January 7, 2007
The Life You’ve Always Wanted
Part 1: An Unhurried Life: the practice of slowing
Introduction: To be spiritually healthy, you can’t be in a hurry. Many of us suffer from “hurry sickness”. What’s the cure?
1. ______________________: making __________________________________.
Mark 6:30-32; Psalm 5:3, 27:14, 33:20, 37:7, 38:15, 40:1, 130:5-6, Isaiah 40:30-31, Acts 1:4
2. ____________________: taking _____________________________________.
Genesis 2:2-3, Exodus 20:8-11, Mark 2:27
3. _______________________: getting __________________________________.
Mark 1:32-35, Luke 5:15-16; Matthew 14:23, Mark 6:46, Luke 6:12, John 6:15
January 7, 2007
The Life You’ve Always Wanted
Part 1: An Unhurried Life: the practice of slowing
ILL: A Tacoma, Washington, newspaper carried the story of Tattoo the basset hound. Tattoo didn't intend to go for an evening run, but when his owner shut the dog's leash in the car door and took off for a drive with Tattoo still outside the vehicle, he had no choice.
Motorcycle officer Terry Filbert noticed a passing vehicle with something dragging behind it: it was "the basset hound picking them up and putting them down as fast as he could." He chased the car to a stop. Tattoo was rescued, but not before the dog had reached a speed of 20 to 25 miles per hour, rolling over several times.
How many of you feel like Tattoo: you’re picking them up and putting them down as fast as you can? There’s another way to live—an unhurried life. Sound good?
Today we launch a new series: The Life You’ve Always Wanted. Today, I’m going to talk about “An Unhurried Life”.
Offering and announcements:
1. Sexual purity workshops
a. Pure Warrior
b. Women’s purity (runs concurrently)
c. Women’s evening with Julie Stevens
2. Life Group sign-ups at end of month (back of tear-off)
Can anybody here identify with that sketch? Your motor is running at high rpm’s and you can’t seem to get it stopped, even on vacation. If so, you’re probably suffering from hurry sickness.
ILL: In November, our family shared a week’s vacation—it was one of the most relaxing, restful and fun weeks I’ve ever had. At the end of the week I realized that I had been totally unplugged for a week. No computer, no emails, no cell phone, no voicemails—nothing. I’m embarrassed to admit that it was the first vacation in years where I’ve unplugged and been inaccessible to everyone but my family.
When was the last time you unplugged—even for a day? Hurry sickness. Today I want to talk with you about “an unhurried life: the practice of slowing.”
(((In the next few weeks, we’re going to talk about The Life You’ve Always Wanted, and the kind of practical steps you can take to get there. These steps are often called “spiritual disciplines” and have been practiced by Christians for 2000 years as a means to growth and transformation. If you want to change and grow, I’m going to tell you how Christians have been doing it for 20 centuries, and you can join in the fun!
Don’t be freaked out by the “d-word”—disciplines. Here’s the basic idea: each of these disciplines or practices will help you get closer to God, which in turn will help you change and grow.
ILL: Think of it this way. Let’s say you want to run a marathon—26.2 miles. How many of you could walk out that door right now and run a marathon? Not many! What would happen if you went out and tried today? Pain! You wouldn’t be walking tomorrow.
If you want to run a marathon, what do you have to do? Train. You start by getting out of your chair. Then you start walking, then you run a couple blocks, and gradually build up to a mile. Then 2, then 3, and so on. It takes most people months of training to be able to run a marathon. You may not be able to run a marathon today, but if you train, you could. This is the difference between trying and training.
Paul wrote to Timothy:
1 Timothy 4:7-8 Train yourself to be godly. 8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.
Train yourself to be godly. If you’ve tried to be godly and failed, maybe you should train to be godly. It’s like running the marathon; training works better than just trying. To live The Life You’ve Always Wanted, you don’t just try harder, you train. You take specific steps that will bring you closer to God and change you from the inside out. We’re going to talk about those steps.
I borrowed a lot of ideas for this series, including the title, from John Ortburg’s wonderful book, The Life You’ve Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People. I’ve also gathered ideas from:
· Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation, by Ruth Haley Barton.
· Ordering Your Private World, by Gordon MacDonald.
All of these books are available at our resource center at our cost if you would like to read more about it.)))
