Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Rest


Keri Wyatt Kent is really a good author. She understands what it means to have 'real faith' and a 'real life'. She's a church leader, wife, soccer mom,writer, cook, chauffeur, water ski enthusiast, seminar leader, retreat leader, etc.. You get the picture. Keri writes from a real life perspective. That's refreshing.

Keri asked me if I'd feature her recent book Rest:Living in Sabbath Simplicity on my blog. That was an easy 'yes'. This is good stuff especially for those of us who need some practical help in slowing down and getting in on God's best for our lives.

Here's a couple of questions and Keri's answers about the value of Sabbath keeping.

1. How does practicing the Sabbath in today’s busy society differ from the ancient concept of the Sabbath? Why is it so different? Why is it still important?

The ancient Jewish Sabbath had very strict boundaries, but within those boundaries, there was freedom and relationship. The Torah and traditions prohibited what was known as melachah, work that is creative or exercises dominion over your environment. There were 39 specific tasks, such as reaping, lighting a fire, etc., that correlated to the 39 tasks needed to build the temple.

Jesus, Lord of the Sabbath, gave us a new way of following the ancient law. Jesus reminded us that the law was originally meant to invite us into relationship with God. While the Bible makes it clear that we are saved by grace, and not by the law, God’s law still remains a great way to live—as long as we don’t get legalistic or think keeping certain rules will save us.

It’s important for many reasons, which I cover in the book. But here’s just one key reason: it allows us to experience the unconditional love of God in a physical, tangible way. It’s one thing to say he loves us even when we are not accomplishing or performing. But if we never actually stop performing, how can we experience that unconditional love? It allows us to say yes, with our bodies and our schedules, to Jesus invitation in Matthew 11:28: “Come to me, you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Sabbath is not so much something you “do” as a gift you receive.


2. You say the Sabbath made you learn flexibility. In what ways? How does Sabbath change throughout different seasons of our lives?

Jesus taught a whole new way of Sabbath, and I devote the entire first chapter of the book to just that. He showed us that Sabbath was for healing, reconciliation, valuing relationships over rules. But like any spiritual practice, we need to let God lead us, to be teachable. That requires flexibility. And it won’t always go perfectly. Again, we have to be willing to recognize that Sabbath Simplicity is a journey, and we’re learning as we go. Just as we learn other spiritual practices, like prayer or Bible study. We don’t have them completely figured out or perfected, but we keep doing them, and keep asking God to help us to do them better.

You also have to adapt your practice to the season of your life. I love that God gives a reason with the Sabbath command. Take a day off, he says, because you were slaves in Egypt. Slaves cannot take a day off, but free people can. Sabbath is a day to celebrate freedom, and to perhaps reflect on the gift of freedom, and to empathize a bit with those who are not free.

In certain seasons, though, we may feel like a slave—to our young children, our career, our needy friends, or aging parents. When I was in that season, it was hard. Ask for help. While you may, for example, still have to change diapers or feed your kids, you can refrain from other things. Don’t run errands on Sunday. It’s a nightmare with little kids in tow anyway. Do it another day, and save Sunday for just relaxing with your family. I have very specific suggestions on how to do this in my book.

I urge you to check this book out. Great message. Down to earth. Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity provides practical ways to slow down and simplify. It offers the gift of Sabbath, as a lifestyle and a spiritual practice. If you’d like to be included in a drawing for a free copy of Rest, leave a comment or question below. If you leave a question, Keri will be glad to try to answer it. We’ll select a winner next Wednesday, January 21st.

Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity is available at bookstores everywhere, and on-line.

Here's a link to Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Rest-Simplicity-Keri-Wyatt-Kent/dp/0310285976/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1229546292&sr=8-1

Here's one to Christianbook.com http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/product?item_no=285977&netp_id=550382&event=ESRCN&item_code=WW&view=covers


For more information about Keri Wyatt Kent, visit her website at www.keriwyattkent.com or www.sabbathsimplicity.com

10 comments:

Randy Siever said...

It's interesting to notice how often Jesus seemed to (I think) delight in pissing off the Pharisees over the sabbath issue. It seems to be his favorite issue to raise with them. I don't know why that is...just an observation.

Sabbath rest is a really interesting concept once it's taken out of the legal constraints we usually find it in. I suppose Foster would (and probably did) say it's a spiritual discipline. I know it requires a certain amount of discipline of some kind to happen...at least in my own life. Therefore I'm afraid I don't do it much. Particularly hard on professional Christians who work on Sundays (the traditional Christian Sabbath...unless you're Seventh Day Adventist, of course).

