Deeper Waters Podcast 11/5/2012: John Koessler

What’s coming up Saturday? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

First off, we’re getting started on putting new episodes up. I’ve got some of the sound issues worked out so hopefully we’ll be on schedule again soon. Having said that, what are we going to be talking about when this Saturday comes?

In the apologetics world, we can often be running at full throttle most of the time. There are people to answer and books to read and debates to watch. Let’s not forget that many a spouse has become an apologetics widow. We get so busy doing this and that and we fear falling behind and before too long, we just can’t take it anymore. Do we need to maybe take a break?

Is it proper to ever rest when the Kingdom is what we’re working for? Can a soldier ever stop on the battlefield and rest? If there are souls at stake, by what reasoning can it be said that we should not be working with all our might at our duties? To answer these questions, I’ve brought on someone who does not work primarily in apologetics, but whose book I think can help, and that’s Dr. John Koessler. Who is he?

koessler

According to his bio:

John Koessler serves as Chair & Professor in the Division Applied Theology and Church Ministry at Moody Bible Institute where he has been a member of the faculty since 1994. He is an award-winning author who has written ten books including The Radical Pursuit of Rest: Escaping the Productivity Trap (InterVarsity, 2016), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment: Finding Hope When God Seems to Fail Us(Moody, 2013), Folly Grace and Power: The Mysterious Act of Preaching (Zondervan, 2011), and True Discipleship: The Art of Following Jesus (Moody, 2003). He has contributed articles to Christianity Today, Mature Living, Leadership Journal, Discipleship Journal, Decision, and Moody Magazine. He also writes a monthly column for Today in the Word entitled “Theology Matters,” and is a regular contributor to that publication’s devotionals. Prior to joining the faculty of Moody, John was pastor of Valley Chapel in Green Valley, Illinois, for nine years.

How can the Christian properly integrate all that they need to do in their life with rest? What is rest? Is it proper to actually not be engaging in study and debate and actually just be taking a break with the loved ones? Furthermore, how does this work with worship? What is worship and are we really doing it? Could it be that sometimes we’re so eager to get people to come and fall on their knees before Jesus that we don’t often go and do that ourselves?

Join me this Saturday as I interview John Koessler on this. We’ll be talking about the proper role that rest plays in the life of a Christian and what difference it makes. We’ll also be talking about the need for worship and why it is that we should actively participate in worship. Be watching your Podcast feed for this one and please consider going and leaving a positive review on the Deeper Waters ITunes page.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Book Plunge: The Radical Pursuit of Rest

What do I think of John Koessler’s book published by IVP? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We live in a day and age where technology should have made it easier for us to do anything. We were expecting a Jetsons world where we just go and push a button and everything gets done for us. The irony is that with most every invention of technology meant to save time for us, we in fact often have less time left.  We want to produce constantly. Do we ever take the time to just rest?

Koessler argues that rest is essential and we get caught in a trap of productivity. Of course we should produce, but we are not machines. We cannot work 24/7. We in fact often live to work instead of realizing the purpose of work is often so that we won’t have to work. It is to free us for leisure and rest.

How many people go on vacation and still do work? Thus far, I have avoided this. The last vacation I managed to get to go on was my honeymoon with my wife a little over six years ago at Ocean Isle Beach. I made a commitment before I left and spoke about it with my parents and in-laws. No contact for us. Don’t call us. Just let us be. The only book I brought with me was my Bible. I had my IPhone with me, but I used it for GPS mainly. I did not check email. I did not check Facebook. There would be plenty of times later to put up pictures of the wedding and such. There were plenty of other people who could do ministry while I was gone. This week was to focus on me and my new bride.

I have no regrets from that decision.

Unfortunately, many do not make such a decision ever. They come home from the office and bring the office with them. This is even what happens in the case of ministry. A man can neglect his family because this is the work of God. He forgets his first work of God is to love his wife as Christ loved the church and to teach his children the fear of God.

Koessler’s book is a reminder for us to take a break. The anxiety we feel about the future is in fact a failure to trust in God. We don’t rest because we think we have to keep producing. We have to in order for God to also care for us. There is no rest and if we do stop and rest, we beat ourselves up with guilt.

In fact, Koessler tells us that sloth can be related to noonday madness. It can be seen as constant busyness. We keep busy for the sake of keeping busy. It’s like the employees in the office who hear the boss is coming and all of a sudden solitaire and emails go down, Pokemon Go gets turned off, and everyone starts acting like they’ve been working hard.

