Downtime

Time during which production is stopped
especially during setup for an operation
or when making repairs.

(Merriam-Webster)

Do you need some downtime? Are you ready for a break? Is your mind, body, or spirit telling you that it needs rest, a change of pace, a vacation? Often we push so hard that these organic systems have to become symptomatic – show dis-ease – before we will stop production. What can we do?

In manufacturing or IT, downtime is considered a problem. We are loosing profits when the machines are not running full tilt, all out, 24/7/365. The experts receive a text or page when this happens, and thus are called in to make the repairs, debug the system, and get everything back up and running. No work means no pay – for hourly workers and shareholders – and it may cost salaried employees their jobs. Without question, downtime is a bad thing and to be avoided at all costs.

Unless you are a slave (indentured servant, forced laborer, sweatshop worker, you get the picture). In most cultures, slaves have been considered by those in power to be expendable. The Abrahamic religions – Jusaism, Christianity and Islam – all share the commitment to sabbath as a common core value, at least in theology if not practice. The first two trace their origins to a tribe of slaves in Egypt 3500 years ago. Islam, having arisen in the 7th century of the common era, developed among a people intimately familiar with Jews and Christians.

The notion of sabbath is grounded in the idea that God also rested, stopped productivity, on the 7th day of creation (Genesis 2:1-3). The first creation story (Genesis 1) offers a compelling picture of a wildly and at times frantically creative artist. Separating light from dark, or land from water, may not seem like much to accomplish in a day. But then, to create all the lights in the sky – sun, moon AND stars – that is a crazy busy day. You’ve perhaps had some days like that. But God doesn’t rest yet. Days are spent making the vast diversity of living creatures with whom we share this planet – plants, bugs, birds, fish, reptiles, animals (bacteria, protozoa, amoeba, etc). Tired yet? Perhaps, but rest must wait. One thing remains – humans. Creation is not complete without them, and we are nothing without creation, and all things arise from and hold together in God. We are a thought in the mind of the artist.

Then, after all of that, rest finally comes. Don’t you just want to fall back in the tall, cool grass, staring up at all that surrounds you, breathe in the sweet air, and sigh?
(Thanks to Mama Pea Pod for this image.)lie back in the grassI imagine this is precisely what the story is trying to tell us that God did, that we are to do by emulation. We are to work with creativity, passion and all the energy that we can muster to cocreate with God this wild world in which we live (1 Corinthians 3:9).

AND we are to rest.
One message is this: If God took a rest, it is OK for you to take one also. The work will still be there when you get back.
Another says: If God needed a rest, what makes you think you can go without one?
And this: You can’t really appreciate the fruit of your laborers unless they are balanced by the fruit of rest.
And finally – perhaps most importantly: Rest is a part of the creative process. Your labor, in your job, family, recreation, hobby, art, or life of faith, MUST INCLUDE periods of rest in order for it to be what it can be. Your work is not, cannot be, done until it includes downtime.

Jesus encouraged his disciples to take some time away (Mark 6:31)

This does not come easy. If it were easy, natural, first nature to rest in this way, then the Israelite law would not have included “Honor the Sabbath and Keep it Separate (Holy)”. There is no need to legislate what everyone is already doing on their own.

Perhaps you need or want some help getting this part of your life in order.
Is your plate so full you can’t imagine having time to rest?
Do the demands of work, relationships, and even your spiritual life exhaust you?
Are you constantly running from one thing to another so that even your self care is really just another task and obligation?
At one point Jesus got so exhausted that he slept through a storm, on a boat! (Mark 4:35-41)
Are you crying out: “Stop the world! I want to get off!”?
Stop the world i want to get offSpending time with a coach can be a helpful approach to re-ordering and re-balancing your life. I know what you may be thinking: “If my life is hectic now, how will I find time to work with a coach?” That is a fair question. Two responses:
1) Can you really afford not to do something to change how your life is now?
2) Work with a coach does not take as much time as you think.
Fifty minutes per week, in person or by phone or Skype, can get you heading in the right direction. What can you give up for the next six weeks (a TV program, perhaps?) to begin to get your life back? One coaching session per week for six weeks will help you begin to reorder your thinking, doing, and even your beliefs about your life. The work won’t be done in that time, but it will get you heading in the right direction.

You might also consider the “Get your life back boot camp” – 150 minutes per week for 8 weeks. If you think you are up for this kind of effort, AND you are ready to make dramatic changes in your life in a brief period of time. Then the “Get your life back” Coaching Boot Camp may be for you. Complete the form below for more information.

