When I was researching the idea of rest and just the pace of life in our modern culture, I came across one concept in almost every book I read, and it was just such a compelling concept: the concept of karoshi. This is a Japanese term that literally means "death by overwork." There's a phrase occupational sudden mortality, occupational sudden mortality. Your work is literally killing you. The major causes of karoshi: heart attack, stroke due to stress and starvation, diet, too busy to eat: death by overwork. One of the most famous victims of karoshi was Kamei Shouji, a high-flying broker who routinely put 90 hour work weeks in working in finance in Japan in the late 1980s in the middle of the economic boom. And he's working there and is doing everything he can. And everybody is looking at him and he is the golden boy of Japan. Everybody is like, that's who you're supposed to be. And so he became kind of a cultural icon where executives aspired to work like him. And he had the rare privilege of being an instructor for senior executives who were above him. And so on top of his 90 hour weeks in finance, he had to take on a burden of training other people. The late 80s, when the stock market crashed, he took on even more pressure and eventually he dropped dead at the age of 26. Karoshi: death by overwork. Every year, hundreds of people die by death, by overwork. This is an important factor: the pace of life, the pressure of our culture, pushes us, pushes us, pushes us. Now, sometimes there's other underlying issues, perhaps mental health issues or physical health issues. But being in a pressure cooker of just time and stress and energy and outcomes doesn't heal those things. It only intensifies them. And it made me think about some of the people who have passed away in recent culture, maybe like Anthony Bourdain, someone here from New York. One of his friends reflecting on his tragic death, Eric Rippert, who was a fellow chef, said this never struck me as peculiar, but it was as if he gave everything to his work and he had nothing, zero left to himself afterwards, most producers and crew to work on every single episode. It's just too much, especially if you have a family. That wasn't an option for Tony. Then going on in response to an inquiry about whether he would ever retire, but once said, I gave up and that I've tried, I just think I'm too nervous, neurotic, driven. I would have had a different answer a few years ago. I might have deluded myself into thinking that I'd be happy in a hammock or garden, but no. I'm quite sure I can't. Maybe he experienced the pressure. Death by overwork. In my world, the world of pastoring, pastoring is a very stressful job. Now, I'm not saying this for empathy points. I'm actually doing great here. I love what I do. I love this church. I'm actually having the time of my life doing this. But statistically, do research on pastors and you will find that this is a lethal occupation. And there just seems to be tragedy after tragedy and the pressures of the church planting world. And one that I saw recently that just sort of just broke my heart was a story about a pastor at Inland Hills Church, Andrew Stoecklein, who was given the church. He basically took it over after his father died at fifty five. And he just felt this call to continue his father's work, a biblical responsibility. And he in this large church immediately felt the pressures of just what comes when all eyes are on you. [He] developed health issues, started having panic attacks and breakdowns, and eventually had to take a four month sabbatical. And after his sabbatical, he came back and it didn't go the way that he wanted it. It's actually very, very haunting. You can watch a sermon he gave about life from a cave. The sorry story about Elijah dealing with stress and pressure and the importance of hearing the still small voice in our life. But after his four month Sabbatical, he came back and he said, this is not easy to be a pastor's wife. He told his congregation she sees all of the behind the scenes and especially through this journey. It's been really difficult, hasn't been very fun, and I haven't been an easy person to live with. It was his first sermon after taking a four month sabbatical at the request of church leadership who had asked him to take some time to get better. His wife says, "we still have a long way to go to work through it all, but we are all in." Kayla Stockland said during the sermon: "You guys, he loves this place so much he didn't want to stop. He would have kept on going and going and going and going, and it probably would have cost him his life. That's how much he loves all of you. That's how much he loves this place." And he ended up dying from self-inflicted wounds at the church where he served.


