The Funny Shape of Faith: Devotions for the Rest of Us
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She has tended her grief well and her life's journey has given her a deep 'heart of wisdom' that some people gain but few articulate so poignantly. She explores the way grief can both shatter and transform our hearts and offers spiritual practices that help readers authentically express and grieve their own wounds and disappointments. It's a beautiful, honest book. Beth Slevcove has walked the way of grief and tells the stories of a traveling companion who knows the way. Through her experience and expert reflective questions, Slevcove nudges the reader to step out in faith, honor the loss and trust that God is near the brokenhearted.
Beth, drawing from her own experiences, provides practical wisdom for those journeying through their own grief and those who are invited to companion with others through grief. Yet, in all the losses that Beth has experienced, she has and continues to be attentive to holding all before God, offering her own deep response to the pain again, and again, and again. Throughout the book we are provided with the privilege and opportunity to do the same. And you know what? Over time, we may discover that the broken hallelujahs in our own lives are the very things that take us deeper into the unbroken hallelujah.
O may it be so! Thank you, Beth. Beth's new book Broken Hallelujahs is a beautiful reflection on loss and love and finding God again after God's silence. Through her stories and the exercises and practices included at the end of each chapter, Beth gives us the tools we need to process our grief and help us connect to God and actually move on toward healing.
As I read it, I began to see some of my own experience of loss through the lens she provided. Reading her story is a hopeful encounter, one I would wish for anyone struggling with loss. And at some point, that will be all of us. But at some point it became clear that life really is broken. If we are not prepared for this—and few of us are—it can lead to disillusionment and loss of faith. In this beautiful book, Beth Slevcove invites us to accompany her on her own journey of loss and tragedy. I often cried along as I recognized many elements in common with my own experience.
I was challenged by her determination to find God in the midst of it without turning away from reality. In the end, her ability to still say hallelujah through the tears and in the midst of the mess is deeply inspiring. This is a charming, sometimes poetic book with profound insights, and it is also a book that I will return to again and again, since each chapter ends with prayer practices and exercises for seeking and occasionally wrestling with God. But when given the perspective of a wise, experienced—and above all—tender guide, it can lead to wellspring of a deeper life.
Writing in prose that bends toward poetry, Beth Slevcove is precisely such a guide. The answer came to me immediately.
Many of our beliefs are not chosen, we are born into them
If you are divinely charged and lightened you are enlightened!!! There are many ways in which you can lighten your body and lighten your mind. Yoga, meditation, selfless service, friendships, music and dance are a few of them which have been tried and tested by me. Martin March 25, Reply. These are wonderful experiences!
One can enter a state of spiritual bliss or contentment or even rapture. These are valuable ways to connect with the divine. But, as you say, you can also lose balance and go over the deep end! What I am told in the God book is that these are valuable experiences for drawing energy from the divine but having these experiences is not the be-all and end-all.
Life is about the living of it, and we should live and act in partnership and harmony with God. It sounds as if what you call lightness is one way to do that and, as you point out, it can be actualized in a number of different ways. Each of us has to find the ways that best connect us to the divine by whatever name seems right to us. By sharing you experience, Ajit, you have also given us an excellent teaching! Anne February 22, Reply.
I am 18 years old and I grew up as a Presbyterian Christian. I went to church every Sunday as a child with my siblings and my mother. Though I went to Church, I felt it was just something people did and there was nothing else to it. I did not really understand it, so I lived most of my life not understanding who God really was. Growing up, my home started becoming broken. I had been diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety at the age of 12 and I never thought anything of it. I had very few friends, no hobbies, and no desire to do practically anything.
I went with one of my best friends and we went because of the activities that were offered there ice skating, hiking, rock climbing , I had no interest in the worship part of the trip. I had no idea what that meant but I just went with it. I was immediately filled with this powerful warmth and pressure in my chest, and I started bawling crying.
I had no idea what was going on there were others who had the same thing happen to them at the same time as me. This was my awakening to God. Years passed and I had kept my relationship with God, but over time it seemed to have been incredibly distant. I stopped thinking about Him for a while. The past two years, I completely, and unknowingly, separated myself from God. It was possibly the worst two years of my life. I am in my Senior Year of high school now and I had another awakening. This winter has been especially hard for me academically, socially, and mentally.
