Have I mentioned that I have the *joy* of editing for this beautiful woman? Go check out her site and glean from all its Bible-saturated, Christ-exalting goodness!
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!
I recently read this article by Megan Hill that opened my eyes to how being “real” and “authentic” has much deeper implications than we as believers (I myself) often allude to in our blogs, texts, emails, and conversations.
Yes, life is full of chaotic instances. From laundry overloads to falling short of the diets we wish our children to follow and so on. But it is so true that the real chaos is in our hearts. Our sin and the residue of the fall in our home and in our hearts are the matters of life that should make us shudder. I realize that it downplays grace to act as though our most dire needs for it are found in momentary messiness and non-eternal thoughts. Yes, our God is interested in every moment of our lives and we desperately need to draw upon his grace and seek his promises throughout our days. But let us (let me!) be quick to look into the depths of our hearts rather than the surface. And let us not try to elevate our failures and give way to any type of consolation for others in their sin. We are merely recipients of grace. We must elevate and point other mothers to the High Priest.
he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:11-12).
I’ve been in numerous small groups where “being real” consisted of stating personal sin flat out and not being ashamed of it before other believers. I get that and I’m not trying to criticize transparency by any means. My fear is that we stop there. We get the shame and guilt off our chests but we don’t do the necessary work of mortifying our sin. There is also a reciprocal role we should play in the lives of those we are confessing sin to. I must follow-up with my brothers and sisters in the faith. Grace is far too costly.
I want to look beneath the surface. Beneath the dishes, diapers, and bills we need to look for and put to death sin. Our cravings for accolades from other people, our lacking care to know God more, our addictions to social platforms, our unbelief, and the list goes on. I second what Megan Hill states in her article:
“If we are constantly looking for someone else who is broken in all the same places, we overlook the comfort we can have in the perfect God-man.”
When we see the measure of our sin and realize who we are sinning against, the allure of boasting in our failings and stopping there loses it’s comfort. It’s God alone that we need to be reconciled to and it is God alone that bought us as his own possession- that we may find joy in his strength and power when ours is forever lacking.
A few questions I’m left with to evaluate my heart:
Do I find comfort in knowing others are struggling and sinning like me? Why is Christ not enough to comfort me as I deal with my failings?
Jesus really “gets me” though he knew no sin. That truth must resonate in our hearts loud enough to silence the lies that keep us stopping and finding comfort in others that are, like us, well-acquainted with sin.
Here’s a book that I highly recommend to all Christians:
Overcoming Sin And Temptation: Three Classic Works by John Owen (edited by Kelly M. Kapic and Justin Taylor)
John Owen gives the following directions on dealing with sin:
“Set faith at work on Christ for the killing of your sin. His blood is the great sovereign remedy for sin-sick souls. Live in this, and you will die a conquerer; yea, you will, through the good providence of God, live to see your lust dead at your feet.”
Though it’s difficult to read, it’s surely worth your while.
My husband and I recently listened to this Ask Pastor John episode, and it nudged us all the more to run to Jesus, the Godman, because though he knows not the battle personally of indwelling sin (he wouldn’t be God if he did), he knows the price and paid it for his people. I encourage you to take a listen:
Can Jesus Really Understand My Temptations? (Episode 592) #askpastorjohn
Run to Jesus.
All mothers know getting a child to sleep is not always easy. It is a vulnerable time for both child and parent. There our sleepy heads want to be sung to, rocked, read to, and prayed over. All good and needed things for these little souls; however, the fact of the matter is, we get tired. I mean really tired. There is literally a mound of clean clothes needing to be folded on the bed before the dryer needs to be restarted again so that those clothes don’t wrinkle. The firstborn “taking a nap” has pulled out the dollhouse furniture and that mess and noise adds to the weariness. And then they utter the tempting plea, “Lay with meeeeee!”
