Creating a Rhythm of Sabbath Rest

On a weekly basis I’ll hear things like, “I have too many things on my calendar” or, “At the end of the day I don’t have energy for my spouse, kids or the people who matter most to me.” We are a tired, overwhelmed and rundown bunch of people.

One of the questions that has been helpful to Katie and me is, Am I living in a way that is sustainable and will help me thrive tomorrow?

Why does this matter?

God calls us to be healthy. Healthy spiritually, physically, relationally, emotionally, and mentally. God created, us and all of us are meant to glorify Him.

This is a question that pushes on wisdom. In your life and your family right now, are you living in a way that will help you be healthy and thrive tomorrow? Is it sustainable? In churches, many times people burn out because they overload their calendars. We say yes to too many things. I have friends who are in four Bible studies a week, run their kids to ballet, orchestra, baseball and football, and serve in six ministries. Now, once you ask the question are we living in a sustainable way, you will often cut things out of your life. This is a good thing. However, the problem appears in the cutting. The second part is what will help me thrive tomorrow. That answer is harder. Not harder to discern but harder to apply. Most of the time I’ll see people cut God or church out of their lives in favor of hobbies or their kids’ sports. That won’t help you thrive tomorrow.

So what is the answer? What is our hope?

Learning to see and live with Jesus as our rest.

Tim Keller helps us with what this looks like:

God liberated his people when they were slaves in Egypt, and in Deuteronomy 5:12–15, God ties the Sabbath to freedom from slavery. Anyone who overworks is really a slave. Anyone who cannot rest from work is a slave – to a need for success, to a materialistic culture, to exploitative employers, to parental expectations, or to all of the above. These slave masters will abuse you if you are not disciplined in the practice of Sabbath rest. Sabbath is a declaration of freedom.

Thus Sabbath is about more than external rest of the body; it is about inner rest of the soul. We need rest from the anxiety and strain of our overwork, which is really an attempt to justify ourselves—to gain the money or the status or the reputation we think we have to have. Avoiding overwork requires deep rest in Christ’s finished work for your salvation (Hebrews 4:1–10). Only then will you be able to ‘walk away’ regularly from your vocational work and rest.

What does that look like practically on a day to day basis? Here are a few ideas:

1. Let go because Jesus has this. As our Sabbath rest, we need to let go and give Jesus our burdens, stress, and anxiety and rest in Him. We know we will have burdens, stress and anxieties because Jesus tells us we will, and we are to give them to him. Because of Jesus’ work, coming from heaven to earth, we are able to accept our limitations. Because Jesus is limitless, we can rest in Him. Not only that, seeing Jesus as our rest is about trusting and enjoying Jesus as better than what we are running from or running in.

2. Schedule rest and recreation. It won’t just happen. Hebrews 4 tells us that we are to enter God’s rest. Exodus 20 tells us to, “Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.” There is an active move on our part as it relates to rest. Sabbath throughout Scripture is an intentional thing, not something that is thrown together at the end.

The reality in being intentional also comes into play when it comes to our calendars and how we spend our time. Our lack of rest, while we often blame others, really comes down to our problem of stopping, trusting God and being okay with not doing certain things.

You’ve heard me say that everytime you say yes to one thing you say no to something else.

Maybe you should take your kids out of activities so you can spend the evening together. The number one complaint I hear from people is, “I don’t have time. I don’t have time for hobbies, sleep, my marriage, relationships, kids, reading my Bible.” You do, you just gave that time away. You give your time to the things that matter most. So what gets your time is what is important. This is why taking control of your calendar matters. If you don’t control your calendar, someone else will.

3. Learn how you rest best. What does enjoying God look like? I think there are some basic principles, but each of us will do this in unique ways. If the goal of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, Sabbath rest is a great way to do this.

For all of us, this will also include the reality of place. Place matters when it comes to glorifying God, enjoying God and resting in God.

Place is all throughout Scripture. Adam and Eve were given a garden, the nation of Israel was given a land, the church is given a city in Revelation. There is a place where rest, connecting to God, feeling closer to God happens for each of us, and it is important to think through that. For some it is a farm, the woods, a mountain, a city, a beach, but figure it out.

4. Fight against technology. A few practical things help me: resting from social media once a week, not having phones at the table so I can enjoy family time and conversations with friends, not checking email at night or on the weekends. The sad thing is that study after study says that as we become more and more technological as a culture, we become more and more distant and lonely.

