This entire book gives the reader encouragement and permission to enter into a regular time of retreat and rest. The author, Ruth Haley Barton, notes the sources of our exhaustion and then goes on to give examples of what retreat might look like, as every person is different, and the ways we rest and restore ourselves are different, too.
When the Soul Listens: Finding Rest and Direction in Contemplative Prayer
Writing about this book by Jan Johnson, author Brennan Manning called it “a well-written and finely constructed introduction to the prayer of simple regard.” Author James Bryan Smith wrote, “The best recommendation anyone can give to any how-to book is this: It makes you long to do it yourself. That was certainly the case for me when I finished When the Soul Listens. It made me yearn for a deeper, wider and more consistent practice of contemplative prayer in my own life.” I (Mark Warner) couldn’t agree more. I listened to this wonderfully practical book while traveling on sabbatical and was moved by how accessible it is. The practice of Contemplative or Abiding Prayer is a central practice of Christian Spiritual Formation and Jan Johnson does a wonderful job of inviting the reader into a different kind of life with God.
This is an excellent resource for pastors and church planters. Begin by watching the 35-minute video story of American pastor, Matt Canlis, who moves to a small town in Scotland to discover what it means to live the Jesus life in a church or ‘parish’. The video includes interviews with Eugene Peterson and N.T. Wright who mentored Matt and encouraged him to live at Godspeed. Then, move on to the 7 videos that companion the chapters in the study guide which is formatted for small group participation. Chapters in the book include: Place, Presence, Pace, Identity, Stability, Names, and Mission. You will be drawn into the small village of Methlick and fall in love with the people who have lived there all their lives, moving at God’s pace — 3 MPH — and learn the value of ’slowing down to catch up with God.’ This resource can also be used for small groups within the church who are desiring spiritual transformation.
The introduction of this thoughtfully developed 15-month devotional guide from Renovaré says, “As followers of Jesus, we want to pour out our lives for others. This is a good and beautiful thing. However, if we are not continually replenished by ‘living water,’ we will end up drained, dry, and exhausted.” We’ve all been there, struggling with our tendency to be a human doing instead of a human being, keeping company with Jesus Christ. Bernard of Clairvaux captured it well when he wrote, “If then you are wise, you will show yourself rather as a reservoir than as a canal. A canal spreads abroad water as it receives it, and a reservoir waits until it is filled before overflowing, and thus without loss to itself communicates its superabundant water. In the Church at the present day we have many canals and few reservoirs.”
The Reservoir, presenting 5 brief weekly readings, a suggested Scripture text for meditation and wonderfully probing questions will help you drink the living water Jesus promised so you can become a person who lives out of the overflow.
What is the key to interior freedom? According to Paul, it is that which enables us able to say, “Now I rejoice greatly in the Lord …I am not saying this out of need, for I have learned to be content regardless of my circumstances. I know how to live humbly, and I know how to abound. I am accustomed to any and every situation—to being filled and being hungry, to having plenty and having need.” (Phillipians 4: 10-12)
Grief is a black hole. Whether you’ve lost a spouse, a child, a parent or your way in life, grief can swallow you whole. It changes you forever. Larry Warner’s Journey with Grief: Navigating the First Year is a caring friend that will help you process your grief in the first twelve months.
Adapted from talks given by Dallas Willard and John Ortberg at the Knowing Christ Today conference in California, Living in Christ’s Presence is rich with spiritual insight and wisdom. The DVD or audiobook version features a lightly edited live recording of the conference that is so engaging you’ll listen to it over and over again. John Ortberg’s talk on The Importance of Spiritual Disciplines and the ensuing conversation with Dallas Willard on the topic is certainly worth your attention. And Dallas Willard’s closing remarks on blessing others and God is a thoughtful way to bring the discussion on life in the kingdom of God to a close.