Archive for July, 2020

Practicing Happiness

Friday, July 31st, 2020

Before you lay your head on your pillow and go to sleep,
recall just three things you were thankful for today.
If you continue to do this for two months,
you will see an increase in your level of happiness,
because instead of focusing on what is wrong with your life,
you will develop a habit of looking for what is good.
A happy mind-set needs practice.

— Haemin Sunim, Love for Imperfect Things, p. 66

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, July 2, 2020

Moralism

Tuesday, July 28th, 2020

You know moralism has displaced your life in Christ when living faith is reduced to a system of correct behavior and moral merit badges instead of a dynamic relationship with the indwelling Holy Spirit. We don’t acquire the presence of the Holy Spirit by accumulating moral merit badges.

— Bradley Jersak, A More Christlike Way, p. 72

Photo: Burg Lahneck, Germany, August 11, 2000

The Eyes of Christ

Saturday, July 25th, 2020

Other followers of Jesus see something different when they look at the mess in front of them. They see pain. They see need. They see longing. They see an opportunity to bring restoration here and now. They are focused as much on this world as they are on the next. These, I’ll contend, are the eyes of Christ, and these are the eyes of those who would build the bigger table. We are learning to see differently than we once did.

— John Pavlovitz, A Bigger Table, p. 124

Photo: SchloƟ Dhaun, Germany, July 2002

Forgiving Even This

Friday, July 24th, 2020

God allowed us to sacrifice Jesus to expose to us the shocking truth that it is we who want sacrifices; not God.

Paul’s overall point is that God has never violently lashed out in the past when we humans committed sin. Instead, God has always overlooked and forgiven such sins simply because that is what a forgiving and righteous God does. So also, in the present time, God forgave and overlooked the greatest sin of all, the sin of murdering Jesus. Yes, it was necessary for Jesus to face a violent death on the cross, but this was so that Jesus would be the perfect revelation of God’s righteous forgiveness. The fact that God forgives humanity for the terrible sin of killing Jesus proves that God always forgives. In this way, God is proven to be both just and the justifier of those who believe in Jesus.

The reason Paul makes this argument is because many people in his day (as in ours) believed that God was a God of vengeance and retaliation. But God’s revelation in Jesus Christ showed that He is not violent or vengeful. Instead, He is forgiving and righteous. To prove this, God let us kill His own Son, Jesus, in His name, as a “scapegoat sacrifice” (thinking that by killing Him, we were propitiating God and appeasing His wrath toward sinners), and then instead of revenge or retaliation He offers forgiveness. If God was really as we thought Him to be, then He would have destroyed humanity in anger and violence for wrongfully accusing and killing His own Son. But God did not do this. Instead, He simply forgave. Why? Because this is how God always behaves toward sin. He is righteous, and His righteousness is demonstrated through His free forgiveness of the worst of human sin. This is Paul’s point in Romans 3:20-26.

— J. D. Myers, Nothing But the Blood of Jesus, p. 239-240

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, July 19, 2020

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

Transformation Through Suffering

Friday, July 10th, 2020

The supreme irony of life is that this voice of Christ works through — and alongside of — what always seems like unwholeness and untruth! God insists on incorporating the seeming negative. There is no doubt that God allows suffering. In fact, God seems to send us on the path toward our own wholeness not by eliminating the obstacles, but by making use of them. Most of the novels, operas, and poems ever written seem to have this same message in one way or another, yet it still comes as a shock and a disappointment when we experience it in our own little lives. But apart from love and suffering, both of which are always underserved, I see no other way that humans would recalibrate, reset, or change course. Why would we?

— Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ, p. 83-84

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, July 10, 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