4/18/2019 1 Comment
Let me be clear. No one is a sinner because they are a victim. No amount of tragedy, or unideal life circumstances, make us more of a sinner. We all, no matter our background, were rebels, running as fast as we could from a Holy God. We were all dead and miraculously resurrected. Sin will manifest no matter what. It can hide and even look pretty or it can be raw and impudent. But it is a cancer in every one of us, and we long to feed it through lust. It will always matastisize and it is terminal.
“And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)” | Eph. 2:1-5
I used to look back at my conversion for assurance of my salvation. So much so, I let the experience itself define me and my relationship to God (instead of Christ and His Word alone). As He has grown me in grace, I have come to treasure what was done in me, not by my experience, but by what is revealed in His Word.
“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” 1 John 1:5
And, my greatest assurance comes from what He continues to miraculously work in me since my conversion. Because it was after my conversion and living with myself that the scales continually fall, revealing the remaining blackness, my proneness to wander, the tendency to make even good things into idols. I detest it…and the more I detest it, the more lovely, the more insanely precious He becomes, and the more mature I grow in Him.
So with that out of the way, I’ll give my more detailed account of my life leading up to my conversion, keeping in mind, I was not a victim. Life circumstances only brought out what was already within me, and in each of us before salvation, an hatred for God and all He was.
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” | Ephesian 2:10
“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” | Phil. 1:6
A lot of my child hood is a blur (I am really horrible at recalling past events), but what I do recall in the very early years, it seemed like a typical family life. We had a nice home. My mom was a nurse and my dad installed stereos (which, back then, was totally a thing). As I grew older I would find out they weren't very happy. Thier was infidelity and fighting. My mom was finding she really didn’t want to be a mother…Then, unexpectedly, my mom passed away from complications of bulimia. I was 5.
That night is like a series of flashes, but I do remember waking up in the night, finding her on the couch asleep. I attempted to wake her and couldn’t really comprehend why I couldn’t. I sat on the couch beside her, when my dad came out, attempted to wake her up and another flash of terror took over. Soon followed flashes of frantic yelling, sirens and lights…
We left everything and from then on we were kind of like nomads. Moving every few months. My dad loved us, but he was a slave to sin. He embraced all the sensuality of this world, women and partying. He had many girlfriends through out my child hood. Many of which were either alcoholics, abusive and/or drug addicts. My brother and I, were kind of tossed into different random families for different lengths of time. We were introduced to drugs and sex early on, in one form or another. I remember feeling a moral code in me even in the midst of the sensual world I lived in.
(“For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)” | Romans 2:14-15)
I remember attempting to stand upon this moral code several times as I grew in my adolescence, but I was dead in sin, powerless within myself and would succumb more and more. I had no power and my heart’s truest desires over ran any moral code my conscience bore by God. It wanted self first and all it could get for self. So the chains to sin, innately within, started working its way out. I dropped out of highschool at the age of 14 and started to do whatever my flesh wanted (drugs, alcohol, sensuality).
We are created worshippers. I was the object of that worship, and like the greeks, I worshipped the world’s wisdom and knowledge. There has always been a string in me to know the why behind the why behind the why…always connecting, making patterns, always searching. The pinnacle of these whys, was wanting to know why I was here. Why was I a living human being on this round ball of dirt, feeling and moving in this existence. It consumed me to the point of depression and anxiety starting at the age of 9 or 10.
I fed this curiosity with everything. Philosophy, astrology, numerology, witch craft and the list goes on…I formed my own god, the belief that everything was connected and all roads led to the same place. My heart had no revelation of sin nor of a holy God. I delighted in sin and detested the idea of a holy God. I may not have said it or even thought it concsciously, but this was my heart’s belief, for what we live, is what we truly believe.
My sin finally crossed the boundaries of civil law and I acrued a misdemeanor at the age of 15. In order to get this off my record I went through a program called “scared straight”, where they attempted to give devastating statistics and show obscene images of overdoses in hopes to put you on a better path. The only thing to pass the program was, at the end, have a clean drug test. Again, I was chained to sin. I loved it and no amount of external manipulation was going to reach what needed a heart transplant.
Finally, through a series of events orchestrated by God, it was decided to send me to a Christian girl’s home across the country. Initially, my dad didn’t want to send me, nor did he have the funds. My Christian Aunt had found out what was going on and flew down from northern ca, funded it and set the papers in front of my dad to sign.
At this point I was running the streets and was hardly ever home, but I remember distinctly that night, amongst a bunch of people feeling so very alone and made the totally out of character decision, to go home.
That night I was woken up from my high and drunken stooper and escorted by my case manager and an off duty officer on a flight across the country to a girl’s home in Florida.
After getting there, I remember being in shock as I fumbled around the first few days as the drugs and alcohol left my system. I was angry and ridiculed these people in my mind. I could not comprehend people who lived like this. It was fake. It had to be fake. No cursing. No drugs. Clothes that covered. Complete and utter insanity to my world.
I remember the first time my heart softened for an instant. The man in charge of the home came to the classroom where I was sleeping at my desk. He asked me how I was and really I just wanted to spit in his face, but instead, I just glared at him. The next thing he said, “I love you, kiddo…” increasing my glare all the more….and the next thing that penetrated me to the core….”but I know someone who loves you more”. I knew instantly what he was referring to and it shot through me like an arrow.
I was still admantly against this belief system. I wanted nothing to do with it. I had the answers and didn’t need what they had. I thought I would just bide my time and go home in a year back to my life.
