“Invitation to Solitude and Silence”, Ruth Haley Barton

835454_w185I felt invited to adopt ” Silence” as my word for 2013.

Funnily, enough as I looked around for some wise counsel on the subject, I was led to this beautiful work that has been sitting on my bookshelves for a few months. I can’t recall why I bought it originally, however, now sense some divine purpose in it.

This is a delightful book to read. It is filled with some tremendous Biblical insight regarding Elijah’s journey into the wilderness in 1 Kings 19. This revelation underpins the gentle flow of Ruth Haley Barton’s musings.

In sharing her journey where time with the Lord in solitude and silence has become a common daily practice, Ruth guides the reader with wisdom and practical application. There are many wonderful supporting quotes from the likes of Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen.

I’m 25 days into the new year and am thankful for reading this wonderful guide as I dive deep into seeking to better experience God and all He has for me. I expect I’ll be reading it a few more times before the year is up.

Highly recommended.

“Jesus Calling”, Sarah Young

This devotional was so good I didn’t want the year to end. I wish Sarah Young had an ongoing devotional we could continue to enjoy every day.

What was particularly great about this super book was that it taught me how to listen to Jesus. Too often in my prayer life I won’t sit and be silent. Each day’s reading forced you to do this as it’s written in the first hand of Jesus sharing with you.

I was continually amazed how many days the reading spoke directly to the state of my heart, that is, it captured an issue I was grappling with or was unwilling to let go.

If you’re looking for a powerful devotional, buy this and be ready to be transformed.

I’m sure I’ll use it again one year.

Post-Advent Musings

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Christmas is over. I trust you had a joyous time with your loved ones. I had two family-filled days that were fun and peaceful.

I’ve now begun to reflect on the year ahead.

A friend of mine mentioned a few days ago that she and her husband establish a key word for the year. Yes, one word. They prayerfully meditate on this and arrive at that word. A word they’d like to infuse more into their life and walk with Jesus. My friend’s word is “JOY”.

That was a new idea for me. It’s ruminated in my mind ever since and I’m sensing I may adopt a similar approach to 2013.

“But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means “God with us”).” (Matt 1:20-23 NIV)

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Let’s #LIVEWONDERSTRUCK this Christmas

Photo Credit: Worthy Publishing

In my last post on Advent I mentioned how on the night Jesus was born a group of shepherds tending their flocks, in the still of the night, received a visitor.

No ordinary visitor, but “the angel of the Lord.”

An angel has never visited me but I expect it would be mind-boggling and indeed frightening. This is confirmed in the first 2 chapters of Luke where Zechariah, then Mary, then Joseph (this is actually in Matthew 1) and finally, the shepherds, all received such a visitation. In each situation, the angel’s first few words included: “Do not be afraid.” So obviously each individual needed some reassurance.

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“The Prayer of the Lord”, RC Sproul

Photo Credit: Ligonier Ministries

A small book packed full of punch.

Jesus gave us the example for prayer by way of the Lord’s Prayer in Luke and Matthew. RC Sproul provides a powerful insight into each of the verses of this very short prayer. This insight has helped refine my prayer life.

Too often our prayer life can become very self-focused, however, Jesus demonstrates that it should be centred on the glory of God. Praise and adoration can sometimes be difficult. But I find when I start thanking and praising God my heart softens as I turn my attention to Him and off myself.

Then true relationship can commence.

Each verse has its own short chapter that is easy to read.

This is beautifully written and I’ll be encouraging friends to read it.

I rated it 5/5.

Intentional Friendship

Photo credit: www.gentlecarechironorwest.com.au

We come to the final element of our study on “Walking as Jesus Walked.” It is perhaps the one element that actually surprised me as to its significance. However, once I worked through Dann Spader’s book, it was plainly evident it’s criticality to Jesus’ life and ministry.

This final element is my weakest one in practice, but more significantly, in my desire for it.

“The remarkable thing about Jesus was that relationships were His strategy”1

Jesus was very intentional about building and developing relationships. I’d encourage you to spend some time looking at His commitment to the disciples.  Read more

He Shall Be Exalted!

Photo Credit: http://ourlibrary.mornpen.vic.gov.au

So we’re now at the fifth element of the Holy Spirit POWER acronym : Exalting the Father.

According to the “Free Dictionary” on the web, to exalt means:

–       To raise in rank, character, or status; elevate.

–       To glorify, praise, or honour.

–       To increase the effect or intensity of; heighten.

Jesus lived a life glorifying the Father.

“Jesus answered, ‘My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me. 17 Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. 18 Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.’”(John 7:16-18 NIV)

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Feeding our Hunger

A Sydney Jacaranda

We continue our series on “Walking as Jesus Walked”.

What I see from my limited study (at present) of Jesus walk was that He fed on the Word. He was the fulfilment of it. So He needed to know what He was going to fulfil, so He knew the Word.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” (Matt 5:17-18 ESV)

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Do what He says

Brandy-girl, our much loved pooch

Earlier in the week I had one of those challenging conversations with a good friend where we both said things that were hard to hear. We both left the conversation a little in certain about where we stood and also where our friendship stood.

I’ve spent a lot of time this week ruminating on the conversation whilst talking to God about it. Pride has continued to badger me with thoughts such as: “of course you’re right, Ian. He was wrong,” “he’ll never change,” and “just forget the friendship, it’s not worth it.”

Most of the time when such thoughts have hit me I’ve cried out to God to take them and rebuked “pride” to get off my back as he’s been defeated by Jesus. Funny, he’ll disappear for a while but then make his presence known with a similar thought but with a fresh twist.

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Praying like Jesus

Photo credit: www.ligonier.org

It’s been too long since my last post and for that I apologise.

Let’s quickly re-cap where we are. A few weeks ago I raised the notion of loving and trusting God with our “all” as the Bible repeatedly exhorts.

How do we do that, I asked?

Follow the one who came as our example: Jesus.

Taking instruction from Dann Spader’s excellent workbook: “Walking as Jesus Walked” we identified the 6 elements to intimacy with the Father, which you can find here.

Last time we explored the significance of child-like dependency  and now let’s address prayer.

There is so much we can talk about on the topic of prayer but I wanted to highlight only a couple of aspects in today’s post.

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