Archive for March, 2020

Don’t Get Stuck on the Grievance Channel

Saturday, March 28th, 2020

Our hurt feelings are important, but we help ourselves to remember they will pass. I work with many people who struggle to trust their good feelings. They are more comfortable when their painful feelings come to visit, like annoying relatives who do not know when to leave. These people’s remote controls are stuck, and they do not know how to bring them in to the shop to be fixed. Being stuck in a cycle of pain makes it easy to forget that negative feelings are no more real than positive ones.

Love, feelings of appreciation and gratitude, and the ability to notice beauty are all real. They are important. They are deep expressions of the human experience. Unfortunately, many disappointed and hurt people develop the bad habit of focusing more on their hurts than their blessings. This keeps them stuck in a cycle of pain and the sense that lasting peace and love are out of their grasp. Even good feelings will change and pass on. Some days we see the cup as half full and some days as half empty. To have a deep and full life, we need to be able to experience all of our emotions appropriately. The problem is we cannot find the full range of human experience when our remote is stuck on the grievance channel.

— Fred Luskin, Forgive for Good, p. 170

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, March 22, 2020

The Subversive Heart of Revelation

Friday, March 27th, 2020

But Revelation pulls an amazing surprise. In place of the lion that we expect, comes a Lamb: “Then I saw between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered” (Rev 5:6). It is a complete reversal. Actually the Greek word John uses is not just “lamb,” but the diminutive form, a word like “lambkin,” “lamby,” or “little lamb” (arnion in Greek) — “Fluffy,” as Pastor Daniel Erlander calls it. The only other place this word arnion is used in the New Testament is where Jesus says he is sending his disciples out into the world “as lambs among wolves” (Luke 10:3). No other apocalypse ever pictures the divine hero as a Lamb — Revelation is unique among apocalyptic writings in this image. The depiction of Jesus as a Lamb shows him in the most vulnerable way possible, as a victim who is slaughtered but standing — that is, crucified, but risen to life.

Reminiscent of the servant-lamb of Isaiah 53, who “is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep to the shearers is silent,” the Lamb of Revelation became the victor not by militaristic power and slaughter but rather by being slaughtered. From beginning to end, Revelation’s vision of the Lamb teaches a “theology of the cross,” of God’s power made manifest in weakness, similar to Paul’s theology of the cross in First Corinthians. Lamb theology is the whole message of Revelation. Evil is defeated not by overwhelming force or violence but by the Lamb’s suffering love on the cross. The victim becomes the victor.

Lamb theology is what true victory or true nike is. For we, too, are “victors” or followers of the Lamb on whom the term nike or conquering is bestowed. This is one of the amazing features of the book. Much of Revelation can sound so violent, but we have to look at the subversive heart of the book — the redefinition of victory and “conquering” — to understand how Revelation subverts violence itself. Just like the Lamb, God’s people are called to conquer not by fighting but by remaining faithful, by testifying to God’s victory in self-giving love.

— Barbara R. Rossing, The Rapture Exposed, p. 110-111

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, March 27, 2020

It Comes Down to Love

Wednesday, March 25th, 2020

In the end, it comes down to love, and God’s love never fails for the weak or broken of heart and spirit.

— Julie Ferwerda, Raising Hell, p. 89

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, March 22, 2020

Loving Like Christ

Tuesday, March 24th, 2020

With this experience with Christ, we discover we too can love lavishly, and that love covers a multitude of sins in the world. We discover that the more we forgive others, the more love fills our hearts and crowds out old hurts and resentments. More and more sin’s power over us is repealed and the power of love is displayed. While it is sometimes unwise to drop all boundaries with someone who may hurt us again, lavish love allows us to forgive a person from a distance so that we no longer feel anger or contempt or repetitively re-experience our wound on the movie screen in our mind. Jesus’ call to forgive overcomes the injury and helps us heal. Love lavishly and we are not tempted to use words of contempt or spread unkind stories about another person. This call to constant love is not a dreamer’s verse. It is a description of what it means to follow Christ and live out the lavish love he told his disciples would be the basis and norm of their new life.

