Quotable Thought!

“As the love of money is the root of evil, so then bitterness is the beginning of destruction”

Jimmy Eldridge

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Frederick Buechner on Love

“The love for equals is a human thing—of friend for friend, brother for brother. It is to love what is loving and lovely. The world smiles. The love for the less fortunate is a beautiful thing—the love for those who suffer, for those who are poor, the sick, the failures, the unlovely. This is compassion, and it touches the heart of the world. The love for the more fortunate is a rare thing—to love those who succeed where we fail, to rejoice without envy with those who rejoice, the love of the poor for the rich, of the black man for the white man. The world is always bewildered by its saints. And then there is the love for the enemy—the love for the one who does not love you but mocks, threatens, and inflicts pain. The torture’s love for the torturer. This is God’s love. It conquers the world.” (Frederick Buechner, as quoted by Francis Chan in Crazy Love, p 132)

Eugene Peterson on Prayer

From his book Practice Resurrection:

“Not all prayers are conscious. Not all prayers can be identified as prayers. Prayer is the language underlying and sometimes surfacing in all our language as we grow up in Christ. Most of us pray a good deal more than we are aware that we are praying. It’s not that prayer does not involve attentiveness and alertness to God; it’s only that it doesn’t require a learned skill. Trying harder doesn’t help.” (Practice Resurrection, p 266).

May you be blessed today as you practice resurrection.

Because he Shakes, we will not

I am sort of amazed at how two books, one I just finished and the other I am half-way through, have sort of intersected and complimented one another. The first is Eugene Peterson’s Practice Resurrection which I have written about a couple of other times and the second is Annie Dillard’s The Maytrees. These are two of my favorite writers and I rarely have anything but praise for either of them.

Anyhow, as part of my practice to create space to write each day (so that my skills and passion do not fade) I will be reviving a blog habit I started when I wrote for the blog Prophets, Priests and Poets called Thought for the Day. Today’s thought is from Dillard’s book The Maytrees. When I read this paragraph I was struck by the similarities between the way Lou (a female character in the book who has been deserted by her husband Toby) and I seem to have a kindred heart. She has been deserted by her husband Toby and is trying to come to grips with it each day, little by little. I, on the other hand, have been left out to dry by a church and have had to find ways each day to come to grips with that reality.

Here are Lou’s thoughts:

If she, Lou, had known how long her first half-inch beginning to let go would take–and how long her noticing and renouncing owning and her turning her habits, and beginning the slimmest self-mastery whose end was nowhere in sight–would she have begun? Would she have turned herself over like a row of salt hay? Tossed herself to loose her own chaff? It took her months to learn that she could get clean for more than a minute at a time. Consciously she looked out for resentment, self-cherishing, and envy. Over years she formed the habit of deflecting them before they dug in. But she lived through those years in any case, and now she lived from that steady ground she won. More distances opened as she opened. Not that town, national, and world life as it was going did not give her fits. (p 93)

The transitions we have to make in life are difficult and, sometimes, Lord only knows the beginnings and the ends and the means in between. I like the idea of tossing oneself to loose our own chaff. My wife said to me tonight “I know what God is doing to you right now.” She said it with more enthusiasm than I could have conjured up for such a statement, but she was claiming God’s wisdom so I listened as she replied to my “what’s that?” with a rather anticlimactic, “He’s smoothing out your rough edges!” I didn’t know I had any (*smile*).

I’m not strong enough to loose my own chaff so for now the Lord has taken hold this pile of wheat and tossed it in the air. A strong wind has blown away a lot of chaff, but I suspect for now there is more yet to be loosed.

*Sigh.*

So we are tossed–a salad, a ball, a small boat out on the rough sea. But a large part of the tossing, we learn in Ephesians, is that we might be able to stand firm and, thus, no longer be tossed about. He tosses us so that no one else can. Here’s where part of what Peterson wrote compliments this short passage from Peterson:

Christians who let themselves be seduced into taking promised shortcuts of instant gratification that bypass the way of the Cross eventually find that the so-called gratification turns into addictions, incapacitating them for mature relationships in household, workplace, and congregation. (Practice Resurrection, 252).

I remember praying the prayer. Indeed. If there are rough edges they prevented me from standing firm and balanced. If there are smooth edges they have nothing to do with my own strength. If there is a resurrection, there must be a death. So we wait, patiently, not-so-silently, while the Father moves. His movement is the firmness under our feet. Because he moves, we won’t. Because he shakes, we will not be shaken.

Dallas Willard on our Life and God’s Work

“God looks to those who are humble and contrite of spirit and who tremble when he speaks (Isaiah 66:2). He resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5). Remember, grace means that he is acting in their lives.

“So the humble are dependent upon God, not on themselves. They humble themselves ‘under the mighty hand of God’ (1 Peter 5:6)—that is, by depending upon God to act. They abandon outcomes entirely to him. They ‘cast all [their] anxiety on him, because he cares for [them]’ (1 Peter 5:7). The result is assurance that the mission and the ministry will be accomplished, in God’s time and in God’s way. They don’t need to be the vision, and the goals we set for them are God’s business, not ours. We do the very best we know, we work hard, and even self-sacrificially. But we do not carry the load, and our ego is not involved in any way with the mission and the ministry. In our love of Jesus and his Father, we truly have abandoned our life to him. Our life is not an object of deep concern.”

–Dallas Willard, The Great Omission, 100-101

A Great Quote

Came across this quote recently in some reading I am doing.

Enjoy:

Since faith fastens on God’s benevolence, it yields gratitude, which in turn sponsors risk-taking in the service of others. Grateful people want to let themselves go; faithful people dare to do it. People tethered by to God by faith let themselves go because they know they will get themselves back.
Grateful people overflow a little, especially with thanksgiving and passed-on kindness. But they do not therefore lack discipline. In fact, self-indulgence tends to suppress gratitude; self-discipline tends to generate it.

Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin
~pp. 35

Thought for the Day!

“Can the church stop it’s puny, hack dreams of trying to ‘make a difference in the world’ and start dreaming God-sized dreams of making the world different? Can the church invent and prevent, redeem and redream, this postmodern future?”

    Leonard Sweet (Soul Tsunami)