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Today’s Manna Morsel

From the desk of Wes Tracy, but from the minds and hearts of those smarter,
wiser, and more pious than he. Never more than a one-minute read.

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May 16, 2013

The Swan in You

“Among the books you got as a child, do you have Anderson’s Fairy Tales? If so, read the story of the ugly duckling. I believe in your swan-destiny . . . Just don’t hold it against others if they haven’t discovered this yet.”
—Edith Stein, Christian philosopher and educator, in a letter (Aug. 17, 1931) to a former student who was on academic probation. Stein was later martyred by the Nazis. Spiritus, Spring, 2013.

May 15, 2013

“When God has become our personal or group lackey, we can hate, oppress, torture, and kill others with total impunity. The religious False Self can even justify racism, slavery, war, and total denial or deception, and feel no guilt whatsoever, because ‘they think they are doing a holy duty for God’(John 16:2).”
—Richard Rohr, Immortal Diamond, 61.

May 14, 2013

“Humble heart of holiness,
kiss me with your tenderness,
Jesus, faithful friend and true,
all I am I give to you.”

—Nick and Anita Haigh, Singing the Faith, 421.

May 12, 2012

When God at first made man,
Having a glass of blessings standing by,
“Let us,” said He, “pour on him all we can.”
The poem,”The Pulley,” goes on to mention Strength, Beauty, Wisdom, Honor, Pleasure, and then the greatest of all--Rest..
—George Herbert, 17th century English clergyman and poet..

May 11, 2012

“Who can justify a man who runs himself down, or respect a man who despises himself?”
“If a man is mean to himself, to whom will he be good? He does not even enjoy what is his own. No man is meaner than the man who is mean to himself.” Ecclesiasticus 10:29,  14:5-6, JB

May 10, 2012

“The basic claim made by the Bible for the Word of God is not so much that it is to be blindly accepted because of God’s authority, but that it is recognized by its transforming and liberating power.”
Thomas Merton, cited in Square Peg, Why Wesleyans Aren’t Fundamentalists, ( ed. Al Truesdale,  Beacon Hill Press, 2012), 35

May 9, 2012

On Pentecost, They Gathered
 
That Spirit knows no limit, 
Bestowing life and power
The church formed and reforming,
Responds in every hour.
—Jane Parker Huber, “On Pentecost They Gathered,” 1981, Presbyterian Hymnal, 128.

May 8, 2012

“The Christian life consists in living close enough to God, attentive enough to God that the presence of God over time . . .  changes us, heals us, makes us whole, makes us more like God’s own self.”
—Walter Bruggeman, Collected Sermons.,67.

May 7, 2012

A Sower Went Forth to Sow

“When a man sows the seed, he must not look for quick results. . . . It takes a long, long time before an acorn becomes an oak; and it may take a long, long time before the seed germinates in the heart . . . . [Our] age looks for quick results, but in the sowing of the seed we must sow in patience and in hope, and sometimes must leave the harvest to the years.”
—William Barclay, Daily Study Bible, “Matthew” v. 2, 63

May 5, 2012

“ Do not underrate the talk of old men, after all, they themselves learned it from their fathers; from whom you will learn how to think and the art of the timely answer.” Ecclesiasticus 8:9-12, JB

May 4, 2012

O fearful saints, fresh courage take;

The clouds you so much dread

Are big with mercy and shall break

In blessings on your head.

—William Cowper, 1774, “O God in a Mysterious Way”

May 3, 2012

“Some ways in which Christians have told the gospel Story make it not worth telling. If it is told as a story about the superiority of one race, denomination, nation, or gender . . . , then it is best left locked in the closet. If it is only a story about how God exists to meet my spiritual needs or support my religious causes, or about how God can coexist peacefully with the gods of greed, conflict, and oppression, then it ought to die in obscurity.”
—Al Truesdale, With Cords of Love

May 2, 2012

I Can Explain That. . . . 
“The fundamentalist mind is a mind that likes answers and explanations so much, that it remains willfully ignorant about how history arrived at those explanations, or how self-serving they usually are. Satisfying untruth is more pleasing to us than unsatisfying truth, and full truth is invariably unsatisfying—at least to the small self.”
—— Richard Rohr, Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality, 120

May 1, 2012

“The Christian life consists in living close enough to God, attentive enough to God that the presence of God over time . . .  changes us, heals us, makes us whole, makes us more like God’s own self.”
—Walter Bruggeman, Collected Sermons, 67.

April 30, 2012

“ The ego’s highest task is to go beyond itself into service, service to what is really desired by the soul rather than the complex-ridden ego or the values of the culture.”
 ——James Hollis, Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life, 153

April 29, 2012

“There are no techniques in good conversation with God. There are no means to manipulate him, no ways to persuade him to do things our way. He is not open to input on how best to run my life.” — Larry Crabb, “The PAPA Prayer,”  Conversations.
 

April 28, 2012

Regard the “body as an animal form of divine principles, instead of a beast of burden for Time.”
 Chinese proverb, I Ching,  Sam Reifler, editor, 225

April 27, 2012

Old Is Better?
“ It is not by muscle, speed or physical dexterity, that great things are achieved, but by reflection, force of character, and judgment.  . . . . In these qualities, old age is usually not only not poorer, but even richer.”—Cicero
 
April 26, 2012
Can even a pig be beautiful?
“Everything flowers from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
 to reteach a thing its loveliness  . . . .
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely until it flowers again from within, 
of self-blessing.”
—Galway Kinnell, “St. Francis and the Sow”
 
April 23, 2012
 
“The man appreciates the progress he has made until now. The woman is in a state of peril no matter what she does.”— Chinese proverb, I Ching, Sam Reifler, editor, 54
 
April 22, 2012
 
Clattering Through
“Even as a priest, I lived madly, and did so because it was easier. I played at sainthood, clattered through life . . . . I diddled away the spiritual life, wasted the time, let it flow in and out of my hand like money.” — James A. Connor,  Silent Fire: Bringing the Spirituality of Silence into Everyday Life,  p.98.

 

April 21, 2012
Old Problem?
There is no greater hardship . . . than the necessity of listening to sermons. No one but a preaching clergyman has  . . . the power of commanding an audience to sit silent and be tormented. No one but a preaching clergyman can revel in platitudes, truisms, and untruisms and yet receive  . . . the same respectful demeanour as though words of impassioned eloquence, or persuasive logic fell from his lips. . . . . 
We desire . . . to enjoy the comfort of public worship; but we desire also that we may do so without an amount of tedium which  . . . human nature cannot endure with patience; that we may be able to leave the house of God, without that anxious longing for escape, which is the common consequence of common sermons.
—From an  1857 novel. Anthony Trollope,  Borchester Towers.
 
April 20, 2012
“Forgiveness doesn’t mean ‘I really didn’t mind,’ or ‘it didn’t really matter.’ I did mind and it did matter . . . . Nor is forgiveness the same as saying, ‘Let’s pretend it didn’t happen.’  . . . . Finally, forgiveness means that we have settled it in our minds that we shall not allow this evil to determine the sort of people we shall then become.” —N. T. Wright,  Evil and the Justice of God, 152.
 
April 19, 2012
“Too many Jewish prayers tend to be of the I-am-worm-step-on-me variety.”
—Rabbi Burton Visotzky, Sage Tales, 2011

April 18, 2012

“God’s holiness is the deepest yearning and the strongest craving that we have. We are born and created, and formed by God to want to be with God . . . . We are made for God’s holiness, and it is exactly God’s holiness that makes us human . . . . That is the truth about us.”
—Walter Bruggeman, Collected Sermons., 67.

April 17, 2012

God speaks in “ordinary things like cooking and small talk, through storytelling, making love, fishing, tending animals and sweet corn and flowers, through sports, music, books, raising kids—all the places where the gravy soaks in and the grace shines through.’
—Garrison Keillor, cited by David Meyer,  Pursuit of Happiness.

April 16, 2012

“Do not beggar yourself by banqueting on credit when there is nothing in your pocket. ” Ecclesiasticus  18:23, JB.

April 15, 2012

“If Yahweh does not build the house,
in vain the masons toil  . . . .
In vain you get up earlier,
and put off going to bed,
sweating to make a living,
since he provides for his beloved as they sleep.”
—Psalm 127: 1-2

April 14, 2012

Integrity
“If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters,”
—Alan Simpson

April 13, 2012

“Social justice gives relevance and bite to the language of Christian love. Too often our talk about love is sentimental and soft. It needs to be toughened by the hard realities of absentee landlords and prostitute rings and drug smugglers and industrial spies and political pettifoggers.”
— Richard Foster, Streams of Living Water, 178.

April 12, 2012

My grace is sufficient for you; for my power is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor. 12:9). “Only the broken can most perfectly apprehend the 
mystery and sufficiency of grace.”
—Judith Hougen, “The Community of the Broken,”  Conversations

April 11, 2012

“Death Be Not Proud”
“One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more: death, thou shalt die.”
— John Donne,  English clergyman and poet, 1572-1631, “

April 10, 2012

“One on tip-toe cannot stand.
One astride cannot walk.
One who displays himself does not shine.
One who justifies himself has no glory. 
One who boasts of his own ability has no merit.
One who parades his own success will not endure.”
—Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu,  Tao Teh Ching,  circa 180 B. C.

 

El Senor Resucito
 “If the Lord had never risen, we’d have nothing to believe; 
But His promise can be trusted, ‘You will live because I live.’
As we share the death of Adam, so in Christ we live again;
Death has lost its sting and terror, Christ the Lord has come to reign.”
—”Christo Vive” A Spanish hymn by Nicholas Martinez. Translated by Fred Kaan., The United Methodist Hymnal,  313.

April 9, 2012

April 7, 2012

O  chime of Saint Charity,
Peal soon that Easter morn
When Christ for all shall risen be
And in all hearts new-born.
— James Russell Lowell,  Godminister Chimes

April 6, 2012

“Nothing in my hand I bring
Simply to thy cross I cling.”
—Augustus Toplady, Rock of Ages

April 5, 2012

Maundy Thursday
The TOWEL AND BASIN stand alongside the CROSS.  Those who dismiss or stray from this paradigm mislead.
—John Franklin Hay, Grace Between the Lines

April 4, 2012

Gifted and Strong Leadership
I remember a group of fellows saying to their leader, “You shouldn’t be doing that.
You’re our leader, your not supposed to do that, that’s not for someone like you to do.” And he acted as though they weren’t even talking. He went right ahead with what he was doing. And He took a towel and a basin and girded himself and washed their feet. You talk about gifted and strong. Wow!
—Fred Craddock, “Handling Preferential Treatment,” Collected  Sermons, 2011, 262.

April 3, 2012

The Cross
“We have the cross on our steeples and jewelry, but not in our hearts and hands.”
—Peter Eldersveldt, Sharing His Suffering.

April 2, 2012

Easter Comes
“Be through my lips to unawakened earth
The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?”
—Percy Bysshe Shelley,  Ode to the West Win

April 1, 2012

“The fast that I choose: . . . . 
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, 
and bring the homeless poor to your house; 
when you see the naked to cover them (Isa 58:6-7)
“It is there in the text . . . plain and simple and unmistakable and it is my obligation to say it. Anyone who prattles about the Bible or the word of God that does not face this mandate is a deceiver.”
—Walter Bruggeman, Collected Sermons.,  “Neighbor Religion.”

