Soul-Care Articles: Christ-centered, Spirit-led, Biblically-based, Clinically-sound, Truth-oriented

Posts tagged ‘rest’

A Theology of Leisure: Doing Absolutely Nothing!

SOURCE:  Jan Johnson

Leisure:  Why God Likes It

For years I have thought this quotation was insightful:  “We worship our work, work at our play, and play at our worship” (Gordon Dahl).

Working hard is a good thing but we worship work when we overdo it, use it to feel good about ourselves or make it more important than relationships, health, and the good of others. Playing at our worship is about engaging in worship in a way that resembles entertainment more than devotion.

But work at our play?

We do this when we try too hard to have a good time. This is so common that many people find that they’re just as tired when they return from a vacation as when they left, or more tired after a lunch hour in which they tried to do too many things.

Working at play creates an empty feeling, hence the whimsical question:  Are we having fun yet?  Leisure now has to be elaborately planned or expensive or out of the ordinary.  It is no longer about being renewed or even satisfied with simple pleasures:  watching a sunset, sitting on the porch, reading even something short.

That’s why I decided to include a chapter on simplicity of leisure in Abundant Simplicity.

True leisure is, I think, breathing space in life when we are free from tasks and agendas to do what restores, soothes or even animates and excites us. To some people, an open space of time is not to be enjoyed but to be filled up. If someone asked, “What are you doing this weekend?” how would it feel to say, “Absolutely nothing!” How do you feel about having a morning or a day with nothing you have to do?  Threatened (I’m not busy – that’s bad!) or excited (I wonder what will happen!)?

To those who worship productivity, leisure is a useful way to get recharged for a driven existence or to find relief from a hurried, stress-filled life (as many Americans reported in a recent survey).  But leisure is good and holy in itself. In fact, God thought open spaces were such a good idea that Sabbath (weekly open space) is built into creation. 

This divine rhythm became one of the Ten Commandments, and like all the commandments, it’s life-giving. We return to our normal routine with a fresh perspective, enabling us to love others better and even our own life with more joy. It sets us up to naturally take small Sabbath-intermissions in our day.  These pauses create mental space to enjoy God and enjoy others, which might be called a “theology of leisure” (what God thinks it’s about, why God wants us to have it).  It applies the Great Commandment  (22:37-39) to leisure and invites us to enjoy God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and to enjoy others as God enjoys us.

Jesus understood leisure and so enjoyed times of celebration and was quite a party goer.  He attended dinner gatherings in people’s homes and at least one wedding and participated in feast days in Jerusalem. (These celebration feasts were invented by God for the Israelites. Does it surprise us that the so-called “Old Testament God” is a party planner?)

Jesus also enjoyed beauty, considering a field lily more charming than the best efforts humans (including the great King and cultural rock star Solomon, Matthew 6:28-29). You get the impression that Jesus enjoyed being alive.

Leisure is so important in life that C. S. Lewis said: “leisure, even our play, is a matter of serious concern. We can play, as we can eat, to the glory of God.” (“Christianity and Culture” Christian Reflections)

In order to practice leisure to the glory of God, we need to be intentional about it.  We can’t ignore it or just hope it happens. Please consider asking God about leisure in your life, maybe with these questions:

What, O God, truly renews me?  What restores me?  What helps me enjoy You and your creation more?  What makes me grin to the glory of God?

The above is excerpted and adapted from chapter 8 of Abundant Simplicity.

Abundant Simplicity

Where Have I Really Put My Faith?

SOURCE:  Stepping Stones/Lighthouse Network

Security means different things to different people. Some people feel secure if their health is good, many experience security if their finances are strong, and others if they’re surrounded by a loving family. But depending on people or things for your ongoing and complete security will eventually result in disappointment, as all the things of this world are limited and fallible.

Suppose you work for a company many years, building up a healthy retirement fund that you are depending on for security in later life. Soon after your 60th birthday, the company falters and the retirement fund is no more. If your faith has been in that retirement plan for your security, you are devastated and will now experience fear and anxiety as you face the future.

But if you recognize that God, not the retirement fund, is the real source for all your needs, you can rest in the assurance that He has a plan … and that He will take care of you. Nothing takes God by surprise. You might not see His plan, but you can be confident that He has everything under control.

