What I’m Reading

Compassionate Leadership by Ted Engstrom and Paul Cedar

After reading Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr by Ron Chernow a few years ago, I found this story in Compasionate Leadership compelling.

From Chapter Three – The Perils of Compassionate Leadership

“Dr. Karl Menninger, founder of the famed Menninger Health Institute, learned that people who give of themselves in service to others are the happiest and healthiest. ‘Givng money is a very good criterion of a person’s mental health,’ he said.  ‘Generous people are very rarely mentally ill.  … Stinginess is an illness.'” 

The authors illustrate with the story of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.  After having become the richest man on earth at 53 by crushing the helpless in his lust for bigger profits, one biographer described him as a “mummy” able only to eat crackers and milk.  His physician told him he could not live another year.  He understood finally that he couldn’t take one thin dime with him into eternity.  

“For the first time in his life, Rockefeller recognized that money was something to be shared, not hoarded.  Like Scrooge, he lost no time in transforming his money into a vehicle to bless others by establishing the Rockefeller Foundation.  It would require a book to describe the benefits that resulted from the the many hundreds of millions of dollars he showered on universities, hospitals, churches and million of underprivileged people.

When the rich man bean to think of others, something wonderful occurred.  he began to sleep, to eat normally and to enjoy life.  At the age of 53, he started to practice God’s eternal law: ‘Give and it shall be given unto you.’ Rockefeller proved the value of this promise and lived until he was 98 years old.

In a lecture, he said, ‘Let your question be: ‘What hall be the fruits of my career?  Shall it be the endowment of hospitals, churches, schools …?  Do everything you can for the betterment of your fellow men, and in doing this, you will better enjoy life.'” pp. 45-46

Christ transforms our lives and as we mature in Christ we become more like him giving to those in need.  Rockefeller gave out of his billions, but Jesus commended the widow who gave out of her poverty!

The Meaning of Marriage by Tim and Kathy Keller

Chapter Four – The Mission of Marriage

The Kellers begin the chapter by asking “What is the purpose of marriage?” They say, the biblical answer “starts with the principle that marriage is a friendship.”  This is a great chapter.

“There is one very important implication of this principle of marriage-as-friendship.  If you see your spouse as mainly a sexual partner or a financial partner, you will find that you will need pursuits outside of marriage to really engage your whole soul. In that case, children, parents, career, political or social activism, that case, children, parents, career, political or social activism, hobbies, or a network of close friends – one or more of these things – will capture your imagination, provide joy and meaning, and absorb emotional energy more than your marriage.  And that will be deadly.  Your marriage will slowly die if your spouse senses that he or she is not the first priority in your life.  But only if your spouse is not just your lover and financial partner but your best friend is it possible for your marriage [to] be your most important and fulfilling relationship.”

Finally, I’ve been rereading Abraham Joshua Heschel’s The Sabbath.

Part III Chapter Seven

Christians observe Sunday as our Sabbath day of rest.  On this Saturday evening I offer you this from Heschel.

“Six days a week the spirit is alone, disregarded, forsaken, forgotten.  Working under strain, beset with worries, enmeshed in anxieties, man has no mind for ethereal beauty.  But the spirit is waiting for man to join it.

 Then comes the sixth day.  Anxiety and tension give place to the excitement that precedes a great event.  The Sabbath is still away but the thought of its imminent arrival stirs in the heart of a passionate eagerness to be ready and worthy to receive it.

 ‘It is incumbent on every man to be very, very zealous in making the Sabbath day preparations, to be prompt and diligent as a man who has heard that the queen is coming to lodge at his house, or that the bride and her entire entourage are coming to his home.  What would such a man do?  He would rejoice greatly and exclaim:  “What a great honor they do me by their coming to dwell under my roof!”…

“And the world becomes a place of rest. An hour arrives like a guide, and raises our minds above accustomed thoughts.  People assemble to welcome the wonder of the seventh day, while the Sabbath sends out is presence over the fields, into our homes, into our hearts.  It is a moment of resurrection of the dormant spirit in our souls.”

May God grant us rest, peace and joy on Sunday!  We will astound the markets and the entertainers by stopping to rest in the Lord.  Let’s be eager and prepare tonight to worship together tomorrow.  I pray that you will enjoy being in the presence of Him that inhabits the praises of His people.



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