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choices Christian living Handling Life's Problems Sabbath Rest

“A Day Off Will Not Fix It.” part 1

Confession time! Here is a lie I believed for far too long…

A day off is not going to fix my problems.

As with most good lies there is a small kernel of truth in it but it is far from actual truth.

What does stopping to refuel, finding the rhythm of refueling, and caring for your soul (all of which we have been calling Sabbath) does is creates a peace within you. Think about that for a minute. What could complete abandonment to true peace do for your weary soul?

If you go to Mark 4 we find Jesus asleep on the boat in the middle of a great storm.

“But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water. Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion.

The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!”

Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm.”

Mark 4:37-39 [NLT]

Take a moment to picture this in your mind. What stands out to me is even the professional fisherman in the group disciples were scared for their life which means this storm was quite something! Then they cry out with the question so many of us ask when we are in our own storm “..do you even care?”

I do a deeper dive in this when I preached about my own battles of suicide and burnout and you can find that here.

But notice what Jesus does here because it is so important when we find ourselves asking those hard questions. He gets up and stops the storm to the point it’s noted “..there was a great calm”.

How did Jesus do this?! Maybe because He is the son of God? Maybe because He is showing us how God deals with storms? Or could it be Jesus had authority over the storm because what was within Him did not match what was around Him.

Be sure to know this: storms WILL happen. But when we have the peace of God WITHIN us we can deal with everything AROUND us.

Notice in verse 38 where Jesus was when the storm was raging “..sleeping in the back of the boat with his head on a cushion.” He was in a posture of rest. Can you see now, the significance of resting, refueling, and finding rhythms? It’s what Jesus did and as a result He had a peace that surpassed all understanding!

So what about you? How is your sabbath rhythm going?

Sabbath is so much more than just time off from the hurry and the mundane in our lives. It is a rhythm of rest that God our creator put into place (see Genesis 2:1-3). In part two of this I will show you the seven spiritual aspects of sabbath. Until then I encourage you to take a step this week in finding your rhythm of refueling. You will not regret it!

So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. On the seventh day God had finished His work of creation, so he rested from all His work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when He rested from all His work of creation.

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choices Christian living Handling Life's Problems Sabbath Rest

Just Schedule It

Have you ever run into a friend out and about somewhere, or maybe they shot you a text or a quick phone call, and y’all discussed hanging out soon? So the schedule hunt begins…

You can’t Monday because your oldest has volleyball practice.

You can’t Tuesday because the new puppy has it’s follow up vet appointment.

You can’t Wednesday because you have small groups.

You can’t Thursday because you have to work on the presentation that’s due Friday.

You can’t Friday because the plumbers are scheduled to come look at the dripping pipe by the washer.

Saturday is out of the question because it’s the community yard sale.

Sunday? Probably not because laundry and getting the house reset is a must before Monday.

Then, the dread hits you. Your schedule doesn’t allow for anything, let alone time for you and your friend to connect anytime soon.

I don’t know about you but I have been defeated by my schedule more times than not! This is exactly why I’m going to nudge you this week to schedule your Sabbath rest time.

This is exactly why I’m going to nudge you this week to schedule your Sabbath rest time.

Seems kind of upside down doesn’t it? To schedule the time where you rest, position your heart to the goodness and grace of God to let Him refuel you. It seems absurd to schedule these moments to eat a great meal, catch up with a friend, or to simply enjoy your favorite activity (or whatever you do for Sabbath). Let’s call it what it is; it seems odd to have to schedule it.

But from my own experience if you do not make it a priority on your schedule, it will never be a priority in your life.

Here are two practical tips:

1.) Start where you are.

You can easily put it off until after volleyball season, or after the busy season at work, or when this small group study ends. But putting off your rest prolongs the gift of refueling. You also run the risk of operating longer on whatever is left in your tank, which I’m guessing is already close to empty. Maybe you only have a few hours a week right now because of prior engagements, so start there!

