there was no room for them in the inn”
Luke 2:7

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • What have you neglected?
  • Who needs your help?
  • Who longs for a kind word from you?

Abba, may I prepare myself to hear you when you call.

For More: “A Sermon about the Parable of the Great Banquet” by Rudolph Bultmann

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

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: A Voice Crying in the Wilderness (Robert Morgan)

“On December 21, 1511 Antonio des Montesinos stood before his church in Hispaniola with fire on his lips:

I have climbed to this pulpit to let you know of your sins, for I am the voice of Christ crying in the desert of this island, and you must not listen to me indifferently. You are in mortal sin; you not only are in it, but live in it and die in it because of the cruelty and tyranny you bring to bear on these innocent people. By what right do you wage your odious wars on people who dwelt in quiet and peace on their own islands? Why do you oppress and exploit them, without even giving them enough to eat? They die, or rather, you kill them, so that you may extract more and more gold every day. Are they not human? Have they no souls? Are you not required to love them as you love yourselves? How can you remain in such profound lethargy? I assure you, in your present state you can no more be saved than Moors or Turks who reject the faith of Jesus Christ.

His audience was stunned, and his words leaped the oceans. In Spain a furious King Ferdinand told Christopher Columbus, ‘I have seen the sermon … and although he was always a scandalous preacher, I am much surprised by what he said, which has no basis in theology or law.’ Montesinos refused orders to retract his statements, and increasing numbers joined him in reminding the world that not everything done in the name of Christianity is of Christ.” Robert J. Morgan

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul
and with all your mind and with all your strength.’
The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
There is no commandment greater than these.”
Jesus in Mark 12:30,31

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Nations, just like individuals, can be blind to injustice–”in profound lethargy” towards God–commiting atrocities while believing they’re serving God. Are you aware of times like that in your nation’s story?
  • Where are the wilderness (non-establishment) voices calling out in the wilderness today? Are you listening?
  • What is happening in your world “in the name of Christianity” that is not “of Christ?” Are you dissenting?

Abba, help me to hear your voice in the often overlooked voices that cry out for justice in my day.

For More: On This Day by Robert J. Morgan

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. My goal is to give you something of real value in 400 words or less. Thanks for reading /sharing my blog. I appreciate your interest! –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: You Give Them Something to Eat (Rachel Held Evans and Pope Francis)

“[Millennials are] tired of the culture wars, tired of Christianity getting entangled with party politics and power. Millennials want to be known by what we’re for …not just what we’re against. We don’t want to choose between science and religion or between our intellectual integrity and our faith. Instead, we long for our churches to be safe places to doubt, to ask questions, and to tell the truth, even when it’s uncomfortable. We want to talk about the tough stuff—biblical interpretation, religious pluralism, sexuality, racial reconciliation, and social justice—but without predetermined conclusions or simplistic answers. We want to bring our whole selves through the church doors, without leaving our hearts and minds behind, without wearing a mask. …Millennials aren’t looking for a hipper Christianity …We’re looking for a truer Christianity, a more authentic Christianity. …we’re looking for Jesus–the same Jesus who can be found in the strange places he’s always been found: in bread, in wine, in baptism, in the Word, in suffering, in community, and among the least of these.” Rachel Held Evans

“I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security. …More than by fear of going astray, my hope is that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits which make us feel safe, while at our door people are starving and Jesus does not tire of saying to us: ‘Give them something to eat’ (Mk 6:37).” Pope Francis

“‘Send the crowds away
so they can go to the nearby farms and villages
and buy something to eat.’
But Jesus said,
‘You feed them.’ ”
Mark 6:35-36

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is your church focused on “starving people” or mostly on blessing members?
  • Can people talk about difficult topics (religious pluralism, sexuality, racial reconciliation, social justice)? Is conversation characterized by loving listening and allowance of diverse opinion? Is doubt permitted?
  • Are church people leaving their comfort zones to minister–and sometimes getting bruised, hurt or dirty in the process–or is there a culture of “playing it safe?”

Abba, help me find Jesus in all the “strange places”–as I meet him there anew.

