Gratitude and Love

October 8th, 2018

Today, look at who it is you love. What are you really enjoying in your love for them? Allow yourselves to feel your natural gratitude toward this person or situation. Gratitude allows you even stronger resonance with the very gift you are experiencing. Your gratitude not only opens the door to love, it increases love.

— Chuck Spezzano, If It Hurts, It Isn’t Love, p. 327

Photo: Skyline Drive, Virginia, October 1999

Not a Doormat

October 7th, 2018

Anger and hurt are appropriate responses to painful events. We must know how to say no when our boundary is crossed. We do not have to be a doormat in order to forgive; neither does forgiving mean that it is okay for people to treat us unkindly. Forgiveness is the decision to free ourselves from the personal offense and blame that have us stuck in a cycle of suffering. While anger and hurt are appropriate, they, unlike wine, do not improve with age.

— Fred Luskin, Forgive for Good, p. 74

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, November 2, 2016

All Means All

October 6th, 2018

One thing only I ask, which common fairness and honesty require, that our Lord and his evangelists and apostles may be understood to mean what they say.

Thus, we shall look at a few instances out of many. When they speak of all men, I assume them to mean all men, and not some men. When they speak of all things, I assume them to mean all things. When they speak of life and salvation as given to the world, I assume them to mean given, and not merely offered. When they speak of the destruction of death, of the devil, and of the works of the devil, I assume them to mean that these shall be destroyed and not preserved for ever in hell. When they tell us that the whole of creation suffers, but that it shall be delivered, I assume that they mean an actual deliverance of all created things. When they tell us that redemption is wider, broader, and stronger than the fall, I assume that they mean to tell us at least this, that all the evil caused by the fall shall be swept away. When they describe Christ’s empire as extending over all things and all creatures, and tell us that every tongue must join in homage to him, I assume them to mean what these words convey in their ordinary sense. If I did not, should I not be making God a liar?

–Thomas Allin, Christ Triumphant, p. 241-242

Photo: From Ferry to the Isle of Mull, Scotland, July 12, 2003

God’s Joy

October 5th, 2018

God, I guess, is more expansive than every image we think rhymes with God. How much greater is the God we have than the one we think we have. More than anything else, the truth of God seems to be about a joy that is a foreigner to disappointment and disapproval. This joy just doesn’t know what we’re talking about when we focus on the restriction of not measuring up. This joy, God’s joy, is like a bunch of women lined up in the parish hall on your birthday, wanting only to dance with you — cheek to cheek. “First things, recognizably first,” as Daniel Berrigan says. The God, who is greater than God, has only one thing on Her mind, and that is to drop, endlessly, rose petals on our heads. Behold the One who can’t take His eyes off of you.

Marinate in the vastness of that.

— Gregory Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart, p. 38-39.

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, November 4, 2016.

Consider the Possibilities

October 4th, 2018

In other words, Bible stories don’t have to mean just one thing. Despite what you may have heard from a pastor or Sunday school teacher along the way, faithful engagement with Scripture isn’t about uncovering a singular, moralistic point to every text and then sticking to it. Rather, the very nature of the biblical text invites us to consider the possibilities.

“Turn it and turn it,” the ancient rabbis said of Scripture, comparing it to a precious gem, “for everything is in it.”

— Rachel Held Evans, Inspired, p. 40

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, October 1, 2018

Improve!

October 2nd, 2018

When you inspire yourself to improve, you try to make things just a little better — 1 percent will do to start. Thanks to the powerful human inspiration to improve, you don’t necessarily have to “fix” the problem to feel better. You just have to make it a little better. If you’re feeling bad and you think about what you can do to make it a little better — you don’t even have to do it, just think of it — you’ll start feeling better. If you’re upset at your partner, and you think of how you can make yourself feel a little better — shower, take a walk, smell a flower, call a friend, watch a game, chop some firewood, read a book — you’ll start to feel better. Making things a little better frees more mental resources in the neocortex, the problem-solving part of the brain. These added mental resources allow you to make things even better, freeing up more mental resources that enable you to improve yet a little more, and so on. Even if the improvement is only in your head, it will change your emotional demeanor and that will make negotiations with your partner go much better.

— Patricia Love and Steven Stosny, How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It, p. 101

Photo: Wildeshausen, Germany, May 16, 2004

Starting with Gratitude

October 1st, 2018

Gratitude sets the intention for the day, reminding us to notice blessings and gifts as we move through the hours ahead.

— Diana Butler Bass, Gratitude, p. 78

[Photo: South Riding, Virginia, October 15, 2015]

God Is Like Jesus

September 30th, 2018

Jesus’s entire life was a demonstration of the true nature of God. As Jesus heals the sick, forgives the sinner, receives the outcast, restores the fallen, and supremely as he dies on a cross forgiving his killers, he reveals what God is like. To see Jesus is to see the Father. At last we know that God is not like the thunderbolt-hurling Zeus or any of the other angry gods in the pantheon of terrorized religious imagination. God is like Jesus, nailed to a tree, offering forgiveness. God is not a monster. God is like Jesus!

— Brian Zahnd, Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God, p. 93-94

Photo: Staffa Island, Scotland, July 13, 2003

Breaking Resentments

September 26th, 2018

When we forgive someone, we don’t pretend that the harm didn’t happen or cause us pain. We see it clearly for what it was, but we also come to see that fixating on the memory of harm generates anger and sadness. Those feelings then prevent us from savoring the love and joy available to us right now. Forgiveness is the way we break the grip that long-held resentments have on our hearts.

— Sharon Salzberg, Real Love, p. 193

Photo: Prague, July 16, 2004

Changed Hearts

September 24th, 2018

When we think about how God could bring it about that all would ultimately choose to repent and be reconciled to God, we are not limited to thinking that God will have to twist people’s arms behind their backs or beat them into submission. A foundational Christian belief is that God has the power to break into people’s hearts and lives and change them from the inside out and make them new people. God has the power to dispel our illusions and set us free from the bubbles of self-deception in which we often live. In the age to come, when we are immersed in the divine presence, surrounded by the unmediated and pure holiness and love of God, the light will shine on the ugliness of our sin and on the beauty of God’s love for us. God will not externally force anyone to do something they do not want to do. Rather, we can trust that God has the power to internally compel all people to see the truth about themselves and the truth about God in such a way that will leave them without any motivation to cling to their sin, and every motivation to throw themselves onto the mercy of God.

— Heath Bradley, Flames of Love, p. 99-100

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, October 25, 2013