Archive for the ‘Home and Family’ Category

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Single You Will Be the Married You

In Home and Family,Soul Food on October 27, 2015 by The Spillover

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Phillip Holmes:

Joining a gym won’t instantly transform your physique. Starting a blog won’t immediately make you a good writer. Purchasing a piano won’t make you a musician. The same principle is true for marriage. Getting married will not make you a good spouse or a better person.

When I was single, I thought marriage might be the magic bullet. I believed that it would miraculously transform me. I assumed I would suddenly possess a new measure of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control that I had not yet known or experienced as a single man. I believed that once I said, “I do,” I would see the world through a different lens and become a responsible and loving man — a responsible and loving husband.

I probably would have denied believing any of the above if you’d asked me before marriage. Privately, though, I believed that marriage was the missing link on my journey to Christlikeness. I could not have been more wrong.

Marriage will not instantly change you. It will only expose what was already inside of you.

Killing Sin While You’re Single

Some Christian singles live lives of passivity. Often there is little to no accountability in their lives. Therefore, secret sins survive and corrupt. Singles indulge in different kinds of sexual immorality, give little to nothing of themselves to the church, scarcely attend Sunday worship, spend their free time idly, rarely read the Bible or pray, and pay little attention to the sin that still abounds in their heart. Much of this was true for me in my singleness.

But as newlyweds, an uncomfortable truth is discovered: The single you still resides inside of the married you. If you’re lazy, irresponsible, selfish, prideful, greedy, and/or lustful when you’re single, you will be just as (or more) lazy, irresponsible, selfish, prideful, greedy, and/or lustful after you say I do.

It is essential that we not put off the practice of watching and killing sin in our lives. The sins that entangle you, as a single, will inevitably continue to entangle you in marriage. Nevertheless, singles shouldn’t kill sin simply because you want to be good spouses; you should kill it because you want to live happy and holy lives, whatever your marital status.

Paul warns everyone that the “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23) and that we should be about the business of putting to death “what is earthly in you” (Colossians 3:5). This command is not simply for the married, but for the unmarried as well. If you don’t kill sin now, it will kill you later, unless you repent.

Don’t Put Off the Killing of Sin

Paul also uncovers the great danger in putting off the practice of killing known sin in our lives:

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves. . . .

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. . . .

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness. . . . Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (Romans 1:24–32)

God gave them up because “they knew God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die” but continued in these things instead of repenting. While this passage addresses sexual immorality, it clearly also includes gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, and ruthless.

This passage is a warning to us all, especially to single people, of the risk in putting off (for whatever reason) the killing of sin. I say especially to single people because you’re living without the day-in, day-out accountability of a spouse. It is a dangerous thing to be given over to your sin. It is frightening to know that we can one day reach a point where we’re unable to see the suicidal foolishness of our transgressions.

The Grass Is Truly Greener in Jesus

We’ve all heard the saying, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” The saying is meant to address mankind’s discontentment with his or her current position or plight. We all think that we’d be happier if we were in a different set of circumstances. The same is true for our marital status. Most of us know singles who want to be married or married people who want to be single again. Why? We think our current state of discontentment is external rather than internal.

Discontentment with present circumstances is near the root of every single person’s expectation that marriage will instantly change them. Marriage has gradually become their Holy Spirit and the wedding day has become their Pentecost. But after the wedding day has passed and the honeymoon phase fades — they discover the ceremony lacks the saving and sanctifying power they need, and they’re still the same sinful person they were when they were single.

It is spiritually and eternally irresponsible to put off the business of killing sin as a single — in hopes that a different life (marriage) will make one holier and happier. Only Jesus can make us happy. Regardless of our current circumstances, the grass can be greener with Jesus. Run to him. Repent of your sins. Drink from the only fountain that can quench the thirst that is inside of us all.

No, marriage will not instantly change you. God, because of Christ and through his Holy Spirit, will change you when you’ve surrendered yourself to him, whether married or unmarried.

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The Most Important Thing My Parents Did

In Home and Family,Soul Food on April 9, 2015 by The Spillover

Tim Challies:

I grew up in a church culture, a catechizing culture, and a family worship culture. Each of these was a tremendous, immeasurable blessing, I am sure. I am convinced that twice-each-Sunday services, and memorizing the catechisms, and worshipping as a family marked me deeply. I doubt I will ever forget that my only comfort in life and death is that I am not my own, but belong in body and soul, both in life and death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ, or that the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. I can still sing many of the psalms and hymns of my youth, and I have precious memories of my family bowing our heads around the kitchen table.

What was true of my family was true of many of my friends’ families. They, too, grew up around churches and catechisms and rigid family devotions. In fact, in all the times I visited their homes, I don’t think I ever witnessed a family skip over their devotions. It was the custom, it was the expectation, and it was good. Our church had near 100% attendance on Sunday morning and near 100% attendance on Sunday evening. It was just what we did.