The pressure in the world, the pressure inside the church, we just live in a culture of exhaustion. In 1899, William James wrote a diagnosis of overwork. He argued that "Americans have become accustomed to overwork, to living with an inner panting and expectancy and bringing breathless intention to work. Americans will stress and overwork like fancy jewelry. They internalize bad habits caught from the social atmosphere, kept up by tradition and idolized by many as the admirable, admirable way of life." He also pointed out that overwork is counterproductive. "For living excitedly and hurriedly would only enable us to do more," he said, "then there would be some compensation, some excuse for going on." But the exact reverse is actually the case. Studies reveal that 37 percent of Americans take fewer than seven days of vacation a year. In fact, only 14 percent take vacations that last longer than two weeks. Americans take the shortest paid vacations of anyone in the world, and 20 percent of those who do often spend their vacation staying in touch with their jobs, with the computers or phones. The point is, even when we vacation, we do it poorly. And so we have industries and we have rhythms and we have frameworks that are literally facilitating exhaustion on a cultural level. The David Lee Foundation doing research into law students, a depression among law students after the third year is 40 percent. With 15 percent of those with clinical depression committing suicide. A group of physicians who came together and did research realized that the way that our culture is forming us is actually leading to our physical breakdown. They said this: "Generally stressful events are thought to influence the pathogenesis of physical disease by causing negative affective states, e.g. feelings of anxiety and depression, which in turn exert direct effects on biological processes or behavioral patterns that influence disease risk. Exposures to chronic stress are considered the most toxic because they're the most likely to result in long term or permanent changes in the emotional, physiological and behavioral responses that influence susceptibility to and the course of disease." Our culture is conspiring to make you sick and susceptible. Very encouraging, so I dare you to read the book In Praise of Slowness this week. In the book, In Praise of Slowness, they told the story, the guy who actually wrote the book had this existential moment that just marked him that led to this book. He said he was in an airport, overwhelmed as a new dad, just stressed out of his brain, trying to figure out life. He came across in an airport the concept of the one minute bedtime story. And he's like, "oh, this is fantastic. I'm so maxed out." It's like this idea of reducing the ritual down to something short that I can do with my kids. You have Hans Christian Andersen meets the executive summary for parents. And so at the end of the day, you can just, like, read him one. Who's got time for the tension, the whole narrative arc? One minute summary, kid. Here's what happens. Some of you are asking, "is this an actual product?" This is an actual product you can buy. And he said he had this horrible moment in his heart, like, "what is wrong with me? Where I'm taking management techniques on efficiency and applying it to the children who just need my love." And he went and wrote a book called In Praise of Slowness, and I recommend this book. Slow sex, Slow food, slow Rest, a beautiful -- I've got your attention -- a book, a beautiful book on what and what it means to slow down. In 1991, John Gertner coined the term which many of you suffer with called NewYorkitis --describes an illness whose symptoms include edginess, quick movements and impulsiveness. What John Gertner to do in the modern age? He would embody New Yorkitis. But it's true that some pressure that we face in this city that people in other places don't feel the same way with. My friends from London moved here and I had one friend who worked in a very, very stressful situation for a high powered person running a nationally known magazine. You'd know. They were like "I thought I was dying in London and I moved to New York and I was like, take me back to London." This place is insane. There's a great life in New York and some of you are in the middle of believing it. And you know what it says. I'll come to New York for two or three years. I'll just crush it and grind and I'll get out of here after with a chunk of money or a chunk of success, and I'll go back to my other life, but I'll be able to leapfrog all of my classmates and get ahead. And look, I'm just telling you, as a pastor, I can't articulate the amount of people who in that two or three years have sabotaged their lives, not advanced it. The power of formation when you get in an engine this strong is extraordinary. This is the great lie that you can abuse yourself for two or three years and come out intact and actually get ahead. My cousin was here last week, and my cousin is a little bit of a genius. He's got a PhD in metaphysics and theology and his friends are John Millbank and Charles Taylor. And so he writes about theology, philosophy and all that sort of stuff. And I was having a discussion with him last week and I bantered a phrase around. My wife rolled her eyes as soon as I said it. He's like, "oh, what's it like living here?" I was like, "oh, it's like being in the belly of the beast." And like all philosophers, you can't throw a phrase like that -- that's like a softball pitch, and he said, "oh, that reminds me of an Anabaptist who shared something like that once. The belly of the beast. See, what the beast does is it swallows you whole. And it brings you into its stomach where its juices and acids are designed to slowly wear you down and disintegrate you. To extract life from you and then to pass you out as waste. And you're telling me that you live in the belly of the beast." But I thought about that. Isn't that true? What is a snake? Have you ever seen, like, those disgusting, gigantic anti-god snakes in Florida? What are they? They literally can unhinge [their jaw]. They trap you. They latch onto you. Then they coil around you. They slowly crush you. Then they climb to the top of your body, unhinge their jaw, swallow you whole and basically break you down and you're gone. And that's why the enemy is pictured as a snake in the scriptures, one giant swallowing appetite. We are in the belly of the beast.


