Have you ever imagined yourself as a castaway on the popular radio programme Desert Island Discs?

deep-calls (1)

Have you ever imagined yourself as a castaway on the popular radio programme Desert Island Discs? Along with the favourite records, book and luxury item, the guests are given a Bible as a matter of course. Now, suppose that instead of the entire Bible, you could only choose one book. Which would you go for? One of the Gospels? A favourite Letter, perhaps? Top of my list would be the Book of Psalms, the song book of the Bible: 150 rich pickings, a cornucopia of prayer, praise and worship to God. I love the Psalms and they were the inspiration for my new book Deep Calls to Deep, the title of which is taken from verse 7 of Psalm 42, one of the Psalms chosen for the collection. Through these reflections, I hope to encourage and help the reader to draw nearer to God and go deeper with him.
God has much to say to us through the Psalms and their timeless poetry gives us a language to express ourselves to God in return. We can make the words of the Psalms our own, engaging in prayer intellectually and emotionally, as we admit to God our true feelings. It’s been said that the Desert Fathers regarded tears as the purest form of prayer. We offer our whole self: heart and mind, soul and spirit, as we show our longing for a closer walk with God, who desires for us to go ever deeper with him. Our prayers should be vibrant and lead us into the very heart of God.

Modern-day life may bear no resemblance to the experiences of the Psalmists, but basic human nature and emotions don’t change. We can easily identify with the range of feelings expressed, as the Psalmists poured out their hearts to God in sincere, earnest prayer, holding nothing back. King David’s love for his Lord and his enduring personal relationship with God shine through. He wasn’t afraid to show his emotions, from the anguish and agony of spirit in Psalm 22: ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ to the spontaneous exuberance of Psalm 103: ‘Bless the Lord, all my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name.’
In this collection of Psalms, many of which were penned by David, I’ve chosen an extract from each Psalm as a springboard for my thoughts and ideas, which are presented as a short reflection and then rounded off with a prayer or poem, a verse or two from Scripture, or part of a well-loved hymn. It’s a book to dip into when you have a few minutes. You’ll find a variety of themes, including upbeat praise and worship, crying out to God for help in times of trouble, admitting doubts and fears, expressing an intense longing for God, and confessing sins.

In our fraught, pressured world the call to be still before God and rest in his glorious presence is more imperative than ever, as illustrated below, in an excerpt from my book:

STOP!

Be still, and know that I am God!

I am exalted among the nations,

I am exalted in the earth.

Psalm 46:10

You know how it is: you’re worn out, run ragged, pulled in all directions and everyone wants a piece of you. Juggling frantically to keep all the plates up in the air at the same time, you somehow keep going beyond the point of exhaustion, even though it’ll all catch up with you sometime soon and you’ll collapse in a heap. It’s madness but you keep going.

You haven’t intentionally stopped reading your Bible regularly and surely God knows how busy you are at the moment? After all, you’ve been working hard for God all this time, so praying on the move is ok, isn’t it? Except it’s hard to concentrate for more than a couple of minutes and the distractions come thick and fast. Before you know it, and however unintentionally, God has been side-lined and his voice drowned out by the clamour of daily life. There’s been no time to spend quietly with God in his presence, seeking his will.

Finally, God has to shout to be heard, and it’s not the gentle whisper that Elijah experienced, but loud thunder that booms over the busyness. Unmistakeably, it’s God who is speaking and he won’t be ignored: ‘That’s enough! Stop what you’re doing, right now and listen to me!’ It’s time to refocus, put things in perspective and ask yourself what’s really important in your life. Where does it get you, all this chasing your own tail? Could it be that your energy is being expended needlessly? If only you’d asked for God’s help and guidance much earlier, instead of trying to go it alone.

