Monday, March 9, 2015

A Recipe For Rest

Happy Monday Morning!  For some of you this week will be no different than any other.  For others of you this week is SPRING BREAK.  I hope you have a rest-filled week.

Yesterday we pressed on in our series Living for the Glory of God.  Our focus, A Recipe For Rest, seemed to resonate with many of you with whom I have spoken.  Apparently, I am not the only one who tends to say yes to too many things, put too much on my plate, and run myself into the ground. It is my hope and prayer that we will all reclaim a sense of balance in our lives.  Far too many of us are exhausted and worn out, not just mentally and physically, but also spiritually.  How did we get this way?  Simple.  We are TOO STINKIN' BUSY

If Satan can't get you to sin, he will just try and get you busy.  He loves it when Christians are worn out, stressed out, burned out.  Remember what it means to be BUSY?


I really hope you will pick up Kevin Deyoung's book Crazy Busy.  I know I mentioned it a great deal yesterday. This short read has helped me immensely.  Another great book (which I am reading now) is called Boundaries by Doctors Henry Cloud and John Townsend.

So how we do take back our lives?  How do we gain a sense of equilibrium? Yesterday we picked apart Luke 10:38-42.  This text gives us a front row seat to two sisters, Mary and Martha.  Martha is the high strung go-getter who can't sit still.  "Mellow" Mary is calm and not at all concerned about her to-do list.  Luke gives us a side-by-side comparison of these two sisters who have welcomed Jesus as a guest into their home.  In perfect contrast, Martha models those of us who live in the crazy and Mary those of us who live in the calm.  This passage of scripture, although concise, offers us a prescription for taking back our lives from the clutches of craziness. Let's revisit the recipe for rest.

While Martha is distracted with all of the preparations of hosting Jesus as her guest, Mary is doing the opposite.  Seemingly, she is doing nothing.  But that's actually not the case.  She is SITTING at the Lord's feet and LISTENING to His words.  No activity.  No hustle and bustle.  She is just sitting and listening.  She is being still.  She is drawing close to the Lord.

If you find yourself overwhelmed and worn out today, here is the takeaway.  STOP DOING AND START SITTING.  Get in a quiet place free from distractions and just sit and listen to the Lord.  Let him renew your soul with his peace.  Remember our Lord's invitation to us in Matthew 11:28-30: "Come to me you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest...for your souls." 

Our lives would change dramatically if we would develop a CONSISTENT HABIT of drawing close to the Lord.  Getting alone to pray, worship, and study the Word.  Consider Kevin Deyoung's words:  “A few unhurried minutes are better than a distracted hour, and a consistent habit is better than a sporadic burst of fits and starts."

Have you ever paused long enough to ask yourself why you are so busy?  Is it possible that busyness is a symptom of a deeper issue in your soul?  Martha was consumed with having everything perfect for her guest.  Her identity rested in how well she threw parties.

Maybe your GREED drives you to work long hours because you are not content with the things you have.  You have to have more, so you have to work more.

Maybe your SELF-ESTEEM comes from what you do.  You take on all kinds of tasks because it's connected to your IDENTITY.  When you are blowing and going from sun-up to sun-down you feel like you matter.

Maybe busyness and activity are the way you NUMB the deep hurts of your soul.  When you slow down your pain rises to the surface like a submarine from the deep.  Rather than confront the issues and walk through the pathway of healing, you keep yourself distracted by activity.

Maybe you live to PLEASE PEOPLE.  Often times those who are over-extended in their commitments are people who are afraid to disappoint others.  When our approval comes from the affirmation of others we became slaves to them.  

I encourage you today to pray David's prayer in Psalm 139:23-24.  "Search me, O God, and know my heart."  Are you willing to lay your soul before the Lord and invite Him to show you your own brokenness?  Often times our busyness and chaos is the result of what we refuse to confront within ourselves. 

Martha was so consumed about all of the details of that day.  But Jesus told her that when it's all said and done "only a few things are needed."

Our lives get crazy when we try to be all things to all people, when we try to do everything.  People who are balanced and healthy are people who have set healthy boundaries in their lives.  They have discovered that only a few things truly matter, and they have built their life around those things.  Setting a boundary is like building a fence.  It's a clearly defined marker of what you should and should not be responsible for.

If your family time truly matters to you, then set up boundaries around it.  Don't be checking email or scrolling social media when your spouse or children are needing your undivided attention.  

You are one person who can't do everything.  Put boundaries on your time.  It's okay to say no to people who ask you to assist with this or volunteer for that.  Thank them for asking, and then politely say no.  

Another challenge is determining which people are worth your time.  If you let them, there are people who will absolutely drain you of time and energy.  You have to set boundaries with people like that.  Be gracious but firm. 

Read Mark 1:35-39.  Jesus lived His life with boundaries.  He set time to get away from others. He went into isolated places to pray. He left villages when there were still people waiting for Him to come and minister to them.  Jesus was very intentional about how he spent his time. Maybe that's why it took him only 3.5 years to change the world.


The challenge we all face is determining what things and what people to say yes to.  Jesus told Martha that her sister had "chosen what is better."  They both had a choice.  Martha chose what was good, but Mary chose what was best.

How often do we miss out on what is BEST because we CHOOSE what is GOOD?  And it is just that, a choice.  Mary had to assess what was most important and so do we.

