Sabbath…

Every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets.

 John Mark Comer in his book The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry said – “If the results you are getting from your way of doing life are lousy – anxiety at a simmer, mild depression, high levels of stress, chronic emotional burnout, little to no sense of the presence of God, in inability to focus your mind on the things that make for life, etc. – then the odds are very good that something about the system that is your life is off kilter.  It isn’t working.  The way you’ve organized your morning or evening routine, your schedule, your budget, your relationship to your phone; how you manage your resources of time, money, and attention, etc. – something is out of whack.”

Maybe in what we’re talking about at Manschool or at a Wild at Heart boot camp or after a good message on Sunday you’ll get glimpse of this other life, a glimpse of the Way of Jesus, His Way of life.  And you think, “I want that.”  And we head home thinking it’s really going to change, and we go right back to living our life exactly as we had been.  And … nothing changes.  It’s the same cycle on repeat because we’ve kept the exact same lifestyle, we’ve kept the exact same practices and we haven’t altered our way of doing life one bit.  Saying goes – “Junk in, junk out”.

You must alter the input if you want a different outcome. 

We must create a habitat where our souls can thrive.  My soul cannot thrive in a world drowning in hurry.  If I want to experience the Way of Jesus, I need to change some of the inputs in my life.  Thus, we introduce the practice of Sabbath…

“On 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 

One particular Sabbath Jesus got in trouble with the Pharisees for how He and His disciples were observing the day.  In a loving rebuke, Jesus simply said,

“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”  Mark 2:27

Sabbath is a gift.  It was created and designed by God Himself.  It is “for” us.  A gift to enjoy from the Creator to His creation.  God made the animals and He blessed them.  God made man and He blessed him.  God made the Sabbath and … He blessed it.

Sabbath is one of the best ways we can get our balance back.  Too many of us feel like this, “I am always up, always on.  I never get a break.  Never truly relax.”  Therefore, we need to learn the practice of Sabbath.  Like the outdoors, the one-minute pause, benevolent detachment – Sabbath is the ancient path, the ancient road.  We are recovering the habitat of the soul.  We were meant for rhythm and we were meant for a reset. 

Sabbath is a commandment, but it is also a real good idea.  It is built into the fabric of our world.  God built a rhythm into the DNA of creation.  A tempo.  A beat.  A way things are supposed to work.  God worked for six and rested for one.  God blessed the 7th day and made it holy.  Scientists are now learning that we literally need to catch up on sleep after 7 days.  By the 7th day, your natural rhythm needs rest and renewal.

Sabbath is a spirit of restfulness.  It compares and contrasts to the world’s spirit of restlessness – anxiety, discontentment, greed, anger and workaholism.

Sabbath is relaxing into God’s goodness.  Shabbat is a 24-hour day by which we cultivate (there is that word again – cultivate) a spirit of restfulness.  As we said early, we have to cultivate a habitat for our souls to flourish.  Creating a habitat where your soul can thrive.

Sabbath is stopping.  Shabbat literally means “Stop”.  It is Resting.  Delighting.  Worshiping.

Stopping = no work, no worry, to stop wanting and instead enjoying what you have.

Resting = rest for your body and your mind and your spirit.  It is lots of sleep, lots of quiet.  It is time with friends and family.  It is time in nature.

Delighting = celebrating the goodness of God.  Pampering your soul with joy and feeding it with beauty.

Worshiping = a day to center yourself and your heart through worship of Him.

Sabbath, says John Mark Comer, is a holiday we observe just like Christmas except we get to do it 52 times a year.

Dan Allender said – “The Sabbath is an invitation to enter delight.  The Sabbath, when experienced as God intended, is the best day of our lives.  It is the day we anticipate on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and the day we remember on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.   The Sabbath is a holy time where we feast, play, dance, love, sing, pray, laugh, tell stories, read, paint, walk and watch creation in its fullness.”

