I think I love this book more and more – the further I get in it. Thank you Elyse!
“The glorious incarnation that we’ve been considering means that we will never be alone, never separated from God.” (155) This is such amazing truth. When our sin separates us from others: family, friends, spouses – know that because of the grace and the cross of Jesus – we can never again be separated from the One who saved us.
Ephesians 5: we had this passage preached in our wedding by our pastor Andy Davis. It was an amazing sermon. You would think I would know it by now – but each time I read it something else amazes me by it. Here is what stood out to me in this reading. Listen to how it starts: Christ loved the church. Do we live by love or by law? Do we live by grace or by “do this”?
There is a song by the Gettys “Beneath the Cross of Jesus” (that may or may not be the title)… and one of my favorite lyrics: “how great the joy before us to be his perfect bride.” Every time I’ve heard that song and especially that line I think, man, I want to live a more holy life, more according to the Word of God. How erroneous of my thoughts to start there.
I have to start where this passage in Ephesians 5 starts: Christ loved the church. It is Christ’s love that makes me His perfect Bride – not my good works.
“We are Christ’s trophy wife now.” (160). I’m by no means a trophy wife to Eric. I’m not a size 6. I’m not the perfect mother for our boys. I burn food sometimes. There is dust everywhere in our home. But, the joy to know is that Christ has made me HIS trophy wife – by the blood – and is continually sanctifying me!
This was a packed chapter. What did you get out of it?
God has been so kind and gracious to me, teaching me more about Himself even in the books of Leviticus and Numbers. Here are several things that I learned in this week’s readings:
1. The Lord demands offerings. He demanded, commanded, offerings from his people. Even though we as post-Cross Christians don’t live under the demands of the Law, we still serve a God who desires us to make offerings. This may be our very lives. Our church is having a missions conference coming up. Serving in foreign countries may be exactly what God is wanting you to do – but it may be sacrificing and offering your gifts and talents to those less fortunate in an opportune way to share the gospel.
2. The Lord desires acceptable worship. He has told us already what he desires of us: Micah 6.8 How are we living that truth out as acceptable worship in spirit and in truth under the freedom of the gospel?
3. God frees us! We are no longer in Egypt. We no longer make bricks with no straw. We are free to love Him and serve Him and follow Him because He first loved us! Isn’t that glorious news!
4. The Lord sanctifies us! I’ll be talking about this more when I do a write up on Ephesians 5 – but let this be a gracious thing in your life – not one that you despise! He is a good and gracious God in his sanctification of his children.
5. The Lord desires rest for his people. In Hebrews it says that’s what Jesus us. In the gospels it says that Jesus wants us to come to him and rest. Don’t you see how Jesus fulfills all of the Old Testament – everything that was prophesied of him or that we can’t do for ourselves – the answer is Jesus!
6. The Lord speaks to us in our wilderness. Do you ever feel like you are wandering? Call out to him! He hears us. He speaks to us in the dry and dusty places where there doesn’t seem to be any water!
7. The Lord requires a Mediator. See #5. Christ is that wonderful forever mediator for us!
8. The Lord does what He says He will do. He is faithful. If he says he will do something, even though we don’t know the when or how – we can rest assured in his character that he will do it!
In your reading of the Word this week, what has God been teaching you about himself?
“Vaster still are the riches of God.” (Chandler)
Are you looking at a way to encourage your understanding of old, famous truths of the God of the universe? Are you interested in learning more about the God you serve? Are you wondering what this Christian thing is that people around you are talking about? Are you wondering how the gospel looks when it is plugged into the local church and in the society at large?
Matt Chandler, lead pastor of the Village Church out of Texas, wrote a book called the Explicit Gospel. When I started reading it, I thought it would be ______. It wasn’t. It was somthing totally different.
Chandler looks at the basic tenants of the gospel. If you think you don’t need this book because you read scholars and dead authors, think again. If you think you don’t need this book because you already know everything Chandler is going to say, think again. Just pick it up. Reading what you already know is sometimes a good thing. Chandler hits on main topics that have been in the news or on the mainstream conservative blogs the past few years. He does make you think. This is what his sermons do for you too. As in all things – take everything ANYONE says and put it against the TRUTHS of Scripture. What I do like about the Explicit Gospel is that there is so much Scripture in it!
Chandler ends the book by talking about the dangers of knowing the gospel. You know – knowing the gospel but not really experiencing the God of the Gospel. We, as Christians, can not just know the Gospel and be able to spout it off – we have to dwell in it, take a bath in it, marinate in it – whatever word you want to use to SATURATE yourself in this good news.
Freedom in Christ – to Christ, really – is a major theme in my devotional life this year. I’ve seen God bring it to my attention time and time again. Even as I was reading in 1 John this morning and thinking through some of Kimm Crandall’s book Christ in the Chaos, the theme came to the forefront. So, I wanted to talk about freedom from something – the Mommy Laws.
