Archive for March, 2019

Until It Is Found

Saturday, March 30th, 2019

Here in Luke, we are presented with a vision of the Good Shepherd who searches without ceasing. Normal search and rescue operations only last a certain time; eventually they are called off, even if not everyone has been found. But there is nothing normal about the rescue mission of the Good Shepherd, for he does not know how to give up. He knows nothing of cutting his losses, for if He did, He would surely never have searched in the first instance. After all, ninety nine out of one hundred is a pretty good standard, don’t you think? Ninety nine percent might be good in our books, but it is not good enough for God. Nothing short of one hundred percent will satisfy the Good Shepherd.

Look at what Jesus says in verse 4, “Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?” Notice that word ‘until.’ It is there deliberately. It is not by accident that Jesus does not say, “in an attempt to find it.” Jesus says that the shepherd will search until it is found, hence the title of this book. This story says nothing about not finding the lost sheep; no hint of failure is given. That there may be a sheep belonging to Him that He will never find, is a conclusion that this story precludes us from believing. Praise God!

It is Jesus who is the Good Shepherd, and the success of the search and rescue operation depends upon His skill. He sees so clearly, and intervenes so effectually, that He will most assuredly bring them in. Jesus Christ will not lose one of His sheep. True, some sheep may wander in the wilderness for a time, but to be forever lost? Never! A thought that He cannot bear. Could the Christ fail to save even one of those for whom He came and for whom He died? Impossible! Such a thought He could not endure. A defeated Christ is a Christ whom I cannot conceive of.

— Peter Gray, Until They Are Found, p. 23-24

Photo: Leithöfe, Germany, April 17, 1997

No Satisfaction Needed

Thursday, March 28th, 2019

All four gospels depict how in his teaching and practice Jesus revealed a different, non-feudal picture of the way God deals with sin. Think of the parables of the shepherd going after his lost sheep and the woman searching for her lost coin, both rejoicing with their neighbors when they find the one who has strayed, no satisfaction needed. Remember the parable of the forgiving father who runs out to embrace the returning prodigal son, throwing a party to welcome him back, no payback required. Recall the paralytic who, after Jesus assured him that his sins were forgiven, took up his pallet and walked away, no atonement given. Call up the story of the Pharisee and the publican in the temple; when the publican prays, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner,” he goes home justified, nothing more required. Keep in mind Luke’s depiction of Jesus himself, forgiving his executioners as his life ebbed away, no satisfaction needed.

— Elizabeth A. Johnson, Creation and the Cross, p. 6

Photo: Iona, Scotland, July 13, 2003

Positive Intention

Wednesday, March 27th, 2019

Positive intention is a central concept in my forgiveness process, and I will teach you to find your positive intention. Positive intention is an unparalleled way to reconnect with your big dreams. Positive intention also helps us to resist depression when a small dream is stifled. It reminds us of our deepest hopes and allows us to mourn our losses.

I have a hypothesis that one of the things we find most difficult about hurts is how we lose sight of our positive intention. When someone is hurt they focus their attention on their pain. They create grievance stories and tell them to others. By doing this, we lose sight of the big picture and of the goals we have for our life. I see time and again that when hurt people reconnect with their noblest goals they gain an immediate burst of power. Finding your positive intention reconnects you with your goals. The sad truth is, your grievances separated you from your most positive goals through your excessive focus on what went wrong.

Connecting to your positive intention is the quickest and most direct way to change your grievance story.

— Fred Luskin, Forgive for Goodp. 141-142

Photo: Centreville, Virginia, April 12, 2013

God’s Joy

Tuesday, March 26th, 2019

You want to be there when the poetry happens. Isaiah has God say: “Be glad forever and rejoice in what I create . . . for I create my people to be a delight.” God thinking we’d enjoy ourselves. Delighting is what occupies God, and God’s hope is that we join in. That God’s joy may be in us and this joy may be complete. We just happen to be God’s joy. That takes some getting used to.

— Gregory Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart, p. 158

Photo: Oregon Coast, August 6, 2014

Storytelling Creatures

Monday, March 25th, 2019

Jesus invites us into a story that is bigger than ourselves, bigger than our culture, bigger even than our imaginations, and yet we get to tell that story with the scandalous particularity of our particular moment and place in time. We are storytelling creatures because we are fashioned in the image of a storytelling God. May we never neglect the gift of that. May we never lose our love for telling the tale.

— Rachel Held Evans, Inspired, p. 164

Photo: Kanturk Castle, Ireland, July 2001

Libraries

Friday, March 22nd, 2019

Libraries are about freedom.

Freedom to read, freedom of ideas, freedom of communication.

They are about education, about entertainment, about making safe spaces and about access to information.

— Neil Gaiman, Art Matters, “Why Our Future Depends on Libraries, Reading and Daydreaming”

Photo: Herndon Fortnightly Library, Herndon, Virginia, February 12, 2010

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