Issues and Answers

How To Keep The Sabbath...And Enjoy It, Pt. 2

Three Angels Broadcasting Network

Program transcript

Participants: Shelley Quinn (Host), May-Ellen Colón


Series Code: IAA

Program Code: IAA000415

00:01 How would you like to have seven-and-a-half weeks of
00:04 joyful vacation with God and your family every year?
00:07 You can, stay tuned. ¤
00:35 Hi, I'm Shelley Quinn and we're so glad that you're joining us
00:38 no matter where you are around the world and if you're
00:40 listening by radio or by internet or if you're watching
00:44 us on television, thank you for joining Issues and Answers.
00:47 Today is going to be an exciting day because we're going to be
00:50 talking about how to have a seven-and-a-half week vacation
00:54 with God. One of my favorite verses is Isaiah 30:15. I used
00:59 to consider this my life verse. Here's the Lord speaking and
01:02 he says: In returning and rest you shall be saved. In quietness
01:08 and confidence shall be your strength. And actually I look
01:13 at that verse now and I realize it's a call to come to God, rest
01:19 in him on his Sabbath day and that is how you can have 52 days
01:25 out of the year, that's seven- and-a-half weeks of vacation
01:29 with God. And if we look at it as a very special time, a
01:34 vacation time that will be joyful then this is something
01:38 that we should all be looking forward to week by week.
01:41 Help me to welcome, if you will, our very special guest. She is a
01:46 Ph. D. and an author. She's also the assistant director for the
01:51 Sabbath School and Personal Ministries of the Seventh-day
01:55 Adventist Church in the General Conference.
01:59 May-Ellen Colon. May-Ellen, that's just a mouthful for me
02:02 today but we're so glad that you've returned.
02:03 So glad to be back.
02:06 Now let me set this up quickly because we really want to get
02:10 into our topic today, but I just want to let people know a little
02:13 bit about who you are. You grew up and married a pastor. You
02:20 grew up in an Adventist environment, your father was
02:23 not but your mother was. You married a pastor you met in
02:27 college. You were missionaries in Africa and in Russia for nine
02:31 years. And now you're at the General Conference. But you,
02:34 because of your son and just because of the different
02:39 cultural experiences that you've had and seeing how people kept
02:44 the Sabbath, making the Sabbath a joyful celebration really
02:49 because a passion of yours; knowing how to find the biblical
02:55 principles, how to observe the Sabbath in such a way that you'd
03:01 find joy and the Lord would find joy and the family would find
03:04 joy. And you've written a book, From Sundown to Sundown: How
03:07 to Keep the Sabbath and Enjoy It This book is available at the
03:12 ABC or also at But now what we want to do today
03:17 you have this statement that you said, The Sabbath is a
03:21 vacation with God and with his family, a joyful rest.
03:25 Let's unpack that. You have certain principles that you have
03:30 pulled from the Bible to talk about the vacation. Let's get
03:34 into those principles.
03:35 Okay. Well, first of all, I love vacations and when
03:42 I heard at the General Conference
03:44 that I finally had worked my way up to four weeks a year, I
03:49 thought wow! Then I discovered that I have actually 7-1/2 weeks
03:52 of vacation that I hadn't thought about with God that
03:56 was even more of a big deal. So every vacation though
04:00 involves certain things and one of them is preparation so that
04:06 actually is the first principle under the vacation part of that
04:11 statement that I'd like to just share. In the book, it's more
04:16 explained, but basically that means preparing for this special
04:20 day so we can enjoy its benefits You know we talked the last time
04:26 about we reflect different characteristics of God when we
04:29 live the Sabbath, and even God is a preparer. You know, he
04:34 prepared the earth for the people before he made the
04:39 people. He prepared the garden, he made it very special.
04:42 Then the Sabbath came. The culmination, of course, he is
04:44 preparing a place for us in the earth made new and so he is a
04:51 preparer. So when we can emulate him by following that principle
04:57 of his existence, his life...
04:58 Okay, so principle number one is preparation. There are some
05:03 scriptures for that. Hebrews 4:11, Exodus 16:28-30,
05:10 and Luke 23:54-56 to talk about the preparation. Now when you
05:20 are talking about preparation for the Sabbath, we are going to
05:23 be talking about preparation to make the Sabbath special.
05:27 As the Israelites did in Exodus 16, I'm just taking one of the
05:31 three. They had some definite preparation. They had to get
05:35 the manna prepared before Sabbath and there were some
05:37 definite intentionality there.
