Reflections – Summer Sabbath, 3: What I Read, Listened to, and Learned from Others.

I love reading.

Reading expands my imagination.

Recently, Melissa and I were discussing this very thing – the way reading expands our horizons – our imagination.

When I read, particularly from a wide selection of authors and genres, I am introduced to worlds that I would not otherwise discover. I am also exposed to philosophies and traditions well beyond my own.

Reading stretches me to think outside my little world – to consider the ramifications of the author’s premise and her purpose behind the book.

Therefore, before my Summer Sabbath began, I set some goals for what I would read. I also selected a podcast to listen to during this time away!


I chose three books.:

Each book has, in its own right, been a profound blessing, and I intend to explore them on some level through this blog.


I selected the following podcast:

I enjoy Ruth’s podcasts.

This season (season 16) is exceptional. I read Steve Cuss’s book because of this season’s episodes.

Over the course of nine episodes, Ruth and Steve focus on anxiety and how it infects everything. The exploration isn’t over, but it is already powerful! If you don’t think of yourself as anxious, join the club of the self-delusional.

But if you are in that club and think you don’t have a problem with anxiety, Steve uses the term reactivity!

That makes so much sense to me. All of us can relate to experiencing reactivity within ourselves and others!

Early on in his book, Steve frames anxiety as something that happens in moments when we know we need to do something, but aren’t sure what we need to do.

Anxiety as Reactivity and Minding Gap!

Chapter one opens with a quote from Viktor Frankl,

“Between stimulus and response there is a space.  In the space there is the power to choose our response.  In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

– Viktor Frankl

Steve refers to this “space” as the gap we must mind!

The entire book then offers solutions, to one degree or another, regarding how we can mind the gap in real-time.

I keep this quote close by so that I will remember that I have the power to choose my response when I am in the gap!

On page five, Steve provides some ways we can respond to these moments,

“When you find yourself in this gap, take a pause rather than blazing forward.  If you pause and tune into your inner dialogue, anxiety, triggers, what makes you mad, who makes you mad, assumptions you bring into every leadership situation, how you manage mistakes and how they inform your leadership, you can be free of the recurring patterns that keep you stuck.”

-Steve Cuss

I am looking forward to reflecting on this with the leadership community at Pillar and beyond!

Biblical Story of Luke!

Last year, during the season of Advent, I began preaching from the Gospel of Luke. I selected this Gospel because it’s the Gospel of Year C in the church calendar.

I am enjoying a richness that I haven’t experienced in some time!

I’ve preached about a fourth of the way through the material.

Up to this point in my journey, I have rediscovered some amazing truths. I am including one of them below!

A Lesson Learned In Luke’s Gospel!

This is true:

“By grace, we are saved through faith.”

But it is incomplete!

The Scriptures indicate,

“By grace, we are saved through faith – unto obedience. By grace we are then obedient in faith unto salvation!”

I am still sorting this out, but this truth resonates with the Jesus I am rediscovering in the Gospel of Luke. Much of Luke’s Gospel is a commentary on Jesus’ words in 8:21, “My brothers and sisters are those who hear the word of God and do it.”

Jesus is assembling a spiritual family bursting well-established restrictions and brimming with vastly broader borders! Yet, even as the borders expand the demands increase.

Jesus is filled with compassion. His message is kind and clear. Yet this same Jesus is exacting and demanding when asked what it means to follow Him.

The church has been peddling a partial Gospel for far too long. The phrase sticking in my mind and animating my study is, “By grace, we are saved through faith – unto obedience. By grace we are then obedient in faith unto salvation!”

The journey with and into the life of Christ is one of sincere, faithful, and ongoing commitment!

A Lesson Learned from Curt Thompson (One of SO Many)!

Experiencing beauty in this life (something Thompson believes is a fundamental human longing) is a gift to be received. Beauty is a gift mediated by the Spirit of God, yet receiving beauty demands I remain attentive to God’s presence.

In order to help us remain attentive, He encourages the reader to ask, “What am I doing that puts me firmly in the pathway of oncoming beauty?”

Asking this question on a daily basis is having an impact on me in the daily often unexpected moments I encounter. This question helps me recalibrate and be attentive to what’s firing just beneath the surface of these experiences. Questions like this one help me live with expectancy and hope, even after a conversation or a situation that is filled with conflict and strife!

A Final Word From Ruth and Steve’s Podcast!

Anxiety (or reactivity) is always present. Our attunement to it (first within ourselves and then among others) will determine whether we will generate more of it, carry it for others, or diffuse its power.

One of the many highlights I am gleaning from Steve’s book is how he encourages the reader to live into the truth of the Gospel.

According to Steve, the truth of the Gospel is this: Health infects Ill-health. I love this, especially since we experience the other – ill-health infects health – much of the time.

The Gospel reminds us that Jesus infects everything – health, indeed, infects ill health!!

  • Jesus infects everything.
  • I can put myself in the pathway of beauty!
  • I can choose my response in any situation!

These are reminders I need all the time!