Daily Riches: The Most Crippling Belief of All (Don Miller, Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Larry Crabb, Emma Herman, and Richard Rohr)

“The most crippling belief a person can have is ‘life was supposed to be EASY.'” Don Miller

“If you cannot refuse to fall down,
refuse to stay down.
If you cannot refuse to stay down
lift your heart toward heaven
and like a hungry beggar,
ask that it be filled,
and it will be filled.
You may be pushed down.
You may be kept from rising.
But no one can keep you
from lifting your heart
toward heaven —
only you.
It is in the midst of misery
that so much becomes clear.
The one who says nothing good
came of this,
is not yet listening.”

Clarissa Pinkola Estés

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“Comforting thoughts about God’s faithfulness can keep us living on the surface of life, safely removed from a level of pain and confusion that seems overwhelming. But God is most fully known in the midst of confusing reality. To avoid asking the tough questions and asking the hard issues is to miss a transforming encounter with God. …One thing that seems clear is that movement toward pain is suicide. But exactly the opposite is true! The fact that the path to life often feels like the path to death, and that the path to death can feel like the path to life, is a tragic commentary on how far we have gotten off track. The process of becoming aware of our thirst is terrible. It hurts. It feels like the path to death. …But to explore and embrace our deepest hurts puts us in a small company of thirsty people who, because they feel their thirst, know what it means to come to Christ in deep and quiet trust.” Larry Crabb

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“The true meaning of words is only learned in the school of affliction.” Emma Herman

“The path of descent is the path of transformation. Darkness, failure, relapse, death, and woundedness are our primary teachers, rather than ideas or doctrines.” Richard Rohr

“I have refined you in the furnace of suffering.”
Isaiah 48:10

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Were you expecting life to be easy?
  • Has “so much become clear” for you in the midst of misery? …in the midst of “confusing reality?” …in the “school of affliction?”
  • Are you seeking transformation primarily through “ideas or doctrines?”

Lord, I will not fail to lift my heart to heaven. I will turn to you in deep and quiet trust.

For More: Inside Out by Larry Crabb

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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

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

Daily Riches: Grieving and the Vast Emptiness of Loss (James Baldwin, C. S. Lewis, Richard Rohr, John Green, Henri Nouwen)

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read.” James Baldwin

“For in grief nothing ‘stays put.’ One keeps on emerging from a phase, but it always recurs. Round and round. Everything repeats.  …how often will the vast emptiness astonish me like a complete novelty and make me say, ‘I never realized my loss till this moment’? The same leg is cut off time after time.” C. S. Lewis

“‘All great thought springs from a conflict between two eventual insights: (1) The wound which we find at the heart of everything is finally incurable, (2) Yet we are necessarily and still driven to try!’ [Hans Urs von Balthasar] Selah. Our largely unsuccessful efforts of the first half of life are themselves the training ground for all virtue and growth in holiness. This wound at the heart of life shows itself in many ways, but your holding and “suffering” of this tragic wound, your persistent but failed attempts to heal it, and your final surrender to it, will ironically make you into a wise and holy person. It will make you patient, loving, hopeful, expansive, faithful, and compassionate—which is precisely second-half-of-life wisdom.” Richard Rohr

“We all want to do something to mitigate the pain of loss or to turn grief into something positive, to find a silver lining in the clouds. But I believe there is real value in just standing there, being still, being sad.” John Green

“Just as bread needs to be broken in order to be given, so, too, do our lives.”  Henri Nouwen

“… unless a grain of wheat
falls into the earth and dies,
it remains alone; but if it dies,
it bears much fruit.”
Jesus in John 12:24

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Our sense of loss grows over time as we experience a loss “time after time.” Have you suffered like that?
  • Have you quit trying to understand your loss, heal it – or find its “silver lining?” Have you allowed yourself to feel it rather than flee from it?
  • Why might someone “need to be broken” by what feels like “unprecedented” heartbreak? Can you trust God to work in the space created by your loss – with no explanation and slow healing – but bringing life out of death?

Abba, meet me in my losses.

