Archive for the ‘Growth’ Category

God Is Not Angry at Us for Our Sin.

Thursday, February 14th, 2019

First, God is not angry at us for our sin. While sin is a serious thing, God is not concerned about sin simply because it is sin. That is, God doesn’t tell us to stay away from sin because sin offends, hurts, or angers Him. Purely from God’s perspective, sin just isn’t that big of a deal. The reason God is concerned about sin and wants all humans to stop sinning, is not because God Himself is offended or angered by sin, but because we humans are hurt and damaged by it. Sin is an issue with God, not because it hurts Him, but because it hurts us. God loves us so much, He tells us not to sin because He doesn’t want to see us get hurt by it. When God says “Don’t” what He is really saying is “Don’t hurt yourself.”

This leads to the second truth about sin to keep in mind: God does not punish us for our sin. Yes, we may get punished for sin, but this punishment is not from God. Sin carries its own punishment. In fact, the punishment that comes from sin is the pain of sin that God wants to rescue and deliver us from. God doesn’t punish us for sin; He works to rescue us from the punishment of sin. God loves us, and doesn’t want us to experience the devastating and destructive consequences of sin, and so He warns us against sin.

— J. D. Myers, Nothing But the Blood of Jesus, p. 54-55

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, February 6, 2019

Returning to the Center

Sunday, January 13th, 2019

The more you take things personally, the more you suffer. You observe it, hold it up to the light, release it, and move on. One can choose to let suffering be the elevator to a heightened place of humble loving. You adjust the knot on the red string around your wrist and find your center again.

Humility returns the center of gravity to the center. It addresses the ego clinging, which supplies oxygen to our suffering. It calls for a light grasp. For the opposite of clinging is not letting go but cherishing. This is the goal of the practice of humility. That having a “light grasp” on life prepares the way for cherishing what is right in front of us.

— Gregory Boyle, Barking to the Choir, p. 105-106

Photo:  South Riding, Virginia, January 13, 2019

Power in Love

Sunday, January 6th, 2019

There’s power in love. There’s power in love to help and heal when nothing else can. There’s power in love to lift up and liberate when nothing else will. There’s power in love to show us the way to live.

— Michael Curry, The Power of Love, p. 8

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, January 6, 2018

Praise and Blame

Sunday, December 30th, 2018

We all clamor for praise and recoil at blame. They are oddly and equally seductive. They pull us away from our center, and yet we strangely have grown dependent on blame and praise. Instead, we have to find our way to notice and return. Notice the positive sheen of praise and still refuse to cling to it. Choose to move quickly back to the center. Let the pang of this blame wash over you, abide in it, and then return immediately to your center. We want the “bliss of blamelessness,” as the Buddha would say, and yet find ourselves attaching to the praise of the crowd or the surly comment of the disgruntled. We try and gently catch ourselves when we’re about to let resentment harden into blame and let the illusion of praise define who we are.

— Gregory Boyle, Barking to the Choir, p. 104

Photo:  South Riding, Virginia, October 24, 2018

 

Taking Responsibility for Our Own Feelings

Thursday, December 27th, 2018

I want to make clear that taking responsibility for how you feel does not mean that what happened is your fault. You did not cause your parents to hurt you or your lover to cheat on you. You did not cause the car to hit you or the illness to strike you. You did not cause your boss to be grouchy nor did you cause the weather to stink on your vacation. While you did not cause these things to happen, you are responsible for how you think, behave, and feel since those experiences occurred. It is your life, and they are your reactions and emotions to manage.

Taking responsibility means first and foremost that even though we are hurt, we continue to make the effort to appreciate the good in our life. When we understand that pain is a normal part of life, we make the effort to keep our hurts in perspective. I challenge the common tendency to feel that our experience of hurt is more real than our ability to feel good. I challenge the tendency to assert that painful experiences are somehow deeper than rapture over the beauty of a sunset or the love we feel for our children.

Many of us are renting more space to rehashing our grievances than focusing on gratitude, love, or appreciation of nature. My central message here is when you bring more positive experiences into your life, your hurts will diminish in importance. In fact, this is the first step to taking responsibility for how you feel and beginning to forgive. If I rent out more and more space in my mind to appreciating my children or the loveliness of a rainy day, there is as a result less space and time for dwelling on the hurts.

— Dr. Fred Luskin, Forgive for Good, p. 111-112

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, March 21, 2018

Unwanted Help

Wednesday, December 12th, 2018

The harm is in the unwanted help or helping them when they need to figure things out for themselves. Help is the sunny side of control.

— Anne Lamott, Almost Everything, p. 45

Motivation to Forgive

Sunday, December 9th, 2018

The good news is that we are more ready to forgive than we think. Our major obstacles are not the offenses themselves but the lack of tools with which to work. We only imagine it is the nature of the offense that is unforgivable. However, if any of us look around we will find people who have forgiven the very same offense. Remember, I have worked with people who made significant progress to forgive unprovoked violence. No offense is unforgivable to everyone. If you look you can always find someone who has forgiven in a similar situation.

When you put yourself into one or both of the scenarios above you will see that the hesitancy to forgive is principally a question of motivation. We feel unmotivated because lacking such compelling reasons as wealth or death we do not know how good we will feel when we have forgiven. We wonder if it will be worth the effort. Because we lack the tools to forgive, the effort can feel overwhelming. This book gives you the tools to forgive. You still have to make the effort.

The motivation to use the techniques is primarily to regain the power you give the past to ruin your present. Often we forget that forgiveness is for us and not the offender. Forgiveness in no way condones cruelty or unkind treatment. Forgiveness gives us back peace of mind.

— Fred Luskin, Forgive for Good, p. 107-108

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, December 7, 2014

Changing Course

Monday, November 26th, 2018

There is no force in the world better able to alter anything from its course than love. Ruskin’s comment that you can get someone to remove his coat more surely with a warm, gentle sun than with a cold, blistering wind is particularly apt. Meeting the world with a loving heart will determine what we find there. We mistakenly place our trust, too often, in the righteousness of our wind, though we rarely get evidence that this ever transforms anything.

— Gregory Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart, p. 124

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, September 21, 2014

Empowered by Gratitude

Wednesday, November 21st, 2018

Gratitude empowers us. It makes joy and love possible. It rearranges the way we see and experience what is all around us. Gratitude makes all things new. It transforms how we understand what is broken and gives us the ability to act more joyfully and with hope. That is why gratitude is central to all the world’s religions. As a practice, it embodies the wisdom of humanity’s greatest spiritual teachers: the love of neighbor. Gratitude takes us from abstract belief to living compassion in the world. Gratitude is strongest, clearest, most robust, and radical when things are really hard. Really hard. All-is-lost hard.

— Diana Butler Bass, Gratitude, p. 186-187

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, January 29, 2016

A Bigger God

Saturday, November 10th, 2018

God leans into us so that we will let go of the image of God as unreasonable parent, exacting teacher, or ruthless coach. God is not who we think God is. Our search for God is not a scavenger hunt; God is everywhere and in everything. Our sense of God always beckons us to grow, to reimagine something wildly more breathtaking than where our imagination generally takes us. We are nudged toward an increasingly wider view and image of God from our child consciousness to an adult consciousness. God leans into us so that we can find our way to this inner absorption of God. With any luck and some attention, we will keep landing on a better God, finally having grown comfortable in God’s tenderness.

— Gregory Boyle, Barking to the Choir, p. 15-16

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, November 10, 2018