The same principle applies when you lose a job, a friend moves, you get a scary diagnosis, your child has a special issue … really, when any part of your agenda doesn’t go as you planned. If your confidence, your security, and thus, your faith is in the job … friend … health … agenda, you will lose hope. Or at the very least, you’ll have a fragile hope.

But when your faith is in Jesus, you know that He never changes. Nothing can separate you from His love. And He will provide a way as He promises. Often times, He provides through a way that is foreign to me to “prove” that He is at work in my life. That is why we need to keep our eyes open throughout the day. Peace and other provisions from God may come in ways we are not expecting.

Today, examine what you fear losing. It’s ok if you would feel sadness for that loss. But if you would have fear, anxiety, or lose sleep if it were taken away from you, then you are probably depending on that particular element too much to meet some of your needs. Ask God to show you how He will meet that need and lessen your grip on that thing you fear losing. He is your rock, so rest on and build your life on Him. He will be the solid foundation on which to build all the elements of your life.

Prayer

Dear Father God, forgive me for the times I have depended on other people and things, and then lost hope when they let me down. Help me to use the knowledge and truth of Your word to utilize the blessings You have provided me, but not to become dependent on them. Help me to remember that You are my ultimate source of comfort and provision, and that You are unchanging and totally trustworthy. Thank You for supplying all my needs. I pray this and all prayers in the name of the One who died for my biggest need, Jesus Christ;  – AMEN!

The Truth

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:19

IDEAS FOR A HEALTHY LIFE & HEALTHY FAMILY

SOURCE:  Unknown

Consider these suggestions and adapt them to your life situation, temperament, interests, talents, and gifting to help bring more calmness and peace to yourself and your family.  As a result, you will experience healthy change in your life and in the life of your family.

1.  Go to bed early (one hour before your normal bed-time).  Experiment with a new pattern for your sleep to find out how more sleep might be helpful.

2.  Declare one night a week to be a “quiet night” (no TV, music, noise of any type).  Talk with each other, play games, read.

3.  Give kids an alternative to watching so much TV or being on the computer.  What about hobbies, family chore time, family fun time, date time with one child?

4.  Read a chapter from the Bible every day until it becomes a habit.  Experts say it takes 21 days of practice to develop a habit.

5.  Turn down a promotion or area of service that would demand even more time from your family than you can afford to give.

6.  Don’t accept any unnecessary business breakfast/dinner appointments.  Make it a working lunch when possible.

7.  As possible, sit together as a family at church….at least on occasion.

8.  Avoid the cultural pressure to give your children “everything now.”

9.  Establish strong family traditions around birthdays, holidays, back to school.  Make time to celebrate significant times in the life of the family.  Also celebrate “fun” times (successful studying for a test, completion of a hard task, “for no special reason” times)

10. Have a purposeful 10-minute dialogue with each family member every day for 21 days.

11. Unclutter your children’s schedule.  Balance them between work, play, friends, family, and rest.

12. Unclutter your own schedule.  Take 4 hours of “unnecessary” events out of your week.  Give one hour to your spouse, one to your children, one to a friend, and one to the Lord.

13. Help your children establish “purpose goals.”  These are goals that help them improve as an individual like goals in music, school, work, relational skills, involvement with older people, handling money, learning to maintain the car, etc.

14. As possible, write each one of your parents and children and tell them why you think the world is better because of them.

15. Give each family member a hug for 21 days in a row.

16. Compile a family tree and teach your children the history of their ancestors.

17. Get involved in a family project that serves or helps someone less fortunate.

18. Praise your spouse and children (genuinely) in their presence to someone else.

19. Help your kids with their homework.  Let them know you are available and interested.  But, don’t do it for them.

20. Make every effort to not let the sun go down on your anger.

21. Make a list of people who have hurt your feelings over the past year…then check your list to see if you have forgiven them.

22. Make a decision to honor your parents, even if they made a career out of dishonoring you.

23. Write out information about finances, wills, and important business information that your spouse can use to keep things under control in the event of your death.

24. May a priority to get out of debt.

25. Be willing to accept legitimate criticism from your spouse or a friend without reacting or defending yourself.

26. Say “no” to at least one thing a day that pulls your time, attention, and health away from what is better – even if it’s only a second piece of pie.

27. Go through your closets and give everything that you haven’t worn in a year (or longer) to a clothing relief organization.

