Tag Archives: Forward Today

Forward Today: The Fig Tree

Dear Friends,

Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'”
-Luke 13:6-9

This Sunday we will hear this parable about one such sad fig tree. The owner of this unproductive plant suggests to the gardener that it be cut down because it is wasting valuable land. The gardener advocates for applying special care and attention to the tree to see if it will be coaxed into production. He agrees that if his efforts fail and there are no figs in a year, he’ll chop it down.

Fig tree

It seems to me that Lent provides us with a similar opportunity to pause and evaluate the unproductive trees in our lives. We are given 40 long days to ask ourselves questions like: What parts of our ministries are not bearing fruit? Are we being called to give more attention to the struggling parts of our lives? Is it time to cut our losses and stop giving energy to a project/relationship/program that will likely never produce fruit? Is there an area where an adjustment to how we think or act might invite new growth?

The Forward Movement board and staff spend a good deal of time in such examination of this special ministry we are stewarding. We constantly ask ourselves if our resources align with our mission statement “Inspiring Disciples, Empowering Evangelists.” Is what we are offering still relevant? Are we making tools that are easily accessible by a variety of audiences? Are we keeping up with modern technology so that we remain current? Are our books, videos, conferences, and programs bearing fruit in the church and the world?

This is the holy work God is calling us to as a board, as churches, and in our lives. Like a gardener who carefully tends his plants, God compels us to carefully prune and patiently wait for the fruits of our work, cutting back here, adding soil there.

I hope you will consider joining me in this important work of evaluation this Lent, that we may all find abundance in the gardens of our lives. Together, may we find that God is not bent on destroying figs, but on loving them and watching them thrive.

Yours in Christ,

Anne Schmidt

Anne Schmidt is the Forward Movement Board Chair and Director of Evangelism and Welcoming Ministries at Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration, affectionately called “The Fig” by many of its members.


Today’s Flash Sale: Acts to Action

Acts to ActionJesus’ first disciples and modern-day Christians face the same question: How do we share the good news of Christ that we have experienced with the people we meet in the course of our daily lives? The Book of Acts details how the early disciples overcome the challenges of spreading the gospel in the midst of failing institutions, theological differences, and widespread uncertainty. With a focus on Acts Chapter 8, editors Susan Brown Snook and Adam Trambley and contributors from across the Episcopal Church discuss how these lessons from Christ’s earliest followers apply to the mission Jesus still gives us today: to be his witnesses in our churches and neighborhoods and to the ends of the earth. The authors explore essential elements of church mission, including worship, proclamation, loving and serving, repentance, and knowing the community. Framed by reflections from church leaders Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows and Gay Clark Jennings, the book provides encouragement and practical suggestions to help individuals and groups move from Acts to action.

Contributors include: Joseph Alsay, Carrie Boren Headington, Frank Logue, Brendan O’Sullivan-Hale, Steve Pankey, and Holli Powell

Regular: $16
Today: $12

*Discount is valid until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time

Forward Today: Sacrificial Love

Dear Friends,

As I write this, I am in my second week of caring for my husband after surgery. Normally one of the most independent people I know, this experience has left him unable to drive, dress without assistance, or cook for himself. Just walking from the bedroom to the kitchen tires him and he finds it difficult to sleep. He is just miserable.

I feel much as I did when our son was a newborn–sleep deprived, a little overwhelmed, yet overcome with love. I recognize that this experience is nothing like that of someone who has been a caregiver for years with no respite but it has given me time to think about the nature of love and sacrifice as Lent begins.

As a child, the question as Lent approached was what I would “give up” for Lent. Over the years, I chose whatever happened to be my favorite indulgence at the time like chocolate, sweets, or wine. I even tried to dedicate myself to positive change like exercise or healthy eating. I confess that I was not very successful in these Lenten “sacrifices”.

This year, I have decided to spend Lent trying to understand the nature of the great sacrifice of our Lord on Good Friday and to appreciate the love that prompted it. I hope to reflect daily on my human experience of love–love as a wife, a mother, a daughter and sister, a friend. I want to take that experience and share it with others in need of loving care. I want to do it because that is what Christ did for me. The love He gives is too big to keep for myself.

