Posts Tagged ‘Devotional’
The Advent season is rapidly approaching us and will be here before we know it. For the past three years I have made it my practice to participate in the cycle of the Christian Church Calendar with Advent beginning the cycle of a new year. In the most recent two years I have written daily devotional meditations for the seasons spanning Advent to Christmastide into Lent and through to Pentecost. It has been an exceptionally moving and spiritually developmental exercise for me and I would recommend it highly for anyone seeking to move deeper into relationship with our Great Triune God.
There are scores of resources available to assist you through this season of meditation, but I would like to make a recommendation for “Waiting for the Light: an Advent Devotional” compiled by Susan Wade, Ricci Kilmer, and Christine Sine. The book is available through Mustard Seed Associates and they describe the devotional with these words:
Christians of all traditions are discovering the value of taking time in the days that lead up to Christmas to break away from the consumer frenzy of our culture and prepare their hearts and minds for the coming of Christ. This resource responds to this desire. It is more than a devotional, it is a complete guide to the Advent and Christmas season, providing liturgies, weekly activities and daily reflections to equip and nourish us all through the season.
Over the last few years we have hosted a blog series on Godspace during the Advent and Christmas season. Each year a rich feast of reflections are contributed by bloggers across the globe who love God and love to share their faith with others. The reflections in Waiting for the Light are drawn from these diverse and inspiring blog posts. They are designed to be used throughout Advent and Christmas as both a preparation for and a celebration of the birth of Christ.
I was one of the privileged bloggers who contributed to this devotional compilation and would love to share the incredibly rich blessings of these daily reflections, liturgies, and weekly activities that can help us enter into the season that celebrates the coming of Christ. I feel safe to assure that should you enter in to this devotional practice, you will be touched by God in ways you previously have never imagined.
Pre-order copies are available for $13 through November 15 (after 11/15 the price will go to $18 incl. S/H)
My Top 10 Reads from 2010
I started out this year with an aggressive goal of reading seventy-five books by the end of 2010; I fell a little short of that goal finishing out with sixty-one (not counting my study Bibles). All in all and considering our cross-country move this past summer, I am satisfied with the amount of reading I was able to accomplish. I will keep my goal the same for the 2011 reading year since I fell short of hitting that number in 2010.
So, about my reading year… I think the providential leading of God had my reading follow a specific area of study for the most part. There was a deep dive into the areas of spiritual formation and lifestyle prayer (aka living in and practicing the Presence of God); a great majority of the books I read and studied this past year were focused around these themes. In particular, I spent the greater part of the year learning and practicing Benedictine Spirituality as a rule for my own life. I have to say this study has impacted me in ways that are still yet to be fully realized. The following list is my Top-Ten reads for this year. These are not listed in any particular order and most of them have an individual review on the blog. I’ve tried to provide links where those reviews exist.
My Top 10 Reads from 2010 (full list here)
(In no particular order)
- Your Church is Too Small–John Armstrong
- Spiritual Rhythm–Mark Buchanan
- Seasons of the Soul–Bruce Demarest
- Seeking God: The Way of St. Benedict–Esther de Waal
- Radical–David Platt
- Nudge–Leonard Sweet
- Whole Life Transformation–Keith Meyer
- The Liturgical Year–Joan Chittister
- Monk Habits for Everyday People–Dennis Okholm
- The Rule of Benedict: Insights for the Ages–Joan Chittister
This was a tough group of books to pick from saying “these were the best I read;” there were so many books that impacted me in special ways. It is with this understanding that I submit this list of “Honorable Mentions.” A couple of these books make a second or third appearance in my list. Most notably is C.S. Lewis’ The Weight of Glory and Scot McKnight’s A Community Called Atonement. This marks the third read in as many years for A Community Called Atonement; it continues to impact me in profound ways. If you have not read it, I recommend it with the highest rating I can muster… the rest of the list follows; again, in no particular order:
- The Tangible Kingdom by Hugh Halter & Matt Smay
- Apprenticeship with Jesus by Gary W. Moon
- The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis
- Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas
- A Community Called Atonement by Scot McKnight
- Always We Begin Again by John McQuiston II
- The Sacred Moment by Albert Haase, O.F.M.
Finally, I would like to share the primary tools for my devotional studies from the past year. I used several Study Bibles (The NLT, ESV, and Wesley Study Bibles), but for my daily reading I concentrated a lot on the Mosaic Holy Bible which included a parallel study tracking with the Liturgical Year (Church Calendar). There were several other devotional tools I used to immerse myself in the beauty of the Church Calendar, and finally, there were a couple of prayer books and the Rule of Benedict that were very formative for me this year.