This scenario is something that plays out often at our house. I’ve found that in our most vulnerable state, namely that we are needy ourselves for a bit of quiet time and rejuvenation, that there is no need to wish this time away like is often the case. Rather than begrudgingly trying to get the napping going so we can get our tasks accomplished (which by the way, the begrudging part really makes that quiet time kind of feel off kilter), what if we seized the moment. Swaying our baby boy really is so much sweeter when I look upon him and pray.
We do have time after all.
God hasn’t plagued us with needy children that usurp all of our time. He has given us souls to steward for his glory on this earth. He is reminding us that we are HIS needy children as well. So needy, in fact, that God called us unto himself for salvation while we were weak. So needy that God wants us to come to him and be reminded that he is always strong amidst all of our great weaknesses.
• “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28)
• “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6).
• “And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:1-8)
• “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
• “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe” (Proverbs 18:10).
You see when I consider that in Jesus I find rest, in my weakness God is made glorious, that there is reward where prayer is persistent, and that the name of the Lord is my safe place – mothering becomes an honor.
God has provided mothers with so many occasions to commune with him in the presence of our children. Consider a toddler tantrum. What greater way to get through than to go to God before your child? Memorize scripture for these instances. I cling to Philippians 2:4-11, especially when car rides to the grocery store leave my toddler asking for milk and my baby crying because the sun is in his eyes. While pacing my son to sleep (yes that’s right I said pacing), God reminds me that He cares about all the “little” things that worry me. I pray for the impending task of weaning Owen. I pray for his teething or tendency to pull Norah’s hair. I ask God to help me in my impatience and unbelief that all of this is for my good. Have you considered the blissfulness of rocking your child to sleep? Keep your bible nearby. It will help with all of our excuses that we don’t have time to read. In it we will find food to nourish our hungry hearts and comfort from the One that has shown us grace upon grace that we may extend that to our babies.
I am sure all of our loads are so different and vary in strenuousness. Some husbands are gone for days or weeks at a time. Some mothers do this alone. Not to mention all of us are wired so differently. Whatever the case may be, God knows, and he is there through it all.
Moms, we are to be beggars. Embrace it.
Beggars for grace. Beggars for patience. Beggars for time. Beggars for joy on the bumpy road of mothering.
The one thing I want my children to see when they look back on my mothering is not how awesome I was at doing everything. Truthfully, that would not be reality. I would rather them see that all of my efforts, prayers, and time invested in their lives was due to the work of Another.
Charles Spurgeon says the following: “There, poor sinner, take my garment, and put it on; you shall stand before God as if you were Christ, and I will stand before God as if I had been the sinner; I will suffer in the sinner’s stead, and you shall be rewarded for works that you did not do, but which I did for you.” (The Essential Works of Charles Spurgeon, 36)
Now to let this sink in deep and live it out because there’s a rumor out there saying that this child-rearing business happens in the blink of an eye.
The words of Charles Spurgeon always seem to digest well into my soul and stir my affections for the gospel early on in the day. Today, that is especially the case.
Basing his devotional off of Romans 3:26, “just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus,” Spurgeon says regarding God’s justice that “judgment now decides for the sinner instead of against him. Memory looks back upon past sins with deep sorrow for the sin, but yet without dreading any penalty to come; for Christ has paid the debt of His people to the last jot and tittle and received the divine receipt.”
Let’s steep that thought a bit more with this:
“Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear…no one enters suit justly; no one goes to law honestly…Therefore justice is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us; we hope for light, and behold, darkness, and for brightness, but we walk in gloom. We grope for the wall like the blind; we grope like those who have no eyes; we stumble at noon as in the twilight, among those in full vigor we are like dead men…we hope for justice, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far from us. For our transgressions are multiplied before you, and our sins testify against us; for our transgressions are with us, and we know our iniquities…The LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then his own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him. He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head; he put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak. According to their deeds, so will he repay…And a Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression,” declares the LORD.” – Isaiah 59:1-2, 4a, 9-10, 11b-12, 15b-18a, 20
Just as God so radically opposes our radical disposition to sin, he radically makes a way for the impenitent to be united with him through the blood of Jesus. Isaiah’s indictment against the Israelites is the indictment against all of mankind. We are dead men groping in the darkness in midday! However, theres this phenomenal redemption. God, in his good providence, sent the second Person of the Trinity, to die for the unjust, and justify through His blood alone.
