Daily Riches: The Liturgy of Your Day (Tish Harrison Warren and Bernard Berenson)

“From childhood on I have had the dream of life lived as a sacrament . . . . The dream implied taking life ritually as something holy.” Bernard Berenson

“A sign hangs on the wall in a New Monastic Christian community house. Everyone wants a revolution. No one wants to do the dishes.’ I was, and remain, a Christian who longs for revolution, for things to be made new and whole in beautiful and big ways. But what I am slowly seeing is that you can’t get to the revolution without learning to do the dishes. The kind of spiritual life and disciplines needed to sustain the Christian life are quiet, repetitive, and ordinary. I often want to skip the boring, daily stuff to get to the thrill of an edgy faith. But it’s in the dailiness of the Christian faith–the making the bed, the doing the dishes, the praying for our enemies, the reading the Bible, the quiet, the small–that God’s transformation takes root and grows. . . . The point of exchanging my morning liturgy was to habituate myself to repetition, to the tangible, to the work before me–to train myself, in this tiny way, to live with my eyes open to God’s presence in this ordinary day. I’d cultivated a habit, from the first conscious moments of my day, of being entertained, informed, and stimulated. My brain would dart quickly from stimulus to stimulus, unable to focus, unable to lie fallow. Making my bed and sitting in silence for just a few minutes reminded me that what is most real and significant in my day is not what is loudest, flashiest, or most entertaining. It is in the repetitive and the mundane that I begin to learn to love, to listen, to pay attention to God and to those around me. I needed to retrain my mind not to bolt at the first sight of boredom or buck against stillness. That took the cultivation of habit.” Tish Harrison Warren

“Train yourself to be godly.”
1 Timothy 4:7b NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you practice some spiritual disciplines that are quiet, repetitive, ordinary–very unspectacular?
  • Is remembering “God’s presence in [your] ordinary day” something you’re working on?
  • Are you “habituating” yourself to that by some repeated practice(s)?

Abba, may the daily rhythms I choose help me to remember the sacredness of each day, and your presence in it.

For More: The Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren

Daily Riches: Jesus Calls Us To the Chutes, Not the Ladders (Mark Ralls and D. L. Moody) *

“We may easily be too big for God to use, but never too small.” D. L. Moody

“There is a game for children that has been around for generations, and I expect almost every reader has played it at one time or another. . . . The game is Chutes and Ladders; since it is a game for little ones, the rules are about as simple and straightforward as you can get. Spin the wheel and move around the board. As you go, you wish for ladders and hope to avoid the chutes or slides. Land at the base of a ladder—All Right!—you get to climb all the way to the top, advancing beyond where even the highest spin can take you. Land at the top of a chute—Oh No!—you must slide all the way to the bottom, back toward the square where you started. Chutes and Ladders gives us some insight into the culture in which Jesus lived. Scholars tell us that first-century Mediterranean culture operated under the binaries of shame and honor. This basically means that people’s behavior was shaped by two things: the threat of being publicly shamed and the promise of being publicly honored. It is difficult to grasp the emotional power of one’s reputation in the ancient world. Our individualistic culture has muted its force. To be shamed was a terrible setback. To be honored moved you forward in the eyes of everyone who mattered most to you. It was akin to Chutes and Ladders. One evening Jesus tells two parables while he is a guest at a dinner party that includes the most honorable folks in town. Sitting there, Jesus cannot help but grin as he observes that this dinner party has all the social subtlety of a junior high cafeteria. Everyone is jockeying for a seat at the cool table. . . . So what does Jesus do? He stands up and tells all those guests a little story . . . . ‘Here is a little tip,’ Jesus says. ‘The next time you are invited to a wedding, do not take the best seat in the house. What is going to happen if someone more distinguished than you shows up? Hard to imagine, I know, but it could happen. When it does, you will find yourself at the top of the chute, and you will have to slide from the seat of honor all the way down to the seat of shame. Oh, what a long, lonely walk it is, from the first table to that one in the back, right beside the swinging door of the kitchen!’ To sharpen his point and to make sure we do not confine his advice to dinner parties, Jesus adds this: Those who make their own honor the goal of their lives will be ashamed of themselves in the end, and those who are humble, repeatedly putting others first, will experience the true, deep, and lasting honor of the kingdom of God. . . . these parables go much deeper than practical advice. They speak to the general arc of our lives. What if the point of our lives is not about climbing all the right ladders of achievement and prestige and power? What if our true purpose is to slide down as many chutes as possible to offer compassion and service and love to all those on the rungs below? While our culture may operate under different rules than honor and shame, we still live in the land of Chutes and Ladders. We fool ourselves into thinking that contentment lies on the rung just above us. So we reach for ever-new heights and climb as fast as we can. The rest is simple math. The more time and energy we dedicate to this all-consuming endeavor, the less we notice those who reside on the rungs below. We forget those we have passed along the way. It is just as true that we will most likely miss Christ himself. Born in the back room of a barn, spending his days bending his back to touch the hands of lepers, to caress the cheeks of widows, to place children on his knee, this humble Savior rode a donkey through the gates of Jerusalem and then knelt before his disciples to wash their feet. The only time he chose to ascend was up a hill called Calvary, where he bore our sins and carried our sorrows on his bent and holy back. On Easter morning, we discovered that his humility is what God truly honors. Climbing up, we are likely to pass right by the Son of God, who is intent on coming down. According to Jesus, we have completely misunderstood the point of the game. We are out there looking for ladders, when Jesus is calling us toward the chutes. We are climbing up, when he is calling to come down. If we dare to follow, he promises that in the end we will find deep blessing and true honor.” Mark Ralls