- The Mosaic Holy Bible (NLT Translation)
- Living the Christian Year: Time to Inhabit the Story of God by Bobby Gross
- Ancient Christian Devotional: (Cycle C) by Thomas Oden
- The Liturgical Year: The Ancient Practices Series by Joan Chittister
- The Rule of St. Benedict by St. Benedict
- The Paraclete Psalter: A Book of Daily Prayers by Paraclete Press
- This Day: A Wesleyan Way of Prayer by Lawrence Hull Stookey
Starting the New Year 2011
Devotional Reading and Prayer Books:
- Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals by Shane Claiborne
- Ancient Christian Devotional (Cycle A) by Thomas Oden
- The 1979 Book of Common Prayer and Revised Common Lectionary with NRSV Bible
- The Divine Hours by Phyllis Tickle
- Celtic Daily Prayer: Prayers and Readings From the Northumbria Community
- A Year With God: Living Out the Spiritual Disciplines by Richard Foster
First Couple Months of Reading Scheduled—2011
- Daily Reader for Contemplative Living by Thomas Keating
- Practice Resurrection by Eugene Peterson
- Discovering Our Spiritual Identity by Trevor Hudson
- Inner Compass by Margaret Silf
- The Path of Celtic Prayer by Calvin Miller
- The Kingdom Life by Alan Andrews
- To Transform a City by Eric Swanson
- Holy Listening: The Art of Spiritual Direction by Margaret Guenther
- The Great Theologians by Gerald R. McDermott
- Worshiping with the Church Fathers by Christopher Hall
- Resting Place: A Personal Guide to Spiritual Retreats by Jane Rubietta
- Tithing: Test Me in This by Douglas LeBlanc
- Small Faith Great God by N.T. Wright
** This indicates books completed
Our family started a new devotional book a few weeks ago. This one is a year of readings from collected works by Phillip Yancey called Grace Notes: Daily Readings with a Fellow Pilgrim. I like it; a lot. I really enjoy the thought provoking writing style of Yancey and this collection of readings brings the best of many of his books to our kitchen table stimulating some great discussions. You can check out a chapter yourself from this site.
Yesterday we read an excerpt from the book, I Was Just Wondering, titled “Imagine There’s No Heaven.” I still haven’t been able to get it out of my head and decided to share it here.
Imagine There’s No Heaven
Anthropologists report that every human society discovered believed in an afterlife. I started wondering what a society might look like if it did not believe in an afterlife. I let my imagination run, and came up with the following conclusions. For the sake of a convenient label (and with apologies to Samuel Butler, author of Erewhon), I’ll call my mythical society the backward-spelled Acirema.
Aciremans value youth above all else. Since for them nothing exists beyond life on earth, youth represents hope. As a result, anything preserving the illusion of youthfulness flourishes. Sports is a national obsession. Magazine covers present wrinkle-free faces and gorgeous bodies.
Naturally, Aciremans do not value old age, for elderly people offer a distasteful reminder of the end of life. The Acireman health industry thus promotes cures for baldness, skin creams, cosmetic surgery, and other elaborate means to mask the effects of aging, the prelude to death. In especially callous parts of Acirema, citizens even confine the elderly to their own housing, isolated from the general populace.
Acirema emphasizes “image” rather than “substance.” Such practices as dieting, exercise, and body-building, for example, have attained the status of pagan worship rites. A well-formed body visibly demonstrates achievement in this world, whereas nebulous inner qualities — compassion, self-sacrifice, humility —merit little praise. As an unfortunate side-effect, a disabled or disfigured person has great difficulty competing in Acirema.
Acireman religion focuses exclusively on how one fares in the here and now, for there is no reward system after death. Those Aciremans who still believe in a deity look for God’s approval in terms of good health and prosperity on earth. At one time, Acireman priests pursued what they called “evangelism,” but now they devote most of their energy to improving the welfare of fellow citizens
Aciremans spend billions to maintain elderly bodies on life-support systems, while they permit, even encourage, the abortion of fetuses. This is not as paradoxical as it seems, for Aciremans believe that human life begins at birth and ends at death.
Just thinking about such a society gives me the creeps. I sure am glad I live in the good ol’ U.S.A., where, as George Gallup assures us, the vast majority of the population believes in an afterlife.
I only pray that I would (will) be able to grow in my communication skills to convey difficult truth with the loving and gentle heart of Oswald Chambers. See this excerpt from My Utmost for His Highest today below:
We never know the joy of self-sacrifice until we abandon in every particular. Self-surrender is the most difficult thing – I will if…I Oh, well, I suppose I must devote my life to God. There is none of the joy of self-sacrifice in that
As soon as we do abandon, the Holy Ghost gives us an intimation of the joy of Jesus. The final aim of self-sacrifice is laying down our lives for our Friend. When the Holy Ghost comes in, the great desire is to lay down the life for Jesus, and the thought of sacrifice never touches us because sacrifice is the love passion of the Holy Ghost.
