ADDITIONAL RESOURCES for this series

FOR SUNDAY 26 AUGUST

Letters to Malcom Chiefly On Prayer is a thoughtful and fresh reflection on prayer -- its promises, challenges, and trials by
C. S. Lewis. The chapters are fictitious letters in a manner similar to his classic Screwtape Letters.

3 Classics on Prayer:

Prayer Is Invading the Impossible is a great primer on the practical how-to's of prayer. 

Prayer by Ole Halesby is a classic reflection on prayer by a Norwegian pastor who was a leading pastor against the Nazis.

Prevailing Prayer by D. L. Moody is the first book on prayer I (Mark) ever read. Written in the late 19th century it has passion rarely found in prayer essays today...

FOR SUNDAY 5 AUGUST

Confess Your Sins by John Stott: The spiritual discipline of confession is not just for our Catholic brethren... Here is a classic by one of my favorite authors and Christian leaders the practically teaches on the habit of confession— personal, relational, and public. Comforting and challenging!

Slow Kingdom Coming: Practices for Doing Justice, Loving Mercy and Walking Humbly in the World. Kent Annan shares practices he has learned that will encourage and help you to keep making a difference in the face of the world's challenging issues. All Christians are called to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly in the world. /Slow Kingdom Coming/ will guide and strengthen you on this journey to persevere until God's kingdom comes on earth as it is in heaven.

The Confessions is the classic and colorful confession of Augustine. Augustine tells of his wrestlings to master his sexual drive, his rare ascent from a humble Algerian farm to the edge of the corridors of high power at the imperial court of Milan, and his renunciation of secular ambition and marriage as he recovered the faith that his mother had taught him. It was in a Milan garden that Augustine finally achieved the act of will to Christian conversion, which he compared to a lazy man in bed finally deciding it is time to get up and face the day.

FOR SUNDAY 29 JULY

The following articles explore how culture influences how we may hear Scripture:

What Do They Hear?: Bridging the Gap Between Pulpit & Pew This book studies how significant social location—such as age, gender, nationality, race, and education—is when interpreting the Bible. It is not just about the "gap" between the pastor and the community the pastor leads... it is also applies to how that community engages the "gap" between the Christian community and culture.

Cultural Intelligence: Improving Your CQ to Engage Our Multicultural World (Youth, Family, and Culture) Social scientist David Livermore explores the much-needed skill of Cultural Intelligence (CQ), the ability to work effectively across national, ethnic, and even organizational cultures. 

FOR SUNDAY 22 JULY

Seventeen Things We Know About Forgiveness is an article from The Cut... some interesting tidbits here. Did you know that the first scientific study on forgiveness was in 1989.

The Book of Forgiveness by Desmond Tutu. This is a powerful exploration on forgiveness written by Anglican Bishop who oversaw the "forgiveness trials" when apartheid ended in South Africa. Really thought-provoking and challenging.

Forgive and Forget by Lewis Smedes is a classic reflection on forgiveness and what it means to "forget" the offense suffered.

The Greater Good is a website designed to present “science based insights for a meaningful life”. Articles are brief, frequently interesting, and frequently illustrates where scientific observation stops short of the vision, call, and demands of the Christian life. The following articles are taken from the Greater Good.

    The Choice to Forgive

    Is Anything Unforgivable?

Forgive for Good is a frequent "go-to" for people exploring forgiveness written by the founder of the "forgiveness lab" at Stanford University. While definitely not a Christian treatise it is helpful especially as we explore the messy work of actually forgiving.

As referenced in the message:

  • Forgiving others is NOT an emphasis in the Old Testament. There only appear to be 4 verses that focus on this theme: Gen 50: 17; Exod 10: 17; 1 Sam 25: 28; and Prov 17: 9

The People Jesus Hangs WithTax Collector references in the New Testament

  • Matthew 5:46: For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
  • Matt. 9:9   As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man called Matthew, sitting in the tax collector’s booth; and He *said to him, “Follow Me!” And he got up and followed Him.
  • Matt. 9:10   Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?”
  • Matt. 10:3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus;
  • Matt. 11:19 “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”
  • Matt. 18:17 “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
  • Matt. 21:31 “Which of the two did the will of his father?” They *said, “The first.” Jesus *said to them, “Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you. 32 “For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; but the tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him; and you, seeing this, did not even feel remorse afterward so as to believe him.
  • Mark 2:15   And it *happened that He was reclining at the table in his house, and many tax collectors and sinners were dining with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many of them, and they were following Him. 16 When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that He was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they said to His disciples, “Why is He eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners?”
  • Luke 3:12 And some tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?”
  • Luke 5:27   After that He went out and noticed a tax collector named Levi sitting in the tax booth, and He said to him, “Follow Me.”
  • Luke 5:29   And Levi gave a big reception for Him in his house; and there was a great crowd of tax collectors and other people who were reclining at the table with them. 30 The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?”
  • Luke 7:29 When all the people and the tax collectors heard this, they acknowledged God’s justice, having been baptized with the baptism of John.
  • Luke 7:34 “The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’
  • Luke 15:1   Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him.
  • Luke 18:10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 “The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.
  • Luke 18:13 “But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’
  • Luke 19:2 And there was a man called by the name of Zaccheus; he was a chief tax collector and he was rich

FOR SUNDAY 15 July

Best and Worst Excuses for Getting Out of Work by Alison Doyle from TheBalanceCareers.com.

NerdWallet was the website calculator for estimating the return on a talent over 25 years... On a practical note it also illustrates the power of saving NOW! Yes, you can!

The Good and Beautiful Community: Following the Spirit, Extending Grace, Demonstrating Love is the 3rd book in an excellent trilogy (The Apprentice Series). It is a book that both informs and transforms through the spiritual exercises that accompany each chapter. If you enjoy the writings of Dallas Willard you will enjoy James Bryan Smith.. 

FOR SUNDAY 1 JULY

Kingdom, Grace, Judgment: Paradox, Outrage, and Vindication in the Parables of Jesus by Robert Farrar Capon is my favorite devotional overview on the parables of Jesus. This book is actually an collection of the 3 books he wrote on the parables. I do not know of another book that has an ear to the outrageous, provocative, and disrupting character of the parables. This book is challenging, funny, poignant, and cutting. 

Stories With Intent by Klyne R. Snodgrass is an encyclopedia on the parables -- and is priced like one too! Still, reading it is profitable and challenging. An immense amount of work and devotion has been invested in this book that has made it a modern classic. You can read it cover to cover or simply look up the parable you are interested in.

The Cross & the Prodigal: Luke 15 Through the Eyes of Middle Eastern Peasants by Kenneth Bailey, introduces the reader to power of contextual studies that take surrounding culture seriously. Kenneth Bailey was a long time Christian worker in the Middle East. where he discovered that Muslims, for centuries, have called attention to the father's forgiveness in this parable in order to question the need for a Mediator between humanity and God. Bailey draws on his extensive knowledge of both the New Testament and Middle Eastern culture, to interpret this parable from a Middle Eastern perspective and, in doing so, powerfully demonstrates its essentially Christian message. Bailey explores the underlying tensions between law and love, servanthood and sonship, and honor and forgiveness that grant this story such timeless spiritual power and application.