They had a rule, if you’re not doing anything you have to read the Bible. My pride hated this. After a while of just staring at the Bible I decided, why not. I thought to myself, I always thought all these things were connected so it will be something to add to my already formed philosophy. This is the second instance I distinctly remember being shot through. As I read His Word, I had the prevailing thought that I had never read anything like it before.
From then on, with preaching and teaching, I had an internal war going on. Refuting and argueing all I was hearing with the god I had already formed in my mind. Firing back with my philosophical reasonings and ideals.
3 months in, we all gathered into the cafeteria to watch a documentary on Marilyn Manson. I wasn’t neccessarliy a fan of him or anything so I wasn’t aware of what his music was about. Throughout the documentary, it showed how his whole platform was based on anti-Christ. It shows him standing behind a pulpit, and in a possessed-like way, ripping the Bible apart, mocking preaching and thousands in the audience cutting themselves and basically worshipping him/satan.
This was the final revelation by the Holy Spirit that God would use to bring me to saving knowledge. The falling off of scales and seeing something I had never seen before. This man’s whole production was based against Christ. No other god. All at once I saw this type of rage and hostility is rarely, if ever, against buddha, christna, allah, etc. and immediately, I asked the question, “why?” Why always against Christ? Why was the line always drawn there with Him? This acutely pressed His diety upon me. Immediately I began wrestling with the thought of believing. How? I was not about to profess something I wasn’t truly committed to. I remember crying out and asking God, how do I do this…the Holy Spirit pressed upon me and there are no words. I just knew, I mean, KNEW with concious thought that my reasoning and rationalizing must stop there. I stood up to profess Him and immediately, the moment I stood, I knew I was saved. In a single moment God worked eternity’s glory within me. As I went to pray, my desires went from all that I could consume upon my lust becoming a colorless blur compared to the glory I saw in His face. Suddenly He was EVERYTHING. I mean EVERYTHING. He was all I wanted. All I longed for. My heart became abandoned to Him. As I prayed, my repentance was denying Him for so long. Now that I saw Him, I realized my denial of Him was of the greatest treachery and offense in the universe. He graciously and mercifully allowed me to be born of the Spirit. Born again to a new creature, a servant of righteousness and the Living God.
My conversion was just the beginning of what He has worked in me sense. `Although my eyes saw what was beyond compare, He still had a work to keep them steadfast upon Him, grow in the knowledge of Him and die to self.
“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” | Matthew 16:24, 25
The only way in which He has worked this in me was by His Word. For so long, my former god, knowledge, would evade and keep me from entering into all the fulness God had for me through His Word. Things I would face in my walk, I would attempt to fix by every means, searching every possible answer that would fit into my already "well informed" intellect, never truly coming to true knoweldge of my pride against God. Never fully becoming utterly dependent and casting all my opposing experiences, thoughts and emotions upon Him and His Word. Never fully allowing it to form my intellect. God would bring this part of me to its knees using my marraige. I so wish I had time to share how God used my marraige to drive me to His Word, teaching me what it was to die to self through the Spirit, the ONLY way for the Christian. My relationship with His Word was transformed, therefore my relationship with God was transformed and my marriage and everyting else in relation to me, was transformed.
His Word working in me/us: “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.” | 1 Thess 2:13
“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” | Hebrews 4:12
“But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” | Psalm 1:2,3
“Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” Psalm 16:11
I now saw how my flesh, pride, and selfishness raged war in ways I never knew…He has not only used my marriage, but my children, broken dreams and my ideals of what this life was supposed to look like, making it crumble before my eyes in one way or another, so that I would be increasingly chased to Him, finding my only source of life and the ability to overcome in Him. Setting my feet on an eternal rock, lifting my eyes into a higher plane, the eternal. Where I do not see clearly now, but it is what I trust more than all that I face and feel here. Where all the seeminlgy impossibilities here are infused with an unnatural hope. No matter the oppostions I face, my truest reality and strength is Christ and His glory, and knowing all things are working in me to that end.
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Romans 8:28,29
This holds the power to surpass all the grief of earthly decay and replaces it with unspeakable joy, peace, strength and hope. I am not totally free from this flesh until Heaven, but I continue to rage war through the Spirit, because He has made me taste His sweetness and all the dainties my flesh would tempt me to taste of this World are as bitter wormwood in comparison. I will have heart ache and suffering, but it is in these places I have found joy unspeakable, joining Him in His sufferings by faith. Where I find deepening intimacy and knoweldge of Him and my soul satisfied.
“For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” | 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
This is ALL Christ, the Living Word, and none of me. I would not have chosen Him. I could have never been made to increasingly see truth and die to self, outside of Him.
So my plea to you, seek Him through His Word. It IS life. It isn’t just a part of our intellect it needs to BE your intellect. Our thoughts and emotions must be submitted to it and conformed to it, for without it they are fleshly, wthout a compass, tossed on the stormy seas of depravity.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” | Hebrews 55:8,9
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” | Romans 12:2
This is impossible to do outside personal glories and revelations imparted to your heart.
Ask God to produce a hunger for it in you. To make you see the treasure that it is. Seek out Christ in it everyday. Delight in it. Make it your source of strength. Ask Him to illuminate it, to make it more satisfying than your physical nourishment. Make it your only foundation and habitation. For it contains all of that we are made for, our only joy and gain for all eternity, Christ.
“My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee;
So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;
Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;
If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;
Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.
