home > Pastor’s Desk > 2023 > January 27th > 3 EXERCISES THAT WILL MAKE YOU HEALTHIER, FITTER, AND STRONGER, PART 3

Part 3, Resting – The Art of Sabbathing

In my past two editions of my weekly Pastor’s Desks I have drawn parallels between caring for our physical health and how we should care for our souls (our spiritual, emotional, and mental health). In Part 1, I discussed the benefits of aerobic exercise for our physical health (which increases the demand for oxygen intake) and how this was similar to the spiritual discipline of praying. In Part 2, I had compared the need to maintain a healthy balanced diet for good physical health and how this related to the need for the believer to maintain a healthy spiritual diet from reading, studying, and meditating on God’s Word, the Bible. Now I turn my attention to an oft neglected aspect of our spiritual well-being: resting. As a disclaimer, I am one of the least qualified to discuss this topic—but, embarrassing, any lessons I have learned about the value of rest have come negatively from not resting as I should have and then enduring the inevitable consequences.

It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.
Psalm 127:2

 

“HAVE YOU BEEN BUSY?”

Being busy is like a badge of honour for many people. It’s not enough to be a mother looking after young children. This mother is expected to be a busy mother looking after young children! Men are trained to regard being busy as a condition of manhood. It becomes their excuse for not getting things done – “I’ve been busy”; and their routine introductory conversation starter, “Been busy?” In fact, it is almost a shameful thing for a man to confess that he hasn’t been busy and almost unthinkable for him to say that he has spent the whole day doing nothing! But perhaps it is because people do not make rest a routine part of their regular week that they are so prone to burn-out? Before we consider the enormous spiritual benefits to resting, I want to overview some of the largely unappreciated benefits of rest, particularly sleep. 

If you lie down, you will not be afraid;
when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
Proverbs 3:24

 

THE BENEFITS OF RESTING/SLEEP

Several years ago I collapsed in my office in excruciating pain unable to move my legs. It turned out that a motor-cycle accident that I had had twenty-five years earlier (after a Nissan Patrol had side-swiped me and put me into a coma with a broken shoulder) but had apparently also broken my back – yet had not been diagnosed at that time. After I was eventually able to re-use my legs I went for scans which revealed the true nature of the damage that had caused my collapse. The neurosurgeon said my back was now too far gone to operate, but there were two things I could do to help manage my back health from this point: (i) drink more water and (ii) get more sleep (he also said get more active, take pain killers and rest when it hurts too much). Since then I have tried to do just that. I have also done a bit of research into why sleep is so important to our health — and not just our physical health too! Here are some of the benefits of getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night:

  • BOOSTS IMMUNE SYSTEM: Sleep is necessary to boost our immune systems to be able to fight off diseases.
  • PREVENTS WEIGHT GAIN: Insufficient sleep causes our bodies to produce an appetite increasing hormone (ghrelin) that leads can lead to weight gain.
  • DECREASED RISK OF HEART ATTACK: Proper sleep is necessary to reduce the risk of heart attack because our hearts need to rest through sleep and decrease our blood pressure and the amount of cortisol in our blood which places our hearts under stress.
  • PRODUCTIVITY INCREASES: A well rested person is a much more productive person.
  • IMPROVED MOOD:  A good sleep pattern has a dramatic impact on our emotional well-being.
  • INCREASES HEIGHT: When we sleep our spinal discs re-hydrate (if we have actually drunk enough water throughout the day) and we actually wake up a millimetre or two taller at the start of our day.
  • DECREASED TRAFFIC RISK: Lack of sleep dramatically increases your risk of a road motor vehicle accident. The person who only gets five hours sleep a night quadruples their chance of crashing!
  • SLEEP IMPROVES MEMORY: When we are asleep it is an opportunity for our minds to sort and file information away in the long-term memory of our brains.

