Pilgrimage

PilgrimageTomorrow I will be on retreat. It will be a full day away, and my longing heart is hungry—hungry to be unplugged, un-needed and free. Physically, I hope to be outside much of the day.  Spiritually, I am longing for a Spirit-led journey into the heart of God. I don’t know what I need, but He does and I can rest in that truth.

Timothy Jones, in his book, A Place for God written in 2000 reminds us that on retreat, we trust that

“the God who leads us on pilgrimage will lead us to the place where we need to be.” (pg. 46)

Jones goes on to write,

“We open ourselves to God and let God be the prime mover…(we go on retreat) out of more than a desire to become less frazzled but also out of a desire to become more aware and alert to God. Deep within is a longing to be met, loved, guided, wherever that might lead.” (pg 47)

I will go empty handed and open hearted. Honesty will reign. Masks will come off. Tears will flow. There will be songs to sing and prayers to pray. Things to think and God to meet. I hope for a blue sky and fluffy clouds. I hope for a breeze to whisper in the leaves.

And I hope to be brave.

There are places I need to go within. Places that will not be easy. Places that demand space and a pace for God to do His tender work.

Militarily, many view “retreat” as a cowardly move. But I have learned that retreat is for the brave, for the courageous ones bent on an adventure like nothing else the world can offer. Feeling brave, but don’t have a day? An hour will do. No doubt about it.

Update

The thyroid surgery went well, the news was great and my recovery has been smooth and uncomplicated. I have learned new things about rest. Can’t wait to share them. A smiley face scar now rests at the bottom of my neck, a testimony to the battle I fought and lost over burning the candle at both ends. Sleep was the last rhythm I learned to embrace (about 2009). Retreat was the first (in 1992). We are all on a journey…

 

First time here?

Welcome! We’re a group that gathers around the theme, “There has to be a better way.” We’re finding it in the 4-word mission statement, “Run hard. Rest well.”

  • It’s a journey into the heart of God. It comes our way through an on-going exploration of four biblical rhythms that revive, replenish and restore: Sabbath Keeping, Sleep (and other simple stress-reducers), Stillness—personal retreat, and Solitude—personal retreat.
  • It’s an expedition that challenges us at every turn. It convicts us in deep, tender places. It alters our priorities and plans. It’s not for the faint of heart.
  • It’s adventure at its best – as we learn to run the race in a power not our own.

Price Tag

There is a price tag attached to our overload and exhaustion.Matthew 11:28

  • A deep discontentment that settles in our bones and sours our soul.
  • Relational tension – combative, distant, destructive.
  • Illness. Mild and annoying. Dramatic and life-changing.
  • Death. How many of us die years before our time?

There is a price tag.

I write this blog as one who was driven and reckless. I lived under the motto, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”(Philippians 4:13) True, when living the life God intended. But I chose my way over God’s way. My way was addictive in nature and rooted in a series of faulty beliefs.

At that stage, I questioned the the truth of Matthew 11:28: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” I believed that promise was reserved for Heaven, not a promise for the here and now. I came to God every day, multiple times every day, but there was no rest to be found. There was much to receive—love, forgiveness, joy, marching orders, but never rest. God’s rest eluded me because I came to Him on my terms, not His. I came sweating and heaving, with eyes on the next goal. No time for foot stools, green pastures or quiet waters. God’s pursuit of us is centered on our greatest need and through a series of difficult days and the Body of Christ, God placed me on a journey that would root out the beliefs that were leading to my demise and planted the seeds that would bring life, a life empowered by the rest of God.

Sabbath. Stillness. Solitude. Sleep. It’s been a 23 year adventure.

I was (am) a slow learner. Sabbath, Stillness (personal prayer focused on the Presence of God), and Solitude (personal retreat) were rhythms God began to weave into my life in a manner that re-sculpted my hardened heart. But sleep. Sleep was for sissies. Sleep robbed me. Sleep was a waste of precious, God-given time.