“When he had finished washing their feet,
he put on his clothes and returned to his place.
‘Do you understand what I have done for you?’ he asked them.”
John 13:12 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you listening to Jesus about the Chutes?
  • Are you climbing up, whereas he was always bending down?
  • Jesus’ humility (his “downward mobility”) was for the purpose of showing compassion to those at the bottom of the Chutes. Isn’t he a beautiful person? Is this the person you’re making known with your life?

Abba, keep me off the Ladders . . . for the sake of compassion.

For More: The Selfless Way of Christ by Henri Nouwen

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Cynthia A. Jarvis & E. Elizabeth Johnson. Feasting on the Gospels–Luke, Volume 2: A Feasting on the Word Commentary. Westminster John Knox Press. Louisville, 2014.

Nouwen, Henri. The Selfless Way of Christ: Downward Mobility and the Spiritual Life. Maryknoll: Orbis, 2007.

*One of the great things about making the rules, is that you can break them when you want. I thought that what Mark Ralls wrote was worth breaking my rule to limit posts to 400 words.

 

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: 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: Only Stopping Will Do (A. W. Tozer, Dallas Willard)

It’s not enough to believe in silence, solitude and stillness. These things must be experienced–practiced. And practiced often enough to be routine, to create new habits–new pathways. And so I come to a full stop. I sit quietly. Nothing else. I don’t petition God. I don’t give thanks. I don’t meditate on some problem, verse or divine attribute. I don’t count my blessings. I don’t look out the window in wonder–or any number of other important things I might otherwise do. Not now. Not yet. Because, unless I can somehow first remember that it doesn’t depend on me, unless I can remember that I can’t do what needs to be done, then all is lost. And until I actually do this every day, numerous times throughout the day, there is little hope that I will ever learn to do it at all. Everything argues against stopping: the to-do list, the desire to be productive, the expectations of others, ego, habit, and so on. And therefore, ruthlessness is required in establishing new habits, new intentions, new ways of understanding my day, my life–indeed, my importance. And I do have intrinsic importance. I have the potential to be used in this world in important ways–but I squander that potential by flitting from one thing to the next without stopping to push back illusions. After all, these kenotic moments are the most important of the day. Nothing else will be so formative, and informative, for my day. Nothing else will save me from myself. Nothing else will prepare me to attend to God and others, and to what’s going on with me throughout the day. Would it be more important to take these moments to love my spouse, to feed a homeless child, to memorize Scripture or engage in worship? No, for unless I first submit to utter inactivity, I cannot trust my actual activity to be of any use to anyone–including, and especially, God. No-one needs my hurried self–the one that to me seems so indispensable–my egotistical self that sees itself at the center–as essential. Something must be done. Only stopping will do.