For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.
He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly.
He keepeth the paths of judgment, and preserveth the way of his saints.
Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yea, every good path.
When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul;
Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee:” Proverbs 2:1-11
“But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” | Matt. 4:4
“My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.” Psalm 73:26
I am not immune to the struggle, actually I have been in the murky trenches of it time and again. Adding weights to my walk and calling, trying to haul them to the finish line. Weights that God never placed upon me, but by my natural sinful inclinations, I mounted upon my back. Often the weights glittered with promises of fulfillment, only to leave me joyless, overwhelmed and depleted. How often we complicate God's will for our lives.
In Making Money Bow, Part 1 I talked about the heart and God side of getting your finances in order. That is just as important (if not more) as the practical side, because no matter how much you attempt to work a better path, if your heart isn't being worked along with it, you'll sabotage yourself. So go check it out here if you havent already!
What is the Mystery Blogger Award?
The Award was originally created by Okoto Enigma. Clicking the link will take you to her original post where you can find out more information about the Award. The intent of the Award is to award bloggers for their content and let them know that their work is appreciated.
1. Put the award logo in your post
2. Thank the person who nominated you, include a link to the post.
3. Mention the creator of the award, include a link to the blog.
4. List three things about you
5. Nominate 1-10 people
6. Notify the nominees by a blog comment
7. Ask your nominee 5 questions with one funny question
8. Share links to your best posts
Thank you to Yuli at Armstrong Family Blog for the nomination! Thanks for always being my cheer leader. Not just mine, but everyones. You truly inspire and motivate just by being your lovely self.
1. What is at the heart of your content?
I want to point people to the pinnacle of all beauty, the soul's only true filling, the grandest paradox that solves all life's mysteries and queries, the transforming power of the glory of God within His character, revealed in the Gospel. We are searching for awe, for power, to be dumbfounded and filled, only we look for it within ourselves and this World, when it is found without, in God. I am convinced that the more we plunge into the Gospel, the more we see and are captivated by God's glory, the more we come out victorious in every practical aspect of our lives.
2. How do you want your readers to feel?
Awe. I want them to start thinking outside the boxes they have put God in. To see themselves in contrast to the reality of who He is and be dumbfounded. It is this awe that will birth transformation, healing and holiness.
3. Is there anyone you would love to collaborate with?
Sure! Honestly I am just figuring out what I am doing myself here in the blog-o-sphere, but I'd love to join someone who has a similar passion to help others by showing forth the character of God.
4. Who has impacted you the most ?
This is going to sound so cliche, but truly it has been God through His Word. The greatest trials in my life, the things I saw no way out of, all the wounds I could not keep from hemorrhaging, I have only found healing and the power to overcome by the revealing of God in the Bible. None of this world's wisdom could induce what I needed and still need. What I need is supernatural and supernatural is only found in God. But on the human side, I'd have to say my husband, but not in the usual sense. We have been a gift to each other in learning how to love, forbear, forgive...to walk with God.
5. What is the most ridiculous fact you know?
Not sure it's the most ridiculous one I know, but it's the only one I could think up right now. We have explored less than 5% of the ocean!!! Isn't that CRAZY?!?! I think it attests to our humanity, all that we don't know, yet reveals our empty pride in all we think we know. We are truly nothing in the grand scheme of things.
Three Facts About Me
1. I can't stop learning and reading. I devour everything. If something truly piques my interest, I have to fight to not become completely entranced for hours on end.
2. I can be clumsy and have a weird relationship with what is concrete. I often feel like a big balloon head floating about and will suddenly be reminded (usually by those pesky walls and furniture that jump out at me) that I have a body attached in a physical world (I never claimed I was normal).
3. I want to know what makes people tick, but not in just the normal day to day (all though I thoroughly enjoy that as well
), but the darkest places in people. The places in people that usually make you want to cover your eyes. It helps me understand the human race (in relationship to God). I am not afraid of it. It fascinates me. It's where things are real and raw, where we can start coming to reality and true answers. Otherwise, we are living in a sort of in-the-middle where we sit comfortably with shallow conclusions, but are blind to the depths of life that reveal God. The darkest nature of ourselves reveals what is missing. The depths of pain and suffering show forth what we are truly made for.
One sentence to sum up my life (the current, perhaps cheesy, image that comes to mind): Shattered glass being put back together in order to reflect the hand by which it has found its wholeness.
Links to some of my posts:
Pain and How we can Overcome
Strength and Joy in the Midst of the Ordinary
Questions for you
* In 1 sentence, sum up your life.
Here it is. Finally. Between preparing for baby, having said baby with 4 littles under foot, this post has been a long time coming. I am so excited to finally share as this subject has had a ton of interaction. Which just tells me this is something that many people can relate to and may be struggling with themselves.
I announced back in September that we became debt free in 15 months (YAY YAY YAY!!!). I wanted to share how we did it (and will inlcude all the nitty gritty details and figures in part 2), but also the heart transformation that took place for the practical steps to actually bare fruit.
There are 2 parts to finances: the heart-God aspect, and the practical how-to. It's my conviction you can't have one without the other.
In this post I will speak on the heart-God side, because I believe it's foundational. You can have the practical know-how and still be desperately desolate of a faith-induced relationship with money.
So here is the first of a 2 part series:
Money, like every other aspect in life, is an extension and expression of what we truly believe about God and ourselves.