Dealing with the pace of change

Change is a fact of life. Everything changes, from the moment it comes into existence it is in a state of flux, growing, transforming, decaying. Sometimes we view this process as beneficial and healthy, while at others we deny, restrain and even fight change. Fighting change is like trying to restrain the wind or water of a storm – ultimately, nature wins.

We have the opportunity to choose our attitude toward change – fear or hope, resistance or embrace, conflict or adaption. Some people seem to have a greater capacity for peace in the midst of change, and for adaptability as the situation dictates.

Family systems theory gives us considerable insight into how we experience anxiety in ourselves and the system in the midst of change. Often one person will take on the anxiety for the system, particularly if others are remarkably, and seemingly irrationally, calm. The anxious person (identified patient) will think, if not outright say, “What is wrong with you people? Don’t you see what’s going on? Don’t you recognize the grave dangers?!” This individual may absorb and express enough anxiety for everyone.

Each individual’s capacity remaining non-anxious through change is a result of their personality disposition, family of origin influences, and experience and training. Some people have a natural head start when it comes to dealing with change and anxiety. Others develop this capacity over time, perhaps through hard fought personal battles and hard won emotional maturity.

When we interact in pastoral care settings, we frequently are working with people who are facing significant changes and experiencing the ramifications of that situation. We need to recognize that each of these persons is part of their own system (family, friends, community) as well as being part of a system with us (care-giver and care-receiver, organization, institution, etc). And finally, each of us is a system within ourselves – body, mind, soul and spirit, intellect and emotions, thoughts and feelings, memory and future anticipations. Our ability to reflect on the pace of change, and remain non-anxious in the face of other’s anxiety, will go a long way toward helping them find their way toward wholeness.

Think about a situation in your life where you have faced significant change. What anxiety did you feel? How did you handle it? What would you do differently now? What did you learn that you can share with others?

This article is a followup to George Bullard’s article: At what speed should congregations move?

Considering Baptism?

Are you or someone you know considering affirming your faith in Jesus Christ through baptism?

Perhaps you have never made a public confession/profession of your faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and accepted his as Savior and Lord of your life an of the world, though you have been loving and following him in your heart.

Perhaps you do not know quite what it would mean for you to follow Jesus as one of his disciples.

Perhaps you are a parent, grandparent or other adult who is guiding a child toward faithful discipleship to Jesus, including profession of faith and baptism.

Or perhaps you are one of those who had a baptismal experience in your past and is seeking a way to reaffirm that experience – not unlike those Christians who go on a pilgrimage to Israel and walk into the Jordan River to remember their baptisms.

If any of these scenarios describes you, why not have a conversation with one of our ministry staff or elders. We would love to visit with you about your experience and interest in baptism and explore how we can journey with you in faithfulness to Christ.

Please feel free to share this with your neighbors, family and friends.

The baptistry is full, and the water is comfortably warm. What are you waiting for?

Ken G. Crawford
214-288-1663

For further reflection, consider reading:
http://kengcrawford.com/2008/11/13/thoughts-on-christian-baptism/

http://kengcrawford.com/2012/10/22/through-baptism-into-christ-we-enter-into-newness-of-life-and-are-made-one-with-the-whole-people-of-god/
http://kengcrawford.com/2012/10/22/baptism-as-a-beginning-of-being-beloved/

A Service of Recommitment and Rededication to Christ

Recommitment or rededication of one’s life implies a prior experience of commitment/ dedication. The level of understanding or seriousness of the decision at that time will vary widely. Regardless, many believers at one or another time in their faith journey feel the need to actively, openly, outwardly recommit their lives to Jesus.  This impulse is very real and genuine, and in most cases should be honored in some way. Many believers in this situation will look for some outward sign of the inner grace they’ve experienced (the very definition of the word sacrament), and baptism is often the first thing that comes to mind. This is not in any way a suspicion of questioning of their former baptismal experience, as if to say, “Yes, I was immersed, but it didn’t really count as baptism.” Rather, the individual is looking for a symbol as powerful, as recognizable, as memorable as baptism. Again, we would say that this impulse is to be honored. One way to make sense of the ritual life practiced by Israel, and the descendant ritual life practiced by Christians (esp. Baptism and The Eucharist) is that God knows that human beings need external acts to give life to inner unseen experiences.  Marriage is an outward expression of an inner preceding commitment between a woman and a man before God and the gathered community. There is power for us in doing it out loud, in public, before witnesses. Most human cultures have had some form of religious/spiritual ritual life, and even our secular lives become ritualized / habitualized in how we express what we value and believe (i.e. “I pledge allegiance…”)

So, the question comes for disciples of Jesus, “How can I express my recommitment to Christ, my new or renewed sense of who He is, who I am in Him, and my commitment to a life following in obedience to Him.” This becomes particularly important for those who have actively expressed their faith, and then for a time (separately or simultaneously) lived in ways that were directly contrary to the call of Jesus.

