The Home as the Hub of Life on Mission

Our family is in the process of moving from one house to another, and I’m kind of feeling all the feels about it. There’s the nostalgia and twinge of sadness as we say goodbye to a house where we’ve made sweet memories and grown as a family, but there’s also the excitement about a new place for a new season. All these feelings brought about by our upcoming change of address have gotten me thinking about the fact that a home is much more than just brick and mortar.

When we think of a house, we may think of shelter or a space to decorate according to our various styles. When we think of a home, we might envision a refuge or place of belonging. But in the Kingdom of God, does a home have a deeper purpose than even these good things? Does the Bible have anything to say about God’s purpose for the home?

Women who are familiar with the Bible may remember that in Titus chapter two, the work of the home is mentioned. Here, the apostle Paul exhorts Titus to teach what accords with sound doctrine (the gospel): Older women are to train younger women to “love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home . . . that the word of God will not be reviled” (2:4-5). Paul is not here saying that women should only work in the home. The point Paul makes is that the home is significant in God’s gospel mission; therefore, the work of the home is extremely valuable to Him. The Bible is clear that the mission of believers is to spread God’s glory to all the world by making disciples through the power of the gospel (Matt 28:19-20, Rom 1:16). This mission is not disconnected from Paul’s exhortations to women concerning work in the home. When Titus chapter two is interpreted in light of Christ’s great commission mandate, women will begin to see that their homes can serve as a “hub” or effective center for living a life on mission for Christ .

The mission begins within the walls.

I love Mother Teresa’s thought provoking words: “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” Al Mohler recently made a similar statement: “If we can’t reach our children, we can’t reach the world.” Our mission to reach the world with the gospel starts at home. The people who live within our walls {spouses, children, roommates} are our closest neighbors and usually the people with whom God has given us the greatest influence. Hearts and minds are shaped early and, as parents, we have the hearts of our children first. As we are faithful to love and care for our kids in the day-to-day, we have thousands of opportunities to make intentional deposits of gospel truth into their hearts and lives while praying for God to bring transformation and growth.

When we view the home as the hub of our mission efforts, even the most mundane and exhausting work required in keeping a house and caring for those we love is important and meaningful; yet, at the same time, it doesn’t rule us. Christ rules us. We can work faithfully by His strength and for His glory while recognizing that our joy is not dependent on whether or not we have a beautifully decorated and tidy home, a thankful spouse, or well-behaved children.

To use our homes as the hub of our mission efforts does not mean we are domestic goddesses who keep picture-perfect homes and never make mistakes in front of those who live in our home. In fact, it’s really just the opposite. Being on mission within the walls of our homes means that we really get the gospel ourselves. We understand that apart from Christ we are broken and flawed and weak. We recognize that every failure–every bad attitude, impatient word or careless act–is an opportunity to point to the Perfect One whose righteousness has been credited to us through faith and who is slowly transforming our hearts as we turn from our sin and look to Him alone. The ugly things in our hearts that are exposed in front of those we love give us the chance to demonstrate humility and true repentance as we shout the good news that the gospel of Jesus is our greatest hope in our weakest moments. To be on mission in our homes, we must model our deep need and highlight God’s great grace.

The mission moves beyond the walls when the door is open.

God has provided us earthly homes as temporary places of refuge, not that we may sequester ourselves behind closed doors and only minister to those within our walls, but that we may open our doors and bid others to come in and see that the it is The Lord is good. These physical structures we live in are just temporary dwellings, but they can be a powerful  tool to point others forward to our eternal dwelling in Christ if we will simply open our doors.

A missional home is an open home, not a perfect home. Are we willing to welcome others into our imperfect (and in my case, messy) homes to share of our time, our food, and ourselves? In the book of Acts, Luke records that the early Church did life together. Followers of Christ gathered daily to learn, worship, break bread, and remember the gospel together. They also applied the gospel together as they generously gave of what they had to meet the needs of others. In short, they lived life with a “what’s mine is yours” mentality. “And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were beings saved” (Acts 2:47b). As they lived life together with open homes and hands, the gospel spread.

