Too Busy to Keep the Ridiculous Notion of the Sabbath

Everyone I know is busy. And if you read the previous post, I don’t know anyone that is really happy. Are these observations linked? Would we be happier if we were less busy? Some might say so but I know plenty of bored people who are not happy either.

We’re busy people. There’s a lot we want to do these days and there’s a lot we want to do before we die. We want to enjoy life, laugh with our family and friends, experience happiness and love, find discover new things and contribute to the good of this world. We want to find meaning, find God (if there really is one), and figure out our place in this world.

As we search the answers to these big questions, we have schedules to keep, bills to pay, people to take care of, demands, responsibilities, and all the whatevers of life that keep us busy. At the end of a long day we sit down to catch our breath, turn on “Love It or List It” and two hours later, dozens of houses, and a few annoying home-buyers, you’re even more tired, more frustrated and already bogged down by the busyness forecast for the next day.

Exhausted by the never-ending to-do list, and frustrated that our aspirations move further beyond our grasp someone inevitably comes along and asks, “Do you ever practice keeping the Sabbath?”

Ahh yes, the Sabbath. The Fourth Commandment – “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy” (Exodus 20:8).

Umm, no I don’t keep the Sabbath, I’m busy, I have a lot going on, so if you don’t mind, please either move along or quickly unload the guilt on me and I’ll add it to my to-do list of dealing with it later but whatever you decide, just make it fast because I have stuff to do and watch more “Love It or List It” and then Sportscenter.

Is there anything more ridiculous than the keeping of the Sabbath? All decent people will understand the other commandments that forbid murdering, theft, adultery, even the worship of idols (that can’t be good, right?). But a mandatory off day? Why does God care so much and why put it on the same scale as these other commands?

Sabbath-keeping feels like a luxury for rich, spiritual people. Or for the Jetsons. But you don’t understand, I have people relying on [Read more...]

Is Anyone Actually Happy?

There are days when it feels like I don’t know anyone who is really happy.

Life is tough … for everybody.

Which is odd because so many people look so happy. I walk into a coffee shop, I see women hugging and greeting each other like prodigal friends, “Oh my goodness Darlene – you look fabulous!!” I’m at bar with friends and sometimes it feels like I just walked into a Bud Light commercial with all these dudes high-fiving, singing, retelling old stories and intoxicated with life – “Yeah, I’ll have what they’re having.” Then the next day, I will look in the rearview mirror in our van and marvel at the sight of these beautiful children and say something sarcastic to my wife about how I’m really sensing that we should really keep all these kids.

But inevitably I will wonder why these moments feel so fleeting for us. The ladies in the coffee shop will start complaining, the bros in the bar will have a few too many and the sweet kids in the rearview will turn into Gremlins.

The more people you talk to, the more pain you see. The longer you talk to someone, the more hurt they reveal. And the longer you live, the more awful things you see and hear. It’s the theme of the book Ecclesiastes and it’s all throughout anytime anyone says, ““I’m just not happy anymore” and share their feelings of hopelessness.

Then there’s you. You and your happiness or lack of it. We say things like, “If only this were different, if only this could be changed, if only this had or had not happened, if only …”

At this point, we’re wondering a few things. Just how depressed is everyone, should I be more depressed, is happiness simply feeling a little better than the collective misery around me and how depressed is this blogger? And is he really a pastor?

Well, most days I think so and today happens to be one of them and while I’m unconvinced that happiness can be found at the end of a blog post, don’t click away yet because these words feel very true to me.

Predictably I’m going to talk about Christianity and the promise of happiness. In fact, I’d suggest that if our faith is not pointing us to a deeper, truer life,  and happier life then we should either get rid of it or figure out if we really understand it.

Frankly, if Jesus does not understand happiness, can I really trust him and further, what good would Jesus/Christianity be if happiness was not part of it? What’s not as predictable is perhaps our  understanding of happiness. 

[Read more...]

Blog Update: What I’ve Been up to, On My Mind & What’s Coming

Quite a few thoughts on my mind lately. Got back from a vacation a couple weeks ago and hit the ground running like you do. Also got to spend July 4th weekend with great friends, been a nice start to the summer, and the only real casualty is the blog. So hoping this post gives me some clarity and gets me blogging again. If any of this resonates, let me know.

I was grateful to have preached last week in our new sermon series “One Word Prayers” and my word was “Please.”  In the message I revealed my love for bacon, coffee and that we’re expecting a new baby this fall. That said, the point of the message was we use the prayer, “Please” in many ways, from seeking God’s blessing, interceding for others, and desiring God’s sweeter reality. You can listen/watch it here and embedded below.

