Recalling Pharaoh’s mistakes with the Hebrews, the Rev. William D. Cotton wonders how a federal government made up of billionaires can connect with the living needs of a waitress holding down two jobs.
this post originally appeared on MinistryMatters.com
“You can rest when you retire!” someone once said to me.
I’m starting to doubt that statement is true. I serve at a church with a lot of retirees. They seem to be just as busy as I am.
I have a confession to make: I don’t like being busy. I just don’t. I don’t think I function well when I have too much on my plate. But on flip side of the coin, I don’t like being completely idle and unproductive, either. I like to be Goldilocks when it comes to being busy: not too much, not too little, but just … right.
It’s surprising how easy it is for life to get away from us when we’re busy. The world has a tendency to move rather quickly and we’re often left trying to play catch-up from the breakneck pace. So many things to do. So many deadlines to beat and people to meet. Errands to run. Meetings to attend. We move, move, move and do, do, do.
During my devotionals recently, I read a passage in Exodus. Moses and Aaron had just confronted Pharaoh, but instead of Pharaoh listening to them, he increased the workload of the Hebrew slaves. Pharaoh ordered a stop in supply of straw to the slaves, but still expected the Israelites to make the same quota of bricks. God reassured Moses, promising to bring him and the Israelites to the land that God had promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Moses told all this to the Israelites, “But they didn’t listen to Moses, because of their complete exhaustion and their hard labor.” (Exodus 6:9 CEB).
Sometimes we’re just so busy and exhausted from life that it’s hard to listen to the voice of God.
God commanded his people to take a Sabbath — to take time to rest from our labors so that we can commune with God. So that we can remind ourselves that we are first and foremost children of God. That’s where our identity begins. Not with what we can produce; not with what we can offer; not with what we bring.
Sabbath reminds us that there’s more to life than work and busyness. It reminds us that the days of producing brick after brick after brick are long gone. That we were created to be human beings, not human doings.
Yes, our culture values busyness. The busier you are the more important you are, the more value you bring and the more successful you appear to be.
But constant busyness has a way of putting a chokehold on our souls.
Our spirit longs to commune with God. We need a Sabbath. In fact, not only is it important to have a Sabbath day, we should also look for Sabbath moments, time to give ourselves permission to stop what we’re doing and just … be with God.
So, today (and every day) I urge you to take a moment to smell a flower, watch an animal enjoy its surroundings, take in more than a couple of deep breaths — anything that makes you pause to remind yourself of how holy God is and how loved you are.
Drought, population pressure, and unsustainable farming methods are turning the once-lush forest and bush land of northern Nigeria into a desert, writes communicator Sharon Adamu Bambuka.
As the leaders of the G20 economies gathered, the World Council of Churches, the ACT Alliance, and the All Africa Council of Churches called for those nations to lead a campaign against hunger and war in the Horn of Africa.
As Moses relayed God’s message to the people in Exodus 24, the people respond with commitment by saying in verse 7, “We will do everything the Lord has said; we will obey.” The Mosaic Covenant is ratified at the foot … Continue reading →
Where should a Christian stand regarding the intersection of faith, science, and scripture? Guy Williams shares two books that will get you pointed in the right direction.
How did people give to charitable organizations in 2016? David King has the numbers.
Last night at Annual Conference, our bishop, Sue Haupert-Johnson, preached a message to our conference’s newly ordained, commissioned, and licensed pastors and deacons. Her text was Luke 10:1-12, where Jesus commissions 72 disciples to proclaim the gospel and heal the sick in the towns around Galilee. The bishop related Jesus’ instructions to these disciples to our […]
Note: this post originally appeared on MinistryMatters.com on 2/19/15
I’ve had a lifelong obsession with comic superheroes. And the one thing that all of my favorite superheroes have in common is courage. Courage seems to be the defining characteristic for the superhero. Perhaps it’s easier to have courage if you can leap tall buildings in a single bound, if you’re faster than a speeding bullet, or if you have the powers of a genetically modified spider.
But none of us have super powers (yet). And if you’re anything like me, fear, more than courage is an overwhelming friend.
Fear has often held me back from doing things. It allows insecurities to seep into my mind and heart: Maybe I’m not good enough, smart enough, good-looking enough, funny enough, eloquent enough.
Because of fear’s paralyzing nature, I know too well what it’s like to live vicariously through the adventures of someone else who has confronted it and won.
If we’re not careful, we can let the voices that accompany fear define us.
That’s right, you really aren’t good enough. Told you, you’re not smart enough.
And perhaps that’s what Joshua was going through when he inherited the leadership role from Moses. We’re introduced to Joshua as “Moses’ helper.”
You’re nothing but an assistant — how do you think you can run an entire nation of people? Moses — he did great things! He went mano a mano with Pharaoh and won! Parted the Red Sea! Brought forth water from a rock — twice! He saw God face to face! Who are you?
Those are some big sandals to fill.
On top of that, Joshua now has to lead the people through occupied lands and be ready to fight and conquer — something Moses didn’t really have to do. What a daunting task for anyone, let alone an assistant. And he must’ve been afraid for God tells him not once, not twice, but three times to be “brave and strong” and on top of that, tells him, “Don’t be alarmed or terrified.”
Pastor Erwin McManus says that Joshua was confronted with the question “Who do you have the courage to become?”
The truth is, we can easily let ourselves be defined by others. We can also just as easily be defined by the worst moments of our history.
Joshua could’ve caved in to the fears and doubts he may have wrestled with. But he took God’s words to heart and had the courage to redefine himself. He started as a helper of Moses and died as a champion for God and Israel — because he trusted in God’s definition of Joshua. Joshua was always God’s champion; that’s why God called him.
I believe the same goes for us. We’re already God’s champion and that is why God has called us. The problem is, we often listen to the wrong voice — the wrong narrative. We listen to the naysayers; we listen to our doubts; we listen to the scars that plague our heart; we listen to the mistakes that were made. We let our past define us rather than describe us.
God was promising to be with Joshua wherever he went, just as God had been there for Moses. God was telling Joshua to not be afraid and to have the courage to become who he was called to become.
That goes for us, too.
God is with you. God is for you. Who can be against you? So be brave and strong and have the courage to overcome your fears and your perceived limitations and become the person God has called you to become!
Because the God-given truth, expressed succinctly by David Lose, is this: “You are a child of God, deserving of love and respect. And God will use you to change the world.”
Take a moment to repeat that. Repeat it every day and as often as you need to be reminded of it. Let it be your starting point. Let it be what defines you. If you accept it, trust in it, believe in it — God can truly use you to change the world.
The question, then, remains. Who do you have the courage to become?
We become the friends of Jesus to find ourselves no longer his servants but the empowered servants of others.