Here are my final 3 books that have shaped my walk with Christ: Fill These Hearts, Christopher West All of us are here because of sexuality. God has built it not only into our bodies but into the core of the universe. To read Christopher West is to ignite one’s heart about all the ways God has given us to know Him and satisfy our deepest hungers. The study of God (theology) is built right into our bodies. Dance of Anger, Harriet Lerner I have found that anger is a very complex, misunderstood emotion and causes a lot of pain by being ignored and/or abused. We’re not any holier for stuffing it and worse off if we explode. Christians need to learn how to acknowledge and process anger. Lerner practically unpacks the emotion of anger. Opening to God: Lectio Divina and Life as Prayer, David Benner David’s book brought me to heaven each time I opened it reminding. Read more.
When we are forced to acknowledge our very limited real control over what happens to us, a “thin” place opens up – one that is filled with spiritual possibilities and gifts. David Benner says it well: “Surrender is simply inner acceptance of what is. There is probably nothing more difficult for humans. But there is also nothing more freeing.” While many demands scream for our attention, I remain convinced the most important thing we do, especially as pastors and leaders, is to surrender our will to His. Towards this end I have been experimenting with a well-known practice known as Welcoming Prayer. It provides a framework for how to respond to something emotionally upsetting with a spirit of surrender. Cynthia Bourgeault describes the three simple movements or steps as follows: 1. Focus on the difficult emotion (e.g. anger, fear, depression, shame). Face it directly and feel it in your body. Don’t try to change. Read more.
This past Christmas I gifted each of our staff with a copy of David Benner’s book, Opening to God: Lectio Divina and Life as Prayer. In light of our human limits, it is not possible to be excellent at everything -e.g. counseling, managing budgets, strategic planning, preaching, casting vision. Yet if our work is provide leadership in the church of Jesus, I think prayer may be the most important area where we need to grow in excellence. What might that look like? Benner’s book gives us some very helpful clues. The following are a few of my notes from this timely book: 1. As Teresa of Avila says, the important thing in prayer is not to think much but to love much. 2. Prayer is God’s action is us. Our part is simply to allow divine love to so so transform our hearts that the love of God will spring forth as a response. Read more.
I have just completed a month reflecting on Mark 1 and the rhythms of Jesus. The following is a nice visual of His being with God (contemplation) and His doing (activity). So the question is what might it look like for us to withdraw to a desert in our daily lives, to engage in the rhythms of Jesus of “Being with the Father” and “Doing/Activity.” The following are a few suggestions, many of which come from David Benner’s excellent new book Opening to God. • Pause for Sabbath for 24 hr. each week (Stop, rest, delight, contemplate). • Pause for Daily Office two to three times a day. • Sunday worship/Small group– to worship/sit under the Word. • Read a passage of Scripture and listening for God’s personal word to you. • Light a candle in your home. • Allow music to draw your spirit to God’s Spirit. • Review your day and noticing. Read more.