At the top of your outline it says: To be spiritually healthy, you can’t be in a hurry. John Ortburg says, “Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. Hurry can destroy our souls. Hurry can keep us from living well. We will just skim our lives instead of actually living them.” Many of us suffer from “hurry sickness”. What is hurry sickness? Faster, faster, more, more, go, go, go, faster, faster. We’re skimming through life. Rather than a definition, maybe a description will help. Here are a few symptoms of hurry sickness.
Constantly speeding up daily activities. We read faster, talk faster, and when listening nod faster to encourage the other person to hurry. We eat faster. Down on 3rd Avenue, on Maalox Mile, you’ll find Arby’s, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and many other restaurants which are known not for “good food” or “cheap food” but for “fast food.” And when we realized all the time we were wasting eating at a table, they installed the drive-through so that we could eat our food in the car, as God intended. Faster, faster! Do everything faster! I catch myself in the morning showering fast, shaving fast, dressing fast—and I have to tell myself, “Slow down. Take a deep breath. Relax.”
At the grocery store check-out, do you find yourself counting how many people are in each line, and checking how many items are in each cart, so you can pick the fastest line? Then after you choose a line, you keep track of the person in the other line who would have been you had you had you chosen that line. You’re sick!
Multi-tasking. Psychologists call this “polyphasic activity”. Hurry sick people while they’re driving, eat, drink coffee, monitor the radio or their iPod, shave or apply make-up, talk on the phone, check their scheduler, and make gestures…all at the same time! Or at home they may try to watch television, read, eat dinner and carry on a conversation simultaneously. Sound familiar?
Clutter. The lives of the hurry-sick lack simplicity. They have stacks of books and magazines, and feel guilty for not having time to read them. They have time-saving gadgets, but don’t have the time to read the instructions or figure out how to use them. They can’t say no, so their schedules are cluttered with things to do, and their homes are cluttered with things they never use.
Superficiality. Depth comes slowly, whether it is deep thinking or deep relationships. When you go fast, you skim. To go deep takes time. We tend to read a lot, but think only a little. We are glutted with information, but short on wisdom. In our hurry-up world, superficiality marks our thinking and our relationships.
An inability to love. This is the most serious sign of hurry sickness: a diminished capacity to love. Love and hurry are fundamentally incompatible. Love always takes time. Do you regularly come home from work so tired that you have nothing left to give to your family? You’re too tired, too drained, too preoccupied to love the people to whom you’re the most committed. You’re racing through life, unable to love the people that matter most.
It is because hurry-sickness kills love that it is the great enemy of spiritual life. Hurry prevents us from receiving God’s love, or giving it to others. That’s why Jesus never hurried. He was busy, but He never hurried. He was busy, but he always had love to give when love was called for. Jesus didn’t hurry. If we are going to follow someone we can’t go faster than the one who is leading us. If we are going to follow Jesus, we must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from our lives
How do we do it? What’s the cure for hurry sickness?
1. Slowing: making choices that slow us down.
I’m talking about deliberately making choices that slow you down and cause you wait.
· Try driving in the slow lane, at the speed limit. It may take you 5 minutes longer to get where you’re going, but you’ll arrive much more relaxed…and without a ticket!
· Or take the long way to work…or the store…and enjoy the drive.
· Park in the far corner of the parking lot. You won’t have to work as hard to get a spot, and the walk will do you good.
· Eat your food slowly. Force yourself to chew fifteen times before you swallow. My mom used to say, “Enjoy your food, don’t inhale it.”
· At the grocery store, look for the longest line. Get in it. Let one person go in front of you.
· Go a whole day without wearing a watch.
· Do some “porch time”. I was driving through a neighborhood one summer evening and was struck by the number of people sitting out on their porches, doing nothing. I thought, “What is wrong with these people? Don’t they have something to do?” Hurry sickness. Then it struck me: doing nothing is doing something. It’s porch time. And I went home and told Laina we needed some porch time. In the summer, go sit on your porch and do nothing—watch the sunset, think, talk with a friend, rock or swing, sip some homemade root beer. (You can do porch time in the winter by sitting in front of your window—but you have to turn off the TV and unplug the phone for it to be true porch time.)
You get the idea. Slowing is deliberately making choices that slow you down and cause you to wait.
Mark 6:30-32 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” 32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.
If you read the first part of Mark 6, you’ll see that two big things have happened. Jesus sent the disciples out in pairs across the country on a preaching tour, and they’ve just returned and they’re stoked! And Jesus’ cousin and fore-runner, John the Baptist was just beheaded. So they are all feeling a mixture of exhilaration and grief—they’re all tired. On top of that, there were so many people coming and going that they didn’t even have time to eat. Look at what Jesus says:
“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
I love that verse! You might want to make this your memory verse for the week. Jesus calls a time-out. He made a deliberate choice to slow down, to rest, to get away from all the hurry and bustle and activity. Porch time. Jesus practiced slowing.
