Seven Days to a Deeper Faith, Day 4: A Better Community

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” “Hebrews 10:24-25

Over the years the church in America has gone through many phases of leadership styles and growth strategies. We’ve moved from seeker-sensitive to purpose-driven to culturally relevant to post-modern (and beyond). During this time, the word “authentic” has been used to describe numerous programs, studies, and sermon series. What that typically meant was the event you were about to attend or message you were about to hear would be authentic to our culture, that it would make sense in context, and would be something that we could apply to our everyday life. As I look back now, that’s not really the definition of authentic I was hoping for. I was hoping for a raw and honest look behind the curtain. I wanted transparency. Somewhere deep inside I realized that the cost of true authenticity was vulnerability. That’s what my soul craved: vulnerability.

True gospel community starts with true vulnerability. It’s where we end and the gospel begins. It’s a space of confession where we invite others into our lives to care for us, speak truth to us, empathize with us, and help us find forgiveness. For some reason vulnerability resists judgment, and it fosters grace and understanding. There’s nothing more refreshing than seeing friends handle your most vulnerable moments with care or a leader trusting you with theirs. It’s the place we are healed.

Vulnerability requires personal humility. We have to be willing to view ourselves with grace balanced with truth and do the same to others in the room. That’s the beauty of Jesus, at the foot of the cross we’re all on the same level.

Take Action:

Be intentional today. As you spend time with other people, take note of your relationships. How vulnerable are you with certain people? How does that impact the way you view them or view yourself? Once you identify those you feel the safest with, think about why that is. Maybe even make a list of the things that help you feel that way and consider how much you do that for others. Now take a moment to just prayerfully ask God to help you offer to others the kind of community you hope to find.

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He is Compassionate, Day 3

 

Today’s reading is drawn from Psalm 34:18, Psalm 103:8, Lamentations 3:22-23, Numbers 14:18.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion.

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The Lord my friends, is so much more than that for me!

Later,

Pat.

Sleep As a Spiritual Activity, Day 3 Habit: Rest

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Today’s reading is drawn from Psalm 121:4 and Psalm 3:5.

The one activity we do more than any other is sleep. About one-third of each day and one-third of our lives is spent sleeping. Sleep is so essential to the functioning of our bodies that we will die if we go too long without it. But the importance of sleep is not limited to our physical functions — sleep is also a spiritual activity.

Sleep is a spiritual reminder — Everyone sleeps, but our heavenly Father never does (see Psalm 121:4). Sleep is therefore a daily reminder that we are not God. “Once a day God sends us to bed like patients with a sickness,” says John Piper. “The sickness is a chronic tendency to think we are in control and that our work is indispensable. To cure us of this disease God turns us into helpless sacks of sand once a day.”*

Sleep is an act of spiritual trust — We are never more physically vulnerable than when we are sleeping. Although most of us live in relative safety, for many people throughout history —including David in his flight from Absalom — to sleep was to place oneself at the mercy of one’s enemies.

Sleep is an earthly picture of a spiritual reality — In Scripture, sleep is frequently used as a metaphor for death. For instance, Jesus confused his disciples concerning Lazarus by using the euphemism of Lazarus being asleep — which the disciples took literally (see John 11). Death is described as sleep, especially for believers (see 1 Corinthians 15; 1 Thessalonians 4), while the resurrection is sometimes described as waking from sleep (see Job 14:12).**

Sleep as spiritual preparation —One of the most overlooked aspects of spiritual formation is simply getting enough sleep. As John Ortberg says, “I have discovered I have a very hard time thinking and feeling and acting like Jesus when I lack sleep.” Sleep is a form of spiritual preparation that equips us to follow where Christ leads.***

PRACTICAL TAKEAWAY: Sleep is essential for both our physical health and our spiritual development.

* John Piper, “A Brief Theology of Sleep,” Desiring God, August 3, 1982, http://www. desiringgod.org/articles/a-brief-theology-of-sleep.

** Jason McMartin, “Sleep, Sloth, and Sanctification,” Journal of Spiritual Formation & Soul Care 6, no. 2 (2014): 255 – 72.

*** John Ortberg, The Life You’ve Always Wanted (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2013).