Archive for the ‘Home and Family’ Category

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The Everyday Question of Motherhood

In Gals,Home and Family on April 30, 2012 by The Spillover

From Christine Hoover:

As a mother, there is a constant, uncomfortable battle that rages inside of me. It is not the big or dramatic: Will I raise my children to love God? Will I train them to obey Him? Do my children belong to Him?

The constant battle of motherhood is more subtle, more everyday, more hideable. At the center is one question: Will I sacrifice? Or as Oswald Chambers poses in My Utmost for His Highest: “[Am I] willing to spend and be spent; not seeking to be ministered unto, but to minister?”

The Everyday Question isn’t answered one time, with the birth of a child, with the planning of school, or with the decision to discipline. This question — Will I sacrifice? — is answered everyday.

It’s answered when a child wakes early with a need, interrupting my quiet hour alone with the Lord.

It’s answered when a sick child keeps me from worship and adult interaction at church on Sunday mornings.

It’s answered when I am emotionally spent, but a child’s behavior requires my patient, purposeful response.

It’s answered almost every moment of the potty training process.

It’s answered as I systematically teach my special-needs son how to interact with others.

In motherhood, the Everyday Question is answered every time a child’s concern or need must come before my own, which is most of the time.

Too often, I attend to necessary tasks — leaving the stove to help with pant buttons, putting down the phone to search for a beloved toy, excusing myself from a conversation at church to take tired children home for a nap — while my heart grumbles. If I just had one moment to complete a task or have an adult conversation without an interruption.

The Everyday Question, however, asks not just about what I do but also about my attitude: Will I joyfully pour out my life as a fragrant offering before the Lord for the benefit of my children? Will I serve my children out of obligation and duty or will I serve like I’m serving God Himself? Will I die to myself so that I might live to God in the specific calling He has given me as a mom?

The Everyday Question must be answered everyday.

Because motherhood is not so much the big, dramatic acts of sacrifice, but the little, everyday, unseen ones.

Because we can have a clean house and obedient children and not sacrifice.

Because we are so easily deceived to think we can live for ourselves and be faithful to God in our ministry as moms.

Jesus said that those who live for themselves will actually have an unfulfilling life, but those who lose for their lives for His sake will really experience life. As parents, our self-death for Christ’s sake not only produces fruit in our own hearts, but produces fruit in the hearts of our children, fruit that grows by the power of God. Let us, then, choose to joyfully give of ourselves for our children.

Everyday.

“For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal bodies.” (2 Corinthians 4:11)

“For the love of Christ compels us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died, and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” (2 Corinthians 5:14–15)

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Dads, Sing Like You Mean It

In Home and Family,Soul Food on March 13, 2012 by The Spillover

Got a box of tissues nearby? From The Blazing Center:

My father was a wonderfully eccentric man. He was a quick witted recluse and a virtual Picasso of mechanicalia. He worked third shift (11:00PM to 7:00AM) for 37 years (without missing a day or ever being late) so as to avoid having his talents “supervised into obscurity.” To most people outside of his family he was hard to understand and blissfully unconcerned with anyone else’s opinion of him. But despite all of that he was very overt about his faith in, and love for, our Savior Jesus Christ.

Though I hold many cherished memories of him, perhaps the most vivid was his excitement over singing certain hymns. By all accounts he possessed at best an “average” voice when it comes to uniqueness and tonal quality. But he sang his favorites with a conviction that was beyond convincing and was by far one of the loudest and most joyful voices in a congregation of approximately 350. I remember looking up at him and “checking him out” while he was singing… “Is he for real?” I would wonder. When he would catch me looking at him he would simply “lock-eyes” with me and sing all the louder while he broadened his grin to match proportion with his pleasure.

He wouldn’t just sing hymns at church either. I can think of many times when the two of us would be welding up a go-kart frame or swapping an engine on a Saturday afternoon and he would spontaneously break into a hymn. In my teens and early twenties I actually found it annoying given the perplexity of some of the situations we would be deep into. But then again I would eventually come around and sing with him anyway. I just never managed to muster the joy he got out of it. I didn’t think about it then but I can see clearly now that he was blessing me with rich God honoring doctrine. That he was lovingly cramming truth into my psyche that would not return void in my soul.

