Discovering Spiritual Truths & Celebrating God's Grace in the Every Day Happenings of Life.
A couple of days ago, I sat with a homebound member, reflecting on the depressing news that is unavoidable anytime you look at your phone or turn on a television. Tragedy at an amusement park. Massive casualties as a passenger airline falls out of the sky in China. Car accidents that take the lives of many young people far too soon. Natural disasters that leave people homeless and cities destroyed. Not to mention the ongoing war raging on in Ukraine. Sure, you can take my preferred approach and just stop watching the news altogether. But that won’t stop the sadness from occurring. Evil still rages on this world. Tragedy still transpires. Hurt still happens. Whether we tune in or not, the destruction brought on by a godless, sinful world still shatters the lives of every family. Indeed, many are the things that captivate the public news cycle, but there is plenty of heartache that happens privately and goes unnoticed by most. It is sad that it often takes such shattering calamities for perspective to ground us in what is truly important. They provide a “reality check” for our lives.
Such is how the season of Lent began, a reality check that we are but mortal beings awaiting the return of our conquering King Jesus. “From dust you came, to dust you shall return… ” This season is a somber reminder of the world’s brokenness, of our brokenness. Our time here upon earth is temporary. We are all sin-filled and frail. We cannot stand on our own. We cannot save ourselves. The penitential season of Lent firmly puts us in our place with a harsh reality—“we have sinned and we each fall short of the glory of God.” This is why, to begin our worship services, we drop to our knees in repentance. “Lord, save me! God, give me strength!” We need God’s tender mercy; we need His intervention. As the saying goes, “Tomorrow is never guaranteed.” As a result of sin, death will now come for all of us. This is a morbid and ugly reality. Yet ever since Genesis 3 this has been unavoidable. It doesn’t matter your status or your wealth. It doesn’t matter what is your heritage or worldly accomplishments. At some point (and God-willing peacefully in our old age) we will all leave this world through the unavoidable means of death. Each day is a gift from God. We would do well to not take that granted. This is precisely the reason behind our opening proclamation each Sunday morning to start our worship. “This is the day the LORD has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24) Any day we are upright and above the ground, any day we are able to take nourishment is a good day. That is not to say we won’t have problems or feel pain; but it is a day made by and gifted to us by God. Rejoice! Let us not fill our days with resentment, anger, fear or despair. Instead seek to give thanks and overflow with the joy of the Lord. Live each day and each moment with gratitude in your hearts.
The forty days of this Lenten season continue to count down. And with that, the somber tone of this opening blast begins to build with hope-filled anticipation. The darkness lifts and gives way to light. Repentance gives way to rejoicing. Guilt gives way to grace. Sadness turns to celebration. Our posture goes from pain to praise. Shame gives way to salvation. Can you hear the familiar refrains on the horizon? I can almost catch the brass band and banging drums of Easter morning. The organ hymns shifting from somber, introspective tones to melodies that infuse energy and excitement into everyone. The shouts of “Alleluia, He is risen indeed” will soon be filling the sanctuary to the rafters. This is the reason we celebrate the death AND resurrection of our Savior Jesus. This is what the somber season of reflection and confession throughout Lent culminates in. Lent is important; it is necessary. But it isn’t how the story ends. We await Easter! A stone rolled away. Jesus risen. Tomb empty. Death destroyed. Debt paid. Access granted. Tears wiped away. New and eternal life in paradise granted to all who trust in Him.
May this Easter joy, this Good News be with you always! In the midst of endless bad news, in the midst of pain and death, in the midst of hardships and inconsolable grieving, in the midst of cancerous tumors, broken marriages, strained relationships, horrific accidents, unmet expectations, financial hardships—Jesus Christ comes to bring YOU hope. To bring life. To showcase love. To bring a reason to rejoice and be glad. To bring you and me into His eternal family. To bring perspective… that God loves us so much He didn’t want us to drown in death’s sea of despair any longer. Jesus comes so that YOU know—no matter what may happen—God’s got YOUR back and He will never let YOU down. “For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thanks be to God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:56-57 NLT)
"Somehow we just don't make the same boisterous fun of Holy Week that we do of Christmas. No one plans to have a holly, jolly Easter." (F. Mathewes-Green) …We need to change that! 😉
Nothing cute or clever from me today. Instead, I need to take on a more serious tone. It’s not fun to talk about, but very important. Several years ago, research showed that the average life expectancy in America had dropped for the first time in recent history. This was trending even prior to the current COVID pandemic we are in which only exacerbated the problem. Why? Many experts believe that the opioid crisis is one big part of the reason. For example, over 100,000 related deaths occurred between April 2020 and April 2021. Earlier this week, I sat in a presentation for area clergy with a team of people from New Pathway Counseling Services. They are a local organization that is committed to helping people with addictive disorders—whether that be alcohol, opioids, prescription drugs, or other.
