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Posts Tagged ‘sabbath’

When I was training for the Augusta 70.3 Half Ironman this past summer (you know I have to slip that in from time to time), there was a repeated axiom; Don’t forget to breathe.  As mammals most of us know and can appreciate the importance of breathing.  If we stop breathing, well, we stop.  Oxygen serves to circulate our blood which, apparently, is needed from head to toe.

There is a tendency when exercising, to hold our breath.  Caught up in the moment of strain and exertion we loose sight of the big picture of what our body is doing and take hold of a false sense of strength by holding our breath and cutting off a vital source of life. Air.  This leads to quicker burn out in our workouts and impedes our fitness progression.  We end up serving our workout instead of our workouts serving us.

Our walk with God has a tendency to turn into something akin to “forgetting to breathe”.  We have established religion to give us an ordered way to follow God.  After the Hebrews were delivered from the Egyptians they were given a long list of religious laws, festivals, and rituals to follow.  The purpose was not for “religions” sake.  The purpose was so that the people would be able to organize their living in such a way that would help them encounter God in every aspect of their life.  The practices were done as a pathway that lead to a life with God.  Over time, God ceased to be the goal and religion became not just a means, but the ends as well.  This was what Jesus countered throughout the Gospels.  The religious leaders had forgotten that God was the goal.  They began to hold religion up higher than God.

This is not to say that religion is not good, but we must not make religion an idol.  There was an encounter Jesus had with the religious leaders about this very thing.  Jesus and the Disciples were approached by a man with a crippled hand.  Jesus healed the man.  Work was not allowed on the Sabbath and this amounted to work in the eyes of the religious lawyers.  They confronted Jesus.  Jesus asked the leaders who would not rescue a mule that fell in a hole.  He then told them that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.

This time of the year we are bombarded with Christmas.  It is easy for stress to overtake us and grab ahold like a vice.  Did I buy the right gift?  Am I observing Christmas appropriately?  Can I afford this?  Do I have better Christmas lights than my neighbor (yes, I do)?  Is there enough room at the house for the in-laws, because I know there is enough room at the Holiday Inn (does not apply to my wonderful in-laws)? If you have found yourself in a place where you are serving Christmas, stop.  Breathe.

Christmas is made for man, not man made for Christmas.  God became flesh in the form of his son Jesus Christ so that we might have life.  In order to live, we have to breath.  In this case it means taking a moment, settling down, and gaining perspective.  We “deck the halls” so that we can enjoy a festive atmosphere.  If “decking the halls” has you contemplating manslaughter, perhaps it’s time to reexamine your life.  May your activities this season serve you in your enjoyment of your family and friends.  May your activity be a way in which you can encounter God in more ways than just asking him “to get me through this season”.  Allow this Christmas season to open you to the possibilities of life and joy.  Allow this season to serve you in a way that brings you life. Don’t forget to breathe.

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SundayMarch 7, 2010

  • Season: Lent
  • Sermon: Waiting For What?
  • Scripture: Luke 13: 1-9
  • Songs:

9:30AM Service

  1. How Can I Keep From Singing
  2. Beautiful One
  3. Mighty To Save
  4. offertory:  His Glory Appears
  5. Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)

11:00AM Service

  1. Joyful Joyful
  2. Amazing Grace

This past Sunday we reflected on Luke 13. This chapter marks the final section in a theme Jesus had been preaching on in the previous chapters.  It is a theme of hearing and living the word of God (Luke 11: 27,28).  The call of Jesus is for us to repent and believe.  One of the questions I have is “what are we repenting from?”

Scripture reveals to us 2 different stories. One story is the story of Adam or the story of humanity and the other is the story of God.  The story of Adam is a story of seeking to become like God, self sufficient, self serving, self focused.  In this focus God is used, if thought of at all, as a prop or tool to help us accomplish our goals.  We end up converting to a religion thinking the aim is self improvement alone.  “The story of Adam, symbolized by /\, is the story of life referenced around self, one who climbs up only to fall down. The story of Christ, symbolized by \/, is the story of life referenced around God, a willful descent into humility and a surprising ascent into embrace.” (J.D. Walt)

In these chapters of Luke, Jesus reveals to us the story the Pharisees are living.  It is one caught up in religion that serves self and does not seek life.  It is a religion of appearance and not of substance.  It is a religion of behavior modification but not  of transformation.  It is a religion that can easily trap people into a cycle of reward and punishment based upon “right practice” as well as lead to those who “practice rightly” to judge those who do not.

But Jesus came to set free the captives and that includes those of us who are held captive by religion instead of set free by it.  Hear me on this, I am not saying that religion is bad.  Jesus said that he did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it.  What more can that mean but that there is a purpose beyond the law and only Jesus can help us get there.  So where is there?  I believe it to be a reconciled relationship with God.

Fred Craddock, a respected preacher and theologian, said in his commentary on Luke that, “Life in the Kingdom is not an elevated game of gaining favors and avoiding losses.”  Imagine being in a relationship where every step was calculated on favors and losses.  If you are always worried about if what you do or don’t do is pleasing or displeasing to someone there is a good chance you will spend a lot of time with anxiety drugs.  That isn’t freedom.  God’s desire is to bring us into freedom not bondage.  Think about the many different times that Jesus challenged people on the abuse of the Sabbath.  He would tell them that man was not made for the Sabbath, but Sabbath was made for man.

The Pharisees were sure that it was their “right” behavior that set them above others.  Jesus was telling them that was not the case.  As a matter of fact, they had turned their right behavior into idolatry and had missed out on a relationship with God.  When we reduce our relationship with God down to religion we become a people who serve the Sabbath. However, if we elevate our religion into a relationship with God, the Sabbath serves us.

How do we do this?  Jesus says to follow him.  He says that in order to save our life we must loose it.  In other words we must live into the story of God which means we must surrender to him and discover the freedom of life.  Is there a how to list?  No.  It is one that begins in prayer, confession, forgiveness, repentance, and trust.

Maybe your prayer can begin simply by telling God to show you what this looks like and how to live it.  Will you hear his good news and will you live it too. What are you waiting for?

(to explore the idea of 2 stories further, please click the link on the sidebar marked ” 2 stories”.

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