Yours in Christ,

Julie Thomas
Treasurer of Forward Movement


Today’s Flash Sale: Inwardly Digest

Have you ever wondered if there was some kind of guide to living a deeper, richer spiritual life that seamlessly incorporated scripture alongside the wisdom of the Church? There is—and you can find it in a pew rack near you! The Book of Common Prayer is more than a service book; it is a map to a deeper relationship with God, a framework for developing a more intentional and rewarding life of faith.

Scholar Derek Olsen explores liturgical spirituality and how the prayer book serves as a repository of Christian wisdom and spiritual practice stretching back to the beginnings of the Christian movement. Focusing on three key elements—the Calendar, the Daily Office, and the Eucharist—he discusses the spiritual principles behind them and provides clear, practical, easy-to-follow explanations of the services. These patterns of life laid out in The Book of Common Prayer serve as a guide to the spiritual life, so that we might connect back to the God who calls each of us by name and that we might love as God loves us.

Regular: $22
Today: $16.5

*Discount is valid until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time


How is God calling you to enter the holy season of Lent? What path will you walk during these forty days?

Forward Movement invites you to explore and respond to how Jesus is tugging at your heart. While the season of Lent calls us all into a particular period of reflection, we choose different journeys. Depending upon where we are in our own seasons of life and faith, we may be called into a time of deep introspection, contemplation, and prayer. Perhaps God is calling us to an outward focus on works of mercy. Or maybe we need a time of formation, to connect our hearts and minds as we walk in love.

We offer three broad paths built around the Way of Love, the Presiding Bishop’s call for practices that support a Jesus-centered life. Each path suggests a primary resource as well as numerous others that expand on the central theme. We offer these as guideposts, as trail markers, knowing and hoping that you will choose your own path during this Lent, and in doing so, make a choice to choose Jesus.

Learn more and choose your Lenten path here.

Forward Today: Ash Wednesday

Dear Friends,

We do an important thing today—a brave thing, daunting enough that we need Jesus beside us while we do it. Today, the Church invites us to admit three deep truths about ourselves: we are dying, beloved, and incapable of saving ourselves. That confession can shake us to our cores. We don’t tell these kinds of hard truths to ourselves very often, and I think that’s why Ash Wednesday is so important—why the discipline of it and the truths we tell ourselves on this day deeply matter.

Wearing the ashes of last year’s Palm Sunday fronds on our foreheads is a stark reminder of how quickly life can change and how changeless God’s deep love is for each of us. Odds are that someone you know and love has died this year—maybe even several people. And by the time Ash Wednesday rolls around next year, you might not be here, either. I might not. Jesus might come back. We just don’t know. But what we do know is that today is a special day—a day of tallying up the count, and then throwing out the numbers.

Ashes

Ash Wednesday, much like other festival days, reminds us of the already-and-not-yet nature of the kingdom of God. We are dying a little bit every day. And even in our dying, we are being lifted into something new, something whole and holy, the elevated substance of what we have already been made to be. Ash Wednesday reminds us that the whole world palm trees, people, prophets—is being brought into subjection under God’s Christ, renewed and restored and resplendent. This day takes us back to the first day, to the dust of our creation, to the breath of the Holy Spirit filling our nostrils and giving us life. It takes us to our last day, to breathing our last breath back into the Holy Spirit and saying “Thank you” for letting us be here.

If you can, try to plan and take today kind of easy. It’s a big day. You’ll need some extra space in your head and heart. If you’ve been procrastinating choosing a Lenten discipline, you can join in on our Lent Tracks by visiting www.ForwardMovement.org or playing along with www.LentMadness.org. However you choose to observe this holy season, know our prayers are with you. Jesus sets his face toward Jerusalem; may we be brave enough to follow.

With prayers for a holy Lent,

Rachel Jones
Associate Editor, Forward Movement


Ashes speak to me
of what matters and
what does not.

Remind me of the heart
of my heart and that I
and the ones I love
are more that what
will dribble into the
ground.

May I be thankful
that I await not just
the ashes

but the Phoenix.

