Making a Sabbath

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One of the journals I read regularly is the Harvard Business Review. Clearly skewed toward for profit enterprises, there is always something in HBR that is relevant to the non-profit world. For instance, an article recently described a study that revealed that managers could not tell the difference in work output between employees who worked 80 hours a week and those who pretended to work 80 hours a week.

That caught my attention, and started the wheels turning.

In life, there is always more work than can be accomplished in the hours allocated. Since we often work on behalf of those we love, the needs and the demands can be overwhelming. Consequently, it is always easy to justify longer hours, shorter vacations, and the stretching of work to fill every margin of life. Sitting with co-workers can lead to a subtle boasting of how many hours, evening and weekends that are devoted to work. The problem is that none of that is biblical.

Here is what is amazing – God created the ENTIRE universe in 6 days, and then rested! Why? Not because he needed the rest (He’s God), but because we do. The Almighty modeled behavior that He intends us to emulate. In fact, God made it an imperative: “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work.”

Why do we need a Sabbath? To keep us sane and close to God. We need a break from work, even the Lord’s work, in order to be creative, tenacious, innovative and effective.

So what does that mean for you?

Perhaps you work 55 hours at the office, plus the time spent commuting each day. At the end of the day you swing by the store on the way home to grab something someone else prepared so you can serve yourself or your family. In the evening you tackle all the responsibilities that your life requires of you – an aging parent, young children, a return to college or grad school, sports, the list is endless. Then you drop off to bed, sleep fitfully, wake up tired and do it all again.

Weekends roll around and are almost worse, crammed with all the stuff you can’t do during the week. Compounding the problem, you feel like you need to be everywhere and do everything or you will have wasted the weekend!

Stop!

Take a deep breath and then pray, “Lord, help me make a Sabbath that honors you and blesses me, and especially those I love. Amen.”

Then set some specific goals –

Start with a Sabbath hour. I know, I know – that’s not exactly biblical, but it is a start. Take an hour of deliberate rest to focus on your life and ask the questions God is longing to answer: Where am I going? Why am I going THERE?? Who am I sharing the journey with? Is any of this leading to you, Lord?

As you progress, stretch that hour to a day; make a Sabbath Day set aside for refreshment of your soul. Go to church, but do so with margins before and after so you don’t feel harried and rushed. Allow time to connect with folks and chat with them before and/or after worship. Then take the remainder of the day to do something that will be a blessing for you and those you love. There is nothing rigid in any of this, so allow the Spirit to move through your day.

A word of caution that has perhaps already dawned on you: if you are really going to make a Sabbath, you need to plan and prepare for it so the other stuff is already done – or you will worry about it and it will stress you during the very time you need for rest and relaxation.

Finally, in order for it to be a true Sabbath, you might need to be a Techno Sabbath. Yep, that’s exactly what I mean – no digital devices and distractions. And yes, you can survive such a digital detox once a week.

Realizing that all this may seem overwhelming – put it to a test. Take a month and make a Sabbath each week. At the end of the week ask if anything has changed at work, at home, at heart.

#SummitChurchStories – Jan Higdon

When you think of church, what is the first thing that comes to mind? A building?
But what if church is not actually a building?
What if church is actually the very people in the building?
People like you and me.
And with people, come stories… all different kind of stories.

Meet Jan, one of the people who makes up this great church we call The Summit.

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There’s more to the elementary school that sits across the street from our downtown campus that many may not know about. It can be seen every weekend on your way into worship but what people may not know is the partnership The Summit Church has with Lee’s Summit Elementary.

Jan Higdon, a Summit Church member, is an active volunteer and The Summit’s main contact with LSE. “Throughout the past years, we have had many active volunteers who are helping during the year providing different services to help where there is a need. Whether that’s small group or one-on-one tutoring, reading, teaching sight-words or any subject area a student may need help in,” Jan expressed, “We try to instill a love for learning which will hopefully stay with the children their whole lives. From my experience as a teacher (now retired), I know how busy a teacher’s day is and there is never enough time to devote to the needs of some students. As volunteers, we can help fulfill those needs.”

