Chapter 1: Living In The Present

Imagine that we could walk through the new year always listening to a voice saying to us: “I have a gift for you and can’t wait for you to see it!” Imagine.

Nouwen, Henri J. M.. Here and Now: Living in the Spirit (p. 16). The Crossroad Publishing Company. Kindle Edition.

This is the first week or our online book/Bible study! I’d like to welcome everyone to the “table”! As near as I can tell, there are about 20 participating. What better way to start than through prayer?

Let’s pray!

Gracious Father, it’s such a blessing that you have called together this special group who share on Your passion. The more we learn and internalize, the more fulfilled we are in Your Kingdom. Help us to understand your message for each of us. Helps us to contribute our insights to help each other through this experience. May Your Holy Spirit soften our hearts and open our minds. Amen.

As we open our study, I woke up with our first deep snow! While digging out our driveway, I’m picturing the reactions of different people I know. The comments would range from “I hate snow” to “I can’t wait to try out my skis for the first time this year”!!! One thing about this reality, is that God is right in the middle of it!!! We often become so buried in our own reactions, we fail to see God. God shares in these reactions, good and difficult, that we experience. We prayed to soften our hearts and open our minds so we can really “know God”!

You will see that we are all set to read one Chapter per week! This may seem like a snail’s pace for the avid reader. We are NOT reading this book with a goal of turning the last page! We WILL be trying to experience and grow through insights!

You will notice that the 1st Chapter: Living In The Present is comprised of 7 sub-titles, thoughts or “meditations”. 

One: A New Beginning;

Two: Without “Oughts” and “Ifs”;

Three: Birthdays;

 Four: Here and Now;

Five: Our Inner Room;

Six: With Others;

Seven: The Hub of Life

A person may read all of these at one sitting per week… or one section at a day to digest slower.

In reflection of what we read…

Is there any one idea that really reached me?

What is God revealing about Himself in this reading?

What is God revealing about me in this reading?

I had a mentor in Seminary who is still a very close and dear friend. When we would meet, among other things, he would always ask where the “bottle neck” was during a particular time. The term bottle neck began during the early production lines. If one section didn’t keep up, product would either go flying all over the place or stop!

Reflecting on the chapter, ask…

Where was the “bottle neck” in my past that kept me from realizing God to His fullest?

Was it a person, or maybe an event? Could it have even been me?

Upon realization, ask God for healing and an example of His perfect love.

Where am I “bottle necked” now in my relationship with God?

What can I recognize, or handle differently to increase “flow” in my Spiritual life?

Here are some questions for this particular chapter:

How does the constant drone of life numb me to the point of missing God’s special gifts?

John 1:12-13

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.  

How does thinking about ourselves in this light of becoming God’s own child, change how we feel?

How can opening gifts from God bring excitement???

How might God feel if He gave a gift… and we never bothered to unwrap it?

There are pondering points for each chapter beginning on page 176!

Finally, Pray, pray and then… pray some more!

Feel free to share insights, experiences, significant songs or poetry to further discussion among this group! It’s the shared experience that God utilizes the challenges and victories of others to make this special group unique!

15 thoughts on “It begins…

  1. The part were he talks about the wheel I found very comforting I could picture God in the center and the spokes is Gods arms reaching out to us and us reaching out to him

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  2. My favorite part: “When we dare to trust that we are never alone but that God is always with us, always cares for us, and always speaks to us, then we can gradually detach ourselves from the voices that make us guilty or anxious and thus allow ourselves to dwell in the present moment.” It reminds me to stop taking myself so seriously, to stop being so self-absorbed. To focus more on God and others. Feeling guilty is healthy when it leads to remorse, and confession, and forgiveness. After that, God please lead me forward!

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  3. I love the imagery created in “The Inner Room”. To light a candle in the center of the room and know that you can retreat there anytime you want is such a welcoming and calming approach to prayer. Instead of feeling obligated or it’s a chore, there is an inviting, calming atmosphere. How beautuful.

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  4. The attitude and approach of looking (and waiting sometimes) with expectancy of a gift gives me a spark and hope. Then as the day proceeds, I find the gift God gives and enjoy it! All of this puts excitement in my day rather than the doldrums of no or low expectations. It’s been a life changer in a good way for me!

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  5. I will agree that we need to learn to trust God more. We tend to think we are in control of problems or situations instead of praying for God’s help. He is in control of everything, not us.

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  6. I am finding out with reading this I need to trust God more. Also I need to focus more on each day and realize that God has forgiven me of all my past mistakes. I just need to forgive myself.

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      1. It is easier said than done, but every time the guilt returns, remember the sacrifice Jesus went through (the cross). All of this pain was so that He could assume our guilt, putting it to rest once and for all. This is where the love of Christ is liberating. I believe guilt has a purpose… to bring our areas that cause blockades to our attention. When we feel guilt, we need to ask, is this true or is the merit to the feeling? If so, confess to God, followed by accepting His gift of forgiveness. So guilt, the first time through, has a purpose. It also seems to be that if the guilt returns, this keeps the focus on ourselves rather that the focus on God and the faith that His gift through Jesus is sufficient. I pray you find relief through these insights!

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  7. I also found the section on birthdays interesting. I love celebrating other peoples birthdays but not my own since it reminds me of how old I am.

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    1. Birthdays do seem to create a snapshot in time! I don’t think that whoever created the phrase “Golden Years” had yet endured the baptism of pain that most elder experience! I’ve heard of a child that told a grieving parent suffering the loss of a friend… “Don’t worry mom, she just lost her wrapper!!”

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  8. So much to digest in this book! Thinking of living in the here and now and not distracted from
    the past will be a work in progress for me. A song by Kris Kristofferson titled “Why Me” comes
    to mind.

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