Nuggets: How to Rest

Most of us know we’re sleep deprived, or at least over worked and stressed out. (Come on, it’s the modern curse that this is actually a badge of honor!) At the same time, most Christians are fully aware of God’s call to rest. If nothing else, in the 10 Commandments, we learn that God modeled a Sabbath rest for us.

Wouldn’t you like to take a rest?

It requires more than you think. Resting is costly.

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 11:29

The prerequisite for rest, for truly letting your guard down, giving up control and walking with the Spirit is ultimate humility.

Yep. Rest might cost you your reputation, your wealth, your esteem, your drive and more.

True rest is found beneath the yoke of Christ. Look at Him. He tells us to learn from Him about rest and He certainly wasn’t taking a lot of long naps!

No, spirit-deep rest is found in surrender, gentleness and humility. But I have a feeling, that when we learn these traits from Jesus, we’ll find a supernatural rest that even affects us physically and mentally.

 

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Praying Like a Sinner

[This devotional, first published in ‘Tween Girls and God is intended for youth.]

Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God … “

Trista glanced across the yard as she climbed into the backseat of her family’s minivan one Sunday morning.

“The Carlsons never go to church,” she said to no one in particular. Daddy fastened Trista’s younger sister in her carseat, opened the door for her mother and then climbed in behind the wheel. Slowly, he backed out of the drive. No one replied, so Trista turned it into a question.

“Daddy, why don’t they go to church? I mean, God says we should, I know it’s in the Bible somewhere. Does that mean they don’t believe in Jesus? If they do believe in Jesus, does that mean we are better Christians? Does that mean they are bad people? Does that mean … ”.

“Slow down, Trista,” her mom interrupted. “If you don’t stop asking so many questions, your dad can’t give you an answer. Besides, I think this is a very important conversation. The things you’re saying sound a little prideful.”

“Trista, have you heard the parable of the pharisee and the tax collector?” Daddy asked. “Jesus tells the story in Luke chapter 18.”

“No. I don’t think so,” Trista said.

“Well, Jesus was talking to some people who were pretty sure they were really good people. They believed that they were doing a good job of keeping all of God’s commandments and that God must be pretty pleased with them.”

Daddy, continued, “So the story is that there were two men who went to pray. One was a very important religious leader and the other was a tax collector. In those days, tax collectors were considered to be bad people. Sometimes they cheated people out of their money.

“The religious leader stood off to the side, far away from the tax collector. Then he started to pray out loud, ‘God, I’m so glad that you didn’t make me like that tax collector over there. I’m a really good person. I do everything you say to do.’

“But the tax collector stood off to the side and looked sadly down at the ground. He cried, ‘God, I’m so sorry for the bad things I’ve done. Please have mercy on me.’

“Jesus finished the story by saying, ‘I promise you, the humble tax collector went home forgiven, not the prideful religious man.’”

Now it was Trista’s turn to hang her head. “I think I understand, Daddy,” she said in a small voice. “God isn’t happy when I am proud of myself and think that the good things I do make Him happy with me.”

“That’s right, sweetheart,” Mom spoke up. “Jesus died for our sins—for everyone in the whole world. You and I are only saved because we believe in Him, not because we go to church or do anything good at all. Also, it is not our place to judge other people. Actually, I know Mrs. Carlson from the bank. Their family goes to a different church and they worship on Saturday nights.”

Trista turned to look out the window and watched the other cars streak past. She wondered where they were going. Quietly, she whispered a prayer:

“Jesus, thank you for forgiving me when I am prideful and when I do bad things or don’t do the things you want me to do. Thank you for parents who teach me to believe in you and to understand the Bible. Help me to be humble and to remember that I am saved because of your grace, not by anything I do.”

Guest Poem: Has Anyone Seen my Aplomb?

by: Tonja Taylor

Has anyone seen it—my dear aplomb?
Maybe I left it behind at home;
Or put it on a secret shelf,
To wear when I didn’t like myself.

I had it before; it was clearly seen,
Or so to my keen intellect it seemed; 
Didn’t I infer what they implied?
I thought t’was my aplomb they spied—

Sparkling, striking, powerfully pleasing;
“It becomes you,” they said with a grin.
(Then again, it might have been
That they were only teasing.)

Surely it didn’t fall and slip
Down the sink while I did dishes–
Now lost on some iridescent trip
Of ethereal suds and squishes?

Did the maid, in cleaning determination
Think it dust or an aberration?
And remove it forever from its place
In the room where I daily put on my face?

I wore it with charm and poise, and grace.
With style, panache, finesse,
But now I have misplaced my aplomb,
And everything’s a mess.

Maybe the verbal snafu last night
Caused my aplomb to leave in flight;
I should have know it could erase
It; and perhaps make me lose face …

It’s quite the faux pa I have made
I guess; but even so
The moi I was I wouldn’t trade
For the new me I now know.

You can enjoy more of Tonja Taylor’s work on her website:

A Low Life

“Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before.”