-Len Freeman

Woodcut by Jason Sierra


Today’s Flash Sale: Saint Augustine’s Prayer Book

Saint Augustine's Prayer BookSaint Augustine’s Prayer Book is a book of prayer and practice—with disciplines, habits, and patterns for building a Christian spiritual life. It will help you to develop strong habits of prayer, to prepare for and participate in public liturgy thoughtfully, and to nurture a mind and soul ready to work and give and pray for the spread of the kingdom. Saint Augustine’s Prayer Book features “Holy Habits of Prayer,” devotions to accompany Holy Eucharist, Stations of the Cross, and Stations of the Resurrection, and a wide range of litanies, collects, and prayers for all occasions. The newly revised edition includes the treasured liturgies and prayers of the original while offering some important updates in language and content. Revised and edited by well-regarded scholars David Cobb and Derek Olsen, the Saint Augustine’s Prayer Book is a wonderful gift as well as a handsome addition to your own prayer book collection. Comes leather-bound (black) with two ribbons in a gift box.

Regular: $28
Today: $21

*Discount is valid until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time


How is God calling you to enter the holy season of Lent? What path will you walk during these forty days?

Forward Movement invites you to explore and respond to how Jesus is tugging at your heart. While the season of Lent calls us all into a particular period of reflection, we choose different journeys. Depending upon where we are in our own seasons of life and faith, we may be called into a time of deep introspection, contemplation, and prayer. Perhaps God is calling us to an outward focus on works of mercy. Or maybe we need a time of formation, to connect our hearts and minds as we walk in love.

We offer three broad paths built around the Way of Love, the Presiding Bishop’s call for practices that support a Jesus-centered life. Each path suggests a primary resource as well as numerous others that expand on the central theme. We offer these as guideposts, as trail markers, knowing and hoping that you will choose your own path during this Lent, and in doing so, make a choice to choose Jesus.

Learn more and choose your Lenten path here.

Forward Today: Lenten practices

Grant, O Lord, that by the observance of these days of Lent we may grow in companionship with Christ, and that by sharing his suffering we may come to know the power of his resurrection, this we pray through Jesus Christ, our Redeemer. Amen

If you had told me a decade ago that I would come to cherish the 40 days of Lent, I would have thought you were suffering from a case of mistaken identity. But I have become that person. I look forward to observing Lent and growing in companionship with Christ during those very special 40 days. I miss these days when they are over.

During Lent, I try to be more faithful about giving alms, spending time in prayer, and strengthening my spiritual practice.

One Lent, I intentionally carried dollar bills in my pocket every day so that if I encountered anyone in need, I would immediately have something beyond a smile to give them.

I love to learn more during Lent, and I like to immerse myself in several daily reflections. I especially recommend Forward Day by Day, of course, and also the reflections offered by Episcopal Relief & Development.

Not long ago, when I was feeling troubled, I prayed a very simple prayer: Lord, hold my hand. As I prayed that prayer, with my eyes closed and my brow furrowed in concentration on a commuter train hurtling towards New York City, the faces of friends appeared, one after the other. I saw how God had been sending all these people to me as his messengers to hold my hand.

May you experience God holding your hand during this Lent, and may you grow in companionship with Christ during these 40 days and ever after.

Yours in Christ,

Lynne Jordal Martin
Forward Movement Board Member


Today’s Flash Sale: Dust Bunnies in the Basket

Episcopal priest Tim Schenck offers good humor and spiritual direction for the journey through Lent and Easter. With keen observations and a clever wit, Schenck connects the mundane with the divine, from dust bunnies and egg hunts to foot washing and the Easter Vigil. Illustrated by popular cartoonist Jay Sidebotham, Dust Bunnies in the Basket challenges us to go deeper this Lent, to “kick up some dust every now and then, to roll up our sleeves and get involved with the world and the people around us.” This book is ideal for personal reflection or seasonal study groups and includes thoughtful questions at the end of each section.

Regular: $10
Today: $7.50

*Discount is valid until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time


How is God calling you to enter the holy season of Lent? What path will you walk during these forty days?

Forward Movement invites you to explore and respond to how Jesus is tugging at your heart. While the season of Lent calls us all into a particular period of reflection, we choose different journeys. Depending upon where we are in our own seasons of life and faith, we may be called into a time of deep introspection, contemplation, and prayer. Perhaps God is calling us to an outward focus on works of mercy. Or maybe we need a time of formation, to connect our hearts and minds as we walk in love.

