Daily Riches Book Notes: Finding Our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practices by Brian McLaren

As the subtitle says, this book calls us to remember and put into practice forgotten ways of the ancient church – ways or practices we need to embrace again if we are to “find our way.” The book introduces an impressive new series The Ancient Practices Series, edited by Phillis Tickle, where many of the traditional spiritual disciplines will be covered, one per book. The plan for succeeding volumes is for books devoted to prayer, the sabbath, fasting, the eucharist, the journey, the liturgical year, and tithing. Besides touching on these, in this first book McLaren includes insights on suffering, stillness, secrecy, simplicity, slowness, simplicity, fixed-time prayer, hospitality, memorization and others. I really liked his discussion of St. Francis.

I found the book to be a rare treasure – heart-stiriring, and hope-giving – always challenging the reader to to move from the head to the heart. A short and easy read, the book deserves to be lingered over and savored. McLaren has a beautiful ability to take the seemingly stuffy, theoretical, tedious or unfamiliar, and make it interesting, easily accessible, and patently relevant. I found the wideness of vision in the book (see chapter 20) surprising, even stunning, and worthy of the living God. The final chapter alone is worth the price of the book, and the Notes at the end make for a valuable treasure trove of other important, related resources.

I’m late discovering McLaren, but I’ll definitely be digging into his other books. If you’re also not familiar, be sure to take a look at this book. I don’t think you’ll come away unchanged.

______________

Book Notes are a new addition to my blog Daily Riches. Notes will be posted sporadically, and only to subscribers to the blog – just to keep it simple for me. (If you’re connecting to Daily Riches through Twitter or Facebook, you will have to subscribe to richerbyfar.com to receive Book Notes.) As always, thanks for reading – and please, share your thoughts and opinions on these books! Thanks much – and thanks for joining me on what reader has called “this wobbly journey.” –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: Solitude and the Chattering Monkeys (Henri Nouwen, Pope Francis and David K. Flowers) *

“In solitude I get rid of my scaffolding; no friends to talk with, no telephone calls to make, no meetings to attend, no music to entertain, no books to distract, just me—naked, vulnerable, weak, sinful, deprived, broken—nothing. It is this nothingness that I have to face in my solitude, a nothingness so dreadful that everything in me wants to run to my friends, my work, and my distractions so that I can forget my nothingness and make myself believe that I am worth something. But that is not all. As soon as I decide to stay in my solitude, confusing ideas, disturbing images, wild fantasies, and weird associations jump about in my mind like monkeys in a banana tree. Anger and greed begin to show their ugly faces. I give long, hostile speeches to my enemies and dream lustful dreams in which I am wealthy, influential, and very attractive—or poor, ugly, and in need of immediate consolation.  … The task is to persevere in my solitude, to stay in my cell until all my seductive visitors get tired of pounding on my door and leave me alone.” Henri Nouwen

“In the history of salvation,
neither in the clamour nor in the blatant,
but the Shadows and the Silence
are the places in which God chose
to reveal himself to humankind.”
Pope Francis

“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:16

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Do you avoid solitude? If so, why?
  • Are you expecting to find God, or be found by him in crowd’s “clamour?”
  •  Are you willing to “persevere” in your solitude until the “monkeys in the banana tree” give up and leave you alone?

“The world is full of people wanting to solve [its] problems. But the world would profit much more if people would first confront their own anxieties and the things that cause them 1) to have to fill every silence with meaningless chatter, 2) to stay constantly busy, and 3) to do anything to avoid being still.” David K. Flowers

Abba, deliver me from these tactics.

__________

For More: The Essential Henri Nouwen

_________________________________________________

The “Daily Riches” from RicherByFar are for your encouragement as you seek after God, and as he seeks after you. My goal is to give you something of uncommon value each day in less than 400 words. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it with others. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Search Your Heart … And Be Silent (Soren Kierkegaard, Isaac of Ninevah, and Brigid Herman) *

“Every man who delights in uttering a multitude of words, even though he says admirable things, is empty within.
If you love truth, be a lover of silence.”
Isaac of Ninevah

“The present state of the world, the whole of life, is diseased.
If I were a doctor and were asked for my advice, I would reply:
‘Create silence! Bring men to silence.
The Word of God cannot be heard in the noisy world of today.
Create silence.'”
Soren Kierkegaard

“The most formidable enemy of the spiritual life is self-deception
and if there is a better cure for self-deception than silence,
it has yet to be discovered.”
Brigid E. Herman

“Tremble and do not sin;
  when you are on your beds,
   search your hearts and be silent.”  
  Psalm 4:4

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have you ever delighted in “uttering a multitude of words … even admirable things” – and then regretted it later? If so, what was it exactly that you regretted?
  • Most people find silence uncomfortable. What about you? What does your answer say about you?
  • Can you imagine “loving” silence? Why would you want to love silence?
  • Do you think the Word of God can be heard in the noisy world of today? Think first before you answer.