2.) Find what fuels you in the time you have.

This potentially is more difficult than finding the time to stop and sabbath. Once you schedule it, what are you going to do? If Tuesday from 7pm till 9:30pm is your starting point, what are you going to with that time? Only you can answer this and it most likely will take a good amount of testing. Trying to see what works and what does not will take time, don’t rush trying to figure it out but don’t put it off either! Look at this time like a weekly holiday for your soul. A good meal, a relaxing hobby, a different environment, a great sunrise, a great sunset, a long bath, or whatever fills your heart with the goodness of God!

It’s not about just getting time off from your busy schedule, it is about how you use that time.

Trying to see what works and what does not will take time, don’t rush trying to figure it out but don’t put it off either!

Remember why this matters. Sabbath is important as your prayer life, your alone time connecting with God (i.e. bible study, devotionals), your generosity, and your unique gift to the body of Christ. This is significant so, start today and schedule it because you were not meant to run on empty.

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choices Christian living Handling Life's Problems Sabbath Rest

Where Do I Start?

This week we put up the last of our Christmas decorations and lights. As I was in the attic I found a massive tangled up mess of Christmas lights that I thought I would conquer. The question was, where do I even start? The knots were so tight, nothing seemed to give way, and after a few minutes, multiple tries to break it all free and many angry grunts….I gave up. I ended up throwing the tangled mess in a random box and went on with the task at hand.

I think this is what we often do when we hear the words of God to honor and observe a day of rest and refueling (check out Mark 2:27). Like the tangled Christmas lights our schedule is tight as can be, nothing will even flinch to give way and honestly our to-do list is at capacity with no let-up in sight!

Here’s what we need to know; the Hebrew word for Sabbath comes from shavat, which is the verb “to rest”. Rest does not necessarily mean doing nothing or lying in bed staring at the ceiling or sleeping away the day. Rest is actually more about what you ARE doing more than what you are NOT doing. It’s a change of pace, doing something different, or taking a completely different approach to the day.

Sabbath rest is a rest that turns our heart to the goodness, greatness, and kindness of our Heavenly Father.

But where do we start?

Sabbath rest is a rest that turns our heart to the goodness, greatness, and kindness of our Heavenly Father.

Every answer is unique to the individual, but here is step one: identify what fuels you. What puts a smile on your face? What makes the shift within you to be governed by enjoyment and not the clock? What is something you do that makes you pause in its midst and say “..God is truly good..” and as the scripture says in Numbers 6:24-26 you can feel His face shining on upon you.

This could be a number of things – a hobby, a great meal, a good book, a walk, a day on the water, a day in the hammock, a day on the slopes, a day on the bike and the list can go on and on and on. Remember it is all about pressing pause on work to refuel (rest) in the goodness of our God.

If you have not been practicing Sabbath rest chances are you will not be able to start off with a full day, so start with what you can. An hour, an evening, a morning, a half day, and then pray this dangerous prayer “God, give me the wisdom to adjust my life so I might experience your intended Sabbath rest.”

…pray this dangerous prayer “God, give me the wisdom to adjust my life so I might experience your intended Sabbath rest.”

As a disclaimer these are my raw thoughts…

Recently I preached something that has been working in me over the last four years & I’m sure will work in me for all of my time here on earth.

The thought was on Sabbath and it’s importance to the rhythm of our life. (You can see it here)

I’m discovering as intricate and detailed as all of creation is, rest is included in it (see Genesis 1). Rest and refueling is both simple and detailed, plain and complex, all wrapped up as one.

Over the next few weeks I want to give you the thoughts and notes that did not make the sermon, yet are helping me on this journey. My prayer is you will find your rhythm of refueling through Sabbath where it will not only fill you, but overflow to those around you. After all, that is the purpose of the abundant life Jesus gives…

– Trevor Hersey

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What We Feed Grows. What We Starve Dies.

What are you growing in your life?

