How to create some Daily & Weekly Rest Rhythms (Chapter 2, part 2)

In regard to Sabbath-keeping, Kent says, “There are no rules, except this: just stop.” When God sentenced the Israelites to 40 years of wilderness wandering, He said, “they shall never enter my rest.” Doesn’t that sound awful? Perpetual wandering. We are invited into His rest.

Kent says, “rest is a gift, but we can’t receive it if we don’t stop to open it.” Sabbath-keeping is not about checking a list. It is a way of asking yourself and those closest to you, what does it look like to stop? How can we receive the gift of His rest?

today?

this week?

this month?

Daily

Our bodies are amazing in many ways and one of these I’ve lately been discovering is connected to our circadian rhythm. Light, time and hormones work together to cue us in to when it is day and when it is night. We have times that we are more or less alert throughout the day, times we are more ready to work, to eat or to relax.

While we sleep, our bodies also have rhythms or cycles that have different purposes. Scientists believe that one part of our sleep pattern helps to restore our bodies, while another helps to restore our minds. Isn’t that amazing?

Research shows that going to bed, and especially getting up at a consistent time can help you to feel more physically and mentally alert. There have also been countless magazine articles written to suggest routines before going to bed or upon waking. These are one way to rest regularly.

Are there also ways to integrate rest into your day? Maybe a 10-minute walk on your coffee break? Maybe turning the radio on while you are getting ready for the day?

Weekly

Sabbath, specifically, is about setting apart a day, a 24-hour period of rest. Which day and what “stopping” looks like may vary, but here is one example. We see in the Creation story and the Jewish tradition that the day actually began with sunset.

According to Kent, traditionally the Hebrew day was broken apart like this:

  • 6pm-10pm: 4 hours available for relationships
  • 10pm-6am: 8 hours available for sleep
  • 6am-6pm: 12 hours available for productivity and work

How does that compare with how we spend our time today?

Most of us are not farmers, use electricity and depend on technology for everything from entertainment to relational connection. I’m not suggesting we return to the past, but I challenge you to consider the rhythm of your week-to-week.

Do you have any rest built in? Is there one thing you could do to create some rest today? 

If you are curious to learn more, read chapter 2 of Keri Wyatt Kent’s book Rest, available here. Join us next week for chapter 3!

Why we need Rest as a Rhythm (chapter 2, part 1)

I missed chapter 1! Read here

In chapter 2 of Rest, Keri shares how performance experts have noticed that tennis games between top performers are usually won based on how effectively players use their time in between points. So, rather than one player having more perfect strokes, the game is often determined based on routines that allow one player to recover better during the seconds between. Does that surprise you?

Similarly, Keri shares her husband’s perspective on what happens to muscles when they are at work and in rest: “When you work to failure, the muscle fibers actually break down… Then when you rest, blood flows into the muscles and they rebuild themselves.” Did you know that your muscles have to rest in order to grow?

Growing mental strength works similarly. By taking risks, you actually re-train your brain in the face of fear. So every time Jeremy and I climb we are exercising not only physically, but also engaging our mind in fear-fighting and problem-solving.

Keri suggests that soul rest is equally necessary for growth. She says many of us “are never fully engaged, and we never take time to disengage.” Keeping Sabbath is about living life to almost the point of “muscle failure” and then stopping to rest. Because we stop, we can go fully.

At first, stopping to rest seems like it will make us busier, but then we realize that it feels like a luxury and it is indeed a gift. It is “actually the secret to getting more done, to understanding and living our true priorities, to enjoying our lives, and to experiencing the presence of God.” What do you think? Would you be willing to rest in order to be more productive?

If you are curious to learn more, read chapter 2 of Keri Wyatt Kent’s book Rest, available here. Join us next week for chapter 2, part 2!

Resources: Personality, Behavior & Communication

Personality tests. They are all a bit different and I’ve taken a handful over the years. I went ahead and compiled a list of the ones I’ve taken here, along with a brief description and some links.

If you are just getting started, I’d recommend the first two. If you find these interesting and want to read more, #3 is a discussion in how the first two connect. I’d recommend #4 for a work or team setting, #5 if you work in a church or parachurch setting and #6 for anyone who wants to learn more about communication and relating in general.

  1. Four temperaments – click here to read a Christian perspective on 4 temps
  2. Meyers-Briggs type – probably the most well-known, 16 possibilities from a combination of your preferences for focus, taking in information, making decisions, and structure.  Take the free version
  3. Temperament-Type connection #1 – Keirsey and in chart form
  4. Disc – focuses more on behavior style, often used to help people communicate how to work and relate with others – free version
  5. Apestministry style – free version
  6. Life Languagescommunication style, this is the only one I was unable to find a free version for

Which of the above tests have you taken? Which would you recommend? Are there others you have taken or would recommend?