05:39 They had to get their fire built because that was a big, big
05:42 chore back then. And so forth. So the principle
05:45 of preparation you will see that thread running through scripture
05:49 in various stories. So what are some of the things
05:52 you do in your family to prepare for the Sabbath.
05:54 Well when I was, well let's see, this must have been in Africa
05:59 when our little girl Sarah was in first grade, she made a clock
06:03 for Bible class one day and I still have this same clock.
06:06 It has survived many years, and it says, Sabbath begins at...
06:12 and it has hands, it's hard to see them, that move, and we
06:16 still have that on our refrigerator and have had it
06:18 for years now. So this is the idea that there is a definite
06:22 time that we're aiming towards. It's sort of like taking a
06:26 vacation. You know you need to be at the airport at a certain
06:30 time to take off; well, we're going to take off on Shalom
06:33 Airlines to Sabbath Land and we need to be there, we need to be
06:37 ready for the departure to get the full benefit of this
06:41 experience. So there's a time element there, there's
06:45 intentionality. I was just going to say, my
06:50 favorite thing that you had was the little schedule that you put
06:56 up on your... Yes I do. We started that when
07:02 we were in Africa. One of the other missionaries was doing it
07:05 with their family and I said, Ah that's for me. I'm going to
07:07 try it. So usually every Monday in family worship, I would take
07:13 Ivan and Sarah, my husband and I would sit with them and say okay
07:17 for worship today, let's plan Sabbath. It's coming in six days
07:24 or five days. What do you want to do? So there's a graphic that
07:33 has it. We asked them what do you want to do on Friday night?
07:36 And what food do you want to have? And they would say and
07:42 we'd write it in. Well it could have been chili and corn bread
07:46 or whatever. Then what activity do you want to do. Most of the
07:51 time they wanted to do charades for worship.
07:53 So on this it was Friday nights you had then Sabbath morning,
08:00 Sabbath afternoon and then Sabbath evening. So I love this
08:04 idea of having this up here you actually got the children
08:11 involved in making preparations and it seemed like a holiday, it
08:16 seemed like it would be something they would be looking
08:18 forward to because then you knew that when you were planning this
08:22 out when the Sabbath came it wasn't going to be somebody
08:24 sitting around saying, What are we going to do?
08:28 Or, Why do we have to do this? When's it going to end?
08:33 Well, if they invented it, they're more inclined to own it
08:37 and look forward to actually doing it.
08:40 You know, not just for children; I think that's a great idea for
08:43 all of us, because if we put some thought into what our
08:47 Sabbath activities are, especially if you're in ministry
08:51 In ministry, we can get so overworked on Sabbath, it's good
08:56 to carve out some time and say this is going to be our special
08:58 time that we're doing just for our own relaxation and special
09:03 time with the Lord.
09:04 That's right and then your preparation... There are
09:07 different seasons of life for Sabbath keeping. Right now I
09:11 spend a lot of time traveling and weekends are very, very busy
09:17 so I have to set my Sabbaths to be simpler now. You know,
09:21 simpler preparation. So you have to gauge whatever your season of
09:25 life is. But you know, simple can still be special.
09:28 Just having that intentionality might mean putting a special
09:36 bowl of fruit you just got from the market on Sabbath and a nice
09:40 pretty... It could mean lighting a candle, it could mean many
09:43 things, but just something to indicate we're about to have a
09:49 special time. We need to be intentional about welcoming it.
09:54 Something that I like is to put scripture promises if I'm
09:58 going to have people over for dinner, put scripture promises
10:00 under their plate and then after the meal when the dishes are
10:04 cleared away everybody can have that scripture promise for the
10:07 week, that's their promise from God. You know they can share and
10:11 say what that means to them or what they might be looking
10:13 forward to. Yes. It takes intentionality.
10:17 But we do it, we plan when we have a vacation or when we have
10:21 people over for a holiday or whatever, we put some thought
10:24 into it and then we can really enjoy it.
10:26 But I like what you said May- Ellen that simple can be special
10:30 because I know that there are probable people out there like
10:33 me and like you who work many hours who feel like their time
10:38 is in such a crunch anyway that sometimes we have almost a
10:43 stop-and-go Sabbath. It's kind of like you rush up to the
10:46 Sabbath hours and some people just stop and then they're
10:49 waiting for the time to click by to where they can go again.
10:52 If we put a little thought into it, it doesn't have to make our
10:56 days more hectic; it's actually to make our weekend more special
11:01 that vacation with God more special.
11:04 Okay, so let's look at principle number two.
11:06 Principle number two under the vacation idea is the principle
11:11 of resting; resting from work and life's burdens and secular
11:17 concerns and distractions. Sabbath keeping means that.
