For the busy person who wants to stay connected to God throughout the week!

Posts tagged ‘sabbath rest’

Spiritual Renewal and Sabbath Keeping

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

In working with a local church on renewal issues, I came across an article written by Lawrence Wilson entitled “7 Ways to Renew Yourself Spiritually.”  In it he lists seven basic spiritual disciplines that Christians have been practicing for centuries.  

They are:  Silence, Solitude, Secrecy, Simplicity, Submission, Service and Sacrifice.  His premise is that modern Christians seek lively worship, great activities and pronounce strong opinions on public morals; yet, we do not act as if we know Jesus very well when it comes to our behavior and attitudes.  

I’ve heard this said often and it usually comes in the form of “church goers are hypocrites.  They profess one thing and do another.” 

According to Wilson, we can move beyond the trap of disconnecting our life from our faith by delving more into these disciplines.  These disciplines help us to stay connected to God throughout the week and allow us the grace and time to reflect on how we can be more like Jesus in our actions.

Keeping Sabbath is a spiritual discipline within submission and simplicity.  In order to keep Sabbath or even to take Sabbath moments we need to submit Ten Commandmentsto the command of God that this is what is required and to simplify enough to have the time and room to enter fully into the presence of God within a Sabbath experience. 

We all know this…in our heads.  The interesting thing is that even though we know it, we don’t do it.  One person from the church I am working with was honest enough to say, “if everyone did this (practice the seven disciplines), we wouldn’t need a renewal process.  We would be acting and not trying to figure this out.  However, I am not very optimistic.  It is difficult not to focus on our own needs and wants.”

Funny thing is what God has created for us in Sabbath keeping meets those very needs and wants – we just are not disciplined enough to realize it.  IMG_1261

“I am the vine and you are the branches.  When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant.  Separated, you can’t produce a thing.”    John 15.5 The Message

Blessings,

Nancy

 

 

Pressure Valve

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

Have you ever used a pressure cooker?  pressure cooker binatone-4955-95647-1-zoomI am sure some of you have.  For those who haven’t it is a cooking pot that has a pressure gauge on it that you set before you begin cooking in it.  If you don’t set it right or you forget about it, you will soon find the contents of your supper all over the ceiling.  BOOM!

pressured personWell, I had a pressure cooker kind of week.  My emotional, mental and physical contents were under pressure and I knew if I didn’t do something about it soon, I was going to BLOW.

New Year's BangAnd then came Sabbath.  I needed Sabbath. I needed alone time with God.  ALONE.TIME.WITH.GOD.  Fortunately, I realized it.

On this Sabbath I allowed myself to become a human being rather than a human doing who takes little breaks throughout the day and calls it Sabbath.  It was Sabbath of home church.  It was a Sabbath of tea and scripture. 65147-stock-photo-blue-relaxation-dark-style-moody-artIt was a Sabbath of naps and dreams.  It was a Sabbath that let the pressure out slowly and let my contents simmer and then cool perfectly.

The story doesn’t end there.  The reasons I felt like a pressure cooker whose gauge was broken were still there on Monday morning.  I knew I had to address the issues or the pressure was going to build up again.

Because of my Sabbath experience instead of blowing up all over the room and the other person, I was able to have a calm, clear, clean conversation. 

RelaxationGod’s gift of Sabbath truly brings peace and refreshment when I (we) are able to recognize it for what it is. 

Now, if I am only smart enough to remember this the next time the pressure cooker is ready to blow.

“Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11.28

Blessings,

Nancy

Pastrix

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

I have just finished reading Pastrix by Nadia Bolz-Weber.  If you have never heard of Pastor Nadia before, she is the tattooed, irreverent, profound, deeply spiritual, constantly seeking answers to theological questions that most of us are too shy to ask or attempt to answer for ourselves pastor and my new hero.  I want to be like her or at least be a better human being as a pastor and a better pastor as a human being because of her audacity. 

Her book hooked me from the introduction and it was hard to put it down.  She reminded me of why I answered the call of God and she convicted me that I had gotten lazy in my answer. 

And some of you will find her irreverence and audacity heresy.  However, I am proclaiming out loud that I did not.  I found her a breath of fresh air in the midst of spiritual crises, clap trap that passes as gospel and theological wrestling matches.  I found her real. 

She inspired me more than anything I have ever written or read before to maintain and increase my Sabbath moments, to open myself up more to God in my day-to-day life, and to let go of the should’s, platitudes and pat answers that invade my mind when I let down my guard against theological cotton candy and the party line. 

