Daily Riches: A Theology of Love and of Resistance (Thomas Merton and Martin Luther King, Jr.)

“A theology of love cannot afford to be sentimental. It cannot afford to preach edifying generalities about charity, while identifying ‘peace’ with mere established power and legalized violence against the oppressed. A theology of love cannot be allowed merely to serve the interests of the rich and powerful, justifying their wars, their violence, and their bombs, while exhorting the poor and underprivileged to practice patience, meekness, long-suffering and to solve their problems, if at all, nonviolently. The theology of love must seek to deal drastically with evil and injustice in the world, and not merely to compromise with them. …Theology does not exist merely to appease the already too untroubled conscience of the powerful and the established. A theology of love may also conceivably turn out to be a theology of revolution. In any case, it is a theology of resistance, a refusal of the evil that reduces a brother to homicidal desperation.” Thomas Merton

“In the terrible midnight of war men have knocked on the door of the church to ask for the bread of peace, but the church has often disappointed them. What more pathetically reveals the irrelevancy of the church in present-day world affairs than its witness regarding war? In a world gone mad with arms buildups, chauvinistic passions, and imperialistic exploitation, the church has either endorsed these activities or remained appallingly silent. … A weary world, pleading desperately for peace, has often found the church morally sanctioning war. … And those who have gone to the church to seek the bread of economic justice have been left in the frustrating midnight of economic deprivation. In many instances the church has so aligned itself with the privileged classes and so defended the status quo that it has been unwilling to answer the knock at midnight.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

“A person who seeks to honor the one who sent him
speaks truth, not lies.”
Jesus in John 7:18

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is your theology of love a “theology of resistance?”
  • Is your church “aligned with the privileged classes and the status quo?”
  • Where in our day, might the church be guilty of appeasing “the already too untroubled?”
  • Do you think these are valuable questions for Christians? . . . for pastors? If not, why not?

Abba, keep us from conforming to this world, or allowing others to do so in peace.

For More: Faith and Violence by Thomas Merton

Daily Riches: A Theology of Love and of Resistance (Thomas Merton and Martin Luther King, Jr.)

“A theology of love cannot afford to be sentimental. It cannot afford to preach edifying generalities about charity, while identifying ‘peace’ with mere established power and legalized violence against the oppressed. A theology of love cannot be allowed merely to serve the interests of the rich and powerful, justifying their wars, their violence, and their bombs, while exhorting the poor and underprivileged to practice patience, meekness, long-suffering and to solve their problems, if at all, nonviolently. The theology of love must seek to deal drastically with evil and injustice in the world, and not merely to compromise with them. …Theology does not exist merely to appease the already too untroubled conscience of the powerful and the established. A theology of love may also conceivably turn out to be a theology of revolution. In any case, it is a theology of resistance, a refusal of the evil that reduces a brother to homicidal desperation.” Thomas Merton

“In the terrible midnight of war men have knocked on the door of the church to ask for the bread of peace, but the church has often disappointed them. What more pathetically reveals the irrelevancy of the church in present-day world affairs than its witness regarding war? In a world gone mad with arms buildups, chauvinistic passions, and imperialistic exploitation, the church has either endorsed these activities or remained appallingly silent. … A weary world, pleading desperately for peace, has often found the church morally sanctioning war. … And those who have gone to the church to seek the bread of economic justice have been left in the frustrating midnight of economic deprivation. In many instances the church has so aligned itself with the privileged classes and so defended the status quo that it has been unwilling to answer the knock at midnight.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

“A person who seeks to honor the one who sent him
speaks truth, not lies.”
Jesus in John 7:18

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is your theology of love a “theology of resistance?”
  • Is your church “aligned with the privileged classes and the status quo?”
  • Where in our day, might the church be guilty of appeasing “the already too untroubled?”
  • Do you think these are valuable questions for Christians? . . . for pastors? If not, why not?

Abba, keep us from conforming to this world, or allowing others to do so in peace.

