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 – The Back-to-School Tech You Need (and Don’t Need) from the New York Times
‘Tis the season so to speak with students heading back to school and some of our friends’ kids heading off to college. Got me thinking what I would say regarding our faith journey. So here is my list of faith journey resources you need.
- Church. Yes. I recommend a church. You are shocked right?! John Wesley said, “the Bible knows nothing of a solitary religion”, and he was exactly right. Faith is meant to be done in community. The very essence of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit shows us that community is an inescapable reality for Christ followers.
- Spiritual Mentor. Let me explain a bit. I recommend each of us has someone to mentor us in our faith journey. Someone who knows us inside and out, up and down, as well as good and bad. If that isn’t difficult enough, the next step is to submit to the instruction of this person. You give this person the authority to speak into your life.
- Study Bible. I recommend that you get a contextual study bible and not necessarily a theological one. There IS a difference. Contextual study bibles describe the places and customs in Scripture while theological ones tend to give you their interpretation of “why” something happened in Scripture along with describing the places and customs. While I believe there is a place to read interpretations, it is probably much later in the process than most of us think. Often, we get caught up interpreting and miss the means of grace of sitting with the text and allowing God’s Spirit to speak. If you are in the market for a new Bible, let me suggest the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible. You will find it mostly free from interpretation and full of good insights into culture.
- Time. Probably the most difficult thing I’m recommending. A relationship takes time and energy to develop. You don’t go from strangers to best friends over night! And the same can be said about your relationship with God. It takes time. Regular time. More time than you think you have. So…start somewhere if you haven’t already and move forward little by little. Don’t get in a hurry. You have all eternity. But also don’t put it off. Real life in this world, as opposed to simply existing, comes through our relationship with God. I’ve never regretted the time I’ve spent with God and you won’t either.
#2 – Quarters a blog post from Teddy Ray.
I’ve said this before and will continue to say it, Teddy is not only my friend and fellow First Church pastor, he is also one of the most keen observers and communicators within the UMC as a whole. If you don’t follow his blog (TeddyRay.com) you should. The above is a practical piece about the power of keep on keeping on day after day in our devotional lives.
Anne Lamott is one of my favorite writers. She continually puts words to my feelings giving me new language to understand my faith journey. Enjoy!