Tag Archives: Rest

If You Are Too Busy for God…

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
Mark 6:31

Do you remember the last time you heard a busy signal on the telephone? I had to think long and hard about that. It’s been a while. Phones don’t work the same as they did just a few years ago.

Nowadays, when someone calls me, and I’m on the other line, it goes straight to my voicemail. When you call a business, you rarely ever get a person when you call, but you never get a busy signal.  You’re forced to talk to an Automated System that sounds like a person, but turns out to be less helpful.  Many of our young people will go the rest of their lives and never hear that “busy signal” when the party they are trying to reach is unreachable.

I remember sitting beside our home’s phone for hours on end, dialing the same number over and over and over again, in protracted and earnest attempts at finding out what was showing at the Stephenville Cinemark Cinema 6. Only the kids who grew up in the 80’s and 90’s will know the frustration of trying to find out showtimes by calling the theatre’s published number, only to get the busy signal with each and every attempt. It makes me feel old just thinking about the hours I wasted in my teenage years trying to get to the recording of shows and showtimes!

When we call out to God in prayer, we NEVER get a busy signal, and our prayers NEVER go to voicemail. They go straight to the heart of God. He listens because He loves us! He doesn’t put us on hold because He’s too busy for us. He is infinitely and intimately present to us.

Wow…what a thought?

But is the same true when God seeks to get out attention?

Check out this portion of Sunday’s sermon on Sabbath HERE. Are we ever too busy for God?

 

We need to make sure we are giving God the attention in our lives that He deserves. Building and maintaining a Holy Attention Span requires work, but it’s worth it.

When we are too busy for God, then we are just too busy, period.

One of my favorite works on making room in life for God and for family is Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives. Dr. Richard Swenson writes from his own experience as a medical doctor about the epidemic of marginless living. He escaped the rat race that was killing him, and now shows others how to do the same.

Sabbath is about creating margin in our lives to be able to relate to God and to those who are most important to us.

Won’t you look at your schedule for the remainder of this week, and see if you have enough space on your calendar to hear from God? The time we give to God in holy attentiveness is time that benefits, and gives purpose to, everything else we do.



Margin…is having breath left at the top of the staircase, money left at the end of the month, and sanity left at the end of adolescence.
Richard A. Swenson, M.D.

Sabbath, What Is That?

Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”
Mark 2:27

Who gets to say what we can or can’t do on the Sabbath? That’s been a BIG question down throughout the years. The Jews have argued among themselves for centuries about what you can and cannot do. The Jewish Sabbath begins at sunset on Friday evening and runs through setset on Saturday evening. (Go back and read Genesis 1 for a little background as to why they would say a day starts when the sun sets. Really interesting that God would say during the days of creation, “And there was evening, and there was morning…).

Rather than holding a 7th day Sabbath, Christians quickly moved to celebrating a First Day of the week Sabbath. Our day set aside for resting and focusing on God centers around the Resurrection of Christ.

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
Matthew 28:1

As I studied Sabbath in seminary, I found it fascinating how many branches of Christians continue to hold to a 7th day Sabbath. There is even a group called 7th Day Baptists (there are only about 50,000 of them in the world and most live in India, though the interwebs say there are about 5,000 living in America).

Christians in the early centuries after Christ’s resurrection migrated to a First Day Lord’s Day. I’ll be the first to admit, there is no clear, monolithic, Biblical proof text that we can point to and say, “Ah Ha…this is why we worship on the 1st day of the week.” But the preponderance of the evidence leads us to the conclusion that God accepts our worship on the First Day of the week as much as He accepts it any time we offer it.

Sabbath goes back to the week of creation found in the book of Genesis. After God made the universe, the world and all that lives and breaths, and finally man and woman, He paused from his labors on the 7th day, and declared it a day of rest.

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
Genesis 2:2-3 28:1

God didn’t rest because He needed to. He rested because He was delighted with his creation.

Fast forward a LONG time.

As God delivered the 10 Commandments to Moses, He proclaimed the 7th day as a day of rest, or Sabbath, for all of the people.

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
Exodus 20:8-11

Sabbath gets more words from God than any other single commandment out of the 10 God gave to Moses on the mountain! It probably means that we really need to pay attention to practicing Sabbath in our lives, don’t you think?

So what are we supposed to do on the Sabbath?