For More: Faith and Violence 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: The King Of the Poor Becomes Poor (Francis de Sales and Henri Nouwen)

“‘Who is weak and I am not weak?’ says St. Paul. He might have continued: ‘Who is poor and I am not poor?’ Love makes us like those we love.[ℹ︎] If then we truly love the poor, truly enter into their poverty, we will be poor with them. We cannot love the poor by keeping at a distance, but only by being with them, by visiting them, by talking freely, openly with them, by being with them in the church, on the street, wherever poverty leads, wherever need is present. Speak with everyone out of your own poverty, but let your hands be rich, sharing freely of what you have. Blessed are they who are thus poor, for theirs truly is the kingdom of heaven. To them the King of Kings who is King of the Poor will say on the day of judgment: ‘I was hungry and you gave me to eat, I was naked, and you covered me. Come possess the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world.'” Francis de Sales

“Like every human organization the Church is constantly in danger of corruption. As soon as power and wealth come to the Church, manipulation, exploitation, misuse of influence, and outright corruption are not far away. How do we prevent corruption in the Church? The answer is clear: by focusing on the poor. The poor make the Church faithful to its vocation. When the Church is no longer a church for the poor, it loses its spiritual identity. It gets caught up in disagreements, jealousy, power games, and pettiness.” Henri Nouwen

“It is a sin to belittle one’s neighbor;
blessed are those who help the poor.”
Proverbs 14:21
NLT

Abba, “I was hungry and you gave me to eat. I was naked and you covered me. I was homeless and you called me to possess the kingdom prepared for me and for all the poor, naked, and homeless. . . . You have not kept your distance. You have entered into my poverty. You have greeted me with a full hand. You have gone where poverty drew you. Let me follow in your steps.” (de Sales)

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Did Jesus keep at a distance from you, or did he enter into your poverty?
  • Are you aware of poverty drawing you and asking you to “share freely what you have?”
  • We never learn these difficult practices if we keep “at a distance.” How can you practice “being with” the poor?

For More: Set Your Heart Free by Francis de Sales

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Thanks for following and sharing my blog. I appreciate it! – Bill

Sources:

de Sales, Francis. Set Your Heart Free. Notre Dame, Indiana: Ave Maria, 2008.

Nouwen, Henri. Bread For the Journey. New York: Harper One, 1997.

 

[ℹ︎]”Because of his boundless love, Jesus became what we are that he might make us to be what he is.” Irenaeus

Daily Riches: The Most Despised, and Important, Word of Our Time (Helmut Gollwitzer)

“The word ‘repentance’ turns the door into the narrow gate, the most despised, and yet the most important word of our time. It is a time when no one wants to repent, and yet is is precisely in this unwillingness to repent that we find the secret to the misery of our time. Because ours is a time that cannot tolerate this word, the most vital thing linking people to each other lies broken and shattered: the ability of a person to give another his rights, the ability to admit one’s own error and one’s own guilt; the ability to find the guilt in himself rather than in the other, to be gentle with the other but strict with oneself.  …Who cannot admit his guilt before God can no longer do so before men. Then begins the insanity, the insanity of persecution that must make the other person into the devil himself in order to make himself into a god. Where repentance stops, inhumanity begins…. Repentance wipes away everything we think important, it sweeps away ruthlessly our interests and considerations, and it dries up everything that we hoped to mention in our favor. This contradiction is not without reason; whoever repents denies his own life, whoever allowed himself to be baptized here in the Jordan by John, said in effect: I am a man or a woman who must be drowned. Here all noteworthy conduct is for naught: ‘My wounds stink for my sins reach above my head; like a heavy burden they have become too much for me’ (Ps. 38:6,7,5). Repentance is the terrible discovery that I live under a death sentence, and even worse, that I must say yes to this condemnation to death. I am convicted not only outwardly by the sentence itself but inwardly by my own guilt. This is what happens with repentance: my life is annihilated and destroyed not only outwardly but also inwardly. All my defensive weapons–both those pointing externally toward others and those pointing inwardly toward myself–have been lost.” Helmut Gollwitzer

“Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.”
Jesus in Matthew 3:8

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you convinced of your need for repentance as a way of life?
  • Has admitting the need for repentance made you easier on others? …on yourself?
  • This is holocaust-era preaching. Serious. Today seems less so, right? What about that?

