Books

Prayer in Motion: Connecting with God in Fidgety Times
Apocryphile Press, 2018

Order from these retailers:

Apocryphile Press
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Smashwords

Does your daily schedule make setting aside time to pray difficult? Do you feel too distracted even in those rare times when you can finally sit down to pray? Learn spiritual practices to seek God’s presence even in your busiest moments.

Jeffrey Nelson is a pastor, spiritual director, author, and blogger who has been speaking and writing about ways for busy people to deepen their spiritual lives for years.

Prayer in Motion is an accessible commentary on how to weave spirituality into one’s entire life, where it was always meant to be. Grounded in wisdom from some of the great Christian spiritual thinkers, Prayer in Motion offers easy-to-use spiritual practices while at work, exercising, doing chores, during one’s daily commute, and more.

In this book you’ll learn:

• Stories from the Bible where people discover God’s presence in ways besides sitting in stillness or silence;

• Personal anecdotes and stories that help illustrate what spirituality in everyday activities looks like;

• Insights from classic spiritual practices such as walking the labyrinth, using prayer beads, and making a pilgrimage adapted and applied to everyday activities;

• Real-life application through thought-provoking questions and useful suggestions for prayer at the end of every chapter.

Prayer in Motion not only gives you permission to move while praying, but tells you how to do so in easy-to-use, concrete ways. This is the practical guide you’ve been looking for to carry spiritual practices out of retreat centers and houses of worship and into the places where you spend most of your time.

Get Prayer in Motion and start using its tips to connect more deeply with God in the midst of fidgety and frantic days.

Praise for Prayer in Motion:

"We live in fidgety times. And now we have a prayer guide for those of us who have trouble sitting in silence or finding large blocks of time for prayer and meditation. Pastor and spiritual director Jeff Nelson writes from his own experience and uses stories from scripture to show us how to begin to see all of life as an opportunity to connect with God. Prayer in Motion explains the “why” of integrating prayer into our daily activities and ends each chapter with the “how,” giving suggestions and reflection questions. This is the perfect book for the new parent, the stressed out graduate student or any other person currently overwhelmed by life!" - Teresa Blythe, author of Spiritual Direction 101 and 50 Ways to Pray 

"We live in times where every moment of our day something or someone is clamoring for our attention. Our everyday living has been hijacked into a false assumption that we either must be consuming or producing something at all times or our lives do not have meaning. It is no wonder that there is a deep hunger for spirituality in our time and, yet, even the most spiritual among us find it hard to carve out the time necessary to nurture that hunger. I used to think of this as a struggle of life-work balance, that if I could just summon a way to get them in harmony I would have reached the height of spirituality. What if I have this backwards? Perhaps it is not a life-work balance, but rather one of life-work-spirit integration. Jeff Nelson, in his deep kinship with the mystics and spiritual practices, reminds us that our everyday living is not separate from our spirituality. In fact, Jeff places God and spiritual practice directly in the middle of clicking pens, folding laundry, and parenting......the everyday stuff of life. From communing in the words of Brother Lawrence, walking, eating, or creating art, Jeff suggests that each moment of our lives presents us with an opportunity to connect with God. This is a much needed book in these very anxious, busy, and overwhelming times. Take the insights of this illuminating book and allow them to inspire within you new practices of connection with God, neighbor, and the world around you." - Chad Abbott, Indiana-Kentucky UCC Conference Minister and author of Sacred Habits

This is a wonderfully practical book for busy people who want to have a deeper relationship with God but have been discouraged by examples that require more time, money, or freedom than they have available. Prayer-in-Motion blends scripture and story with spiritual exercises that emanate from real life: our day planners and iPhone calendars, our carpooling and grocery shopping, our fidgeting and questioning. The author’s kind and realistic voice reassures us that even the most complicated day of our lives can be full of opportunities to pray. - Martha Spong, co-author of Denial Is My Spiritual Practice
 

Wonder and Whiskey: Insights on Faith from the Music of Dave Matthews Band
Wipf and Stock, 2018

Order from these online retailers:

Wipf and Stock
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Cokesbury
Books-A-Million
Christianbook

Dave Matthews likes Jesus, but not dogmatic beliefs about him. He openly wonders about God’s existence while singing of showing love to each other as life’s highest ideal. His songs celebrate making the most of each day’s pleasures because we aren’t guaranteed tomorrow, but also caution against overindulgence. His music wrestles with deep questions about identity and mortality, while proposing that upholding others’ worth is one of the most important roles we can fulfill. Wonder and Whiskey is an exploration of the lyrics of Dave Matthews Band as a multilayered call to be present in the moment, both for oneself and others, as well as how these ideas intersect with the highest aspirations of a lived Christian spirituality.