For More:  A Grief Observed by C. S. Lewis
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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 Book Notes: Finding Our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practices by Brian McLaren

As the subtitle says, this book calls us to remember and put into practice forgotten ways of the ancient church – ways or practices we need to embrace again if we are to “find our way.” The book introduces an impressive new series The Ancient Practices Series, edited by Phillis Tickle, where many of the traditional spiritual disciplines will be covered, one per book. The plan for succeeding volumes is for books devoted to prayer, the sabbath, fasting, the eucharist, the journey, the liturgical year, and tithing. Besides touching on these, in this first book McLaren includes insights on suffering, stillness, secrecy, simplicity, slowness, simplicity, fixed-time prayer, hospitality, memorization and others. I really liked his discussion of St. Francis.

I found the book to be a rare treasure – heart-stiriring, and hope-giving – always challenging the reader to to move from the head to the heart. A short and easy read, the book deserves to be lingered over and savored. McLaren has a beautiful ability to take the seemingly stuffy, theoretical, tedious or unfamiliar, and make it interesting, easily accessible, and patently relevant. I found the wideness of vision in the book (see chapter 20) surprising, even stunning, and worthy of the living God. The final chapter alone is worth the price of the book, and the Notes at the end make for a valuable treasure trove of other important, related resources.

I’m late discovering McLaren, but I’ll definitely be digging into his other books. If you’re also not familiar, be sure to take a look at this book. I don’t think you’ll come away unchanged.

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Book Notes are a new addition to my blog Daily Riches. Notes will be posted sporadically, and only to subscribers to the blog – just to keep it simple for me. (If you’re connecting to Daily Riches through Twitter or Facebook, you will have to subscribe to richerbyfar.com to receive Book Notes.) As always, thanks for reading – and please, share your thoughts and opinions on these books! Thanks much – and thanks for joining me on what reader has called “this wobbly journey.” –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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

Daily Riches: Spiritual Formation Every Moment, Every Day (J. I. Packer) *

“Cross-bearing is the long lesson of our mortal life. It is a part of God’s salvation, called sanctification. It is a lesson set before us every moment of every day. It concerns this strange and daunting business of how strain and pain–passion, in the sense of conscious suffering voluntarily accepted–may be transmuted into glory. If life were an art lesson, we could describe it as a process of finding how to turn this mud into that porcelain, this discord into that sonata, this ugly stone block into that statue, this tangle of threads into that tapestry. In fact, however, the stakes are higher than in any art lesson. It is in the school of sainthood that we find ourselves enrolled and the artifact that is being made is ourselves.” J. I. Packer

“Surely it was for my benefit
  that I suffered such anguish.”
  Isaiah 38:17
(King Hezekiah, after recovering from a near fatal illness)

From the Head to the Heart

  • What could you do on a daily basis to be more aware of God’s work in you, “transmuting” you, in “every moment of every day?”
  • What kinds of things keep you from this awareness?
  • Packer reminds us that this is “the long lesson of our mortal life.” Can you be patient with yourself and God during this long, gradual process of “strain and pain” and “anguish?”

Abba, help me to be mindful each day of the ways you’re working to change me through my circumstances – especially when it comes to “conscious suffering voluntarily accepted.” Help me in this school of sainthood.

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For More: Christianity: The True Humanism by J. I Packer and Thomas Howard

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These Daily Riches are for your encouragement as you seek after God, and as he seeks after you. My goal is to give you with something of uncommon value each day in 400 words or less. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it with others as we learn together to find our satisfaction in our unfailingly loving God. (Psalm 90:14) . I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it with others. I appreciate your interest! – Bill

Daily Riches: The School of Spiritual Formation (J. I. Packer)

“Cross-bearing is the long lesson of our mortal life. It is a part of God’s salvation, called sanctification. It is a lesson set before us every moment of every day. It concerns this strange and daunting business of how strain and pain–passion, in the sense of conscious suffering voluntarily accepted–may be transmuted into glory. If life were an art lesson, we could describe it as a process of finding how to turn this mud into that porcelain, this discord into that sonata, this ugly stone block into that statue, this tangle of threads into that tapestry. In fact, however, the stakes are higher than in any art lesson. It is in the school of sainthood that we find ourselves enrolled and the artifact that is being made is ourselves.” J. I. Packer

“Surely it was for my benefit
  that I suffered such anguish.”
  Isaiah 38:17
(King Hezekiah, after recovering from a near fatal illness)

From the Head to the Heart

  • What could you do on a daily basis to be more aware of God’s work in you, “transmuting” you, in “every moment of every day?”
  • What kinds of things keep you from this awareness?
  • Packer reminds us that this is “the long lesson of our mortal life.” Can you be patient with yourself and God during this long, gradual process of “strain and pain” and “anguish?”

