I Love To Retreat Part 4

As I have talked about in previous blogs, retreating is both necessary and biblical. As we saw in Mark 1 and Luke 6, Christ did indeed retreat to be with His Father and in Matthew 17 we saw how He took His disciples on a “retreat” of sorts to grow and be refreshed. I have tried to lay out for you a “philosophy” or rationale for daily retreating (personal quiet times), and now I would like do the same for weekly retreating through Sabbath rest and worship. Next week I want to encourage you to think about your children and/or grandchildren and their need for retreating/rest as well.

For weekly retreating (though we often don’t view it this way) all we have to do is to look to the Sabbath. Exodus 20 tells us of Moses on Mt. Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments. One of those commandments is “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God.” Part of our Sabbath rest is through worship as a God ordained weekly recharging station for our souls. Through the reading and preaching of the Word, prayer, singing, fellowship and the sacraments, we are given the privilege each week of a God-mandated break or retreat. He knows that we need to stop from our daily labors and come to Him for worship and renewal. How many among us, if the Lord had made Sabbath observance simply an option, would take advantage of this wonderful gift? Probably not many, as the busyness of life sweeps over us, we can tend to neglect times of worship, retreat and renewal.  

Yearly retreating has an important place too. As families and individuals we often make a priority of getting away periodically to rest and spend time together on vacations. This is right, appropriate, and good! Whether your favorite place is to go to the shore or to the heights of the  mountains or some other destination, we know how valuable times away can be for the strength of our families and our own individual sanity. In addition to family vacations each year Ruthanna and I attend a conference for pastors and their wives called Crieff. It is at the Bonclarken Retreat center in Hendersonville, NC and is a wonderful time of worship, teaching and fellowship for us as we seek to recharge our spiritual batteries. Perhaps in the future you and your spouse could consider getting away to be spiritually nurtured and refreshed? R.C. Sproul’s ministry, Ligonier has conferences and even cruises that offer times in the Word for individuals and couples. You can go to their web site at www.ligonier.org for more information and to check these options out. There are a host of other opportunities but making retreating with your spouse a priority is a challenging but worthwhile endeavor.   

Retreating Modelled

Parents, how are we at modeling for our children the importance of ‘retreating’? Do they see us daily in the Word? Do we spend time as a family in simple devotions so that we are going to the throne of grace together? Are we helping our children to make a priority of weekly Sabbath observance? Are we helping our children to set aside Sunday as not just another day for work or schooling or sports? Do we give a portion of the Lord’s day to Him but reserve the rest of it for our own interests? When we do not “remember the Sabbath to keep it holy,” we disobey the Lord’s commands, we forgo the rest that the Lord is providing, we rob ourselves of a deepening relationship with our Savior and we possibly set a future pattern for our families of what is ultimately important. Please prayerfully examine as a family how you spend the Sabbath. Fathers, perhaps we could begin with our own lives and ask if we are being obedient to the Scriptures and are fully taking advantage of the Lord’s day ourselves. Then perhaps begin to dialogue with your wife and children about what the Scriptures say about Sundays and how we as a family can take steps toward recapturing the Sabbath for its original intent.

Sabbath Prep

A wonderful practice to begin to build into your week is to gather on Saturday nights to prepare our hearts for worship. Dads, maybe you could gather the family for a brief time of prayer and Scripture reading to prepare for the Lord’s Day services. Bethel, like many churches, puts our weekly bulletin or order of worship online the week prior to Sunday’ service. You can go to our web site www.bethelchurchpca.com, and look under the Media tab for weekly worship guides. This can be a good way to prepare for worship. For a more detailed preparation you could take the bulletin and walk through each element of the service giving explanation of each element and its importance.

How are we at retreating? Most of us have to really work at getting away for a while for rest and restoration. I hope that you will receive the above exhortations and suggestions in the spirit that they are offered, simply seeking to help us all retreat well for spiritual refreshment and renewal. I also hope that we will by God’s grace strive to help ourselves and our families to get the rest that we all need each week, being refreshed by time with the Lord.