— Tom Berlin, Reckless Love, p. 60

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, March 22, 2020

Radical Solidarity

Monday, March 23rd, 2020

The point of the Christian life is not to distinguish oneself from the ungodly, but to stand in radical solidarity with everyone and everything else. This is the full, final, and intended effect of the Incarnation — symbolized by its finality in the cross, which is God’s great act of solidarity instead of judgment. Without a doubt, Jesus perfectly exemplified this seeing, and thus passed it on to the rest of history. This is how we are to imitate Christ, the good Jewish man who saw and called forth the divine in Gentiles like the Syro-Phoenician woman and the Roman centurions who followed him; in Jewish tax collectors who collaborated with the Empire; in zealots who opposed it; in sinners of all stripes; in eunuchs, pagan astrologers, and all those “outside the law.” Jesus had no trouble whatsoever with otherness. In fact, these “lost sheep” found out they were not lost to him at all, and tended to become his best followers.

— Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ, p. 33

Make Mistakes

Saturday, March 21st, 2020

Make interesting, amazing, glorious, fantastic mistakes.

Break rules.

Leave the world more interesting for your being here.

Make good art.

— Neil Gaiman, Art Matters, “Make Good Art”

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, March 19, 2020

The Biggest Table

Friday, March 20th, 2020

This should be what the Church gives people. It should give them a place. It should be the spot where all prodigals feel they’ve come home. It should be the building with the biggest table. We’ve been led to believe that the goal of equality is to somehow make differences disappear, yet in reality it is to be profoundly aware of them and to recognize them as beautiful and valuable and necessary. The virtue is not in ignoring our various distinctions but in celebrating them; not in pretending as though they don’t exist, but in believing that their existence makes us a better version of humanity as we live together in community. Yes, there is much about us that is universal: the desire to be heard and known, the need to be loved and to love, the joy of finding our place and purpose, and the need to live into these without restraint. Championing equality is to see every person as fully deserving of such things and to work so that each can pursue them with as little obstacle as possible from both without and within. Yet we also need to realize and name the ways in which equality is not a default setting in the world and to acknowledge the very real barriers many experience simply because of the color of their skin or their gender identity or their land of origin.

— John Pavlovitz, A Bigger Table, p. 92

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, March 20, 2020

Walls of Division Have Fallen

Thursday, March 19th, 2020

For Paul in particular, the marvel of Christ’s lordship is that all walls of division between persons and peoples, and finally between all creatures, have fallen, and that ultimately, when creation is restored by Christ, God will be all in all.

— David Bentley Hart, That All Shall Be Saved, p. 89

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, March 17, 2020

One of Us

Wednesday, March 18th, 2020

By His life and example, Jesus shows that there is no human mediator between God and man, and that God has not separated Himself from mankind because of our sin, but has instead become one of us, sharing in our pain and releasing us from our shame. This teaching got Jesus in a lot of trouble with the religious leaders of His day, because they (rightly) understood that what He was saying was undermining the entire sacrificial system that supported the temple and the priestly class. Strangely, many religious leaders today side with the religious leaders of Jesus’ day in saying that the religious buildings, clergy, and sacrifices are all required by God. Of course, the religious leaders who argue this today believe that they are following the teachings of Jesus, but they twist the words and actions of Jesus to make it sound like they are in agreement with Him.

— J. D. Myers, Nothing But the Blood of Jesus, p. 149-150

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, March 14, 2020

Seeking Joy

Monday, March 9th, 2020

Hebrews 12:2 states plainly the reason Jesus went to the cross: joy. He didn’t sacrifice His own happiness for the sake of some larger goal. Rather, looking through the darkness to the light beyond, He was animated by the prize of joy, knowing that pursuing this would release joy to others.

An unhappy person cannot make anyone else happy. The only way to bless others is to be joyful oneself. Seekers of joy need have no worries about becoming narrow-minded; rest assured that life’s roughness and pain will seek you out, whether you’re open to it or not. As for joy, however, if you don’t search for it with all your heart, and commit yourself to doing whatever’s necessary to attain it, you’ll miss out. No one escapes suffering, but many lives are devoid of joy.

— Mike Mason, Champagne for the Soul, p. 157-158

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, April 4, 2015