11:21 Again, we're resting, we're putting aside our regular
11:27 business. If we don't rest from our daily grind, it's like
11:34 exhaling all the time. You know, we can try that, we can try
11:38 exhaling for the rest of this program and see how well we do
11:42 and not ever taking a time to just inhale and just, Oh Lord,
11:48 fill me, I just need to be recharged.
11:50 You know, that is something that you're taking the words right
11:53 out of my mouth, is that when I first discovered the Sabbath
11:58 through personal Bible study and the Lord leading me, I
12:01 remember my first Sabbaths just for the first two years even.
12:05 When it would come time, and I was running a ministry out of
12:10 the home so I had a little more time, but when it would come
12:13 time for the Sabbath, I would just feel like I was inhaling
12:20 the fragrance of God and it would be such a joyful change
12:24 of pace. I think you're probably aware that in I think it was
12:30 France they tried to change the work week from a seven-day work
12:34 week to a 10-day work week and found that people could not
12:39 function on a 10-day work week. God's the one who set up the
12:44 seven-day weekly cycle because he knew our bodies' biorhythms.
12:49 We need that break, we need that day off.
12:53 Yes, and they did the same thing in Britain during World War II.
12:58 They upped the hours and they found out that the production
13:02 went down and when they allowed more time for them
13:05 to rest the production went up.
13:06 So it's a given, it's a given for humanity
13:13 Let me give some scriptures, if you're taking notes, that this
13:18 principle number two of resting from your work and your concerns
13:21 and the burdens of life, Exodus 16:28-29, Exodus 20:9-10,
13:30 Exodus 23:12; 34:21 and there are many more, they are all
13:36 listed in May-Ellen's book. So principle number three.
13:42 Well principle number three as listed in the book is renewing.
13:47 Many people may be doing Sabbath-like things but
13:52 sometimes they do them in a stressful manner. In fact, one
13:58 of the strongest findings of my dissertation, I compared church
14:02 leaders as one of the things I studied with the regular laity,
14:04 with the regular church members and I found out that the church
14:09 leaders had a noticeably higher stress level on Sabbath than the
14:13 church members. So somehow we've got to come up with a mind set
14:20 that allows us to do Sabbath- like things in an unstressful
14:25 way. Because if we are just are constantly going all Sabbath
14:30 long and end up more tired than when we started Sabbath, more
14:35 tired at the end, there's something not right with that
14:40 picture. I can relate to that because we
14:43 travel a lot on weekends and minister, but then when we are
14:47 in town often after church then there's hospital visitations and
14:52 there are some times we end up counseling with people and there
14:56 are times that we are going all day Sabbath and we come in at
15:00 the close of Sabbath when we finally make it home we're more
15:05 tired than any other day of the week. So it is something that
15:12 we're trying to... I was telling a young pastor and his wife,
15:17 we can't be God. We can't be the end-all and the answer for
15:24 everyone so we have to learn to pace ourselves and make sure
15:27 that we've got special time for our family and special time for
15:32 God. And there may be one Sabbath
15:35 when you have a day like that, but if every Sabbath of every
15:41 month is like that... I have a little schedule that I sometimes
15:46 try to factor in; my Sabbath monthly plan this time, but it's
15:52 in my mind as I think of my month. Maybe one Sabbath could
15:54 be for service activities after church. Maybe another Sabbath
16:00 could be for nature activity. May be one Sabbath could be just
16:05 fall apart Sabbath. You just stay home with your family and
16:10 maybe take a rest together and just have some neutral things
16:16 that aren't really demanding, but just find yourself again and
16:23 get reacquainted. Maybe another Sabbath could be for a church
16:27 program or something. But not have every Sabbath just one
16:32 constant grind, but breaking it up into different types of
16:37 Sabbaths. All these principles that we are going to discuss
16:41 in the course of these four programs, we can't do all of
16:44 them every Sabbath. I want to give you that little guideline
16:49 right from the start, although there are some that we must do
16:51 or it wouldn't be Sabbath. But some of them you can do it
16:58 maybe not this Sabbath but next Sabbath. Of course, every
17:00 Sabbath we need to rest, every Sabbath we need to keep it holy.
17:03 Those principles we keep intact. But I just wanted to point that
17:07 out so that you wouldn't end up so tired at the end that it's
17:11 not a rest and you're not renewed.
17:12 And the whole idea when we think of this as a vacation time with
17:18 the Lord, I mean there is preparation before we go on a
17:23 vacation. There is principle number two which is the resting.
