Tag Archives: Rest

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Merciful Rest

Running hard in the jungles of Venezuela or on the pampas of Argentina (or crazy lost anywhere in Europe) may sound fun but actually it is exhausting. And so I was upon returning home after a particularly arduous trip.

Annette and I took a few days off—no release; I increased my sleep each night—no release. Everything seemed hard and a hassle; even normal sources of connection and renewal seemed more a drain than a gift. I was approaching burn-out (the experts call it ‘pre burn-out’), and it scared me.

I went back into counseling with a trusted Christian and began to see that my works for Jesus were overtaking my devotion to Him. Slowly, steadily, I was spending less time in His Presence and more time tending to the needs of my large family and the growing global family of ‘Living Waters’ ministers.

The Lord turned and looked at me the way He did Peter after the apostle’s third denial. Like Peter, I wept bitterly. (Lk 22:62) I had made a vow to the Lord years earlier that nothing would come between us, that I would wake up every day and seek His face, regardless of other demands. I denied Him that. My works for Him had overtaken my devotion to Him.

I had to return to Him. That began a rather long process of exploring fresh ways to pray. I discovered contemplative prayer, the quiet prayer in which one simply rests in His Presence, calling to mind and heart only His unfailing love. In that way, God works His way in us, without a lot of words, as we seek only to rest in Him.

I spent anywhere from 30 minutes to 60 minutes each morning just gazing on His goodness. (Meditating on the cross and a few choice scriptures helped out here.)

To be honest, I was so tired that’s all I could do—no interceding for the ‘10-40 window’ or racing through the Old Testament for this haggard saint!

I re-entered the rest of what He had done for me. I fulfilled the exhortation ‘to make every effort to enter the rest’ (Heb. 4:9-11), and discovered there was a Sabbath rest for me. If I did not draw constantly from that merciful stream, then I risked ‘falling into disobedience’ (v.11).

That disobedience involved my works outpacing my devotion to Him, and could disqualify me from God’s call—to grow in strength and wisdom as I keep digging ditches around the globe.

I found rest as I sent down my roots into this mercy stream. I could draw from it at the beginning of the day, and throughout the day, as I paused to consider what He had done for me.

He restored my soul. The water levels rose as I made the little daily effort to be still and receive His grace.

‘He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me besides quiet waters;
He restores my soul.’ (PS 23: 2, 3)

‘In repentance and rest is your salvation; in quietness and trust is your strength.’
(Is. 30:15)

‘As You have shown us mercy, O God, in the desert places of our lives, would You show mercy to the beleaguered state of marriage in the USA? As the Perry vs. Schw. case wends its way to the National Supreme Court, prepare for Yourself a victory. We shall render to Caesar what is Caesar’s but we shall prayerfully fight for what is Yours, O God. Prepare the hearts of each justice, especially Justice Anthony Kennedy, to uphold marriage according to Your merciful design. Remember mercy, O God.’

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Rebuilding Boundaries, Restoring Trust

A good marriage is supreme among human relationships; a troubled marriage wrecks havoc. The most basic and powerful building block on earth cuts both ways. One cannot taste the glory of marriage without also risking its shame.

For example, Annette and I work together, engage constantly on domestic matters throughout the day, and sleep together at night. When rightfully submitted to one another, we both experience a grace and peace that pervades our efforts. But when at odds for whatever reason, the day goes dismal as does the sleepless night.

If a whole trustworthy marriage is an inspired remedy for the chaos and unpredictability each face daily in a fallen world, then how painful is a marriage that has become a source of that chaos and unpredictability?

Such is the case when vows of faithfulness are broken. Marital wholeness depends upon trust. That trust is shattered when one partner goes outside the lines. Period. Quite apart from the reasons one violates or the precise nature of the violation, adultery tears the fabric of the one-flesh union.

One of my best friends committed multiple acts of homosexual adultery as a married man. He had a beautiful wife, one child, and another on the way. Before he brought his violations into the light, he had already cast a shadow of perversion upon the family. Bringing the sin into the light simply confirmed to his wife the sinister disconnect she had been living with.

Breaking the boundaries of marriage breaks the marriage. It looses an evil that has power to undermine the well-being of all involved. For my friend and family, the pain and shame unleashed was almost intolerable. But ‘just as there is a momentum to evil, there is also a momentum to repentance’.

My friend and his family took a slow turn in the right direction. He fell face down, took full responsibility, and initiated a long term plan of recovery for himself within his community. That invited his wife to make a decision as to whether or not she would submit to the healing she needed.

Both sought and received the grace they needed to rebuild boundaries. And trust. Today they manifest a marriage that gives life to all around them, especially their four children.

Marriage is resilient, more subject to our repentance more than to our failures. Gratefully.

Honor marriage for the good of all. Vote Yes on Proposition 8.

“O lord, let our repentance prevail over our evil. As You are light, expose our darkness; give courage to those damaged to turn to You as the Restorer of our marriages.”

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Why Man Needs Woman

Masculinity needs femininity; man needs woman. His angular focused essence requires the more diffused and rounded contours of woman. Most men long for that essence. All men need it.

The anatomical differences between the sexes are only the beginning. The probing, driven, and external nature of male sexuality is a window to his approach to life. And how submitting his life to the other is essential to his wholeness!

In Genesis 2:7, God creates man from the ground. Earth is the raw material from which he is formed. That foreshadows a theme that drives him—the natural inclination toward prevailing over and giving form to his world. (“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” Gen. 2:15)

Man needs to discover purpose through the work of his hands. He tends to draw his significance from what he does. And to be respected for it. To a large degree, masculine honor hinges upon him exerting his power on the earth in a way that makes a difference. To prevail over the earth and to bear fruit seems to be built into the very essence of manhood.

In Genesis 3, man is cursed as a result of his sin. Things change—the good earth sours on him, and his labor now seems addictive and futile. “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life…By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you will return.” (Gen. 3:17-19)

Man’s inclination toward prevailing remains, but now sweat and pain mark his livelihood. His pursuit of significance seems strained as well. Can the unforgiving earth yield enough reward for him? Perhaps not. Is it any wonder that he is vulnerable to strife and addictive attempts to cull meaning and worth?

Woman is different. She invites him into a different world, one that is perhaps gentler. He longs for that softness, the feminine gift for connectedness that eludes him in his world of striving and competition. Her many words help give voice to his few. He lets down; he breaths. Woman provides a home for man’s weary heart.

In spite of my same-sex attraction, I was and am very masculine in my focus and drive. What most drew me into relationship with Annette was her relational ease. She engendered a kind of peace in me that neither work nor same-sex unions could. Somehow, her response to my awkward advances empowered me further to avail my strength to her. I grew stronger in love, as did she.

Man needs woman. Honor marriage for the good of all. Vote YES on Proposition 8.
“In Your merciful design, O God, may weary men find rest in good women.”

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