March 23, 2015
“The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” (Tim Keller)
Praise. God. I am sinful and flawed, but loved and accepted. Because of Jesus.
Let me press these simple, profound truths to my heart every day. Let me press them against the hearts of my husband and children. In my many roles, let me be a woman of one Message.
February 7, 2015
Some quick sermon notes and personal annotations I don’t want to to forget from January 25th’s sermon on 1 Samuel 13.
Saul was told to take care of the Philistines and to wait seven days for Samuel’s arrival so Samuel, the priest, could offer the burnt offerings. He initially sought to obey. He waited seven days as the Philistines gathered their troops and chariots for battle. But then the people were afraid and began deserting him, the enemy was pressing in, and Samuel hadn’t arrived yet to offer the sacrifices.
As king, Saul was under tremendous pressure to act, to do something. But the command at this point was to wait. Yes, wait for Samuel, but ultimately, wait on God, Israel’s highest King.
At this point, God’s command through Samuel to wait seemed unreasonable. People’s lives, the nation, was at stake. The circumstances seemed impossible. Saul felt he had to take matters into his own hands. He offered the burnt offerings instead of waiting.
Just as he finished, Samuel arrived. Saul had disobeyed God’s law. He assumed the role of priest to offer sacrifices instead of worshiping God properly. He played the fool and would face the consequences of his sin.
Doesn’t this seem reasonable to our minds though? What’s the big deal? He was under pressure, he did what he could.
But sin is never a small matter, no matter how small it may seem to us. Saul was leaning on his own understanding, not trusting in God. He acted foolishly, as though God did not exist — as though God would not be true to His word.
God’s law isn’t to be disobeyed, even in the face of an enemy and a deserting army, because it was more important that God be worshiped than Israel survive.
God is far more concerned about right worship. Unlike Saul, we must have a resolve to worship Him rightly, full from the heart regardless of what others think or what may happen.
Even if it means our demise.
. . .
That last part killed me. I’ve never been under the same kind of pressure as Saul, yet I’ve compromised worship and obedience toward God for self-preservation and selfish motives. Like him, except under easier testing, I’ve been found to be a fool.
But as Hebrews says, in time of need, in Jesus we find mercy and grace to do what He requires us to do. I can depend on Christ and ask Him to be my help. God is worthy of worship even at my demise, or what may seem like demise at the time.
May I never place any worth on anything higher than worshiping Him. May I ever worship Him, even at great personal cost. Because even that is nothing in comparison to who He is … and what He has promised.
November 25, 2014
Just now, I was playing with Ian and pretending to be a tiger looking to eat him. He laughed as he ran away here and there around the room, looking for somewhere to go. Deciding there was nowhere better to go, he ran to me with his mouth open, stooping over to kiss my tiger mouth. I just had to laugh and squeeze him.
November 25, 2014
“At the time, I did not understand how much I had wrongly identified myself with my coffee shop dream … I continually have to lay down who I think I am or who I want to be if it is anything different from God’s plan for me to be transformed into the image of His Son … For now, I do want to say that it wasn’t as if ‘Coffee Shop Aimee’ weren’t part of the real me. It’s a huge part of my story. God taught me so much through that experience … But another thing I learned is that not every dream is worth pursuing. I had to lay that dream down — I had put it way above everything else in priority order. I was serving God in my own way, not his.”
(Aimee Byrd, Housewife Theologian, p. 77)
November 4, 2014
(Written on Saturday)
Brushing the dust off this blog. It’s been a while.
I can hear JE and Ian romping around upstairs. Ian is laughing and declaring, “Noooo,” in turn. Saturday mornings at home are sweet. Ian is most content when we’re both home. Maybe his 1.5 year old heart grasps the fact that we are most complete when appa is home, too. Or maybe he senses my quieted heart when appa‘s home.
Since marriage and Ian’s birth, I’ve become more … private? Less heart-spilling on this blog to a wide, unknown audience and a deepening devotion to my little family, our church, and wherever our home’s branches reach. I’m not great at wearing many hats and juggling many things at the same time, so with changed, sometimes-overwhelming new priorities, my tree has been stripped bare of all but a few branches. Even those few things are hard to do well, but I’m learning and each day is a clean slate.
Life is less dramatic, less heartbreaking, less agonizing in this season, and it’s … different. College and the single life felt like going through one fire after another, but my new “home” is actually a place of peace. And rest. Sin is here, too, in rampant measure, but I’m trying to learn to love and cherish God in the quiet, unremarkable duties of everyday life. It’s easier for me to trust Him in moments of crisis than these moments that require a more steady faith — moment after moment determining I’d rather have Jesus than selfish melancholy, a hasty remark, a quick temper, or rebellious ingratitude.
And I’ve only recently begun to have any kind of regular rhythm in reading Scripture and prayer since Ian was born. Whenever my routine is interrupted, it takes me sooo loooong to establish a new normal. Where is God in this change? How does my new role not undermine my eternal one? How do I devote my heart’s affections to God when I’m so singly focused on adapting to the new thing in my life? But His patience is unwearied. Such a tender love.
