Book Review

Practicing Life

Much of what we have been studying and encouraging among each other in our little church and even in my own family’s life is the experience of living transformed lives. Using this season to rightly shape how we live in light of the grace of Christ, loving God and neighbor well.

Oh the crush of things that demand you put yourself first and that attempt to hide rather than expose self-righteousness. If ever we could monopolize on wrecked schedules to start something new, this is it.

Into this fray comes a helpful book, The Common Rule: Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction by Justin Whitmel Earley. It is primer on suggested habits for the day and for the week that we can take on to clear our head and live uncluttered devotion to Christ.

I found myself served by Whitmel Earley and his suggestions especially around use of technology and always being accessible. Boundaries benefit us and we could all use a regular Sabbath! All throughout the book there is a steady flow of gospel reminder that can anchor any of us as we live in 2020.

I really appreciated that the author is not a pastor with flexible time built into his schedule but a corporate attorney with a demanding workload.

Below are some key quotes from the book and I encourage you to take up and read, set some rule into your life, from the grace of Jesus for his glory!

“We are all living according to a specific regimen of habits, and those habits shape most of our life.”

“In trying to free ourselves from our limitations, we brought the ultimate limitation of death into the world. But Christ turns this human paradigm on its head. The way down is the way up. The way to victory is through surrender. The way to freedom is through submission.”

“We, for our own sake, tried to become limitless, and the world was ruined. Jesus, for our sake, became limited and the world was saved.”

“Only when your habits are constructed to match your worldview do you become someone who doesn’t just know about God and neighbor but someone who actually loves God and neighbor.”

“We desperately need a set of counter-formative practices to become the lovers of God and neighbor we were created to be.”

“Let me tell you what is overwhelming: a default, normal, unexamined American life. That is completely overwhelming. It’s so much to take on, and we all do it simply by not doing anything else instead.”

“The Common Rule is a different way to live. It’s meant to distill your habits, so you do more meaningful things by doing fewer things.”

“The Common Rule is made up of eight habits, four daily and four weekly. The daily habits are ■ kneeling prayer at morning, midday, and bedtime, ■ one meal with others, ■ one hour with phone off, and ■ Scripture before phone. The weekly habits are ■ one hour of conversation with a friend, ■ curate media to four hours, ■ fast from something for twenty-four hours, and ■ sabbath.”

Discipleship

Being Undone May Be The Point

I want to commend to you the latest episode of the Spiritual Life & Leadership podcast from Markus Watson. In this episode Markus interviews A.J. Swoboda and discusses sabbath.

The remarkable, and important exchange comes early in the conversation when Swoboda talks about how sometimes sabbath undoes us, which is the point to get us to hear God and submit yet again to his way.

Our old normal left no margin. Constant noise, busy, full calendars. Never quiet, never just listening.

Perhaps then this pandemic is meant to undo us, so that we will find space to hear from the Lord again, to desire it. To truly rest not just metaphorically rest. I know it has been that for me. And I want more.

Grab the podcast wherever you listen to such things. And pursue sabbath.

Book Review

Ruthless About Hurry

While on vacation (eight days long to get the maximal refreshment) I finished the latest Christian craze that is John Mark Comer’s new book, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry. It is a good book. There is vitally important exhortation to be counter-cultural for spiritual, psychological, and physical health. It is well researched and winsomely written. But what nags at me as I have some space from it is wondering if everything presented is actually accessible.

Now don’t get me wrong, this book still keeps its four-star rating on GoodReads, but I think so much of what is suggested is really only available to the affluent.

Comer covers this in the book, he knows the tension and realizes if you can spend $20 on a book you have some level of affluence and we should be okay with that and go on living simple. But I have been mentally wrestling with that as I don’t even think some of the practices are accessible to people in my neighborhood much less the resort town where I vacationed where locals lived a far different life.

Essentially the first half of the book, that dives into the trauma of hurry in our society and the Christian invitation to rest, is a goldmine. Well worth the time to read and contemplate. But from there I wonder if we can advocate for sabbath more broadly. I even felt like some of the tips equated to a new, hipster-approved, self-righteousness. Which is the furthest from the author’s intention.

There has to be a way to disciple all people into rest and intentional slowness before a holy God. One that includes all those we long to be in the church and our lives.

I want to wrestle with this thinking some more and maybe if you read the book we can talk it over together, slowly.

Even so, I am going to walk slower when I can and rest well to serve well. Living simple not as a result of my affluence but because I get to in Christ.