There’s a draft on the post-sermon that I’m unsure I’m going to finish. Similar to the feeling of “it’s great to have written”, there’s the “it’s great to have just preached” but this time I really feeling, “It’s great to have just connected.” I was grateful to have had a bigger part in shaping this sermon series and I think I feel the difference of having preached something a bit closer to my heart. If you’re not a weekly preacher, there’s often either a hangover or afterglow, I’m grateful to have experienced the latter.

The other night I started on a draft that wondered why it sometimes feels like everyone I know is unhappy. It’s a half-true of course but it feels like there’s a lot going on with all of us, we’re all in need of something and what do things like contentment, waiting and joy look like in the midst of this? Working on it. 

 

I’m also thinking about what’s going on in the news:

  • Still have a few thoughts and finishing the follow up to “What to Do with all These Stories of Women Being Sexually Attacked …”
  • Working my way through the Supreme Court-Hobby Lobby decision. On one hand requiring businesses to provide birth control seems like clumsy socialism yet this decision feels like it gives greater power to corporations and I’m not comfortable with that either. Some great essays/posts out there and I’m processing

There’s a pile of book reviews I’m trying to put together:

  • The Church and Post-Modern Culture Series via Logos Bible Software.  I was asked to review this seven volume series and while it’s time-consuming nerdy work, it’s reading I need and thankful for, especially during these post-seminary days. 
  • Fail by J.R. Briggs – love this guy, love how he talks about failure, love that IVP published this. I even when to his conference where each presenter shared about their greatest failures and how they survived. 
  • 24/6 by Matthew Sleeth – Sabbath, rest, worship, renewal. Every time I approach my stress and confront the feeling of being overwhelmed, I return to the teaching and practice of Sabbath. 

And an assortment of reflections ranging from short term mission trips, student ministry, small group ministry, discipleship culture in churches, faith and science divide and general leadership. I’ll never get it all out but I’m grateful to be around all this.

On a bit more of a personal level, I’m looking for rest and renewal this summer. I’ve said this all year, so I guess it’s been one of the themes all along and it’s filtered through just about everything I’ve been a part of including our Summer Discipleship Course starting this Sunday morning at the Lexington campus during both morning worship hours. We’re calling it “Rest and Renewal in Summer and Scripture” and I’m excited to  kick it off this week.

Hope all is going well with you and your summer.

 

If you’re up for a 30 minute sermon about prayer, heaven and bacon, I’m your preacher :)

 

What To Do With All These Stories of Women Being Sexually Attacked From #BringBackOurGirls to #TakeDownThatPost Post 1

Even if you’re only paying half-attention, there is a lot of news, content and awareness on the poor treatment of women right now. Frankly, it’s difficult not to be sensitive to what’s happening. Bad news is bad news but what’s even worse is to not learn from these hurt-filled moments so that people can be helped now and that pain can be limited or even avoided in the future. 

To recap the context I’m working through:

Back in April, news broke of 200 school girls in Nigeria were kidnapped in one day. Some have escaped, while the whereabouts of most are still unknown. As a result, the #BringBackOurGirls campaign was born (and shown to be effective). But we ask ourselves, how do we live in such a world? This is absolutely mind-boggling to an outsider like me.

Two weeks ago we read reports from Egypt of women who were sexually assaulted during the inauguration celebration. Make no mistake, these sexual attacks are political statements which brings back the question, what kind of a world do we live in?

Stateside, our heads are spinning from the news of Bob Jones University faculty telling a rape victim to repent of her sin. The link is to a story about a young woman who was assaulted at her summer job, then began college, shared her story, and was advised by faculty to repent because there’s “sin under sin.” Stupid advice is sinful too.  [Read more...]

Reflecting on the Calling of Fatherhood (Father’s Day 2014)

[Been out of pocket this week - a few belated postings going up in the next few days.]:

Most days I feel like a good father but I’m just being humble. It turns out, I’m actually “The #1 Daddy.” My six year old confirmed this for me in writing and I can produce this document at a moment’s notice.

I’m tempted to set it all on cruise-control but in a moment of self-awareness, I thought maybe I’d reflect on the goodness and the challenges of fatherhood.  I’m thinking about my personal joys, I’m thinking of two friends celebrating their first father’s day among a few other scenes featuring fathers and grandfathers playing out in my head.

This Father’s Day, I was surrounded by my family, my wife, my children, my own father and mother, brother, sister and her husband and kids. We’re vacationing together and it all fell on Father’s Day weekend. We all live in different parts of the country now so these days are special.

If we’re local or Facebook friends, you know we just announced that Susan and I are expecting baby number 4. If you don’t know us, we’re a couple who spent 6 years in fertility treatments, quit them and adopted our first [Read more...]