Abba, let me be serious about repentance.

For More: Preaching in the Third Reich by Dean Stroud (ed.)

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. My goal is to regularly give you something of unique value in 400 words or less. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. Thanks for your interest! Please leave a question or comment. – Bill

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 Church as Refuge (Rachel Held Evans, Kathy Escobar and Dallas Willard)

“Any successful plan for spiritual formation . . . will in fact be significantly similar to the Alcoholics Anonymous program.” Dallas Willard

“As a counselor, Kathy had encountered Christians who kept their battles with pain and depression a secret from their churches, so she helped found and pastor The Refuge, an eclectic and growing faith community in Denver inspired by both the Beatitudes and the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. Kathy discovered that when a church functions more like a recovery group than a religious organization, when it commits to practicing ‘honesty for the sake of restoration,’ all sorts of unexpected people show up.

People who make $600 on mental health disability and never graduated from high school are hanging out with friends who have master’s degrees and make $6,000. …Suburban moms are building relationships with addicts. People from fundamentalist Christian backgrounds are engaging those with pagan backgrounds …orphans, outcasts, prostitutes, pastors, single moms and dads, church burnouts and everything in between are all muddled up together…. It’s wild.

…Rather than boasting a doctrinal statement, the Refuge extends an invitation: The Refuge is a mission center and Christian community dedicated to helping hurting and hungry people find faith, hope, and dignity alongside each other.

We love to throw parties, tell stories, find hope, and practice the ways of Jesus as best we can. We’re all hurt or hungry in our own ways. We’re at different place on our journey but we share a guiding story, a sweeping epic drama called the Bible. We find faith as we follow Jesus and share a willingness to honestly wrestle with God and our questions and doubts. We find dignity as God’s image-bearers and strive to call out that dignity in one another. We all receive, we all give. We are old, young, poor, rich, conservative, liberal, single, married, gay, straight, evangelicals, progressives, overeducated, undereducated, certain, doubting, hurting, thriving. Yet Christ’s love bind our differences together in unity. At The Refuge, everyone is safe, but no one is comfortable.

Imagine if every church became a place where everyone is safe, but no one is comfortable. Imagine if every church became a place where we told one another the truth. We might just create sanctuary.” Rachel Held Evans

“I will build my church.”
Matthew 16:18

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is your church a place where “everyone is safe?”
  • Is your church a place where “no one is comfortable?”
  • Do others experience you as a “safe” person? …as comfortable with discomfort?

Abba, lead us into good places.

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 God seeks you. I hope you’ll follow/share my blog. – Bill

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

Daily Riches: Drowning Out Cries of the Oppressed with the Noise of Hymns (Abraham Heschel)

“In [ancient] Israel … sacrifice is an essential act of worship. It is the experience of giving oneself vicariously to God and of being received by Him. And yet, the pre-exilic prophets uttered violent attacks on sacrifices (Amos 5:21-27; Hos. 6:6; Isa. 1:11-17; Mic. 6:6-8; Jer. 6:20; 7:21-23; Isa. 61:1-2; Pss. 40:7; 50:12-13). Samuel insisted: ‘Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams’ (1 Sam. 15:22). However, while Samuel stressed the primacy of obedience over sacrifice, Amos and the prophets who followed him not only stressed the primacy of morality over sacrifice, but even proclaimed that the worth of worship, far from being absolute, is contingent upon moral living, and that when immorality prevails, worship is detestable. Questioning man’s right to worship through offerings and songs, they maintained that the primary way of serving God is through love, justice and righteousness. …Of course, the prophets did not condemn the practice of sacrifice in itself; otherwise, we should have to conclude that Isaiah intended to discourage the practice of prayer (Isa. 1:14-15). They did, however, claim that deeds of injustice vitiate both sacrifice and prayer. Men may not drown the cries of the oppressed with the noise of hymns, nor buy off the Lord with increased offerings. The prophets disparaged the cult when it became a substitute for righteousness.” Abraham Heschel – The Prophets

“I hate all your show and pretense—
    the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies.
I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings.
    I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings.
Away with your noisy hymns of praise!
    I will not listen to the music of your harps.
Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice,
    an endless river of righteous living.” Amos 5:21-27

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you think of the “worth of your worship” as being “contingent upon [your] moral living?” …as an individual? …as a congregation?
  • Do you live as though “the primary way of serving God is through love, justice and righteousness?” If not, what is your primary “way?”
  • Is your congregation perhaps satisfied with and distracted by “the noise of hymns”, and oblivious to the “cries of the oppressed?” …are you?