March 31, 2012

“His [Jesus’] blood, the greatest detergent in the history of time, sufficient to wash away all your sins, was poured out for you.’
—Charles R. Swindoll, Embraced by the Spirit, 94. 

March 30, 2012

Ode to Mega-Millions
“Fill your house with gold and jade,
And it can no longer be guarded.
Set store by your riches and honour,
And you will only reap a crop of calamities.”
—Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu,  Tao Teh Ching,  circa, 180 B. C.

March 29, 2012

“Who feels sorry for a snake charmer bitten by a snake? . . .  . Just so for someone consorting with a sinner, and being accomplice to his sins.”
—Ecclesiasticus  12:13-14, JB

March 28, 2012

“Batter my heart three-personed God; for, you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.”
 
— John Donne,  English clergyman and poet, 1572-1631, 

March 27, 2012

“Go to Dark Gathsemane”
 
Go to dark Gathsemane,
All who feel the tempter’s power;
Your Redeemer’s conflict see, 
Watch with him one bitter hour
Turn not from His griefs away,
Learn from Jesus Christ to pray.”
 
—James Montgomery, 1825, Presbyterian Hymnal, 97

March 26, 2012

God Almighty, the Lord
The ruler of earth and heavens
Guard us from harm without; 
Cleanse us from evil within.”
—Venantius Honorius Fortunatas, 530—609,  The Lutheran Book of Worship

March 25, 2012

O Sacred Head, Now Wounded
What language shall I borrow
To thank Thee, dearest friend.
For this Thy dying sorrow,
Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever; 
And should I fainting be,
Lord let me never, never
Outlive my love to Thee.
—Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153), Presbyterian Hymnal, 98.
 
March 24, 2012
 ”FOLLOW YOUR BLISS”  
“Find something that wholly involves and enthralls us, even if it seems hopelessly unfashionable or unproductive, and throw ourselves into it heart and soul.”
—Karen Armstrong,The Circular Staircase,  305.

 

March 23, 2012
Contemplative Living
The contemplative life is “to live in a state of reverent awareness, and to let go of self. . . . We either contemplate or we exploit. When we contemplate we can look at a flower without wanting to pick it. . . . we can let go of greed and the compulsion to consume, . . . exploit and destroy.”
— Margaret Guenther, “Contemplative Prayer for Everyone,” Conversations.
 
March 22, 2012
Evil & Radical Forgiveness
N. T. Wright says the solution to the Problem of Evil is radical forgiveness ( modeled by God in Christ) starting in this world and culminating in the next. Radical forgiveness is hard. For example:
“”In the Middle East . . . the main protagonists embrace religions where forgiveness has never been seen as a duty, let alone a virtue, but rather as a  . . . moral weakness. . . . They believe passionately that it would be immoral, totally wrong.” pp.148-149.
 
Could Wright be right?   In Psalm 3, David gives God a list of his virtues as reasons why God should answer his prayer. He offers in evidence of his righteousness that he never “spared a man who wronged me.” Hmm?

March 21, 2012

Problem of Evil
“When  . . . God comes back to deal with evil, he will look like a young Jewish prophet journeying to Jerusalem at Passover time, celebrating the kingdom, confronting the corrupt authorities, feasting with his friends, succumbing in prayer and agony to a cruel and unjust fate, taking upon himself the weight of Israel’s sins, the world’s sin: Evil with a capital E.  . . . The cross has become for us the new temple, the place where we meet . . . the Savior and Redeemer.”
—N. T. Wright, Evil and the Justice of God, 99-100.

March 20, 2012

1.      Make affirmation real.  Your affirmation has to come from the heart to be effective.  Your people can smell it a mile away when you’re faking it.
2.      Make affirmation regular.  Don’t be stingy with your affirmation.  This isn’t something you do every now and then.  . . .  
3.     Make affirmation recognizable.  Be specific with your affirmation.  Don’t just tell someone they’re a good person.  Tell them why. . . . 
4.     Make affirmation written.  A written note means you’ve taken time to affirm.
—Bill Burch, “Thinking Out Loud” March 8, 2012

March 19, 2012

Circular as our way is,
it leads not back to that
snake haunted garden, but
onward to the tall city of glass
that is the laboratory of the spirit.”
—F. R. S. Thomas, “Shepherd,”  Conceding an Absence: Images of God Explored  1996.

March 18, 2012

Fellowship of the Undevout
“ He who is alone in his sin is utterly alone. . . . The final breakthrough to fellowship does not occur because, though they have fellowship with one another as  . . . devout people, they do not have fellowship as the undevout, as sinners. The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everybody must conceal his sin from himself and from the fellowship. We dare not be sinners.”
—Dietrich Bonhoeffer,  Life Together,  110.

March 17, 2012

“The Kingdom of God is not handed over to those . . . who spend their time looking good and constructing holiness. No, the Kingdom is given to those who are aware of  . . . their poverty and cling in desperate dependence  upon a Savior. . . . . Jesus is the only hope I have for  . . . holiness.”
—Judith Hougen, “The Community of the Broken,”  Conversations.

March 16, 2012

Holiness and Competence
“To be sure, with God’s help, we overcome areas of sin and grow in Christlikeness, but holiness is imparted to us, not created by our behavior. And as long as we cling to the myth of our own competence, we remain alone, our true selves hidden from the community and from God.”
—Judith Hougen, “The Community of the Broken,”  Conversations, Fall 2005.

March 15, 2012

“The people could smell the danger in Jesus . . . . Jesus came  . . .  as a threat of newness and deep change and massive transformation. . . .  Those with the most to lose . . . try to . . . show either that he is crazy and irrelevant, or  . . . that he is dangerous . . .   . The most threatened . . .the Sadducees. They are the big downtown priests who are cozy with the governors . . .  and bankers. . . . They are the pushers and movers who have learned to compromise and . . . get things done.”
Walter Brueggemann, “ The Threat of Life: Permitting Its Intrusion,” The Collected Sermons of Walter Brueggemann,  2011.

March 14, 2012

Reflecting on a Painting
*

 
While gazing at the painting, Washing of the Feet, by  Duccio di Buoninsegna (1255-1319), which pictures Jesus kneeling and washing feet, some questions come to mind: “As Jesus kneels before you, offering himself to you, what is your response?. . . How ready are you to . . .untie your sandals, relinquish those parts of yourself that need his cleansing?  . . . What would hold you back from having your feet washed?”
—Juliet Benner, “Taste and See,” Conversations, Fall 2005.

March 13, 2012

Interrogation
“We sometimes tie the biblical text to a chair and start flogging it with a hose until it breaks down in tears and says what we want it to say.”
—Brian D. McLaren, “A Postmodern View of Scripture.”

March 12, 2012

Ignore Failures at Your Own Risk
“Embrace your failures. Your failures denied become the accusers of the soul; your failures accepted can become your greatest strength. If you give failures too much power, they will paralyze your actions. You will do nothing for fear of failure. . . . Yet in this failure [divorce] I learned that I was capable of any sin . . . . As never before, I had a compassionate sensitivity to persons who had failed in their high intentions.”
—Ben Campbell Johnson, “”Wisdom from the Road.”

March 11, 2012

Sin & Forgiveness to Become Obsolete
At the end of time when sin is a distant and defeated memory, and forgiveness is as obsolete as buggy whips, then it shall be sung: ‘Now the dwelling place of God is with human beings . . . . They will be his people, and God himself will be  . . .their God’ ”(Rev. 21:3, NIV).
—John Ortberg, “God Is Closer Than You Think,” Conversations,  Fall, 2004, 30.

 

March 10, 2012

God’s Relentless Love
Love is the high point in the biblical unfolding of the nature of God. 
 
Charles Wesley wrote:
Pure, universal Love Thou art . . . .
Thy nature and Thy name is Love.
 
St. Augustine notes:
 God “loves each one of us as if there were only one of us to love.”
—cited by H. Ray Dunning in Grace, Faith, and Holiness.

March 9, 2012

CONSCIOUS OF THE COST.
 “The cross of Christ was not an inexplicable or chance event, which happened to strike him, like illness or accident. To accept the cross as his destiny, to move toward it and even to provoke it, when he could well have done otherwise, was Jesus’ constantly reiterated free choice; and he warns his disciples lest their embarking on the same path be less conscious of its costs.”
—John Howard Yoder, The Politics of Jesus,  cited by John Franklin Hay, Grace Between the Lines,  March 4, 2012.

March 8, 2012

Yet in the maddening maze of things
And tossed by storm and flood,
To one fixed hope my spirit clings,
I know that God is good.
—John Greenleaf Whittier, “The Eternal Goodness.”

March 7, 2012

“My son, support your father in his old age, do not grieve him during his life.
Even if his mind should fail, show him sympathy, do not despise him in your health and strength; for kindness to a father shall not be forgotten but will serve as reparation for your sins.”
Ecclesiasticus 3: 12-14 Jerusalem Bible

March 5, 2012

The Divine “IF”
“IF your heirs . . . walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart . . . .” (1 Kings 2:4),
“IF you will walk before me . . . with integrity of heart and uprightness . . . .”(1 Kings 9:4),
“IF you turn aside from following me . . . then I will cut Israel off from the land ” (1Kings, 9:6-7).
“We do not want it to be so, but we soon or late rush our heads against the wall of God’s conditionality, and it does not yield.”
—Walter Bruggeman, Collected Sermons.,  75-76

March 4, 2012

“A solitary Christian is no Christian. We come to God together, or we do not come at all.”
—Maria Harris,  Fashion Me A People.

March 3, 2012

Lenten Hymn
The glory of these forty days
We celebrate with songs of praise;
For Christ, by whom all things were made,
Himself has fasted and has prayed.
— verse one of a hymn for Lent by Gregory the Great, 540—604 A. D. The Presbyterian Hymnal, 87.

March 2, 2012

“T. S. Eliot once observed that in a world of fugitives, the person who is headed in the right direction will appear to be running away.”
—James Hollis, Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life, 171.

March 1, 2012

It's All About Me?
“You have to hold yourself lightly, because if you are too attached to your fears, your anger, your shame, then all you can see is yourself. The universe jitterbugs past, with all the presence of God manifest but without purification, while you sit in the corner whining.”
— James A. Connor,  Silent Fire: Bringing the Spirituality of Silence into Everyday Life, p.169.

February 29, 2012

“Monkey Mind”
Silent prayer invites an attack of monkey mind
“It’s when your brain swings from tree to tree, hand over hand, branch to branch, tumbling, then jitterbugging, then dropping, never stopping, nervous . . . out of control, out of control.”
— James A. Connor,  Silent Fire: Bringing the Spirituality of Silence into Everyday Life,  p. 80.

February 28, 2012

TOUCH DOWN
“There is almost nothing about biblical faith that can be understood by our usual analytical, scientific, objective, or common sense control of life. The Bible is, rather, organized around the explosive moments when the holiness of God touches down . . . . Such touch down moments are not sweet and romantic. . . . not pious and religious. Rather they are moments of threat and risk, when our worlds are shattered and everything is changed.”
—Walter Bruggemann, “Re-formed for Ministry”

February 27, 2012

SEEING STARS
 
For age is opportunity no less
Than youth itself, though in another dress,
And as the evening twilight fades away
The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.
—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

February 26, 2012

Hear 18th-century London laborers sing this Charles Wesley song as they walk to work:
 
Son of the carpenter, receive
     This humble work of mine;
Worth to my meanest labor give
     By joining it to Thine.
 
