I am excited to share my review of “Life Lessons From A Bad Quaker: A Humble Stumble Towards Simplicity and Grace” by J. Brent Bill. J. Brent Bill is a writer, photographer, popular speaker, retreat leader, and a Quaker minister. You can learn more about J. Brent Bill at BrentBill.com.
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I thoroughly enjoyed “Life Lessons From A Bad Quaker“. J. Brent Bill is hilarious. He is witty. He is honest. He is raw. He is not afraid to tell it like it is. “Which is one reason I’m a Quaker today. I need to be. It challenges me. It rubs up against the parts of me that need smoothed out.”
Let me share a few lessons that J. Brent Bill learned that resonated with me.
Busy Outwardly, Centered and Silently Inward
“I have learned that growing deep in the life of the Spirit doesn’t take me out of the life I’m living.” Yes. This is so true. In order to truly live, one needs to go deep in the life of the Spirit.
The outer life is only as good as the inner life. This will take time! We need to keep at it. “Busy outwardly, centered and silently inwardly. Speaking from experience, it’s not gonna happen overnight.”
“So even though God speaks to me constantly, I’m just not listening. That’s why I need silence.” If we want to hear God speak we need to shut up. I think J. Brent Bill would agree with me say it so bluntly.
“We believe that God always has something to teach us about being people of faith in our current times. So we ask lots of questions hoping to find out how to live godly lives.” Quakers ask lots of questions. I loved all of the questions that were sprinkled throughout each chapter.
I often found myself reading a question and then taking five minutes to meditate on my answers to this question. I jotted down multiple one sentence answers to each question. Questions help us grow. I grew as I read this book.
“Cumbered” is how early Quakers referred to the way the things we own (or think we own) weigh us down and steal attention away from the life of the Spirit.” I wondered the same thing. What takes me away from the life of the Spirit? Is it my iPhone or iPad ? Is it Facebook and or Twitter? Perhaps it is being annoyed at others, the traffic jam I am stuck in or the never ending household chores that seem to always pop up?
“My good friend Connie taught me what she calls the SOB prayer. I use it a lot: “God, give that SOB everything I would hope for myself to be made happy, whole, and free.” It is a fact. We will not like everybody we come across. I am sure there are plenty of people that do not like me.
However, that person is still a child of God. God loves them just as much as God loves me. I still need to pray for them. I still need to love them. “God loves everybody as much as God loves me? If that’s true, I’d better start treating people better.”
God’s Green Earth
“There are plenty of things I could do. The issue is what is God calling me to do.” I pulled this out of the chapter, “God’s Good Green Earth”. If I get quiet, I just might hear what it is that God calls me to do to take better care of mother earth. We and this includes me, forget and take for granted that God has blessed us with this beautiful earth. We and this means me, need to take better care of it. What is God calling me to do?
Read “Life Lessons From A Bad Quaker“. Take the time to meditate on the questions sprinkled throughout each chapter. Is your faith challenging you and rubbing up against the parts of you that need to be smoothed out? Quiet yourself! What actions are God calling you to take?
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I just finished Sacred Compass by J. Brent Bill and Christian Meditation: Experiencing the Presence of God by James Finley. I am currently reading The Soul of a Pilgrim: Eight Practices for the Journey Within by Christine Valters Paintner.
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David Frenette’s book The Path of Centering Prayer reenergized the Centering Prayer tradition with its fresh insights and teachings. Centering Prayer Meditations: Effortless Contemplation to Deepen Your Experience of God is a wonderful companion audio program created to be equally rewarding as a stand-alone guide – gives listeners an immersive resource to learn contemplative prayer, step by step and in the moment. With clarity and compassionate presence, Frenette explains the essential principles of this contemplative practice for both new and seasoned practitioners.
I use a Prayer Rope after each Centering Prayer Sit.
Centering Prayer is a silent prayer practice that can move you toward a profound relationship with the Spirit of God within. It is a way of praying that opens the door to the Divine Indwelling—the ground of our being. With Centering Prayer, Father Thomas Keating and his colleagues Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler and Father Carl Arico present the first online course in this method for deepening your intimacy with God and ultimately consenting to the presence and action of the Divine in all aspects of your life.
The early Christians, teaches the Reverend Cynthia Bourgeault, were afire with the spirit of Jesus, inspired fully by his teaching of a total transformation of consciousness. How do we reclaim that fire today? On Encountering the Wisdom Jesus, this brilliant author and dynamic Episcopalian priest presents her first full-length audio course about rediscovering the Master of Wisdom. Twelve immersive sessions cover: the parables as wisdom tools; Jesus’s teachings about kenosis (or self-emptying: a path as radical today as it was 2,000 years ago); Jesus as tantric master; Centering Prayer, an approach to meditation as Jesus lived it, and much more. (Based upon her book, The Wisdom Jesus.)
Since the time of the Desert Fathers in the third century, Finley begins, Christian mystics have practiced meditation as a way of opening to the direct presence of God in daily life. Legendary seekers such as Saint John of the Cross, Saint Teresa of Avila, and Meister Eckhart explored how meditation can lead us beyond the closed horizon of the ego, to an interior and holy refuge that is always available to us. On Christian Meditation, James Finley offers a gentle introduction to this all-transforming way of life, and the ever-deepening realization of oneness with Christ it leads us to. (Based upon his book, Christian Meditation.)
Check out my review of Christian Prayer Methods by Dr. Philip St. Romain.
Prepare to be immersed in the 1st Century A.D. context of the life, work, teachings, and actions of Jesus. Check out Simply Jesus by N. T. Wright. Enjoy an article I wrote about one of the lectures on the Beatitudes.
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