So in the midst of all of this….this is a "good news" talk, folks. I got to talk to you tonight. I'm serious. In the midst of all of this, Jesus' message is so good because his message is a message of rest. And I want you to see this Jesus invitation, he doesn't say, come to me and I'll make you successful. He doesn't say come to me and I'll keep religious commandments upon you. He says "come to me and I'll give you rest." Salvation is about rest. The way of Jesus is rooted and anchored in rest. It is my vision that you end up getting a black belt in mastering the way of rest in your life. See Jesus in this passage in Matthew chapter 11 is actually giving a contrast to talk. So he is highlighting the yoke of the Pharisees, which leads to death, the yoke of the world. And he has two key ideas. And here one is that the culture by default has a blindness to the wisdom of God. It has a blindness. That's why he says, "I thank you, Father, that you have hidden this from the wise and understanding of the age, and yet you've revealed it to little children." So we're not going to gain this wisdom, we're not going to gain this insight by listening to the culture of the world. If you listen to secular wisdom, it will distort you. You will burn out, you will wear out. You will fall into the trap of idolatry. This is secret wisdom and the wisdom is resting in Jesus ultimately leads to more fruitful fruitfulness. So we have to learn to resist the blindness of secular wisdom that's always telling us technique, technique, technique, management, leverage, crush, go hop. Jesus says you can do that if you want, but if you come to me I'll give you secret counsel, I will give you rest. If we don't, the church will be marked by burn out and burn and compromise. And I want to say this clearly Jesus is not glorified or seen as beautiful or desirable if his followers are exhausted and stressed and worn out in the exact same way of the world -- he's just not. When have you met someone who's like "how's it going?" and you're like, "oh, well, actually, if I could sum up my life in one word, it would just be this word margin, space." Life. People are looking at you like you are a trust fund kid. Like what is happening in your life? You go on, "got a secret sauce," "Really?" Secret wisdom: [I] I have a living water." What? There would just be something so attractive about you. A restful spirit is spiritual warfare in a culture of exhaustion. And so we have to learn how to live in the rhythm of rest. So we do this by examining the yoke on our life. Examine your yoke. This is what AJ Swoboda says: "our time saving devices, technological conveniences and cheap mobility have seemingly made life much easier and interconnected. As a result, we have more information at our fingertips than any one in history. Yet with all this progress, we are ominously dissatisfied in bowing at these sacred altars of hyperactivity, progress and technological compulsivity. Our souls increasingly prepared for meaning and value and truth as they wither away, exhausted, frazzled, displeased, ever on edge. The result is a hollow culture that is always learning but never coming to a knowledge of the truth. Our bodies are ragged; our spirit's thirst." We have an inability to simply sit still and be. So we drown ourselves in a 24/7 living, we seem to be able to do anything but quench our true thirst with the life of God. And he says this We have become perhaps the most emotionally exhausted, psychologically overworked, spiritually malnourished people in history." So let me ask you an honest question. How are you? How's it really going? I'm a pastor, which means that I say quirky and appropriate biblical things at awkward times in social interactions. And so one of the things I often ask people, which people say, "well, no one's ever asked me that" is like, how's your inner woman? How's your inner man doing? And they're like, "is that like an efficiency reference?" And I'm like, "exactly." Nobody goes around, like, really asking the state of our souls. How are you doing? How's New York treating you? Are you becoming more like Jesus, because you live here? Your friends are like, "New York's good for you." Is it the fruit of the spirit increasing in your life, or are you thinking in your mind, "I can live like this for another 30 years?" Or are you like, "I don't -- I don't know. How much longer I can do this?" We have to examine our yoke. We have to really be in touch with who we are in our spirits. We have to guard our hearts. This is what affects everything we do. We call to have rest. People ask me all the time, "Jon, do you ever anticipate in the city of New York doing any kind of street ministry, perhaps preaching in Times Square or anything like that?" And I don't know why people ask me that. I did it when I was a new believer. It was not tremendously successful in Rundle Mall, but I've always had this idea. I don't know if I'll do it, but I've always had this idea. See, there's certain trains that have stops where you basically have a captive audience. It's the commute down from uptown like 125 to 59, it's like "you're all mine, baby." Now, other people have figured this out, like show time and you're like you're locked in. And "put a cabaret show on between 125th and 59th." And you can [put Bose headphones on] and you're locked in. But you know, they've got you. They've got you. If I was ever going to do it, this is what I do. "Excuse me, folks, can I have your attention here? Good morning, New York. It's Monday morning. I hope you're doing well. Look, I can see on some of your faces here that it's Monday morning and you're already exhausted. Some of you were going to jobs you hate, but you're doing it because you think that it's going to make you into some sort of successful or meaningful person. How much longer are you going to grind it out? You're exhausted. I got good news for New York. Jesus will love you regardless of your performance in your industry. His invitation is actually an invitation to rest. So New York, if you're tired. New York, if you're weary, come to Jesus Christ and let him give rest. Yo headphones off on. But I'm talking to you because you look cranky. You need this rest." And then one by one, I just go down and be like, "give me some love. Jesus brings a rest. Give me that love. Jesus brings rest. Have a great day in New York. Jesus gives you rest." Now you tell me. You tell me. I think people would be like, "I got on this train this morning?" But isn't that a message to our city? Jesus' invitation is to "come to me and I will give you rest," so the contrast I want to talk about tonight on a practical level, is the practice of Sabbath, because Jesus practiced the Sabbath. It's written in the Old