An Orthodox Love


“…countless church councils down through the centuries had met to discuss the correct formulations of the orthodox faith; yet never has a council been convened to discuss the implications of the orthodox love (Matthew 22:37-40).” (Bosch, David J. A Spirituality of the Road. Eugene: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 1979, p. 14.)

This word from David Bosch makes me think: On a practical level, what is our great commandment? Is it to believe or to love? Are we more interested in getting our answers right than we are caring genuinely and well for others? We’re more particular about getting our words right than in getting our lives right. This is at least something I’m wrestling with.

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Love Endures All Things


Rio Jimenoa in Jarabacoa, the Dominican Republic.

Rio Jimenoa in Jarabacoa, the Dominican Republic.

“’God is asking you to go through some dark places for love of Him. But though you may seem to stumble much and even at times to fall, yet you are doing all He asks of you when you continue to say “Thy will be done,” even though you have to force yourself to say it. He is without question calling on you to suffer somewhat for Him, and I suppose it is ever the case with us all that we think we could endure so much more easily everything except that which He wants us to endure.” (Hughson, Shirley Carter. The Spiritual Letters of Shirley Carter Hughson. West Park, NY: Holy Cross Press, 1953, p. 3.)

Endurance involves an unchanging circumstance of some sort that I would not have chosen or do not enjoy. I don’t use the word “endure” about pleasant or welcome things. In the hard places, my love for Jesus has an opportunity to be tested. It’s easy to love when things go according to “my will be done,” but when they go against my wishes, I can say, “Jesus, I love you more than I love my preferences. I love you more than I love getting my way. Your kingdom really is better than mine. Enable me to wait for the fruit of your kingdom in this situation in which I find myself.”

What are the endurance places in your life these days? How might this be the unexpectedly perfect place to express your love for Jesus?

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Looking Back: Living Life at the Pace of Love


I am a grateful witness to how God is uniquely present to His people in retreat settings like yesterday’s Come Away in Los Angeles. There is something about slowing down that enables us to enter more deeply into His infinite love for us.

With that in mind, I’m looking back to a post from December 2009 which came after one of our “An Unhurried Day with Jesus” Saturday retreats. I had been reading Kosuke Koyama’s book Three Mile An Hour God. He talks there about the pace of walking with God: “God walks ‘slowly’ because he is love.”

Read more of “Living Life at the Pace of Love

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Orthodox Love


“…countless church councils down through the centuries had met to discuss the correct formulations of the orthodox faith; yet never has a council been convened to discuss the implications of the orthodox love (Matthew 22:37-40).” (Bosch, David J. A Spirituality of the Road. Eugene: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 1979, p. 14.)

This word from David Bosch makes me think: Do many Christians believe that the greatest commandment is to believe more than to love. Many seem to be more interested in getting their answers right more than caring well for others. We’re more particular about getting our words right than in getting our lives right.

This is at least something I’m wrestling with. Something to think about in the afterglow of Easter.

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A Little Treasure Hunting


The blog has been pretty quiet, visitors-wise, over the extended weekend, so I’m posting links to the last six posts and inviting you to choose one that sounds fitting for you today. If you’ve already read them all, I’ve included a good word from my recent spiritual reading at the end of this post:

  • A Victory of Transforming Love” – A great word from Elton Trueblood about how Christ and his kingdom won not by muscle-power, but by love.
  • Love at the Only Starting Point” – The great saints haven’t been the one climbing highest on the moral ladder, but the one who have let themselves be loved most by God (and loved Him back).
  • Practicing God’s Presence in the Midst” – No matter what we are doing, even if it is our spiritual practices, Brother Lawrence invites us to stop here and there to simply adore God in the depths of our hearts.
  • The Transforming Power of Remembering Our Stories” – When our lives, our communities, even our ministry organizations, begin to grow spiritually stale, remembering our early faith stories can be a source of refreshment and renewal.
  • The Problem of Functional Atheism” – When and where in my life do I forget God, assume God doesn’t care much, or even deny Him? It may not be where you think…
  • A Good Word: God Loves Beauty” – Frank Laubach reminds us that God created, and therefore loves what is beautiful. You might be surprised where God sees the greatest beauty in creation.