There is a discipline to the Sabbath that is really hard for a lot of us.  It takes a lot of intentionality: it won’t just happen to you.  It takes planning and preparation.  It takes self-control, the capacity to say no to a list of good things to you can say yes to the best things.  People who keep Sabbath live all seven days differently.  It will alter your life.

Sabbath is the only spiritual discipline that makes it into the Ten Commandments.  Not church or Bible reading, not even prayer.  Sabbath is the anchor discipline of the people of God.  So crucial that God lovingly commands us to remember to rest.

Legalism and the religious spirit would tell you that Sabbath is a day of complete “nothing”.  No work.  No consumption.  No entertainment.  One could argue – no joy.  That’s not what we’re talking about here.  We are saying Sabbath is a discipline of being intentional to unplug from the world – to disengage.  To untangle.  Technology turned off.  Silence.  Good food.  Family.  Calm.  Quiet.  Rest.  So, while it is not a puritan like “no” to everything, it is also not gluttonous.  It is an intentional slow down to reorient your entire family to each other and to God.  It is slowing the mad pace of life, so you make sure your branch is attached to the Vine.

Comer says this – “My family and I do this every week.  Just before sunset on Friday, we finish up all our to-do lists and homework and grocery shopping and responsibilities.  We power down all our devices – we literally put them all in a box and stow it in a closet.  We gather around the table as a family.  We open a bottle of wine, light some candles, read a Psalm, pray.  Then we feast, and we basically don’t stop feasting for the next 24 hours.  We sleep in on Saturday morning.  Drink coffee.  Read our Bibles.  Pray more.  Spend time together.  Talk.  Laugh.  In the summer, walk to the park.  In the winter, build a fire.  Get lost in a good novel on the couch.  Nap.  Love.  Rest.”

You have a choice to make – continue on the mad path this world is rushing down — or — disengage in the madness, unplug the technology and Shabbat.  Rest.  Enjoy the goodness of God.  He made you for it.  He made the day for you.

soul sizing your kingdom

Morgan Snyder has an inspired way to filter all the things we commit and devote our time to.  He suggests that we need to “soul-size our kingdoms”.  Meaning that we all tend to commit to more things and try to cram more into our lives than our hearts and souls can manage.  If we are in a state of overwhelm, exhaustion or living with very little margin to invest in the people we love or the activities that restore our soul, it is impossible to say, “it is well with my soul”.  Put in the most basic of terms,

soul-sizing = doing only the things God wants me to do

Bottom line of ALL of this we’ve been talking about these past few weeks = you must learn a way to sustain your whole-heartedness in a world gone mad.

Choice is yours.  Stay on the chaotic ride that is this world and you’re going to crash.  The world doesn’t care about your soul and will do nothing to help you here.  If you want to live whole-hearted, you’re going to need to be intentional.  That is what Morgan is talking about – I have to make the choice to right-size or soul-size my kingdom.  There are battles I cannot fight, work I can leave behind, demands I don’t have to meet.

More on this next week but too many of our souls look like this dried up sponge…

sponge-dry-e1574865583823.jpg

We’re so beaten up by the world, so frazzled, too many demands, too much to do, too much drama and we’re spent by the end of the day.  Nothing to give.  No Living Water in us.  The goal is this …

sponge

that I am saturated by the Living Waters.  That I have been so intentional to make space for the Holy Spirit, that I’ve communed with Jesus and taken in, taken in, taken in … that I now have much I can pour out on others.

Here are 5 tools to help you with this …

The One-Minute app from Ransomed Heart.  As I type this, mine just went off reminding me to disengage from the world for a few minutes so I can connect with the Father.  I have found this tool to be a real blessing as it “invades” my work two times a day and centers me back on the Father.

