“Still Good” Saturday: The Very Best Way to Be Human

This blog was originally posted at http://www.Renovare.org.

“Please don’t leave your gum on the table.”

“In our house, we don’t call people fat.”

“The goat cannot come inside.”

“Use your fork, please, not your fingers.”

“Spitting from the balcony doesn’t make friends.”

In all homes there are rules; rules that make living together possible and on many days pleasant. Recently, I was reading Rob Bell and Don Golden’s book called Jesus Wants to Save the Christians: A Manifesto for the Church in Exile. In this book they write about the Jews being rescued from Egypt and how when they finally made it out, God gave them the Ten Commandments to teach them how to be human again. As slaves they were treated like things, property to be owned and manipulated, but as free people now they would need to learn to govern themselves.

Learning to govern ourselves well is the fullness of humanity. As a side note that is particularly central, learning to govern ourselves greatly affects those around us for good or ill.

But what does governing ourselves well, look like?

Jesus tells us, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’Matthew 22:37-39

Dallas Willard often said the question of how to live a good life is a question we are born asking. Children want to know how to live a good life. Like the Jews we need to learn, and continue to learn, how to live in the fullness of what God created us to be—human. The Ten Commandments do just that. They show us how to live the very best way. They are stepping stones, path markers that show us the good, true, and safe path that many have followed before us.

There are various rules in my household, but not many of these will carry over when my children leave home. For example, they may not have a goat or a balcony for that matter. But they will always be human, and the Ten Commandments will teach them the very best way to be just that.

Here are two good books for learning together the very best way to be human.

The Ten Commandments by Sophie Piper http://www.paracletepress.com/the-ten-commandments.html

This small book presents the Ten Commandments one at a time while drawing on passages from the Psalms, Proverbs, the prophets and Jesus. It’s poetic and thoughtful, filled with insight. The illustrations are lovely. I have found myself returning to this book as a reminder of God’s great love and purpose for human beings.

The Three Questions written and illustrated by Jon J. Muth

This beautiful picture book addresses the three great questions, “When is the best time to do thing?” and “Who is the most important one?” and “What is the right thing to do?” It is based on a story by Leo Tolstoy.

May you join with your children and lean deeply into who God created you to be– human.


Sabbath Moments

Our pastor is doing a series about the 10 commandments this summer. Our children’s curriculum is following that series so the entire family hears the same thing each week. A few weeks ago was our turn to teach the kids. We even got to choose which commandment we wanted to teach on. We thought teaching the Sabbath would be easy…but to children? As we thought about it…do no work…rest…take time to do nothing and reflect…we thought about our kids…WHO DO NOTHING! Haha… don’t take that the wrong way. Our kids have and do chores. They have animals that they care for. They maintain their own rooms. They do things for our elderly grandparents. But not without being asked. Not without direction to do so. If we let our kids just go for a day they will find random devices to play on or jump on the trampoline for hours or draw/write in their rooms or just plain play/waste the day away. It irritated me that I was thinking my kids whole lives are Sabbath!

So we thought and pondered some more.  This is not a direction given to adults only. My kids have relationships with God so it is as much for them as for me. So what did we learn in trying to teach kids about keeping a Sabbath?

1. It does not have to be a certain day.

2. Kids are great Sabbath keepers. They are not bound up in the busy busy American lifestyle. They live to relax and recharge.

3. I need to watch and learn from them…there is a time for everything. A time to play, a time to dance, a time to clean, a time to let it go!

4. During certain times of the year Sabbath moments are all we can get. My kids are busy during school and more relaxed in the summer…my schedule is always full but I can find a moment to redirect my thoughts to Jesus.

5. Sabbath is not just a relax and do no work day. It is a set aside (holy) time to reflect on Jesus and HIS work and worth in our lives.

6. Kids know how to relax but need to be trained (as we all do) to be intentional about focusing on Jesus.

7. Some of my favorite Sabbath moments are…

a. Late afternoon (almost) every day Mike and I sit down together and have a glass of something and just be…if only for a few minutes.

b. I love to hang out laundry. I have been known to work from the outside in on my round clothesline. It is peaceful and smells like Jesus in the middle of that circle

c. Music…dancing with my people…pretending we are the band…singing in the kitchen

d. Mowing the lawn

e. Going to the mountains, beach, forest, canyon, lake, anywhere natural where again you can smell Jesus and see just how creative he is

f. Just that 5 minutes before we fall asleep.

I could go on and on because this taught us to look for and appreciate those moments. Those moments where we can make it an intentional Sabbath. We want to teach our kids that “down time” can be productive in our relationship with Jesus and to the kingdom of God.  So Happy Sabbath Friday!