Tag Archives: sabbath

Gospel Enjoyment through Sabbath Rest

We went on vacation for the last 2 weeks and it was the most refreshing vacation we have ever had. All of us have come back refreshed, rejuvenated, and honestly, with a greater love for Jesus and people than when we departed. There was so much that happened from a great time visiting my parents in Houston to spending a week in Austin and attending the Verge Conference.

While Verge was amazing, it was the connections with people outside the conference that provided us great wisdom and as I reflected on the trip, I felt like God has taught me so much about what vacations and rest are all about. So here’s 10 quick-hits about what I’ve learned about rest. There really 1 major shift and 9 brief thoughts.

1 Major Shift

1. Don’t Work for the Weekend, Weekend for the Work

I’ve always thought of rest as something I do when I’m exhausted, that I need to work hard until I’m exhausted and then I need to rest. While this is true, it’s only half-true.

I don’t plan to unpack the whole theology of Sabbath rest, but when we look at the creation account in scripture, God rests from His work and we are told to do the same. But looking at the order of things, man/woman were made on the 6th day, rested on the 7th and then go to work. We rest from the work that we’ve done, but also for the work that is to come.

This is a big shift in my thinking. Instead of working for the weekend, as if I was ultimately made for rest and work keeps me from it, I’m weekending to maintain the pace of the work. This recognizes that God has made me for work, designed me to know Him and make Him known. The task is great, so I need to rest in God, connecting with Him daily, weekly, on extended vacations to come back more in love with Jesus so that I can actually love people with the message and mercy of Christ.

9 Other Thoughts on Sabbath, mini-sabbaths, and vacationing

2. Rest is different from escape

Rest means meeting with Jesus through various means, escape means serving of self through various means. One is about Jesus, the other about self. Escaping from work breeds escapism from responsibility, but pursuit of God breeds pursuit of things true and good. One gives actual rest, the other provides a momentary break. One satisfies the need for being refreshed, the other creates a bigger need.

3. TV can be a life-suck

Listen, I love TV, Netflix and movies as much as the next guy, but when TV becomes my way of rest, it only sucks more life out of me. We no longer have cable and while I miss Sportscenter, I can find other ways to watch highlights and sporting events. I’ve come to realize how disengaging the mind through TV watching does not provide the rest I’m ultimately looking for and leaves me just as tired.

4. My Morning & Night-time routines need to change

New York can be a very high pace lifestyle where the weeks fly by without you even realizing it. While I can’t maintain the morning and night-time routines of vacation, I can reorient what I do and when I do it to provide greater energy and actually be rested for the days to come.

5. Rest is about energy management

I think this is intuitive, but knowing what gives you energy may not be what you think of as you consider how to pursue rest. This idea has led me to change how I manage my weeks as well when it comes to what drains me and what refreshes me.

6. Daily time in prayer and the Word has everything to do with meeting Jesus and nothing to do with accomplishment

Christians talk about this idea of a quiet time or other cute name that is taking time to read the scriptures and pray to God. There’s about 5,000 different devotional reading plans that you could do. I have grown to love The Daily Office which walks through Psalms, Old Testament Reading, & New Testament reading.

My engineer, achiever mind likes to make this the foundation of my relationship with God as an accomplishment rather than connecting with God. So when/if I do it, God loves/is disappointed with me. But the scriptures and prayer are not about completion or knowledge gaining, they are about knowing and following God. This could happen in 5 minutes or it could happen in 2 ½ hours. Finishing and moving on isn’t the goal, meeting with God for as long as that happens is the goal.

7. Christian community can be a place of immense rest

Community takes boldness in asking open-ended challenging questions though which makes me so thankful for the time I had with me who didn’t want to start with my accomplishments, but start with my attitude and heart. Asking questions about my prayer life, what God is teaching me, how my marriage and family is, communicates a care and concern that makes me feel loved. It’s refreshing and it never gets old.

8. Giving rest to others is restful for you

Giving life to others, truth to others, hope to others is amazing. Jesus spends many Sabbaths healing people and angering the religious leaders of His day by loving people despite their legalistic restrictions. Our vacation involved a give and take in relationships, where we received much wisdom and encouragement from friends, but we were also able to offer great encouragement and hope to others. This just continued to pound home the theme of selflessness in understanding Sabbath rest.

