How to take Sabbath

Sabbath Rest beach.jpg

This week’s devotional is from Pastor Jeff.

ENCOUNTER: Read Jesus words in Matthew 11:28-30

“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.”

BE REFLECTIVE:

Last Sunday, at the end of my sermon on Pursuing a Life of Calm, Peace, and Rest, I left you with the challenge of considering God’s command to honor a Sabbath. “Are you serious?” was a common theme of the feedback that came my way. I also heard, “Maybe that works for other people’s lives, but certainly not mine.”

I know.

But I’m not sure what to do with that. You see, the only way I know how to honor God's command to take a Sabbath rest each week is to…

…Wait for it…

Take. Sabbath. Rest. Each. Week.

I’m sure the idea didn’t occur to God as a way to make us miserable or as an unnatural insertion into our “real” lives for his amusement or appeasement. And in fact, I don’t think religious duty has anything to do with it. I think that God commanded it because it is the best spiritual formation exercise to help us to live 24/7 in the Sabbath Rest that is offered by Jesus.

Here is, at least in part, what a sabbath is about: A Sabbath is a one-day practice of rest that…

Gives our mind and body an absolutely necessary break (medically/ physiologically.) It’s truly needed. (Just google it…)

Serves as a picture that God is in control of our lives and has provided, is providing, and will provide all that we have and all that we need.

Reminds us that my whole life is really only about walking with God and serving him.

In the sermon, there is a lot more content about the rest that Jesus offers. Let me encourage you to reflect on all that. But let me also encourage you as an application to that message to try taking a Sabbath this week or weekend. See what happens! :)

HOW TO TAKE A SABBATH DAY (Some suggestions)

-Pick one day. (Next Saturday or Sunday?)
-Start the day early (like Jesus is reported to have done.) with a restful time with a notebook giving him all that is on your plate and mind. And all that you are worrying about. Write that stuff down and put it before God’s throne and leave it there for the remainder of the day.

Then spend the day:

-Not at work
-Not doing maintenance on the house/car

Instead, spend the day:

-Loving people. (Seeing friends and family, blessing strangers, hanging with the kids, dating your spouse, writing encouraging texts to your friends, etc. etc.)
-Playing (remember what you actually LIKE to do??)
-(Literally) Counting your blessings
-Napping
-And telling God you trust Him - especially when all that weary and burdensome “stuff” that you are carrying comes up. Maybe practice repeating a simple prayer that comes in the form of a statement or question depending on how you are feeling: “You got this, God!” or “…you got this, God?”

Practicing a Sabbath is actually as simple as that. Walk with God, focus on him, and don’t spend the day “getting it all done.”

I hope you try it. God called us to it because it is a gateway to the Sabbath Rest that Jesus offers. I am confident that it may be exactly what your heart, soul, mind, and strength need.

______________________________________________________

9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God… 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest…
-Hebrews 4:9,11

Working toward restored relationships

Working toward restored relationships

After my sermon on Sunday I have been wrestling with the message I preached. I love how much Jesus loves us, and I long to know that in the depths of my being. I can get my head, all day, around the idea that God loves me and when I sin, he forgives me, and when I betray him or ruin things, that he not only forgives me, but restores me. He restores our relationship, and restores my calling, allowing me to continue to serve Him and His Kingdom.

But what has given me pause this week is that this selfless love, this love that works towards restoration that we long to receive, MUST be directed towards those people in our life who have betrayed us, wronged us, broken us. This is master’s level love. This is what it means to not simply love others as we want to be loved, but to love others the way Jesus loves us.

So here is the hard work. Who in your life has wronged you? Who has broken relationship with you? Who have you closed the emotional vault on? Who is that person? _______________________________

Read More

Everything takes time!

Everything takes time!

My dream is to be fit like Brad Pitt. :) Truthfully, I would just like to be fit enough to feel good in my clothes, and be able to do active things without feeling like I am going to have a heart attack. Both the moderate attempt at health and the advanced attempt at health only happen with intention.

