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Come, Sit, Stay: Finding Rest for Your Soul

Come, Sit, Stay: Finding Rest for Your Soul

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by Ellen Vaughn

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The best-selling author of Mary Beth and Steven Curtis Chapman’s book Choosing to See and Denise Jackson’s It’s All about Him draws readers into a far deeper connection with God by issuing compelling invitations to come and rest —each an offer for a richer, simpler spiritual life in Christ. In this simplicity, we stop living in black-and-white


The best-selling author of Mary Beth and Steven Curtis Chapman’s book Choosing to See and Denise Jackson’s It’s All about Him draws readers into a far deeper connection with God by issuing compelling invitations to come and rest —each an offer for a richer, simpler spiritual life in Christ. In this simplicity, we stop living in black-and-white and begin to enjoy an illuminating life in high-definition color. Readers will find this book full of much-needed wisdom in an exceedingly stressful society that has become consumed with busyness and activity.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Vaughn, co-author of bestselling memoirs (Choosing to See; It's All About Him), steps out on her own with a series of reflections that don't add up to a clear whole. Vaughn writes very conversationally about how busy life is today, and that resting in Jesus – sitting in prayer or the study of scripture -- will simplify life. To make her case, Vaughn draws from popular culture (movies such as Jaws), Scripture (a lot), a variety of books (mostly classical Christian), and dog training. The result is a bit of a mish-mash, written in a breezy, girlfriendly tone ("so here's the deal"; "what the heck is the yoke?") that tries so hard to be accessible her style becomes Joel Osteen-like theology lite, but with more scripture references. This is a good idea – and an even better cover, featuring a handsome dog, a symbol that might have worked better if it had been used more exclusively. But the material is only enough for a sermon, not a book. (July 13)

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Worthy Publishing
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Read an Excerpt

Come, Sit, Stay

finding rest for your soul

By Ellen Vaughn


Copyright © 2012 Ellen Vaughn
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-61795-093-3


{Frisky Love}

Man interferes with the dog and makes it more lovable than it was in mere nature.... He washes it, housetrains it.... To the puppy the whole proceeding would seem, if it were a theologian, to cast grave doubts on the "goodness" of man: but the full-grown and full-trained dog, ... admitted, as it were by Grace, to a whole world of affections, loyalties, interests and comforts entirely beyond its animal destiny, would have no such doubts.

We may wish, indeed, that we were of so little account to God that He left us alone to follow our natural impulses—that He would give over trying to train us into something so unlike our natural selves: but once again, we are asking not for more Love, but for less.

C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

This book began when I was walking along the beach a while ago. The waves shimmered with the light of the sun, the sand was warm, and the sea gulls rode the wind. All was well ... except for me. I was carrying heavy burdens, torn up inside, exhausted and desperate and numb, all at the same time. I was thinking about a difficult situation I'd prayed about a thousand times, wondering if it would ever end. You've probably felt that way. I stared at the sea, soothed by its rise and fall, and then my mind locked in on some of the most well-known words of Scripture.

"Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

That kind invitation from Jesus is so familiar that I usually skip right over it. Yep, I know that. Cool. I really need to think about it sometime when I have more time.

But pain has a way of concentrating the mind. As I walked, I actually focused on Jesus' invitation. I took it apart, word-by-word-by-word, chewing on it, meditating on it. I walked on, looking out over God's good ocean, and that old verse from Matthew 11 became real in a new way. I saw a glimpse of Jesus; I heard His invitation to come. I could almost see His arms open wide. I felt His grace. This wasn't about me being "good enough" to come; it was all about His love. A kaleidoscope of color and meaning swirled from His words. I smelled a whiff of sea-breeze hope. Tears rolled down my face.

And for the first time in a long time, I felt rest and refreshment for my soul.

Happily, I found that I didn't have to be at the ocean to experience this. Back home in suburbia, I'd be sitting at my desk, or in traffic, or standing in my kitchen full of hungry, dysfunctional teenagers, and Jesus' words would actually come back to me and give me rest. I found that I could "come" to Him no matter where I was, no matter how stuck or stressed I felt. I could experience the peace of a secure relationship with Him, right in the midst of chaos or crisis.

