Daily Riches: Acquiring “Heroic” Virtues (Claude la Colombiére, Oswald Chambers and William Britton)

“All our life is sown with tiny thorns that produce in our hearts a thousand involuntary movements of hatred, envy, fear, impatience, a thousand little fleeting disappointments, a thousand slight worries, a thousand disturbances that momentarily alter our peace of soul. For example, a word escapes that should not have been spoken. Or someone utters another that offends us. A child inconveniences you. A bore stops you. You don’t like the weather. Your work is not going according to plan. A piece of furniture is broken. A dress is torn. I know that these are not occasions for practicing very heroic virtue. But they would definitely be enough to acquire it if we really wished to.” Claude la Colombiére

“We are in danger of forgetting that we cannot do what God does, and that God will not do what we can do. We cannot save nor sanctify ourselves–God does that. But God will not give us good habits, or character, and He will not force us to walk correctly before Him. We have to do all that ourselves. We must ‘work out’ our ‘own salvation’ which God has worked in us (Philippians 2:12).” Oswald Chambers

“My body is my divinely given O.S. It functions diagnostically so that bodily sensations and emotions like guilt, illness, love, hunger, thirst, and anxiety signal the state of my physical, emotional, and spiritual health. These are God’s gift to me–alerting me to what is needed, to what is wrong. If my prayers are that God will take away unpleasant feelings (exhaustion, sadness, grief, loneliness, anger), then I’m asking God to take back his gifts, to negate them–as though they were bad gifts after all. But, as Chambers says, God must do God’s part, and we must to ours. In giving these gifts, God does his part–giving us a divine diagnosis. Our response to God’s gifts is our part–and our part cannot consist of asking God to take back his gifts. And thus the Bible’s emphasis on practices. Practices are what we are to do. It is by practices (and practicing) that we develop ‘good habits, or character” (Chambers), that we learn virtue (Colombiére). God does not make us instantly virtuous because we ask him (Wouldn’t we all be virtuous?), but God does a slower, more methodical work in us–we ‘acquire’ virtue by practice–as we deal with the ‘thousand disturbances’ that daily bombard our souls. I learn from exhaustion to practice setting limits. Anger gives me the opportunity to practice pausing before I respond. Loneliness forces me to practice finding my all in God over a sometimes extended period of time. Colombiére makes an important point. If we let them, our difficult daily experiences are sufficient to shape us to be like Jesus. No, they’re not ‘occasions for practicing very heroic virtue’, but they are occasions for practicing the virtues we seek–the virtues God looks for in us–the virtues that others need in us–and those are pretty ‘heroic’ after all.” William Britton

“continue to work out your salvation”
Philippians 2:12

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Are you praying that God will take back his loving gifts?
  • Are you waiting for God to act when God is waiting for you to act?
  • In what ways are you actually practicing virtues?

Abba, by your grace may I do what I must do to increase in virtue.

For More: Voices Of the Saints by Bert Ghezzi

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Thanks for following my blog! – Bill

Daily Riches: Feel Your Feelings (Lynn Baab)

“When I’m stressed about something, my feelings get buried under my thoughts. Some of those thoughts center around questions about the future: “What if this happens? What if that happens?” Other thoughts are about the feelings: “You shouldn’t be feeling these negative feelings. You should be trusting God.”Some months ago [my therapist] suggested that I practice self-compassion as a way to cope with negative feelings, and I’ve had a wonderful year learning more about what self-compassion looks like and why God would desire it for me. The form of self-compassion that I have found helpful is summarized in the acronym RAIN:

1. Recognize [feelings]. It takes a bit of effort to figure out what I’m feeling because the thoughts swirling around my brain are so vivid and powerful. When I feel my negative thoughts careening out of control, I’m learning to stop and try to discern the feelings that lie behind the thoughts. Most often those feelings are fear or sadness, but I also sometimes feel anger, hopelessness and frustration.

2. Acknowledge [feelings]. After recognizing the emotion, I sit with it for several breaths. I focus on my breathing and let myself feel whatever it is.

3. Investigate [feelings]. I try to identify where the emotion is located in my body, because this helps identify emotions the next time they happen. I also try to figure out what the emotion wants. Sometimes it wants to dominate my life. Sometimes it just wants to be acknowledged.