The song that I pressed not to mention by accident was the song that the band had played that significant night. I started to feel that warm feeling in my chest again. It was a really cloudy day and I was just looking out of the window enjoying the song. My chest became so warm and I was so overjoyed that my toes were tingling. That very second I knew that the face I saw was Him. Since then, all I could think about was Him. I am now able to hear Him in my own thoughts and I can feel in my chest whether something is right or not.
I physically feel him with me all the time. Martin March 6, Reply. It sounds to me as if God is reminding you of the divine presence. God is with us whether or not we are aware of it. Sometimes we have to open our hearts. Sometimes, as in your first case, the divine spirit just comes in without an invitation. Our lives have many ups and downs. It is difficult, but then most important, to be aware during the dismal times that God is with us, loves us, and is available to guide us.
You are receiving direct guidance and here a further challenge comes in — the challenge of spiritual discernment. It takes careful attention to recognize and correct interpret the divine signals. It sounds as if you are doing a good job of that. Raymond February 7, Reply. I just have to relate this to someone and this seems as good a place as any.
A line in the song says something about sitting in a bar talking about Gods Grace. Within 5 seconds of hearing those words, I was absolutely struck by sadness, fear, confusion, and a massive burden in my heart. I started crying which I very seldom do and could not figure out what was happening. Within 30 or 40 seconds I instinctively fell to my knees in my office sobbing and begging for forgiveness. I kneeled there for probably 5 minutes before trying to get up in case someone came in.
So here I am relating this. Martin February 17, Reply. This is good news, Raymond. There was, as you put it, a massive burden in your heart. It is a deeply spiritual, grace-filled moment when you feel the sadness, fear, and confusion caused by that burden. It is indeed a moment for falling to your feet and pouring out your heart to God. That opened your heart to hearing, or feeling, the divine voice. Of course, you are blown away. Your story blows me away. Bless you for sharing! Jacob Slaven December 14, Reply. I am 14 years old, and I live in a small town.
Every night, I would go outside in my backyard to get away from the struggles of life, and just observe the vast universe God has created. That week, one of the two friends I had mentioned, his grandmother past away. That same week, the friend I was just talking to yesterday came home to find his dog was dead in the pastures.
The next night, I went outside and conversed with God once again, but I cried, because I knew he had been with me all this time, and I realized, that feeling was to open up, or go talk to those people and comfort them. What does this mean? Is this a mad coincidence? The factors of life? Martin January 1, Reply. Jacob, it was NOT your fault. He also gave you confirmation that He is real and cares about your life and the lives of others.
These events could be just coincidences, but you learn more by taking them seriously than by discounting them. You may have further moments God comes to you or you may not.
God has already let you know that He is present and caring. Cherish that knowledge for the rest of your life! Lara November 29, Reply. My first conscious experience with God was a couple days after Easter this year. I call it conscious experience because it was my first time seeing and experiencing God in a way I never had before.
I want to share a series of them that converted me from a non-believer to a Christian. I had used to go to church as a teenager in early s with friends but did not really catch on what it meant to know God and be a Christian. So expectedly and tryingly, I faded away from Christianity a year or so later, still a teenager. The sermons are ridiculous!
Why are they dramatizing the death of Jesus? I was just full of resentment and critique after the service. At the same time, my mind could not get off the thought of what the church was all about. In a way I felt tormented over a week or so and that was so weird when I was supposed to be studying for my exams. Then came one day when I was just completely frustrated, the friend who churched me during Easter consoled me and gave me some wise words.
Inexplicably, I felt a sudden peace and calmness in my mind and a sort of looking contently from above sort of calm all around me, that my problems I saw suddenly seemed so small and insignificant. And my friend said he was surprised to have said those things to me for he did not think he could say those words, when I thanked him for his kindness. That was a bit surreal and I did not feel frustration for the next few months very rare.
I did not realise it then and thought to myself in retrospection two weeks later that was God coming close to me and healing my wounded self. Soon I decided to buy a bible as my teenager bible had gone missing and I felt I had to read the bible. When I did get started it is not my first time reading a bible though I was not too familiar with the content , I had no idea why, deep sorrow overwhelmed me and tears streamed down my face so excessively I was sobbing.
For the record, I was just reading the book of John where Jesus had an interaction with the woman by the well. So inexplicable that I decided the only next reasonable step is I must put my faith in God. Since then it had been about a month plus after Easter, I had been having very strange experiences that just told me God is with me.
I went to church on my own and prayed on my own and lamented to God why this Christian path is a little lonely, and at that exact moment, some show screening on TV showed a couple of people praying together and going Amen at the moment I went Amen. How coincidental is that? In my bestest attempts to be godly, that I perceived as shit fake, God had not given up on me.