We offer three broad paths built around the Way of Love, the Presiding Bishop’s call for practices that support a Jesus-centered life. Each path suggests a primary resource as well as numerous others that expand on the central theme. We offer these as guideposts, as trail markers, knowing and hoping that you will choose your own path during this Lent, and in doing so, make a choice to choose Jesus.

Learn more and choose your Lenten path here.

Forward Today: Reflections on Frederick Douglass

Dear friends in Christ,

In fourth or fifth grade, my class learned about biographies, in particular about some of the significant figures in United States history. We had an assignment to select one of these figures, to read about that person, and to share what we learned with the class. I happened upon Frederick Douglass.

In my very white, very orderly world, I confess that I was trepidatious about someone who seemed a bit rebellious, a bit of a boat-rocker. At first, Frederick Douglass just didn’t easily fit into my rose-colored view of this country. I imagined him standing face-to-face with some distant ancestor who might not have wanted to hear what Douglass had to say.

What a gift that initially-uncomfortable work was and is even today. Frederick Douglass has stayed with me all the way on my faith journey. His story and words and life have moved my heart “to a deeper obedience to Christ” as our collect for today says.

I have come to realize more and more that deeper obedience to Christ necessarily means taking seriously our baptismal call to strive for justice and peace. I have come to see that doing so will probably make us look a bit more like rebels or boat-rockers and cause us to stand face-to-face with people who may not want to hear what the Gospel has to say. I have come to appreciate Frederick Douglass’ fierce commitment to justice and his eloquent yet uncompromising speech. I have come to realize that we—and I personally need voices like his reminding us of God’s vision for justice and compassion for all people. Let us pray for the readiness and willingness to be that voice.

Yours in Christ,

James Harlan
Rector of The Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea, Palm Beach, FL
Vice Chair, Forward Movement Board

Image: WikiCommons, Public Domain


Today’s Flash Sale: Lent is Not Rocket Science

The season of Lent prompts us to ask questions, big and small, about the nature of our being and about our role in the world. In these daily Lenten reflections, astronomer, physicist, and Episcopal Bishop W. Nicholas Knisely explores the intersection of faith and science, creation and the cosmos.

Regular: $5
Today: $3.75

*Discount is valid until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time


How is God calling you to enter the holy season of Lent? What path will you walk during these forty days?

Forward Movement invites you to explore and respond to how Jesus is tugging at your heart. While the season of Lent calls us all into a particular period of reflection, we choose different journeys. Depending upon where we are in our own seasons of life and faith, we may be called into a time of deep introspection, contemplation, and prayer. Perhaps God is calling us to an outward focus on works of mercy. Or maybe we need a time of formation, to connect our hearts and minds as we walk in love.

We offer three broad paths built around the Way of Love, the Presiding Bishop’s call for practices that support a Jesus-centered life. Each path suggests a primary resource as well as numerous others that expand on the central theme. We offer these as guideposts, as trail markers, knowing and hoping that you will choose your own path during this Lent, and in doing so, make a choice to choose Jesus.

Learn more and choose your Lenten path here.

Forward Today: Show Up

Dear friends in Christ,

February offers The Episcopal Church lots to celebrate. This week, we celebrated the feast day of Absalom Jones, our first African-American priest ordained in 1804, alongside the 30th anniversary of the ordination and consecration of Barbara Harris, the first woman elected bishop in The Episcopal Church in 1989. For their ministries, for Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, for Canon Stephanie Spellers, and for the ministries of my bishop, priest, deacon, and lay Sisters and Brothers in this church, I celebrate you and thank God for you. I’m praying for you.

Presiding Bishop Curry calls to become Beloved Community. As a member of my diocese’s Becoming Beloved Community Task Force, I spent last weekend on a Learning Journey to talk about race and racism. As one of four black people in a group of twenty-eight, I could feel my energy flowing with my tears as we delved into challenging conversations I didn’t want to have which led to pain I didn’t want to feel. When asked to write a commitment for the duration of this four-month journey, I wrote: I’ll keep showing up. That’s all I can promise. And that’s a lot.

