Theology of Rest

22 12 2016

I hope you are getting an opportunity to enjoy the Christmas Season.  As you (hopefully) get some time off work or school, I invite you to consider your theology of rest.

What do I mean?  Theology is simply how we talk about God.  How we talk about God shapes our beliefs and guides how we live our lives.

You probably find yourself in one of two groups.  First, you are mature in your faith and have thought about theology.  Second, you see theology as something for the pastor.  You understand God is important but you really don’t think about theology.  But like I said, it is simply the way we talk about God and how that impacts how we live.  Welcome to theology!

I believe rest is a part of our conversation about God.  Rest has to be more than just distracting ourselves or sleeping in.  Rest that involves God should bring peace.  It should provide rest for our mind, body and most importantly our soul.

When I read the Old Testament, I see a system of rest built into the community.  There was a day of rest each week, festivals that included rest and even a year of rest for the land.  I don’t think it was because God had some vacation bug.  I think God wants something deeper in our relationship.  God also knows we have a tendency to get consumed by life and don’t take the time to enjoy our relationship with God or those around us.  Fast forward to today and I see the Church wearing itself out.  Sunday comes every week and someone has to work in Children’s Ministry.  Those who volunteer often work full time jobs and are trying to balance families and other commitments.  Many people just give up or burn out.

There are some simple principles that can guide us in developing our theology or rest.  A great starting point is a verse found in Hebrews 4:9; “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.”  There is a whole lot packed around that verse that I encourage you to dig into.  I am just giving you a starting point.

True rest begins in our relationship with God.  Do we have peace in that relationship?  When we have peace, everything else falls into place.  From that place of peace, we can look at our relationship with others specifically why we serve.  Do we serve because of the relationships or the need to feel we have accomplished something?  Next, we can look at our time of worship.  Is it about honoring God with God leading or is it about our needs and comfort?  Finally, there is the practical element of resting, in other words having a day off and even having intentional seasons of rest.

Each one of these elements has a lot more to it.  I would encourage you to wrestle with them and consider how you look at rest and your relationship with God.  To help I have put together a quick survey you can take.  Hopefully it will prompt some self-reflection and more importantly an opportunity to engage God in an honest conversation about rest.  Remember Jesus is the Prince of Peace.  It will start with him and ends with true rest for your soul.

Self-reflection on Rest

In my relationship with God I have:

Peace                                           No peace

10—9—8—7—6—5—4—3—2—1—0

Serving is more about:

Relationships                           Programs/Accomplishments

10—9—8—7—6—5—4—3—2—1—0

 

When I worship, I am focused on:

Honoring God                            My needs

10—9—8—7—6—5—4—3—2—1—0

God’s leading                           My comfort

10—9—8—7—6—5—4—3—2—1—0

 

I have a day of rest each week

Every week                                 Never

10—9—8—7—6—5—4—3—2—1—0

 

How long ago was my last true vacation?

__Within the last month

__Within the last 3 months

__6 months

__Year

__What’s a vacation?

Do I build in breaks (sabbaticals) in how I serve?  Yes / No

What does that look like?

As a result of answering these questions what do I need to do?

I wish you all a Merry Christmas!!!





Fighting Indifference

7 01 2014

We have arrived at the highest level of human achievement. Last week we ate in a sports restaurant. It had large screen televisions everywhere but that is not what made this place special. My son came out of the restroom with a look of awe on his face. Yes, there were TVs in the restroom so you didn’t miss a moment of the game. What else could we ask for?

We have to acknowledge the excess we have in our country. Many in the world would have been in awe of the plumbing and stable electricity. Some would be amazed at the TV. Some would just have been happy to not being afraid. Even in our own country some would have been excited at having a full plate of food.

By now you should be feeling guilty. However, I have found operating by guilt is not sustainable and more importantly it is not a healthy way to live.