For More: Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. My goal is to give you something of real value in 400 words or less. 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: 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: The Sacred Rhythm – Retreat and Advance (James Krueger)

“The temptation to separate contemplation and activity has hounded Christianity from the beginning, and from the beginning it has been rejected. When the disciples wanted to take up arms, Jesus pointed them to the cross, to God’s way of love and forbearance, so that they might remove the plank from their own eye before poking another’s eyes out. When the disciples wanted to hide behind locked doors, to wall themselves off from the clamoring world, Jesus penetrated through and sent them out into the world’s danger.  …Without first learning to retreat, one’s advancing becomes chaotic, confused, and contentious. Without knowing how to advance, one’s spiritual life becomes flimsy, sentimental, and tiresome. In contemplation, there must be decisive, prophetic action; in action, there must be openness, recollection, and prayer. Contemplative practice is not the domain of the lazy priest or the indolent monk. Living a contemplative life certainly means guarding against undue stresses and frenetic activity, but a life that is contemplative is not just a life lived at ease. Though relaxation, poise, and the quelling of free-floating anxiety can be by-products of a deep contemplative practice, these are not its goals. On the contrary, the contemplative is a soldier and her practice is preparation for, and the certainty of, a face-to-face confrontation with evil. The contemplative runs from the distractions of the world only to expose the clamor of evil and sin in the quiet of stillness and the light of an unwavering gaze—to confront there the enemy face-to-face as if in a mirror. In other words, she meets the enemy in her own heart. Realizing that I and my foe are one sheds a wholly different light on the command to forgive one’s enemies and pray for one’s persecutors, even as it brings to its logical conclusion the need to love one’s neighbor as oneself. If we can face the enemy with forbearance in the crucible of contemplative practice in a safe place of prayer, we will learn to face him anywhere. …Self-gifting love is the true goal of contemplative practice, not self-actualization….” James Krueger

“Before daybreak the next morning,
Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.”
Mark 1:35
.
Moving From the Head to the Heart
  • Unfortunately, most people naturally gravitate towards either activism without contemplation or the opposite. How about you?
  • Do you reject unloving activism as problematic–necessarily futile and transgressive?
  • Do you renounce self-centered contemplation as clueless–controverting God’s ultimate purpose?

Abba, help me learn this sacred rhythm.

For More: “This Restless Sea….” by James Krueger

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. 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: “Trouble” Is God’s Middle Name (Robert McAfee Brown and Jürgen Moltmann)

“… the God we are talking about is a risk-taking God. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and of Sarah, Leah, and Rachel, is always in the thick of things, siding with the poor, putting the divine name on the line for a bunch of slaves, and – in Christian terms – getting incarnated in the most unlikely and risky way imaginable, in a first-century Jew who lived at a time (like all times) when people in general didn’t like Jews very much and people in power didn’t like Jews at all. So if we get in trouble for affirming such a God, we can be sure that Trouble is God’s middle name and that such a God will be alongside us in the midst of trouble, rather than off in a remote heaven practicing neutrality. And if we can begin to make that most difficult switch of all – away from the gods of middle-class values and upward mobility and gilt-edged retirements plans – and if we can explore, even tentatively and gingerly, what it would be like to think with and act for those who are the victims, we might just uncover the most ‘unexpected news’ of all: that God got there before we did.” Robert McAfee Brown

“Reading the Bible with the eyes of the poor is a different thing from reading it with a full belly. If it is read in the light of the experience and hopes of the oppressed, the Bible’s revolutionary themes — promise, exodus, resurrection and spirit — come alive.” Jürgen Moltmann

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us …But even if he does not …we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:17,18

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Does “getting into trouble” seem like an unseemly or obviously unspiritual thing to you? Do you think of God as “off in a remote heaven practicing neutrality?”
  • What can you do to better read the Bible “in light of the experience and hopes of the oppressed?”
  • Do you think of the Bible as mostly supporting things as they are, or as “revolutionary?” Does it matter?

Abba, keep me from a satisfaction and comfort that blinds me to the experience and hopes and struggles of others.

For More: Unexpected News by Robert McAffee Brown

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

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

Daily Riches: The God of Justice and Justification (John Stott, Carl Henry and Gary Haugen)

“What this book [Good News About Injustice by Gary Haugen] obliges us to do is ask ourselves some basic and uncomfortable questions that living in a comfortable culture may never have allowed us to ask before. First, what sort of God do we believe in? Is he concerned exclusively with individual salvation? Or does he have a social conscience? Is he (in Dr. Carl Henry’s memorable phrase), “the God of justice and of justification”? How is it that so many of us staunch evangelical people have never seen, let alone faced, the barrage of biblical texts about justice? Why are we often guilty of selective imagination? Second, what sort of creature do we think a human being is? Have we ever considered the unique value and dignity of human beings, made in the image of God, so that abuse, torture, rape and grinding poverty, which dehumanize beings, are also an insult to the God who made them? Third, what sort of person do we think Jesus Christ is? Have we ever seen him as described in John 11, where first he ‘snorted’ with anger (v. 33, literally) in the face of death (an intrusion into God’s good world) and then ‘wept’ (v. 35) over the bereaved? If only we could be like Jesus, indignant toward evil and compassionate toward its victims! Fourth, what sort of a community do we think the church is meant to be? Is it not often indistinguishable from the world because it accommodates itself to the prevailing culture of injustice and indifference? Is it not intended rather to penetrate the world like salt and light, and so to change it, as salt hinders bacterial decay and light disperses darkness?” John Stott

