Good boundaries are essential for effective work and life.  If we don’t keep our boundaries, we will burn out.  Keeping a Sabbath each week, a day to rest from the norm, is not only essential for health, it is commanded by God, so perhaps this should take a higher place of importance in our spiritual ponderings.

How are your boundaries when it comes to your workplace?  Moses was new to the administrative work of his position, and thankfully had a good adviser in his father-in-law Jethro.  Moses was hearing every case for the millions of people freshly freed from Egypt.  Not only did this take up too much of his time, it was burning him out.  But interestingly, it was also burning out the people who came to him.  So Jethro suggests a management model, Moses agrees, and finds some better boundaries in his worklife.  And these boundaries, as they always do, lead to a healthier leader and a healthier community.

How are your boundaries when it comes to your everyday life?  Do you keep a Sabbath day?  While the Sabbath isn’t to be kept as a law or even a rule to obey, it is given to us as a gift.  For 6 days, knock yourself out with your busyness.  But on the seventh, you need to rest and recuperate.  For Jews, the whole week revolves around this Sabbath.  They have three days to prepare for it, and then three days to reflect and be thankful for it before the cycle begins again.  God reminded them of this in their desert wanderings when He gave them 2 days worth of manna every Fri.  Before you decide you just can’t take a day off, reread this section and ponder how God might give you all you need the other six days so you can rest on the seventh.

Good boundaries are essential for effective work and life.  If we don’t keep our boundaries, we will burn out.  Keeping a Sabbath each week, a day to rest from the norm, is not only essential for health, it is commanded by God, so perhaps this should take a higher place of importance in our spiritual ponderings.

How are your boundaries when it comes to your workplace?  Moses was new to the administrative work of his position, and thankfully had a good adviser in his father-in-law Jethro.  Moses was hearing every case for the millions of people freshly freed from Egypt.  Not only did this take up too much of his time, it was burning him out.  But interestingly, it was also burning out the people who came to him.  So Jethro suggests a management model, Moses agrees, and finds some better boundaries in his worklife.  And these boundaries, as they always do, lead to a healthier leader and a healthier community.

How are your boundaries when it comes to your everyday life?  Do you keep a Sabbath day?  While the Sabbath isn’t to be kept as a law or even a rule to obey, it is given to us as a gift.  For 6 days, knock yourself out with your busyness.  But on the seventh, you need to rest and recuperate.  For Jews, the whole week revolves around this Sabbath.  They have three days to prepare for it, and then three days to reflect and be thankful for it before the cycle begins again.  God reminded them of this in their desert wanderings when He gave them 2 days worth of manna every Fri.  Before you decide you just can’t take a day off, reread this section and ponder how God might give you all you need the other six days so you can rest on the seventh.

Today, let’s do an exercise together rather than just a reflection.  After all God did for His people to free them from 400 years of slavery, after plagues and Passover, after pillars of fire and the Red Sea crossing, after plunder and the destruction of their oppressors, God’s people sang.  Moses sang and Miriam sang.  The people sang and prayed and worshiped.

We get pretty wrapped up in the problems of this world, and so we forget to sing.  With the Psalmist we ask “How can we sing the songs of God in a foreign land?” as we look around and don’t see the Kingdom of God, our homeland, anywhere.  It takes work for us to remember all that God has done for us.  And that may be why so often God’s command is to remember.  Pillars in the wilderness and altars on the mountain, communion shared by the congregation and songs that recount our history, all of these are attempts to remember.

So today, take some time to remember all that God has done for you.  Write out your thanksgiving as a song or poem, or just a prayer letter to God.  And as you remember, and as you give thanks, “sing to the Lord, for He is highly exalted.”

Today, let’s do an exercise together rather than just a reflection.  After all God did for His people to free them from 400 years of slavery, after plagues and Passover, after pillars of fire and the Red Sea crossing, after plunder and the destruction of their oppressors, God’s people sang.  Moses sang and Miriam sang.  The people sang and prayed and worshiped.

We get pretty wrapped up in the problems of this world, and so we forget to sing.  With the Psalmist we ask “How can we sing the songs of God in a foreign land?” as we look around and don’t see the Kingdom of God, our homeland, anywhere.  It takes work for us to remember all that God has done for us.  And that may be why so often God’s command is to remember.  Pillars in the wilderness and altars on the mountain, communion shared by the congregation and songs that recount our history, all of these are attempts to remember.

So today, take some time to remember all that God has done for you.  Write out your thanksgiving as a song or poem, or just a prayer letter to God.  And as you remember, and as you give thanks, “sing to the Lord, for He is highly exalted.”