Sabbath is a day of switching gears. It’s a day for putting aside our normal labors so that we can take up the work of tending to spiritual business. Sabbath is the day we carve out of our schedule each week to allow God to delight in us, as we delight in him.

Sabbath is a family and community day. The best Lord’s Day Sabbaths that I can remember have been ones that involved not only church but a long and delicious meal shared with friends and loved ones.

Sabbath is for naps. There is nothing more refreshing than dozing off on a Sunday afternoon! Sabbath recognizes that even when we fall asleep, God is still on duty and watching over us, and who we love. It’s amazing that He can keep the universe spinning and going without our help!

Sabbath is for reflection. Without Sabbath, we get swept up completely in WHAT we are doing. As we learn to Sabbath, we allow ourselves to consider WHY we are doing? Who are we truly working for? What is the goal of all of our labors? Where does our true value lie?

Sabbath is a day that give meaning to all the rest of our days. As we consecrate the Lord’s Day as our day of Sabbath of rest, worship and reflection, I trust that God will use the time we set aside to know Him, and to enjoy Him, to grow us and to bless us!

Let’s Stay Connected!



The Anti-Sabbath Parable

I was looking at one of Jesus’ parables this morning. It was about a man who experienced a bumper crop and decided to store away all of his surplus grain in bigger barns and live the remainder of his days in ease and comfort.

On the surface, it doesn’t seem like anything is so wrong and that God’s judgment is severe.  After all, the man is just planning his rest and relaxation after a profitable harvest.

I’ve spent the better part of this past week pondering the subject of REST.  Last Sunday morning I preached on Sabbath.  Sabbath is the kind of REST God enjoyed at the end of the week of Creation.  God commands us to REST from our labors in order to know Him and enjoy a relationship with Him.

The REST that God commands is not a purposeless, endless, meaningless retreat from the world.  The REST that God commands us to enter is purposeful, constructive, and packed with eternal significance.

Consider these words the man speaks in the story Jesus tells:

Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.'”
NIV Luke 12:18-19

The point of the story is not that the man gains wealth. The point of the story is that he has NO regard for God.

In the first place, the man is SELF-SATISFIED.  The man refers to himself 7 times in the span of 3 verses!  He sees all of his gain as a product of his ingenuity and industry.  He doesn’t thank God, or consider God, as he counts the bushels of grains that are going into the storehouses.

Second, the man is SELF-FOCUSSED.  He doesn’t see his good fortune as being connected to anything other than what he can provide for himself.  The only expense he worries with is the cost of the new barns he has to build, the price of the wine he is going to buy, and financing his life of leisure.  It’s all about himself.

And third, he is ultimately SELF-DESTROYED.  God calls him a fool and demands his life from him.  Jesus says:

“This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
NIV Luke 12:21

We facilitate our own demise when we focus only on ourselves and seek satisfaction in only what we can do.

The REST this man desired wasn’t not the kind of Sabbath REST that designed.  In fact, the kind of REST the man was planning for himself was antithetical to the purposeful life God created us for.

Whereas the man was focussed on being SELF-SATISFIED, to be rich toward God requires us to be GOD-CONFIDENT.  You can be GOD-CONFIDENT whether or not you have big barns, small barns, or NO barns.  Being confident in God, and fully trusting in the Lord, is not a function of what you have, or don’t have in the bank.  A life that is rich toward God is a life that trust God completely.

A life that is rich toward God is a life that is GOD-CENTERED.  The man in Jesus’ story would have enjoyed a much different outcome if he had expressed thanksgiving to God for the harvest, looked beyond himself for what to do with the harvest, or even considered God’s reason for sending him such a bountiful harvest.

A GOD-CENTERED life sees beyond itself and connects to the people God places around us.  It is concerned about the work of God. It believes that we are here to serve God with all that we have with all the time he gives us.

A GOD-CONFIDENT life that is GOD-CENTERED is a GOD-BLESSED existence.  Our time on earth is filled with meaning as we continually look to our creator.  Even our resting, relaxing, vacationing and leisure are GOD-BLESSED as they are connected to a life that is oriented toward the God who loves us.

When a person is GOD-CONFIDENT they can REST from their labors, trust God for his provision, and enjoy time that is set aside for tending to the things of the Spirit.

When a person is GOD-CENTERED their REST recharges them for service, ministry, missions and acts of love.