Daily may we hearken to you, O Yahweh.

For More: The Prophets 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 my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  Please leave a comment or question. –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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

Daily Riches: Come and See Evangelism (Phyllis Tickle, David Fitch, David Di Sabatino and St. Francis)

“Your life is your theology and your sermon. Don’t preach the good news, but be the good news … Preach as you go! Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.” Francis of Assisi

“The general tendency in Emergence Christian theology is to question with real vigor and precision whether or not the connection between faith and doctrinal precision is essential to the soul’s salvation. Dogma, yes, but doctrine, not so much. That is, do one’s brainwaves and verbal utterances actually make one’s faith? Emergence Christians can often take this even a step further and reference those places of spiritual primacy where Jesus taught (as in his judgment of the nations as told in the Gospel of Matthew, for example) that a life is what constitutes and demonstrates a disciple, rather than a mind-set.” Phyllis Tickle

“For postmodern evangelism, this means that truth is best communicated as it is lived in the life of a body of Christ out of its (his)story and its stories, not one-on-one combat via evidentiary apologetic. Instead, the church itself becomes the apologetic. As the truth of the gospel is worked out in the real lives of people living together in community, its veracity cannot be debated or individualized, it’s reality is something into which we may simply invite others to ‘come and see’ and the church thereby becomes the center for evangelism. Evangelicals often preach that what the culture needs is absolute truth, but what the culture needs is a church that believes the truth so absolutely it actually lives it out.” David Fitch

“Silence every radio and television preacher, stop every evangelical book or tract from being published, take down every evangelical website from the net and simply ask Christians to show one tangible expression of Jesus’s love to another person every day. We would be far better off.” David Di Sabatino

“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did.
Could this be the Messiah?”
John 4:29

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • If Jesus was going to evaluate your relationship to him more by your life (your behavior) than your mind-set (your beliefs), would you need to make some changes?
  • Which will be more persuasive with people you know–”absolute truth” from you, or “unconditional love?”
  • Are people more or less interested in God after they spend time with you?
  •  If you showed “one tangible expression of Jesus’s love to another person every day”, how different would that be from what you’re doing now?

Abba, move my “faith” into my hands and my feet.

For More: The Great Giveaway by David Fitch

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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. – Bill

Daily Riches: The Kissing Church (Brian McLaren)

“As one arrives at a [church] gathering–in the parking lot, on the sidewalk–others are arriving too, and how one treats them is, at is turns out, a highly significant communal practice. If one habitually treats them as strangers–say, as one might treat strangers pushing carts down the aisle in a grocery store, or strangers sitting in the waiting room at the dentist, or strangers boarding a Boeing 747–then one is practicing a way of treating people that may or may not be in line with the way of this community. Interestingly, it was precisely this so-called detail–of how we welcome one another when we gather–that was of great concern to the first apostles (1 Corinthians 11; James 2). For example, Paul’s call to ‘greet one another with a holy kiss’ (repeated four times in his epistles) was more significant than it appears. Class-conscious Roman society required that people only exchange the kiss with peers, but the early church brought together Jew and Gentile, men and women, slave and free, rich and poor. That people transgressed (or transcended) normal social convention was essential to the early church in maintaining its higher allegiance to the way of Jesus instead of the way of Rome.” Brian McLaren