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Jan continued to share the other big ways the church is involved.

“We also provide lunch for the entire staff at the beginning and end of each school year. In the spring, the school has an activity called, Breakfast with Books, in which we get volunteers to read one or two books to each classroom of students. We have also provided volunteers for their Field Day at the end of the school year. Our church also provides money for a CARES Fund from a portion of the proceeds from Feed The Need. The CARES Fund provides emergency needs to the families that have no food, no shelter or bed, the child that needs glasses to read, the child whose feet hurt because they don’t have the right shoes, the child with no coat when it’s 20 degrees out… the list goes on and on.”

You’d think that’s a lot of serving opportunity but there’s more! Not only do we have volunteers and support funds that help LSE, but there’s also a project known as Family Adoptions. If you’ve been to The Summit around Christmas time, it’s talked about every year and has been for the past ten years.

“Another major support project we do as a church is the Family Adoptions to provide Christmas to the neediest of families at LSE. Ten years ago, our church adopted 15 families from the school. And then this past year? We were able to adopt 80 families from the school! Many people at church have made this a yearly project involving their family, Growth Group or Sunday School members with the buying of gifts. Many of the LSE families that have received the gifts are brought to tears when they see what’s provided and have said they wouldn’t be able to provide their children with Christmas if it wasn’t for The Summit’s generosity.”

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That’s life altering. That’s impacting the Kingdom.

“Everyday I walk into the school to volunteer,” Jan shared, “I feel humbled and privileged to be able to help these children. My passion has always been to work with children. From starting my teaching career as a high school teacher, I feel like I have come full circle to be able to help the little ones in the elementary school become successful learners. I feel rewarded and blessed with the opportunity to serve the Lord in this way.”

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Slow-Motion Miracle

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Today I drove by the West campus with my daughter. Even though the project has been under consideration for a decade, every time I drive by I am astounded. It is like seeing a slow-motion miracle, for none of this could’ve happened without God’s intervention.

Each and every time I see the new structure, it is obvious that progress is being made. As is true with so many things, progress seemed painfully slow to start. So much work needed to be done on the infrastructure: clearing the land, moving the pond, preparing the site… all of that literally took months. And then when the foundation started we couldn’t even see what was happening from a distance until the walls were poured and tipped up into place. Then it seemed absolutely miraculous! And it is! An overnight sensation that took 10 years!

It is amazing how God works in His time to accomplish His will. This entire endeavor has taken so long that I’m not absolutely certain I would’ve agreed to the journey if told in advance how long and arduous it would be. Perhaps that is why God lifts the veil on the future very slowly, drawing us very intentionally toward His vision and will.

When I drive by the land and see the progress, I always pray three things: a prayer of gratitude to God, for the miracle that happened in human hearts and is being brought to fruition through cement and steel; a prayer of protection for those who labor to build this house of God; and a prayer of profound thanks for people like you who have captured the vision and made the sacrifices necessary for God’s miracle to happen.

Just think about the celebration we will have in about nine months!

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Is More Always Better?

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We live in a culture which teaches us that we are what we have, therefore having more is always preferred. And yet, sometimes it just means having more, and that may not be a good thing at all.

We sold our house this summer and moved into an apartment that is approximately 1000 square feet. To draw you a word picture, that means I can plug the vacuum into the socket in the middle room and not need to move it as I vacuum the entire apartment. We have a one-car attached garage, which is pure luxury in the land of rentals, as well as a tiny storage compartment.

When our house sold, we moved stuff into a storage facility, but prior to doing so we sorted through it all, which was such a pain! I’m embarrassed to admit that we had boxes from our move to Missouri 14 years ago which had never been opened. Believe me, having more isn’t always better; sometimes it’s just crazy. The stuff gets in the way, it requires maintenance and upkeep, and costs money to store. So we refused to move stuff we had not used for more than a decade. We gave it all away. While we were in the mood, we gave away a ton of stuff that we had used, but didn’t really need. It felt wonderful! Freeing, actually.