Our Lord is our example in the life of self-sacrifice – “I delight to do Thy will, O my God.” He went on with His sacrifice with exuberant joy. Have I ever yielded in absolute submission to Jesus Christ? If Jesus Christ is not the lodestar, there is no benefit in the sacrifice; but when the sacrifice is made with the eyes on Him, slowly and surely the moulding influence begins to tell.
Beware of letting natural affinities hinder your walk in love. One of the most cruel ways of killing natural love is by disdain built on natural affinities. The affinity of the saint is the Lord Jesus. Love for God is not sentimental, for the saint to love as God loves is the most practical thing.
“I have called you friends.” It is a friendship based on the new life created in us which has no affinity with our old life, but only with the life of God. It is unutterably humble, unsulliedly pure, and absolutely devoted to God.
The crossroads of the Jesus journey… “Faith” and “Stretch.” This is a place we encounter over and over again as we avail ourselves to the One who desires to transform us into His image; or at least I do…find myself there. I so much believe in the kingdom of God and the resurrected life that I am completely consumed with thoughts of it. I believe that I can truthfully say, I am willing to give everything for it.
The work God has begun in my heart has “rippled” beyond me. A chain of events, a domino effect…was started through the working of the Spirit of Almighty God which will ultimately play out with me (and my family) square in the middle of God’s will and plan for our lives. I want to be in the story God is writing for me rather than attempt to author my own story…such that I think I could, that is.
I examine my heart and motive; I feel that they are pure…my sole desire is to be a faithful servant of the Most High God…Nothing more and nothing less; living for Him and to Him with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength. Amen
“…And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (Philippians 1:6)
- “Sacrifice allows no unclean thing. It is the first fruits of all other actions.” Chrysostom
- “Our bodies are sacrifices because the flesh is put to death. They are living sacrifices, because the Spirit has given them life.” Luculentius
“Jesus valued God’s kingdom above all. Spirituality is about bearing fruit for God’s kingdom…bushels of fruit should be our spiritual goal.” Joshua Choonmin Kang
Daily Meds [17AUG2009]
Spending time with God the Holy Spirit this morning and my thoughts were drawn to thinking on unconditional forgiveness and grace. It seems to me these attributes are part of the overflow of true love (Agape Love). So, my thoughts were; “What if, when we first awakened to our day, we immediately and unconditionally forgave every single person we would meet in our coming day. And, what if, as an extension of that forgiveness, we extended unconditional and unlimited grace to those same persons?” This forgiveness and grace (as stated) would be completely unconditional, unlimited, and without offer or invitation…it would simple be given. I wonder what the day would look like? How would our hearts respond to the people that God had put into our lives for that day? What if we, beginning now, started to live this way every day? What would happen if we started to add attributes to this daily offering each week??? Like, kindness and gentleness… and then listening ears and unbounded patience… I’m just thinking and wondering.
Prayer and Psalm for the day:
Psalm 67:1-3 May God be merciful and bless us. May His face smile with favor on us. May Your ways be known throughout the earth, Your saving power among people everywhere. May the nations praise You, O God. Yes, may all the nations praise You.
O Lord, we draw near to You acknowledging our unworthiness, and we ask You that all the sins and defects of our past services may be freely pardoned and done away with, through the precious blood of Your dear son Jesus Christ our Lord. Anonymous
And now, rouse us, O Lord, from the sleep of apathy and from tossing to and fro in our thoughts, that we may no longer live as in a troubled dream but as people awake and resolved to finish the work You have given them to do. By Your humble birth root out of our hearts all pride and haughtiness, that humble ways may content us, if so be that we may serve the humble. By the life of compassion for those who labor and are heavy laden, teach us to be concerned one for another and to bear one another’s burdens. By Your hallowed and most bitter anguish on the cross, make us to fear You, and love You, and follow you, O Christ. [Amen] Brigid
From Deep-Rooted in Christ
“God didn’t tell us to become beautiful flowers. Instead, he commanded us to bear fruit… Fruit offers something more precious than flowers. It produces seed, brings life, looks to the future…” (See John 12:24 emphasis and italics mine). “Think what God wants to do with us when he asks us to bear fruit. He wants us to multiply, to make things grow, to give life… God wants Christians who bear witness to his grace in the world.” Joshua Choonmin Kang
First, my prayer for this day: “Lord God, I pray that You will redeem and glorify Yourself with the years that I robbed from You and kept for myself. Jesus, I pray You will take my present, take my past, and take my future…make them Yours for Your glory and for Your kingdom. May my life be according to Your will and Your way for the advancement of Your kingdom and the manifest expression of Your glory.” [Amen]
Second, I’m still thinking about my earlier post (see here).