Testament. It's been a central feature of those who follow Jesus well, regardless of the situation they find themselves in. And it's actually a gift. I want to talk about what Sabbath is, the role it plays, and then how to practice it. And that's why you've got that card this week. The card is designed so you can actually go and plan when some of you will like McKinsey consultancy, like I need a strategic plan on this thing. You just wear yourself out on the little plan and then let it create a space where you rest. So let's talk about Sabbath rest now. What is Sabbath now? I've chosen to use a New York pastor to articulate Sabbath, Pete Scazzero, here because if some monastic dude, bless them, is out in the middle of nowhere talking about Sabbath, it's one thing. But when a dude from Queens is breaking it down, you're like respect. Respect. So this is Pete Scazzero on Sabbath. The word Sabbath comes from the Hebrew word that means to cease, to stop working. It refers to doing nothing related to work for a twenty four hour period each week. It refers to this unit of time around which we are to orient our entire lives as holy, meaning separate, from the other six days of creation. Sabbath provides an additional rhythm for an entire reorientation of our lives around the living God. On Sabbath, we imitate God by stopping our work and resting. Twenty four hours. Shut it down and rest. Genesis 2: "Thus the heavens to Earth were completed in their vast array and then God sabbathed." You go through the Torah, "remember the Sabbath and keep it holy, remember and keep this is the practice. Remember and keep."Leviticus 23, God reiterates the Sabbath. Deuteronomy. The Sabbath shows up. Now at this point, maybe some of you are thinking, look man, I take a day off a week. No, no, a day off is when undisciplined, unsuspecting people get to all the talk, the chores they never got to in the week because they're abusing their lives. It's the catch up day. Eugene Peterson calls that the bastard Sabbath, the illegitimate child of God's true intention for Sabbath. So Sabbath is something different. If you were actually to study all of the other creation myths, if you just said the innumerable lish or any of the other records, you would find one fascinating thing and here's what it is. No other God writes a story that gives work dignity but builds rest into the middle of it. This is our distinctive. Work is a gift, not a curse, but don't work too much. Because it's a beautiful gift that we have. So even someone like Daniel. Daniel, when he's taken away to learn the language and literature of the Babylonians, has a subversive myth. And that dominant culture. And it's this "you're an image bearer, and you need to rest." So he was able to resist the tyranny of Nebuchadnezzar and the entire empire because he was rooted in a subversive story. That's what God is doing in Genesis. In 1793, in France, in an effort to increase human productivity, they de-Christianize the calendar by modifying the seven day week to a 10 day week. New clocks were even invented to reflect the revised week. The expert, however, radically failed suicide rate skyrocketed, people burned out and production decreased. Why? It turns out humans were not made to work nine days and rest only one in a week. We were made to work six days and rest one. The seven day rhythm is sacred. The seven day week is not the result of human ingenuity. Rather, it is a reflection of God's brilliance. In the Ten Commandments, Sabbath is this command. You're probably familiar with that. And in the Ten Commandments there's only one that before the fallen, before the law, God speaks directly to Adam and Eve. And you know what it is? Practice the Sabbath. 'I rest and I'm God, you can rest just like me.' Sabbath is about how we view and use time. Abraham Heschel in his book on this says this: "Sabbath is eternity uttering a day." What language. It is a moment of eternal glory breaking into our finite prison? Well, he actually uses the phrase the cathedral of time where a lot of people want to go on a pilgrimage and walk into a beautiful church. He says, no, Sabbath is a day you walk into where time is different. There's natural time and the chronological time. And that's the tension in our current society. The first thing you do when you wake up is what? Look at a clock. What time is it? Set your alarm, you're just driven by time. And there's a big movement in our culture right now and the goal of that movement is to get time back under your control. But Sabbath is something different. It's actually putting time under God's control and seeing what he does with it. So Sabbath is a 24 hour period where we rest. We don't work. We remember and we use time differently as a place to enter into for our own rest. We are a culture that is suffering from time sickness. In 1982, Larry Dossey, an American physician, coined the term time sickness to describe the obsessive belief that time is getting away, that there isn't enough of it. Then you can pedal faster and faster to keep up. He uses this. It is a Western disease to make time finite and then to impose speed on all aspects of life. I'm not mocking this, and maybe that's a good thing. But the concept of speed dating is a thing. Let me just maximize as quickly as possible intimacy and falling in love. It's a disease that we have. I also blessed be that in Jesus' name. Time sickness can be a symptom of deeper existential malaise. And listen to this: in the final stages before burnout, people often speed up to avoid confronting their unhappiness. Why don't you take a break? I can't why? Because then I'll have to deal with myself. And this is the principle Sabbath is going to happen in your life. It's going to happen because you burn out and you have to rest or you can choose it and live in a culture of renewal, Sabbath is coming for you. It's either going to be a gift or it's going to be a mark of pain, but you will have to rest. Sabbath is intended to be a gift in our life. God designed it to be a gift to us. There's no other nation on the earth where God actually said, "I want to mark you. And one of the ways that you're going to find life in my presence in my rest is by not working one day a week." And He says to them, this is important in the cultures that you create. "You're not a slave." You're not in the pits, you're not under Pharaoh, you're under me. Learn to enjoy, learn to rest. So I think it's important then that if we're going to bear witness to Jesus in a place like this, rest must be stronger than exhaustion. We're not to run on the culture of the world, we're not to be yoked to the pharaoh of our age, we're not to live and trust the cultures rhythm to form us. We are called to have another source of life.