We must acknowledge at this point that every disciple of Jesus goes through varying times of greater or lesser commitment and expression of their faith. We affirm with Paul that we know what we ought to do, but often do (can) not do it. (Romans 7) And so there comes the desire (necessity?) for some means of repentance and recommitment even for the long-time believer. James says, to the believing church, that we are to confess our sins to one another – the practice of confession has an important history in the life of the church, and is certainly part of this discussion. Further, Paul calls us to “… not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

Renewal is part of the ongoing journey of the faithful and believing disciple of Jesus, not just the backslidden and repentant.

That said, we return to the affirmation of some outward sign (sacrament) of this renewal. Thus, the following short service is offered as a form for reference and expansion:

Service of Renewal, Rededication,or Recommitment to the Christian Life

Leader:

We give thanks for Jesus, his willingness to give up heaven and come to earth, his ministry of teaching and healing, his sacrificial death on the cross, and his resurrection which conquered death once for all. Only by grace do we come in faith, trusting that in and through his life, death, and resurrection, we have access to all the blessings and promises of God: covenant relationship, merciful forgiveness, new life, ministry of the one Gospel, and eternal life in the Kingdom. In gathering here, we acknowledge our common need and desire to draw near to God by following Jesus. Let us then affirm this faith together:

Unison: We confess that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, our Savior and Lord.

Leader:

Let us pray: Loving God, having affirmed our faith in Jesus your son, we give thanks for all the blessings that come to the church, his body on earth. We confess, O God, that we are guilty of Sin. We have done what we ought not, and have failed to do what we knew you asked of us. Grant us your forgiveness according to your promised mercy, as we grow in understanding and ability to forgive others, and this too by your grace. Allow us an awareness of your presence in these moments, as we come for recommitment to a life of faithful discipleship. Amen.

Reading of Psalm 51:

1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. 4 Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are justified in your sentence and blameless when you pass judgment. 5 Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me. 6 You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.

7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have crushed rejoice. 9 Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right F103 spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit. 13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.

14 Deliver me from bloodshed, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance. 15 O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. 16 For you have no delight in sacrifice; if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased. 17 The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. 18 Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, 19 then you will delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar.

Explanation:

As the Gospel story begins, we find John baptizing in the Jordan river for repentance and forgiveness of sins in preparation for the coming of the Messiah and His kingdom. Though without sin, Jesus received John’s baptism, thus placing his ministry within John’s teaching, forming an unbroken lineage. Jesus later taught, and his apostles practice, a baptism in Jesus name, and in the name of the triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This baptism marked the new believers commitment to a life of discipleship to the Lord Jesus. Whether baptism only symbolizes or actually confers God’s grace is debated. What is certain is that Jesus was baptized, and called for all disciples to be baptized as well. This baptism publicly marked a turning point in the new believer’s life.

Similarly, we come today to publicly celebrate the rededication of follower(s) of Jesus – a renewal and reclaiming of that earlier commitment sealed in baptism.

Presentation of the Repentant

Would those who come today to rededicate their lives to faithful discipleship please come forward and kneel.

****The following is preferably carried out for each one individually.

What is your name?  N_____, do you claim the grace of God celebrated in your baptism? Have you, by His continued grace, come to a new depth of commitment to your life in Christ? Do you again renounce the sins and will of the flesh, commit to the life of the spirit, and ask the gathered Body of Christ to uphold and support you through their prayers and humble guidance, and correction when necessary?

Please repeat after me:

Dear Jesus…thank you for calling me to follow you…forgive me for losing my way…thank you for coming to find me…one of your wandering sheep….Redeem my wandering for your glory…and keep me always near you… Amen.

Having prayed this prayer of recommitment to discipleship, I offer to you the anointing oil in sign of the cross…and this water on your head as a reminder of your baptism [the pastor’s hand is dipped in the water and placed on top of the recipient’s head]…pouring it over your hands [the pastor pours water from a pitcher over the hands and into a receptacle (bowl?)] to remind you that you are called and equipped to serve Christ in the world for the increase of His kingdom.

Common Charge

May all who witness this rededication so recommit themselves inwardly to live and work with humility and boldness for the sake of Christ and the work of his kingdom. Go in peace to love and serve God.