Sunday, September 27, 2009

A New Gospel-Centered Parenting Book ...

I was just browsing through my blog list and noticed a recommendation for Gospel-Powered Parenting: How the Gospel Shapes and Transforms Parenting on the CBMW blog. Moms, you might want to check this one out. Looks like a great resource. I'm going to add it to my to-read list.

Drop me a comment if you know anything else about the book.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Longing For the Gospel

It's interesting ... toward the end of last weekend, I had a conversation with my aunt, who is not a believer to my knowledge, about the longing that we feel for something greater in life -- that longing for deep passion, completeness and soul satisfaction. And it all started as we were sorting through my Grandma's short stories and poetry ... pieces that I had never seen or heard before. As she read them aloud, I was struck by the deep passion in them and how I could almost see my Grandma's soul lift off the page and speak of years of longing for something that she once had or thought she had.

Isn't it true for us women that we always long for something like this, even if we are in a healthy place in marriage and know how deeply our husband loves and cherishes us? Or, it's in those growing moments or days or weeks when we do feel distant due to our own selfishness and desire for something that's not real at all -- an almost Hollywood-like romance.

When we put it all in perspective though, this is the longing that God has ingrained in us for His glory (whether we know it or not). This longing is our soul's desire for the gospel, and it's only the gospel that will fulfill that deep longing and nothing else.

This is the longing that I believe my Grandma was writing about in her poetry, and the longing that my aunt sensed that she has always yearned for -- whether in silent moments as she longs for the past, or during those peaceful and awe-inspiring moments amidst the Colorado mountains, or as she simply reads about someone else's life, like my Grandma's, and longing to experience those things for herself.

At times, we think that it's just a healthy marriage that will bring back this passion or the right boyfriend. Or for some, it's just the right job, or that new car, or the security of a higher paying job. But as believers, when we sit back and really think about it, while God does provide some of these things to provide for us here on earth, those things aren't the answer to our soul's longing. The only answer is Jesus Christ!

We see this in Solomon's writing in Ecclesiastes. Solomon seeks after and achieves all the love, pleasure, riches, and wisdom that he could possibly obtain, yet he still finds it all meaningless. He doesn't conclude that the answer is Jesus Christ since it is the old testament, but he does say this: "... Here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man" (Ecclesiastes 12:13). And if we look to the new testament to see what God's commandments are, I think we find our answer in John 15:10-11: "If you obey my Father's commands, you will remain in my love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete."

It doesn't seem like this verse spells it out in black and white, but it does say that if we obey God's commands (as Solomon suggested), Jesus' love will remain in us, and his entire reasoning behind having his love remain in us is so that His joy may be in us, which ultimately COMPLETES our joy. So, I guess that's it! We seek high and low for joy and pleasure from God-created things, but the only way for that joy to be complete is to have Jesus' love in us ... that only comes through his gospel and knowing Jesus Christ himself.

Pastor Tyler Jones of Vintage21 Church begins to unpack this truth in his study of Romans 1.

Sacred Romance, by Brett Curtis and John Elderidge, is a book that explores this sense of longing too. It's been many years since I've read the book, but I do have fond memories of the book as I read it while sitting on the beach and peering out into the ocean before me. It's a good read and I recommend it if you're looking to explore this topic in more detail.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Ladies, Get Ready For Action!

I just got back from a 4-day trip to Ohio. This trip has been anticipated for a while now, but I never quite knew when it would come. This trip was for my Grandma's funeral.

This was the 3rd funeral that I have attended in the last 8 months -- all of which were funerals for my grandparents. Grandpa passed away in November. Pop passed away in February. Grandma passed away on the 6th of this month. They all lived very full lives -- 98, 91 and 96 years ... a total of 285 years in total, but when death comes, you're never quite prepared for it.