But despite all of the advantages, many of the people I befriended as a child have since left the faith. Some have sprinted away, but many more have simply meandered away, so that an occasionally missed Sunday eventually became a missed month and a missed year. Not all of them, of course. Many are now fine believers, who are serving in their churches and even leading them. But a lot—too many—are gone.

Why? I ask the question from time-to-time. Why are all five of my parents’ kids following the Lord, while so many of our friends and their families are not? Obviously I have no ability to peer into God’s sovereignty and come to any firm conclusions. But as I think back, I can think of one great difference between my home and my friends’ homes—at least the homes of my friends who have since walked away from the Lord and his church. Though it is not universally true, it is generally true. Here’s the difference: I saw my parents living out their faith even when I wasn’t supposed to be watching.

When I tiptoed down the stairs in the morning, I would find my dad in the family room with his Bible open on his lap. Every time I picked up my mom’s old NIV Study Bible it was a little more wrecked than the time before, I would find a little more ink on the pages, and a few more pieces of tape trying desperately to hold together the worn binding. When life was tough, I heard my parents reason from the Bible and I saw them pray together. They weren’t doing these things for us. They weren’t doing them to be seen. They were doing these things because they loved the Lord and loved to spend time with him, and that spoke volumes to me. I had the rock-solid assurance that my parents believed and practiced what they preached. I knew they actually considered God’s Word trustworthy, because they began every day with it. I knew that they believed God was really there and really listening, because they got alone with him each morning to pray for themselves and for their kids. I saw that their faith was not only formal and public, but also intimate and private.

Here is one thing I learned from my parents: Nothing can take the place of simply living as a Christian in view of my children. No amount of formal theological training, church attendance, or family devotions will make up for a general apathy about the things of the Lord. I can catechize my children all day and every day, but if I have no joy and no delight in the Lord, and if I am not living out my faith, my children will see it and know it.

For all the good things my parents did for me, I believe that the most important was simply living as Christians before me. I don’t think anything shaped or challenged me more than that.

Articles

Same-Sex Marriage and the Supreme Court: What Now for the Church?

In Home and Family on October 6, 2014 by The Spillover

Russell Moore:

The Supreme Court has declined to take up appeals from states in which the courts have found same-sex marriage to be a constitutional right. This paves the way for same-sex marriage in many, perhaps most, places in the United States. Many Christians may be unaware of how momentous this is, since the denial of cases doesn’t come with quite the shock and awe of a ruling handed down. The effect though is wide-ranging. So what should our response be as the church of Jesus Christ?

There are two responses we should avoid.

The first is the temptation to listen to those who would want to jettison a Christian sexual ethic in order to acclimate to the cultural moment. We have no authority to revise what Jesus has handed down to us. Our vision of marriage is not the equivalent of a church constitution and by-laws, adaptable by a majority vote. Marriage is not simply a cultural or legal practice, but is instead an icon of the union between Christ and his church, embedded in the creation (Eph. 5:22-31). Without a Christian vision of marriage, we have no Christian vision of the gospel.

The second, though, is to respond with a siege mentality. We wring our hands or shake our fists at the cultural moment in a way that also detracts from the gospel of Jesus Christ. We live in an era in which marriage is redefined and confused. So did many of our forefathers and foremothers, which is why the Bible is consistently equipping the churches to live in a world of prostitution and adultery and so on. The sexual revolution didn’t start at Woodstock. It is always with us.

We ought to have the confidence of people who have heard a word from God and the compassion of a people who are on a mission with God. The Supreme Court can do many things, but the Supreme Court cannot get Jesus back into his cemetery plot.

Our model here ought to be the best aspects of the pro-life movement. Were there angry people who were anti-abortion who simply wanted the “wedge issue” in order to differentiate themselves from their opponents? I’m sure there were. But the primary thrust of the movement wasn’t about culture wars but cultural persuasion. That was by necessity, since real-life women were making real-life decisions about real-life babies. We don’t demonize them. We speak to them, with an alternative vision of what it means to love and to cherish every human life, in our families and in our laws.

Jesus wasn’t shocked by the Samaritan woman at the well, who had had five husbands and was now living outside of wedlock. He also wasn’t afraid to speak a word of repentance to her conscience. He said to her, “Woman, go get your husband and come here” (Jn. 4:16). Both aspects of that sentence must be part of our witness: an honest assessment of sin and an invitation not just to morality, but to life.

Let’s hold fast to what the gospel reveals about the meaning of marriage and the gospel behind it. Let’s articulate a Christian vision of what marriage should be, and let’s embody that vision in our churches. Let’s love our gay and lesbian neighbors. Let’s move forward with persuasion and with confidence. This is no time for retreat or for resentment. This is a time for mission.

Articles

The Mother I Meant to Be

In Gals,Home and Family on January 17, 2014 by The Spillover

Staci Eastin:

I’ve had two goals over the last decade or so: lose weight and be a better mother. And every morning in the mirror I see that the weight is still there and I’m still not the mother I meant to become.