9. Engaging fully in the moment is where you find rest

My brain likes to wander to the things undone or the things I want to be done rather than being fully engaged in putting together a puzzle with my sons. There are other times when I go into a phone coma, drawn to the potential amazing thoughts being tweeted.

I’ve come to notice that when I stop wandering in my mind and fully engage in the current conversation or the current activity, even as small as my sons’ puzzles, I find myself more relaxed and enjoying life.

But the only way I can be fully engaged is by being intentional with the work for the week and the plan for rest on the weekend.

10. We all find rest differently

My wife loves to be around people. It is the most refreshing and reviving thing for her. That means it is my privilege and my way of living with her in an understanding way to cultivate that for her to find rest. And when we can’t find a crowd, I get the honor of filling that role.

But I find rest in deep relationships. I’m refreshed by connecting in deep conversations or prayer with people. I leave those times more in love with Jesus and with a greater desire to be like Christ for others.

We all find rest differently, but the overriding point is that we all need rest.

For me, as a Christian, my love for Jesus and people will only be maintained when I set aside daily mini-sabbaths, weekly Sabbath, and pursue a vacation that will provide rest.

My whole family has come back enjoying the gospel of Jesus Christ more which in turn has enabled us to love others and extend His message and mercy. It feels great.

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The Reactionary Life: At Work

Last week I wrote about my realization that I have been living a reactionary life at home, at work, and at church in a way that has prevented me from enjoying life, enjoying relationships, and pursuing excellence in all areas of my life. I received some good feedback and some questions, so I thought I would elaborate on each of those areas as I seek to be proactive in the coming year.

When it comes to reactionary work, I’ve been in situations and seen plenty of people in situations where the inbox never gets empty, the initiatives and projects they wish would be completed get relegated to the background for the immediate need, and their schedule is guided by the immediate need instead of by the goals of job.

So the question I continue to ask myself is how do I move from reactive to proactive and encourage others to do the same?

Love Your Work

The NY Times recently had a series of articles remembering people who had died and celebrating their life. One of them was Richard Geller, a teacher at Stuyvesant High here in NYC. He taught math for 43 years and died of lung cancer. His students had him speak at their graduation before he died. He challenged them about their future career:

Assignment No. 2: Find a career that you enjoy as much as I enjoy teaching math. You will be much happier with your life if you enjoy your job. And if your parents don’t like what you choose, that is their problem, not yours. When they see you happy in your life and career, they will be happy for you, too.

If you hate your job, just endure it, or wish you were doing something else, you’ll never be proactive at work. You will do just enough to get by, be bored due to the lack of challenge, and won’t think about how you can use your career or time at work for the benefit of others. If you hate your job, go find a new one and discover the work that makes you feel alive.

Every job has a loveable facet that must be cultivated in order for you to proactive and seek to use your work for the good of your co-workers and others.

Right now, I’m lucky. I love my job. I didn’t love my first job where I worked for the state government, was bored, told to pace myself to not finish quickly and not given enough work. It was miserable. I initially thought it was engineering, but it was really the company. I later committed to enjoying the parts of engineering that matched my skills, pursuing them wholeheartedly through sharing my goals with my boss and seeking out more knowledge over it.

The difference between hating and loving your job determines whether you will experience joy in work like you were made to experience. When you begin to even try to love your work it sparks a desire to make your office, your employer, and your clients be as successful as possible. This becomes the motivation for moving from reactive to proactive.

Cultivate Fruitful Work Rhythms
We all desire to be fruitful at work, to produce and accomplish great things, but much of that production is contingent on how we approach work. Are you exhausted and don’t want to be in the office or are you looking forward to the task ahead?

I’ve discovered there are certain things I do that greatly motivate me, refresh me, and enable me to work well. As a Christian, my fruitful work is the product of cultivating a rhythm of rest and work. In the creation account, God makes man on the 6th day, Sabbath rest is on the 7th and work starts the 8th. Rest leads to work. This is counter to the American work-for-the-weekend mindset, it states that we were created to do great work and rest provides the refreshing time to enable us to re-engage our work to be fruitful.

