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READ: Review, GOD ALONE IS ENOUGH by Claudia Mair Burney

(Today’s post is part of a blog tour and reviews only Chapter Four. For more information, check out the author’s own spirited journey onher blog). Uncertain about how to pray. Fighting battles of sin and self. Wanting more of God—but uncertain how to reach Him. Modern-day strivings of a soul-searching evangelical? No. Sixteenth-century struggles from a woman canonized as a saint. No ‘saints’ in your tradition? No matter. Think relationship, not religion—and keep reading. In God Alone is Enough: A Spirited Journey with St. Teresa of Avila (Paraclete Press, 2010), Claudia Mair Burney does more than introduce us to an amazing woman of God. She invites readers to join her on Teresa’s—and her own—journey toward true intimacy with Christ. Burney’s clear exposition of Teresa’s writings combines with her own stories of spiritual quest to make God Alone is Enough a powerful, meaningful read. Have you heard the expression, “You’ve quit preaching and gone to meddling?” That’s my brief Baptist summary of my assigned chapter, “Get to Know Yourself.” I loved Chapter Three. My artist/writer persona responded with delight to Teresa’s admonition to “make a garden in your soul.” But get to know myself? God, I can already see this moving into more daily dying. Can’t we leave that theme and embrace a new one? After all, You’ve been hammering “self” out of me for a long time now. “Of course, my beloved. As soon as you learn to die.” Exactly as God (and the author) intended, Teresa and Burney’s dual pilgrimage yielded a journey of my own. My Lord came to me in the way this chapter (assigned at random) explored our helplessness in prayer (the general topic of a book a friend and I are writing); distraction in prayer (the subject of my blog earlier this week); and placing one’s life—with all its sin, inattentiveness, and distraction—before God as an offering (the aforementioned “dying to self” theme under which I both suffer and learn at His feet). A sample to savor: “You can’t cut yourself in pieces and offer only the good parts to God. He wants all of you; the good and the bad parts; your weaknesses and strengths; the brokenness you don’t want anyone to know about; as well as those things within that are being marvelously healed. We must be willing to tell the truth about ourselves: we are made in the image and likeness of God and yet, we sin and fall short of His glory. In the truth we find our liberty.” (page 52) The book arrived Wednesday so my assigned chapter marks the extent of my reading to date. But I won’t sidestep or abort this delightful, painful journey. I intend to...

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PRAY: Anywhere, Anytime

I participate in an online professional writers’ group. Every Monday and Thursday, panelists ask questions and group members respond. It’s a fun way to gain fresh insights and different perspectives from people in various facets of the writing and publishing world. A recent question asked about our favorite “perk” of the writing business. Some writers love the travel and excitement of research. Others enjoy setting their own hours and working from home. Still others mentioned the opportunities their writing brings them to touch lives and impact God’s kingdom. In an uncharacteristic burst of spontaneity, I wrote down the first perk that came to my mind. I love the fact that, as a writer, I can work when I’m not (technically) working. I can think up ideas or brainstorm an article while I’m walking in my neighborhood, driving down the road, or waiting for an appointment. And as I contemplated a new PRAY post, I realized—that’s what I love about prayer, too. Why do we think we must find a particular position, posture, or place to pray? Jesus showed us that common places can be holy ones. As we read about Him in the Gospels, we don’t see Him walking in royal robes or inhabiting a king’s palace. Instead, He seems to prefer the lowly places: a manger, a fishing boat, a rough wooden table. His presence brings holiness to what we consider normal or everyday. That’s what He does in our lives, too. When we’re talking to a coworker in the office hallway, driving kids to a ball game, or filling our cart at the grocery store, we have the opportunity to encounter God in prayer. Of course, we can meet Him there just as we meet him in the quietness of a church sanctuary or the silence of our morning devotional time. Ask God to help you see some of your ordinary moments as moments of prayer. As you approach Him, He may surprise you with the way he turns the humble into the holy and the ordinary into the extraordinary. Pray. Don’t buy the lie that says you must wait for a special moment or a certain place. Each minute and every location is holy because He’s there, waiting for you. Start...

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