4. Non-identify [with feelings]. When the feeling wants to dominate, it wants to be pervasive. It wants me to identify myself with that feeling. When I non-identify with the feeling, I might think about feelings as weather. They come and go. …Or I might focus on other feelings I’ve had that day–such as contentment, joy, happiness, or gratitude, no matter how fleeting–to demonstrate to my brain that this strong negative feeling is only a part of me, a part that needs to be acknowledged, but a part that does not define me.

…Why is feeling feelings a Christian spiritual practice? The Psalms demonstrate that all emotions can be brought into God’s presence. How can we do that if we don’t know what we’re feeling? God made us, knows us, and calls us to love and serve him. How can we do that with our whole beings if our feelings are driving us into counterproductive thoughts and behavior? My swirling negative thoughts truly are demonic, and I’m much better able to let them go if I acknowledge the feelings that lie behind them. This process of feeling the feelings, called self-compassion by some people, extends the same kind of compassion to myself that God asks me to extend to others. Why would God want me to show compassion for others but not for myself? Living under the burden of stress makes it harder for me to love and serve God. This gift of self-compassion through the RAIN process enables me to love and serve God more fully because I am not preoccupied with my swirling thoughts and feelings. Christian spiritual practices help us walk with Jesus and help us grow in faithfulness, and this process helps me do that.” Lynn Baab

“Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes
asked Jesus to leave them,
because they were overcome with fear.”
Luke 8:37

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you dominated by your emotions?
  • Do you see emotions as misleading?
  • What can you learn from your emotions?

Abba, teach me to listen for your voice in my emotions.

For More: Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Pete Scazzero

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Thanks for following this blog. Longer this time. Too hard to abbreviate more, too important not to do.

Daily Riches: Training Not Trying (Phillips Brooks, C. S. Lewis, John Ortberg and Dallas Willard)

“We can become like Christ by doing on thing–following him in the overall style of life he chose for himself.” “The way to liberation and rest lies through a decision and a practice.” Dallas Willard

“Someday, in years to come, you’ll be wrestling with the great temptation, or trembling under the great sorrow, of your life. But the real struggle is here, now, in these quiet weeks. Now it is being decided whether, in the day of your supreme sorrow or temptation, you shall miserably fail or gloriously conquer. Character cannot be made except by a steady, long-continued process.” Phillips Brooks

“Any time you make a choice, you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. Taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this thing into either a heavenly creature or a hellish creature. That is, either a creature that is in harmony with God, its fellow creatures, and itself, or else into a creature that is in a state of war and hatred with God, its fellow creatures, and itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven, joy, peace, knowledge, and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other.” C. S. Lewis

Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things.
They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.
Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim;
I box in such a way, as not beating the air;
but I discipline my body and make it my slave,
so that, after I have preached to others,
I myself will not be disqualified.”
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is your approach to the spiritual life characterized by “a practice”–a training regimen like that of an athlete? …a studious approach like that of an apprentice?
  • The Lewis quote is hard to hear but also hard to ignore. What’s your reaction?
  • Are you training your body now for success, or just hoping in that future day of testing to win by just trying really hard?

Abba, by practicing may I learn to do “the right thing at the right time in the right way with the right spirit.” (John Ortberg)

For More: Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. Thanks for reading and sharing my blog. I appreciate your interest! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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

 

Daily Riches: Hearing God’s Voice Over All the Noise (Karen-Marie Yust, Thomas Merton and Chris Tomlin)

“Advertising treats all products with the reverence and the seriousness due to sacraments.” Thomas Merton

“The danger in the rampant commercialization of abundant life is not so much in the particular value (or lack thereof) of a specific product being marketed, but in the insidious ways in which advertising campaigns steal a person’s ability to discern what is necessary for a fruitful life and what is extraneous. Advertisers kill an individual’s sense of self-worth and uniqueness in the eyes of God by promoting excessive regard for the approval of others and competition for the most stuff, rather than promoting good living as collaboration with each other. …Christians need to embrace spiritual practices that will enable them to identify and resist commercial messages that undermine their primary identity as children of God and disciples of Christ. …One critical spiritual practice for discernment is attentiveness. First, Christians need to pay attention to the number of commercial messages to which they are exposed daily and the common themes embedded in those advertisements. With researchers estimating that individuals view or hear as many as five thousand messages each day, paying attention could quickly become a full-time job! What matters here is not a comprehensive attentiveness but an increasing awareness of the pervasive and corrosive nature of commercial influences. Second, Christians need to pay attention to God’s voice as a counterpoint to the negative aspects of advertising. Such attentiveness can occur when individuals, families, and congregations deliberately separate themselves from the noisiness of everyday life and spend time in the set apart ‘pastures’ [John 10:9] of personal and communal prayer, contemplation, and worship.” Karen-Marie Yust