17:28 And there is resting on a vacation and there is renewal
17:33 on a vacation. Well, I've been on vacations that weren't too
17:37 restful when I'm thinking about it and I told myself I would
17:40 never do that again. When you come home you need a vacation
17:44 from your vacation, you're in trouble, right? Okay so let's
17:47 look at principle number four.
17:48 Okay, did I share principle number three?
17:51 Maybe I'm the one that jumped. That's okay. Principle number
17:55 three. Yes. Principle number three is the one we've been
17:58 giving suggestions on how to live is observing the Sabbath
18:01 in a manner that renews us physically, emotionally,
18:04 mentally, spiritually and socially because the Sabbath
18:07 is made for us. Okay be more specific;
18:09 give us an example. Well physically, that might mean
18:13 resting, it may mean taking a nap if you've had a hard week.
18:16 But you know like I say, it's a vacation with God and he's our
18:20 guest so if we kind of sleep the whole day and ignore him
18:22 maybe that's not... you know we don't do that with our guests.
18:25 Or it may be a nature walk if you don't get a chance to get
18:28 out in the open air. Right, it could mean that, yes.
18:31 And it could mean of course mentally not... If I'm a pastor
18:35 or something maybe I don't do heavy even if its Sabbath-like
18:40 work that I do. Maybe I don't do heavy sermon preparation or
18:45 heavy materials preparation even if it's on a Sabbath-like theme.
18:50 Just because of the mental maybe it won't be a break mentally.
18:53 Spiritually, of course, is the going to church and hopefully
19:00 getting renewed that way. Socially we have maybe a more
19:06 laid back time with our family just in the relaxation mode
19:11 trying to avoid talking business and things like that that we are
19:16 taking a break from. You know, I think I mentioned
19:20 previously in another... I won't mention his name, but I
19:23 do know that there is one very popular pastor-evangelist
19:28 speaker that is on 3ABN and I know that as they welcome in the
19:36 Sabbath, the first thing he does is turn off his phone. He said
19:40 he figures that if the world can't get hold of him for 24
19:44 hours it's not going to fall apart and he dedicates the time
19:48 to his family and their time together with the Lord.
19:52 And this takes, again, intentionality. It depends on
19:58 what your profession is, too. If you're a musician, you know,
20:02 a conductor, or something, maybe music isn't the way that renews
20:07 you or directing choirs on Sabbath maybe that's not a
20:11 renewal thing for you because you're doing it all the time,
20:14 but for me being involved in music is a renewal thing because
20:17 I can't do it during the week. So you have to gauge your
20:22 situation and try to have balance in your life on this day
20:26 Well we could elaborate on that. Also observing the Sabbath in a
20:32 manner of renewal means it produces a sense of well-being
20:35 and lowering stress. So again if we're more tired and stressful
20:40 at the end, we need to rethink.
20:44 Well we need to go on so let's get to principle number four.
20:49 Principle number four is healing observing the day to foster
20:52 healing, relief, release, liberation and refreshment.
20:56 And any action that hurts ones self or others is Sabbath
21:00 breaking. That's an interesting thought.
21:03 So explain what you mean when you say observe the day by
21:08 fostering healing. Give us some examples.
21:11 Well, Jesus healed on the Sabbath and in the book it lists
21:19 the references for the seven healing miracles that Jesus did,
21:24 I think deliberately, most of them, to make the point that
21:27 Sabbath is a day for healing. You know, the man with the
21:31 withered hand, the lady that was stooped over, Simon's mother
21:34 and the pool of Bethesda and all of these healing stories
21:39 took place on Sabbath and I took that as a principle. Wow! Every
21:44 thing I do on Sabbath has to be healing. If I'm going to be
21:50 judgmental and tearing people down, that's not healing. It
21:55 translates into that to be an example.
21:58 Of course, we shouldn't be judgmental or tearing people
22:00 down on any day. Yes, on any day and the Sabbath
22:02 is a day above all days and so we certainly should not turn
22:07 the Sabbath into an occasion for doing that.
22:09 But maybe you know specifically you might apply that with
22:13 parents that if you have problem children maybe the time
22:18 to deal with the problems is not on the Sabbath day. Maybe that's
22:22 the time for just affirmation and building them up and trying
22:24 to heal and have that relationship.
22:26 Yes, one family actually decided to do that unless it was
22:31 something that couldn't wait, they waited so that Sabbath
22:35 could be associated in a positive light in their
22:39 children's lives. And healing... Of course, healing could mean
22:43 going to take care of somebody, or visit the sick
22:48 and you know when we have a situation, if it's an emergency
22:52 that comes up, we can ask our self, will greater harm come
22:56 if I leave this undone that if I do it? You know, that's
23:03 another issue entirely but I suppose we better move on to
23:07 number five. Okay number five. Yes, principle number five.