Abba, the ever-present noise without and the plague of flies within make finding and experiencing silence challenging – and all the more necessary. Please help me to search my heart in a silent place where I can be cured from my self-deception and escape the disease of my world.

__________

For More: The Ministry of Silence by Brigid E. Herman

_________________________________________________

“A faith without doubts is like a human body with no antibodies in it. People who blithely go through life too busy or indifferent to ask the hard questions about why they believe as they do will find themselves defenseless against either the experience of tragedy or the probing questions of a smart skeptic. A person’s faith can collapse almost overnight if she failed over the years to listen patiently to her own doubts, which should only be discarded after long reflection.” – Tim Keller   In these Daily Riches I hope to encourage “long reflection” rather than simplistic faith. Thanks for reading and sharing this daily blog! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Being the Beloved of God (Henri Nouwen) *

“Many voices ask for our attention. There is a voice that says, ‘Prove that you are a good person.’ Another voice says, ‘You’d better be ashamed of yourself.’ There also is a voice that says, ‘Nobody really cares about you,’ and one that says, ‘Be sure to become successful, popular, and powerful.’ But underneath all these often very noisy voices is a still, small voice that says, ‘You are my Beloved, my favor rests on you.’ That’s the voice we need most of all to hear. To hear that voice, however, requires special effort; it requires solitude, silence, and a strong determination to listen. That’s what prayer is. It is listening to the voice that calls us ‘my Beloved.'”  Henri Nouwen

“The silence of solitude is nothing but dead silence when it does not make us alert for a new voice sounding from beyond all human chatter.” Nouwen

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,
may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people,
to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is Christ’s love,
and to know by experience this love that surpasses knowledge —
that you may be filled to the measure
of all the fullness from God.”
Ephesians 3:17b-19 (my trans.)

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • I’ve heard all these other insistent, noisy voices, with their deceiving and devastating counsel. Have you?
  • Just how “wide and long and high and deep is Christ’s love” for you? Do you actually “know by experience” about God’s love for you, or is this something you merely believe or confess?
  • Are you spending sufficient time in the silence of solitude to hear for yourself that you are God’s “beloved?” If not, what specifically can you do about that?

Abba, may I be rooted and grounded in Christ’s unfailing love for me, comprehending that which surpasses knowledge as I experience it in the deepest part of who I am. Help me to protect silent spaces where I can listen to your voice.

__________

For More: The Still, Small Voice of Love by Henri Nouwen

_________________________________________________

Thomas Merton expresses my heart for Daily Riches: “If I dare, in these few words, to ask you some direct and personal questions, it is because I address them as much to myself as to you. It is because I am still able to hope that a civil exchange of ideas can take place between two persons — that we have not yet reached the stage where we are all hermetically sealed, each one in the collective arrogance and despair of his own herd.” I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it with others. (Psalm 90:14) . I appreciate your interest! – Bill

Daily Riches: Solitude and the Chattering Monkeys (Henri Nouwen and Pope Francis)

“In solitude I get rid of my scaffolding; no friends to talk with, no telephone calls to make, no meetings to attend, no music to entertain, no books to distract, just me—naked, vulnerable, weak, sinful, deprived, broken—nothing. It is this nothingness that I have to face in my solitude, a nothingness so dreadful that everything in me wants to run to my friends, my work, and my distractions so that I can forget my nothingness and make myself believe that I am worth something. But that is not all. As soon as I decide to stay in my solitude, confusing ideas, disturbing images, wild fantasies, and weird associations jump about in my mind like monkeys in a banana tree. Anger and greed begin to show their ugly faces. I give long, hostile speeches to my enemies and dream lustful dreams in which I am wealthy, influential, and very attractive—or poor, ugly, and in need of immediate consolation.  … The task is to persevere in my solitude, to stay in my cell until all my seductive visitors get tired of pounding on my door and leave me alone.” Henri Nouwen

“In the history of salvation,
neither in the clamour nor in the blatant,
but the Shadows and the Silence
are the places in which God chose
to reveal himself to humankind.”
Pope Francis

“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:16

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Do you avoid solitude? If so, why?
  • Are you expecting to find God, or be found by him in crowd’s “clamour?”
  •  Are you willing to “persevere” in your solitude until the “monkeys in the banana tree” give up and leave you alone?