“Henri [Nouwen] wrote a lot about creating an ’empty space’ in your heart–like a guest room in your house–so there is room for others to feel welcome. The problem is, when I nearly drown in my own schedules and agenda, I leave no room for others and no time for hospitality. …I have discovered that when I allow my heart to contain too much resentment, busyness and anxiety, especially anxiety about getting to my next appointment or wishing I were doing something else, I leave no room in my heart for others. I raise a wall around me, and others probably wonder why they can’t come in. I imagine some of them go away sadly, tired of encountering a closed heart.” Christopher de Vinck

“Always be eager to practice hospitality.”
Romans 12:13

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Who do you notice at church? Who are you overlooking or ignoring?
  • Does the way you greet others, including those you don’t know, reflect the transcendent value and dignity Christ gives those individuals?
  • Is there a space for others in your life and schedule, or do they “go away sadly”, after trying to connect with you?

Abba, help me to “see” others and open my life and heart to them.

For More: Nouwen Then by Christopher de Vinck

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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. I appreciate your interest! – Bill

Daily Riches: Why Racism Continues in the Church Today – Part II (Pete Scazzero)

For over twenty-five years, New Life Fellowship in Queens, has been developing a paradigm for the practice of unity in the midst of great diversity. Today’s post includes the remainder of Pastor Scazzero’s reasons why racism, one great source of disunity, continues in Evangelical and other church traditions:

“6. Isolation.

Most American Christians attend churches with people who look like they do, perpetuating a subculture of minimal contact with people of different races and cultures. As a result: ‘Despite devoting considerable time and energy to solving the problem of racial division, White evangelicalism likely does more to perpetuate the racialized society than to reduce it.’ Michael Emerson and Christian Smith*

7. Naiveté regarding demonic powers and principalities.

Evil, unclean spirits are real, feasting on the wounds of a split nation and church. To drive them [out] involves us in a spiritual warfare beyond discussions and statistics. It calls for our following of Jesus to the cross.

8. Lack of skills to love well. 

Learning to love well is among our most important tasks as Christ-followers. Learning to listen, ‘fight’ cleanly, and speak clearly and honestly (to name a few) are foundational for being a healthy community. Bridging barriers requires we create a new culture with a new language. For this reason we developed Emotionally Healthy Skills 2.0 out of our life together at New Life over our 29 year history.

9. Obliviousness of systemic racism.

Peggy McIntosh said it well: “I was taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance on my group.” (See her “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack“)

10. Emotional Immaturity.

It is not possible to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature. To engage in this level of warfare without addressing people’s immaturities (e.g. unawareness, defensiveness, ignorance of how our families of origin impact us) is a sure recipe for further wounding and division.” Pete Scazzero

“grow up in all things into Him who is the head”
Ephesians 4:15

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is your church helping to perpetuate our “racialized society?” Don’t be too quick to answer.
  • Did you read McIntosh’s words about white privilege. Are you oblivious to the reality of white privilege?
  • Does the ministry of your church help you be a more mature person? …a better human being?

Abba, help! We’re in deep waters.

*For More: Divided by Race: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America by Michael Emerson and Christian Smith

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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. 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: Immigrant Jesus, Then and Now (Pete Scazzero)

“For the last month I have been deeply affected by the pictures and stories of tens of thousands of refugees pouring into Europe. Then, this past week Geri and I were in Germany, speaking and interacting with church leaders from Eastern and Western Europe. We saw refugees in the streets, railway stations, and small villages. We had dinner with one of our German pastor friends about his small ‘suburban’ village of 600 that recently received 57 refugees. The town formed a task force of over 50 people to serve their massive needs (from clothing, to language study, to integration into schools, etc.). It was inspiring. This crisis goes beyond Europe to the world as a whole. We can expect greater migrations of peoples seeking stability and opportunity for years to come in the West. So how do we look at the news of what we are seeing…?

