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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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Christian living

The Super Power of Asking and Listening

It sounds easy, but it’s rare…

There are a lot of ways to show we care about someone. We can tell them. We can buy them a present. We can give them a hug. We can do something nice for them.

One of the best—and most neglected—ways to show we care about someone is to ask them questions and then to intentionally, carefully listen to the answers.

“What’s going on in your life?” This simple question opens a dialogue. It says you’re interested in that person. Everyone wants to share their story with someone. An interested person who asks a question could be the best thing that happened to that person that day.

Jesus asked questions all the time. “Why are you afraid?” “What do you want me to do for you?” “Where is your husband?” “Who do you say I am?” He cared about people and asked questions to show his compassion and also to lead them toward spiritual revelation.

“How are you doing?” Technically, it’s a question, but how often do we ask it, receive the stock answer, “I’m good,” and then move on without learning anything about what’s going on in that person’s life? How often are we more interested in what we will say to them than what they are saying to us?

Philippians 2:3 cautions us to, “…put others first and view others as more important than ourselves.” In verse four, we are advised to have, “…a greater concern for what matters to others instead of our own interests.”

If we want to share Jesus with others, it starts with being genuinely interested in their lives. That interest often shows itself in the form of a question.

Be on guard—the question loses its impact if it isn’t followed up with sincere, active listening. James 1:19 says, “…Be quick to listen, but slow to speak…” So often, we’re exactly the opposite. We’re quick to speak. We love the sound of our own voices. We are compelled by the importance of the happenings in our own lives. But we aren’t so good at listening to the circumstances in the lives of others.

Most people don’t listen to understand. They listen to reply.

Stephen Covey

People want to tell someone about their job, their children, what they had for dinner, and much more. They may be dealing with a sickness in the family, financial problems, or wondering about the purpose of life. Everyone needs someone to listen and to care, and we can be that someone.

Listening does more than just allow someone to vent. It creates a relationship. And a relationship may lead to an opportunity to share Jesus.

So, ask the question. Commit to listen more than you talk and to be more concerned about the other person’s concerns than your own. Asking questions and genuinely listening to the answer could be the start of change and healing in someone’s life.

 Be brave and be interested. Be compassionate. Be like Jesus.

Heavenly Father, make me a better listener. Give me a genuine interest in others. Help me ask wise questions and give me the ability to listen with empathy and compassion. Use my interactions with others to show your love. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Categories
Christian living

Housekeeping Matters

The family keeps the house in order…

When I was a kid, my family had fun times. We went camping, roasted marshmallows in campfires, went on hayrides, and swam in almost-always-cold Lake Michigan.

But we also had a lot of work to do to keep our house in order. If everything we did was just for fun, we would end up in a mess. To make things orderly, we all had work to do. My brother cut the grass and took out the trash. I swept and did dishes. My parents worked, fixed the cars, and paid the bills.

If someone in the family was sick, we took care of them. If someone was sad, we hugged them while they cried. If someone was happy, we all celebrated.

Some people may have had maids or yard people or nannies, but not my family. If the work was going to get done, we had to do it.

The family of God is not all that different. Everyone in the family of God has a role to fill to keep the house in order. If the work is going to get done, we have to do it.

Every believer has received grace gifts, so use them to serve one another as faithful stewards of the many-colored tapestry of God’s grace...

1 Peter 4:10

Every believer has a gift to be used to serve the house. No one is exempted. God has something for each of us to do to keep the house functioning well, to help members of the house, and to reach the community with God’s grace.

Peter gives us some examples of these gifts and how to use them.

For example, if you have a speaking gift, speak as though God were speaking his words through you. If you have the gift of serving, do it passionately with the strength God gives you…

1 Peter 4:11

There are so many grace gifts given that to make a complete list would be nearly impossible. If you are a baker, use that gift to glorify God. An artist, a carpenter, a computer programmer, a teacher, a doctor—wherever your gifting lies, be assured it can be used to bring glory to God and edification to the house.

Let everyone be devoted to fulfill the work God has given them to do with excellence, and their joy will be in doing what’s right and being themselves…

Galatians 6:4

It’s a blessing and an honor to be part of God’s family. It’s a privilege to be part of carrying out the work of God’s house. When we are committed to working in the house with excellence—using our own unique gifts—we are filled with joy, and the house fulfills its purpose of discipling Christians and leading the unsaved to Jesus. Everything works better when we all work together.

Dear heavenly Father, thank you for allowing me to be part of your family. Thank you for giving me a gift to use to serve the house. Help me work in the house with excellence. Fill me with your joy. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Categories
Christian living

Where Do I Belong?

We all want to feel we belong…

There’s an old sitcom about aliens who come to earth in human bodies to study people. They never quite feel like they fit in (duh!), until they attend the Pendleton Badger football game. They wear Badger shirts and join in the Badger cheers. Suddenly, the high commander understands what it’s like to fit in with humans, and why humans love their football teams.

Sometimes we feel like aliens, like we don’t fit in, like we aren’t understood or accepted. All our longing to belong will ultimately be met through our relationship with God.

Where do we belong?

  • We belong in God’s family. “Be devoted to tenderly loving your fellow believers as members of one family. Try to outdo yourselves in respect and honor of one another” (Romans 12:10). When God saves us, we become part of his family. We become his sons and daughters. We are no longer orphans, but dearly loved children of the most-high God. We respect, honor, and love our brothers and sisters in Christ, and they do the same for us.
  • We belong in our heavenly home. “But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:16). We live on earth. While we’re here, we have a spiritual family. But we are destined for better. We have a home in heaven prepared and waiting for us.

Hebrews, chapter 11, talks of great men and women of faith. These faithful people, “acknowledged themselves to be strangers and aliens on earth.” They were journeying through earth on their way to their heavenly homeland. (See Hebrews 11:13-15.) We’re on the same journey as these people of faith. We are aliens here on earth. Our citizenship is in heaven.

Yes, we all have a desire to belong, to fit in. And we do belong in God’s family and in the church. We find love and acceptance here on earth through our relationship with God and others who serve him. But our desire for belonging will not be fully met until we reach our homeland—our eternal home in heaven. In that place, we will experience perfect love, complete acceptance, and ultimate belonging.

Right now, we’re on the journey home. It has ups and downs, good and bad. But, y’all, the destination—heaven—is going to absolutely blow our minds. We’re going to finally and eternally be in our perfect home, right where we belong.

Dear God, help me remember that this world is not my home. I’m traveling through on my way to my eternal home in heaven. Place me in the family of God and the body of Christ as you see fit. Help me look for belonging from you rather than this world. Give me love and acceptance for others on the journey. In Jesus’s name, amen.