Anytime someone tries to offer any kind of a suggested reading list, you’re always bound to leave off a book or two that people will say truly changed their lives. So please excuse the fact that this suggested list of 13 key titles is not nearly comprehensive, but simply reflects a list of books that have helped us in our journey toward becoming Christ-centered 3-C contemplative activists.
ommunion with Christ:
Let us begin with the most important book of all. The Bible, without any doubt, needs to be the primary source of knowledge for any person who is truly serious about following Jesus of Nazareth. Back in the early 1980’s, the NIV became our Bible of choice, and since then, we’ve learned to appreciate nearly every translation that’s out there; from the ancient KJV to the recently released The Voice Bible. But it was during our years working with Promise Keepers (1990’s) when we were first introduced to Eugene Peterson and The Message Bible. So when NavPress released Peterson’s Conversations Bible: The Message With Its Translator around the turn of the millennium, we ate it up, hook-line-and-sinker. Today, this amazing volume has now been re-titled The Message Study Bible: Capturing the notes and reflections of Eugene Peterson. For anyone looking to slow down and truly savor every word that comes out of the mouth of God, we highly recommend Eugene Peterson and this classic study Bible.
While there are many “overview” books out there that we could highly recommend, here are four titles that have served us well in describing what we believe God is doing in His church today. At the very core of Christ-centered contemplative activism is a call to step out of the 3-B traffic and take a long loving look at God. Jesus states it best with His Great Invitation to a closer walk with the Divine…
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11: 28-30 MsgB
These four titles, Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation by Ruth Haley Barton, The Gift of Being Yourself: The Sacred Call to Self-Discovery by David Benner, Forming the Leader’s Soul: An Invitation to Spiritual Direction by Morris Dircks, and A Spirituality of Living by Henri Nouwen, will certainly stir your heart (and soul) to action.
ommunity with others:
As you continue your journey into the world of Christ-centered contemplative activism, there will be vast portions of your life that will be transformed from the inside out. Thomas Merton states “If I find God I will find myself and if I find my true self I will find God.” And as you become more aware of yourself, you’ll be much better at reaching out in healthier ways with others around you. True community can happen as you bring your true-self to those relationships! These titles listed here will help you in that Christ-appointed work of better knowing oneself as you journey along the pathway with the Master. The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Ian Morgan Cron & Suzanne Stabile, The Critical Journey: Stages in the Life of Faith by Janet Hagberg & Robert Guelich, Inner Compass: An Invitation to Ignatian Spirituality by Margaret Silf, and The Ignatian Adventure: Experiencing the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius in Daily Life by Kevin O’Brien.
ommission into our world:
Next, as you look to give away the good work of God that the Master has been working in and through you, as contemplative activists, there is no better way to bless others than by offering yourself as a Christ-centered spiritual companion to others. Here’s four reads we’d suggest to help you catch the vision of caring for souls in and for the name of Christ. Sacred Companions: The Gift of Spiritual Friendship & Direction by David Benner, Candlelight: Illuminating the Art of Spiritual Direction by Susan Phillips, Holy Listening: The Art of Spiritual Direction by Margaret Guenther, and yes, our own little book on the ten key aspects of the Christian life of service, The Wisdom of Wimber: As I See It by Marty Boller.
As you peruse these 13 titles and many others, may your life become more and more a reflection of the prayer of St. Francis…
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.