Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray

Audio Book

The book we are highlighting this week is Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray. Because it was published before 1923 it is in the public domain and available for free on audio in several places. I encourage you to take some time to listen to the wonderful classic book. This audio recording is great quality and the narrator’s performance is excellent.

 

Lovingly Patiently Quietly…

How Are You Waiting?

With most written words, the emotional inflection is up to the reader. The title of this article could be read several ways, with different meanings depending on the inflection. The sentences have the same words but when you read them aloud with emphasis on a different word, you get a different type of question, which in turn expects a different answer.

For instance:

WHAT are you waiting for?   (What you wait for.)woman_waiting2

What ARE you waiting for?   (More emphatically and specifically what are you waiting for.

What are YOU waiting for?   (Why are you waiting when others aren’t waiting?)

What are you WAITING for?   (Hurry up, stop waiting.)

What are you waiting FOR?   (The reason you wait.)

When God prompted me to write this, I was thinking about how we live out the waiting process.

Are we wasting our time, passively sitting back just waiting for something to happen? 

Can we find purpose in the midst of the waiting?

I’ve been doing a lot of waiting the last few years; so I’ve had time to think about this concept. During my waiting I’ve been reading Waiting On God by Andrew Murray. One of the most important points Murray makes is that waiting is really working for God. In other words, waiting is our job. As Believers we are expected to wait.

We’ll always be waiting for something. The thing we’re waiting for now, may eventually come. And when it does we’ll have victory in that area. But almost immediately we begin waiting for something new. Sure, there are the normal, daily routine things we wait for:

Waiting in line at the grocery…

Waiting for the stoplight to change…

Waiting for your child to grow out of this phase…

Waiting on a loved one to trust in Christ…

Waiting on your marriage to normalize…

Life is really just a series of waiting events processing out.

Whether we realize it or not, we are being watched by others as we wait. It’s important to keep good attitudes and walk in love especially during the longest wait. I believe God honors that more that we know.

I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in His Word I put my hope. ~ Psalm 130:5

Question:  What are you waiting for? Are you finding purpose in your waiting?  

 

02-11-11

Suffering

Helpful or Harmful

suffer: to undergo, be subjected to, or endure pain, distress, injury, loss, or anything unpleasant

It’s true there is much suffering brought on us in the world today; by the economy, accidents, disease, natural disasters, etc…  Sometimes the consequences of our own poor choices, behaviors and decisions result in our own suffering, maybe even that of our loved ones.

How can we live out these consequences without suffering? 

Is it possible to take each day’s discipline with a good attitude? 

To accept our life as it is without complaining, be grateful for the freedoms and benefits we still enjoy? 

To be thankful that we have another chance at life, love and potential happiness?

Yes. But it’s not always easy. We think we’re suffering with our shrinking paychecks, expanding waistline, unexpected car repairs, never-ending family dramas, inconvenient court appointments, outrageous medical expenses, etc,

Instead of complaining about how bad we think everything is, maybe we can look at our suffering with new eyes and see real purpose. 

  • Why do we suffer? Sometimes even when we do everything right we will still suffer. The enemy tries to steal our joy & blessing before we can receive it by giving us problems. We need to see the bigger picture, maybe the purpose is to make us stronger.
  • How should we react in times of suffering? How we react reveals who we are and what we believe. Knowing why we are suffering can teach us to avoid the cause, but it’s more important to know how to respond. Rather than sit back passively accept suffering, we can step up, stand in faith and believe God to bring change.
  • What can we learn from suffering? If we listen, we can hear God speak to us in the midst of our struggles. Just as drought drive the roots of a tree deeper for water–so suffering can drive us from superficial acceptance to dependence on God for hope and life.

Is your suffering affecting change for you that is good or bad?

Suffering is harmful when:
We become hardened and reject God.
We refuse to ask questions and miss lessons that might be good for us.
We allow it to make us self-centered and selfish.
We withdraw from the help of others.
We reject that God can bring good out of calamity.
We accuse God of being unjust and perhaps lead others to reject Him.
We refuse to be open to any changes in our lives.

Suffering is helpful when:
We turn to God for understanding, endurance and deliverance.
We ask important questions we might not ask in a normal routine.
We are prepared by it to identify with and comfort others who suffer.
We are open to being helped by others.
We are sensitized to the amount of suffering in the world.
We are ready to learn from a trustworthy God.
We can identify with what Christ suffered on the cross for us.