Here is a quote that stopped me in my reading:  “We are tempted to doubt our innate value precisely to the degree that we are insecure about our identity from, and our relationship to, God.” (page 139).

This sentence sums up the contradiction I often feel and hear many times from others.  I/we feel that we cannot be close to God because we are not good enough or we messed up so we avoid hanging out with God and talking to God.  She turns that upside down and says unless we are close to God and realize we are a beloved child of God’s without doing anything on our part to earn it, we will feel insecure about our worth and who we are.

Sabbath is not only God’s gift of rest to us but it is also God’s way of helping us be closer to God developing a strong sense of self in order to know and claim that we are truly a child of God.  The more we claim that, the more the world will be changed by our very presence. Woman praising and enjoying golden sunset

“You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world.”  Mt. 5.14 The Message

Blessings,

Nancy

PS I am a Pastrix too defined by New Wineskins Dictionary.com as 1) a term of insult used by unimaginative sections of the church to define female pastors; 2) Female ecclesiastical superhero: Trinity from The Matrix in a clerical collar; 3) cranky, beautiful, faith of a Sinner and a Saint.

PPS:  Don’t forget to order your copy of my book:  A Sabbath Journey – a little child shall lead them to use as a monthly devotional book that will give you lots of ways to experience Sabbath Moments throughout the year.  It is available through Amazon.com  

Who is this Wonder?

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

I must admit that I am a bit of a Christmas Eve service snob.  There has to be context, content, and cooperation in every Christmas Eve service I attend…and I have attended many…even led a few myself.  Without those three aspects of the special nature of this particular worship time, I do not feel as if I have been to a service commemorating Christ’s birth. 

And, alas, I didn’t find them in this year’s service that I attended.  More specifically, what I didn’t find was the Christmas story either from Matthew or Luke and it was like missing a dear, old friend who lifts my heat and gives me hope.Nativity-Vector

There were carols, symbols and a short discussion with the children that fleshed out the reason for the service but without that story of Mary, Joseph, the birth, the Shepherds and the Heavenly Host I found the context and content missing.  The scripture to me is a bold reminder of how the incarnation became flesh and dwelt among us in a poor, homeless, unwed couple amid the muck and mud of all that is primal.  It reminds me that God comes in mysterious and unlikely ways and gives me hope this mucky and muddy world we live in. 

And I as I pondered my reaction to this omission, which I am sure didn’t cause anyone else a moment’s angst, I realized that there are many aspects of the Bible that we just don’t hear about very often.  Sabbath being one of them.

Ten CommandmentsWhen was the last time you heard a sermon on the sin of ignoring the fourth commandment?  When was the last time Christians were encouraged to stop and observe a 24 hour rest period because God told us to?  When was the last time that the purpose and power of Sabbath was sung about in a hymn or discussed for 4 weeks at a time?  When was the last time that two major world religions, Judaism and Christianity, issued a joint statement that they agreed upon the need for Sabbath and would be doing everything they could to make it a priority among its followers? When was the last time you heard people arguing over what to call Sabbath – a day of rest vs. a day of catching up on errands? 

Just a few of the thoughts that came to mind as I pondered what happens to me when I don’t have the familiar words read to me to commemorate a special occasion in the Christian church. 

The Lord’s day, Sabbath, Sunday is a special day in the Christian church but we don’t often get upset when it isn’t mentioned, preached about, or used as a reminder of just what a gift that 24 hours of rest was from our God – Emmanuel, God with us. 

Maybe one of the ways we keep the Christmas spirit alive all year is to observe the Sabbath, take Sabbath moments and remember the one whose birth the angels sang about and like Mary, ponder it in our hearts, as we treasure all the gifts of God for the people of God.Christmas Angel

“Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth peace to all on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2.14

Blessings

Nancy

Sabbath Joke

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

Recently my six-year-old granddaughter has taken to carrying around a small New Testament.  She told her mother that it was a really cool and funny book because there were so many jokes in it.  Her mother said that she didn’t think there were jokes in the New Testament to which my granddaughter replied, “Oh, Mom, there must be at least one!”

Well, we may not think of the Bible as a joke book but, yes, my dear sweet granddaughter there are a couple of jokes in there.  And one of them is the fourth commandment.  It isn’t a joke to those of us who take it seriously but to the world it is a joke.

Clock in waste paper basketHow funny and absurd is it to think of taking a 24 hour respite once a week?  Pretty funny according to a world that laughs at such a suggestion and ignores its power and ability to help us see the world through brighter eyes as we lighten up when we set down our weekly and even daily burdens.