Miriam

I pray that you find your way to show up for inclusion and equality. Show up at Absalom Jones celebrations. Show up on the Twitter and Facebook pages and blogs of people of color and listen. Show up for Becoming Beloved Community meetings prepared to work. Show up at church and demand to sing the music of people of color. Show up at your libraries and bookstores and read stories about my people. Show up and listen to the stories of people who don’t look like you. Show up with your ears and hearts open and your mouths closed as we tell you what we need. Pray and discern about what you hear.

God calls us to live our lives of faith in community, and that community includes everyone who chooses to join us. In Beloved Community we feel the deep, abiding love we imagine God feels for us. Show up and be part of God’s dream for us on earth. I’ll be praying for you.

Peace,

Miriam McKenney
Development Director, Forward Movement

Clockwise from top left: The Rev. Canon Kelly Brown Douglas, The Rt. Rev. Herbert Thompson; Nia, Miriam, Kaia, Jaiya, and David McKenney; The Rev. Canon Nan Peete; The Rt. Rev. Barbara Harris; The Rt. Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows; The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry and my dad, The Rev. Wilson H. Willard, Jr.; The Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers; Jaiya, Rev. Walter, David, Miriam, Ida, and Kaia McKenney.


Today’s Flash Sale: Walk in Love

Walk in LoveTake a journey through The Book of Common Prayer, the Christian life, and basic beliefs of our faith, guided by two Episcopal priests – Scott Gunn and Melody Wilson Shobe. Walk through the liturgical year, the sacraments of the church, habits of daily prayer, and the teachings of Anglican Christianity. See how our prayer shapes our belief and our lives and how our beliefs lead us into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.

Regular: $22
Today: $16.50

*Discount is valid until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time


How is God calling you to enter the holy season of Lent? What path will you walk during these forty days?

Forward Movement invites you to explore and respond to how Jesus is tugging at your heart. While the season of Lent calls us all into a particular period of reflection, we choose different journeys. Depending upon where we are in our own seasons of life and faith, we may be called into a time of deep introspection, contemplation, and prayer. Perhaps God is calling us to an outward focus on works of mercy. Or maybe we need a time of formation, to connect our hearts and minds as we walk in love.

We offer three broad paths built around the Way of Love, the Presiding Bishop’s call for practices that support a Jesus-centered life. Each path suggests a primary resource as well as numerous others that expand on the central theme. We offer these as guideposts, as trail markers, knowing and hoping that you will choose your own path during this Lent, and in doing so, make a choice to choose Jesus.

Learn more and choose your Lenten path here.

Forward Today: Christian Love

Dear friends in Christ,

This Sunday, Episcopalians will hear Paul’s famous “love” passage from 1 Corinthians 13. “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.” Like many couples, my husband and I heard this passage at our wedding. Lately, however, many couples shy away from the “love” passage precisely because it’s read so often at weddings.

That’s too bad, because Paul has something important to say about love. Although we associate his words with weddings, Paul is not talking only about marital love, but about something much larger: the love all Christians should have for each other. Christian love, he says, is not a feeling. It is a decision Christians make every day, indeed every hour. Love is how Christians are called to act, not feel, toward others.

Hearts

Our human inclination is often to act without love: boastfully, resentfully, insisting on our own way. We assume that love, if it is real, will make us happy. Paul insists that love also brings challenge. Love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends,” he says. Such love is a gift from God—a gift received anew every day as we ask God to strengthen us for the Christian life.

In a world full of boastfulness, resentment, and wrongdoing, let us challenge ourselves to love: love that is patient and kind, love that rejoices in the truth, love that never ends. As Paul says, faith, hope, and love abide, these three, and the greatest of these is love.

Yours in Christ,

Susan Brown Snook
Canon for Church Growth & Development in the Diocese of Oklahoma


Today’s Flash Sale: Are We There Yet? Pilgrimage in the Season of Lent

Are We There YetWhether we’re taking the trip of a lifetime or the trip simply feels like it’s taking forever, the question on everyone’s lips is: Are We There Yet? As we make our way through Lent, we will come to realize that the journey—the wrestling and the wandering—is the real flesh and blood of our endeavor.