The now heart-softening aspect of these memories is that I am standing here in my church singing these same time impervious truths in front of my children. I catch them looking up at me and I wonder if I am anywhere near as good an example as he was. I get caught up and overwhelmed when I recognize the blessing that God had granted me in an earthly father. How diligent Dad was to bless me in an eternal way without ever making a point to tell me that he was doing it.

Jack McCracken passed away on March 9th of 2010 from pancreatic cancer. The last day I saw him alive was March 8th. We were alone and I was brutally tired from all that had preceded. He could not speak or even open his eyes but the nurses assured me that he could hear so I just prayed for him and encouraged him to trust in Jesus and look for him to come soon. When my nephew arrived I felt comforted that dad would not be alone and I decided to return to my parents’ house and get some rest. I asked my nephew for just a few moments alone with dad and I grasped his hand firmly, kissed his forehead and said: “You did a fantastic job as my father and I am so glad I got to be your son. Thank you for taking me to church. But more importantly thank you for going to church and being joyful there. Thank you for singing like you meant every word… You have no idea how that still affects me… I love you dad.

I stepped back and whistled a “call” he had taught me when I was very young. It would not have been discernible to anyone in a crowd but it meant “I am right behind you” and “I am coming.” I hugged my nephew and thanked him for coming then drove to my parent’s home. Three hours later I was awakened by a phone call from my nephew telling me that “Grampa was gone.” I slumped back into my chair. I wept bitterly. Then I cried out to God for comfort and without much thought I began singing one of Dads favorite hymns…“Jesus paid it all.” As I was singing I began to hear Dad’s voice singing with me… Not as any kind of haunting specter or communion with the dead kind of thing. Much more like a perfect echo… I began to envision his face and felt like I was a little kid again looking up at him. His grin was broadening and his voice was getting louder. I began to thank God over and over for the gift he had given me in my earthly father and the gift of salvation that he had granted to both dad and I. I just laid on the floor and prayed then cried, then sang then prayed some more. I have no idea how long I spent in that state but I can tell you that God granted me peace through it.

Now almost two years later I am still unable to sing a lot of those “old-Baptist” tunes without experiencing the “echo” of my father. I count it a privilege to sing these rich truths in tribute to the one true God; but I also experience the benefit of knowing I am fulfilling the scriptural command to honor my earthly father as well.

I decided to write this all out first as a means of expressing for myself what is sometimes difficult to verbalize. And secondly as a means of encouragement to the fathers in this church. Please sing like you mean it on Sunday morning. I am not asking you to “fake” anything… but rather embrace the very meaning these songs were written for. Seek to express your joy in your Savior Jesus Christ by singing in response to what he has done for you, and in agreement with the truths imbedded in these songs. Neither am I encouraging you to do this specifically for your children’s benefit but first for yourselves with the added comfort of knowing how much it will affect your children. I am simply encouraging you to worship in spirit and in truth. Sing strong because that is what God wants from you. Trust God to bless your children with the echo.

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Where a Man Belongs

In Desiring God by John Piper,Guys,Home and Family,Soul Food on February 20, 2012 by The Spillover

From Desiring God by John Piper:

I address the men directly for a moment: Do not let the rhetoric of unbiblical feminism cow you into thinking that Christlike leadership from husbands is bad. It is what our homes need more than anything. For all your meekness and all your servanthood and all your submission to your wife’s deep desires and needs, you are still the head, the leader.

What I mean is this: You should feel the greater responsibility to take the lead in the things of the Spirit; you should lead the family in a life of prayer, in the study of God’s Word, and in worship; you should lead in giving the family a vision of its meaning and mission; you should take the lead in shaping the moral fabric of the home and in governing its happy peace. I have never met a woman who chafes under such Christlike leadership. But I know of too many wives who are unhappy because their husbands have abdicated their God-ordained leadership and have no moral vision, no spiritual conception of what a family is for, and therefore no desire to lead anyone anywhere.