“life does not consist
in an abundance of possessions.”
Jesus in Luke 12:15

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Do you see good living as “collaboration” with others rather than competition with others? What does your answer say about you?
  • Do you have practices that allow you to hear God’s voice over the “noisiness of everyday life” and act as a counterpoint to all the “pervasive and corrosive” ad campaigns?
  • Are you fighting this battle alone–with no “communal” support? …just depending on what you receive at church? …failing to seek God for yourself to discern what “is necessary for a fruitful life and what is extraneous?”

Abba, you’re a good, good father–it’s who you are … and I’m loved by you–it’s who I am…. (Chris Tomlin)

For more: Feasting on the Gospels: John (Part II), eds, Cynthia Jarvis and Elizabeth Johnson

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. My goal is to share something of real value with you in 400 words or less. 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: Beyond the Impractical Ideal of Love (Dallas Willard)

“Malice or desire and intention to harm is often rooted in how we think about the persons concerned: our image of them, the inferences we habitually draw about them, and so forth. Perhaps we see them only as an obstacle to our desires, or as less than ‘human,’ as worthless. Perhaps we need to take steps toward seeing them as objects of God’s love, or as beings of intrinsic value, like our own children or grandchildren or others we delight in. That will, in turn, require changes in how we think about our world and our self. All of this may be helped along by getting to know them, seeing what their life is like; or serving them. Now the question becomes, not just will we love them, drop our malice, but: Are we willing to make those changes in our thinking, willing to allow God to help us do it. …That is where the will comes into play. It is not the growth of ‘will power’ we are looking for in spiritual formation, but transformation of all dimensions of the self under the direction of God, through a will surrendered to Him and applied appropriately to bring about personal change. Now that we understand all of this, we can seriously undertake to become persons possessed by love…. Love ceases to be an intimidating and impractical ideal and becomes something we can see progress in day by day.” Dallas Willard

“The purpose of my instruction
is that all believers would be filled
with love that comes from a pure heart….”
1 Timothy 1:5
.
Moving From the Head to the Heart
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  • Are you open to “getting to know” people you find difficult to love?
  • Are you willing to attempt “seeing what their life is like?”
  • Are you willing to “serve them”–to serve the people you find difficult to love?
  • Only if you can answer “yes” to these questions can you move, with God’s help, beyond an “impractical ideal” of love. Only your answer of “yes” creates the possibility of “progress in [love] day by day.”

Abba, I want to become possessed by love.

For More: Getting Love Right 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: Stop Trying to Love and Start Pursuing Love (Dallas Willard)

“Paul understood the fallacy of those who say ‘I just can’t love so and so,’ and there they stop and give up on love. He knew that they were working at the wrong level. They should not try to love that person but try to become the kind of person who would love them. Only so can the ideal of love pass into a real possibility and practice. Our aim under love is not to be loving to this or that person, or in this or that kind of situation, but to be a person possessed by love as an overall character of life…. I do not come to my enemy and then try to love them, I come to them as a loving person. Love is not a faucet to be turned on or off at will. God himself doesn’t just love me or you, he is love. He is creative will for all that is good. That is his identity, and explains why he loves individuals, even when he is not pleased with them. …[It is] from the depths of the self from which actions come. If we take care of the sources of action, action will take care of itself. …We do not achieve the disposition of agape love by direct effort, but by attending to and putting into place the conditions out of which it arises. …If, now, we want to do the things the scriptures say, we must change the sources of action in the human self. …in [1 Cor. 13:4-8] Paul is not saying that we are to be patient, kind, humble and so forth, but that love itself is patient, kind, humble, etc. …So we ‘pursue love’ and the rest takes care of itself.” Dallas Willard

“Be imitators of God …
and walk in love”
Ephesians 5:1

Moving From the Head to the Heart
  • God expects us to love difficult people. Is your response to “try hard?”
  • What if instead, God wants to change you in “the depths of the self”–to make you the kind of person who loves?
  • There are “conditions out of which [love] arises”–conditions which address heart change more than behavior. No doubt Willard is thinking of formative practices. Can you think of some practices that could help you learn to be a more loving person? If not, perhaps start here.