Our companions on this Lenten journey are fellow pilgrims, sharing their stories about following yellow arrows along the Camino and white blazes through the Appalachian Trail to bearing witness to the pain of historic lynching sites in the American South. Contributors recount their search for healing and wholeness at Marian shrines, in a reunion with birth parents, and around a prayer circle in a mental hospital.

Join us as we make our way toward Jerusalem with Jesus. Through this holy season, may we be open to the miracles of love and life, awestruck by the One who is both our journey and our destination.

Regular: $7
Today: $5.25

*Discount is valid until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time

Forward Today: Two or more, gathered

Dear friends in Christ,

Today, a few team members from Forward Movement are driving to Indianapolis for the 2019 FORMA conference, a gathering of nearly 500 Christian formation leaders, thinkers, and practitioners from around the Episcopal Church.

In an era of video meeting services and free online libraries of keynote addresses, one might have concluded several years ago that in-person conferences were on the way out, replaced by the ease and affordability of a new, modern way to gather and share ideas in real time. To be sure, Forward Movement uses some of this technology regularly, and with success.

Yet, we still gather for in-person conferences. Why?

Evangelism Matters
It turns out, despite incredibly powerful advancements in how we communicate, nothing can dethrone the power of being present for each other. Nothing forms bonds of trust, understanding, and empathy like hearing a subtle tone of voice, seeing body language of a presenter, or hearing directly from a peer dealing with similar challenges.

These experiences of community help lower our guard and open us to new ideas and fresh thinking. And that is the point. With our guard lowered, we are humbled as a member of a community. Our ego gives way to curiosity and an openness to learn. Innovation and creative thinking rarely come from the daily grind. We humans need space for that thinking, and more often than not, we need help from others. So, we pause and gather.

Please keep us in your prayers this week as we stop the grind to be present for each other and to be witnesses for the community at work around the Church.

Yours in Christ,

Jason Merritt
Deputy Director and Marketing Director


Today’s Flash Sale: Bible Women

Women of the Bible have been trapped in dry and dusty literary caskets for centuries. While a few women, such as Mary, Sarah, Elizabeth, and Mary Magdalene, are familiar, many of the women who speak in the Bible have long been ignored. Yet their words are part of God’s Word, the Bible, for a reason. Through these women, God spoke, intervened, changed, illustrated, and proclaimed the story of redemption.

In this groundbreaking book named best Bible study of 2015 by Illumination Book Awards, Episcopal priest Lindsay Hardin Freeman identifies every woman who speaks in the Bible, providing their words, context, and historical background. We learn which women speak the most (hint: it’s not Mary!) and which books of the Bible have the fewest words from women.

Regular: $22
Today: $16.50

*Discount is valid until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time

Forward Today: Romans

Dear friends in Christ,

The guiding principle of the Good Book Club is simple (but not easy): When people read scripture, they are transformed. And so are their families and friends, neighborhoods and cities.

By inviting people to read a full book of the Bible, in community with others around the world, we prayed the experience would spur a lifelong spiritual practice of reading scripture — sometimes wrestling with it, often times discovering new insight, and always letting God’s Word be a beacon of light for the journey.

Last year, thousands of us read together the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts, learning and recalling the stories of Jesus and the early days of the Church. Ten days ago, we began the second Good Book Club journey, with Paul’s Letter to the Romans. By most accounts, this book is a harder read. Thanks to Christmas pageants and Charlie Brown, the opening passages of Luke are familiar territory for most. Parables such as of the lost sheep, the Good Samaritan, and the prodigal son helped form our core understanding of faith, and even if we couldn’t recount all of the plot points of Acts, Saul’s conversion is so well-known that a “Road to Damascus” moment is part of our pop-culture lexicon to indicate a sudden turning point.Good Book ClubBut Romans is different. Instead of the stories about what Jesus does, Paul is earnest and insistent about explaining the why: Why was Jesus born? Why did Jesus die? Why does this matter? Paul digs deep into theological principles of justification, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, precepts that scholars and priests have explored, dissected, and debated for centuries.

But at the heart of Romans is the profound and simple (but not easy) truth: We are transformed by God’s grace. Period. Nothing we do or say or strive for can save us from our sinful nature. We are saved only by the grace of an ever-loving God through the death and resurrection of Jesus.

God loves us. God forgives us.

