Stop Sending Out Good Vibes

I wrote a bit over at Desiring God today regarding the far-reaching chasm between life in the flesh and life in the Spirit and how it transforms our very words. Below is an excerpt. You can read the full article here.

Let’s freshly resolve to mean what we say. And when we do speak, we should use new phrases — phrases from God. The word of God empowers us to give real hope instead of following the fads of our culture. God’s words are heart-penetrating, Christ-illuminating, and sufficient to bring real change in this world.

We have an amazing opportunity to display the glory of God to every single person we come into contact with — even virtually. We don’t have to ultra-spiritualize everything, but we can search our hearts (and vocabulary) for phrases that promote life by the Spirit, rather than by the flesh.


Fatherhood from a Mother’s Perspective


Though it is intended for celebration, Father’s Day is often like a fiery iron brander to an already hurting heart, declaring one yet again as fatherless, or with a different kind of searing pain, unwanted.

Many of us can attest to some kind of broken or nonexistent relationship with our fathers, some with more agony than many of us can fathom. This morning as I prayed for my own earthly father and my husband, I paused to consider such a weighty role in light of where I now stand – a wife and mother of three children with our fourth soon arriving. To say that being a parent is challenging is like saying Mount Everest is beautiful and should be fun to pursue. Both are accurate and exciting, but there is a distinct and simultaneous ferociousness about both – if the evaluation and ascent are improper, consequences of such a commitment do not leave you merely disappointed. It is life and death.

Fatherhood is weighty. Manhood is weighty. I speak not only from observation, but from the complementing parties of womanhood and motherhood. When my husband and I first married, I concluded that marriage articulated my sinfulness and produced gratitude for my salvation far more than anything else. Then I became a mother. I am certain the same is for fathers.

“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” – 1 Corinthians 16:13-14

This is not a suggested posture Paul was recommending for the men at the church of Corinth. It was a frequent command in the Septuagint – a wartime call. Fathers should hear this call and let it echo deep into their souls. It is not optional. There is an age-old war being raged against the household of God, and that war has to be fought first and foremost in the homes of believers. In a culture that promotes men doing the opposite of what this verse suggests, we need fathers to do just what it says – acting like men and working heartily to “not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Children are heavy-laden with anger towards their fathers due to the lack of presence in their lives emotionally and physically. Sadly, this anger produces a wound in the heart of a child that proves lasting and real into adulthood. Thus, the call is great. The outcome is heavy.

Act like men.

Imagine the soldier that guards the gates of the camp, allowing the enemy no entrance and blocking any imminent attempts of ambush. That is the watchfulness fathers must exude for their children. It is more than the necessary work of providing financially for your family, keeping the yard, and disciplining the children. We, mothers and children, desperately need guards keeping watch for the enemy. We need fathers hoping in the only Sovereign, their Commander in Chief, for their strength and power to protect, lead, and sustain their families in love.

But how?

The gospel of Jesus Christ.

A father is an image-bearer of our Heavenly Father. It is certain that how you love your children will serve as glimpses into God’s love for his children. Aim to make those as accurate as possible. Proclaim to them what in you (and every single one of us) diminishes the Father’s image, namely a fallen nature in desperate need of saving. Give them the gospel.

It is possible to appear as a valiant father but be a coward in one’s home. Social platforms promote such misrepresentations where one can project themselves to be one way but in actuality be a sunken, puny vessel. One can profess Christ more on Facebook in a week than you have to your child in a year. It is evident which is harder. Yet a father, a man so enticed by the sovereign call of God to Jesus Christ, indulging daily in the Word of God, pleading for wisdom, proclaiming the gospel to his household and all outside, working diligently in a broken world, and every single day putting on love and walking the perimeter of his family’s camp will be able to stand firm.

Fathers, may the risen Lord and his imminent return give you keen awareness. May the bitterness of sin in yourself and your family so shake your soul that you are moved by the powerful working of the indwelling Spirit to fight against the enemy forces that are waiting to devour. May the Bible stand as your surest word and communing with God as your greatest duty. It will move you to action for your family’s good and God’s glory.

May your fatherhood brand your children’s hearts with such wantedness and love due to the power of Christ at work within you. Act like men.

Hopes for 2017 

With just a few days before the start of a new year, I encourage you to make accurate, God-pleasing resolutions filled with hope in God and not yourself, results for the glory of God and not your own, and expectations of abundant joy. As we spend the days before 2017 evaluating what hasn’t gone as planned this past year, maybe even the aspirations that turned to hogwash, don’t lose heart. As I formulate my booklist, fitness/health goals, a vision to enhance my communion with God through spiritual disciplines, and relational goals amongst my family and community, here are a few questions I’m asking myself:
1. Is this resolve to do better founded upon faith in God and hope in his sustaining grace through Christ or an attempt to stand before God on my own merit? 

Galatians 2:16 clearly tells us that “we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.”

2. Is this resolve due to proper evaluation of my heart and the lifestyle that flows from it or formed by the striving of others and hopes of being like them? 

3. Am I truly hoping to know God to a greater degree, increasing in likeness to Him, at his Word through this resolution, whatever it may be? 

We can share in Paul’s hope that he penned to the Philippians “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Philippians 3:10).

4. Are my relational goals (marriage, children, covenant community, missions) steeped in hope to share my own soul and learn the soul of others or simply to better them to reduce conflict and see exterior modifications? 

Paul and Timothy’s tender soul-sharing to the Thessalonians provide for us a hope for the relationships in our lives: “But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us” (1 Thessalonians 2:7-8).

5. Have I prayed for God to help me in these endeavors, not to simply be my aid (though surely my source of all strength to strive well) but my goal? 

