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.

 

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.

The Truth About Marriage

I recently read a thought-provoking blog post about singleness and marriage over at the Sojourn Women’s blog. In this particular post, the author {who happens to be the grader for one of my counseling classes} talks about various struggles that both single and married women face as believers. She talks about the importance of open dialogue between both single and married women as we walk together on this journey of faith and seek to love each other well:

{Below is an excerpt from said blog post, but you should definitely go back and read the full article! Seriously. Go read it. And read the comments for various perspectives and clarification of truth.}

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Whether God is calling you to be single or to be married, He is calling you first to love, worship and serve Him. If you can do that best by being married, He will take care of that detail. If, however, you can do that best as a single woman, then allow God to be God…

because there is absolutely nothing better than God being God. He’s perfect. He’s gracious. He’s kind. He loves fully. And his plan for your life is better than your own.

Single friends, what is your hope for getting married? What do you really want by longing for marriage? What do you think will change in your life by being married? What desires do you want to fulfill by being married? Are there places in your heart that are not trusting God to love you in the best way possible? If so, why do you not trust Him? In what ways do you need to learn more about God’s character and seek Him in relationship so those desires are met in Christ alone (and so this can be more than a pretty, little phrase that we say)?

Married friends, are you honest with how marriage truly is? Do you put up a front to make your marriage look prettier than it actually is? When things are hard in your marriage, are you sharing it with others as a picture of how the Gospel applies during hardships? Are you being humble to admit that you are sinful in your marriage? This is not a thought process to decapitate your spouse, but to admit the reality of your own sin and needed change before God and others.

Sisters, ask each other these questions! I pray we will have a community with open dialogue and encouragement towards one another as we discover the comfort offered through the Gospel whether single or married.

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I think it is very easy for all Christian women to fall into a pattern of not being real. Think about it. We love to present the “pretty” parts of our lives to others. We post pictures and blog about the good and fun and exciting parts of our lives. I read a quote somewhere {Pinterest I think} that talked about how, as women, we grow discontent because we compare our “behind the scenes” to everyone else’s “highlight reel.”

But the truth is that everyone has issues. Everyone has struggles and hardships. Everyone sinsAnd by being real about these things, we can edify the body. When we share our struggles, we are telling others that we need the power of the Gospel on a daily basis. We need Jesus. Not just on the day he saved us first, but every day. Furthermore, when we are honest about our struggles we open ourselves up for admonition and encouragement {prayerfully leading to growth and change} from other sisters in the Lord.

So, the truth about marriage—or at least something I’ve learned so far in my short {almost} 4 years. Marriage is a gift, yes. Marriage can bring so much joy and fun, yes. BUT! Marriage is painful. {And not just because you disagree about whether or not to wash the food off the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, which we do}. Marriage is painful because it exposes ugliness in your heart. When you live in such close relationship  {and proximity} with another person, you see your own propensity to sin lived out in the flesh. Marriage allows you to see just how short you fall of living up to the calling to which you have been called. And it’s not pretty. It’s not something you want to post on Facebook or your blog.

Adam and I disagree. We fight, yes. Sometimes even to the point that I’m not sure how we’re going to come to an agreement and work it out. We are selfish. Too often, we seek our own good above the good of the other. We sin against each other. We even fall into sin in the way we fight and in the way we repsond to differences.

We are constantly having to come to one another and say: “I was wrong. I sinned against you. Please forgive me.” And this is painful. Because it highlights our weakness. It demonstrates in living color how we fail in the God-given purpose for marriage. Isn’t marriage supposed to be a picture of Christ and the Church? Aren’t we supposed to point others to the Gospel through our marriage? Am I not to respect Adam with the upmost respect? Is he not to love me sacrificially as Christ loved His bride?

Yes.

But as Adam reminded me just the other day, God is faithful in HIS purpose for marriage even when we fall short. And we can picture Christ and the church even when we mess up IF we return to one another and seek forgiveness for sin. Because isn’t this what we’re constantly having to do as Christ’s bride {while we’re here on this earth}? How many times do we mess up? How many times do we sin against Him? Daily, we are constantly having to turn from sin and turn to Christ, asking His forgiveness. This is what trusting Jesus and walking in faith is all about. And glory to God, through HIM we find undeserved grace and restoration.

So, friends, the truth is that marriage isn’t always “a romantic holiday.” Sometimes it’s downright hard and painful. BUT! In Christ there is hope for restoration between two wretched sinners. And In Christ, there is restoration between all sinners—married, single, or anywhere in between–and the Father.

And this brings hope. Blessed, blessed hope.

3 Years: The Highlight Reel (part 3)

{Year of the baby edition}

That’s really what part 3 should be called. During 2011, we traveled less and worked more (well, Adam worked more) in preparation for the arrival of our baby boy. But we both agree it has been our best year yet.

