Archive for January, 2019

The Gratitude Channel

Friday, January 11th, 2019

The world is full of things to appreciate and find beautiful. The challenge is to teach ourselves how to look. The forgiveness and gratitude channels remind us that even though we have been hurt, we do not have to focus our attention on that hurt. The love and beauty channels remind us that in each and every moment we have the choice to determine what we see, hear, and experience.

The one thing no one can take from us is where we place our attention. In other words, we alone control our remotes. If we have made a habit of tuning in to the grievance channel, remember that any habit can be broken.

— Fred Luskin, Forgive for Goodp. 113

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, January 9, 2019

Loving as God Does

Tuesday, January 8th, 2019

Our frightened selves want only for the gathered to like us, to agree with us, or be intimidated by us. I suppose Jesus walks into a room and loves what he finds there. Delights in it, in fact. Maybe, He makes a beeline to the outcasts and chooses, in them, to go where love has not yet arrived. His ways aren’t our ways, but they sure could be.

We have grown accustomed to think that loving as God does is hard. We think it’s about moral strain and obligation. We presume it requires a spiritual muscularity of which we are not capable, a layering of burden on top of sacrifice, with a side order of guilt. (But it was love, after all, that made the cross salvific, not the sheer torture of it.)

— Gregory Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart, p. 155

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, January 8, 2019

Tell Me a Story

Tuesday, January 8th, 2019

So when someone asks, “What is the gospel?” the best response is, “Let me tell you a story.” You might start with Abraham, Isaiah, or Luke. You might start with the Samaritan woman at the well. You might start with a story about your grandmother or a rural church camp or a dining room table surrounded by Woody’s chairs. At some point, you will get to Jesus, and Jesus will change everything.

There’s a story in Matthew’s and Mark’s gospels about a woman who anoints Jesus with a jar of costly perfume in prophetic anticipation of his impending arrest and crucifixion. When the disciples harass her for what they see as a waste of resources, Jesus defends the woman, declaring, “Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her” (Mark 14:9). His response suggests that preaching the gospel means telling stories about the life of Jesus, not simply his death and resurrection.

— Rachel Held Evans, Inspired, p. 151-152

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, January 7, 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

There Is Forgiveness

Saturday, January 5th, 2019

The lesson here is that there is no fix. There is, however, forgiveness. To forgive yourselves and others constantly is necessary. Not only is everyone screwed up, but everyone screws up.

— Anne Lamott, Almost Everything, p. 62-63

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, January 5, 2015

 

Saving the World

Saturday, January 5th, 2019

For God to resort to violence in order to save the world is not saving the world; it’s condemning the world. But John tells us, “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” God saves the world not through the impatience of violence but through the infinite patience of divine love. I understand the incredulity of unbelievers toward the idea that the world can be saved by love and without violence; it is this very incredulity that lies at the foundation of their unbelief. But it is the very inconceivability of God-saving love in Christ that Christians are to believe in most of all. If John 3:16 is to mean anything, it must mean that God gets what God wants through love, or not at all. If I believe that love never fails, it’s because I believe that God is love. To believe in the sufficiency of God’s love to save the world is not naïve optimism; it’s Christianity.

— Brian Zahnd, Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God, p. 206-207.

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, March 21, 2018

Surprises

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2019

Instead of gripping tightly to a fixed idea of how things are and how they should be, we can train our mind to hold those notions lightly and begin each day ready to explore. We do not need to face the world demanding that it prove us right. Instead, we can say to it: Surprise me. We can become excited by the possibility that if we keep our eyes open, we open our hearts to something new. To have the kind of openness that cultivates awe does not mean we have to be credulous and sentimental, but the ironic stance – to act unimpressed because we fear looking foolish – has us experiencing our own lives at a distance. If, instead, we open our hearts to real love, we allow ourselves to feel the wonder of life, which research says is vital to sustaining our connection to the world and to one another.

— Sharon Salzberg, Real Love, p. 283

Photo: January 24, 2004, Sembach, Germany

Compassion, Not Separation

Tuesday, January 1st, 2019

According to the traditionalists, God’s holiness lies in God’s right to retributively punish sin forever out of being offended by human sin. However, Jesus defined God’s holy perfection much differently. He didn’t describe God’s holiness as God’s need to restore his offended majesty, but rather he explicitly and clearly defined God’s holiness as God’s unbounded love for God’s enemies (Matt 5:43-48). Remember, it was the Pharisees who defined God’s holiness in terms of separation from sinners. The Pharisees (whose name means “separate ones”) excluded sinners from their fellowship because they believed they were imitating the way God relates to sinners. Jesus, on the other hand, welcomed sinners into fellowship with himself because he believed he was imitating the way God relates to sinners. Jesus subversively redefined God’s holiness as compassion, not separation. When thinking about the holiness of God, it is crucially important that we let Jesus define divine holiness for us, since he is the pinnacle of God’s revelation to us. “No one has ever seen God,” the apostle John writes, but Jesus “who is close to the Father’s heart has made him known” (John 1:18). God is holy, to be sure, but traditional defenders of hell rely far too much on the vision of divine holiness put forth by the Pharisees, and not enough on the way Jesus revealed the holiness of God as compassionate love.

— Heath Bradley, Flames of Love, p. 146-147

Photo: Ely Cathedral, England, April 24, 2005