Posts Tagged rest

Rhythms of Life Semi-Circle

By Paul Wilkinson

Mike Breen writes, “We cannot bear fruit if we do not spend time abiding. But we cannot simply stay put in the abide mode, for a branch that does not eventually bear fruit will be cut off and cast into the fire.”[i] He then unpacks a powerful image of how grapes were grown (perhaps are still grown?) in the first-century:
            At the time of Jesus’ incarnation, a vine would be cultivated, planted,
and left to grow for three years before being allowed to bear fruit. Every
time it tried to bring forth a bunch of grapes, it would be cut back. After
the third year, the grapes would be allowed to grow on their own. By
then the branches were strong enough to support the weight of the
grapes without breaking. After the harvest, the branches were pruned
back for a time of nourishment and rest before the fruit-growing season
began again.[ii]

Likewise with our faith: Let’s get after kingdom building by sharing our faith with those in our spheres of influence and by teaching our groups for transformation toward deeper worship and bolder evangelism. But do not forget to abide in the presence of your Savior: REST. The most effective teachers are those who simply share with their groups what the Lord is teaching them through their lives and study, so be sure to allow sufficient time in your daily life for the Lord to teach you.
Imagine a pendulum swinging back and forth from “Abiding” to “Fruitfulness” which makes the semi-circle shape; thus, we have a visual of the rhythms in kingdom living. We have to find the proper balance between our work and our rest, and perhaps more importantly, our kingdom work and our kingdom rest. This truth goes double for those in local fellowship leadership positions.
We were designed to work (Genesis 2:15), so that it is right and good to work. Remember that the toil of work was a result of the Fall rather than God’s good design (Genesis 3:17-19). But, like every other good gift of God, we pervert the gift to make it an idol as a function of our sinfulness. Christ offers a corrective in John 15:1-8. Jesus says, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.” So, in order to do the work to which Christ has called us, we MUST abide (see rest) in His presence (see person and work). In so doing, we will be convicted of sin in our lives, convicted of our various idolatries, become more sensitive to the Spirit’s promptings, and discern our call better. Then we put all of that into action through the work we’re called to do.
[i]Mike Breen, Building a Discipling Culture, 2nd Ed. (Pawleys Island, SC: 3DM Publishing, 2011), 92.
[ii]Ibid., 92.

Taking Time to Rest

It can’t possibly be ok for me to feel tired! After all, there are persecuted Christians all over the world and missionaries who labor tirelessly for Christ.  I have it so easy just leading two LIFE Groups.  I have even cut back from ministering every week at the women’s prison.  Those were my thoughts in the spring of 2016 along with an overwhelming feeling of guilt.
I have had a calling for women’s ministries and have led Bible studies for 22 years, along with other ministries inside and outside BBC. Not to sound holier-than-thou, but I honestly don’t make a move without prayer, seeking the Lord’s will in everything.  I know that when I lose my peace, I have stepped outside the Lord’s plan for me.
Last spring, I was doing what I had been called to do, so where had my peace gone?
I was feeling a tug to get to know my neighbors better so I would be in a better position to evangelize, and I was discontented for the first time in 22 years in leading women’s groups. Was the Lord calling me in a different direction completely? Sometimes, it’s hard to know even when our only desire is to be right in the middle of His will.
Another completely random thought that came into play was from a conversation I had had with Jay Fennell. He had asked the question, “If you get run over out here on Concord Road, who will carry on for you?”
I asked for another meeting with Jay where we discussed all that I was feeling and praying about. He gave me a book to read about becoming engaged with one’s neighborhood. He also encouraged me to take a summer sabbatical.  Wow!  Who knew that was even possible; right?
My Tuesday night LIFE Group was accustomed to being “off” for the summer. Frequently, I would host devotions or a short study for the summer but not always.
The LIFE Group on Sunday morning was another matter. This group was accustomed to my standing before them each week as a regular Sunday School teacher.  They were all mature believers who served in various capacities in the church and in our class and fully capable of leading themselves for the summer if I could just help them believe it.
First of all, I role-played and showed them the difference between teaching and facilitating. Several who would never have agreed to teach, agreed to facilitate a lesson.
Shelia McCulloch, a class member and excellent organizer, drew up a summer schedule. Some Sundays they had a guest teacher.  Some were facilitated by class members.  Some involved field trips to visit our other campuses.  Every Sunday was filled.
Out of this too came a class member who loves to teach and is now co-teaching with me. Remember the Concord Road question?  Resolved!
I wish I could say I evangelized my entire neighborhood. I learned that building relationships with non-believers is a slow process, built brick by brick, that will probably take the rest of my life.
I can say I returned to both LIFE Groups in September with renewed energy, focus and once again the knowledge that I am where I should be until He calls me to serve elsewhere. What an awesome God we serve!

Written by Claudine Irby, Leader of Faith Builders LIFE Group on Sunday mornings and Women of Faith on Tuesday evenings. Claudine worked for AT & T for 30 years and retired as General Manager for TN/KY. She has been a member of Brentwood Baptist for 41 years, serving as Trustee, SRT member, LIFE Group leader, and has taught women’s Bible studies for 22 years. Her daughter Jamie Bennett works in our Missions Ministry.