Rest As A Discipline

REST is becoming much more important to me.  Not just because I’m getting older, but because I am more keenly aware of my prone-ness to error without it.  This weekend proved to be good for me.  I say it like that because I was very fitful in my resting…There’s a lot going on in my world right now, many things that I’m responsible for and worried about.  It was a real effort to let my hands “release the plow”, and I fretted for a while about what I wasn’t doing, and what was waiting for me when I got back to work.  But as time went on, and I continued to pray for God’s peace and love and grace to soak into my soul, I gradually let down and started feeling the effects of His perspective and comfort.  I slept well last night and woke up refreshed…ready to roll, but with less anxiety and more connection with my Master.

This morning I was reading a blog from 3DM, a ministry blog I subscribe to…it said:

“But now more than ever the word about Jesus spread abroad; many crowds would gather to hear him and to be cured of their diseases. But he would withdraw to deserted places and pray.” (Luke 5.15-16)

“Jesus lived a regular rhythm: crowds/solitude, preaching/prayer, healing/rest. He was well acquainted with the deserted places in and around Galilee. Regularly he would return to the desert, the place of his 40 day fast, to reconnect with the Father. To listen. To be filled with all the fullness of God.”

“Why would the God-made-flesh spend such a large portion of his 3 years of active ministry ‘taking a break’? Wouldn’t he want to get all he could out of those 36 months? Preach as many sermons, heal as many lepers, perform as many signs as he could? Yes he did, but the man who had such a short time to bless the world also knew that his productivity for the kingdom was directly proportional to his connectivity to the King.”

“If God-made-flesh needed to abide in the midst of 3 years of ministry it would follow that his disciples (those who are ‘with Jesus to learn from Jesus how to live like Jesus’) would need seasons of abiding in the midst of their ministry. Unless, of course, we think we need to be less dependent on God the Father than Jesus.”


The “Make My Life Count” Error

I’ve always been hyper-focused and hyper-active – like my whole life – so I consider my dad to be an expert in understanding my ways – both the strengths and the shortfalls.  It’s really important for all of us to have at least one person (if not more) who knows us deeply and truly cares for us anyway, for the long-haul.  I’m very privileged and thankful to have such a great relationship with my dad.

Anyway, I was expressing frustration about some goals I’m working toward that don’t seem to be getting closer…and how it makes me feel alarmed & panicky inside.  He said:

     “Few of us have the patience to let things develop naturally, because we want to make things happen.”

For me this comes back to a deep-seated driver in me that’s good….but it often ends-up taking the reins out of God’s Hands and it becomes an inner slave-master.  Western individualistic society has created the notion that much of our worth as humans comes from our accomplishments.  “I want to make my life count,” and “I want to make a big difference” are mantras I’ve been telling myself since I was doing lame skateboard tricks in my parent’s driveway.  I believed that if I could “do great things” in my future as a man, then that would make me great.  Although my spirit and mind and body have come a long way since those childhood dreams, I think my heart still believes them.  Don’t get me wrong, we were made to be productive and innovative; but not as a means to attain worth.  Rather, our identity is to be found in our relationship with God primarily, and with others in His world   But it’s hard to get away from the barrage of other self-worth messages all around us, which are most-often designed to make us feel like we need to buy something.  We would do well to keep our focus on Master Jesus, set our hearts on faithfulness rather than results, and releasing our grasp on things we cling to in order to feel good about ourselves.

Micah 6:8 says:
     “He has showed you, O man, what is good. 
     And what does the Lord require of you? 
     To act justly and to love mercy 
     and to walk humbly with your God.”

Thanks, dad, for the reminder.


Appointed vs. Anointed

As I continue my journey of discovering God, His world, and my place in it, I’ve come across a strikingly excellent paper written in 2002 by Scott Rodin called “Becoming a Leader of No Reputation.”  There are about a million amazing phrases and truths in there that resonate with me, and one of them is about the difference between being appoint responsibilities and being anointed for them.  This is vitally important for me, and people like me, because I often find myself spending lots of time & energy doing things I shouldn’t be doing….not because they’re not worth doing, but because they’re things that I’m not meant to do.  The word “meant” connotes an origin…and that origin coincides with his use of the word “anointing.”

Anointed is a weird word, I know; but it’s all over the Bible as a key ingredient for how God works through people….so if it sounds too ‘hocus pocus’ and makes you queasy, you might as well get used to it and learn what it is.