Over the past several years, opioid abuse has reached epidemic proportions – and it’s happening within our communities. The face of the opioid crisis is no longer the heroin addict strung out on the streets. Roughly 21-29% of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them (that equated to 11.4 million prescription opioid addicts in 2016). In other words, the people who are struggling with such addictions are not necessarily doing so intentionally. They’re not looking for trouble. They're not longtime drug abusers. Opioid use is entirely centered around one objective–pain alleviation, whether physical or psychological. As a result, these are the people we do life with on a daily basis. It’s the college athlete with the long-term effects of knee injuries. It’s the neighbor who has just returned from active service in the military. It’s the mother of two that is in so much pain from surgical complications. It’s the teenager that didn’t realize how dangerous this “quick-fix” could be. In other words, it is our neighbors and co-workers, our friends and our family. They’re desperately trying to remove the physical pain and numb the emotional hurts as well, but in doing so, they find themselves in a spiral of despair and danger.
A related online article asked this question, putting this concern front-and-center for clergy…
"Is anyone suffering in your congregation or community? If so, then be assured they are tempted to escape through self-medicating (whether prescribed or illegal) rather than running toward the Lord. Church leaders are gatekeepers for those in any sort of pain, who find themselves stuck between those two alternatives – Jesus or drugs. Hesitating to speak openly with the church about the opioid crisis, share facts about the dangers, train members to recognize the signs and intervene boldly when required leaves those in pain at risk of falling to temptation."
As I said, I know that this is not an enjoyable read. However, the point of sharing this with you all, is to increase your awareness just as mine was during that presentation. Opioid, alcohol, or drug abuse is not a moral failing for us to just shake our heads at. It's not that simple. It is a disease. In Jesus’ time, people who were blind or lame were not looked upon by the pious as people with a disease or a disability; they were “sinners” who “deserved what they got.”
Jesus taught differently, and rightly called His followers to lead the charge of those who were sick and hurting. In that vein, you need to know that the church is here to help. Any church, any clergy. I am here to help if you or someone in your family struggle with any sort of addition or destructive behavior. I may not be the one directly counseling you; but I will get you in touch with the best people who can bring swift healing and recovery. I can connect you with the people that I am meeting and the resources that are available in our community. This will get you, or the people you care about, the help needed so much quicker than by going through a general website or helpline. I know this issue is uncomfortable; it can be delicate and even disconcerting. But it has long been said that the church is a hospital for sinners. We know this is true spiritually, but our care for broken people doesn't end there.
Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)
It is nice to see things starting to open back up again. Do you agree? There is a long-awaited, exhilarating return to normal (or at least, a new normal) throughout our country. People are going back into the office for work. Students are no longer learning virtually; and recently they have seen mask-wearing become optional. Restaurants are using printed menus. Sporting events and concert halls are filling up again. Theaters and auditoriums have begun to open up. It is no longer taboo to reach out to shake the hand of a person you’re greeting. Our children can attend parties of their friends. Adults can sit shoulder to shoulder at the bar. Lines and wait times at the DMV have improved (…just kidding). It is even possible to let an innocent sneeze or harmless cough be heard in public spaces without people looking at you with condemning daggers in their eyes. To be sure, COVID has left much heartache and grief in its wake. We must continue to be smart and diligent in how we treat it and minimize further impact. But thankfully, the countless and disruptive waves of this two-year pandemic, seem to finally be subsiding.
What have you enjoyed doing again? What has made you feel normal again? Shopping without a mask? Attending the school event of your child or grandchild? Taking an overdue vacation? Gathering indoors with friends and family? Hugging a loved one or a friend you hadn’t seen in months? Going to a concert? Putting on pants and actually doing your hair or makeup to do something other than just take the trashcans out to the curb?