As I reflected on this happy development, I realized I had been missing a great blessing—a wonderful gift that's worth sharing—and so I wrote this book.

Perhaps you're like me. Perhaps you originally came to Jesus and felt great freedom as He eased your load. But maybe, over the course of the journey with Him, your burdens piled up and you lost your joy. It happens so easily: we unconsciously lose our focus on Christ and begin to look to ourselves. We distractedly go through the routines of the "Christian life," whatever that is, depending on our own strength, discipline, and works. It's as if we know that we're saved by grace, yes, but we act like our sanctification—the process of becoming more and more like Christ—is up to us and our efforts.

When that happens, the world goes gray. The bright colors and fun vitality of an intimate relationship with Jesus fade to an anxious, resentful, weary, and burdened religious life: the very thing Jesus came to free people from.

Or perhaps you've never come to Jesus in the first place, and you are weary and burdened by all kinds of stuff. In that case there's great news here, because embedded within Jesus' call to "come to Me" is a progression of verbs that actually lead to the result of rest. Wonderful, real, rest for our souls. And if you have a strange brain like me, these verbs happen to sound a lot like dog commands. I'm not suggesting that we're all retrievers or poodles or border collies ... but I am saying that there is a certain frisky love, power, and freedom in obedience that is unleashed when we respond to Jesus' invitation and learn to obey the commands of the Master.




And when we obey these commands, the rich result is rest.

The rest that Jesus gives isn't about lying on a hammock somewhere in the Caribbean, although that sounds pretty great right about now. But you know that you can be prone in a hammock, sipping a frosted fruit smoothie, your body in repose—and your soul can feel as weary and burdened as ever. A lovely environment alone cannot give rest. If that was the case, everyone in Hollywood or the Riviera or Vail and Aspen would be peaceful, and I can't help but notice that many are not. If I may make a generalization, many people I've met who have come to Jesus and live in tin-roofed shacks in developing nations have a lot more "rest" than many wealthy, restless people who are far from Him.

The benefits of a good night's sleep or an amazing massage that actually makes you whimper last only so long, and then the world and its worries intrude again, wrecking your so-called "karma" and knotting your muscles all over again.

True rest is something far more mysterious. The way Jesus said it in the original language was "I will rest you." As we'll see later, Jesus wasn't just expressing a nice Hallmark card-type sentiment. His claim to be able to give people rest when they come to Him is rooted in the fact that He is God. He has all authority and power on heaven and earth. He can do miracles. He can rest us, in a supernatural, soothing, counterintuitive peace in the midst of any conflict, frustration, or challenge. In fact, His call to "come" promises rest ... an assurance only God Almighty can make.

This rest can change our lives. It can free us from the anxious activity and relentless striving that keeps many believers in a shallow performance mentality and robs them of real, deep freedom and rest in Christ.

For those who come to Jesus, His next command is simple: "Sit!"

When I say this to my dog Gus, he is usually quite compliant. He'll park his furry bottom right away. But because his brain is small and cluttered, he is easily distracted. Often after obediently sitting for a moment, he'll pop right back up and amble away to do all the other things he thinks he should be doing, like looking for crumbs on the kitchen floor.

There's not one particular verse to cite here, but if you look at Jesus' teaching, you'll see the pattern. He tells His people to sit ... not because He thinks we're robots or have been to dog obedience school, but because in order to learn who He really is, human beings need to "sit down and count the cost" (Luke 14:28 ESV) of following Him.

The Gospels also repeatedly say that Jesus told the crowds to "sit down" so they could listen to Him for a while. For us, this means choosing to give our most precious commodity—time—to sit down and read the Bible. Not speed reading, but digesting the Scriptures, chewing on them thoughtfully.

