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Archive for the ‘rest’ Category

Sometimes working on a car can frustrate the living snot out of you. I thought I was done but when I turned the key the newly installed power steering pump proved to be defective, it howled like coyote on a moonlit night. On the second attempt I forgot to hook up the transmission cooler lines to the radiator and after turning the engine on pumped a liberal amount of transmission fluid onto my garage floor. After cleaning up the mess it became obvious the pressure line to the power steering pump didn’t seal. This is how small jobs escalate into major headaches. I can see why people take their cars to a mechanic, except that Dad is whole lot cheaper.
Since Susie and I are not tired enough, and since I seem to cave in under the pressure of my daughters, and since I seem to like having a puppy slobber all over my face  while I am lying under a car, we added a little canine to our lives. Where were my friends that should’ve stopped me. Too late, Leroy Brown has moved in, let the chewing begin.
I wish tiredness and weariness would be confined to small things like that, don’t you? If life would be that simple Jesus would’ve had no need to tell people then and now to, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light” Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT).
What tiredness and weariness was Jesus speaking about? How much tiredness was Jesus addressing when he said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me” Matthew 5:1-11 (NASB, italics mine)?  Ever been tired of yielding little to no influence, to always be at the mercy of powers greater than you? Or what about being tired of mourning caused by the continual destruction dished out by violence, war, death, corruption, greed, pain and wrong? How many will get tired today of being gentle, humble, and meek and decide to get a piece of theirs by whatever means? How long does it take to be tired of thirsting and hungering for poverty, injustice, and evil to end? And when does being merciful turn into being taken advantage of and becomes exhausting? How hard is it to keep a pure heart in impure situations, in a nasty world? When do you give up on peace and throw in the towel? When does the price for living right, for trying to be godly become too steep?
Tiredness and tiredness of soul tempts us to surrender, to cave in, to check out, to be overcome by and participate in the very things that wear us down. It makes a difference who we listen to, who and what we follow when we are tired. There are ways to be blessed, and to bless even when we weary, exhausted, and beat up. “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock” Matthew 7:24-25 (NASB).
Always remember who and what God blesses. Pastor Hans

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When the sons of Israel cried to the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer for the sons of Israel to deliver them, Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother. The Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel. When he went out to war, the LORD gave Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand, so that he prevailed over Cushan-rishathaim. Then the land had rest forty years. And Othniel the son of Kenaz died. Now the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD. So the LORD strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the LORD. And he gathered to himself the sons of Ammon and Amalek; and he went and defeated Israel, and they possessed the city of the palm trees. The sons of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years. Judges 3:9-14 (NASB, emphasis mine)

Do you contribute to conflict, chaos, clamor, confusion, and acrimony? Do you help stir things up or settle things down? Do your words and actions cause nerves to be raw or calm? Can people around you rest or do you set them on edge? Are you an influence of peace or of drama? Is the “land” (your family, your relationships, your work place, class room, home, business, neighborhood, etc.) at rest or disturbed because of you?

They never could hold onto it for too long. The ancient Israelites gained their freedom, had God’s promises and presence, and had a chance to have an awesome life, but they never were at rest, at peace, undisturbed and quiet for too long. Invariably they left and ignored the things that make for peace and rest. Then when it was gone, when things were miserable, they cried out to God like in the example you read above and God in his mercy and goodness granted them deliverance, freedom, and rest. Under Othniel (whose name means “God is powerful”) it was forty years. And then they chucked it again. Why did they? And why do we?

Something died with Othniel, something did not take root in the two generations that benefited most from Othniel’s contribution to their freedom, their quality of life, their spiritual foundation. They saw no value in honoring God in everyday life, in accepting spiritual restraints, in practicing Biblical ethics. They did not consider these essential; they made no connection between fidelity to God and peace and blessing. They forgot that peace and rest don’t just happen but are the result of trusting in God, embracing goodness, practicing justice, and forsaking evil and wickedness. They didn’t believe that “there is no peace for the wicked” (Isaiah 57:21).

So, are you part of the answer or part of the dark that causes others to cry out for deliverance and rest? Are you willing to let God use you as a deliverer, a restorer, as one who causes peace and rest to bless the “land” throughout your life? And what do you need to address and change so God can use you like an Othniel?

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Matthew 5:9 (NASB)

To God be all glory, love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

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“… learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” Matthew 11:29 (NIV)

Remember Alice Cooper singing “School’s Out?” Maybe you couldn’t wait for it to become true. Maybe you sang it at your graduation.

“… No more pencils
No more books
No more teacher’s dirty looks

Well we got no class
And we got no principles
And we got no innocence
We can’t even think of a word that rhymes

School’s out for summer
School’s out forever
School’s been blown to pieces …” (Lyrics by Alice Cooper)

I remember a young lady for whom Math was a nightmare. It kept her from finishing her college degree. She had almost straight As except for math, she had flunked it numerous times. Talk about frustrated.

Did you ever ask a teacher or your parents, “Why do I have to learn this? How much of this am I actually ever gonna use in real life?”

The reality is that throughout all of life you have to learn unless you want to be stupid, make stupid decisions, repeat stupidity, and suffer from the effects of stupidity. Learning can make your life better, make you wiser, make things easier.

If I make the same mistakes over and over maybe it’s time to learn to do it different?

If my life is full of turmoil, drama, and conflict maybe it’s time to examine what I have learned and how valuable it is. Maybe I need to show up for school again, regardless of how much I like Alice’s sentiments.

