Archive for the ‘Core Value’ Category

Image-Bearers

Friday, February 19th, 2021

When we are living in a spiritual community where radical hospitality, total authenticity, true diversity, and agenda-free relationships are the spiritual operating system, every question is not only manageable but welcome, because our default condition becomes hope and not fear. We don’t come burdened with shame, we don’t come fearful of expulsion, and we don’t spend our time waiting for the judgmental shoe to drop. When people come to the bigger table, they don’t need to earn acceptance — this is a given. When we gather at the table Jesus sets, none of us are misfits. By our very presence we fit, because we are full image bearers of God and beloved as we are, without alteration. The traditional Church tends to favor a clearly defined, very narrow inside and outside, and this is where many people part ways because they find their messy, gritty reality doesn’t feel compatible with such clear delineation. But when everyone is openly bringing everything, there’s real connection — when each person realizes they are not outsiders around the table.

— John Pavlovitz, A Bigger Table, p. 163-164

Photo: Alsenborn, Germany, December 2001

A Generous Lens

Monday, February 15th, 2021

Your story differs from the ones my mom and I tell, but the courage and perseverance you’ve drawn on just to survive are beautiful too. You can continue to connect with those parts of yourself that are brave and strong. That is the beauty of cowriting a new story with God: We get to choose what to cultivate and what we must learn to forgive in ourselves. I encourage you to see your story through a generous lens. Where are the nuggets of goodness for you to mine? Don’t forget these treasures.

— Aundi Kolber, Try Softer, p. 222

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, March 6, 2015

Beloved

Sunday, February 14th, 2021

The world tells you many lies about who you are, and you simply have to be realistic enough to remind yourself of this. Everytime you feel hurt, offended, or rejected, you have to dare to say to yourself: “These feelings, strong as they may be, are not telling me the truth about myself. The truth, even though I cannot feel it right now, is that I am the chosen child of God, precious in God’s eyes, called the Beloved from all eternity, and held safe in an everlasting embrace.”

— Henri Nouwen, You Are the Beloved, p. 15

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, January 2016

God’s Heart for the Poorest

Wednesday, October 21st, 2020

This identification extends to all, including those we might consider “the least” — least healthy, least wealthy, least moral, least innocent, etc. God’s heart for the poorest in every category is not an application of the gospel. It’s intrinsic to it. We don’t see Christ in the “least of these” because they’ve chosen to follow him, but because in his Incarnation, Christ identified with the plight of every man, woman and child on the planet.

— Bradley Jersak, A More Christlike Way, p. 222

Photo: Skyline Drive Overlook, October 14, 2020

Our Stories

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020

When we deny the reality of our experiences, we don’t become more of who God designed us to be, but less. There’s no way to have cohesive stories until we truly embrace all of it: the good, the hard, the bittersweet, the sad, the joyful, the lonely, and the painful. It all counts.

If we know something else to be true, it’s this: God is a curator and keeper of stories. Psalm 56:8 says, “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. you have recorded each one in your book” (NLT). God is invested in the entire arc of our humanity. He made us this way, and it’s no accident that our physiology connects with his design. Learning how to be “with” our stories — in our bodies, without becoming overwhelmed by or numbing our past experiences — is the way we will learn how to actually handle and move through the grief and anxiety that come up. It’s also the way we will learn to write new endings that are true to ourselves.

— Aundi Kolber, Try Softer, p. 16

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, September 20, 2020

No Shame

Monday, August 17th, 2020

We must learn how to recognize the positive flow and to distinguish it from the negative resistance within ourselves. It takes years, I think. If a voice comes from accusation and leads to accusation, it is quite simply the voice of the “Accuser,” which is the literal meaning of the biblical word “Satan.” Shaming, accusing, or blaming is simply not how God talks. It is how we talk. God is supremely nonviolent, and I have learned that from the saints and mystics that I have read and met and heard about. That many holy people cannot be wrong.

— Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ, p. 89

Photo: Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness, Scotland, July 11, 2003

Our Actual, Non-Ideal Selves

Thursday, August 6th, 2020

Christians should help one another to silence the voice that accuses. To celebrate a repentance — a snapping out of it, a thinking of new thoughts — which leads to possibilities we never considered. To love one another as God loves us. To love ourselves as God loves us. To remind each other of the true voice of God. And there’s only one way to do this: by being unapologetically and humbly ourselves. By not pretending. By being genuine. Real. Our actual, non-ideal selves.

— Nadia Bolz-Weber, Shameless, p. 183

Photo: near Skyline Drive, Virginia, August 6, 2009

Silencing the Voice of the Accuser

Saturday, July 18th, 2020

What God claims to love, do not deem unworthy of that love.

What God has called good, do not call anything other than good.

What God has animated with God’s own breath and endowed with a soul and God’s own image, do not treat with anything less than dignity.

When that accusing voice is on repeat in your head, know that it is not the voice of God. God’s voice is found in the warm singsong of a mother to her newborn, the one who says, “You are beloved.” God’s voice declares us clean, justified, forgiven, and new. It imparts to us a worthiness that has nothing to do with our efforts or our accomplishments or our becoming some imagined ideal.

This is the use of Christian community, as I see it. We help each other silence the Accuser. We tend each other’s wounds, show each other our scars, see and forgive each other’s shortcomings, let each other cry, make each other laugh, and are absolutely adamant about grace for everyone. We insist on freeing each other from the grip of the accusing voice, and we amplify the voice of God.

— Nadia Bolz-Weber, Shameless, p. 181-182

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, July 12, 2020

Worthy

Wednesday, July 1st, 2020

We are worthy of being loved
not because of what we do well
but because we are precious living beings.
Even if you don’t achieve
the perfection the world demands,
your existence already has value
and is worthy of love.

— Haemin Sunim, Love for Imperfect Things, p. 18

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, June 29, 2020

Beloved

Wednesday, June 24th, 2020

We must see this clearly, or we will miss the point of our life in Christ. Christ’s followers today receive the same calling and commission. If we miss this, it will have consequences. Rather than be witnesses to Christ in the way we love God, others, and ourselves, we will begin to think that Jesus came to make us nicer or a little more thoughtful, the kind of people who remember birthdays and select more personal Christmas gifts. Rather than tell others about God’s grace or offer mercy, we will believe that living a Christian life is about feeling forgiven of our sins. Rather than telling others about the habit-changing, bondage-breaking, turnaround-making power Jesus can have in our lives, we will cultivate a relationship with Christ that is so personal that we never share it with anyone else. Rather than speaking out and working for justice with those who hold position and power in our community and society, we will spend our time telling the already convinced how much better the world would be if it were not exactly as it is. Rather than offering acts of solace to those who grieve, comfort to the sick, or kindness of conversation with prisoners or returning citizens, we will simply offer thanks that we are not in such predicaments ourselves.

Jesus takes us on a journey so that he can deploy us on a mission. He offers his love to us so that we will share it with the world. He does this because he loves us. The first disciples knew they were beloved, not only because of what Jesus did for them, but because Jesus believed in them when he called them to go to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth. He knew what they could do for him. Jesus believed in them more than they believed in themselves. He saw more potential in them than they ever thought possible in their lives. He forgave them for what they were not, just as he celebrated all that they were. All of this is what is at the heart of being beloved by another. When we are beloved, we gain the confidence another has in us and make it our own. That confidence transforms how we think of ourselves. It guides the journey that, in the end, leads to who we become. Such love, once extended, is what stirs up a new sense of possibility in our lives.

This is the love God has for you, and the belief God holds in you. We must have faith that God believes in us, in our ability to love our neighbor, to treat ourselves properly in this life, and to worship the Lord with our heart, mind, soul, and strength.

— Tom Berlin, Reckless Love, p. 136-137

Photo: Rhein River from Burg Rheinstein, Germany, July 1997