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Elizabeth Glass Turner ~ Good Reads

Sometimes in the frazzled frenzy of Life Every Day, you feel a tug to retreat even momentarily into an imaginary monk’s cell of silence for a sanity-saving minute of prayer or reflection or prayer and reflection – sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between the two.

If your soul and mind need quieted and fed at the bird feeder before flying off into the storm again, here are a few good reads from around the online meadow. Maybe one of them will sustain you in flight. Sparrows aren’t forgotten, no matter what tasks on your to-do list regularly slip your mind.

Eugene Peterson’s old “The Unbusy Pastor” has resurfaced. It is worth a(nother) read (click here) more than almost anything else that comes clunking into your inbox.

If I vainly crowd my day with conspicuous activity, or let others fill my day with imperious demands, I don’t have time to do my proper work, the work to which I have been called, the work of pastor. How can I lead people into the quiet place beside the still waters if I am in perpetual motion? How can I convincingly persuade a person to live by faith and not by works if I have to constantly juggle my schedule to make everything fit into place?

If I’m not busy making my mark in the world and not busy doing what everyone expects me to do, what do I do? What is my proper work? What does it mean to be a pastor? If I had no personal needs to be fulfilled, what would I do? If no one asked me to do anything, what would I do? Three things…

Dr. Timothy Tennent is revealing some interesting findings from 60,000 miles of travel. The Asbury Theological Seminary President has ministry experience on four continents and this past summer, he traveled to five. His thoughts on “Escaping the Fog” will have you reflecting over days and weeks.

When you walk into a vibrant church you can immediately sense the difference.  At every point you meet gospel clarity.  The church exudes confidence in the unique work of Jesus Christ.  They understand the power and authority of God’s Word.  They feel the lostness of the world and the urgency to bring the good news to everyone.   At every point you observe gospel clarity.

In contrast, when you walk into the churches in decline you are immediately brought into “the Fog.”  What is the fog?  It is the inability to be clear about anything.  There is no clarity about who Jesus Christ is and what He has done.  There is no clarity about the Scriptures as the authoritative Word of God.  There is no clarity about the urgency to reach the lost.   When you listen to a sermon, you go away shaking your head, saying, “What exactly did he or she actually say?”

As we edge closer to Ash Wednesday, these words from The Wesleyan Church General Superintendent Dr. Jo Anne Lyon are worth mulling over. In 2014, she spent time in Washington, D.C. fasting with people she had never met – an oddly anointed and overlooked communal discipline. Let us know how you incorporate some of these principles in your own church Lenten practices.

Do you need your wonder and imagination restored? A German forester has written a fascinating book – on trees. It turns out that while human nature is to miss the forest for the trees, this man’s knowledge illuminates the communal life of trees – their intricate networks and means of communication. In charmingly anthropomorphic language, he describes forest life – read the New York Times article about his journey caretaking forests. Close your eyes and think of J.R.R. Tolkein and, farther back, Eden. After all,

You will go out in joy
    and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
    will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
    will clap their hands…

-Isaiah 55:12

Sometimes it’s easy to feel smothered by the inevitable chronological egocentrism that defines our communal life together. In other words, we get near-sighted about topics that affect us and sometimes lose perspective due to our focus on our own lives. World Methodist Evangelism has put together a fun Pinterest page titled, “Roots Matter.” An eclectic collection of old photos, portraits, biographies, and Wesleyan Methodist “ephemera” stretches around the globe and across time. You might need to browse a moment over a photo of the first missionary in Korea to use a motorcycle (a Methodist) to regain perspective in time for that committee meeting about carpet colors.

Apparently at one point Wesleyan Methodists were known for their buns. And not just the circuit riders who spent all that time riding horseback. Cornish saffron buns (also known as “revel buns” or “tea treats”) are baked goods celebrated in Cornwall back to the point at which it was defined by tin mines. And it was Methodist groups and societies who baked the treats for the community for special events. Apparently, they were quite good with clotted cream on Good Friday. For a recipe with North American measurements, click here.