Archive for September, 2008

Walking Away

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

Walking away doesn’t mean agreeing with your adversary.  On the contrary, it means nothing more than that you have made the choice to disengage.  These days, I actually relish every opportunity to let a situation pass me by that would have engaged my ire in the past.  I feel empowered every time I make this choice.

— Karen Casey, Change Your Mind and Your Life Will Follow, p. 18

Unwise Trust

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

No one has felt hurt due to compassion, although many people have been harmed by unwise trust.  Compassion makes us less likely to trust unwisely, as it provides deeper understanding of the danger presented by those unable to regulate core hurts.

— Steven Stosny, Manual of the Core Value Workshop, p. 36

Fairy Tales

Sunday, September 14th, 2008

Fairy tales awaken the inner child in us all, and that child is sorely needed in the middle years, when men and women are weighed down with responsibilities and endless chores.  This is the promise of the stories.  To every man or woman, pausing perplexed in the middle of life, magic and wisdom wait in unexpected places.

— Allan B. Chinen, Once Upon a Midlife, p. 21

Coming Clean

Friday, September 12th, 2008

The people do not earn their place in God’s covenant by obedience; rather, their obedience enables them to experience life with God.  The sacrificial system is given not because God is keeping some divine bank account of blood money, which needs regular deposits to ward off divine judgment.  Rather, it provides a way for the people to “come clean” whenever they break the covenant by disobeying God.  Instead of punitive reprisal, they experience gracious restoration of the relationship.  This is why the Law becomes such a source of joy, as we see in their celebrations and in the praise of the psalmists in the prayer book of the people.

— Richard J. Foster, Life with God, p. 88-89

Forgiveness Mirrors God.

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

Yet even when offenders are unrepentant, we can and should forgive.  There are better ways to protect ourselves than the refusal to forgive.  And when it comes to reminding offenders that they’ve committed the offense, we do that precisely by forgiving.  Recall that to forgive is to blame.  We do condemn when we forgive.  We do it gently and lovingly, but we still do it.

There’s no question that it is more difficult to forgive when offenders refuse to repent.  Their lack of repentance is, in a sense, a continuation of their offense in a different form.  But the forgiveness is unconditional….  It’s predicated on nothing perpetrators do or fail to do.  Forgiveness is not a reaction to something else.  It is the beginning of something new….

Forgiving the unrepentant is not an optional extra in the Christian way of life; it’s the heart of the thing.  Why?  Because God is such a forgiver and Christ forgave in such a way.  And you know what?  We also bear the burden of forgiveness because when we are forgivers we are restored to our full human splendor.  We were created to mirror God.  Anything less is really Judas’ kiss on our own cheek, a betrayal of ourselves by ourselves.

— Miroslav Volf, Free of Charge, p. 208-209

Blessing

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

There is a quiet light that shines in every heart.  It draws no attention to itself, though it is always secretly there.  It is what illuminates our minds to see beauty, our desire to seek possibility, and our hearts to love life.  Without this subtle quickening our days would be empty and wearisome, and no horizon would ever awaken our longing.  Our passion for life is quietly sustained from somewhere in us that is wedded to the energy and excitement of life.  This shy inner light is what enables us to recognize and receive our very presence here as blessing.  We enter the world as strangers who all at once become heirs to a harvest of memory, spirit, and dream that has long preceded us and will now enfold, nourish, and sustain us.  The gift of the world is our first blessing….

May we all receive blessing upon blessing.  And may we realize our power to bless, heal, and renew one another.

— John O’Donohue, To Bless the Space Between Us, p. xiii, xvi

Change

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

Happy women know that with each phase of life, they give up something, but they also get something in return.

— Dan Baker, PhD, and Cathy Greenberg, PhD, What Happy Women Know, p. 236

Perspective

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

Perspective will come in retrospect.

We could strain for hours today for the meaning of something that may come in an instant next year.

Let it go.  We can let go of our need to figure things out, to feel in control.

