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Deeply Loved: 40 Ways in 40 Days to Experience the Heart of Jesus

Deeply Loved: 40 Ways in 40 Days to Experience the Heart of Jesus

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Deeply Loved: 40 Ways in 40 Days to Experience the Heart of Jesus

valutazioni:
5/5 (1 valutazione)
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176 pagine
2 ore
Pubblicato:
Oct 1, 2012
ISBN:
9781426759888
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

Jesus loves you.

That profound fact has been changing lives around the world for centuries. Yet, there are days when you don’t experience this completely in your own life. So, how do you get to the very core of that statement on a deep, personal level?

 

Keri Wyatt Kent wants to help you fully experience the heart of Jesus’ love in Deeply Loved. Using the gospel stories of Jesus, reflection, and personal stories, Kent will guide you through 40 days of how to create space in your life for Jesus to show up and love you. Deeply.

 

Pubblicato:
Oct 1, 2012
ISBN:
9781426759888
Formato:
Libro

Informazioni sull'autore

Keri Wyatt Kent is the author of several books, including Oxygen, Listen, and Breathe, and is a sought-after retreat leader and speaker. She and her husband, Scot, live with their son and daughter in Illinois. Learn more about Keri's ministry at www.keriwyattkent.com.

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Anteprima del libro

Deeply Loved - Keri Wyatt Kent

DAY 1

AN ONLY CHILD

Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.

(Jesus, in Matthew 28:20)

Patti and Bruce,¹ feeling a tug from Jesus, welcomed a four-year-old foster child into their home. Originally the child welfare organization told them Jonathan would be staying with them and their four other children for about a month. Five months later, after a couple of attempts to place him back with his mother, he’s still living with Patti and Bruce. The process has been messy and complicated. This little boy is sweet, charming, and winsome at times, but angry and confused at other times. So sometimes he cuddles and hugs, but other times he acts out: yelling, scratching, hitting, and even biting.

My friends have loved this child, even as he tries their patience, even as they sometimes despair over the difficulties his birth family faces: poverty, illness, and so on. When they tuck him in at night, they ask him, Jonathan, when God looks at you, what does he say? And they have taught him to answer, He says, ‘I sure do love that little boy!’

When Jonathan first came to them, he did not know the answer to the question. In fact, in his little four-year-old heart, perhaps Jonathan’s circumstance caused him to assume that if God even looked at him at all, God would have said, There’s a bad boy, so bad his mommy had to send him away. But that is not true. And so Patti and Bruce have taught Jonathan to replace the lies with truth. And the truth is, God sure does love that little boy.

The truth is, God sure does love you. When he looks at you, his first thought is love. The question for many of us is, does God even look at us? Could he pick our face out of the crowd? Or does he just love us out of obligation because he loves all people? Does he love us generally, along with all the other people in the world, or does he love us specifically, intimately?

Augustine asserted, God loves each of us like an only child. You may not believe that. Or perhaps you do believe it on an intellectual or theological level, but you don’t feel it. You have never, or perhaps only rarely, experienced that deep love. But what if he was right?

We sometimes have trouble feeling God’s love. But there are practices we can engage in that will help us experience his loving presence. There are things we can do, ways we can train our hearts, so that we can truly know his love personally and profoundly.

Dallas Willard writes that human beings are meant to live in ongoing conversation with God. It is possible to live with an awareness of his presence throughout our day. In the 1600s, a monk known only as Brother Lawrence wrote a series of letters and journal entries that became the book The Practice of the Presence of God. Even as he did chores in the monastery like peeling potatoes or scrubbing the floor, Brother Lawrence would turn his thoughts toward God. Thinking about God, speaking to him about everything, caused him to feel God’s presence with him throughout his day. Jesus’ love was a palpable reality in his daily life.

He wrote: I still believe that all spiritual life consists of practicing God’s presence, and that anyone who practices correctly will soon attain spiritual fulfillment…. There is no sweeter manner of living in the world than continuous communion with God.²

I agree completely, but I don’t live in a monastery. I’m a wife, a friend, and a working mom of two teenagers. I volunteer at my church, attend my kids’ games, hang out with my neighbors, and work a lot. I run the house and my own business from that house. My days are full, containing everything from grocery shopping to writing magazine articles. I’ve been known to have a client meeting via phone while driving a carpool. Is it possible for me to experience God’s presence throughout my day? To know, and be able to declare, that he sure does love me?