I once heard someone say "if everything's a big deal, nothing's a big deal."  What does that even mean?  Think about it.  Everything can't be important.  If it is, then nothing is truly important.  It's the same way in our lives.  We can't make everything a priority.  We are limited in our time and energy.  You must constantly weigh all of your activities and busyness and make sure they are what is MOST important in your life.

While much of that you will have to determine on your own, I will say there are some general ones that apply to all of us:

CHURCH / SMALL GROUPS.  Church should be a priority in your life.  Connecting with the people of God to worship, pray, study the Word, fellowship, etc. should not be something you do if it fits into your schedule.  NO.  Make your schedule around your commitment to God and His people.  "Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy."

YOUR FAMILY.  Your family is the only group of people who will permanently be in your life.  You need to make sure you are keeping those relationships strong, especially if you are a SPOUSE or a PARENT.

YOURSELF.  Take time to invest in yourself.  Exercise.  Have a hobby.  Go grab dinner with an old friend.  Do things that will rejuvenate you.  You are no good to others if you are not good to yourself.

I hope this week you will take the challenge to slow down.  It's hard being a Mary in a Martha world, but it's a choice I am determined to make.  My hope is we can do it together. I love you guys! 

Grace and Peace,

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Shades of Grey

It was a cold day yesterday, but the rain and ice couldn't keep us from coming together, and what a GREAT DAY it was.  A special thanks to Andy Henderson & Colbi Mouser for stepping in and leading worship while Pastor Spencer took a much needed weekend off.

Yesterday we continued our series Living for the Glory of God.  In this series we have sought to simplify our faith walk by filtering our words, thoughts, attitudes, and actions through this one question: DOES THIS GLORIFY GOD?  In our time together we had a real life conversation about the fact that not all the decisions we face in this life are as simple as being right or wrong.  It would be nice if everything checked out as being black or white, but sometimes life is grey.  There are some issues that the Bible doesn't specifically speak to. 

So how should we respond? How are we to navigate the grey?

Some people navigate the grey with LEGALISM.  They respond by hunkering down and creating their own set of rules and regulations.  Not only do they (attempt to) abide by them, but they expect everyone else to do the same.  So even though the Bible doesn't forbid specific things, they do.  And they forbid you as well, often employing guilt and shame as a means to modify your behavior.  And while they may look "holy" on the surface, people who are legalistic tend to be incredibly prideful and arrogant.  Even their shadows cannot stand being around them. 

And at the other end of the spectrum you have those who practice LICENSE.  To this crowd, God is purely "tolerant" and "loving" and therefore man is free to live how he chooses.  So why not party it up?  God's grace will cover your sin. Go for it, right?  WRONG.  To not take sin seriously is to not take God or the Bible seriously.  Those who attempt to abuse God's grace and freedom show that they really do not understand the work of the cross.  Jesus died to save us from sin not to sin. Licentious people may bear the name "Christian" but they have no real intentions of surrendering their lives to Christ.

So how do we stay balanced?  How do we navigate the grey? Things like drinking, music, television, movies, tattoos, gambling, etc.  How do we live for the glory of God in these areas?  Yesterday we closed out with three questions to ask yourself.  These are three check points to help you know how to respond in a balanced and God-honoring way.  Let's look at them again quickly.

First off, don't call something grey that God has called black and white.  Example: while drinking is not necessarily a sin, getting drunk most certainly is.  Drunkenness is black and white, just like lying or stealing.  So don't justify drinking when your desire is drunkenness.  Remember, God cannot be mocked (see Galatians 6:1).  Before you act, consult the scriptures to see what God commands. 

If I do something that will push a non-believer away from God, I can know with confidence that this choice is NEVER God's will.  Is there a specific verse in the Bible that says "Thou shalt not go to a club?"  No.  But I told the story yesterday about being at a club when I was in college.  I ran into someone I had shared my faith with many years prior, my old friend Jimmy Perez.  He was totally disappointed in me and with the fact that I was there. Even though he did not believe in my God, he had believed in me.  And in one moment I failed him.  I can still hear his words ringing out in my mind.  Before you do something you think is harmless, take inventory of those around you.  Will your actions bring them closer to God or push them further away?

The majority of our message yesterday was spent addressing this issue.  As followers of Christ we must not live only for ourselves.  We must think about the good of others, especially our Christian brothers and sisters (see Philippians 2:4).  So while we may not personally have an issue with something that is grey, we should refrain from it if it will cause one of our brothers or sisters to stumble.  Let's say you and a friend grab a bite to eat one Saturday evening.  After dinner you suggest taking in a movie.  Your brother or sister says they are not comfortable with going to a movie.  They confess to you that they have struggled a great deal with profanity, and they know most movies (even with a PG-13 rating) are gonna have bad language and crude humor.  They just don't feel it wise to walk into a situation they know could influence them negatively.  Your response?  Even though you don't struggle with cursing, you decide not to go to the movies for the good of that brother or sister.  Can I tell you that when you do this it HONORS GOD BIG TIME?!?!?  Kudos to those of you who are already living this way. 

I hope these reflections are helpful and encouraging you to you all.  I am seeking to keep us all connected; growing and learning together.  If you ever have a question, comment, disagreement, etc. shoot me an email.  Would love to hear from you.

Below are some passages you may wanna check out this week as well as the link to this sermon series.  Hope your Monday is awesome. I love you guys.

Grace and peace,

Romans 14
1 Corinthians 6:12 
1 Peter 2:16-17 
Galatians 5:13-14 
Matthew 5:14-16 
Romans 2:17-24 
1 Corinthians 10:31-33