Saturday, May 30, 2009

Summer Reading

So earlier this year, I was silly enough to make a top ten list for 2010. On that list, I mentioned that I wanted to read one book a month. Well, here we are, first of June and I have read three. Now if you count Bible books, I'm in good shape. But that's not the reading I was talking about. I think it's very easy these days to depend on electronic media to enlighten and entertain us. I still think it's important and enjoyable to actually sit down with a hard copy and read. Thus, my commitment to make more time to do it.

My current read is "Cast of Characters" by Max Lucado. Max is one of my favorite wordsmiths - puts spiritual things into down to earth words that still point toward heaven. This is a great read because it is broken into short chapters about different Bible characters. I can read a chapter or two in a very short amount of time and will likely be able to get through the whole book without forgetting the plot while I take too long a break between reading experiences.

I was especially captivated by his chapter on Matthew. The tax collector. The shady character that was considered a pariah in his society. The one that hung out with roughians. The one whose friends Jesus wanted to meet, so told Matthew to throw a party for them. The one to whom Jesus said, "Follow me" and he followed.

Max says it better than I could, so forgive the lengthy quote. But it's a good one!

"Quite a story. Matthew goes from double dealer to disciple. He throws a party that makes the religious right uptight, but Jesus proud..... What do we do with it? That depends on which side of the tax collector's table you find yourself. You and I are Matthew. Don't give me that look. There's enough hustler in the best of us to qualify for Matthew's table. Maybe you've never taken taxes, but you've taken liberty with the truth, taken credit that wasn't yours, taken advantage of the weak. You and me? Matthew. If you're still at the table, you receive an invitaion. "Follow me." So what if you've got a rube reputation? So did Matthew. You may end up writing your own gospel. If you've left the table, you receive a clarification. You don't have to be weird to follow Jesus. You don't have to stop liking your friends to follow Him. Just the opposite. A few introductions would be nice. Do you know how to grill a steak?"

"Sometime ago I was asked to play a game of golf. The foursome included two preachers, a church leader and a 'Matthew, B.C.' The thought of four hours with three Christians, two of whom were pulpiteers , did not appeal to him. I'm happy to report that he proclaimed the experience painless. On the ninth hole he turned to one of us and said, 'I'm glad you guys are normal.' I think he meant this: 'I'm glad you didn't get in my face or club me with a King James driver. Thanks for laughing at my jokes and telling a few yourself. Thanks for being normal.' We didn't lower our standards. We were nice. Normal and nice."

"Discipleship is sometimes defined by being normal. A woman in a small Arkansas community was a single mom with a frail baby. Her neighbor would stop by every few days and keep the child so she could shop. After some weeks her neighbor shared more - she shared her faith. The friends of the young mother objected. 'Don't you know what those people teach?' 'Here is what I know,' she told them. 'They held my baby.'

Normal and nice. Sinners and saints in the same room. I know how to grill a steak. I know how to hold babies. I think Jesus would like that answer.


At May 30, 2009 at 11:05 PM , Blogger Kathryn @ Expectant Hearts said...

I almost bought that book at the Christian Supply store yesterday! Instead I got Wrestling with Angels that Glenn mentioned a bit back..


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