We live in an individualistic culture of locked doors, drawn curtains and privacy fences. The American mentality is “you can only count on what you earn”. But if our homes are going to function as little gospel outposts for taking the good news to the world, we must work by Christ’s strength to keep our doors open regardless of how uncomfortable or costly it may feel.

We each need to ask ourselves questions such as these: Is my home open to those in the Body of Christ? Do I regularly welcome believers in to share a meal or coffee and speak about the things of the Lord together? Is my home a refuge for others in need of a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, godly counsel or just a free place to spend the night? As I welcome the Body of Christ, am I intentionally seeking to build relationships with the lost in my circle of influence while petitioning the Lord to add to [our] number those who are being saved? Do I speak to neighbors and try to get to know them through time? Do I develop friendships with lost coworkers who do not know the Lord and invite them into my home? Do I pray for them and ask the Lord for opportunities? There are countless creative ways to use our homes for God’s Kingdom mission if we will open our eyes and ask daily for his strength and help.

Lest we become easily discouraged, let us remember that we will not be perfect in managing our homes for effective gospel mission. We will struggle and always have room to grow, but weakness itself is a gift. It reminds us that our hope is in something greater than our home and our own efforts at faithful obedience. In the hard moments, let us shift our perspective to the truth that Gloria Furman communicates so well:

The remnant Israelites learned that their home was not their refuge. In our modern time, we need to know this too. We need to know that our home is not a projection of our image but a space in which we work to display the image of Christ. Home points to a peace that is beyond color schemes and adornments. It points to the fact that the Lord is our refuge. Jesus Christ is the greatest missional home manager the world has ever seen. He builds his house, and he sets his house in order. He is head over his church, and he loves her perfectly. He nourishes her with his word. Christ reigns in sovereign superiority; he is the basis of all our joy. We must live our lives focused on his sovereign lordship over the cosmos.“

Yes. And amen.

 

Book Review: “The Accidental Feminist”

Right now, my primary calling is to nurture the lives of {3!} little boys, but even though I have no female children, I am also called to cultivate and nurture life in girls and other women. I love studying and learning how to best glorify God in my womanhood. As God is teaching and shaping me, He expects me, not to keep what I learn to myself, but to pass it on to others. He expects that of all of us.

This summer, I’ve had the opportunity to read and discuss The Accidental Feminist: Restoring Our Delight in God’s Good Design {authored by Courtney Reissig} with some of my favorite college/just-post-college girls. We’ve kept it simple. We read a couple chapters a week, underline portions to discuss and meet at Panera one night a week for a few hours to talk about what God is revealing and teaching us, how we’re submitting to or resisting His truth, questions we have, etc. I think it’s been a fruitful time and that we’ve all learned a lot. And when a good resource is found, it should be shared. So, I’m popping in to briefly comment on the book we read.

For a while now, I’ve been looking for a book that both highlights the Bible’s teaching about our God-given purpose as women AND is relevant to women in various roles and seasons of life. This is the book I’ve been looking for. There are a lot of resources out there on marriage and motherhood. This book, however, addresses not just the wife and mother, but all women: teenagers, students, young women, older women, married women, single women, women that work outside the home, women that work inside the home. Reissig does an excellent job of bringing out the Bible’s teaching on womanhood for all who are made female, regardless of their particular season and circumstances. She shows all readers how to bring God glory by practically living out their womanhood. This book is very relevant.

The Accidental Feminist is biblically driven. Reissig seeks to assert only what Scripture itself asserts. She has a high view of God’s Word and is committed to helping women see the rightness and goodness of His plan and His way for those created in His image as female. The Accidental Feminist is also well-researched. Reissig has clearly done her homework about the American feminist movement and the effects it has had on the culture and the views of women from the 1950’s until now. She highlights the much-needed positives that have come from the movement {women’s right to vote and own property, etc} but ultimately demonstrates how the root of feminism is in opposition to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Skeptical? Give it a read!

