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Exhaustion: We Have Settled For A Sub-Human Life

fast-pacedWe have no idea how to rest. And worse, we foolishly think this is a problem of the modern age, but King Solomon reminds us that we are facing an ancient problem:

What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. – Ecclesiastes 2:22-23

Despite all of our efforts, achievements, and success, many of us find that, even in the night, our hearts do not rest. This isn’t a “some busy-and-important people problem,” this is an “everyone” problem.

I see sixth graders who wake up at 5:00 a.m. to get to swim practice. They go to school all day, they are rushed to piano lessons in the afternoon, and then come home to work on their assignments until 9:00 p.m. They strain under the ivy-league expectations of their parents.

I see college students who have a main-line IV pumping Red Bull into their blood stream. They take honors classes and volunteer at soup kitchens to build their resumé. They work out twice a day and attend every social event to avoid the dreaded label “single.” They need to figure out what they’re doing with their lives and develop their five year plan.

I see young couples with dual incomes and no kids (the DINKS!) who are rising stars at work pulling 50-60 hours a week. Since they have no children, they feel it’s their duty to lead a small group, serve in children’s ministry on Sundays, volunteer with the Church Finance Committee, and participate in Saturday neighborhood cleanups. They are exhausted, feel guilty about their exhaustion, and think that they will slow down when they have children.

I see new mothers who are bitter with their sudden life change. Just a few months ago they were up to date on the latest women’s Bible study curriculum, spending an hour every morning pouring over the scriptures and drinking single-origin espresso. Now they have a crying baby and quiet times on the toilet.

I see 60 year-old businessmen who can’t keep up with the next generation. They see younger men willing to work twice as long for half as much, threatening their livelihoods and identities. They work every waking hour, despite a failing body, and even though the doctor says they need to slow down or face a heart attack, they don’t know what to do.

I could go on, but I hope you see the point. This is the North American Church. The examples above are not the exceptional case studies but rather the common experiences of the men and women in our churches, from the pastors to the preschoolers. We are all going somewhere, we are all running late, and we are all too stressed out to see what’s happening. We need to take a step back for a moment and consider what this communicates to the world around us. Louder than any sermon, our lives are shouting to the world that:

  • We don’t trust God
  • We don’t know how to stop working
  • We don’t know how to enjoy life

Every year, more and more statistics are being released that show our children are busier than ever, our people are unhappier than ever, our churches are plateauing or dying faster than ever, and our pastors are quitting more than ever.(1) 

These statistics are not coincidental. We have lost the fundamentals of our faith. Many of us were wooed by the Holy Spirit through Jesus’ promise found in Matthew 11. Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Yet instead of finding rest, most of us have found long to-do lists, lots of pressure, and more stress than we know how to handle.

In short, we have settled for less than what has been purchased for us. We have settled for less than what we were made for. We have settled into sub-human living. We are not meant to love this way. This way of life fails to believe all God has done and all God promises to do. We must find rest through discovering the parts of God we have been missing.[2] We must rest to become fully alive to our humanity and to our creator. God wants us to live like people who have been made new, who have been REcreated. The call is to enter into and experience Recreation through trusting, stopping, and enjoying.

We are in a season here at Sojourn where the last Sunday of each month we intentionally are “Taking Back Sunday” to celebrate, rest, enjoy God, enjoy one another, and unplug. Rest is a huge part of this and we invite you to continue following this blog series as we walk through what it means to rest biblically.



[2] Mark Buchanan, The Rest of God, 93.

Rediscover The Forgotten Joys Of Christmas Caroling

photo 3People often debate the merits of modern Christmas traditions, but there is one tradition that, while less common than in past years, is alive and well among Sojourners: Christmas caroling.

Sojourners love getting together in groups, walking around our neighborhoods and singing of our savior’s birth. And it may surprise you to learn that many of these neighbors love it too! Here are a few testimonies from this past Wednesday’s Sojourn caroling, around the Midtown Campus neighborhoods:

• At least three groups had folks come out of their homes and finish the caroling routes with them, to sing to their neighbors. A couple even came back to the church building and hung out with us as we ate cookies and drank hot chocolate.

• A neighborhood lady who we’ve struck up a relationship with came to sing with us. Despite intense back pain, she walked the whole route and joyfully sang every note with us. She said she “wouldn’t have missed it.” She also knew many of the folks we were singing to, including her brother, who began to call the rest of their family and tell them what was happening.

• According to one Shelby Park Sojourner, one of her neighbors was literally jumping for joy when they started caroling.

• One elderly woman told a group, with tears in her eyes, that she hadn’t seen anything like this in 40 years.

These stories are just a few of the reasons why I’m glad that caroling is a yearly tradition at all of our campuses. We certainly have enough community group leaders and families to cover some serious ground.