The laugh is on the world, though, because they are missing out on one of the best medicines in the world — rest and refreshment.

And when my granddaughter went to bed that night in her prayingbedtime prayers she thanked God for the good day, the fun she had with Momma and her friends.  She also asked God for a good day tomorrow and please to bless her family.  Then she added, “Oh, and God, I hope you have a good day tomorrow too!”

Methinks this little six-year-old is a theologian in the making and has a deeply spiritual heart.  She worries that the world might not be getting all the energy, joy and laughter out of the Bible and wants God to have a good day.

I think God looks down on her and smiles.  God knows she understands that Sabbath is just the ticket for both. 

“A cheerful heart is good medicine but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”  Proverbs 17.22IMG_1058_opt

Happy Sabbath keeping,

Nancy

Inadvertent Sabbath Keeping

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

I recently read an article by Martha Beck, (a favorite life coach of mine) where she categorizes irritators in three ways.  There are the inadvertent irritators, the insensitive irritators and the inexcusable irritators.  The inadvertent ones captured my attention because she described them as people who “know they are bothering others and feel terrible about it, but can’t help themselves.”

And without getting into a discussion about ‘those people’ and their annoying habits, I want to jump to how I connected this statement to taking Sabbath moments.  There are more times than I care to count when I have known I could be taking a Sabbath moment/rest and instead keep working.  I feel terrible about doing this but there is something inside me that just won’t let me stop and rest.  And probably if I took this analogy a step further I would also admit that my not stopping and resting made me a tad bit annoying to others because I became short-tempered or irritable as a result.

When my best intentions to take Sabbath are overridden by the urgency of things on my to-do list, I feel terrible when I realize those urgent things didn’t change the world by getting done nor was a risk of death attached to them.  As Steven Covey warned in his book, 7 Habits for Highly Effective People, the urgent takes precedence over the truly important.  Sabbath keeping is truly important. 

One of the ways that Ms. Beck suggests dealing with the inadvertent irritators is to learn how to let the annoyance pass through you.  And this takes practice especially if you live with a snorer or a gum cracker or snorting laugher.  exhaustedwoman on bedAnd the same is true for Sabbath keeping. It takes practice.  If we don’t learn how to let go of the workaholic tendencies, we will never learn how to take intentional Sabbath time. 

If we never learn how to let go and rest in the gift of Sabbath, we will go from an inadvertent non- Sabbath keeping person to an inexcusable non-Sabbath keeping person.  Somehow, I don’t think that is what I really want to choose as part of my spiritual life.  And I have a feeling when it really matters, it will be those Sabbath moments and rests that will make the difference in my life.  Steps to the sunAs a wise man once said “it is not we who keep the Sabbath but the that Sabbath keeps us.”

“For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh shall be your holy day, a Sabbath rest to the Lord.  Whoever does any work on it must be put to death.” Exodus 35.2

Blessings,

Nancy

Care of Your Soul

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

relax

Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul, wrote about the need to nurture our soul in big and little ways.  He defines the soul as an experience rather than a thing.  It is what allows us to experience life on a deep and profound level, to connect with God and to navigate the ups and downs of life.

In his writings is an underlying question that begs an answer…how do you care for your soul?  Will Donnelly in a recent blog on this topic asked “how would you use your imagination to truly care for your soul”?  For him the answer was to listen in silence because he had avoided silence for years.  He knew that slowing down and listening in the quiet would bring up things he didn’t want to face.  And it was in the facing of those things that brought his soul nurture and peace.

What is it that your imagination is nudging you to do in order to care for your soul?

I think that we often avoid taking Sabbath time because we have things in our lives we don’t want to deal with.  In keeping busy we can avoid the discomfort.  Or, we think that Sabbath time is unproductive time rather than time to recharge our energy centers and build our stamina back up to face the ups and downs of life.

For several weeks now I have been flat out crazy busy and my soul is suffering from lack of attention. One of the things that my imagination keeps conjuring up for me is a long, cozy day in my favorite chair with a cup of tea and lots of good reading material.  The chair is there.  The tea is in the cupboard and the reading material has been piling up for a while now.  All that is missing is me.65147-stock-photo-blue-relaxation-dark-style-moody-art

This question has moved me to face the need my soul is nudging me toward.

I have just scheduled reading time on my calendar, in ink, for this afternoon.  How about you?

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”  Luke 10.41-42

Blessings,

Nancy

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