Symptoms of money becoming an idol: anxiety over losing it, feelings of never enough, followed by greed. Then the other side, discontentment, spending unwisely and usually followed by incurring thoughtless debt. You bow before it and believe its lies and power. Power to satisfy only to find yourself not only hungry, but starved.
I remember wanting to be debt free since I first incurred it, but it was only to escape the natural burden and consequences of it. I couldnt wait to not have "that" bill so I could buy this or that, i.e. do more of what I wanted. Although, being wise with money also means more freedom, but that freedom translates into what would most glorify God, not what do I think will satisfy me. Because the truth is, the glorification of God (with every means and expression of me) will be my ultimate satisfaction.
It wasn't until I saw and repented of my desperate condition that God's Light and wisdom could shine and illuminate the way. I had all the cop outs: spouse ("he spends so I will spend too". "He doesn't care so why should I?"), miscommunication, etc etc fed my lust and blatant abuse of God's provisions. To take what He has graciously given and approach it as mine alone.
When we give our money a Spirit- led plan and continually kick its legs out from under it, making it bow and submit to that plan, we are showing the sufficiency of Christ. When we can deny ourselves what everyone else says, or what we believe is impossible to live without, we show God as our ultimate thirst quencher and glorify Him. For it is this Living Water that never runs dry and satisfies.
The reality that every dollar was given to me to utilize in such a way as to make my God look like He IS my God, I find my joy increases. To live in the reality that He has provided and, if practically, the budget didn't allow for certain things, it will be okay. Hard work increased as convenience was denied, but the persperation was sweet knowing I was living within the limits of his provision and His provision is perfect.
So my heart's reality wasn't to throw off debt just to consume more, but that far after we were free from debt, money would only continue to bow, by staying out of debt and using it wisely. Not to grow in greed and dependence upon it, but to live in the reality of a Soveriegn God and my human responsibilty. Meaning, I invest, I plan, but not in anxiety and fear, but in faith and peace, knowing if it grew wings and flew away tomorrow, God is still God and my joy came from serving Him with it and my joy will still be in serving Him even without it.
Stay tuned for part 2 where I'll speak on how this all translated practically for our family of 7 paying off $60,000 of debt off in 15 months!
I currently only have four children, ten and below, at home. I am well aware that there are many unchartered, potentially stormy, waters of motherhood for me to yet go through, but I am convinced that there are two foundational truths, or realities, that will be my guiding compass as we enter into all the different currents. I call it Gospel-centered parenting. Using their anti-God actions as an opportunity to shine forth the glory of God .
“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath
shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory
of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” | 2 Cor. 4:6
I am sure the applications will change and grow as my children mature, but I know all my dealings will have to be hinged upon this lens and reality:
1) Always seeking to speak to the heart of my children, in attempt to reveal their heart before a holy God, to them.
2) Seeing their anti-God offenses and transgressions as a God-ordained opportunity to reveal the glory of God and only true hope: the gospel of Christ.
If I don’t speak to the heart, to the core of their action/s, shining the character of God in contrast with thier heart’s condition, I miss the mark. If my reaction starts and ends with me, instead of an other-ward (them) and God-ward reality, I will most likely only serve outside consequences alone, never getting to the root where Gospel-opportunities are. They will most likely still be blind to the core of their sin and how it relates to the character of God. They only know compliance in a very narrow space and it will be by accident if it translates to another. We must address the heart, because it belongs to something far beyond us, God.
These practical applications aren’t always possible with EVERY single altercation we face with our kids, I know. But I think we should seek to make them more the norm rather than not. As God has given me grace to parent in this light, my children have become increasingly equipped to navigate within themselves the core of their sinful actions (especially the ones we have been over again and again lol) and I am finding I have less and less to do with facilitating their ability to identify these things in themselves and how they relate to God and the final answer to it all, Christ.
So for instance, my 4=four year old lashes out in anger and pushes her brother off the piano bench. Instead of just telling her it is wrong and giving out a reflexive consequence, I will prayerfully, use words like, “you got angry and hit. Who were you thinking about in that moment? Who were you loving?” I will guide her to see that her anger was misplaced. Her offense was towards her brother, yes, but ultimatley towards a holy God. That her anger was the fruit of self-love, not God-love and not love for her brother who was made in God’s image. I want her to take away from the whole ordeal that her actions were not a by-product of something outside of her, but something innately within her, or against me and that the consequences are just vengeance on my part, but are a means to reveal how far her heart is far from the character of God. I will then guide her to the ultimate bridge provided for her heart, forgiveness and reconciliation, the Gospel.
Another example with an older child: My 10 yo comes to me in frenzied anger, complaining about a friend. She wants to write her off completely. Unfriend her, because she does this and this and rattles off a bunch of accusations. Alot of them are legitimate, but in this moment I see a beautiful opportunity to show her Christ. I can either take her side, pity her, and gang up on this friend or apply the the mercy and grace of God in a real practical way in her life. I share her lament in empathizing with the inability within ourselves to love people as we should, especially when they’re ill-actions are directed at us. I will inquire with questions like, “Are you perfectly loving and kind to everyone all the time? Who is at the center of your thoughts right now? Who are you loving most right now? Is this how God treated us when He was reviled and persecuted by us, having no fault? I prayerfully set her eyes on something higher than herself, point her to the Gospel, and help her see how far her heart is from the kind of love God commands and the only way she can even begin to fulfill it, Christ.
I know the ever present tendency to short change these situations in attempt to gain control as quickly as possible. Our flesh is desperately inclined to self, shame and fear.