Finally, The Accidental Feminist is honest and gospel-centered. Reissig is quick to remind readers that all of us {herself included} naturally resist God’s will and God’s way apart from Christ. That’s the nature of our sin and our fallen-ness. We question God because we think we know better than Him. We question His rightness and His goodness in all things and wonder if he really does have our best interests at heart. Isn’t that what Adam and Eve did when they ate the fruit? All of humanity has followed in their footsteps ever since. But, praise God, we aren’t left there in our stubborn rebellion. All throughout her book, Reissig continually drives readers back to the gospel and the hope of restoration that is found in Jesus alone, the One who perfectly submitted to His Father’s will and way even when it cost Him everything. Reissig reminds us that, on our own, every woman {and man} falls terribly short of God’s good design, but Jesus enables us to be restored to that good design when we trust and rest in Him alone.

My prayer is that God will use this resource to draw numerous women closer to Himself as we seek to image Him accurately in our womanhood. Read The Accidental Feminist and help nurture spiritual life by sharing it with other women in your life!

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Motherhood

Here I am again. At the end of the day. At the end of myself.

Motherhood has to be the hardest and most beautiful job on earth.

Yes, messy and hard and beautiful and precious.

It’s hard because people are hard. It’s messy because people are messy. And it’s beautiful and precious because people are beautiful and precious as image-bearers of God. We’re all hopelessly broken. We love ourselves more than we love each other. We worship our comfort, our success, our hopes and plans, and our tidy houses. We want to fit our children neatly into our little boxes. We want them to be compliant and smiley and to get with the program for heaven’s sake!

But children aren’t our show prizes. They’re not our cute little family trophies in their monogrammed outfits with neatly combed hair. They’re not our consolation or comfort or fulfillment. And they’re certainly not our projects.

They’re people. Teeny, tiny little people created in the image of God but born broken into a fallen world. People who so naturally image the selfishness and pride of their parents. People who so desperately need to be studied, learned, and nurtured according to their individual personalities. Little people who need to be truly loved—sacrificially and unconditionally even in times when they are completely unlovable. People who need to see first hand what it means to rightly image the beauty of God in a dark world.

No one told me just how hard motherhood would be and just how much it would humble me. I realize every day how inept I am at rightly imaging God’s holiness and beauty before my children. At the end of the day, I mourn my continual impatience when my kids are inconveniencing me. I hate the selfishness and perfectionism that still try to rule in my heart and make it all about me.  I feel discouraged by the lack of “important” tasks accomplished and wonder how laundry, dirty diapers, correcting disobedience, and refereeing sharing wars could possibly take up so much time and leave me so utterly exhausted.  I wonder if I have the endurance to do it all over again tomorrow. And sometimes I question if it really matters.

The logical conclusion that I reach as I put my head on the pillow every night is I need help. BIG HELP. 

“I lift up my eyes to the hills, From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” 

The Creator of heaven and earth sent his Son to be my help. His Son took the ugliness of my selfish pride, impatience, and all other mothering failures and bore God’s wrath against them in His own body on the cross. God not only pours out his forgiving grace on me through Jesus, but also His transforming grace. In Christ, I have power over the sins that still fight for control in my life. In Christ, I have endurance for motherhood through the little years and beyond. In Christ, I learn how to think rightly about myself and my children.

The gospel enables me to see my children for what God says they really are: Blessings {Psalm 127:3}. Blessings when they’re sweet and blessings when they’re not. Blessings when they obey and blessings when they disobey. Blessings when my heart is exploding with love and blessings when it’s overcome with frustration.  The gospel teaches me how to think rightly about motherhood.