"Sitting" also means choosing to spend time praying, meditating, being still, and communing with God through the power of the Holy Spirit. This communion is wild, transcendent, supernatural ... yet it comes not through some celestial cosmic convergence, but through simple, practical decisions on our part. Spiritual disciplines essentially boil down to "sitting" at Jesus' feet, so to speak. This can't be done on the run, downloaded in a few seconds, or swallowed like an instant holy pill.

When I think of "sitting," I think of Jesus' friend Mary of Bethany. You remember the story of the first-century twisted sisters who were hosting Jesus and His disciples for a dinner party. Martha was running around supervising servants, wringing chickens' necks, folding all her linen napkins into elegant, angry swans, sweating, stressed ... and she got more and more livid as the evening went on.

Mary, meanwhile, was literally "sitting at Jesus' feet," the Bible says. This was a Jewish term for how students would take in the teachings of a rabbi. She was learning of Him.

It's far easier to identify with Martha, who was busy getting stuff done. Many of us have always secretly thought that Mary was a weenie, and we've wondered why Jesus said that she had made the better choice. We would never admit that, of course, because it would sound unspiritual. But the simple fact was that Mary had discovered the way to get to know her friend Jesus was to sit with Him, and that was a higher priority for her than running around like a crazy woman.

This sitting thing is radically countercultural in our day of constant hurry, productivity, multitasking, and busyness. It requires the intentional choice to be with Jesus, not just sitting for only a moment like my distractable dog, but spending time with Him.

As you would guess, the third command that Jesus gives those He has already called to "come" and "sit" is this: "Stay!"

This is hard. As I've said, when I tell Gus to sit, he does, but then he soon gets distracted by other things. And when I tell him to "stay," he'll hang with me for a moment, and then he wanders away.

I do the same thing with God. I'm "prone to wander," as the old hymn puts it, "prone to leave the God I love." I wander even though I know He's my Master.

When Christ had been teaching some hard truths and a lot of people who had been following Him decided to get off the Jesus bus, He asked His closest disciples, Are you guys going to leave Me too?

Peter responded, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God" (John 6:68–69 ESV).

I love that. But it's possible to marvel over that wonderful verse and agree with it totally in your head and then still wander away anyway, like a dumb sheep. I know. I've done it. Come to think of it, so did Peter in his dysfunctional days before Jesus' resurrection.

Just before His crucifixion, Jesus told His friends to stay with Him. He said over and over to His disciples, as recorded in John 15, remain in Me, abide in Me, stay with Me: "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). The Greek verb used is meno, which means to stay, remain, live, dwell, abide.

This is an active verb ... not passive. Staying with Jesus is never passive. It is not like when a dog stays on the doormat while his master leaves to go out and do important things. It is like riding in a cavalry with a general who shouts to his soldiers over the fray, "Stay with me! Stay with me!" It is galloping, straining, exulting, and keeping pace with the One who is in charge.

COME, SIT, and STAY are active verbs of ingress, or the way in to Jesus. Taken together, they lead us to true rest for our souls ... an incredible gift, given the wearisome nature of the burdens we carry.

Many books encourage us to set out on certain steps to spirituality. This is great ... but perhaps the idea of steps to a deeper faith puts the focus on the steppers—us—rather than on the personality and power of God Himself. Come, Sit, Stay seeks to focus on the nature of God. That's too huge a topic to be contained in all the books of the world, let alone my feeble efforts. But I take comfort in God's tendency to reveal Himself through small means ... just as He calls everybody, anybody, large or small, to Himself.


{Royal Invitation, Legal Summons, Radical Rescue}

Christ's voice sounds now for each of us in loving invitation; and dead in sin and hardness of heart though we be, we can listen and live.

Christ Himself, my brother, sows the seed now. Do you take care that it falls not on, but in, your souls?

Alexander MacLaren, "The Seed by the Wayside" sermon

I've always thought it would be helpful if the United States had a royal family. It would take a big burden off the president.

In our system of government, the presidency is a huge and serious role that gives gray hair to whoever holds the job. The poor president not only has to be commander-in-chief and chief executive, lead his party, deal with Congress, and beat his brains out on issues and approval ratings, but as head of state he or she has to do ceremonial jobs. A lot of these official tasks fall to the spouse, so you'll see First Ladies christening battleships and dedicating parks ... but people still expect their president to light the national Christmas tree, throw out the first ball of the baseball season, roll out the first egg at the White House Easter Egg Roll, and proclaim National Seat Belt Day.

