Nov 05th 2018

This weekend, someone–without permission–dropped a load of voter’s guides on the cars in Calvary’s parking lot. I think it’s a good thing to have a voting guide…and there are a lot of guides out there, aren’t there? From Fox to CNN to MSNBC; from the President to a former President; from Oprah to Mike Lindell (the MyPillow guy); from one political party to the next (And why in the world did we ever put political and party together in the same sentence?) so many guides. So I’m joining the guide-party. Here are 10 Principles for Voting Like a Christian.

1. VOTING IS NOT THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU WILL DO ON TUESDAY. Or at least I hope it isn’t. Start with that perspective. I’ve gone through enough electionseach one labeled as the most important election we have ever faced—to wonder what difference was made. I know, we are passionate about important issues, racism, immigration, abortion, poverty. I’m just not convinced that politics/government is the solution to the issue. I’m not convinced that government will transform your life, family or neighborhood. The only hope to make a credible, lasting difference lies in Christ-followers loving Christ and loving others with all their hearts. Let’s be honest, there are too few of us who can say like Paul, “I count everything else as rubbish compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ.”

2. REMEMBER THE SOURCE OF YOUR HOPE: To mimic an old political phrase. It’s not the economy stupid. Nor is it a candidate, a platform, a Supreme Court nomination, or the balance of power. If our hope is in anything politics can deliver, our hope will crash. Next month we celebrate the birth of a baby born in poverty, who changed the world. Four months later, when Easter rolls around, you will not hear the words, “The government has risen, it is risen indeed.”  You will hear the words, “He has risen. He is risen indeed.”  Our hope is in the King and his Kingdom.  Every kingdom outside of His Kingdom is short-term, temporary and in the process of crashing.

3. YOU ARE AN IMMIGRANT: In other words, your primary citizenship is not here. No one says it more clearly than Paul, “Our citizenship is in heaven.” (Philippians 3:20).  In 2 Corinthians 5:20, Paul calls us ambassadors for Christ, which indicates an elsewhere-allegiance. In fact, if we are truly ambassadors, then our kids aren’t even eligible for birthright citizenship. I realize that the U.S. government doesn’t consider heaven a real country, but if you do, vote as an immigrant who is planning on one day going to a better home.

4. IF YOU ARE BLUE OR RED YOU’RE DEAD: Sorry the rhyme popped into my mind and I had to get it out! What I mean is this: I’m starting to wonder if I can be a Republican and still be a Christian. AND before (some of) you smile real big, I’m also starting to wonder if you can be a Democrat and still be a Christian. After the last election, Christians wanted to toss the label evangelical. Why aren’t we tossing our political labels? Even if we don’t register as independents, shouldn’t we—of all people—be voting as independents? Jesus said that his followers would be known, not by the color of their states, but by the love they have for each other. The more passionate I am about a political platform, the more difficult it is to love the each-others who are on the other side.

5. THE CENTER OF CHRIST’S ATTENTION: (See #1) Christ’s great interest in the world today is the church.  When Jesus is seen in the opening pages of the biblical finale, he is not seen walking through the halls of the great universities or sitting on the thrones of political power.  He is seen walking in the midst of His church.  If you want to be where the action is in the days when eternity is on the line, invest in the church. In all our mess and imperfections, because of Christ, the church is still the hope of the world.

6. BE WARY OF OUR BENT TOWARD POWER:  Specifically power we can control. When the church gets cozy with the power of government, it rarely goes well for the world. One day Christ will bring His government, until that day He calls us to lead through servanthood. He calls us to live by dying.  He calls us to gain by giving. He calls us to love and serve the powerless. He calls us to the cross.  I don’t see much cross in either party.

7. CHARACTER MATTERS: And if you think this is a back-handed dig at President Trump, I’ll tell you what kind of character I’m seeking in my leaders. I’m seeking the character that is able to point out the failings of his/her own party rather than point at the failings of the other party. I think James (the brother of Jesus) would call that heavenly wisdom. James 3:13-18 is what I’m seeking and to be honest, it’s in short supply on both sides of the aisle. In the last four elections, I voted Republican twice, Democrat once and Independent once, each time character swung my vote.

8. GIVE THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT TO CHRIST-FOLLOWERS WHO VOTE DIFFERENTLY FROM YOU: We are on the same team, in the same family, and that family is forever. Stop with the all-or-nothing language, the either-you-are-with-me or you-don’t-matter choices. You don’t know enough to judge the person who voted differently from you. You don’t know their heart or their mind. You don’t even fully know if you are right. Rather than labeling, have a conversation. Sometimes it’s better to be reconciled than it is to be right.