All growth only happens with intention. And even more than intention, is time and effort.

Think about a goal that you have had. Why haven’t you accomplished it? Usually it is because you got bored, didn’t see results fast enough, or you lost the will. Whether it is losing weight, playing an instrument, or mastering a skill, going from dream to accomplishment takes effort and time.

The exact same thing is true in our walk with Jesus and our pursuit of godliness.

Read More

Training for Godliness

Training for Godliness

I know. This is a bit of a hard sell. Most people don’t like the thought of training. “Training” conjures up images of our middle school gym teacher making us run laps until we feel like we are going to throw up.  “Training” makes us think (untrue) thoughts like God loves it when we are exhausted, miserable, and unhappy.  And it leads us almost directly to feelings of shame, because we know how fundamentally dis-inclined our DNA is toward discipline and consistency.

But this passage (and our sermon series on “The Pursuit of Godliness”) are actually really good news…

Read More

The Power of God is working in your life.

On Sunday we discussed the power of Jesus. God has given us the power to change the world. Micah 6:8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy  and to walk humbly with your God. Before we can change the world we must first allow God to change us. How has the Gospel of Jesus’ power to reveal, revive, redirect, rev up, and reward affected you? In your quiet time read each of the scriptures and decide where you see God’s power showing up in your life. Then pray and ask God to provide power in the area where you need it most.

Power to Reveal

Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

Power to Revive- encourage build up

Psalm 3:3 But you, Lord, are a shield around me,  my glory, the One who lifts my head high.

Power to Redirect- Try again

Proverbs 24:16 for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again,

Power to Rev Up- encourage

Deut. 31:6  Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

Power to reward

Gal 6:9 says Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.






To whom is God calling you to serve?

To whom is God calling you to serve?

ENCOUNTER: Read Philippians 2:1-11

I wish that God would speak clearly to me and tell me what he would like me to do. At least, that is what I tell myself I wish. The truth is, nobody wants that. In fact, anybody who approached Jesus with a specific ask, his answer was always too challenging, and often left the other person distraught.

If we are honest, Jesus has been incredibly clear in his teaching about the kind of people he longs for us to be, the values he longs for us to have, and the people he longs for us to serve. The problem is that each one of these things is not about power or status. Following Christ into these things will never result in a larger bank statement, in career advancement, or in more status in your peer group. In fact, it will cost all three.

This passage in Philippians is so challenging because Paul doesn’t just teach this, but uses Jesus, our Lord and Savior, as the illustration, the example. Jesus, who was in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped. In fact, took on the form of a servant, even to the point of death.

With all that in the background, what would happen if we ask the question again, “To whom is God calling me to serve?” Who are the people in your your world, your work place, your neighborhood that you can leverage your privilege and power to see, empathize with, and care for? That is a great place to start.

Every one of us should have people in our lives who we are to expend our resources and capitol on to serve for the sake of Christ.

Read More

FAITH: With Hearts In Hands and Brains In Cages

FAITH: With Hearts In Hands and Brains In Cages

Specious: apparently good or right thought lacking real merit; pleasing to the eye but deceptive.

“God said it; I believe it; that settles it” is one of those bumper sticker phrases that sometimes qualifies. Why? because though it initially sounds inspiring, bringing some Believers to their feet with loud cheering, it can also sound quite different to the populations Christ call his church to love and serve, like, “We’ve checked our brains at the door of the church” or “don’t confuse me with the facts.” Why? Because two of the three segments of that phrase are, to them at least, highly questionable. They may not be at convinced that God actually said it, nor are the willing to concede that anything is settled just because you might believe it.

Read More

God's love isn't what changes our lives

God's love isn't what changes our lives

For as long as I can remember, everyone in ministry has been trying to communicate to this broken world that there is a God and that this God loves them very much.  So much, that He gave His only son to pay for our sins so that we can be in a restored relationship.  And in this restored relationship, we can now be fully embraced by God and live in the spotlight of his love and affection.  We sing our anthem, "Reckless Love," and our congregations swoon and weep as we celebrate over and over how much God loves us.

