FamilyLife This Week®

What Sabbath Is About

with Dennis Rainey, Hannah Anderson, John Piper, Melissa Spoelstra | October 16, 2021
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The Sabbath day is Sunday for many Christians, but for others it’s Saturday. In either case, this special day of the week has a specific purpose. Dennis Rainey, John Piper, Melissa Spoelstra, and Hannah Anderson give their perspective on how to best honor the Sabbath and keep it holy.4

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Michelle Hill

    Radio has been ingrained in Michelle for most of her life. This love for radio has taken her to various radio stations and ministries in places like Chicago, Alaska and other snow covered terrains like her hometown in north central Iowa. In 2005 she landed on staff with Cru/FamilyLife®. While at FamilyLife she has overseen the expansion of FamilyLife Today® internationally, assisted with the creation of Passport2Identity™-Womanhood and is now the host of FamilyLife This Week®. For the last 15+ years Michelle has been mentoring young women and is passionate about helping them find their identity in God. She also has a fascination for snowflakes and the color yellow. Michelle makes her home in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Dennis Rainey, John Piper, Melissa Spoelstra, and Hannah Anderson give their perspective on how to best honor the Sabbath and keep it holy.

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What Sabbath Is About

With Dennis Rainey, Hannah Anders...more
October 16, 2021
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Michelle: If you think that resting on the Sabbath is an old-fashioned Jewish law, well, you need to think again. Here is Melissa Spoelstra.

Melissa: Jesus did not take away the concept of rest. He did fulfill the Sabbath—it is not a mandated law that it has to look a certain way—but He certainly did not come and obliterate the concept that we were created to rest.

Michelle: We’re going to talk about what church is for and what Sabbath is for on this edition of FamilyLife This Week.

Welcome to FamilyLife This Week. I’m Michelle Hill. You know, last week, we talked about Pastor Appreciation Month because October is Pastor Appreciation Month. Well, this week, I wanted to talk about church and some of the reasons why we go to church.

“Why do you go to church?”

Lady: The main reason I go to church is because I love the Lord, but I also enjoy the worship and praise and getting together with the other saints.

Man: I go to church because that’s where I’m fed, where I fellowship, and where I learn to grow closer to God.

Second Man: I’m involved in several families’ lives in my own church and serving. It’s not about what I can receive from the message but what I can do to help impart that to others and help them in their journey with Christ.

Michelle: You know, church really isn’t about you; it’s about God. In fact, all of life is about the One who made us because we are His. On Sundays, we learn about Him; we glorify Him; and we rest in Him. I want us to take a look about learning about Him today; where better to do that than to open His Word?

A while back, on FamilyLife Today®, Dennis Rainey shared a list of what the Bible is about. His list goes like this:

The Bible tells us who God is and what He is like, what pleases God, and how we should relate and respond to God. It explains God’s love for us. The Bible shows us the way to have a relationship with God, and it teaches us how to live. At the right time, it instructs us on how to die. The Bible gives our soul God’s nutrients for spiritual growth; and it convicts us of wrong choices, wrong attitudes, wrong perspective. The Bible gives us the standard for moral judgement, and it replaces our wishbone with a backbone by giving us moral convictions. The Bible is the truth: the unchanging truth, the mighty truth, God’s truth for us.

You know, without God’s power in our lives, we are like a ship out to sea on a stormy night; because the Bible is our navigational tool in this life. That kind of reminds me of a conversation that Bob Lepine and Dennis Rainey had, not so long ago, that illustrates this idea of biblical authority. Here is Dennis.

[Previous FamilyLife Today Broadcast]

Dennis: A young army pilot by the name of Carl Crane got caught in the clouds about 8,000 feet above Detroit while he was trying to fly a congressman’s son back to Washington, DC. He was flying a bi-plane. Now, I want to read what he said:

In a short time I was losing altitude, completely out of control. I couldn’t fly the airplane at all. It had gotten into a spiral dive; and about halfway down, I looked around at the boy behind me. He was enjoying the flight to no end! He was shaking his hands and grinning, and I was slowly dying because I knew we were about to crash.

Crane did not know which wing was up or down, let alone, by how much. He goes on:

Finally, it had got down under a thousand feet. I said, “Well, here we go. I’m going to look at this boy one more time.” As I turned around to look at him, a sign went by my wing; it said Statler Hotel. I had just missed the top of the Statler Hotel in Detroit. In all the mist and rain, I could see the buildings and the streets. I righted the plane and flew down the street and got over the Detroit River and flew about ten feet high all the way back to Toledo, shaking all the way.

Well, what the Scriptures are—the Scriptures are those points of perspective—those anchor points that tell us: “This is right-side up.” They explain to us why we behave the way we behave—why we make sinful, selfish choices—and what we can do about them. If we will but obey them and follow the Scriptures, like that pilot followed the river, we can have a safe landing. It may be bumpy; there may be some jostling about that takes place during flight, but we’re going to get home safely.