We sometimes hear of national Prime Ministers or Presidents that “get by on four hours of sleep a night” and wonder how on earth they could do it. The truth is. They can’t. Not in the long term at least. God has designed us to sleep. Busy people often view sleep as “time wasted”, but the data clearly tells another story. And when we add in the number of times that God spoke to people while they slept (Gen. 15:12-21; 20:3-6; 28:12-15; 31:24; 37:5, 9) we begin to realise that there may be more happening to us while we sleep than we might realise (or happening to other when we pray for them!). 

 

JESUS SAID TO HER, YOU ARE ANXIOUS AND
TROUBLED ABOUT MANY THINGS

The sisters, Mary and Martha appear in two different stories in two different Gospels. In Luke’s Gospel, Dr. Luke tells of when Mary and Martha hosted Jesus for a meal. Mary rested at the feet of Jesus as He sat teaching her while her sister Martha was left carrying the load of hospitality in the kitchen. The problem wasn’t that Martha was serving and Mary wasn’t – the problem was that Martha was distracted by her serving because she had become resentful of her sister Mary who wasn’t serving. Pastor Phil Hills would say over and over again, “We don’t rest from work, we work from rest!” Before we had our larger auditorium we used to hold our pre-service prayer meeting in my office. On my white-board I had “Our service is our worship. Our service enables others to worship.” Martha’s problem was that she did not see her serving as worship of Christ which enabled Mary to worship at the feet of Christ! Jesus saw right into the heart of Martha and exposed her needless anxiety and resentment. Naturally as a Pastor I want people to serve gladly in our church and to do without any sense of resentment that others should be serving more – but I especially want people to serve from rest so that others can rest in worship at the feet of Jesus just like Mary did!

¶ Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village.
And a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house.
And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to His teaching.
But Martha was distracted with much serving.
And she went up to Him and said,
“Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”
But the Lord answered her,
“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things,
but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:38-41

 

SABBATH – A DAY OF REST, WORSHIP & THE WORD

It seems that from creation, God established that mankind should rest from his usual labours each seventh day (Gen. 2:3) and reflect on his relationship with God with thanksgiving. In much the same that sleep is seems counter-intuitive to the busy person, the idea of a sabbath (resting each seventh day) also seems counter-intuitive to a busyness person. It may also seem odd that God would even have to incorporate such a thing as a sabbath day into a set of ten primary laws for all former Hebrew slaves who had never previously got any time off before being delivered Egypt! But God actually made it the fourth commandment after:

(i) Have no other gods (Exo. 20:3),

(ii) Do not make or bow down to any carved imaged or anything in the sky above or on the earth or in the sea (Exo. 20:4-5),

(iii) You shall not take the name of the Lord in vain (Exo. 20:7), and

(iv) Remember to keep the Sabbath day holy (Exo. 20:8-11).   

After Israel settled into the Promised Land they soon neglected to keep the Sabbath and God raised up the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel to call them to repentance to re-establish their obedience in honouring God by observing it. After the Jews returned from their Exile in Babylon and Persia they actually became very legalistic about keeping the Sabbath and even developed some 600 additional sub-laws on how it was to be kept properly! Interestingly, each of the Ten Commandments is repeated in the New Testament as applicable for Christians, except keeping the seventh-day Sabbath. This is because the Old Testament Sabbath not only provided a principle of weekly rest from usual labours and a time to reflect with thanksgiving upon the Creator, it also prophetically pointed to the coming of the Messiah who would redeem lost mankind on cross and bring an end to the “works of the law” (Gal. 2:16; 3:13). The writer to the Hebrews said that to turn to Christ in repentance and faith was to permanently enter into God’s rest and warns those tempted by false teachers to try to earn their salvation by keeping certain rules, such as seventh-day-Sabbaths not to be fooled:

So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God,
for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from His works as God did from His.
¶ Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.
Hebrews 4:9-11

When Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday morning, and then fifty-days later sent the baptising Holy Spirit on the first Pentecost Sunday of the Christian Calendar, tens of thousands of formerly seventh-day Sabbath keeping law-abiding Jews were converted to Christianity and were baptised and switched their Sabbath observance to Sunday not just as a day of rest — but as a weekly day to celebrate their newfound eternal rest!