God has given women the beautiful gift of bearing and nurturing life in a world still under the curse of death. Pain will be intricately intertwined in this gift because of our sin and theirs. Motherhood will never be easy {so we should stop expecting it to be}, but it is always a gift. Children are gifts. As mothers, we have the awesome privilege and responsibility to faithfully care for “the least of these”–those who cannot care for themselves. We have the opportunity to show them what Jesus is really like by loving them, even {and especially} when they act unlovable. We image our Savior when we serve them through thankless, exhausting work that no one else sees or acknowledges. But God sees. And, praise Him, we have a Helper who covers our mothering failures with His blood and transforms us from the inside out.

Our greatest job and privilege as mothers is to show our children that they need this Helper as much as we do. Only through Him will they reflect God’s beauty accurately and spread His glory throughout our dark world. It’s the glorious task they were created to do. And it’s the glorious task we were created to do. So, mamas? Let’s think rightly about motherhood. Let’s see it for the significant thing it is. And by His grace, let’s seek and pray to raise up faithful little image-bearers in Christ who will spread his glory all over the world.

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Evaluating entertainment choices {and why I’m not seeing “50 Shades of Grey”}

Entertainment is an area of Christian life where there is some freedom. Here’s what I mean. The Bible doesn’t explicitly say that followers of Christ should only listen to Christian music or that believers shouldn’t watch any movies with a rating higher than ‘PG’.” It’s not always a black and white issue and there is no hard-fast rule. There is some level of freedom in this area to make choices according to wisdom and conscience.

Here’s what I’m not saying, though. I’m not saying that the Bible has nothing to say about our entertainment choices. Quite the contrary, actually. The Bible is full of commands and exhortations about the kinds of things followers of Jesus should allow to come into our minds and take up residence. God’s Word calls believers to be disciplined thinkers–those who think rightly about reality. And the ironic thing is that we Christians can be pretty flippant when it comes to making biblically wise choices about our entertainment. We often naively assume (or at least profess) that what we watch or listen to has nothing to do with who we are at the core. We believe books, movies and music can’t really affect what we believe or how we think and behave because it’s just entertainment. Right?!? In a supposed effort to avoid legalism and total abstraction from modern culture {good ditches to avoid}, it’s too easy to fall into the opposite ditch of reading, watching, and listening to anything and everything our world heralds as supreme entertainment without a second thought. But here’s the problem. As those who are in Christ, we need to give it some thought. As children of God on gospel mission, we’re sent into the world but not from the world. It is crucial that we understand the culture into which we’re sent; yet, we are to think, believe, and behave in ways that are distinct from that culture. And this is not just for our own benefit but for the benefit of a lost and watching world {John 17:14-21}. Since we are incessantly infiltrated by the prevailing thought of the culture, this “in-the-world-not-of-the-world” thing can seem pretty tricky. But God tells us how to do it: We are to constantly renew our minds {Romans 12:2} by dwelling on that which is true {Philippians 4:8}. And the Bible is the one source that always tells us what’s really true about reality because God’s words are truth {John 17:17}.

And here’s where we get to 50 Shades of Grey, the first volume of a wildly popular trilogy of erotic romance novels with a film adaptation set to release around Valentine’s Day. I have not {and will not} read any of the books, but I’ve heard plenty about them and done some research. Here’s what I know: These books have topped best-selling lists around the world, yet most critical reviews have ranked them pretty low in terms of quality literature. The plot follows the relationship of 21-year-old Anastasia Steele and 27-year-old, successful businessman Christian Grey. The story is centered around their growing attractions and sexual relationship—a relationship that is deviant, borderline abusive and, apparently, described in explicit detail throughout the book. In fact, I’ve read several reviews that termed the series “porn without the pictures” or “mommy-porn.” And here’s the thing: Both believing and non-believing women alike {particularly those college-aged to mid-thirties} have devoured these books. Unfortunately, I think the situation will be no different when the movie hits theaters in a few weeks. But as Christ-followers, we need to think twice before buying movie tickets. And here’s why:

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-4

To be in union with Christ means that God sees us as united with His Son. We share His righteousness through faith, and therefore, we are  to think like he thinks, to live like he lived, to enjoy things He would enjoy. To seek the things that are above is to intentionally seek more of Christ and to dwell on things that His Word tells us are true, honorable, pure, lovely, and commendable {Philippians 4:8}.