I know that my thoughts, and words, seem harsh. Rest assured they are leveled at me first. I have been giving much thought to something that God (I believe it is God) has consuming my heart and my mind; it seems like it is the only thing I think about lately. I don’t feel comfortable at this time to talk about it in detail, but a side conversation that has been birthed from it considers double-mindedness or hypocrisy. I wonder if there is such a thing as Christian hypocrisy…I don’t think there can be; really, at least not in the strictest definition…I don’t think.
I think we are too easy on ourselves. Hear what Joshua Choonmin Kang writes:
“One of the worst issues for Christians is hypocrisy. Many of us are slaves to this, and we barely know it. The Bible defines it as saying one thing but doing just the opposite. When thoughts and actions don’t match up, we try to deceive ourselves and others by our words and actions; we become hypocrites. The book of Proverbs describes such people:
Like the glaze covering an earthen vessel are smooth lips with an evil heart. An enemy dissembles in speaking while harboring deceit within. (Proverbs 26:23-24)
Jesus condemned such hypocrites as whitewashed tombs. This is a striking way to put it because he was so kind to tax collectors, prostitutes and sinners of all sorts. But Jesus confronted the hypocrites and denounced them publicly: ‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence’ (Matthew 23:25).
Again Jesus said, ‘You are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and all kinds of filth’ (Matthew 23:27). Whenever I read and meditate on these verses, I feel that the Lord is reproving me for ‘holding on to the outward form of godliness but denying its power’ (2 Timothy 3:5).”
Ouch. Really… ouch! But really, is a hypocrite truly Christian…? Or, are they simply a liar; professing to be something they are not. A Christian implies one who follows Christ, a disciple (becoming like the one they follow) of Jesus, the Son of God.
I want to be a part of a community that believes the promises of Jesus Christ. I want to be a part of a community of believers that are intent on living the promises of Jesus Christ as well. I do not accept any excuse for our inability to live the life that Jesus instructed us to live. I believe the power of sin and death was defeated on the cross of my Lord; therefore, the power of sin and death have been defeated in my life and I am no longer subject to it. I believe this. Why is this important? I have been reading the words of the prophet Isaiah lately and his words (the words of the LORD) have been searing my soul. Hear what he says:
Isaiah 7:9 – “Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm…” Wishy washy faith = wishy washy life. If you don’t believe God’s word is true for your life, it probably won’t be true in your life (thus says the Lord).
Isaiah 8:11, 13, 16, 19-20 11 The LORD has given me a strong warning not to think like everyone else does…” 13 Make the LORD of Heaven’s Armies holy in your life. 16 Preserve the teaching of God: Entrust His teaching (instruction) to those who follow me. 19 Shouldn’t people ask God for guidance? 20 Look to God’s instructions and teachings!
And Finally, this:
“I have a plan for the whole earth…The LORD of Heaven’s Armies has spoken—who can change His plans” (Isaiah 14:26-27)
Not me. I don’t want to change them…I want to be part of the plan. May it be so unto Your servant according to Your word, O God. [Amen]
I really liked this little devotional…for a number of reasons.
First, it is aesthetically pleasing. It is hardbound with a padded cover and “feels” very good in my hands. The pages on the inside are printed on a semi-glossy stock quality paper and embossed with a simulated texture that I find visually gratifying. I really like the look and feel of this book.
Secondly, I really enjoy the Psalms for my own devotional reading and particularly enjoyed the selection (50 were chosen) that were provided for this work. The layout of the daily readings is nice and there is section at the end of the book that provides space for reflective journaling or note taking.
Finally, and this is where I think this book really separates itself from other devotionals, the multimedia interaction and enhanced CD’s are wonderful. This can be especially beneficial for people with exceedingly busy lives. Listening to the Psalms (I personally think this is the intended way of learning and growing in God’s word) is a marvelously inspirational exercise. The authors and editors have done an awesome job of putting these works into a multisensory experience.
I’m sure this would be a wonderful addition to any home library, and it would serve as a cherished gift to anyone who might receive it as such.
|The Gift of Psalms [With 3 CDs]
Word of Promise Series
- Product Details -
|Experience beloved scripture passages as read and sung by some of the world’s finest vocal talents! Listen and read along as portions of the Book of Psalms are sung and excerpts from the dramatic audio theater Bible “The Word of Promise(TM) Old Testament” are combined into one magnificent audio event. You’ve never heard anything like this before!|
|ISBN: 9781418534370 ( ISBN 10: 1418534374 )|