“God never hurries. There are no deadlines against which he must work. Only to know this is to quiet our spirits and relax our nerves.” A. W. Tozer

“He who believes will not be
in haste.”
Isaiah 28:16

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you “in haste?” If so, why?
  • Are you attempting to “ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life?” (Dallas Willard)
  • Have you established practices to insure that you stop as you should?

Abba, may my stillness release your divine action.

For More: The Pursuit of God by A. W. Tozer

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Thanks for following and sharing this blog! – Bill

Daily Riches: What Jesus Did (Bill Gaultiere, Marcus Halley, and Carlo Carretto)

“Jesus’ response to aggression is revolutionary. It’s so wise, so beautiful, so strong, and so different from what is normally done. In tense and angry situations, when he’s being judged, baited, or hit, look at how he responds. He tells a story, asks a question, calmly explains, heals people, wiggles out of traps, walks away, prays, or silently accepts the mistreatment. In all cases he holds his ground, de-escalates the conflict, and speaks the truth in love.” Bill Gaultiere

“God is a gathering god and insomuch as God gathers all sorts of people unto God’s self, we are challenged to offer our own imperfect love in sacrifice to God. Christian love challenges each of us to open our arms wider than we think we should to embrace a community exceedingly greater than we could possibly imagine. Just when we think we’ve stretched as far as we can, we hear Jesus say ‘wider … open wider.'” Marcus Halley

“God loves what in us is not yet. What has still to come to birth. What we love in a person is what already is: virtue, beauty, courage, and hence our love is self-interested and fragile. God, loving what is not yet and putting faith in us, continually begets us since love is what begets. By giving us confidence, God helps us to be born, since love is what helps us emerge from our darkness and draws us to the light. And this is such a fine thing to do that God invites us to do the same.” Carlo Carretto

“let us run with endurance the race God has set before us …
keeping our eyes on Jesus,
the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.”
Hebrews 12:2

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Wouldn’t you love to be able to routinely respond as Jesus did in conflict– calmly, cleverly and with love?
  • When you’ve “stretched as far as you can” welcoming others into your worshiping community, or your circle of friends, are you willing to imitate the love of Jesus, and stretch some more? …who might God be nudging you to include?
  • How can you learn to love in a manner that helps others “be born … and emerge from [their] darkness?” How can you practice doing such a “fine thing?”

Abba, show me how I can practice loving with arms wide open.

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

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

Daily Riches: The Invisible Companionship of God (Thomas Merton and Edward Hays)

“When bed-ridden with some illness, fearful over some approaching event, or directly confronted by some trouble, you have to descend quickly to those roots of your soul to cause that deep fount of joy in your roots to bubble up to the surface. This holy descent takes but a few profoundly trust-filled moments. Once you feel you’ve reached your deepest depths, come to a quiet rest among the tangled roots of your being and inhale deeply the abundant, fertile power of the Divine Presence. Then ascent as quickly as you descended to joyously face in a new way whatever threatens your peace. Do so with confidence for if God is with you, in you, and intimately one with you, who or what can be against you? If you wish to live joyously regardless of circumstances, develop the habit of frequent descents to be nourished by that abiding holy communion with God. To be frequently in a day in consecrated constant communion requires only going into yourself. Those who practice these daily frequent descents and ascents can smile with the singular joy of which the Master promised “…no one can take from you.'” Edward Hays

“The man who fears to be alone will never be anything but lonely, no matter how much he may surround himself with people. But the man who learns, in solitude and recollection, to be at peace with his own loneliness, and to prefer its reality to the illusion of merely natural companionship, comes to know the invisible companionship of God. Such a one is alone with God in all places, and he alone truly enjoys the companionship of other men, because he loves them in God in Whom their presence is not tiresome, and because of Whom his own love for them can never know satiety.” Thomas Merton

“I have stilled and quieted my soul.”
Psalm 131:2

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you have a way to “come to a quiet rest among the tangled roots of your being?” …to experience the “invisible companionship of God?”
  • This was the practice of King David and of Jesus. Does it seem too mystical to you?
  • Are you developing “the habit of frequent descents to be nourished by that abiding holy communion with God?” …to be “alone with God in all places?”

Abba, help me replace old life-draining habits with new life-giving habits.

For More: No Man Is An Island by Thomas Merton

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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)

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

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