Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Reimagining the Ignatian Examen: Fresh Ways to Pray from Your Day by Mark E. Thibodeaux, SJ

Reimagining the Ignatian Examen: Fresh Ways to Pray from Your Day by [Thibodeaux, Mark E.]

Reimagining the Ignatian Examen (Kindle ...$6.34)
Reimagining the Ignatian Examen (Paper ... $6.67)

This is one of my favorite books on the practice of prayer, which brings us into direct, personal communication with God. There are many ways to pray, and some are better suited to some personalities than others.

If you tend to be contemplative, and if you love to journal your prayers, this book is definitely for you. Even if you don't journal, this book could be for you, by going through the exercises mentally only.

If you've never practiced Ignatian prayer, here's how you do it:
1. Ask God to reveal the gifts and graces (large and small) that He's given you today, if done at the end of the day. If done at the beginning, thank God for yesterday's gifts and graces.
2. Ask God to fill you with the Holy Spirit and for the Spirit to be the initiator of the prayer time.
3. Repent of difficult moments when you sinned by commission or omission, and sense God's healing and mercy washing over you.
4. With what you learned during this prayer time about yourself and your life, ask God to show you how he wants you to respond, and what He wants you to do tomorrow. Who is God calling you to be? Resolve to be that person.

In addition to this general form of prayer, Mr. Thibodeaux includes 34 daily variations on the Examen as food for thought in our spiritual growth. For example,

Where are you? What do you seek?
the Hole in the Fortress Wall
Places, Things, Activities
Choose Life
Who do You say that I am?
My Greatest Fear

Do you like to write down your prayers when conversing with God? If so, don't hesitate to buy this book. You won't be disappointed.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Last Days of Jesus: The Forty Days between the Resurrection and the Ascention by T.V. Moore

The Last Days of Jesus by T. V. Moore.

Paperback version ($13.57)
Kindle version ($.99)

What the publisher says: 
Thomas Verner Moore (1818-1871) was an American Presbyterian minister and theologian whose commentaries on Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi are still widely referred to. Here he writes practically and devotionally on the appearances of the Lord Jesus Christ to his disciples between the Resurrection and the Ascension. Each encounter deals with specific a spiritual condition in one or more of his followers and these still find their parallels in the experience of Christians at all times.
My thoughts:

This is an incredible book, no exaggeration. With Pentecost coming on June 4, I challenge you to buy the book and read it (only 184 pages) between now and then. It's the only book I have run across that focuses solely on the 40 days between Jesus's resurrection and his Ascension. And, Moore does such an amazing job at it, it's no wonder that the book is still in print, though first published in 1858.

I had never given much thought to who Jesus appeared to after the resurrection, and when, and in what order. T.V. Moore's thesis makes perfect sense. God surely had a hand in inspiring Moore's thoughts. Amazing book!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

In the Secret Place by Jerry Rankin

In the Secret Place : A Pilgrimage through the Psalms by Jerry Rankin
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: B&H Books (October 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805448810
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805448818

Publisher's description: 

For years, International Mission Board president Jerry Rankin has begun each day by reading and meditating on a Psalm. “The Psalms reveal the nature and character of God,” he explains. “The graphic, picturesque language evokes images that stir our emotions and strengthen our confidence. To know that God is our rock, our shield, our fortress and our strong tower all convey an understanding we need each day.” 
In the Secret Place gathers devotions and prayers written by Rankin for each of the one-hundred-fifty chapters in the book of Psalms. Personal yet universal, they reflect an openhearted journey of faith and deepening love for God to which the reader will aspire
My thoughts: 

Of all the books of the Bible, Psalms are probably my favorite, and this is one of my favorite books on Psalms. 

Dr. Rankin shares his insights on each psalm, sometimes by relating difficult personal experiences he suffered relative to his role as president of the International Mission Board. It not only gave me insight about the Psalms, but also some knowledge about Christian missions that I would not know otherwise. Each psalm is given a 2-3 page treatment, as well as a closing prayer. 

My e-book is chock-full of highlighted passages. Psalm 63 has special meaning for me, as I was desperately seeking God at the time I was reading Dr. Rankin's book. (I am still desperately seeking God, but in a different way, no longer lying prostrate on the floor for weeks and months on end.) 

So because of my fondness for Psalm 63, I will share a quote from him on that psalm: 
The only deterrent to becoming vulnerable to sin and spiritual failure is to have a heart that is desperate for God. 
Spiritual mediocrity is sometimes more devastating that occasional lapses into sin. To live day after day, year after year, going through the motions, engaged n the perfunctory practice of prayer and Bible reading and faithfully attending church without any manifestation of God's anointing is sad, indeed. God knows our heart. There can be no pretense when we come into His presence. He discerns whether or not that passion and thirst for Him is there, and He always responds. 
Yes, God responds! 
If you are looking to become more acquainted with the Psalms, this is a good place to start. 

What is your favorite book in the Bible? Do you enjoy reading Psalms?

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Releasing the Power of the Prophetic by Jeremy Lopez

Like the book I reviewed on Tuesday, this one also presented me with new things to think about. Prior to now, all of the churches I once attended held a Cessationist belief about the Gifts of the Spirit.