28. Exercise a little every day for 21 days.

29. Establish a budget.

30. Pray for your spouse and children every day.

31. Take your spouse on a “dialogue” date.

32. Go to a Christian marriage enrichment seminar or read a book together on marriage and parenting appropriate to where you are in your family life cycle.

33. Establish a family mealtime at least one evening a week.

34. Develop distractions from problems and stresses such as hobbies and interests, but be sure these things do not contribute to the stress.

35. Develop a low-fat, low-sugar, low-salt diet.

36. Laugh.  Have fun.

37. Learn how and practice Christian meditation in the Presence of God and on His Word.

38. Choose friends wisely.

39. Don’t let things drift or be postponed – deal with them.

40. Admit fears and face them.

41. Work on a realistic self-image.

42. Do what is right – don’t cheat, lie, or be immoral – admit your faults and confess your sins.

43. Take one thing at a time – set priorities and steps to action; then cross them out when they are finished.

44. Be realistic – some things you cannot change.

45. Slow down – move, eat, and talk more slowly, to feel less pressured.

46. Avoid excuses – take responsibility for yourself and your own actions.

47. Talk things over – with a friend, relative, pastor, or counselor.

48. Complete unpleasant tasks first.

49. Set up “recovery times” after particular periods of stress.

50. Postpone making major decisions in times of stress.

51. Give yourself permission to fail.

52. Value life’s little blessings.

53. Accept yourself for who you are.

54. Cherish God’s love and wisdom.

55. Lean to say “no” to unreasonable demands without feeling guilty.

LET GOD’S WILL BE DONE

(Excerpted from The Sacrament of the Present Moment by Jan-Pierre De Caussade)

The cruel chisel destroys a stone with each cut.  But what the stone suffers by repeated blows is no less than the shape the mason is making of it.  And should a poor stone be asked, “What is happening to you?” it might reply, “Don’t ask me.  All I know is that for my part there is nothing for me to know or do, only to remain steady under the hand of my master and to love him and suffer him to work out my destiny.  It is for him to know how to achieve this.  I know neither what he is doing nor why.  I only know that he is doing what is best and most perfect, and I suffer each cut of the chisel as though it were the best thing for me, even though, to tell the truth, each one is my idea of ruin, destruction and defacement.  But, ignoring all this, I rest contented with the present moment.  Thinking only of my duty to it, I submit to the work of this skillful master without caring to know what it is.”

NOTE:  Jean Pierre de Caussade S.J. was a French Catholic Jesuit writer known for his work Abandonment to Divine Providence (also translated as The Sacrament of the Present Moment) and his posthumously-published letters of instruction to the Nuns of the Visitation at Nancy, where he spiritual director from 1733-1740.

“TROUBLE”

SOURCE:  AACC

“Opportunity’s favorite disguise is trouble.” -Frank Tyger

Trouble:  between a rock and a hard place… when life isn’t the way it is supposed to be.  Ever been there?  It’s been said that there are only three types of people – those who have just come out of trouble, are in the middle of trouble, or, are somewhere down the road, headed into trouble. Life’s like that.

The children of Israel experienced times of great heartache and trouble.  Granted, most often it was brought on by their own actions.  Invariably however, these times became opportunities for God to teach His people to trust their true King.  Psalm 46 is actually a song to be sung to God in times of trouble.  Within it we find amazing expressions of opportunity…

Our responsibility?

Press in to God. Vs. 1 declares that “God is our refuge and strength. A very present help in trouble.”(NASV). In an emergency we “dial” 911. In times of trouble we can “dial” Psalm 91:1. When we dwell in the shelter of God, we will abide in His shadow. A place of refuge. And God is not just present. He is very present. The closer a train gets, the louder it becomes. The greater the trouble, the “louder” the presence of God…

Our response to trouble?

1. Don’t fear.  “Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea…” (vs. 2 NASV).   No matter what happens, He is in the midst of it. And Paul reminds us “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” II Timothy 1:7 (KJV).   Trouble is an opportunity to draw near to God as He draws near to us… without fear.

2. Rest and relax. As difficult as it may seem when you are being pounded by trouble, God wants you to “Be still” and know that He is God (vs. 10 KJ).   Let go… drop your hands… let Him be who He is… GOD.   Take the opportunity to watch Him do what you could never do in your own strength…

Trouble. While you will probably never welcome it, you will, over time, learn to embrace it as a window for opportunity…

 

 

REST: Experiencing God's Peace in a Restless World

(Adapted from the book Rest: Experiencing God’s Peace in a Restless World by Dr. Siang-Yang Tan)

We are truly living in an age of anxiety. Anxiety has become the leading emotional problem of our day. Common responses to the questions, “How are you doing?” include: “I am really busy.” “I’m exhausted.” “There’s just too much to do.” “I’m tired. I need a vacation.” “I’m burned out.” “There’s too much going on.” “I’m so stressed out, I can’t keep up anymore!”