As you continue your journey through Romans (and if you haven’t started, it’s not too late! Join the Good Book Club community), let these two truths be your guide and open yourself to being formed and transformed by God’s Holy Scriptures.

Only God knows what might happen next.

Yours in Christ,

Richelle Thompson
Deputy Director and Managing Editor, Forward Movement


Today’s Flash Sale: Note to Self

Note to SelfDiscover what God has written onto your heart. What do you want for your life? Who do you want to be in your life, and how do you want to live? We humans need reminders, and when it comes to making a consistent effort to be better people, it’s important to have constant reminders. A “Rule of Life” is an ancient method for building soul memory, and offering reminders to ourselves of the person we hope to be—it is a practice of training your mind and soul to be kind and good.

Creating your own rule of life is grace that only you can offer to yourself, helping remind you to live the life you desire, and the life God wishes for you. Join author and Episcopal priest Charles LaFond as he guides you through the wisdom, creation, and application of your own Rule of Life.

Regular: $18
Today: $13.50

*Discount is valid until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time

Forward Today: Revive

Dear friends in Christ,

I have a confession. When new folks step up to serve on the vestry or another key leadership role in the congregation or diocese, I pray for them. Of course, I pray for God to grant them wisdom and patience as they steer the church. But I also pray this: Dear God, let them still want to be a part of the church when their vestry term is complete.

Seeing how the sausage is made isn’t pretty. Because churches are institutions with human beings, they have all the foibles and flaws of humans. We might expect (and hope and pray) that church folks will extend grace and see Christ in one another—and many times, we do. But as humans, we also have the capacity to be mean-spirited, petty, territorial, and stubborn. And when this happens in our churches—places that we hope will be a sanctuary from this type of behavior—we can become disillusioned and disheartened. I should know. After nearly two decades of working for church organizations and as the wife of a priest, I have been there, broken-hearted and soul-weary.

Small group praying

That’s one of the reasons I am so excited about the work of the Rev. Canon Dawn Davis of the Diocese of Niagara in the Anglican Church of Canada. She recognized that the administrative functions of church leadership—making sure the bills are paid and the facilities are maintained—often become the focus for church leaders, and spiritual growth and nurture fall to the wayside. It’s easier to mark off tangible items on a to-do list than to engage in the messy, non-linear work of strengthening our spiritual lives.

And yet, without our connection and relationship to God, we are simply social service agencies that meet on Sunday mornings. When we don’t have the time or energy to respond to the deep calling of God, we eventually become empty vessels, unable to keep leading effectively and aching for everlasting water.

Dawn spent time with church leaders and began developing a response that she has shaped today into Revive. This small-group discipleship program celebrates the faithful service of lay leaders and offers them the gift of exploring their faith journey and discerning their calling.

Over the course of ten months, lay leaders experience different ways to pray and study God’s word as well as learn how to confidently lead groups in prayer or Bible study. The program invites participants to explore and discover spiritual practices that will feed them, so that once nourished, they might go and help others grow in love of Christ and neighbor.

Having spent significant time with the resources of Revive, I believe they can transform the experience of church leadership so that at the end of service on a vestry or diocesan committee, leaders might not feel drained and exhausted but rather reinvigorated and revived, fortified by a deeper relationship with God and with each other and ready for new opportunities to serve and be served.

Yours in Christ,

Revive logoRichelle Thompson
Deputy Director and Managing Editor

Revive is now available. 


Today’s Flash Sale: A Journey with Luke

Journey with LukeA masterful storyteller with the compassion of a physician, Luke paints a picture of Jesus as healer, full of mercy, forgiveness, and love. The Gospel of Luke features the lovely Magnificat, Mary’s love song to God, and the nativity story heard in Christmas pageants around the world. Luke includes three parables not heard in any other gospel: the prodigal son, the good Samaritan, and the unjust judge. Luke, also believed to be the author of the book of Acts, emphasizes prayer as central to the life of faith.

Join the journey with Luke with fifty days of scripture readings, meditations, and prayers written by dynamic spiritual leaders from around the world. A Journey with Luke is part of a series of fifty-day Bible studies and is an extension of The Bible Challenge, a global initiative to encourage daily engagement with the Word of God.

Regular: $15
Today: $11.25

*Discount is valid until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time