As a relatively new mom (I have two under 18 months), these laws are something that are new to me personally, but not something I was completely oblivious to before I became a mom. You may be asking yourself, “What are the ‘Mommy Laws’?” There may not be a written code organized by any governing authority, but there are many unwritten laws that change from community to community, family heritage to family heritage, and mommy to mommy. First let me say, the Mommy Laws I am talking about are not in the Bible. They are not infallible or inerrant. The Bible talks about the privileges of being a Mommy and how we are to point our children to Christ.
Here are a few of the ideas that can be construed as Mommy Laws – but even though you may not struggle with any of these, I’m sure you have some of your own:
Diapers will only last until your child is potty-trained. Do you cloth diaper or use disposable diapers? Does it really cost less to do one or the other, or do you do it based on convenience or how much you want to protect the environment? In some cultures and communities, what a mom decides on this one topic can allow her to be included or excluded in some play groups.
What you feed your child is not the most important thing. Breastfeeding works for some and not for others. But, whether you use the breast or the bottle or a little bit of both or when you start feeding table food and if it’s organic or grain fed or local – doesn’t matter. It is choice. Yes you do need to think about what you give your child to eat because all we eat or drink should be done to the glory of God.
Education is a choice. I know of a pastor and his family who decide each year, based on the life of their family and the personality and needs of each individual child, what schooling they will do that year. There are some Christian cultures that will not let you be a part of it unless you homeschool. There is wisdom in knowing what schooling option will be best for your family. You can still practice the art and obedience of Deuteronomy 6 no matter what schooling option you choose.
Skinny Jeans will go out of style. You don’t have to wake up every day and look like you stepped out of a magazine. You don’t have to lose all your baby weight by your child’s first birthday. You don’t have to take selfies with your hair all done and makeup perfectly applied – or feel horrible that you don’t do that. Neither of these make you a better mom.
SAHM is not a bad word. But, being a working Mom is ok now too. I know many moms who work outside the home and still make their families their top priority. I know women in the homes all day who don’t make their families their top priority. The Bible is not explicit as to what to do. The only thing it is clear on is that Mothers and wives are to make their homes and their families their top priority. Side note: the Bible is clear that one of the main priorities of the husband is to provide for his family. But, there may be seasons that the wife has to work part time or even full time for a season in extreme circumstances. God will give you family and you must be led of the Holy Spirit in these matters. Counsel from elders or other godly friends will spur you on to love and good deeds.
Ok, still some of these Mommy Laws may not make sense. Allow me to broaden it. The Mommy Laws are anything you feel you must do, pressures put on you from external societal norms or internal focus, that says, “If I do ______, then I will be a good Mom.” It is a form of legalism and idolatry. Neither of which belong in a Christian’s life.
So, how do we break our bondage to sin with strict adherence to these Mommy Laws? The good news is that the bondage has already been eternal won for us. Christ, with his perfect life, death on the cross, and miraculous resurrection, paid the penalty to free us from the captivity to sin. Now, we must stand firm in that, believe God in what He says, and live life according to our newfound freedom.
Worship. Sit down and pray about being a mommy. Meditate and praise that God gave you the ability and this time to be your child’s mother and how much of an amazing ministry and privilege that you have. Confess your weakness and how prone you are to living in bondage to these Mommy Laws. Pour out your heart to the Lord who made you and knows you. He knows what’s in your heart anyway, but it is so good to hear yourself say it (or see it written).
Make a list. What are the Mommy Laws that you adhere to? What laws are you in bondage to? What do you cling to that makes you think you a better mommy than those who don’t do as you do?
Pray over that list. I would encourage you to sit down with your husband and ask him about this list. Does he notice that you feel horrible if your list is not met at the end of each day, or does he notice a sense of failure in his bride? It would be totally freeing to rip up your list. Not throw out everything, but pray that the Lord would right your heart in relation to the items or laws on that list. The very last verse in the little letter of 1 John says “keep yourselves from idols.” This comes after many verses about what identifies us as true children of God. Obviously, we are commanded not to have idols as believers. These Mommy Laws are a form of legalism, which is idolatry. Something we do is going to make us a better person, a better mommy, make my child a better child, or earn better standing in my church, culture, or even to God himself. Idolatry is a matter of the heart.
Claim your freedom. After you have talked with God, talked with your husband, even gotten friends to hold you accountable to the laws on your list… Friend – claim your freedom. Believe God when he says that he freed you from working for your salvation. Nothing you can do or don’t do will earn you a better standing before His throne. And it shouldn’t matter in your community either. In Colossians 2 Paul starts talking about the fact that we are alive to Christ – but then follows it by commanding the Colossian believers not to let anyone disqualify them by secondary issues.
These Mommy Laws are most definitely secondary issues. These are not gospel issues.
Here are ways to live in truth:
Believe God that he sent Jesus to free you from the bondage to these.
In the midst of your chaos, choose to fight the lies of Satan with the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God – knowing that your position in Christ as a Sister, a daughter of the Most High King, is not determined by your adherence to your list of Mommy Laws.