A famous cigarette billboard pictures a curly-headed, bronze-faced, muscular macho with a cigarette hanging out the side of his mouth. The sign says, “Where a man belongs.” That is a lie. Where a man belongs is at the bedside of his children, leading in devotion and prayer. Where a man belongs is leading his family to the house of God. Where a man belongs is up early and alone with God seeking vision and direction for his family.

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Which is Safe?

In Being Real,Home and Family,Perspective on January 19, 2012 by The Spillover

In light of the gospel, what’s the Christ-like way to raise our children? This is a question I ponder regularly.

Here’s a gut-check for all of us (myself included):

Are we doing right by our children by raising them to be safe, moral, proper, responsible members of society? When we’re chiefly concerned with their self-esteem, inclusion, fiscal responsibility, and civil productivity? Even if Jesus/church is a part of this equation? Even a big part?

Or…

Would doing right by our children entail teaching them the hard truths of the gospel, training them in holiness, never assuming the gospel but preaching to them like Jesus taught people, showing them how many (even “proper”) people do not have salvation, and, when they’re old enough, strapping them up with the armor of God, praying over them, and sending them off to the worst, most dangerous part of the battle, even if it cost them their life?

Which is really the best for them?

Which is really safe?

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Why Youth Stay in Church When They Grow Up

In Awareness,Home and Family on December 29, 2011 by The Spillover

From Jon Nielson at The Gospel Coalition:

“What do we do about our kids?” The group of parents sat together in my office, wiping their eyes. I’m a high school pastor, but for once, they weren’t talking about 16-year-olds drinking and partying. Each had a story to tell about a “good Christian” child, raised in their home and in our church, who had walked away from the faith during the college years. These children had come through our church’s youth program, gone on short-term mission trips, and served in several different ministries during their teenage years. Now they didn’t want anything to do with it anymore. And, somehow, these mothers’ ideas for our church to send college students “care packages” during their freshman year to help them feel connected to the church didn’t strike me as a solution with quite enough depth.

The daunting statistics about chucchgoing youth keep rolling in. Panic ensues. What are we doing wrong in our churches? In our youth ministries?

It’s hard to sort through the various reports and find the real story. And there is no one easy solution for bringing all of those “lost” kids back into the church, other than continuing to pray for them and speaking the gospel into their lives. However, we can all look at the 20-somethings in our churches who are engaged and involved in ministry. What is it that sets apart the kids who stay in the church? Here are just a few observations I have made about such kids, with a few applications for those of us serving in youth ministry.

1. They are converted.

The apostle Paul, interestingly enough, doesn’t use phrases like “nominal Christian” or “pretty good kid.” The Bible doesn’t seem to mess around with platitudes like: “Yeah, it’s a shame he did that, but he’s got a good heart.” When we listen to the witness of Scripture, particularly on the topic of conversion, we find that there is very little wiggle room. Listen to these words: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17). We youth pastors need to get back to understanding salvation as what it really is: a miracle that comes from the glorious power of God through the working of the Holy Spirit.

We need to stop talking about “good kids.” We need to stop being pleased with attendance at youth group and fun retreats. We need to start getting on our knees and praying that the Holy Spirit will do miraculous saving work in the hearts of our students as the Word of God speaks to them. In short, we need to get back to a focus on conversion. How many of us are preaching to “unconverted evangelicals”? Youth pastors, we need to preach, teach, and talk—all the while praying fervently for the miraculous work of regeneration to occur in the hearts and souls of our students by the power of the Holy Spirit! When that happens—when the “old goes” and the “new comes”—it will not be iffy. We will not be dealing with a group of “nominal Christians.” We will be ready to teach, disciple, and equip a generation of future church leaders—“new creations”!—who are hungry to know and speak God’s Word. It is converted students who go on to love Jesus and serve the church.