9. VOTE FOR LIFE: All Life. From the unborn to the almost dead, from the immigrant to the international student, from caravans to mini-vans, from the illegal to the legal, from students to retirees, every race, every gender, every label, every culture, every country, Jesus loves them all, died for them all, and has a place at his table for them all. I realize our government cannot love them all. But we should not vote without realizing that Jesus loves them all and came to bring them all life.

10. CONSIDER THAT GOD MIGHT CALL YOU TO GET INVOLVED IN POLITICS: Not because politics will save the world, but because we need the salt and light influence of Christ…to save politics. And even if he doesn’t call you to a deeper involvement, he has called you to pray. The Bible doesn’t list “not-voting” as a sin, but it clearly calls us to pray for those in governmental authority over us.

That’s it. That’s enough.

There is One Response to : VOTING GUIDE 2018

  1. Kate Kissell Wrote:

    Thank you Dan, our wise counselor.

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My Family

Jan 13th 2018

100 years ago, if you were to draw a global map of Christianity, 90% of the world’s Christians lived in the north and west, primarily North America and Europe. Today that map has been turned upside down. In the teenage years of the twenty-first century, more than 70% of the world’s Christians now live in the global south and east. One billion Christians live in Latin America and Africa. More people worship in Anglican churches in Nigeria each week than in all the Episcopal and Anglican churches of Europe, and North America combined. There are more Baptists in the Democratic Republic of Congo than in England.

As a Christ-follower, if my primary identification is national or political, I’ll miss the richness of the truth that my family lives in, goes to and comes from all over the world. Pita and Linda from Tanzania; Pita prays and fasts for me monthly and I love to listen to Linda worship. Louima’s family is Haitian. His gentle spirit, strong voice, and love for his country inspire me from a distance. Yohani, Jean-Paul and their family in Rwanda have not only provided hope for children without it…they have impacted a whole region of their country. Their quiet perseverance in love has helped to shape my life. Marjory’s love for Haiti and the heroic way she has battled through difficult circumstances, she gives our family the gift of faith. Peter from Kenya who is developing leaders in his country and Alfonso a pastor who is a second generation Hispanic immigrant were part of my doctoral classes. They challenged me with their vision and dogged hope. I am a better person because I have known each of them and there are so many more.

These are people I hold up to my family as examples of faith, hope, and love. We would do well to strive to be like them for hardship has made them better not bitter. I thank God for them and for the countries they come from, go to, and love. AND I’m so glad they are part of my family.

And I look forward to the day described in Revelation 7 when a great multitude from every nation, language, and people group will come together…as one family. When the church becomes too closely aligned with a political party or a nation, it can lose its capacity to speak prophetically to power, and more tragically it can lose its capacity to speak lovingly to family. I pray that our church will lose neither.

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Press Pause #8 — The Gospel and Sabbath

Feb 19th 2017

Welcome to a continuation of the conversation about Sabbath. At Calvary we are in the middle of a teaching series on the Sabbath called “Press Pause for Life.” Today  Jorn Junod is our guest blogger!


Over the years as I’ve had an on again off again understanding of the Sabbath and its importance in my life, I’ve learned how intimately connected it is to the Gospel. One morning as I was working through the book of Hebrews, I ran into chapter 4 verse 7, “Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience.” The writer is using the illustration from the Israelites life as they journeyed with God and learned what it meant to trust in his provision to supply all their needs and keep them during this season of their nation. I regret to say, they did a terrible job of living by faith, though time after time God revealed his power and presence.

The ability to fulfill God’s commandments especially the Sabbath was and still is a sign of our own personal revelation of obedience and grace This grace has fully been revealed in the Gospel of Christ and the good news that God saves us completely from our inability to do what is right and best for us. To honor the Sabbath is to understand grace. Grace is God’s provision for every area of our life and without it, we succumb to saving ourselves. The opposite of the Gospel is simply the idea that somehow in my own strength I can do or be something without God. When I would break the Sabbath what I was saying is I don’t need to rest or stop. I don’t need to trust God and I can trust in myself. I don’t need the Gospel.

