Thirty-two of the Best Things Said at Midwinter Retreat

Right now pastors and spouses have gathered for our Annual Midwinter Retreat in Newport, OR. We are enjoying a time to get away and meet God and each other in a special way.

One of the highlights has be under the teaching of A.J. Swoboda. His gentle, yet passionate approach to ministry has been refreshing and challenging as he has talked about the integrity of the pastor and necessity of Sabbath.


Here’s some of the gems shared by AJ Swoboda:

1. When Jesus says, “Truly, I tell you . . .” he’s not saying that the other things he said weren’t true. He’s adding weight and depth.

2. The apostle John’s identity was so wrapped up in the love of God that he never referred to himself by name. He called himself, “The disciple who Jesus loved.”

3. In the New Testament, temptation always seems to follow calling.

4. You have to hear his voice today, not just back then. If Jesus is the bread from heaven… bread needs to be eaten every day. We must hear His call today.

5. The problem with millennials: Half of them think that sharing their faith is an act of violence against unbelievers. That it is morally wrong and repugnant to share your faith.

6. I want to ask those who say, “I could never believe in a God who . . . “, at what point do you think your opinion matters in shaping who God is?

7. At what point did we begin to think that our opinion shapes who God is? At no point in history have we prayed and God has walked away more enlightened. . . To love God is to love all of God, not just the parts you like.

8. Cultural relevance is fine until it becomes theological relevance and you start changing who God is.

9. The gospel says that God is love. Our culture is increasingly telling us that love is god.

10. Pastors are changing theology for economic reasons. I wonder if God wouldn’t mind having a smaller, but faithful church, rather than a larger, faithless church.

11. I have used church and ministry to fill a hole in my heart that I haven’t allowed Jesus to fill. It’s easy to use Jesus’ fame to fill something inside of you.

12. The devil can only offer you something that you already have… in the Father.

13. When Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me more than these?”, it doesn’t really matter what “these” means. The truth is we all have the “these” we love more than Jesus.

14. God will give you power, but he will never give you control.

15. God will give you power, but He will never give you control. Remember you are just the donkey. Be healed of your narcissism.”

16. Our culture gives us no room to process. We are a nation that doesn’t know how to rest.

17. You get to the law by going through mercy; you can’t do the law to get mercy.

18. It is possible to worship theology — your idea of God — more than you worship God.

19. You will never be saved by keeping the Sabbath; you are saved to keep the Sabbath.

20. The word “holy” is a special word in the Hebrew. God only called one thing holy when he created the world: the Sabbath.

21. The invitation to keep Sabbath rest is parallel to six days of work. Work without rest is slavery. Rest without work is laziness.

22. The fourth commandment is the only one that begins, “Remember . . .” God knew this was the one out of the ten we would forget.

23. The commandment to remember the Sabbath is the one command that we celebrate people breaking. At what point did we think we know better than God?

24. As a pastor, if I broke nine of the ten commandments, I would probably lose my job (adultery, murder, etc.) But I would never be fired for breaking the Sabbath. In fact, I might get a raise.

25. When I first started in ministry, I was “a quivering mass of availability.”

26. The Sabbath is the one commandment we celebrate breaking. At what point did we think we knew better than God?

27. Some pastors say, “I don’t take a Sabbath because the devil never takes a Sabbath.” Why would we want to be like Satan? Satan is described in Job as busy—“running to and fro.” “I’ve been running to and fro” could be the mission statement for many pastors.

28. The Sabbath steps on every idol we have. It is an offense to what it means to be an American.

29. When I first started taking a Sabbath, the first thing I missed was being missed.

30. The mango is proof that God exists. Mangoes are a love letter from God.

31. The Sabbath is healthy. You will live longer. God did not call you to die for the church. He already had someone do that.

32. Peace is not the presence of the perfect environment. Peace is the presence of God.


Are you taking a day of rest? You have to be “crazy intentional” to do it. No one keeps a Sabbath accidentally. Find a day. Take a break from your normal work. Do what gives you life and replenishes your soul. You need it. Your family needs it. Others around you need it, too.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Jim Saemenes says:

    So many good thoughts.


  2. I agree. Very thought provoking time together! Now to keep the Sabbath!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s