I've recently finished two very challenging books: Soul Talk by Larry Crabb and The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence.
Soul Talk's subtitle is, "Know God More Intimately and Relate to Others More Deeply, Through...Soul Talk...The Language God Longs For Us to Speak." It teaches a different way of communicating when responding to the challenges people face in life with these five steps:
1. Think Beneath
-think about the battle between religion and Christianity. Is this person more aware of his/her desire for blessings or desire for God?
2. Think Vision
-reflect on how this person would be talking about his/her life if he/she wanted God more than blessings. What would it mean for this person's life to not be wasted?
3. Think Passion
-how are you right now self-obsessed? Feel it, confess it to God, and let brokenness put you in touch with your true desire to love this person.
4. Think Story
-listen to with transcendent curiosity to hear the hidden story of fear and shame and to hear shaping events that directed this person away from God in order to find life. Ask lots of questions. Be stingy with advice.
5. Think Movement
-pay close attention to any movement toward brokenness. Then put words to repentance, encourage specific acts of trust, share your confidence in God, and celebrate release of the person's true self.
It was a very challenging book that I will definitely need to read a few more times to truly capture its lessons. However, I do know if used properly it works. After reading through it, I recognized that Jay, a friend in DC, spoke Soul Talk after the engagement being broken off. He didn't give me hardly any advice, but instead asked lots of questions to lead me to see what lessons I am to learn from this time of brokenness. I came away less focused on my problem and more focused on God, which is the goal when facing trials.
The Practice of the Presence of God is a Christian classic written in the 17th century about the life of a monk in France, Brother Lawrence. He was the epitome of what it meant to live for God in every aspect of your life. This is another book I will need to read several times before I am able to really understand the depth of it. It is also one I plan to add to my "read once a year" list because it is that powerful that I don't want to forget the lessons of it.
The book is a compilation of conversations with and letters from Brother Lawrence on how he was able and advice on how to be in the practice of always being in the presence of God in his daily activities.
I highly recommend both books, especially Brother Lawrence, to anyone who wants to take their relationship with God to the next level.