Victory to carry out these responsibilties in a God-concious manner always begins with my heart and its own Gospel-centerdness. I only short change opportunites because I don’t want to die to self and carry out, yet again, another correction or discipline. Tired and frustrated with always having to deal with the same behavior. Losing hope and strength in the true value and opportunity these moments of sin and opposition truly hold. I become blind that this work before me is an act of worship, and all the more glorious worship in the steepest moments of the “I-just-don’t-want-tos”.
The only means I have to carry this out as God would have me is with spirit-filled hope. The reality that I am only the instrument in the hand of a Soveriegn God and rest in the hope of what this hard ground can produce by His power. It is only when my eyes are dimmed towards heavenly reality, that I suddenly am drowning in hopelessness, self pity and become paralyzed to even move forward.
Fear and shame takes hold when their offenses become personal and not seeing them as individual persons belonging to God. I set them up as idols, letting their actions define or threaten my identity rather than God. I set myself up as the ultimate goal. I become a practicing athiest not believing the power of the Gospel over sin. Fear and shame will have us resort to attempts to produce life ourselves, desperately clinging to the law, which only brnigs forth death, to forge things into them that only the Spirit can.
My heart’s belief is that the law itself is all I need, instead of holding the law up, met with compassion, as a means to reveal their sin, desperate condition and need for Christ. I result in attempts to use the law as my final hope. We must be careful that our only hope is in the power of the Gospel to redeem and make new.
“Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are
under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become
guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified
in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” | Romans 3:19,20
I personally believe this happens when we ourselves lose sight of the power of the Gospel within us. When we cease to be arrested and transformed by its depths, beauty and power. When we believe our flesh is enough. It is so subtle and unconscious, blinding us to our need for the Spirit with every heart beat we have.
I am persuaded in order for us to direct our children’s heart in view of the Gospel, is for us, ourselves, to keep it ever present before us, asking God to continually take up our hearts in awe of it. By showing us our desperate need for it. For its power to keep us and transform us, more now as we have walked in it, than when we first came to the knowledge of it. When Christ becomes our only identity, hope and joy, and not our children’s actions, then are we free to parent with the law met with compassion and the beautiful hope by the Gospel.
“That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with
might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith;
that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints
what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ,
which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” | Eph. 3:17-19
It is only in the revealing their sin and darkness will they ever see and come to the knoweldge of the need for deliverance and Light. So I don’t despise or feel threatened by these manifestations. I whole-heartedly expect them and see them as all-glorious opportunities to show forth the only hope we have: Christ.
Exasperation is replaced with a living hope, because we know we are only the tool in a soveriegn all-powerful hand. Authority is practiced, because of the beauty in in all of God’s atrributes and the beauty and glory found in Christ’s submission. The hope of the Gospel is manifested by and through thier darkened hearts, hour by hour, fulfilling our greatest calling and joy, to glorify God.
Faith and hope propels us in our duty, meeting His strong arm to carry out what we have sown only in complete dependence and faith in Him.
“Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it:
except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.
It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread
of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep." Psalm 127:1,2
Time is one of the central characters in the grand parables, or lessons, of this life. It is a law we cannot overcome however much we long to preserve it, slow it and stop things from becoming its’ victim. The sun never ceases from its’ setting, seasons from changing, years and days passing to the ticks of clocks. This knowledge of time and the desire to break its chains reveals what we are made for. Something that will never succumb to time, God. Yet, in our sin-dimmed hearts we often deny this reality in presumptive pride, enslaving ourselves to all this world’s fleeting sand in an attempt to capture only what can be captured in God.
“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” | Psalm 90:12
“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” | Ephesians 5:15,16
There is no shortage in time management help these days. Planners, efficiency hacks, productivity apps to get more, do more, be more, for what? Is the final goal to make life a grand production? To squeeze out of it all it can give to us?
For the Christian the aim is not efficiency of time in order to serve ourselves and our means, but to subject time and subdue it for the service of God and others. Great effieciency may even look worthy, running around planning, planning, planning and doing, doing, doing, but if it’s not motivated in love, by faith, and the seeking to know the will of God and subject all things to Him, it becomes a type of functional athiesm. Essential to redeeming time is to die to self through the Spirit. In this, we triumph over time and win eternity.
Time, a means of investment into the eternal
As Christians we also must be careful not to swing to the other extreme. Sitting idly by without any thought of the responsibilty we have in this tick-tock, tick-tock world. We must utilize it as an opportunity to redeem evil, making it holy by submitting our time wholly to God; becoming aware that this limited dimensional world is an investment into the unlimited eternal, and for the One in the center of that eternity, Christ. We ransom time by gaining hearts abandoned in faith to Him, or we can disregard time by mere default, sowing it unto ourselves, the flesh, that will cease to exist forever.
“Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.” | Proverbs 27:1
Time is valuable and fragile. It passes as quick as a rushing river reaching the sea of no return. To procrastinate towards time is pride. It is an assumption upon God and lack of humility of duty upon us. It is the running belief that we are in control of what only God can give and take away.
If we are not intentional, seeking to know His will, by default, we sow into the stubble of evil that will burn in the end. We must learn to subject every step in obedience. Forgetting how we feel and experience the power of the Spirit to sweet surrender. The Spirit must be our foots’ prompting and not our will or emotions.
