A world without a Sabbath would be like a man without a smile, like a summer without flowers, and like a homestead without a garden. – Henry Ward Beecher Every country in the world has public holidays – from the Chinese New Year to Brazil’s Carnaval to India’s Vasanta (or Basant). This coming Monday in the United States, we celebrate Memorial Day, remembering those who died while serving our armed forces. Yet I believe God desires that we receive particular gifts from Him that emerge in these “extra” Sabbatical days. God wired us for a weekly rhythm of Sabbath rest for a 24-hour period. He also wired us for longer Sabbath stretches of time for rest. We observe this in the way He built into the life of Israel Sabbatical weeks and even Sabbatical years. God knew that if Israel were to be true to her calling and purpose, they would need more than. Read more.
God invites us not only to rest from our work, but also to work from our rest. That is, perhaps, nowhere more crucial than in preaching. The question is how do we preach from a place of Sabbath rest, i.e. how do we carry over the riches of Sabbath (to stop, rest, delight, and contemplate God for a 24-hour period) into our work of preaching. The following are a few points to consider: Say No to Perfectionism. Sabbath is first and foremost a day of “stopping” – even with our to-do lists unfinished. We embrace our limits. And we trust God. Sermons are never finished. Regardless of our preparation, when we step up to preach, we do so in faith. I have never preached a perfect sermon. Even my best sermons remain incomplete. God reserves perfection for Himself. While I believe we need to prepare well, it never exempts us from the hard work. Read more.
Imagine David sitting down with you and me at the end of his life, offering us the opportunity to ask him what tips he might have for us for our own leadership today. What might he tell us? The following may well be included in his top 10: 1. Be Your Unique, God-given Self. David was a groundbreaker in his day that flowed from his high level of differentiation. His entire leadership trajectory, beginning from his earliest decision to remove Saul’s armor, consisted of one courageous act to after another. Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them. “I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. 1 Sam. 17:38-39 2.Remember. Read more.
Let me invite you to prayerfully watch/listen to an extraordinary sermon given by 3 women this past Sunday at New Life. This was one of those very rare moments when I have realized the inexpressible holy was among us. We were being offered a glimpse of the risen Jesus in brokenness, vulnerability, and suffering. God’s glory was passing by. And He removed His hand, allowing us to see His back (Ex. 33:20-23). Geri delicately and skillfully draws out the stories of these 3 amazing women and their journey with Jesus: Kim – rejected by her parents as “ugly” at birth due to a cleft palate. Fathima – a victim of domestic abuse. Marie – a Mom of two “differently-abled” (or “disabled”) children with myotubular myopathy. Every person in our church has a story, a beautiful story where the Living Jesus wants to intervene and reveal Himself – if they allow Him. My prayer is. Read more.
A great book is so powerful that you stop reading, lower the book, and simply linger in the words for a moment. You ask God, “What might you be saying to me through this?” Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age by Sherry Turkle, was one such book for me. Turkle, a professor at MIT, has been studying people’s relationship with technology for 30 years. In Reclaiming Conversation, she looks at the first generation of children who grew up with smartphones now that they are graduating college and beginning to enter the workforce. She also examines the impact of technology on relationships with our families and friends, dating, teaching and education, and the workplace. My concern, like many of yours, is how this intersects with our work as pastors and leaders in the church. I do hope that you will read this 362-page work as it expounds on profound challenges before. Read more.
We have to acknowledge we are confronting a growing number of “American Dream” believers in our churches. They are believers in Jesus but not necessarily disciples. They’ve accepted Him as their Savior. They attend church faithfully. They contribute financially and occasionally serve. But they are not disciples (in the biblical sense of the word) who orient their entire lives to follow Jesus, surrendering to His will and love, allowing Him to change him/her for the sake of the world. Their decisions, priorities, and commitments are shaped by their pursuit of the American Dream for them and their family. A typical “Rule of Life” for a father of two may look something like the chart below: Os Guiness has written that, due to the combination of capitalism, technology, and modern communications, the most powerful civilization ever—a global culture—has been formed. This global culture is the beast (as described in the Book of Revelation) that threatens. Read more.