“The world is full of people wanting to solve [its] problems. But the world would profit much more if people would first confront their own anxieties and the things that cause them 1) to have to fill every silence with meaningless chatter, 2) to stay constantly busy, and 3) to do anything to avoid being still.” David K. Flowers

Abba, deliver me from these tactics.

__________

For More: The Essential Henri Nouwen

_________________________________________________

The “Daily Riches” from RicherByFar are for your encouragement as you seek after God, and as he seeks after you. My goal is to give you something of uncommon value each day in less than 400 words. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it with others. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: The Love of Silence (Soren Kierkegaard and Isaac of Ninevah)

“Every man who delights in uttering a multitude of words,

even though he says admirable things, is empty within.
If you love truth, be a lover of silence.”
Isaac of Ninevah

“The present state of the world, the whole of life, is diseased.
If I were a doctor and were asked for my advice, I would reply:
‘Create silence! Bring men to silence.
The Word of God cannot be heard in the noisy world of today.
Create silence.'”
Soren Kierkegaard

“The most formidable enemy of the spiritual life is self-deception
and if there is a better cure for self-deception than silence,
it has yet to be discovered.”
Brigid E. Herman

“Tremble and do not sin;
  when you are on your beds,
   search your hearts and be silent.”  
  Psalm 4:4

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have you ever delighted in “uttering a multitude of words … even admirable things” – and then regretted it later? If so, what was it exactly that you regretted?
  • Most people find silence uncomfortable. What about you? What does your answer say about you?
  • Can you imagine “loving” silence? Why would you want to love silence?

Abba, the ever-present noise without and the “plague of flies” within make finding and experiencing silence challenging – and all the more necessary. Please help me to “search my heart” in a silent place where I can be cured from my self-deception and escape the disease of my world.

__________

For More: The Ministry of Silence by Brigid E. Herman

_________________________________________________

The “Daily Riches” from RicherByFar are for your encouragement as you seek after God, and as he seeks after you. My goal is to give you something of uncommon value each day in less than 400 words. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it with others. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Being the Beloved (Henri Nouwen)

“Many voices ask for our attention. There is a voice that says, ‘Prove that you are a good person.’ Another voice says, ‘You’d better be ashamed of yourself.’ There also is a voice that says, ‘Nobody really cares about you,’ and one that says, ‘Be sure to become successful, popular, and powerful.’ But underneath all these often very noisy voices is a still, small voice that says, ‘You are my Beloved, my favor rests on you.’ That’s the voice we need most of all to hear. To hear that voice, however, requires special effort; it requires solitude, silence, and a strong determination to listen. That’s what prayer is. It is listening to the voice that calls us ‘my Beloved.'”  Henri Nouwen

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,
may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people,
to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is Christ’s love,
and to know by experience this love that surpasses knowledge —
that you may be filled to the measure
of all the fullness from God.”
Ephesians 3:17b-19 (my trans.)

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • I’ve heard all these other insistent, noisy voices, with their deceiving and devastating counsel. Have you?
  • Just how “wide and long and high and deep is Christ’s love” for you? Is this something you “experience” or something intellectual or doctrinal?
  • Is the amount of time you spend, just listening in the silence of solitude, enough for you to really hear that you are God’s “beloved?” If not, what can you do to change that?

Abba, may I be rooted and grounded in Christ’s unfailing love for me, comprehending that which surpasses knowledge as I experience it in the deepest part of who I am. Help me to protect silent spaces where I can listen to your voice.