I can understand how people develop a works-based theology when I read passages like today’s.  In the Passover regulations, it is the actions, not the beliefs or character of the people, that saves them, namely blood on the doorposts.  And it is interesting to note the repetition at this point in history of the obedience of God’s people.  It will not be this way for very long.  In the New Testament passage, Jesus actually states that when He returns, he “will reward each person according to what they have done.”

So why do we turn away from works-based theology?  Alan Hirsch clarified this Tuesday night at the Midwinter Conference.  He said that all theologies have a verse of scripture to back them up, but that each is a reduction of the whole gospel of Jesus Christ.  We all take a piece of the gospel and then base our entire theology on it, and this, he said, is the root of all heresies.  Heresy, he stated, doesn’t even mean something that is evil or bad, but something that is too limited.  We need a theology of the whole of Jesus Christ, of incarnation and crucifixion, of lord and savior, of action and power.

So what is wrong with a works-based theology?  It is too limited and therefore heresy.  Jesus doesn’t build His church on the rock of Peter’s activity, but on the rock of his faith statement, “You are the Messiah, Son of the Living God.”  Yet to dismiss our activities altogether is to limit our theology the other way.  May God save us from a heretical theology that ignores the work to which God calls us, or bases salvation on that same work, or limits Jesus in any way.  May He grant us a complete theology that includes all of who Jesus was and all of what Jesus said and did.

I can understand how people develop a works-based theology when I read passages like today’s.  In the Passover regulations, it is the actions, not the beliefs or character of the people, that saves them, namely blood on the doorposts.  And it is interesting to note the repetition at this point in history of the obedience of God’s people.  It will not be this way for very long.  In the New Testament passage, Jesus actually states that when He returns, he “will reward each person according to what they have done.”

So why do we turn away from works-based theology?  Alan Hirsch clarified this Tuesday night at the Midwinter Conference.  He said that all theologies have a verse of scripture to back them up, but that each is a reduction of the whole gospel of Jesus Christ.  We all take a piece of the gospel and then base our entire theology on it, and this, he said, is the root of all heresies.  Heresy, he stated, doesn’t even mean something that is evil or bad, but something that is too limited.  We need a theology of the whole of Jesus Christ, of incarnation and crucifixion, of lord and savior, of action and power.

So what is wrong with a works-based theology?  It is too limited and therefore heresy.  Jesus doesn’t build His church on the rock of Peter’s activity, but on the rock of his faith statement, “You are the Messiah, Son of the Living God.”  Yet to dismiss our activities altogether is to limit our theology the other way.  May God save us from a heretical theology that ignores the work to which God calls us, or bases salvation on that same work, or limits Jesus in any way.  May He grant us a complete theology that includes all of who Jesus was and all of what Jesus said and did.

Jesus can be really offensive sometimes.  He acknowledges and even calls out sins in others, He seems to go out of His way to lambaste the Pharisees, and even His own family isn’t free of His insulting illustrations.  “Who are my mother and brothers?  Those who do the will of my Father.”  Ouch.

Here again, Jesus’ interaction with the Canaanite woman seems pretty insensitive.  She comes asking for help for her little girl and Jesus simply ignores her.  When asked by the disciples about it, He says that He’s here for the Jews, not the Gentiles.  After studying Paul for so long with his constant insistence that there isn’t a difference between Jew and Gentile, it seems odd for Jesus to seemingly dismiss the Gentile community out of hand.  After all, didn’t He do exactly this kind of healing for a Roman centurion just a few chapters ago?

It gets worse as she approaches Jesus herself.  She rightfully assumes a position of pleading, kneeling before Him, yet still Jesus refuses.  The metaphor of the children’s bread going to the dogs seals His statement made to the disciples that He is here for the Jews alone.  Yet the woman persists.  “Not so, Lord.  The dogs do get the children’s crumbs.”

Rather than looking at Jesus for our example, let’s look more closely at this woman.  Though a Gentile, she comes to this Jewish Rabbi for help.  It’s amazing what our desperation will lead us to do.  She then proceeds to pester Him until He will listen, even after He ignores her and His followers attempt to shoo her away.  Then, when rebuffed, she doesn’t get offended, or call Him out for His rude comment, but keeps pressing.  This is the parable of the persistent widow played out in real life.

And in the end, Jesus sees her trust in Him and rewards her for it.  “Your request is granted,” He says and her daughter is healed immediately.

As we pray, let us learn from his woman and the persistent widow and never give up.  Keep praying, keep faith, and then wait to see just what God might do.

Jesus can be really offensive sometimes.  He acknowledges and even calls out sins in others, He seems to go out of His way to lambaste the Pharisees, and even His own family isn’t free of His insulting illustrations.  “Who are my mother and brothers?  Those who do the will of my Father.”  Ouch.

