An Unhurried Life Publicity


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Since it’s release, An Unhurried Life, has begun to receive attention in a few blogs. I have also done a few radio interviews that have begun to be archived:

Blog and other website reviews/mentions:

A few booksellers online

Radio Interviews

  • Great News Radio blog and audio archive (June 17 and June 18)
  • Moody Radio South (May 27 no audio archive)
  • Faith Radio with Dr. Bill Maier, “Learning to Slow Down” (June 22)

If you are aware of a mention, review, etc. not mentioned above, feel free to share links in the comment section.

Buy your copy of An Unhurried Life on Amazon.com or your fine local bookseller.

An Unhurried Life: Solitude Slows Me Down


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I’ve enjoyed watching which quotations in the Kindle version of An Unhurried Life are surfacing as most popular among those of you who are the first readers.

One of them, on page 23 (or Kindle location 272), is:

“The practices of solitude, silence and listening to God started to slow me down and enabled me to focus my attention more and more on coming to Jesus and following him rather than talking about Jesus and slaving away for him.”

Elsewhere in the book, I mention this practice as it was introduced to me by one of my mentors and a founder of The Leadership Institute, Wayne Anderson. He called these times “EPCs” (which abbreviates Extended Personal Communion with God). Rather than our just being alone and quiet, he emphasized the relational reality of such time with Jesus in solitude and silence. We enter into Jesus’s invitation to abide in the shared love of Father and Son. It’s like being in the presence of loving couple or community and feeling included rather than excluded. And this emphasis helps to highlight the priority of the Father’s heart for loving relationship rather than frantic service. (Humble, grateful service is a fruit of such relationship).

My experience still is that making time to linger unhurriedly in places of solitary, silent communion with God through Jesus are the very least urgent but usually the very most important activity in my life. From these rich roots, I experience greater creativity and energy, deeper peace and courage.

Buy your copy of An Unhurried Life on Amazon.com or your fine local bookseller.

A Chosen Desert


I’ve learned a lot from the early Christian desert tradition from whom the monastic movement emerged. Here’s an insight about practicing solitude and silence from a more contemporary desert dweller, Carlo Caretto (1910-1988):

“…if you cannot go into the desert, you must nonetheless ‘make some desert’ in your life. Every now and then leaving [others] and looking for solitude to restore, in prolonged silence and prayer, the stuff of your soul. This is the meaning of ‘desert’ in your spiritual life.

One hour a day, one day a month, eight days a year, for longer if necessary, you must leave everything and everybody and retire, alone with God. If you don’t look for this solitude, if you don’t love it, you won’t achieve real contemplative prayer. If you are able to do so but nevertheless do not withdraw in order to enjoy intimacy with God, the fundamental element of the relationship with the All‑Powerful is lacking: love. And without love no revelation is possible.” (Carretto, Carlo. Letters from the Desert. Trans. Rose Mary Hancock. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1972, p. 73-74.)

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A Journey through the Dry Places


(Notes from a day of solitude and silence, May 1991)

Last night, I stayed late reading the first part of John of the Cross’s Dark Night of the Soul. I found a lot that sounded familiar to me. Father, I need wisdom to see what applies to my journey.

Today, I’m taking time to be alone with God in an empty field north of the freeway here in Simi Valley. Following the path of a dried-up creek bed, I think of the dryness in my own life. What felt like a babbling brook only recently now feels like this empty creek bed. I’m walking in places where once there was running water. Now there is nothing but dry rock and silt. Not even a little puddle. My life feels like this. My soul thirsts for you in a dry and weary land where there is no water (Psalm 63:1). I feel tempted by evil like Jesus was in the desert. I need His strength and focus to say “No” to the evil one’s urge to rush me.

As I continue to walk this dry creek bed, I come back to the rushing, crowded, busy freeway. My life feels like this as well. There are many near me making what seems like great progress. They are speeding ahead with apparent purpose and direction. They seem happy to hurry along to next destination. But I feel like I’m standing still in a dry and lonely place while the others rush by. It’s frustrating and dissatisfying.

In the distance, over the noise of the traffic, I hear a single coo from a lone dove. I feel like that dove, mourning and lonesome. Indidn’ this place, Your love feels unreal and distant. I don’t feel the reassurance of Your presence, grace or comfort as I so often have in recent months. I choose to remember here that Your love and faithfulness are enduring, even when my experience shouts, “He doesn’t really love you! You didn’t really believe He’s keep loving you, did you? You are just unlovable.” Father, these statements are lies from the dark depths of hell. The king of liars would have me swallow these poisonous pills. I will not, Father.

My walk brings me finally to a tiny puddle. I notice a sort of spring from which runs a trickle of water. It is so small that the water is sitting stagnant just feet from the source. Right now, this is how my inner life feels—the slightest trickle flowing into a stagnant puddle. Lead me, Father. Be merciful.

