Fulfilled in Jesus

Our pilgrimage with our Beloved in Japan -- Yoko & Ramone on the journey with Jesus!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Sabbath-rest blog


I started a blog last month to explore the fun boundless hills of resting in Jesus (the "Sabbath-rest" that the New Testament talks of in Hebrews 4). "Sabbath rest" is the wonderful rest and peace that comes to us in Jesus because of His finished work for us.

I suppose there might be some offense taken at the way I've defined "Sabbath", so I guess I ought to add here that I'm simply talking of what the reformer Martin Luther understood and what is written in the New Testament: that the old Sabbath "day" was a shadow of the rest that came in Jesus. On the Cross He cried, "It is finished", and our righteousness is finished in Him. We trust in His works, not ours, and we find that He is our rest in every way.

Okay, I've said too much. The Sabbath-rest blog is not primarily for debating about that stuff. It's rather stuff that I've learned and am learning while resting in Him. However I welcome comments because I love sharing about His rest.

PLEASE leave comments on the blog itself, not in my guestbook! My guestbook is not a debate forum. It is for people who want to say hi to me and my wife Yoko. Please leave comments on the post itself; there are places below each post where comments are allowed (click "anonymous" if you don't have a Blogger account), but please do sign your name or leave some link to your page or email so that I can notify you when I've replied to something you've written. Please don't just do a "comment and run".

http://sabbath-rest.blogspot.com/

All that said, I'm really excited to have this little corner where I can write about His rest. I want to share a bit of my joy as I explore His rest and live in it. I pray that you are blessed and quieted in His love as you rest in Him, in the incredible magnitude of what He has done for us. May we all be led by Him deeper into the joy of resting in Him!

Walking Rest

One thing I've found lately is that I need to get off my butt, and then I'll find rest. Does that make sense?

I want to relax. I want to soak. All too often I want to write something online---an email, a blog, something epistle-length, etc. But in the back of my mind I know the dishes need doing. Or the laundry can be taken in from our little balcony. I know it'd make Yoko happy to come home and find some things done that she hadn't expected (we have irregular schedules... sometimes I get home early, sometimes she does).

I don't fully understand this or have one verse to illustrate it, but it is "rest", and I love it. It feels great and I want to do it more. It's like a path of rest. I can physically rest and try to pray or listen to worship music, but if I ignore a little thing that needs doing or that could be done to bless my wife... well, I'm finding that I'm more "rested" and happy if I do that thing instead.

Let's say this another way. "Rest" is an internal disposition. There's a physical rest that our body needs, but even if you get physical rest and don't have rest for your soul, you will not truly be "rested."

In her book, "My Jesus is...Everything", Anne Graham Lotz says:

Jesus saw the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of His friends and knew the solution was a time of quiet rest and reflection. And He knows the solution is the same for you and me today. So He invites us as He did His disciples, "Come with Me by yourself to a quiet place and get some rest."

Often when I am under stress and pressure, I feel one of my greatest needs is to get a good night's sleep. But I've found that physical rest alone is not enough to revive my flagging spirit. I need the spiritual revival that comes from spending quiet time alone with Jesus in prayer and in thoughtful meditation on His Word.


Now having said that, it is not only physical rest that is conducive to receiving rest for your soul.

*******The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life*******

Sometimes Jesus is not calling you to a quiet place. Sometimes He's calling you to do the dishes. The trick to this is not to make a method out of it! Rather, hear His voice. Only the Spirit knows what will really give us rest, so we must seek Him, the Person. A letter of a law won't always give us rest. In fact, I venture to say that the more you trust in a letter of a law to give you rest, the more He may frustrate it in order to arrest your attention so that you seek Him Himself instead of a method or law.

We have a Savior who Himself is our Sabbath-rest, our "sabbatismos". We naturally look for a law of Sabbath, but He wants us to follow Him in active, living relationship. He wants us to hear Him speak to us, because only His words will "wash us" and give us rest.

When He speaks to me, He lets me know who I am in Him. He lets me know how much I love Him. He lets me know that He's pleased with me. He lets me know that "it is finished". And suddenly whatever I was worrying about evaporates because I know Him, I know everything is done in Him and I'm in His hands. Then I have rest! Then I have rest in the deepest place possible.

There are times that I want to "rest" like I did yesterday, last week or last year. I want to find Him in the place I found Him then. But He's calling me to meet Him today. And I might meet Him in a different place than last time. (Let's note that "meeting" isn't quite the right word because He's always with us, living inside us... rather, it's that I'm sometimes too busy to know Him as He's in me!) Sometimes today's "path" of/to rest is not one that will involve physical rest. When walking, when doing dishes, etc., I may better hear Him talking to me.

Especially in doing things here for Yoko.

*******The path of agape love*******

He's calling me to love her more than I love myself, more than I love what I'm doing right now (even more than what I think I'm doing for Him). As I lay down what I want to do and what I think I have to do, and as I serve her, I find Him and I find that I'm happier. In pouring out myself, I find a joy that I couldn't have when holding onto what I want to do.

Lord, help me with this more!

I think this may be what Jesus was talking about when He went around "working" on the Old Covenant Sabbath day:

Jesus said to them, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working." For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was He breaking the Sabbath, but He was even calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God. Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; He can do only what He sees His Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does." (John 5:17-19)

Jesus found rest in His Father's presence. This meant often "working", but yet He found the greatest "rest" in the universe while doing this. And He found this rest in the agape love of the Father. The Father poured Himself out, and so the Son found rest in pouring out Himself, too. Jesus said this was even His "food" (Jn.4:34).