Rest must be stronger than exhaustion. Now, this leads to another question and it's this: how do I learn to do that? That's a key phrase, isn't it, learning to rest because you're not going to default to rest. So the problem with New York, honestly, a lot of the time is this: people come here because they love their job. The problem is not that they don't love their work, it's that they love it too much. When I meet with people often they're like, how do I stop working, I love what I do. As opposed to, look, man, I have a job and I live for the weekend. So we have to actually learn how to rest. Now, Marva Dawn, in an extraordinary book on practicing the Sabbath, says the Sabbath has four movements to it that basically will give you a skill and a rhythm to rest out of. And here's what they are: ceasing, resting, embracing and feasting. So these things should mark out Sabbath time in your life. So let's unpack this together. The first one: ceasing. This is about stopping work. She says this on the Sabbath, we remember, we deliberately remember that we have ceased trying to be God and instead have put our lives back in his control. Concentrating on God's lordship in our lives enables us to return to his sovereign hands, all the things that are beyond our control and terrifying us. Once those things are safely there, and as long as we don't stupidly take them back again, our emotions can find truly comforting and healing rest. So the Sabbath, a day when you see the Sabbath coming where you like, oh, "I'm going to stop getting my sense of value from what I produce and what I accomplish. I'm going to stop worrying that I haven't produced enough or I'm not accomplished enough. I'm going to stop trying to be God. I'm going to stop trying to control people. I'm going to stop obsessing with possessions. I'm going to practice the sovereignty of God." It's one thing to have a theology of the sovereignty of God. It's another thing to practice the sovereignty of God. And many people were able to point out how ironic it was that leaders of the new reformed movement preaching the sovereignty of God fell into the same traps that Pentecostals without any such theology fell into. It's because it's not what you believe about the sovereignty of God, it's whether you actually practice it in your life. The basic meaning of the biblical Sabbath is the acceptance of the sovereignty of God. So we have to put boundaries up where we say, "OK, there's some territory in my heart and my week. God, you literally are in charge now. And I'm not going to take that call, and if they reach out, it's like talk to God about that." I mean, you literally have to put a boundary in place. What we think about our technology, our production, there is a significant body of scientific research that suggests that even thinking about work releases many of the same chemicals that produce stress when we actually work. You got to shut this thing down. When I was in my 20s, we got married super young, we had kids right away. I think I was about twenty four. Twenty five. And I got the first real chance to be the youth pastor of a megachurch. And I'm telling you, if you're a youth pastor, that's it. Now, that's the Academy Awards of Christianity is like getting to work in a megachurch. Amazing megachurch. We did Battle of the Bands. We had a skatepark. I mean, pretty strong. It was a lot of work, and this is my first chance of being the main leader. I had been a middle school pastor before and an associate youth pastor, but now I was the next gen pastor and it was like a lot more work than I realized. It grew really quickly. It was just a wonderful time, but I just couldn't shut it down now. My mother in law, I don't know, because she loved me or hated me, but she brought me season passes to Disney World, for my family -- we lived right next to Disney World. And so every week for Sabbath, I would take my kids to Disney. One day Chrisy's there and the whole family's there. And it is literally a family Sabbath. But there's all of this pressure coming at me. There's all these problems to solve. I just couldn't get away, so I couldn't just say, how is this going to work for the families [to be] here at Disney? So I just said, "I need to go to the bathroom. I need to go to the bathroom, I need to go to the bathroom now." I'm being vulnerable here, but I've already talked about the belly of the beast, so we should be fine, but. Christy's like "Disney food isn't that bad. "And my wife, man, if you know my wife, she's got like a level 10 spiritual discernment gift; it's hard to sin around my wife secretly. She said to me, "You know what? You're going to the bathroom. And checking your email." Yes, yes, yes. I came from the bathroom and shaking my head and she said, "OK, I want you to stop for a minute and I want you to get outside of your life and get some perspective. You're a dad who wants to be a godly man and leave a legacy. You're a father who wants to be present and you are literally sneaking away from this family that only you can love, to go into a toilet at Disney World and check your phone. Is this the man you want to be and the legacy you want to leave?" No ma'am it isn't. But I'll tell you, that was a defining line in my life. Now, look, you may not be sneaking off to the toilets at Disney, but is this something where honestly you are literally sabotaging yourself because you just won't stop? We have to put these boundaries up. We have to learn to cease. And the goal of ceasing has a purpose, because without ceasing, without resting properly, we have to learn to rest. Rest is not going to happen by accident here in New York. Your boss is not going to say, "you know what? Why don't you just have more than 10 days off, just go ahead. Just you know what, you look kind of tired and burned out. You know, I'll cover it for you. It gets pushed down, it gets pushed down. So if you want to rest, you're going to have to fight