Rest, Inc.

Part 1: A Gift of Restoration, Resilience, and Prophetic Perspective

Dear Friends—

We were in the middle of our first vacation ‘Out West’, somewhere between Colorado Springs, CO, and Yellowstone Park, WY, when my wife asked in a surprisingly calm voice, “So, what does happen when the pop-up mechanism of a pop-up trailer doesn’t pop?” Just minutes before I had explained that there was a high degree of probability that the lifting system on our trailer had broken. All I can say is that it was a most fascinating time with five kids. I only wish we had brought the dog and a couple of cats to make it more magical! Anyway, it was wonderful but not necessarily restful. You’ve probably had at least one of those vacations in your lifetime; you return home in desperate need of rest.

I’d like to address the topic of ‘rest’ in light of Jesus’ gracious appeal in Matthew 11 and how we can more fluidly incorporate rest into our lives. Why is rest (aside from sleeping) an essential but often missing ingredient in our daily schedules? I would say that without it—REST—we are much less effective in how we go about the work of ministry.

Are you presently resting from a place of work, or working from a place of rest? Perhaps we are relying more on our own efforts, programs, and plans than spending much-needed and regular time in the quiet place of abiding and rest. Clearly, Jesus’ ministry was rooted in and flowed from a place of silence and solitude, thus being still in seeking His Father’s directive (cf. Matthew 4:1-11, 14:23, 16:36-46, 17:1-9; Mark 6:31; Luke 5:16,6:12; and many more scriptural references). Jesus’ daily ‘schedule’ reflected a pattern of rest/retreat … and then an advance with the work of ministry/the Kingdom. I know there have been many occasions when, thankfully, dear ones (i.e., my wife, etc.) have lovingly challenged me to stop striving with my own agenda and energy and just rest.   

Jesus provides interesting insight on this topic of rest and the power it holds: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Mt. 11:28-30) Although this is one of the most familiar texts in the New Testament and there are two references to rest in these verses alone, it seems that we are hesitant to embrace Jesus’ very tender and attractive words! We all know that statistics will clearly expose this reality, but who needs statistics when we experience it first-hand?

Yet, ironically, rest may be the very thing that Jesus desires for His listeners—and that through rest many blessings will come. It is a gift. But, like Paul, we find ourselves torn and often caught in our own humanity, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (Romans 7:15)

Part of the blessings of rest, and what I desire to leave with you, is both invitation and challenge. Please know that I do this as a sometimes weary but hopeful brother and colleague in Christ. The invitation is to simply embrace Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:28-30 … and rest … knowing that His rest will bring you many unexpected graces, including the gift of restoration of your soul, resilience for the long-haul, and prophetic perspective in discerning the ‘spirit of the age’ (Ephesians 2:1-3). The challenge is to incorporate a regular pattern of rest—and Sabbath-taking—in our restless, relentless, and demanding worlds!

If we can integrate daily encounters with rest into our schedules, and thereby establish rest as a predictable pattern in our daily routine, then will we not hear God more easily and trust His leading more readily? Doesn’t this become an intentional act of resting our faith on His Grace, being released of so much work (which can become works/law; Romans 4:16 & 5:2)?

Out of this wellspring of Rest, Inc., may you experience an early springtime of the soul! When the care of your own life is established in rest, then the privileged work of ministry (i.e., disciple-making, missional outreach, etc.) will flourish. I hope to address this in Part II of Rest, Inc.

In Christ,

K. Craig Moorman




Mountain Lion Cubs Do Not Stay Mountain Lion Cubs

Not too far from our home – in the Sonoran Desert outside Phoenix – is the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center.  This wonderful facility cares for many desert animals that have been injured or orphaned.  The goal is always to be able to return them to the wild.  But that is not always possible, so for some animals this place becomes their permanent home.  Some animals are brought there by people who naively thought that a mountain lion cub would make a great pet.  But mountain lion cubs always grow up, and people come to realize that something they thought would be safe has become a threat.

I thought of people who mistakenly believe that they could tame a mountain lion cub when I read the April 16 letter from ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton addressing racial justice.  A link to her letter can be found here.  In her call for reform to “any institutionally racist system” she essentially endorses Black Lives Matter.  She encourages people to join Campaign Zero, which she describes as “a 10-point policy platform created by the #BlackLivesMatter movement to address and improve relationships between local law enforcement and the communities in which they serve.”  She also urges people to learn more about ELCA resources at elca.org/blacklivesmatter. 