And, as I promised, here’s something I came across in my recent reading on the theme of unhurry:

“It is related of St. Catherine of Siena that one day she asked Our Lord why it was that God has so often revealed Himself to the patriarchs, prophets and Christian of early times but rarely did so in her own time. Our Lord replied that it was because they were devoid of self-esteem and came to Him as faithful disciplines to await His inspiration, allowing themselves to be fashioned like gold in the crucible or painted on by His hands like an artists canvas, and letting Him write the law of love in their hearts. But the Christians of her time acted as if He could not see or hear them, and wanted to do and say everything by themselves, keeping themselves so busy and restless that they would not allow Him to work in them. Note that Our Savior has already tried to warn us against such excess in the Gospel when He said When you pray, do not multiply words as the Gentiles do; for they think that by saying a great deal they will be heard. So do not be like them for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” (Saint-Jure, Fr. Jean Baptiste and Claude de la Colombière, S. J. Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence. Rockford: TAN Books and Publisher, 1983, p. 77-78.)

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The Real Value of Relationships


I was again reviewing some of my reading from the recent past and came across these insights from Kosuke Koyama’s book Three Mile An Hour God. I’ve posted other insights from him here in “Unhurried: Is Jesus Too Slow?” and “Living Life at the Pace of Love.” I think you’ll appreciate what he has to say here about the real costs of technology and the real value of human relationships:

“Our technological resourcefulness is making our life expensive and lonely. Technology is ambiguous. It can enrich and impoverish our life. Technology is like fire; it can cook rice for our enjoyment and nutrition and it can also reduce our house to ashes.

Can we bring about an inexpensive yet resourceful life style? One way—perhaps the only way—to do this would be to cultivate, increase and deepen human relationship. Human relationship is inexpensive yet resourceful. This is grace indeed. The biblical God is the God of a covenant relationship with man. This means that the whole biblical teaching is rooted in relationship. Money has ultimate meaning only if it enhances human relationship. The salvation the Bible is talking about is ‘inexpensive yet resourceful’. If salvation is expensive in terms of hard-cash, then something is wrong with that kind of salvation.” (p. 121.)

“For Peter ‘I have no silver and gold’ means ‘I always look at silver and gold under the overwhelming sense of gratitude to God’. Or ‘what God has provided is abundant for me. I have no need for more. And I say this joyously’. This is the apostolic secret. ‘I have no silver and gold’ he said. Yet he healed the man. The secret of Peter is ‘gratitude’ and ‘Jesus’. These two combined bring healing, hope and resurrection.” (p. 141.)

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The Courage to Care


Elton Trueblood continues to be an author of influence in my life. The words below are more than fifty years old, yet are timely to me today:

“A prominent philosopher of England has suggested the wisdom of using ‘caring’ as our best modem translation for the almost untranslatable Greek word, of which the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians is an inspired definition. The difficulty with “charity” as a translation is that, to modern ears, it means philanthropy and not much more. The trouble with ‘love’ is that it has been oversentimentalized in modern literature and smacks of softness. But caring is, as yet, an unspoiled term. It is the best we know. Thus we may begin: ‘Though I speak. with the tongues of men and of angels, and do not care, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.’ ‘Caring never ends.’ Try, in the intimacy of your own meditation, to restate that marvelous chapter, substituting ‘caring’ for the key word. The consequence may be that you have a new vision of the truth as you begin to understand what it means to have ‘the courage to care.’” (Elton Trueblood. “The Courage to Care.” The Yoke of Christ and Other Sermons. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1958, p. 79.)

“Love” has ceased to mean a willing choice to act for another’s benefit. It more often means feelings of attraction towards another, or the pleasure I take in someone or something. It has become focused on my experience rather than on my behavior and way of relating to others.

Are you experiencing God’s passionate concern and care for you? How is He inviting you to offer practical care and concern for another?

