The beautiful theology - of REST.

Five years ago our pastor prepared and preached a fantastic sermon that opened up a world of freedom for me as a wife, a mother, and a believer. I think of it often, quote from it more, and encourage others with the truths of his message. The Theology of Rest.
After wonderingly and joyfully pondering this sermon for weeks afterward, I actually adopted a life mantra: "Even Jesus took naps!" Because He did so without apology, shame, or guilt.

Did you know that in all of the accounts of Jesus sleeping during the day (AKA napping), it is never recorded that He awoke in a panic declaring, "Oh no! I was ASLEEP? This is awful! I could have healed 32 more people! I could have preached three more sermons! What a waste of a day!"
Nope. Not a one.
In fact, when you read the accounts, He is usually awakened by his fearful and faithless disciples whom He rebukes after taking care of whatever caused them to panic in the first place. Scripture does not say so, but I sometimes wonder if Jesus thought, "Seriously? You woke me up from a delightful nap for that?!?"

As the Lord continues to draw me into a better and more biblical understanding of the need for rest in my personal life, He is surrounding me with sermons, writings, quotes, and Scriptures that affirm His lesson.

I pray others will be encouraged by the notes from this sermon and will discover a new way to view, consider, and implement consistent and purposeful rest in their own lives.

At evening, when the sun had set, they brought to Him all who were sick and those who were demon-possessed. And the whole city was gathered together at the door. Then He healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He did not allow the demons to speak, because they knew Him.
Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed. And Simon and those who were with Him searched for Him. When they found Him, they said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.”
But He said to them, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come.” And He was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and casting out demons. Mark 1:32-39

Jesus was busy, but not sinfully busy.
His pattern was to work - and withdraw.

Jesus Paused
He had been working all day, teaching, preaching, healing, and performing miracles.
The following morning He slips into the wilderness ALONE - away from the noise and needs of the crowd. "Be still ..."

When life is busy and ministry is thriving – we need to REST!

Jesus engaged in life – preaching, healing, training, enjoying fellowship – but personal time with the Father was His priority. He knew there were needs upon needs: sick people, hurting people, dying people. He knew, yet He left them to commune with the Father.

Engage disengage engage disengage. The rhythm of Jesus.
daily, weekly, monthly, yearly 

Being still consistently teaches us to be receptive to His voice because He is ALWAYS speaking! 

- Retreats affirm the priority of the Spiritual
- Retreats slow.us.down, allowing our souls to catch up with our bodies
Time with God cannot be rushed. It is like a three-course meal, relaxing and refreshing.
- Retreat affirms God’s help in life’s challenges.
(See the story of Elijah in the wilderness - I Kings 19. He was about to give up but the Lord starts him up again! A wonderful example of God's care for our personal refreshment in a time of weariness.)

When we do not slow down it is an issue of PRIDE.
We think we are indispensable. “If I don’t do/organize/plan "xyz" then it will all fall apart.” 
Shows a lack of faith. If YOU are not the one "doing," success will not happen.
The focus is on self instead of the Savior and therefore, sin.

Humility check: Is God not big enough to handle things during your time of rest?!?

Jesus Prayed 
His significant moments are marked by prayer. (His baptism, Gethsemane, His crucifixion)
There is a NEED to pray.
Jesus IS God. And yet, He understood the importance and need to spend time with the Father in prayer.
He lived as a man. Men need strength, patience, long-suffering, wisdom, and rest. 
Jesus was in total dependence on the Father.
For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will but the will of Him who sent Me. John 6:38

Understanding our weakness makes us see how desperately we need to seek the Lord in prayer. 
When we know how weak we are we will run to the throne seeking wisdom and strength.

➤ Jesus Prioritized
“Everyone is looking for you,” the disciples declared. 
They wanted to be healed.
But that was not why Jesus came to earth. He came to preach the Word.
"But He said to them, 'Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come.'"

Jesus had to keep His focus – especially once His popularity rose.
Doing the will of the Father was that focus.

Healing/casting out demons were all good things to do, but they weren't the BEST of the good.
Eternal salvation is much better than present healing.

Jesus DID NOT do it all.
Nor should we, if we are to follow His example.