 

Washed in the Word

Get Washed

The insights from today’s post are taken from a chapter in John Ortberg’s book The Life You’ve Always Wanted. They were an encouragement to me and something I’m constantly needing to remember so I hope this post will clarify some vocabulary and encourages your heart as well.

The phrase “washed in the word” always seemed vague and unclear to me until I read it in context in Ortberg’s book. The phrase comes from Ephesians 5 where it says husbands are to to imitate Christ who “cleansed” His bride, the church “by the washing of water with the word.” Weird.

I mean, I get the importance of the Word, but what does it have to do with washing? Ortberg boiled it down to the quite literal and it was a lightbulb moment. He asks why do we wash something and what happens if we don’t?

So often, we think we have to clean ourselves up so we can go to confession, attend church, read a Bible. Ortberg says the reason we come to God is the exact opposite – because we need Him to cleanse us! He says our minds our full of everything other than truth – dirt and darkness.

The effects of getting washed

When we read the Word, it cleanses our thoughts and our hearts. It reminds us to “seek his kingdom first.” A concept Ortberg describes as purity of heart or “a singleness of purpose and focus that gives consistency to [one’s] choices and commitments.”

In contrast to this, Ortberg references James’ description of “a life of divided loyalties” or double-mindedness. He contrasts single-mindedness as being connected to simplicity, while double-mindedness is connected to multiplicity and duplicity. He defines multiplicity as “ambivalence – pulled and pushed… we both desire intimacy with God and flee from it,” and he defines duplicity is “falseness… a discrepancy between the reasons we give… and the real reasons.”

These are the thoughts we all battle and he suggests the way to recalibrate, to re-orient is simpler than we think. It is not about what we do or don’t do, rather it is about bringing what needs to be washed to the only One who is completely Pure. As He washes us with His Word, we are slowly being transformed. Just like a plate with crumbs returns to its original shine when rinsed, the more regularly we dirty a plate, the more often we need to wash it!

Dallas Willard in his book The Divine Conspiracy says that people rarely think the God of the Bible has any relevance to our real lives. Either it is silly or incovenient or impractical or… there are few who consider the possibility that God’s words are what brings life to us and our world, and that therefore, it impacts every aspect of our daily lives. As a song by Tenth Avenue North says, “only you can make me new.”

Rest: an introduction

Are you in need of rest? I don’t just mean a little sleep; I mean soul rest. Join us for a Tuesday book discussion:

Why this book?

Today we begin discussing a book by Keri Wyatt Kent entitled Rest. Rest was the first of Kent’s books I read and it made a lasting impact on me. I was initially interested in reading it because I was longing to incorporate more rest into my life and I had no idea how.

Specifically, I wanted to learn more about the Jewish and Christian ideas of Sabbath. How was it originally intended to be practiced, and is there any relevance to our current time and place? The introduction and subtitle of the book is “Living in Sabbath Simplicity,” suggesting that Sabbath rest is part of a rhythm of a simple life. That thought sounded appealing to me then, and I have returned to the book since whenever I need a reminder why rest is important or help making rest happen.

What is Sabbath rest?

In the introduction, Kent says that Sabbath is both a command and a spiritual practice. Like other practices, her goal is not perfect implementation, but to share how practicing Sabbath led her to encounter God and changed her life. She suggests that the rest and recreation that come with Sabbath actually re-create us.

Kent emphasizes the idea that the practice of keeping the Sabbath is a journey. My own experience of practicing rest has also been something that I am continually growing in. There are many questions connected to the idea of Sabbath-keeping so Kent’s is one example that I have found helpful to me, personally.

For Keri and her family, Sabbath is a “day which almost always includes some activity, yet remains a respite from hurry and chaos. A day when we focus on one another instead of on our to-do lists. Still, we never have perfect Sundays. Thank God. Because often, what I need to rest from most is my perfectionism.” I’m still working out what Sabbath means for me, and Jeremy and I are growing in our understanding of it together, but we practice Sabbath on Saturdays. What comes to your mind when you think of the word Sabbath?

Share with us in a comment below! If you are interested in reading the book along with our discussion, you can order it here or check your local library. Then join us next Tuesday for a look at the first chapter and a Biblical perspective of Sabbath.

 

Listen, Speak, Do

The title of this post brings to my mind an image of three monkeys. You’ve seen them – one covering their eyes, one their ears, one their mouth. The thoughts often associated with these monkeys roughly translates in my mind “ignore what you don’t want to deal with in the way you choose”… a sort of ignorance is bliss mentality or perhaps pious is better… and all those are the opposite of this post’s position.

Today, I ask these questions: what activities can we pursue to receive more grace? Are there certain ways that God always works? How do I train instead of try?

