Rob Bell was the first catalyst speaker to begin his session by opening in prayer. I’m not saying that is necessarily a fault of all the other speakers but it WAS something that stood out for me. It was an invitation for the Holy Spirit to be at work in and through him as he spoke to us and I do believe God answered his prayer.
Here’s a few things that stood out for me:
I was recently talking to a pastor who said he wanted to quit…. So I asked him to draw a pie chart of what he does every week. He had been a pastor for a year and wanted to quit every day…. So I asked if he practiced Sabbath.
Umm yeah, there was silence in the auditorium after that statement. Funny thing is, this isn’t the first time it’s been said or asked. There’s gounds of speakers and writers that have promoted the teaching of the sabbath and yet when Rob asked that question you could still feel the conviction in the room. I know I make my best effort to take my day off as my day off but lately I’ve been slipping on that. When you skip the sabbath, then motivation and energy skips you. Sabbath is important.
Is bigger better?
Another simple question that really we all know the answer to (well at least we know what the answer should be!) but once again by posing this simple question Rob unveiled an attitude that still needs dealt with. Rob shared from John 6 where Jesus gave some expectations and some people chose to leave; he shared from Luke 21 about the story of the widow who gave all she had vs. the rich people who gave much but really were giving little. What a paradox that in the eyes of Jesus what was more really wasn’t more and what was less was actually more. The way God measures things isn’t the way we measure things!
Something else that stood up for me was when Rob started sharing about the 10 commandments (Exodus 20). He highlighted that the first 9 commandments all deal with external things. Things that if not followed provide ample easy evidence of them not being followed. However, the 10th commandment is internal – there’s really no way for anybody to know whether someone has broken that commandment (outside of God that is!). Here was Rob’s point, the 10th commandment is a “reward” – what that means is that if you follow the first 9 rules then you won’t have a problem with the 10th because you won’t want anyone else’s life! You will be completely enthralled with the life God has given you in Him.
Another statement that really impacted me:
If you have a burden of feeling like you have not accomplished enough, God wants to set you free from that. Jesus wants you to simply enjoy the place that you are at and the work that is in front of you.
If I’m honest with myself this is one area that I really need to be set free from. I’m a perfectionist. I’m the kind of guy that when I get started on something important (or at least what I think is important) I tackle it like a bulldog and won’t let go. Part of the reason I’m that way is because I have always had this niggling little thought in the back of my mind that I haven’t accomplished enough. There’s always something else I need to do. When Rob said this I almost started bawling. The Holy Spirit did something significant in my life through that statement as I released that burden. It’s a statement that’s going to stick with me for a long time and I’m sure something that I’ll be reminding myself in the days ahead as I’m tempted to take up that thought again.
Another area that really hit home was this statement:
Our children pick up on what really matters to us without us saying a word.
To really grasp the significance of what that means Rob set it up by asking the following questions,
Does your spouse get your very best, or does your spouse get what is left over from the church? Do your kids get your very best, or do they get the scraps?
Ouch! Again, you could feel the conviction in the air and once again I felt the lock fall off the gate between what I knew in my mind and what I felt in my heart. It forced me to recognize the scraps I’ve been feeding my family. And it created a determination in me for that to stop. It forced me to shudder at what my kids think what really matters to me. And it challenged me to change that.
There has been much controversy over some of the things Rob Bell has said and written, but in this session God spoke through him and hit me to the core. Do any of these statements or questions impact you?
For more perspectives on Rob Bell’s session you can check out:
- Marshall Shelley, “Rob Bell on the Reward of the Tenth Commandment“
- Brad Ruggles, “Catalyst 09: Rob Bell“
- Kent Schaffer, “Rob Bell on Enjoying Where You Are At“
- Pete Wilson, “The Best Of You“