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!!!





These are socks…Hope

29 10 2014

In my last post I shared about how Coach Wooden, the legendary basketball coach for UCLA, would begin his first practice. He started off each season by teaching his team how to wear their socks stressing the importance of protecting their feet. Getting a blister on your foot makes you ineffective on the court. Bottom line remembering the basics helps you win the game.

What are the Christian’s socks? What are the basics we have to remember to be effective? I believe there are three; faith, hope and love. Today I want to focus on hope.

Hope is a well-grounded confidence that allows us to face reality. Let that sink in.

The two most common verses I use as a Chaplain are Romans 5:3-5 and James 1:2-4. Both of these passages talk about what can happen during hard times. In Romans “we rejoice in our suffering” because we will gain perseverance, our character will be revealed and we will see where we have placed our hope. James wants us to “consider it pure joy when we face trials” because the end result will be full and complete maturity.

Two people can go through the exact same circumstance. One person comes out stronger and one person comes out weaker. What was the difference? I believe it is often perspective and choice. We have to choose to become stronger and we need the right perspective to overcome our circumstances.

For Christians I believe life is a win-win situation. When we don’t have bad things happen, it is a win. When we do have bad things happen, it is also a win because we can grow and become stronger as a result of those difficult times. There is a practical truth to this. When we look back on what helped us become a better person, many times it was a difficult circumstance. There is also a profound spiritual truth to this.

As Paul mentions in Romans, our hope comes alive in suffering. If we truly believe that Jesus overcame both sin and death and one day will return, everything we are experiencing here is temporary. This does not mean I want to go through hard times. It does mean when I go through them I can have confidence this is not the end of the story. I have hope.

This hope actually allows me to face the situation for what it is. I am so thankful Jesus cried at Lazarus’ tomb in John 11. Why? Jesus knew he was going to raise him from the dead. He knew this was not the end of the story. He also knew people were hurting. They loved Lazarus and watching him die was hard and painful. He was able to connect with them and share in their sorrow. He faced reality but was not overwhelmed by the situation. He had confidence in the rest of the story.

When my socks of hope are on, I face reality with confidence. If there is injustice I can stand against it and call it injustice. Why? Because I know Jesus will one day return and make the final judgment. If I have sin in my life I can deal with it effectively. Why? Because I know Jesus died for my sins and conquered sin therefore I can overcome this area of sin in my life. When I see suffering or death I can cry and mourn with those who are mourning. Why? Because this life can be hard however I will not be overwhelmed by grief and sorrow because I know the rest of the story.

Christian hope is not simply being optimistic. It is grounded in the reality of who God is and what Jesus has done. When we let this reality settle all the way down into our socks, we have a profound hope that anchors us. We face reality boldly and we impact our world radically.

Is there something you need to face? Is there a situation you are avoiding or minimizing because your socks of hope have holes in them or haven’t been put on properly? This is when a mentor is really helpful. Talk with someone you respect who has hope in spite of difficult circumstances. They will give you wisdom and insight that will inspire you. You will need to be in prayer and take the time to really learn what the Bible has to say. God will lead and guide. The result will be a confidence to look at reality and see…hope.





Transformation in Forgiveness

8 12 2011

I just finished a great book called “As We Forgive: Stories of Reconciliation from Rwanda” by Catherine Claire Larson. It talks through the transformation happening in Rwanda after the 1994 genocide. She tells stories of people who faced horrific circumstances and yet were able to overcome and offer forgiveness. A quote that leaped out at me was her description of a young man who had deep scar across his face. She said, “Emmanuel’s scar testifies to two realities. It is a witness to the human capacity for evil…. Yet his scar testifies to another truth: the stunning capacity of humans to heal from the unthinkable.”

One of the elements needed in healing is forgiveness. I did a bible study on the topic and became amazed by the power that comes from this simple yet in some cases incredibly difficult decision. While there are many great ways to talk about forgiveness, I am going to look at one aspect that I think we overlook; the power of forgiveness to bring true transformation.

By the very act of offering forgiveness I acknowledge sin happened. I am saying clearly I was harmed by what happened and gives me the opportunity to have an honest discussion about it. Reconciliation can begin when the person accepts my forgiveness. When they accept it, they are acknowledging they understand they hurt me. Forgiveness facilitates this honest discussion.

From there we are able to look at the root causes and truly talk about solutions. We are able to face the truth about the situation and can look at the whole picture. We can begin to look at taking a different path because the path we were on caused pain. The new path can bring peace.

When I choice not to forgive, I still acknowledge I have been hurt but the pain instead of the cause of the pain becomes the focus. Bitterness and anger seep in. I become distracted. I want revenge instead of righteousness. I miss out on dealing with the bigger picture. I become trapped and there is no transformation. There is no peace.

The second half of verse 10 from Psalm 85 says:
“Righteousness and peace kiss each other.”

In order for there to be true peace there must be righteousness. In order for there to be righteousness we must acknowledge and deal with the sin that is around us. That was part of the amazing transformation that was happening in Rwanda. They were not down playing the atrocities. Actually, they were having honest and real discussions about them. They were grasping the truth depth of the pain that was caused and they were looking at roads that could lead to real peace that touched the soul.

Too many times we will simply say “its okay” or “don’t worry about it.” Meanwhile we are hurt, angry and frustrated. There is no peace in the relationship. We either drift apart or separate. Injustice is allowed to win and we miss out on what God is offering us.

God gets it. God offers us forgiveness. When we accept it, we accept we have sinned and missed the mark. This opens the door for God to transform us. We are able to have honest conversations about what we have done and we can step back and look at the whole picture. God does not down play our sin. The cross stands as a huge reminder that God dealt with the ultimate consequence of sin. He extends righteousness to us transforming our lives and we have peace.

Do you need to extend forgiveness? I hope you will see that if you do, you will actually be giving yourself a chance to really face the situation and deal with it effectively.

Do you need to ask for forgiveness? I hope you will see that if you do, you will open yourself to the possibility of truly changing that area of your life by facing it honestly and directly.

In either case, righteousness and peace will be able to kiss and what a sweet kiss it will be.

God bless,
Chaps