And guess what? God tells us that sex is all of those wonderful things when it’s done His way. A passionate sexual relationship between a husband and wife within the covenant bonds of marriage can be a beautiful, erotic, satisfying, and even holy thing. A sexual relationship between a man who is committed to love and cherish His wife sacrificially and a woman who is willing to respect and submit to the loving, selfless leadership of her husband tells the truth about God and His goodness. Sex God’s way is safe and good and so very fulfilling when both people in the relationship are focused on truly loving and pleasing the other. But sin always causes us to twist what God says is good because we believe He’s holding out on us. Sin perverts our sexual desire and causes us to crave what God has said is not good–to believe that we know better than Him. Sin causes us to be completely controlled by our perverse appetites {lusts} and to feed them with the twisted entertainment our culture is constantly producing and calling good. And that’s what we all do apart from Christ. Left to ourselves, all of us are broken, sexual sinners. But those who are in Christ have experienced true forgiveness and the start of transformation. And our lives should start to look different. Married or single, those in Christ are called to holy sexuality.

“And such were some of you. But you were washed. You were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God. . . Flee from sexual immorality.” 1 Corinthians 7:11, 18a

Fleeing sexual immorality is not a gray area {no pun intended} for the believer. It’s black and white. And  fleeing sexually immoral acts begins with fleeing immoral thoughts, which begins with fleeing immoral pictures and word pictures. To flee means to run–to not allow immorality to even get close to our minds, much less our bodies. When it comes to womanhood, relationships, and sexuality, we must take in and dwell on what God says is true and right and good. As those who have been freed from the power of sin by the blood Jesus and have experienced His forgiving and transforming grace, we are to champion healthy, biblical femininity and erotic, marital love. As we live our lives in a world that proclaims lies from every medium, we must proclaim the truth about reality. . . the truth that God’s way is good and satisfying because God Himself is ultimately good and satisfying. And we just can’t do that if we’re sitting in a dark theater fully engrossed in 50 Shades of Grey.

Rest and the Gospel

Rest seems elusive these days.

Each new day brings a host of tasks to complete and, seemingly, not enough time to complete them.

Both food preparation and the feeding of little mouths are constant. As soon as one meal is completed and cleaned up, it’s almost time to start preparing for the next.

Inordinate amounts of time are spent washing dirty dishes, cleaning dirty floors, and laundering stained, dirty clothing. But the sink is never empty. The floors are always dirty. And by the time several large loads of clothes are neatly folded and put away, hampers are full again. Such is the life of a mama at home with two littles.

Then, there’s the hurry scurry of rushing to church activities, play dates, lunch meetings, counseling sessions, appointments, errands, and for the last several months, completing hours of reading, writing, and paperwork into the late hours of most nights.

I catch myself thinking {and sometimes saying}, “What I really need is a child-free month in Cancun!” or “Wouldn’t it be great if paying a mortgage was like paying for a hotel and included a maid to come in and make beds and wash towels every day?” Sometimes the exhaustion is heavy, and a change in circumstances seems like the ultimate solution—a sure quick-fix at least.

Please don’t read this transparent confession of weariness as ungrateful discontent. The earthly blessings in my life run deep and far and wide. My husband and children are gifts I do not take for granted. My days with them are not guaranteed, and each new day at home with my babies is a treasure I would not trade. I am doing work I love, work I am passionate about, work I believe can bring glory to God and eternal good when done in faith. Truly, my combined roles of wife, mother, ministry partner to Adam, and biblical counselor to women make up my  “dream job,” as cliché as that sounds.