Construction is now underway on the first, last, and only home we will ever build, God willing. And we have already decided that it will have minimal storage space, because it is never the stuff that you hold in your hands that matters, but rather the experiences of life and love that stuff your heart with joy!

Perhaps that is the reason Jesus, when he commissioned the disciples, cautioned them to travel light. More stuff is definitely not better – it just weighs you down. More life is definitely better – it lifts you up!

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It’s Been a While!

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Please forgive me… It’s been a while since I’ve written.

That may be a strange way to begin a blog post, but it is absolutely accurate and completely sincere.

Perhaps I should begin by confessing that writing is somewhat of a love/hate endeavor for me; always has been, probably always will be.  The engagement with ideas and the challenge of effectively crafting prose has always appealed, but at times becomes far more of a burden than blessing. When it’s ceases to be the delight of wordsmithing insights, it rapidly devolves to one more deadline to meet, one more responsibility to crank out as the schedule demands.

So, I took most of the summer off from writing blog posts, which felt freeing for a time, and good for my soul. I knew the time was ripe to return to writing when I started to jot notes about things that caught my attention, or my heart, and I felt again the impulse to write something to you.

Thanks for your patience with me!

It’s good to be back and I’m eager to reconnect with you!

Blessings,

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Why You Gotta Be So Rude?

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(This is a recap from this past weekend’s sermon, Rude, given by Senior Pastor, Jim Preisig. Watch the full sermon here.)

Some Scripture over anger…

Isaiah 5:20-21

1 Kings 11:9

Psalm 4:4

Proverbs 14:29

Ephesians 4:26

Was God ever angry?
Absolutely. We know our God is just and righteous, and the times we see God angry in the Bible are because of unjust acts. 

So what about Jesus?
The two things that made Jesus upset: The Pharisees, and the innocent being taken advantage of. Who were the Pharisees? They were the ones who pretended to be closest to God, when in reality it was all an act. They actually interfered with those who really wanted to know God. See, Jesus wants the church to exist for those who are not yet our members. Another time we saw Jesus upset was with the people in the temple (when he flipped all the tables…Matthew 21:12), but this was due to the innocent being taken advantage of in the temple. 

Then what about us?

When you let anger stay in, it’s like poison. It doesn’t hurt the object of your anger, it hurts you… and it will ultimately destroy you. 

The anger you let harvest inside you gives the adversary access to your heart. 

We need to remember what Paul said, “Be angry, but do not sin.”

When are the times it’s okay to be angry, the times Paul is referring to?
When the anger is not about us, but rather is about something that would make God angry. We still see people being victimized and persecuted. These are times we should be angry: when the innocent suffer, and when those who haven’t heard the Good News are denied the Good News.

The best choice to make: control. Take control of your anger. And if you do become angry – let it be for the innocent suffering, for the persecuted. And while you’re at it, let it change how you live.

Lee’s Summit Social Services

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Harlan Harper, the director of Summit Students, has taken groups to Lee’s Summit Social Services for nearly four years to help LSSS and serve the community. Through the years, Harlan and the students have created friendship with Matt Sanning, the manager of LSSS.


But wait, what is LSSS?
Lee’s Summit Social Services is an organization that meets the needs of the Lee’s Summit community. They give food to families, school supplies, Christmas presents and Thanksgiving meals for those during the holidays. LSSS provides clothes, access to a social worker and gives support during challenging times.

Serving at LSSS is an easy entry point for any age, it’s a great opportunity for growth groups, families or even as an individual. There is a lot of work to do: help in the pantry, work in the Thrift Store or work in the off-site garden.

“We volunteer through the year and I think our students have come to see the variety of things that’s done by LSSS. They get to see first hand what families will receive. It has allowed them to step up in their missions service in our community and be challenged personally,” Harlan commented, “I encourage everyone to get involved because you’re benefiting your own community; you don’t have to travel far to make a difference. It allows you the opportunity to serve as a family or with a group of friends.”

The people of LSSS are remarkable people with very caring hearts and we are so grateful to be partnered with them!