End of my ev’ry action Thou,
     In all things Thee I see.
Accept my hallowed labor now;
     I do it unto Thee.
— From Grace Betwen the Lines, John Franklin Hay, Feb 17, 2012

February 25, 2012

“It’s not all about you—it’s about Jesus. Beware of all those self-help books that tell you that you can rise to some great heights on your own; if you’re not careful, your pride will kick in and take charge. When you look deep enough, what you’ll find is . . . gross depravity.”
—Charles R. Swindoll, Embraced by the Spirit, 73.

February 24, 2012

“Sin takes advantage of the law,” (Romans 7:8) to achieve its own purpose.  . . . . Our unconverted and natural egocentricity (sin) uses religion for the purpose of gaining self-respect. If you want to hate somebody, want to be vicious, or vengeful or cruel or vindictive, I can tell you how to do it without feeling an ounce of guilt: Do it for religious reasons! Do it thinking you’re obeying a law . . . or some verse in the Bible.”
— Richard Rohr, Hidden Things, 82

February 23, 2012

At least to pray is left, is left.
O Jesus! in the air
I know not where thy chamber is—
I’m knocking everywhere.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Say, Jesus Christ, of Nazareth,
Hast thou no arm for me?
—Emily Dickinson, Poem XLIII

February 22, 2012

Today Is Ash Wednesday: A Quaker’s View
"Ash Wednesday is a day of repentance. . . a day of measuring how short you fall from Christ . . . . a  . . . dreadful reminder that one day you, and everything that you have done as yourself, will die, and that all that will be left is the work that God has done through you.”
— Dan Coppock,  Friends Journal,  September, 2011, 8.

February 21, 2012

WHO-DUN-IT?
“Jesus did not die at the hands of muggers, rapists. or thugs. He fell into the well-scrubbed hands of ministers, lawyers, statesmen and professors—society’s most respected members.”
—Brendan Manning, The Signature of Jesus, 38.

February 20, 2012

Tithing is a debt I owe
  Giving is a seed I sow.
—Bill Burch, Eagle Ministries, Inc

February 19, 2012

The Middle Way
“Our Wesleyan roots . . . mean that we are via media people of faith, who will not be pulled to the extremes of the liberal left or swayed by the fears of the radical right, but choose the stability of the orthodox, middle way. . . . . And . . . we believe God called us to serve the poor, the marginalized, the hurting and the underserved . . . to care about issues of biblical justice and righteousness
—David Busic, inaugural address as President of Nazarene Theological Seminary, October 28, 2011

February 18, 2012

Too Busy?
“To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects ... is to succumb to violence. The frenzy of our activism ... kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.” 
—Thomas Merton

February 17, 2012

The Bible says. . .
“We must approach the Scriptures with humility and patience, with our own agenda out of the way, and allow the Spirit to stir the deeper meaning to us.
Otherwise we only hear what we already agree with or what we have decided to look for.”  —— Richard Rohr, Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality, 125

February 16, 2012

The Optimism of Grace
“We believe in the radical optimism of grace that not only forgives us our sins, but transforms us from the inside out.  . . . . We believe God is holy, and calls his people to a life of holiness. We believe in a deeper work that God wants to accomplish in every believer that not only purifies our heart from sin, but enables us to love God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind. . .  . This , . . . does not mean that. . . we are incapable of sin. Rather it means that through the power of the Spirit, we are given the power not to have to.”
——David Busic, inaugural address as President of Nazarene Theological Seminary, October 28, 2011

February 15, 2012

Douglas Coupland, who coined the phrase Generation X, wrote, 
“My secret is that I need God.—that I am sick and can no longer make it alone. I need God to help me give because I can no longer  . . . be giving; to help
 me to be kind, as I no longer seem to be capable of kindness; to help me love, as I seem to beyond being able to love.”
—Doulas Coupland,  Life After God.  359.

February 14, 2012

Big, Bad Demon
“ I have observed the demon of vainglory being chased by nearly all the other demons, and when his pursuers fell, shamelessly he drew near and unfolded a long list of his virtues.”  —Evagrius (4th cent.)  cited by Kathleen Norris, Acedia & Me, p. 37

February 13, 2012

TIME WASTED
“It is largely a waste of time to tell people to love generously when the God they have been presented with is a taskmaster, loves quite conditionally, is easily offended, very needy, and threatens people with eternal torture if they do not ‘believe’ in him.”
— Richard Rohr, Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality,  89.

February 11, 2012

“Everyone has a sad story; the trick is not to become a sad story.”
—From a novel whose title and author I forget. But I remember this advice given by an African-American lady to her grandaughter who was not so successfully navigating the storms of youth. I guess, I have repeated this advice to myself a 1,000 times. Wes Tracy

February 10, 2012

NAILED IT!
“God has to teach the people that there are alternatives to brute strength. If all you are taught is the art of the hammer, everything in life is perceived as another nail.” —Richard Rohr, Hidden Things, 94

February 9, 2012

Teresa’s Prayer
After begging in public for funds to build her orphanage, Teresa of Avila saw it ruined by flood, rebuilt it only to see a storm blow the roof off, repaired the building
and then it was burned down. She prayed, tradition has it, “Lord, if this is the way you treat your friends, I would hate to see your enemies.”

February 8, 2012

IN CHRIST
“We wake up inside Christ’s body
Where all our body . . . .
Is realized in joy in Him,
And He makes us utterly real.
And everything that is hurt, everything
That seemed to us dark, harsh, shameful,
maimed, ugly, irreparably damaged
Is in Him transformed. . . .
We awaken as the beloved
In every last part of our body”
—St. Symeon, the New Theologian (A. D. 949-1022 ), Hymn 15 in his  Hymns of Divine Love.  Translated by Stephen Mitchell.

February 7, 2012

Fractured
“ In most ancient religions, God was felt to be controllable through human sacrifice. . . . Around the time of Abraham the sacrificial instinct . . .  gets transferred to  . . .  animals [that] had to be sacrificed . . . . But ‘civilized cultures’ have . . . transmuted it into self-sacrifice and moral heroics--because . . . something has to be sacrificed to bend this God toward us. . . . This is a fracture at the core of everything and creates the overwhelmingly shame and guilt based church . . . we have today in the West.”
— Richard Rohr, Hidden Things: Scripture as Spirituality, 10

February 6, 2012

Confess Christ by silence as well as speech.

It is better for a man to be silent and be [a Christian], than to talk and not to be one. It is good to teach, if he who speaks also acts. There is then one Teacher, who spake and it was done; while even those things which He did in silence are worthy of 56the Father. He who possesses the word of Jesus, is truly able to hear even His very silence, that he may be perfect, and may both act as he speaks, and be recognised by his silence. 

February 5, 2012

A Thought Before Dying
Ignatius of Antioch wrote to the Ephesian church while he was being taken to Rome to be martyred. Among other things he asked the church to be as "fitly joined together as strings to a harp by whose concord and harmony of love, Jesus Christ is sung. And be ye the quire, that being so consonant in love, and taking up the song of God, ye may in unity sing with one voice."

February 4, 2012

“Legalism, like the vilest seed of the overgrown Garden, has flourished on the trellis of the centuries.”
—William Barry, Finding God in All Things

February 3, 2012

“ Real Holiness has 
love for its essence, 
humility for its clothing, 
the good of others as its employment, 
and the honor of God as its end.”
—Nathaniel Emmons

February 2, 2012

More From Clement of Rome
 Let a person be faithful: 
let him be powerful in the utterance of knowledge; 
let him be wise in judging of words; 
let him be pure in all his deeds; 
yet the more he seems to be superior . . .  [in these respects], the more humble-minded ought he to be, and to seek the common good . . .and not merely his own advantage. 
 

First Epistle to the Corinthians, chapter 48, circa A. D. 97.

February 1, 2012

“For the commandment’s sake go to the poor man’s help, and do not turn him away empty-handed in his need . . . . Deposit generosity in your storerooms.”
Ecclesiasticus  29: 12-14, Jerusalem Bible.

January 31, 2012

Inspection
“If we are the lone examiners of our heart, a thousand justifications will arise to declare our innocence  . . . . At the other end of the spectrum is out tendency toward self-flagellation   . . . . It is easy for us to take one good look at who we really are and declare ourselves unredeemable. Our damaged self-image votes against us.”
    —Richard Foster, “Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home,” p.27.

January 30, 2012

“Extravagance: Excessive love, flagrant mercy, radical affection, exorbitant charity, immoderate faith, intemperate hope, inordinate love. None of which is an achievement, a badge to be earned or a trophy to be sought; all are secondary by-products of the one thing that truly makes a saint, which is the love of God.”
—Barbara Brown Taylor, “A Cloud of Witnesses,” Weavings.

January 29, 2012

"How blessed and wonderful, beloved, are the gifts of God! Life in immortality, splendour in righteousness, truth in perfect confidence [or liberty], faith in assurance, self-control in holiness!
       The First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians, chapter 35.

January 28, 2012

“The impulse to serve is the mysterious ingredient that fills us up, that makes our cup run over.”
—Robert Laurence Smith, A Quaker Book of Wisdom, cited in Guideposts,  Feb., 2012.

January 27, 2012

"Let our praise be in God, and not of ourselves; for God hateth those that commend themselves. Let testimony to our good deeds be borne by others, as it was in the case of our righteous forefathers. Boldness, and arrogance, and audacity belong to those that are accursed of God; but moderation, humility, and meekness to such as are blessed by Him."
First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians, chapter 30. ca.  97 AD

January 26, 2012

Going to heaven!—
How dim it sounds!
And yet it shall be done
As sure as flocks go home at night
Unto the shepherd’s arm!
—Emily Dickinson, Poem XLII

January 25, 2012

"You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you." - John Bunyan
—From Tuesday’s Child , edited by John Franklin Hay,  International Childcare Ministries, Indianapolis,

January 24, 2012

Prayer for a Child
A prayer for when a child, grandchild, or great-grandchild is dedicated, baptized, ill or faces surgery.  It became our 100-times-a-day prayer when our great-grandson faced brain and neck surgery--a prayer graciously answered
“Good Shepherd, we give this little child into your loving hands; 
and in the days that lie ahead protect this little lamb.”
—Claire Cloninger, verse 1, “Good Shepherd,” a dedicatory hymn  in The Worshiping Church, 1986, #760.

January 23, 2012

Show Me the Money
“All bow down before wealth. . . . men pay an instinctive homage. 
They measure happiness by wealth; 
and by wealth they measure respectability. . . .
It is a homage resulting from a profound faith . . . that with wealth . . . he may do all things. “
  —Cardinal Newman

January 22, 2012

Bitter or Better?
“All healthy religion shows you what to do with your pain. . . .If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it. If we cannot find a way to make our wounds into sacred wounds, we invariably become negative or bitter.”
— Richard Rohr, Hidden Things: Scripture as Spirituality, 25

January 21, 2012

If Only I’d. . .
“ Regret, one of the ghosts of aging, comes upon us  . . . dressed up like wisdom, looking profound and serious, sensible and responsible. . . . It prods us to question everything we’ve ever done. . . . Regret claims to be insight. . . . No, regret is not insight. It is, in fact, the sand trap of the soul.”
—Joan Chittister, The Gift of Years,, 2008, 2-3.

January 20, 2012

“A MAN DOES NOT GO TO A WOMAN TO GET HIS STRENGTH; HE GOES TO OFFER  IT”
—John Eldrege,  Wild at Heart  (2004, Waterville, Maine: Walker Large Print, 2001, Thomas Nelson reprint).