Slowing means you make deliberate choices to wait. We don’t like waiting. We like fast, and we like faster…but we don’t like waiting. But waiting is a valued Scriptural practice. The Bible talks a lot about waiting patiently for God.
Psalm 5:3 In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.
Psalm 27:14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
Psalm 33:20 We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.
Psalm 37:7 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Psalm 38:15 I wait for you, O Lord; you will answer, O Lord my God.
Psalm 40:1 I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.
Psalm 130:5-6 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. 6 My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.
Isaiah 40:30-31 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in (wait on) the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Why all this talk about waiting on God? Is God slow? No. That’s not why we wait.
ILL: Watch this little video. Show video.
The guy in the car had hurry sickness. He didn’t want to wait for the little old lady. Do you ever feel like that guy? Hurried? Honking? Can’t wait?
God is not like the little old lady. He’s not slow. But when we’re hurried, we don’t experience Him. We skim. We’re shallow. So we have to learn to wait. You can’t know God, or love God, or go deep…in a hurry. Slow down.
I want to give you two more choices you can make that are “slowing choices”. These are two time-honored, centuries-old Christian practices that help slow us down and wait on God…and cure us from hurry sickness.
2. Sabbath: taking one day a week to rest and worship.
The practice of the Sabbath is rooted in creation.
Genesis 2:2-3 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3 And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
God worked six days and rested on the seventh day. Even God rests! Even God takes a day off! And He’s in charge of the universe! What’s your excuse? God not only rested on the seventh day; He blessed it and made it holy. He blessed it: that means He made the Sabbath good. The Sabbath isn’t a burden, something else to do; it’s a blessing, a rest from all our doings. He blessed it and made it holy: that means special or different. This one day is special; it’s to be different from all the others. One day a week we stop all our regular activities and we rest and we worship God. The Sabbath was rooted in creation and established in God’s law.
Exodus 20:8-11 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
This is the fourth (and longest) of the Ten Commandments. And it’s the one most easily ignored by us. Many of us would never murder, or commit adultery, or lie, or steal, but we regularly ignore this commandment. We don’t take a weekly day off. We don’t show up for worship every week; we show up when it fits our busy schedule, or our mood. And yet God put this commandment along with the other 9 that make up His top ten. Honor the Sabbath: take one day a week to rest and worship.
For most of us, our Sabbath will be Sunday. That’s the most common day off work and that’s the day we gather for worship. Gathering with other Christians on Sunday to worship God is part of the rhythm of life—six days of work, a day of rest and worship.
ILL: I had last weekend off…I wasn’t preaching. But I came to church, Sunday night at 6 PM, and worshipped with everyone else, and received God’s word from Pastor Matt, and was touched by the Lord. Why would I come on my weekend off? Because I’m a Christian! And this is what Christians do: we gather each week to worship and receive God’s word. Yes, I’m a pastor, and this is where I work; but I’m a Christian first. So I join other Christians for worship, just as I do every Sunday of the year, whether I’m preaching or not.
To honor the Sabbath requires some hard choices. Sunday used to be a quiet day. Stores were closed. Kids were home. It was a day for rest, for church, for family. Now Sundays are packed with activity: kids and parents juggle soccer tournaments and basketball games; stores are open requiring lots of us to work. For most people, Sundays aren’t special (holy) any more; it’s just another day crammed with exhausting activity. If you’re going to honor the Sabbath, you’ll have to make some hard choices—say no to some other things so you can say yes to God. It’s slowing.
Obviously Sunday is usually not a day off for me. Some of you, like me, work on Sunday and have to find a different day off. Whatever day it is, I challenge you to take this seriously. Take one day a week to rest and worship…a holy day, God’s day.
Ruth Haley Barton, in her book Sacred Rhythms, has written the finest chapter on the Sabbath that I’ve ever read. It inspired me and made me see the Sabbath as a great gift from God, not a duty or a burden. She gives the following practical suggestions for the Sabbath.
What to exclude:
· Work. Whatever you do during the week for work, don’t do it on this day. This is a day to rest, not work; to be rejuvenated, not productive. Unplug from work; turn off your computer and phone.