After I left church in my teenage years, many good things started to happen to me I would say it was the awakening of my life. I got to achieve a few of my life goals and become more independent, got opportunities to work, travel and study and play and be in love. But after my Easter church this year and the strange spiritual experiences I had, this epiphany just rolled onto me and i could not help but cry and praise God for all that He had done for me and not leaving me even when I left Him.
I could just suddenly understand that all that I was enjoying was from the love and grace of God, which strangely a few moments ago, this thought was inconceivable and the experience therefore, unconscious. Another overwhelming tearing experience followed while I shook in gratitude for God. I knew I was reborn again, this time in Christ for sure. Martin December 6, Reply. Lara, there are many lessons in your wonderful report. You came to see that God was with you all along. God sometimes speaks to us through opens, and does so at times of greatest.
You have replaced resentment with gratitude, which is not only healthier but also more realistic. Alex November 28, Reply. My experience of God is the silence. The complete silence of … Nothing. Pray and listen for hours. What is heard? Read it intensely and study it. Pray more. Try to conform and listen to the Divine. Spend months doing this. When guidance is sought and nothing is heard in return, eventually even the most patient will give up the ghost.
That is what I did — what I have done — and it is what a growing number of people are doing. To ask is to get no answer, because there is none. My experience — and many others — attests to complete bewilderment at what to do, where to go, or whom to get guidance from. What happens when a culture experiences what I experienced? Look around you — this is what happens. He has no one to blame but himself. Perhaps he thinks he can continue to hide from people, and communicate through people such as yourself.
But the meager sales of your book I hope I am not being too brutal here and the current climate of disbelief is the result of such an approach. Is there a Good? Who knows? He wants people to listen to him? If he did he might actually say something. This is an extremely important post, Alex. There is a relentless logic to it, all the way to reflections on the culture, on whether there is a God, or whether, if there is, such an unresponsive God is worth worshipping. Those are topics that could fill a seminar. But I would like to focus on you, Alex, and your personal experience.
I am struck that you are doing the right thing — not praying for a rescue helicopter but praying for guidance. What does God want Alex to do in this life, or just in this day? I assume that you have also looked for divine messages in tasks placed in your path, in comments from friends, in sacred ceremonies, in natural beauty, in divine proximity at moments of great change such as marriage or death, in the sorts of meaningful coincidences that Carl Jung called synchronicity.
I assume you find tasks in your path, but no sign that God has placed them there or that you are supposed to pick up one task rather than others. Although God seems not to have spoken or otherwise manifested divine presence to you, God has done that for others, and the results are recorded, among other places, in the sacred texts of the various traditions and in the exemplary lives of iconic figures in those traditions.
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You might just try living according to the Ten Commandments, the teachings of Jesus, the guidance in the Bhagavad Gita, and so on — whichever ones seem most relevant to your life. But I feel there is something deeper here, Alex. You just get Nothing. Is there a way you can probe the divine silence, get to the bottom of it, as it were. Take your whole heart, mind, and soul into the depths of the Nothing and see what you find there.
You may not hear from God, but I have the sense that your soul is attuned to the divine pull. Your earnest efforts, and honest assessment of the empty outcome, is evidence of that. You may be right now on the path God intends for you. In your search for truth, you are already partnering with God. Alex December 23, Reply. As I thought about my reply, I instantly had too much to say. So instead I will say that I apologize for being so harsh — to both you and to Him. Secondly I would say that I would love to do the most I can to spread your message — His message.
You really are his New Elijah. Forgive me for my brashness; I tell this to you as much as I tell it to Him. Alex, I would like to continue this discussion with you. I will send you an email if we have your address. Just in case, you can email me at the address listed on the website. Our spiritual lives are precarious and take courage. I look forward to further contact with you. Meanwhile, be well! Alex January 5, Professor Martin, I would love to discuss things with you over email.
It seems as though I cannot email you through the website, however; the addresses that are on the website are to publishers and salesmen.
Devotionals – Sons of the King Daily Devotionals
You are of course free to use my email address. Jesse December 12, Reply. I was I had prayed every night that the Lord would save my soul. I was raised in an old Baptist country Church and had prayed this prayer every night from my youth up routinely. That night was no different as I started to say my prayer ,as soon as the word soul came out of my mouth , the Lord God Almighty who hung the moon and stars overshadowed me whith his Spirit. It was the most fear I have ever felt in my life. I did not have to go to my mother or father.
