As I reflect on my writing ministry in 2016, the most obvious milestone was the release of my third book in September. Blessed at the Broken Places: Reclaiming Faith and Purpose with the Beatitudes shows how the Beatitudes validate the faith of people in emotional pain. Jesus’ blessings invite us to more intentional discipleship as we heal.
This blog enables me to share with you fresh discoveries from my continuing meditation on the Beatitudes. In 2016, three posts really soared in views. I never know why one post gets a lot of views and another doesn’t, but these three offer perspectives especially dear to my faith.
Below I share quotations from those posts to give you a sampling. Click the titles to link to the full posts.
Do you want to integrate your faith more into the whole of your life, not just into designated religious activities like worship or prayer? Decisions fill your days and seasons. Discernment takes you beyond mere calculation to closer collaboration with God.
You are a child of God, not a computer. Who you are matters. Who God is matters. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also, and you only have zeroes to enter in your cost-benefit analysis without the values that come from who you are, what you are for, and whether your God is love or mammon.
To better size up situations and respond, separate the wheat from the chaff in your own soul. Determine whether your energy comes from adrenalin or joy, whether your sense of beauty comes from lust or love, whether your guilt comes from getting caught or being untrue to yourself. In a word, distinguish between motives bestowed by the one true God who loves you and those from the countless false gods who don’t know you from Adam.
During Lenten season in late winter and early spring, we focus not only on the resurrection of Jesus, but on his passion, his passive submission to persecutors. Ironically, the most powerful action in history totally defied our eye-for-an-eye mentality and met evil with nonviolence.
Jesus’ passivity reflects God. Seldom does God interrupt the natural order of things. God frustrates many with mercy that refuses to crush the merciless despite the damage they do. God allows us space both to flourish and sin, to love and err.
God allows that space because God loves us, and love wants reciprocity, not in a tit-for-tat arrangement, but in a response freely given. From God down to dogs, those who love must eventually reach a vulnerable pause and wait for the response. Hearts hang in the balance.
In my father’s last years before his death in September 2016, he worried about eternal life as many do. I inherited from him a very skeptical streak. So for both of our sakes, I spilled my doubts in this post then found my deep affirmation of eternal life. After concluding that reason and scripture take us to a precipice of existential decision, I wrote:
I believe in eternal life because Christ conquered death, and I claim that not only because the Bible tells me so, but because Christ touches me here, now, palpable, closer to me than I am to myself even amid toil and suffering.
I believe in eternal life because I live it now. I believe in eternal life because it is so pregnant with meaning that it groans.
…I believe in eternal life because I know myself loved even in my darkest hours by One who overshadows death and whose joy is not complete until I finally rest in God. Until you rest in God. Until every last one of us rests in God.
Please don’t be shy about sharing this top three post as a sampler of the Beatitudes Blog for friends!