I was relieved to read on the ELCA website that “the ELCA churchwide organization does not provide financial support to this chapter-based organization.”  I have been deeply disturbed to read about some other organizations and businesses that do contribute financially to Black Lives Matter.  It also seemed very reasonable to read on the ELCA website, “This movement does not seek to elevate Black lives above others.  Rather, the movement seeks to help people recognize that Black lives matter no less than other lives.”

The ELCA website is correct when it says, “Scripture tells us that each person is created in the image of God. . . . All of us have integrity and value.”  There is absolutely no question.  Racism does exist, and racism is wrong.  The First Readings for Easter Sunday and May 9 have both come from the account in Acts 10 when God clearly directed Peter to go to the house of Cornelius.  In the First Reading for Easter Peter said, “I truly understand that God shows no partiality.” (verse 34) In the First Reading for May 9 “the circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles.” (verse 45) Peter said, “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” (verse 47) If God has included them, how could we exclude them?

But for at least three reasons the ELCA’s endorsing and embracing the Black Lives Matter movement reminds me of people who think that a mountain lion cub would be safe.

First, the page on the ELCA website does not address the fact that at least two of the three original founders of Black Lives Matter are self-avowed, trained Marxist organizers.  Marxism has led to political systems that have enslaved people and that have been severely hostile to the Christian faith.

Second, while the full embrace of the LGBTQIA+ agenda is very strong within the ELCA, I am not aware of any official action taken by the ELCA to affirm that full agenda.  A document recently approved by the ELCA Church Council, “Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline,” includes the sentence, “This church’s understanding of human sexuality is stated in its authorized social teachings.” (page 8) The most recent of these social teachings is the social statement, “Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust,” which was approved by the 2009 Churchwide Assembly.  Actions taken by that assembly provided for the blessing of and ordination of persons in publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same sex relationships.  They did not embrace the full LGBTQIA+ agenda.  In contrast, Black Lives Matter has said, “We foster a queer-affirming network.  When we gather, we do so with the intention of freeing ourselves from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking.”  It is interesting that the page that contains that wording from Black Lives Matter appears to no longer exist.

Third, what Black Lives Matter used to call its “Full Manifesto” also is on a page that appears to no longer exist.  One of the most disturbing sentences in the “Full Manifesto” reads as follows – “We disrupt the western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and ‘villages’ that collectively care for one another, especially our children.”  Every orthodox Christian parent should be horrified over a statement like that, which advocates for the state’s taking over the raising of children.  Every Christian parent needs to do everything they can to keep from losing the ability to influence the faith formation of their children.  To me it is interesting – and I believe significant – that some of the statements from Black Lives Matter that have caused the greatest alarm are on website pages that appear to no longer exist.  If you can find them, please let me know.  Has the Black Lives Matter movement modified and/or softened its position?  I doubt it.  I believe they are just downplaying it.  They want people like the ELCA to believe that there is nothing to fear.  What Black Lives Matter advocates for, every reasonable person should be in favor of.  Mountain lion cubs will stay mountain lion cubs




Devotion for Saturday, November 18, 2017

“Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, for my soul takes refuge in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge until destruction passes by.  I will cry to God Most High, to God who accomplishes all things for me.”  (Psalm 57:1-2)

Grace is unmerited favor, a gift that the Lord grants to those who turn to Him.  We all need grace, for we all have fallen short of the glory of the Lord.  Cry out to the Lord who hears you and knows all about what He has made.  Know that in Him you can take refuge and He will cover you in the shadow of His wing.  The Lord is more than able to accomplish your salvation.

Lord, in times of trouble I look to You, but often in times of plenty, I simply go my way and ignore You.  Help me realize that this age is a time of great trouble and turmoil.  Lead me into the truth of Your presence that I would know that in You I have an eternal hope and a future.  Guide me in Your will to walk in Your ways all the days of my life, knowing in You alone can I hope.

Christ, the Savior of the World, You have come to be the refuge for all.  Lead me in the grace You have purchased by Your own blood that I may forever walk in the mercy of the Father.  Destruction has already come upon the world, but in You I need not fear anything that comes.  Lead me, O Lord, to stand by Your side and walk where You direct, knowing that only in You will I be made complete.  Amen.