This has to do with why and how we become who we are…and do what we do in the world.  An appointment is an obligation/responsibility we put on ourselves or others put on us.  An anointment is a deeper burden/conviction that God plants within us that seems to drive our motivations and values…something we always seem to come back to.  

Here’s what says:
a·noint  [uh-noint] – verb (used with object)
1. to rub or sprinkle on; apply an unguent, ointment, or oily liquid to.
2. to smear with any liquid.
3. to consecrate or make sacred in a ceremony that includes the token applying of oil: “He anointed the new high priest.”
4. to dedicate to the service of God.

These definitions are interesting, because none of them refers to the anointing I’m talking about…these ones all have to do with something WE DO  in order to connect with God.  Although these acts of devotion and sanctification are, indeed, found throughout scripture, they are all based on the common precedent of God’s anointing on individuals….something that HE DOES to those He chooses as His servants. Here are some excerpts from Rodin’s paper:

     “I know of few Christian leaders today who were anointed before they were appointed.  We have employed the business model of doing careful searches looking for Christian leaders whom we can appoint to office.  We check their credentials, put them through rigorous interviews, and even give them psychological tests before we make the critical appointment.  Once in place, we then anoint them and ask God to bless their work.
     “The Biblical evidence seems to indicate that God selects leaders in the opposite order.  Samuel anointed David before he appointing him King.  The selection criterion for leadership was not based on who would most likely get the appointment, but whom God had anointed for this task.  And appointment without anointment always led to disaster…
     “With God’s anointing comes God’s power and presence…without it, we are continually thrown back upon ourselves to make things work.  With it, we have the resources of heaven at our disposal if we will be the faithful servant.”

I find that when I fail, which is often, it’s usually because I’ve been trying to either do something the wrong way (ie. ‘push’ on a door that says ‘pull’), or that I’m trying to do things that are wrong for me to do in the first place….taking on an appointment for which I am not anointed.

What are you anointed for?


Post-Vacation Reflections

I returned to work yesterday, after taking last week off for 7-days of “glamping” at the Rogue River between Grants Pass & Medford.  Our family had a wonderful time together, though we stayed in bathing suits & tank tops most of the time in the heat – it was 108 for two of the days we were there…the trailer’s AC saved us!  BTW McKenzie already told me that my outfit didn’t match, so don’t bother.

Coming back from vacation is always a mixed-bag.  For me, trips away from home are opportunities for much-needed R&R, extended exercise, and uninterrupted family time.  To-do-lists are forgotten, my iPhone is forgotten, and my watch is removed.  It’s wonderful.

That being said, my heart is usually ready to delve into the next challenge upon my return.  This time, it’s a lot of introspection.  First, Marina and I are really convicted that our lives are too busy & complex to maintain sanity.  Generally, we’ve been saying “yes” to too many good things….and consequently not having enough time & energy for the people & activities that are best.  Second, I see that I’ve been straining to do too much in my work. The public service and ministry scope of Catalyst has become quite large in the past year, and I’m realizing more & more how difficult it is for me to adapt in order to stay out of God’s way.  Both of these realizations are recurring themes for me….it’s so frustrating!  Why can’t I just learn a lesson once and then “have it” in me from then on?  Have you ever felt like that?

Sometimes vacation gives us a break so that we can return with renewed strength to work harder…..but this one was about remembering the sanctity and necessity of REST, and the overarching value of keeping first things first.  God, Family, Friends.  As my dad always says: Relationships really are the most important thing in life.  These words of Jesus come to mind:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light”  Matthew 11:28-30


The New Face of Idolatry

Excellent words from today’s “Jesus Calling” devotional:

     “WORSHIP ME ONLY. Idolatry has always been the downfall of My people.  I make no secrets about being a jealous God.  Current idols are more subtle than ancient ones, because today’s false gods are often outside the field of religion.  People, possessions, status, pleasure, and self-aggrandizement are some of the most popular deities today  Beware of bowing down before these things.  False gods never satisfy; instead, they stir up lust for more and more.
     When you seek Me instead of the world’s idols, you experience My Joy and Peace.  These intangibles slake the thirst of your soul, providing deep satisfaction.  The glitter of the world is tinny and temporal.  The Light of My Presence is brilliant and everlasting.  Walk in the Light with Me.  Thus you become a beacon through whom others are drawn to Me.”


Holy Failings

These wise words are from my friend and coach Greg Getz, of Field USA:

“I want to work with people who will get out there, make mistakes, learn from them, tweak and try again. Failure is our friend because it eliminates what doesn’t work and moves us closer to what does.”