If my relationships are not working, if I am always broke, if habits are hurting me, if I constantly hurt others, if lack discernment then maybe it is time to admit that I don’t know as much as I think I do and that I might need to depart from what I have learned so far.

If others are not blessed by me, if love, goodness, generosity, wholeness, wisdom, joy, laughter, and peace isn’t something that others get from being with me then maybe enrolling with the best teacher ever isn’t a bad idea.

As far as I know Jesus never taught a course on physics, math, biology, or chemistry, although as the creator of them all he certainly could have. No, he left that type of teaching to others. What Jesus focused his teaching on was on life, on God, on reality, on true success. You can know everything about math and be a terrible person. You can be the most skilled surgeon and be a heartache to your colleagues and family. You can be the savviest business woman and be dishonest and corrupt. You can be the best at football and be a jerk.

“Learn from me,” maybe it’s time to take Jesus up on the offer. From what I have heard, even Alice Cooper did.

To God be all glory, love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

 

 

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“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 (NIV)

What does it mean to find rest for your soul? To have your mind and heart be at rest?  And why does this rest of soul seem so difficult to come by and so hard to maintain?

Jesus’ words, “I am gentle and humble in heart,” just drip with restfulness, at least to me. Proud and harsh don’t go together with a soul at rest, that’s for sure, neither do anxious, worried, hurried, arrogant, violent, greedy, or being all about yourself.

Jesus at once confronts both empty religion as well as simply ignoring the truth. The soul cannot find rest in either. Empty religion regardless of its name promotes something less than the truth and will peddle salvation and peace with God through some system of merit, of works of our own, and fill your bowl with guilt if you don’t comply. That’s why the religious leaders of the very people Jesus talked to constantly came out with new and more nuanced regulations. And that’s why people then and now turned their back on religion. Guilt is a big burden to bear it won’t let the soul rest. But godlessness does not bring rest to the soul either; it ignores the truth of the soul and of God. The truth of the soul is that exists because of God and is accountable to God, and death does not provide relief from accountability but simply ushers us into final reckoning. The truth of God is that he exists and his sovereignty extends over our lives, he can and does decree what is right and what is wrong, what is moral and what is immoral. If empty religion piles on false guilt then ignoring God fails to deal with real guilt before God. One is harsh and the other is proud. Neither can give the soul true rest.

This is why I am growing ever more leery of moralistic preaching. It allows the soul to give itself a false sense of rest. It provides rest based on comparison to others, “I thank you God that I am not a sinner like …” (Luke 18:9-14). It steeps us in rest of soul based on merit and vaporizes the instant we transgress ourselves. It will strap the burden of hypocrisy on your back in the blink of an eye.

This is why I am leery of empty preaching, the kind that looses itself in self-improvement, in comfort, in mere political action. The kind of preaching that leaves Jesus out or makes him secondary, the stripped down version of Jesus or the cleaned up version of Jesus. The fact is that he is more than psychotherapist, more than a guru, more than economist, more than a revolutionary, more than one among many. We exist because of him and only because of him (Colossians 1:16-17). He is not neat, comfortable, and clean, but beaten, bloody, crucified, buried, and risen because of his great love for us and our great sinfulness. He really can forgive, he really can teach me how to forgive, how to die to self, how to love God, how to love my neighbor, and how to love one another and find in that rest for my soul.

Are you as amazed as I am that he says to us restless souls, “Come to me ..?”

Thank you God for Jesus! Love you, pastor Hans

 

 

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“Come to me, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Accept my teachings and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit, and you will find rest for your lives (souls). The teaching that I ask you to accept is easy; the load I give you to carry is light.Matthew 11:28-30 (NCV, parenthesis mine)

The heavier your load the more tired you will get the less far you will be able to carry it. At some point you will have to either set it down or it will injure you, crush you. Of course Jesus is not speaking of a literal heavy load, but of the things that weigh down our hearts, our minds, our souls.

“I’m not stressed!” my sister-in-law shouted on a crowded bus in response to being asked if she was stressed. I think she was stressed, what do you think?

“I’m not tired!” was the often heard angry reply when we told our kids that indeed they were tired and needed to go to bed.

“You need to slow down, you need to take a break,” Susie has reminded me more than once during our marriage, even when I didn’t see the need for either. Sometimes we don’t even realize how stressed, how tired, how overly busy we are. Sometimes we are the last ones to notice that we’re breaking down, that heavy load is taking its toll. We are prone to simply down more coffee and guzzle more energy drinks. We take pills to keep us going, help with our anxiety, and then help us sleep.

Of course this is nothing new, except that our culture has found a way to speed it all up, to even put vacations on the fast lane. 24/7 has become a term we are all familiar with. “Rest” on the other hand has become an almost unfamiliar term to us. “Rest for your souls,” what is that? But how we yearn for it.

God knows that we need rest, peace, help. Rest takes time, peace takes its time, helping gives time.

At 53 I wish I could preach and write on this subject from strength, but I can’t. I still run myself down, go, go, go till I almost drop, wait far too long to come to Jesus with my heavy load. I am still prone to overestimate my own strength and stamina to the point of not even knowing when I am tired, stressed, and worn.

Did you notice that there is an exchange of loads? My heavy load for Jesus’ light load. He doesn’t pile on top what is already too heavy for me. He doesn’t add to make me more tired and weary. Why am I so insistent about hanging on what is too heavy for me? Why do I have such a hard time letting Jesus help me? Is it pride? Is it dysfunction? Is it fear? Jesus has never let me down when I have come to him.

To God be all glory, love you Pastor Hans

 

 

 

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