FullSizeRender-2This past week my family and I went on vacation to enjoy some rest and relaxation, because nothing says rest like spending 8 days visiting 6 states, and spending most of your time between a minivan and hotel rooms with 5 kids, ages 10 and under! 🙂 In all seriousness though, I am so thankful for the capable men and women that God has raised up at Central, so that I am able to sneak away for a few days and spend time with my family and rest. It is the topic of rest that I wanted to spend a few moments reflecting on with you. I want to say from the onset that my desire is to share some thoughts with you about rest. I do not desire to fully expound on the topic of rest. There is much more that could be said about rest then I will even attempt to cover. Instead, this is simply a few thoughts I have as I get back to the grind this morning that I hope might be edifying and thought provoking for us all.

Rest is an important component in the life of a believer. We are all people who need rest. All throughout scripture we see the theme of rest play an important part in the life of God’s people. That theme starts at the very beginning in the book of Genesis. In the very beginning we see that God Himself created the earth, and then the Bible tells us He rested (Gen. 1-2).  God knew that the land and the people He created would need rest in order to be all that God created them to be, so in creation He modeled that rest. When we rest we are honoring and glorifying God, because resting is doing what God created us and called us to do. When we do what we were created to do, we bring honor and glory to God. (That statement could be another post entirely.)

Oftentimes in our society we see rest as unproductive, and something to be avoided at all costs. You may have even heard the expression, “I’ll rest when I’m dead.” This expression is used in an attempt to say that a person doesn’t have time to rest, or that somehow rest is a bad thing that should not be done while there is work to do.  As I think about this I can’t help but ask the question, where have we gotten these ideas? I can tell you this, we did not get them from scripture. Not only do we see God model rest in Genesis, but in Leviticus 25:1-5, we see clearly that God commands that even the land is to have rest. The Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you come into the land that I give you, the land shall keep a Sabbath to the Lord. For six years you shall sow your field, and for six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its fruits, but in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a Sabbath to the Lord. You shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. You shall not reap what grows of itself in your harvest, or gather the grapes of your undressed vine. It shall be a year of solemn rest for the land.Rest is an important part of the creation order, and that is why in Genesis He modeled rest, in Leviticus He called the land to rest, and in Exodus He calls us to rest.

I find it funny that while we who are in Christ believe in the truth of God, we often deny the truth we say we believe. We know the right answers, but practically played out we ignore the truth we say we affirm. That is seen clearly in the fact that too often we only affirm 9 of the 10 commandments. You see, we acknowledge that all of the commandments are important and are to still be followed, but when we get to Sabbath rest we begin to try and justify why it is no longer needed. The honest believer however, is confronted with the fact that Sabbath rest is not an option, but instead it is a command from God. In light of all this, I want to ask you the question, how are you fulfilling the law of God by resting?

Now, to clarify when I ask this question, I do not mean how are you being self idolatrous? Oftentimes the people of God use the idea of rest as an excuse to be self-idolatrous. The kind of rest I am speaking of is the kind that honors and glorifies God. It is that kind of rest that we are called to, and it is that kind of rest we should not neglect.We as the people of God should rest in God, and be refreshed in Him. That is one of the reasons I love corporate worship. Corporate worship is a time to take a break from the world and focus completely upon God and His people. When we focus completely upon Him, then we truly are able to find rest. I pray that as the people of God we would not neglect the command to rest, and as we rest I pray we would rest in Him.


A Purpose-Driven Worship Service

The popular title has shamefully sucked you in.  Your heart is already stirred with emotions both positive and negative towards a well-known pastor and author whose church has redefined the words “purpose-driven” in modern culture.  Rest assured, this article is completely unrelated to their subject matter.  Now that I have your attention, keep reading…

In any church service, the primary focus should be the preaching of God’s Word.  Wouldn’t you agree?  There are many important elements in a church gathering; scripture reading, prayer, music, the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper.  Above all of these, the message is the pinnacle of any church gathering.  Our church leadership has a paramount responsibility to ensure that what God has to say speaks loud and clear.  That’s the “purpose” we are “driving” towards.

It only makes sense that all of the elements of the worship service would come together in support of the pastor’s sermon scripture.  The music, the prayers, the scripture reading, even the children’s message all stand in harmony with and in support of the sermon.  This is what we seek to achieve each and every week as we gather together for corporate worship. Here’s an example:

Recently, our pastor’s sermon text was Luke 22:39-46 the Mount of Olives.  The sermon focus was prayer.  Jesus prayed.  He asked the disciples to pray lest they fall into temptation.  We are called to pray.  The congregational singing for this service included What a Friend We Have in Jesus and Lord I Need You.  One song speaks directly about prayer while the other is a prayer sung to the Lord.  There was an attempt to make an unmistakable connection between the music and the message.  The hope was that by the end of our musical worship, our hearts were focused and unified to receive God’s Word.

As a further help in achieving this goal, our service orders are sent out in a  midweek study guide email to staff, musicians, and media team.  Included in the service orders are scripture references and explanations for every song, describing the “purpose” that is “driving” our song choices.

To sum it all up, everything that is planned in a worship service should have a purpose, and that is what we strive for.  That purpose is to point us back to our Holy God, the object of our worship.  His Holy Word should clearly penetrate hearts and drive us to preach, teach, and live the the gospel for the glory of God.

Perhaps the better title would have been:  A Scripture-Driven Worship Service.cropped-blog-logo-final-1280-x-426-pixels.png