A friend recently asked Pete and I for some of the books that have most shaped our journey with Christ.I was surprised at how easily several came to my mind. I noticed a couple things: I follow authors more than books so each author is a person whom I respect and resonate with. I love books that, for me, are profound but nuanced in very practical ways. I read them more than once. I read them slowly and prayerfully. Here are my first three: 1. Let Your Life Speak… Parker Palmer 2. A Hidden Wholeness….Parker Palmer These two books articulated for me the essential truth that life is lived from the inside out. Leadership/churches can have all the “best” programs in the world but if one is not in touch with the interior movements of their heart, then life is just a matter of adjusting chairs on the Titanic. Doing must flow from being.. Read more.
When I asked my PhD friend to reflect, after over 30 years of therapy with high-powered executives and pastors, why leaders have such a difficult time stopping and being still. He laughed. “Pete,” he replied with a smile, “They are terrified. They can’t stop. Their self is so tied into achievement, into their doing and work, they are afraid they will die if they stop.” This Isenheim Altarpiece painted by Matthias Grünewald some time between 1512 and 1516 captures the intense struggle to die to the false self. We see ugly demons trying to torment Anthony of Athanasius to leave the place of solitude with Jesus. Each of us needs to fashion our own desert where we can withdraw and allow the gentle touch of Jesus free us. The shape of the discipline of solitude will look different for each of us. But one thing is sure — a fruitful life can only flow out. Read more.
Last year, a large psychiatric hospital in Queens opened up a small bookstore a few blocks from my house. The employees are “severely mentally ill adult patients.” I initially began going to buy cheap, second-hand books for $2.00 or less. But I have found myself returning more and more. Why? I finally got it. I return for my soul. I love being with the staff. They are kind, unassuming, and unpretentious. I finally understood why Henri Nouwen became a chaplain for mentally and physically challenged adults at L’Arche. His words below are worth reading slowly. “The first thing that struck me when I came to live in a house for mentally handicapped people was their liking or disliking me had absolutely nothing to do with any of the many useful things I had done until then. Since nobody could read my books, they could not impress anyone, and since most of them never went to. Read more.
Last week I attended and spoke at the Christian Community Development Association conference (CCDA) in Miami. Over 2000 people were in attendance. The work of John Perkins and CCDA, along with their commitment to racial reconciliation and relocation to live among the poor, helped shape my journey for Christ almost thirty years ago as well as our work here at New Life. Most leaders in attendance are very busy. I also became acutely aware of the growing impact of emotionally healthy spirituality around the country. Both realties concerned me. Then, as I sat in my hotel room one early morning, God came to me through the following: Abba Anthony received letter from emperor Constantine to visit him in Constantinople. He wondered if he should go and asked Abba Paul who said, “If you go, you will be called Anthony, but if you stay here (in desert alone), you will be called Abba Anthony. “ An “abba’ was someone recognized as. Read more.