Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Cure for Hurry Sickness

When life feels chaotic, overwhelming, frustrating . . . what do you do? Who do you turn to?

How do you find calm in the midst of the storm?
Or better yet, how do you find calm, stillness, quiet . . . in the midst of busyness, rushing, and noise?

“When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.” (Psalm 94:19)

What consoles you?

Isn’t it strange how FULL life can be and yet our souls are EMPTY?

I can’t help but want to scream to the world to “STOP. SLOW DOWN. BE STILL.

And not because I’m an introvert and I think we should all lock ourselves up in silence.

But because I see the pain and the emptiness that comes from filling our schedules with things that don’t matter, to the neglect of things that do.

And because in the last 12 years I’ve worked with hundreds of children. And I see the effects of what this hurry sickness and busyness is doing to the next generation. Children can’t sit still. They need constant entertainment, they lack self-discipline, they think everything revolves around them and I’m pleading for us to say “enough” already!

So what’s the remedy? How do we fix this? How can we go from chaos to peace? From rushing to slowing down?

Throughout scripture you see the importance of Sabbath. You see from Genesis to Revelation God has designed life to have a rhythm. A rhythm of work and rest. A time where we shut down, slow down, sink down. To rest from the LOUD and retreat to the LORD.

In fact in Isaiah 58, God rebukes the nation for looking like they do religious things and yet missing the point of it all. “If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day,
and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable; 
if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; then you shall take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;
I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (v.13-14)

If you read from the beginning of this chapter you see, even his people were busy with “churchy” things and they were neglecting the LORD.

Being busy does not equal being fruitful.
Being busy FOR God does not equate time WITH God.

Did you know that when Jesus teaches about the 10 commandments in the New Testament, this is the only commandment that doesn’t change or get further explanation?

So you see what brings delight? It's not more work, activity, busyness . . . it's rest.

When was the last time you honored Sabbath?
Do you have a day (or even a few hours) this week to slow down and rest?
To share a good meal and spend time family?
To read through some scripture together and remember what this life is all about?

Slowing down is the only cure for hurry sickness. And I’m begging you for your own health and the health of the next generation, would you consider making Sabbath a regular part of your week? Would you consider even just a few hours of slowing down and abiding?

“Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

What Pleases God?

{Psalm 51:16-17}
"For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise."

Contrite: Feeling or showing sorrow and remorse for a sin or shortcoming

We think God wants sacrifice from us . . . that He is pleased with our religious activity . . . that our busy hands win His approval.

All our religion does is make us proud, makes us feel higher than we really are. God doesn't want us high and proud, he wants us low and humble.

God does not want religious activity, he wants repentant hearts.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:3)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Have You Considered My Servant Job?

I honestly think this might be the most bizarre thing in the bible.

6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. 7 The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” 8 And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” 9 Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? 10 Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” 12 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord. (Job 1:6-12)

Satan, roaming the earth looking for a man to destroy.
God offers up His most faithful servant.

We think our faithfulness will bring us comfort, safety, and riches.
In God's economy, it brings us . . . suffering.

How do we consider it all joy in our suffering? Because our suffering, though painful as it may be, glorifies God. More than our safety, our comfort, or even our bible knowledge.

Our suffering is momentary. God's love is eternal.

When we can praise God through the pain, He is glorified. When the world sees us hurting, it can lead them to hoping.

Hoping in a God that is bigger than our circumstance, our pain, our understanding.

If there is one thing I've learned through studying Job it's that I don't understand God and His ways.
And I like that.

16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Surrender of the Schedule

It’s amazing what can happen when you surrender your day, your week, your time to the LORD.

It’s amazing to see him go through your schedule and your agenda, take things away that busy you, that keep you from Him, and add things that HE wants for your time.

How often do you take your schedule before the LORD and surrender it?
How often do you ask of God “What do you want of me today?
This week?
This month?
This semester?
How often do you slow down enough to hear where and how you can serve Him?

I sometimes wonder if all the “doing” I’m doing is His doing, or my doing?
Is the reason I’m so exhausted because I don’t go to the one who sustains?

Where am I too busy to abide?
Too tired to serve?
Too overwhelmed to grow?

What in my life can I eliminate so He can illuminate?

{Yep that’s right. Straight up wrote a Jesus riddle right there!}

Really though . . . this week I surrendered my schedule to the LORD. He wiped a lot away and added in things I wouldn’t have placed on my calendar.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
My Father knows me so well.

Will you go to Him this week and practice the surrender of your schedule?
Let Him guide you and direct this week?
Walk in the works that HE has prepared for you?

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Preaching the Gospel: Work & Reward

As I prepare my heart and mind for entering back into 1 Corinthians at church, I decided to go back and reread the book on my own time . . . just me, my bible, and the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 9.

I can’t stop thinking about Paul’s perspective on preaching the gospel.

“15 But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing these things to secure any such provision. For I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of my ground for boasting. 16 For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship. 18 What then is my reward? That in my preaching I may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.” (1 Corinthians 9:15-18)

Paul was not being paid for his work in preaching the gospel, though he should’ve been. He had a right to be! But, he wanted his ministry to be one of purity and simple devotion to just one thing . . . proclaiming Christ. Paul ministered freely and willingly from his heart. He did not want to be accused of preaching for any.other.reason. Not money, not fame, not popularity. But solely for the purpose of making Christ known!

That’s all he wanted to be said of him. A man faithful to proclaiming Christ.
Paul preached because he wanted to. He tells us even if he didn’t want to, he would still be entrusted with the stewardship of sharing the gospel.

Have you ever considered your stewardship of the gospel? You have been given the greatest gift on this earth, with freedom to share with everyone. How sacrificially generous are you being toward others by sharing Christ?

When I was teaching full time, I used to think that was my job . . . teaching. To teach kids how to read, learn math, be organized, etc. I realize now . . . No it wasn’t. That was my side job. My real job was to love and share Christ with 25 children 180 days out of the year!

Our real work is to be a good steward of the gospel. The LORD has given us our workplaces, our neighborhoods, and our family rooms to do just that.

Paul viewed preaching the gospel as both his work and his reward. Do you?
Do you work hard at proclaiming Christ?
Or is it something you view as an obligation?

Do you find your reward in getting to tell people about Jesus?
Or do you find your reward in success, home, money, family, or other things?

Isn’t that a beautiful and mysteriously simple purpose for life? To proclaim Christ. To view preaching the gospel as your work and as your reward?

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9)