2. They have been equipped, not entertained.

Recently we had “man day” with some of the guys in our youth group. We began with an hour of basketball at the local park, moved to an intense game of 16” (“Chicago Style”) softball, and finished the afternoon by gorging ourselves on meaty pizzas and 2-liters of soda. I am not against fun (or gross, depending on your opinion of the afternoon I just described) things in youth ministry. But youth pastors especially need to keep repeating the words of Ephesians 4:11-12 to themselves: “[Christ] gave . . . the teachers to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” Christ gives us—teachers—to the church, not for entertainment, encouragement, examples, or even friendship primarily. He gives us to the church to “equip” the saints to do gospel ministry, in order that the church of Christ may be built up.

If I have not equipped the students in my ministry to share the gospel, disciple a younger believer, and lead a Bible study, then I have not fulfilled my calling to them, no matter how good my sermons have been. We pray for conversion; that is all we can do, for it is entirely a gracious gift of God. But after conversion, it is our Christ-given duty to help fan into flame a faith that serves, leads, teaches, and grows. If our students leave high school without Bible-reading habits, Bible-study skills, and strong examples of discipleship and prayer, we have lost them. We have entertained, not equipped them . . . and it may indeed be time to panic!

Forget your youth programs for a second. Are we sending out from our ministries the kind of students who will show up to college in a different state, join a church, and begin doing the work of gospel ministry there without ever being asked? Are we equipping them to that end, or are we merely giving them a good time while they’re with us? We don’t need youth group junkies; we need to be growing churchmen and churchwomen who are equipped to teach, lead, and serve. Put your youth ministry strategies aside as you look at that 16-year-old young man and ask: “How can I spend four years with this kid, helping him become the best church deacon and sixth-grade Sunday school class teacher he can be, ten years down the road?”

3. Their parents preached the gospel to them.

As a youth pastor, I can’t do all this. All this equipping that I’m talking about is utterly beyond my limited capabilities. It is impossible for me to bring conversion, of course, but it is also impossible for me to have an equipping ministry that sends out vibrant churchmen and churchwomen if my ministry is not being reinforced tenfold in the students’ homes. The common thread that binds together almost every ministry-minded 20-something that I know is abundantly clear: a home where the gospel was not peripheral but absolutely central. The 20-somethings who are serving, leading, and driving the ministries at our church were kids whose parents made them go to church. They are kids whose parents punished them and held them accountable when they were rebellious. They are kids whose parents read the Bible around the dinner table every night. And they are kids whose parents were tough, but who ultimately operated from a framework of grace that held up the cross of Jesus as the basis for peace with God and forgiveness toward one another.

This is not a formula! Kids from wonderful gospel-centered homes leave the church; people from messed-up family backgrounds find eternal life in Jesus and have beautiful marriages and families. But it’s also not a crap-shoot. In general, children who are led in their faith during their growing-up years by parents who love Jesus vibrantly, serve their church actively, and saturate their home with the gospel completely, grow up to love Jesus and the church. The words of Proverbs 22:6 do not constitute a formula that is true 100 percent of the time, but they do provide us with a principle that comes from the gracious plan of God, the God who delights to see his gracious Word passed from generation to generation: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Youth pastors, pray with all your might for true conversion; that is God’s work. Equip the saints for the work of the ministry; that is your work. Parents, preach the gospel and live the gospel for your children; our work depends on you.

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5 Ways Wives Can Encourage Their Husbands

In Home and Family on December 20, 2011 by The Spillover

Again, from Jared Wilson:

An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
— Proverbs 31:10-12

1. Praise Him Verbally
Private nagging and public nitpicking are common temptations for wives of husbands who are sinners, by which I mean wives, but a wife ought to know that this is Chinese water torture on his heart. Most men carry around in their souls the question “Do I have what it takes?” The gospel answers this question, “No, but Jesus does, and what’s his is yours.” This is the only acceptable way to answer in the “negative.” When you nitpick and nag, you give mouthpiece to the accuser who wants your husband to know not only does he not have what it takes, he is worthless because of it. So find ways to constructively criticize and help him repent, but more than that, tell him what you like about him, how you find him attractive or admirable, how you respect him or are impressed by him. Outdo him in showing honor (Rom. 12:10).

