"God can and does speak to us -- even in times when things go terribly wrong. What often troubles and torments us are the assumptions that shape what we expect and how we listen ... Shaped by an open-ended, inner dialogue with God about the choices that you and I really do make, finding and doing the will of God is ... an adventure in which, hand in hand with God, we define what it means to live as people of faith." -- from the Introduction
How do we know God's will for our lives? This question lies at the heart of Christian life. And yet, attempting to understand our greater purpose can become a source of frustration as we look for help when making important life decisions. Everything that we hoped to avoid by looking to God -- the sense of isolation, the self-doubt, the fear of "getting it wrong" -- instead is often magnified. This confusion usually stems, however, not from our search for God's will, but from our misunderstanding of God's role in our day-to-day existence.
Spiritual retreat leader and Episcopal priest Fred Schmidt reveals how we are driven farther away from both God and true, lasting fulfillment by our dependence on interpreting "signs and wonders" from heaven, our desire for certainty instead of wisdom, and our anxious preoccupation with supposedly divine to-do lists. By contrast, the spiritual practices described by Schmidt show how we can better recognize the difference between God's will and our own, deepen our ability to hear God's voice, and sharpen our powers of discernment.
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Frederick W. Schmidt, an Episcopal priest, is the director of Spiritual Life and Formation and associate professor of Christian spirituality at Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. He is the former canon educator for the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., where he was the director of programs in religious education. He earned his Ph.D. from Oxford University and is a frequent lecturer at major Episcopal and United Methodist churches, national denominational clergy meetings, and spiritual retreat centers across the country.From Publishers Weekly:
One of the most perplexing and enduring religious questions is how to discern God's will in a given situation. This book's blend of mainline Christian theology, biblical exploration and personal stories about probing God's will through spiritual discernment gives grounding for Christians who struggle with that issue. Schmidt—an Episcopal priest and director of spiritual life and formation for the Perkins School of Theology in Dallas—starts the exploration with "God-questions" to "usher us into another way of being, a new way of seeing the word." Most powerful is his chapter on "signs and wonders," which includes his explanation for why he has serious reservations about the practice of looking at every event in our lives as a "sign from God" pointing to a choice we are to make. Schmidt also cautions against thinking of God's will as a fixed and certain "to-do list." So how would he have us discern God's purpose? Listen to and with our lives, love God and enjoy the freedom that comes in using the gifts and graces to make choices. This is an important book on Christian spiritual discernment, especially for those overwhelmed by complicated "discernment processes" or for head-oriented believers who desire a better grasp on what mystical, contemplative types really mean when they talk about listening to God's voice. (June)
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