The Gospel is a journey of faith. Though we have been saved completely at the cross we experience it daily as we let its work manifest in our lives through obedience. The work of the Gospel saves me day to day, the Sabbath saves me the exact same way. When you and I honor the Sabbath were essential activating the Gospel to complete its work of salvation in our lives. Over the years I’ve heard people say “I don’t feel saved”. I wonder if not honoring the Sabbath is one of the reasons why?

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Press Pause #7 — Delighting in Sabbath…Finally!

Feb 12th 2017

We are in the midst of a teaching series at Calvary called, “Press Pause for Life.” It’s all about keeping the Sabbath. If you want to check out one of the messages go to Meanwhile, we are continuing the conversation here with a bunch of posts. Today Johnny Pons is our guest blogger. Johnny is a Campus Pastor who serves at Calvary with all his heart!


Hi, I’m Johnny and I’m a workaholic… Not always visible or even significant work, but more like busy hopping from one thing to the next. Kathy and I have served at Penn State as campus ministers for New Life Fellowship for 26 1/2 years. Kathy is primarily a physical therapist and I also served on the Calvary Harvest Fields staff for almost 2 years.

Weary, frazzled and frustrated would paint a pretty accurate picture of our lives at the end of 2015. We had spent our last 30+ years in ministry that we loved pouring ourselves into, but was no longer sustainable at our current pace. Kathy was the first to notice,  which is normal for us! We made the decision that we would stop breaking one of the most fundamental commands of the Bible, and chart a new course.

The first thing we did was do our homework. Our knowledge of the Sabbath was woefully inadequate. I had dabbled with it when I took a sabbatical in 2010, but obviously hadn’t learned much. We studied the Bible, we started reading books and watched a video series by Andy Stanley on Margin. We began praying A LOT for God to change our hearts. We discovered Mark 2:27, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath,” was our doorway to more joy, not less.

Our first real challenge was finding the time in our schedules for a 24 hour period – together. Because of our work roles, coordinating the time was tricky. We settled in on Fridays from noon till noon Saturday, and for 2016 made that stick. Starting out was the easy part, but becoming comfortable with the routine was another challenge. In Dan Allender’s book, Sabbath, one of his quotes nailed me. He says, “The Sabbath is routinely rejected because it is one of our most profound tastes of grace.” I just had to get more accustomed to grace.

Another aspect of Sabbath that was both energizing and took some getting used to was preparing for the time. Ceasing and resting were more intuitive aspects of Sabbath-keeping, but feasting and embracing delight, took more creativity and forethought. After a few weeks those became some of our most anticipated aspects of Sabbath! Some weeks I delighted more than others, but the opportunity was always there.

I’ve said this out loud and actually believe it in my heart, that 2016 was the best year of my life, at least during these ministry years. The consistent rhythm of life for both Kathy and me was the antidote to the disorder and disappointment that our lives had created. Now that we have tasted what a Sabbath-keeping lifestyle looks and feels like, there’s no way we can go back, and have now become “Sabbath Evangelists.”

Our prayer is that in ceasing our striving, we learn to trust more deeply in Christ and that He is perfectly capable of running the world without us!

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Press Pause #6 — Manna and Falling Stars

Feb 11th 2017

We are in the midst of a teaching series at Calvary called “Press Pause for Life.” It’s all about keeping the Sabbath.  In the midst of the series we are continuing the conversation here at with posts on the Sabbath. Today Laurie Kellermeyer is our guest blogger. Laurie works with our Midtown team!

Anyone that knows me, knows that I live by a schedule and the driving force behind that schedule is my planner. Unlike most people my age, I still use a paper planner chosen specifically for the generous amount of space on the page each day is allotted. Space that is easily eaten up by the meetings, work shifts, and errands that mark the passing days. I love most of my work, but like anyone, there is always more work and I nearly always feel busy.

Last Spring, Calvary’s staff started talking about Sabbath. When I would think of the crumpled to-do lists littering my bedroom floor or of the endless parade of e-mails marching across my inbox the idea of Sabbath seemed antiquated, maybe a little laughable, and frankly unattainable. A Sabbath sounds nice, but honestly, who has time? I know that God is Lord of the universe and has hung the stars in the heavens, but sometimes, I think I am lord of my universe and some of my stars just might fall if I cease and take a Sabbath.

As I’ve learned more, God has shown me places in my heart where I believed lies and deeply distrusted him. He has also shown himself to be incredibly faithful and to be a God that provides. He provided for the Israelites when He took them out of slavery in Egypt and brought them into the desert. The desert isn’t known for being a source of food. There’s a reason why it’s the desert and not the land flowing with milk and honey. In the desert, the Israelites had to rely on God for sustenance.