For me, the outdoors is incredibly healing.  The single best thing I can do when I come home from work is go for a walk – take the dogs and walk…

Honey on rocks

The beauty of nature, the exercising of my body, inhaling the fresh air, being with my dogs – it restores me, calms me.  It helps me leave work behind and reconnect with God.  Most days at work, I will take 2-3 calls outside walking around my office park.  I love to deer hunt, love to be in the woods.  I’ve seen so many cool things.  I adore red-tailed hawks.  They are sacred animals to me.  To see a big hawk or big owl flying through the trees hunting is breathtaking.  I am a better man after I’ve had some time outside.

red tailed hawk

Benevolent detachment.  Mark 1, Jesus’ ministry is getting going, He’s healing people and the crowds are coming.  Early in the morning, Jesus gets up early and goes off to pray.  Simon comes to Jesus and says the crowds are here, let’s go do this!  Jesus replies, “Let’s leave”.  He just walks away.  He has the capacity to just let things go.  To not be ruled by need, crisis or heartbreak.  Benevolent = kind.  It’s kind to them and it is kind to you for you to let it go and detach from their drama.  It is saying and meaning, “I can’t Jesus.  You can.”

To benevolently detach – the ability to let it go, walk away – not so much physically but emotionally and soulfully.  Detachment means getting untangled, stepping out of the quagmire.  It means getting some healthy distance.  Benevolent means kindness.  It means something done in love.  Jesus is inviting us into a way of living where we are genuinely comfortable turning things over to Him.

You can benevolently detach from people as well.  There are certain people I cannot engage with too deeply.  There are some problems I cannot fix.  It is benevolent – it is kind.  It’s not being a jerk.  It’s kind.  It’s healthy.  This will be helpful for you tomorrow at Thanksgiving.  When you feel the tension level rising, when your brother or brother-in-law starts in on you, when your Mother-in-law starts it … it is OK to excuse yourself and walk outside.  Just go grab some fresh air.  Breathe.  “Jesus, I give everyone and everything to You.”  Release them.  They are temporary.  He is eternal.

Play – Morgan Snyder tells this story about a visit to Hawaii on a long overdue family vacation.  Early in the trip, they went to dinner at Sam Ainslie’s house.  Sam is a Board member at Ransomed Heart.  When Morgan got there, he heard the lawnmower going in the backyard.  He went out on the back patio and saw Sam riding his mower around in crazy, zig-zag, round-about, wavy lines.  When Sam finished, Morgan asked him what he was doing.  Sam replied, “I was … playing”.  Morgan had no file in his head for playing.  It made no sense to him.  Morgan had become so driven, so “I must come through”, so “get it done, no matter the cost to himself” that he’d lost the category of play.  His sponge was completely dried out.  He had lost the capacity to play and to rest.

So, I encourage you to … play.

Sabbath – this is a new category for me, one I’ve yet to fully implement but it is fantastically restoring.  On the 7th day, the LORD rested.  It’s OK.  You don’t have to be “on” 24/7.  You can take a day off.  You can rest.  The world won’t encourage it.  Who cares?  It’s my life and my soul and I need to create a habitat where my soul can thrive.

This post is long so I will save the details on Sabbath for the next post but if you can, try to practice some Sabbath this weekend.  Find some time to just rest.  No agenda.  Just rest.

LiveUP!

Shattered – into the Potter’s hands

When you get knocked off your high horse and smack down face-first into the DIRT, does your life feel like this?

grog

Lysa Terkhuerst had colon surgery that almost killed her.  Shortly thereafter she learned of her husband’s affair.  Then she was diagnosed with breast cancer. All within two years.  I will assure you, her life was shattered to pieces.

She says, “He sometimes will allow more and more and more.  Grief upon grief.  Hurt upon hurt.  Heartbreak upon heartbreak.  Addiction upon addiction.  Diagnosis upon diagnosis.  Disappointment upon disappointment.  The world is filled with people who are dealt more than they can handle.

God doesn’t expect us to handle this.  He wants us to hand this over to Him.  He doesn’t want us to rally more of our own strength.  He wants us to rely solely on His strength.

If we keep walking around thinking that God won’t give us more than we can handle, we set ourselves up to be suspicious of God.