January 19, 2012

“So often we experience depression as a dark herald with a grim countenance that tells us  something in us is dying, has reached its end, is played out, and yet it is really announcing something new, something larger, something developmental that wishes greater play in our life.”
—James Hollis, Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life,76

January 18, 2012

That’s Where You Come In
 In Genesis 1:26 God says, “let us make humanity in our own image, in the likeness of ourselves.” . . . . Consider . . . what God is looking for . . . God isn’t looking for servants . .  . for slaves, workers, contestants to play the game or jump through hoops . . . . God is simply looking for images! God wants images of God to walk around the earth!
— Richard Rohr, Hidden Things: Scripture as Spirituality, 35

January 17, 2012

“The Father of all grace and might . . . banish sin from our delight.”
—From a hymn by Ambrose of Milan, 4th century

January 16, 2012

Fleeing the Call to Preach
“I was putting pressure on myself  by frequently exposing myself to God talk . . . . Maybe  I was beginning to overdose on the Christian faith. After all, I was every week in Sunday School, in worship, in youth meetings, in midweek service of prayer and Bible study. . . . with all that exposure to religion, even Al Capone would   . . . feel a call to preach. Solution?  . . . back off from God    . . . from God’s people.”
—Fred B. Craddock, Reflections on My Call to Preach, Chalice Press, 2009, p. 16.

January 15, 2012

“Jesus . . . defines God as love. In light of this . . . we have to abandon the cankerous, worm-eaten structure of legalism . . . that corrupts the Good News into an ethical code rather than a love affair.”
—Brendan Manning, The Signature of Jesus, 19

January 14, 2012

From the cowardice that shrinks from new truth,
From the laziness that is content with half-truths,
From the arrogance that thinks it knows all truth,
Oh, God of Truth, deliver us.”
—Ancient Hebrew prayer cited by “Dear Abby”

January 13, 2012

“Virtue is a good habit of thought or action that has become strong by repetition . . . . Think of patience, self-control, prudence, and good driving.
Vice is a bad habit grown strong by repetition. Think of uncontrolled anger, indifference to others, runaway lust. Think uncontrolled drinking or smoking.”
—James Atwell, The Quaker Journal, June/July, 2011, 7.

January 12, 2012

“Reveal Yourself, beloved, and spread over me 
  the tabernacle of Your peace.”
—Elazar Azikri, Yelid Nefesh (My Soul’s Beloved), from a  16th century Jewish liturgy,.

January 11, 2012

We love our enemies-- until we actually have some.
—Martin Marty

January 10, 2012

“The day is short, the task is great, the laborers are lazy, the reward is much, and the Master is insistent. . . . 
It is not for you to complete the task, but neither are you free to stand aside from it.”
The Ethics of the Fathers,  Rabbi Tarfon, Mishnah, 16th century

January 9, 2012

“The light at the altar is different from any other light. . . . You see things you don’t otherwise see. . . . at the altar the feeble excuses stop and . . . the comparing . . . as though we expected God to grade on the curve, all that stops . . . . You might say, ‘Have mercy on me.  . .  .clean me up.  Don’t . . . take away your Holy Spirit; forgive me.’ “I have every, every reason to believe that you will hear God say, ‘Yes, yes, yes.’”
—Fred Craddock, “Whatever Became of Sin?” The Collected Sermons of Fred B. Craddock,  Westminster John Knox Press, 2011, 42.

January 8, 2012

“Despite the blandishments of popular culture, the goal of life is not happiness but meaning.
 Those who seek happiness by trying to avoid or finesse suffering will find life
 more and more superficial.”
—James Hollis, Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life, 232

January 7, 2012

Reading Notes:
NOTE ONE; David and Jackie Siegel’s home is for sale, 90.000 square feet, $100,000,000.
The home, near Orlando, features 23 baths, a bowling alley, 2 movie theaters, indoor skating rink, 10 kitchens, 13 bedrooms, 20-car garage, 6 swimming pools, an 80-foot waterfall & more.
The High-Beta Rich,  Robert Frank, 2011, 70-71.
 
NOTE TWO: “Just because you can afford it, doesn’t mean you can afford it. Having the money is not the green light to getting it. As long as anybody sleeps in a cardboard box, as long as any child is hungry  . . . you cannot afford it.”
The Collected Sermons of Fred B. Craddock,  Westminster John Knox Press, 2011, 162.

January 6, 2012

The primal sin . . . is to go on  . . . basing our lives on pop religion and the power of positive thinking, trendy spiritualities and power politics rather than the Sermon on the Mount and the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
—Brendan Manning, The Signature of Jesus, 244

January 5, 2012

“When prayer becomes what orders our day as something we attempt to live out moment by moment, rather than the tail blindly pinned onto the donkey of daily life, then prayer will integrate us into itself.”
—Martin Laird,  A Sunlit Absence: Silence, Awareness, and Contemplation, Oxford Univ. Press. 2011.

January 4, 2012

Truth is avoided when it is painful . . . . We must always hold truth to be more important, more vital to our self-interest, than our comfort. Conversely, we must always consider our personal discomfort relatively unimportant and, indeed, even welcome it in the service of the search for truth.”
— M. Scott Peck,  The Road Less Traveled. 50-52

January 3, 2012

Cross Bearing
“The cross of Christ is the sweetest burden that I ever bore; 
it is such a burden as wings are to a bird.”
—Samuel Rutherford

January 2, 2012

“The point of 1 Corinthians 13 is that love is not our duty; it is our destiny. It is the language Jesus spoke  . . . . the food they eat in God’s new world . . . . the music God has written  . . . It is the resurrection life.”
—N. T. Wright, Surprised By Hope, 2008, 288

 

January 1, 2012

A Blessing for the New Year:
May the Lord bless you and protect you. 
May the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord turn His face to you and grant you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).

December 31, 2011

Thought for the last day of  2011:
The Year  Just Past
Look back on time with kindly eyes,
He doubtless did his best;
How softly sinks his trembling sun
In nature’s west!
—Emily Dickinson, Poem VIII

December 30, 2011

“The sinner waves reproof aside, he finds excuses to do what he wants.” —Ecclesiasticus  32:17, Jerusalem Bible.

December 29, 2011

Egyptian Bondage
“Every generation has its own pharaoh and its own slave masters, uniquely based on the culture of the time.
 Our pharaoh may be the electronic devices—computers, televisions, iPhones—that mesmerize us,
 dominating hour after hour . . . . holding us in their grip and separating us from family and friends—
sometimes from our faith.”
—Senator Joe Lieberman, The Gift of Rest: Rediscovering the Beauty of the Sabbath,  2011, pp. 29-30.

December 28, 2011

“Health and strength are better than any gold, a robust body than untold wealth, 
no riches can outweigh bodily health.” —Ecclesiasticus  30: 15-16, Jerusalem Bible.

December 27, 2011

December 26, 2011

Saying Goodbye
”When we think of loss we think of the loss, through death, of people we love. But  . . . we lose . . . also by leaving and being left, by changing and letting go, and moving on .. . . losses include  . . . losses of romantic dreams, illusions of freedom and power, illusions of safety—and the loss of our younger self, the self that thought it always would be unwrinkled and invulnerable and immortal.”—Judith Viorst,  Necessary Losses

December 25, 2011

I sometimes think we expect too much of Christmas Day.  
We try to crowd into it the long arrears of kindliness and humanity of the whole year.  
As for me, I like to take my Christmas a little at a time, all through the year. 
 And thus I drift along into the holidays - let them overtake me unexpectedly - waking up
 some fine morning and suddenly saying to myself:  "Why, this is Christmas Day!"
  ~David Grayson

December 24, 2011

Then let every heart keep Christmas within.
Christ’s pity for sorrow,
Christ’s hatred for sin,
Christ’s care for the weakest,
Christ’s courage for right.
Everywhere, everywhere, Christmas tonight.
—Phillips Brooks

December 23, 2011

The Church does not superstitiously observe days, merely as days, but as memorials of important facts. 
Christmas might be kept as well upon one day of the year as another; but there should be a stated day for
commemorating the birth of our Saviour, because there is danger that what may be done on any day, will 
be neglected.
  ~Samuel Johnson

December 22, 2011

Whatever else be lost among the years,
Let us keep Christmas still a shining thing;
Whatever doubts assail us, or what fears,
Let us hold close one day, remembering
Its poignant meaning for the hearts of men.
Let us get back our childlike faith again.
~Grace Noll Crowell

December 21, 2011

"He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree."  ~Roy L. Smith

December 20, 2011

Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love Divine;
Love was born at Christmas;
Star and angels gave the sign.
~Christina Rossetti

December 19, 2011

Oh look, yet another Christmas TV special! How touching to have the meaning of Christmas brought to us by cola, fast food, and beer.... Who'd have ever guessed that product consumption, popular entertainment, and spirituality would mix so harmoniously?
~Bill Watterson, Calvin & Hobbes

December 18, 2011

“ If the Christian beliefs inherited from our family and passed on by our church tradition
are not grounded in a shattering, life-changing experience of Jesus Christ, then the chasm
between our creedal statements and our faith-experience widens and our witness is worthless.
The gospel will persuade no one unless it has so convicted us that we are transformed by it.”
——Brendan Manning, The Signature of Jesus,, 17

December 17, 2011

“ Stick to the advice your heart gives you, no one can be truer to you than that; . . . a man’s soul often forewarns him better than seven watchmen perched on a watchtower.”
Ecclesiasticus 37:14-18, Jerusalem Bible.

December 16, 2011

Once again we find ourselves enmeshed in the Holiday Season, that very special time of year when we join with our loved ones in sharing centuries-old traditions such as trying to find a parking space at the mall.
We traditionally do this in my family by driving around the parking lot until we see a shopper emerge from the mall, then we follow her, in very much the same spirit as the Three Wise Men, who 2,000 years ago followed a star, week after week, until it led them to a parking space..

 
~Dave Barry, “Christmas Shopping, A Survivor’s Guide.

December 15, 2011

Shopping List
Christmas gift suggestions:
To your enemy, forgiveness.
To an opponent, tolerance.
To a friend, your heart.
To a customer, service.
To all, charity.
To every child, a good example.
To yourself, respect.
~Oren Arnold

December 14, 2011

WHEN YOU ARE OLD
When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and their shadows deep.
 
How many loved your moments of glad grace.
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face.
—William Butler Yeats

December 13, 2011

I love the Christmas-tide, and yet,
I notice this each year I live;
I always like the gifts I get,
But how I love the gifts I give.
— Carolyn Wells, “ A Thought.”

December 12, 2011

Arthritis of the Spirit
“Many older people go into their later years carrying grudges and harboring resentments . . . This resentment can be called the arthritis of the spirit, for it deforms and cripples . . . . We use it to protect ourselves. . . but it has a sinister way of circling right back to us so that we are the victims of our own self-will.”
—Richard L. Morgan, The Bible Speaks to Third and Fourth Agers, 171

December 11, 2011

“From silly devotions and sour faced saints, spare us, O Lord.”
—Teresa of Avila

December 10, 2011

“The ego fattens on holiness just as much as on worldliness, on poverty as on riches, on austerity as on luxury. There is nothing that the ego will not seize upon to inflate itself.”
—Brendan Manning, The Signature of Jesus, 137

December 9, 2011

Go humbly, humble are the skies,
And low and large and fierce the Star;
**********************************
And the whole heaven shouts and shakes,
For God Himself is born again.
—From Christmas Spirit by George Grant & Gregory Wilbur, 1999, Cumberland House, Nashville, Tennessee

December 8, 2011

Temptation
“Better shun the bait than struggle in the snare.”
—John Dryden

December 7, 2011

“He [Jesus] does not come as victory, but as helpless child.
He does not come in pride, but in a way almost unnoticed by the world. But he is king.
He is not robed in splendor but in baby clothes.
He is not in the royal nursery but in a barn.
None of this makes sense.”
—Walter Brueggemann, “Gosh, Some Angels” The Collected Sermons of Walter Brueggemann, 2011.