In our day we too meet each Sunday to do the same! It is an exercise that is good for our physical health, our mental health, our emotional health, and especially our spiritual health!

Your Pastor,

Andrew

Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.

1 Comment

  1. LYDIA

    AMEN

    Reply

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WHAT A FRIEND WE HAVE

Do you like meeting new people and forming new friendships? Some people do. Some don’t. Those that do are usually the ones you see in a social setting (such as a party) who, if they see someone on their own, feel they should be the one to go over to that person and involve them in a conversation. Such people are naturally friendly and seem to make friends quite easily. They find starting conversations with others easier than most and seem to somehow have the knack of making people feel at ease. But these people are rare. In fact, good friends are hard to find these days. However, they may become less rare if everyone who is unfriendly or friendless reads this short article and discovers how to become a good friend.  

FORMING A TRUE MAN

Domestic violence, sexual assault, date-rape, sexual trafficking of minors, marital infidelity, street-gang violence, illicit drug abuse, high rates of suicide, increased ‘deaths of despair’, homelessness, are all major problems in our culture right now. Governments regard these issues as matters of justice (punishing offenders) while agencies regard these issues as matters of social justice (helping victims). Both are valuable but neither are equipped or positioned unilaterally to solve the causes of these growing problems, and many in both of these sectors believe that it can mever be solved. But I believe they can be. And I need your help. To achieve this, I propose two outrageous, yea – ridiculous – strategies. They are outrageous because they are simple (although not easy); and, they are ridiculous because, to materialists, these are just fanciful, idealistic and supernatural nonsense. However, I have history on my side. It will involve men and women, young and old. But I particularly need all men to read what I am about to propose and for them to share this with other men and together with everyone else help me to bring about the biggest social and cultural revolution our country has ever seen.

WHEN WE MISH EAR

Perhaps I was a little unfair to this gentleman though, because it is a well established fact that all men are born with selective hearing (as every wife can testify to) and perhaps this may sometimes spill over into incidents such as the one I just recounted(?). But I also suspect that some women have a similar deficiency.

A few years ago the kids and I were a little concerned about Kim’s hearing difficulties. As it turned out, one day outside a shopping centre that we had just arrived at, there was a government sponsored mobile hearing clinic. We urged the reluctant Kim to go in and have her hearing checked. Much to the utter shock of myself and our children the clinician told Kim that she had “perfect hearing”! This then proved that even women may be able to imitate the innate ability of a man to produce selective hearing 🙂 Therefore, there is a high likelihood that both men and women are equally subject to hearing difficulties.

The problem with any hearing difficulties is that it inevitably leads to the far more serious problem of misunderstanding. Misunderstanding is at the heart of nearly every relationship problem that anyone will ever face. Misunderstandings due to mis-hearing or mis-communication frequently leads to disputes that if not handled correctly, which it is mostly not, is likely to lead to relationship breakdowns. But there is a different – almost secretive – way to deal with misunderstandings. Let me explain by using several pictures that will make my point. 

WHAT WESTERN ELITES DON’TUNDERSTAND ABOUT MARY’S BOY-CHILD & THE COMMANDER OF THE ARMY OF THE LORD

WHO THEN WAS THIS MARY’S BOY-CHILD ANYWAY?
Mark Lowry is normally comedic. But his now classic Christmas song is no joke! It presents baby Jesus as the eternal God the Son, the creator of heaven and earth, the Saviour of the world, the Redeemer of all humankind who turn to Him, the all-conquering Lamb of God, and the Great Judge of all people, the I AM. The event of His miraculous conception is known as the incarnation (God becoming human). But the incarnation was not Jesus the Christ’s first entrance into our world. In fact, it is as though He felt a divine right to enter our world any time He chose. These various appearances of Jesus prior to His incarnation are referred to as theophanies (appearances of God) or more particularly as Christophanies (appearances of God the Son). I want to highlight one of these in particular…

CHILD SAFETY

We have all seen parents abruptly terminate conversations with other adults to keep an eye on their children. Children can wander about easily. They could get involved in acts that are detrimental to themselves. Parental instincts, often reflected more in the mother, is one of those protective gifts that ensures children are kept safe.