Tips for caroling:

  • Be friendly, Christmas is a time of celebration and these songs are to enjoyed.
  • Go as a good-sized group (6-15) that’s not overwhelming. Showing community like this is attractive and gives opportunity to show God’s love in relationship.
  • Have a short practice session indoors beforehand with copies of music lyrics available so everyone can learn together and also get to know each other.
  • Communicate with the houses you carol at clearly. If they enjoyed your group, have something to leave with them about your church, service times, location, contact information, etc. Our Christmas Eve invites (available each Sunday at the Welcome Table) will work great.
  • Write down address and names after your time caroling. Hopefully, you will have further interactions if they are your neighbors. Remembering names is great way to show compassion and intentionally.

What are some of your ideas or best practices in caroling? Any stories of how God has used caroling in your life or neighborhood?

Song Of Solomon Playlist – Your Songs Of Marital Faithfulness And Family

al-green-s-let-s-stay-together-620x350This weekend we finished our sermon series on the Song of Solomon at Sojourn Gathered. Via Twitter and Facebook, I asked you to nominate your “favorite songs of marital faithfulness and family” for an imaginary playlist to Song of Solomon. Here are your choices:

  1. Memories Are Made Of This by Johnny Cash
  2. I Wanna Marry You Again by Derek Webb
  3. Ballad Of Love And Hate by the Avett Brothers
  4. Rain Or Shine by Matthew Perryman Jones
  5. Everything I Do, I Do It For You by Bryan Adams
  6. I’ll Stand By You by The Pretenders
  7. Let’s Stay Together by Al Green
  8. Faithfully by Journey
  9. Better Love by Drew Holcomb
  10. (Happy To Be) Stuck With You by Huey Lewis and the News
  11. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough by Marvin Gaye
  12. Roll To The Middle by Sarah Groves
  13. I Will Be Here by Steven Curtis Chapman
  14. My Front Porch Lookin’ In by Lonestar
  15. I Swear by All-4-One
  16. Water Under The Bridge by Jars Of Clay
  17. She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy by Kenny Chesney
  18. Forever And Ever, Amen by Randy Travis
  19. On The Other Hand by Randy Travis
  20. Love Me Tender by Elvis Presley
  21. I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You by Elvis Presley
  22. She Loves Me Like Jesus Does by Eric Church
  23. From This Moment On by Shania Twain
  24. Our House by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
  25. Home by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes
  26. Hard To Love by Lee Brice
  27. Where The Green Grass Grows by Tim McGraw
  28. I Am Your Man by Ryan Shaw
  29. For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her by Simon and Garfunkel
  30. Dancing In The Minefields by Andrew Peterson
  31. Hold Up My Arms by Andrew Peterson
  32. Your Man by Josh Turner
  33. In Spite Of Ourselves by John Prine
  34. The Whipping Post by the Alman Brothers
  35. Holy Ground (hymn)
  36. God Gave Me You by Dave Barnes

Let’s keep it going in the comments! What have we missed? What should we add to this playlist?

You Voted – Here Is Your Song Of Solomon Wedding Songs Playlist

carpenters-weve-only-just-begun-1970-3This weekend we continued our sermon series on the Song of Solomon at Sojourn Gathered. Via Twitter and Facebook, I asked you to nominate your “favorite wedding songs” for an imaginary playlist to Song of Solomon, which follows on the heels of last week’s “Favorite Songs Of Romantic Longing.” Here are your wedding song choices:

Forever by Ben Harper

Jackson by Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash

We’ve Only Just Begun by the Carpenters

Forever and Ever, Amen by Randy Travis

Never Gonna Give You Up by Rick Astley

Honeymoon Blues Robert Johnson

Follow Me by John Denver (as covered by the Innocence Mission)

Postcards From Italy by Beirut

Something, by the Beatles

Let It Be Me by Collin Raye

Jump, Little Children by By The Way They Dance

Let’s keep it going in the comments! What have we missed? What should we add to this playlist?

Song Of Solomon Playlist: Your Favorite Songs Of Romantic Longing

Wouldn't It Be Nice by The Beach BoysThis week we began a sermon series on the Song of Solomon at Sojourn Gathered. Via Twitter and Facebook, I asked you to nominate your “favorite songs of romantic longing” for an imaginary playlist to Song of Solomon. Here are your choices:

  • Hungry Eyes by Eric Carman
  • Wouldn’t It Be Nice by the Beach Boys
  • Slow Hand by the Pointer Sisters
  • Lay You Down by Conway Twitty
  • Oh Sheila by Ready For The World
  • Love Is Waiting by Brooke Fraser
  • I’m On Fire by Bruce Springsteen
  • Tonight You Belong To Me by Steve Martin
  • 13 by Big Star
  • Crush by Dave Matthews Band
  • I Burn For You by The Police
  • To Make You Feel My Love by Bob Dylan
  • Unchained Melody by the Righteous Brothers
  • A Love Supreme by John Coltrane
  • Beginnings by Chicago
  • I Love You, Period by Dan Baird
  • In Your Eyes by Peter Gabriel
  • My All by Mariah Carey

What else? Have we left off anything that should be on this playlist? Let me know in the Comments!



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