Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Inner Life

I taught this weekend at VCC on the "inner" life. Most of us would call this the "spiritual" life, and I do as well sometimes, but doing so can sometimes have us forget that the physical, relational and emotional life is also spiritual. The inner disciplines have been an on again/off again fascination of mine through the years. Not to say that I have them figured out, or even that I practice them the way I should; but, I am, for lack of a better way to say it, "into them."

I thought it might be best just to give a series of web links here pointing toward some of my influential teachers and resources on the topic. Pick one that sounds interesting and surf away...

1. Henri Nouwen. I referenced Nouwen as a spiritual guide this weekend in my talk. This link takes you to the Henri Nouwen Society. Here's the book I referenced this weekend: Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life

2. Renovare (Richard Foster). Foster's book, Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth, is a modern classic and should be mandatory reading on the subject. Two of his other books, Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home
and Streams of Living Water: Celebrating the Great Traditions of Christian Faith, also dramatically affected by spiritual development. This link takes you to the Renovare website which is a ministry heavily influenced by Foster and Dallas Willard, another thinker who radically influenced me early on. His work specifically on the disciplines is called The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives.

3. John Ortberg. John is an author and the pastor of Menlo Park Presbyterian in San Francisco. He's one of my favorite contemporary Christian teachers. This link will take you to the video streams of John's teachings. Watch the first two of this year (the series is called "Flow") for teaching on the disciplines.

4. Life Together. Dietrich Bonhoffer's timeless classic.

5. Locally, my friend Dave Nixon is available for spiritual direction and retreats. His organization is called Sustainable Faith. He's also teaching a four-week class at VCC starting tomorrow night, assuming the current ice storm doesn't destroy the city.

6. Bible Gateway. It's a simple concept - the BIble online in many different versions. I recommend it to people trying to figure out which translation resonates best with them. Versions like The Message and The Living Bible may not be ideal for Bible study, but most people just need to know the stories before they can study in depth. They are great for that.

7. The Artist's Way. Julia Cameron's book actually changed the way I pray and think about God. It's not explicitly Christian, but I recommend for any Jesus follower who is also an artist, writer or creative.

8. Celtic Daily Prayer: Prayers and Readings From the Northumbria Community

9. Abba's Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging

10. Thomas Merton. I think this is the official site. A lesser known book from Merton that I'd recommend is The Wisdom of the Desert: Sayings from the Desert Fathers of the Fourth Century (Shambhala Library)


eaglegirl said...

Oh me,oh my, so many wonderful books, so little time.
Thanks for the book recommendations. I've read some Foster, but not any of the others you mentioned. I will probably pursue some and check out the sites.
Have you read 'Practicing the Presence of God' by Brother Lawrence? I guess Madame Guyon may fall in that group. Read only her "Experiencing God in prayer". Someone gave me another one of her books and for some reason I just could not get into it.
I'd recommend Jim Goll's "Wasted on Jesus". He explains contemplative prayer, quietness of the soul and more. I need to reread that.

Unknown said...

Good thoughts Joe.

A line you used a lot in the lead-up to the series, but not much since then, is "Everything is spiritual." The way I treat my money, my body, my friends, and myself are all spiritual decisions.

A few of the folks I've talked to have lost the flow of the series... I'd love to get back to the "everything is spiritual" mantra.

steven hamilton said...

awesome references joe...especially the nixon/sustainable faith one...he is a treasure; i have gone through his school of spiritual direction and have found a calling in that direction, so-to-speak...

i'm going to pop over to vcc and check out your teaching from this past weekend..


Unknown said...

ah, "Abba's child"--one of my all-time favorite books... i should probably read it every other month or so, i think, till it finally sinks in. daniel's reading it right now, actually, and i'm super excited to hear/observe what God unfolds in him because of it! :-)