Yesterday I ran into an old story about the two wolves within us. Some people say it is a Native American parable. Others say it came from Billy Graham. I’m not really sure where it came from, but it’s a story that makes me think about how I’m living. It goes like this:

A grandfather told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, “The battle is between the two wolves inside us all.

“One is evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

“The other wolf is good. It is joy peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked “Grandpa, which wolf wins?”

The grandfather replied, “The one you feed, child. The one you feed.”

The battle between the two wolves is a lot like the battle between our sinful nature and the nature of the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:17 says, “The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other…”

The sinful nature results in a harvest of evil—things such as lust, idolatry, quarrelling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, envy, drunkenness and other sins. The nature of the Holy Spirit brings a beautiful harvest of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

We all would probably say we want the harvest brought by the nature of the Holy Spirit. But which one are we feeding?

What are we watching or listening to? What sort of thoughts fill our minds? We choose which “wolf” we feed by how we live our lives, how we guard our thoughts, how we spend our money, and how we spend our time.

Matthew 7:13 says, “Come to God through the narrow gate, because the wide gate and broad path is the way the leads to destruction—nearly everyone chooses that crowded road!” Permission to paraphrase? Yes? OK, good, here goes: It takes effort to feed the good wolf but it’s easy to feed the evil wolf. The evil wolf will eat anything, and most people give in to him. But his goal is our destruction.

What we feed grows. What we starve dies. Which wolf are we feeding?

Dear God, examine my life. Am I choosing to give in to my sinful nature? Or am I choosing to yield to the nature of the Holy Spirit? Show me ways how I can feed my spiritual nature and starve my sinful nature. In Jesus’s name, amen.

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It’s Never Been Like This Before

“Listen, all who live in the land. In all your history, has anything like this happened before?” (Joel 1:2)

In the book of Joel, a horrific, never-ending invasion of locusts devastated Judah. The locusts just kept coming and eating until all crops were destroyed, animals were starving, and people didn’t think they could take any more.

Have you ever felt the same way? Have you ever been devastated? Maybe not by locusts, but in a such a way that you knew nothing would be the same again?

What do we do when our world is turned upside down?

When Joel’s world was out of kilter, he turned to God. In times of devastation, we have a decision to make. We can wonder where God is in all the madness and turn away from him. Or we can double down on our relationship with God, cling to him with all our might, and seek his face in the midst of our circumstances.

Joel 3:14 intrigues me. It says, “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.”  This verse can be applied on many levels, but let’s talk about what it means in our day-to-day lives.

We are part of a great drama involving an epic battle. We have a deadly enemy who actively seeks our destruction, who wants to devour us like a lion chomps down a zebra. On the other side there is a Savior who wants to rescue us from the darkness and fill our lives with light. This battle rages around us constantly.

The most important question of our lives is, whose side are we on? We must choose sides. There is no Switzerland here, no neutral area. Who do we serve? In the words of Bob Dylan, “you gotta serve somebody.” If we think we are neutral, we’re deceived.

One day, God will judge us based on whom we serve. This is the fulcrum of our lives, the choice upon which everything else rests.

Y’all, the valley of decision isn’t the place where people make decisions. It’s the place where God decides and decrees our eternal fate based on whom we served. In the valley of decision, God’s enemies are judged, and his people rewarded.  

What does this mean in our everyday lives? It means when all is right with our world, we serve God. When we face devastation, we turn to God. In every circumstance and every situation, in good times and bad, our devotion lies with God. Our hope remains in God. Locusts ? We serve God. Viruses? Yes, we still serve God. When the world goes mad, our allegiance to God remains steadfast. And when we stand in the valley of decision, we’ll be eternally grateful to be on the Lord’s side.

Dear God, I choose you. I give you my whole heart and I want to serve you with everything I have. In good times or bad, I will serve you. I want to spend eternity in heaven, enjoying your presence forever. Fill me with your light and your love. In Jesus’s name, amen.