Monday, Monday

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For a certain number of pastors Monday is their Sunday. A time when they catch their breath, try to do a bit of revival, and re-center their lives. Personally, I rarely take Monday off. I think that Rick Warren got it right when he said that he didn’t take Monday off because it was the day he was most wiped out, “Why,” asked Warren, “would I take the day off when I feel the worst?”

No matter where we end up on this one the truth is that for a lot of church planters and a lot of pastors taking even one day off in seven seems like the impossible. There is always one more thing to be done, one more call to make, one more…you can fill in the blank.

One of the wonderful gifts that God gives in this world of always one more thing to do is the command (sometimes we do like to be told to do things) to take one day off in seven. To have a Sabbath. Here’s what it says in Genesis 2. 2By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. Genesis 2.2-3 NIV The seventh day--God takes off on the seventh day, rests on it. And as he does so he gives us this gift that just like him we get to pause, catch our breath once a week.

But to get to this place of catching our breath we have to have to own some things about ourselves and God. First thing we learn about Sabbath is this, it is God’s permission to us to admit that we are not infinite, that we can not do it all. But more than that, Sabbath is a time to says, “You know what, it’s not a sin that I’m limited, it’s OK that I can’t do it all.”

Do you ever get that feeling from people that really you are supposed to be able to do it all? I love those studies that tell us that we are supposed so spend so much time working out, so much time studying, so much time improving this part of our life or that part of our life, and when you get all done, you discover that if you did it all it would take about 36 hours a day to do everything the experts tell us we are supposed to do, not to mention you’re supposed to get about eight hours of sleep a night. Once every week, God gives us this gift, it’s the gift of admitting the truth, that we are limited, finite people. That as those people life is going too fast and we need to breathe.

Not only do we need to breathe, God tells us that we have to breathe. Have you ever seen one of those movies where someone is frantic, running from place to place, looking for something or someone, trying to get something done and another character comes alongside of them, and says, “I just need you to breathe, take in a deep breath, take a few deep breaths, Ok, got it, now, let’s talk, what’s going on.” That’s kind of how it is when we do Sabbath, God looks at us and says, I just need you to breathe, take in a few deep breaths, slow down, Ok, got it? Now let’s talk—what’s going on.

On this Monday can you admit you are not infinite? Can you admit it not just by saying it but by taking time to breathe?  

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Such an important topic!

Sabbath-keeping helps us to remember that we are not indispensible to God's work. He does the work, not us!

If a pastor does not "keep Sabbath", what message does that send to his/her congregation about its importance?

I also encourage pastors to remember that "service" is not synonymous with "keeing Sabbath" for members of the flock. When we make weeekends so busy with "work days", Sunday School classes that need to be taught, Bible Studies and other activities, the flock is denied a Sabbath rest.

A change is as good as a rest....   I would not say that a bible study or sunday school class should be regarded as work;  most of the work is in preparing it ahead of time.   If well prepared, then such an activity for the teacher is mostly just a good time in sharing the good news of Christ.  

The purpose of Sabbath is not just to sleep all day;  it is to spend special time getting closer to God.   If Sunday school is too much work, while watching a football game, or playing scrabble, or reading a book, or going skating, or eating a sunday meal and doing dishes  is not too much work, then it is not really about what is work and what is not, but it is about our priorities.   It's like saying that warming up the car for your wife or bringing her a cup of coffee is too much work.   No its not.   It's about loving your wife and loving your God. 

Most of us work 40 hours a week, five days a week.  We get Sabbaths every day, and often two full days per week.  Sometimes we fill it with other work, non-paid or sometimes paid work, but often we are just doing things for ourselves that we call recreation.   When people use to work twelve or fourteen hours a day six days a week, the sabbath was a way of changing their activities to allow them to celebrate God and what He had done for them.  In this era, we need to remember that the sabbath was a gift, yes to give us rest from the week's work, but mostly to spend time listening and fellowshipping with God and enjoying His goodness, unfettered by work responsibilities.  Bible studies and sunday school and family devotions make the "rest" happen.   Watching the NBA or the NFL does not.