Two New Resources for Lent from SalvationLife Books

Follow-Follow Prayerfully Cover Shot  

As Lent approaches this year, we are glad to have two new resources available from SalvationLife Books, each designed to be helpful in your efforts to follow Christ in this important season of the Christian year.

Follow: 40 Days of Preparing the Soul for Easter is a daily devotional, with readings and prayers for each of the forty days of Lent (plus one for Easter Sunday). This book will help you understand what Lent is and how any Christian can observe it in a way that will enable you to follow Christ through the events of your life by paying attention to some of the most important events of his life–including his entry into Jerusalem, his last supper with the disciples, his arrest, crucifixion, and burial. Then, with soul well-prepared, you will be ready to genuinely celebrate the Lord’s resurrection on Easter Sunday.

Follow Prayerfully: A Guide to Prayer for Lent is designed to be useful on its own or as a companion guide to Live Prayerfully: How Ordinary Lives Become PrayerfulIt will lead you into ways of praying with other people’s words (based on prayers from The Book of Common Prayer), praying without words, and praying with your own words, including scripture readings, hymns, and prayers which are particularly helpful during Lent.

Each of these resources is available in print and Kindle editions.

A Meaningful and Non-Awkward Way to Give Thanks

I thought the following was a fantastic idea from J.D. Walt at Seedbed, good enough that I thought I needed to repost it here. A lot of us sincerely want to give thanks in a meaningful way with our families on Thanksgiving, but our efforts to do so are often less meaningful than we had hoped. This is absolutely worth a shot:

Six Steps to a Great Thanksgiving Gathering Prayer

Posted on November 25, 2013 by 

The Thanksgiving holiday often produces a sense of awkwardness when it comes to actually giving thanks before the big family feast. The “standard meal prayer” just doesn’t seem to do justice to the occasion.  And the “let’s all say what we are thankful for” routine tends to peter out after the more extroverted family members take their turns. Then there’s that MSP in every family (“Most Spiritual Person”) who likes to get the stage on these occasions to further demonstrate their spiritual prowess, often with some kind of pre-prayer reading from the latest Chicken Soup for the Soul release. A final common approach is to just turn to the designated family patriarch to offer the “standard meal prayer on steroids.” (see Phil on Duck Dynasty). And we won’t mention the infamous Ricky-Bobby Prayer.

Despite our best and most sincere intentions, whatever we choose to do to mark the occasion can easily turn out to be a more obligatory formality than anything else. Then it’s on to the annual ritual of overeating and not actually watching a Dallas Cowboys football game. It’s fascinating how a holiday designed to invite profound giving of gratitude to God so easily degenerates into ritualized consumption. Then there’s “Black Friday,” or Thursday is the new Black Friday!”

This Thanksgiving holiday, our family is going to try an experiment in biblical thanksgiving. Psalm 136provides an ancient format that can inspire spontaneous individual expressions of thanksgiving while also enabling others to participate in a more hearty yet less conspicuous corporate response. You remember Psalm 139- it’s the one that says, “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good.” And then the group response, “His love endures forever.” The Psalm gives us some prescribed things to remember and give thanks for while at the same time giving us a framework or pattern to offer more present day expressions of gratitude.

Here’s the six steps to the plan: [Read the rest at Seedbed.]

Two New Resources Coming in November from SalvationLife Books

I'm excited that two new resources will be available in November 2013 from SalvationLife Books:

  • Follow: 40 Days of Preparing the Soul for Easter contains daily readings and prayers for the season of Lent. (This will be the published version of last year's 40 Days of Prayer series.)
  • Wait Prayerfully: A Guide to Prayer for Advent is designed to be useful on its own or as a companion guide to Live Prayerfully: How Ordinary Lives Become Prayerful.

Both of these titles will be published in print and Kindle editions and will be available through this site and

Wait Prayerfully-Follow Cover Shot

In Memory of Charlene Hendrix

My wife and I–and many others–lost a friend over the weekend in Charlene Hendrix. We attended her funeral service this morning after having had a very enjoyable visit with her less than two weeks ago. She knew that she was dying of cancer when we visited her in her home, and perhaps she knew that the time might have been this close, though we sure didn't. My comment to my wife when we left her house was, "I've never seen a dying person smile so much." I've heard it said that by age 40 or 50, we all have the faces we deserve, and Charlene's smile at age 81 even while being eaten up by cancer was like few that I've seen at any age, and it was fitting since it reflected a remarkable degree of "the life that truly is life" which was in her for decades.

