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November 2018

A Daily Prayer

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A Daily Prayer

God,

You, who in various times and in various ways spoke to our fathers in times past today, speak to us through Jesus. God, you are high and transcend above, mighty and holy and awesome yet choose to spend time with us.

God, I thank you for the life that you’ve given me; another day and frankly just another opportunity to have appointments with you.

God, my deepest desire is that before I open my eyes, may I not see with my eyes-- seeing envy, jealousy, and hatred --but instead grant me the ability to see with Your eyes—seeing everyone with love, and respect.

God, before I step out of my bed I desire for my feet to wonder with you. To be led without seeing, to the place where I would give you the most glory.

God, before my hands begin the menial repetitive task I compete day to day, I ask you may outstretch Your hand and partner with me in the service of others.

God, before I speak a word of malice, disgust, criticism, to my family, friends, peers, may You touch my mouth with coals of fire and instead speak confidence, empowerment, and life to strangers and companions alike.

Holy Spirit humble me.

Jesus allow me the privilege of service.

Father show me how to love how You love.

 

I plead this in the name of Jesus,

Amen.

Chantal Williams recently graduated from Andrews University as a doctor of physical therapy, and has been involved with Enspire Productions since 2011.

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Sabbath: But Why? Part 1

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Sabbath: But Why? Part 1

An Intentional Disruption

Sabbath. What does it even mean? When you hear or read this word, you may think of the band Black Sabbath, you may associate it with an antiquated religious idea, or you may know exactly what it means and you’re wondering why you should care.

The truth is that this notion is something you’re quite familiar with. The concept of Sabbath is intricately intertwined with rest, wholeness, and peace.

Some Sabbath moments you may have experienced are:

  • Taking a personal day from work to get your nails did.

  • Feeling burned out from the daily schedule, so you intentionally ignore something on your to do list.

  • Turning your phone off to get some peace and quiet (even though it physically hurts to miss a text).

  • Pretending homework isn’t real and doing something that’s fun instead.

Resting is something so important, that even the Christian God does it. In the very first book of the Christian Bible, God does something interesting. Here I am quoting from the second chapter of Genesis, verses 1 to 3.

“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.”

Did anything pop out to you? For me, it seems so strange that God would rest on the seventh day. If he is as all-powerful as the Christian Bible claims, then why would he need to rest after literally just speaking? This makes me wonder. Perhaps something else is going on here.

Let’s look into the meaning of rest as used in the Christian Bible. In various contexts, the word can be translated as:

  • Rest = Cease

  • Rest = Desist from labor

  • Rest = Keep the Sabbath

 The Hebrew word, “שבת” (Shabbat) is translated as “rested.” The same Hebrew word also is translated as Sabbath. Therefore, when God finished creation, he “sabbathed” on the seventh day.

For the Christian, it is believe that the Bible has a sort of internal coherence. Even with different writers and centuries, Christians believe that God super-intended the whole thing so that it makes sense when compared with itself. Under this presupposition, another portion of the Christian Bible illuminates a bit on what’s not happening here in the verse we read in Genesis. Let’s look at Isaiah chapter 40, verse 28. 

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.”

If we’re to believe what is written here, then God could not have been resting in Genesis because he was tired. So what else could be happening here?

Let’s try imagining this together through the eyes of Alexander Hamilton. In the paradigm-shifting musical, Alexander is doing all sorts of amazing things for the revolutionary army. He is appealing to congress, contacting and dialoguing with top generals. He is called George Washington’s right-hand man. He’s influential in the midst of power in the midst of a struggle. Yet, he was forced home by George Washington. His wife and unborn child await him as he trudges home, knowing that his mission isn’t done yet. 

Have you ever had a forced rest like Hamilton had? In the middle of your work, were you forced to sit down and stop what you were doing? Maybe you had a cold, or you hurt something etc. Not very enjoyable, was it?

Try listening to this portion of the song, “That Would Be Enough.” (0:35 – 1:04)

Some lyrics to highlight:

Hamilton: Will you relish being a poor man’s wife? Unable to provide for your life?

Eliza: I relish being your wife. Look around, look around.

 

There’s an issue of identity here. Alexander wants to do, do, do – and when there’s a disruption of these things, that are in fact good things, he sees himself as useless. Meanwhile, the whole time Eliza loves him, not for what he does, or has done, or even will do, but she simply states that she relishes being his wife.

 Alexander is a smart dude, but he’s missing the point. The things he was doing were good, but Eliza just wanted to be with him.

 God does a lot of things in this passage we read from Genesis that makes sit and wonder.

 But Why?

 For Jesus, creation is not just a poof then He’s done kind of thing. This is an intimate, dirty process. He could think everything into existence, but he chose to interact in a way that we can sense. He speaks, and reality hears. He forms Adam and the animals from the earth, and reality feels. Oh, man and I imagine the smells of freshly created earth were so much better smelling than any massage parlor’s essential oils. The very method that God uses in creation is other focused. This idea culminates with God blessing the Sabbath.

 This is what I believe God’s rest on Sabbath means. It’s to be, rather than to do.

The irony is that we create a lot of “no-can-do lists” for ourselves while resting.

For the Christian, the idea that we have to protect the Sabbath as if our actions bless it and make it holy are backwards. I’m critiquing myself here. Rather than focusing on others and righting wrongs, we argue about what can and cannot be done on Sabbath. 

 This is what Hamilton struggled with. Rather than looking at what he could do at home like be with Eliza, talk about their unborn child, spend time with her, etc., he was concerned with what he was not doing.