January 2011…We started the year with a National Championship game party at our apartment. Can you tell that the party decor was all Adam?
 It was an exciting time. Toward the end of the game, something happened {I don’t remember what…I’m not exactly a serious football watcher} that caused a few of the guys to jump from the couch in absolute glee. When they jumped up (and continued jumping), the bookshelves in front of them started to wobble. A large platter came crashing down from the top shelf, shattering into a thousand pieces. But Auburn won. So, I guess I was ok about losing a platter. 🙂 All that to say, it was a fun time with friends celebrating a National Championship victory for our alma mater.

February 2011….Adam and I saw Brad Paisley in concert at the KFC Yum Center. He’s a favorite of ours, and he didn’t disappoint.

March 2011…17 weeks preggers and excited to have a little baby bump. It’s not so exciting toward the end of the pregnancy when you have a baby beachball.

April 2011….IT’S A BOY!
I mean, clearly…

Celebrating our BOY!
June 2011 (and the end of May)…Adam spent six weeks in South Carolina for Chaplain officer training. He had fun and made some friends. Are we surprised? I love this picture of his platoon.

While Adam was away, I spent 6 weeks in Alabama (plus a week at Rosemary Beach :)) with family. It was hard being apart for so long, but we both enjoyed our time away from the regular routine of school and work. I really loved having so much time with family…it’s rare when you live far from home.

July 2011…Reunited in Louisville…and EXTREMELY pregnant {me, that is}. Adam’s parents came up to visit in late July and took us out for a fancy dinner at the Brown Hotel. Fun times.

August 25, 2011…Last picture as a family of 2!

August 26, 2011…First looks at our baby boy….

And there he is, that precious thing…

August 28, 2011…Bringing Baby Luke home…

Family of 3!

November 2011…Home for Thanksgiving. We also got to see Adam’s family, but I didn’t get a photo of the whole group.

{end of} November 2011…WE MOVED! Well, just a across town. Boy was it an ordeal, though. I was so worn out, you would have thought we moved across the country. We’re enjoying more space and a dishwasher.

December 2011…All dressed up for Adam’s company’s Christmas party. This was our first time to go out without Luke. He was in good hands.

Christmas Card 2011…First Christmas with our little man!

So, there you have it. Three blessed years. I am so thankful. Let me just say, for the record though, that I entitled these posts The Highlight Reel for a reason. These three posts showcase the highlights or the ups, if you will, of our three married years. Do not be fooled. As in any real marriage, we face our fair share of downs as well. There are challenges. There are fights. There are tears. There are apologies and requests for forgiveness. Marriage takes work and rock-solid commitment, and sometimes it’s just plain hard {I just wanted to clarify because I can’t stand reading blogs that paint a picture of a perfect life with no problems. That’s just not real. Everyone has their struggles. Everyone has their issues}.However, I speak truthfully when I say that the good outweighs the bad and the blessings outweigh the hardships. I am so thankful that I get to walk through this life with Adam, and I look forward to making memories together for years to come. My love for him ever increases with the passing of time.

3 Years: The Highlight Reel (part 2)

January 2010…First big snow of the year!

 March 2010…Foundation Board Spring Retreat in Destin, FL. Adam worked for the office of Institutional Advancement at the seminary for a while. We got to go on the annual Spring retreat for the foundation board members in Destin. It was a fun getaway. Wish I had gotten a picture of the two of us.

April 2010…my family came to visit. I think this was the weekend of “Thunder.” Thunder over Louisville is one of the many festivities leading up to the Kentucky Derby…it’s a ginormous fireworks show. Dad and Adam went to see the fireworks. Mom, Jenny, and I were attending the Women of Joy conference that weekend. We missed Will.

April 2010….Kentucky Derby 1/2 marathon. We ran with a group of friends to raise support for our friends’ adoption. Ken and Sarah Lovett have had their precious little Luke home from Ukraine for quite a few months now. This was such a fun memory…Adam’s first 1/2 marathon.

June 2010…Medical mission trip to Nicaragua. So glad for this opportunity to serve the Lord together.

We befriended new missionaries to Nicaragua, Timothy and Jessie Crabtree.

July 2010…Adam commissioned as a Chaplain candidate into the Army National Guard. Adam had been grappling with a calling to minister to soldiers for a few years. He had (and has) such a desire to share Christ with those who were giving their lives for our freedom. He once told me, “Sarah, if they’re dying for our country but they don’t know the Lord, then they’re dying for nothing.” I’ll admit that, for selfish reasons, I fought this calling on Adam’s life for a long time. Through time, the Lord has really changed my heart. I am so proud of Adam and his service in this capacity. He speaks the truth of the Gospel boldly, and he cares for these men so deeply. Also, the Lord has used this part-time job to greatly bless us (financially speaking). Military insurance is phenomenal!

October 2010…Fall break trip to Washington D.C.!