Encourage others who are in a similar situation as you are. Don’t put outrageous expectations on her but encourage her to love the Word, seek Jesus, and do what she can to love her family and her Jesus.
Encourage Moms-to-be. I love Moms on either end of the spectrum regarding the “Mommy Laws” I talked about above. So, talk about your story, share ideas with expectant moms, especially if they ask, but don’t force your way of life on her. Encourage her creativity and freedom in Christ to love her children well.
Don’t compare. I spend a lot of time on social media. Looking at Instagram and Pinterest and other blogs will mostly encourage creativity and foster a desire to do and be and live and love. But there are some days that it fosters a discontent heart. On those days, I don’t throw out the computer or quit doing anything with social media. I pray. I write. I look into the face of my husband and little boys and see their blue eyes and dimples staring back at me…and love them and pray for God to work in my heart. Thankful on those days for verses like 1 John 3.20, “For whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart!” Thankful that He knows my heart and He is the only one who can change my heart in regard to these Mommy Laws.
Sing and worship and stand in freedom. God is not the Mommy Law police, and neither are we.
This is where I am. Starting to train up our older son, who is almost 17months and already has the “no” word down pat! Definitely his favorite word. Trying to change it to godlfish, chicken nugget, yes, or something better than no. Our conversations with our older right now are consisting of “God says to honor our father and mother. And we don’t talk to our mommy and daddy that way” – those conversations don’t seem to be getting anywhere with him – but hopefully one day they will.
One story from my childhood…I grew up attending a Christian school. And I loved Sweet Valley High books in the 6th grade. It was the thing to read in the fiction area. I think I had most of them – and never know what happened to all of them. I had loaned one of the books to a friend, who took it home and was reading it at night by flashlight as to hide it from her parents. Her mom found it, called the school, and I got in trouble. My punishment…to write out Scripture. I would tell you what Scriptures, but I don’t remember what they were. I think I mainly saw it as punishment then.
As I’ve come into being a parent, and shepherding our boys’ hearts with my husband, we definitely want our boys to have hearts that are soft to the Spirit. We want the Word to break the stony grounds of their hearts and give them hearts that desire to please The Lord, love Him, and make Him known.
How we discipline and parent has an eternal impact. Here is how.
If we think that just because we quote Scripture in our home, make them memorize the Word, even for punishment, or memorize Scripture at the table or in family worship – that our children are going to automatically love the Word and have hearts that obey it…we are wrong.
The Pharisees in the NT knew the law and obeyed it – but their hearts were far from them. There are many who know the right words to say but inside they have cold hearts toward the gospel.
Here may be a better way to parent with the soul of your child in mind:
As you have the need to discipline:
1. Pray for yourself as you need to discipline your child. Pray that your heart would be one of correction for the purpose of training in the fear of The Lord and not out of anger, inconvenience, etc. Your heart matters.
2. Identify the heart of the problem. That may mean you first have to stop the outward disobedience, but there is always a heart problem.
3. Know verses that correspond to these heart problems. Whatever heart problem there is – Scripture has an answer! The Gospel is the answer!
4. Tell them those verses with a humble heart. Be humble before your kids. We are all sinners. That will go a long way with your children.
5. Encourage them to learn these Scriptures – and you learn them along with them. That will encourage them that they are not alone in their sin journey – and journey in sanctification.
6. If your children have received Christ – talk to them about how as believers our desire should be to grow in godliness and have hearts that please The Lord. Not out of have-to but out of want-to.
7. Pray for your children. Pray, aloud, in front of them, that the Spirit would soften their hearts towards the Gospel. Pray they would come to serve God as The Lord of their life and that they would obey His Word.
8. Pray for behavior change – but more importantly heart change. And know and rest in the fact that you can’t do anything about the heart change. That is all the fabulous work of the Perfect Holy Spirit.
And in that, as parents and as sinners, we can rest!
Oh, with Jingle Bells, Joy to the World, and Silent Night – we often approach Advent and the Christmas season with a much anticipated (and deserved) joy in our hearts, smile on our faces, and bounce in our step. And rightly so. The hope and knowledge that the second person of the Trinity came willingly to become a little baby born to obscure people in a remote nothing town – amazing.
As Elyse Fitzpatrick teaches us “The Son agreed to be sent as a redeemer for a race of men yet to be created, but in order to do so, He would have to become a new sort of person, one in the likeness of his fallen brothers and yet immutably God. He agreed to do this not out of necessity, not because he was forced to or lacked something in himself that only the incarnation would provide, but because of God’s own purpose and grace…” (pg 30, Found in Him).
Jesus knew that His mission when He came to earth was to die. Who would do that? Certainly not you or me!
But, God did. Jesus did. Full of the Holy Spirit.
So, when we open Christmas presents and sing carols and drive around and look at lights…remember that the cross was in the future. For you. For me. For the glory of God.