Questions to ask in times of suffering; what to do if the answer is yes:

Am I being punished by God for sin? Is Satan attacking me for being a Christian?
Confess the sin and call on God for strength.

Am I being prepared for a special service, learning compassion?
Resist self-pity. Ask God to open doors of opportunity to help others.

Am I being tested?
Recognize in this sinful world both good and evil people will suffer. Remember, as Christians we have a promise that our suffering will one day come to an end.

Is my suffering for and unknown reason?
Don’t turn inward from the pain. Stand in faith. Know that God cares and wait patiently on His timing.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. – James 1:2-3 NIV

 

(Some material excerpt from The Life Application Study Bible)
Image credit: itsmejust / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally published July 8, 2010

A Monk in the World

SILENCE

EACH MONTH IN MONK IN THE WORLD WE ARE LEARNING THE PRINCIPLES OF CHRISTIAN MONASTICISM AND HOW WE CAN APPLY THEM TO OUR LIVES OUTSIDE THE MONASTERY WALLS.

 

There are times when good words are to be left unsaid out of esteem for silence. ~ The Rule of Benedict

I kept quiet, not saying a word, not even about anything good! ~ Psalm 39:2 (GNT) 

Words, words, words… They are everywhere! Billboards, sides of buildings, flashing street signs, bumper stickers in traffic, even the sky isn’t immune with its skywriters and planes tugging advertisement banners. The plethora of words in our world dilute their meaning to the point of overload and burnout!

Where in the world can one go to find silence?

Even if we find a place with the precious quiet we’re craving we still have the noise in our mind to deal with. We must somehow change the internal noise into a gentler sound.

The one who sits in solitude and quiet has escaped from three wars: hearing, speaking, and seeing; yet against one thing shall he continually battle: that is his own heart. ~ Anthony of Egypt*

As our body needs rest, our spirit needs silence for our inner life to grow. When we keep out the weeds (noise) the garden of our soul can flourish. Too many words can hinder our relationship with God, preventing us from hearing the most important Word of all!  

Spiritual growth requires insights that only solitude and silence can provide. No one can do this work for us. We must be intentional to build times of silence into our day. It won’t happen otherwise.  

In Buddhist countries children routinely spend time with monks and are taught to sit in the lotus position and learn to meditate. Quaker communities also have silence as a regular part of their daily routine. 

Who is teaching us or our children how to sit in silence? Instead of hiding away in our prayer closet we must include our children and grand children in our practice of silence. They will learn best by watching our example.

If you are unaccustomed to silence (I was and most people are) begin with a simple plan. You may choose an activity that can be done in quiet: gardening, painting, walking or cooking. You may just want to sit. Either way start out small. If you want five minutes of silence, give yourself ten minutes. You will need the buffer time to get settled in. Gradually you will add more time. Before you know it you will prefer the silence!

Silence is an indispensable discipline in the spiritual life. It is our portable monastic cell that we take with us into the world to minister to others. 

RESOURCES:
The Way of the Heart: Connecting with God Through Prayer, Wisdom, and Silence by Henri J.M. Nouwen
Finding Sanctuary: Monastic Steps for Everyday Life by Abbot Christopher Jamison*
The Path of Life by Cyprian Smith OSB
The Rule of Benedict Edited by Timothy Fry, OSB
The Oblate Life Edited by Gervase Holdaway OSB
Originally published September 10, 2014

Deep Calls Unto Deep

In nature, when there’s a storm raging on the surface of the water, down deep the water is always calm and undisturbed.

When life surrounds with conflicts and commotion, the trials and tribulations engulf us, we may start to feel overwhelmed, then anxiety begins taking over. In times like these, we must dig deep to find the Spirit of Peace within us.

We can take ourself aside, find a quiet space and get in touch with The Holy Spirit who is able to bring us the peace that is without human understanding. He is always there waiting for us.

When we abide in the Spirit our peace isn’t swayed by the fluctuating storms of our outer world.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. ~ John 14:27

 

Image credit: nexusplexus / 123RF Stock Photo

As We Trust We Are Filled

What if you could control your level of peace and joy?

It’s often said our levels of peace and joy are connected to our thoughts and attitude. That can be true but it really goes deeper than that.

 

When we are lacking joy and peace it’s usually because we are angry, fearful or worrying; which really comes down to not trusting God.

If I’m holding on tightly to life situations, trying to control potential outcomes or just plain angry about the circumstances, there’s no way I am trusting God.