2. Submit to His Leadership
This is not a call to be a doormat, but in my pastoral experience I encounter many a wife who says she wants her husband to lead her but then makes it clear in some way that this will only occur when she agrees with his decision. There are few things more demoralizing than a demand to lead with no commitment to follow. Instead, if your husband is not leading you into sin, your followship of your husband is a reflection of your trust in God. Peter writes:

For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. (1 Peter 3:5-6)

3. Reject Relational Legalism
If your husband always feels as though he is only in your good graces when he has performed to your standards or met your expectations, he will not see you as his lover, friend, or partner, but as his boss. Do you know how deeply you want to feel approved of despite your flaws, sins, and failures, that your husband would know the real you and love that you? He wants the same thing, even if he never expresses it.

4. Take an Interest
It’s not always that your husband doesn’t like to talk. It’s just that perhaps he’s learned that your favorite subjects are things he doesn’t have much to say about. Communicating with you in ways that edify and engage you is his command to obey with joy; communicating with him in ways that edify and engage him is yours. This might mean asking him questions about sports or hobbies or movies or power tools. Or maybe it doesn’t mean talking but sitting on the couch to watch the game with him or invading his “man cave” with your presence but not your agenda.

5. Make Love to Him
This is not universally true, but it is generally true: The number one way a husband feels encouraged is when his wife has sex with him. I put it last because it’s likely the touchiest point (no pun intended), but it is (again, generally speaking) top of the list. If you’re thinking, “Well, for some husbands maybe, but not mine,” ask him. For most men, sexual intimacy is directly wired to feelings of encouragement, confidence, approval, attractiveness, and self-esteem. The things that you likely need in order to feel open to sexual intimacy are the things he typically feels afterwards — closeness, respect, approval. I know it’s weird that God set it up that way, but I think he did so that we would serve each other graciously with our bodies, learning to put each other first in a neat little “No, after you” kind of dance. In any event, one of the chief ways — if not the chief way — you can build up your husband is by bedding down with him.

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5 Ways Husbands Can Sanctify Their Wives

In Home and Family on December 19, 2011 by The Spillover

From Jared Wilson:

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
— Ephesians 5:25-27

1. Put Her First
Sacrifice is in view here, as is the understanding of “sanctify” in the sense of “setting apart for special use,” as in consecration. Husbands honor their wives not among others, but before and above others.

2. “Gospel” Her
Yes, I know it’s not a verb, but you get my meaning here. The passage says Jesus sanctifies the church by “washing” her with the water of the word. The understanding of “sanctify” as “cleanse” is in view here, and a husband who wants to sanctify his wife will share with her the word of God, speak to her the word of God, remind her who she is in Christ, forgive her sins, give her the opportunity to forgive his in word-driven repentance, and in general make sure she is gently, lovingly covered in the Scriptures.

3. Protect Her
Husbands will present their wives in some way to the Lord when that roll is called up yonder as an evidence of their own faithfulness to him. Do we want to be proven true children of God, full of faith in Jesus and his gospel? Then we will show the fruit of faithful husbanding, which is a wife “without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.” No, we cannot sanctify our wives the way the Spirit does, and no, neither our salvation nor our wife’s salvation is contingent upon our perfect husbanding (thank God!), but manhood is responsibility-taking, and this means taking the responsibility to shield our wives from sin and its temptations, accusations, attacks, unnecessary burdens, hurtful expectations and assumptions, and the like. This can mean everything from taking on housework so she gets to rest or go out with friends to warding off or rebuking people who take advantage of her. It also means no verbal, emotional, or physical abuse. It means no pornography or sexual exploitation. It means treating her and ensuring treatment of her that is gentle, loving, and edifying.

4. Serve Her
How did Jesus the King position himself over the church as its head? By becoming its servant, sacrificing to the point of death in loving service to her betterment.

5. Lead Her
This encompasses all of the above and more. Male headship requires repetitious repentance, deep humility, desperate God-reliance, and a high, passionate commitment to the grace of God for the glory of God, not the gratification of self for the glory of self. Lead, don’t push. Set an example in speech and conduct. Show yourself flawed but trustworthy but God as failproof. Refuse to make excuses or pass the buck. Shoulder the burdens and take responsibility.