When the questions came of “Why me? Why this? Why now? Why me?”, I seriously contemplated running away to Montana to hide from my life.  But the cancer would follow me.  The hurt would follow me.  Even my wrestling with whether or not I could trust God would follow me.

I couldn’t escape my realities.  I had to face them.  I had to walk through them.  Maybe if I changed my thinking, I could trust God in the midst of them.

Had things not blown up with my husband last summer, I never would have put life on pause to get a mammogram.  I would have put it off. But because I had a mammogram at the exact time I did, the doctors caught a cancer that needed to be caught.  And because they caught it, I have every fighting chance to beat this cancer.”

We’ve talked in here about DIRT or dust as Lysa likes to say – that God uses the dirt/dust to reshape us to accomplish His purpose in our life.

She says this, “When we place our dust into God’s hands and He mixes it with His living water, the clay that is formed can then be made into anything.  Wise potters not only know how to form beautiful things from clay, but they also know how important it is to add some of the dust from previously broken pieces of pottery to the new clay.  This type of dust is called “grog”.

To get this grog, the broken pieces must be shattered to dust just right.  If the dust is shattered too finely, then it wouldn’t add any structure to the new clay.  It isn’t shattered enough the grog will be too coarse and make the potter’s hands bleed.

But when shattered just right, the grog dust added to the new clay will enable the potter to form the clay into a larger and stronger vessel than ever before.  And it can go through fires much hotter as well.  Plus, when glazed, these pieces end up having a much more beautiful, artistic look to them than they would have otherwise.”

Think about this – we go through these storms. Sometimes we are shattered into fragments.  Sometimes, God has to let us be ground down into dust.  God can take those pieces and reshape us, reform us.  Now, we are stronger than before.  Now, we are able to withstand even hotter fires.  Now, we can withstand even stronger storms.

She continued, “A broken shard of pottery can lie on the ground and be nothing more than a constant reminder of brokenness.  It can also be used to continue to scrape us and hurt us even more when kept in our hands.

Or, when placed in the Master’s hands, the Master Potter can be entrusted to take those shards of pottery, shatter them just right, and then use it in the remolding of me to make me stronger and even more beautiful.

When I understood this, I saw that in all my circumstances God was keeping me moldable while adding even more strength and beauty in the process.”

So, where are you right now?  Are you shattered?  Is life crushing you?  Have you made such a mess of your life that there is no way you can put the pieces back together again?  Pray this…

Take this Lord and shatter it just right, so I can be made stronger, more beautiful, and able to withstand fires as never before.  I believe that You see things I cannot see.  And You have eventual good in mind.  Hands turned up saying, “Thy will be done.  Your Kingdom, not mine.”

And here is a song for you…

it is well. look for the mercies today…

Let this song wash over you.  Storms will come, mountains of impossibility will rise up in front of you … even still, it is well with my soul.

I can make no sense of the recent tornado that ravaged our region.  I can make no sense of this picture of a 23-year old girl and her 18-month old child (Way too close to home – we have a 23-year old daughter with an 18-month old child whose house was hit by the storm) looking at this girl’s destroyed home knowing she just lost her husband…

How can we make sense of it?  We want to shout, “Meaningless!”  Those seemingly meaningless events are going to happen to you.  Even though they will come, it is well with my soul.  Say that to yourself.  PREACH it over you and your home.  Remind yourself that while each day has enough trouble of its own, HIS mercies are new every morning.

They are.  Truly.   But, you’ve got to look for them.  Craziness is coming at you today.  This world is frenzied in its pace.  Faster isn’t fast enough.  You’ve got to move even faster than you are just to keep up.  The world’s goal and the enemies is to convince you that you MUST keep up or you’ll be left behind.

It’s a lie.

Your soul is not meant to run at the pace you’re running.  It’s insanity.  So, you’ve got a choice to make.  Will you step off the crazy train and reorient your soul to the Father?  Perhaps your only chance today will be in your car for 7-8 minutes between meetings or on the way to the soccer field or on your drive home to stop, rest, disconnect from the madness and connect to the Vine that feeds your branch.

