Monday, September 30, 2013

10,000 Reasons

The Matt Redman song 10,000 Reasons has resonated with me before, but there is a verse in it that never shook me to the core like it did Saturday at the memorial service for my friend, Wes Carmack.

Go take a listen.  Then come back.

Like Wes, I do want my circles of influence to ripple outward in positive, identifiable ways.  I want my children to know that they were a priority for me, even as I pastored a church and generated income in a variety of ways. I want to have been a faithful, honorable man.

And on that day when my strength is failing . . . still my soul will sing!

Sunday, September 29, 2013


In those days I saw people in Judah treading winepresses on the Sabbath and bringing in grain and loading it on donkeys, together with wine, grapes, figs and all other kinds of loads. And they were bringing all this into Jerusalem on the Sabbath. Therefore I warned them against selling food on that day. People from Tyre who lived in Jerusalem were bringing in fish and all kinds of merchandise and selling them in Jerusalem on the Sabbath to the people of Judah. (NIV)

In those days I saw Christians of Bend, Oregon, doing their chores and work on the Sabbath and generally keeping it busy with lots to do; full of tasks and to-do lists and sometimes their recreations also became distractions.  They were doing all this even in the holy places on the Sabbath.  Therefore I warned them about their to-do lists and productivity on that day.  People who believed in no God at all lived in Bend and engaged with all sorts of to-do's and distractions, on the Sabbath and with the Christians of Bend.

The first paragraph is from the Scriptures.  The second paragraph is pretending to be parallel, but the analogy only goes a short distance.  If it's useful to you, that's great; if you noticed that it's not 100% theologically sound, you're right.  Just dismiss it--you don't have to set me straight unless that's really how you want to spend your time.  I'd rather have a conversation about Sabbath-taking than about my attempt to apply Scripture to modern-day.

Here's what got me thinking about Sabbath rest:

In Velvet Elvis, Rob Bell writes "Sabbath is taking a day a week to remind myself that I did not make the world and that it will continue to exist without my efforts.

Sabbath is a day when my work is done, even if it isn't.
Sabbath is a day when my job is to enjoy.  Period.
Sabbath is a day when I am fully available to myself and those I love most.
Sabbath is a day when I remember that when God made the world, he saw that it was good.
Sabbath is a day when I produce nothing.
Sabbath is a day when I remind myself that I am not a machine.
Sabbath is a day when at the end of the day I say 'I didn't do anything today,' and I don't add 'and I feel so guilty.'
Sabbath is a day when my phone is turned off, I don't check my email, and you can't [reach] me."

Some of those are meaningful for me.  Some of those not so much.  I find that I am deeply impacted by the thought of being prohibited from accomplishments, productivity, and to-do lists on one day a week.

How do you Sabbath?  If you don't Sabbath at all, are you aware that Scripture talks about God really caring--that it's really important to him--that his people Sabbath?

Friday, September 6, 2013

2nd Tomato Disdain

Being honest:

My wife and I have just come off a period of fasting and we're into raw foods for a longer period.  Today I breakfasted on a puree of apples, pears, and celery, and it was DELICIOUS!  So delightful.

Then, just now, I went through the kitchen and snagged a cherry-tomato off the counter.  WOW!  What awesomeness to actually get to chew something.  Gratitude overwhelms.

Five minutes later, as I passed the kitchen from the other way, I snagged another tomato.  (here's where it gets gut-level honest)

munch-munch-munch.  scrunched-face.  "Two weeks of Raw Foods?  Why did I agree to this?"

The difference between the two tomatoes was zero.  The difference in my level of gratitude and attitude was incredible; a 180 shift into grumbling. I am the Israelites coming out of Egypt, and they are me.

Lord, help me to be first-tomato grateful in every circumstance.  Lord, help me resist second-tomato disdain.