Abba, make me the kind of person who loves my enemies as easily as my friends.

For More: Getting Love Right 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)

Daily Riches: Five Most Popular Posts in 2015

Happy new years and major thanks for all of you who subscribe to (or otherwise follow) and share my blog. It’s definitely a labor of love for me, and your interest, prayers and support mean a lot.

My Stats:

  • Posted 295 times  (602 posts in the archives)
  • Read in 18 Countries (including Zimbabwe)
  • Viewed 33,000 times in 2015

The most popular post on my busiest traffic day (167 views) was Daily Riches: When More Knowledge, Enthusiasm and Motivation Doesn’t Work (Pete Scazzero).

So, especially to the many who encourage me, to those who are giving prayerful consideration to the posts, to those who read on a daily basis–but really to everyone involved in this project … THANK YOU. I love the connection we have, the “riches” we can share together, and the knowledge that God is at work in all of it.

May you live in the love of God, surrounded by the grace of God–and may God be glorified.

Bill

Daily Riches: New Gestures for a Changed Life (Mark Buchanan)

“Repentance is a ruthless dismantling of old ways of seeing and thinking, and then a diligent and vigilant building of new ones. …We need to change our minds, yes, but we also need to change our ways. And for this we require practices to embody and rehearse our change of mind. The physical is a handmaiden to the spiritual, but a necessary one, without practices—without gestures with which to honor fresh ways of perceiving—any change of mind will be superficial, artificial, short-lived. We might attain a genuinely new thought, but without some way of putting it into practice, the thought gets suck in abstractions, lost in forgetting. Good practices are both catalysts and incubators for new thoughts, they initiate them, and they nurture them. But they do even more: they make real our change of mind. It’s like marriage. When I married my wife, Cheryl, I had to change my mind about who I was. I was no longer a bachelor. My habits of thought had, for more than twenty years, taken shape around the fact of my singleness. I had bachelor attitudes about how to spend time and money, about the ideal color to paint a bedroom, about the best car to drive, about other women. It all had to go through a dramatic shift, in some cases a complete about-face, when I took vows (actually, the change began a long time prior to that, and continues lifelong.) I had to–have to–change my mind. But if I changed only my mind and never changed my behavior, I doubt I’d still be married. I have needed, at every turn, practices that embody and rehearse–that make real–my change of mind. [cf. Zacchaeus’ story in Luke 19] …When salvation comes to your house, first you think differently, then you act differently. First you shift the imagination with which you perceive this world, and then you enact gestures with which you honor it.” Mark Buchanan


“Jesus said to [Zacchaeus], ‘Today salvation has come to this house….’” Luke 19:9

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Has “salvation come to your house” but left you frustratingly unchanged?
  • Have your resolutions to change been “short-lived?”
  • Are there practices (“gestures”) that you can adopt to build change into your daily routine, and thereby, your life?

Abba, help me as you and I work out my salvation.

For More: The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan

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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 Transfiguration of Ordinary Things (Thomas Merton, Philip Yancey and Kathleen Norris)

“Asceticism …is a way of surrendering to reduced circumstances in a manner that enhances the whole person.” Kathleen Norris

“Under [G. K. Chesterton’s] influence I too realized the need to become more ‘ordinary.’ I had conceived of faith as a tight-lipped, grim exercise of spiritual discipline, a blending of asceticism and rationalism in which joy leaked away. Chesterton restored to me a thirst for the exuberance that flows from a link to the God who dreamed up all the things that give me pleasure.” Philip Yancy

“Asceticism is utterly useless if it turns us into freaks. The cornerstone of all asceticism is humility, and Christian humility is first of all a matter of supernatural common sense. It teaches us to take ourselves as we are, instead of pretending (as pride would have us imagine) that we are something better than we are. Pride makes us artificial, humility makes us real. In II Thessalonians 3, work and supernatural acceptance of ordinary life are seen by the Apostle as a protection against the restless agitation of false mysticism. We are to work and live in simplicity, with more joy and greater security than others, because we do not look for any special fulfillment in this life. We are to live in peace among transient things. It is supreme humility to see that ordinary life, embraced by perfect faith, can be more saintly and more supernatural than a spectacular ascetical career. Such humility dares to be ordinary, and that is something beyond the reach of spiritual pride. Pride always longs to be unusual. Humility not so. Humility finds all its peace in hope, knowing that Christ must come again to elevate and transfigure ordinary things and fill them with his glory.” Thomas Merton

