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Rest

Devotion for 9/15/21.  Rest

Sometimes we all just need a little rest. Summers for me in my line of work are always very busy. They are awesome and fun, but it really is non-stop from the time school lets out till the time kids go back to school. There are the mission trips, VBS, back to school planning and this year was getting back to a normal Sunday School after being out for over a year and half. Then on top of those big activities there were movie nights, tubing, bowling, and other youth and children events. So, at the end of the summer I feel a little like Sofi looks like in the picture! Just whipped!

I look forward to September when I can finally slow down a little and recuperate. Rest is a good thing. When I was a kid, I was one of those nap haters! Now I would do anything to get a few minutes of midday sleep. I now realize just how important good rest is.

Today’s stress levels are sky high, which leads to a lot more tension in all of our lives. People are so worn out by all the battles we are facing that are above the norm as we continue to try to navigate through the pandemic that will just not go away. Just today I encountered several friends who are truly facing exhaustion. Their tiredness is not from their normal jobs, but stems more from the long term of facing and dealing with the pain and suffering that Covid has caused all of us.

They need real rest. I believe we all need real rest. Even God took a break after completing His wonderful creation. So, are you getting proper rest? Where are you finding the rest that revives your soul? I am not talking just about sleep, which is critical, I am also talking about soul rest, emotional rest, and even mental rest. We are designed as one unit, not multiple pieces. Our emotional, physical, mental and spiritual pieces are not independent parts, but are interdependent. One of the parts directly affects the others. I have lately discovered in a real way that my lack of physical health cause my mind not to be as clear as it should be. When my mind is not clear, it directly impacts my emotional and spiritual sides as well.

Where do find your rest? Maybe it could begin with seeking that rest that God tells us we all need for our souls. There is a reason “Remember the sabbath and keep it holy” is one of the Ten Commandments. That verse is so totally about resting and remembering all that God has done for us, and looking forward to what He will do for us! Do you ever really take a sabbath, a day of rest? A sabbath day for me is a long walk with my wife and dogs, enjoying God’s creation. It is a chance to slow down and breathe out all the stuff I have to deal with, and breathe in the magnificence of God’s handiwork present all around me. It restores me. Go find your real rest. God does not just give you His permission, He pretty much demands it from us.

Peace,

Pastor Richard

A word from Pastor Wes on Surprise the World

Surprise the World, Chapters 1 & 2

For those of you who skipped the first 2 chapters of Surprise the World, we’re giving you a short recap of those chapters in blog post form.  If you’ve read those chapters, this will be a slightly redundant review of how Michael Frost sets up the rest of his book. Either way, it’s (hopefully) a helpful and succinct look at the foundation of the 5 habits we will be exploring as a church in 2019.

In chapter 1, Frost puts our minds at ease a little bit when it comes to evangelism. The prospect of having to be an “evangelist” makes most of us a little nervous. Or a lot nervous. Frost draws a helpful distinction between being an evangelist (a person with the spiritual gift of evangelism) and being evangelistic.  Being evangelistic basically means being a person whose life is shaped by the good news of the reign of God through Jesus Christ.

Frost encourages Christians to lead “questionable lives” – meaning that our lives should lead other people (neighbors, co-workers, friends and family, etc.) to ask questions about why we live the way we do. And when they ask questions, we should be able “to speak about Jesus conversationally”. Frost gives us some historical info about early Christians in the Roman Empire whose acts of compassion, hospitality, and kindness was “stunningly different” from what most people had ever seen. This caught the attention of the Roman world all the way up to the Emperor. Frost says that “our challenge is to find what similarly questionable lives look like in the twenty-first century.”

In chapter 2, we learn that a questionable life will not arise from church programs and meetings, nor will it happen if we’re simply attending worship a few times a month. The questionable lives Frost is encouraging us to live comes from habits that we form intentionally. Our challenge is to find “regular rhythms or habits that transform our everyday lifestyles.” These five missional habits will make our values a daily reality in our lives and in the life of our church. In Surprise the World, ‘missional’ is defined as those things we say and do “that alerts others to the reign of God”.

Frost closes chapter 2 by reminding us of the importance of being mindful about our habits, so they don’t lose their power and meaning. He suggests three ways to be mindful about these 5 habits: (1) listen to those who are gifted evangelical leaders in our church; (2) remember that these habits “propel us outward, beyond ourselves, into the lives of others; and (3) connect with one another in the church by developing relationships of accountability so that we can help one another foster these habits and grow deeper in our own discipleship.

Over the next year, we will dive deep into the five missional habits outlined in Surprise the World: Bless, Eat, Listen, Learn, Sent. Our prayer is that God will lead us to live questionable lives that announce the reign of God in our world, sharing the hope and light of Jesus Christ.

Back to School

A little girl named Ivey changed my life. I met her in Kindergarten; she was 5, I was 30. I had volunteered to be a mentor through Communities in School in my county and was assigned to be Ivey’s tutor. I remember meeting this precious girl with wispy blond curls and a sweet, shy face. The first year we spent together she didn’t talk much, in fact many days when I arrived I was told she was out sick again. By the end of Kindergarten, I came to understand that constant ear infections and poor health care meant she had trouble hearing and thus trouble reading. We hung in there together and by the end of the year she managed some small smiles when I came to see her.

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I’ll never forget the Christmas that…(part 2)

Getting sick at Christmas is the worst.

A week or so before Christmas in 1992 (my sophomore year), I felt a cold coming on. Sore throat, stuffy nose, sinus headache. Nothing to worry about – it felt like a normal cold that typically passes in a day or two. Around day 3, I started running a fever (ugh) and had to miss my mid-terms at school (cool!)…and then things got real.

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Growing Together…

Millimeter by millimeter, month by month, one attempt after another…eventually I could reach it.

I don’t remember how old I was, but I do remember when I could finally touch the top of the doorframe leading out of the living room of the house I grew up in. Along with a column of pencil marks on that same doorframe indicating my height on each birthday, it was noticeable evidence of my growth. The smudges on that doorframe and several others in that house that accumulated over the years also gave testimony to the continued growth (and the seemingly constant dirty hands) of a young kid.

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