I like the idea of the sabbath being a gift rather than something else to do. If it's a gift it feels less like an obligation and more like Christmas.

Since God took a day off to rest during the creation schema, I suppose it is a bit arrogant to presume we who are made in his image don't need a day off from our labors.

Now if I can just figure out what a day off would look like for someone like me who works on the internet, cell phone and laptop. I suppose it looks like unplugging for a day. And that frightens me...which is a weird way to feel about a gift, isn't it?

Mike said...

Great post Randy. Now you're eligible for the free book drawing. Not bad.

Unplugging ...the curse of the wired up ...it is a bit frightening, I admit.

brian delort said...

Rest.....

As the author noted, I think it is true that we need to know which "season" we are in regarding Sabbath. There have been times in my life when I fluctuated between not remembering my middle name (because I was so busy at work), and craving for something to do to fill up my time.

Jesus did much to turn heads in His days, and I would pay almost anything to have been there when He did. I would have loved to have seen the looks on the faces of those Pharisees, the alleged most learned men of God, when Jesus said some of things He said, and did. "...even before Abraham was, I am." Talk about stirring up an ant hill.

I think Jesus was simply demonstrating the heart of God's message, taught initially in the Old Testament, so all would come to know God more intimately. Working on the Sabbath wasn't allowed, but was that God's point? Jesus showed that loving your neighbor as yourself was the point of the Old Law (second to loving God!), and loving neighbors didn't stop at midnight on Saturday. (Although, I still have a tough time reconciling the story of how a man was stoned to death in the Old Testament for chopping/gathering wood on the Sabbath...)

For me, Sabbath is about taking time off to remember all God has done for me, through prayer, rest, and relationships. It doesn't have to be a day, or even on Sunday, just enough time to keep my focus on Him. I haven't always been good at this, but, as the author mentioned, it's a journey.

One last point the author made in her introduction. She said that Jesus was more about relationships over rules. I agree. Our relationship with God is the most imporatnt one, and is governed by His rules which we need to obey, not any legalistic, traditional, man made ones like, "Thou shalt not dance, Thou shalt not go to comedy clubs..." Oops, sorry Mike, I couldn't help myself. I only have three more therapy sessions, then I should be cured! (at least, that's what my therapist says...)
Am I busy at work, or what??

Mike said...

Lest anyone think that I'm the cause of Brian's therapy for 'acute legalism syndrome' ...please know that I know the story but am not the cause.

Gloria Hickey said...

I have not read the book yet, but reading the comments etc, I thought about a time when I was younger and my Dad would not allow us kids to do any kind of work on the Sabbath. We went to church and then visited with extended family that would drop by.

All the stores were closed, you didn't run out for that gallon of milk, you planned for that ahead, so that you could honor Our Lord by making his day Holy all day long.

Now, my life is so busy. Sometimes I find myself doing a load of laundry on Sunday night because I need those clothes for the next day.

Maybe we need to get back to the good ol days when things were simpler

Mike said...

Gloria. Good point. So, do you think a simpler time is something we can create by learning and living into Sabbath principles.

I'm old enough to remember when stuff just wasn't open on Sunday.

That was a time when cultural values were informed greatly by the habits of the church.

Thanks for posting. You're elibible for the drawing for the book.

Blessings,

Mike

Matt @ The Church of No People said...

Hey Mike, I just happened on your blog today. Great post - I think we've lost the spirit (and benefits) of keeping the Sabbath, and our lives are much poorer for it. Thank you for bringing this book to our attention. I'll be back to see what more you're writing. God bless and happy blogging!

Cassie Hart said...

Mike,
What a concept! Didn't Jesus tell us he did only what his Father told him?! Wonder how he knew, except that he spent time with his Father. .....and we know that he did because we are told repeatedly in the bible that Jesus went away to pray. Sometimes all night!

When we like someone, we usually like to spend time with them, so we get to expand the relationship.
Isn't that what Our Father, God, wants of us? Well, He even tells us that in John 10:27, 28 "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:......"

There are many benefits to sabbath, getting to a spot where we actually do hear Our Lords voice, spending time with our dear ones, resting, being restored! What a great idea the Lord had, with Sabbath!

Cass Hart

Mike said...

Randy Siever won the drawing. Free book.

Randy Siever said...

Yay for me! Thanks, Mike!