"Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love."
—1 Corinthians 13:13
What are the pathways that lead us to God? This is a book about what happens when we find those pathways. You will discover the values and virtues that grow out of our experiences, and practices that encourage us to be with God in specific ways.
Spiritual director Helen Cepero writes: "I've seen that when I reflect on my own life experiences, when I am alert to God's presence, and alive to Christ's love, I grow as a Christ follower, and as a human being living in God's world. This book is an invitation for you not to follow me, but follow Jesus into the stories of your own life. You too, will need to wake up and be willing to walk . . . through your own life."
We will follow the journey to God by beginning with three ways of love, then three ways of continuing in faith and lastly, three ways of living in hope. These nine pathways will lead you more deeply into life with Christ.
"Christ-Shaped Character is more than a book. It is a conversation with a spiritual director, whom you will find a welcoming fellow traveler on the Jesus way. As you read Helen Cepero's work, you will discover her listening attentively to your own story and offering your story back to you framed by faith, hope and love. You will come away with more than principles and practical recommendations for spiritual formation. In pondering Helen's stories and perspectives, you will receive fresh insight into your own story shaped by God's love in Christ. Read carefully and enjoy the conversation."
"It has been said, 'To pay attention is the beginning of faith, hope and love.' Through the artful telling of her own story, Helen has opened a way for us to pay deep attention to our own lives and to find God at every turn. Here is the voice of a pastor's pastor and one who is deeply skilled in the discernment arts of spiritual direction. Pay attention and be blessed."
"Helen Cepero just has this evocative way of driving home her main points via compelling stories of faith, hope and love. The book is at once both arresting and revealing! Truly a joy to read!"
"Cepero hasn't just written about love, faith and hope, but about actually doing it. She paints a picture of what it looks like to do it and then gives you practices to get you on your way."
"Biblically grounded and richly illustrated with personal stories, Christ-Shaped Character offers a solid and appealing spirituality. Helen Cepero provides practical and insightful ways of living a vibrant life of faith, centered on a warm and trusting relationship with a God who loves us unconditionally. She shares her story of finding God in the holy ground of ordinary experience with such sensitivity and joy that readers will be inspired to be more attentive to the many ways--sometimes surprising--that God shows up to lovingly support us in life. I recommend her book enthusiastically."
"In Christ-Shaped Character, Helen Cepero, an experienced spiritual director, invites us to journey together and ponder nine life-giving pathways that lead toward being more Christ-shaped. Through her own personal stories of 'aha moments' and dark valleys, Cepero creates an atmosphere of grace and transparency, offering a safe place to honestly reflect on our own inner movements, as if sitting in a welcoming direction session with her, conversing about life and God. Cepero is an insightful guide to help us deepen our love, our faith and our hope."
"Helen Cepero's book--with an indirect directness--confronts, convicts and then converses the reader into the formative practices of the three theological virtues: love, faith and hope. Conversant with both classical and contemporary spiritual theology and especially the Bible, this book opens one genuinely to St. Benedict's conversio and the joy of newness of life."
"Helen's unique ability to tell her story with such vulnerability and ask penetrating, grace-filled questions creates a safe environment for the personal work of the Spirit in one's life. Thank you for opening yet another door for a healthy and holy journey into God's presence."
"Transformation of our character--becoming like Jesus and changing into people of faith, hope and love--is the heart of Christianity. This sort of renovation doesn't happen automatically or magically. Helen Cepero offers biblical wisdom and practical direction for cooperating with the Holy Spirit for life change. Her gentle wisdom can help you choose life."
"You, the reader, may be asking, 'How may I discern and enrich the shape of my own character, caught as I am in my unreliable human mind and body?' Based on her own counseling and life experience, Helen Cepero brings some wise and valuable suggestions, enlarging on the three simple key words: faith, hope, love."
"What are we meant to do after we believe? Who are we called to become? Cepero maps out the Christian walk in terms of nine pathways: three each of love, hope and faith. The spiritual direction she provides is both practical and profound. These nine pathways serve as ways that can lead readers into deeper life in Christ."
Part I: Choosing Love
1. Choosing Life—Living as God?s Beloved
2. Compassionate Hospitality—Choosing the Other
3. Forgiving as We Are Forgiven—Loving the Unlovable
Part II: Choosing Faith
4. Following Jesus—Learning the Language of Desire
5. Embracing Vulnerability—Finding Strength in Weakness
6. Living with Integrity—Sustaining a Life of Commitment
Part III: Choosing Hope
7. Paying Attention—Watching for God
8. Seeing Blessing—Living into Possibility
9. Trusting in Christ—Improvising a Life
Appendix 1: Journeying Together Along the Pathway of Love, Faith and Hope
Appendix 2: Bibliography