The Simple Approach

Micah 6:6-8 (NRSV)

“With what shall I come before the Lord,
    and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
    with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
    with ten thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
    the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
    and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
    and to walk humbly with your God?

By Chuck Griffin

I just returned to work after taking a couple of weeks’ vacation, something I highly recommend. “Duh,” some of you might be saying, but you would be surprised how hard it is for a lot of pastors to make the decision to take a vacation, or even an appropriate amount of time off during the week.

If for no other reason, it is important that we take that time so we maintain perspective. And so often, it seems that perspective is largely a matter of remembering what is important, and then focusing on what is important by employing the “KISS” principle—Keep It Simple, Stupid.

My first Monday back at work was a good example of how my vocation, like a lot of jobs, can become a series of unexpected, frustrating exercises. I’ll not go into a lot of detail, but when I got home, I invoked the memory of an old ’80s commercial when I said to my wife, “I’m not a lawyer, but I apparently play one at church. I’m also not an IT guy, a psychologist, a human resources director or a financial planner, but I play those at church, too.” I did manage to teach a Bible study on Monday.

Vacation is good because it allows us to get our heads out of the swirl of the extraneous for a while and remember who we truly are. As children of God, we always will have distractions, but our service to God has to be a priority.

Micah reminds us that serving God doesn’t have to become an overly elaborate or painfully ritualized activity. Mainly, it’s about getting our hearts right. Countering injustice, showing kindness, and humbly remembering who we are in relation to God are God-honoring ways to live.

I’ll try to remember that as the work week progresses.

Lord, whatever we are doing, please let us find ways to make what we do about you and your plan of salvation. Amen.

Stop

Genesis 2:1-3 (NLT)

So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation.


By Chuck Griffin

When did you last stop?

I’m talking about a deliberate stop, a scheduled pause, a planned interruption where there is nothing going on except what transpires between you and God.

Those moments are critically important. Let me tell you one of Satan’s best tricks—making our lives busier and busier and busier, ensuring we don’t stop and engage with his mortal enemy, our creator, savior and comforter.

As we see in the creation story, stopping to rest is built into the very fabric of the universe. There is the very important idea of a weekly sabbath, of course, that day where we put aside worldly activities and rest in our love for God and each other. But there also is that need to stop at times each day, as Jesus so often did in the midst of his astonishingly busy ministry.

Taking time to be at rest and talk with God actually can cause our worldly efforts to be more effective. Martin Luther, when asked about his plans for a busy day, is said to have replied, “Work, work from early until late. In fact, I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.”

If necessary, make it a new item on your to-do list. Stop!

Lord, as we stop, settle our minds and souls so we truly rest in your presence, bringing you our troubles and worries and letting your peace and love shape what happens next. Amen.