December 6, 2011

The Christmas angels announced:
“Glory to God—Peace on earth!
They cannot be separated. Some want peace on earth without taking seriously the holiness of God. Some want to worship God and pay no attention to peace on earth.”
—Walter Brueggemann, “Gosh, Some Angels,” A Christmas sermon during the Vietnam War, from The Collected Sermons of Walter Brueggemann, 2011.

December 5, 2011

Tho Christ a thousand times
In Bethlehem be born,
If He’s not born in thee
Thy heart is still forlorn.
— Angelis Silesius

December 4, 2011

“Every act of love, every deed done in Christ and by the Spirit, every work of true creativity—doing justice, making peace, healing families, resisting temptation, seeking and winning true freedom— is an earthly event in a long history of things that implement Jesus’ own resurrection and anticipate the final new creation and act as signposts of hope.”
—N. T. Wright, Surprised By Hope, 2008, 295.

December 2, 2011

“Truth be told, you don't have to sin. You know why you sin? Because you want to.
That doesn’t sound very affirming but is the ugly truth. Every time you sinned last week, you wanted to.
——Charles R. Swindoll, Embraced by the Spirit, 131

December 1, 2011

Scared of the Dark?
“We have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.”
—Inscription at the Obseratory, University of Pittsburgh

November 30, 2011

Simplicity of Heart
“Let honesty prompt your thinking about the Lord, seek him in simplicity of heart . . . .Wisdom will never make its way into a crafty soul nor stay in a body that is in debt to sin.”
—Wisdom 1:1,4, Jerusalem Bible

November 29, 2011

After trying the Convent:
“I had failed to find God and had never come within shouting distance of that complete self-surrender. . .the great spiritual writers declared. . .essential.
—Karen Armstrong,The Circular Staircase

November 28, 2011

“A spirituality that does not lead to active ministry becomes an indulgent preoccupation with self, and therefore grieves the Holy Spirit and violates the presence of the indwelling Christ.”
—Maxie Dunham, Alive in Christ, Abingdon, 155.

November 27, 2011

A Prayer for the End of the Day
Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair, nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to your holy will, which is love and mercy itself.

November 26, 2011

“When the gospel is diminished to . . . whether or not a person will ‘get into heaven,’ that reduces the good news to a ticket, a way to get past the bouncer at the club. The good news is better than that.”
— Rob Bell, Love Wins, 178

November 25, 2011

Give Us Wings
Church Father, Macarius the Egyptian, notes that a Christian may see a dove flying and wish that he or she could fly—at least in the spiritual sense “Just so, a man may be willing to be pure and without blame . . . but he has not the wherewithal to compass it . . . unless he receive wings. Let us therefore, beseech God that He give us wings.”

November 24, 2011

“God is pleased with no music below so much as with the thanksgiving songs of relieved widows and supported orphans; of rejoicing, comforted, and thankful persons.”
—Jeremy Taylor

November 23, 2011

Telling the Truth
Lying to myself is denial.
Lying to others is dishonesty.
Lying to God is foolishness!
—Judith Schwanz, chapter 13, The Hunger of Your Heart, (Beacon Hill Press/ Partnership Press) 138.

November 22, 2011

DANCE STEP
Be kinder than necessary,
for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.
Live simply,
Love generously,
Care deeply,
Speak kindly.......
Leave the rest to God
Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass...
It's about learning to dance in the rain.
—Anonymous

November 21, 2011

“Those friends thou hast . . .
Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel.”
—Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 3

November 20, 2011

My life must be Christ’s broken bread,
My love, His outpoured wine;
A cup o’erfilled, a table spread
Beneath His name and sign,
That other souls refreshed and fed,
May share His life through mine.
—Albert Orsborn, War Cry.( the Salvation Army magazine)

November 19, 2011

“If you have forgiven yourself for being imperfect . . . you can now do it for just about everybody else. If you have not done it for yourself, I am afraid you will likely pass on your sadness, absurdity, judgment, and futility to others.”
— Richard Rohr, Falling Upward, 114.

November 17, 2011

“When I think of those who have influenced my life the most, I think not of the great, but the good.”
—John Knox

November 16, 2011

“Many have heard the gospel framed in terms of rescue. God has to punish sinners because God is holy, but Jesus paid the price for our sin . . . . What [that] can do is subtly teach people that Jesus rescues us from God.”
— Rob Bell, Love Wins, 182

November 15, 2011

Heart Trouble
“In solitude we realize that nothing human is alien to us, that the roots of all conflict, war, injustice, cruelty, hatred, jealousy, and envy are deeply anchored in our own heart.”
Henri Nouwen, The Way of the Heart, 34.

November 14, 2011

“Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees takes off his shoes—
The rest sit round and pluck blackberries.”
—Elizabeth Barrett Browning

November 13, 2011

“ The spiritual life grows as love finds its center beyond ourselves. . . . .The more we give of self, the richer we become in soul; the more we go beyond ourselves in love, the more we become our true selves . . . . In marriage we are seeking to bring one another into fuller life.”
from the wedding sermon of Richard Chartes, Anglican Bishop of London, at the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.

November 12, 2011

“It is not that suffering or failure might happen, or that it will only happen if you are bad . . . . or that it will happen to the unfortunate . . . or that you can somehow by cleverness and righteousness avoid it. No, it will happen to you! Losing, failing, falling, sin, and the suffering that comes from those experiences—all of this is a necessary and even a good part of the human journey.”
Richard Rohr, Falling Forward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, Jossey-Bass, 2011, xx.

 

November 11, 2011

Wound Identified
“It has been acceptable . . . to remain ‘wound identified’ (that is, using one’s victimhood as one’s identity, one’s ticket to sympathy, and one’s excuse for not serving), instead of using the wound to ‘redeem the world,’ as we see in Jesus and many people who turn their wounds into sacred wounds that liberate both themselves and others.”
—Richard Rohr, Falling Forward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, Jossey-Bass, 2011, 34.

November 10, 2011

“Blessed and all-redeeming blood . . . .
Bathe our polluted souls in thy clear streams and purge away all our foul iniquities
Cleanse us, O merciful Lord, from our secret faults and from those sins that most abuse us.
Wash off the stains our malice has caused in others and those our weakness has received from them . . . . . . . .
Pardon O gracious Jesus, what we have been; with all thy holy discipline correct what we are
Order by thy providence what we shall be, and in the end crown thine own gifts.”
—Frederick Gill, The Prayers of John Wesley, 103

November 9, 2011

Scorn Not Godly Wisdom :
Wretched are those who scorn wisdom and discipline:
their hope is void,
their toil unavailing,
their achievements unprofitable,
their wives are reckless,
their children depraved,
their descendants accursed.
—Wisdom 3:10-12, Jerusalem Bible

November 8, 2011

“I am like a little pencil in the hand of God. That is all. He does the writing. The pencil has nothing to do with it.”
—Mother Teresa

November 7, 2011

“Offer to Him thy heart in a soft and tractable state, and preserve the form in which the Creator has fashioned thee, having moisture in thyself, lest, by becoming hardened, thou lose the impressions of His fingers. . . . . His hand fashioned thy substance; He will cover thee over [too] within and without with pure gold and silver, and He will adorn thee to such a degree, that even “the King Himself shall have pleasure in thy beauty.”
(Irenaeus,Against Heresies, Book IV. Chapter XXXIX. 2, about 180 A. D.).

November 6, 2011

Seven Deadly Social Sins:
1. Politics without principle.
2. Wealth without work.
3. Commerce without morality.
4. Pleasure without conscience.
5. Education without character.
6. Science without humanity.
7. Worship without sacrifice.
--Mahatma Gandhi

November 5, 2011

“Pleasures have the raw power to elbow their way out of their intended order and to usurp the Giver who created them. . . . . An ever increasing craving for an ever diminishing pleasure is the devil’s formula. . . . The only protection is . . . to see every natural gift and pleasure as a shaft of God’s glory, enjoying it always in its proper place.”
— C. S. Lewis cited by Philip Yancey, What Good Is God? 2010, p.109.

November 4, 2011

Fundamentalist movements distort the tradition they are trying to defend by emphasizing the belligerent elements. . . . and overlooking the insistent. . . . demand for compassion.”
—Karen Armstrong, The Circular Staircase, Knof, 2004.

November 3, 2011

Travel Plans--Ethiopia
“I was surrounded by a quarter million starving people. The time I had spent on deciding which clothes to take, what camera would work best, even the time I had spent making decisions on the brands of granola bars to pack, became embarrassing.”
—JoAnne Lyon, The Hunger of Your Heart, 144.

November 2, 2011

O God,
“give me modesty in my countenance,
composure in my behavior,
prudence in my speech, [and]
holiness in my actions.”
— From John Wesley’s personal, handwritten, unpublished collection of prayers, John Rylands Library, Manchester, England

November 1, 2011

“Totalitarian are the claims of Christ. There is a degree of holy and complete obedience that is completely breathtaking . . . Its joys are ravishing, its peace profound, its humilty the deepest, its power world shaking, its love enveloping.”
Thomas Kelly, A Testament of Devotion,49,54.

October 31, 2011

Six Questions
1. What do I need to “clear up” or “let go of” in order to be peaceful?
2. What have I learned of truth and how truthfully have I learned to live?
3. What have I learned of love and how well have I learned to love?
4. What have I learned about tenderness, vulnerability, intimacy and communion?
5. What have I learned about courage, strength, power, and faith?
6. If I remembered that my breaths are numbered what would be my relationship to this breath right now?
— Kathleen Dowling Singh, a hospice worker. Cited in Healthy Aging, Andrew Weil, 229-230

 

October 30, 2011

RIDICULOUS WORLD
A prayer of Stanley Hauerwas in his book, “Prayers Plainly Spoken”

 

“Holy One of Israel, who called Abraham and Sarah out of Ur, who called us, your church, out of the nations, save us from self-righteousness. You have made us different so that our difference might save the world. But too often our differences tempt us to ridicule because the world, after all, is ridiculous. Never let us forget that we too are the world, and so also ridiculous. Shape the judgments of our neighbors and our own foolish judgments by your love, so that we might be together saved . . . Amen.”
Cited by John Hay, Grace Between the Lines

 

October 29, 2011

“Everything was so dark in my life and God illuminated it. Do not forget it, O my heart! Do not forget it.”
—Theodore Haecker

October 28, 2011

“The mark of an immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.”
— quoted by J. D Salinger in Catcher in the Rye

October 27, 2011

I PRAISE YOU FOR WHAT IS YET TO BE
 
Wondrous Worker of Wonders,
I praise you
not alone for what has been,
or for what is,
but for what is yet to be.
for you are gracious beyond all telling of it.
 
— Ted Loder in Guerillas of Grace (1984, Innisfree Press, Philadelphia, PA). Gleaned from John Hay’s Grace Notes, 2007.