· Buying and selling. If we’re out buying and selling, two things happen. We are engaged in the world of commerce, not resting. And others are forced to work to serve us. Give it a rest!
· Worry. There are other kinds of work than physical work; there is also mental and emotional work as try to figure out our lives. The Sabbath is a day to rest mentally and emotionally from the things that stress us. Taxes, budgets, to-do lists, and major decision making can be saved for another day.
What to include: the simple answer is whatever fills you.
· Rest the body. Do what restores you physically: take a nap, go for a walk, soak in the tub, sit in the sun, make love. In Jewish tradition, married couples get rabbinical brownie points for having sex on the Sabbath. You’ve gotta love that!
· Restore the soul. Again, do what fills and replenishes you emotionally. I can jump on my motorcycle for an hour and come back smiling, my emotional tanks full. Maybe for you it’s puttering in the garden, or doing a hobby, or reading a mystery, or talking with a friend or family. Do that!
· Replenish the spirit. I’ve already talked about one way to do this, worshiping together. You may want to take some extra time for prayer or reflection, write in your journal or review the week’s entries. You may want to worship or pray or read Scripture with your family. Or you may want some time alone with God. Do what fills you.
This is the big idea on the Sabbath. Do what fills you, rests you, replenishes you. It’s not about prescribed religious duties. It’s not about being legalistic. It’s about resting and being refreshed, slowing down and be filled. It’s God’s gift to you.
Mark 2:27 Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.
The Sabbath is God’s gift to you to enjoy, not a burden to be endured. Take one day a week to rest and worship.
3. Solitude: getting alone with God.
The last practice that will help you slow down and connect with God is solitude: getting alone with God.
Mark 1:32-35 That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. 33 The whole town gathered at the door, 34 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.
35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
Jesus was up late into the night healing people. The whole town was there. He must have been exhausted. How did He refill? He got up early the next morning and went off alone to pray. This was Jesus’ habit. He lived with this rhythm: be with people and help them, get alone with God and pray. Give to people and receive from God. Busy and slow.
Luke 5:15-16 Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. 16 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
Same thing. Crowds of people, then alone with God to pray. Notice it says that Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. This was His habit, His rhythm. Jesus regularly practiced solitude. You should too. Why?
Ruth Haley Barton says that solitude “creates space for God”; in other words, we make room for Him in our otherwise crowded lives. Is there anyone here besides me who gets caught up in the pace and busyness of life, and at the end of the day you realize that you haven’t spoken with God all day? Or listened to God? Or even thought about God! God can get squeezed out of our lives. Don’t misunderstand me; God is with us all day long. But I can get so busy that I forget He’s there, or I don’t pay attention.
Solitude creates space for God, much like making a coffee date creates space for a friend or spouse.
ILL: I can be with Laina and not be “with” her—do you know what I mean? We can be together, but aren’t necessarily thinking about each other, talking with each other, focused on each other. But when we go on a date, we give each other our undivided attention. We have created space for each other.
That’s what solitude does with God. Solitude is a date with God. We create space for God, and in that space we build a relationship. We know each other. In solitude, the soul comes out…and God comes in.
What do we do in solitude?
· We pray. Talk with God about your deepest concerns.
· We listen. Silence has always been an important part of solitude. Be still, and let God speak to you.
· We wait. Solitude is a form of slowing. You can’t do it in hurry. Get alone with God, be still, and wait for Him to speak or lead.
· We worship. As your soul comes out, and God comes in, you’ll find yourself overwhelmed by His presence, and worship will pour out.
· We receive. There in His presence you’ll be refilled with His Spirit. He may speak to you, giving you fresh wisdom or insight or leading.
When we do practice solitude? Here’s what I try to do.
· Daily: This is my daily PBJ time—prayer, Bible, journal. It’s my daily time alone with God to build my relationship with Him, just like I try to spend some time alone with Laina each day. This typically is from 30 minutes to an hour.
· Monthly: I try to set aside one day a month for solitude. I go to a retreat center, or to a friend’s house that’s empty, and spend 6-8 hours alone with God. I worship, I read, I pray, I think, I wait. This is my time to go deeper; I have time to think with God about the Big Stuff. If you’ve never done this, try it! I’ll bet you’ll come home refreshed and recharged. I don’t always get to do this every month, but I love it every time I do, and I’ve committed one day a month this year for this purpose.
I don’t see how you can build a deep relationship with God without some regular solitude. Remember our memory verse? Mark 6:31 Jesus said,
“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
God is inviting you to slow down, get to know Him and go deeper.