God justifies the ungodly.
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” -Romans 5:6
So if you happen to be like me on certain mornings, and it feels like you can conquer the world after your first cup of coffee, your to-do list is totally feasible because you are on your A-game or, if you are also like me at other times when you feel so unable to muster up the motivation to press on gladly, let’s take a second and consider this:
“Therefore, Jesus having taken the place of the believer-having rendered a full equivalent to divine wrath for all that His people ought to have suffered as the result of sin-the believer can shout with glorious triumph, “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect?” Nor God, for He has justified; not Christ, for He has died, yes has risen again. My hope lives not because I am not a sinner; but because I am a sinner for whom Christ died” – Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening,
THERE is where I find my soul’s energy. It’s not the cup of coffee or the checking off of one’s daily to-dos. It’s not even the self-motivation we try and feed ourselves.
It’s solely the justification by faith through Christ.
With this reality, my heart wades in joyous waters.
I can look to this truth in the midst of chaos (because we really aren’t promised a relief from the chaos.) And especially with fall cultivating so much worship in my heart these days, I can look at daily graces with my kiddos and be glad in The Lord that has sent himself to provide the needed sacrifice due for my sin.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
I have found myself repeating these verses in my mind when the going gets rough and my sweet pea toddler pushes that spoonful of yummy, time-put-into-preparing food out of her mouth and simply says “no thank you” and “I wanna play!” or when my fingers get slammed into the laundry room door as she slides it happily trying to hide.
I find myself contemplating a state of the heart which I considered often in my college days as I was immersed in international gatherings among unbelievers and traveling overseas to share the gospel:
Privilege vs Sacrifice
I could never consider anything I did as a sacrifice necessarily because if God called me to that, a lowly sinner saved by grace, then where is the sacrifice? It’s all gain! And not to mention that it is God at work in us to bring about his good plan rather than anything we can muster up on our own. I found myself always more blessed by others than I was intending to be a blessing to them. I see a similar working in mothering.
I have intentions with my children to empty myself so they can see Christ in all his glory. I want Norah to be well-mannered and able to listen at a young age so that she can have an attentive ear for the gospel. I want to nurture Owen as an infant so that he can feel loved by God later on. Norah’s chanting of the ABC’s stirs in me the hopes of her learning to read in the coming years so that she can see God in the bible for herself and be amazed. However, unlike my summer adventures in China and India (though I did work with small children), it can be a bit easier to fall under the sacrifice category and bemoan my current calling- what a shame to stay in that!
There’s also a self-righteous undertone in boasting in the sacrifice rather than the privilege. It puts us in an upper-hand position rather than the reality. Yes we are called to work heartily in serving the needy, but aren’t we all helpless widows?
And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.'” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
Luke 18:1-8 tells of the persistent widow that went to the judge for relief. At this time, a widow with no familial aid was left for dead basically. She wore out the judge in her pleadings. He granted her the relief she sought and he wasn’t even a righteous, God-fearing judge! How much more has God provided relief for his children, sinners in a desperate state, in Christ his Son! Knowing then our state, depraved and unable to fix it (Isaiah 59), once we are changed by grace through faith, what God calls us to in service to him ultimately is not a sacrifice, but a privilege for we have been rescued from the famine. We have been given the bread of life and living water to fill us for eternity. What gluttons we would be to not share it!
There is no sacrifice to serve my children, all privilege. I am not setting aside my desires to have this occupation or that friendship. I am gaining God in my calling. It’s a privilege to know that God sees fit to use child-bearing and rearing to draw me closer to himself. Sitting in college classes such as The Gospel of John or Understanding Islam, I would have never thought God was using such courses to prepare me for where I am now, but he is. The gospel is all I have to lean on throughout the day. God is often my only “real” conversation when my husband may be gone all day for work and then church affairs. And often times, my children and their needs/behaviors are as foreign as all get out, so working internationally and studying other cultures are utilized in my day-to-day.
