“We read to know that we are not alone.” William Nicholson, Screenwriter of Shadowlands

One of the first things I did with Jensen, my 3-year-old granddaughter, when I got back from vacation was do with her what I had been doing by myself, albeit on the beach.  I read to her.  

She took me to her room, showed me her new “stuff” and then pulled a book off her shelf and wanted me to read it to her.  It was a book about “Little Cloud” and I read it to her twice.  

So, it got me to thinking about the benefits of reading and my “reading” led me to an article entitled “8 Benefits of Reading (or Ways Reading Makes You Better at Life).”  I like the second title best. 

The eight reasons the author gives are as follows:

Enhanced smarts

Reading reduces stress

Greater tranquility

Improved analytical thinking

Increased vocabulary

Improved memory

Improved writing skills

Helps prioritized goals

While I like all the reasons, I am most drawn to 1, 2 and 8.  I am a lifelong learner and reading is the key to my progress.  I need times when I reflect and lower the stress that surrounds me.  I need to sharpen the priority of my goals.

That said, I want to recommend two books.  One of them is the book being used in the series I am teaching now, Wild Goose Chase.  The other one is written by a lawyer friend of mine, Lyn Robbins, who is going to be leading my deacon retreat in a couple of weeks and it is titled, In the Court of the Master.  Both are well written and will meet at least 6 or the 8 reasons about why you should read.  So, go read and realize “we read to know we are not alone.”

Sounding Off About Sacred Delight

Ready or not, here it comes!  It, in this case, is the weekend that signals the arrival of summer, Memorial Day weekend.  From the “did you know?” category, did you know there was a time when Memorial Day, the day set aside to honor those who gave their lives for our country, was always on May 30?  However, in order to guarantee a three-day weekend, Memorial Day was placed on the last Monday in May.         

Through my years of reflecting on Memorial Day, I now understand it is not enough to remember the honored casualties of past conflicts.  Honestly, the best thing we can do in their honor is to ensure that they have not died in vain.  They died to build or to defend a better world.  The least we can do is to live for those same purposes.        

As I apply this understanding to our church, I am left with the question—are we doing our best to build a church that defends and offers a “better world?”  And what does “better” really mean?  Certainly, it means improved or superior, but maybe there is more to it.  When you look at the statement “It is better to give than to receive” in the Bible, it is interesting to notice the words offered as coming from the lips of Jesus:  “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  (Acts 20: 35)        

“Blessed”—is a powerful word!  One of Jesus’ most powerful messages comes when he uses this word nine times.  It is the Sermon on the Mount and nine times he promises to the most unlikely that they will be “blessed.”  Max Lucado updates this word by defining it as “sacred delight.”  He says, “It is sacred because only God can grant it.  It is a delight because it thrills.  Since it is sacred, it can’t be stolen.  And since it is delightful, it can’t be predicted.”  (The Applause of Heaven, p. 11)         

How has God’s “sacred delight” thrilled you this week?  For me it has been easy and ever-present.  It came with a friend’s surprise and extended time of encouragement and affirmation.  It came when I opened my phone and found the picture and recording of my granddaughter’s giddy laughter.  It came with an understanding embrace of a joyful, faithful wife.   It came when I slowed down enough to honestly seek God’s presence.

As we begin our journey from spring into summer, may we do so with the clear and overwhelming direction of God’s sacred delight!