Right on the heels of that, a new friend of mine posted this on Facebook, “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.” Whoa! Wow!! AMEN!!!

Never forget that God did some of his best work with failings… Jonah… Moses… Elijah… Peter… Paul… John Mark… In every case it was what THEY thought was right… what THEY thought was possible… what THEY thought was safe… what THEY thought others would admire…

It seems like the issue is not only OBEDIENCE, but when we fail under our own agendas, flesh, safety, power, etc., we get up and say, “Sorry LORD, now what was it YOU wanted me to do?” I call it having, “Holy Guts!” and you need that to take the Divine Risks!!

What will you risk today for Him?


God’s Will Is Not A Mystery

There is a BIG FAT LIE believed by many of us.  
The lie is that God, in His omnipotent, omniscient wisdom, has a plan for every minute….every second…of every life on earth.  That He is this Supreme Puppet-master pulling all the strings so that everything on earth happens “according to His will”…and that our role, in relation to His Will, is to figure it out and align ourselves with it.  Well, it is true that our role is to align ourselves with God’s Will, but the idea of seeing His will as a complex, inter-related system of constant control is misleading.
When we read in scripture about “God’s Will,” it consistently seems to be couched in terms of our character being transformed into that of Christ….in other words “sanctification” – the process of being “set apart”, or “dedicated” to God.  It’s about our character being transformed into who Jesus would be if He were me…or you. God’s will is that each one of us grow more and more, each day, into the image of Jesus.  I think there’s a lot of flexibility inside of that.  I do not believe that God has a specific plan for everything in my life.  Many people I have known or read about have driven themselves crazy with a hyper-religious world view that God has predestined every aspect of our lives according to a complex master plan for every single little thing.  Does God have master plans, even for specific things?  Absolutely.  But “every” specific thing?  Does He care what you eat for lunch? What car you drive?  What socks you wear?  What team wins today’s big game?  There can be great comfort in believing that we don’t have to make hard choices, because God wants to make them for us….but I think this type of thinking is short-sighted, immature, and untrue to God’s “revealed will” in scripture.  
Instead of spending so much time trying to figure out God’s hypothetical plan, let’s spend our time & energy living-out what WE KNOW is God’s will, always: “Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Self-Control” in Galatians 5 is a good place to start.


Be Still My Soul

One of my favorite meditative songs of all time is “Be Still My Soul” by The Imperials. Yeah, I know, you’re either saying “who the heck are the Imperials?” or “I can’t believe Shawn likes Imperials.”  Whatever, the song is rad.  It’s meaning & impact are simple but very profound, based on Psalm 46:
(verse 1) Surrounded by the cares of life.  Situations rise, they press against my soul. Desperate thoughts have blocked me in, feels like I may lose control.  A voice from somewhere inside of me, brings comfort and fills my heart with courage.  It lets me know that everything will be alright. 

(chorus) I hear Him say ‘Be still my soul and know that He is God.’  Stand quietly, He is the Lord.  If God is for me, who can be against me.  He is God…be still my soul, He is the Lord.

(verse 2) Teach me, Lord, to stay in you when my emotions try to rule me.  Remind me, Lord, of who I am.  Show me what You want me to be.  There is great strength and confidence, knowing that You are with me.  I’m not afraid of tomorrow, what waits ahead.


As I read that, and hear the song echoing through my mind, I say AMEN.  So be it in my soul today.  So help me, God, to stay in You and Your shalom today.

My Morning Ritual

This is my view from the brown couch I sit on every morning.  Bible open, reading glasses for my getting-older eyes, in the wee hours of the morning after shaking-off the cobwebs & downing a cup of coffee.

My Bible time is an invaluable exercise this sinner uses to start my day off in the right direction.  Every morning, my attitudes & fears & hopes & dreams are influenced by God’s Word.  Every morning, I drink from the living water of Jesus for purpose & direction & encouragement…and His waters are deep!

“Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the LORD. Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts….As I learn your righteous regulations, I will thank you by living as I should! I will obey your decrees. Please don’t give up on me! …I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you….I have rejoiced in your laws as much as in riches. I will study your commandments and reflect on your ways. Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions. Your laws please me; they give me wise advice.” (Psalm 119, excerpts)

“O LORD, hear me as I pray; pay attention to my groaning. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for I pray to no one but you. Listen to my voice in the morning, LORD. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.” (Psalm 5:1-3)