You Sustain Me

I found this little doodle in my old journaling Bible. I got a new one a few years ago, and I’ve been slowly transferring my notes over. Some of my notes, I’m putting here on my online Bible journal (so-to-speak) instead. Doing this note transfer is a rather interesting Bible study. I’ve done this once before several years ago. I do so enjoy the process of combing through God’s Word.

Resist the Urge to Continue

Resist implies there’s an attraction between two things. Urge refers to a compulsion or pulling/pushing towards something.

Where do I fail?

I have a difficult time resisting the urge to continue to work on a task until its completion. On one hand: It’s difficult to stop because completed tasks are so satisfying! On the other hand: There is this fear of never getting it done at all.

An example of that failure:

I should have allowed the interruption of my son wanting to show me his Minecraft log. I was working on a task – a good, and important one – of squaring away our family finances.

Yet.

In that instance, I can see that I should have said no to the urge to complete the task so that I could say yes to my son and be there for him.

16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

Genesis 2:16-17 (ESV)

Adam and Eve had the ability to say no to temptation. They chose not to and replaced God in their hearts with themselves.

As believers, baptized with the Spirit of God within, we can choose right, and surrender to God’s work in our lives. Sabbath is about that surrender.

God loves us not because of what we can do (work), but because of who we are. God chose us, and we are His.

This concept of “just be” is hard for me! I feel like I’m wasting the day if I’m not engaged in some kind of endeavor. When I sleep in like I did this morning, there’s this revealing in the luxury and then this big irritation at having wasted all that time. Why am I alive if not to produce works?

God loves me because I am His. That is enough.

It’s not that I feel less loved if not productive. I simply feel time ticking away, and we only have so long before we’re done. It seems horribly wasteful to not do anything.

My pastor said once that interruptions are our ministry. It rings in my head very frequently.

I don’t have to complete the task now. I can resist the urge to continue towards completion. I can choose my family, the interruptions, and be present for those that need me.

Resisting the urge to continue is surrendering to God’s guidance in my life.

Boundaries and a Look a Results

Take time to write out your priorities and parameters. Set guardrails or boundaries.

I tend to overdo it when it comes to work – mostly because I love it so much. Yet other things are suffering when I get too drawn in. Last year (or was it the beginning of this year?), I was encouraged to put a weekend into my schedule. I didn’t have one! I work on Sundays. So, my weekend is Tuesday and Saturday. Tuesday is my family work day, and Saturday is – or should be – my Sabbath. That’s my weekly rhythm. I’m still working on my daily rhythms: chores, family, homeschool, work, study, sleep… they all need to happen most days of the week!

Having a realistic plan will not only help me have peace, but it’ll help my family know what to expect – I’ll also be modeling a healthier way to do things.

Boundaries are gifts! We all need them. They help us explore what is good to the fullest and have joy and peace.

Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.

Hebrews 4:11 (ESV)

Another area I overdo – it has to be right… my way! I’m working on that. The parameter is to not voice the “injustice” or thing done wrong. Table the annoyance in a journal entry and let it go. The priority is that relationship is more important as is keeping the peace.
Please Note: I’m talking about preferences and annoyances here, and not anything of significance. Examples: how the dishwasher is loaded or which hole to use when sharpening the pencil in the electric sharpener.

What are the main obsessions of those around me?
gaming, YouTube/TV, and social media

Technology is great, but it can also be a great trap.

Be led by the Spirit, and not the flesh.

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:16-23 (ESV)

The results (or fruit) of the flesh:

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Galatians 5:19-21 (ESV)

The fruit (or results) of the Spirit:

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)

To resist the flesh, you need to be in prayer, be diligent in your study of the Word, apply what you learned, and be open to and guided by the Spirit’s promptings.

How does excess squeeze out the enjoyment of life?
Excess food & laziness results in discomfort and pain, and often more expensive medical care. Excess technology sacrifices relationships of those close to you, and can limit your ability to form healthy relationships.

Sometimes the answer needs to be no. This requires self-control and inner strength. Discipline.

Breath: making room for Sabbath

Slavery inventory: What holds control over me? What do I have a hard time saying no to?

  • Working (but I love my job!)
  • GTD, actually doing and the tools to do the things
  • Social Media
  • Procrastination
  • Overthinking
  • Family

Some of these aren’t great, but many of them are good things!

Sabbath Principle

“The Sabbath principle can keep these things from bossing us around, controlling our lives, and becoming masters over us… it’s the key to freedom.”

Priscilla Shirer, Breath

Sabbath rest is a healthy boundary. Sabbath in Hebrew is Shabbat = to cease, stop, pause, to come to an end.

And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.

Genesis 2:2 (ESV)

God had Sabbath rest in mind from the beginning. Creation wasn’t completed until rest was created. Not just “not doing” rest, but tranquility, serenity, and peace.

“Rest was the capstone of creation and without it the universe would be incomplete.”

Priscilla Shirer, Breath

Rest is active. You have to chose rest. You have to really commit to it and create space for it. Rest guards our hearts in Christ Jesus. In other words, to allow space for rest, I must be intentional in creating margin throughout my life.

