Archive for July, 2018

Gratitude as Habit

Tuesday, July 31st, 2018

Gratitude is not only the emotional response to random experiences, but even in the darkest times of life, gratitude waits to be seen, recognized, and acted upon more thoughtfully and with a sense of purpose. Gratitude is a feeling, but it is also more than that. And it is much more than a spiritual technique to achieve peace of mind or prosperity. Gratitude is a habit of awareness that reshapes our self-understanding and the moral choices we make in the world. In short, gratitude is an ethic, a coherent set of principles and practices related to grace, gifts, and giving that can guide our lives.

— Diana Butler Bass, Gratitude, p. 60

[Photo: Silver Falls, Oregon, October 7, 2017]

Path to Healing

Monday, July 30th, 2018

As you come to see how no one can define your inner world and that verbal abuse is irrational and ridiculous, you are on the path to healing. The verbal abuser tells you what your motives, thoughts, and feelings are, as if he or she were you. How crazy is that! You are self-defining. You are not too sensitive, nor do you want to start a fight, nor are you any other negative comment you’ve been told about yourself. But even if you know that what an abuser says is nonsense, it is still a blow to your mind and consciousness.

— Patricia Evans, Victory Over Verbal Abuse, p. 6

[Photo: Cliffs of Moher, Ireland, July 2001]

Self-definition

Friday, July 27th, 2018

If you were defined in any way, you heard nonsense, irrational comments, and pretend talk.

No one can take away your freedom to define yourself. Self-definition is the gift of consciousness. The moment you think of the abusive comment, focus on this affirmation because you truly are self-defining and so you will not entertain the comment for a moment longer.

If you happen to be in the presence of someone who negatively defines you, it is okay to laugh at his or her irrational behavior.

— Patricia Evans, Victory Over Verbal Abuse, p. 98

Photo: Ross Castle, Ireland, July 2001

Good from Bad Things

Thursday, July 26th, 2018

This is a critical distinction, and one of the most important things to understand about how adversity can make you stronger. The science of post-traumatic growth doesn’t say that there is anything inherently good about suffering. Nor does it say that every traumatic event leads to growth. When any good comes from suffering, the source of that growth resides in you — your strengths, your values, and how you choose to respond to adversity. It does not belong to the trauma.

— Kelly McGonigal, The Upside of Stress, p. 201

Photo: Staffa Island, Scotland, July 13, 2003

Sacrifice to End Sacrificing

Wednesday, July 25th, 2018

So was the death of Jesus a sacrifice? yes, the death of Jesus was indeed a sacrifice. But it was a sacrifice to end sacrificing, not a sacrifice to appease an angry and retributive god. Jesus sacrificed himself to the love of God manifest in forgiveness, not to the wrath of God for the satisfaction of vengeance. It was not God who required the violent death of Jesus but human civilization. A system built upon violent power cannot tolerate the presence of one who owes it nothing. Jesus was nailed to the ultimate symbol of violent power. But Jesus’s act of forgiveness transformed the cross into a new symbol — the symbol of Christian faith, hope, and love. The sacrifice of Jesus was necessary to convince us to quit producing sacrificial victims, but it was not necessary to convince God to forgive. To forgive sinners is the nature of God. When Jesus prayed on the cross for the forgiveness of his executioners, he was not acting contrary to the nature of God; he was revealing the nature of God as forgiving love. The cross is not what God does; the cross is who God is!

— Brian Zahnd, Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God, p. 86-87

[Photo: Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness, Scotland, July 11, 2003]

Lifting People Up in Prayer

Tuesday, July 24th, 2018

Intercession is really no more than loving people in prayer. It means setting their faces before us and sitting in their presence, still and quiet, for long enough to find out who they are and what they need — in short, for long enough to love them. In prayer meetings one often hears the words, “Lord, we lift up so-and-so before You.” As a formula this can grow tiresome; nevertheless it is exactly what we are to do. In our hearts we lift up people before the Lord, setting them above ourselves, above and beyond all our personal opinions and prejudices. We lift up people to God in order to see them not with our eyes but with His. Without this divine perception, we cannot pray rightly. We cannot bless others until we see them as God created them to be, pure and blameless.

— Mike Mason, Practicing the Presence of People, p. 197-198

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, December 31, 2015

Verse for the Day – Soar on Wings Like Eagles

Monday, July 23rd, 2018

I scanned this picture from September 28, 1997 and the Eagle Show, Volerie des Aigles, at Chateau du Kitzheim in Alsace, France – and I couldn’t resist making this:

God Stoops.

Sunday, July 22nd, 2018

God stoops. From walking with Adam and Eve through the garden of Eden, to traveling with the liberated Hebrew slaves in a pillar of cloud and fire, to slipping into flesh and eating, laughing, suffering, healing, weeping, and dying among us as part of humanity, the God of Scripture stoops and stoops and stoops and stoops. At the heart of the gospel message is the story of a God who stoops to the point of death on a cross. Dignified or not, believable or not, ours is a God perpetually on bended knee, doing everything it takes to convince stubborn and petulant children that they are seen and loved. It is no more beneath God to speak to us using poetry, proverb, letters, and legend than it is for a mother to read storybooks to her daughter at bedtime. This is who God is. This is what God does.

Rachel Held Evans, Inspired, p. 11-12

[Photo: Waterside Inn, Chincoteague, Virginia, November 11, 2017]

Launching the Rescue Mission

Saturday, July 21st, 2018

What if, as we’ve suggested above, the judgment for turning from God is nothing other than turning from God? Turning away is itself the disaster that bears horrid and painful results. What if God’s response to our turning away is not to turn away also, but to launch the rescue mission that will save us from ourselves?

— Bradley Jersak, A More Christlike God, p. 272

[Photo: Burg Rheinstein, Germany, July 1997]

Opposite of Fear

Friday, July 20th, 2018

I couldn’t decide on just one:

When we pay attention to sensations in our bodies, we can feel that love is the energetic opposite of fear. Love seems to open and expand us right down to the cellular level, while fear causes us to contract and withdraw into ourselves.

— Sharon Salzberg, Real Love, p. 116

[Photos: South Riding, Virginia, July 13, 2013]