The buzzwords of our lives today are: Busyness. Stress. Overload. The demands of life have far outgrown the resources we have to meet them, leading to what has been termed, “The Overload Syndrome.” People are exhausted.  People are stressed.  People are overloaded.  We need more time.  We need more space.  We need more reserves.  We need more buffer.

Closely related to overwork and overload is our preoccupation with speed. In our embrace of speed, we are obsessed with efficiency and productivity. We are horrified at the thought of wasting any time. Bill Gates recently wrote a book entitled Business at the Speed of Thought. In trying to beat the clock, we walk faster, drive faster, work faster. But at a great cost. Levels of stress and anxiety are increased exponentially. Unrest is the result. Unrest is feeling fearful, anxious, panicked, scattered, harried, hurried, overwhelmed, exhausted, discontent, driven, stressed. It’s the opposite of what we most deeply long for: rest.

People are seeking rest today with a vengeance! They are doing things such as taking stress management classes, going on retreats, and trying hard to change their lifestyles so they can find some peace and rest again. Ironically, more and more people are stressed out trying to overcome stress. We try too hard to find rest, and the hard work of rest often leads to further unrest and restlessness. We need to have a deeper, more biblical understanding of rest and how to experience or enter into rest – God’s rest, in God’s way.

Rest can be described as a state of peace, contentment, serenity, refreshment, stillness, tranquility, or calm. The qualities of rest include: quietness of heart; a sober awareness of who we are and who God is; an ability to let go (and not try so hard, even at resting); an ability to enjoy leisure, nature, and things that do not involve performance; reflection; trust; an ability to live from our higher or true self -to determine our values and live by them, enjoying the moment, not living in the past or the future; breathing easily and deeply; waiting without impatience; not being impulsive or rash.

What is the difference between rest and leisure or amusement? Rest is found beyond leisure. It is God who instituted and commanded rest – true Sabbath rest – for humankind (see Ex 20:8-11; 34:21). He is also the first “rester” Himself (see Gen 2:2-3; Ex 31:17). This rest was not meant to be a luxury, but rather a necessity for those who want to have growth and maturity. Since we have not understood that rest is a necessity, we have perverted its meaning, substituting for the rest that God first demonstrated things called leisure or amusement�.Leisure and amusement may be enjoyable, but they are to the private world of the individual like cotton candy to the digestive system. They provide momentary lift, but they will not last�.The world and the church need genuinely rested Christians (and families): Those who are regularly refreshed by true Sabbath rest, not just leisure or time off. When godly rest is achieved, you will see just how tough and resilient Christians (and families) can actually be.

Taken from three main words that are used in the Old Testament to describe rest, we can conclude these terms paint us a rich and multifaceted picture. Rest involves something we do, something we experience and something God gives us. We see that we must regularly cease from our work and become still before God to gain a sense of tranquility and to loose the shackles of stress. God provides supernatural security and peace.

Also, we should not think of work versus rest but work and rest. God invented both at virtually the same time; they are meant to complement, not fight against each other. A godly life is a life of rest. A godly life is a life of work. Scripture places rest and work side by side and sees them both as good.

Despite our deep desire to experience true Sabbath rest, many of us, ironically, are afraid of rest. There may be various reasons. First, we may be addicted to the adrenaline rush of busyness. Second, we may be afraid of rest because we are fearful of facing our true state of being: our emptiness, our bad feelings, our painful memories. It is easier and more comfortable to keep busy, to keep going on without stopping to rest. Resting and reflecting may bring us face to face with painful inner feelings and struggles we would rather avoid or keep out of our consciousness. Third, we may be fearful of rest because we tend to define ourselves by what we produce or how we perform. We have a tendency to use external criteria of success to define our self-worth and the worth of our families. Many of us feel we must continue to produce, perform, excel, and keep up. We are afraid to slow down and rest because we may be left behind in our business, careers, and comparisons to others. Fourth, closely connected to the previous reason, many of us may feel that it’s all up to us to “make it” in life, believing that if we slow down or change, things will simply fall apart. Many of us are afraid of rest because we are afraid of losing speed, losing ground, and losing our lifestyles. Finally, we may be afraid of rest because we feel trapped in our ever-increasing cycle of activity and accelerated busyness. We can’t see a way out. The situation may appear so hopeless and helpless that we give up trying to rest at all. In fact, to stop and rest makes us feel more anxious about all the things we are leaving undone. We end up avoiding rest and trying to do even more in the time-starved days of our lives.