But, the truth is, my roles are too big for me. They’re too hard for me. To do them well requires more strength than I have to give. More wisdom than I have to offer. More patience and gentleness and faithfulness and love than I have dwelling within me. And since I don’t have what it takes, I find myself weary and searching {even grasping} for rest. But the rest I need is deeper than the kind of rest that comes from a good afternoon nap, a “check out” veg session on social media, a relaxing vacation, or even help around the house. The kind of rest I really need is a deep, life-penetrating rest—a rest that will carry me the through the physical and mental exhaustion of the day-to-day grind and far beyond that. That is the kind of sustaining rest I long for and crave. So, where is rest of that depth to be found?

In counseling and discipleship, I am constantly offering up the hope of the gospel to women. As I minister the Word, my goal is to help them understand how the good news of Jesus Christ {his substitutionary death on the cross and resurrection from the dead} speaks into every situation and circumstance of life. So, how does the the gospel offer hope for the weary stay-at-home mom? Intellectually, I know that Christ offers the rest I really need. But how do I plug into that rest? How does it become a reality in my particular circumstances?

In thinking through these questions, I am constantly returning to the familiar words of Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. 

Rest for your souls.

What does this really mean? Obviously, the rest Christ is offering here is a spiritual rest—an eternal, soul rest. So, how does this apply in the day-to-day life of a believing and worn-out mama?

I recently came across a podcast in which Paul Tripp talked about true rest. In it, he said the following:

I am always in situations that are bigger than I am, where I am in moments that are bigger than me—bigger than my wisdom, bigger than my strength. I am always confronted with how little I control, how little I understand. Rest is not found in my control. It’s not found in my strength. It’s not found in my wisdom. It’s found in this God who has infused my life by His grace. 

{And the light bulb came on}

Grace.

I am a constant student of God’s grace through Christ—learning how much I need it, how to live in it, breath by it, rest through it, work because of it.

The scribes and pharisees completely missed grace. They never even saw their great need for it because their own legalistic, perceived self-righteousness was so blinding. They tied up heavy burdens on others’ backs, placing greater external demands on the people than God’s law actually required and greater demands than they themselves were willing to keep (Matthew 23:4). Despite their rigid external “law-keeping,” their hypocrisy was great because they totally missed the heart of the law: to love God with heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:36-37). The pharisees oppressed God’s people and drove them toward weariness because they missed grace.

But Jesus came and turned the tables. While He didn’t promise an easy path (in fact, He guaranteed a difficult one–see Matthew 16:24-25), he did offer an easy rest. The only requirement was to come to Him. To those oppressed and weary of striving to meet a mark they always fell short of, Jesus said (and says), “Come!” 

Coming to Jesus to find true rest means falling on our faces before him in realization of our desperate need for (first and foremost) His saving grace and then for His sustaining grace in the days that follow. Coming to Jesus means crying out, “I can’t do it! I can’t carry this heavy, burdensome load! I am too corrupt and sinful. Too weak. Too weary. I fall short every time, regardless of how I strive. But Jesus, YOU are perfect in righteousness. YOU are perfect in strength. YOU are perfect in holiness. YOU lived the life I couldn’t live, died the death I deserved to die, and conquered the sin I could not conquer. I need to be found in YOU.” As we repent of sin and cling to Christ in faith to make us right before God, we can be found in Him. That is the beautiful hope of the gospel.

If  we miss grace, we miss rest. True rest for our souls is realized only when we fling ourselves upon His grace and receive pardon for sin, transformed hearts, and the ability to live rightly:

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away, through my groaning all day long. . . I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD, and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. . . You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. . . Many are the sorrows of the wicked,but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD. Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous,and shout for joy, all you upright in heart! (Psalm 32)

The reality and presence of eternal rest affects every facet of real life on this earth. In other words, the eternal rest that Jesus has provided for my soul infuses the day-to-day rest that Jesus offers for my mind and body. True temporal rest is recognized in light of everlasting rest. Because if Jesus can provide eternal rest for my soul, then he can certainly provide sustaining rest for me in the exhausting “little years” of motherhood and graduate school. If Jesus can give me the saving grace necessary to cover every sinful thought and deed, then he can certainly give me the sustaining grace necessary to unload the dishwasher for the millionth time. If Jesus offers the grace necessary to regenerate my dead heart, then he also offers the grace necessary to be faithful in good works, like caring for my family even when I think I desperately need “me time” more than anything. Jesus’s yoke is easy and burden is light because obeying Him is the natural overflow of a heart resting in the reality of His grace. Pressing on in good works is not what I do to earn right standing with God. Pressing on in good works is about learning from Jesus and following His way. It is the natural result of my right standing with God because of His grace through Christ.