What we need to do is fight against an attitude of indifference that easily slips in. It is not because we don’t care but because we often don’t experience hardships faced by others. The lack of experience can cause us to go on with our daily lives without pausing to consider the needs of others. This is compounded by our ability to get lost in our “cool stuff” even to the point where a guy wants to go to the bathroom. We end up being more worried if we are connected to Wi-Fi than we are about the poor.

James tells us “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27, NIV)

Does this mean I can’t go to a sports restaurant with TVs in the bathroom? No but it does mean that I need to be intentional and not become indifferent to the needs around me.

The Church is the best place to help you fight indifference. Just to brag a little about our church, we encourage people to have bags in their cars with basic essential items to give to homeless people and we go as a group on a regular basis to feed the homeless. We also have a team that will be going on a short term mission trip to Ethiopia and one of the things they will be addressing is Human Trafficking. Our church is not unique. There are lots of good healthy churches that seek to engage the community and invite you and me to participate.

On our own we tend to slip into indifference. Be honest. When was the last time you helped a person in need? When was the last time you gave to a charity? When was the last time you volunteered? Having just finished the Christmas season, we had more opportunities than normal to give and help those in need. As we settle into the regular routine, we won’t have as many opportunities handed to us and the chance of becoming indifferent will increase.

So let’s commit to fighting indifference. If you are not plugged into a healthy church find one and seek to serve in an area that helps the community. If you are plugged into a healthy church it is time to get involved. For those who don’t go to church, I encourage you to be intentional about volunteering and giving to an organization that helps make the community stronger.

The price for indifference is that we will have a really cool place to go the bathroom but we will miss the opportunity to make a difference and live a life that counts.





It is a wonderful life

21 12 2011

It looks like my wife will do it again. She will go through another Christmas season without seeing “It’s a Wonderful Life.” It is the classic movie where James Stewart plays George Bailey a man who feels his life has been a huge failure. An angel, Clarence who is trying to earn his wings, is assigned to help George realize just how important his life is. He does it by showing George what the world would look like if he had never been born. It is a great movie that captures all of the big and little ways a person’s life impacts the world around them. I found out in my first year of marriage that my wife had never seen the whole movie. Each year I say this year she has to watch it but somehow she always gets out of it.

In a few days we will be celebrating a very special birth. I began reflecting on the movie and I inserted Jesus in the place of George Bailey. What if Jesus had never been born? What would the world look like?

There are so many small ways Jesus has impacted my world. He showed me what true compassion looks like. It was amazing how he reached out to those others rejected. Outcasts felt accepted for the first time in years when they were around him. Jesus also taught me how to pick my battles. Jesus did not hesitate to stand up and call people out that were abusing their position or corrupting people around them. He showed me that it is okay to be upset by injustice. He demonstrated true power and influence does not come from a title or position but from character and heart. He showed the power of submission. He lived out the importance of facing the truth about situations even if they were hard. Those are just some of the small ways.

The big ways Jesus has impacted my world are even more amazing. I will share two. First, he demonstrated what sacrificial love really looks like. He was willing to go the distance and face death for us because he loved us that much. Mixed with that love is the second, grace. Grace is this incredibly special gift. It means I am loved not because of what I do but because of who I am. God does not love me because I am a Chaplain or I am an amazing husband and father but simply because I am special to him. Throughout my life I have needed grace and it has been freely given. All I can offer back is a thank you knowing God can see my heart and know just how grateful I am.

Sunday we will celebrate the birth of Jesus. It will be an opportunity to remember God loved us so much he gave us his son. I have a personal story of how Jesus has impacted my life. I hope you do as well. If not find someone you trust who does and ask them the question, what if Jesus had never been born? I encourage each of us to reflect on just how profound an impact Jesus has had on our lives.

You can also look at the impact Jesus has had on our community and world. Many charities will be serving because Jesus served. There will be outcasts who will feel accepted for the first time in years because churches will open their doors. Injustice will be called out as people with character and heart take a stand. More importantly maybe we will show each other love and give each other grace as a special gift this Christmas.

I guess I can give my wife grace again this year and maybe next year we will see the movie. I already have a wonderful life. Thank you Jesus and Happy Birthday.