Praise for Wonder and Whiskey:

"Jeff Nelson has taken his love for the music of Dave Matthews to a new level! Drawing from Matthews's life experience and inspiration, Jeff pulls the reader into the stories that crafted the lyrics and musical fabric of such a diverse musician. Not only does Jeff take into consideration Matthews's own life but Jeff goes one step further by viewing the songs through a lens of spirituality. While I learned so much about Dave Matthews in reading Wonder and Whiskey, I also learned more about myself, and for that I am grateful for Jeff Nelson's dedication to create such a book as this." - Leanor Ortega Till, saxophonist for Five Iron Frenzy and Staff Member at Urban Skye Ministries

"Fans of the Dave Matthews Band will love this book! And if you are not a fan, this book will make you want to become one. Demonstrating a thorough familiarity with the life and career of Dave Matthews, the other members of the band, and the band’s musical catalogue, Jeff Nelson tells us not only how he came to hear his own life in the band’s songs, but he also invites us to do the same. Defining spirituality as connectedness to something or someone transcendent, to others, and to our own selves, Jeff relates lyrics of the band’s songs to several crucial spiritual issues – the nature of faith and religious experience, understandings of God and Jesus, celebrating life, avoiding greed and over-indulgence, finding one’s identity, the importance of community, doing good, and awareness of our finitude. Along the way, Jeff is also in conversation with several biblical passages, as well as with spiritual greats such as John of the Cross, Ignatius Loyola, and Thomas Merton. I was instructed and inspired, and you will be too!" - J. Clinton McCann, Jr., Evangelical Professor of Biblical Interpretation, Eden Theological Seminary

"There’s something reliably inspiring about listening to anyone wax eloquent about whatever it is they deeply and truly love, whether or not you love it yourself.  Jeff’s point here isn’t to project his supernatural faith onto his favorite band, but rather to help their music draw his readers into what he calls following Jesus and I call humanism: Making the most of this life by learning to love, doing good work for others, and cultivating joyful gratitude for the many wonders of nature, including consciousness itself. So then, get out your headphones and read on." – Bart Campolo, Humanist Chaplain at the University of Cincinnati and co-author of Why I Left, Why I Stayed

Coffeehouse Contemplative: Spiritual Direction for the Everyday
Noesis Press, 2016

Order from these online retailers:

The Davies Group, Publishers
Amazon

Through anecdote, engagement with scripture, theological reflection, and practical application, Coffeehouse Contemplative explores concepts of spirituality, prayer, and spiritual direction for those who are either unclear about these terms' meaning, or haven’t considered them despite a lifetime of religious participation. Over the course of this book, the reader will be introduced to a variety of thinkers including Ignatius of Loyola, Brother Lawrence, Karl Rahner, and Teresa of Avila. Their writings and traditions will help shape a definition of spirituality as seeking a deeper connection with God and understanding of self, wherever we are and in whatever we do. To encourage further consideration of the subject matter, each chapter will include a list of questions for reflection in an individual or group context.

Praise for Coffeehouse Contemplative:

"He had me at 'traffic routes to Akron, Ohio.' Jeffrey Nelson lays out the contemporary practice of spiritual direction in a careful and concise way with questions for reflection that remind me in each chapter to go deep rather than fast. Then he suggests that there are as many routes into this traditional practice as there are people seeking paths to their own spiritual goals. I have become very tired of the literature of “one answer will fix” … our prayer lives, our church communities or the problems of the world and this book gave me a new and generous map." - Maren Tirabassi, author of From the Psalms to the Cloud


"Coffeehouse Contemplative offers a warm and accessible invitation to an intentional spiritual life. The grace of God meets us in the ordinary moments of life, and Jeff Nelson's book beautifully captures the down-to-earth nature of life in the Spirit." - Carl McColman, author of Befriending Silence

"As the nursery rhyme asks of Mary, Mary, quite contrary, so Jeffrey Nelson asks that most timeless and faithful question: 'How does the spirit grow?' With reflection and prayer, experience and care comes the pastoral answer in Coffeehouse Contemplative, a resource that invites readers to stroll through the garden of spiritual direction, not merely to observe it but to linger in its richness and to be nourished by its attention to holiness in the everyday. This primer on spiritual direction offers accessible space for digging in the dirt of life to touch and taste God’s goodness and to grow in faith." - Rachel G. Hackenberg, author of Sacred Pause and Writing to God

"We are all looking to make meaning out of our lives. For many, the old forms that once offered such insight are now failing us. Spiritual direction is a practice for discerning meaning that promises to not disappoint. Jeff Nelson provides many ways to engage this ancient but never-more-relevant spiritual practice for today’s seeker." - Phileena Heuertz, author of Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life and founding partner, Gravity, a Center for Contemplative Activism

"Jeff Nelson has made the contemplative life accessible in Coffeehouse Contemplative. Bringing light to the murky waters of 'spirituality,' Nelson fleshes out concepts like meditation, mindfulness and prayer. Most importantly, perhaps, is the encouragement that one find a traveling partner on the path of spiritual deepening, which holds many surprising places in which to encounter the divine." - Bryan Berghoef, author of Pub Theologian: Beer, Conversation, and God

“'Spiritual direction' in many quarters often carries (unfair) overtones of theology that is more therapeutic than rigorous. In this text, Nelson defies that stereotype by demonstrating how the God-images at play in spiritual direction influence not only outcomes but also the rationale for why direction takes place. Written from a progressive Protestant perspective, the text deftly blends ancient wisdom with contemporary concerns. It will be useful both as a textbook in spiritual direction programs and as a more general guide for those interested in how questions of vocation and mindfulness take shape in our age of pressure and distraction." - Robert Saler, Executive Director, Center for Pastoral Excellence; Research Professor of Lutheran Studies, Christian Theological Seminary

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