Embracing God’s plan for sleep was my last frontier. I began to take it seriously about 6 years ago. It proved to be an exceptional gift. Pesky ailments that had begun to plague me began to lessen and disappear. I felt like a new woman. But there is a price tag for our overload and exhaustion.

On September 12, half of my thyroid will be removed. I’ve been fighting an autoimmune thyroid condition for 12 years, a condition (for me) that is tied to a life-time of elevated cortisol levels, a result of my refusal to get the sleep my body required.

Am I beating myself up? No. This is life in a fallen world. There are natural consequences for the choices we make. Some times they are instant. Sometimes they are delayed. Maybe the scar across my neck will speak volumes to another in search of a better way.

The promise in Matthew 11 and Jeremiah 31:25 (ESV) is true and sure. “I will satisfy the weary soul and every languishing soul I will replenish.” For this to be ours, rhythms of rest and restoration must be explored, embraced and prioritized as gifts from the Father’s Hand.

Where are you at, at this juncture in your life? Exploring? Embracing? Prioritizing?

First time here?

Welcome! We’re a group that gathers around the theme, “There has to be a better way.” We’re finding it in the 4-word mission statement, “Run hard. Rest well.”

  • It’s a journey into the heart of God. It comes our way through an on-going exploration of four biblical rhythms that revive, replenish and restore: Sabbath Keeping, Sleep (and other simple stress-reducers), Stillness—personal retreat, and Solitude—personal retreat.
  • It’s an expedition that challenges us at every turn. It convicts us in deep, tender places. It alters our priorities and plans. It’s not for the faint of heart.
  • It’s adventure at its best – as we learn to run the race in a power not our own.

Idolatry Today

G.Rahl quoteWe all serve, honor, live for something, whether it’s God or a god. People did it 4,000 years ago and we’re still doing it today.

Through the years, my definition of idolatry was limited and uniformed. As a little girl in Sunday School, I breathed a big sigh of relief. “Good thing we don’t do that wooden idol-thing today.” As a teen, I knew I was exempt from any concern over Commandment #1. Idolatry meant a hunger for money, prestige or sex. Again, another big relief.

God is a gentle, determined teacher.

I now know that idolatry is the #1 sin in my life. Some things never change. There are few modern man-made stone images set up in homes in my corner of the world, but there are plenty of modern man-made beliefs and priorities that are set up in unsuspecting hearts.

Our modern day idols separate us just as much if not more, than any ancient image. Exploring idolatry today requires a personal inventory. Upon inspection, the top idols in my life bounce between “me, myself and I” (a trio of dangerous proportion) and my use of time.

Many dedicated church-goers have come to idolize time. In an era of endless opportunity and monumental demands, time becomes extremely precious and how we choose to use it, one of our biggest idols.

Gordon Rahl captures our use of time and the challenges we encounter because of it in three succinct statements:

We worship our work. We work at our play. We play at our worship.

Of which ones are you guilty?

Idolatry and faith are kissing cousins. They both require a throne. Both ask for our energy and our allegiance. They desire it and require it. Both ask for sacrifice—sacrifice of time, talent and treasure.

Idolatry speaks to our deepest fears: worth, emptiness, boredom, value.

God speaks to our greatest need: love.

He speaks the language of love with arms extended and dancing eyes. He invites us to give Him our best. Before His throne we work, we play and we worship.

 

Before His throne do you work, play, worship? What has God been teaching you?

 

First time here?

Welcome! We’re a group that gathers around the theme, “There has to be a better way.” We’re finding it in the 4-word mission statement, “Run hard. Rest well.”

  • It’s a journey into the heart of God. It comes our way through an on-going exploration of four biblical rhythms that revive, replenish and restore: Sabbath Keeping, Sleep (and other simple stress-reducers), Stillness—personal retreat, and Solitude—personal retreat.
  • It’s an expedition that challenges us at every turn. It convicts us in deep, tender places. It alters our priorities and plans. It’s not for the faint of heart.
  • It’s adventure at its best – as we learn to run the race in a power not our own.

