Healing and Community

The description of the Gerasene demoniac was one of someone who was completely isolated, who was out of control and alone and in pain. And if being out of control and alone and in pain was what the demon wanted, then it makes complete sense that the demon feared Jesus. Because in these healing texts, Jesus does not just cure people’s diseases and cast out their demons and then say, “Mission accomplished.” He’s always after something more than that because the healing is never fully accomplished until there is a restoration to community. People are healed of disease, and then he tells the folks just standing around watching to go get them something to eat. The widow’s son is raised from the dead and then he gives him back to his mother. And here the man healed of demons is then told to stay with his people and speak of what God has done. In the Jesus business, community is always a part of healing. Even though community is never perfect.

— Nadia Bolz-Weber, Accidental Saints, p. 88

A Lovely Light

We do not draw people to Christ by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it.

— Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water, p. 122, quoted in Madeleine L’Engle, Herself, compiled by Carole F. Chase, p. 123.

Babies are Pure Love.

All babies are pure love. They feel complete love for themselves and know they are perfect, lovable, and unique. Yet from the first months of a baby’s life I see this glow of love fade, and by the age of ten – and sometimes much younger – the glow has diminished greatly as children have locked away a significant proportion of their love in order to protect themselves, in order to stop themselves from being hurt.

— Lorna Byrne, Love from Heaven, p. 15-16

It’s Not There

The religious conservatives in Jesus’ day clearly believed in endless punishment. However, the words and phrases that both Josephus and Philo used to describe what the Pharisees and other groups at the time believed with regard to the fate of the wicked, are never found in the New Testament in connection with punishment.

Neither Jesus nor any of the other New Testament writers used the Greek terms translated as everlasting prison, eternal punishment, never-ceasing punishments, immortal punishment after death, and undying and never ending death.

Later, we’ll look specifically at what Jesus actually said about after-death punishment to show that the adjective He used really meant limited duration. And the noun denoted suffering resulting in correction.

— George W. Sarris, Heaven’s Doors: Wider Than You Ever Believed!, p. 33-34

Redemption

When God looks at sin, what he sees is what a violin maker would see if the player were to use his lovely creation as a tennis racquet. But here is the difference. In many expressions of pagan religion, the humans have to try to pacify the angry deity. But that’s not how it happens in Israel’s scriptures. The biblical promises of redemption have to do with God himself acting because of his unchanging, unshakeable love for his people.

— N. T. Wright, The Day the Revolution Began, p. 132

A Gift of Intimacy

Everyone’s heard the self-help platitude “You must love yourself before you can love anyone else.” This may sound wise, but it misses a great truth: if we want to experience true intimacy, we need to be taught to love aspects of ourselves — again and again — by the people around us. As much as most of us want to control our own destiny, the humbling truth is that sometimes the only way to learn self-love is by being loved — precisely in the parts of ourselves where we feel most unsure and tender. When we are loved in such a way, we feel freedom and relief and permission to love in a deeper way. No amount of positive self-talk can replicate this experience. It is a gift of intimacy, not of willpower. When we surround ourselves with people who honor our gifts and whose gifts we also honor, our lives blossom.

— Ken Page, Deeper Dating, p. 72-73.

Getting Out of the Blame Game

When we are in pain in the present, we often blame our bad feelings on the hurts done in the past. One of the ways we do this is to assume that people meant to hurt us. Another way is to link the cruelty in the past with our current feelings. Both of these hypotheses make it harder for us to heal. This is not to say that understanding some of the causes of our feelings and behavior is not helpful. Remember that feeling hurt does not automatically mean someone meant to hurt you. The crux of the matter is that even when we think we understand where our feelings originated, we still have to develop skills in the present in order to change for the better.

We can learn to make hypotheses that will motivate us to improve our lives and thereby heal our hurts. This is the opposite of blaming. When we blame someone for our troubles, we remain stuck in the past and extend the pain. Unfortunately, we are unaware of how much we limit our chances of healing when we blame someone else.

— Dr. Fred Luskin, Forgive for Good, p. 24.

Even Our Kids

By becoming a Christian, we say we are giving our lives to Christ. If that’s true — if we’ve given our lives to Christ — we’ve given it all. Everything.

And if that’s true, it includes — and boy, is this tough to say as a dad — it includes our very children. They’re his.

No one can take anything, or anyone, from His grip. They can take from ours, but not His.

So watch them sleep, and thank God for them, and know that they’re on loan. He loves them even more than you do. And whatever happens, He’s got the big picture; we don’t.

— Brant Hansen, Unoffendable, p. 121