Living in the reality of my need for grace not only helps me to press on in good works, it also enables me to cease striving and take time to physically rest. It enables me to stop and take an occasional, guilt-free afternoon nap, regardless of the laundry that needs to be folded. It allows me let the kitchen floor remain unswept another day because intentional time playing with my children is more important than a spotless kitchen. It enables me to relax and say, “it’s ok!” in the midst of craziness and chaos and two-year-old tantrums. Christ has provided eternal rest for my soul through His grace! And that grace is beautiful and precious and freeing. And that grace is enough.

Lord Jesus, please enable me to truly live in the hope of true rest that you hold out to me through your grace. 

{And all the tired mamas said, “Amen!” ;)}

Thoughts on Staying at Home

So what does your mom do all day? 

This question was posed by some of my high school (or maybe middle school?) friends in reference to my very own stay-at-home mother.

I remember being shocked and even a little offended by the question. The tone implied that my mom was (at best) bored or (at worst) lazy. Like, what in the world could she possibly have to do but watch TV all day?

In reality my mom was (and is) one of the busiest, hardest workers I know. Not to mention, she’s smart as a whip. She made the choice to leave a successful career outside the home in order to be at home with her children. And personally, I’m very thankful for that decision. I was shaped by that decision.

I realize this is not the right decision for every mother. For some it’s not even a valid option. And that is all well and good. 

But as women and mothers who are following Christ, I think it is important to evaluate the way we think about these issues of women working, whether in or out of the home. Because it’s easy to fall into one of two ditches in terms of our thinking.

In most of the secular world, and even in many Christian circles, staying at home is not en vogue, if you will. With the economy as it is today, many women feel that they don’t have a choice in order to maintain the lifestyle they desire or believe they need. In these circles, its easy to develop the mindset that staying at home is somehow less valuable (and less work) than working a paying job outside the home. For those in these circles who do choose to stay at home, it may be easy to believe that the job they are doing is somehow small or insignificant.

In other arenas, however,  staying home is the more common choice. For instance, most of the moms I knew at seminary stayed home with their kids. For these, the temptation is to elevate the role of “stay-at-home mom”—to seek to find their worth and purpose in this position or even in their children.

Both of these are ditches to avoid.

The Bible is clear that all wives are to be “home focused,” regardless of whether or not they work outside the home. In Titus 2:3-5, Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, teaches that the primary role of a wife is to be a worker at home, loving and caring for her husband and children. The woman who devotes her life’s work to the care of her husband, children, and home for the glory of the Lord is pleasing to the Lord. Her work is challenging. It requires great wisdom, strength, and skill derived from the Lord Himself. Her work is valuable and precious in the sight of God. However, this passage does not prohibit women from working out of the home. In fact, Scripture references outside employment for the excellent wife of Proverbs 31 (Prov 31:16, 18, 24). In this passage, the excellent wife is praised for being industrious in helping provide for her family.

Life will not look the same for every wife. Whether staying home or working outside the home, all believing wives must remember to find their worth in a person, rather than a position. For those of us who have repented of our sin and trusted Christ in faith, we possess worth because we are identified with Jesus. When God looks at us, he doesn’t see brokenness, failure, and sin. He sees his spotless son. In this, there is incomparable worth.

