Step 1: Stop-Look-Listen

So…how are YOU experiencing God today?

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 17 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.

communion with Christ:

messagebible  NIV

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 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.

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.

sacredrythms  giftofbeingyourself  formingleaderssoul  spiritualityofliving  abbaschildbook

While there are many “overview” books out there that we could highly recommend, here are five titles 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.

community with others:

roadbacktoyou   criticaljourney   innercompass   ignatianadventure  journeywithjesus

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, The Ignatian Adventure: Experiencing the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius in Daily Life by Kevin O’Brien, and/or Journey With Jesus: Discovering The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius by Larry Warner.

Note: One of the best ways to explore the on-going applications found in these books is to walk alongside a biblically-based, Christ-centered spiritual director who is familiar with how to make material like this part of your overall spiritual formation in God. Many of the directors in our Sustainable Faith-Heartland network are available to companion you in this part of your journey with Jesus (click here for more info).

commission into our world:

sacredcompanions  candlelight  holylistening  contmplpastor  wisdomofwimber

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 five 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, The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction by Eugene Peterson, 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.

Note: Once again, one of the best ways to explore the on-going applications found in these books is to invite a biblically-based, Christ-centered spiritual director to join with you as you read. Find out more about being equipped and trained as a spiritual director (click here for more info).

As you are learning to better care for your soul, we highly suggest that you also learn the ancient spiritual disciplines of Centering Prayer, Welcoming Prayer, the Daily Examen, and Lectio Divina.

2Now that your reading is underway…click on over to Step Two in your journey into Christ-centered 3-C contemplative activism…