Meet God’s soveriegn days with our human responsibilty
From the early twilight, with the waking of our weary bodies, we can rise in determination to meet Him; to submit to Him. We can weave holy into the perverse, by meeting His soveriegn day with our human responsibilty. Prioritizing the day and, yet, humbly embracing percieved set backs, trusting His will. And when the time has come to lay our weary heads down, we submit this time to Him as well. Because, this too, is done in faith, surrending all the percived undones to God. Knowing we may make ready the horse for battle, yet when the time comes, we lay down our armour, trusting Him for the final victory (Proverbs 21:30). For if nothing was crossed off our lists, but we have diligently sought His will, then we would have accomplished eternity.
Be Careful what you do with time squandered
We must not be caught in the snare of regret over time squandered that would keep us from moving forward. Regret is for a reason. It is a sign of a tender heart and by it, we recognize our sin and failings, but we must meet the blackness of regret with the light of repentance and the forgiveness in God. To do otherwise is to continue to sail on stormy seas of unbelief ensuring we never find sweet welcoming land of faith to plant our feet in the soil of His strength to move forward.
God is the Ultimate Redeemer
Do not entertain the lie that what we have to do, in the time alotted, is too much, putting too much stock in our ability instead of Gods’. We often repeat the phrases to ourselves in long sighs, “there’s never enough time….It will never get done…” and they go on in different words and phrases, but always the same heart, pride in attempt to control beyond ourselves; what is meant only for God. The truth is, whatever God has for us to do, He will also provide the time to do it in. If we are faithful to work diligently, with conciense toward God, whatever is not done, whatever has become a victim of time, we commit to His hand. For he is the ulimtate Redeemer of all things.
So in closing, look up and look beyond. Buy back the flight of time by putting upon its wings the timeless, the eternal. Turning the corrupt into incorruption. The vapor we are into a wellspring that will never run dry. Because, when time has taken us upon its flitting wings, and swallowed us up into its final demise, it will have only set us in our truest destination, eternal glory, an extension of all we have worked for in time's futile cage, finally captured in God.
Our hearts determine the ground beneath our feet. Our work and duty can be hell’s bed of thorns or heaven’s lush garden of living fruit.
In homemaking and motherhood; the unassuming places of cleaning, cooking, diapering, teaching and disciplining can become trenches of despair if we are not careful. If we allow anything but truth to define its’ worth and meaning. If we begin to look at it through the lens of how instagram-worthy, pinterest-perfect or facebook-edited it appears, we will become paralyzed and isolated. Stripped of joy.
We become discontent, seeing our place as menial and monotonous A shallow existence instead of an ever deepening call to worship. Reducing it to a place of grumbling and lusting for the next reprieve; the next moment out. Missing the glory and joy in the midst, because some of the deepest intimacies with God isn't found on stages and platforms, but in the unseen and humble places.
What if we didn’t let the seemingly mundane or less than “perfect” blind us from the glory we stand in with God and, instead, see these unassuming tasks as the greatest opportunity to present ourselves wholly to Him. Where we aren’t tempted by the allure of man’s applause or esteem. Finding these quiet, hidden and understated doorways as entries for faith’s habitation. Where the Spirit enables our hearts to give thanks for the mere opportunity to lay ourselves down and present ourselves as a living sacrifice.
To entertain resentment, because of the place where we are called is a symptom of a heart plagued with the disease of unbelief. For it is God who placed us here. We fall into Satan’s trap, having our hearts eclipsed by lies and pride, believing we somehow deserve more. That this should somehow look and feel different. Instead of submitting our hearts to truth: that He is faithful and trustworthy and this work is a gift to carry out our reasonable service.
This dusty, grubby, sticky and earthly work can radiate with the light of eternity if we commit our mortal means to its' heavenly reality.
We need not despair at the ground just tilled, hardening before our eyes; calling us endlessly to the sweat stained plow. To the onlooker it may be a plow of shame, but to us it can be beauty. A call to worship, because worship isn’t only found with soft, clean hands raised in buildings of fresh paint and well maintained lawns, but with the faith-filled hearts of blistered, dirty and weary hands, hard at His callling upon them.
When exhaustion has reached new depths, when we have poured all we think we can, and yet summoned to pour more; when despair starts to claw at our hearts- it is in these places we meet Him, intimately. As He humbled himself in the most radical way; denying Himself beyond all comprehension. Not focusing on the shame, but His eye intensely focused on the eternal joy that lay ahead. As Christ set the example for us, so we embrace and infuse the demanding and humble places of motherhood with the essence of our Lord. It is in Spirit enabled death to self that we find ourselves filled with strength to go beyond what we ever thought and find joy unspeakable.
"Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things." | 1 Corinthinthians 13:4-7
It has been 11 years since we said, “I do” and commited to grow our roots together in love. Oh how much I had yet to learn about love. The ideals of love I had, God has gently (and sometimes not so gently) plucked from me. I have learned only in the increase of humility before God, have I any capacity to grow in love towards others, especially the one closest to me, my husband.
My love is a direct reflection of my faith in the love and character of God. For faith will grow us in humility and the fruit of humility is love. If love were a flower, its’ roots are humility.
The love we express must be God-sourced, meaning, anything outside of God as the source, is empty, no, is dead. It is not love if it is a means to an end or if conscience alone is its motivator. If gain, or any hope, or expectation is attached, again, it is not love. It is self exaltation and the scratching of an endless itch. The very opposite of love.
The reason we are so far removed from what love is, is because love is an attribute of a holy God. EVERYTHING we are not. True love is contrary to all this world’s inclination. We cannot begin to identify it outside of God and His life put within us.
