Culture

Rest Is Good

We live in a culture obsessed with productivity and accomplishment. Take a quick break from reading and type the word “productivity” into a Google search. There are hundreds of thousands of articles detailing how readers can be more productive, manage time more efficiently and set better goals. In fact, there are numerous websites devoted solely to these topics. By no means am I saying that these websites are bad or unhelpful, but we must be careful!

I struggle to balance my desire to be more productive with my desperate need for rest. I’m confident that I am not alone! We all hear stories of people who supposedly can sleep 5 hours each night and function at full capacity the next day. We hear about the productivity level of certain people and, inevitably, we feel inadequate. We read blogs of people, who claim to sleep little, exercise constantly, complete once-in-a-lifetime projects daily, read hundreds of books each year, and have a happy family life. Really?!?

Where does rest fit into the picture? How do we understand our desperate need for rest in light of our culture’s obsession with productivity?

Here are some things I was reminded of recently concerning rest:

1. We are created with limitations. One thing is crystal clear (and my wife would echo this statement), I struggle to function on less that 7 hours of sleep. Studies show that most people need between 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Our need for sleep reminds us that we are created with limitations. Our limitations point to the fact that we are mortal. They also remind us of our desperate need for God, who is not limited in any capacity.

2. God rested and tells us to rest. After God spent six days creating, he rested. God did not need to rest. He was not tired or overworked. He rested to show us our desperate need for rest. God, our maker, created us with a need: rest. Rest temporarily in this life and ultimate rest forever (eternal life).

3. There is a time for rest and a time to work. We should not live in a constant season of rest. This would be called laziness! There is a time to work and a time to rest. The questions we must ask are, “Am I working when I need to be working and resting when I need to be resting?” “Am I out of balance?” “Am I living as if I am God and I have no limitations?”

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My Post 2012 Election Thoughts

I am a self-identified political junky. Every year I read 10-12 books about Presidential history and even majored in History in college (with an emphasis on American history). I get geeky every election and yesterday was no different! Here are my post election thoughts:

1. President Obama’s win was decisive. Even though Republicans touted the idea that Romney would win decisively (Morris and Rove claimed he would receive at least 300 electoral votes) the opposite proved to be reality. I do not believe you will see the President back down from anything over the next four years – he is not facing re-election and he has nothing to lose. I doubt we will see the gridlock in Washington improve because both the President and the Democratically controlled Senate believe they have political capital to spend in the same way the Republican controlled House of Representatives believes they received a mandate from voters (John Boehner claimed this in his speech).

2. The demographics of our nation are changing. The Democratic machine produced results last night that very few Republicans expected (Dems +6/7). They secured the Latino vote by 79% causing Republicans to gain a lower percentage than in 2008. This was huge and if Republicans ever expect to make a run at the White House in the future, this will have to change. Democrats also carried the votes of women and young people in this election. States that were once considered essentially secure for Republicans (North Carolina, Virginia, and Florida) are now toss-ups and, if we are honest, leaning to the Democrats. The overall demographic shift in our nation will have to be a concern for Republicans in the coming years if they expect to see different results.

3. This was the election of social issues. The voters of three states legalized same sex marriage last night (Maine, Maryland, and Washington). I do not believe this was a fluke. Proponents of same-sex marriage have been hard at work in the last number of years and the President coming out in support of same-sex marriage helped push this issue along. We are heading to a Supreme Court ruling on the issue of same-sex marriage now that we have several states on each side of the issue. Obama will likely appoint at least one Supreme Court justice in his second term (maybe more), which could drastically change the face of the court for years to come. We are following in the footsteps of Europe on social issues and in the next 25 years we will be considered a secular society (if we are not already). This has tremendous implications for the evangelical church in America. If young people continue to trend the way they are on social issues, the church will be the minority voice on social issues (pro-life, traditional marriage, etc.) in the near future. The days of the Moral Majority are behind us and we must adapt as we minister in a increasingly secular society. This is not to say that we abandon biblical values and principals but we should not assume that the people we are seeking to reach with the gospel hold these same biblical values and principals.

4. President Obama is a phenomenal communicator. His acceptance speech last night was superb. He demonstrated, probably for the first time since the last election (2008), the charisma and swagger that made him such a popular candidate. While I may not buy in to everything that he said, he said it in a very compelling way.

5. The “George W. Bush effect” is still in play for a number of voters. Obama ran on the fact that his predecessor’s policies caused the stagnate economy as well as the growing national debt. Regardless of the validity of this assumption, I believe many voters remain disillusioned by the Bush years and think it was impossible for Obama to do anything to right the ship within his first term.

6. God was not surprised and He will not be deterred. While the results of the election may have caught many Republicans off guard, God was not surprised. Regardless of the results, He will also not be deterred. All of history is moving in one direction – toward the forever reign of Jesus Christ. No social issue, political party, or politician can deter His plan. This plan, to save people from every tribe, tongue, and nation was set in motion before the foundation of the world. The church’s mission has not changed even though the culture in which we seek to fulfill that mission may be changing dramatically. We are called to love God and love people; to share the love of God as demonstrated by His Son’s sacrificial death on the cross with all people. The victory is secure and there is no doubt that King Jesus will reign!