In another 6 months or so, my hands will be full with an added stewardship, another precious gift, another little one to love and raise in the “fear and admonition of the Lord.” I hope it’ll take me less time in the afterbirth to locate my life’s anchor and to operate out of that single spot … because a wife and mama whose heart and emotions are tossed here and there causes big waves in a little family. But a wife and mama well-anchored in Christ holds much of her home steady with her … and speaks to the stability and beauty of her Rock.
Moments for reflection are more scarce than they used to be. But my greatest prayer is that I would adorn the gospel in everything, particularly my marriage and motherhood — that my husband’s service to Christ wouldn’t be hindered, that my children would treasure Jesus, and that the world may taste the gospel in our home and friendship.
To make much of Jesus, this is all.
… Now to remember that once I stop typing. ;]
June 4, 2014
“Track your fears with the light of Scripture and you are directed to God. Your fears are more about God than you realize. Along the way that light also helps you see yourself more clearly. What you see is that the world is organized into two kingdoms, and the boundary between those two kingdoms, as Alexander Solzhenitsyn observed, cuts right through each of our hearts. Our preference is to straddle that line, but our patient God keeps persuading us to be wholeheartedly devoted to his kingdom. There is no other way to distance ourselves from fear and anxiety.”
(Ed Welch, Running Scared, p. 311)
April 2, 2014
(Thoughts from our mom’s group readings and discussions)
Motherhood is funny in some ways. I’ve found that it simultaneously expands my heart and shrinks it. It opens my perspective in some ways and shuts it in others. At least, left to myself it does. And as I continue through motherhood, I need to remember God’s generous heart and gospel love — not only to my child or my family but for others still, too.
In our mom’s group at church, we’ve been reading through Ed Welch’s book, Running Scared: Fear, Worry, and the God of Rest. It’s been a nourishing, convicting read in this season. This past week, we read about God’s generosity toward us, even while we distrust Him and hoard and claw for things for ourselves. Ed Welch reminded us that we don’t have to live with a tight fist or I-need-to-watch-out-for-me-and-mine-because-no-one-else-will mentality because God deals generously with us. Not that He gives us everything we want but He offers something — or rather Someone — better: Jesus. The better Manna.
His plan is to liberate us from our defensive, hoarding, tight-fisted, miserly ways, and to teach us that when we have been given the kingdom — the kingdom! — stinginess is unnatural and unbecoming. We might prefer a different strategy, but if God is molding us to be chips off the old block, His strategy makes sense. It is exactly what we need, because need is to be what we were intended to be — to be like Him.
(Welch, pp. 133-134)
When we operate from that truth, we can open our hearts and our hands to others.
What does that have to do with motherhood? In obvious ways, it makes me sacrificial toward my kiddo. But as Ian grows, I see my heart shrivel in other ways. Rather than becoming selfish for my child and hoarding for him, gospel love requires and enables me to open my heart to love and desire the best for other children, too.
I’ve found my selfishness manifest in wanting my kid to have the best and be the best. But this isn’t gospel generosity. Yes, I am primarily a steward of my own child, but God opens our hearts to steward our money, time, possessions, and gifts for others, too. Sometimes maybe even at the expense of my child! I realize there’s a danger in swinging too far to the other side and neglecting my child in so-called ministry and service acts, but of course I don’t mean this. I mean that He calls us to stop being so shrivel-hearted that we never taste the joys and sorrows of others. To stop being so myopic that we never rejoice in the successes of another child and feel their heartaches and failures, too.
I feel like motherhood is one area where it’s easy to justify selfishness on my child’s behalf. “At least it’s not for me!” I think.
Oh, but isn’t it? As I begin to view my child as an extension of myself and tie my successes and failures in with them (even my reputation as I think my child reflects on my parenting or my character), isn’t selfish mothering really just plain selfishness?
For me, it certainly is. And may God cut off sin’s tentacle here, too. Because only He can enable me to open my heart in any season. To look beyond “me and mine.” To see others. To love them. To pray for them. To give to them. To even think of them! Even that is so hard sometimes as I pace circles around me and mine only.
He gave His only begotten son for us. He adopted us into His family. He opened his heart and gave lavishly to those who weren’t naturally His — namely, us. So as part of His family, I now do this because it reflect my Father’s generous heart. And His heart is for all children, not just mine! I realize that’s obvious, but I guess I don’t always operate on the obvious.
And I can do this in little ways. I can think of someone other than my own kid when I’m out shopping. I can help another child “win.” I can sometimes sacrifice nap schedules and choose to serve another rather than my child’s sleep and the clock. Rather than hoarding my child’s time (as he grows older), I can release him for ministry. Maybe one day I can release him for mission work that will take him far away from home (not easy!). I can rather give of me and mine for the betterment of others. By God’s grace. Because this points beyond the natural to a supernatural love.
It points away from me and mine; it points to God and His. Which is infinitely better. For all of us.
God, open this selfish mother’s heart. That my heart and hands would stretch beyond my little world and see Your kingdom’s priorities in this world. Give me a heart that advocates children other than my own. Give me a heart that declares, “All is Yours! All is for You!”