top3 for January 11, 2019

#1 – #1 – The Only Way to Keep Your Resolutions

This NYTimes article from the beginning of 2018 claims that will-power was never meant to be the force for change in our lives. Intellectual attempts at producing lasting transformation fall short are what science is proving over and over. We are wired, per the article, for relational and emotional forces to be that which shapes us. The three social emotions listed are pride, compassion, and gratitude. I am a bit leery of including pride in this list, but I wholeheartedly agree with the last two. If we want to produce lasting change in our lives it normally comes out of a heart overflowing with gratitude and compassion for others. For instance, I’m willing to make sacrifices and change for my children much more readily than simply for myself. And acknowledging the tremendous gifts I’ve been given helps keep me focused on the natural responsibility which wells up to give back and do for others. Again, I am more likely to follow through with something if others are going to benefit and are involved.

The writer doesn’t acknowledge it, but this is the heart of the Christian message of transformation. I’m convinced that belonging comes before believing. It is the relational aspects of faith where the Holy Spirit does great work. That is why it is so important to not only attend a church but to belong to a group of people with great regularity in attendance and sharing of yourself.

#2 – Quote I am pondering this week (which focuses on one of my resolutions to live with more urgency and less anxiety/fear.)

Those who are living in anxiety and fear, most especially fear of scarcity, have no time or energy for the common good. Anxiety is no adequate basis for the common good; anxiety will cause the formulation of policy and of exploitative practices that are inimical to the common good, a systemic greediness that precludes the common good. “Orange alert” is a poor beginning point for policy!

Walter Brueggemann – Journey to the Common Good

#3 – Bible passage I am praying through this week:

I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.

The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it up again. No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again.

John 10:14-18 NLT