IT IS WELL.  Play that song today.  Let it wash over you.  Be healed.  Be restored.

Challenge – starting today, if you have a journal, put a page in there entitled, “Today’s mercies” and write down when a mercy comes your way.  If you don’t have a journal, pull out notepad and use that!  Mercies?  It can be a compliment, the laughter of a child, the sunset tonight, a break in a tense situation, a turn in the environment at work or home, the chance to pickup limbs at a neighbors house.  Find the mercies God gives you.  WRITE THEM DOWN.

Next week, I’ll ask you to share the mercies the Father poured out on you in the midst of your storm.

day by day…

I cannot sustain this pace.  I can’t take another shot.  Beaten.  Bruised.  Worn down.  Worn out.  I used to be able to snap back and my attitude was always the glass was half full.  Today, it seems it is always half empty.  I give up.  Everyone else seems to be just fine.

Ever been there?

Matthew 6:34 – “Each day has enough trouble of its own…”   Amen to that.  Like the olive, I am pressed on all sides.  Squeezed.  Crushed.  And tomorrow, I get to do it all over again.

Ever been there?

Don’t be anxious for tomorrow because tomorrow will be anxious for itself.  The troubles for today are sufficient enough.  No need to worry about what might come tomorrow.

Lamentations 3:23 – “The mercies of the LORD are new every morning”.

Just as the troubles come with each day, thankfully, so do God’s mercies.  They are small and almost indiscernible at times, but they are there.  When you taste them, savor them.  Feed upon them.  Soak them up.  Rejoice in them.  It can be a hug from your wife.  The smile of a little child in a restaurant.  An amazing sunrise or sunset.  The warmth of an 80 degree February day with birds singing.  The greening up of grass or the early blooming of the Bradford pear trees.  His mercies can be a compliment from a friend, co-worker or customer.  It can be a friendly smile from the nurse checking on your Dad.  So many mercies.  They provide for us.  They sustain us.  There are times when I am almost completely out of gas and just one of these mercies gets me through the day.

Ever been there?

Yes, you are beaten and bruised on all sides – “the harsh winds of the East” (yesterday’s post) but you also have new mercies coming your way each day – “the refreshing winds of the West”.  For the olive tree (you) to produce fruit and ultimately, the valuable oil that lights the way for others, you’ve got to take the harsh with the refreshing.

The mercies are there to renew me.  To restore me.  To fuel me.  Daily.  Day by day.  One day at a time.  Why not a “one and done”?  I need to be renewed daily.  I need what only the Father can provide.  He gets the glory.  I truly can’t do it on my own.  I need Him.  I need these mercies.  As John Piper says in here, “If I (God) didn’t do it this way, you’d get uppity.  You’d think you have it made and you’d think it started coming from you.  The fact that you run out of gas every day, puts you in the station!  He has a reason He sanctifies us slowly, a reason we need to fill up daily lest we forget from where the gas comes from!”

If I forget from where it comes from, I’m going to quickly find myself back up on the high horse of my own self-reliance and I’m heading for a crash.

 

nothing wasted…

Join us on Wednesday morning as we wrap up this Goliath Must Fall series and break for the summer with a message that will uplift and encourage you.

There is nothing wasted with God.

Maybe you have failed.  Sometimes, we make decisions and we let them cripple us and allow them to steal from us our future.

But there is no “wasting” with God.

The only way to leave your past in the past is to let God create a new future for you.  You see it as “waste”, He sees it as fertilizer to plant a new harvest.

You thought it was wasted – all your brokenness, failures, all the moments you thought were wasted and could never get back – but with God, nothing is wasted.

No matter your past, God sees an amazing future.  Will you step into it?

forgiveness (1)

here are the slides from this morning – forgiveness

We’re going to spend 3 weeks talking about two inter-connected things – loving people and forgiving people.