One of my life verses is Romans 15:13 which reads:

So I pray that God,  who give me hope, will keep me happy and full of peace as you believe in him. May you overflow with hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. (NLT)

Over the last decade I’ve taken many verses and rewritten them in first person affirmations. Then I declare them over my life and the life of my friends and family. Here is Romans 15:13 rewritten as an affirmation:

The Lord of hope fills me with all joy and peace as I trust in Him. I overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. ~ Roman 15:13

If I truly believe this verse, the more I trust God, the more joy and peace I will have. And not only that, I will be overflowing with power from the Holy Spirit which will help me battle the life situations that are trying to suck life from me.

I want to encourage you to meditate on this verse. Maybe even rewrite it in words that speak to you. I promise you will find yourself more hopeful, more joyful and more peaceful as a result.  Blessings…

 

Image Credit: olegdudko / 123RF Stock Photo

The Road to Recovery :: STEP 8

IN THE ROAD TO RECOVERY COLUMN WE ARE WORKING THE EIGHT PRINCIPLES OF CELEBRATE RECOVERY THAT ARE BASED ON THE BEATITUDES ALONG WITH THE TRADITIONAL 12 STEPS OF RECOVERY AS THEY ALIGN WITH THE MONTHLY CALENDAR.

STEP 8: We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

 “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”  ~ Luke 6:31

PRINCIPLE 6 (Celebrate Recovery): Evaluate all my relationships. Offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for harm I’ve done to others, except when to do so would harm them or others.

“Happy are the merciful.” ~ Matthew 5:7
“Happy are the peacemakers.” ~ Matthew 5:9 

After all the searching and confessing it’s now time to take responsibility for our actions.  Similar to the moral inventory of Step 4 we will list all the persons we harmed when acting out in our addiction or dependency. In fact, using our inventory list can help us determine who belongs on our amends list.
 
Reliving how we have harmed others is difficult. But with God’s help we can recall the names and faces, making notes as thoroughly as possible we prayerfully examine each person and our relationship with them. 
 
Remembering the faces of those we have hurt, can be a very painful process. But we must write their names down, carefully considering our relationships and how we harmed them.

Total honesty with ourselves is vital so we can go forward with peace of mind. With the pain of remembering the damage we have done, comes a welcome relief that we’ll no longer cause these injuries to our self and others.

Step 8 prepares us to continue the work of making amends. After making our list we are ready to ask God to give us the willingness to make those amends. As God helps us work these steps we will have the strength and the tools to heal our broken relationships. 
If you can’t see the video screen below click here for our Road to Recovery theme song.

 

RESOURCES:
Celebrate Recovery Bible
Celebrate Recovery Leader’s Guide
Life Recovery Bible
Life Recovery Devotional
The Twelve Steps for Christians
Prayers for the Twelve Steps-A Spiritual Journey
Serenity: A Companion for Twelve Step Recovery
Recovery: The Twelve Steps as Spiritual Practice

Image Credit: alexmillos

Originally published Aug. 7, 2013

…mysticism exists only in the present moment; it’s not about what is going to happen tomorrow, or next year, or in the next life. It is about learning to live in joy, about transforming consciousness, about becoming holy… the moment you focus your attention on practice, no matter how worthy or pious or spiritual it may be, you lose touch with the mystical.

~ Carl McColman

The Big Book of Christian Mysticism (Hampton Roads Publishing Co., Inc., 2010)

The Refining Fire

When Life's Challenges Are Coming From Every Angle

In life, seasons of struggle come and go. Some seasons there would be a few areas where the struggles were tough. Other seasons maybe only one. But the struggles these last two years have been almost unbearable.

Health issues, financial difficulties, deaths in the family, job losses, multiple relocations, legal battles, recovery challenges…

My faith has been tested more than it has in 13 years. I told my friend, I don’t mind being put in the lion’s den, or in the fiery furnace, or wondering the desert, or facing the giant, but do I have to do them all at once?

Why does God put us through the hottest fire when we feel at our weakest point?

Maybe when I am at my lowest point, I am more likely to seek His face, not just his hand.

How do we stay desperate in the good times?

If we could, maybe we wouldn’t have to be put through the trials to correct our trajectories.

Jesus said that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich person to get into the kingdom of heaven.

Today, I’m not sure if I want financial stability again. Maybe the poverty vows of many monastic orders is the way to live.

Then maybe my priorities will stay straight and my heart where it’s supposed to be.

Does God Have You In A Purifying Season of Life?

 

 

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