The “Slippery Slope” Argument is the Adult Version of the Boogieman and It’s Not True

My least favorite excuse these days is the “slippery slope” argument. It goes something like, “If you bend or change your mind on this, then you’ll have to do the same for everything else. And then you’ll end up in chaos and destruction. Therefore it’s best to avoid the slippery slope.” In my mind is a particular context that I want to be sensitive to. It affects people I agree with, people I disagree with and I have friends on both sides. Still, I feel the need to call it out.

First, the slippery slope feels like a modern day boogieman for adults who, pardon my saying so, are afraid to change their minds. I’m struck by how unhelpful a Google search of “slippery slope” turns up. From my perspective, It’s a lot fear language preached from a loftier and often overly-conservative position.

[Read more...]

A Look at 1 Timothy 2:1-15 from My Egalitarian Perspective

I had the opportunity to write our church’s small group study this week. We create every other week based on the text the sermon will be preaching and while the study is not always sermon centric, the guide aims to study the passage through small group discussion. We’re big believers in the importance of Scripture in community.

Also, it must be mentioned, the sermon this past Sunday was incredible. Our pastor, Bryan, gave one of the clearest and strongest messages for the egalitarian position that I’ve heard. He includes his “conversion” from complementarianism to egalitarianism, his look at I Timothy 2:-15, and a fantastic historical understanding of evangelicalism and the role of women. I had no idea how mindful early evangelicalism was to include women in leadership and am shocked at its regression. Here’s the link to the video or if you prefer, audio only.

So the text for my study was the infamous 1 Timothy 2:1-15 and here are a few of my reflections from [Read more...]

Reflecting on #Yesallwomen

This week, I’ve been thinking about the #Yesallwomen hashtag. And like most hot cultural issues of the day, I keep avoiding putting my thoughts down for public consumption. Even with the sincerest of intentions, it’s often feels difficult to contribute anything positive to such loaded conversations.

It always takes longer than it should but eventually I realize that loaded conversations never go away. They may slip out of the public scene but it’s only temporary and they keep coming back with greater tension, sometimes they come back with fury. It’s better if we can speak into them and in the best case scenario, contribute progress, redemption and hope into them. This will of course, expose our pre-suppositions, philosophies and guiding narratives and frankly, I have a lot of faith in mine. Hope you join me.

When I look at my Twitter feed, I’m struck by how many times #Yesallwomen comes up. I follow a [Read more...]

Reflecting on Memorial Day 2014

There is generally a bit of unrest in my heart when it comes to the observances, remembrances and celebrations of our patriotic holidays. If you’ve been a faithful reader of this blog, this tends to come up from during July 4ths, Veterans’ Day, 9-11 and of course, Memorial Day.

Normally, I’m a fan of social media but I tend to avoid interacting on it on these days because it tends to add to my unrest. Too much sounds either trite, or overly-militant, and some sound overly-passive, borderline dismissive. The point of such an observance is that we stop what we do and remember the cost it took to allow us to do what we do. Some of what I observe takes me out of that but I try to be grateful for those who are encouraged from what they find on social media.

To be sure, I have nothing but respect, admiration and gratefulness for those who have sacrificed their lives for the freedoms we enjoy. Further, members of my own family have served in their respective militaries voluntarily and involuntarily and again, I have enormous respect and admiration for them. My heart breaks and I pray for the families who find this day painful as they remember their loved ones. May God’s peace and strength find you.

But it’s not necessary to have lost a loved one to feel the pain of this day. How can you not pause and pray upon seeing pictures of a widow knelt by a graveside? How can you not feel the remorse of a child [Read more...]

The Need for Christian Unity Post 1 – The Gospel Coalition Fallout

I was having a conversation recently that discussed the needs of the Church.  We began discussing unity and if the North American Church was more or less fractured now than ever before.

We cited recent events like what’s going on with the Tullian Tchividjian, Tim Keller and The Gospel Coalition and the comment sections of the blog post 6 Heretics Who Should Be Banned From Evangelicalism – original and Relevant’s posting. (Note: I appreciated the post, comments – ugh. Though it goes against my hope for conversation and community, comment sections on mainstream blogs are painful and often void of conversation and community).

Which got me thinking, if Tim Keller and Tullian Tchividjian can’t get along, are we in trouble? If the best thing to do concerning comment sections on Christian blogs is to NOT read them, then what does that say?

First the Keller-Tchividjian-Gospel Coalition Fallout. From what I can tell, both are high integrity, laser focused people with no time for distraction. Yet, our Twitter feeds are filled up with what transpired with Tullian kicked out of the Gospel Coalition. TGC is offering a clarification that’s it’s due to a theological difference and Tullian has called that a “flat out lie.” As an outsider who does not follow Tchividjian that closely (he’s too intense for me at times) and as one who is not a faithful reader of TGC, I’d like to hear about another time when a blog kicked someone out over the doctrine of sanctification – Come on TGC. I appreciate that it’s complicated, I chuckle that it has [Read more...]