Category Archives: Sabbath

Inspired by John Piper

I’ve admired John Piper for some time now.  I was introduced to him back in college in the form of his book, Desiring God.  It was required reading for a class I was taking, and I devoured it.  In it, Piper gave me permission to enjoy God and enjoy my faith-journey with Him.  This was a breath of fresh air for someone like me who had been raised in a very legalistic church where enjoyment of anything was suspect at best.

I am now in my 15th year of full-time church ministry, and John Piper has been one of my closest ministry companions over the years.  His constant outpouring of books, sermons, articles, and blog entries have been a part of my ministry diet since the beginning.  When I hear him preach, I’m inspired to be a better preacher, and when I read his writings, I’m inspired to be a deeper thinker.  His passion for the glory of God is contagious…but its taken its toll on him.

According to The Christian Post, Piper announced last Sunday to his congregation at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis that he will be taking his first-ever break from ministry to “reexamine his soul”.  He apologized to his congregation for not a specific deed but for the “sins of my own soul,” “ongoing character flaws” and stresses that they have caused to others.

He admitted to several species of pride that “may not rise to the level of disqualifying me for ministry, but I grieve over them.”

This will be the first time in his 30 years of preaching that he will take an extended leave of absence.  For the next eight months, Piper’s public life of preaching, writing, and speaking nationally will go silent.  “I’m letting go of all of it,” he said.  This means no preaching, no book writing, no blogging, no tweeting, no articles, no papers and no speaking engagements.

I have to admit that when I read about this, I was immediately stunned.  Not for him, but for me.  I think its safe to say that John Piper is a rock – not perfect but a serious and passionate follower of Christ.  If he needs to reexamine his soul, what does this mean for me?

Once again, John Piper has inspired me.  He’s inspired me to look deep inside of myself – to reexamine my soul – to see in what ways the sins of my soul, my ongoing character flaws, and the stresses I have caused others need to be brought under the Lord’s submission and repented of.  Seems highly likely that my Lenten period of reflection and examination needs to extend beyond Easter Sunday.

May the Lord minister deeply to my ministry companion during his time of fasting from ministry, and may the Lord minister deeply to me – and to all men and women who minister in His name – in the days, weeks, and months ahead.

A Lesson from Jews who “Reboot”

Observing Lent is a new thing for me (see “My Rookie Year of Observing Lent”), but the concept of observing the Sabbath is not.  I’ve been wrestling with how to make the Sabbath a day of rest, recreation, and spiritual focus for years now.  I’ve had some success in leading my family in this but am always looking for ways to enhance our Sabbath day experience.  I read an article today on cnn.com about how one group is attempting to enhance their Sabbath experience.

Reboot is a nonprofit organization aimed at reinventing the traditions and rituals of Judaism for today’s secular Jews.  This group is composed of Internet entrepreneurs, creators of award-winning television shows, community organizers and nonprofit leaders, several who say they have an addiction to their cell phones.

So, in order to reclaim the essence of the Sabbath in their lives, they pledged to observe 24 hours of freedom from their devices this past weekend – a National Day of Unplugging –  lasting from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath.

The day served as a launch for Reboot’s ongoing project, the Sabbath Manifesto, which consists of these 10 principles:

1. Avoid technology.

2. Connect with loved ones.

3. Nurture your health.

4. Get outside.

5. Avoid commerce.

6. Light candles.

7. Drink wine.

8. Eat bread.

9. Find silence.

10. Give back.

Not that I agree with the theology and practices of many who compose this group, and an obvious omission on this list is anything related to God and His Word…but this list seems to me to be a good starting point for Christians who want to reclaim the essence of the Sabbath as well.

What could be better than one day each week that begins with worship, consists of prayer, time with loved ones, and a period of silence (aka a nap), and then ends with candles, bread and wine?  Sounds like the kind of Sabbath I’d like to reclaim!