*******Return to your rest, O my soul*******

Finally, there is a day-to-day rest, and there is a peace & rest that we have which goes beyond feeling. It's deep and constant, as Hebrews 4 says, we "have rested". Often when my soul gets confused, He draws me back to that knowledge... that it is done, that He has finished it, that it is done for me! Rest in Him, be at peace in Him.

Nearly without fail, the times I feel un-rest are when I forget this. As I remember Him and trust in the constancy of who He is---and not what I feel---I am brought back to rest. Yet whether I feel it or not, I have rested in Him! He's awesome that way. I can't pretend to understand all the paradoxes of this, but it's wonderful to experience His love.

Perhaps that is the best summary of this article: that He is real, He is a Person, and He leads us into rest in His arms. It's not always this way or that, just as the woman in John 4 couldn't pin down where the correct place or time was to worship God. It's Spirit. In Him we have already rested, once and for all.

Lord, I barely know where I'm going with this! But You've been leading me into rest in ways, places, and doing things around the home that I would not have recognized as "rest." But these too are Your Sabbath-rest. These too are gifts to me that have come from Your death on the cross for me. Before, Your people had to go here or there at this or that time to experience You. But now You are with us, living in us, and You can give us rest anytime! You've broken down the barrier of the old law of rest, and You have become our Sabbath "today". I don't know what I'm trying to say here clearly, but You give me rest, and I want anyone reading this to know You, to know that You give them rest, and I want them to find rest in You, with You. Thank You for all this, Jesus. In Your name, amen.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Loving our money or neighbors


Yoko recorded a segment of news here about the immigration debate (crisis?) in America right now. We're watching it right now.

I saw some protesters chanting "illegals go home" and a Colorado politican talking about not using our taxes to give them help. Lord, I couldn't help thinking how ugly we look when we say such things.

Others are upset because illegal immigrants work for less money and companies aren't hiring as many citizens (who would have to be paid more). They complain of this and their anger is directed at the Mexicans? Their answer is to make them go home? Why are they not angry at their greedy bosses? If American bosses and companies had "ethics", "values", "morals", and cared about "families", then they wouldn't exploit illegal immigrants. Can you blame a man who is poor for working as hard as he can whether he makes a lot or not? The problem is not the workers, the problem is the bosses.

In the long run maybe we should ask why they come to America. Of course we can build a higher "wall" on our border. But perhaps if we "loved our neighbors as we love ourselves" we might consider that were Mexico a better place for them, they might not come over in droves.

Anyway, I just can't stand it when we're so concerned about our money, our tax money, etc., more than we're concerned about people. It makes me angry, ashamed, and it makes me feel sick. I get just a small glimpse of what Martin Luther King was talking about when he said why he chose love (see this quote).

P.S. I wish I knew how my great-grandparents came to America. That would've been the late 1800s or early 1900s, and I'm sure laws were different then. But I wish I knew. They were Mexican, too, and I'm half.

"Este mandamiento nuevo les doy: que se amen los unos a los otros. Asi como yo los he amado, tambien ustedes deben amarse los unos a los otros. De este modo todos sabran que son mis discipulos, si se aman los unos a los otros."

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Agape


"Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. It is a weapon unique in history, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals."

- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1964
From "Why We Can't Wait"



Saturday, May 13, 2006

Amen.


"And so I say to you today that I still stand by nonviolence. And I am still convinced that it is the most potent weapon available to the Negro [mankind] in his struggle for justice in this country [earth]. And the other thing is that I am concerned about a better world. I'm concerned about justice. I'm concerned about brotherhood. I'm concerned about truth. And when one is concerned about these, he can never advocate violence. For through violence you may murder a murderer, but you can't murder murder. Through violence you may murder a liar but you can't establish truth. Through violence you may murder a hater, but you can't murder hate. Darkness cannot put out darkness. Only light can do that.

"And I say to you, I have also decided to stick to love. For I know that love is ultimately the only answer to mankind's problems. And I'm going to talk about it everywhere I go. I know it isn't popular to talk about it in some circles today. I'm not talking about emotional bosh when I talk about love. I'm talking about a strong, demanding love. And I have seen too much hate. I've seen too much hate on the faces of sheriffs in the South. I've seen hate on the faces off too many Klansmen and too many White Citizens Councilors in the South to want to hate myself, because every time I see it, I know that it does something to their faces and their personalities and I say to myself that hate is too great a burden to bear. I have decided to love. If you are seeking the highest good, I think you can find it through love. And the beautiful thing is that we are moving against wrong when we do it, because John was right, God is love. He who hates does not know God, but he who has love has the key that unlocks the door to the meaning of ultimate reality."

- Martin Luther King, Jr.
August 16, 1967 in Atlanta, Georgia



Monday, May 01, 2006

Hebrews 3-4 summary (short)

"Come to Me & I'll give you rest" (Mt11)

*****Heb.3-4*****

God offered them rest... no, not a day of the week (they obeyed that for 40 years and even obeyed it into Canaan). It wasn't Caanan, either, for that too they entered but not "His rest". They couldn't enter His rest because of unbelief.

Belief in Him, this is the way to His rest. Just like He rested at the beginning, by believing we rest in Him -- we rest on Him. We rest from all our hard works, our struggles, our unbelief! We find He is our place of rest. This is the true Sabbath-rest, of which the Sabbath day could only foreshadow.

We rest because He sees & searches all, even to the deepest of our dark hearts, and yet we have Him as our High Priest, interceding for us! He sympathizies with us!

He offers & gives us rest! How we needed it, how we needed Him!

*****

See also: "Christ, the Substance of the Two Shadows"