There’s no need to start feeling too guilty, though. God understands how and why this has happened to you. Instead of chastising you, he’s offering a solution, a lifeline, reminding you that he is with you (Psalm 46:11) and giving you the opportunity to find a resting-place in him, amidst the apparent mayhem of life. Take it right now, don’t delay! Don’t be like the people the prophet Isaiah wrote about, who ignored God’s message to them:
In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it.
Isaiah 30:15 (NIV)

I heard the voice of Jesus say,
‘Come unto me and rest;
lay down, thou weary one lay down,
thy head upon my breast.’
I came to Jesus as I was,
so weary, worn and sad;
I found in him a resting-place,
and he has made me glad.
Horatius Bonar

Written by: Linda Ottewell

Deep Call To Deep is available now: Only £6:99

Click here to view 

Margaret Rizza writes:

These beautiful reflections on the Psalms draw us right into the heart of Scripture, giving helpful insights into our ordinary, everyday lives. Deep Calls to Deep is a book which will inspire and awaken us to new horizons and this will reflect the way we go about dealing with the very ordinary things which we encounter every day of our lives. The thoughts and reflections after the extracts of the chosen Psalms are very helpful and constructive, allowing us to see anew some of the very difficult things arising from a culture which poses many things which need much reflection.

This is a book of great depth and will be a great blessing and resource to many people seeking a closer relationship with our Creator God.

‘Spiritual espresso – a shot of strong, stimulating spiritual reflection to start the day!’ Don Egan, Director of RSVP Trust

 

 

 

It’s a family affair!

Critical friend by John CoxMore Sermons on Difficult SubjectsA Day Away by Paul Cox

Identical twins John and Paul Cox have more in common than it would initially seem. The retired duo, both of whom worked in parish ministry, have had titles published by Kevin Mayhew on the exact same day- a first ever (we think!)

Twins - John Cox and Paul Cox

John’s Critical Friend, which provides information and guidance to help school governors fulfil their important, demanding and worthwhile role and A Day Away, in which Paul Cox contributes his valuable experience in planning parish away days and study groups, were published on the same day last month.

While John has been writing for Kevin Mayhew for many years and is also a commissioning editor for the company, it is only recently that Paul began writing. From their contributions to pastoral care handbooks to their very own titles that range from study courses and joining the Anglican Church to retreat days and the important work of church schools, the Cox brothers have covered a wide spectrum and their list of titles have been well received critically.

Other recent publications include their esteemed contributions to the important new title More sermons on Difficult Subjects. Elsewhere, John offers a fresh and exciting resource for those leading and speaking during this season of Lent in the aptly titled The Week that Changed the World.

The Week that Changed the World by John CoxJoining the Anglican Church by Paul CoxMore Than Caring and Sharing by John Cox

More information about the twins plus further titles by the pair are available at www.kevinmayhew.com. You can ‘like’ Critical Friend on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Critical-Friend-The-Work-of-Governors-in-Church-Schools/549242891776459

Posted by Sarah

How is ‘Fit for Purpose’ fit for purpose?

Fit for Purpose by Ed Hone

 Fit for purpose is a seven week Lent Course primarily but not exclusively for groups. The absence of frills and props means there’s a smooth transition between using it in either capacity and there are chapters at the start of the book on using it whichever way too.

The tone is searching and impassioned- from the ‘restless creativity of God’ to what unbalanced ‘spiritual diets’ would look like, and there’s a real pick and mix of lively writing with the author dipping in to everything from the first moon landing to budget air travel in order to get the reader thinking. The ‘Spiritual fitness quiz’ will let you know if you need a ‘spiritual ambulance’ or are ‘the picture of rosy spiritual health’; light hearted and fun but there’s perhaps a limited option of answers for some questions!

The suggested hymns are optional if working through this book alone, as I did, and it didn’t seem odd or distracting to be reading ‘leader’ parts without there being one. I did find the weekly ‘Catching up’ part repetitive but it is aimed more at groups and would be apt for breaking the ice and also for forming real connections with others.

Lastly, it’s fairly short at 107 pages but for £8.99 you definitely won’t be feeling short changed!

Reviewed by Sarah

Available from all good Christian Bookshops or direct from KM online and by phone (www.kevinmayhew.com/fit-for-purpose.html) +44 (0)845 3881634

Ed Hone is a member of the Redemptorist missionary order. He specialises in mission development, preaching and creative liturgy, working chiefly in Britain and Ireland. Ed is currently parish priest of the English-speaking Catholic parish in Luxembourg.