There will always be needs – even dire needs – but that does not mean we can, or should, respond to every single one.

Love God and love others by saying "No."
You cannot compromise your time with Him or, your time of quiet to be refreshed by Him.

Focus happens when we take the time to disengage, step back, and observe the big picture.
-push away the non-essentials
-pull together the important
And then, re-engage.
We can do more when we do LESS.


There is a better way!

Do you ever wonder if this is what the Lord sometimes sees when He looks at us?

His children, trudging through life with huge, heavy, often unnecessary loads they have placed upon their own backs, creating a burden that is so overwhelming and exhausting they cannot sustain it; and must surrender to the weight of their burden by being buried under it, or tossed onto their backs because of it. 

How grieved He must be to witness such a sight when He has opened His arms wide,
graciously and lovingly inviting us,
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
Matthew 11:28-30

THIS is what the Lord wants to provide for us!

Pure, contended, sweet, refreshing rest.

Come to ME, Jesus says.
Take MY yoke.
Learn from ME.

Will we respond?
Will we walk to the Master?
Lay our burdens at His feet?
Trust Him with the overwhelming load we have carried for far too long?
Will we listen to Him?
Will we learn from Him?

He is a gentle Master, a humble Master, and His promises are true.

We need only COME.
And we will find rest for our souls.


He's HOME!

He’s HOME!
And all is now right in the Eastman world.

Thank you to everyone who prayed for Dennis while he served in Cambodia.
It was a successful trip with much enthusiasm and energy expressed by the Khmer teachers during the daily workshops and personal interactions.
They share a mutual admiration and affection to be sure!

Cambodia and its people captured a piece of D’s heart almost a decade ago, and he prays they will be able to “mutually encourage one another in the faith” for decades to come!

Welcome home, D!
We are always - always - better WITH you! 


Mindful Monday. "Comforting Truth"

From the pen of Octavius Winslow.
May his words encourage you this morning, and fill your mind with truth to think on all week long.

"The LORD has heard my cry for mercy; the LORD accepts my prayer." Psalm 6:9

"You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted" Psalm 10:17

"This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; He saved him out of all his troubles" Psalm 34:6

"The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles" Psalm 34:17

"Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and He hears my voice"Psalm 55:17

"God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer" Psalm 66:19

"I love the LORD, for He heard my voice; He heard my cry for mercy" Psalm 116:1

"I call on the LORD in my distress, and He answers me" Psalm 120:1

"He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him; He hears their cry and saves them." Psalm 145:19

"The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are attentive to their prayer" 1 Peter 3:12

Christian! God is near at hand whenever you approach Him in prayer.
Oh, comforting truth! You have a God at hand . . .
to listen to the softest breath of prayer,
to listen to every confession of sin,
to listen to every cry of need,
to listen to every utterance of sorrow,
to listen to every wail of woe,
to listen to every appeal for counsel, strength and support!

Arise, O my soul! and give yourself to prayer, for God is near at hand to hear and answer you!

"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4:16


Back in the land he loves!

Dennis has safely landed and already hit the ground running in Cambodia!
He arrived for his annual visit to Asian Hope with eager anticipation and enthusiasm for the week ahead.
He and his colleague will spend the days training the Khmer teachers and encouraging the Administration and Staff of Asian Hope to keep pressing on for the sake of the children they serve, not growing weary, for the work they do matters and brings glory to God.
Praise God for the men and women who choose to serve in hard places, ministering to the broken, neglected, and despised.
Every day they die to themselves in order to meet physical needs, educational needs, and model the love of Christ to those who need His power, strength, and grace to carry on each day.
How grateful we are that the Lord has chosen Dennis to be a small part of that work!
He has had the privilege of serving with his Cambodian brothers and sisters for almost a decade, and has been blessed through their kindness, generosity, hospitality, and beautiful example of what it means to be the hands and feet of Jesus for those in need.

I asked him how we could pray for him this week and he responded with these requests:
-Clarity in presentations (translators are essential)
-Receptiveness amongst teachers
-Enthusiasm to try new things to serve students

A fitting Scripture to capture D's time with the wonderful servants of God at Asian Hope ...
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
I Thessalonians 5:11