Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sabbath Musings, Part 2

"And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made." Genesis 2:2-3

I had always been under the impression that the command to honor the Sabbath had passed away under the Old Covenant, and that since the church was under the New Covenant we were on to "bigger and better things". I confess, I am no theologian. God-fearing men, much wiser than myself disagree passionately as to how we are to interpret and apply the scriptures of the Old Testament in the New Testament era; however, God has made clear to us that all of His word is inspired and profitable for doctrine (2 Tim. 3:16-17) meaning that the OT couldn't have just been for Israel with no application for the church whatsoever or else why did the Lord stir Paul to declare it profitable for the use of the Church?

Looking Back
As a basic foundation for this study we need to understand that Jesus Himself declared that the law would not pass away until all had been fulfilled, for He had not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it (Matt. 5:17-19). Texts such as the book of Hebrews make clear to us Christ's fulfillment of the Levitcal priesthood and the sacrificial or ceremonial laws and passages such as 1 Timothy 1: 8-11 declare that the judicial and moral law still maintains it's authority over law-breakers. I'm afraid that to go into much more detail on that is beyond the scope of this study. But the question ought to be asked, where does the Lord's day fall into in the midst of all this? I used to believe that all the law had "passed away" and certainly without a doubt the ceremonial; at that time, I thought that the sabbath was part of the ceremonial law and therefore had most certainly been fulfilled; somehow, I was under the impression that 9 of the ten commandments still applied execpt the 1 almost smack-dab in the middle.

The ceremonial law consisted of types and foreshadows of things to come, particularily of atoning work of Christ as well as illustrative of man's utter depravity and is inability to appease the righteousness of God by his own merits. Did the keeping of the sabbath have anything to do with the above? What is it's purpose, what is it's foundation? Let's look at the passage in Exodus:

"Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God . . . for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: where fore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it." Ex. 20:8-11

Interestingly enough, the foundation on which God based the sabbath day was His own example of work and rest during the creation week. Looking back to that time we read,
"and God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it: because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made." Gen. 2:3
Prior to the giving of the Mosiac law, God had determined a day of rest (and I think the argument can be made that He also established it as a day of worship at that time), which means that even if all the mosiac law had passed away/been fulfilled the sabbath would remain, as its foundation was established before Israel was instructed at Mt. Sinai.

Context Clarifies
Consider also the position of the fourth commandment; in the first four commandments God gives specific details regarding worship: the 1st commandment fixes the object of worship ("I am the Lord thy God. . . thou shalt have no other gods before me"); the 2nd gives the means ("Thou shalt not make any graven image. . . thou shalt not bow down thyself to them nor serve them"); the 3rd explains the manner ("thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain" i.e. worship is to be given with reverence and fear); and the 4th establishes the time ("Six days shalt thou labor . . . but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God.")
Why would the object, means and manner of worship still be in place and observed by the Church and yet the time somehow done away with?

To Be Continued in Part 3

Monday, February 7, 2011

Weekly Planning

Organization and time management, two elusive aspirations - or, at least, seemingly so. A couple months after Elise was born, I was so incredibly discouraged by my lack of ability to keep our home in perfect order, prepare meals, grocery shop, care for our little girl, help my husband with his business, nuture our marriage, and find time to rest my exhausted, nauseated, pregnant body. Jonathan  suggested I go and spend some time visiting with his mother and glean some wisdom in this area. I had a wonderful time talking with her, and Jonathan was right, having been a wife and mother for over thirty years, she had some pearls of wisdom for me. One of my favorite nuggets of counsel that she shared the value of using  a weekly schedule. She pointed me to the "Little House on the Prairie" book series and reminded me of how Ma Ingalls had a day for each of her tasks: Monday was laundry, Tuesday was ironing, Wednesday was Mending, Thursday was Churning, Friday was cleaning, Saturday was baking, Sunday was for rest. As my mother-in-law pointed out, when we don't have a set standard for our day and what we desire to accomplish, it's very easy to be overwhelmed by all the "needs" that are around us, staring us in the face. And once we find ourselves overwhelmed, it's hard to focus and get things done.