I knew who it was. He did not save me that night but condemned me. I new that night I was lost and if I died would lift my eyes in hell. I remember going to the bathroom and staring at myself in the mirror knowing something had changed while my heart was pounding out of my chest.
The feeling that had hit me I cannot describe other than a fire I had never experienced and a rushing of every nerve on my body. I new I was in trouble but did not exactly no what to do. All I kept seeing was getting back to my church. That Sunday I was brought to my church as always. I Was nervous and could not get comfortable, at the end of the service when the preacher opened the Church for membership by letter or experience of Grace. The church begain to sing and the Lord returned onto me and I took one step towards the ile to join the Church and in that first step the Lord saved my never dying soul.
I had the greatest peace I have ever felt. I thought surely I would never have another problem in this world. I was babtised the next weekend. I am 34 now. I have surely had many troubles since then in this world but have never had that fear and trembling I felt that night. The Lord has blessed me to feel him many times after.
Not in an audible voice but with his voice Wich speaks to the soul. He appeared onto me when I was There is no certain age. But he said he would appear on to all men.
Many of our beliefs are not chosen, we are born into them
Your time will come and may be soon. He said that no one can come onto him unless he draws them. When he draws on your soul u will know. I have also heard of people being saved on their death bed. But I would not recommend that. God bless u to feel what i have. Quintin Thomas October 6, Reply. Fast forward 30 or so minutes, this guy I just met has managed to make me feel comfortable enough to tell him about some of my problems..
He then vanished. Martin December 1, Reply. A remarkable experience! God communicates with us in many ways.
Sometimes it is in something a friend — or, in this case, a stranger — says. Sometimes it is like being visited by an angel. These are moments to take in fully, and let them radiate over our lives, and be thankful for. Gina October 5, Reply. I am 35 years old and I grew up in a atheist household. I asked God to be part of my life when I was nine years old.
Intersection of Life and Faith
I was crying so hard sitting on the sofa I remember saying I feel so alone and have no one to talk to. The voice was so loud and clear it made me jump up. I was still crying and looking down. The voice told me to look outside.. So I looked outside and I remember it being dark outside because I had let the dog out.
I looked out the back window and the sky was lit up a yellow bright almost lime green light! It was so bright like glowing! Something said go outside experience this. I looked at my deck and the wood looked dry it was so bright their was no water on the deck. I sat in the patio chair… the air, clouds everything was glowing yellow… the bumblebee bees were in slow motion while I was watching them I felt how beautiful they were. I looked up and their was a double half rainbow it seemed in perfect position. I thought about getting up to get my phone and take a picture but I heard God and he told me not to move, he said experience this for it will only last a minute!
I stayed I felt him all around around me he was with me. The sky went back to normal I walked back to the house it fell dark and my deck was soaking wet. That just happened yesterday. So my other experience was four years ago I gave birth to my son whom was born with a very rare heart disease.. After his surgery he was in ICU for three months. Their was a baby across from us that was born the day before him. My son and her son had the same middle name and a very similar first name pretty much the same birthday and our boys were both very sick.
So both babies caught Ecoli in the hospital.. I remember being angry that I was alone when given the news. I was devastated … I left the baby at the hospital to go pick up my other son from school. I was in the car waiting for him to come out and I heard a voice.. I still remember that prayer I can still feel it when I think about it.. I was sitting in the seat of the car but felt as if I was on my knees I felt sweat goosebumps and energy coming out of me while I begged for Gods mercy, I made promises to God to let him guide my path.
That was the only day I ever prayed like that. It was unexplainable but I was begging with more emotions than I knew I even had. They were shocked! I knew God did that adn he worked all night on my son! The other baby died.. My son is doing well and has had other open heart surgeries. Thank you for reading my experiences I hope they help you in some way. I now just say God plan smy path and guide me. Your remarkable experiences are full of spiritual lessons. The fact that you turned to God when you were only nine years ago shows an openness of soul.
You were told not to move. The divine presence is not there to be documented but for you to take in, and let the moment be sufficient unto itself. You need to remember that moment and let it inform the rest of your life. One of the mysteries of life is suffering. It never quite makes sense when a child is lethally afflicted. It comes out of the blue with no rhyme or reason.
You were angry that you were alone when given the news — but, in fact, you were not alone. None of us is ever really alone. When you received the guidance to pray, you did it. You did it with all your heart. God does not always grant what we pray for though He always listens with love , but you did what God asked and this time he did save your son.
