Archive for March, 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

Nourished by Joy

Monday, March 18th, 2019

Learn to nourish yourself and the other person with joy. Are you able to make the other person smile? Are you able to increase her confidence and enthusiasm? If you’re not able to do these small things for her, how can you say you love her? Sometimes a kind word is enough to help someone blossom like a flower.

— Thich Nhat Hanh, How to Love, p. 43

Photo: Zweibrücken Rose Garden, Germany, June 2003

No Condemnation

Friday, March 15th, 2019

Make no mistake, Jesus didn’t die to riddle your life (or any other) with condemnation in any form. Jesus doesn’t love you to fill your heart with conditions. Jesus didn’t create heaven to lose you to the possibility of hell. For any message that declares condemnation from God or places conditions to love, falls drastically short of reflecting God and understanding Him who is Love.

— Chris Kratzer, Leatherbound Terrorism, p. 78

Photo: Lake Killarney, Ireland, July 2001

Joy Training

Monday, March 11th, 2019

Some of us periodically need to repeat the joy training, rehabilitate the part of us that naturally dims or gets injured by busyness, or just by too much bad news to bear. Adults rarely have the imagination or energy of children, but we do have one another, and nature, and old black-and-white movies, and the ultimate secret weapon, books. Books! To fling myself into a book, to be carried away to another world while being at my most grounded, on my butt or in my bed or favorite chair, is literally how I have survived being here at all. Someone else is doing the living for me, and all I have to do is let their stories, humor, knowledge, and images — some of which I’ll never forget — flow through me, even as I forget to turn off the car when I arrive at my destination.

— Anne Lamott, Almost Everything, p. 64-65

Photo: Swans over South Riding, Virginia, December 31, 2015

Saved from Sin

Saturday, March 9th, 2019

Matthew 1:21 is a prophecy spoken by an angel to Joseph about the son that would be born to Mary. The angel tells Joseph that Mary’s son will be called “Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” The name Jesus means “the Lord saves,” but what does it mean that Jesus will save His people from their sins? Very often when people read and teach this verse, they believe that the angel is telling Joseph that Jesus will be able to purchase the forgiveness of sins for people from God so that they can gain eternal life and go to heaven when they die. But this is not what the angel is saying at all.

First of all, God has always forgiven all people of all their sins, no matter what. Jesus did not have to purchase forgiveness from God. God forgives simply because God is a loving forgiver. Second, the word save does not mean “gain eternal life so you can go to heaven when you die.” It means “deliver.” Though many Christians today think that the words “save” and “salvation” refer to going to heaven when you die, there is no instance of the word being used this way in the New Testament. Salvation is not about going to heaven when you die but often has in view some sort of temporal deliverance from the difficulties of this life.

— J. D. Myers, Nothing But the Blood of Jesus, p. 57

Photo: Heidelberg, Germany, December 1996

Opportunities

Friday, March 8th, 2019

Acceptance is what allows us to realize that all experiences are opportunities to learn and grow.

— Sharon Salzberg, Real Love, p. 292

Photo:  South Riding, Virginia, March 3, 2019

Making Up Stories

Thursday, March 7th, 2019

In the absence of data, we will always make up stories. It’s how we are wired. Meaning making is in our biology, and when we’re in struggle, our default is often to come up with a story that makes sense of what’s happening and gives our brain information on how best to self-protect. And it happens a hundred times a day at work. Our organizations are littered with stories that people make up because they don’t have access to information.

— Brené Brown, Dare to Lead, p. 258

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, January 26, 2016

Optimism – Future and Past

Monday, March 4th, 2019

Joy requires optimism — optimism not only about the future but about the past. The worse our past has been, the more need we have to be optimistic about it. Forgiveness means letting go of the hope of a better past. Optimism, like forgiveness, reaches into yesterday and actually changes what we thought could never be changed. The terrible blunder we made last week suddenly becomes a blessing, a doorway into some new opportunity. Just as regret over yesterday has the power to spoil today, so joy today has the power to obliterate a lifetime of pain. Is such joy an illusion? No, it’s the truth, but it takes optimism to see this. Where there’s been much pain, the Lord will give much joy to more than make up for “the years the locusts have eaten” (Joel 2:25).

— Mike Mason, Champagne for the Soul, p. 135-136

Photo: Sembach, Germany, January 29, 2004

Find Our Joy

Saturday, March 2nd, 2019

As a church, as the Choir, we must stop at nothing to find our joy. Not in a ruthless, cutthroat way but in a way that is genuine and determined. We choose joy in all its constant delighting. After all, there is no group more practiced at fretting and worry than human beings. Delighting is a real antidote to the chronic toxic stress that folks at the edges carry.

— Gregory Boyle, Barking to the Choir, p. 158

Photo:  South Riding, Virginia, February 20, 2019

Unbounded Enthusiasm

Saturday, March 2nd, 2019

If anything, loss is not meant to ruin us or our sleep for the rest of our lives. It simply prepares us to lose better the next time, to go into life over and over again, knowing full well that this phase, too, will end so that we can take our own unbounded enthusiasm into the next part of coming to wholeness. Whatever that may be.

— Joan Chittister, Between the Dark and the Daylight, p. 105

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, February 10, 2017