My oldest is 17, and I’m running out of time. For him, the mother I was during his growing up years—the one who yelled too much and couldn’t stay on top of the laundry—is pretty much in the books. He’s gathering the trappings of an adult life: job, car, bank account, and W-2s. His days are filled with tasks accomplished without my help or input, things he would have needed me for just a couple of years ago. How did this happen? When did he become capable of this?

I’m proud of the man he’s becoming. And I know I’ll still be needed—I certainly still value my parents’ advice—but I won’t be directing the show. I have a few more notes to sing, but soon my spotlight will fade and I will exit stage left. I’ll still be in his life, but it will only be in cameo roles.

As a young mom, I despised being told to treasure the time when they were small. I didn’t want to hear that it gets harder later. Treasure this time? Right now? I was so exhausted that buttoning a shirt was a challenge, how could it possibly get any harder?

This advice typically came from a middle-aged woman who spent her evenings sipping herbal tea while her older children performed amazing feats like feeding and bathing themselves. Who was she to say that mothering gets more difficult? Surely she’s forgotten. Perhaps senility had set in, and she was remembering a time that never existed.

I can’t speak for all mothers, but what I think we’re trying to say—what I’m trying to say, anyway—is to treasure this season when time is still your friend rather than your enemy. I want to go back to when my list of regrets wasn’t quite so long and I didn’t have a ready answer for the things I wish I’d done differently.

The young years were hard. But there were Band-Aids for the skinned knees, dishtowels for the spilt milk, and fresh pages for the ruined crayon drawings. But now the stakes are higher. There are no Band-Aids for these grown-up hurts, and the failures have bigger consequences than a bare space on the refrigerator door.

His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22–23). I know this. The grace that was there when they were 6, 4, and 6 months is still here when they’re 17, 15, and 11. But now I’ve got new things to learn, and the dance steps required to shuffle offstage feel awkward and tricky. I’d rather repeat the songs I already know.

Be the best mother you can, but sanctification—for you and them—comes slowly. You will not be enough, and the good in your children will sometimes be in spite of you rather than because of you. That may sound depressing now, but it will be a relief later.

I still hope young mothers treasure the time. I hope their list of regrets is shorter than mine. And I hope I do a better job treasuring the season I’m in now, because I realize now I didn’t treasure it enough when they were small.

Articles

Sshhh. My mom is sleeping.

In Home and Family,Videos on December 3, 2013 by The Spillover

An awesome 2-1/2 minute video on the beauty of motherhood. Ready your tissues, moms.

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3 Tips for Teaching the Gospel to Kids

In Home and Family,Videos on November 12, 2013 by The Spillover

Trevin Wax:

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A Mommy’s To-Do List

In Gals,Home and Family on November 11, 2013 by The Spillover

Courtney Reissig:

We live in a culture that celebrates productivity and efficiency. We like to see results. We like to get things done. We like when we accomplish something big. It makes us feel important. At least it does for me.

But here is something I’ve learned in my first year as a mommy.

Babies don’t like to-do lists. Mommies like me do. I find great comfort in my to-do list. And I find even more in that little checkmark next to each and every item on my list. Babies? Not so much. There is always a blow-out right when I need to finish the dishes. Someone always spits-up or spills something all over my freshly washed clothes. One of my boys always seems to get sick, or have a rough nap, right around the time I sit down to read a book, write an article, or watch a show. And forget trying to make a gourmet meal. Dinner time is when they often need me the most.

There are many days where I get nothing crossed off my to-do list, unless you count doing extra loads of spit-up covered laundry as productivity.

In the very early days of mothering my little miracles I would often feel resentment rising in my heart whenever I heard one of them stir or whimper before his nap was supposed to be over. I would stew in frustration over the fact that he needed me more than I anticipated. I had big plans for my to-do list. And unfortunately, he wasn’t one of them.

I can’t remember exactly when it happened, but one day conviction hit me like a nauseating illness. And I was undone. By God’s grace, I slowly started to realize that these babies are my to-do list. For me, productivity is found in the daily care of my own flesh and blood. When I stand before God one day I will not answer for how many articles I wrote, dishes I washed, or meals I made. But I will give an account for how I loved these babes. I will give an account for how I cared for their souls.

What I tell myself every day is that these days will not last forever, and not in a pep-talk, you can get through this kind of way. Reminding myself that these days are numbered is a wake-up call to treasure the little moments that seem to get in the way of my to-do list. The tasks will always be there. These babies will not.

Obviously, I can’t forget my necessary responsibilities. There are legitimate things that need to get done. My kids do need clean clothes. And so do my husband and me! We need to eat. A clean house does make everyone feel a little more put together. But I can work against being a slave to trying to do too much. I can learn to be more flexible with the interruptions. They aren’t a death sentence to my productivity. They are God’s way of telling me to stop and savor the moments.

So as I start this Monday with a to-do list staring me square in the face I want to focus more on the little faces that so joyously greet me every morning. They won’t be here forever. And the dishes can wait.