Michelle: And it’s the Bible that helps get us home safely, because it teaches us about God. On Sundays, and every day, we need God’s Word to guide us and to teach us. At church, we should also be worshipping God—we should be getting caught up in who He is and all that He has done—we need to behold Him.

John Piper, for many years, was pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is a well-known author and speaker. A while back, John Piper stopped by FamilyLife®. He shared with our staff how Christ knew we needed to know Him to really know Him. Pastor Piper spoke to us out of the book of John, the place where Jesus was praying to God the night before His crucifixion. He said these words: “Father, I desire that they also whom You have given Me may be with Me where I am, to see My glory that You have given Me because You love Me before the foundation of the world.”

But Pastor Piper also talked about how we can help those around us to properly understand and grasp the awe of God. Here is John Piper.

[Recorded Message]

John: What is the most loving prayer request that Christ could make for you? Answer: “Father, let them see My glory.” If that’s the most loving request He could make, then that He be glorious is essential to love/that He be displayed as glorious is essential to an act of love; because if we didn’t have Him to look at—if He were somehow clouded, not on display—we would be the losers! 

Okay, I want to think about relating this to families. How do we help enthrall our wives and husbands? Me: “How do I help Noël be enthralled with Christ?” and “How do I help my daughter, Talitha, be enthralled with Christ?”—that’s my goal. My little girl is a sinner, and she is dead in trespasses and sins unless she is born again. I don’t know yet whether she is born again at 8 years old: I see some evidences, but I see evidences to the contrary.

My prayer is that God would awaken her from the dead and incline her heart to Christ:

  • “Incline us to Your Word, O God,”
  • “Open our eyes to see wonderful things out of Your law,”
  • “Unite our hearts to fear Your Name,”
  • “Satisfy us in the morning with Your steadfast love.”

Those four prayers—I.O.U.S.—I pray those for myself every day, and I pray them for my little girl. Only a supernatural work can make her be happy in God more than me and her mother. That is what conversion will mean. That is highly unnatural and, therefore, a miracle and, therefore, to be prayed for.

With regard to speaking—oh, my; the tongue—oh, the power of the tongue in marriage and in child-rearing! James—the power of the tongue for evil and the power of the tongue for good—oh my!

Let me just give you a few bullets here of the tongue. Maybe, I’ll leave the show for later: “Pray, speak, show.” Exult around your wife, your spouse, and your children, spontaneously, in all the glories and gifts of Christ. How few homes have exulting parents! Do you know what exult means? “Isn’t it a beautiful day, Talitha?! God gave us a beautiful day,”—exult in the gifts of God and the glories of God.

Now, you’ve got to pray like crazy to be that kind of person. This is not artificial. I asked Noël this morning, “What is the opposite of flattery?” I think a lot of parents use flattery to make their kids feel loved. I mean, the word, “flattery,” exists in the English language because there is this reality that’s bad. It’s a use of language and compliment that is bad. There is a bad way to compliment people; it’s called flattery. What is the opposite?

There are several opposites as Noël pointed out this morning—but the one I’m most interested in is—I think the opposite of flattery is spontaneous enjoyment of everything good you see in your child: makes her first little tree—round with a stick in the bottom—“That’s beautiful!”

Now, I could either be a manipulative, self-esteem builder at this point, thinking, “Now, let’s see; good parenting involves making her feel like a good artist. This is really not good art, but I will do what parents are supposed do and make her feel good about her lousy art.” [Laughter] Now, that would be flattery or manipulative, artificial use of language to build a feeling into a child.

Wouldn’t it be better if you were the kind of person, who looked at that and said, “Awesome! I feel so happy about this tree!” You wouldn’t have to use any words like, “You’re a great artist,” which would be a lie. You don’t have to use that, because she feels your joy. That’s what we need to be. We need to be people, who are so free from ourselves and so spontaneously delighting in every good and perfect gift from the Father, that every little thing she does that has any speck of virtue in it at all causes us to brim with gladness. She’ll feel that.

Now, in her sinful nature, she might take it to puff up her pride; but if God grants her a new nature, she will simply know: “My daddy delights in all that is right and good, so I should delight in all that is right and good,” and “God is ultimately right and good.” Exulting is a fixed routine—it’s a use of the mouth; it is full of blessing—and I believe it is pointing her, every night, to a God, who never sleeps and will take care of her when daddy is gone.


Michelle: We serve a God, who never sleeps; such a great reminder.

John Piper is teaching us how to lead by example. When we are showing others how to do it, we are actually doing it. When you are looking for God in all of those details, and showing others God in those details, you are praising Him. The more we praise Him, the more we want to praise Him. As John said, “Delighting in all that is right and good,” well, God is, ultimately, right and good.

