On Monday I begin a three-week vacation. Part of that will include not blogging, tweeting, or posting on Facebook and Instagram. Why? To Honor Sabbatical Rest. I prefer to frame vacations as sabbaticals from the Lord, a gift to let the soil of one’s soul get replenished by stopping our work, resting, delighting, and contemplating Him. A good part of my work now includes social media engagement. So I will stop and let it rest. To Respect My Vulnerabilities. I like Sherry Turkle’s point that “laptops and smartphones are not things to remove. They are facts of life and part of our creative lives. The goal is to use them with greater intention. We are faced with technologies to which we are extremely vulnerable and we don’t always respect that fact.” Is it possible to be addicted to social media? I think so. (Not all researchers agree.) Disconnecting will be good for my soul.. Read more.
Vacations offer a unique opportunity to integrate and apply our theology. But like all areas of discipleship (e.g. relationships, sexuality, work, singleness, marriage, retirement, money), this requires intentionality. Otherwise, we fall into the pattern of doing vacations like our family of origin or the wider culture. Each of us comes into vacations differently. Some of us, for example, have small children, aging parents, a special needs child, or severe financial constraints. Moreover, each of us has a specific temperament, personality, and set of passions. Last year, I wrote a blog entitled Turning Your Vacations into Sabbaticals, applying the principles of weekly Sabbaths to our vacations. Here I want to offer you five words, or principles, that have helped Geri and I structure our “vacations” each year: Prayer. This is so obvious that we easily miss it! Take time to be still before the Lord and listen (Ps 37:7). You may be surprised. Thoughtfulness. Wise. Read more.
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.
Theologian Robert Barron argues, at the heart of original sin is the refusal to accept God’s rhythm for us. God gave Adam and Eve enormous freedom in the Garden. Then, without explanation, God set a boundary before them. They were not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen.2:15-17). They were to trust and surrender to Him, bowing humbly before His incomprehensible ways. They were to be active, then passive. They were to work, then they were to surrender in trust. They were to be active, and then they were to let go. The essence of being in God’s image is our ability, like God, to stop. We imitate Him by stopping and resting. For this reason, when we stop to practice Sabbath each week, or the Daily Office (fixed hour prayer) each day, we touch something deep within us as image-bearers of God. How are your rhythms today?. Read more.
As we enter a New Year I like to take time to review and listen afresh to what God might be saying and doing. This process includes my blog. The blogs that I thought were most important (e.g. Beyond an Airbrushed Spirituality) didn’t make the top ten. Blogs that I considered less important did. A key lesson for me is that people are very interested in detailed applications of EHS in different, real life situations (e.g. “Emotionally Healthy Birthday Planning” is a future blog). Here are my top ten posts from 2015: 10 Qualities of an Emotionally Healthy Wedding Top 10 Quotes from Elie Wiesel’s Memoirs Characteristics of the Emotionally Unhealthy Leader Quit Living Someone Else’s Life Four Steps to a Meaningful Sabbath You Know Your Not Doing Endings Well When Quit Overfunctioning Four Unhealthy Commandments of Church Leadership My #1 Mistake as a Leader Why Can’t We Slow Down