But as nice as it is to see the president participate in these lovely events, they take a lot of time and energy. Just think, if we had a queen or king, the royals could do all the ceremonial tasks, freeing the president to concentrate on the big stuff. The focus could be on the queen's wardrobe, and everyone could leave the First Lady alone about which designers she likes. Instead of people crashing White House state dinners, they could go after royal dinners, and the president and whatever head of state is visiting could just order carryout and keep working on world peace.

And Entertainment Tonight-type questions could go to the king or queen. This way we wouldn't have things like some years ago when Bill Clinton was interviewed by MTV and asked if he preferred boxers or briefs. This is just the wrong question for people to be asking the leader of the free world. It doesn't play well in Pretoria or Pakistan. But if we had a royal family, human-interest queries could go to them instead ... and few reporters would likely ask royals about their underwear anyway.

The royal family could also be the focus for our need for ritual, pomp, and circumstance. Rather than bothering the White House, the entertainment media could go crazy over elaborate ceremonies at the palace.

For example, think back to Great Britain's wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton ... an enormous media frenzy, watched by two billion people around the world.

Due to space constraints in Westminster Abbey, only about 1,900 select folks received the elegant, gold-stamped invitation to the wedding. Engraved with the royal crest, it began, "The Lord Chamberlain is commanded by the Queen to invite" so-and-so. To their credit, William and Kate invited commoners as well as royalty and high-society icons ... but there were a lot of big so-and-sos who didn't make the cut, a lot of important noses left out of joint. Why was Elton John invited, but not Madonna? Why did the president of France and his wife receive the royal invitation, but not the president of the United States?

In this world, such invitations would not mean as much if they were not exclusive. You wouldn't have gate-crashers at galas or security and bouncers at high-level parties if everyone was invited. The cachet of the event depends on how elite and selective it is.

Usually earthly kings, queens, Hollywood royalty, presidents, and CEOs invite only those who have enough money, influence, power, beauty, or brains to qualify for an invitation. You just don't see people without connections at the soirees of Washington, New York, LA, or Paris. And you don't see a lot of unattractive guests at Oscar parties, unless they are wealthy or brilliant. (I would submit, also, that there are few unattractive women. Ugly rich men, yes, but never unappealing women. What's up with that?)

But God's royal invitation is different. He breaks this world's rules. He issues His golden call to people who have precisely nothing to offer, people who feel worthless, downtrodden. He invites the poor, the disabled, the weak and needy.

But He doesn't stop there. In some sort of reverse discrimination, He wants everybody to come to His party. He invites not just the poor and weary, but also the rich and strong, and everyone in between.


Excerpted from Come, Sit, Stay by Ellen Vaughn. Copyright © 2012 Ellen Vaughn. Excerpted by permission of WORTHY PUBLISHING.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

ELLEN VAUGHN collaborated with Mary Beth Chapman, wife of Steven Curtis Chapman, on her New York Times bestseller Choosing to SEE, and coauthored various award-winning books with Chuck Colson. She also collaborated on the New York Times bestseller It’s All about Him, the story of Denise Jackson, wife of country music superstar Alan Jackson. Vaughn’s solo books include Time Peace, Radical Gratitude, and The Strand. She lives in a Washington, DC, suburb with her husband, Lee, their three teenagers, and two dogs.

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Come, Sit, Stay: Finding Rest for Your Soul 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
4everreadingVA More than 1 year ago
The author is a high school friend ... and I have found her style of writing much different than the Ellen I knew so many years ago. She is insightful, direct and humorous - all at the same time. Her writing makes you want to come, sit, stay! For me specifically, our family is going through a huge move and I find being able to read this every night before sleep does relax me and offer me the reflection on my relationship with God that I need at this stage of my life. A great addition to any library and a definite share!