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Every Thursday, I post a short book recommendation. Some of these are my favorites (like today’s selection)… others, not so much. But they’ve all made me think. I have copies of the books I post about, so let me know if you’d like to borrow one before buying.

Today’s read is Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans.

From Amazon: From New York Times bestselling author Rachel Held Evans (1981-2019) comes a book that is both a heartfelt ode to the past and hopeful gaze into the future of what it means to be a part of the Church.

Like millions of her millennial peers, Rachel Held Evans didn’t want to go to church anymore. The hypocrisy, the politics, the gargantuan building budgets, the scandals–church culture seemed so far removed from Jesus. Yet, despite her cynicism and misgivings, something kept drawing her back to Church. And so she set out on a journey to understand Church and to find her place in it.

Centered around seven sacraments, Evans’ quest takes readers through a liturgical year with stories about baptism, communion, confirmation, confession, marriage, vocation, and death that are funny, heartbreaking, and sharply honest.

A memoir about making do and taking risks, about the messiness of community and the power of grace, Searching for Sunday is about overcoming cynicism to find hope and, somewhere in between, Church.

Personal Note: An open mind and a willingness to have your beliefs and notions challenged are required when reading Rachel Held Evans. She can be polarizing — readers seem to either love her or hate her — but no matter how she makes you “feel,” she will always make you think. And she will always… always… remind us of just how much God loves us. Sadly, Rachel passed away last year after a short illness; I’m so thankful to still have her words.

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Today’s read is Offer Yourselves To God by Gordon Fee.

From Amazon: Renowned New Testament scholar Gordon Fee explores the meaning of Christian witness and service in every area of life. Focusing on the implications of every Christian’s calling to belong to Christ, Fee reframes our contemporary quest for a more seamless, integrated faith. His careful examination of the context and message of Paul’s letters sheds light on how a Christian identity is lived out in home, workplace, and church.

About the author: Gordon Fee is Professor Emeritus of New Testament at Regent College, Vancouver, BC. He is a leading authority on the writings of the Apostle Paul. His books include numerous biblical commentaries and books such as God’s Empowering Presence; Paul, the Spirit and the People of God; and How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth (with Douglas Stuart).

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Today’s read is Disciplines of The Spirit by Howard Thurman.

From the back cover:The quiet radiance and certainty that illuminated Howard Thurman’s faith shine like a beacon through every page of Disciplines of the Spirit. Dr. Thurman explores five major dimensions of the spiritual life: commitment, growing in wisdom and stature, suffering, prayer, and reconciliation.

“In this book Howard Thurman is helping not merely to describe the Christian life, but to indicate how one is being invited to go on in and to live it.” – Douglas Steere 

At the time of his death in 1981, Howard Thurman was Dean Emeritus of Marsh Chapel, Boston University, and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Howard Thurman Educational Trust in San Francisco. He also served as Dean of Rankin Chapel, Howard University, Washington D.C.; as professor at Howard University School of Religion; and as Director of Religious Life at Morehouse and Spelman Colleges, Atlanta.

Founder of the Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples in San Francisco, the first interracial, interdenominational church in the United States, he was honorary Canon of the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, New York City. 

Poet, Mystic, Philosopher, and Theologian, Dr. Thurman authored more than twenty books, including Meditations of the Heart, The Inward Journey, Jesus and the Disinherited, The Centering Moment, The Creative Encounter, The Search for Common Ground, and With Head and Heart, his autobiography.

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Today’s read is As Kingfishers Catch Fire by Eugene Peterson

From Amazon:“Sixty years ago I found myself distracted,” Eugene Peterson wrote. “A chasm had developed between the way I was preaching from the pulpit and my deepest convictions on what it meant to be a pastor.”
 
And so began Peterson’s journey to live and teach a life of congruencecongruence between preaching and living, between what we do and the way we do it, between what is written in Scripture and how we live out that truth.
 
Nothing captures the biblical foundation for this journey better than Peterson’s teachings over his twenty-nine years as a pastor. As Kingfishers Catch Fire offers a never-before-published collection of these teachings to anyone longing for a richer, truer spirituality.
 
Peterson’s strikingly beautiful prose and deeply grounded insights usher us into a new understanding of how to live out the good news of the Word made flesh. 

This is one man’s compelling quest to discover not only how to be a pastor but how to be a human being.

About the Author

Eugene H. Peterson, translator of The Message Bible, authored more than thirty books, including the spiritual classics Run with the Horses and A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. He earned a degree in philosophy from Seattle Pacific University, a graduate degree in theology from New York Theological Seminary, and a master’s degree in Semitic languages from John Hopkins University. He also received several honorary doctoral degrees. He was founding pastor of Christ Our King Presbyterian Church in Bel Air, Maryland, where he and his wife, Jan, served for twenty-nine years. Peterson held the title of professor emeritus of spiritual theology at Regent College, British Columbia from 1998 until his death in 2018.

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Today’s read is Prayer: The Ultimate Conversation by Dr. Charles Stanley

stanleyFrom Amazon: Have you ever considered what it means to talk to God? Is it really possible to communicate with the Creator of all that exists and be able to understand His plans and purposes for your life? Perhaps there are questions you desperately need answered. Maybe you are facing a trial that is too large or difficult to face on your own and you yearn for divine direction. Or it could be you are simply curious about what He would say to you.

In Prayer, The Ultimate Conversation, which is based on a lifetime of walking with the Father and fifty-five years of ministry founded on prayer, Dr. Charles Stanley not only teaches the disciplines of intercession but also explains how to fight life’s battles through intimate communion with the Lord. No matter what confounding questions, perplexing circumstances, or seemingly insurmountable dilemmas you are facing today, the solution to them is absolutely obvious to God—and He longs to share His answers with you. Draw closer to the Father. Get to know God by engaging with Him in Prayer, The Ultimate Conversation.

About the Author

Dr. Charles F. Stanley is a New York Times bestselling author who has written more than sixty books, with sales of more than ten million copies. He has been senior pastor of the First Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia since 1971, and his outreach ministry—In Touch—reaches more than 2,800 radio and television outlets in more than fifty languages.

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Every Thursday, I post a short book recommendation related to our study on prayer. I have copies of the books I post about, so let me know if you’d like to borrow one before buying.

poets prayToday’s read is When Poets Pray by Marilyn McEntyre.

From Amazon: Poetry and prayer are closely related. We often look to poets to give language to our deepest hopes, fears, losses—and prayers. Poets slow us down. They teach us to stop and go in before we go on. They play at the edges of mystery, holding a tension between line and sentence, between sense and reason, between the transcendent and the deeply, comfortingly familiar. When Poets Pray contains thoughtful meditations by Marilyn McEntyre on choice poems/prayers and poems about prayer. Her beautifully written reflections are contemplative exercises, not scholarly analyses, meant more as invitation than instruction. Here McEntyre shares gifts that she herself has received from poets who pray, or who reflect on prayer, believing that they have other gifts to offer readers seeking spiritual companionship along our pilgrim way.  Poets include: Robert Frost, Wendell Berry, Thomas Merton, Mary Oliver, and the psalmists.

From the book…

“A Prayer in Spring” by Robert Frost

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
To which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends he will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill.