Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

Moralism

Tuesday, July 28th, 2020

You know moralism has displaced your life in Christ when living faith is reduced to a system of correct behavior and moral merit badges instead of a dynamic relationship with the indwelling Holy Spirit. We don’t acquire the presence of the Holy Spirit by accumulating moral merit badges.

— Bradley Jersak, A More Christlike Way, p. 72

Photo: Burg Lahneck, Germany, August 11, 2000

Wrestling

Monday, May 11th, 2020

To read the Bible’s hardest passages is like wrestling with God, much like Jacob who wrestled through the night at the river Jabbok. You grapple to make sense of the words, you hold on, you struggle for clarity, you seek to wrest answers for all your questions. What God gives you instead of a system of answers is a blessing, a new name — a living relationship. You are forever changed by the encounter. You have seen the face of God.

— Barbara R. Rossing, The Rapture Exposed, p. 186

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, May 9, 2020

Too Busy Being Faithful

Thursday, January 23rd, 2020

Jesus was always too busy being faithful to worry about success. I’m not opposed to success; I just think we should accept it only if it is a by-product of our fidelity. If our primary concern is results, we will choose to work only with those who give us good ones.

— Gregory Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart, p. 178

Photo: Leithöfe, Germany, January 28, 1998

Am I Acting Like I Believe?

Monday, August 12th, 2019

So perhaps a better question than “Do I believe in miracles?” is “Am I acting like I do?” Am I including the people who are typically excluded? Am I feeding the hungry and caring for the sick? Am I holding the hands of the homeless and offering help to addicts? Am I working to break down religious and political barriers that marginalize ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities and people with disabilities? Am I behaving as though life is more than a meaningless, chaotic mess, that there is some order in the storm?

— Rachel Held Evans, Inspired, p. 186

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, August 3, 2019

Outgrowing the Container

Wednesday, August 7th, 2019

Jesus is telling his inquisitors and reminding us that responding to God will often push us to the boundaries of religion. It may cause tension. It may mean we outgrow the container we’ve been living in. If you feel like you don’t fit, that might be really good news. A greater faith and bigger table may well be ahead, though you may have to tap-dance through a minefield on the way. You may have to endure adversity that doesn’t feel at all worth it at the time.

— John Pavlovitz, A Bigger Table, p. 48

Photo: Eibsee, Germany, July 17, 2000

Not of Ourselves

Friday, August 2nd, 2019

I cannot pick up a New Testament and find anywhere in it the statement that it is “by faith you have been saved” or it is “by repentance you have been saved.” I find this to be a very confusing situation, as the message from many churches I have attended, and many Christians to whom I speak, is exactly that. I hear over and over again that there is something we must do to get ourselves saved. It might be faith, it might be repentance; some people even say baptism. Whatever it might be, whatever hoops you believe God demands you jump through; it is not what the Bible says. The Bible teaches us that God has gone out of the “hoop jumping” business for good.

— Peter Gray, Until They Are Found, p. 48

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, July 26, 2019

God’s Business

Sunday, July 7th, 2019

Are you, in the end, successful? Naturally, I find myself heartened by Mother Teresa’s take: “We are not called to be successful, but faithful.” This distinction is helpful for me as I barricade myself against the daily dread of setback. You need protection from the ebb and flow of three steps forward, five steps backward. You trip over disappointment and recalcitrance every day, and it all becomes a muddle. God intends it to be, I think. For once you choose to hang out with folks who carry more burden than they can bear, all bets seem to be off. Salivating for success keeps you from being faithful, keeps you from truly seeing whoever’s sitting in front of you. Embracing a strategy and an approach you can believe in is sometimes the best you can do on any given day. If you surrender your need for results and outcomes, success becomes God’s business. I find it hard enough to just be faithful.

— Gregory Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart, p. 167-168

Photo: Schloss Dhaun, Germany, July 2002

We Come in Love

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019

We come in love. I would submit that the teaching of Jesus to love God and love our neighbor is at the core and the heart of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. And we must be people who reclaim Christianity from its popular modality, from the way it is often perceived and presented, to a way of Christianity that looks something like Jesus. And Jesus said, Love God and love your neighbor, so we come in love.

That is the core of our faith. That is the heart of it. And we come, because we are Christian and the way of love calls for us to be humanitarian. It calls for us to care for those who have no one to care for them.

— Michael Curry, The Power of Love, p. 60-61

Photo: Above Spittal an der Drau, Austria, July 29, 1998

Fully Authentic

Friday, April 12th, 2019

Many people think that having someone close to you come out clouds your vision, but in reality it clarifies it. It redefines words for you. It rewrites false stories. It renovates your religion. It forces you to understand sexuality not as some detached issue but as what it is — human beings; in this case, those you know and love dearly. This is the gift relationship gives you. That proximity we get to people will always show us what we couldn’t see any other way. When you are faced with the reality of having an LGBTQ family member or close friend, it forces you to hold up your theology to see what it’s really made of. And when this happens, some of it gets confirmed, some of it gets shifted, and some of it gets blown up. I’d already done my homework. I’d studied. I’d prayed through it. I’d already reconciled so many of my feelings on gender identity and sexual orientation before this moment, so I knew without blinking that I didn’t have to choose between loving God and loving my brother — and he didn’t have to choose between being gay and being adored by God.

One of the things you learn when you walk down the path of being an ally is that people aren’t LGBTQ based on the consent you give or don’t give to them, the approval you provide or withhold. That’s not how gender identity and sexual orientation work. Your acceptance doesn’t give people permission to be anything. It simply allows them to be fully authentic in your presence and to feel loved as they are. It secures people in those places where they should feel fully secured: in their families and friendships and workplaces and churches. If you don’t think you have LGBTQ family members, coworkers, classmates, and friends right now, you may want to ask yourself if that’s because you’ve created an environment in which they would be afraid to share it even if they were. It might be that your words and manner have already told people that they’re not safe to be honest with you. As our society thankfully becomes less and less hostile to the LGBTQ community and as people begin to gradually feel safer in authenticity, more children will come out and more families will have a new reality to reckon with. Those families will continue to seek spiritually and they will continue to need and deserve to be in faith communities where they are fully welcomed. It is one of the reasons the table needs to be made bigger.

— John Pavlovitz, A Bigger Table, p. 17-18

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, April 8, 2019

Into the Arms of God

Wednesday, March 20th, 2019

Bonhoeffer notices Jesus giving these teachings about how to live a life of love. He says, if you approach them as mechanical, legalistic things, you’ll stumble. The key is not to turn the teachings of Jesus into a new law. The key, he says, is to throw yourself into the arms of God. Throw yourself into the hands of Jesus. And then, you might actually learn to love an enemy. Then you might pray for those who curse you. Then you know what it means to be blessed. The poor. The poor in spirit. That’s what makes them compassionate. That’s what makes them hunger for God’s justice. That’s how Peter walks on water. To throw yourself into the arms of Jesus . . . and hold on.

— Michael Curry, The Power of Love, p. 25-26

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, March 16, 2019