“[Your father] defended the cause of the poor and needy …
Is that not what it means to know me?”
declares the Lord.”
Jeremiah 22:15-16

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you moved by “the barrage of biblical texts about justice?”
  • Like Jesus, are you compassionate toward the victims of evil? Are you part of the struggle to bring them justice?
  • In what ways might you/your church be failing to treat others as “unique [in] value and dignity?”

Abba, forgive us if we have accommodated ourselves to the prevailing culture of injustice and indifference. May our hearts ache for others to experience, not only justification, but justice.

For More: God Who Stands and Stays by Carl Henry

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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: The Revolution of Tenderness (Pope Francis, Pete Scazzero and Martin Luther King, Jr.)

“The great Jewish theologian Martin Buber described the most healthy or mature relationship possible between two human beings as an ‘I-Thou’ relationship. In such a relationship, I recognize that I am made in the image of God, and so is every other person. This makes them a ‘thou’ to me. They have dignity and worth, and are to be treated with respect. I affirm them as being a unique and separate human being apart from me. In most of our human relationships, however, we treat people as objects – as an ‘it’. In an ‘I-It’ relationship, I treat you as a means to an end – as I might a toothbrush or a car …as if [you] were subhuman. …The priest and the Levite [in Jesus’ story in Luke 10] did not make the connection that emotional maturity (loving well) and loving God are inseparable. They missed the ‘thou’ lying on the side of the road and simply passed him by.” Pete Scazzero

“The Gospel tells us constantly to run the risk of a face-to-face encounter with others, with their physical presence which challenges us, with their pain and their pleas, with their joy which infects us in our close and continuous interaction. True faith in the incarnate Son of God is inseparable from self-giving, from membership in the community, from service, from reconciliation with others. The Son of God, by becoming flesh, summoned us to the revolution of tenderness.” Pope Francis

“We as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin …the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered.” Martin Luther King

“no one can tame the tongue. …Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father,
and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God.
…Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!”
James 3:8-10

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you see loving God and loving others as “inseparable?”
  • Do you sometimes realize that you have degraded someone’s status to that of a mere object?
  • How could a “revolution of tenderness” undercut racism, materialism and militarism?

Abba, help me treat those made in your image with the dignity they deserve.

For More: Emotionally Healthy Spirituality 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: The Divine Emphasis on Economic Justice (Walter Brueggemann)

 “But if you or your descendants abandon me and disobey the commands and decrees I have given you, and if you serve and worship other gods, then I will uproot Israel from this land …. reject this Temple …. [and] make Israel an object of mockery….” 1 Kings 9:6-7

“…the problem that now jeopardizes the city [Jerusalem] is not a large disregard of creation. That is too cosmic for this poet [Jeremiah] or the God he speaks. The problem for biblical faith is always more concrete. When the moral shape of reality is disregarded, the crisis does not show up in some generalized way. It shows up, characteristically, as neighbor crisis…:

“Like fowlers they set a trap;
they catch human beings.
Like a cage full of birds….”
Jeremiah 5:26b-27a

“They use and abuse and exploit because, without an ‘if,’ [see 1 Kings above] everything is possible – greed, brutality, despair, all of it, with the neighbor as target. In our stupidity, these folk do not look like neighbors that are protected by God’s ‘if.’ They look only like an inconvenience, or even a threat. And, you guessed it: this whole abusive insensitivity comes down, as it always does, to economics. it does not come down to sexuality or to purity or to private morality, but to dollar power and dollar manipulation:

“Therefore they have become great and rich,
they have grown fat and sleek,
They know no limits in deeds of wickedness;
they do not judge with justice
the cause of the orphan, to make it prosper,
and they do not defend the rights of the needy.”
Jeremiah 5:27b-28

…The poet makes a  very quick, very large travel from the God who tames chaos (v. 22) to the crisis of drought (v. 24) to economic abuse of neighbor (vv. 26-28). In such a quick review, the poet places on God’s lips the assertion of a connection between specific neighbor care and the vast problem of chaos and order. And between the specific neighbor and the large order of the cosmos is the problem of drought and the undoing of a ‘sustainable creation.’ It is all there, all held together, in five quick verses, all an invitation for the numbed city to awaken, for those who refuse to see and to fear and to tremble [vv. 21,22].” Walter Brueggemann

Moving From Head to Heart

  • If “neighbor crisis” signifies a society’s moral failure, how would measure your society?
  • The prophets emphasize economic justice (“defending the rights of the needy.”) Is this important to you?
  • Today, when our cities “refuse to see and to fear and to tremble” we are hardly surprised, but what about when Christian communities are “numbed?”