  • Let’s remember Moses, Daniel, Priscilla, Aquila, Ezekiel, and the Israelites were also refugees. Throughout history God has advanced His purposes by moving peoples around from one nation to another nation.
  • God is sending people to us in Europe and North America so that we might love them and preach the gospel to them. Many of us have been praying for the Muslim world for decades. God is answering our prayers by bringing them to our doorsteps. There is a great spiritual hunger among many who have become disillusioned with Islam (Yes, persecuted Christians and others who are fleeing poverty are also coming.).
  • If we close our doors to refugees and immigrants out of fear of losing our standard of living and comfort, we may be closing our doors to Jesus Himself. (Matthew 25:35)
  • We must lead the way in asking God to give wisdom to President Obama and other Western political leaders. The issues are complex. How does one determine who truly qualifies as a refugee? How do government leaders screen out ISIS and others seeking to spread terror? At what point are poorer countries like Serbia, Slovakia, Hungary and Greece unable to receive more refugees?” Pete Scazzero

“I was a stranger and you invited me in.”
Jesus in Matthew 25:35

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you aware of newcomers and changing demographics in your own neighborhood? Are you aware of the European crisis?
  • What might be God’s invitation in all this to you? …your family? …your church?
  • What emotions does this issue bring to the surface for you? Can you sit with those before God?

Abba, may we do all we can for those with nowhere to lay their heads.

For More:  Jesus Was a Migrant by Deirdre Cornell

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

Daily Riches: Summer Vacation Break

Hi everyone. I will be on vacation this week, so I won’t be sending out any Daily Riches from richerbyfar.com. As always, I really appreciate your interest in and support of the blog. Thanks for reading and sharing, and for your prayers!

While I’m away, don’t forget there are about 450 daily posts from the last 18 months. I’m sure there is something there you haven’t seen and that may encourage you as you seek after God and God seeks after you. (see below)

Bill

Daily Riches: The Dangerous Drowsing of the Laity (Karl Barth)

“No one, however, can be content at this point to be a mere ‘layman,’ to be indolent, to be no more than a passive spectator or reader. No one is excused the task of asking questions or the more difficult task of providing and assessing answers. Preaching in the congregation, and the theology which serves its preparation, can be faithful to its theme and therefore relevant and adapted to the circumstances and edifying to the community, only if it is surrounded, sustained and constantly stimulated and fructified by the questions and answers of the community. With his own questions and answers in matters of right understanding
and doctrine, each individual Christian thus participates in what the community is commanded to do. If he holds aloof, or slackens, or allows himself to sleep, or wanders into speculation and error, he must not be surprised if sooner or later the same will have to be said about the community as such and particularly about its more responsible members. How many complaints about the ‘Church’ would never be made if only those who make them were to realise that we ourselves are the Church, so that what it has or has not to say stands or falls with us. There can be no doubt that all the great errors which have overtaken the preaching and theology of the community in the course of its history have had their true origin, not so much in the studies of the well-known errorists and heretics who have merely blabbed them out, but rather in the secret inattention and neglect, the private drowsing and wandering and erring, of innumerable nameless Christians who were not prepared to regard the listening of the community to the Word as their own concern, who wanted privacy in their thinking, and who thus created the atmosphere in which heresy and error became possible and even inevitable in the community.” Karl Barth

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have you thought about your responsibility to be a skillful and critical thinker in the congregation? …are you simply going with the flow?
  • Does your church encourage not only community but individuality? …not only conformity to Biblical norms, but sensitivity to violation of those norms?
  • Do you know the great Christian tradition well enough to know when it’s being ignored or perverted?

Abba, may we love you with our minds as well as our hearts.

For More: Church Dogmatics: A Selection … by Helmut Gollwitzer

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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)

Daily Riches: God’s Gift and Our Need of Diversity In the Church (Debbie Thomas)