October 26, 2011

Lord,
I crawled
across the barrenness
to You
with an empty cup
uncertain
in asking
any small drop
of refreshment.
If only
I had known you better;
I’d have come
running
with a bucket.
—Nancy Spiegelberg

October 25, 2011

The Path Not Taken
 
“We have left no path of lawlessness or ruin unexplored, . . . .
but the way of the Lord is one we have never known.
 
Arrogance, what advantage has it brought us?
Wealth and boasting, what have these conferred on us?
All those things have passed like a shadow,
passed like a fleeting rumour.”
 
—Wisdom 5:7-9, Jerusalem Bible

October 24, 2011

“Spirituality [can be] champagne for the ego. Cork after cork pops as the ego guzzles enthusiastically while reading up on what phase of the spiritual life it is in, what doorways of prayer it has pranced through.”
—Martin Laird, A Sunlit Absence: Silence, Awareness, and Contemplation, Oxford Univ. Press 2011

October 23, 2011


“The will of God will not take you where the grace of God cannot keep you.”
—Doris Childers

October 22, 2011

Drop thy still dews of quietness
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of thy peace.”
—John Greenleaf Whittier, “Serenity” Methodist Hymnal 499

October 21, 2011

Know Thyself
“No one can know one’s heart except the One who made it. Nothing can cure except convicting, justifying, and sanctifying grace . . . . Without the help of grace, I remain a mystery to myself. Only through the disclosure of God’s love can a sinner know himself rightly.”
—Thomas Oden, John Wesley’s Scriptural Christianity. 151.

October 20, 2011

Prayer Time
 
Forgive me for the things I have done— and not done.
Forgive me for the things I have saidand not said.
Forgive me for the life I have livedand not lived.

That I might reflect the image
of the one I profess to follow
in thought,
and word,
and deed,
and in discovering my true self
draw others into that light.
 

 

October 19, 2011

Your roses may have thorns, but don’t forget
Your thorns may have some roses, too.
The Lord of great compassion loves you yet
And He will never fail to see you through.
—Haldor Lillenas, 1925, “Your Roses May Have Thorns”

 

October 18, 2011

Thoughtful Christians
“Christ takes away our sins, not our minds.”
—Very Rev. John Bakas, in “The Creed,” a First Things film by Tim
Kelleher.

October 17, 2011

Martin Luther on Church Music
 
“Next to the Word of God music deserves the highest praise . . . .
For whether you wish to comfort the sad, terrify the happy, encourage the despairing,
humble the proud, calm the passionate, or appease those full of hate . . .
what more effective means than music can you find? The Holy Ghost himself honors her as the instrument for His proper work . . .”
 
——cited by Carol Doran and Thomas Troeger, Trouble at the Table: Gathering the Tribes for Worship.
(Why would one of Luther's critics declare that Luther "has damned more souls with his songs than with his preaching"? )

October 16, 2011

WORSHIP OF GOD

The tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord . . .
to give thanks to the name of the Lord . . .
For the sake of the house of the Lord,
I will seek your good. (Psalm 122:4,9).
 
“The praise of the Lord draws them beyond their parochial allegiances and outshines all the excuses they might give for confining themselves to their own tribal circle.”
—Carol Doran and Thomas Troeger, Trouble at the Table: Gathering the Tribes for Worship, 39.

October 15, 2011

7. Beatitudes Updated to Suit our Culture:
“Happy (or blessed) are the pushers; for they get on in the world.
Happy are the hard-boiled; for they never let life hurt them
Happy are they who complain; for they get their own way in the end.
Happy are the blase; for they never worry over their sins.
Happy are the slave-drivers; for they get results.
Happy are the knowledgeable men of the world; they know their way around.
Happy are the troublemakers, for they make people notice them.”
 
— J. B. Phillips, cited by Demaray in The Hunger of Your Heart, 21.

October 14, 2011

6. Blessed are the peacemakers:
“First, keep peace within yourself, then you can bring peace to others.”
 
—Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ.

October 13, 2011

5. Blessed are the pure in heart:
Almighty God . . . .
Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts,
By the inspiration of Thy Holy Spirit,
That we may perfectly love Thee,
And worthily magnify Thy holy name.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 
Book of Common Prayer, the Collect for the Communion Service

October 12, 2011

4. Blessed are the merciful:
“An ideal [like mercy]is not yours until it comes out of your finger tips.”
—Florence Allshorn, cited by Janet Oke in The Hunger of Your Heart, 63.

October 11, 2011

3. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness:
“Our heart is eagerly athirst for all the great and precious promises . . .
all that is in thee is athirst for God, longing to wake up after His likeness . . . .
 Let me not live, but to be holy as Thou art.”
—John Wesley, “Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount,”

October 10, 2011

2.Blessed are the Meek:
The Meekest Men
Jesus: “I am meek and lowly of heart”( Matt 11:29)
Moses: Now the man Moses was very meek, above all men” (Num. 12:3)
In Heaven: “The redeemed have made it home. Before a ‘sea of glass mingled with fire’(Rev 15:2), the redeemed, as an eternal choir, lift an anthem of praise. Guess what they are singing—’They sing the song of Moses . . . and the song of the Lamb”(Rev. 15:3) Would you believe it? — the song of the meekest men in the Bible.”
—Henry Gariepy, in chapter 3, The Hunger of Your Heart, p. 41
 

October 9, 2011

1. Blessed are the poor in spirit:
John Wesley described the poor in spirit as one who “sees himself as utterly helpless with regard to atoning for his past sins; utterly unable to make any amends to God, to pay any ransom for his own soul . . . . He knows not how to get one step forward. . . .Encompassed with sin and sorrow and fear . . . he can only cry out ‘Lord, save or I perish.’”
 
— “Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount,” Cited by Donald Demaray in The Hunger of Your Heart, W. Tracy ed., Partnership Press/Beacon Hill Press, 1997, 20.

 

Scorn Not Godly Wisdom
 
Wretched are those who scorn wisdom and discipline:
their hope is void,
their toil unavailing,
their achievements unprofitable,
their wives are reckless,
their children depraved,
their descendants accursed.
 
—Wisdom 3:10-12, Jerusalem Bible

October 8, 2011

“Hell is not an ‘oops’ or a slip. One does not miss heaven by a hair, but by constant effort to avoid and escape God. ‘Outer darkness’ is for one who, everything said, wants it, whose entire orientation has slowly and firmly set itself against God and therefore against how the universe really is.”
 
—Dallas Willard, Renovation of the Heart, 59

 

“I am like a little pencil in the hand of God. That is all. He does the writing. The pencil has nothing to do with it.”
—Mother Teresa

October 7, 2011

I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us--don’t tell!
They’d banish us you know.
 
How dreary to be somebody!
How public like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!
 
—Emily Dickinson, Poem XXVII

 

“Offer to Him thy heart in a soft and tractable state, and preserve the form in which the Creator has fashioned thee, having moisture in thyself, lest, by becoming hardened, thou lose the impressions of His fingers. . . . . His hand fashioned thy substance; He will cover thee over [too] within and without with pure gold and silver, and He will adorn thee to such a degree, that even “the King Himself shall have pleasure in thy beauty.”
(Irenaeus,Against Heresies, Book IV. Chapter XXXIX. 2, about 180 A. D.).

October 6, 2011

“The whole of Creation, is some dance God is doing, and we’re meant to step into it.”
—Sue Monk Kidd, The Mermaid Chair, 153

October 5, 2011

LIKE A BEACH BALL
 
“In the middle of that service—during the song, “Here I Am, Lord”— I had sort of a lightning bolt moment. I felt God calling me into ministry loud and clear. I just stood there with tears streaming down my face, because ministry was the last thing I wanted to do. . . . [I had prayed] steadily for God’s will for my life. Like a beach ball held under water, the call to ministry kept bouncing right back up in front of me.”
—Kevin J. Long, Presbyterian pastor, Christian Century, Oct. 4, 2011, 31

October 4, 2011

“Let us, with a gladsome mind,
praise the Lord for he is kind;
for his mercies shall endure,
ever faithful, ever sure.”
 
—John Milton, 1623 ( a paraphrase of Psalm 136:1)

October 2, 2011

Benediction
May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart. May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace. May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy. And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.” —Anonymous

October 1, 2011

That is no country for old men . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress.”
 
—William Butler Yeats, Sailing to Byzantium, 1925, Irish poet 1865-1939.
Premise of a recent film, “No Country for Old Men,” starring Tommie Lee Jones.

September 30, 2011

“Our ancient Christian ancestors . . . teach us . . .how much we are in need of silence. . . .a silence that is a kind of waiting and listening for what God may tell us through . . . scripture, through our own hearts.”
—Roberta Bondi, To Love as God Loves, 98.

September 27, 2011

“Us . . . workaholics frantically throw ourselves into activity and work, buzzing around . . . like the restless, hungry gnats we are. We define ourselves in . . . our labors and the dust we manage to kick up. Though always verging on exhaustion, we keep cranking out the work so that others will admire us, like us, respect us and, most of all, need us.”
— Allbert Haase, O. F. M., Coming Home to Your Best Self., 45.

September 26, 2011

Let Me Lose Myself and Find it Lord, in Thee
“Give over thine own willing; give over thine own running; give over thine own desiring to know or to be anything, and sink down to the seed which God sows in the heart, and let that grow in thee, and act in thee, and thou shalt find by sweet experience that the Lord knows that, and loves and owns that, and will lead it to the inheritance of life.”
Isaac Penington (Wm. Penn’s father-in-law), cited in Friends Journal, September, 2011, 20.

September 25, 2011

Walk the Walk:
“If our virtues
Did not go forth of us, 'twere all alike
As if we had them not.”
—Wm. Shakespeare, Measure for Measure, Act 1. Scene 1

September 24, 2011

Grace as Manna:
That pride, the sin of devils stood
Betwixt me and the light of God!
That hitherto I had defied,
And had rejected God—that grace
Would drop from his o’erbrimming love,
As manna on my wilderness”
Selected Poems of Alfred Lord Tennyson, 37.

September 23, 2011

Thy Kingdom Come:
“For the Kingdom of God does not come in one dramatic event sometime in the future. It is coming here and now in every act of love, in every manifestation of truth, in every moment of joy, in every experience of the holy.”
—Paul Tillich, quoted in Prayers for the Common Good, ed., A. J. Lesher, 1998, Pilgrim Press.  From John Hay’s online newsletter, “Grace Between the Lines.”

September 22, 2011

Holy Communion
You renew the covenant with Christ. You make the liturgy of St. Basil your pledge: “Of thy sacramental feast this day, O Son of God, accept me as a partaker . . . . I will not give thee a kiss like Judas.”
Liturgy of St. Basil, cited by Evelyn Underhill, in The Mystery of Sacrifice. 73.

September 21, 2011

Devotional Reading: Then and Now?
“When he reads . . . yawns plenty and easily falls into sleep. He rubs his eyes and stretches his arms. His eyes wander from the book. He stares at the wall and then goes back to his reading for a little. He then wastes his time hanging on to the end of words, counts the pages . . . . Finally he just shuts it and uses it for a pillow..”
—Evagrius, 4th century.

September 20, 2011

The Reason for the Light
Oh, the young, they can play and pretend that they’re whole—
that the world needs no savior and time needs no goal.
But we who’ve walked the darkness know that God is always true.
He found me in the shadows, and He brought me home to you.
— Joseph Bottum, The Second Spring:: Words into Music, Music into Words, St. Augustine’s Press, 2011. Cited in Books & Culture, Sept./October, 2011.

