Martin Luther on the Sabbath

                                                                                                                                            “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.”  Exodus 20:8

The spiritual rest which God especially intends in this commandment is that we not only cease from our labor and trade but much more-that we let God alone work in us and that in all our powers do we do nothing of our own”

Martin Luther

For other quotes by Martin Luther see these posts:

Martin Luther on Resting In The Lord

Martin Luther on the Resurrection

A Thought From Martin Luther

Family Faith

I wrote this article for our denomination’s publication, The Lutheran Ambassador.  It appeared in this month’s issue (February 2019) and I thought I would also share it here.  It deals with passing the faith on to our children.

People need structure.  It gives a sense of security and a framework on which to build and base daily life.  God knew this, and so from the very beginning, He  blessed humankind with a rhythm of life that would shape our relationship with Him.

“… God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all his work which he had done in creation.”  Genesis 2:3

A little later, this becomes one of the Ten Commandments:

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God.” Exodus 20:8-10a

When our children were young, Sunday Services were simply a fixture of life.  Sometimes we didn’t feel like getting up; sometimes our daughters were cranky, or somebody didn’t feel so well; sometimes the weather was nasty; still we went, week after week, year after year.  What did our children (and now our grandchild) gain from this dogged persistence? The world might say, not much…. a meaningless ritual!  I beg to disagree and here are a few of my observations.

First of all, they came to understand that God is important, and so is His body, the Church.  The things of faith are not kept in a separate compartment, to be brought out on holidays or special occasions.  They are part of the ebb and flow of daily life.

Through the weekly liturgy, our children internalized the basics of the Christian faith.  They memorized the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostle’s Creed, as well as many passages from the Scripture which we recited or sang every Sunday.  They learned that we need to confess, repent, pray and give thanks regularly.  They learned that our monetary offering gives back to God a small part of what He’s already given to us. I remember hearing our daughters and our nephew “play church” as they sang parts of the service together.

Sunday services also walked us together through the seasons of the church year and the life of Christ.  There were joyous times and sad times, times to reflect and times to anticipate.  Each season had its’ own particular music and rituals. Advent meant lighting the advent candles and singing “O Come, O Come, Emanuel”, Lent was the time when flowers on the altar disappeared and songs became somber (“Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?”)  Easter brought lilies and “Christ the Lord Has Risen Today” along with flowering the cross (made from the church Christmas tree) which had stood, plain and empty in the sanctuary until Easter morning.

To be continued …..

Good Leaders Accept Help

“O, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and tongue….please send someone else.”  Exodus 4:10 & 13

Moses, probably the greatest leader in the Old Testament recognized his limitations.  He admitted that he was not good at everything.  He asked God to remove the burden of leadership from him.  Instead, God directs him to a helper, someone with the gift he lacks.

“Is there not Aaron, your brother, the Levite?  I know that he can speak well. … He shall speak for you to the people, and he shall be your mouth …” Exodus 4:14-15

Later on, Moses encounters a different problem — time management.  As leader, he is dealing with so many small problems, he can’t get to the bigger ones.  This time, it is his father-in-law, Jethro who gives the advice to delegate.

“Look for able men from all he people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe;  and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens.  And let them judge the people at all times.  Every great matter they shall decide themselves.  So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you.”  Exodus 18:21-22

Likewise, in the book of Acts, the twelve apostles found they could not meet all the needs of the growing church.  Some widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food.

“Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and the ministry of the word.”

We can’t expect our leaders to go it alone.  Good leaders recognize the spiritual gifts of others and they learn to delegate and train.  Maybe the greatest talent of good leaders is to recognize and cultivate the skills of the people around them.

I can see this in my own life.  Leadership is not my strongest spiritual gift, but I have found myself in situations when I am called to lead.  When this happens I know that I need someone with the gift of administration as a strong #2 — I see the goal, but not always the steps that need to be taken to get there.  I also need people with the gift of service — the ones who can just see a task that needs doing, and jump it to take care of it.  For me, leadership is all about assembling the right team–a group who can work together and accomplish great things.

What about you?  What can you do well, and what do you need to delegate?  I’ll be writing more about this in an upcoming post on spiritual gifts.

 

What Is It?

“And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as frost on the ground.  When the people of Israel saw it, the said to one another, ‘What is it?’ For they did not know what it was.  And Moses said to them, ‘It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat.'”  Exodus 16:13-15

Did you know that the actual translation of the word manna is “what is it?”  After escaping from slavery the Israelites needed food, which God provided. However,  they weren’t too excited with what they got.  They longed for the familiar food of Egypt —

“Oh that we had meat to eat!  We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic.  But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.”  Numbers 11:4-6

Aren’t we often the same?  God was not only providing for his children, He was teaching them to depend upon Him in a new and challenging situation.  Often when this happens in our own lives, we also long for the way things used to be, even if they weren’t so great.  Instead of being thankful for what we have and moving forward into the future God planned for us, we whine and try to backtrack.  I did this after I retired.  I didn’t really intend to retire at 62, but my work environment became increasingly stressful.  My husband encouraged me to go ahead and leave;  we would manage.  So I did and then set about finding another job!  After many applications and interviews, I got the job of my dreams — working in a library,  Guess what, almost right away I sensed this wasn’t what God had in mind for the rest of my life.  He wanted me to go off in a new direction, not be satisfied with a different version of the old.

So here I am, a blogger.  Who could have imagined it!  Like the Israelites, I could say, “What is this?”  Really, God?  This is so completely different from anything I ever tried before.  Yet it fills and nourishes me, day after day.  God knows best — we just have to try the food He’s given us, even when we’re not sure what it is.