We have Sabbath; and we have church for studying God’s Word, and glorifying God, and also for rest. Rest any day of the week is hard to do. What does rest on a Sabbath or rest on a Sunday mean, especially, when you have busy teenagers? Let’s hear one perspective on that from Melissa Spoelstra. Melissa is a pastor’s wife. She is a busy mom of four; she’s a speaker, Bible study author, and passionate keeper of the fourth commandment: “Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.” Sundays/church days are our Sabbath. Here is Melissa.

[Previous FamilyLife Today Broadcast]

Melissa: We decided, many years ago, to say, “What would it look like for us to have a media-free day on Sundays?—to say: “No phones,” “No iPods.” This happened for me, in one of those moments at home, where I noticed it was really quiet. I looked up over the top of my laptop. I saw two kids on devices; I saw my husband on his laptop and realized the other two kids were downstairs, watching TV. It wasn’t one of those sweet momma moments, where you’re cuddling with your kids or you’ve just finished reading a story. It was one of those: “What are we all doing? We’re all in the same house and, yet, we’re not connected.”

Dennis: Are you a mean mom?

Melissa: It is my kids’ least favorite part of this whole spiritual rhythm. I mean, we are the meanest parents in the world, because we still do it. And did I mention my children/my daughters were 16? The other day, they came home from church and, of course, they don’t have their phones. They can barely survive without them, because they could—the fear of missing something/they could be missing something—someone might be trying to get ahold of them. They’re so used to being constantly notified—notifications, notifications, notifications—they almost don’t know what to do in their own skin without that kind of a communication.

Sarah, my daughter, says to me, “What are we supposed to do?! I’m bored. I don’t know what to do.” [Laughter] We’re laying around on the couches in the living room. I said, “Well, Sarah, why don’t you tell us a story?” She said, “Once upon a time there were two really mean parents, who took away their kids’ phones for no reason at all!” [Laughter] And we all laughed. You know what happened?—we all fell asleep on those couches.

I woke up before everyone else, and I looked at my sleeping children—because they’re at their best—right? [Laughter] We love to watch our kids sleep: they’re so beautiful, and we cherish them. I thought, “There’s a reason that we’re unplugging: because we’re tired. We run so hard. Our Creator God knows us, and He made us, and designed us for rest. I mean, if He really wanted to get the point across, He could put it in the days of creation—maybe he could put it in the Ten Commandments—maybe He could talk about it throughout the prophets if He thought it was important.”

Bob: Oh, wait!

Melissa: Oh, wait! Then where’s that passage about Jesus being in a hurry?—you know that one verse about—oh, wait!

Bob: Yes; that’s not in there; is it?

Melissa: There’s not one either. Jesus did not take away the concept of rest. He did fulfil the Sabbath—it is not a mandated law that it has to look a certain way—but He certainly did not come and obliterate the concept that we were created to rest.


Michelle: We were created to rest because, remember at creation, God rested on the seventh day. Our fourth commandment is: “Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.”

Hey, we need to take a break; but when we come back, I am going to talk with Hannah Anderson, who is also a pastor’s wife, and talk to her about what Sundays/what Sabbath looks like in their home. Stay tuned.

[Radio Station Break]

Michelle: Welcome back to FamilyLife This Week. Today, we’ve been talking about:

  • what our Sabbath and our Sundays should look like; and really, why we go to church;
  • we’ve tackled knowing just what the Bible is and why we need to know it;
  • also, how to glorify God: “What does that look like?” “How does that play out in our families?”;
  • and we talked about my favorite thing—resting—just taking a break.

I know there is a lot more that we could be talking about—about what a Sunday is for—but to help us consider Sundays from a pastor’s wife’s standpoint, I decided to call my friend, Hannah Anderson. Hannah is a pastor’s wife/a mom; she is the author of several books; she is a writer of articles for various blogs and publications; and she is an awesome thinker.

Hannah, welcome to FamilyLife This Week.

Hannah: Hi, Michelle; it’s so good to be with you.

Michelle: I am so excited to talk with you. I—you know, I’m just—as we’ve been talking today about the Sabbath, and what Sundays look like, what comes to mind for you when you think of a Sabbath?

Hannah: Well, it’s not Sunday. [Laughter]

Michelle: I bet not because Sundays are a day of work for you; isn’t it?

Hannah: It is, and it’s—I guess the best way to describe Sunday in a pastor’s home is—if you’re on Facebook®—and you see the relationships status options; and one of them is: “It’s complicated,”—Sundays for us, as a pastor’s family, are best described as #ItsComplicated. Because at one level, it is a day of worship for us; but it also has a lot happening in the backend for us in terms of behind-the-scenes work. Sunday is a day of work for my husband and even for me as a pastor’s wife.

One of the first things that happens for us, as a family, is that we’re not necessarily together—

Michelle: Yes.