Now is the time to be.  To feel.  To go through it.  To allow things to happen.  To learn.  To let whatever is being worked out in us take its course.

In hindsight, we will know.  It will become clear.  For today, being is enough.  We have been told that all things shall work out for good in our life.  We can trust that to happen, even if we cannot see the place today’s events will hold in the larger picture.

— Melody Beattie, The Language of Letting Go, p. 263

The Radical Difference Between Cynicism and Joy

Monday, September 8th, 2008

For me it is amazing to experience daily the radical difference between cynicism and joy.  Cynics seek darkness wherever they go.  They point always to approaching dangers, impure motives, and hidden schemes.  They call trust naive, care romantic, and forgiveness sentimental.  They sneer at enthusiasm, ridicule spiritual fervor, and despise charismatic behavior.  They consider themselves realists who see reality for what it truly is and who are not deceived by “escapist emotions.”  But in belittling God’s joy, their darkness only calls forth more darkness.

People who have come to know the joy of God do not deny the darkness, but they choose not to live in it.  They claim that the light that shines in the darkness can be trusted more than the darkness itself and that a little bit of light can dispel a lot of darkness.  They point each other to flashes of light here and there, and remind each other that they reveal the hidden but real presence of God.  They discover that there are people who heal each other’s wounds, forgive each other’s offenses, share their possessions, foster the spirit of community, celebrate the gifts they have received, and live in constant anticipation of the full manifestation of God’s glory.

Every moment of each day I have the chance to choose between cynicism and joy.  Every thought I have can be cynical or joyful.  Every word I speak can be cynical or joyful.  Every action can be cynical or joyful.  Increasingly I am aware of all these possible choices, and increasingly I discover that every choice for joy in turn reveals more joy and offers more reason to make life a true celebration in the house of the Father.

— Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son, p. 117-118

A Universalist Vision of the Church

Sunday, September 7th, 2008

In the church one finds people from every tribe and tongue joined in one body.  One day it will not simply be people called out from every tribe and nation who love the Lord but the totality of every tribe and nation.  Our calling is to act as a prophetic sign to the nations representing the destiny of all humanity.  When people look at the church, God wants them to see a vision of what redeemed humanity can be — what it will be. . . .  The church is called to be a reconciled humanity that in Christ has transcended all the barriers that fracture human communities.  Paul brings out the socio-ethical implications very clearly in his concern that divisions between Jew and Gentile must be transcended in Christ.  They are united in Christ.  It is a very high calling and both a major challenge and inspiration to our practices.  It is a calling rooted in the realized eschatology of the New Testament — the churches experience this reconciliation now as a sign of the fullness in the age to come, when all humanity will be summed up in Christ and reconciled to God and each other.  Sadly, we model this reconciliation in very imperfect ways in our churches, and this is both a major failure on our part and an evidence that the fullness is yet to come, even for the church….

The vision also connects with the theology and practice of worship.  The dream that inspires the universalist is one in which the whole of creation — all creatures great and small — join together in a symphony of worship to their creator.  The day when every knee will bow and every tongue will worship is what we long for.  To the universalist, the worship of the church in the present age is an eschatological act — a foretaste of the age to come.  When we meet together to worship God we are anticipating the day when all creation will love him.  So Christian worship is an act of hope and a prophetic sign on the part of those who live by the power of the coming age even in the midst of this present darkness….

Christian universalists share with non-universalists many of their motivations for gospel proclamation:  to obey Christ’s command, to save people from the coming wrath, to bring them into living fellowship with the triune God and his church.  However, Christian universalists are perhaps more likely to be additionally inspired by a more unusual reason — the vision that in proclaiming the gospel one is playing a part in God’s glorious purpose of reconciling the whole of creation (Col 1:20) and summing all things up in Christ (Eph 1:10).  Working with the Spirit in bringing about this glorious destiny is a strong motive for evangelism and mission in its broader sense also.

— Gregory MacDonald, The Evangelical Universalist, p. 167-168