Purposeful Weekly Planning

Armed with counsel I set out to give each day a responsibility:
Monday is laundry
Tuesdy is kitchen (i.e. menu planning, food preparation and grocercy list making, organization)
Wednesday is Projects
Thursday is Shopping/Errands
Friday is Deep Cleaning (i.e. mopping, bathrooms, etc)
Saturday is Preparation for the Lord's day
Sunday is a day of rest!

One advantage with having my tasks divided by days is flexibility. For example, let's say that on Tuesday Jonathan is going out to run some errands and he wants me to come with him and do my shopping on the same day so that we can conserve gas. Not a problem, I can take a look at the rest of my week and figure out which day would be best to switch and turn into my kitchen day. However, I do try to get back onto my regular routine the next week.

Hindrances and Challenges

I have found that one of the quickest ways to get off track is to begin a new day with a disorderly home. One of my goals is to have the house picked up and straightened each night before I go to bed. Dishes need to be done, toys put away, clothes away, any projects I had out need to go to their homes, any straightening of couch pillows or throw blankets, etc. Believe it or not, this can be a lot more challenging than it seems, or at least, it can be for me. I find that I have one major pitfall in this area: The temptation to "take a break". While a break is good and needful, if I sit down, I tend to get distracted and/or I realize how tired I really am and lose all motivation to get back up and do any tidying. Some days it's a matter of "going to the ant, thou sluggard, consider her ways and be wise". I try to motivate myself by remembering that the virtuous woman, "looketh well to the ways of her household", and that in the end, giving just a little bit more of myself before my day is done will be a blessing when I wake the next day and face my tasks with a clean and orderly environment to work in.
Another challenge comes when I begin a new day with the previous day's projects incomplete. I try to fix this by paying attention to which days I am most likely to have an overabundance of work that will flow over into the next day. To illustrate: for me, it makes sense to have my project day follow my kitchen day. The projects that I have are ones that I can take my time with, such as putting together Elise's baby book, working on mending Jon's jeans, sewing projects . . . you get the idea. Because of this, I am able to handle other tasks, or even switch the focus of my day for that week, to pick up where I left off Tuesday. Also, Saturday, as preparation for the Lord's day tends to be a simpler day and therefore can handle any overflow from Friday.

Establishing God-Honoring Priorities

We do have to be careful not to overdo it and compromise our health or safety. I am constantly learning to decipher those days when I truly cannot, or better yet, should not push myself for the sake of my physical health. There are those days when the body has taken all the beatings it can safetly bear; on such days, it's best to do a quick tidy and go rest. By way of example, on such days I might just confine all the dishes to one counter, wipe down the others and not worry about anything else.

Other days, we may find ourselves going through seasons of sickness. We are just now working our way out of one such season right now. Elise had a fever, ear problems, and respiratory difficulties last weekend. Guess what? The dishes sat unattened, sweeping wasn't done, that's okay! I am working on catching up now, and I must add, that I am incredibly blessed with a husband who has been helping to restore order and get laundry under control as well!

The last point, which frankly, is probably most important is prioritizing my husband and his needs above having a tidy home. And to meet those needs, whatever they may be, with joy and without being distracted about the dirty dishes.

Pressing On

I don't have everything "under my belt" in regards to carrying out my daily/weekly tasks. I am still learning how to best manage my time so that I am not frantically trying to make my grocery list Thursday morning before heading to the store (for me, I tend to draw serious mental blanks if I do this) :-)
While I am not perfect, while I can't offer years of wisdom and experience, I do hope that my feeble efforts can encourage and inspire others in the quest to be a wise manager of the limited time that God has given us.


"So teach us to number our days,
that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom."
Psalm 90:12

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Vintage Remedies Giveaway!

Interested in some tools to help you care for your family using
the natural means God has given us in creation?

Vintage Remedies is giving away 3 monetary gift certificates and five copies of their book,
"The Kitchen Herbal". I highly encourage you to go check it out and enter the giveaway!