*Next up: 5 Ways Wives Can Encourage Their Husbands*

Articles

Submission in Marriage

In Gals,Guys,Home and Family on November 17, 2011 by The Spillover

Mary Kassian at the Girls Gone Wise blog shares some thoughts in response to this question: “How has submission worked out practically in your marriage?”:

I’ve been married for 29 years—“just getting going” says my mom, who’s been married for 62.

“What it looks like” is a difficult question, since submission is not something foreign—not something “other”—to the character of a redeemed woman. Submission is not as much an “action” as it is an “attitude.” So it can’t be dictated by behavioral prescriptives. Submission boils down to a having spirit of amenability. It means being soft, receptive, responsive, and agreeable. Because of the misconceptions surrounding the definition of submission, I actually prefer to use the term “amenability.” Amenability comes from the French amener (to lead). An amenable woman is “leadable” as opposed to “ungovernable” She’s responsive to input and likely to cooperate. Amenability is part of the three-fold womanly disposition of 1 Peter 3:4-5, which includes gentleness, calmness, and amenability—which works itself out in a married woman’s life in submission to her husband.

So “what it looks like” on an on-going basis, is that I am soft, receptive, and agreeable toward my husband. I love responding to his lead. I respect who God created him to be as a man—and support his efforts to provide godly oversight for our family. I respect the position of responsibility that goes along with being a husband and father. “Respect” is probably the best word to describe what submission looks like in my marriage.

For me, submission is one of those things that is far more easily identified by its absence rather than its presence. I know that I am struggling with it when I am critical, impatient, defiant, and “snarky” toward my husband—when I refuse to cooperate and am unresponsive to input, when I rush in and take control, when I fail to “provide space” to allow my husband the opportunity to be a man and provide godly oversight for our family. In other words, it’s not readily apparent to me when I’m submitting, but it’s painfully obvious to me when I am not. I sense that I am disrespecting/ disregarding my husband, taking control, and pulling against him rather than for and with him.

(The full article has some other good stuff.)

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Praying With Michael

In Being Real,Home and Family,Perspective on November 14, 2011 by The Spillover

It’s 8:23 pm and I just came down the steps, grabbed my netbook, and sat here at the kitchen table after tucking my two-year-old son Michael into bed. We just had a special moment, though I cherish every moment I spend with that boy. That God gave him to me and entrusts me with his upbringing is a continual source of wonderment in my life. I love him so deeply that it hurts.

We were praying together, which is the last thing we do before I turn the lights out. I was laying next to him, our faces inches apart, and we were looking into each others’ eyes as I prayed, thanking God for giving Michael and me the father-and-son bond that we have, even at his young age. It was a precious moment; the “sunset time” of the day when his tenacious energy gives way to sleepiness and he’s gentle and docile and affectionate. I was overcome with love for him, when a notion arrested my mind, mid-prayer:

If I really love him, I’ll never let my love for him come anywhere near the love I have for God.

If I really love him, I’ll teach him to give his life away for the gospel, even though my instinct is to shelter and protect him at any cost.

If I really love him, I’ll ferociously seek to purge sin from my life and my heart as I live as his flesh-and-bones example to follow.

These thoughts flashed through my mind in an instant. The way I must raise him is not the way the world tells me to raise him. It’s not even the way my instincts tell me to raise him. If I really love him, I have to raise him by the standards of the life-infusing gospel of Jesus Christ, without compromise.

As I looked into Michael’s eyes, I quietly begged God to grant me proper perspective and to emotionally equip me to lead my son into a life that is difficult. I asked Him to help me lead Michael toward the way of life everlasting, that I might prime him to treasure Jesus above anything and everything else. And I realized — for the first time in living color — that if God should answer my prayer, by His perfect grace and sacrifice, I’ll be able to spend eternity with my precious little boy.