5. Review your day and week. In his helpful book The Rest of God, Mark Buchanan says that at the end of your day ask: Where did I feel most alive, most hopeful, most in the presence of God? And where did I feel most dead, most despairing, farthest from God? What fulfilled me, and what left me forsaken? Where did I taste consolation, and where desolation? This helps you to see where God is moving and at work. Part of Sabbath rest is celebrating that God is in control, resting in that, but also celebrating God’s goodness in our lives.

 

Don’t Grow Weary in Doing Good

Last night was date night for Katie and me. Over the years, we’ve made it a habit to go to the same places for things: grocery store, coffee shops, places to eat.

We do this for the purpose of meeting the people who work there and building relationships with them. Learning their names, hearing their stories, and building trust.

At restaurants, we always sit in the same server’s section so we get to know them.

Over the years, we’ve had some amazing conversations as people have opened up about their lives, shared some incredibly heartbreaking and amazing things.

We’ve walked with people through divorces, loss of family members, breakups, career shifts.

These are incredibly holy moments as you sit in gyms or other places of work.

Last night, one of those conversations happened and we were able to invite one of the managers we met to church on Sunday.

When I sit at conferences or listen to sermons, pastors always make sharing your faith sound easy. I met this person one day, told them about Jesus and boom. They become a Christian, on the spot.

It doesn’t always happen like that, sometimes it does, but most of the time, it is slower.

I’m reminded this morning of Galatians 6:9 that says, Let us not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.

Today, you have a great opportunity to do good, to love people, to listen, to show them God’s love and the power of Jesus. But it can be tiring. People are hard to love, can be unresponsive or simply difficult. You are also tired and don’t want to do those things sometimes. Keep going.

For in the proper time, God will reap for us through His power and our faithfulness and presence. What a powerful reminder.

How to Stay Passionate as a Leader

Starting something is easy. Getting married is easier than staying married. Starting a new company or church is often easier than maintaining one or turning one around.

Yes, it takes a lot of work and effort to get something off the ground, but the dreaming phase, the launching phase, is often incredibly fun and exhilarating.

Why?

Passion.

Passion can take you incredibly far in life.

We don’t follow people who aren’t passionate, and often passion is what will keep you going when the road gets long and hard as a leader. Your passion to see a dream come true, a marriage survive, a child succeed. Our passion can carry us.

But no matter how passionate, energetic, or optimistic we are,

passion also drains and runs low.

There are times when we are simply showing up, going through the motions and trying to survive.

The passion that got it off the ground is hard to maintain.

Sadly, when this happens, many people quit. They give up. They throw in the towel, or they keep going through the motions, which kills them and sucks the life out of them.

Why stay?

One author said, “You will be most tempted to quit moments before the critical breakthrough.”

How do you raise your passion when it gets dry? Here are some ways:

1. Ask God. Our passion and calling come from God. He has wired us with it. When it is waning and not burning hot, ask God for the desire and original passion He gave you.

2. Go back to where you started. Place is important in our lives. For many of us, the dreams we have or the things we started began at a place. I can take you to the seat in an auditorium where God called me to plant a church when I was 21. I can take you to the banks of a lake where I knew at 18 I was supposed to be a pastor.

Many people have sat in conferences or gone on mission trips that have changed their lives and perspectives.

Go back to those places. Sometimes the return to a place ignites a passion in us.

3. Look for small wins and celebrations. Too often the reason our passion is waning is because it isn’t as big or as great as we imagined. It also goes slower than we expected. Most successful people have walked a long winding road to their success.

Look for the small ways you’ve moved ahead. Celebrate the little things that have happened.

4. Get around passionate people. You and I both know passionate, optimistic people. When your passion is waning, get around them. Ask them what they’re dreaming about. This is a great opportunity to stretch yourself and get out of your comfort zone.

5. Be honest. This might feel like a downer when talking about passion, but a lack of passion might be the end of your time somewhere. All things come to an end, and that is okay. The reality is that it is possible that when our passion wanes in a job, it is a sign of the end, and that is okay. God will often speak through passion or lack thereof.

This is why it is crucial to have a team or friends who can help you and talk with you about your passion level, where it went, why it is down and how to raise it back up.

If you’re a leader, this matters. Not only for your sanity but for those around you.

