Resources for Rest

This past Sunday, we began a new series at Northshore Community Church called The Rest of God. In this series, we’re talking about the biblical idea of rest or “sabbath.” It’s an important theme throughout the whole Bible. Sabbath begins with “Looking Up.” When God gives His people Israel the command to rest or sabbath in Exodus 20:8-11, the reason is grounded in God as the Creator. It focuses on God’s bigness, goodness, and sovereignty. Author Mark Buchanan describes sabbath rest this way: imitating God so that we stop trying to be God. Sabbath rest is about acknowledging our weakness and our limitations. We cannot work 24/7/365, but God can. When we choose sabbath rest, we choose to be small, and we “allow” God to be big—who He truly and fully is!

Here are some resources that have been helpful for me in learning to develop Sabbath Rest & Rhythms in my life (daily, weekly, monthly/quarterly, yearly).

The Rest of God – Mark Buchanan (this is my favorite book on Sabbath!)

Your Life in Rhythm – Bruce Miller (this is a very helpful book in living in rhythms instead of the impossible quest for “balance”)

“A Guide to Spending the Day with Jesus” (this is a blog post I wrote many years ago that contains a template for a day away)

Our Daily Bread – if you want a good daily devotional, this has been one of my favorites for years. There’s also a mobile phone app (iPhone & Android)

This coming Sunday, we’ll talk about Sabbath rest and “Looking Up”— wholeheartedly believing in the liberation God has provided us through Jesus so we can live the life He created us to live.

What things do you do to experience sabbath rest?

The Rest of God

We’re nearing the end of the summer—a supposed time of rest and relaxation. But for many of us, we need a vacation from our vacations. There might be a deeper problem. We don’t know how to rest. As a result there is a part of God that we miss out on because there is a part of God we can only know through stillness. In this 2-week series The Rest of God, we will learn to look up and look back so we can experience the fullness of life God created and liberated us to live.

Here’s the series schedule:

August 28 – Looking Up (Exodus 20:8-11)

September 4 – Looking Back (Deuteronomy 5:12-15)

For more information on Northshore and our Sunday worship gatherings, click HERE.

Join us at Sundays at 8, 9:30, and 11 am (Children’s & Student Ministry is available at the 9:30 & 11 am gatherings).

Mind the Gap

Jesus entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling, saying to them, “It is written, ‘And My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a robbersden.” (Luke 19:45-46)

In this famous scene, after Jesus’ triumphal entry as the Coming King into Jerusalem, He cleanses the temple. In his commentary on the Gospel of Luke, Dr. Darrell Bock writes, “His cleansing of the temple indicates how great the gap is between the worship Jesus calls for and what goes on in the temple.”

There’s a gap between what God calls for and how His people are worshiping Him and living. As I read Bock’s words, I asked myself, “What are my gaps in worship?” If true worship is a lifestyle (Romans 12:1-2), what are the things in my life that reveal a gap between what I say I believe about God and how I actually live my life? So often we live like practical atheists, and God in His love and grace wants to help us close the gaps.

Luke includes this story in his Gospel to show how Jesus came to upset and then right everything, and that upsetting and righting includes my life and yours. So mind the gap and pray for His grace and wisdom to live the life that is truly life.

Sabbath: Braking in the Corners

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This has been the summer of mountain biking for me. I’ve been riding as much as possible given all the incredible Pacific Northwest weather. One of the skills I’ve been working on this summer is how to efficiently ride through the corners on a mountain bike trail. If you watch the pro mountain bikers ride or you ride with someone who is really skilled, it’s amazing to watch how they corner. If you want to be able to maintain speed on a mountain bike trail, you have to know how to corner well. This is a lot like life. We fly through the week like it’s a fast-paced straight-away…work, school, sports, music or dance lessons, laundry, shuttling kids around. This happens week after week after week. And then there’s this little thing in between those fast-paced weeks called a “weekend.” A little corner between the two straight-aways of those busy weeks. God actually has something to say about how we “corner” between those weeks. It’s called Sabbath. Here are some ways for you to be intentional about the rhythms of Sabbath in your own life.