“.faith through grace by saved are you For”

It’s such a familiar phrase, you probably read that backwards without the slightest difficulty. So why is it that no matter how many times we say it, and how much we believe it that we invariably act otherwise? Why is that we can’t get over the need to prove ourselves to God—or prove our love for God to others? Ephesians 2:10 can be a troublesome verse for those of us trying to get a grip on grace: “For we are…created in Christ Jesus for good works,”.
The phrase “for good works” is agathos ergon, which literally means: that by which any one is occupied or any product whatever, any thing accomplished by hand, art, industry, or mind [that is] of good constitution—useful, honorable, excellent, joyful, happy business or employment. The next phrase “that we should walk in them” means: to make due use of opportunities.
Maybe our impression of the work God intends is a bit off base. Maybe Jesus is glorified in the lowly—when fishermen fish, when artists draw, when farmers plant, when children play or when mothers cook. Maybe the good that we were created to do, the opportunities we must take advantage of, are right in front of us—in mopping, sweeping, eating, laughing, even dying well. God’s desires of us are neither grand or contrived but to do the lowly and mundane for His glory, even to live a quiet life.

 

A Babel-builders Legacy

“Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we many make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the earth.’” Genesis 11:4

In her recent book, Whispers of Hope, Beth Moore translated the Tower of Babel story into a modern day parable. She likened the Babel builders to the many people who have attempted to climb Mount Everest.

“The spend fortunes, suffer all manner of maladies, risk relationships, and endanger life and limb. They experience a level of cold no average person can imagine to trudge past frozen bodies. But do you know what mystifies me most? If they make it to the top, they can’t even enjoy the thrill of victory. Their heads pound. They’re disoriented. Their lungs nearly collapse. They suffer snow blindness. They stand on top of the famed Mount Everest for five minutes and begin a hasty descent while they can still breathe. Why do they do it? For the sheer accomplishment of climbing to the highest peak on earth and the accompanying notoriety. Ironically, by the time they achieve the goal, most of them can’t even remember their names.”

I wrote furiously up the margin of the page, around the top, over the title and finally pulled out my tattered journal to keep going. Comparing myself to a thrill-seeking, glory-hound is not exactly complimentary, but the similarities are there nonetheless.

My years with an eating disorder could also explain the Tower of Babel in modern terms. For nearly 15 years, a transcript of my thoughts would have read, “I will build a body of perfection. I will create myself in the  image of ideal beauty. Then people will know me, admire me, remember me, envy me.”

And with focused abandon I risked relationships, physical injury and even my life to that end. The difference between Beth’s Everest example and my own is that I could never reach the pinnacle, there was no definition of success. I could never become my own creator. No one ever asked me to help them become anorexic. In fact, no one ever looked at my emaciated body with admiration and asked me to help them create the  “ideal body”.

Praise God, just like at the Tower of Babel, He came down into my little, broken life and scattered the pieces. He revealed to me the danger of my course, healed me, and like the good Creator that He is, gave me again the “perfect body” He intended for me.

Today, I am in the process of building a legacy, of leaving a mark on the world. Almost daily, God sends me people who ask how I overcame anorexia, who helped me to heal and will I pray for them.

Today, my actions center around loving God with all my heart and learning to love others as He loves me. His glory, His name is the mark I want to leave on the world.

This post was first published on Nov. 28, 2013 at FINDINGbalance.com

A Kingly Lesson

I don’t think I’m the only one who has ever read through Kings and Chronicles and thought, “What’s wrong with these royal guys? Every other generation is evil! Couldn’t they teach their kids better than that?”

Particularly, 2 Chronicles 29 through 35 really got to me yesterday. Starting with King Hezekiah of Judah, it’s like a spiritual ping-pong match: Good guy, bad guy, good guy, bad guy.

Often, there was a clean break between generations, a righteous king had an evil successor. But, taking a close look at Hezekiah and Manasseh, I think I see the problem right in the middle of their lives, a perfect case study. And, as usual, Scripture has a very modern application for me.

Over and over throughout Scripture, God blessed and prospered humble kings. David became king from humble shepherd roots and acknowledged that God had brought him so far. For centuries, David’s name has been preserved with honor. Think of Solomon, who humbly asked God for wisdom. Not only did God answer that request, but He made Solomon the richest man that ever lived. When kings followed the Lord, they often won battles without even raising a sword.

So, why is it that so often, these good and powerful kings left their kingdoms to sons who turned their backs on God?

I wonder…

Growing up in blessed households, perhaps pride was allowed to take seed in the young men’s hearts. No doubt they received homage from the people. They wore fine clothing and answered to, “Your majesty”. (Okay, admittedly they didn’t speak English, but go with me here.) Perhaps the power went to their heads. When opulence became the norm, power fermented and became putrid, infectious, fatal pride.

And pride always comes before a fall. Suddenly, the king found himself kingdom-less, powerless or poor.

But, when a son grew up in a humbled kingdom, his heart was soft, meek and submissive to the One True God.