If you’re a pastor, your church will feed off your passion, whatever level it is.

Links for Leaders 11/10/17

It’s the weekend…finally. The perfect time to grab a cup of coffee and catch up on some reading. Below, you’ll find some articles I came across this week that I found helpful as a leader and parent and hope you do as well.

Before diving into those, in case you missed them this week. Here are the top 3 posts from my blog this week that I hope you find helpful:

Now, onto the articles I came across that I hope will help you:

I’m always on the lookout for a good book from leaders I respect and Brian Dodd is one of those leaders. He gives his list of 18 books leaders need to read in 2018. I’ve read some of them but look forward to some of the ones I haven’t.

Most people, pastors and churches have an opinion of what being an effective preacher is and does. Jason Allen shares what a faithful preacher is, which I found to be incredibly helpful and insightful.

Many leaders are busy, driven people, but they can also very easily fall into laziness as a leader. That laziness, can show up in unexpected way. Ron Edmondson shares 7 ways laziness show up in leadership.

How we Sabotage Relationships

All of us have a relationship that isn’t what we wish. It might be that your marriage has hit a hard spot, or your relationship with a child or parent isn’t what you would like.

How does pride show up in relationships? Sometimes it is in ways we wouldn’t expect. Here are some examples:

  • You don’t know how or when to say no. You say yes to everything. You find yourself always wondering how to fit in time alone and time with people who matter to you.
  • Your view of yourself goes from extremes of amazing to worthless in a millisecond.
  • Not having time is never your fault but the fault of work or others’ demands or needs, but never your fault.
  • You want to be around influential people.
  • You think you know what other people want or need.
  • You like to be needed by people.
  • You think, “If you love me, you will know what I need or want. If you love me, you should be able to read my mind.”
  • You get angry when you’re not acknowledged for what you do.
  • You care a great deal what people think of you.
  • You become codependent.
  • You think, “I don’t need anyone.”
  • Self worth is tied to people needing you or complimenting you.
  • You like to save the day in relationships.
  • You don’t ask for help.
  • You get angry when people don’t say thanks or repay you for what you did.
  • You expect people to help without being asked.
  • You expect people to know all that you do at work, home and in relationships.
  • You give and give and give in relationships to the point that you burn out.
  • You don’t know who you are apart from others.
  • You become demanding in relationships.
  • You bulldoze through situations.
  • You don’t listen. You complete sentences without regard.
  • You blame others for your unhappiness.
  • You deflect in relationships instead of dealing with the issue.
  • You don’t say what you’re thinking or what you need. You make others guess or make them pay for not doing what you want.
  • You try too hard to win approval.

Where does that come from?

Craig Groeschel said, Pride is always born of our insecurities. When we don’t know who we are in Christ, we use pride to try to fill that void.

What’s the hope?

Truth and love.

In the writings of John in his gospel and 1, 2 and 3 John, he reminds us again and again of the importance of truth and love. Truth helps us to know who we are in the eyes of God, which is a humbling thing. We are humbled that we aren’t God but that we are loved and accepted through the work of Jesus.

John tells us throughout his writings that this change will be seen in our daily lives and our walk. (3 John 4)

It doesn’t mean you won’t struggle with the above list; it just means that you fight against pursuing it. You are able to let something go, you don’t work for the approval of others because you are approved through Jesus, and you can let go of hurts because you have been forgiven.

You are truly able to bring your whole self to a relationship instead of protecting yourself.

Links for Leaders 11/3/17

It’s the weekend…finally. The perfect time to grab a cup of coffee and catch up on some reading. Below, you’ll find some articles I came across this week that I found helpful as a leader and parent and hope you do as well.

Before diving into those, in case you missed them this week. Here are the top 3 posts from my blog this week that I hope you find helpful:

Now, onto the articles I came across that I hope will help you:

Trevin Wax shares The Boy Scouts and the Disappearance of Paths as they’ve recently announced they will now allow girls to join the boy scouts. As my kids have gotten older, we’ve talked more and more about paths, passages, etc., which I think are crucial for kids and something that is lost in our culture.

Hiring is difficult for most pastors and leaders. Marty Duren has 15 questions to ask a potential hire at your church. Many of these are normal ones most churches ask, but there were a few that were new to me.