Abba, may we not be your foolish and senseless people.

For More: Threat of Life by Walter Brueggemann

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

Daily Riches: Boldly Loving the Unloved (Matt McAlack)

“This past winter, we had unusually cold weather…. Some nights, temperatures plummeted below zero. Dashing from a warm car through the cold into a warm house, I thought of the dozens of people …near our University, who had no warm place to sleep. I couldn’t imagine how difficult it would be to try to survive overnight in the cold. The physical cold might be unbearable, but for me, the more painful reality would be that no one loved me enough to invite me inside on such a cold night. I grew up in a Christian environment, but as a child and teenager, I heard very little about God’s heart for those in need. I’m not sure how we missed it, because the Bible is full of passages speaking about God’s justice, compassion, and faithful love for those who have nothing, who are marginalized or oppressed. God is pleased when His church acts like Him, showing compassion for those in need, and God can use this generosity to lead those who don’t know Him to a saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Social justice is not the gospel, but it is a natural consequence of the gospel taking root in our hearts. Jesus’ half-brother James says that true faith produces godly action (James 1:22). He further explains that true devotion to God results in taking action to care for those who could never repay us: “orphans and widows in their affliction” (James 1:27, ESV). …In Isaiah 58, the children of Israel are rebuked because of their lack of response to the oppressed, the hungry, and the homeless. The children of Israel were repeatedly commanded to care for those who were displaced or in need, because the Israelites themselves were once immigrants in need. Now they were practicing outward religious activities such as fasting, but they were not demonstrating any evidence of a heart like God’s heart.” Matt McAlack

 “our Lord Jesus Christ … though He was rich,
yet for your sake …became poor”
2 Corinthians 8:9

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • If you were sitting on the sidewalk in the bitter cold, ignored by people walking past, would you feel loved by God?
  • Doesn’t practicing “social justice” create a context which gives meaning and power to the gospel when it’s preached? If a “gospel” fails the “justice test”, can it really be “good news?”
  • Are you developing a “heart like God’s heart” – not only in church, but on the street?

Abba, help us embrace the poverty that will enable us to enrich others.

For More:  The Prodigal God by Tim Keller

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

Daily Riches: Inconspicuous Piety and the Santification of Trifles (Abraham Heschel, Teresa of Avila, William Wordsworth, and Aldous Huxley)

“The path of spirituality is a knife-edge between abysses.” Aldous Huxley

“We are ready to applaud dramatic struggles once a year in Washington. For the sake of lofty principles we will spend a day or two in jail somewhere in Alabama. But that prosaic demand for housing without vermin, for adequate schools, for adequate employment – right here in the vicinity of Park Avenue in New York City – sound so trite, so drab, so banal, so devoid of magnificence. …The [Hebrew] prophets field of concern is not the mysteries of heaven, the glories of eternity, but the blights of society, the affairs of the market place. …The predominant feature of the biblical pattern of life is unassuming, unheroic, inconspicuous piety, the sanctification of trifles….” Abraham Heschel

“The best portion of a good man’s life: his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love.” William Wordsworth

“Let there be no disappointment when obedience keeps you busy in outward tasks. If it sends you to the kitchen, remember that the Lord walks among the pots an pans.” Teresa of Avila

“Among my people are wicked men
who lie in wait for victims like a hunter hiding in a blind.
They continually set traps to catch people.
Like a cage filled with birds,
their homes are filled with evil plots.
And now they are great and rich.
They are fat and sleek,
and there is no limit to their wicked deeds.
They refuse to provide justice to orphans
and deny the rights of the poor.”
Jeremiah 5:23-28

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • When is the last time you carefully read the Prophets? Have you drunk deeply enough there to be aware of their “field of concern?”
  • Are you committed to heroic, “dramatic struggles” on behalf of the poor or others? Does that keep you from “remembering the Lord among the pots and pans?”
  • Are you engaged in spiritual practices? Is your aim something like “inconspicuous piety?” Does that keep you from activity to address “the blights of society?”
  • What, in really concrete terms, would it mean for you to practice the “sanctification of trifles?”

Abba, balance me on the path which is a knife-edge between abysses.

For More:  The Insecurity of Freedom by Abraham Heschel

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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 in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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