I believe that a part of the collateral damage of my sin and the Goliath’s in my life, I have developed a spirit that is judgmental and unforgiving.  And I also believe this spirit limits how much of God I can receive.  Oh, God can do anything and knock down any wall but on my part, I believe this spirit is limiting what I am capable of receiving from God.

It is time for this giant to fall.  It is time for me to be broken in my judgment and unforgiveness towards others.  And then…just watch what God can do.

It is my “sin”.  We don’t talk about sin much any more in the church.  Sin is such a politically incorrect word.  In society, when a man sexually harasses women, he is rushed off to rehab and we talk about his brokenness or we shift it to a “societal problem”.  And yes, it is brokenness and it is a societal problem … but … it is ALSO that man’s sin.

In my sin, I have hardened my heart towards other people.  I’ve become a quick judge of others and to the people that have caused me pain, I carry a ton of unforgiveness.  Think about it, how quick are you to just dismiss a person as a jerk, an idiot, or not being worthy of your time?  It is so easy to dismiss others, too easy to look down on them and to fail to see them with eyes of compassion and hearts of mercy…

But, “I love Jesus”…

“If anyone says, ‘I love God’, and hates his brother, he is a liar”.  1 John 4:20

You just got punched in the mouth.  I did.

If because of my sin and my thinking I have every right to judge them, I am missing the single greatest call of Jesus on my life – – that I would love other people.

Do you love others?  Do you love Jesus?  What is the evidence of that?  Where is the fruit?  My life tends to look a lot like this …

forgiveness 1

What’s love got to do with it?  Even though I have been a believer for 30+ years, this is me.  It’s not pretty.  And God has shown me here in the past few weeks that I have naively ignored my sin.  As a result, I’m too settled into “my way” of doing life which, if left up to my innate self, can turn inwardly very quickly and become “all about me”.

This is a good litmus test to see where you are in this … what’s going to make you happy today?  As you start the day and look at what all will happen today, what is it that is going to make it a “great day” for you?  Tonight, when you look back, what will determine if it was a good day?  Likewise, there are going to be things that make you mad and upset today and that will make it a “bad day”.  What are those things?  What is the scale that you use to determine if it’ll be a good day or a bad one?

At the intersection of those two things, the true love of your heart is exposed…

forgiveness 2

Let me ask you this … how much of your joy, grief, celebration or anger that you will take on today … how much of it has anything whatsoever to do with the Kingdom of God?

You see, if you are like me, sin can very quickly turn your life inside/out and you can find yourself defining what will make you happy or mad solely based on you.  Not God.  Not His Kingdom.  Not sacrifices you can make, resources you can share, time you can give to others but instead, a good day will only be determined by how much money you make, what compliments you get, how noticed you are, if your wife meets your needs or just how entertained you are.  My man in mirror sees that it has become “me, me … it’s all about me.”

Absolutely NONE of this message is enjoyable.  My flesh hates being confronted with His Truth.  But it is Truth.

What does any of this have to do with forgiveness?  Perhaps a ton.  We are wounded, hurt, disappointed people.  Painful things have happened to all of us.  Goliath’s are present in all of our lives.  Too many of us have harbored resentment towards those that have hurt us and we’ve gone to bed in our anger and given the enemy a wide open door to whisper lies to us.  Sin turns us inward and we live “incurvatus”.  We harbor.  We dam up unforgiveness.  Revenge, abuse, hatred, bitter, we slander people, gossip, name calling, we reject others, we avoid intentionally so as to punish, we withhold love, bigotry, racism, sexism, we internally wish bad things to happen to others or when bad things do happen we jump to “they had it coming”.

If this is you … in any way … then, I suspect you have some unforgiveness in your heart.  It is your Dad or Mom, your brother, your former business partner, ex-wife, girlfriend from way back, a coach, a boss — there is someone in your past that hurt you deeply and you haven’t forgiven them and released them.  And … it is eating you up, robbing the joy in your life and limiting what God can do through you.

More to come…