It is not only possible to live this way; it is the way we were meant to live. Jesus didn’t just come to save humankind; he came because he wanted to have a relationship with you. Because he is God, he is able to miraculously connect with each of us simultaneously in a deep, intimate way. If we cannot feel that presence, if God seems distant, the problem does not lie with God.

But the very good, amazing news is that God deeply desires to connect with you, to be a constant, comforting presence in your life. You simply have to train yourself to be aware of his presence. That is what you are invited to do over the next forty days as you read this book.

The Bible teaches that God is omnipresent—he is everywhere. We are often unaware of that presence, but simple practices of faith will help increase our awareness of God and help us experience his love in a tangible, real way. This book will guide you in those practices.

PRESENCE PRACTICE

Today, take some time to sit quietly. Invite Jesus to be with you as you let your mind and heart settle down. Take a few deep, cleansing breaths just to slow your body down. When you feel as though you are ready, ask yourself the question my friends asked their foster child: what does God say when he looks at you?

Be as honest as you can. Your gut reaction may be that God says, Who’s that? or Oh, her again. What does she want now? or even How did you mess up now? Sit with whatever comes to mind. Where did your ideas about what God says about you come from? What lies or misconceptions cloud your perception of God’s love for you? Write down your gut reaction in your journal or the space below.

Can you replace any negative thoughts with the truth? God loves you and delights in you. You are his beloved child, wholly and deeply loved. Say to yourself, When God thinks about me, he thinks, I sure do love that (your name). Write this new thought, even if you don’t fully believe it yet, in your journal. If you wrote something negative as your first response, cross it out.

As you go through your day, think of God looking at you with love and delight. Think of him saying, I sure do love (your name)! Thank him for loving you and ask for his help in feeling that love.

Check here when you have completed today’s Presence Practice.

DAY 2

WALKING WITH JESUS

Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. Follow me, Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.

(Mark 2:13-14 NIV)

I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence!

(Psalm 139:7 NLT)

Love consists, so often, in simply showing up. To be present with someone communicates far more than words. In a friend’s moment of grief or need, our presence is a far greater gift than anything we might bring or do, or even say.

The Incarnation is the ultimate example of showing up. But even now, two millennia later, if we pay attention, we will notice when Jesus shows up. He makes good on his promise to abide with us. His constant being with can be a source of comfort and joy. His inescapable presence consoles but also convicts. Our response varies by day, or even by moment.

Jesus is fully present with us, no matter where we go. The question is, do we acknowledge that presence? And do we, for lack of a better term, take advantage of it? Do we fully exploit and enjoy the fact that Jesus himself is nearby, looking at us with love? How would we live if we fully embraced this incredible truth at all times?

How do we gain that awareness? We can look to the example of disciples before us, beginning with the first-century laborers who dropped their nets and took off after this blue-collar rabbi they called Yeshua.

Jesus made it fairly simple, at least to start. He said, Follow me.

The word follow, diluted by our culture, begs for a biblical definition. In English, you can follow the directions (or not); you can follow a sports team (by simply reading the paper or watching TV); you can follow your bliss (though that might not get you beyond yourself); you can follow someone on Twitter (even if you don’t actually know them).

When Jesus invited a group of first-century Jewish fishermen and political Zealots to follow him, he didn’t mean Let’s just keep in touch. He literally meant, Come with me, right now. Live as I live. Learn a way of life and faith from me by watching. And some people did, but others did not. It was hardly surprising that young men working in their father’s fishing business walked away from that. The most highly revered career in that time was to be a rabbi. To give up a blue-collar job to become the follower of a rabbi (and therefore go into training as a potential future rabbi) was a no-brainer.

A rabbi’s followers, known as his talmidim in Hebrew, went everywhere with him, not just to hang on his every word and learn theology from him. They followed him everywhere so that they could mimic what he did. They didn’t just want to know what he knew; they wanted to do what he did, live as he lived.

Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg note:

To follow a rabbi … involved a literal kind of following, in which disciples often traveled with, lived with and imitated their rabbis, learning not only from what they said but from what they did—from their reactions to everyday life as well as from the manner in which they lived…. This approach to teaching is much more like a traditional apprenticeship than a modern classroom.¹

Jesus still says to us today, Follow me. He never told us to gain a lot of knowledge about him, but rather, to be with him, to remain in him (see John 15), and then, to live as he would in our place—to do what he did.

We are separated from Jesus’ earthly life by two thousand years, and even larger gaps culturally and religiously. And yet, we can walk through our days with Jesus by our side, trying to live as he lived, gaining strength, comfort, wisdom, and power from his presence.

PRESENCE PRACTICE

Today, as you go through your day, imagine that Jesus is with you—a strong, loving presence. All day, whether you are doing housework or caring for children, trading stocks or stocking shelves, driving a forklift or running a company, imagine him alongside you, guiding you.

When you awaken, lie in bed for just a minute. Say Good morning, Jesus. Think about what challenges the day will bring. Ask him to help you face those with courage and wisdom. Ask him to make his presence known to you throughout your day.

As you eat breakfast, thank him for his provision. As you drive, do so as if Jesus were sitting in the passenger seat. (Do you drive differently than usual as a result? Perhaps you’ll want to ponder that.) Instead of listening to the radio, simply talk to him.

As you complete the day’s tasks, ask him to help you. When something goes well, thank him. When you face challenges, ask for his help.

It’s quite likely that you will forget about Jesus when your day gets busy. If so, give yourself copious amounts of grace. Just gently redirect your thoughts back toward him.

At the end of your day, thank Jesus for his presence with you through your day. Ask him for rest, for the ability to trust. As you fall asleep, ask that he would be your

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  • (5/5)
    I get a lot of Christian books to read and review. I get a lot of theology (more now that I’ve joined the IVP book club). Keri Wyatt Kent’s book was a welcome, refreshing change of pace for me, that is certain. That is not to say that the book is spiritually shallow — far, far from it. This is, in fact, the kind of book I wish more people were writing, and more people were reading. The book is a pure devotional/spiritual discipline type of book, meant for reading and contemplating over a long period of time. In fact, Kent often encourages the reader to take their time, and the book is easily digested over a period of 40 days. Each daily devotional study ends with a “Presence Practice” that encourages the reader to reflect on what was studied, and to put that day’s study into practice. This isn’t a simple question and answer thing that just asks you to repeat what you read. These reflections ask you to DO things, even if it’s just reading, and they challenge you to really think about how that day’s study impacts the way you are walking with Christ each day, and how you can change to grow closer to Him. My own observance of Lent tends to be nontraditional, to say the least. As a Baptist, I really don’t have a liturgy to follow. In the past, the idea of giving something up for Lent has left me hollow — I either gave up something I needed to get rid of anyway (which seemed like cheating), or I gave up something and ended up being resentful for not being able to do it after just two weeks (sometimes not that long). One thing I have determined to do, though, is to try to focus my devotional time each Lent and Advent on something that strikes at the heart of the season. For Advent, it is the idea of anticipation and longing. For Lent, it is usually the idea of redemption. When I received Deeply Loved, however, I saw the opportunity to immerse myself in the love of Christ revealed in His sacrifice for us. Deeply Loved is a great book to use as a devotional during Lent, but it’s not bound to that time of year the way so many Lenten devotions are. You can pick this book up at any time in the year, set aside 40 days, and study. In fact, I will probably be picking Deeply Loved up again this winter and using it as part of my Advent preparation. Each study is not that long; it can be read in no time at all, even if you don’t read quickly. But if you pay attention to what you are reading, and are really taking the time to think about what Kent is saying, what you read each day will stay with you. You will find yourself in situations where your morning devotional reading will pop back into your mind. You will find yourself growing closer to Christ, and appreciating His love for us even more. That is, after all, the purpose of a devotional book. This is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. This is where all the theology and doctrine we learn and read about is made valuable — when we put it into practice in the service of the King. I end up packing a lot of my review copies up in boxes after I finish them; I just don’t have the shelf space for all the books I have (835 books, according to LibraryThing, and 227 review copies). I won’t be packing this one up any time soon, though. This book will be used over and over again. Highly recommended.