You can’t teach people to trust God in the most practical and minuscule aspects of life. You have to model it. Reveal a life of dependence witnessed in your disciplines of simplicity and solitude. Manifest practical faith seen in your work ethic/Sabbath tension. Western culture drives our people to drive more, push harder, reach farther forgetting the prevenient presence of God that calls us to a life-rhythm of dependence and rest.
We are sheep not hamsters. Model a life that lives in fields of God’s grace and provision.
“For we who have believed enter that rest…” – Hebrews 4:2-3
The United States published over 300,000 different books in 2013. Not all of them good. Not all of them helpful. Many of today’s non-fiction books are an insult to the trees that gave their life in the name of profit-driven publications. Still, your ability to read books well enables you to draw forth diamonds out of the desert.
- Get your books in print. The tactile and mental rigor of reading well is hampered by e-readers. You can text and tweet your favorite quotes from your phone after the fact. In the beginning, keep it raw by getting it in print!
- Read with a pen and highlighter. You are hunting for ideas. Ideas lead to other ideas that impact paradigms and assumptions. Underline and scribble and connect and mark and highlight and circle.
- Separate the wheat from the chaff. When you find something that grabs you, feeds you, then transcribe the idea to a blank sheet in the book. Use an end-sheet or flyleaf. List the page number and the date.
- Note the notes. Footnotes and endnotes are a bed of wealth. Well-written books offer further research and follow-up reading. They provide you direction to bigger pay-dirt. And, the presence of notes cue you in that you have left the popular world of op-ed writing and have entered the fertile territory of non-fiction research and publication.
- Accumulate a list for further reading. Note oft’ cited authors and the books that provide a backing for the ideas you are wrestling with. Get them on your Amazon wishlist.
- Collect Questions. Good books confront you and threaten to change you. You know this is happening when the text cultivates questions. Collect your questions on a blank sheet and start wrestling with the answers.
- Go the extra mile. Type up your favorite points, future reads, collected questions, and bibliographical information in a searchable note file or other digital database of your choosing. I am an Evernote freak. This gives your reading a legacy and provides you with fodder for future work and a place to keep working.
Not every book is worth reading no matter how popular it is, what list it is on. Still, the discipline of reading well makes sure you don’t walk away empty-headed.
Elephants never forget and Christians seldom remember.
Promises are only as good as someone’s ability to learn AND retain them. When the time comes to hold God to his word, whether in finances or relationships or trials, stepping out on faith rests on a Christian’s memory. After all, you can not act on what you do not remember. Part of your responsibility as the “church” in someone’s life is making sure attenders are regularly reminded about God’s character, his promises, and the greater story attenders have entered. It is an age of message overload. People are more prone now to forget God’s promises being subjected to so many voices in a given week.
Churches that do the most to help members remember God’s truth;
- …maximize song selection on Sundays. The mnemonic power of music is a gift and tool. The psalms were not written to hype temple worshippers but to help truth retention.
- …incorporate some form of liturgical reading. If you want your members to know the story than make sure they hear it often.
- …promote bible memorization as a discipline at all ages.
- …illustrate sermons using narrative passages from the Bible. The mind is wired to remember stories more than alliterated, pithy principles.
Pack your pews with pachyderms. Reverse rampant memory loss in churches. Help your members remember!
I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them…I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live…and I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things. – Apostle Peter (2 Peter 1:12-15)
Elise and I watched The Good Lie, a film with Reese Witherspoon about the Sudanese refugees. It was a powerful story about leadership and sacrifice and the importance of community. The ending credits included this quote, “If you want to go fast then go alone- if you want to go far then go together.”
If you want to go far in your faith then you must learn to go with others. Imagine all the verses in the Bible that come into play when you share your walk. You can help one another, serve one another, love one another, encourage one another, teach one another. The list is long. Flip it around. Being in community brings help, service, love, encouragement, support, and adds depth and understanding to your faith.
It is sad but it is possible to go to church in America and not be a part of the faith community. You can hide in the back and not experience all God intends. So get in a small group, life group, community group, what ever your church calls it.
The Christian faith isn’t something that you can do alone.
“Carry one another’s burdens.” Galatians 6:2