Book Reviews: A More Excellent Way
EXCEL Retreat Ministries here offers a book of devotions for every day of the year. This volume is organized by the nine themes of the first EXCEL weekend and the tripod of themes of the EXCEL in Faithfulness follow-up weekend. Ideal, Grace, Commitment, Prayer, Study, Action, Ministries, Security, and You are the themes of the talks in the basic EXCEL weekend retreat. Faithfulness to Self, Faithfulness to Others, and Faithfulness to God are the tripod of talks that anchor the EXCEL in Faithfulness follow-up weekend.
“A More Excellent Way” is the brainchild and ministry of Mr. Jerry Reitz, past board chair of EXCEL Retreat Ministries, Inc. He has been assisted by many, many writers from many EXCEL teams and alumni of many EXCEL weekends.
The teams that worked on this book include the EXCEL of the Armadillo Team, Houston, Texas; the EXCEL in Europe Team, London, England; the EXCEL in the Redwoods Team, San Francisco Bay Area, California; the EXCEL of the Living Waters Team, San Diego, California; the EXCEL of the Rainbow Zebra Team, Atlanta, Georgia and Birmingham, Alabama; the EXCEL of the Rockies Team, Colorado Springs, Colorado; the EXCEL of the Way Team, Seattle, Washington; the EXCEL in Faithfulness Abunchovum Team, Houston, Texas; the EXCEL in Faithfulness Bay Area Team, the San Francisco Bay area; and the EXCEL in Rainbow Eagle Team, Birmingham, Alabama.
Many other people assisted in writing as well.
The work of talented photographer, Mr. Billy Stevens, adorns the cover of this book of daily devotions, as well as the title page for each month.
Chi Rho Press joins EXCEL Retreat Ministries in offering this book of daily devotions to you in the hope that they will bless you and enrich your personal prayer and devotional life.
Chi Rho Press is pleased to publish “A More Excellent Way,” A Daily Devotional Project Written for EXCEL Retreat Ministries, Inc. It is our hope that you will find “A More Excellent Way” a blessing for you and a helpful addition to your daily devotions.
Each author chose the Scriptures for the day of the year. As a result you will notice some repetition and you might miss some of your favorite Scriptures. A complete list of Scriptures is included at the end of this volume.
A number of different translations of the Bible were used, again the decision of the individual authors. (A list of translation abbreviations is here as well.) In keeping with the policy of the Metropolitan Community Churches, of which Chi Rho Press is a part, we have attempted to gently make the Bible quotes inclusive for people and for God, without doing a disservice to the meaning of the verses. There was considerable debate over the use of the word Lord for God. Some people dislike its use because of male associations (landlord, etc.). Others see the word Lord as being an inclusive term for God. We considered for a time changing the word to the original Hebrew, Adonai, or the Greek, Kurios in place of Lord. Ultimately we decided that adding somewhat unfamiliar Hebrew or Greek words would do a disservice to the text and compromised on printing Lord in small capitals in order to distinguish it from the male-oriented word.
We have also used a convention that might be strange to some of you. EXCEL Retreat Ministries’ naming convention is to always have EXCEL in all capitals and bold face. We have followed that convention in this volume. In addition, we have used bold face for the theme word or phrase for each month throughout that month’s devotions. This is to enable the reader to connect with theme of the month more easily. In addition, there are certain phrases common to EXCEL for which we have used italics, such as living in union with God. The common EXCEL call and response of referring to the EXCEL theme practice of Prayer, Study, and Action is always in bold face and followed by a fervent “Amen.” Please see EXCEL’s explanation of this habit in the forematter for this book.
The final edits for this book are mine and any mistakes you find are mine entirely. Please write me at Adam@ChiRhoPress.com with any errors you find for correction in future editions or printing of this book.
In addition to Jerry Reitz’ dedication and thanks, I want to add my thanks to all the members and friends, team members and graduates of EXCEL who have contributed devotions to this project. Their names are included in the title page for each month. I am grateful for their thoughts, insights, and prayers.
Thanks also to Mr. Billy Stevens, a talented photographer who contributed the cover photo and the title page photos for each month.
I also want to thank Mr. George Tresch for his special support in getting this volume printed and bound.
Finally, I want to thank Mr. Jerry Reitz for his hard work, unfailing energy, and faithful dedication to this book. The book of daily devotions you hold in your hand is Jerry’s brainchild and ministry. May God bless him and all who worked with him for this effort.
Grace and peace,
R. Adam DeBaugh
Director, Chi Rho Press
EXCEL is a spiritual renewal Christian educational program intended to strengthen the local church through the development of Christian saints and lay leaders.
The EXCEL experience begins with a 45-hour short course in Christianity, comprised of nine talks by lay leaders on themes of God’s grace, the Christian Ideal, commitment, and related topics. The short course involves prayer and meditation, special worship times, and the celebration of Holy Communion. There will be many people who will support the weekend throughout the world by upholding the weekend and all the participants in a vigil of prayer.
The EXCEL Weekend experience begins Friday evening around 6 pm and concludes on Sunday afternoon at around 3 pm. Men and women are welcomed at the same weekend.
During and after the 45-hour short course in Christian Community Living, EXCEL leaders encourage participants to meet regularly in small family groups. The members of these small family groups challenge and support one another in love and faithful living. Also, each participant will be encouraged to seek to Christianize their own environments of family, their employment or job, and the community where they live through ministry in the congregation to which they belong.
EXCEL Retreat Ministries, Inc. a not-for-profit Christian Educational ministry, sponsors EXCEL Weekend courses and offers them through local EXCEL Teams and “Suitcase Teams” from around the world. The 45-hour experience and the sharing with friends groups strengthen and renew Christians as disciples of Jesus Christ and active members of the body of Christ.
Many church leaders praise EXCEL as much more than a program or a retreat. It is a powerful movement of spiritual renewal that is making a difference for countless individuals and congregations in many denominations. Between 1973-2010, nearly 19,500 have participated in EXCEL. During the same period, the EXCEL movement has been offered in over 20 sites around the world, including the U.S.A., Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, and South Africa.
For more information, please contact us at www.excelretreatministries.org.
EXCEL is an adaptation of the Roman Catholic Cursillo Movement, which originated in Spain in 1949. Cursillo de Cristianidad means “little course in Christianity.” The original Cursillo leaders designed the program to empower the laity to transform their living and working environments into Christian environments. In 1968, Cursillo was brought to the U.S.A. in Waco, Texas. During the 1960-1970s, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Methodists, along with other non-denominational groups (including UFMCC, the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches) began to offer “Cursillos.”
In 1979, after several “Cursillos” were offered by the congregation of MCC Los Angeles, California, EXCEL International was founded and further adaptations were made to the original program and the name EXCEL was adopted for continued growth within the MCC movement and to other non-denominational congregations and Christian churches. In 2003, after the restructuring of the UFMCC, EXCEL International de Colores decided to reorganize and become its own not for profit religious organization and offer our retreat programs to any Christian congregation of any denomination.
In 2008, EXCEL International became incorporated in the State of Texas as EXCEL Retreat Ministries, Inc. and was granted by the IRS a 501(c)3 tax exempt status as a not for profit religious organization.
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