Stewarding Our Schedules

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Hey TD!

As we end summer and start a new school year, demands on our schedule will force us to prioritize and make good use of our time.  I always tell my clients that the greatest commodity we all have is time. Every moment spent is gone forever; we never get any of it back.

The following article from Gabe Fluhrer in Tabletalk Magazine (by Ligonier Ministries) is a good read that will help you steward you your time with the right perspective and understanding.  Enjoy! – Arthur

One of the supreme ironies of modern life is that we are worn out from leisure. The end of summer illustrates this phenomenon. So many of us finish up summer vacation thinking, “I need a break!” When we’re worn out from what should refresh us, the gospel offers hope for burned-out disciples like us.

A WEDDING ON SCHEDULE

Not long ago, our pastor preached a marvelous sermon on the wedding at Cana (John 2). He pointed out a feature of Jesus’ first miracle that I had never noticed. The very fact that Jesus was at a wedding turning water into wine can, and should, and has inspired both adoration and dissertations. But he focused our attention on one particular part of the text. Jesus says to His mother: “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come” (v. 4). Now, to dispel any fears that Jesus was a misogynist, He was not using the term “woman” in a derisive sense. Instead, it was a term of respect. In any case, John wants us to focus not on what Jesus calls His mother but on what He says to her.

He says, “My hour has not yet come.” Later in the gospel, He will tell us His time has come (17:1). In other words, Jesus kept a schedule. He was never in a rush to be on someone else’s clock. He knew His mission, and He did not deviate from it for passing demands, no matter how pressing they seemed to those around Him. Jesus labored to the point of exhaustion (Mark 4:38), yet He never seemed burned out. What can we learn from our Savior when it comes to our hectic lives?

THE SAVIOR OF SCHEDULES

Here’s a simple, if overlooked, truth: the Savior who kept a schedule is also the Savior of our schedules. As such, we need to commit and recommit our time to Jesus. Details can overwhelm us, and the demands of a busy life can diminish our faith. We are distracted by that device in our pockets that is constantly alerting us, buzzing, beeping, and reminding us that someone always wants some of our time.

But Jesus meets us where we are. His schedule reminds us that the most urgent appointment we have each day doesn’t come with a “remind me fifteen minutes before” option on a drop-down menu. That’s because our days don’t belong to us, ultimately. They belong to God. Therefore, the most important part of our day is every second of it, communing with God instead of being overwhelmed with a crazy busy life.

So this week, let’s “give” our schedules to Jesus (they belong to Him already). Let’s be reminded that He knows everything that will derail our best-laid plans. But instead of stressing about these inevitable failures, let’s rest—what we all need more of—in the knowledge that a divine wisdom, mingled with the greatest love imaginable, keeps watch over every second of our schedules.

 

When “Honoring” God’s Word Doesn’t

Hey TD,

Have you ever been so desirous to honor God and keep His Word that you actually break His Word in doing so?  I have.  And I’ve had it done to me.  And neither have been right, nor felt right (though the latter feels much worse initially, the former arrives in due time).

Here’s a reading from Tabletalk magazine that speaks to this propensity of ours.  Learn and apply.  You’ll be thankful you did (and so will your family and friends!):

Making Void the Word of God

He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, is to [a]be put to death’; 11 but you say, ‘If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, [b]given to God),’ 12 you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; 13 thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.” Mark 7:9-13

Zeal without knowledge puts one in great spiritual danger, and we see this demonstrated in Jesus’ clashes with the Pharisees and scribes regarding their extrabiblical traditions.  No one could question the zeal of these sects to keep God’s law. So concerned were they to make sure they did not violate the Lord’s commandments that they developed what they called a “fence around the law” consisting of various regulations designed to help ensure that the Mosaic law was obeyed.  They reasoned that people would certainly be innocent of transgression by observing those extra regulations.  Judaism’s system of kosher laws is a classic example. (Modern Judaism is based more on the traditions of the rabbis than on the Old Testament) Exodus 23:19; 34:26; and Deuteronomy 14:21 all say, “You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.”  Over time, the kosher law that milk and meat products should not be eaten together developed out of a desire to keep the commandments of these passages.  After all, if one never puts meat and milk together, one will certainly never boil a young animal in its mother’s milk, even accidentally.

That extra rule is legalistic enough, but even worse are rules that end up causing direct transgression of the commandments. Legalism is a problem because misplaced zeal for the law can lead one to violate the law without even realizing it. One tradition of the Pharisees, the Corban rule to which Jesus refers in today’s passage, took a good thing—giving gifts to the temple—and turned it into a means by which God’s law was broken. One commentator likens the Corban rule to the modern practice of deferred giving, which allows individuals to deed property and other gifts to another at death while retaining control over the gift in the meantime. Under the Corban rule, Jews could pledge something to the temple and have it pass into the temple’s possession at their death, but while the givers lived, they stewarded the property and lived off its proceeds.

In itself, such a rule was not evil and in fact could be a good thing. The problem was that the Pharisees and scribes were allowing people to use the Corban rule to escape their obligations to other parts of the law. According to the Corban rule, men and women who made gifts to the temple in such a way were free from having to support their elderly parents. This broke God’s command to honor our fathers and mothers (Mark 7:9–13).

Coram Deo

Matthew Henry comments that “it is the mischief of impositions, that too often they who are zealous for them, have little zeal for the essential duties of religion, but can contentedly see them laid aside.” Like the Pharisees, we can be obsessed with good but optional things (giving extra gifts to the temple) in a way that makes us break God’s law. Let us have zeal for God’s law, but let us not let it develop into legalism that makes us break it.

Passages for Further Study

Exodus 20:12
Proverbs 23:22
Matthew 15:1–9
Ephesians 6:1–3

– Reproduced from Tabletalk magazine, May, 2016 Issue, “John 3:16,” May 16, 2016 devotion, “Making Void The Word of God.”

How Do You Handle Shame?

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Hey TD!

With most of you growing up in Chinese (or Asian) households within Chinese communities, most of you are well aware of the “shame based culture” that exists that is not able to deal well with shame.  We deny our shame, hide it, run from it, acknowledge it; but rarely do we actually deal with it … honestly … before God and man.  Unfortunately, shame isn’t often handled much better within the Chinese church.  Even though we are Christian, there is a LOT of our culture that often has to be sifted through first.  I think many of you know what I mean.

Sandra and I have been having meaningful, thought provoking discussions this week about shame, prompted by beginning to read the April, 2015 edition of Tabletalk magazine, the theme of which is, “Shame.”

I believe you all received a copy of this April edition when RC Sproul, Jr. and Chris Larson came to speak to us.  If you didn’t get one, make sure to let me know and I’ll give you a free copy at TD.

I would HIGHLY encourage you all to begin reading through the articles and working them out in your own souls, discussing them with trusted friends and counselors.  If you do, I believe you can begin to turn the tide on unhealthy views and uses of shame, allow God to walk you though it, and begin a new healthy direction in your future, and possibly your future family’s.   – Arthur