I’ve mentioned before that Katie and I have been spending a lot of time talking about technology and the role it plays in our family and with our kids. I’ve really appreciate the insights from Jon Acuff on this and he shares The first social media challenge your kids will face, that is incredibly insightful.

I’m reading Sam Storms new book Practicing the Power: Welcoming the Gifts of the Holy Spirit in Your Life, which has been incredibly helpful. He wrote a post this week about the relationship between Jesus and the Holy Spirit that is great and I think a very overlooked part of Christianity. 

I have a daughter and so dating is something I’ve been thinking about and how I prepare her for it. Most of what Christians, especially dad’s have to say on the topic is ridiculous and fear based. With good reason, but that’s why I appreciated this article from Jen Wilkin on On Daughters and Dating: How to Intimidate Suitors. I love how she champions raising a strong woman. We need more of that, not less.

A Key to Healthy Relationships

What if I told you one thing would make an enormous impact on every relationship you have?

I know that sounds like an oversimplification, but it isn’t.

All relationships that are healthy have many things in common. Truth, love, acceptance, boundaries.

But there is something of a lost art in relationships that I think can bridge the gap between people, especially in a divided culture like ours.

Hospitality.

Hospitality is the ability to welcome people, to be warm towards people you know and people you don’t.

Hospitality is also the opening of your heart and life towards other people.

It is being friendly and generous to those around you.

Simple?

Yes.

Easy?

Hardly.

I think it is a lost art in churches and among Christians, and I think that hospitality has the power to build a bridge for the gospel in our culture.

How?

Our culture is wary of Christians. In fact, where I live it is odd to be invited over to someone’s house for dinner. In other parts of the country it is normal, but our houses are now our fortresses, where we rest at the end of a long week.

But this and the rise of social media have left so many of us lonely and isolated.

That’s the power of opening up your home and sharing a meal with someone.

In fact, when we created our family mission statement, we put hospitable as one of the five things we wanted our kids to know when they left our house and one of the five things we wanted to be true about our family.

We think it is not only a Christian value but a bedrock of healthy families and relationships.

Don’t believe me?

Think about the people you love to be with? The houses you love to be in? The families you love to go to or went to as a kid or college student. My guess is they were hospitable.

So what does it look like practically to be hospitable?

The first is to decide you want to be and care to be.

This will mean opening up your home and life to people. Being willing to serve them and invite them in. If you’re an introvert, this might mean one or two people instead of a big group.

The second thing is to do it.

Don’t jump in and say you’ll go from never inviting someone over to three times a week. Start small.

If you have kids, talk with them about it. Pray for the people you are having over.

Our kids know that we have toys in our house for babies because we invite families over. We don’t need the baby toys, but they take up space in our house to serve those families we invite over.

That’s the third key, intentionality.

You have to plan it and think through what it will mean in your life and what it will look like.

Again, I think hospitality has the power to change the relationships we have. It is that powerful.

Confidence & What Holds You Back

Have you ever struggled to have confidence in life? In your relationship with God?

It might be around a decision, a relationship, a choice you’ve made, but now that assurance and confidence you had seems to be shaken.

Where does that come from?

The answer for many people might surprise you.

Idols.

Each person has a default idol of their heart, what pushes them to make the decisions they do, both good and bad. Tim Chester points out in his book You Can Change: God’s Transforming Power for Our Sinful Behavior and Negative Emotions that each of us has an idol that is either for power, control, comfort or approval. They overlap and we might have all four at different times, but these four things push us to sin, succeed and live our lives.

The hope we have is that they will bring us the fulfillment we long for.

For example, when a man works a ton of hours to provide for his family, he is doing a good thing to provide for them. But he might be doing it so that his family will approve of him or that he will have the comfort he longs for.

Or, when one tries to control a situation through organizing every detail, keeping things in order, they might say they are organized or a detailed person, which might be true. It might also mean that it comes from a place of insecurity where they need to control everything instead of trusting in God.

Here are some questions we worked through tonight to discern what the idols of your heart are:

  1.   What do I worry about?
  2.   What do I use to comfort myself when life gets tough or things don’t go my way?
  3.   What, if I lost it, would make me think life wasn’t worth living?
  4.   What do I daydream about?
  5.   What makes me feel the most self-worth?
  6.   What do I lead with in conversations?
  7.   Early on, what do I want to make sure people know about me?
  8.   What prayer, unanswered, would seriously make me consider walking away from God?
  9.   What do I really want and expect out of life?
  10.   What is my hope for the future? What will complete me?