 

Looking Back: Waking Myself After I Wake


This morning, I’m taking my younger sons, Bryan and Christopher, with me as I lead “An Unhurried Day with Jesus” at the Ventura Vineyard. My wife, Gem, is leading a women’s solitude retreat for Irvine Presbyterian Church at the Serra Retreat in Malibu this weekend as well. Great opportunities for our family to minister.

Having awakened very early to make the 100+ drive up to Ventura from Mission Viejo, I thought a post from last December might help. There, I quote Elton Trueblood’s practice of “A period of deliberate receptivity at…the beginning of the conscious day.” This has helped me a lot…

Read more of “Waking Myself After I Wake

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Looking Back: How Prayer is Deepened


One of the most difficult practices for busy North American Christians and, therefore, one of the most needful is the regular habit of solitude and silence. I’ve included a link today from a post last August where I talked more about this.

Read more of “How Prayer is Deepened

Looking Back: Cultivating Holy Rhythms of Life


I continue today to recover from a lovely cold/flu that’s parked in my chest. Hurray for antibiotics and cough syrup with codeine. So I’ll make this one short.

E. Glenn Hinson, in an article from Weavings (May/June 2002), talked about how we might more deeply practice the presence of God in our lives through rhythms of daily and occasional disengagements from our activities to simply be in the presence of God.

Read more of “Cultivating Holy Rhythms of Life

Looking Back: Living Life at the Pace of Love


I am a grateful witness to how God is uniquely present to His people in retreat settings like yesterday’s Come Away in Los Angeles. There is something about slowing down that enables us to enter more deeply into His infinite love for us.

With that in mind, I’m looking back to a post from December 2009 which came after one of our “An Unhurried Day with Jesus” Saturday retreats. I had been reading Kosuke Koyama’s book Three Mile An Hour God. He talks there about the pace of walking with God: “God walks ‘slowly’ because he is love.”

Read more of “Living Life at the Pace of Love

Buy a copy of Three Mile an Hour God: Biblical Reflections on Amazon.com

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Most-Visited Recent Posts (April)


Today, I am grateful to be taking a rest day after three good solid weeks of ministry. I’ll probably get out and take a good long ride on my bike. I’ll probably read plenty.

So in light of the fact that I’m not working today, I thought it would be good time to schedule ahead this list of most-visited recent posts:

  • Writing” – First, I had the treat of having a small article published in the latest edition of Conversations Journal. It was a response to David Kinnaman’s book unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity… and Why It Matters. You can download a copy of my article by clicking on the article image on this page.
  • Podcast” – I launched a new audio podcast on March 29th and have uploaded ten episodes now. You can listen to them on the web directly or on iTunes (and your iPod if you subscribe there).
  • A Practice for Burn-out Prevention” – I didn’t set out to address burnout as a primary focus of my ministry over the last ten years, but it has turned out that my work in spiritual direction and retreat leading has borne a great deal of fruit in helping Christian leaders experience God’s refreshment and His sustaining Presence. Here I shared some simple, practical insights about a core practice of our ministry team: one day a month to be alone and quiet with God.
  • Bookstore” – You can see what I’m reading here for the April to June 2010 quarter.
  • Wisdom for the Wayward” – Here I shared a great quotation from the desert fathers on a prostitute who experienced God’s mercy. I love this line from one of the fathers who tells the story: “If a spark can set on fire the sea, then can thy sins stain His whiteness: it is no new thing to fall in the mire, but it is an evil thing to lie there fallen.”
  • A Good Word: Soul-Honest Prayer” – Here I shared one of my all-time favorite C. S. Lewis quotations offering counsel on how to pray.

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Ministering From Solitude


“Solitude spiritualizes the whole [person], transforms [them], body and soul, from a carnal to a spiritual being. It can only do so in the Spirit of Christ Who elevates our whole being in God, and does not divide [a person’s] personality against itself like those false asceticisms which St. Paul knew to be enemies of the Cross of Christ.” (Thomas Merton. Disputed Questions. New York: Harcourt, Brace Jovanovich, Publishers, 1953, 1959, 1960, p. 172.)

True Christian spirituality unites our inner life and outer life. False ascetisms dis-integrate us, body from soul and spirit. We look down on the body and idealize our false vision of the inner life. Spirituality is embodied. Spiritual practices involve our body, some more obviously than others.

Solitude makes us holy as a being alone with God, not as personally directed privacy. Isolation is not solitude. Me alone with myself isn’t sanctifying. Alone and apart from God is not a place of life. Alone with God is.

Reflection Questions:

  • Think about recent times when you’ve been alone. At what points did you feel alone for yourself (privacy)? At what points did you feel alone with God (solitude)?
  • How would you describe the difference between these two ways of being alone?
  • How is God inviting you to moment alone with Him day-to-day? What would energize, encourage and refresh you alone in His presence?

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