Deceleration. Just like a mountain biker has to anticipate the corner in order to decelerate properly, you also have anticipate finding Sabbath rest. In the Old Testament, the Jews would complete all of their work, even their Sabbath meal preparations, before sundown on Friday night. They had to plan. They had to prepare. If you’re going to experience the rhythm and rest of Sabbath, you’re going to have to do some planning and preparation. You’re going to have to be intentional about not being so busy. As parents, you might have to make some choices when it comes to your schedule and your kids’ schedule. You can’t go relentlessly through the week and then burn into the weekend with sports game after sports game year round. You’re going to have to be intentional about deceleration from the pace of life. If not, you’ll fly into the corner with too much speed, you overshoot it, go over the edge, and hurl headlong into a tree (and trust me… that doesn’t feel very good).

Exhilaration. You’ve chosen to decelerate. You’re into the corner. Now comes some of the exhilaration of cruising through the corner. On a mountain bike, cornering is not a passive experience. You focus on your body position. When you get it right, it’s exhilarating to let gravity swing you through. When we Sabbath, it’s exhilarating to let the gravity of God overwhelm you as you take time during Sabbath rest to remember the fullness and wholeness of God and His grace, love, and mercy as He’s given you this new life. In your Sabbath rest, maybe you spend time in God’s word, meditating on the sweetness of Scripture. Maybe you spend time marveling in God’s creation on a hike or in your garden. Maybe you spend time inviting some friends over to share a meal. Whatever you do, experience the exhilarating joy of who God is and what He’s done and continues to do for you.

Acceleration. On a mountain bike, when you’ve cornered well, you actually come out of the corner faster than when you went into the corner. The momentum and exhilaration of the corner accelerates you into the next straight-away. When we’re intentional about Sabbath, we can actually accelerate into the new week with Jesus. Here’s why this is important: your work matters to God. As you work, you’re partnering with God in caring for human beings and renewing this creation. Whether you’re a teacher, a stay-at-home parent, a banker, a nurse, or a garbage truck driver, your work matters to God. As you head into your work week (whatever days of the week those are), accelerate into it with Jesus, walking with Him and being reminded of what He’s done and how much He loves you.

How do you find Sabbath rest in the midst of a fast-paced life and busy week?

 

 

Gratitude in Life’s Ups & Downs

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This past Sunday at Northshore, I talked about “Reorientation is Life’s Ups & Downs.” We’ve all been on the roller coaster of life. We’ve all experienced the disorientation, disequilibrium, and discouragement of life not happening the way we thought and prayed it would. This is a common theme throughout the Bible among the people of God, especially in the psalms. As we discussed Sunday, David experienced the same thing in Psalm 22. But because he chose to believe in God’s presence, his spiritual and emotional reorientation happened at the intersection of God’s grace and his gratitude. The same can be true for us.

Here’s what we do when we choose gratitude in life’s ups & downs:

1. We thank God. There is a difference between the emotion of gratitude and the expression of gratitude God-ward. Take that thankfulness and actually tell God that you are thankful.

2. We get specific. Don’t all your gratitude to stay in the realm of generalities. Tell God exactly what you are grateful for. Rehearse how He has specifically come through to provide comfort, mercy, and grace in those moments of need.

3. We share it. We take our gratitude and we share it with each other and with our world. When we share it with each other, we encourage one another. We remember who God is and what He does, and in that sharing, the community of Christ is emboldened to trust God even more. When we share it with our world, we evangelize. We share the good news of who Jesus is and what He has done for us in the ultimate rescue. As I said on Sunday, one of your most powerful “evangelism” tools is your own story of God’s love and grace in your life. In addition, invite your friends and family to the weekend services at Northshore to hear about God’s radical love for them through Jesus and the gospel. Let’s “go tell it on the mountain!”

What has it looked like for you to live at the intersection of grace & gratitude? 

 

Praying for God-Sight

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Gary Thomas, Beautiful Fight

“Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; Enlighten my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death” ~ Psalm 13:3