Ultimately, the one who learns to relate to God wholeheartedly hears the words all of God’s wise servant long to experience…

 “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave; you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things, enter into the joy of your master.'”
NAS Matthew 25:21

 

Be sure to sing up for our 5 Week Spiritual Discipline Challenge.  Follow this LINK to get the text messages that go out each morning at 7 AM.



Marguerite Blacklock Wolfe Burden—A Pearl of Great Price

We’re going to bury our Nanny Red tomorrow.

It’s going to be cold at the Fairy Cemetery where we have laid so many of our loved ones in the past. There will be a small gathering of family and friends and a few words spoken.

I’m going to read a passage of Scripture tomorrow that was dear to her. She wouldn’t want a long drawn out service. She has entered her rest, and she would not want to deny us what rest and comfort we might have for ourselves. The service will be brief but significant. It will be simple but dignified. I think she will like it.

If I were going to tell a story tomorrow, I would tell one that Jesus told. It’s a short one but a good one. It’s about Nanny Red. You didn’t know she was mentioned in the Bible did you? I was surprised when I came across it myself.

He’s the story as Jesus tells it:

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.

So where is Nanny Red in this story?

This is where all that money others spent sending me to seminary has paid off. The word pearl, in Greek (the language the New Testament was translated from), looks like this: μαργαρίτης. It’s pronounced mar-gar-ee-tace. It’s the word from which we derive the name Marguerite.

Nanny Red was that Pearl of Great Price.

She added value and worth to all of the lives she touched.

Though we would give all we have to have her back, we trust that because of where she is, she wouldn’t want to return for all the gold, silver and pearls this world has to offer. She has entered her rest, and great is her reward.

What we can do is pass along the lessons she taught us, and in her example, continue to make the world a better place for those we love.

Haste Piles: A New Phrase I Just Coined

I really don’t know if I have created a new term or not. Haste Piles is a way for me to help explain why I misplace stuff when I’m in a hurry.

Life has been fast and furious over the past three weeks. I’m reluctant to admit that I’ve not been on top of my game here lately.

When things are going so fast, when new emergencies meet you every morning, some things get overlooked.

Kristi asked me where some of her boots were yesterday. I don’t usually know where her boots are. I guess she was desperate enough to ask the last person in the house who might have an idea.

“Where’s the last place you saw them?” That’s always my answer to Kristi, or the kids, and even to myself when I’m looking for STUFF.

“Well, I had them in your car when we went to your uncle’s.”

That jogged my memory. That trip was about three weeks ago. I packed the car and I remembered putting her boots in in the back. It wasn’t that I neatly packed them. It was more like I stuffed them into the last nook I could find.

I’m not a great car packer. I’m more of a car stuffer. If I think I might need it, I’ll find room for it.

Kids are an afterthought when it comes packing for travel. I think there was a time I had one of them get in the back seat so I could pack around them. I didn’t think through what I was going to do when it was time for a potty break. My mind was on getting the most stuff from point A to point B. Comfort is a luxury.

Back to Kristi’s boots.

You know where they were? They were in the last place I put them; still in the back of the car.

Life has been too busy for cleaning the car. Things have been piling up. Boots that should have been in the closet were buried under HASTE.

That’s right. The pile of stuff covering up here boots was merely haste. Haste Piles.

Those piles of haste wait for us. The longer our period of haste is, the higher our piles of haste grow.

I’ve turned a corner today. I’ve begun my battle with haste. I’m staring down my piles and pulling boots out of the crevices between the seats.

When you are always in overdrive, you can only see what’s right in front of you. It’s when you slow down, or come to a stop, that you begin to notice what’s around you. It’s in slowing down that you can appreciate those who are on the journey with you. It’s when you stop that you can start to de-clutter your existence. It’s when you rest that you can concentrate on making a life worth living.

I’m thankful to have been able to put the brakes on today. In reality, it’s too cold to be out and about. But once it warms up, I’m going to make sure the inside of my car reflects the uncluttered, unhurried life, that I want to live. Then to my desk. And my garage. And my closet. And then to anything else that needs a haste removal party.

Haste Beware! Your Time Is Up.

I hope that you’re able to put the brakes on a little this weekend. The most important things in your life are not always those things that lie ahead of you.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

NIV Matthew 11:28