Exodus 16 details the Israelites grumbling for food in the desert and God’s provision through daily manna. Each day the people were instructed to gather manna, but only enough for that day. If they gathered extra it would go bad. So, each morning, every morning the people had to trust that God would provide. They had to trust that manna would appear for that day and that there would be enough. There was no stockpiling for the days ahead because any manna kept was manna that spoiled. Did you catch that, preparation for the future done outside of God’s purpose and rooted in a belief that God might not provide for the next day, literally rotted.

There was one exception to the rotting- manna rule. The exception was Sabbath. The day before the Sabbath the Israelites were instructed to gather enough for that day and the next day, the Sabbath. God provided for them on the Sabbath so that they would not have to work. God provided so that they could rest and spend time with him. God provided for them in this way for forty years.

One of the ways that God showed the Israelites that He was God was through his daily provision and his command to rest on the Sabbath. Since the beginning of fall, I have been taking a Sabbath on Fridays. I long for Fridays – my time spent with him at Cafe Lemont. It has opened up this incredibly sweet space. I have been learning so much about him. He has taught me that He is God, there is no “my universe,” and if He can hold the stars of the Heavens in place He can certainly hold mine. Or He’ll allow them to fall and that will be okay. After all, falling stars are one of the most beautiful things in his universe.

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Press Pause #5 – Those Who Seek Find

Feb 10th 2017
At Calvary we are in the midst of a teaching series on the Sabbath called “Press Pause.” As the series goes on, this blog will contain posts on Sabbath, some from me, some from guests. This one is from Scott Leddy who works with Lifegroups at Calvary.
As someone who can tend to be a bit of a homebody, you might think that having Sabbath be a consistent part of my life would be fairly easy.  Well, that’s pretty presumptuous of you!  In truth, I’ve never given it much thought.  Despite the fact that I’ve grown up in the church, I’ve never really thought that having a Sabbath as a deliberate part of my week was all that important.  As I’ve gotten older, and life has gotten more and more busy, I think that I was beginning to become more worn down by the pace that my life had taken.  As we began fleshing this Sabbath series out together, and I began to really look at my life, I was able to see the gaping hole that a Sabbath-free lifestyle had left. I think that one of the biggest sources of frustration wasn’t just the busyness of it all, but it was the sense that there was more of God to be experienced and it simply didn’t seem to be happening for me.
You may have noticed that we have a few book suggestions regarding Sabbath that have been placed out for you to consider buying.  I’ve been reading “24/6.” The author of the book made a statement that really resonated with me.  He said that Jesus promised us that those who seek Him will find Him…but we’ve got to have time available to do the seeking.  That brought some conviction!
I believe that some of the frustration that I’ve been feeling in my spiritual life is rooted in the fact that I’ve been missing the Stop-Day each week that will provide me with the time I need to pray, play, and simply enjoy my Awesome Father.  I’m really excited to continue this series and see what else the Holy Spirit has to teach me…but I’m even more excited to begin to put into practice what I’ve already learned and see my relationship with Jesus grow out of a place of rest and trust.

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A Fresh View of Sabbath (Press Pause #4)

Feb 03rd 2017

We are in a teaching series on Sabbath at Calvary, called “Press Pause for Life.” So during the next few weeks, I and other guests will be posting thoughts on Sabbath. Today Sherilyn Jameson shares about a new view on Sabbath which she gained.


I always thought Sabbath was only about time with God. I knew it was for resting from work but I thought it was all about a day of quietly sitting alone reading God’s Word. However, over the years I’ve learned that if Christ is living in me (and He is) then whatever I’m doing, He’s there and it can be about Him. Then I began to embrace what Pastor Dan says about Sabbath; “time set aside to pray and play.”  I’ve come to understand how our Father (heavenly not earthly) always has something to say to his children and that He delights in watching them enjoy themselves, just like any loving parent does. That revelation refreshed my view of Sabbath; it became heart and life-changing for me.

A practice that has made Sabbath something I look forward to is Listening Prayer; letting God talk to me about what’s on His heart. Typically that is through His Word but now that I’ve done that for so long, I can also hear His voice without reading my Bible. If what I hear doesn’t contradict His Word nor condemn me (Romans 8:1) then I trust what I hear. His voice is gentle and kind-loving even though it often corrects me but as I receive His loving words, my anxious, sinful, worried, fearful and unbelieving heart becomes soft, comforted, instructed and hopeful.