And our purpose, whether in or out of the home, is to bring Him glory by working for what is eternal and seeking to please Him. We are to seek first His Kingdom wherever we work, in whatever we do. There is nothing more eternally important than shepherding your own children’s hearts in the ways of the Lord. But all mothers must remember that true purpose is found, not in results, but rather in bringing God glory through faithful obedience. Ultimately, we can’t change a child’s heart. We are called to be faithful in spiritual training and shepherding, but only God can save them.

So, regardless of who we are, where we work, and what our lives look like presently, may we be reminded that life is a vapor. May we respect one another in the varied roles to which God has called us. And more importantly. . . in our mothering, our domestic care, our paid employment, in all things. . . let’s work for the things that will last: the Word of God and the souls of men. Let’s work for His glory, a glory that will never fade.

So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please Him. 2 Corinthians 5:9.

Submission is Not a Dirty Word

In American society and even among many evangelical Christians, the term submission is often considered a dirty word. This term tends to be particularly offensive to women, most of whom have some vague notion that the Bible commands them to be submissive to men because of their inferior status. Based on general perceptions of his teachings, many consider the apostle Paul to be sexist in his theology. While, in actuality, these notions are false, they are exaggerated and perpetrated by American culture’s perception of what a woman should be. Culture says women are no different from men and, thus, should compete with them at every level. Society tells women (and men for that matter) to look out for “number one” and to subject themselves to no one. The message women are receiving from the world is that homemaking is for the unintelligent, children are a burden, and husbands must be controlled and manipulated through sexual prowess. While the world’s message is loud and clear, Christian women must consult a different source for the knowledge of real truth. The questions must be asked: What does God say about the nature and role of women? What is God’s agenda for the Christian wife? Nancy Wilson writes, “We must find out what the Bible teaches about marriage, about children, about men and women and their roles, and then we must be obedient with no apologies, no matter what the cost. Is this radical Christianity? No. This is basic Christianity.”

 The good news for women is that, upon careful and thorough study of the biblical text, the truth emerges that Paul really was not at all sexist in his teaching. On the contrary, he held women in high regard as created by God with great dignity, worth, and unique purpose. This paper will focus specifically on the Bible’s teaching concerning the submissive role of wives to their husbands. The goal is to clearly demonstrate that the biblical mandate for submission of wives to husbands within marriage is not a sexist concept. Rather, it is God’s perfect, creation design, established to beautifully accomplish His redemptive and Kingdom purposes. Furthermore, it is not and was never intended to be a punishment or demeaning burden to women. Rather, God’s design for submission is intended to be a gift of grace to wives, their husbands and the family as a whole. 

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The excerpt above is the introduction to a research paper I recently finished for my Marriage and Family Counseling class. I was motivated to write on this topic after a discussion in my BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) small group. When the concept of submission came up, someone commented, “Submission is a dirty word in our culture!” And isn’t that the truth!?! Without the transforming power of Christ in our hearts, we all internally resist submission to anyone or anything. It’s part of our fallenness. But to the one who is found in Christ, submission shouldn’t be a dirty word. The Bible tells us all to submit to God. It also tells us to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. The Bible calls children to submit to parents, wives to submit to husbands, and all people to submit to governing authorities. Submission is a truly Christian concept.

This paper was written in an effort to bring to light what the Bible really teaches concerning the submission of wives to their husbands. Writing this paper was convicting to my own heart, as I realized how my own spirit so easily rebels against submission to my husband and ultimately to God. But in Christ, there is hope for me. And for you. My prayer is that, as women and wives grow in their affection for the Lord Jesus and His Word, we will truly see the beauty and grace in God’s design for submission within the marriage relationship. Because we follow a God who is perfect in character…perfect in wisdom and love and truth…we can obey His way with trust and joy.

You can read the whole paper here. While it is somewhat lengthy, it is necessary to read  it in its entirety in order to avoid a skewed perspective. So, read it when you have some time, when you need a resource as you minister to women in your sphere of life, or when you’re just seeking to grow in your personal knowledge of the Bible’s teaching on this issue.