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Monday, July 16, 2012

The Great Physician's Prescription for Rest

The Great Physician’s Prescription for Rest

As fast as our interconnected world is moving these days who’s got time for sleep?  Our “screenage” culture tells us that if you snooze – you lose.  Insomnia, sleep deprivation and sleep disorders are rapidly becoming an epidemic--even among believers in Christ. 
We are seeing the consequences of lack of rest everywhere in our society:  air traffic controllers falling to sleep on the job; health care workers having more complications when sleep deprived; truck drivers having their driving times controlled due to accidents.  What’s the answer?  Sleep Medicine?  A new mattress?   Sleeping Pills?  Herbal remedies?  Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?  Although these methods may be effective, one may miss God’s purpose of rest in their lives. 
  Many times those “quick fixes” don’t address the underlying causes of difficulties sleeping.  The scriptures help to give us a framework to evaluate many of these remedies.  As believers in Christ, we need to go back to the source of all truth for answers. 
Has it ever crossed your mind that there may be a spiritual connection to your sleep issues?  Sleep was God’s idea!  Therefore, we need to take a step back and reflect on the life and ministry of the Great Physician.  The Bible offers a prescription for rest and sleep which begins with surrendering our lives over to the One who uniquely created mankind’s need for sleep in the first place. 
Jesus modeled the perfect balance between activity and rest.  There were times when Jesus slept peacefully in the bow of a ship in the midst of a raging storm. The Lord slept calmly because He trusted in the protection and provision of His Father through the adversities of life.   If the Spirit of Christ indwells our lives then we also have the ability to sleep soundly no matter what difficulties we may face as we lay our heads on our pillows.
But on the other hand, there were times when Jesus sacrificed sleep and rest to fulfill a higher purpose.  The night before the Messiah was crucified He stayed up and prayed in preparation for the suffering that He would endure on the cross.  From a human perspective, one would think that Jesus should have gotten a good night’s rest to prepare for upcoming trials of the crucifixion.  But as our Lord surrenders to the will of the Father, He is given a supernatural ability to fulfill the plans that were prepared for Him the following day.  Unlike the disciple who slept carelessly that evening, Jesus stayed up and prayed.
Solomon declares that there is “a time and a place for everything” (Eccl 3:1).  There is a time to fall asleep trusting in the arms of a loving God whose eyes never close.  But there is also a time to stay up and obediently serve the Lord.  As we surrender our lives over to His will, God will teach you to follow the Great Physician’s prescription for rest.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Friday, July 6, 2012

Summertime and knuckleballs

 Take me out to the ball game!
  I was recently listening to a professional pitcher discussing the art behind his favorite pitch---the knuckleball.
  Pitching a baseball involves a complex technique that must be performed in the blink of an eye.  There are many different throws a pitcher must master to sneek the ball past the batter into the catcher's mit.  The fastball is tough but it's fair--a ninety five mile per hour bullet coming straight down the strike zone--fast but predictable. Curve balls are challenging because of the changing trajectory of the ball as it crosses the plate.  But the most challenging pitch to hit consistently is the knuckleball.  A well thrown knuckleball doesn't spin and tends to rise and fall in an unpredictable fashion. Even the best hitters can easily be faked out by a good knuckleball as it passes in the strike zone.
  Sometimes life pitches us knuckleballs.  Unpredictable circumstances that zoom past our lives before we ever see them coming.  Those unpredictable knuckleballs can rob us of rest as we try to close our eyes in slumber--financial dillemas, strained relationships, health problems, complicated decisions.
    In her book "My Father's House" Corrie Ten Boom recalls her childhood bedtime routines with her father. As she would lay her head down for rest, her father would place his hand over her head and pray a blessing over her. She would fall to sleep knowing that her father's hand was watching over her as she slumbered. Years later, while experiencing the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp, Corrie could only fall to sleep by visualizing the hand of her heavenly Father placing His Hand over her head.  Corrie faced those "knuckleballs" by realizing that everything she encountered--death, disease, destruction-- all passed through the Hands of loving God. 

 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.  Romans 8:28-29

  Those that have put their trust in Christ can rest in the assurance of the providence of the One whose eyes never close in slumber. We can face those knuckleballs life pitches when we understand that nothing passes through our lives except what is ordained by a loving sovereign God. He knows the outcome of every throw before it ever leaves the hand of the pitcher. He is watching over our lives and working out the complexities of our lives for His puposes and His fame.   At all times God is in all things, through all things and above all things--even the knuckleballs.

Here are some principles to help face those unpredictable pitches that life throws us:

1.  Thanksgiving: Giving thanks that God is working out all things for good in our lives--our homeruns and our strikeouts (I Thess 5:17).
2.  Prayer: Asking The Lord to give the discernment and skill to identify, predict and decide those critical situations that we face (James 1:5)
3.  Execution:  Allowing God to give you the strength and courage to take your best swing  (Psalm 18:1)
4.  Faith and Trust:  To leave the results up to His purposes and His timing.

Batter Up!