It has now been -- years ago, but I still remember coasting through my senior year of high school. I had already been accepted to the college I was planning on going to, and the majority of my course load was either required or relatively easy. Senioritis had kicked in and was in full effect... pretty much from the moment my senior year had started! But then there was my English class. Though the class itself was not incredibly difficult nor was the work too burdensome, I had coasted a bit too long and a bit too far. I neglected the reading and put off the journal writing. Not-so-suddenly my grade dropped to the point of not being able to graduate. Yikes! This was not a fun conversation for a perpetual honor roll student to have with mom and dad. As a direct result of my laziness, and thoroughly enjoying the fun of a socially active senior year, I was left in a precarious position. Improve the grades or else. No walking in graduation and no summer fun. Fortunately, with a few extra assignments and a flexible, albeit a bit wacky, English teacher, I was able to finish the year off strong. I passed the class and did not have to miss any of the graduation day festivities.
There is great danger in coasting through things. We miss important events, overlook essential details, or we fall into an apathetic laziness that can have all sorts of ramifications for our lives. This is what the season of Lent seeks to help us avoid. It is a season in the church year dedicated to shaking us from our spiritual stupor and prod us to pay attention to the important subject matter at hand. It is meant to ensure we don’t miss the indispensable narrative of Jesus’ passion week. Lent is a season of 40 days where we take time, intentionally, to zero in and reflect on the need for and preparations of Easter Sunday. We dare not coast through Lent. We dare not act like this is no big deal. We dare not just stop working (or worshiping) until Easter. Of course, we are excited for the uplifting sights and sounds of Easter. It is, after all, a victorious celebration. But it came after some major storms in the life of our Savior. So we continue in Lent, looking carefully at the places and moments of the sufferings Christ endured on His journey to the cross. These moments not only showcase His immense love for us, but they also give us a model by which to battle our own struggles, obstacles, and temptations.
Indeed, Lent is God’s story of putting back together a shattered world, and more importantly our shattered relationship with the Creator. We dare not miss this story because we’re too busy or distracted. We dare not overlook it because we’re having too much fun or spiritually slacking off. Think of it this way, when driving a car, if I take my foot off the pedal, the car does not speed up. It doesn’t even maintain the same speed. Instead, from the very moment I take my foot off the accelerator, the car begins to slow. Allowing the car to coast is inviting the car to stop. It may take some time, but left on its own, it will stop eventually. It is inevitable. Before you know it, a long hill or unanticipated obstacle comes and you don’t have the momentum to move forward. This Lent be intentional about not coasting in your relationship with Jesus. Lent is not a time for us to take the foot off the pedal, but to intentionally keep moving to Jesus, grasping tightly to the incredible tools He gives us in His word and to avoid any coasting that may end in a complete spiritual stop!
"Lent comes providentially to reawaken us, to shake us from our lethargy." (Pope Francis)
Do you recall that catchy tune from Fiddler on the Roof? "Tradition!"
My apologies if you now have that melody stuck in your head! 😉
As good Lutherans, we know it isn’t only the Jewish faith that is rife with tradition. Our Lutheran heritage also has handed down many customs and traditions over the centuries. But if we don’t know the reason or history behind the tradition, then what good is it? For the depth and entirety of a tradition to be expressed and appreciated, we need to know why we do it.
Ash Wednesday is an odd tradition. At least our preschool students, during chapel time yesterday, certainly thought so. "Why do you have dirt on your head?" "You have an X on your forehead." "It looks like an airplane." These innocent children couldn’t quite understand why grownups would come to church to smear dirt on our heads. How would you have answered?
Did you know that Ash Wednesday has its traditions from well before the Lutheran church came into existence? This first day of the Lenten season is intended to make Christians mindful of their sins and to bring into focus the gravity of those sins and their consequences. In 1091 Pope Gregory I started the tradition of marking a cross of ashes on the foreheads of the faithful as he uttered the words of Genesis 3:19, “Remember that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return.” This custom has been passed down through generations, spreading even to many Protestant denominations. That’s right, ashes aren’t just for Catholics! This is a gifted ritual for all Christians. It is completely optional, but it also can be an edifying practice for the whole Church. This custom was reminiscent of Old Testament people of God sitting in ashes or sprinkling them on the head. In a time of great sorrow or repentance, ashes and sackcloth were outward signs of grief or repentance.