 The reality is that there’s a terrifying amount of subjectivity in keeping Sabbath. How we are “other-focused” can manifest differently for each person. For the Christian to try and “do” specific things to make Sabbath holy is blasphemous to say - because God Himself already blessed it. With the Christian understanding, how could humans do something to bless it further?

 Sabbath (as intended), is a way to step out of the daily grind and be able to spend time enjoying all of our hard work. If time is money, then Sabbath is the wealthiest day of the week. 

Over in Silicon Valley, there are camps dedicated for adults to disconnect from their normal life. This means that they don’t have computers, phones, or any other gadgets that garner so much attention during their daily lives. If even the place that’s known for creating much of the technology we interact with each day things it’s valuable to disconnect, then maybe there’s something to this Sabbath idea.

 One final analogy. A few months ago I tried out Amazon Prime Wardrobe for the first time. You see, I’m ultra-picky when it comes to my running shoes. I have to run with them, feel them, like the color, make sure they support, etc. So when I found some shoes on Amazon that I thought I liked, I was extremely wary to buy them without trying them first. Thankfully, that’s the whole premise of Amazon Prime Wardrobe! I ordered the shoes to try, and I promptly went on a run while wearing them.

 I hated them. They were stiff, uncomfortable, and I just wasn’t feeling it. But I figured I might as well wear them for the next week, because I could just send them back without charge, so why not?

 I went on another run with them, and this time, they felt incredible. It was weird, I thought I put on the wrong pair of shoes, because this time they felt so great and different. Happily, I purchased the shoes so that I wouldn’t have to send them back after the trial period. I never would’ve known that I loved these shoes if I didn’t try them on first.

Let’s imagine that God is like Amazon. You can try this idea of Sabbath before purchasing. I’m not even asking that you sample anything else – just Sabbath.

 This next Saturday (because that’s when God Sabbathed), try setting aside just one hour where you normally would be working, doing homework, or something that could be seen as burden. In that hour, try being with someone in an intentional way. You could call a friend, call some family, visit someone, it’s up to you. Try it and see what happens.

 I’m not sure if you believe in God, or even a higher power, but imagine that these words that Eliza is singing to Alexander in “That would be Enough” are God himself singing directly to you.

 

Jonny has been involved with Enspire Productions since 2009. He is currently enrolled in the MDiv. program at the Andrews University Theological Seminary.

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Discipline

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Discipline

Every semester, I choose a specific characteristic to try and become better at. You can say it’s like a new year’s resolution but instead of every year, it’s every semester. Sometimes I’ve even done the same resolution twice because of how much I have failed at becoming better at it. These characteristics are always chosen from a character of the Bible or from the fruits of the spirit.

This semester, I chose the word discipline. Being a big procrastinator, this is one of the hardest characteristics I have ever chosen. Many people, maybe even all, don’t like to practice discipline or be disciplined.

The definition of discipline is “training to ensure proper behavior.” Something that always comes into my head when I think of the word discipline is a video I saw on YouTube. Kids are put in rooms with one marshmallow placed in front of them and the instructor tells them that if they wait for them to come back without having eaten the marshmallow, they will be rewarded with an extra marshmallow. Every kid would struggle to try and not eat the marshmallow. Some just couldn’t take it anymore and would eat it. Others would nibble at it before eventually finding themselves devouring the whole thing. I remember one kid that used the plate to cover the marshmallow so that he would not be tempted to eat it. In the end however, when the instructor came back to check on the kids, only a few received the prize of an extra marshmallow while the others didn’t receive anything and would just have to remember the feeling they had when they ate theirs.

As followers of Christ, discipline is not something we want, but it is something we need. The lack of discipline is not what God intended us to have. He did not create us to be lazy, but rather created us to have self-control, one of the fruits of the spirit. A person with a disciplined behavior and lifestyle has values that can be seen not only in everything they do, but more importantly in their spiritual life.

Someone who I admire, who is disciplined every day, is my father. In everything he does, he is disciplined in doing the right thing. He is disciplined in following Jesus every day. Since I am an undisciplined person, I can clearly see the differences between our everyday life choices.

Something in particular is punctuality. I cannot remember a day in my life when my father was late to something. An example of this is when we have a flight to take somewhere. This man HAS to be at the airport, going through TSA at least two hours before our flight. Even though every time we get to the gate with like ten years to spare and nothing to do, he doesn’t change.  I on the other hand, have been late to so many things. Whether it be going to certain meetings or replying back to someone’s SMS text messages and calls, I will most likely be late to all of them. That is even something I am known for when my name comes up! Ridiculous.

This character of discipline that my father strongly follows is something I see every day. Because of this, it motivates me to want to have that same discipline in my life. The positive change of being disciplined can be seen not only in his work and home, but I can definitely see it in his spiritual life as well. Being disciplined causes us to make better choices in life. It causes us to follow the plan that God has for us. We take time to listen to what He has to say. We are comforted when hardships come because we are disciplined to read His word and remember the promises he has fulfilled. When temptations come our way, we are disciplined to turn the other way. An example of someone like this is the story of Joseph that can be found at the end of the book of Genesis.

As I start this journey of trying to become more disciplined, I know it is not going to be easy, especially for someone like me. I believe however that it is a characteristic that will help me become closer to Him and more like Him. Jesus was disciplined. The purpose of Him coming down to earth was to live a life of example and die for our sins and he did just that.

Maybe you have realized you need to more disciplined in your life, or more specifically your spiritual life. If you are, then I want to encourage you to start this “resolution” with me. Maybe you feel like you are already pretty disciplined. Then I encourage you to choose another resolution that will better you to become more like Him. And may we one day be able to say the words found in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.”

Alex Castillo is a graduate of Southern Adventist University and is currently applying to dental school.

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