__________

For More: The Still, Small Voice of Love by Henri Nouwen

_________________________________________________

The “Daily Riches” from RicherByFar are for your encouragement as you seek after God, and as he seeks after you. My goal is to give you something of uncommon value each day in less than 400 words. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it with others. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: “Change Yourself First” (David K. Flowers)

“You don’t need to fix your friends or family. You don’t need to solve all the problems that confront you. If you can simply learn to not be controlled by fear — your own or that of others — you will be a non-anxious presence in the lives of others, and there is nothing they need more. So how do you do this? By confronting your own anxieties and fears head-on. An anxious person cannot be a non-anxious presence, obviously. The world is full of people wanting to solve all the problems of the world. But the world would profit much more if people would first confront their own anxieties and the things that cause them 1) to have to fill every silence with meaningless chatter, 2) to stay constantly busy, and 3) to do anything to avoid being still.”  David K. Flowers

First get rid of the log in your own eye;
then you will see well enough
to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”
Jesus in Matthew 7:5

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • It’s much easier to focus on “fixing” another person (a spouse, a child, a friend) than it is to look within. In many instances, Jesus wants us to leave the other person to him. Is there someone in your life right now that you’re trying to “fix?”
  • Flowers suggests we can nevertheless powerfully help others by bringing a “non-anxious presence” into our relationships with them. Do you regularly have a non-anxious presence?
  • Can you spend time before God in silence and stillness? Are you too busy to be without anxiety? What can you do differently to have more of a “non-anxious presence?”

Abba, I know I need to learn more about slowing down, sitting still, being quiet and being alone with you. I want to learn to rest in your love – and offer it to others. Please teach me.

__________

For More: Living Truthfully: Discovering the Freedom that Comes From Finding, Facing, and Following the Truth … by David K. Flowers

_________________________________________________

The “Daily Riches” from RicherByFar are for your encouragement as you seek after God, and as he seeks after you. My goal is to provide you with something of uncommon value each day in about 300 words. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it with others. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Contemplation (John Eudes Bamberger)

“When you are faithful in [silent meditation] … you will slowly experience yourself in a deeper way.  Because in this useless hour in which you do nothing ‘important’ or urgent you have to come to terms with your basic powerlessness, you have to feel your fundamental inability to solve your or other people’s problems or to change the world. When you do not avoid that experience but live through it, you will find out that your many projects, plans, and obligations become less urgent, crucial, and important and lose their power over you.” John Eudes Bamberger

“Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child rests against his mother,
My soul is like a weaned child within me.”
Psalm 131:2

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you able to go to the place the Psalmist writes about, where your soul is quieted and you experience great love, peace, protection, and acceptance from your heavenly parent?
  • Do you have a deep sense of your own “basic powerlessness … to solve your or other people’s problems?” Do you attempt to “avoid that feeling” or try to “live through it?” What is the result?
  • In the press of a busy day, time spent sitting quietly before the Lord can seem “useless” or like “doing nothing.” Have you established a daily practice to keep from skipping such time so that you can more powerfully sense his love for you and your own limitations and needs?

Abba, I pray that the false urgency of my world would lose it’s grip on me as I linger in your presence. I pray that, more and more, I would sense your great love towards me. Help me to breathe in that love, and then exhale it out as my gift, and your gift, to my world.

__________

For More: The Way of the Heart by Henri Nouwen

_________________________________________________

The “Daily Riches” from RicherByFar are for your encouragement as you seek after God, and as he seeks after you. My goal is to provide you with something of uncommon value each day in 400 words or less. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it with others. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Solitude (Richard Baxter and Jurgen Moltmann)

“We seldom read of God’s appearing

by Himself or His angels
or to any of His prophets or saints in a throng
but frequently when they are alone.”
Richard Baxter

“… what are virtues for the mystic are torment and sickness for the modern man or woman: estrangement, loneliness, silence, solitude, inner emptiness, deprivation, poverty, not-knowing, and so forth …. What the monks sought for in order to find God, modern men and women fly from as if it were the devil.” Jurgen Moltmann

“…Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida,
while he dismissed the crowd. After leaving them,
he went up on a mountainside to pray.” Mark 6:45,46
“One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.
When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them,
whom he also designated apostles:”  Luke 6:12
“About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him
and went up onto a mountain to pray.”  Luke 9:28

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Why do you think God most often makes himself known to someone who is alone?
  • Are you regularly alone before God, or would that represent “torment and sickness” for you?
  • What plan can you make to regularly escape the “throng” as Jesus did, and give God more of your undivided attention?

Abba, help me to learn to leave the crowd behind and make myself available to you – not focusing on my problems or needs, but simply giving you my affection and undivided attention.

__________

For More: Experiences of God by Jurgen Moltmann

_________________________________________________

The “Daily Riches” from RicherByFar are for your encouragement as you seek after God, and as he seeks after you. My goal is to provide you with something of uncommon value each day in 400 words or less. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it with others. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)