“clothe yourselves with humility”
1 Peter 5:5

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you willing to “surrender yourself to reduced circumstances” (choose to do without certain things) in order to enhance your life?
  • Are you able, at the same time, to experience “exuberance” for the things “God dreamed up” to bring you pleasure?
  • Is your desire to be noticed, exceptional, applauded – is that something God also wants for you? Will you “dare to be ordinary” if that’s what God wants? Can you even imagine why God would want such a thing?

As you see fit Lord, I would be as unspectacular and ordinary as necessary for the revelation of your glory.

For More: No Man Is An Island by Thomas Merton

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: The Power of a Pregnant Pause (Courtney E. Martin)

“Designers have to resist habituation in order to be transcendentally successful. They have to build in a pregnant pause and ask themselves questions about the status quo. They have to have beginner’s minds. They have to wonder, as they reach for their toothbrush and toothpaste: Is this the best shape for a container filled with paste? Is this the best material for bristles? Is this the right sized handle? In short, a designer has to constantly resist settling for … ‘Because we’ve always done it this way.’ … [and] I don’t think it’s just great designers that have an awareness of how their own habits dull their capacity to be creative, to invent, to expect more … it’s great humans that do. One of my favorite mantras in the Buddhist tradition is, ‘May I see what I do. May I do it differently. May I make this a way of life.’ …Habits are part of what makes our lives livable. [but]…When we get too attached to these habits, we risk losing our sense of wonder and our potential for the catalytic experience. When we get too comfortable, we risk falling asleep on the job — the job being living an awake life. So it has me thinking: what are the habits that I need to or, better yet, want to shed? What are the habits filled with pleasure, the ones that make me feel grounded and capable of diving back into the fray of my busy life; in contrast, what are the habits that dull me? …My biggest ambitions to resist habituation are rooted in my relationships. I want to be less dutiful. I want to pause before I get busy anticipating everyone else’s needs and making sure that no one suffers or fights. My wiser self knows that both can lead to transformation. …I want to spend less time on guilt and more on joy. I want to choose my choices.” Courtney Martin

“not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing.” Hebrews 10:25

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Which of your habits bring you life? Which dull you?
  • Can you develop a mantra to help you “resist habituation?” … to be “transcendentally successful?”
  • How can you harness the power of habituation for spiritual transformation?

Abba, may I see what I do, do it differently, and make this a way of life.

For More: The Pregnant Pause” by Courtney Martin

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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 Impact of Others on Your Emotional Health (Pete Scazzero, Francis Fenelon, Oswald Chambers and Thomas Merton)

“We can often do more for other men by trying to correct our own faults than by trying to correct theirs.” Francis Fenelon

“Before we can conquer the world we must conquer the self.” Oswald Sanders

“In this journey of emotionally healthy spirituality, we are talking about radical change at the core of our being. At least two critical forces hinder such a profound shift. First, the pressure of others to keep us living lives that are not our own is enormous. And second, our own stubborn self-will is much deeper and more insidious than we think. The possibility of self-deception is so great that without mature companions we can easily fall into the trap of living in illusions.” Pete Scazzero

“A current of useless interior activity constantly surrounds and defends an illusion. I cannot find God unless I renounce this useless activity, and I cannot renounce this activity unless I let go of the illusion it defends. And I cannot get rid of an illusion unless I recognize it for an illusion.”  Thomas Merton

“I want to do what is good,
but I don’t.
I don’t want to do what is wrong,
but I do ….”
Romans 7:19

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Change is not only hard for us, but those who are comfortable with the “system” we share with them find it difficult too. Have you noticed others working hard to resist, or even sabotaging, your determined efforts to change?
  • Have you learned that your own “stubborn self-will is much deeper and more insidious” than you think?
  • Are you learning to leave changing others to God and focus on the changes needed in your own life?

Abba, help me change in spite of powerful forces, within and without, and not to fall short of the change you have planned for me.

For More: No Man Is An Island by Thomas Merton

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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: “Go to God”… But How?