THE LORDSHIP OF JESUS CHRIST, Chapter 6 – The deGorified Newborn The ReGlorified Lamb of God

One of my favourite stories of concealed identity hiding in plain sight is from Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel, Les Miserables, where the escaped convict, Jean Valjean, is pursued for years by now retired Inspector Javert. As it turns out Jean Valjean, who had changed his name to M. Madeleine has now become a successful business man and the Mayor of Toulon. Javert arrives in Toulon and is immediately recognised by Valjean. But Javert does not recognise the now clean-shaven, genteel aristocratic Mayor of Toulon as his nemesis. But when he observes the compassion of M. Madeleine he recalls the time in prison when Jean Valjean had also displayed a similar extraordinary compassion for unfortunate fellow prisoners. The more he observed such acts of kindness and generosity from M. Madeleine the more Javert became convinced of the true identity of Madeleine. There is something about this idea of concealed identity that comes from the story of Christ. The prophet Isaiah foretold that when the Servant of the LORD would appear He would be largely unrecognised – there would be no form, no beauty, that we would desire Him (Isa. 53:2). But how on earth was this possible? How in God’s Name  could those who were created by Him in His image not recognise Him for who He was? The answer to this great puzzle lies in one word: the kenosis.

ALL I’VE EVER REALLY WANTED IS

Andrew, on occasions, used to wistfully say, “You know, all I really want is…” then he would say some ephemeral pleasure, like ‘a drink of coke’, or ‘quiet’, or ‘to get something finished’. So, one day I decided to ensure that his greatest desire (‘all I really want’) was met. This time all he ever wanted was a coffee, so I bounced up and brought him the best cup of coffee I could make and added a little yummy treat to compliment it. A few days later he once again said, “All I really want…” and I interrupted to finish his sentence for him … “was the cup of coffee that I was able to make for you the other day. I bet it was the best ever. I’m so glad I could meet that greatest desire you have.” He never said, ‘All I really want’ again!

THE LORDSHIP OF JESUS CHRIST, Chapter 5

THE LORDSHIP of JESUS CHRIST, Chapter 5 – He is the Creator of Heaven & Earth and all things Visible and Invisible
While the pagan religions in the days of the patriarchs, judges, and kings of Israel, all conceived of their gods as territorial, the God of Israel, Yeshua, declared that He was the Creator of all things and that He was Lord of Heaven and Earth. And He still is.

Freedom in Christ encompasses Freedom FROM and Freedom FOR

God offers freedom to those who turn to Him in faith, and this, as Pastor Andrew says, deserves a Toyota jump. It is worth celebrating. The freedom the New Testament speaks of is not just any old freedom. In Romans 8:21 Paul speaks of ‘the glorious freedom of God’s children’ (NET). In the same way you might savour a piece of chocolate as it slowly melts in your mouth, allow your spirit to savour the meaning of the freedom that is yours in Christ in all its richness. This single word freedom is densely packed with meaning, and we benefit from taking time to unpack just a little of what it means for believers.

THE LORDSHIP OF JESUS CHRIST, Chapter 4

Throughout the Old Testament, God made certain promises to the patriarchs (Abraham, Issac, and Jacob/Israel) that their descendants, the nation of Israel, longed to see fulfilled. These promises centred on having a holy Homeland and a Messiah. Over the centuries that followed their expulsion from their Land which sent them into exile into Babylon initially and then into Persia, the Israelites became known as Jews. Their expectations of how these divine promises would be fulfilled became greatly embellished with powerful military overtones.