UPCOMING
This Monday, August 29 from 6:30pm-8pm, The Summit will be serving at LSSS and everyone’s invited, so sign up here! Come join Pastor Jim as we serve with our mission partner!

Superstitious or Faithful?

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This is a recap blog from this past weekend’s sermon, Superstitious, given by Senior Pastor Jim Preisig. Watch the whole sermon here.

There seems to be confusion between living superstitiously and living in faith, and living superstitiously is not the way.

Definition of . . .

Superstition: When you think you can change the course of life by some routine/thing.

Faith: Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance in what we do not see… Hebrews 11:1

1 Timothy 4:6-7 (NIV)

Luke 13:1-9 (MSG)

Who is the gardener that Luke talks about? It has to be Jesus. He’s the one who stands as our advocate to God. Jesus wants to stretch your faith, and you have to know that growing in faith is not for the faint of heart.

When you live in faith, you will still suffer. Christians aren’t exempt from the pain of life; suffering is a part of it. Suffering is not a betrayal by God because He is right there with us through the pain.

And when we grieve, we don’t grieve as others. We still grieve but not the same because we have the hope of eternal life. This hope turns grief into gratitude. It assures you that you are never alone.

It’s a decision you make when you live by faith. When you trust in God’s wisdom for your life, you are daring to live by faith.

It’s a choice every day; choose faith!

Free Fallin’

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This blog is a recap from last weekend’s sermon, Free Fallin’ – message given by Senior Pastor, Jim Preisig. Click here to watch the full sermon.

Our society seems to glamorize celebrities, who are often so into themselves. It’s true, isn’t it? And we have to ask, how does this affect our culture?

In a world that is in a free fall into self, where can we find the grounding that allows us to stand for something other than ourselves?

Free fallin is dangerous. And when you free fall, it does three things:

 It makes you arrogant.

It makes you angry.

It makes you apathetic. 

It’s easy to skip over this, but to grow we need to do the hard stuff.
We have to take scripture, and God, seriously. 

Below are some verses that tell a hard message.

Philippians 2:3 (NIV) 

Philippians 3:7 (NIV)

Luke 9:24 (NIV)

Luke 9:24 (MSG) 

 Did you notice the Biblical counter-culture message?

Again, ask yourself: Is there any free fall in your life? Any measure of arrogance? Any place full of anger? Any evidence of apathy? Is there any measure of any of that in you? 

Even if there is, remember this: God offers a counter-culture choice. 
Instead of free fallin‘, you can do the opposite: you can soar!

Isaiah 40:28-31 (NIV)

Know that your heart will always be a work in progress. Give yourself the same grace God gives. Don’t get comfortable; live counter-culturally. Why?
Because Christ intends for you to soar.

Don’t Stop Believing…


Sermon recap from this past weekend given by Lead Pastor, Jim Preisig watch full sermon here.

Have there been times in your life that you are tempted to stop believing? That you’ve grown doubtful? You’ve been disappointed? God’s even disappointed you… hasn’t He? During those times – we can’t let ourselves stop believing.

But then, how do we cope with the hard times?

To make the choice to not stop believing; the way to do that is found in the Bible. How to keep the faith and live life with meaning…

2 Timothy 4:6-8 (NIV)

2 Timothy 4:6-8 (MSG)

The key elements in this scripture:

– Pour your life out to God.

– Fight the good fight.
Ask yourself – are there fights worth fighting for? Like your marriage? Your children? Your friendships? Your purpose? As believers, we can’t be passive. If you are going to live a life worth purpose – there are things worth fighting for.

– Keep the faith.
You can’t trust your feelings – feelings vary, they change all the time. But God is the rock that never moves. There are times in your life that you are tempted to stop believing… But you can’t put all your trust in things, in people, in finite things – you can put all your trust in your faith, in God. Keep the faith.

– Finish strong.
It’s not how you start – it’s how you finish. How will you finish as a spouse? As a friend? As a parent? As an employee? As a child? Remember this race of life isn’t a sprint… it’s a marathon.

So don’t stop believing –
pour your life out to God,
fight the good fight,
keep the faith
& finish the race.