Abba, help me to be mindful each day of the ways you’re working to change me through my circumstances – especially when it comes to “conscious suffering voluntarily accepted.” Help me in this school of sainthood.

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For More: Christianity: The True Humanism by J. I Packer and Thomas Howard

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The “Daily Riches” from RicherByFar are for your encouragement as you seek after God, and as he seeks after you. My goal is to give you something of uncommon value each day in less than 400 words. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it with others. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Suffering and Grace (Jim Palmer)

“I used to be ashamed of my depression,

but now I see it’s a secret trapdoor to God. When it hits, I sink down into that black hole and often find Jesus there. … now when I am asked [who Jesus is], I am most inclined to say, ‘Jesus is the one who sits down close to me in my black hole of despair, offering himself until it passes.’” Jim Palmer

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it [Paul’s “thorn in the flesh”] away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you have some weakness, hardship, persecution or difficulty that causes you to sink down into a “black hole of despair?”
  • Can you imagine Jesus “sitting down close to you” in that dark, painful place and “offering himself until it passes?” Do that now.
  • We often despise our weaknesses, and ourselves for being weak, but the apostle Paul says he is glad for his weaknesses and delights in his difficulties. The next time you visit your own painful “black hole” of trouble, can you wait there for God to make himself known to you in a new and saving way?

Abba, thank you for desiring to make yourself known to me in the midst of my most painful experiences. Help me to notice, to listen and learn, to submit, to give thanks, to be comforted, to be changed.

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For More: Divine Nobodies: Shedding Religion to Find God by Jim Palmer

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

Daily Riches: Suffering and Grace (Pema Chödrön)

“We don’t like the way reality is now and therefore wish it would go away fast. but what we find … is that nothing ever goes way until it has taught us what we need to know. if we run a hundred miles an hour to the other end of the continent in order to get away from the obstacle we find the very same problem waiting for us when we arrive. it just keeps returning with new names, forms, manifestations until we learn whatever it has to teach us about where we are separating ourselves from reality, how we are pulling back instead of opening up, closing down instead of allowing ourselves to experience fully whatever we encounter, without hesitating or retreating into ourselves.”  Pema Chödrön

“The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.’ But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.”  Jonah 1:1-3

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • What is there in your present reality that you wish “would go away fast?” Are you attempting to run from it like Jonah did?
  • Are you waiting for some unpleasant, persistent “reality” in your life to “go away”, while God is waiting for you to learn from it “what you need to know?”
  • Can you choose insight from God over comfort? Can you embrace the anxiety and submit to the waiting, the frustration – even the pain, as God’s gift to you?

Abba, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change … but not just to accept them, but to embrace and submit to them, and to you, as in love you form me.

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For More: When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chödrön

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

Daily Riches: Patience with Yourself (Paul Tillich)

“Grace strikes us when we are in great pain and restlessness. It strikes us when we walk through the dark valley of a meaningless and empty life. …It strikes us when, year after year, the longed-for perfection does not appear, when the old compulsions reign within us as they have for decades, when despair destroys all joy and courage. Sometimes at that moment a wave of light breaks into our darkness, and it is as though a voice were saying: ‘You are accepted. You are accepted, accepted by that which is greater than you, and the name of which you do not know. Do not ask for the name now; perhaps you will find it later. Do not try to do anything now; perhaps later you will do much. Do not seek for anything, do not perform anything, do not intend anything. Simply accept the fact that you are accepted.’ If that happens to us, we experience grace.”   Paul Tillich

“God’s law was given
so that all people could see how sinful they were.
But as people sinned more and more,
God’s wonderful grace became more abundant.
So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death,
now God’s wonderful grace rules instead….
Romans 5:20,21a  NLB

“Out of his fullness we have all received grace…”
John 1:16

From the Head to the Heart

  • Is God’s grace enough for you when “the longed-for perfection does not appear” in your life?  when “despair destroys all joy and courage?”
  • Can you keep from trying to seek for anything or perform anything or intend anything just now, and simply “accept the fact that you are accepted?”
  • The Apostle Paul says that “as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant….” I’m one of those “people”, and so are you. “Out of his riches, we have all received grace….” Can you thank God now for his grace that works in you at your lowest, most undeserving moments?

Abba, all I can do is depend on your ever-present grace.

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For More: The Shaking of the Foundations by Paul Tillich

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