4 books about spirituality and religion to open your mind.

4 Books For The Spiritually-Curious Seeking Inspiration In The New Year

Welcome in new perspectives about spirituality and religion from renowned spiritual leaders.

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If you've heard anything about the "Spiritual - But Not Religious" trend and are curious about what place spirituality and religion might have in your life, you're certainly not alone. From negative experiences with religion growing up, confusion about what "spirituality" means, and mixed messages from the mass media and politics, it's no wonder that millennials are associated with leaving religion and looking towards what some call a more "individualized" form of spirituality. Spirituality means something different to every person, and many identify with certain parts of some religions but might feel less inclined to participate in the actual structure of religion (ie. attending church services). The following five books are from renowned spiritual leaders and might provide you with some more insight into how you approach spirituality and religion. Ultimately, these books get at the big questions about what makes life meaningful - and that's truly what unites all world religions.

1. "Your True Home: The Everyday Wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh" 

Sarah Blake

Well-known Vietnamese Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh's most inspirational words have been compiled in this easily digestible, one-page-a-day book. Each page is simple yet profound in its ability to share wisdom from the Buddha and mindfulness practices that you can implement into your life. This book is perfect for those who aren't big on reading or get bogged down by dense chapters.

2. "The Places That Scare You: A Guide To Fearlessness in Difficult Times" by Pema Chödrön

Sarah Blake

Pema Chödrön is an American Buddhist nun who writes about dealing with challenges and difficulties through Buddhist principles. Her approach is gentle, nurturing, and honest. Explore topics like practical tools for meditation, connecting with your heart, and staying open to experiencing the present moment.

3. "Wisdom Walk" by Sage Bennet

Sarah Blake

Sage Bennet is an ordained minister and Professor of Philosophy at Santa Monica College. Her book is essential for those that would like to learn more about the rituals and practices of other religions, in addition to implementing these practices in your own life. Bennet explores Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Taoism, and more with deep respect and integrity.

4. "The Book of Awakening" by Mark Nepo

Sarah Blake

Mark Nepo's book is another one-page-a-day read, but each day offers a short quote or passage followed by one to two pages of additional insight and ends with a simple meditation or breathing practice. If you want to learn how to meditate specifically on topics like vulnerability, resilience, surrender, or pain, then Nepo's accessible approach may speak to you.

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A Letter From God To Help You Finish The Semester

God sees your struggles and He's here to give you strength and motivation.
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My Child,

The lack of motivation towards the end of the semester is normal. You are mentally and physically tired, but you are almost at the end. Don’t stop walking down the perfect path I have for you. When you’re going along and you come upon a speedbump, I want you to go over it and keep driving. The paper you have to write and the test you have to study for are just small speedbumps I have given you to make you wiser. You can write that paper and you can gain motivation to study for that test. I am here to give you strength, and am here to open up your mind and give you motivation.

You are so loved. You have such a beautiful mind. The light of Jesus shines through your eyes and your smile brings comfort to the world. There’ll be times you feel like you’re carrying a heavy load. There’ll be times you feel like the task I have given you is impossible to perform. But remember this: I would never put anything upon your shoulders that you cannot carry. If I put you in a certain situation, it’s because I know you are strong enough to go through it.

When you feel like crying, cry to me. When you feel like a failure, remember how much I love you. You are not a failure and you are not going to give up. I will hold your hand through every second of your life. I will seek your heart through your darkest moments. I see you, I see your heart, and I see your burdens. And remember that I have your heart which means I also have your burdens. Follow my footsteps and you will be free from the doubt. Remember Mark 4:40-41: “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” I have the power to calm any storm and wave. I have the power to calm YOUR storms and waves. Set your doubt, anger, and tiredness in my hands and simply be patient.

Romans 8:14-15 says,“For those who are led by the spirit of God are the children of God. The spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again, rather the spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.” Nothing can separate you from my love. Not even your lack of motivation. You have no motivation because you do not feel good enough. You are more than good enough. You were perfectly made by me and when I look down at you, I think of how proud I am of your heart.

Throughout the last few weeks of this semester, you will stumble upon speedbumps. But hold the hand of my son Jesus and you will be able to go over that speedbump with ease. Go write that paper, go study for that test, and go get an A in that class. I know you can because I have given you power.

Love,

God

Cover Image Credit: Margaret Carnes

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Warning Labels For The Bible

If I felt like decorating my Bible with warning stickers, these would be my top ones

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Two of my friends put me up to this, so here I go.

This post is about warnings people should have about the Bible. Some of my warnings are serious and well-intentioned, while others are meant to cause a little chuckle/giggle, at the very least.

Enjoy!

Bible Warnings

Warning: Jesus likes playing hide and seek, even after he died (#Resurrection #Easterday #findthatsheep #findthatcoin).

Warning: Reading the book of Numbers might give you a headache.

Warning: There are some erotic materials in here (I'm looking at you, Song of Songs).

Warning: Don't read this if you don't want your life to change.

Warning: Bringing this to class might cause someone to ask you about your faith.

Warning: R-rated for violence, especially for all those baby massacres.

Warning: Paul is a well-intentioned chatterbox. (Like that wise best friend who always knows when to call your dummy moves out on you or give you that holy wisdom you so desire.)

Warning: Sometimes, the footnotes don't make sense and you have to do some historical background reading on your own.

Warning: Don't read John 6 if you don't want to re-evaluate the Catholic Church.

Warning: Don't be like Jonah. Big fishes are out there still, and they are #hungry.

Warning: Don't read every book in here literally (another Revelation shoutout).

Warning: Jesus proclaims that faith and works are needed, not just faith alone.

Warning: God doesn't want you to be nice, He wants you to follow Him. (God would've had Jesus start petitions instead of flipping over tables if He wanted His followers to be accommodating/nice all the time.)

Now here are some facts.

Fact: God loves you, whether you're sinning hardcore or becoming a saint.

Fact: God wants to be more than just a cartoon image in your dusty childhood Bible picture book at home.

Fact: When you read the Bible or hear it out loud in a faithful community, your life will change. You might not see it right away, but it will, and you will have more joy (not the same as happiness - it's better).

Fact: Something's holding you back from believing this, and I encourage you to address it, cuz your lack of faith is not a good look for you.

Now here is a reflection

As I was writing this list, I started realizing how many stories I know in the Bible. I also reflected on all of the stories in my life. I recalled how God has calmed my heart when I thought it would burst from anxiety. I remembered when God started and ended relationships and left me with a million life lessons because of it.

I remembered that I'm also a part of the story, and the book of Salvation History is not done - I'm a part of it, too, and I am a KEY PLAYER BABY... if I would only embrace my role more as a disciple of Christ!

Basically, I wish to live life in such a way that the warning label "Watch out, this girl's doing Christ's good work!" would be applicable to me. I wish I was on fire for Christ. I wish I was all His and never afraid of it.

Even though I'm not there yet, God has placed that desire on my heart and He will fulfill the good work He has started with me. I just have to participate.

And I hope you decide to participate, too, because being a part of God's story is the most exciting, dramatic, difficult, fulfilling, heart-wrenching (for all the right reasons), joyful, and straight up interesting thing to do while on earth.

See you next time I release a blog post!

Brooke,

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