Living in partnership with God is an adventure. Shaquoiah September 11, Reply. My first experience with God was an unexpected one. My questioning of God really came when I was in high school. So one day I decided to pray to God.. On Thursdays we usually have chapel time therefore I figured it was the perfect opportunity.
So as my Reverend spoke about Jesus I instead prayed in my head. After that I somewhat forgot about it throughout the rest of the week. Until the coming Saturday my experience reminded me. On this day I had gone out with my friend and brother to the city for the day. After a long day we decided to call a cab and head home. Just before we called a cab this man walks up to us. He then smiled again, asked for my name before he offered to pray for me. I said yes so he said a little prayer for me before giving us each a small book of The Gospel of Mark. Till this day I still have the book as it reminds me of my small experience with God.
Jerry L Martin September 24, Reply. What is great about your comment is that it illustrates something important about our relationship with God. Divine communications are not always dramatic or vivid or explicit. They can even come by way of what someone else says to you. The important thing is how you take it in, recognizing the divine message and taking it into your life.
It was, in fact, an answer to your prayer. Eden August 6, Reply. I was taught very little about the Bible or God, so I did not have much knowledge on Christianity as a whole. However, I started to know God mainly through his presence at first. I would feel him throughout random times in my life, even the times when I was younger. I felt him calling out to me, wanting me to talk to him and to develop a relationship with him.
The words were hard to hear then, and I could convince myself to think about something else. I did not hear him a lot of times, but each time I remember knowing with certainty it was God who was speaking. One day, I asked God to prove to me that he did exist. It was then that I felt a calling to go outside. I sat down on the grass, and I just waited for him. I was listening to music at the time, and a random song came on that I had only heard once before but never really listened to.
The title of the song happened to be my name. The song was about starting over and being saved. At that moment, I felt God. This time was different than the last few times. His presence then was very powerful. I felt his presence not only inside me but apart of the world around me. I saw him and his love in everything. It was a beautiful reminder that he was with me and had always wanted to be.
He has spoken to me and given me warnings about involving myself with certain people or just some people in general who have bad intentions. As I have started to study the Bible more, I have learned more about Christianity. In doing so, it has made me more at peace. However, there are many ways that he speaks to us and makes his presence known. It is up to us to try to further develop a relationship with God so that we may recognize when he is speaking.
God is making Himself very available to you, and you are doing a wonderful job of being open and ready to respond. One key to the spiritual life is simply to have an open soul. You let God in and you trust His presence in whatever ways it shows itself. That it itself a lot of what God wants of us. Please keep me posted on the course of your spiritual life. Marguerite Okaingni September 25, Reply. How can I know the Holy spirit more? Because He is my precious and I want to know Him more. I face some challenges and I feel like He is away from me….
Still wondering plssssss I need help just tell me the ways to meet Him for I wanna be in His presence everyday. Ev-a Eva August 3, Reply. I had a desire to help people, not knowing the Five-fold Ministry. This Church had a Bible College. I went to an orientation with a mind to enroll, but during the orientation, I thought I was not intelligent enough to attend. It was never a fearfu,l or "spooky" experience. I would weep because I felt something was happening, not knowing what to pray for. During Bible Class I stood up and explained to classmates the heavy burden I was experiencing, and while praying to God, I asked God to take it from me… It was too heavy for me.
A seasoned Christian woman of God, stood up and said, "don't ask God to take this from you, God is calling you as an "Intercessor," to stand in the gap for others. From that time to now ; 30 years now I daily interceed for other, nations, relatives; etc. I never took classes that intercession, God has been my teacher. Since that time I have heard some say, Intercessory is a gift.
Holy Spirit teaches us how to pray. Within days, his place in the order of things will be determined. And much of his perspective on life and his prospects will have been shaped. Later in the night I woke up worrying that my beautiful new boy will one day be obliged to undertake military service and to sustain the occupation of Palestine.
These were night worries, of course. We are all born into a network of significance, children of particular people with particular stories. This is precisely why my initial and emotional instinct was mistaken: there is nothing arbitrary about the identities in which he was being clothed.
Louie has an inheritance that exists irrespective of the choices that he will one day make for himself. Like the rest of us, the cultural grammar of his life is largely a given. It could not be otherwise. Yet, of course, whether he speaks English or Hebrew at home is a huge deal and will massively shape his adult worldview.