“Let us keep on and on, making our way through these dark valleys; let us live with the cross in our arms, humble and patient. What does it matter whether God’s voice comes to us amongst thorns or amongst flowers? Indeed, I do not remember that he has ever spoken where there are flowers, but his voice has often been heard in the deserts and thorny bushes.”
Si este blog es vacante durante un período prolongado de tiempo, no te preocupes. Es esa época del año en que Denise y yo nos hemos movido a otra ubicación para el invierno. Recuerde por favor que oren por nosotros. Queremos ser fiel y fecundo en el servicio a los demás. Pídale a Dios que nos proteja de los ataques del malvado rey. También le pedimos al Señor que nos ayude a vivir con autenticidad en el poder del Espíritu Santo. Esperamos traer muchos recuerdos maravillosos.
Thomas Keating, Open Mind, Open Heart: The Contemplative Dimension of the Gospel
G. K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday
Rodney Reeves, Spirituality According to the Apostle Paul
Larry Crabb, Real Church
Pseudo-Macarius, The Fifty Spiritual Homilies and The Great Letter
Dwight Edwards, Revolution Within: A Fresh Look at Supernatural Living
Drew Dyck, Generation Ex-Christian
R. Thomas Ashbrook, Mansions of the Heart: Exploring the Seven Stages of Spiritual Growth
C. J. Mahaney, Humilty: True Greatness
Anne Brennen and Janice Brewi, Mid-Life Directions: Praying and Playing Sources of New Dynamism
Jordan Aumann, Spiritual Theology
Gregg A. Ten Elshof, I Told Me So: Self-Deception and the Christian Life
J. Budziszewski, On the Meaning of Sex
James C. Wilhoit and Evan B. Howard,Discovering Lectio Divina: Bringing Scripture into Ordinary Life Theologia Germanica
Daniel O. Via, Self-Deception and Wholeness in Paul and Matthew
Paul M. Connor, Celibate Love
Rob Moll, The Art of Dying: Living Fully into the Life to Come
Frank Viola, Beyond Evangelical
Michael Hyatt, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World
Stephen D. Boyer and Christopher A. Hall, The Mystery of God: Theology for Knowing the Unknowable
Evagrius of Pontus, Talking Back: A Monastic Handbook for Combating Demons
Timothy Keller, The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness: The Path to True Christian Joy
8. Richard F. Lovelace, Dynamics of
Spiritual Life: An Evangelical Theology of Renewal
Over the years I had seen this book referenced in
numerous places. I made a mental note to read it, but the task eluded me
because of a host of other demands and interests. When I finally committed to
reading it, I was struck by how often it confirmed so many of my hunches
concerning life lived in the power of the Holy Spirit. I wished that I had read
it much earlier; it would have saved me some grief in matters of pastoral
leadership. In essence, this work is “a manual of spiritual theology, a
discipline combining the history and theology of Christian experience” (11).
Lovelace insightfully assesses movements of spiritual renewal/revival
throughout history, both the savory and unseemly features. Especially
appreciated are his keenly nuanced understandings of sin (both corporate and
individual), his acknowledging the reality of the demonic realm, and his
ability to interface theology with psychology. Lovelace maintains that over the
course of history there are specific distinguishing features of a community that
has been genuinely spiritually renewed: Orientation toward Mission, Dependent
Prayer, Development of Microcommunities, Theological Integration, and
Disenculturation. With the recent surge of interest in “spiritual
transformation” this 1979 work is surprisingly fresh. As such, it should be
read by every church that makes spiritual transformation a core value. You can
not come away from this book without being challenged to go the next level of
9. Philip Yancey, Disappointment With God
To my recollection, Yancey was one of the first
Christian authors to broach the topic of believers being disappointed with God.
Several key insights have stuck with me over the years. One of them is that the
best way that God’s people can express love to God is to simply believe Him.
Another is that the tangible blessings of God are no guarantee against
disappointment with God. I also appreciated his observation that, “times of
frequent miracles usually did not foster long-term belief [for the Israelites
in their wilderness wanderings]” (156). Hence, “If we insist on visible proofs
from God, we may well prepare the way for a permanent state of disappointment.
True faith does not so much attempt to manipulate God to do our will as it does
to position us to do his will” (240). Yancey also remarked that those who have
a superficial and unseasoned faith tend to confuse life with God. In other
words, when dealt a number of blows from the unpredictability and apparent
capriciousness of life, people mistake this with the direct intervention with
God. Confusing life with God will inevitably result in disappointment with God,
and even a flight from him altogether. Yancey also effectively illustrated the
extra-dimensionality of faith: There are two worlds and stories that parallel
one another, one is seen and the other is not. This book also piqued my
curiosity concerning why people apostatize. Eight years after reading this book
I entered into my own chapter of disappointment with God. To a certain extent I
believe that Yancey’s ideas were helpful in sustaining me during that period.
Though he did not go into great length on the matter in the book,
disappointment with God finds a very visible expression in the lament Psalms.
In a roundabout way Yancey gave me the permission to be disappointed with God.
It is understandable for God’s people to be in long periods where they are
disillusioned about God. Eventually, however, they must move beyond that lest
cynical bitterness sets in and so affect others who are in a similar condition.
10. The Cloud of Unknowing
One of my college mentors gave me this book in
the early 2000s. Prior to this I had a partial knowledge of its contents. I saw
the book everyday on my bookshelf. I finally read it in 2008. When I did, I
discovered a hidden jewel. My personality and temperament readily resonated
with the author's gentle directives. This book, more than any other I have
read, was and is a compass for how I best connect with God. We all have different "spiritual personality types," For this reason, not everyone will benefit from the reading of this book. For others, however, this book will serve as a fascinating introduction to contemplative prayer.