Here again, Jesus’ interaction with the Canaanite woman seems pretty insensitive.  She comes asking for help for her little girl and Jesus simply ignores her.  When asked by the disciples about it, He says that He’s here for the Jews, not the Gentiles.  After studying Paul for so long with his constant insistence that there isn’t a difference between Jew and Gentile, it seems odd for Jesus to seemingly dismiss the Gentile community out of hand.  After all, didn’t He do exactly this kind of healing for a Roman centurion just a few chapters ago?

It gets worse as she approaches Jesus herself.  She rightfully assumes a position of pleading, kneeling before Him, yet still Jesus refuses.  The metaphor of the children’s bread going to the dogs seals His statement made to the disciples that He is here for the Jews alone.  Yet the woman persists.  “Not so, Lord.  The dogs do get the children’s crumbs.”

Rather than looking at Jesus for our example, let’s look more closely at this woman.  Though a Gentile, she comes to this Jewish Rabbi for help.  It’s amazing what our desperation will lead us to do.  She then proceeds to pester Him until He will listen, even after He ignores her and His followers attempt to shoo her away.  Then, when rebuffed, she doesn’t get offended, or call Him out for His rude comment, but keeps pressing.  This is the parable of the persistent widow played out in real life.

And in the end, Jesus sees her trust in Him and rewards her for it.  “Your request is granted,” He says and her daughter is healed immediately.

As we pray, let us learn from his woman and the persistent widow and never give up.  Keep praying, keep faith, and then wait to see just what God might do.

Change always seems to be a slow process.  That includes changing one’s mind.  Moses, in his epic argument with God at the burning bush, has to be slowly, argument by argument, moved down the path toward resigned agreement.  From “I’m not important enough” to “I don’t know You” to “they won’t believe me” to “I don’t talk good” to finally, “just send someone else, please”, God has to respond to all of these excuses as Moses slowly moves from No Way to Ok.  Good thing God is patient.

But it’s not just Moses we see moving slowly toward the inevitable conclusion.  Pharaoh does the same thing… twice.  First, it is his trust in his court magicians.  When Aaron’s staff becomes a snake, the magicians do the same and Pharaoh laughs at this man of God.  It’s the same when the Nile turns to blood, though Pharaoh’s reaction is more angry this time.  When Aaron brings frogs out of the Nile, however, Pharaoh is beginning to learn.  When his magicians do the same thing, he nonetheless turns to Aaron and Moses for relief.  “Pray to the Lord to take the frogs away.”  And sure enough, the next plague of gnats cannot be reproduced, and Pharaoh loses his trust in his magicians.

The other slow change is in Pharaoh’s willingness to let the Hebrews go.  From their first encounter where Pharaoh makes the word even harder on the Hebrews to their last where he finally gives in and chases them out of Egypt, Pharaoh slowly changes his mind.  And even then he is quick to recant this change, but that is a story for a later day.

Seldom do we change our minds quickly, and the larger or more important the issue, the slower the change.  Some have likened this to an ocean liner changing course when we expect a speedboat’s maneuverability.  When someone you know is pondering God’s big questions in life, give them time.  Change always seems to be a slow process, and that includes changing one’s mind.

Change always seems to be a slow process.  That includes changing one’s mind.  Moses, in his epic argument with God at the burning bush, has to be slowly, argument by argument, moved down the path toward resigned agreement.  From “I’m not important enough” to “I don’t know You” to “they won’t believe me” to “I don’t talk good” to finally, “just send someone else, please”, God has to respond to all of these excuses as Moses slowly moves from No Way to Ok.  Good thing God is patient.

But it’s not just Moses we see moving slowly toward the inevitable conclusion.  Pharaoh does the same thing… twice.  First, it is his trust in his court magicians.  When Aaron’s staff becomes a snake, the magicians do the same and Pharaoh laughs at this man of God.  It’s the same when the Nile turns to blood, though Pharaoh’s reaction is more angry this time.  When Aaron brings frogs out of the Nile, however, Pharaoh is beginning to learn.  When his magicians do the same thing, he nonetheless turns to Aaron and Moses for relief.  “Pray to the Lord to take the frogs away.”  And sure enough, the next plague of gnats cannot be reproduced, and Pharaoh loses his trust in his magicians.

The other slow change is in Pharaoh’s willingness to let the Hebrews go.  From their first encounter where Pharaoh makes the word even harder on the Hebrews to their last where he finally gives in and chases them out of Egypt, Pharaoh slowly changes his mind.  And even then he is quick to recant this change, but that is a story for a later day.

Seldom do we change our minds quickly, and the larger or more important the issue, the slower the change.  Some have likened this to an ocean liner changing course when we expect a speedboat’s maneuverability.  When someone you know is pondering God’s big questions in life, give them time.  Change always seems to be a slow process, and that includes changing one’s mind.