I used to spend my Sabbath doing with God, trying to earn His love and make him happy. But He’s happy. He’s complete without me and yet He loves to include me in His plan regardless of what I do or don’t do. My doing the right thing is for my benefit!  Sabbath is now about being with God which gives me permission to listen to Him, to play and enjoy myself, more fully resting as I trust my loving Father to take care of the things I’m not doing that day.

Psalm 46:10 instructs us to “be still and know that He is God” – to be still literally means to “cease striving” – at work and at home. So, six days a week I can strive to get things done, figure things out, work long hours, and more. But God was thinking of me (us!) when he said, “Stop striving one day a week to listen in prayer and to play, enjoying what and who you love!”

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#Sucking at Sabbath (Press Pause #3)

Feb 01st 2017

At Calvary, we are in the midst of a teaching series on Sabbath. So I’m aiming for 4-6 posts each week to keep the conversation going. Many of them will be written by guest bloggers. This one comes from Shelby Caraway.


I grew up in the church and on the mission field and I know all the right things to say and do and I really truly love and want to obey God. BUT…I’m also an achiever. Have you ever done the Strengths Finder test where you find out what natural abilities and strengths God has given you? Mine are a mix of people-focused ones like, ‘includer’, ‘relator’, and ‘developer’ and get stuff-done-focused ones like ‘arranger’, ‘strategic’, and ‘achiever’.  That being said, spending time alone with God doesn’t always feel like what He’s created me to do. On most of my Sabbaths, I have to stop at some point in the day and remind myself not to sabotage my own Sabbath.

I work for Calvary doing Community Outreach which really means a little bit of everything but mostly making sure people are connected and know they are loved by God and people. It’s a busy job. It’s one that’s hard to know where ‘work’ ends and ‘life’ begins because there’s so much to do, and loving people is so much more than just something to do at work. So sometimes I overwork. Then, because I like achieving and doing, I have to have a side job, so I am the house manager for a 20 person home downtown. All of these things are good. But if I’m not careful to notice and protect a Sabbath it will quickly be the first thing I stop making time for.

I want to rest with God. But I am anti-boring. I want to dwell with Jesus. Not sleep. Not just have a day off. When I started being intentional about taking a Sabbath it was a slow transition. It switched from bringing work home with me to doing work at home so I wouldn’t check email…dishes, laundry, cleaning the house…with 19 roommates it’s easy to fill an entire day off with work. But God graciously told me, “Shelby, that is not rest, that is not Me.” I started hiking, reading, having intentional conversations, choosing the music I was listening to on purpose, and asking for accountability with my Sabbath and it has become something I look forward to now. A day of rest isn’t boring. A day with Jesus isn’t lazy. It doesn’t have to be completely introvert time. Instead, these are the moments I’m reminded that He is the One who is sustaining me each and every day… “My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.” Psalm 63:8.

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Can We Rest in a Refugee World? (Press Pause #2)

Jan 31st 2017

Syria_picture-430x286Recently I ran across a refugee-related post by Mark Galli (Christianity Today) woven through Psalm 37. The last few days I’ve been hanging out in that Psalm. It’s good counsel for our days.  The psalmist David writes,

Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and (feed on) faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act (bring it to pass). He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Be still (rest) before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil…but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.

We are in the midst of a teaching series on sabbath-rest at Calvary and in our lifegroup this week someone asked a great question, “How can I sabbath when I am so concerned about what is taking place regarding refugees?” I think this Psalm answers that question.

Don’t fret (worry, fear or be anxious) because of evildoers. Whether you think the evildoer is our government, a terrorist, a refugee or those who turn their backs on refugees, David’s call is the same. Don’t fret. But instead, trust in God and do good.

Trust in God and do good.

That’s not an either/or, it’s a both/and.

Trust in God and do good.

It’s not sufficient to say, “Oh God will take care of it” and then turn your head. Nor is it effective to say, “I’ll take care of it” as you fill your day with fretting. As I’ve been reading our Facebook posts and listening to conversations and reading as many sides of the news as I can find, what I find is that a lot of what we are thinking, feeling and saying is shaped more by fretting than trusting.

And yet according to David, fretting over time, tends toward evil. So instead, trust in God, delight in him, commit your way to him, rest in him. AND DO GOOD. I wonder if one of the evils, which fretting tends towards, is the lack of doing good?