We are in the process of painting the rooms of our house. Now that our first-year warranty has come to an end and drywall cracks and nail pops of a settling house have been repaired, we have the green light to start painting the walls of our home. And it was really in desperate need of a paint job. The painters that finished all of the homes in our neighborhood weren’t exactly the most careful or polished painters. No doubt they initially came in with their fancy sprayers to do a quick coat, without concern for drips or smudges. They clearly never came back to touchup missed or poorly done spots. Furthermore, they used a near-white, flat paint. This means that the paint is impossible to clean. It hides nothing. Any attempt to remove a spot either smears the stain or adds new water spots to the already infected area. I’m convinced that if you even looked at a wall too long you would leave some sort of marking.
For the past year, our walls have shown every mark. Scuffed up. Stained. Chipped and flaking. Water spots, handprints, and all sorts of other blemishes. Time to paint indeed!
We are making slow, steady progress. One bathroom and all the kids’ bedrooms have been completed. We’ll get the rest done… eventually. This is certainly not a labor of love. Painting is probably my least favorite home improvement task to accomplish. But as much as I despise painting, I must admit that there was something rewarding for my wife and me as we applied that first, fresh new color of paint to the walls. Whether it was by brush or by roller, watching our various new shades of color cover up every prior blemish on the walls was oddly gratifying. Gone are the scuff marks of furniture and bedframes. Gone are the unknown stains and markings of a house inhabited by three children and a dog. With great satisfaction and via two coats of paint, we covered up every spot and blemish. It took plenty of time and money, and I certainly would not call it enjoyable, but what a good feeling to step back and look at a wall that previously looked so horrible, and see it now just about perfect and scuff-free. The walls look brand new… for now. 😉
God deals with us in a similar fashion. “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.” (Isaiah 1:18) Sin leaves each of us so very much scuffed up. This is an understatement of course; we don’t need to look hard to find the blemishes and stains on the walls of our lives. Our sins stand ever before us and they are undeniable. We are desperate for far more than just a proverbial fresh coat of paint. Truth be told, we need to knock down the walls and start the whole building process over. But alas, this is no task we could ever complete ourselves.
This is why God steps down from heaven… to do for us what we could never do for ourselves. He washes us clean and to makes us new. And unlike my experience painting, for God this spiritual cleansing is absolutely a labor of love. It is the love that God has for each of us that led Him to take redemptive action—coming to earth to suffer and die so that we could be forgiven. Of course, He does not use the stroke of a brush or swipe of a roller, but instead His body is pierced by thorns and nails. Our merciful God paints over the blemishes and iniquities of our sin-stained lives with the very blood that flowed from His cross. In an extraordinary, once-and-for-all moment (and at no cost to any of us), God gives us a purifying makeover with eternal consequences. No more spots. No more stains. No more sin.
Do you remember these words from the Apostle Paul? “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Cor. 5:17) Something to ponder next time you pick up a paintbrush.
We are cleansed.
Our spots have been covered.
We are made new.
Thanks be to God!
“Forgiveness is God’s greatest gift because it meets our greatest need.” (D. Platt)
I did it!
After many months of thinking and talking about it, I finally made the commitment. No more empty words and good intentions. No more excuses or procrastination. No more being lazy or apathetic. After more than two years without, I have signed up for a gym membership again. As of last Wednesday evening, I am a member of Planet Fitness. Now I know what you’re all thinking… How can Pastor Steve possibly be any more buff, toned, and studly than he already is? But alas, over the past 2+ years, my regular early-morning, gym-rat routine has become non-existent. This change was long overdue. Getting back into a routine of regular exercise and intentional healthy habits will be good for me. It is certainly needed. I can no longer use moving across the country or even a global pandemic as reasons to not exercise. As of last Thursday, everything has changed. I am now an official gym member once again!
One week into my brand-new Planet Fitness membership, I must be honest. I should probably admit that I haven’t actually gone yet. I have tried, and had every intention to go, but it just hasn’t happened yet.
But wait! I have my reasons. Here’s why…
Do you see where I’m going with this? These are my excuses, err I mean, reasons, and they are all legitimate and reasonable. But such things will always creep into my life, and unless I start to prioritize going it simply won’t ever happen. A gym membership is only could if it gets put to use. Thought about going. Planned on going. Downloaded the app. Paid the processing fees. But in the end, best of intentions will not do me a lick of good in shedding a few extra pounds. Sure, I even have a gym bag packed and sitting in my car, but I actually have to show up at the gym in order for good habits to form and lasting effects to take shape.
