Archive for March, 2018

Transcending Revenge

Friday, March 30th, 2018

While many Christians from the traditional view would say that the holiness of God consists primarily in moral purity and revulsion against sinners, the prophet Hosea defines God’s holiness in terms of God’s unrelenting mercy towards sinners. The Lord says through the prophet, “My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender. I will not execute my fierce anger; I will not again destroy Ephraim; for I am God and no mortal, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath” (Hos 11:8-9). It is highly significant that the reason God gives for his compassion and refusal to come in wrath is precisely because he is “the Holy One” who is far different from mere mortals. Far from God’s holiness requiring that God punish people eternally, Hosea affirms that God’s holiness is actually what compels God to refrain from wrath and to have mercy. What makes God holy, or different from human beings, is that God has the capacity to transcend revenge and offer mercy.

Similarly, Jesus defined God’s holy perfection, not in terms of vengeful and retributive justice against sinners, but in terms of all-inclusive compassion and love. It is often overlooked that when Jesus tells his followers to be “perfect” as God is perfect, this statement comes right on the heels of Jesus’s command for his followers to love enemies because this is what God does.

— Heath Bradley, Flames of Love, p. 18

[Photo: Oregon Coast, November 10, 2015]

Making Them Sparkle

Friday, March 30th, 2018

Verse for the day:

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

The Power of Story

Thursday, March 29th, 2018

But it’s the stories that have always drawn me. When I was a child (as now) there were stories I found difficult, such as that of the workers in the vineyard, where those who had worked only an hour were paid as much as those who had worked all day in the heat of the sun. It wasn’t fair! Like most children, I wanted things to be fair, even though life had already taught me that unfairness abounds. I think many of us still feel like the child stamping and crying out, “It’s not fair!” Those who have worked all day long should certainly be paid more than those who came in at the last minute! But Jesus is constantly trying to make us understand that God’s ways are not our ways, and that God’s love is far less selective and far greater than ours. “Is thine eye evil because I am good?” God asks in Matthew’s Gospel after he has finished paying all the workers the same wage. When God blesses those we deem unworthy, does our jealousy make our eye become evil? Are we, like the elder brother, like Jonah, upset at God’s forgiveness? Daily I need a deep and penitent awareness of how much greater God’s love is than my own.

— Madeleine L’Engle, The Rock That Is Higher, p. 128, quoted in Madeleine L’Engle, Herself, compiled by Carole F. Chase, p. 133

[Photo: Burnside Gardens, Virginia, April 22, 2016]

The Positive Cycle of Prayer and Love

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018

There is such a positive cycle between prayer and releasing love. When we pray we are asking for ourselves, or for someone else, or we are giving thanks; we are thinking loving thoughts of ourselves and others and, in doing so, we are releasing more love. The more love we release the purer our prayer becomes because we are able to pray with more compassion, and so our prayer becomes more authentic.

— Lorna Byrne, Love from Heaven, p. 25

[Photo: South Riding, Virginia, November 6, 2016]

Walking in the Garden

Tuesday, March 27th, 2018

Stop complaining about the flower that died. You are walking in the garden. Just raise your perspective, and see how much beauty and fragrance is all around you.

— Chuck Spezzano, If It Hurts, It Isn’t Love, p. 289

[Photo: Keukenhof, Holland, April 1999]

Contentment

Sunday, March 25th, 2018

Verse for the day:

In Accordance With the Bible

Sunday, March 25th, 2018

The goal, over against the Platonizing distortions, is the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham to give the worldwide inheritance (see Rom. 4:13) to his entire single family. The problem is not the general problem of human sin or indeed of the death that it incurs. The problem is that God made promises not only to Abraham but through Abraham to the world, and if the promise-bearing people fall under the Deuteronomic curse, as Deuteronomy itself insists that they will, the promises cannot get out to the wider world. The means is then that Jesus, as Israel’s Messiah, bears Israel’s curse in order to undo the consequences of sin and “exile” and so to break the power of the “present evil age” once and for all. When sins are forgiven, the “powers” are robbed of their power. Once we understand how the biblical narrative actually works, so as to see the full force of saying that “the Messiah died for our sins in accordance with the Bible,” the admittedly complex passage can be seen to be fully coherent.

— N. T. Wright, The Day the Revolution Began, p. 241

[Photo: Sunset from Chincoteague, Virginia, October 22, 2016]

A Community of Loved Ones

Saturday, March 24th, 2018

You may think that a community of loved ones can come later; that what you really need is a partner. If you think this way, chances are good that you are sabotaging your search for love. If you seek romantic love but are not building love into your relationships with friends and family, chances are good that you won’t find what you’re looking for….

Our characters are like wax. Left alone in the cold commerce of day-to-day life, we harden into whatever shape our environment creates for us. Wax must be warmed to be reshaped. We are warmed when we are in the Gift Zone. When we are in the presence of people with whom we feel safe, we are also warmed. We begin to soften. We find ourselves becoming malleable and trusting as we open these tender parts of ourselves again. At that time we need the kind and supportive hands of others to help us reshape ourselves. We can’t do it alone.

— Ken Page, Deeper Dating, p. 74.

[Photo: Bluebell Trail, Bull Run Regional Park, Virginia, April 8, 2016.]

Whatever!

Friday, March 23rd, 2018

Verse for the day:

[Photo: Leithöfe, Germany, April 1997]

Unlocking the Door

Friday, March 23rd, 2018

It is difficult to release hurt when people have been cruel. I have seen repeatedly that forgiveness grants that ability. Forgiveness allows us to reclaim our power from the people who continue to hurt us through our use of blame and personal offense. Staying tied to people who were unkind by taking things too personally is the first step in a process by which we intensify the grievance that began when we did not get what we wanted. Blame is the second step. Forgiveness is the key to unlocking the door to let you out.

— Dr. Fred Luskin, Forgive for Good, p. 31-32

[Photo: Burg Rheinfels, Germany, April 4, 1997]