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Spiritual Rhythm: Being with Jesus Every Season of Your Soul Hardcover – August 29, 2010
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“This is a delightful work that shows us how to claim each and every season of the soul as a rich opportunity for spiritual growth and a life-changing encounter with God.” -- Ruth Haley Barton
“Reading Spiritual Rhythm, I found myself feeling like the fortunate friend of a wise guide. . . . Through these pages, I felt heard and understood, and I was met with encouragement, grace, and guidance for my season of the soul. Be prepared to connect---deeply!” -- Mindy Caliguire
From the Back Cover
'Abide in me,' Jesus tells us, 'and you will bear much fruit.' Yet too often we forget that fruit needs different seasons in order to grow. We measure our spiritual maturity by how much we do rather than how we are responding to our current spiritual season.In Spiritual Rhythm, Mark Buchanan replaces our spirituality of busyness with a spirituality of abiding. Sometimes we are busy, sometimes still, sometimes pushing with all we've got, sometimes waiting. This model of the spiritual life measures and produces growth by asking: Are we living in rhythm with the season we are in? With the lyrical writing for which he is known, Mark invites us to respond to every season of the heart, whether we are flourishing and fruitful, stark and dismal, or cool and windy. In comparing spiritual rhythms to the seasons of the year, he shows us what to expect from each season and how embracing the seasons causes our spiritual lives to prosper. As he draws on the powerful words of Scripture, Mark explores what activities are suitable or necessary in each season---and what activities are useless or even harmful in that season.Throughout the book, Mark weaves together stories of young and old, men and women, families, couples, and individuals who are in or have been through a particular season of the heart. As Mark writes, 'I pray that this book meets you in whatever season you're in, and prepares you for whatever seasons await. I pray that it helps you find your voice, your stride, your rhythm, in season or out. Mostly, I pray that you, with or without my help, find Christ wherever you are. And that, even more, you discover that wherever you are, he's found you.'
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I must admit, my praise is somewhat biased. Like the author, I am a pastor. Like the the author, I love words. Like the author, I am on a journey with Jesus, in and out of seasons, constantly reflecting on the state of my soul. This book helped.
I found several aspects of Spiritual Rhythm refreshing.
+ The author wrote openly and honestly. He shared his own griefs and struggles as a pastor and Christ-follower. He painted a clear picture of life in scenic Canada. He referred regularly to the death of a dear friend that left a strong imprint on him and his wife. Finally, he debunked the myth that Christian spirituality is a steady climb to greater faith. No: Christians go up and down, hot and cold, in season and out, and not always in sequence.
+ The author employed a clever device - the "Time In" - to invite his readers into further reflection on a given topic. I am not sure how the "Time In" was designed in the print copy, but in the Kindle Reader, the hyperlink was easy to use (and ignore). The "Time In" forced me to slow down, curbing my naturally tendency to read one book as a hurdle to the next.
+ The author gave practical advice. In addition to the "Time In" where he encouraged moments of gratitude and repentance, Buchanan returned to the tried and true spiritual disciplines (deliciously called "Beers" after the Hebrew word for well) of Word, Prayer, Sabbath, Fellowship. Perhaps the most challenging model he provided was his efforts in Scripture memorization. While verse memory is not for every season (there is neither the time or attention), planting large sections of God's word in our hearts can sustain us through dry and trying moments.
The author neither dragged out his message or drew it to a close too soon. The short chapters provided opportunity for reflection or continuation. The structure - Part 1: Spiritual Seasons (two chapters for each season); Part 2 - Spiritual Rhythms -- is handy for referencing or bouncing around, if the reader does not want to take a linear approach (the author gives permission for this). Full disclosure, I enjoyed Part 1 (Seasons) more than Part 2 (Rhythms).
Overall, I may have I left the pages of Spiritual Rhythm thinking more about Mark Buchanan than Jesus, the Man of Every Season. This, however, is not a flaw of the author and his craft, but this reader and his search for good Christian authors. Eureka. I have found one.
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