Koessler also writes about ambition. Now ambition I think is fine if you want to be excellent at what you do. We should all want that. The problem can often be when you don’t delight in others and their successes and only keep thinking about yourself. That ambition is often connected with our pride.

Koessler talks about worship as rest as well. Worship at churches often turns into a performance where we have to work the audience up and by the way, that isn’t enough because if you’re truly devoted to the church you’ll sign up for all these programs. Helping out the church with other programs is fine, but let’s remember that worship is a fine goal in itself.

Of course, something has to be said about the digital age. I know of the trap for as I sit here writing, I have my email and Facebook opened and I hear the news program my wife is watching. Multi-tasking is a way of life for me. There are times you just want to see what happened on Facebook and realize you’ve spent about an hour or so browsing on it and to what end?

For my final positive, I appreciate Koessler’s honesty. He does write about having a hard time sleeping at night. He does write about struggles with ambition. He does write about worship services and sermons that he frankly finds boring at times. These show me that Koessler is with me on the journey.

Despite that there are many positives to this book and it’s a good wake-up call, I do have some recommendations for change. For instance, what exactly is rest? Koessler differentiates it from sleep, but it’s still not clear what it really is. What also would be its relation to play? If I take a break from reading and studying and go play a game, am I resting? If I go out on a date with the wife, is that rest? Would snuggling together on the couch to watch a movie be considered rest? I don’t remember any real clarification on what rest is and I definitely would like to see how play fits into this.

Still, Koessler’s book leaves you with plenty of food for thought. I have been thinking quite often about his concept of worship. I’m pleased to know Koessler is on the same journey as well.

The Need For Rest

How important is it to just take a break? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last Sunday, my pastor gave a wonderful sermon on the need for rest in our generation where we have devices that can keep us in touch with all of the world. This is definitely so for those of us in ministry because we can be tempted to say “This is the work of God. How dare we stop in our work?” Many of us who do not see ourselves under the Jewish Law might look at the Sabbath command and think that that was something for them back then and we don’t really need it today. While I’m not advocating that we should all rest on Saturday, I am advocating that we all take a day to rest and frankly, while most will do so on Sunday, for a pastor, it will obviously have to be another day of the week.

Since I’m not a pastor leading a church I do take a break on Sundays. I don’t do debates on Facebook and I don’t do debates on blogs. That is a day for me to get away. If someone comes to me with a question, I will ask them if they can get back to me on Monday. This is time that I need to wind down. Honestly, debates and questions can wear you out after a time. My day of rest is the day that I do not have to be owing to anyone. I will often spend it with a book or listening to the latest episode of Unbelievable? Usually when I do that, I will be going through a game at the same time.

What that activity of rest tells us is that we are not in charge of the world. We are not the saviors of the world. You see, I realize that there are several several people who are doing apologetics just like I am. This is the work of God and God was doing it before I came on the scene and He’ll be doing it after I leave this scene. God is not dependent on me in anyway. Rest is a humble reminder of that. It’s a reminder that to get to serve in the Kingdom is a gift of grace in itself. Yet God is not a kind of taskmaster that expects us to work 24/7. He knows that we need to rest.

Along those lines, I want to remind you that if you’re in ministry, it’s important to not have your ministry be what you’re married to. If you are a married person, there are many people that can do the work of ministry that you do, but there is only one person who is married to your spouse. If you’re a man, no one else can be the husband of your wife. If you’re a woman, no one else can be the wife of your husband. With regard to children, if you’re a woman, no one else can be the mother to your children. If you’re a man, no one else can be the father to your children. These are responsibilities you’re directly assigned in Ephesians. If you succeed at everything else but are not the spouse or parent you need to be, then overall you have failed in ministry.

Therefore, if you are a spouse, make sure that your spouse comes before your ministry. If you are a parent, make sure your children also come before your ministry. Ministry is not an excuse to not do the things you’ve been commanded to do. In fact, it should be a greater call for you to do them. How will people take your ministry seriously if they know that you are not responsibly caring for your own family?

So Sunday is my day to take a break. I advise you to pick one and stick with it. The world can wait and your other duties will be there the next day. You need to take time for you lest you burn out. God didn’t make you to run forever. Rest.

In Christ,
Nick Peters