We continue to suffer from the disease of “hurry sickness.” As has been written, “hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. Hurry can destroy our souls. Hurry can keep us from living well.” “Hurry is not of the devil; hurry is the devil.” The enemy of our souls knows full well how hurry sickness or unrest can ultimately destroy us. He will do his best to keep us from God’s rest. He entices us to drive ourselves onward, create ever more activity, fill our emptiness with external stimuli to avoid the disquiet in our soul. Consequently, we often clutch at people and things that keep us engaged in the cycle of a hurried and harried life.

There are four aspects of rest that are necessary to understand:

Physical: Many of us suffer today from heart disease as well as other stress-related illnesses, including addictions, panic attacks, exhaustion, insomnia, headaches, muscle tension, and high blood pressure. Such physical suffering often stems from our inability to manage our lives and to learn how to rest.

Physical rest includes time for leisure and sleep, especially taking a Sabbath day off each week and sleeping at least eight hours a night. It also involves good nutrition, regular exercise, and practicing at least one good relaxation technique as part of stress management. We protect our physical rest by refusing to overwork and making sure we have enough of a time buffer.

Emotional: Many of us feel as if we can’t keep up with the demands and stresses of our lives. The results often include depression, anxiety, panic, fear, confusion, and feeling trapped or overwhelmed.

Emotional rest means experiencing peace, quiet, tranquility, contentment, serenity, and refreshment instead of anxiety, fear, panic, tension, discontent, depression, exhaustion, and fatigue. Intellectual or mental rest is part of emotional rest. If our minds are at rest, our emotions can relax. Emotional rest also comes from spiritual rest.

Relational: Many of us experience “restless relationships” or “fractured relationships.” Whether in the home, church, school, workplace, or the larger community of which we are a part, the presence of unresolved conflicts, broken relationships, misunderstanding, contention, bitterness, strife, and especially an unforgiving spirit can cause much unrest and pain.

Relational rest can be found in the context of our caring and loving relationships with other people. Such relationships don’t work without a heart of love and a soul that is experiencing some level of spiritual and emotional peace deep within. Our spiritual, emotional, and physical rest are all deepened when we receive the gifts of loving and caring relationships in a family of people who believe in Jesus Christ.

Spiritual: Many of us find it difficult to trust God, to hear His voice, to sense His presence. God seems far away, and the weight of the world rests on our shoulders. We may have an exaggerated sense of self, leading us t believe it is up to us alone to free ourselves from this burden. We may go through the motions of trusting in God but do not reap the rewards or blessing.

Spiritual rest is by far the most crucial type of rest, although many of us miss it. We need rest from our guilt, doubt, confusion, emptiness, dryness, and despair. We long for the peace of God that transcends all understanding (see Phil 4:7). Such supernatural peace comes when we learn to pray with thanksgiving (Phil 4:6) and to cast all our cares or anxiety upon Him because He cares for us (I Pet 5:7). The writer of the book of Hebrews specifically deals with spiritual rest – God’s rest – in Hebrews 4:1: “Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.” The promise of entering into or experiencing God’s rest – true spiritual rest in Him – is still true for the people of God. God’s rest is available today to those of us who believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ and receive His rest by faith (Heb 4:2-3). We can still enter into His rest experientially now by maintaining an active faith relationship with the One who invented rest in the first place.

F. B. Meyers called the theme in Hebrews 4 the Gospel of Rest:

When we once learn to live by faith, believing that our Father loves us, and will not forget or forsake us, but is pledged to supply all our needs; when we acquire the holy habit of talking to Him about all, and handing all over to Him, at the moment that the tiniest shadow is cast upon the soul; when we accept insult, and annoyance, and interruption, coming to us from whatever quarter as being His permission, and therefore, as part of His dear will for us – then we have learned the secret of the Gospel of Rest.

Tag Cloud