So how do I apply this Psalm to my current life in these current situations? Here are some possibilities.

  1. Don’t jump to the worst possible conclusions with the least possible information. I’m not saying there aren’t worst possible conclusions, but if I trust in God I can certainly take my time in jumping to them.
  2. Don’t let emotion overcome you, especially anger. On the other hand, be quick to empathize with those who are personally impacted by these events. The easiest way to do both is to practice humility.
  3. Don’t hold the government responsible for things God calls the church to do. While my prayer is always that our government will operate by values that echo the heart of Christ…I am far more grieved when the church does not.
  4. Don’t forget that you are also a sojourner, no matter where you live in this world, you are a citizen of another Kingdom.
  5. Spend more time praying than posting. Seriously. Right now I wish there was an executive order for this. :)
  6. Do good for a refugee, an immigrant, or someone who is a sojourner in our community. Not someday. This week. Today. Posting on facebook doesn’t count, which means this post doesn’t count as my good.

One last thing…if you have read this far. At the end of December, Calvary took a 1% offering. We were challenged to give 1% of our income to serve people in need around the world. We gave $180,000…which is great…but we finished more than $70,000 from our goal. One of the projects that is to be funded by the 1% offering is the packing of 100,000 meals for Middle Eastern Refugees.

Until the end of February…every extra dollar that is given will go to that underfunded project. We need $25,000 total.  Go to and scroll down to “One-Time Giving.” Choose 1%. We hope to pack sometime in April.

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Press Pause For Life — #1

Jan 30th 2017

Last weekend (January 28/29) we started a new teaching series at Calvary called “Press Pause…for life.” It’s a five week series on the sabbath, on developing a weekly rhythm of pressing pause. If you want to listen to the first message, an introduction to sabbath you can go to Calvary Messages. Look for “24/6 Living in a 24/7 World.”

To keep the conversation going, I’m going to invite a number of guest bloggers to share on this site, some of their thoughts and experiences of sabbath. My first guest blogger (really just a quote from his book) is Mark Buchanan. He has written a great sabbath book called “The Rest of God.” These words come from chapter one.

I became a Sabbath-keeper the hard way: either that, or die. Not die literally—at least, I don’t think so—but die in other ways. It happened subtly, over time; but I noticed at some point that the harder I worked, the less I accomplished. I was often a whirligig of motion. My days were intricately fitted together like the old game of Mousetrap, every piece precariously connected to every other, the whole thing needing to work together for it to work at all. But there was little joy, and stunted fruit. To justify myself, I’d tell others I was gripped by a magnificent obsession. I was purpose-driven, I said, or words like that. It may have begun that way. It wasn’t that way any longer. Often I was just obsessed, merely driven, no magnificence or purposefulness about it. I once went forty days—an ominously biblical number, that— without taking a single day off. And was proud of it. But things weren’t right. Though my work often consumed me, I was losing my pleasure in it—and, for that matter, in many other things besides—and losing, too, my effectiveness in it…

The inmost places suffered most. I was losing perspective. Fissures in my character worked themselves here and there into cracks. Some widened into ruptures. I grew easily irritable, paranoid, bitter, self-righteous, gloomy. I was often argumentative: I preferred rightness to intimacy. I avoided and I withdrew…

And then I came to my senses. I wish I could say this happened in one blazing, dazzling vision—a voice from heaven, a light that blinded and wounded and healed—but it didn’t. It was more a slow dawning. I didn’t lose my marriage, or family, or ministry, or health. I didn’t wallow in pig muck, scavenging for husks and rinds. But it became clear that if I continued in the way I was heading, I was going to do lasting damage…

I learned to keep Sabbath in the crucible of breaking it.

God made us from dust. We’re never too far from our origins. The apostle Paul says we’re only clay pots—dust mixed with water, passed through fire. Hard, yes, but brittle too. Knowing this, God gave us the gift of Sabbath—not just as a day, but as an orientation, a way of seeing and knowing. Sabbath-keeping is a form of mending. It’s mortar in the joints. Keep Sabbath, or else break too easily, and over soon. Keep it, otherwise our dustiness consumes us, becomes us, and we end up able to hold exactly nothing. In a culture where busyness is a fetish and stillness is laziness, rest is sloth. But without rest, we miss the rest of God: the rest he invites us to enter more fully so that we might know him more deeply.

Maybe you can relate. If so maybe this series is for you.


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