The first time I remember meeting Charlene was when she took a class I was teaching on Wesleyan theology. She loved to learn, and never gave it up. It wasn't long after that class that I began writing on this blog, and Charlene was one of my earliest encouragers. I used to have something in the sidebar that could display the people who had commented most often, and her name was always on the list. We never forget the people who have really believed in us and given us encouragement when we needed it, and I will not forget hers.

Every one of us is currently in the process of becoming the kind of person we will be when we arrive at our deathbed. The decisions we make today inevitably push us toward becoming some kind of person then, so we are wise to pay attention to the course which that process and those decisions are taking. Charlene lived that process well, constantly filling her mind with things that nourished her soul–whether reading the Scriptures or taking photographs in nature, practicing habits that were conducive to God's life growing in her, and engaging in relationships with others that helped her to continue to grow and through which she could be a blessing.

James Bryan Smith has said, "the true sign of sanctity is not seriousness but joy," and I want to follow the kind of road Charlene followed for so long, one which will naturally leave me like her: someone marked by a joyful confidence in God.

FAQ for Live Prayerfully Online Class

I am eagerly looking forward to launching an online class based on Live Prayerfully on Monday, October 7. The four-week class will be a helpful experience for everyone who participates, as we will each dig into the chapters of the book together through discussion online, experience the three ways of praying described in the book by experimenting with them in our own lives, and be encouraged by reading the thoughts and comments of our fellow participants as we all do the same things together. In talking about the class with a few folks, I thought an FAQ section might be helpful (if I left anything out, please let me know in the comments):

Will there be any tests?

No tests, papers, or grades. Perhaps I should find a better term than "class" to get rid of the academic associations that come to mind for many of us, but I haven't thought of anything that fits better yet. It will consist of reading the chapters in Live Prayerfully, practicing prayer in the ways described there, and then processing our experiences together through online discussion.

Do I have to be online at any certain times?

No, you can participate according to your own schedule. Since the class consists of online discussion, when you will log in and participate is completely up to you. The only effect that time will have on the class is that the topics we discuss will change by week.

Will there be any videos to watch?

No–just reading the book and discussing it online.

How much work will it be?

One of the things I have tried to emphasize in the book is that learning to live prayerfully isn't something that is burdensome and adds a lot to our schedules and to-do lists. Rather, many of us already pray in some way, and I don't think it takes any more time to pray in the three ways we'll explore together than it does to pray in just one of them. So, experimenting with the ways of praying in the book will be the majority of the "work" for the class. The only other expectations are that you will read the chapter we are discussing each week, respond to one discussion question, and reply at least once to someone else in the group.

Is it worth the money? Can't I get the same information through the book, without the extra cost of this class?

Up until now, my favorite setting for teaching on this content has been on retreats. I think this class will be just as helpful to everyone, with less expense and no need for anyone to travel.

While the chapters and prayer guides in Live Prayerfully are the main content that we'll look at together, the book alone can't provide a couple of things which this class can: First, covering the chapters according to a week-by-week schedule makes it much more likely that we will practice prayer in the ways described. (I've read a lot of books which had suggestions I liked, but never really tried. This format will help us overcome that tendency.)

Second, connecting with others who are seeking to connect with God is indispensable, and an online class is a great way for people to help one another make progress in our lives with God. I really enjoy the dynamics of online discussion. In a traditional classroom, a few students usually make the large majority of the comments and questions, but in an online class everyone's voice is equalized. I became convinced of this while doing some of my graduate studies online, where I thoroughly enjoyed the community that developed between us as classmates even though we had never met face to face.

And, of course, if anyone goes through the class and concludes that it really wasn't worth the $35, I'll be glad to refund their cost.

How does payment work? Isn't it unsafe to pay for things like this online?

All of the payment is handled through PayPal, which is the world leader in processing online payments. Whenever someone clicks the button or link to register, they are taken to a secure PayPal site, where they can either pay using a credit/debit card or a PayPal account.

Have other people found this helpful?

This is my first attempt at doing this class in an online format, but it has previously worked well in retreats and church classes. Here is one of my favorite comments from a past participant:

“I took the class at a time when I was in a spiritual slump. The class gave me tools and guided me into a renewed prayer life that got me out of the slump and, over a year later, still has me going and growing.”

What are you going to do with my personal information?

I will need participants' names and email addresses, which is the only information I will collect. I'll never give that information away to anyone else, and the only reason I will ever use it would be to follow up on the class. As far as anything said in the online discussions, the site is password protected and invisible as far as cyberspace goes, so no one will ever find it on an internet search, etc.

Okay, count me in. What do I need to do next?

Registration is $35, and you can register now by clicking here. Registration will close on September 30 or when the spots are filled. I will then contact everyone participating with the details of how to log in to the class, which will begin on October 7 and end on November 3.