Healing Shame

September 2nd, 2019

Jesus knows that we need him to help us deal with our shame and guilt. Shame does not need forgiveness, because it involves what others have done to us. We don’t need to be forgiven for being hurt, but we do need to heal. Treating shame takes honesty rather than confession. We don’t need to repent so much as we need to rediscover God’s beauty within us. God’s image is embossed on our souls. It is hard to see, under that grimy film others left behind, but shame can be cleansed. It has to be removed carefully, kindly, and often slowly. It takes time and patience and often the demonstrated love of close friends or wise counselors, but restoration is possible. Our hearts can grow this way and give us room for friendship and love to share with others.

— Tom Berlin, Reckless Love, p. 37

Photo: Zugspitze, Germany, July 17, 2000

All Grace

August 30th, 2019

Faith at its essential core is accepting that you are accepted! We cannot deeply know ourselves without also knowing the One who made us, and we cannot fully accept ourselves without accepting God’s radical acceptance of every part of us. And God’s impossible acceptance of ourselves is easier to grasp if we first recognize it in the perfect unity of the human Jesus with the divine Christ. Start with Jesus, continue with yourself, and finally expand to everything else. As John says, “From this fullness (pleroma) we have all received, grace upon grace ” (1:6), or “grace responding to grace gracefully” might be an even more accurate translation. To end in grace you must somehow start with grace, and then it is grace all the way through. Or as others have simply put it, “How you get there is where you arrive.”

— Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ, p. 29

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, August 28, 2019

Make Art

August 29th, 2019

And remember that whatever discipline you are in, whether you are a musician or a photographer, a fine artist or a cartoonist, a writer, a dancer, a designer, whatever you do, you have one thing that’s unique.

You have the ability to make art.

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

Photo: Burg Lahneck, Germany, August 22, 2004

All Are Worthy.

August 28th, 2019

Jesus feeds people. That’s what he does. And as striking as what he does is, equally revelatory is what he doesn’t do here. There’s no altar call, no spiritual gifts assessment, no membership class, no moral screening, no litmus test to verify everyone’s theology and to identify those worthy enough to earn a seat at the table. Their hunger and Jesus’ love for them alone, nothing else, make them worthy. This is a serious gut check for us.

John Pavlovitz, A Bigger Table, p. 61-62

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, August 28, 2019

Immeasurable Minds

August 26th, 2019

Loving kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity are described as unlimited states of mind because they continue to grow and they cannot be measured. The more you practice, the more you see your love growing and growing until there is no limit. The more you practice compassion, the more it grows. The more you cultivate joy, the more joy you will feel and be able to share. The more you understand, the more you love; the more you love, the more you understand. They are two sides of one reality. The mind of love and the mind of understanding are the same.

— Thich Nhat Hanh, How to Love, p. 81

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, August 25, 2019

Reckless Love

August 24th, 2019

Reckless love is different. It pushes us to cross all sorts of boundaries to help us love as God loves and commands us to love. Getting people to take a risk and do the unexpected is the kind of thing Jesus had in mind as he guided his followers to encounter surprising places and people. He has probably done something similar in your life if you have followed him for even a short length of time. Whenever we walk with Jesus, we have experiences that transform us. He takes us out of our comfort zones. Without apology or warning, he expands us, makes us afraid of what might happen, and then shows us how love is properly done. He is not content with sedentary faith.

— Tom Berlin, Reckless Love, p. 11

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, August 17, 2019

Away from Law, Into Love

August 21st, 2019

In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is providing a description of what life looks like for the person who will follow Him. Since the average Jewish person listening to Jesus attempted to allow their life to be guided by the Mosaic Law and Jewish tradition, Jesus frequently compares and contrasts His way of life with the way of life that comes from following the Law. When we approach the Sermon on the Mount with this in mind, we see that Jesus calls people away from actions of legalistic obedience to a set of laws and toward attitudes of love for all people.

The Sermon on the Mount is a call to love. It focuses on attitude, rather than activity. Following Jesus is not about going through the motions but about living in love that comes from the heart. Jesus is not adding to the law, but is showing that love is the fulfillment of the law. He shows, for example, that while the law says “Do not murder” and “Do not commit adultery,” such laws still allowed people to hate their brother or lust after women (Matt 5:21-30). In this way, it was possible to fulfill the letter of the law while completely ignoring its intent. But the person guided by love will neither hate nor lust, which fulfills both the letter and intent of the law. Jesus even goes so far as to call His followers to love their enemies (Matt 5:43-48), which is the ultimate representation of love and which no law could ever accomplish. The rest of the Sermon follows this same theme.

J. D. Myers, Nothing But the Blood of Jesus, p. 98-99

Expectations

August 19th, 2019

Expectations are resentments under construction.

— Anne Lamott, Almost Everything, p. 168

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, August 17, 2019

Party Time!

August 18th, 2019

Joy, overlooking all the good reasons for pessimism, throws a big party over one lovely flower, one bird call, one child’s smile, one earth-shattering change in a human heart.

— Mike Mason, Champagne for the Soul, p. 150

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, July 26, 2019

Standing With

August 17th, 2019

So we are encouraged to stand with the tax collector and the prostitute, the widow, orphan, and stranger, precisely because they are the judged, the scapegoated, the less-than, whose chances are taken away well before they are given. The principal cause of suffering for the leper is not an annoying, smelly, itchy skin disease but rather having to live outside the camp. So the call is to stand with them, so that the margins get erased and they are welcomed back inside. Jesus doesn’t think twice: he touches the lepers before he gets around to healing them.

— Gregory Boyle, Barking to the Choir, p. 166