First We Rest
Trust me, I understand how backwards that simple little sentence is. And, I am well aware of how absurd our Passion City Church Sabbath Break looks on the surface.
But interestingly, day one of the creation story for mankind was a rest day, not a workday. While God had placed man in the story on day six, stamped with the very image of God Himself and given the trust of stewarding earth, the first day on the job was a day of rest.
We find this account in Genesis 2:2-3:
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested (Sabbath) from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested (Sabbath) from all the work of creating that he had done.
So, at the end of God’s creative timeline he ceased. And at the beginning of man’s mission he joined God in His rest. If we absorb this rhythm in the ebb and flow of our lives, we begin to realize that Sabbath rest is not what we do after a long stretch of life. Rather, Sabbath rest is how we BEGIN each stretch of life.
Before we work, we rest. Before we set out, we remember. Before we attempt great things, we fix our hope on the God of all Creation.
It’s interesting that thirty-three verses into the story of scripture the concept of Sabbath (rest) is introduced. You’d think mankind was good to go. Ready for the task ahead. Without guilt and sin, or wear and tear, or defeat…why not plow ahead on day seven and get busy doing what God had placed us on earth to accomplish?
Well, the answer is a no-brainer (and the most freeing news around): we are the created, not the Creator. We enter an already in-motion story, we are not the ones who dictate history.
So before we do anything, we stop, rest and remember.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the pace of life and the size of the challenges you face, Sabbath is where you must begin. If you’re beat down by the demands, disillusioned by your weakness or the unfaithfulness of others, if you’re tired, or weary, or stressed or depressed, say hello to the “pause,” that restful place where you remember that you were not designed to carry the weight of the world. Your shoulders may be broad, but they are not that broad.
Stop. Unload your cares at the feet of the one who spoke the cosmos into existence. Release the sense of “I’ve got to pull this off,” and remember that your Father in heaven knows what you’re made of. He knows what you can bear. And He promises to carry the load (and you) into the plans that He is already unfolding around you.
For a lot of reasons it makes no sense to take a break at this time of year. Everything is revving back up from the summer slump, school is kicking in, families are back on schedule and these are the peak days for most every local church. While this is true, at Passion City we have never lost by pausing before we begin. And in doing so, we shove off into each new season with renewed confidence in Jesus as He builds our House and sustains our lives.
At first glance it may sound backwards, but in a way everything about the Kingdom of God is upside down. That certainly seems true at Passion City Church. A few weeks ago, in the dog days of summer, we had the most people ever at 515 on a Sunday and we have been on a momentum swing since this time last year. We have seen increased strength and reach in every area of our House. Something about resting before we advance is working in our world.
If you missed my message on Sabbath, please watch and join us on this journey. It’s more than a break and time off, it’s a time for us to refocus and draw strength from God’s faithfulness in the past as we trust Him for all He has for us in the days ahead.
Generosity Is Normal
One of the key components of our culture at Passion City is that generosity is not something extra that Jesus-followers do: it’s what Jesus-followers are made of. It’s immensely encouraging to be a part of a House like ours, one that is growing week by week into a community of generosity.
The gospel (the story of how God brings us from death to life through the gift of His Son) is a story of immense generosity. In other words, if you are a believer in Jesus, alive, forgiven and free, you have been born as a result of generosity. We call it grace, but grace is ours because of the price that has been paid on our behalf.
As a result, percentage giving (only giving God 10% of everything He has graciously entrusted to us) is a thing of the past. At best, it’s a first step for people who are beginning to understand what Christ has done for us. But it’s only a step on the beautiful road of generosity, where we realize that giving is not really about an amount, it’s about our understanding of the gospel we have received.
The cross cancels our sin-debt once and for all. And that same cross opens our hands as we offer 100% of what God has entrusted to us back to Him.
So, in this season of Sabbath, when we are not meeting together for two Sundays, I want to encourage you to give as you always do as an expression of the grace and mercy that allow us to breathe His life day by day.
Then, on September 27, we will celebrate Generosity Sunday. On this day, we give above and beyond our normal giving to fill the cupboards of our House and make possible the expansion that will help us reach more people in better ways in the year ahead.
Giving today paves the way for vision tomorrow. Again, it might seem more reasonable to invert that sentence. Give me something good and I will kick into the coffers of our House, is a more normal way of viewing giving. But in an upside down Kingdom we give in advance, and say, God, take what we have and do exponentially more as you release us into the vision that will propel us into greater things for your glory!
This is God’s way:
Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty. “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty. Malachi 3:10-12
So, we are asking every family and every single person to seek God’s face and come prepared to give a sacrificial gift on Generosity Sunday above and beyond our normal giving. Shelley and I, and our leaders at Passion City, will be doing the same and will be on our knees. On September 27, we will worship God in faith as we open our hands and trust Him for our future. And as you give, the leaders of our House will have the opportunity to pray over each person who gives, asking God to release His provision for your family in every way you need.
On The Horizon
Without vision, people perish. Thus, we want to always be looking ahead to the horizon, asking God how He wants to lead our House to reach the city and the world.
For the first time we will be celebrating Vision Sunday on September 13 in each gathering at Passion City. There are a lot of exciting possibilities for us in the days to come and we will be announcing some of the direction and plans our staff, Board, and Financial Oversight Team have been pursuing.
You do not want to miss this day as we celebrate God’s faithfulness in the past and believe Him for His plans for each of us.
Jesus is alive. The tomb is empty. The Spirit’s power is in our sails. And the best is yet to come.
Lean in with us! The next few weeks will be some of the most significant ever in the life of our House.