“Margin in families creates memories. Margin in our personal finances creates generosity. Margin in our friendships creates significance and impact. Margin in our lives overall creates options. Options to pursue dreams, think, pray, relax, meditate, process, grow, and ultimately live life more fully.”

Brad Lomenick (from Breath, by Priscilla Shirer)

When rest gets labeled at lazy or causes guilty feelings…

I grapple with a chronic pain condition. It’s only in the past few years that I’ve learned when to rest, which is often, and when to take it slow, which is often. I’ve been accused (by those who don’t know) of being lazy, but I know how much work it takes to arrange all this required rest and still get some things done. I wasn’t hurt by this accusation because they really don’t know. However, I do wonder how to best respond in kindness without discussing my medical condition in nauseous detail. Do I respond at all?

The fact is, I do often feel guilty about not being able to keep up with my own ambitions. I build rest in, but I often view it as wasting time even though I obviously need it! Perhaps it is a matter of focus? I’m focused on the stuff I’d rather be doing rather than God.

Sometimes I ponder how to make rest more productive! Craft, read, study, write, pray… Am I just trying to fill a void? I’m beginning to determine there’s a difference in Sabbath rest and rest. Both are needed, but only one is driven by a focus on God and drawing closer to Him. It doesn’t take much thinking to know that Sabbath rest is better.

Why do I try to keep so busy?

Yeah, that’s the question! Let’s see… I don’t know how to be still. I feel useless if I’m not producing. I feel this weird need to prove myself – not to anyone in particular, but maybe to myself. I’m seeking the satisfaction of tasks that are done and done well (recognized or not).

Rest and margin is not just a principle of time, but applies to other areas of life as well, like finances and stuff/clutter.

“The very essence of the Sabbath principle – to cease, stop striving, and trust – went completely against their nature, making it extremely difficult… they needed to practice the discipline of freedom. A change in their hearts would be the result of practical changes in their lifestyle.”

Priscilla Shirer, Breath

he said to them, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord; bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over lay aside to be kept till the morning.’”

Exodus 16:23 (ESV)

This verse is the first time that the word Sabbath is used. It is proposing a huge lifestyle change for these slaves just liberated from Egypt. It was a lifestyle change intended to change their hearts.

Interesting Bible Study

I’m reading my Chronological plan in ESV, and my “real” Bible is NIV. This really isn’t a big deal, but I’ve grown to love the ESV translation. So, I decided it was time to buy an ESV Bible. I got a lovely purple ESV Bible with only one column and no red letters to distract – it is all God’s Word, after all.

It is odd to have a Bible without any notes and highlights in it! I decided to go through my old Bible page by page and transfer my notes over. This turned out to be an odd little Bible Study:

  • Why did I highlight that passage?
  • What does that note mean?
  • What is that reference that I wrote down?

It has been very, very interesting! I finished this little project yesterday. It took me all week!

I knew I had some Bibles from when I first became Christian hiding around somewhere. I decided to dig them out and go through those as well. My first Bible is interesting – I highlighted the gist of the stories – not really significant scriptures for growth or understanding. I was just learning the story back then. Now, my notes take apart the stories, include original language notes, and life application notes. I never really realized my growth like that before – kind of cool.

My favorite notes to come across are the hearts, stars and letter P’s I drew in. I didn’t know I hearted so many verses! The stars I drew were verses that impacted me in some way. The P’s are promises of God. It is such a joy to find and re-read these verses.

My new Bible is already becoming a rich landscape of all my learning thus far, and there’s so much more in there!
I just love it.

Whether you get a new Bible or not, pull your trusty companion out sometime, and go through it page by page seeing again all that you marked, learned, and loved. You’ll be blessed by it.

Perfectionism

“Perfectionists always loose.”

Esther by Beth Moore, p172

This statement and the discussion around it really spoke to me this morning! As a programmer, perfectionism is an occupational hazard. If you have a single character in the wrong place, the program will likely fail. It has to be perfect. However, life isn’t like that… thank you God!

Moore continues with some brilliant Laura Fraser quotes:
“If your identity is wrapped up in the magnificent things you’re destined to achieve… the thought that you might produce something mediocre can be devastating.” This thought leads to a crucial question – “Couldn’t the craving to do something great keep us from doing something good?”

Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until  I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.

1 Timothy 4:12-15

Paul’s instructions here help guide Timothy through the work involved with the gifts that he’s been given. Beth Moore’s study points out that genius or exceptional talents “rarely exempts people from having to work hard.” Timothy was encouraged to work often and work hard, and to practice his talents regularly and publicly. All of this Timothy was to accomplish to be an example, teaching fellow believers. Not only was Timothy to keep practicing and building up his talents, but also he was to do so in such a way as to build up those around him.

If we are paralyzed into inaction because perfectionism holds us back, we need to let it go. I’ve come to this realization recently when it comes to doing crafts with the kids. It is pretty much guaranteed that the craft will not turn out as expected. It is also pretty certain that there will be a giant mess to clean up afterwards. I no longer allow my perfectionist-self out of her cage when I want and need to spend time with my kids. There’s no room for that nonsense when teaching. Life isn’t perfect. Only Jesus is, and his way to heaven (though sometimes NUTS to us) is, in fact, perfection.