My first five-star book on spirituality of the year is “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality” by Peter Scazzero. Pastors in my church have long recommended this book. Yet it ended up in a pile of books I meant to read for a long time. What a mistake! (Although … I do think the Lord had me read the book when it could help me the most.)
Scazzero, pastor of a large, multiracial church in Queens, New York, teaches how to biblically integrate emotional maturity, the practice of the presence of Jesus, and contemplative spirituality. That’s what Christian mindfulness is all about!
He bases his examination of unhealthy spirituality on the Bowen theory of family dynamics. I spent several years studying this theory and working through the ramifications in my family of origin. Scazzero does a great year explaining it in several chapters.
Breaking old patterns of unhealthy behavior allows us to embrace the presence of God. Scazzero explains how to follow a schedule of prayer, keep Sabbath and write a rule of life. All of this is so helpful to walking in the presence of God in the present moment.
This book helped me to understand why the Lord led me along several paths that I previously thought were wastes of time. Just knowing that makes the book worth it. I think it can help nearly everyone. And I’m not alone. Amazon, with 478 ratings, has the book at 4.5 stars. And Goodreads, with 8,881 ratings, has the book at 4.25 stars.
Other resources for the mindful Christian life are here.
Mindful Christianity is abiding in Jesus moment by moment. The best description I’ve heard of this comes from Carl McColman:
“God is love. God loves all of us and wants us to experience abundant life. This means abiding in love — love of God and love of neighbors as ourselves. Through prayer and worship, meditation and silence, we can commune with God, experience His presence, have our consciousness transformed by His spirit, participate in His loving nature, and be healed and renewed in that love. This new life (what the New Testament calls ‘the mind of Christ’) will not only bring us joy and happiness (even when we suffer), but will also empower us to be ambassadors for God, to bring God’s love, joy and happiness to others.”Carl McColman, “The Big Book of Christian Mysticism”
The call to envelop ourselves in God’s love does come at a price: the suffering Jesus paid in His crucifixion AND our need to relinquish “control.”
In these days of coronavirus, we can all see how little control we actually have over our lives. Perhaps this is the best possible time to live in God’s love and be God’s love to our families.
Quite a few of us are praying about COVID-19. I have a long list of people, groups, causes and places I love, which I pray for every day. The Lord has recently been prompting me to find a quieter way to pray inside His will.
Instead of having a long list of what I think SHOULD happen, I am just lifting up the individuals and the groups to God for His will to be done. I am no longer Mrs. God, handing the Lord his honey-do list.
After all, as Psalm 139:4 says, “Before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely, Oh Lord.”
God knows what we need. The purpose of prayer is to help us grow closer to God and to understanding His will. Just lifting up a person or a cause before the Lord and asking that His will be done is enough.