Prayerless wonder

Psalm132.7Convicted. Again.

I am a prayerless wonder. I have learned of yet another Kingdom worker who spends hours (HOURS) on his knees before entering his day. And it shows – in his heart, his hope, his vision, his fruit.

In the arena of prayer, God and I share a casual closeness. He’s never far. I keep Him in my line of vision. (More importantly, He keeps me in His.) I dive deeply into His Word each morning.

It’s the highlight of my day. But my prayer time is lacking. It’s OK. But I want more. And so does He.

I want to learn how to pray.

I want to learn how to pray like Jesus.

I’m not alone. One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When He was finished, one of his disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray …

Jesus response began with the word “Father.”

Relationship. Contact. Connection.

Psalm 132:7 invites us:

Let us go to His dwelling; let us worship at His footstool.

Mary sat at Jesus feet. What did she do there?

She listened. Focused and undistracted.

Jesus, teach me to listen, so I may be praying for the things on Your heart.

 

When was the first time you asked the Lord to teach you to pray? When was the most recent?

 

First time here?

Welcome! We’re a group that gathers around the theme, “There has to be a better way.” We’re finding it in the 4-word mission statement, “Run hard. Rest well.”

  • It’s a journey into the heart of God. It comes our way through an on-going exploration of four biblical rhythms that revive, replenish and restore: Sabbath Keeping, Sleep (and other simple stress-reducers), Stillness—personal retreat, and Solitude—personal retreat.
  • It’s an expedition that challenges us at every turn. It convicts us in deep, tender places. It alters our priorities and plans. It’s not for the faint of heart.
  • It’s adventure at its best – as we learn to run the race in a power not our own.

Servant Leadership – Part 2.

kingdom restAt this website we spend a lot of time challenging each other to embrace the God-ordained rewards of a guilt-free rest. It’s a counter-cultural commitment and requires accountability and encouragement every step of the way. This is a goal of Run Hard. Rest Well., but it is not the goal. Run Hard Rest Well. champions rest to empower God’s people to live healthy, vibrant, Kingdom focused lives.

There’s a call, Kyle Idleman reminds us, to be a Follower of Christ, not a Fan. We need to trade sitting in the stands with sitting at His feet—there to listen well, equipped to move into the world empowered and unshakable. We’re being called to live lives that defy the Christianized commitment to comfort and complacency, content with mediocre standards of who we are and what we’ve been called to do if there is to be change, but guilt cannot be a part of the equation. It gets us nowhere. Conviction, on the other hand, is of the Spirit. It leads to confession.

Change begins at the foot of the cross.

Our Kingdom work is dependent on Kingdom rest. Well rested, we are suited to listen, to attend with full abandon. Engaging in a rest that refreshes (not one that merely entertains), removes the cobwebs from our hearts, the blinders from our eyes, the cotton from our ears. The Word of God, the Voice of God intimately spoken and fully received changes lives. It transforms our hope, our vision, and our ability lay down our pain, our shame and pick up our cross.

Cross carriers have front row seats to Resurrection power (Philippians 3:10).

“Speak, for your servant is listening.” I Samuel 3:10

Servant Leadership at its best.

Where does your comfort get in the way of your commitment?

Did you catch part 1 of this series on Servant Leadership?

First time here?

Welcome! We’re a group that gathers around the theme, “There has to be a better way.” We’re finding it in the 4-word mission statement, “Run hard. Rest well.”

  • It’s a journey into the heart of God. It comes our way through an on-going exploration of four biblical rhythms that revive, replenish and restore: Sabbath Keeping, Sleep (and other simple stress-reducers), Stillness—personal retreat, and Solitude—personal retreat.
  • It’s an expedition that challenges us at every turn. It convicts us in deep, tender places. It alters our priorities and plans. It’s not for the faint of heart.
  • It’s adventure at its best – as we learn to run the race in a power not our own.