He is surely the ability-giver, eternal channel, and the very treasure of all our laboring. “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:36).

And a few images that make my heart tingle  inside (the random donkey is from an amazing trip with my husband 😜) as I consider this past year and hope in God for the next: 

Keep Your Heart, Then Your Home

I was recently over at Desiring God blog sharing some thoughts on the necessary work of internal housekeeping. I find it to be true, day in and day out, that the Lord is faithful, certainly most willing and able, to aid us in our fight of faith. 

A clean home provides minimal joy in light of eternity because we know this world is passing away, and Christ has gone to prepare a home for us. Yet a frequently-tended heart provides eternal rewards that we cannot see fully in this lifetime, but can taste in part.

Creation Obeys Him

untitled-designA couple of years ago, my daughter stood in the backyard looking out upon the open field and exclaimed, “The leaves are dancing, Mama!” Her gleefulness resonated deep within my heart, displaying to me that creation obeys our Creator. The leaves turn from green to the most extraordinary hues of mustard and crimson, appearing as a blazing fire to the eyes. It is incredible to witness fall become fall each year. But above the appearance stands the reality: it occurs because God annually exercises his sovereign reign over creation. That is a sweet, sweet thing to behold.

I treasure this in fall especially because I am not sovereignly reigning over the happenings in my own life. With little children, the fall ensues many Sundays away from worship with our dearest fellow believers due to a virus here or a runny nose over there. It often appears as a pile of bedding in desperate need of de-germing before bedtime. Of course, when we are on the up-and-up, we enjoy bustling through the leaves, parks, picnics, and thrilling family outings.

An Unchanging God with an Unchanging Purpose

Now, as I mother, I am constantly in a season with sub-seasons. Growing babies, new milestones, names to be written, Bob books to be read. Our children are constantly changing. And God is present through this time of uncertainty with the certainty of who He is and what He has done.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”- Hebrews 13:8

This image for me, of fall submitting to its Maker, points to the greater reality. God is reconciling not only His creation that has been submitted to futility (Rom. 8:20), but He is bidding mankind, of all ages, to come to Him. The Giver of life has devised such an amazing Christ-exalting plan to reconcile His people back to Himself.

The obedience of the fall trees and leaves provide an image for me of constant, seemingly-but-not miniscule acts of obedience in my daily life. When the children require discipline, de-germing, admonishing, instruction, and so much more—it is not only when we are frolicking through the leaves with gladness. It is also when, and even more so, the tears of owies, tantrums, and scary ailments are real and present. It is even as my own heart hurts due to some form of sin or suffering. Miscarriage, loss of a loved, and the pressing reality of the wickedness and neediness of those around me—sin residue in myself— can fill my heart with deep sorrow. Yet Scripture promises something sweet to us.

“Those who sow in tears, will reap with shouts of joy!” – Psalm 126:5

Obedience is a Sure Sign of Our Faith

Our faith leads us to walk in a manner pleasing to the Lord. Our faith leads to obedience. If we are to please God in our obedience (Hebrews 11:6), we must believe that He is who He says He is and that His purposes and promises will come to pass, granting grace upon grace to His children all the while. Consider Noah. After being warned by God, he built a boat and separated himself from the stained world whose destruction was imminent. His faith led him to obey (Hebrews 11:7).

Every second of every day counts. It counts to be obedient to the Sovereign Lord that I have no good apart from (Psalm 16:2). It counts to ask forgiveness with tears as I sin against the ones I love. It counts to fight for joy and be in the Word and fight for time with the Lord all throughout my day.

I see the leaves preparing to fall; I am reminded of how my life is but a breadth. But it can count for something. I can sow in tears, working diligently in this world to point to the One that has come into the world to save sinners such as me. I can make it count. I see the glorious fall hues all along the road, so gently falling from their roots, and I plead with the Lord that I may exclaim how “the leaves are dancing!” knowing that I, even in my weakness, am striving in obedience. Not one falls without His call, and surely I can trust the One that demonstrates such power.

Obedience Marked by Gospel Hope

We run to things to make our ordinary seem much more special. We label ourselves as users of this or that, mothers who feed this or that, teach in this way or that, write for this blog or teach that class. All the supplements, coffee, grass-fed meats, and essential oils we use throughout our days help. But they aren’t the gospel. All of the secondary things we use to sustain us are not bad. They are hopeful means to a hopeful end. But the Risen Lord is our sure chief end. We can glorify and enjoy Him forever.

Rather than the go-tos we use as coping mechanisms to chaos, let us make Christ Jesus our go-to. The work of Christ in becoming man while remaining fully God, the perfect life lived, the death of deaths and glorious resurrection imputing His righteousness and justifying the unjust. With this glorious news, we can obey in freeing joy.

Consider and Obey—In Joy

My plea for me and you this fall is to consider.

This same-old-same-old season of motherhood is a good one. It is good in the sense that He is working all things together for the good of those that love Him (Rom. 8:28). It is good in the sense that the sowing in tears will reap joy, even if such joy is unseen on this side of eternity. So next time my days, maybe even yours, seem so outrageously ordinary and monotonous, consider the leaves. Consider who calls them, consider who changes them. But don’t stop there. Consider yourself. Consider who is changing us into His likeness. And he’s not done with us yet.

What’s the Goal of Our Union with Christ? (Episode 899) #askpastorjohn

Our identity in God- hidden in Christ (Col.3:3), a new creation, sons and daughters of God, perfect/loved/accepted by God- is, as John Piper so wonderfully articulates, a means to an end. The end is namely God himself and enjoying him fully. Take a listen!