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As part of my ongoing attempt to expand my understanding of Christianity I have been reading old books. To find out why I would do such a thing check out my previous post about that very thing.

This month I read Revelations of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich. I chose it for one very simple reason: I planned on naming my son Julian. My first son, Soren, is named after Søren Kierkegaard because of the great influence he has had on my faith. I hope that one day he will be curious about his own name and pick up a copy of Fear and Trembling and grow from it. When it came time to name our second son Paige and I were talking about a variety of names when this song came on.

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Francis de Sales MeditationIn the spiritual classic, Introduction to the Devout Life, Francis de Sales provides an astonishingly simple four step process of meditation. The book was originally undertaken as a guide to help the wife of an ambassador who struggled to find a way to live a life of devotion in the midst of court life. Because of this it is perfect for use by those who struggle with the same, finding ways to experience God in the business of modern life.

 

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My wonderful wife, Paige, recently gave birth. Her water broke at a check-up and we went to the hospital, but first stopped for coffee and donuts. After Julian was born the first thing she said was, “I bet my coffee is still warm.” After hearing her talk about her experience and explore what it taught her, I asked if she would be willing to share those things here. 

My second son was born two weeks ago. It was short and intense. My water broke at my doctor’s appointment and then I had him an hour and a half later. No time for pain meds or epidurals. Au natural.

Before the little guy came, I dragged my (kind, patient, cooperative) husband to three weeks of birth refresher classes. We learned better how to breathe through contractions and practical ways to handle pain during labor (basically we listened to a lot of soft music and gave each other massages). But part of the course was all about medicated ways to handle pain (epidurals and the like). This part I was very interested in because with my first son, I had pretty much every intervention barring the c-section to bring him into the world. And because I had had such a rough first experience (which still ended in lots of pain and slow recovery), these 9 months have been a terrifying journey for me just waiting for what I could not avoid: a painful delivery.

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Meditation is probably the most misunderstood of all Christian practices. The word just makes us think of sitting cross-legged, our hands turned up and resting on our knees, humming and floating in the air like an old man in a bad kung-fu movie.Meditation

As a result, most Christians have abandoned this ancient and beneficial practice out of fear of its connection with eastern spirituality and mysticism. We feel much safer reading devotional books or listening to sermons because it is so much more comfortable to learn about another’s experience of God than to experience him ourselves. Perhaps we read our bibles and pray prayers of intercession. These things, while beneficial, if used in isolation can confine our relationship with God to His allotted time. We seek to reduce God to some entity that can be learned without being known.

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I’m having to take a break right now from work and my blog and almost everything in my life. I keep finding comfort in the words of Rich Mullins in this video about how much God loves us.

There is, in my opinion, nothing more to know about life than how much God loves me. This doesn’t mean I have nothing else to learn, but that everything I learn continues to point to this great and inescapable fact that I can not be separated from God and that God will not be separated from me. We can spend the whole of our life learning this and never finish learning it. The love of God is frightening, comforting, challenging, and restful.

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Yesterday I gave you a list of books to use for devotion. Today I want to talk about probably the most intimidating part of devotional time, reading scripture. A lot of us have tried to read scripture and made no headway, we’re left confused or feeling as if we may have learned something but have not experienced the transforming presence of God. My experience has been that I scour it for facts like a text book. Learning to meditate on scripture has completely changed the way I read it and has, in turn, helped me grow spiritually.

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Often people who are finding themselves unsure of what to do during a devotion time ask me for a few book recommendations to help them along. So, I’ve compiled a short list of a few books I believe every Christian should read. These books are all meditations by the authors themselves, which serves the double purpose of providing those of us reading them with a solid example of how to reflect on scripture and God’s presence.

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