It is also this way with worship. Worship matters. It’s important. It is essential to the spiritual well-being of us all. Worship is where the Word of God trains us and keeps us from going off the rails. It prevents from becoming lazy or spiritually weak. This is where the Spirit of God softens the strains and soothes the pains brought on by the sins and stress of the past week. Worship is where we find encouragement and love from our fellow pew-sitters. It is where our eternal Father, reaches down from heaven to quench our thirst and relieve our burdens. This is where God shows up to serve and save us with tangible vessels of forgiveness and prayer. Only in church will we hear of a powerful God who is filled with infinite grace towards His people; that we are so tenderly cared for and loved that He was willing to die for our sake. What an awesome message! We dare not neglect it. We dare not keep putting it off. But don’t take the word of a pestering pastor, God said it too (and first): “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” (Hebrews 11:25) Here God tells the church to keep gathering, keep worshiping, keep growing stronger.
Jesus wants genuine commitment; He wants faith-filled follow-through. He doesn’t just want us to sign-up; put our name on a church membership list and then walk away. There are strong words of warning from Jesus here in his Sermon on the Mount. Jesus wants followers who are devoted to Him and who hear His Words; then take them to heart and live by them. That’s a hard thing to do when we are deserting the word and worship of God. There is a joy that is found in gathering around the Word of God and with the people of God. Again, don’t take my word for it. Look here. Or here. Or here. Or here. I’m just the messenger; God wrote the book. He's the mastermind behind this. Just like my week above, there will always be things that come up and try to prevent you from worship. Power through. Persevere. Come back and join us for worship—whether that be done in-person or virtually.
Who knows?!? Maybe I'll even go to the gym today! Oh wait, I have a... 😉
“God directs his people not simply to worship but to sing his praises ‘before the nations.’ We are called not simply to communicate the gospel to nonbelievers; we must also intentionally celebrate the gospel before them.” (T. Keller)
“From your heroes you pick up mannerisms, phrases and tones of voice, facial expressions and habits, demeanors, convictions and beliefs. The more admirable the hero is and the more intense your admiration is, the more profound will be your transformation. In the case of Jesus, he is infinitely admirable, and our admiration rises to the most absolute worship. Therefore, when we behold him as we should, the change is profound.” (J. Piper)
As of last Thursday, we have officially been owners of our new house for one whole year. How quickly the time flies! When we signed the closing documents twelve months ago, one of the “perks” of a new-build, was a fairly comprehensive one-year warranty. If any issue arose, all we had to do was fill out an online form and a repair person would (eventually) show up. This was also true for much of the furniture we purchased to fill the new home.
As such, for the last couple of weeks, I have had to wait around for people to come and fix things. Vinyl flooring. Carpet. Refrigerator. Garage door. Furnace. Dining room table. None of these things were major, but they were covered by our expiring warranty, and it would have been foolish for me to not get them serviced for free while I still could. On one hand, it is nice to know that the repair would be covered free of charge—even if it was only a temporary benefit. Yet on the other hand, in each instance, we had to wait… and wait… and wait. We had wait to for calls back and open schedule slots. We had to wait for replacement parts to arrive. Wait for the arrival of the service people. We were helplessly captive to their schedules, entirely dependent on whenever they could fit us in. And when they gave me an option, I had to take it, no matter how inconvenient it was, or risk waiting another three months. For the dining room table alone, I waited over three months for an open timeslot and was then given an unhelpful arrival timeframe of 8am-4pm. Thanks for narrowing it down!
Today’s devotion is from Lutheran Hour Ministries, their devotio from 1/25/22. It is a reflection on our upcoming Old Testament reading from Jeremiah for this Sunday. Take a few extra minutes to follow the link and read the scripture. It is a great, simple reminder to us all about the role we each play in the mission of the church. We are all loved, called, and sent. God is using every one of us to impact the world, to replicate the same love that He gives to us.
Jeremiah was nervous when God called him to be His prophet. "I don't know how to speak," he said. "I'm just a youth." Jeremiah was right—he wasn't up to the job, and he knew it. So far, so true. But he missed one thing—and God pointed it out. "I have put My words in your mouth," God said. It's as if God said, "Don't worry. It's not about you. It's about Me. You don't have to be smart enough or strong enough or good enough. I have put My words in your mouth, and they will do the job." And they did. Jeremiah spent the rest of his life speaking God's Word to the people. He did the job God had for him.