September 19, 2011

Yahweh, you have given more joy to my heart than others ever knew, for all their corn and wine. In peace I lie down and fall asleep at once, since you alone, Yahweh, make me rest secure.” (Psalm 4: 7-8, JB).

September 18, 2011

Spiritual Formation
Active faith that lives within,
Conquers hell and death, and sin,
Hallows whom it first made whole,
Forms the Saviour in the soul.
—Charles Wesley, “Let Us Plead for Faith Alone,” 1740, United Methodist Hymnal 385

September 17, 2011

O Lord God,
Be Thou a bright flame before me,
Be Thou a guiding star above me,
Be Thou a smooth path below me,
Be Thou a kind shepherd behind me.
Today, tonight and forever.
Amen.
—A prayer of St. Columba, 6th century

September 16, 2011

What Can I Say?
“When we come to think about it, conversation between [Adam and Eve] must have been difficult . . . because they had nobody to talk about. If we exiled our neighbors permanently from our discussions, we should soon be reduced to silence.”
— Agnes Repplier, “Ennui”

September 15, 2011

Oh, Lord “I am sure that there is in me nothing that could attract the love of one as holy and as just as You are. Yet You have declared Your love for me in Christ Jesus. If nothing in me can win Your love, nothing in the universe can prevent You from loving me. Your love is uncaused and undeserved. . . . .Help me to believe the intensity, the eternity of the love that has found me.”
 
—A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy

September 14, 2011

In the Bulb There Is a Flower

 

There’s a song in every silence,
seeking word and melody;
there’s a dawn in every darkness,
bringing hope to you and me..
 
From the past will come the future;
what it holds a mystery,
unrevealed until its season,
something God alone can see.
 
— “In the Bulb There Is a Flower,” verse 2 of the song by Natalie Sleeth, 1986., The Worshiping Church, number 688.

September 13, 2011

Possibility
“If I were to wish for something, I would wish not for wealth or power, but for the passion of possibility, for the eye, eternally young, eternally ardent, that sees possibility everywhere.”
—Soren Kierkegaaard, "Either/Or"

September 12, 2011

Sloth--One of the 7 Deadly Sins
“Sloth is the party-pooper throwing cold water on passion and desire. Slothful people toss in the towel, abandoning their obligations toward God, others and self. Some . . . become sluggish, indifferent, apathetic. . . . Sloth likes to sit on the porch, bored to death, ogle the passersby and dribble forth inane, . . . comments, all suggesting a weariness and dissatisfaction with the world. . . . It is the spirit of the living dead. It is the thick . . . fog that hangs around the false self.”
—Albert Haase, Coming Home to Your True Self, p. 80.

September 11, 2011

Yes, But Not the Whole Story. Right?
 
“None of us can help the things life has done to us. They are done before you realize it. And once they’re done, they make you do other things until at last everything comes between you and what you’d like to be, and you have lost your true self.”
—Eugene O’Neill, “Long Day’s Journey Into Night”

September 10, 2011

“Encouraging [spiritual] formation is an art, not a science, and the result is always bound up in the mystery of grace . . . .And to quote Norman Maclean in A River Runs Through It— ‘grace comes by art and art does not come easy.’”
Christian Century, Sept. 6, 2011

September 9, 2011

What is our calling’s glorious hope,
But inward holiness?
For this to Jesus I look up,
I calmly wait for this.
 
I wait, till He shall touch me clean,
Shall life and power impart,
Give me the faith that casts out sin,
And purifies the heart.
 
— From A Collection of Hymns for the People Called Methodists, Published in London, 1849, by the Wesleyan Conference Office, 14 City Road, hymn no. 406., verses 1&2 of 6.

September 8, 2011

Let us wake in the morning filled with your love and sing and be happy all our days; make our future as happy as our past was sad
. . . .May the sweetness of the Lord be on us!
—Psalm 90:14-15,17, Jerusalem Bible

September 7, 2011

I shall know why, when time is over,
And I have ceased to wonder why;
Christ will explain each separate anguish
In the fair schoolroom of the sky.
 
He will tell me what Peter promised,
And I, for wonder at his woe,
I shall forget the drop of anguish
That scalds me now, that scalds me now.
 
—Emily Dickinson, Poem XXXIX

September 6, 2011

“ Ask ye what great thing I know,
that delights and stirs me so?
What the high reward I win?
Whose name I glory in?
Jesus Christ, the crucified.”
—Verse one of a hymn written in 1741 by pastor Johann C. Schwedler

September 5. 2011

Did “Old Shep” Go to Dog Heaven?
“ We don’t know about the animals; they may have a covenant with God that we know nothing about.”
—Karl Barth, Swiss theologian, cited in Christian Century, Sept. 6, 2011

September 4, 2011

For those who battle addictions:
“Even though you get the monkey off your back, the circus never really leaves town.”
—Ann Lamott, Grace (Eventually), 252.

September 3, 2011

For Courage to Do Justice
Let me not be afraid to defend the weak
because of the anger of the strong,
Nor afraid to defend the poor
because of the anger of the rich.
Show me where love and hope and faith are needed,
and use me to bring them to those places. . . .Amen
—Alan Paton, South Africa

September 2, 2011

“O Lord, with your eyes you have searched me, and while smiling have spoken my name”
—Cesareo Gabarain, “Lord, You Have Come to the Lakeshore.” Spanish: “Tu Has Venido a la Orilla” Methodist hymnal, 344

September 1, 2011

Refrain from all extremes. Don’t start looking for the face of Jesus in an enchilada. Don’t start thinking that some cloud formation represents the Last Supper. God tells us not to be foolish, but wise.”
——Charles R. Swindoll, Embraced by the Spirit, 94-95

August 31, 2011

“For myself, wounded wretch that I am,
by your saving power, God, lift me up.!”
Psalm 69:29

August 30, 2011

A Prayer for Holiness of Heart
 
In my heart, above all else,
let love and integrity envelope me
until my love is perfected and the last vestige
of my desiring is no longer in conflict with thy Spirit.
Lord I want to be more holy in my heart. Amen.
—Howard Thurman, formerly chaplain at Howard and Boston Universities.

August 29, 2011

New Love
John 13:34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you.
Here Jesus is calling his disciples not only to love others as they love themselves, but to love as he --Jesus--loves them. That is what is new.”
—Jean Vanier, Drawn Into the Mystery of Jesus Through the Gospel of John.

August 28, 2011

We have to stumble through so much dirt and humbug before we reach home. . . . . Our . . . guide is our homesickness.”
— Herman Hesse, Steppenwolf

August 27, 2011

“Whose life have I been living? . . . . The recovery of one’s own life . . . begins with accountability. If you do not like your life, change it, but stop blaming others, for even if they did hurt you, you are the one who has been making the choices of adulthood.”
—James Hollis, Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life, 241

August 26, 2011

j. c. on J. C.

 

"This is the wondrous exchange made by Christ's boundless goodness. Having become with us the Son of Man, he has made us with himself sons of God. By his own descent to the earth he has prepared our ascent to heaven. Having received our mortality, he has bestowed on us his immortality. Having undertaken our weakness, he has made us strong in his strength. Having submitted to our poverty, he has transferred to us his riches. Having taken upon himself the burden of unrighteousness with which we were oppressed, he has clothed us with his righteousness"
—John Calvin, Institutes, Book IV.17.3.

August 25, 2011

I can wade grief,
Whole pools of it—
I’m used to that.
But the least push of joy
Breaks up my feet,
And I tip— drunken.
—Emily Dickinson, Poem XXXV

August 24, 2011

“ A life of prayer means being willing to start over, after one has acted in a sinful or destructive way. Both pride and acedia will assert themselves, and it may appear that we are so far gone we may as well give up and not embarrass ourselves further by pretending to be anything but failures. It seems foolish to believe the door is still open . . . . [When] I lose sight of . . . contemplation and prayer, and try to live without it. Soon enough, once again, I am picking myself up from the ashes.”
—Kathleen Norris, Acedia & Me, 2008, 86.

August 23, 2011

Read and reread scripture above all for the sake of God and God’s purposes: hear it as God the Creator, Judge, and Savior crying out to humanity; respond to it in cries, worship, life and thought, with love for God and the world God loves.”
—David F. Ford, Christian Wisdom, 81

August 22, 2011

Bless the Lord, winter cold and summer heat . . .
Bless the Lord, dews and falling snow . . .
Bless the Lord, nights and days . . .
Bless the Lord, light and darkness . . .
Bless the Lord, ice and cold . . .
Bless the Lord, frosts and snows; sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
—Daniel 3:45-50

August 21, 2011

Keeping the Sabbath
“In Deuteronomy the commandment to ‘observe the Sabbath day’ is tied to the experience of a people newly released from bondage. Slaves cannot take a day off; free people can.”
—Dorothy Bass, “Keeping the Sabbath,” cited by Kathleen Norris, Acedia & Me, 2008, 123.

August 20, 2011

Anger & Acedia
“Anger over injustice may inflame us, but that’s a double edged-sword. If our indignation feels too good, it will attach to our arrogance and pride and leave us a ranting void. And if we develop full-blown acedia, we won’t even care about that.”
—Kathleen Norris, Acedia & Me, 2008, 117.

August 19, 2011

“O God, . . . . Cleanse my life from all that negates and crushes out faith, and fill it with the purity and honesty which foster faith.
Cleanse me from the evil that makes unbelief its friend.”
—Samuel M. Shoemaker, Daily Prayer Companion.

August 18, 2011

Understand Your Man
“I have suggested that women look at men this way: if they took away their own network of intimate friends, those with whom they share their personal journey, removed their sense of instinctual guidance, concluded that they were almost wholly alone in the world, and understood that they would be defined only by standards of productivity external to them, they would know the inner state of the average man.”
—James Hollis, Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life, 147-48

August 17, 2011

GOD SUFFERS WITH US.
“Nature works out its complexities. God suffers the world’s necessities along with us, and suffers our turning away, and joins us in exile. Christians might add that Christ hangs, as it were, on the cross forever, always incarnate, and always nailed.”
—Annie Dillard, For the Time Being

August 16, 2011

Hope, child, tomorrow and tomorrow still,
And every tomorrow hope; trust while you live.
Hope, each time the dawn doth heaven fill,
Be there to ask as God is there to give.
—Victor Hugo

August 15, 2011

Temptation
Christians who seem relatively free of temptation, the Early Church believed, “were the men and women God protects because God knows how little temptation they can stand.”
—Roberta Bondi, To Love as God Loves, 17.

August 14, 2011

“Vanity they pursued, vanity they became” ( Jeremiah 2:5, JB).

August 13, 2011

Three Stages of Discipleship
Gregory of Nyssa cited three stages of the Christian life:
1. In the beginning, one serves God out of fear like a slave.
2. In stage two, the service of God stems from a desire for reward, like that of a hired hand.
3. Only in stage three does the disciple serve out of friendship with God, or out of pure love of God, as a child in God’s household.
—Cited by Roberta Bondi, To Love as God Loves, 27

August 12, 2011

Lifelines from a Wise Old Couple(Wes & Bettye) Celebrating Their 60th Anniversary on August 12, 2011
Work like you don't need the money.
Love like you've never been hurt.
Dance like nobody's watching.
Sing like nobody's listening.
Rejoice because you know that God is good.
—adapted from a piece of junk mail that came the other day

August 11, 2011

It is precisely in the Passion, when the mercy of Christ is about to vanquish it, that sin most clearly manifests its violence and its many forms: unbelief, murderous hatred, shunning and mockery by the leaders and the people, Pilate's cowardice and the cruelty of the soldiers, Judas' betrayal - so bitter to Jesus, Peter's denial and the disciples' flight. However, at the very hour of darkness, the hour of the prince of this world, the sacrifice of Christ secretly becomes the source from which the forgiveness of our sins will pour forth inexhaustibly.
—Roman Catholic Catechism

August 10, 2011

THE Lord is my shepherd
The LORD is my shepherd
The Lord IS my shepherd
The Lord is MY shepherd
The Lord is my SHEPHERD.