I would be amiss if I only stated what love is and exhorted one to act it out. As if, within ourselves alone, is the ability to chose and “do” love. It is true, that we have a responsibilty; we have choices that align with love, but truly, these are dead without the Spirit’s revelation of Christ and empowering to do the impossible. The only way to know and love is to be transfromed by it in the reincarnation of it, His Son. Here It was defined and explicitly expressed.
You can only love in as much as what you deem as personal fulfillment increasingly pales in light of God’s beauty and glory. When all we have here begins to look like loss and God our only satisfaction. When all of God’s encompassing attributes intrude upon our hearts and births a transfer of longings. When we truly see, He is all in all, He is our only and eternal satisfaction.
As we gaze upon Christ, love loses sight of personal expectation.
It bows its’ head in humility and extends its’ hands with self abandon.
When hurt plagues, love will regard the God of justice and rest.
It will forgive, because it knows, intimatley, where with it has been forgiven.
It will not abhorrently turn its’ head from the unworthy, but will eagerly seek opportunity to lavish itself upon the most vile.
Love will not withhold itself, but dive into depths of personal loss.
Love in the hard…love in the loveless….love isnt a feeling, it's an enduring as we look to our Redeemer, who endured it all to the point of unmerited death. It is found in the moments of all opposition in feeling. When we deny and give of ourselves. It is not found upon a hill of ecstasy, but upon a hill of death to self. It is most seen in those moments when self denial feels treacherous. When the chains of selfishness are digging in and we endeavor to be set lose by the Spirit and join the hands of our savior upon the cross.
We often have fanciful ideas of what love is , or what we would consider love, but the truth is, love is a blood bath. It is a war. A war to be humble by continually beholding the lover of our souls and allow that same love to flow through us freely.
We can know and see the full revelation of God and His love in the revelation of His Son. Love never fails, because God who IS love, never fails. Love gives way for redemption. Love restores. Love purges impurities out of its recipient. Most of all, love humbly and quietly awaits and hopes in the final redemption by love to come.
Four Biblical Helps
Adam and Eve stood in perfect communion with God and each other. No shame, no guilt, no fear of rejection. She was creation’s crowning glory and man’s perfect helper. He delighted in all she was and she in him. The image they bore of God was as pure as glass. Unaltered. Gratitude was their bread and perfect love their drink.
She offered all she was and all she had for her husband and her God. Finding perfect rest in this place He created just for her. Yet pride would spring up in her heart and deception would burrow beneath, pushing it up, bringing their demise. What looked like sumptuous gain was her chief loss. Now she felt all that sin births: shame, fear and insecurity and, in credulous attempt, covered it all with lifeless leaves.
Now a broken helper under the headship of a broken counterpart. They’d helplessly attempt to navigate the bitter waters of selfishness and taste the stale bread of unthankfulness. Any hope to simulate the slightest bit of what God designed for us in the beginning will take a heart transplant and God rebreathed into us by the Gospel.
Sadly, in most churches I have perceived a pattern of teaching on the biblical wife as an attempt to propel conformity based on carnal fears; having us grab hold to false security- Eve’s lifeless leaves. It promises a secure marriage with a faithful loving husband if we would just wrangle out soft answers, subject writhing hearts to our husbands’ will, serve him with stilted hands, give ourselves to them, but never finding how to fully. The fears continue to gnaw as they’re attached to our abilities, following a long list to conform to something detached from our natural inclinations, that our fleshly hearts readily rejects and finds foreign to everything in our being. We are left confused, exhausted, empty and wondering why we triumph one day and sink the next.
Truth has been eclipsed by feeling and logic. We have become unaware that we are a decaying corpse and no amount of humanistic promptings or emotional appeals will make us overcome and live. Will infuse our souls with this ability to pour out that which we could never do on our own. Our eyes must be lifted and captivated by the Gospel. Our hearts must trace up the beam of the cross to a suffering Savior that births in us a new reality. We must view something far greater, far more satisfying than the frame in which we and our marriages have been placed. Where our hope and endurance isn’t prompted by an earthly gain or fear, but by the hope of an eternal kingdom. Here alone we must find ourselves if we will ever be free to give ourselves fully as an offering not unto a fallen man, but by means of a man, ultimately, to our glorious Savior (Romans 12:1,2).
Our obedience to God’s commands in marriage isn’t a solitary issue, but is in direct correlation, and reflection of, our hearts in relationship with Christ (Eph. 5:22).
So, dear wife and sister, here are some snippet truths. They run far deeper than I can relay here. My hope and prayer is they’d move from a small cold knowledge to a far deeper fiery reality within your heart and soul.
The Word of God must be our foundation and habitation. We must see glories revealed, personally, in order for the Word of God to become the muscle to our walk as Christians and wives. we must not allow it to sit flat in black and white as empty platitudes, indirect knowledge, pureed and spoon fed from second hand sources. It must come intimately alive in our own hearts, establishing us in God’s will for us. We must know our call wasn't an after thought in God’s mind after He completed creation. It was planned and ordained from the beginning of time and all of God’s Word is its’ foundation.
We must totally and completely depend on His promises more than our frame and ability. We must dig it up by our own hands and find treasures eternal, where we hide them away on the tables of our heart. When all is despair outside and we are starved, we have a never ending feast to replenish us. When emotions would swallow us up, we gain footing on its’ solid rock. When darts would fly at our hearts, we can tuck them safely within its’ sweet refuge. It must become a living wellspring within us, bursting forth with fruit as the Holy Spirit illuminates it and works victories in us that we know could never have happened of our own will or accord.