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Patience: An Unhurried Virtue


Though I’m not writing a great deal right now on my Unhurried project, I continue to think and reflect a lot on this theme. My conviction that hurry is a primary problem among Christian leaders continues to grow.

So one arena I’ve been thinking about is virtue. The fruit of the Spirit most related to unhurry is patience. Here are a few random paragraphs about that.

When I think about how I’ve sometimes “done” church, I ask myself which would be better: ten one-year ministry cycles, each with various priorities and emphases (the latest “big thing,” for example), or one ten-year ministry journey in the same direction with the same solid priorities and vital spiritual soil? Which might produce better and more lasting fruit? I don’t think it’s a hard question to answer, even if it is a challenge to be that patient.

When Paul was listing qualities of love in his letter to the Corinthians, the very first he mentions is that “love is patient.” Impatience is unloving. Compassion is patient. Affection is patient. Jesus was patient. Caring for another takes time. Love is patient.

We’ve probably all heard someone say, “Never pray for patience!” But it strikes me that Paul did just that when he prayed that the Colossian Christians would be “strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience (Colossians 1:11).” I may not like how growing in patience feels, but I do long to be a more loving person. Patience is a primary reality of caring.

The basic Greek work for patience in the New Testament is makrothumia or, literally, “long suffering.” Our culture tends to be impatient because one of our basic goals is to reduce and eliminate all suffering, let alone any discomfort. Patience is hard. Patience is uncomfortable. Patience may involve suffering something in my life that may never change, but doing so in a spirit of love.

Since this blog post is sort of a “writing seed” for my project, I’d appreciate any other creative thoughts you have about patience and unhurry.

Where has your patience been most tested recently? As you look at these circumstances and relationships, how is God inviting you respond with care, with patience?

Living Life at the Pace of Love


What a pleasure to share yesterday with a group of 25 at Evergreen Baptist Church of L. A. for another “An Unhurried Day with Jesus” event. The work God does in us in three hours of solitude and silence is richer and more profound than a week of ministry work.

In our debrief time, I share some thoughts I’ve had on the pace of love. When Paul goes about listing characteristics of love in 1 Corinthians 13, the first word he uses is “patient.” Love is patient. Love is slow. I remembered again Kosuke Koyama’s book, Three Mile an Hour God. I posted a link to a past post quoting him, “Is Jesus Too Slow?” He was a Japanese Catholic theologian who “defended a theology that he considered to be accessible to the peasantry in developing nations, rather than an overly academic systematic theology (Wikipedia).” He died in March at 79. A theme throughout the book is the reality of walking with God. The average walking speed is three miles per hour, hence the title.

God walks ‘slowly’ because he is love. If he is not love he would have gone much faster. Love has its speed. It is an inner speed. It is a spiritual speed. It is a different kind of speed from the technological speed to which we are accustomed. It is ‘slow’ yet it is lord over all other speed since it is the speed of love. It goes on in the depth of our life, whether we notice or not, whether we are currently hit by storm or not, at three miles an hour. It is the speed we walk and therefore it is the speed the love of God walks.” (Koyama, Kosuke. Three Mile an Hour God. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1979, p. 7.)

How does this strike you? Why not read these words once more, a little more slowly.

In this Advent season, when we mean as Christ-followers to remember His coming, how might slowing down rather the living at “holiday pace” help you remember Him?

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Time is Love, Time is Money


At a recent Journey retreat, Paul Jensen led us in a group interaction contrasting two different views of time. One sees time as money. Efficiency is the bottom line. The other sees time as a way of showing love. Here were some of the contrasts our group came up with…
Time is Money / Time is Love
40 hours / vacation
Quantative / Qualitative
Pressure / room to breathe
Earned / grace/unearned
Machine / human
Deadlines / flexible
Left brain / Right brain
Standing up  / Sitting down
Material / immaterial
Profit / people
Basketball / Baseball
Measurable / Immeasurable
Closed door / Open door
Value / Valuable
Deserving / Undeserving