August 9, 2011

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all.
—Emily Dickinson, Poem XXXII

August 8, 2011

“The problem is that much theology, having lived for so long on the convenience food
of an easygoing tolerance of everything, an ‘inclusivity’ with as few boundaries as McWorld,
has become depressingly flabby, unable to climb even the lower slopes of social and cultural
judgment let alone the steep upper reaches of that judgment of which the early Christians spoke.”
—N. T. Wright, Surprised By Hope, 2008, 178-79

August 7, 2011

God’s Love
“Perhaps a good Christian response to Descarte’s dictum cogito ergo sum ( I think, therefore I am) is sum amatus ergo sum (I am loved, therefore I am).
—J. Richard Middleton and Brian J. Walsh, Truth Is Stranger Than It Used To Be, 37.

August 6, 2011

“Do not give in to the promptings of your temper, in case it gores your soul like a mad bull; in case it gobbles up your leaves and you lose your fruits and are left a withered tree. An evil temper destroys a man . . . and makes him [a] laughingstock.”
Ecclesiasticus 6:2-4, JB.

August 5, 2011

“There are three things my souls delights in:
—concord between brothers,
—friendship between neighbors.
—and a wife and husband who live happily together.
 
There are three sorts of people . . . whose existence I consider an outrage:
—a poor man swollen with pride,
—a rich man who is a liar, and
—an adulterous old man who has no sense.”
Ecclesiasticus 25:1-4, JB.

August 4, 2011

“ Speak, old men, it is proper that you should; but know what you are talking about, and do not interrupt the music.”
—Ecclesiasticus 32: 3-5, Jerusalem Bible.

August 3, 2011

“Do not practice . . . a double heart.
Do not act a part in public . . . .
Woe to . . . the sinner who treads two paths”
Ecclesiasticus 1:36, 2:13, Jerusalem Bible

August 2, 2011

To fear the Lord is the beginning of wisdom . . . .
To fear the Lord is the perfection of wisdom . . . .
To fear the Lord is the crown of wisdom . . . .
To fear the Lord is the root of wisdom”
Ecclesiasticus 1:14-20, Jerusalem Bible (emphasis added)

August 1, 2011

This week’s “morsels” will come from Ecclesiasticus (not Ecclesiastes), a wisdom book found in the Catholic Bible but not in the Protestant Bible. Even though you do not regard the 13 apocryaphal books as Scripture nearly 2 billion Catholics do. That alone puts these books on your “to read” list.
 
“Do not be so sure of forgiveness that you add sin to sin.”
Ecclesiasticus 5:5, Jerusalem Bible

July 31, 2011

Glory be to God, the last aching abyss of the human heart is filled to overflowing with the love of God.
Love is the beginning, love is the middle and love is the end.”
—Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

July 30, 2011

Beautiful faces and loud, empty places
Look at the way that we live
Wastin’ our time on cheap talk and wine
Left us so little to give.

 
—“You Get the Best of My Love,” verse 1, a 1974 hit by The Eagles

July 29, 2011

“Me on my best day.”
After pondering a painting of Jesus and a beggar:
“On my best day, in my brightest moment I’m the beggar on the mat sorely in need of Jesus’ touch and empowerment.. . . .I was—am— a ptochos, broken person who can joyfully embrace her membership in the community of the broken.. . .nothing to hide, nothing to defend, I am free to be known.”
—This appeared on p.59 of some book I was reading, but I failed to note the author and name of the book. If you know, send me the info. Wes).

July 28, 2011

Franciscan Blessing
 
“May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships. . . .
May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation, . . . so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.
May God bless you with tears . . . for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may . . . comfort them and turn their pain into joy.
And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference, . . . so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.”

July 27, 2011

ACTS OF GOD
“God is no more blinding people with glaucoma, or testing them with diabetes…than he is jimmying floodwaters, pitching tornadoes at towns, triggering rock slides, or setting fires. The very least likely things for which God might be responsible are what insurers call ‘acts of God.’”
—Annie Dillard, For the Time Being

July 26, 2011


The heaven of heavens is love. There is nothing higher in religion; there is, in effect, nothing else . . . . And when you are asking others, ‘Have you received this or that blessing?’ if you mean anything but more love, you mean wrong. . . . Settle it then . . .that from the moment God has saved you from all sin [read sanctified you ] you are to aim at nothing more, but more of that love described in the thirteenth of [First] Corinthians. You can go no higher than this.
—John Wesley, Works, 11:430

July 25, 2011

Budget Balancing

Use it up,
Wear it out,
Make do or
Do without.

 
—Lorilee Craker, Money Secrets of the Amish

July 24, 2011

Does Jesus care when I’ve said “goodbye”
To the dearest on earth to me,
And my sad heart aches till it nearly breaks—
Is it aught to Him? Does He see?
 
Oh, yes, He cares, I know He cares,
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,
I know my Savior cares.
 
—“Does Jesus Care?” 1901, written by Methodist Pastor Frank E. Graeff
after meditating on 1 Peter 5:7 while battling severe trials.

July 23, 2011

The Object of God’s Love
 
If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. If He had a wallet your photo would be in it. He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning. Whenever you want to talk, He’ll listen . . . And the Christmas gift He sent you in Bethlehem? Face it friend, He’s crazy about you.”
—Max Lucado, A Gentle Thunder

July 22, 2011
 

Show me, as my soul can bear,
The depth of inbred sin;
All the unbelief declare,
The pride that lurks within.
Take me, whom Thyself hast bought,
Bring into captivity
Ev’ry high, aspiring thought
That would not stoop to Thee.
 
—Charles Wesley, “Open Lord, My Inward Ear.” Wesley Hymns, no. 37

July 21, 2011


We are, each of us, angels with only one wing, and we can only fly embracing each other.”
 
—Luciano de Crescenzo, The Mustard Seed

July 20, 2011

Third Favorite: Tithe Party
 
This is my third most favorite passage in Deuteronomy, right up there behind 6:4-9 (the Shema) and 14:3 (“You shall not eat any detestable thing”). Least favorite in Deut. is most of chapter 13. But here’s the third best:
“And thou shalt bestow that money [the tithe] for
whatsoever thy soul lusteth after,
for oxen,
for sheep,
for wine,
or for strong drink,
or whatsoever thy soul desireth:
and . . . before the Lord . . .thou shalt rejoice. . .” Deut. 14:26, KJV.
 

July 19, 2011

“The years that lie behind you, with all their struggles and pains, will in time be remembered as the only way that led to your new life.”
—Henri Nouwen., The Inner Voice of Love, (N.Y. Image Books, 1999}, 34
 

July 18, 2011

 
I never spoke with God,
Nor visited in heaven;
Yet certain am I of the spot
As if the chart were given.
—Emily Dickinson. Poem XVII

July 17, 2011

“Forgiveness is not a moral rule with sanctions attached . . . . Forgiveness is a way of life, God’s way of life, God’s way to life; and if you close your life to forgiveness, why, then you close your life to forgiveness. . . . God in his gentle love longs to set us free from the prison we have stumbled into—the loveless prison where we refuse both the offer and the demand of forgiveness.”
—N. T. Wright, Surprised By Hope, 2008, 288-89
 

Greek Financial Crisis

 
“Citizens of Athens, aren’t you ashamed to care so much about making all the money you can . . . while for truth and wisdom and the improvement of your souls you have no thought or care.”
—Socrates, Crito. About 400 B. C.

July 15, 2011

What Then?
 
“Acceptance of oneself is . . . the acid test of . . . life. That I feed the beggar, that I forgive an insult, that I love my enemy in the name of Christ— all these are . . . great virtues. What I do unto the least of my brethren, that I do unto Christ.
But what if I should discover that the least amongst them all, the poorest of all beggars, the most impudent of all offenders . . . . that these are within me, and that I myself stand in need of the alms of my own kindness, that I myself am the enemy who must be loved— what then?”
—Carl Jung, Psychological Reflections, 239.

July 14, 2011
 

“The answer is always resurrection. Here the Christian Story either coheres magnificently or collapses pathetically. The Christian faith is either a resurrection movement or it is nothing at all.”
—Al Truesdale, With Cords of Love
 

July 11-12, 2011

"Never give the devil a ride. Because if he likes the ride, pretty soon he will want to drive.”
—Ann Lamott, Grace (Eventually) 51

July 10, 2011

“The intention of God is that we should each become the kind of person whom he can set free in his universe, empowered to do what we want to do.”
—Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, 379
 

July 9, 2011
“My whole hope is in Thy exceeding great mercy and that alone. Give what You command and command what You will.”

—Augustine, Confessions
 
July 8, 2011
Athanasius compared the Trinity to a lighted candle: the lighted candle is a flame; the flame is light and the flame is heat, but it is all one flame. The one God is the creator of all, the one God is the incarnated light of Jesus, and the one God is the warming presence of the Holy Spirit. All of these manifestations are at the same time the flame of the lighted candle. This remains the best analogy I have found to describe the Trinity.
—Rufus H. Stark II, Christian Century, April, 2011
 

July 7, 2011

“ We cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life’s morning; for what was great in the morning will be little at evening, and what in the morning was true will at evening have become a lie.”

—Carl Jung, quoted in the N.Y. Times

July 6, 2011

Empty the Credenza
Dispose of your credentials.
Recycle records of
successes and interrupted flights. . . .
Eviscerate the ephemeral
Erase the outmoded.
Name the no longer. . .
All the people you were
All the people others ascribed to you
into the bin
into the bin
into the bin.
Let yourself fill with the future.
Stuff this space with who you are..
 
—Catharine Wald, Friends Journal, May 2011

July 5, 2011
From a hymn book I bought at a garage sale for $1

When the poor ones who have nothing share with strangers
When the thirsty water give unto us all,
When the crippled in their weakness strengthen others
Then we know that God still goes that road with us.
Cuando El Pobre, hymn by J. A. Olivar & M. Manzano, translated from the Spanish by George Lockwood, United Methodist Hymnal, 1989, 434.
 

July 4, 2011

“God wants to do more within us . . . There are scars He wants to remove. There are fractured feelings He wants to heal. There are insights He longs to reveal. . . . But none of the above will happen automatically—not as long as He remains a sterile, untouchable blip on our theological screen.”
—Charles R. Swindoll, Embraced by the Spirit, 2010, 24.
 

July 3, 2011

“I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye
upon you. Don’t be like a . . . mule. . .” (Psalm 32:8-9, NRSV)

July 2, 2011

“Doesn’t my soul look like a market place where the second-hand dealers from all the corners of the globe have assembled to sell the shabby riches of this world? . . . . O God. . .Your Love has succeeded in stealing into an obscure corner . . . in between the countless bales of second-hand goods.”
—Karl Rahner, Encounters with Silence