It is nice that the warriors who have worked so hard at transforming God's image from a one of judgment and wrath to love have won!  In fact, they have gained so much that nobody in the western world would even consider that there is a God who has anger or wrath.  Ok, maybe some old skool boomers, and for sure some old skool boomer Catholics.  But everyone else has a one-dimensional view of God, and that is that God is Love!

Instead of our culture reciprocating God's love and returning His affection, we have become spoiled brats.  

We love that God loves us, and that means that he is never to stop pouring grace and blessing on us.  But when that gravy train ceases either by God's providence or by our dumb choices, we freak out and throw in the towel.

Read More

Finding Boo Radley in the Heart of God

Finding Boo Radley in the Heart of God

The 1962 film, “To Kill a Mockingbird” is one of my all-time favorites. Of course, It’s the cinematic version Harper Lee’s novel by the same name. There are too many great and inspiring themes and subthemes in that story to cover them all, but one of my favorites is the subplot that focuses on the person of Boo Radley. If you recall, Boo was someone who was wildly misunderstood. In fact, he was rarely, if ever, even seen. Turns out, though, that while most people thought Boo was a dangerous, scary, figure with a cursed and dark heart, he was actually just the opposite. Instead of kidnapping, slaughtering, and even eating children (the unfortunate but popular myth about this enigmatic figure) he was a rescuer of them. In the end, instead of a propensity to thwart justice, seems Boo was a champion of it.

Read More

Out of Mazari

Out of Mazari

Last Sunday was our annual “Compassion Sunday” where we encourage partnership with “Compassion International” to address and confront profound poverty in the lives of children through personal sponsorships. We were blessed to host Kennedy Krezi who grew up in the Nairobi slum of Mazari and is a graduate of the Compassion program there. Joining him in sharing some of their experiences, though, were three members of the team of MCC folk that recently returned from a trip to Nairobi to meet the children they are sponsoring.

Read More

What's the deal with thankfulness?

What's the deal with thankfulness?

ENCOUNTER:  Read Colossians 2:6,7

"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”

What would you say if you were asked the question, “What kinds of things should characterize a Jesus-follower’s life as they strive to continue walking with him?…

Read More

Healthy things grow...

IMG_0574.jpg

This weeks Devotion is by Danielle Kilgore.

From Sunday’s Sermon our action item was to memorize the saying: Healthy things grow, growing things change, when we’re changed we’re challenged, when we’re challenged you put your trust in God, when we trust in God it breeds obedience, obedience makes us healthy and healthy things grow. 

In today’s devotional think through those areas in your life where you see.
1. God growing things in your life. 
2. What was something that challenged so much that you had to place your deep unshaken trust in God?
3. What’s an area in life that you want God to make more healthier?
4. Pray and ask God to prepare you for deeper Trust in him as you prepare for a new level of growth and health.

Power Scriptures:
Proverbs 3:5-6, Philippians 4:13, Isaiah 40:31, Matthew 6:33, Ephesians 6:10-18

Suggested books from Danielle’s library 

Men and Women - Newness of Life: Trusting God in Times of Transition https://www.amazon.com/dp/1547042761/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_ClH2BbE7GE80R

Young Adults- The Chicken Runs at Midnight: A Daughter’s Message from Heaven That Changed a Father’s Heart and Won a World Series https://www.amazon.com/dp/0310352061/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_hnH2BbMT5ZHET

Kids- It Will be Okay: Trusting God Through Fear and Change (Little Seed & Little Fox) https://www.amazon.com/dp/140032419X/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_YjH2BbYTWBZ12

You have one job.

prayer-750x430.jpg

Devotional Posted by Michael Hill

Encounter:  

Meditate on Psalm 14:2

“The Lord looks down from heaven
    on all mankind
to see if there are any who understand,
    any who seek God.”

