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O2: Breathing New Life into Faith (ConversantLife.com®) Paperback – July 1, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Dahlstrom, a Seattle pastor and international speaker, is an original and welcome evangelical voice of reason who offers skeptics and Christians alike compelling advice on living out their faith, Jesus-style. Where, he asks, is Christians' passion for Christ? Do their beliefs make any substantive difference in their daily lives? In 1984, Dahlstrom realized that his own spiritual well was dry, so he moved with his wife to an island where he learned to breathe again—effectively balancing inhalation (prayer, solitude, Sabbath rest, Scripture study and contemplation) with exhalation (service, outreach, hospitality and generous giving). In this book, he gives Christians tools to achieve spiritual balance by integrating these inwardly and outwardly focused spiritual practices. Dahlstrom's tenderness is deeply stirring, as is his tough stance in confronting modern believers' unwillingness to follow in Jesus' stead by serving sacrificially, reaching forth in love and spilling out their lives for others. Dahlstrom's approach balances gentle compassion with fierce assessments of problems in the church today, making this an excellent guide to soul renovation. (July)
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I have read several books on the spiritual disciplines, but none that truly inspired me to practice them. This book however gave me some fresh ways to think about practicing them that didn't become legalistic. In this busy world, most of us don't need anymore check off lists. Pastor Dahlstrom relies of the freedoms given by God which allow us, in our individual and unique way, to worship and obey God through the act of exhaling and inhaling the disciplines. Certainly, there are things that are common to all of us to fill our lives with the O2 of faith, but Pastor Dahlstrom shows us with theological evidence, humor, examples from his life, examples from the lives of faithful Saints, and from the life of Christ, that there is a multitude of ways to practice these disciplines. Additionally, he writes that there are times and seasons where certain disciplines are practiced more diligently than at other times; and what I found so remarkable about this fact, is that it is okay! Christ gives us the freedom to have seasons with more solitude, silence, and prayer than others, times of deeper Bible study than at other times, times when taking in the breathtaking natural beauty of the world God created is enough to fill us, and times when we focus more significantly on loving others with hospitality, service, and generosity.
This wonderful book is an outstanding piece of work that would benefit a believer at any stage of his or her life. It contains wisdom and ideas that we all need to hear as we strive to become the "Artisans of Hope" that God desires us to be and that this lost and hurting world desperately needs.
Dahlstrom uses the analogy of breathing to describe how to sort out the particulars of our faith. He states with confidence that we all share either of two aspects of our faith. We are all either exhaling our faith, characterized by people who are "do-gooders" exhaustively serving others as an expression of their faith; or we are inhailing our faith, seen in the way we nourish ourselves and "pause, ponder, wait and listen" to our inner voices, as we make the big decisions that become the point of our faith, and ultimately the purpose of our lives. With simply titled chapters (Journey, Hospitality, Servitude, etc.) and generous biblical referencing, the reader is able to start and stop at will, read long or short passages as convenient and finish the book with an idea of what was the point of the matter and how to apply the new lessons to their lives.
The only detractor is the font and boldness of the print. It is written in a sans serif typeface with a light print, so light that I was unable to read it after dark, without turning on several lights. It only became an issue when I insisted on reading the book at dusk and dawn, from the convenience of sitting on my favorite flannel quilt. I can't remember when I read a book with this much interest. I also can't remember the last time I slept with a book under my pillow, because I truly couldn't put it down.