Getting Out of the Blame Game

January 19th, 2018

When we are in pain in the present, we often blame our bad feelings on the hurts done in the past. One of the ways we do this is to assume that people meant to hurt us. Another way is to link the cruelty in the past with our current feelings. Both of these hypotheses make it harder for us to heal. This is not to say that understanding some of the causes of our feelings and behavior is not helpful. Remember that feeling hurt does not automatically mean someone meant to hurt you. The crux of the matter is that even when we think we understand where our feelings originated, we still have to develop skills in the present in order to change for the better.

We can learn to make hypotheses that will motivate us to improve our lives and thereby heal our hurts. This is the opposite of blaming. When we blame someone for our troubles, we remain stuck in the past and extend the pain. Unfortunately, we are unaware of how much we limit our chances of healing when we blame someone else.

— Dr. Fred Luskin, Forgive for Good, p. 24.

Even Our Kids

January 18th, 2018

By becoming a Christian, we say we are giving our lives to Christ. If that’s true — if we’ve given our lives to Christ — we’ve given it all. Everything.

And if that’s true, it includes — and boy, is this tough to say as a dad — it includes our very children. They’re his.

No one can take anything, or anyone, from His grip. They can take from ours, but not His.

So watch them sleep, and thank God for them, and know that they’re on loan. He loves them even more than you do. And whatever happens, He’s got the big picture; we don’t.

— Brant Hansen, Unoffendable, p. 121

Universal

January 16th, 2018

While sin is universal, and sorrow and pain universal, shall not our hope be universal too? Shall not life be as universal as death, and salvation as universal as sin? Can we even think of a divine life and a divine love as other than in their very essence universal?

— Thomas Allin, Christ Triumphant, p. 14

The Bible Is Not God.

January 15th, 2018

The Bible is not God. The Bible is simply the cradle that holds Christ. Anything in the Bible that does not hold up to the Gospel of Jesus Christ simply does not have the same authority.

— Nadia Bolz-Weber, Pastrix, p. 49.

Following Jesus

January 14th, 2018

There is a part of Jesus we can’t know by reading books about him, can’t know by listening to sermons on him. There is a part of him we can’t know by going to Church, to Bible college, to seminary. There is a part of him we can only know by following him. The way Peter followed him. And James. And John. And the rest of the original Twelve.

— Tim Timmons, Simply Enough!, p. 226

The Eternally Consenting Bridegroom

January 13th, 2018

Because God, by nature, is the eternally consenting Bridegroom, there are two things he cannot and will not do:

He will not ever make you marry his Son, because an irresistible grace would violate your consent. Your part will always and forever be by consent.

His consent will never end, because a violent ultimatum would violate your consent. Divine love will always and forever be by consent. Emphasis on forever. “His mercy endures forever” (Psalm 136). “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness” (Jer. 31:3).

I don’t believe the divine courtship involves wearing you down with his love until you give up. It’s simply that he’ll always love you, with a love that even outlasts and overcomes death (Song of Solomon 8). The Bible at least hints (Rev. 21-22) that the prodigal Father will wait for you, invite you and keep the doors open for you until you’re ready to come home. He’ll wait for you forever.”

— Bradley Jersak, A More Christlike God, p. 126-127.

Faithful Questioning

January 12th, 2018

Questions, then, are not a sign of a lack of faith. Questions are what help us to preserve a sense of the bigness of God. In questioning our ideas about God, however traditionally grounded they may be, we are actually showing a great deal of reverence for God because in doing so we implicitly confess that God is bigger than our ideas about God. God cannot be contained in graven images, whether those are made of wood or ideas. There is a sacredness to asking questions, because the act of questioning is rooted in the deeper conviction that we are only human and all of our knowledge of God is always partial, provisional, and perspectival. This doesn’t mean that we can’t know anything about God. It just means that our knowledge is never full or complete, it is always open to revision, and it is always coming from a certain angle.

— Heath Bradley, Flames of Love, p. 7-8

Theology of Happiness

January 10th, 2018

I’m convinced that the main obstacle to happiness is lack of faith. People are unhappy because they don’t believe in happiness. They believe in same-old-same-old. To undertake my experiment in joy, I had to change beliefs. From a stick-in-the-mud theology of sadness I had to switch to a theology of happiness.

For years I believed it was a good thing to be sad. Sadness was compassionate, pragmatic, often the most realistic response to life’s complexities. What a surprise to discover that a lingering, low-grade melancholy was actually my last line of defense against the love of God. Moodiness was how I got back at God for everything that had ever gone wrong in my life. Atheists get back at God by not believing in Him, but that option was closed to me. I couldn’t help believing in God; the evidence was too compelling. I knew the world was filled with wonders, that life was precious beyond words, that I was surrounded by signs and messages of the power and love of my Creator. In view of all this, how could I justify clinging to my self-centered moodiness?

The answer was simple: Believe in sadness. Believe that a certain degree of melancholy is inevitable in this world. Believe that joy is brief and unsustainable, the rare exception rather than the rule. A capricious blessing, not a commandment.

Are you unhappy today? Ask yourself what you believe. What is your excuse for believing you cannot live this day in joy? No one can be happy without believing that happiness is good, right, appropriate, and allowed. If we believe joy is in short supply and must be carefully rationed, we will not rejoice. The lavish abundance of God’s kingdom isn’t obvious to the naked eye; it can be enjoyed only by those who believe, with a faith intense enough to lead to action.

— Mike Mason, Champagne for the Soul, p. 53-54.

Focus on What You’re For

January 9th, 2018

Beware of forming bonds with individuals or groups because you dislike the same people or resent the same things. The trick, once again, is to focus on what you are for rather than what you’re against. Say that an organization against domestic violence keeps its focus on everything that it devalues. Its members motivate themselves with anger and resentment, which they inevitably turn on one another. Such places are notorious for complaints, infighting, backstabbing, and sabotage; they are unpleasant places to work. Advocacy groups motivated by resentment tend to multiply like rabbits without increasing their membership. Disagreements within the groups splinter them into smaller and smaller units, competing with each other for media attention and community resources. The message of the cause becomes secondary to the competition for advancing it. But an organization for something — like safe, respectful relationships — keeps the focus on everything it values. Its members are motivated by passion for what is right — what they stand for — rather than resentment about what is wrong. Such organizations enjoy more cohesion and cooperation, and are simply more pleasant places to work. Bond over what you stand for, not what you’re against. The latter inevitably leads to resentment and aggression, which you’ll automatically transmit to others via the Web of Emotion.

— Steven Stosny, Soar Above, p. 174-175.

Our Greatest Joy

January 7th, 2018

Relationship is the true proving ground for spirituality. Ultimately, joy is not something to learn, it is something to live. And our greatest joy is lived in deep, loving, and generous relationships with others.

— Douglas Abrams, The Book of Joy, p. 348