23:13 Celebrating. Now this is celebrating the creation of the
23:17 creation of the world and our redemption and the atmosphere
23:22 should be one of celebration, joy and delight.
23:26 I love it, May-Ellen, because when I first began celebrating
23:32 the Sabbath and I would go out to people and I would tell them
23:34 I was celebrating the Sabbath. Now, I have to tell you, some
23:37 Sabbath keepers, and I call them that, and I don't mean to sound
23:43 hmm... but that's what they were doing was KEEPING the Sabbath
23:46 but they weren't making it anything joyful. Sometimes
23:49 people would get upset with me and say, You shouldn't be
23:53 celebrating the Sabbath. And I said, It's all about creation,
23:56 re-creation, sanctification. Why shouldn't I be celebrating the
24:00 Sabbath?. I think it is a joyous occasion.
24:03 Yes, the fourth commandment does not say, Remember the Sabbath
24:07 day to keep it gloomy. Abraham Joshua Heschel has written a
24:13 wonderful book on the Sabbath. He says that actually in Jewish
24:17 tradition it's considered a sin to be sad on the Sabbath day.
24:22 Oh. I love that. It's considered a sin to be sad on the Sabbath.
24:25 And then Isaiah 58, of course, that wonderful word delight
24:28 comes up; to keep the Sabbath as a delight; the Hebrew
24:32 word for that means exquisite delight. Richard Davidson often
24:38 talks about it, it's royal delight. It's not just an
24:43 ordinary delight. So we're having a vacation with the king,
24:48 I mean, it's a royal delight and so somehow he wants us to
24:57 experience that. You know, I'm sitting here
24:59 this is a whole paradigm shift. People who have looked at the
25:04 Sabbath as something that they had to do. One program earlier
25:08 you said that some people look at the Sabbath as a day that a
25:13 demanding God has taken from us rather than looking at it as a
25:19 day that is a gift from a loving God who wants to spend this
25:23 time with us. I love the idea that this is 7-1/2 weeks a year,
25:29 52 days out of the year that God says come vacation with me.
25:33 Come rest. You'll find your strength, you'll find your
25:38 confidence when you're resting in me. Let's review those five
25:42 principles again, just recapping those. There's first the idea of
25:50 vacation. There's preparing and that's a guiding principle, that
25:54 we prepare to spend time that time with God. The second on is
25:56 that we should observe the Sabbath in a way that we are
26:02 renewing, excuse me, resting was the second. Then the third one
26:07 was that we're observing in a way that we are renewing
26:09 ourselves physically, emotionally and spiritually.
26:12 Then healing: That principle is that this is a time not only for
26:18 personal healing, emotional healing, but to reach out to
26:21 others as Jesus did and heal on the Sabbath; maybe to visit the
26:26 sick or somebody that's shut in. Then principle number five is
26:32 celebrating. Let's talk about that a little bit more. What
26:36 are we celebrating exactly? Celebrating the creation of the
26:40 world and Proverbs 8 talks about... That's the other
26:44 creation story and it talks about God rejoicing in the
26:48 mankind that he had made. And we're celebrating redemption.
26:52 In the other portrayal of the 10 commandments, Deuteronomy
26:56 Deuteronomy 5 talks about that's why we're keeping the Sabbath.
27:01 You know, May-Ellen, my favorite scripture regarding the Sabbath
27:05 is Exodus 31:13. God says this day is a memorial to let you
27:10 know that I am the one who sanctifies you. For someone who
27:16 grew up so performance oriented feeling like I had to be perfect
27:19 to be loved not only by my family but by my Lord, it was
27:24 such an Ah-ha moment for me to know that I could inhale and
27:29 know that God is the one who's going to do this. I can't
27:32 believe our time's already all gone. May-Ellen, thank you so
27:37 much for being here. The book is From Sundown to Sundown:
27:41 How to Keep the Sabbath and Enjoy It. The author is
27:46 May-Ellen Colon and we are so delighted that you've been with
27:50 us. Nice to be here. We're going to have her come back, right?
27:54 You're going to come back and finish off some of these
27:56 principles. Well we've run through these very quickly, but
27:59 I think you really would enjoy this book. It's available at the
28:02 ABC or at Learn how to come away and
28:09 rest in the Lord to really enjoy a vacation with God.


Revised 2014-12-17