for rest." Rest is central and important to us. Look at what Marva Dawn says about this: "The movement from ceasing to resting is the movement from idolatry to faith. First, we discover all the deception and falsehood of the securities offered by the world. And with repentance, we cease to trust them. This includes especially all of our efforts to make our own way to save ourselves. Then we learn that God has done all the work of redemption for us and he continues to work through us. We learn by faith to rest in his grace." You know, I have been to seminary and one of the things -- they actually teach classes at seminary on not burning out. So many passes burn out. I share this with you. I went through a mentoring group with Tim Keller 11 years ago and I'm the only pastor I know left from that group still walking with God today. I mean, it's like it just went crazy. Divorces, burn out, family issues, total heartache. There's actually one other guy still I just remembered there's one other guy, but he burned out and had an inappropriate relationship. So they are like -- this is toxic life and it's toxic for you as well. They have to teach a class on how not to burn out and then most people burn out after they take the class. But he was the highlight of the class for me. And this just stood out to me. That professor who was teaching said this, "Jesus intends for you to have life to the full." This is not prosperity gospel. This is the actual gospel Jesus, this is Jesus contrasting Satan coming to steal, kill and destroy. Jesus being the Good Shepherd, cup overflowing, not wanting. Life under Jesus is intended to be life to the full. But the problem is in American culture, that when we rest, we rest when we're almost done. Again. I'm just going to grind it out to Thanksgiving. You may not make Thanksgiving. Season becomes a lifestyle in New York. And you know as well as I do, like when you're like, "man, I am so done." How much time, how much do you really get back to the fullness of life that Jesus intends? You get back to, like managing your exhaustion, but you rarely get back to life to the full. What gets lost in life to the full? Joy, peace, intimacy, sustainability, calling, wonder, kindness. You know, where sacrificially agape life manifests itself? When you're full, not when you're half empty. We don't have margin to love. We don't have the margin to put up with people's drama. We're so burned out. We're trying to have enough energy for our own lives without life to the full. We can't be the people Jesus has in mind. And so this is why rest is essential for discipleship, not some optional thing that is a part of our life. We need spiritual rest. We need physical rest. We need emotional rest. We need intellectual rest. We need social rest now. The problem with our culture, we know how to relax, but not how to renew. Watching an entire season of Maniacs while ordering Chinese food is amazingly relaxing. It will not restore your soul. You're not coming out of there like "my destiny is being released. I'm getting secret counsel." And this is like you're not being renewed into the best version of yourself. You're medicating your mediocrity. Jesus wants us to live from a position. Seven o'clock. You're my people. That's so funny. Renewal, not just relaxation. Now, Malcolm Gladwell wrote famously about the ten thousand hour rule, and there was a whole series of research that basically said to become world class, anything you have to practice three hours a day. And if you do that for approximately 10 years, you become world class. But what was overlooked in the research that several others have gone through and drawn out is this simple concept. It's not just practice. It's a concept called deliberate practice. It is paying attention and consciously learning and then working on that. That's what turns you into a world class. Well, the same scientists have done research on rest. And what they've realized is that just regular rest, what we call relaxation (three hours off a day), won't necessarily renew. It's deliberate rest, it's deliberate rest. That is the key. So it's really being honest with: how do the streams of living water begin to replenish the deep places of my soul? Who has God specifically made me? How do I connect with him? Honestly, it's different for all of us. But if I'm riding a motorbike listening to John Coltrane while smoking a cigar, I'm probably closest to God rather than anything else on Earth. Maybe with Christy on the back. That's probably as close to God on planet Earth as I get. You've got to be honest with it. You've got to be deliberate about it. And you have to find this sense. People often ask the question, "why did Jesus do so many miracles of healing on the Sabbath?" And people's assumption is that he's trying to show the Pharisees, you don't understand the Sabbath. I think what he's trying to show people is that when you create space for God, healing and miracles are unleashed in your life. But that's what you need. You need that space for rest. Marva Dawn: "According to Lemann's theory, failing to rest after six days of steady work, this is more research leads to insomnia or sleepiness, hormonal imbalances, fatigue, irritability, organ stress and other increasingly serious physical and mental symptoms." Intentional, deliberate rest. You cease, you rest, and then you embrace. This is the next movement. You know, we live in a culture that is constantly distorting our identity. And people talk about it all that time, but it's so true. Someone sent me this and I love this. This was from The New Yorker, "Ayn Rand Reviews children's movies." And they sent this to just show the way that adults crush children stories because children's stories don't work in real life. Let's look at a couple of reviews here. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves: an industrious young woman neglects to charge for her housekeeping services and is rightly exploited for a naiveté. She dies without ever having sought her own happiness as the highest moral shame. I did not finish watching the movie finding it impossible to sympathize with the main character. No stars. The Muppets Take Manhattan. This movie was a disappointment. The Muppets did not take Manhattan at all. They merely visit. No stars. Next one: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, an excellent movie. The obviously unfit individuals are winnowed out through a series of entrepreneurial tests, and in the end, an enterprising young boy receives a factory. I believe more movie should be made about enterprising young boys who are given factories three and a half stars. Half a star off for the grandparents who are sponging off the labor of Charlie and his mother. If Grandpa Joe can dance, Grandpa Joe can look. Mary Poppins. A woman takes a job with a wealthy family without asking for money in exchange for her services, an absurd premise. Later, her employer leaves a lucrative career in banking in order to play a children's game. No stars. And then this classic Bambi, the biggest and strongest, the fittest are all. This is the way things have always been. Four stars with me. Now, I say that sort of as a joke, but isn't it true that kids believe in wonder and rest, and "why won't you play with me?" And adults are like, because that's not how life works. We crush and turn everything into a utility. And that's how we perceive that our value is in the world, everything is conspiring to turn our lives into a utility. And if this gets into a Christian's heart, this becomes toxic because instead of working with God, we will have ambition to do things for God. That is dangerous. We need to have our hearts converted. My favorite story of the conversion of the heart is actually found in John's Gospel in the 13th chapter. And it's actually -- John 13, as you may be aware, is an incredible chapter of Jesus' servanthood. It's also a moment of incredible confusion for the disciples. Jesus brings them together to celebrate the Passover and then takes off his outer garments and is washing their feet. He tells Judas, "Judas, you're going to betray me." Judas runs off. Peter's like, "I will never betray you." And then Peter's just getting ready to betray Jesus. Their understanding of Jesus as political military ruler is falling apart. They're all about to abandon Jesus. And yet there's one scene where John is resting his head on Jesus' chest. Now, this is an amazing scene because earlier in the Gospels, who is John? You remember what John's nickname was? Son of Thunder. Cue the AC/DC music. Here he comes. You've got John going to do ministry with Jesus. They go to that Samaritan village, you know the story, and they reject Jesus. And he's like, "Lord, do you want us to call down fire and destroy this village?" And Jesus is like, "OK, look, let me just tell you something right here. You forget the woman at the well. I am here to seek and save the lost. What spirit do you want?" Son of thunder. But you know, John's identity shifts and you know what he becomes for the rest of his life? An apostle of love. You read one, two, three, John. It's all like God's love. "He loves us, love one another because love is what love is. Love is. Love is. Love is. Love is love is love -- it's love, love, love. How does a son of thunder become an apostle of love? One way: in the middle of confusion and crisis, he puts his head on Jesus' chest. The Gospel of John starts. John 1: "Jesus is in the heart of the father, and he comes to bring us to God." And the Gospel ends with John in Jesus heart converted from a son of thunder to an apostle of love. That's what Sabbath is. Sabbath is a time when we get our broken identity changed by getting in the midst of our confusion and resting on Jesus' heart. And that's how we become different kinds of people. And you have to do that every week. Listen to what AJ Swaboda says about this: "Sabbath is a scheduled weekly reminder that we are not what we do. Rather, we are who we are loved by. That's what Sabbath is. Once a week it is heading to the chest of Jesus to have our ambition and a fear and confusion converted into security and converted into love. We have to cease. We have to rest, we have to embrace and then lastly, we have to learn to feast." Now, you can probably tell this, those of you who know me know that I have a black belt in feasting. I have spent many, many years of my life perfecting the art. It's important. John Ortberg [says]: "we must arrange life so that sin no longer looks good to us." On the Sabbath, if you practice the Sabbath in a life giving way, if you attend this Shabbat dinner with the Jewish community, there's certain foods they only eat on the Sabbath. The certain songs they sing only on the Sabbath. They basically try and turn this 24 hour period into a cornucopia of delight. There's a psychological principle called pleasure stacking, which is when you save everything and just pile it on in this overcoming moment of joy. Food, sex, beauty, relationships, music. This is what you do on the Sabbath. The rabbi has even said that if you're married, you should have sex on the Sabbath. Some of you are now considering practicing the Sabbath. "Honey, it's Sabbath." I mean, you can see sort of the dynamics here of how this can work. But we have to have this because literally we have an I.V. in our veins attached to the brokenness of the world. Our news feeds are just filled with high definition, intricate detail and images of dysfunction and sin and heartache and brokenness and pain. And if we don't get a fresh source, we will experience compassion fatigue, which means we will genuinely feel bad about everything but have no capacity to love anything. And when we feast, when we restore, when we renew, when we take in beauty and hope and the age to come and the life of God, we have something that fights the antibodies of brokenness. So