Christmas card 2010 {Clearly, I was going through a straight hair phase}.

December 2010…Disney World trip with Adam’s family! So. much. fun.

 I was pregnant on this trip and had no idea. I rode some crazy roller coasters.

Christmas Eve 2010…this is the only picture I have of us {sort of} together on that night. I had to document it, though. This was the night we found out we were having a baby! We knew when this picture was taken, but we waited until after everyone opened presents to share the news. Why we didn’t take more pictures on this night, I don’t know.


Wonderful way to end a wonderful year together!

3 Years: The Highlight Reel (part1)

Today I’m celebrating three years of marriage to my beloved! It’s really been a fun three years. Well, actually its been a fun nine years. Yes, we dated that long. I thought I’d hit some of the highlights of just the three married years. Strolling down memory lane has proven to be fun…and time consuming. I hope I can make it through all 3 years…:)

December 20, 2008…My parents gave me my dream Christmas wedding.
It was a really fun and special day with friends and family.

We made a lifelong covenant to one another.

And then we partied!

We honeymooned in Keystone, Colorado. It was Adam’s first time to ski. He LOVED it and has been dying to go back since.

We spent our first married Christmas with just each other on our honeymoon. Surprisingly, I wasn’t homesick at all. Here we are all dressed up and ready to head to the very top of the mountain to have dinner at Alpenglow Stube. I’m still not quite sure how we paid for that meal. It was fabulous. And exhausting. 7 courses take a long time.

January 2009…We moved to Village Manor apartments in Louisville, KY. Very soon after we moved in, one of the biggest ice storms the city had ever experienced hit. “Welcome to the north, y’all!” We had no money, no jobs, and half the city had no power (thankfully, ours never went out). We played in the snow while waiting for the power to come on so potential employers could call us back!

Camping trip…Spring 2009. During Adam’s “spring reading days” (aka spring break) we went camping with our new friends the Tarvers and our old friend Diana. Such a fun memory. Wish I had a picture of the whole group.

July 25, 2009…The Calbert/Saknini wedding in Atlanta. Our dear friends Justin and Marci got married. Adam and I were both in the wedding (somehow I didn’t get a picture of the two of us together that night). It was our first time to see our college friends since our wedding back in December. We were SO excited to see everyone and to celebrate Justin and Marci!

 November 2009…We hosted {most of} Adam’s family for Thanksgiving…9 people in our teeny tiny apartment! I was worried about having that many people crammed in, but it was SO much fun. Here I am being all domestic and baking a pie. I do realize that there is a store-bought pie sitting on the stove. Making two homemade pies was just too much for this domestic goddess to handle. 🙂

 We went and watched a race at Churchill Downs on Thanksgiving day.

It was our first time to go to Churchill Downs.


General Craziness


Decorating our first Christmas tree. Adam wasn’t really that thrilled. I think I had to force him to hang a few ornaments.

Opening gifts on our anniversary and lookin’ good! I kid. We were at a cabin in the mountains with my whole family for Christmas. Romantic, huh? That’s what happens when your anniversary coincides with Christmas break.

Late anniversary date to see White Christmas at the Kentucky Center for the Arts.


Fabulous first year!

27

Today we are celebrating 27 years of Adam!

Being silly on our wedding day

I’m really glad that I’ve gotten to share 8.5 of those 27 years with him. He has loved me well and stood beside me faithfully the whole time (6 long years of dating +2.5 fast years of marriage).

At the risk of being mushy, which I utterly detest, I want share a few reasons why I love Adam. I don’t ponder these things enough or share them with him enough.

Adam has a pure, child-like faith. He trusts the Lord completely and without question. He reminds me often that God is faithful and will always take care of us. He does not worry.

Adam is faithful. I can trust him. I have never questioned his faithfulness to me since I met him. Furthermore, he is patient and so graciously overlooks my many shortcomings. He sees the best in everyone for that matter.

I jokingly call Adam “positive Paul” and myself “negative Nancy.” He has a positive outlook on almost everything in life. It’s refreshing, as I tend to view the glass half empty. On this same note, he’s almost always happy. He comes in the door with a big grin on his face after long, tiring days of work. He just loves life and is thankful for every day.

The man has an excellent work ethic. He works SO hard to provide for our family (and goes to seminary full-time), and he does it with such a sweet spirit, never complaining.

He could make friends with a wall. Mr. Social to the extreme.

He’s a man of many interests. There are few hobbies/sports that he hasn’t tried. Our college friends can attest to this.

He makes me laugh. A lot. Particularly when he impersonates Frank Sinatra. Our kids will love it. He’s going to be such a fun dad!

We celebrated with Auburn-inspired cupcakes (Yes, I realize that they look more like Florida Gator cupcakes, but navy blue icing wasn't an option) 🙂

Happy Birthday, Adam! I love you, and I am so thankful for you.