Archives For Rest

I accepted a full-time job with Covenant Eyes as a Church Consultant.  My primary role will be working with churches who are interested in addressing and removing pornography from their churches.  If you are a church leader and are interested in this, contact me as this is the exclusive focus of my new job.

I am staying at Crossroads Church as a member and will be in the preaching rotation, but will no longer be on staff and will no longer be on the decision-making elder team.  I’ll have a title of Pastor Emeritus, which sounds like something from Star Wars.  This title honors my founding of the church and the role I’ve played in the congregation’s life, but is a volunteer role that does not carry decision-making authority with it.

Our church members received letters from me last week, but I thought a blog post filling others in would be good as well.  This is also good for me as I process things through writing them out, and I’ll probably share some soul-level things here that fit my personal blog format better than they would a letter to my church members. Continue Reading…

I love hearing Ruth Haley Barton’s voice when I read her books.  I have been on nine retreats led by Ruth over approximately a two year period.  When I go to read her books, I can’t help but hear the inflections in her voice and her deep care for ministry leaders (for me!) as she teaches during retreat and as she types the words of the book.

It’s been too long since I finished my Transforming Community retreats and it’s been too long since I read one of Ruth’s books.  My stated goal (rule of life) at the end of my retreat cohort was to continue in certain rhythms that would allow me to live an unhurried life where I was able to enjoy God.  I have not kept my rhythms, my life continues to feel over-busy, over-stressed, and over-hurried, and as a result, I’m not enjoying God in those deep moments like I did on my TC retreats.  Those deep moments that I still long for, but feel impossible to attain in my regular life and ministry.

Then I picked up Ruth’s newest book, Invitation to RetreatWhat I love most about Ruth’s writing and teaching is it reminds me I’m not crazy to desire rest.  She of course uses more eloquent words than this, but you get my idea.  In the world of life and ministry, you are made to feel out-of-place, lazy, and slacking off if you aren’t cramming your life full of tasks, accomplishments, and striving.  Nor does it helped that I am hard-wired for this sort of achievement-based life. Continue Reading…

Noah Filipiak interviews author and Kids Hope USA President & CEO David Staal on what it means to show up.  Showing up with personal presence is a rarity in our noise-filled world of busyness, social media, and getting the next thing on our to-do list accomplished.  David’s recent book Show Up: Step Out Of Your Story And Into Someone Else’s is an approachable collection of examples of what it means to be present in someone’s life with genuine love in a way that transforms them, you, and society as a whole. Continue Reading…

What does the Bible say about the Sabbath?

Why did God institute the Sabbath on the 7th day of his creation?  Was he tired?  Did he need a nap after all that creating?  Of course not.  So why in Genesis 2:2-3 does God rest from all of his work, blessing the day and making it holy?

And yes, there are Sabbath commands in the old covenant, the Old Testament law, including the 10 Commandments and then given much more detail later.  And no, we don’t have to follow the old covenant, we follow the new covenant in Christ.  Which means we don’t have to follow the much stricter regulations to the Sabbath commanded in the law, but does the existence or non-existence of the law do anything to change what God put into the very fabric of creation as holy and blessed?  Again: of course not.

What’s unique about Genesis 1-2 is they are the only chapters of the Bible completely unstained by sin.  They are the world as it was always supposed to be.  If you are looking for a design for humanity, go to Genesis 1-2.  God created a Sabbath day of rest as part of the design of every single human being that he has created.

Jesus never canceled the Sabbath.  Far from it!  He said he was Lord of the Sabbath, the master of it (Mark 2:28).  He said that the Sabbath is his, that he owns it, not that it doesn’t exist anymore.

What Jesus did is remove all of the non-Sabbathy parts of the Sabbath, all the legalisms that the Pharisees had added over the years that had completely contradicted the purpose of the Sabbath in the first place: which was to delight and rest in God!  Jesus removed everything from the Sabbath that was non-Jesusy and pointed it back to himself.

Do you know who the Sabbath was first given to?  As in, do you know who Genesis and Exodus were written to?  These books were written to the just-freed Hebrew slaves.  The ones who had been slaves in Egypt for 400 years.  Do slaves get a day of rest?  Of course not!  The idea of Sabbath would have been so radical to the Israelites when they first heard about it.  It would have been such a gift, so freeing, so refreshing.  Just like it’s meant to be for us today.  Jesus says in Mark 2:27 that the Sabbath was made for man.  Sabbath is a gift for man.  Just like bread is a gift for someone who is starving.  He goes on to say in that same verse: not man for the Sabbath.  This means man is not meant to be a slave to the Sabbath, which is what things had turned in to in the 1st century thanks to the religious leaders’ legalism.  The Sabbath was never canceled, it regained its designed function.

The irony of all this is we are slaves in 2016.  While not on the same level as the African American slaves who were dehumanized and abused to found our country’s economy, or the Hebrew slaves of Exodus who were dehumanized and abused to found ancient Egypt’s economy, but we are slaves nonetheless.  Slaves to the treadmill of “you are what you produce.”  Slaves who go, go, go, go and do, do, do, do and work, work, work, work and achieve, achieve, achieve, achieve and who can’t stop to rest if their lives depended on it.  Slaves who think the world can’t go on if we take a day to rest.  Slaves who think God needs us.  This is a very real form of slavery as well.

Our emancipator is a weekly Sabbath rest centered on delighting in Christ.  It’s in the blueprint of creation in Genesis 2 and carried on by Jesus in Mark 2.  To ignore this is to willingly keep the chains of slavery bound tight, and to willingly disobey our loving God’s plan for us.

Just like a car is designed to have its oil changed every ~3000 miles, we are designed to rest every 7 days.  It’s obvious what happens when a car’s oil service is neglected, and it’s no less obvious when it comes the command and the gift given to us to delight in Sabbath once per week.

Audio:

 

Video:

4.17.16 Sabbath from Lansing Crossroads Church on Vimeo.

 

The USA Today section of my Lansing State Journal has an article in it with the startling title “Multitasking teens pick texting over sleeping.”  The article goes on to say how teens spend around 9 hours a day on “entertainment media” which includes social media, music, gaming or online videos, (i.e. time on their smart phones) which is more time than they spend sleeping.

What struck me most about this is the power of culture to mold us and shape us.  Every generation has their “When I was your age…” story, to which the younger generation always rolls their eyes.  These stories are in response to how culture has molded and shaped the next generation in a way very different, and typically seen negatively, than the older generation experienced.

The more I think about what “culture” actually is, the more I am seeing it as a slave owner.  Pretty much anything culture tells us to do, we do.  In America, being a Christian typically just means taking a normal-looking cultural life and tacking Jesus on to the end of it.  Talking to a Hindu about Jesus is interesting because they worship a million gods and have no problem adding Jesus to this group.  It can often feel the same way with American Christians, myself included.  Our gods are just must more amorphous.

I just started reading The Way of the Heart by Henri Nouwen and can already tell it will be a book that changes my life.  In it he explores the Desert Fathers and Mothers, the 4th and 5th century men and women who fled to the Egyptian desert to live in solitude with the Lord rather than drown in the “shipwreck” that they saw society as. Continue Reading…