And with all of this death lately, I feel like God has really sparked an urgency in my heart for the gospel ... the type of urgency we see in 1 Peter and Colossians where we need to be "prepared for action" to give an answer for what we believe and to "make the most of every opportunity" we have to share the good news of Jesus Christ with the people that God has place within our sphere of influence. This urgency comes because of the fact that I don't know if my grandparents knew Jesus the way that I know Him. And to think that even in the end of their lives, be it a few months or even the last nanosecond of their time here, how different their lives would have been because of their belief in Jesus. It is my hope that they were able to experience His saving grace for themselves and are now basking in His eternal glory in heaven. Sadly though, I will not know until I too meet Jesus in heaven. (However, when I get there, I am sure that my grandparents will only be a fleeting thought, if they come to mind at all, when compared with the resplendent glory of Christ.) But it is sad to me, that I don't know if they knew Jesus and I feel that it is my life's call to make sure that I do everything in my power to communicate the gospel to everyone that God places within my sphere of influence so that I might be able to celebrate the joy of Jesus' grace with them while they're here on earth and use that shared joy to introduce yet more people to His love as well.

Fortunately, I did have the opportunity to share the gospel with my Grandpa 9 months before he passed away ... that visit was actually the last time I saw him. My explanation was a bit shaky and there are definitely things that I wish I would have said differently, but I know that regardless of what words came out of my mouth, God was able to use them for His glory. I wish so much that I would have been more courageous earlier on in my life so that we would have had more time. But that too is all in God's timing, and I can only trust that God used that situation in Grandpa's life to meet him exactly where he was and is using that situation to grow me for the future.

I feel however that this sense of urgency comes in spurts though. Over the last year and a half, I would get all fired up when one of my grandparents would be in the hospital and we wouldn't know how much longer they had, or immediately after one of their funerals, or as I reminisce about their lives, but then I allow myself to get sucked back into my selfish desires and forget about the call God's placed on my life. How do I change this? Obviously ongoing prayer and immersion into God's word is the only fix, but to be honest, I don't always yearn to do those things. I am a sinful and self-indulgent person. But I know I need God's discipline to get in a healthy rhythm. Only God can change my perspective and give me a compassionate heart that longs for others to know Jesus. This is not going to be an easy task, but I pray that you will join me in this challenge, and that we would not be apathetic and just sit on the sidelines and watch the people in our lives struggle through life without Jesus. It might seem like a scary task to approach our neighbors, co-workers, and even family members and share Jesus with them time and time again, but on an eternal spectrum, it should be worth it.

And I'm not saying that we should just hand them a track and be done or just scream Jesus to their face. Heck no! That's not the example we see in scripture at all. It's all about building relationships with people, loving them, learning all about the gospel that we can, and then showing them the gospel through the way we live our lives and speak it to them and teach it to them when it's appropriate. But we cannot convince ourselves that speaking about Jesus and teaching them about Jesus only happens on rare occasions. I think we'd be surprised how much people will welcome the thought of Jesus. They may not believe it right away, but just to mention his name and make Him more of a frequent part of our conversation and life -- non-compartmentalized -- would make a huge difference.

In the case of my Grandpa, regardless if he believed or not, he did communicate a sense of understanding and trust in the words that I spoke to him because of how those words lined up with my life. I don't remember his exact words to me, but I do remember that he respected me and thought very highly of me, so because of that I am very thankful and hopeful that the Lord used that to help him forget reason and accept Jesus for who He is because of the small glimpse he saw of Jesus in me. (I'm not saying this to boast about myself. But as I try to understand how to make this urgency a greater part of my life and something that actually compels me toward ACTION, it helps to relate it to past experience.)

Do you have any stories like this that you'd like to share? If so, please feel free to share in the comments section.

Addendum: So, after I had the chance to digest what I wrote, I had a few more thoughts that I want to add in regards to my Grandma.