I’ve seen this to be true in my life not just in taking time off on my weekends, but also in my everyday. As a Pastor, my schedule is Sun-Thurs, but I have a household to care for which usually takes another day of work. Our family has designated one day a week where we don’t work, we don’t do homework, we don’t prepare for ministry, and we participate in activities that will be refreshing. This conviction has led to more work the other days of the week, but working more to enable a truly restful day is worth it. But rest doesn’t mean we do nothing, we feel refreshed by enjoying our city as a family, spending time reading, and occasionally watching movies.

In the everyday, my day starts off with scripture and a long walk to work, but long walks have always been refreshing for me providing time to think, pray, and then I get to work to read scripture, journal or type out my thoughts. This is what refreshes me to be ready to work well. For others it could look totally different.

I mean, my mornings involve Dr. Pepper, but yours could involve coffee.

Projects, Content, Meeting, and Email Time

Another change I have made is scheduling out my week. I’ve blocked off designated times for meetings, for working on projects, for reading books and online content and for email.

If I don’t do this, I end up booking so many meetings that I’m drained or trying to empty my Google Reader or email perpetually and put the projects aside for another time. This is part of me learning how I work best. I’ve learned that I have enjoyed reading blogs and books to get my mind thinking and brainstorming about new ideas.

At times this has turned into collaboration with others. Collaboration is different than meetings for me in that I want to discuss and dream about ideas rather than the details. I usually leave times of collaboration ready to work on my projects with more diligence and focus.

Email is usually the most challenging, since you can only put off some emails for so long before it is incredibly rude. But setting aside time daily and larger times weekly to crank out emails has given me a lot more freedom to stop stressing about the number in the parenthesis.

These are the things I’ve discovered change me from being reactive to proactive as I have approached work over the years. Obviously there is so much more that can and is done, so if you have an approach that is helpful to you, please leave it in the comments. My hope is that this sparks ideas for you as I know the frustrations of work when approaching reactively.

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As the year ends…Part 2

Austin Stone Vision Series – For the City

forthecity

Starting back in September, our church went through a Vision Series focused on what it would look like for a church to seek the holistic peace and renewal of a city. It involved weekly prayer meetings, hundreds of small groups, a building campaign unlike any I have ever heard of and it truly led us to take more concern for our city and be more broken for the people we live near.

Check out more here:

Vision Series

The Building Project

 

Project 297

This is a cheesy name from a cheesy pastor that I love (Stew). 297 is for Jeremiah 29:7 which says “Seek the welfare(shalom) of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.” Welfare or shalom is the idea of holistic peace. This is a pilot missionary training program at our church, The Austin Stone Community Church, to train global, urban, and church planting missionaries.

 

We are blessed to be a part of the Church Planting track as we seek the Lord to see if that is where He is leading us in the future. We are 1 of 5 couples who have grown closer over the past 3 months. It’s been challenging, at times exhausting, but extremely beneficial for Amber and I. I’ll tell you more about it another time.

 

CCDA Conference – Christian Community Development Association

I attended this conference with about 10 other Austin Stone people in October and it was an amazing opportunity to learn about seeking the peace of the city through urban ministry from people who have given their lives to do it. I learned a ton, the top things were understanding redistribution (different than you may think), immigration, building a community to be self-sustaining, and the need for racial reconciliation. It was amazing.

 

The end of Group-K

This past September, we got booted…er, I mean “graduated” from the discipleship group that the Lord has blessed us with for the last 3 years with Kevin Peck. My life is forever changed by high bar of holiness, passion for God, and challenge that Kevin laid out for our lives. The community that developed among these guys and our families will never end, but our Thursdays in Manor did. We miss it.

 

College Ministry at ASCC

Amber and I continue to be involved with college ministry at the Stone and we love it. Our involvement continues to change, my role is Community Director for the college ministry, which means I lead our coaches, who lead our small group leaders. We’ve been going through Church Planting Movements and I am grateful for the leaders the Lord has provided for us. Amber and I also disciple a handful of college students and we love those times with them.

 

Sabbath

We guarded our Saturdays more these past 4 months than we ever have before and feel like we’ve reaped the benefits of not working or doing anything for the responsibilities that we have outside of family. It was really refreshing and we hope it continues.

 

These were the highlights of the year and they are likely incomplete, but hopefully it gives you more insight into our 2008.

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