I just updated this chapter, greatly expanding it. Enjoy!
By the time the morning clouds were burned away by the midday sun, I was good and hungry for lunch. Jesus suggested we head to the lake to catch our meal.
“Jesus, I’m no fisherman, but my brother is a pro and he’s told me the fish bite best in the morning and evening, but high noon isn’t the time for fishing.”
“Well, can your brother walk on water and raise the dead?” Jesus replied with a wink. “With God anything is possible (Matt. 19:26). How about you do your job, and I’ll do mine?”
Jesus handed me an oar and we sat down in a little row boat and pushed off from shore. The calm waters sparkled as the sun reflected off the surface. An eagle flew overhead, dragon flies hovered over some cattails, while ducks chased after their lunch in the lily pads near the shore.
“Jeremy, there’s a thousand Kingdom lessons to be learned in a 12 foot row boat. But you need to leave your limited earth-bound mindset behind if you are to understand and embrace the exciting, surprising nature of life in the Kingdom of God.” Continue reading Cabin 17: Row, Row Your Boat
The next time someone makes you feel guilty for taking a much needed vacation, consider sharing with them the following case for biblical rest and vacation. (Note: The following make the case for both a weekly day off (sabbath rest) and occasional extended vacations (a week or two)).
We are a mess without sabbath. I think sabbath rest is largely an unAmerican practice. America prides itself in hard work, ambition, self-determination and getting ahead. “The early bird gets the worm” describes the folk wisdom of our founding Father’s better than Jesus’ invitation to “Consider the lilies, they neither toil nor spin, and God takes care of them…” Compared to other countries around the world, Americans work longer days, take less vacation days, bring our work home more, and value “getting ahead” and “climbing the career ladder” more than most. How is this working for us? We’re richer than most but also lead the world in mental health issues, unhappiness, discontentment, broken marriages and dysfunctional families (often due to placing career advancement over family priorities). Are we working ourselves to death? Are we not busier than we’ve ever been as a society and least content?
We were hardwired for sabbath. Built into our DNA (and the entire created order) is the need for a healthy, balanced work-rest rhythm. God worked for 6 days and then rested on the 7th. We are hardwired to do the same. There are times to cultivate the fields, plant and harvest; and then there are time we are to let the ground lie fallow and rest. Our minds, bodies, souls and spirits require the same fallow time of healing and rest. We are human beings, not human doings. Our value and worth is defined by our creator who made us in His Image; our self-worth and value is not defined by how much we accomplish, how well we perform, and whether or not we met our daily quota at work. Do we believe this? If so, does our actual behavior line up with this belief?
God modeled sabbath. Again, if God chose to rest a full day after working 6, then what makes us think we can outwork God? Why do we think we can go 20 days without a sabbath, when God modeled a 6 + 1 rhythm? Jesus also modeled healthy boundaries and restorative times with God alone. He didn’t heal every person who came up to him. He didn’t go to every city that awaited his message. He had limits and knew them. Continue reading Thus saith the Lord, “Take a Vacation!” (Pt. 2)
I’m currently trying to enjoy some time away from work — for me that means church related stuff and ministry situations. My email ‘Out of the Office’ notice is on, and my voicemail alerts people that I am not taking calls.
I asked our leadership team not just for a vacation (which typically means family time, traveling, etc.) but for a “spiritual renewal leave” which I define as time away from day-to-day tasks (sermon prep, meetings) and ministering to people (a drain for a high introvert) to engage fully in things that are truly life-giving and soul-recharging. Since I’m a high introvert who is constantly surrounded by people, this means spending a lot of time alone.
I’m largely spending my time reading 2 or 3 good books (both pastor-related and just for fun), reading those books on the boat or while sipping a drink by a pool/beach, doing some writing to stimulate my brain muscles and spark fresh inspiration for future sermon series, and, of course, playing some golf and doing some lawn work. I also try to catch up with a friend or two outside my normal church social circle and possibly browse a guitar store or two. Continue reading Thus saith the Lord, “Take a Vacation!” (Pt. 1)
“That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake” (Matt. 13:1).
The Christian life is largely about imitating the spiritual habits and behaviors of Jesus. Now, many of Jesus’ teachings and practices are rigorous and demanding. E.g., “If you want to be my disciple you must first deny yourself and take up your own cross.”
Yet, some of Jesus’ practices are so easy and simple they escape us. We assume they are unimportant details and we jump right over them without a second thought. One such example is this passing comment in Matthew 13:1.
Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake.
Boom! Do you want to be more like Jesus? Do you want to do something spiritual? Turn the TV off and go sit by a lake for a while. Leave your cubicle on your lunch break today and take a walk in the woods. You just might find yourself feeling closer to God. Your ears might be opened a bit wider to His “still, soft whisper.”
Of course, we industrious Americans usually feel guilty sitting by the lake in the middle of a work day while everyone else is racing around trying to get ahead. Ahead of what exactly? Well, one person many are “getting ahead” of is Jesus himself, who knew the importance of slowing down, “considering the lilies of the field and the birds of the air” (Matt. 6), and constantly finding ways to stay connected to our Heavenly Father.
There’s a powerful two-fold movement here in this simple statement: Jesus went away from something in order to go toward something else. Continue reading WWJD: Go Sit by a Lake!
I came across this video by Jamie Schreiber on the Sabbath rest. I discovered a growing collection of good videos by these guys. If you like Rob Bell’s NOOMAs, you’ll want to check these out as well. Enjoy!