After talking to mom on several occasions about Grandma's beliefs, mom seems to feel pretty strongly that Grandma was a believer, and for that I'm very thankful. And if that's the case, I'm less sad about her death, because that means that she is now with Jesus. Who could want anything better? However, it saddens me that Jesus wasn't so much apart of her life that we got to talk about it together. (I am able to do that with my mom and it's a huge blessing in  my life.) My mom seems to think that "it was just her generation - people were more personal about their spirituality and just didn't talk about." That may be true for some, but I can't believe that's the case for an entire generation. I respect my mom and so I don't want to use this medium to call her out or anything like that, but I do believe that scripture is very clear about how we're suppose to live our lives and they're suppose to be lives of ACTION not SILENCE; regardless of the generation or time we're living in. (Paul shows us this in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23.) The Bible is still living and active and we're suppose to follow its directive for our lives because it's God's Word. (Not that we always follow this to the T because of our sinful nature, of course.) The only difference should be the way that we live our life out according to our culture -- to live in the world, to have influence in that world ... but not to adopt the practices of that world that are contrary to the Lord.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

My Response to 'A Woman's Place in Christianity' #3

Ok, here we go ... on to #3 (3 of 10). (If you're just tuning in for the first time, check out my previous posts about 'A Woman's Place in Christianity' and then read my response to Cline's post below):
Response #3, Cline's quote from Ambrose:

Ambrose (339-97): "Adam was deceived by Eve, not Eve by Adam... it is right that he whom that woman induced to sin should assume the role of guide lest he fall again through feminine instability."

Ok, I believe that there is some truth to Ambrose's quote here, but again, when used out of context, like Cline has done, it does depict a negative view of Christian womanhood rather than the biblical reality of womanhood. So, when we look at Ambrose's quote, we see a few things:
  1. Adam was deceived by Eve, but Eve was deceived as well -- all originating from the deception of the serpent.
  2. Ambrose infers that the role of guide, or helper as I've referred to it before, is given to Eve as a consequence to Eve's "deception" or because of her sin. But in actuality, we see in Genesis 2:18 that God designed this role for Eve and every other woman even before the Fall; making the role of helper a beautiful calling, not a consequence or punishment. (Follow the "helper" link above to learn more about being a helper.)
  3. And while the words "feminine instability" probably drive our blood pressure up several pulses, we do have the tendency to become unstable when we're not living life as God has called us. "Feminine instability" is probably an over generalized term here, but in the case of Eve, when she chose to disregard Adam, follow her curiosity and take control, she did become unstable and gave Satan a foothold, which lead both she and Adam to sin for the first time. So, as women who are prone to desire control and to 'devour' our husbands instead of love and support them, we have to be on our toes and in prayer consistently to flee from our sinful desires and not carry ourselves and our husbands into sin and destruction.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Being a Helper is like Beating a Mountain Lion ...

This sounds a little strange, but I just read a new post on Metro Moms Blog (linked in my blog roll) and Jaime one of the blog contributors shared some of the things she's learned at a recent conference. She shared a story that her mom used to illustrate the tremendous role that we as women have as helpers and the effect that we can have on our husbands, ourselves and our marriages in our effort to honor the Lord.

See how she relates our helper role to beating a mountain! (She also links to the podcast from the entire conference she attended which might be a good resource to listen to.)


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Spiritual Mothering?

Last week I posted about how we can practically live out the calling of Titus 2, and as I was blog browsing this morning, I stumbled across a book that might provide some very helpful advice on how to pursue and walk through Titus 2 relationships with other women. The book is called Spiritual Mothering. I haven't read it yet, obviously, but I'm looking for a new book right now and this one might be it. Susan Hunt wrote it. She was a contributing author to Biblical Womanhood in the Home, and so I would imagine that she's got some quality stuff to say.

Anyone read this book? If not, consider picking up a copy and as I read through it, hopefully soon, and comment about it, share your two cents as well.

Other books that I'm considering to read right now are Womanly Dominion, which the crew at girltalk just recently read together, and God, Marriage & Family, which Todd Perkins of Vintage21 Church just recommended to families at V21. All three seem like great books, Spiritual Mothering included, but obviously due to time restraints and my budget, I can only choose ONE right now, so I better choose wisely .... I'll just have to pick up the others at another time.

For other good reads, check out the goodreads section of my blog on the right-hand column, toward the bottom.