December 25th, 2017 by Dave Leave a reply »

From the Bottom Up:



Sunday, December 24, 2017

The ancient ruins will be rebuilt,

You will build on age-old foundations,

You will be called “Breach-Mender,”

Restorer of ruined houses.

—Isaiah 58:12
Throughout this year’s Daily Meditations, I have tried to follow in the footsteps of great reformers like Isaiah, Jesus, St. Francis of Assisi, and Martin Luther. In 1205, Francis heard these words in a vision: “Rebuild my church, for you see it is falling into ruin.” Francis simply focused on different things, an alternative orthodoxy that he believed was the “marrow of the Gospel.”
Every so often, religious institutions become rigid and need to be revived, reformed, and reborn. When churches become machines more than movements, it’s a sign that they must shake off the historical and cultural calcifications so they can continue evolving as a living movement. Just as in Scripture and our own lives, growth is never in a straight line; it is often three steps forward and two steps backward.
This year, the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation—when so many people are leaving the church and Christianity’s reputation may seem irreparably damaged—felt like a good time to again rebuild our faith “from the bottom up.” Rather than coming from those in power at the top, the most effective and lasting change happens at the grass-roots level, led by those who are on the “edge of the inside” and are not dependent upon the status quo.
This year we’ve explored many first principles or essential elements of the Christian tradition, attempting to clear away the rubble of unhelpful theology, low-level thinking, abuse of power, and misunderstanding. Even if you aren’t Christian, I hope you’ve been able to apply universal themes to your own spiritual journey. Here are just some of those topics (find more in the online archive):
* Scripture, Experience, and Tradition
* Contemplation
* Trinity
* The Cosmic Christ
* Salvation as At-One-Ment
* Law and Grace
* Sin as Separation
* Nonviolence
* Faith and Science
* Sexuality and Gender
I pray that my words will not get in the way of what God is doing in your life and in the world. I pray that these words will not just be words, but “spirit and truth” (John 4:24) that plant you firmly in the breach between the world as it usually is (Power) and the world as it should and could be (Love). Both love and power are the necessary building blocks of God’s peaceful kingdom on earth. Love utterly redefines the nature of power. Power without love is mere brutality (even in the church), and love without power is only the sentimentality of private lives disconnected from the Whole. The Gospel in its fullness holds power and love together, creating new hope and healing for the world.
As this year draws to a close, may you go and grow forward as a breach-mender, restoring the places in which God’s presence has become hidden or misrepresented. Have courage and be tender.
Gateway to Silence:

You make all things new.

All Things New

Monday, December 25, 2017


Yearning for a new way will not produce it. Only ending the old way can do that.

You cannot hold onto the old, all the while declaring that you want something new.

The old will defy the new;

The old will deny the new;

The old will decry the new.

There is only one way to bring in the new. You must make room for it.

—Neale Donald Walsch [1]
My spiritual father, Francis of Assisi (1181-1226), was a master of making room for the new and letting go of that which was tired or empty. He was ready for absolute newness from God and therefore could also trust fresh and new attitudes in himself. His God was not tired, and so he was never tired. His God was not old, so Francis remained forever young.
Francis was the first to create a living nativity scene, bringing to life the revolutionary new way God revealed God’s self in the vulnerability of a baby in a manger. The Incarnation of God in Jesus was foundational to Francis, and he wanted others to experience its life-changing power.
Francis was at once very traditional and entirely new in the ways of holiness. Franciscanism is not an iconoclastic dismissal of traditional Christian images, history, or culture, but a positive choosing of the deep, shining, and enduring divine images that are hidden beneath the too-easy formulas. It is no fast-food religion, but slow and healthy nutrition.
Both Jesus and Francis did not let the old get in the way of the new, but like all religious geniuses, revealed what the old was saying all along. Francis both named and exemplified that “first, churchless incarnation in the human heart.” [2] But somehow he also knew that it was the half-knowing, organized Church that passed this shared mystery on to him and preserved it for future generations. He had the humility and patience to know that whatever is true is always a shared truth; and only institutions, for all their weaknesses, make this widely shareable, historical, and communal.
Both Jesus and Francis were “conservatives” in the true sense of the term: they conserved what was worth conserving—the core, the transformative life of the Gospel—and did not let accidentals get in the way. They then ended up looking quite “progressive,” radical, and even dangerous to the status quo. This is the biblical pattern, from Abraham to Moses, to Jeremiah, Job, John the Baptist, Mary, and Joseph.

Gateway to Silence:

You make all things new.

His Birth and Our New Birth

By Oswald Chambers

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” —Matthew 1:23

His Birth in History. “…that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God (Luke 1:35). Jesus Christ was born into this world, not from it. He did not emerge out of history; He came into history from the outside. Jesus Christ is not the best human being the human race can boast of— He is a Being for whom the human race can take no credit at all. He is not man becoming God, but God Incarnate— God coming into human flesh from outside it. His life is the highest and the holiest entering through the most humble of doors. Our Lord’s birth was an advent— the appearance of God in human form.
His Birth in Me. “My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you…” (Galatians 4:19). Just as our Lord came into human history from outside it, He must also come into me from outside. Have I allowed my personal human life to become a “Bethlehem” for the Son of God? I cannot enter the realm of the kingdom of God unless I am born again from above by a birth totally unlike physical birth. “You must be born again” (John 3:7). This is not a command, but a fact based on the authority of God. The evidence of the new birth is that I yield myself so completely to God that “Christ is formed” in me. And once “Christ is formed” in me, His nature immediately begins to work through me.
God Evident in the Flesh. This is what is made so profoundly possible for you and for me through the redemption of man by Jesus Christ.


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