Within its lines and pages is where our Lord’s likeness is revealed. As we gaze upon Him, He becomes increasingly more beautiful and we find our hearts quieted and stilled. We see His example. We see all that we admire as good and lovely in Him, as vast as the universe and yet beyond, so that we cannot begin to hold it all within the bounds of our intellect. We dive deep into His ocean where we become arrested and compelled to do all He bids us. We must battle to be captivated by Him in His Word. To make Him our habitation. For to have a heart truly fixed on Him, when unfairness comes and taunts us with its bitter fruit, we’re too enraptured in thankfulness to be tempted. When love is scarce, we find ourselves enveloped in the greatest love of all. When condemnation hisses in our ear, we see a dying Savior pleading, “come and rest…”. To see Him is to find Him most precious. It is to be free from the snares of our flesh and Satan in our marriages. Seek Him prayerfully and diligently within His revealed Word.
(Look up: Psalm 119:50, 52, 98,99, 144, Romans 15:4, Psalm 1:2,3, John 15:5)
We must have a true sense of ourselves before a Holy God and Maker. Humility grows at the foot of the cross where we truly see our condition before a Holy God. Where thoughts higher than they ought are brought low and put into true perspective. It is seeing ourselves as the true miscreant we are without Christ that frees us from the snares of judgement, condemnation, anger and bitterness, strife and un-forgiveness. We must breathe the Gospel in and all of its’ heart arresting implications, and in turn, we can breathe it out upon others, letting our hearts beat to the sweet rhythm of its’ grace, doing His will. This is the only means that enables us to walk humbly in a way that is alien to everything within us and to this world. To excuse the inexcusable in the one closest to us, and far exceed excusing, but forbear and pour out ourselves in self forgetfulness.
Humility knows we are made by God and have made nothing of ourselves. That all we have is by unmerited grace and mercy alone. In this reality is where we find content and thankful hearts and the ablility to forget ourselves in service of our husbands in marraige. The soil of Gospel rooted humility is where you’ll find quieted and trusting hearts, thankfulness, joy, and willing obedience in full bloom.
(Look up: Matthew 7:3, Isaiah 64:6, 1 Pet. 5:5,6, Phil. 2:3, Pro. 11:2, Gal. 5:13)
We must ache for the glory of Christ, our true joy, more than our perceived, fleeting, happiness. His glory is our true joy and our calling’s fuel. Our fearless submission is not only an offering to a worthy Savior, but an opportunity to demonstrate our Savior’s glory. We readily take up our cross and deny ourselves what the world and our flesh would convince us as our right and happiness. We see our calling as our reasonable service and a refreshing pool inviting us to a deepening communion with Him. As we submit as the church does to Christ, and as Christ does to the Father, we drink a little bit more from His cup. Our service isn’t an enslaving to-do, but a door into deepening intimacy with a holy God. A radical grace He has given. To take Christ by the hand in a dance of faith and become a shining display of His glory to all who witness. This is our true joy and strength in marriage.
(Look up: Psalm 16:11, John 15:10,11, 1 Pet. 4:12,13, Luke 9:23,24)
God’s sovereignty must become our reality. It takes a fearless faith to look past the fragmented man and cast our hearts upon a Sovereign God. Whose mind’s eye isn't on the here and now, the broken and fallen, but is in another realm where our hearts are nourished through eternal conduits enabling us to pour out things that are beyond all comprehension and conventional wisdom. No matter what our husband’s decisions, short comings or ungodliness, we can rest confident and quieted from all fear in a Sovereign hand. In this we become the daughters of Sara, proclaiming the Gospel by our conduct, quickened by the Spirit. We sound the horn of salvation to all. It’s this immovable faith and resolve by the Holy Spirit within us that dumbfounds and mutes. This is the means God set forth for the Christian functioning under authority. Our peaceful submissive conduct reveals our faith in an all powerful knowing God. It is able to make the conscience of others heavier than any reason or control we could assert and this must be our reality and rest.
(Look up: 1 Pet. 3:1-6, Psalm 135:6, Isaiah 46:10, Job 42:2, Psalm 93:1)
Anything less than this fearless faith; any working coming from a heart of supposed-tos, check off lists, desires of our husbands doing and becoming something else, will only leave us thirsty and more broken and desolate than before. These all grow from a root to consume upon our own lust and will only produce death (1 John 2:17). The change we desire may be good and wholesome, but without obedience to God from a truth-saturated, faith-filled heart, we join ourselves to the works of Satan and of our flesh. The only horn we sound is one of unbelief. It may be loud, but it is empty and deadly.
If these life giving truths begin to line our hearts, there will be no more guessing, wondering, forging a submissive and godly air, or wondering what these look like in action. We will find what is in the heart placed by the Holy Spirit making its way out. There may be practical applications, but application must meet a Spirit filled heart within if it will bare true fruit.
I urge you, Christian wife, to put away frail leaves and put on the living Christ. Become a fearless wife by drinking from invisible eternal waters. In His death we find strength to lay ourselves down with Him and, in His rising, we live in hope unshaken. His strength infuses our weak bones and enables us to scale impossible heights. We break free from the prison of what is and soar in eternal skies of faith and what will be. Glory heights of redemption, healing and joy even here in the midst of the broken.
What, Who and the Why