Be Reflective:

When the church is gathered for corporate worship, united in action and purpose, it’s easy to sense God’s moving. Like the Church in the book of Acts, we often encounter God’s presence when we’re together on Sunday…but what about the rest of the week? Do we take time to pursue the Lord, to seek God out as the treasure that he is?

Take a few minutes to talk with God about this. Ask God, point-blank: “How am I doing in seeking after you?” Allow space to listen for God’s response. Ask the Lord to increase within you a desire to grow more intimate in your relationship with Him.

Be a Blessing:  

The heart of the church is to love on our broken world. We are good people, we want to do good things! We see in Acts 4 that the Church pursued God; in return, he gave them “great power” and “great grace” to accomplish great things. They had one job: To be receptive to the presence of God. He took care of the rest! “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matt. 6:33

Be Together: 

We draw spiritual power and renewal when we worship the Lord together. Can you imagine the deeds of God’s great power and great grace that our Lord might want to display in us, the people of Marin Covenant Church? How much more so might God use us if we all seek Him as the treasure that he is!

Mining for Gold

Mining for Gold

This week's devotional is from Pastor Jeff

ENCOUNTER:  Read Psalm 1

"1 Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers.

BE REFLECTIVE:

Doesn’t that sound like the life that you would like to live? Refreshed. Yielding fruit. Leaves not withering. Prospering. My soul longs for that. I can feel my heart crying out, “How do we get there, for goodness sake?!”

Read More

The Best of Intentions

The Best of Intentions

“I MIGHT BE INNOCENT AFTER ALL.”

Sunday I was pontificating (complaining) about getting a ticket for making a lane change by crossing over a solid white line. My point was that, even though I had the best of intentions (trying to get to the Burger King ahead of my wife Brenda so I could order for her after she had worked a particularly challenging twelve-hour shift at Marin General Hospital), those good intentions didn’t guarantee a good outcome. I made the lane change in order to avoid being forced back onto I-5 south, which would have meant Brenda arrived ahead of me and didn’t have her food waiting for her. My intentions were good – I wanted to bless my wife. But the kind officer who was lurking in the dark shadows wasn’t really interested in my motives for the allegedly illegal lane change. He just kept repeating to me one question, “would you like to go back there with me so I can show you the solid white line you crossed?”

Read More

Be my witness . . .

Be my witness . . .

There is this brutal reputation Americans have overseas.  If you talk with people from Europe or Asia or South America, they almost all have the same impression of American tourists.  You know it, "THE UGLY AMERICAN."  We are loud, obnoxious, clumsy, rude, and entitled.  

Now, I am sure when you travel, you are none of these things.  But whether or not you are, people's first posture towards you is most likely girding themselves up to deal with the ugly American.  It is a witness that makes traveling less fun for those of us who enjoy cross-cultural travel. 

Whether we realize it or not, we are a witness.  Our being is forming or conforming a brand for someone else.  The way we live is a witness to our nationality, to our school, to our business, to our political party, and mostly to our faith.  We are not natural wanderers.  We tell a story with our very existence, so we need to take the most of every opportunity.  

Read More

How diverse is the body of Christ?

How diverse is the body of Christ?

I love the picture of the church as the body of Christ.  Each one of us is unique in our calling, gifting, and passions.  We each have a distinct role to play so that the body can fully function.  There is no hierarchy of body parts, just many parts, submitted under the headship of Jesus, working together for His purposes and glory.  

When we start to think of ourselves as more highly than we ought, when we put ourselves above others, our passions and desire above others, forget that we submit to Jesus, or forget that we live for the glory of Jesus and not ourselves, we become fractured and minimize our impact on the Kingdom of God.  As Christians who have been around the church for a while, this is not a new or revolutionary concept.  We work hard to keep this perspective and live in unity within our churches.  But could this picture be extended to the larger Church with a capital "C."

What I mean by this is can each church, each denomination bring with it their own unique passions, giftings and callings and be used by the headship of Jesus to run after a unique and specific ministry.  On the surface, many of us would say, "YES!"  But how we live, talk about, and interact with these other parts of the body of Christ would say, "NO!"

Read More