The truth is that God’s loving presence is all around you…just like the air you breathe. The problem for many of us is that we are too busy (or too preoccupied?) with doing life that we simply don’t take the time to Stop-Look-&-Listen for God’s presence.
Here at The Contemplative Activist, we believe that Step One in our journey toward 3-C contemplative activism begins by reading and exploring! We suggest that you prepare for your trek by learning from others who are speaking on the subjects of spiritual formation, soul care, and Christ-centered contemplative activism.
Anytime someone tries to offer any kind of a suggested reading list, you’re always bound to leave off a pile of great books that people will say truly changed their lives. So please excuse the fact that this suggested list of key titles is not nearly comprehensive, but simply reflects a list of books that have helped us kick-start our journey toward becoming Christ-centered 3-C contemplative activists.
Let us begin with the most important book of all. The Bible, without any doubt, needs to be the primary source of nourishment for any person who is truly serious about following Jesus of Nazareth.
Back in the early 1980’s, the NIV (New International Version) 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 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 Devotional Bible: featuring the notes & reflections of Eugene H. 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.
Another great Study Bible option is The Spiritual Formation Bible (NIV): Growing in Intimacy With God Through Scripture, which is designed uniquely to help guide you in your spiritual awareness. This Bible is available in RSV (Revised Standard Version), as well.
As you are going deeper into God’s Word, we highly suggest that you also learn the ancient spiritual discipline of Lectio Divina.
Now, once you’ve established a reading pattern in God’s Word, let’s look at a few other titles that might help you along the way. While there are many “overview” books out there that we could highly recommend, here are five books that have served us well in describing what we believe God is doing in His church today when it comes to spiritual formation. At the very core of Christ-centered contemplative activism is a call to step out of the busy traffic of our lives 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 five 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, A Spirituality of Living by Henri Nouwen, and Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging by Brennan Manning will certainly stir your heart (and soul) to action.
Now that your reading is underway…click on over to Step Two in your journey into Christ-centered 3-C contemplative activism…