A Lesson from the Dr

During the Roaring Twenties, researchers found that, for the average person, lethargy sets in three times a day.  Upon learning this information, marketing strategists from the Dr Pepper Company urged the soda-loving public to drink their product thirty minutes before each lethargic period.  Eventually that push led to Dr Pepper adopting the slogan, "Drink a bite to eat at 10, 2, and 4."

You will be hard-pressed to find modern-day researchers who recommend three sodas a day.  However, you will see the numbers 10, 2, and 4 on Dr Pepper cans, bottles, signs, and logo wear. 

While I back away from vouching for the "science" behind the statement that lethargy sets in at three certain times a day, I do testify to the value of rhythm.  Stepping outside of routine is healthy when it fuels fresh perspectives, shakes up the humdrum, or adds some spice to life.  However, stepping out without stepping back in leads to confusion and a lack of stability. 

In Matthew, chapter eleven, Jesus invites His followers to "learn the unforced rhythms of grace."  While God is certainly a God of interruption [think Moses' experience at the burning bush or the blinding experience of Paul (then Saul) on the road to Damascus], He most certainly is also a God who introduced Time (think seven days, sunrise, sunset, and four seasons).  God knows the values of consistent patterns.  He appreciates and encourages routines and invites His creatures (including we humans) into rhythms. 

In a column from early last year, John Lee wrote a thought-provoking piece on this theme. 

“By looking at our lives in broad strokes, we should be able to see whether our cadences are godly. The benefit of a broad overview is that we don’t have to exegete details; a snapshot is enough. The big picture usually does not deceive because we see leanings, tendencies, and habits. If we have not been a part of Christian community for years, then we do not prize fellowship. If we have not read the Bible in months, then we do not value Scripture. If we have not prayed in many seasons, we don’t really have a relationship with God. If we don’t give to the work of missions, then we don’t have a missional heart. If we incessantly think about getting ahead in the marketplace, then that, too, tells a story. A diagnostic analysis can teach us which way our hearts are leaning and what the rhythms of our lives are.
From Christianity Today:
All We Need Is the Rhythm Divine
Patterns in the Bible and life keep us in sync with God.
JOHN LEE - MARCH 8, 2018

Well said, John.


Do I Belong?

Church is for the people who have their lives "together".
Church is an assembly of the perfect and the sinless or, at least, people who think they are!

Maybe you have heard people say that.  You may even think that's the way it is.

Jesus said . . .

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."  Matthew 11:28 (NIV)
"Weary and burdened" are not adjectives used to describe people without flaws.  The church is made up of people with needs, people who have made mistakes, people with real problems.

Many in our nation and our community are focused on having a life without trials.  Despair comes when their job shows no mercy.  Temptation to "throw in the towel" creeps in when classes demand more than one has to give.  Confusion arises when a family full of love discovers they have conflict.  Deceiving oneself about a world of perfection causes anxiety and denial.

Those inside the church must be honest about their failures and humanity; those outside the church should feel welcome to come to a place where people are real (sins and all). 

Once a man or woman has discovered what Jesus meant when promising "rest" and they gather with others who found their place of rest, you have the church.

Rest does not mean the absence of long days or conflict.  Rest does not promise rose-colored existence and seasons without rain.  What Jesus does promise with His rest is the gift of knowing that, although we cannot be perfect, we can come to Him with our "skeletons in the closet," our pain and our faults. 

Who belongs in the church?  The church needs all kinds - the successful and the struggler, the hopeful and the worried, the energized and the tired, the champions and the discouraged, the confident and the doubtful.

The only people a church does not need are the perfect.

Days to Live

"Don't talk trust and live worry."

With those words, Alan Fadling, in An Unhurried Life, shares what he felt the Lord say to him during a particularly fast-paced time in his life.  

As one reads Scripture, the text seems to address a similar theme repeatedly.  Talking trust proves rather easy.  Living that trust, however, asks for more from you and me.

As 365 days lay before us, we have at least that many opportunities (far more, truthfully) to talk and live trust.  I am a preacher and not a prophet; therefore, I will not attempt to tell you what this year will bring.  Based on experience, I will, however, go out on a limb and "predict" that you and I, in 2019, will encounter . . .

- great victories
- stunning defeats
- praise reports
- paralyzing prognoses
- amazing sights to behold
- images we wish we could forget
- needed relaxation
- fear-based stagnation
You see the pattern.Call it a "mixed bag," a "smorgasbord," or "alphabet soup," or whatever you will - 2019 will bring a wide assortment of experiences.  As you join me on the journey through this year, take God's words to Fadling as words for you.  I know I will.