No Longer My Own (music)

What if we did…less?

Howdy, friends…

Just a few thoughts to share with you on this lovely Spring day. Many are crazy busy this time of year. School functions seem to accelerate. Tax season descends upon us. And the change of weather inspires a bevy of activity…we re-arrange closets, de-clutter cupboards, throw out old or unused items, and attempt to clean and organize the garage. All while continuing to manage our family responsibilities, work commitments, and church life. Day in and day out, we run ourselves ragged trying to keep our heads above water. We long for a simpler life with more time and space to enjoy the things and relationships we work so hard to maintain, but somehow we struggle to obtain it.

What if? What if in all this exertion, we decided to stop…to pause…to breathe?

“What if instead of doing more, we did less?”

This was the scandalous notion I submitted in a room full of corporate leaders recently at the Music City Center in Nashville, Tennessee. I had been asked to speak at the Prayer Breakfast for the propane industry’s largest gathering of its kind…the 2016 NPGA Southeastern Convention and International Propane EXPO. They wanted someone who could both deliver an inspirational message and sing a couple of songs as it was their first time to assemble in world famous Music City USA. Not wanting to disappoint, I chose to wear my snazziest jeans, cowboy boots, and something with fringe on it. The faux suede vest I bought from Stein Mart. Gotta represent. IMG_84671-1

As you can imagine, I was excited at the opportunity and approached it prayerfully. I know how these conventions go. I’ve attended the equivalent in my own industry. It’s all about networking, expansion, increased productivity, advanced technology, and spreading your message to the masses. Essentially…bigger, better, faster, more.

Ironically, I felt led to counter this emphasis by challenging them in the area of rest. And this only because I myself had to learn it the hard way (READ: My Burn-Out Blog). I suspected that many of them, particularly at the end of an uber-packed week, were likely running on fumes (don’t miss the industry humor). I shared from my own experience and read several scriptures to reinforce my point. We looked at what is perhaps one of the most ignored Commandments of all Ten. The Fourth. To remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. To honor and observe what has been referred to as the capstone of creation, the Seventh day.

Word nerd that I am, I utilized my Webster’s dictionary app to discover several synonyms for “capstone” and rattled them off in list format: the crowning achievement, the climax, the pinnacle, the summit, the zenith, which is the strongest or most successful period of time. Then, I posed another question…

“What if the Sabbath day was as important, if not more important than all the other days preceding it?”

I quoted Priscilla Shirer who said, “Overwork is a form of unbelief.” I confessed how convicted I felt when I first heard that statement. Does my striving indicate an innate sense or underlying belief that I don’t really believe God is going to take care of me? Could I risk a weekly day of rest without fear of falling behind or appearing lazy or selfish?

Richard Swenson, in his book Margin/the Overload Syndrome, wrote, “God does not have to depend on human exhaustion to get His work done. God is not so desperate for resources to accomplish His purposes that we have to abandon the raising of our children in order to accommodate Him. God is not so despairing of where to turn next that He has to ask us to go without sleep five nights in a row. Chronic overloading is not a spiritual prerequisite for authentic Christianity. Quite the contrary, overloading is often what we do when we forget who God is.”

20160412_120654The day after the event, I decided to remember.

I lit a candle in my living room, pulled out my box of crayons, and set about to do some coloring. I’ll not likely win the award for Most Artistic or Best Color Choice, but I thoroughly enjoyed filling in this “HOPE” illlustration declaring what has become one of my favorite verses of late…”We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure…” (Hebrews 4:19).

Frivolous? Maybe. Necessary? Yes.

Fun? With no less than sixty-four fabulous colors to choose from? Absolutely!

In closing, I’ll leave you with two poignant questions presented by a Presbyterian pastor by the name of Jack Miller. I had listened to probably a dozen or more of his teachings and this always seemed to bring it right on home…

What have you ever stopped doing because you love Jesus?
What have you ever started doing because you love Jesus?

Mmm.

I invite you to watch, listen, and ponder…

https://youtu.be/GG_Dtezl1ws

Jesus said to His disciples in Mark 6:31, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

Will you accept His invitation?

Grace and peace…

Cheri

What stirs your affection for Christ?

Happy Almost Spring!

Sitting here in downtown Franklin with my laptop and a creamy sweet drink, I attempt the first blog of Almost Spring. Easter is just around the corner. Even typing that sentence brings a smile to my face. I feel my heart quicken. I feel my insides swell with joy. Because He was crucified, died, and was buried. That part makes me sad. Because it should’ve been me. But, the part where He rose again sets me to worship. Because mercy triumphs. Mercy lives. And because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives, I’m forgiven and redeemed. Because He lives, I have an anchor for my soul.

Me and Jesus at NRB 2016 (National Religious Broadcasters in Nasvhille)

Me and Jesus at NRB 2016 (National Religious Broadcasters in Nashville)

It’s a good thing I’m typing or I might just raise my hands right here in the middle of the coffee shop! For now, it’s enough to praise Him in my heart. And it’s spinning, dancing, swirling. Christ in me, the hope of glory…

“What stirs your affection for Christ?”

That was the question from the pulpit a few weeks ago in church. What stirs my affection, you ask?

Many things really.

Not unlike Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts, I have decided to make a list. Only mine has taken shape in the form of a poem. Yes, for these things I am thankful. For these things stir my affection for Christ…

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Nature’s confetti – cherry blossom petals in Spring

Vibrant colors of Fall, almost too bright to believe
Winter’s first snow in the state of Tennessee
And friends who see me

Favorite jeans with hard earned, worn out holes
Music that moves and soothes the soul
Finding faith the devil almost stole
And giving up control

Birds that tell me I’ll have clothes to wear
Enough food to eat and drink to spare
Burden lifted once I dared to share
Utterance of unencumbered prayer

Washing in the water of the Word
Relentless grace, grossly undeserved
Hope that no longer is deferred
Hard but truth-filled wisdom finally heard

Holy communion bathed in holy light
Songs that come in the quiet of the night
Trusted counsel bringing keen insight
The very slightest mention of Christ                 

Mornings full of streaming sunny bursts
Random blessings seemingly unrehearsed
Knowing there is One to quench my thirst
Remembering ’twas He who loved me first

Singing Christ the Lord is risen today
Watching fellow saints begin to sway
Raised to life, Christ’s victory displayed
My sin and yours, completely paid

Surely I could pen another phrase
A thousand things discovered every day
Affection upon affection one relays
When one becomes a follower of the Way

Written by Cheri Keaggy

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Easter greetings to all who read my posts. Praise to the King of kings who loves the most!

Blessings to you and yours during these Holy Days…

Because of Christ,

Cheri