Manasseh was an evil king. (2 Chronicles 33:2) God spoke to Manasseh and the people over and over again, urging them to repent. But they refused. Finally, God brought Assyria to conquer Judah. It was in captivity, that Manasseh was humbled. He sought the Lord and was restored to his kingdom. (This is a great story, read all of 2 Chron. 33.)

There, Manasseh led Judah in rebuilding the altar of Lord and sacrificing to Him. Manasseh’s son, Amon, grew up in this time of God’s favor. He watched his father be restored and blessed. By the time he took Manasseh’s place, he had an evil heart. Eventually, his own servants murdered him. But Josiah, his son, saw that his father’s wickedness cost him his life. Josiah took the throne at age eight, and was a Godly king.

I observed this ping-pong match in my own heart just yesterday.

In the beginning of my eating disorder I was proud. I was proud of my self discipline, strength and thinness. But pride led me into deep illness with anorexia. Finally, I was sick, powerless, out of control and captive to this eating disorder.

In my darkest, most humiliating moment, I turned toward God. He fed me and restored me, outside of my own conscious efforts. And for a time, I relinquished control. I ate what God fed me, I trusted Him for every bite and let Him lead me as I exercised. Now, I am strong, healthier than I’ve ever been. I feel attractive. I am restored and I recognize the beauty God created.

But yesterday, as I walked my dog around the lake, I caught myself checking to see if the cute guy who passed me was turning around for a second look. Did I catch his attention?

When I got hot, I stripped down to a sports bra, admiring my own body and thinking, “Wow, I’ve actually got abs! I look pretty good.”

I began to wonder what I did to get here. How did I accomplish such a nice physique? What workouts and meals am I doing to get these results? Look what I’ve been able to do!

Suddenly, I felt the Holy Spirit tap me on my spiritual shoulder.
“Daughter, this is what happened to those kings. They came to believe that they were responsible for their blessings. Man has an innate difficulty containing both my blessing and humility. I did not only create you in your mother’s womb, but I continually create each new cell to replace the dying ones. Every perfect gift, including your body and your life, come from me.”

 

 

The Right Way to Want

There are two philosophies about success.

  1. Take what you want, look out for yourself. Be self motivated, self aware and self-driven. Look deep inside, learn to love and respect yourself and do what it takes to make yourself happy. 
  2. Be utterly self-effacing. This attitude is often touted from the pulpit as the Christian way to behave. Supposedly, by neglecting your own desires and elevating the aspirations of others, you will find supreme fulfillment.

Is either way true? From my experience, no. On Monday, I shared with you what I am learning about want in the foundations of my struggle with anorexia.

It was so sneaky that even I did not recognize my greed. An anorexic appears to be in need. The life of an anorexic is an exercise is asceticism, self denial, ultimate self control. But for me, it was ultimately a ploy to get everyone else to condescend to all my demands. That’s a pretty ugly naked.

Greed can wear two disguises, one flashy, the other demure.

I was reading a rather familiar story in Numbers 32. It is the story of Moses finally leading the Israelites into the Promised Land, or at least very close to it. This is one of those accounts that I have read and assumed it must have a deeper meaning than what I am able to scrape off the surface.

The Reubenites and Gadites, who had very large herds and flocks, saw that the lands of Jazer and Gilead were suitable for livestock. So they came to Moses and Eleazar the priest and to the leaders of the community, and said, ‘Ataroth, Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Heshbon, Elealeh, Sebam, Nebo and Beon— the land the Lord subdued before the people of Israel—are suitable for livestock, and your servants have livestock. If we have found favor in your eyes,’ they said, ‘let this land be given to your servants as our possession. Do not make us cross the Jordan.’

And then I got it! Do you see it?

I continued reading the chapter. Moses was pretty upset with the three tribes’ brazen request for what they thought was best for them. Instead of following the original plan and accepting what God had planned for them in Canaan; instead of marching into battle for conquest of the Promised Land, these guys were asking for they wanted!

But God said, “OK.” God heard the request of the Reubenites and Gadites, and honored it. I gleaned several things from this about my own needs and wants and how and when to ask for them, as well as how and when to surrender.

  1. The Reubenites and Gadites acknowledged that God had blessed them with abundant cattle and they believed that this portion of land would allow them to practice good stewardship of His blessings.
  2. They were attentive to God’s provision and they asked for God to generously give them this portion of land.
  3. They asked humbly, heard Moses’s response and listened to his criticism.
  4. They did not cower in guilt at Moses’s rebuke, but stood up for what they thought was good.
  5. They continued into battle with their fellow Israelites in order to secure God’s blessing for the other tribes as well.

“Love yourself and make yourself happy,” is a mantra in our society. Adding confusion, is the Christianese admonition to overlook one’s self. The TRUTH is, God wants us to look to Him for blessings. He wants us to expect Him to be good. And He longs for us to be grateful for His generosity. Finally, God wants us to extend that same favor to others.

The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them. Ps. 145:15-19