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Motherhood is a Calling

In Home and Family,Soul Food on July 15, 2011 by The Spillover

Brilliant post from Rachel Jankovic at Desiring God about the most important job in the world:

A few years ago, when I just had four children and when the oldest was still three, I loaded them all up to go on a walk. After the final sippy cup had found a place and we were ready to go, my two-year-old turned to me and said, “Wow! You have your hands full!”

She could have just as well said, “Don’t you know what causes that?” or “Are they all yours?!”

Everywhere you go, people want to talk about your children. Why you shouldn’t have had them, how you could have prevented them, and why they would never do what you have done. They want to make sure you know that you
won’t be smiling anymore when they are teenagers. All this at the grocery store, in line, while your children listen.

A Rock-Bottom Job?

The truth is that years ago, before this generation of mothers was even born, our society decided where children rank in the list of important things. When abortion was legalized, we wrote it into law.

Children rank way below college. Below world travel for sure. Below the ability to go out at night at your leisure. Below honing your body at the gym. Below any job you may have or hope to get. In fact, children rate below your desire to sit around and pick your toes, if that is what you want to do. Below everything. Children are the last thing you should ever spend your time doing.

If you grew up in this culture, it is very hard to get a biblical perspective on motherhood, to think like a free Christian woman about your life, your children. How much have we listened to partial truths and half lies? Do we believe that we want children because there is some biological urge, or the phantom “baby itch”? Are we really in this because of cute little clothes and photo opportunities? Is motherhood a rock-bottom job for those who can’t do more, or those who are satisfied with drudgery? If so, what were we thinking?

It’s Not a Hobby

Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling. You do not collect children because you find them cuter than stamps. It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in. It is what God gave you time for.

Christian mothers carry their children in hostile territory. When you are in public with them, you are standing with, and defending, the objects of cultural dislike. You are publicly testifying that you value what God values, and that you refuse to value what the world values. You stand with the defenseless and in front of the needy. You represent everything that our culture hates, because you represent laying down your life for another—and laying down your life for another represents the gospel.

Our culture is simply afraid of death. Laying down your own life, in any way, is terrifying. Strangely, it is that fear that drives the abortion industry: fear that your dreams will die, that your future will die, that your freedom will die—and trying to escape that death by running into the arms of death.

Run to the Cross

But a Christian should have a different paradigm. We should run to to the cross. To death. So lay down your hopes. Lay down your future. Lay down your petty annoyances. Lay down your desire to be recognized. Lay down your fussiness at your children. Lay down your perfectly clean house. Lay down your grievances about the life you are living. Lay down the imaginary life you could have had by yourself. Let it go.

Death to yourself is not the end of the story. We, of all people, ought to know what follows death. The Christian life is resurrection life, life that cannot be contained by death, the kind of life that is only possible when you have been to the cross and back.

The Bible is clear about the value of children. Jesus loved them, and we are commanded to love them, to bring them up in the nurture of the Lord. We are to imitate God and take pleasure in our children.

The Question Is How

The question here is not whether you are representing the gospel, it is how you are representing it. Have you given your life to your children resentfully? Do you tally every thing you do for them like a loan shark tallies debts? Or do you give them life the way God gave it to us—freely?

It isn’t enough to pretend. You might fool a few people. That person in line at the store might believe you when you plaster on a fake smile, but your children won’t. They know exactly where they stand with you. They know the things that you rate above them. They know everything you resent and hold against them. They know that you faked a cheerful answer to that lady, only to whisper threats or bark at them in the car.

Children know the difference between a mother who is saving face to a stranger and a mother who defends their life and their worth with her smile, her love, and her absolute loyalty.

Hands Full of Good Things

When my little girl told me, “Your hands are full!” I was so thankful that she already knew what my answer would be. It was the same one that I always gave: “Yes they are—full of good things!”

Live the gospel in the things that no one sees. Sacrifice for your children in places that only they will know about. Put their value ahead of yours. Grow them up in the clean air of gospel living. Your testimony to the gospel in the little details of your life is more valuable to them than you can imagine. If you tell them the gospel, but live to yourself, they will never believe it. Give your life for theirs every day, joyfully. Lay down pettiness. Lay down fussiness. Lay down resentment about the dishes, about the laundry, about how no one knows how hard you work.