Hannah: —in our experience of Sunday morning. We are all there in the same place, but we’re not riding in the car together down to the church. We’re not coming home together. We are not sitting as a family together; and I think that, for me, that may be one of the biggest differences. Where, in a lot of people’s experience, Sunday morning worship or church is really associated as a family time, where you can all be together, worshipping God. For us, it’s a little more fragmented—where we are all there—but it’s not a time for us to be together.

Michelle: So when do you get your day of rest?

Hannah: Well, my husband and I tend to take Monday off. But with our family, our children are in a traditional school settings; so they don’t get Monday off. We don’t always have our rest together as a family. We do try to make time for them, separately, to make sure they are resting; because I don’t think we always think of Sabbath as something that children need because they have so much energy. We just think, “Well, they need to be busy.” Children need downtime too. My husband and I tend to take a personal Sabbath on Mondays.

Michelle: I’ve got to admit, coming from my standpoint: when I see my pastor’s wife, I think, “Oh, okay; she gets the kids ready for church, and she comes.” Our pastor’s wife actually helps in leading worship, but it adds a complexity layer when you have children.

Hannah: It does. The same resources that you are using for leading and pastoring are the same resources that you are using for parenting. It’s like this nurturing, discipleship component. My husband and I have talked a lot about that, where sometimes those resources feel depleted, because you are—you are using them for parenting, but you are also using them for ministry—that was something that I did not anticipate; I never expected that.

Michelle: So how do you guys—I mean, other than getting away for a weekend or something like that—how do you guys get refreshed? Or do you have someone who is building into you?

Hannah: Well, we learned, pretty quickly on, to be okay with boundaries. There are sometimes like our family and our children just cannot go to everything the church is doing. While there would be people, who would expect us to, we learned that we just had to put those boundaries in place and be okay with them. We do safeguard some of that, because we are not doing this work for the approval of men. We can make those choices, more before the Lord, and say, “Do our children need to stay home from this event?” “If they stay home, then I need to stay home with them; and that’s going to have to be okay.”

Some of that, honestly, was forced upon us; because our middle child is on the autism spectrum. Learning his limits, we learned to embrace them as our family’s limits.

Michelle: I bet.

Hannah: We realized that, if God is sovereign and He allowed this for our son’s life, that those limits were not limits that we should ignore. We had to give attention to them. That really helped us learn the boundaries of not pushing past limits to begin with; but also, not feeling guilty when you need to take that time. Sometimes, with our son, we’ve just told people, “I’m sorry he has seen too many people today. He cannot be around any more people.” [Laughter]

Michelle: Sometimes, that’s got to be nice, too—it’s then you can escape, too—where it’s like: “Hey, it’s him; it really is him we are caring for. But you know, it’s kind of nice that I get to escape too.”

Hannah: I think that is what he has contributed. We have realized that we can see his limits so clearly that they have highlighted our own limits; because then, when I do stay home, I think, “Oh, I needed that.” Now, I wouldn’t have done that if it were left to me—and pushed through and ministered and served—but then, once it happens, I think, “Oh, that was something I should have given attention to.” His limits forced us to realize that about ourselves.

We do have—as far as people pouring into our lives—we have built relationships with other folks in the community, that may not be in our church/so we have really close friends, who are in another church.

Michelle: That’s good.

Hannah: We have good relationships with the other pastors and ministers in the area. There is that sense of shared understanding, mutual care—

Michelle: —which helps a lot—

Hannah: Yes.

Michelle: —to be able to talk through stuff; and for someone to say, “I get it; I know exactly what you are going through.”

Well, Hannah, thank you so much for spending a few minutes with us and just helping us understand—giving us an eye a little bit or a view into—the life of a pastor’s family. It’s invaluable as we appreciate those who serve us every Sunday. Thank you so much.

Hannah: Thank you for having me, Michelle. It’s been wonderful to share.

Michelle: Always good to have Hannah Anderson on FamilyLife This Week. Hey, next week, we are going to hear from the next generation, Generation Z. Each generation has its significant critics, and Generation Z does, too; but you know, God is doing some incredible work through a couple of young people who want to reach their generation with the gospel. Jordan Whitmer and Emma Mae Jenkins will join me. I can guarantee you that it will be encouraging and inspiring. I hope you can join us for that.

Hey, thanks for listening! I want to thank the president of FamilyLife®, David Robbins, along with the cofounder, Dennis Rainey, and our station partners around the country. A big “Thank you,” today to Keith Lynch, our engineer; thanks to our producers, Marques Holt and Bruce Goff. Justin Adams is our mastering engineer, and Megan Martin is our production coordinator.

Our program is a production of FamilyLife Today, and our mission is to effectively develop godly families who change the world one home at a time.

I’m Michelle Hill, inviting you to join us again next time for another edition of FamilyLife This Week.


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