we have to learn to feast on the goodness of God. We have to learn to delight in who he is. We have to remember all of his gifts. Heschel again says this: "The highest goal of spiritual living is not to amass a wealth of information, but to face sacred moments. It's to wake us up to the wonder in the world so we can see it again. Researchers have actually found by studying the patterns of Sabbath in Israel that mortality rates are lower on the Sabbath. People are literally like, "I'm not dying without one more Sabbath, folks." The day after the Sabbath. I would go, but I'm feasting again. I'm seeing family again. I'm reorienting my identity before I die again. "Not dying on the Sabbath, folks. Too much to look forward to." And if you arrange your life through the practice of Sabbath rest, this is what Sabbath feels like to me. OK, ready. "Oh, the Sabbath is coming. Oh, it's only a couple of days away, only a couple of days." Oh, look, I mean, the Sabbath. I mean, the Sabbath. This is amazing. I'm going to stop doing stuff. Oh, I'm going to rest here. I am going to reorient my identity by embracing. I'm going to feast this baby out. And then when the Sabbath closes, you like, oh my gosh, that was so amazing Sabbath. That was so great. Thank you. And you turn around and you get like, oh my gosh, there's another one coming. It's only like two days away. I'm in Sabbath Countdown and you want to and then like, you're in this cornucopia of delight again and you're looking back and it just becomes a life giving rhythm of rest. Sabbath is the center, the center of your week, not something you tack on the end of. It's a reorientation of the way we live. People have said to me, "look, we've been through a lot of New York. We've had hard seasons in New York. Our kids have been to over seven schools. We've planted 11 churches. That's hard actual work, trying to muster people's spare time as volunteers in New York City. We've had family crises, we've had death, we've had marital trouble." People often say to me, John. "Your kids respect and like you, your wife is still somewhat attracted to you," you guys are like (that was a joke) -- you guys are totally into me. "You guys are filled with joy, like, how do you do it?" And I was like two things: It's a secret life of prayer. And it's the practice of Sabbath. Both of these things unleash the presence of God and this is what we forget. This is the revelation from Exodus 33: "My presence will go with you and it will give you a rest." I'm not just talking about spiritual awakening happening in New York so people can be convicted of their sin and God can be glorified. When the presence comes, rest comes. An exhausted city will find life and a renewal. When the presence of risk comes to the city, it only comes to the presence of God. So we have to learn to build cycles of sustainability. We want to be the people that when people meet us, they're like, "how are you living?" And you're like, "I'd like to introduce you to the person of Jesus is the source of rest and the way of Jesus, which is a rhythm of rest." That is good news for a city like New York. Now we're 100 percent out of time, so I'm going into overtime. OK, so just a couple of quick objections. OK, some of you. What about legalism? Yes, you can be legalistic about anything. The Pharisees prove there's a way to practice religion that is destructive already. So don't do that. Don't do that. It's a gift. It's a gift. Enjoy it. Treat it properly. "What about the new covenant? We're not under an obligation to practice the Sabbath." You're not. So just ignore it to your own peril. You don't have to do anything. And "what about children? like our life is crazy." Yes, this can be tough depending on the season you're in. I'm not here to give you laws. I'm here to give you a vision. You're the one that has to make it work in your schedule. Some of you your day off is, you know, Thursday. That's fine. But let's just be people with a source of life and a source of rest that have margin to bring to the world. Sabbath is a gift of rest, and the rest must be stronger than thought. So here's what I want to encourage you to do this week. I want you to take that little thing and actually just do an experiment. Just try it. Carve out twenty four hours for yourself. I do mine 5:00p.m. Friday night to 5:00 p.m. Saturday. "Why do you do it at that time? Is it based on the sunset?" No, it's based on the reality that if I'm preaching Sunday at five o'clock, my head moves towards the sermon. I'm just being honest. My kids are moving towards homework and Christy's moving towards whatever it is moving towards. But at 5:00, it's kind of like we just have this period of rest on Friday night and enjoy it on Saturday. And I head into Sunday for not dreading it all, having it ready to pour out. That's the gift of Sabbath. So good practice for this week. Just get yourself a 24 hour period and just see what happens. Now, look, I want to acknowledge it's going to be hard for some of you. Some of you are going to feel like you're going insane, which is like, "I can't rest. Can I just burst? You know, you don't understand. There's so much responsibility." It's like, okay, look, look. Jesus Christ was the actual savior of the world, and if Jesus Christ could practice the Sabbath, you not practicing Sabbath is idolatry. You are not more important in the world than Jesus Christ. So whatever that is, get that out of there and resist the light and just do an experiment on this. Look, my heart is not that you believe the New York lie and that this city chews you up. It's that you would take Jesus' yoke upon you and you overcome the spirit of the city. It's that we find another way as a community to rest. I have a source of life that people are literally drawn to our energy and our compassion and our joy and our wonder because we've learned to take Jesus' yoke.


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