Stop clinging to yourself and cling to the cross. There is more joy and more life and more laughter on the other side of death than you can possibly carry alone.

Articles

A Prayer for Father’s Day

In Home and Family on June 19, 2011 by The Spillover

A prayer for all the Dads today: May we lead our families with humility and grace, may we work hard and always be honest, may we remember every day that our children are learning more from our actions than they are from our words, may we love our wives in a way that is gladly self-sacrificing, and above all, may we look to God alone as the source of our strength and wisdom. By His grace alone, may we have the privilege of reflecting the glory of Jesus. Amen.

Articles

Witnessing to Jehovah’s Witnesses

In Awareness,Home and Family on June 10, 2011 by The Spillover

It’s that time of year again – time for some friendly conversations with Jehovah’s Witnesses as they knock on our doors to perform their religious duties. Have you ever engaged in a conversation with them? If not, maybe this is your year.

Let’s keep in mind a few things. If we engage in conversation with them, everything word must be spoken with love. We aren’t arguing with them to win a debate, we’re trying to get through to them with the truth of the Gospel because we love them and don’t want them to continue without Christ. Also remember that JWs have religion (boy do they ever), but they do *not* have God. They may seem confident, but they’re walking door to door because they’re trying to earn favor with God. They’re searching for the acceptance that we know only comes by faith in Jesus Christ. They’re confident because their religion has programmed automatic responses into their minds for popular questions you might raise with them. They’re prepared. But they lack the truth – and YOU have it.

Here’s a cheat sheet of some differences between false JW doctrine and true Biblical theology to keep in mind. This will give you confidence as you lovingly discuss truth with the Jehovah’s Witnesses you encounter this year. Sometimes a “doctrine tennis match” is just what they expect, but even so, the more you know about what they believe, the better prepared you are to frame a discussion.

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Articles

A Surprising Way to Love Your Wife

In Guys,Home and Family on May 11, 2011 by The Spillover

This blog post from Brian Croft (courtesy of Tim Challies) is definitely worth sharing.

While in Grand Cayman last week for our 15 year (early) anniversary trip, we had an amazing time with great discussions throughout the week.  One particular conversation came from this question I try to ask regularly, but had not for quite some time.  The question was, “What is something practical I can do to make you feel loved and appreciated by me?”  Husbands, are you ready for the first thing out of her mouth?

“Be mindful of the little things you do day to day so that they do not undo what I have spent all day working on.” 

Huh??  That’s right guys.  No..bring me flowers.  No…leave surprising romantic cards.  No…take me out on a date regularly.  The answer above was the surprising first thing out of her mouth.  I inquired more.  She explained how she spends so much time cleaning and picking up after the kids throughout the day only for them to continue to destroy it.

So, she helped me understand the discouragement she feels if I come home for dinner and the first thing I do is carelessly sit all my stuff on the table she had already cleaned 5 times that day.  She helped me realize when I do those things it communicates to her I have not been mindful at all of what she has done to try and keep our house a warm, picked up, restful place.  She was right.

My wife would admit I have grown to be faithful in bringing flowers, cards of encouragement, and date nights out, which she appreciates very much, but what I had failed to realize is how that card of encouragement is less meaningful if in the process of giving her the card I throw my books and bag with sweaty clothes on the dinner table with a complete disregard for her efforts throughout the day.

The lesson to learn, gentlemen, is to make sure we are not making efforts to love our wives and in the process doing something else to make them feel unappreciated.  It would be similar to taking our wives on a date and picking a fight with her.  Or bringing her flowers and making an ugly comment about where she chose to place them in the house.

So, brothers, ask the question this week…if you dare.  Then, continue to ask the question as her answer may change over the years as you move into different seasons of life.  You might stumble upon a very surprising way to love your wife you never knew or had dismissed as insignificant.  Although it may be a surprise, trust me you will still want to know…if you really want to know how to love your wife in ways that makes her feel loved and appreciated.

Good luck, fellas.

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