That is, they believed that after the original apostles died, and especially after the canon was completed, the Gifts of the Spirit also ceased, because they were no longer needed.

But there is also a Continuationist tradition, which believes all of the Gifts of the Spirit are still in effect.

Indeed, there are prophets, or those with the gift of prophesy, in the church I now attend.

According to Mr. Lopez in Releasing the Power of the Prophetic: A Practical Guide to Developing a Listening ear and Discerning Spirit, "there is a difference between those who have been anointed into the office of prophet as opposed to those with the gift of prophesy."

"Every true prophet was determined by God before the foundation of the world," he says, "whereas all believers are given all of the Gifts of the Spirit, including the gift of prophesy."

On the other hand, someone holding the prophetic office is defined by a continued manifestation of prophecies. You can desire to prophecy, but you cannot desire the office of the prophet.

"The prophet helps," Lopez says, "along with the apostle, to build up the Body of Christ. He must be devoted to the Word of God, because he cannot prophesy beyond his knowledge of God’s Word."

He must be without character flaws, spend more time in study than the average minister, and spend an enormous amount of time in prayer.

Mr. Lopez says that "we develop faith in direct correlation with the time we are willing to spend on our faces before our Father God. Prayer is also a prophetic anointing. When you can hear what He is saying, you will begin to develop your prophetic ministry. As you come to know the voice of God in prayer, the people who hear you prophesy will say, “I know this is God.”"

"Prophets, like all other ministry offices, have varying degrees of anointing. The Church has prophets who are called to local churches, cities, governments, states and nations. Whatever level of anointing a prophet may have, he or she can increase it through prayer, study and holy living. But each prophet will be called to a specific group of people that God will burn into their heart."

"Prophecy comes in different ways to different people operating under a prophetic anointing. Although all prophesy to accomplish the same goal, the methodology may vary from individual to individual. Some prophets (or people operating in the gift of prophecy) will hear words within their spirits. Some will see an image or vision that speaks into a situation. Still others will have the words printed out for them, as if printed on a screen. People who seem to be visually oriented or artistic will often see pictures. Others will see or hear words or phrases passing through their mind."

So these are a few of the ideas I took away from this book.
If you're a churchgoer, is the church you attend of the Cessasionist or the Continuationist persuasion?
If it has prophets, or people with the gift of prophecy, are you one of them?

For me, I've never felt the urge to prophecy, but hearing corporate prophesies is one of the highlights of attending church each week. I especially enjoy hearing the prophesies given over the people who are being baptized, during Wednesday evening baptismal services.

Mr. Lopez's book taught me a lot about this very interesting phenomenon, this supernatural gift within the Body of Christ.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Abide: Keeping Vigil with the Word of God

Abide: Keeping Vigil with the Word of God by Macrina Wiederkehr, OSB

To begin with, not being a Catholic, I wondered about the "OSB" behind Ms. Wiederkehr's name. Apparently, she is a Benedictine oblate. What is that? It means she is a monk at a Benedictine monastery, or affiliated with one. 

What is a Benedictine monastery? St. Benedict was a fifth-century saint who wrote a book of Rules that still have much to teach us today. He also founded 12 communities of monks, and even today there are Benedictine monasteries all over the world. 

In fact, last fall my husband and I visited a Benedictine monastery, St. Gertrude's in Cottonwood, Idaho, not too far from our home, which I wrote about here

Now that we know the briefest information about Benedictine monasteries and Benedictine oblates, let's move on to Abide: Keeping Vigil with the Word of God. It focuses on Lectio Divina, a Benedictine practice of scriptural reading, meditation and prayer that promotes communion with God. 

This was not my first encounter with Lectio Divina, which I love so much that I bought about a dozen books on the subject, written by authors from several different traditions within the body of Christ. (But they all borrowed the original idea from St. Benedict!)

The author of Abide, Ms. Wiederkehr notes, 

"In the monastic way of abiding with the Word, we do not read the Scripture text to obtain information. The careful reading of the text is for the purpose of opening our hearts to be formed by the Word of God. We listen to the words so carefully that even our reading becomes a prayer."

So, how does one practice Lectio Divina

  1. We read a selected scripture portion, generally only a few verses
  2. We meditate or reflect on anything that seems to have special meaning to us, especially in ways that invite us to greater spiritual maturity. 
  3. Once we have reflected, we pray about what God is telling us personally and specifically through the passage. 
  4. Then we abide or rest in God.

In this book, at the end of each passage, the author poses questions to think about, and then to pray about, relative to the reading. 

I bought this and the other books on Lectio Divina because of an eagerness to see which passages each author selected to meditate upon. 

God's Word is full of treasures that I could read on my own. But I love reading the passages in concert with the thoughts of others who've meditated on them, to see what they received, as well. 

The book is divided into five chapters, each with eight scripture selections for meditation. For example, here are a few of them:

Our Desire for God: Ps. 63
Come to the Water: Isa. 55
Pilgrimage to the Heart of God: Ps. 84

Do you practice Lectio Divina? Do you think it's something you might like to try? If so, pick one of the scriptures above and see what God has to say to you. 

It's a lovely spiritual discipline, a lovely method of prayer and meditation by which to deepen our relationship with God. 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

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