Often our lack of confidence and trust in God stems from an idol, and it keeps us from trusting, risking and experiencing all that God has for us.

Thursday Mind Dump…

  • Had my leadership group this morning.
  • This is one of my favorite meetings of the week.
  • Every year, I lead a group of 10-15 guys through some leadership books and talks with the goal of growing as a leader at home, work and in their life.
  • The first part is focused on self-leadership, understanding how you are wired and how your upbringing shapes you as a man and a leader.
  • Too many people overlook this because it is hard work (and often painful) and isn’t as much fun as vision and team building but the best leaders are self aware.
  • The last month we’ve spent reading The Making of a Leader: Recognizing the Lessons and Stages of Leadership Development.
  • One of the best and least read books on leadership.
  • Seriously.
  • I’m often asked what I’m learning personally from reading or other things.
  • Our next series at Revolution is a short answer to that.
  • It’s called Let Us…
  • The big idea is seeing the Christian life as an invitation more than a list of things to do or accomplish.
  • I wish I would’ve learned this sooner.
  • Got to have some silence this week on Mt. Lemmon which is always helpful.
  • I’m learning more and more about how God uses place in our lives, when it comes to purpose, calling, His voice and rest.
  • Place matters.
  • More than we think it does.
  • I was asked by someone what I do on a retreat day.
  • I listen to worship music, pray and walk.
  • I know some people like to sit but I need to move.
  • I think clearer, hear God more and am able to unload my burdens when I move.
  • Took me years to figure out what works for me.
  • If you sit still, take a nap and rest, awesome.
  • We had our first membership class this past Sunday at Revolution.
  • Loved it.
  • I love how many people want to belong at Revolution and be a part of the vision God has for our church.
  • Speaking of vision, we finalized our plans for Christmas Eve, our Christmas series, etc.
  • Can’t wait!
  • Details are coming soon so be on the lookout.
  • Had an awesome conversation with one of our younger leaders this morning about race, the gospel, the national anthem, parenting a black child, white privilege.
  • I love that more and more white Christians are wrestling with this, asking questions and listening. 
  • Honestly, that is the key on this topic.
  • Asking questions and then shutting your mouth.
  • Our kids picked The Emoji Movie the other night for family movie night.
  • Parents and pastors, if you want to know the cultural narrative of our time, watch a kids movie.
  • So many opportunities to bring the gospel into your parenting.
  • Time to get back it…

The One Thing You’d Change if You Could

What is one thing that, if it was different, would make your life better?

Better is a hard word to define, because we often compare our life to someone else’s life, what we imagine someone else’s life is like or even what we wish our life would be like.

Better isn’t always better, but what if, in this case, better would be freer? More life. The life Jesus promised He came to give us in John 10:10.

Overflowing.

Abundant.

Uncontainable.

For most of us that’s more of a mirage than reality.

But as a follower of Jesus, that is what we have in Jesus.

So how does that happen?

How do you change that habit? That sin or negative emotion? How do you forgive that person you can’t seem to let go of?

One word.

Overcome.

In 1 John 5 it says:

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father also loves the one born of him. This is how we know that we love God’s children: when we love God and obey his commands. For this is what love for God is: to keep his commands. And his commands are not a burden, because everyone who has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith.

John adds a great word to the descriptions of Christians: overcomers. Victors.

But how?

Victory is found through love and obedience.

The first is love for God and the things of God. We know we are children of God because we love God. We love God because God loved us first. We didn’t do anything to gain God’s love, we didn’t go looking for it. God found us and rescued us.

This is important when it comes to change because we often think of change as a rock we’re pushing up the hill, but in reality we’re really trying to keep up to what God is doing.

When we see this, we start to see obedience to God’s commands as freedom.

When we think of commands, we often think of a strict parent keeping us from fun.

Think about it like this: Have you ever found yourself stressed because of a sin in your life? You have because you tense up every time you are on the highway and a cop shows up behind you with their lights on. Which brings freedom in this situation? Follow the traffic signs or speeding?

The answer is easy, but how often do we think we know better?

How often are you worried that someone will find out about a secret sin? “If they only knew,” we think. That isn’t freedom, and yet we keep doing it because we know better than God.

But we don’t.

Victory. Freedom is found through love (of God and others) and obedience (to the commands of God).