Archive for the ‘books’ Category

Present Perfect Chapter 2

August 14, 2017

Well, how did you do last week with staying awake to noticing the presence of God in your daily moments?

The Chapter I’ll review today is entitled “Mere Christianity” and begins with this encouragement and prayer:

“So begin . . .

make that resolution.

Now! . . . Be daring.

None of us have a long time to live . . .

what years we have,

let us live them with God.”

Brother Lawrence

“Our ever-present Father,

We pledged to surrender our life to you,

but we confess

that most of the moments that make up our actual life

are not surrendered to you.

Help us,

to remember you

and offer ourselves up to you

in this moment

and in every moment.”

Gregory Boyd

In this chapter, Boyd briefly unpacks the secular world view and its influence on our lives whether or not we are aware. He says that we live as functional atheists – we compartmentalize our lives into spiritual and secular moments. He says we isolate “the ‘spiritual’ from the rest of our experience.”

“The call to practice the presence of God is not a hyper-spiritual exercise. On the contrary, it’s the core of what it means to surrender our life to Christ.”

Those of us familiar with C.S. Lewis recognize the title of chapter 1, “Mere Christianity” as the title of a book Lewis wrote. This practicing the presence of God is so basic. It’s the core of what it means to be a Christian.

Boyd says that in Western Christianity so many have this idea that because on a certain date they surrendered to Christ and prayed a sinner’s prayer that somehow that means they have a relationship with Christ.

“I believe this is the most prevalent and tragic misunderstanding that afflicts Western Christianity. We make a vow to submit our life to Christ but then spend 99 percent of our time excluding him from our awareness. We make him Lord over our life in theory, but we do not make him Lord over most of the moments that make up our life.”

There are so many examples in the New Testament where Jesus’ disciples are reminded (and thus we are reminded) to be aware of God’s presence. Here are a few of the exhortations given and a few of the many scriptures followed by a brief commentary by Boyd:

Seek First the Kingdom of God  Matthew 6:33  “This implies remembering that God exists and that yielding to his will is our supreme objective, even as we strive for other, less important, goals.”

Live in the Spirit  Galatians 5:16-18 “…we submit to the Spirit in the present moment. . .”

Remain in Christ  John 15:4-5   “Branches don’t visit a vine once in a while on special occasions . . . [they] are permanently attached to their source of life.”

Take Every Thought Captive  2 Corinthians 10:5; Romans 12:2  “Invite him into your thought process, and turn your thoughts into a conversation with him.”

The Body of Christ  1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Romans 12:4-5; Ephesians 4:15; Colossians 1:18; 2:19  “… before we can function as the body part we are called to be, we must stay continually connected to the head, ready to respond when he tells us to do so.”

Boyd ends the chapter with several activities which we can implement to increase our awareness of God in every now moment we have.

1. Game with Minutes

Think about a time when your mind is least engaged – like when you’re mowing the lawn or jogging or doing dishes, then set your timer and see if you can remember Christ at least once a minute. Doing this changes something mundane into something sacred.

2. Waking Up to God

In your first waking moments, instead of jumping out and rushing on with your day, lay in bed awake for a few minutes. Before allowing yourself to think about the day ahead and your schedule, and so on, train yourself to think about God and his ever-present love. Boyd says, “I preview my day in my imagination and offer up everything to God. I typically follow this by praying for whatever people and needs that pop into my mind.”

3. Inviting Fellow Travelers

As in anything we commit to, (like a diet, running a 5K or marathon) having others who are like-minded increases the probability that we will succeed. Find a few friends who are interested in joining you and encourage one another as you embark on this journey of being awake to God.

4.  Strategically Placed Reminders

I already mentioned the sticky notes, but there are other means of reminding yourself to be mindful of the presence of God.  A piece of jewelry, a phone or computer alert or alarm, little notes tucked in various places. I’m sure you can come up with some others that I’d love for you to share with me!

I want to pray for you (and myself) as we face another moment to practice our awareness of our amazing God and His astounding love for us.

God, it boggles my mind that You, the Creator of the world are interested in us and love us so very much! Forgive us for giving you our lives but then living as if we haven’t. I pray that you’d awaken us from the subtle sleepiness that has settled into us. Our secular, compartmentalizing culture sings its siren song, dulling us to the reality of life in you, right now. Let your Son shine through and burn off the haze we are living in and awaken our hearts and minds to the reality of your loving presence now.

Amen.

My passion to share my passion!

August 4, 2017

I enjoy reading. A lot.

Like anyone who delights in something immensely, I assume that everyone experiences as much satisfaction from reading as I! There is a certain person in my life that I am constantly giving books to – I long to encourage and bless and help, but these books just end up on a shelf or at a Goodwill store, unread. This is mind-boggling to me! Who doesn’t want to read?! I just can’t relate!

I find myself recommending books to my family and friends and acquaintances. I have lost count of how many books I’ve given away. I love sharing books with children and adults alike and don’t see that ever changing!

Over the years I’ve learned, as much as it saddens my heart, many, many people don’t read. There are reasons, some of them even sound good. (wink)

No time.  (Really?)

Other priorities. (I get it, a little.)

Never learned to like reading – bad experiences in school. (This breaks my heart! The purpose for school is to foster a love of learning and reading is a huge pathway!)

TV (Don’t get me started. . . .)

Full schedule – kids’ activities. (Take books with you.)

Learning style – would rather listen. (Then listen!)

Making time to read feels selfish. (Then be selfish! It really isn’t though.)

There are always good excuses, but rarely good reasons. I’ve had to tweak my life to get back to reading more myself. We ultimately make time in our lives for the things that are the most important to us. (I’ve had the following conversation with myself, more than once: Do I really benefit myself and those I love by playing one more game on my phone? It’s ok to play while I’m waiting in the car or at the doctor’s office, but is playing Hay Day or Moxie or Solitaire really going to change my life for the better? N.O. Is it a good use of my time? N.O. Is it a giant time-sucker? Y.E.S.)

I heard a quote years ago that impacted me: “You are the same today that you’ll be in five years except for two things: the people you meet and the books you read.”

Whether or not this is exactly true, it has a lot of truth to it. I think the essence here is learning. Whether we learn from books or podcasts or people we meet, the reward is learning which hopefully will produce positive change in us. (Otherwise, what’s the point? Just stay home and watch tv and do virtual reality stuff and live a pretend, non-life.)

This summer I’ve read more books than I have read in several years. Some fun and light, and many rich and thought-provoking.  All enjoyable and worthy of my time.

One day on a walk with my husband, I was sharing my desire for those I love to be able to glean from these books but I know they don’t enjoy reading or their lives are too full, or both. He made a suggestion to me that I thought was really smart! He said I should blog about what I’m reading so that others can benefit without having to put in the time.

I’ve taken that to heart and have decided to give it a try.

If you’re interested, I’d love to share what I’ve read/am reading with you so that even if you don’t have the time or energy or desire to pick up a book at this point in your life, you can still glean from the excellent books that are out there, available to you. You don’t even have to buy a book or go to the library!

The format may vary book by book. I’ll figure it out as I go. But the point is, if you would like to be a different person next year, one changed and enriched by learning, then jump in and we’ll grow together!

Here goes!

If you’re interested in joining me for my book summaries, let me know!

Now I need to decide which book I’ll present to you first!

In the meantime, here’s an interesting article about Charlie “Tremendous” Jones to browse! His love of books and reading is contagious! Let me know what you think!