Top 3 – July 22-29

As a pastor, each week means reading.  I spend time reading Scripture, books, newspapers, blog sites and everything in between.  I’ve been thinking about how I can review and catalogue the ideas, concepts, and stories I come across.  I’ve also been thinking that many of my “findings” may be of use and interest to others.  To this end, I am launching something called Top 3.  This is my list of the top 3 things I’ve read this past week and a bit of commentary around one or more of them.  You will find links, when possible, to read for yourself.

#1 – “If we let ourselves be attracted to those who flatter us or who are like us, who share our ideas, then we won’t grow.  Growth will come as we come closer to people who are different from us and as we learn to welcome and listen even to those who trigger off our pain.”  From Brokenness to Community by Jean Vanier

This is a book I’m reading for my doctoral work that has to do with finding Christ in difficult places, people, and situations.  The basic premise is that growth (or becoming more like sanctification for us Wesleyans) comes as we move away from and not toward our comfort zones.  I know it is true in my own life that times of growth happen more often during the difficult season than the comfortable one.

#2 – Want to Be Happy? Buy more takeout.. from NYTimes.

I promise I’m not advocating spending money on takeout!  This study highlighted in the NYT shows that stuff does not make us happier.  Having more time…especially for those things that bring us satisfaction…that makes us happier.  In order to make this happen, I guess we can either hire more stuff done or we can take the dramatic step to de-clutter, reduce busyness, and simplify which in my mind does the same thing.  Either way…our busy and oftentimes materialistic lifestyles continue to lead us down a path away from not toward happiness.

#3 –  44 “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.  Matthew 13.44 (NLT-SE)

This is from the lectionary reading this week.  Jesus tells us that the Kingdom of Heaven is so overwhelmingly precious that our response is to make it the focus in our life entirely.  He equates our response to selling everything we have in order to buy something already available to us.  Let that sink in.  Sell everything in order to buy something that is already ours.  Who would do something like that?  Sell everything I have to buy something I already own?  That just doesn’t make sense.  And that is exactly why, if we are not careful, that we miss the fullness of the Gospel and its power to change our lives.  We are reluctant to “sell-out” for something we feel we already have in our reach.