In the Judeo-Christian tradition both heart (Proverbs 4:23) and mind (Romans 12:2) play a critical place in the spiritual life, but true religion can be defined (James 1:27) and measured (Mt. 25:31ff.) without mentioning these things, because as important as correct thinking (doctrine, theology) and proper feeling (affections, passions) are, they pale in significance to proper behavior (lifestyle, practices). Both change of heart and mind are penultimate to change of behavior. Life-change is always the ultimate end in view, always the goal. (James 2:20) Unfortunately, in the churches, the call to character or Christian living is often where the story ends. We’re reminded, motivated, inspired, informed and challenged – but often left to ourselves to figure out how to make it work. Yes, be more patient, loving, compassionate. Yes, be a person of prayer, joy, grace, peace. But how? The ancient answer is new again – practice traditional spiritual disciplines. By them we make space for God to enter our equation. We position ourselves to receive from God and hear from God. By practicing spiritual disciplines we train ourselves to be able to do by the grace of God, what we cannot consistently do now: “the right thing in the right way at the right time for the right reason.” Since the learning-curve of the Christian life extends over a lifetime, we need to return repeatedly to these core practices – just as you would repeatedly work through the “twelve steps” in A.A. or N.A. It’s rare that you hear many of these core practices emphasized in church (e.g., the need to slow down, the need for silence and solitude), and some typical practices might just be off the radar of your particular faith tradition – and for that reason not ever mentioned (contemplative prayer, fixed-time prayer, keeping of a sabbath). We look to God to change us, but merely looking is not enough. Nor is it enough merely to learn more, or try harder. The practice of spiritual disciplines transcends eras of Christian history, continents, cultures and denominations. Christians of influence in the Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant traditions all testify to its value. As you join me in thoughtfully interacting with the “riches” of this blog, my prayer is that we will all succeed at actually living more the kind of life that Jesus lived. That’s what God wants for us – and what our world needs from us!

 “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” 1 Timothy 4:7

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have you settled for merely more information or inspiration? Is your solution to try harder?
  • What you’re doing to be more like Jesus – is it working?
  • Are you actually training yourself to do “the right thing, in the right way, at the right time, for the right reason?”
Abba, keep me moving along the journey of transformation.
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For More: The Life You’ve Always Wanted by John Ortberg
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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 rare exception). I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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

Daily Riches: God is Present … Are You? (Lynne Baab and Mark Buckanan)

“The Sabbath teaches us grace because it connects us experientially to the basic truth that nothing we do will earn God’s love. As long as we are working hard, using our gifts to serve others, experiencing joy in our work along with the toil, we are always in danger of believing that our actions trigger God’s love for us. Only in stopping, really stopping, do we teach our hearts and souls that we are loved apart from what we do. During a day of rest, we have the chance to take a deep breath and look at our lives. God is at work every minute of our days, yet we seldom notice. Noticing requires intentional stopping, and the Sabbath provides that opportunity. On the Sabbath we can take a moment to see the beauty of a maple leaf, created with great care by our loving Creator…. Without time to stop, we cannot notice God’s hand in our lives, practice thankfulness, step outside our culture’s values or explore our deepest longings. Without time to rest, we will seriously undermine our ability to experience God’s unconditional love and acceptance. The Sabbath is a gift whose blessings cannot be found anywhere else.” Lynne Baab

“And now we’re all tired. We dream of that day when our work will be done, when we can finally wash the dust of it from our skin, but that day never comes. We look in vain for the day of our work’s completion. But it is mythical, like unicorns and dragons. So we dream…. [But] God, out of the bounty of his own nature, held this day apart and stepped fully into it, then turned and said, ‘Come, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, Come, and I will give you rest. Come, join me here.'” Mark Buchanan

“You can’t wait
for the Sabbath day
to be over….”
Amos 5:4

 Moving From Head to Heart

  • God is present everywhere, and continually present to us, coming to us in love. Have you been stopping long enough to “notice?”
  • How are you at practicing thankfulness? … at stepping outside your culture’s values? …at exploring your deepest longings? Could the practice of “stopping intentionally” help you do better?
  • When is the last time you “really stopped” for at least one whole day? Are you too stressed, distracted, or simply exhausted to experience God’s love–or to love others well?

Abba, help me to live by my convictions when it comes to keeping a weekly sabbath, and as I do, transform the other six days as well.