It all goes back to a renewing of the mind. Day-in and day-out, hour by hour. I am constantly in need of a mind-renewal because there is an emptying needed to take place. Just as Christ emptied himself to the point of death in submission to the Father, so I pray for grace to empty myself into the lives of my children for the glory of God. What a privilege indeed!
I tell many newlywed friends (well, more newlywed than Josh and I that is!) that God gives us marriage and parenting to show us our need for a Savior because these relationships will reveal sin more than any other. John Owen states that we are to kill sin before it kills us. That sounds pretty brutal…well, not so much now when I see how my sin could eat me up as a wife and mother. I must actively work to put it death and repent often, pleading for the mind of Christ “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant” and there I am consoled, knowing how I it is worth it all to serve the One who came in the flesh to remove my heart of stone and give me a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26.)
Joel 2:13a states, “rend your heart and not your garments” in regards to the posture of the heart in repentance. An inner realization and change rather than an external modification. I find myself in need of repentance more and more these days, and it actually brings me joy rather than discouragement knowing that God is at work in me to sanctify me and conform me into his likeness.
So when I am bent under the kitchen table scraping mushed peas off the ground, I say Philippians 2:5-11 over and over again. When I sit on the couch feeding my newborn while listening to my toddler scream not wanting to go to bed, I say Philippians 2:5-11 over and over again. When I am in the darkened kitchen starting my morning cup of coffee with intentions to dive deep into the bible and then a baby awakens, I say Philippians 2:5-11 over and over again. What has been provided for us through Christ is real and available. It is the only outlet from death. It’s the only answer for truly living. And His Name will sound throughout the heavens and be recognized by all:
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
It’s a privilege to train up my little ones to know His Name. It’s quite messy, but oh how messy are we in our sin and despair, yet God is so loving to draw us to himself and shed the light of Jesus Christ in our hearts for all eternity!
2 Corinthians 4:6
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
I have listed below a few recommendations for any readers out there- mothers, housewives, any believers of Jesus Christ, skeptics. Some listed are books that I have already read in recent years and need a re-read for the sanctification of my own soul and others have been left uncharted until this year (Lord-willing).
Let me provide some reasoning behind my book choices. Ultimately, all of these books have been selected to stir my affections for God more and discard the affections for things of this world that steal my joy. I have chosen based on the criteria of my personal likings and what I feel like my soul needs. I am a wife, mother, and homemaker which has fueled several of these selections. I aim to see God’s glory and calling in each of these roles to a greater degree. I have a passion for the nations as I have seen it clearly in the bible and other cultures through my own personal travels and friendships made cross-culturally. Theology is a must in my life and this household as the reality is we are all “theologizing” in some form or fashion and God has guided many scholars out there to further the sanctification of the saints in the knowledge of the scriptures and I want to drink from that fountain. I am a linguistics enthusiast. Not only is it amazing that our brains have been fashioned to develop in language skills throughout our entire lives, but I also see its place in the furtherance of the gospel through bible translation. And without further ado, I introduce my 2014 reading list:
Housewife Theologian by Aimee Byrd
Glimpses of Grace by Gloria Furman
Marriage To a Difficult Man: The Uncommon Union of Jonathan & Sarah Edwards by Elisabeth D. Dodds
Let the Nations be Glad! by John Piper
Display of Arminianism by John Owen
The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Twelve Extraordinary Women by John MacArthur
A Chance To Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael by Elisabeth Elliot
Uncle Cam: The Story of William Cameron Townsend founder of the Wycliffe Bible Translators and the Summer Institute of Linguistics by James & Marti Hefley
The Origins and Developments of the English Language by Thomas Pyles and John Algeo
Ashamed of the Gospel by John MacArthur
To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain by Matt Chandler
[sections from] From Heaven He Came and Sought Her
[sections from] Systematic Theology: An Introduction To Christian Belief by John M. Frame