Changed Hearts

September 24th, 2018

When we think about how God could bring it about that all would ultimately choose to repent and be reconciled to God, we are not limited to thinking that God will have to twist people’s arms behind their backs or beat them into submission. A foundational Christian belief is that God has the power to break into people’s hearts and lives and change them from the inside out and make them new people. God has the power to dispel our illusions and set us free from the bubbles of self-deception in which we often live. In the age to come, when we are immersed in the divine presence, surrounded by the unmediated and pure holiness and love of God, the light will shine on the ugliness of our sin and on the beauty of God’s love for us. God will not externally force anyone to do something they do not want to do. Rather, we can trust that God has the power to internally compel all people to see the truth about themselves and the truth about God in such a way that will leave them without any motivation to cling to their sin, and every motivation to throw themselves onto the mercy of God.

— Heath Bradley, Flames of Love, p. 99-100

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, October 25, 2013

Love Opens Fists.

September 21st, 2018

I’ve learned from giving thousands of talks that you never appeal to the conscience of your audience but, rather, introduce them to their own goodness. I remember, in my earliest days, that I used to be so angry. In talks, in op-ed pieces, in radio interviews, I shook my fist a lot. My speeches would rail against indifference and how the young men and women I buried seemed to matter less in the world than other lives. I eventually learned that shaking one’s fist at something doesn’t change it. Only love gets fists to open. Only love leads to a conjuring of kinship within reach of the actual lives we live.

— Gregory Boyle, Barking to the Choir, p. 6

Photo: South Riding, October 25, 2017

Count the Ways We Bless

September 18th, 2018

Many of us could benefit from taking ten minutes a day not just to count our blessings, but to count the ways we bless others. Instead of dwelling on the bad in ourselves, what if we deliberately took time to dwell on our good qualities? So much unhappiness derives from poor self-image. How can we be happy if we don’t see ourselves as gifted, righteous, pure, beautiful? How can we be happy about a holy God if we persist in seeing ourselves as unholy? Rather than running ourselves down, we need to agree with God who has “raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 2:6). To believe in God is to believe also in ourselves.

— Mike Mason, Champagne for the Soul, p. 92

Photo: Bremen, Germany, December 16, 2003

It’s All About Connection.

September 17th, 2018

We communicate well with our intimate partners when we feel connected and poorly when we don’t. When you feel connected again, your desire to explore feelings with your partner will practically vanish. It’s a great combination: He’ll be able to do more of it, you’ll want less of it, and you’ll meet in the middle.

The bottom line is, think connection, not communication. Then you won’t shame him and he won’t make you afraid. Nor will he drive you away. Instead, he’ll fall back in love with you long before you walk out the door.

— Patricia Love and Steven Stosny, How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It, p. 64

[Photo: Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania, March 17, 2012]

Christ-life Inside Us

September 15th, 2018

The Christian is in a different position from other people who are trying to be good. They hope, by being good, to please God if there is one; or — if they think there is not — at least they hope to deserve approval from good men. But the Christian thinks any good he does comes from the Christ-life inside him. He does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us.

— C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, quoted in C. S. Lewis’ Book of Wisdom: Meditations on Faith, Life, Love, and Literature, compiled by Andrea Kirk Assaf & Kelly Anne Leahy, page 56.

More thoughts about this quote found on Sonderjourneys.

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, October 23, 2015

We Are Complete.

September 14th, 2018

One of the biggest barriers in romantic love is that so many people don’t love themselves enough. I repeat: if you don’t love yourself, you are not able to love another fully. So many people are looking to a romantic partner to complete themselves; but we are complete. We are all the same pure love we were as a baby, but the problem is we have locked away so much of it inside us. We feel this absence of self-love in our lives but instead of unlocking it — and only we can do this — we seek someone special to love us to compensate for our lack of self-love.

— Lorna Byrne, Love from Heaven, p. 136

[Photo: SchloƟ Neuschwanstein, June 2, 1997]

Sharing Enjoyment

September 13th, 2018

We naturally gravitate toward what we love. The more we move toward what we love, the more we enjoy ourselves, and we begin to resonate with it. We find that what we love is also within us. This allows a giving and receiving, a sharing and joining in love, which lets us know it as ourselves. What we love, we then plant in our heart and help grow like a garden. We want to give it to everyone, so they, too, can receive and enjoy what we are receiving and enjoying. Enjoyment always wants to be shared.

— Chuck Spezzano, If It Hurts, It Isn’t Love, p. 327

[Photo: Keukenhof, Holland, April 17, 2004]

Join the Revolution!

September 11th, 2018

The message for us, then, is plain. Forget the “works contract,” with its angry, legalistic divinity. Forget the false either/or that plays different “theories of atonement” against one another. Embrace the “covenant of vocation” or, rather, be embraced by it as the Creator calls you to a genuine humanness at last, calls and equips you to bear and reflect his image. Celebrate the revolution that happened once for all when the power of love overcame the love of power. And, in the power of that same love, join in the revolution here and now.

— N. T. Wright, The Day the Revolution Began, p. 416

[Photo: Donnersbergkreis, Germany, November 8, 2003]

Give Space to the Good

September 10th, 2018

The third benefit from forgiveness emerges as we give more love and care to the important people in our lives. I know from my own experience and those of many others that hurts from the past often cause us to draw away and mistrust the very people who are trying to love us. Too often the people who suffer from our grievances are not the people who hurt us but those who care for us today.

If we rent too much space to what went wrong, where is the space to appreciate the good in our lives? If we focus our attention on past defeats, how can we give our full loving attention to our significant other, friends, or co-workers? If we remain bitter over past parenting cruelties, who suffers — our parents or our current friends and loved ones?

— Fred Luskin, Forgvie for Good, p. 73

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, October 26, 2014

Anger of Limited Duration

September 9th, 2018

Let us pause here for a moment to dwell on the significance of this fact of the limited duration of the divine anger, so clearly taught in the Old Testament. Take a few instances, “I am merciful, says the Lord, I will not keep anger for ever” (Jer 3:12). “His anger endures but a moment” (Ps 30:5), “while his mercy endures for ever” (Ps 136) — a statement repeated no less than twenty-six times in this one psalm. “He will not always chide, neither keeps he his anger for ever” (Ps 103:9). “He retains not his anger for ever, because he delights in mercy” (Mic 7:18).

But if this be true, what becomes of the popular creed? If God’s anger is temporary, how can it be endless? If it endure but a moment, how can it last for ever in even a solitary instance? I would invite our opponents fairly to face these plain and reiterated assertions: and to explain why they feel justified in teaching that God’s anger will in many cases last for ever, and that his mercy will not endure for ever.

— Thomas Allin, Christ Triumphant, p. 238

Photo: Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness, Scotland, July 11, 2003