For More: Sabbath Keeping by Lynne Baab

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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. –  Bill

Daily Riches: The Potential Pointlessness of Spiritual Disciplines (James Hannay, Dallas Willard, John Ortberg)

“What is clear … is that a small number of [spiritual disciplines] are absolutely central to spiritual growth. They must form a part of the foundation of our whole-life plan for growth as apprentices of Jesus. These are, on the side of abstinence, solitude and silence….” Dallas Willard

“Asceticism (askêsis) means an exercise, and an exercise is an entirely useless and meaningless thing unless it is undertaken with a view to something to be gained by its use. When St. Paul speaks of “exercising” himself he says that he does so in order to have a conscience void of reproach. In exactly the same way the monks practiced exercise, asceticism (askêsis), not as if the things they did were in themselves good, but simply as a means to the attainment of that perfection which they desired. …Fastings, vigils, meditations on the Scriptures, self-denial, and the abnegation of all possessions are not perfection in themselves, but aids to perfection. The end of the science of holiness does not lie in these practices, but by means of them we arrive at the end. He will practice these exercises to no purpose who is contented with these as if they were the highest good. A man must not fix his heart simply on these, but must extend his efforts towards the attainment of his end. It is for the sake of the end that these things should be cultivated. It is a vain thing for a man to possess the implements of an art and to be ignorant of its purpose, for in it is all that is of any value.” James Hannay

“I discipline my body like an athlete,
training it to do what it should….”
1 Corinthians 9:27

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is there a sense in which you are training yourself so you can do “the right thing at the right time in the right way with the right spirit?” (Ortberg)
  • Do you have a “whole-life plan for growth”, or are you just drifting – leaving your development as a person of faith to chance? If you’re not working a plan, why not?
  • Do you realize the importance and value of some of the most praised spiritual practices (e.g., solitude, silence, self-denial, meditation on Scripture)? Do you realize how those same practices can be distractions or dangers – how they can be “useless and meaningless?”

Abba, help me train myself to be the person you created me to be.

For More: Wisdom of the Desert by James Hannay

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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. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. Thanks!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: When More Knowledge, Enthusiasm and Motivation Doesn’t Work (Pete Scazzero)

“Martin Luther’s intensely disliked Jews and wrote essays against them that were resurrected and used by the Nazis. He also advised the German nobles to slaughter the rebelling peasants without mercy. Ulrich Zwingli condoned the torture and drowning of Anabaptists … because they believed in baptism by immersion. Jonathan Edwards and George Whitfield were slaveholders… The great outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Asuza Street (1906) in Los Angeles split terribly over race, resulting in black and white churches throughout America for decades. Many leaders of the Protestant Missionary Movement, along with a number of contemporary Evangelical leaders, failed in their marriage and family life. John Wesley, for example, couldn’t live with his wife; his marriage was … deeply troubled.

“We are quick to point out the sins of the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox churches located primarily in the Eastern part of the world (e.g. The Coptic church of Egypt, the Syrian Church, The Russian Orthodox Church, the Greek Orthodox Church, The Armenian Church, the churches located in Iran, Iraq and in the Arab world.) We forget that, for the first 1054 years, there was only one church – the one, holy, catholic (i.e. universal), church. I meet many Christians who ignore this history, acting as if God jumped from the book of Acts to the Protestant Reformation. And [who think] if people are not evangelical or charismatic Protestants, then they are probably not Christian. There is much we can learn from Roman Catholics and Orthodox believers – even though they have plenty of problems and we do not agree on a number of points. Remember, a true believer is someone who has a living relationship with Jesus Christ who died and rose again for our sins, not someone who worships like we do. If we are going to slow down for loving union with Jesus and experience deep transformation, we must learn from those with a long history of learning in these areas. Key dimensions of a full-orbed, biblical spirituality are not strong in American Christianity. Disciplines such as silence, stillness, solitude, and waiting on God, for example, are almost nonexistent in our churches.” Pete Scazzero

“… the truth will set you free.” – Jesus

 Moving From Head to Heart

  • Different religious traditions emphasize different things. Are you aware of important spiritual practices not emphasized in your tradition?
  • All Christians are misguided or misinformed in some ways. Could some Christians, misinformed about some things, know something of value you don’t know about others?
  • Does your church communicate the importance of “silence, stillness, solitude, [slowing down] and waiting on God?” – things that work where more information, inspiration and motivation don’t?

Abba, teach us that promised freedom which is freedom indeed.

For More: Finding Our Way Again by Brian McLaren

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