In response to these questions, I propose three categories of blog topics: Listen, Speak, Do that summarize posts that I have either already written about or plan to write about it over the next year. Some of these topics, I will not comment further on at this time, but others I will soon dig deeper into. For example, when it comes to listening, or paying attention, we have covered the topic a lot so here is some background for those you may have missed it. We’ve explored listening to our lives, to others and to God as three ways to notice and to grow. To this category then, I will only comment that three ways of listening to God are through His Word, prayer as dialogue and practicing gratitude as I will speak more on these things in upcoming posts.

When it comes to speaking, I’m reminded what I so often forget; words matter. They carry weight, power even. Therefore, what we say and hear, and when we speak matters too. In the category of speaking, I highlight confession, encouragement and silence, or knowing when to not speak as future blog posts.

When it comes to action, I would like to make a distinction between discipline, as the fruit of our training, and rhythms, as routines that we practice. Distinguishing between discipline as law and training that leds to a more self-controlled life is often subtle, so we will start with this reminder that we are all learners. Some rhythms I plan to highlight then are work, rest, and celebration.

Listen, Speak, Do. Which topic are you most curious about? Let us know!

Three things: Hope, part 2

September 11. A day we all remember as a tragedy that would change us. For many millennials, perhaps a first entering into a world we had long heard was unstable. No longer we were confident to travel by air without a qualm. No longer was someone unaffected by what had happened.

A broken world. We know things are not as they are meant to be, deep down, we know. So how do we respond, or as a friend recently asked: How do we live in the midst of shootings, racism, hurricanes, and famines? In these things, faith is not enough.

Hope is what we have to have, or all seems pointless. Hope is not a denial of real hurt. It is not weak wishes that all will be well. So we agree with the author of Romans when we say that hope will not disappoint (Romans 5). Rather, if there is hope that I can change, nothing is beyond restoration; if not now, then one day, all will be made right (1 Corinthians 15:19-24 & Colossians 3).

I must have faith to have hope. I must hope to endure in my faith in the midst of this broken world. I must believe that God’s heart breaks more than mine & yours when he sees injustice. I must believe that He longs to fix it and that He is able and in the process of doing so. I must believe that He responds as we ask and that one day, he will do beyond all we imagine (Eph. 3:20).

What do you hope for? What makes it hard for you to have faith?

P.S. Much of the content of the Three Things series was inspired by Brad Watson’s book Sent Together (p. 20). Check out part 1 and part 3.

Teaching kids about finance

My dad has a background in finance, while mine is in education. He sent me this link recently which connects to conversations we’ve had about where our passions intersect. The question that we, and others, are asking is how are we preparing kids for life? Does, and should, education include things, such as how to manage money?

Try not

There is this scene in Star Wars where Luke is feeling overwhelmed and says: “Ok, I’ll try.” Yoda quickly responds: No! Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.” What I love most about Yoda’s answer is his passion and conviction. He does not hesitate to correct Luke, when many would have responded “How wonderful that you are going to try!”

Training for what?

This scene came to mind in the context of thinking about discipleship. In his book The Life You’ve Always Wanted, John Ortberg dedicates a whole chapter to Training vs. Trying. In it, he explains “the single most helpful principle… regarding spiritual transformation” as “There is an immense difference between training to do something and trying to do something.” He says “Learning to think, feel, and act like Jesus is at least as demanding as learning to run a marathon or play the piano.” 

Spiritual Calisthenics

Ortberg continues “Following Jesus simply means learning from him how to arrange my life around activities that enable me to live in the fruit of the Spirit.” He sees spiritual disciplines as a way of training, not as a measure of successful discipline. They “are to life what calisthenics are to a game.” He says “a disciplined follower of Jesus – a disciple – is not someone who has ‘mastered the disciplines,’” but rather a person “who can do the right thing at the right time in the right way with the right spirit.”

Thoughts?

Checklists are easier, except when they aren’t, and they lead to either a fluctuating and false sense or a lack of freedom. It is encouraging to me to hear that training is work, hard work, challenging work, but also that it is a choice with a bigger goal in mind. Remembering that frees me to desire to practice, as opposed to feeling guilty when I don’t. Your thoughts?

Five Decision-making Filters

Here are five filters I use to make decisions –
  1. More face time, less facetime – I would rather spend more time with people in person, and less time communicating via phone, email, or social media.

  2. Prioritize people – Based on number one, the people who are family and who are geographically closer to me are those that I will communicate with more often. I see this choice as practical and not as a measure of how much I love you! That said, different days call for different priorities!

  3. Fully present – Because I believe relationships are important, I want to spend time with people and be fully present when I am with others.

  4. Keep the big picture in mind – Like everyone, I have responsibilities & limits, so I am constantly prioritizing opportunities as they come up.
  5. Keep seeking the Spirit – I want to do as the Spirit leads, and sometimes that means saying no to things I want to do or that others want me to do, but it also means saying yes to His best!