“In the New Testament Pentecost story Luke tells, the Holy Spirit descended on 120 believers in Jerusalem on the fiftieth day after Jesus’ resurrection. The Spirit empowered them to testify to God’s great deeds, emboldened the apostle Peter to preach to a bewildered crowd of Jewish skeptics, and drew three thousand converts in one day. For Christians, Pentecost marks the birthday story of the Church. And what a fantastical birthday story it is, full of details to challenge the imagination. Tongues of fire. Rushing winds. Accusations of drunkenness. Mass baptism. One could spend years unpacking these details. But here’s the one I find most riveting: ‘All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.’  ‘At this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.’ Christians often speak of Pentecost as the reversal of Babel, the Old Testament story in which God divided and scattered human communities by multiplying our languages. But in fact, Pentecost didn’t reverse Babel; it perfected and blessed it. When the Holy Spirit came, he didn’t restore humanity to a common language; he declared all languages holy and equally worthy of God’s stories …he wove multilingualism into the very fabric of the Church. …Languages carry the full weight of their respective cultures, histories, psychologies, and spiritualities. To speak one language as opposed to another is to orient oneself differently in the world – to see differently, hear differently, process and punctuate reality differently. …If this is true, then what does it mean that the Holy Spirit empowered the first Christians to speak in an unmatched diversity of languages? Was God saying, in effect, that his Church, from its very inception, needed to honor the boundless variety and creativity of human voices?  That he was calling it to proclaim the great deeds of God in every tongue – not merely because multiculturalism is progressive and fashionable, or because the church is a ‘politically correct’ institution – but because God’s deeds themselves demand such diverse tellings? Could it be that there is no single language on earth that can capture the deeds of God? Here’s another detail I love about Pentecost: when the disciples and their friends began to speak in foreign languages, the crowds gathered outside their meeting place understood them. And this – the fact of their comprehension – was what confused them. They were not confused by the message itself; the message came through with perfect clarity in their respective languages. What the crowds found baffling was that God would condescend to speak to them in their own mother-tongues. That he would welcome them so intimately, with words and expressions hearkening back to their birthplaces, their childhoods, their beloved cities, countries, and cultures of origin. As if to say, ‘This Spirit-drenched place, this fledgling church, this new Body of Christ, is yours. You don’t have to feel like outsiders here; we speak your language, too. Come in. Come in and feel at home.’ …I wonder what it would be like if the Church allowed the Holy Spirit to transform it into a place of deep and implicit belonging – not for the few, but for everyone. I wonder how our ministries would need to change so that the crowds listening outside our doors would hear ‘Welcome!’ in languages they comprehend.” Debbie Thomas

“with your blood you purchased for God
persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.”
Revelation 5:9

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is there sufficient diversity in your church?
  • Do you make a point to reach out to “different” people with God’s love?
  • How can you be part of God’s “welcome” to outsiders?

Abba, use our many voices in the telling of your deeds.

For More: Against Christianeseby Debbie Thomas

In today’s post I broke my own rule of “400 words” or less. This was just to important and beautiful not to share. Thanks for reading. – Bill

Daily Riches: Thinking, Feeling, Behaving, Becoming

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 regard to these things, because the spiritual life is more than just correct thinking (doctrine, theology) and proper feeling (affections, passions). True religion involves behavior (lifestyle, practices). Both heart and mind are penultimate to behavior. Life-change is always the ultimate end in view, always the goal. We know from James, that faith without works is dead (James 2:20), and from Paul that faith leads to obedience (Romans 1:5). The Bible emphasizes these works and this obedience in its ubiquitous calls for love, compassion, understanding and generosity towards others – and in giving God the affection and honor that he deserves. Unfortunately, in the churches, this call to character or Christian lifestyle 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 – spiritual disciplines. By them we make space for God to enter our equation. We position ourselves to receive from God and to 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.” The “riches” that I share highlight the value of proven spiritual disciplines and repeatedly remind of them – since we often know, but also forget, what is most important. And since the learning-curve of the Christian life is long (a life-time), we need to return repeatedly to these core practices – practices that you might not often hear emphasized in church (the need to slow down, the need for silence and solitude), or things that aren’t typical in your faith tradition, and not mentioned for that reason (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 to learn more, or try harder. Historic spiritual disciplines transcend eras of Christian history, continents, cultures and denominations. Christians of influence in the Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant traditions all testify to their value. As you prayerfully interact with this blog, I hope you will find value in them as well, and that starting with me, we’ll all end up looking more like Jesus.

* “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?
  • What you’re doing to be more like Jesus – is it working?
  • Are you actually training yourself “to do the right thing … for the right reason?
Abba, keep me moving along the journey of transformation.
.
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.”

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