God has called you, too, to certain jobs. They may not be flashy jobs like being a prophet. More likely they are humble jobs—being a parent, a child, a spouse, a friend. You may be a caregiver, an encourager, a pray-er, a protector. You may even think that you have no job at all, because at this point in your life your role is mainly to receive care from others. But that's a job! And a hard one, at times.
What happens when you feel overwhelmed by your job, whatever it may be? You can turn to the same source of help Jeremiah did. "I have put My Word in your mouth," God said to him. "You aren't doing it alone." And to us He says, "I have put My Holy Spirit in your heart. You are not alone. I laid down My life at the cross to make you Mine, and I will not forsake you now. I will work through you, with all your faults and weaknesses, and I will bring glory to My Name."
Jesus never sends us out alone. He is always with us, and we can call on Him for help and strength and wisdom. Because He loves us and holds us up, we can do the difficult jobs we face—one step at a time, supported by Him.
“God's messengers come in all sizes, all colors, and all ages - male and female. We're all called to the ministry of reconciliation.” (Nan Jones)
Earlier this week an article was shared with me. It’s short and written for pastors, but the logic applies to us all. I’ll adapt it a bit, but I recommend you glance at it. You can find it here.
Go. Go. Go.
Run. Run. Run.
Busy. Busy. Busy.
Now that Christmas has long faded from the rearview mirror, we have likely settled back into some form of a work/school routine. But even with that return to a “normal” schedule, our lives have not necessarily slowed down. In fact, with the New Year we have also probably tried to start new habits and maintain workable resolutions that have unintentionally added more demands and more pressure. New professional goals at the office. The start of winter sports and activities in schools. Attempts to get healthy. As good and as enjoyable these things may be, they also often intensify the rat race we cannot seem to ever really get out of.
Today our rhythms of work and rest are broken. Hard work and independence are among the greatest virtues in many of our cultures. Rest is reduced to laziness. Laziness and dependence are seen as failures. We are encouraged to hustle and hurry, to keep pushing and driving until our hard work is rewarded with what we want.
Hectic. Tired. Stressed.
What is one to do?
Martin Luther talked often about rest and Sabbath, the importance of working hard but also balancing that with more recreational moments of life. He made sure to teach the value in taking time to enjoy a peaceful night’s sleep or a good Wittenberg beer in the company of good friends. The essence of the Sabbath is this: God wants to give you rest! He wants you to find rest in Jesus. Rest is good. It is God-ordained. It is necessary. Jesus himself said: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest…I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28, 29) Jesus is the heart and soul of the Sabbath! The word Sabbath literally means “rest.” This is Jesus telling you to slow down and rest in Him. Jesus declares that the only way to truly get rest in this crazy world, is to spend time time with Him.
Most importantly, Jesus wants you to rest from the hardest work of all. The work of trying to justify yourself. And that is hard work! And many people are engaged in the trade. We want to be justified. We want other people to justify us. We want people to declare, “That is a good man!” “That is a good woman!” And so we work to be called “good” people. People work and work and work to convince themselves they are “good people” before a fast-paced, ever-demanding world.
Friends, if that describes you even a little, take a break! Get some rest! Get some rest…in Jesus. Rest yourself in the Word of God, for that is where you find the beautiful good news of a God who loves you to the point of a cross and empty tomb. Come to worship, and find rest for yourself in the words of grace and in the sacraments of the church. Rest yourself at the altar and let Jesus do all the work, the work of serving you his given body and shed blood so that your soul can be at rest. There's nothing you need to do. No task to finish. Just simply be and let the God of all creation, come to you and take care of you. Imagine… Jesus works for you! Rest in that truth. Don’t allow your work—whatever that may be—to become an idol. Find a day, or even a few hours, where the time is holy, the time is different. Put away your phone, computer, and any other buzzing notifications in your life. Silence the rhythm of the busy world and listen to the rhythm of rest. Receive the rest Jesus gives you freely. Make room for rest; make room for play in your life.
“The spiritual rest which God especially intends in this commandment (3rd) is that we not only cease from our labor and trade but much more-that we let God alone work in us and that in all our powers do we do nothing of our own.” (Martin Luther)
Pastor Steve Vera