Our Little Ones and Holy Week

My due date is next Tuesday, and I’m greatly anticipating Owen’s arrival! I don’t know how much more “nesting” I can do! Painting, making and freezing meals, organizing closets, rearranging rooms, you name it [I mean really, even making a home management binder]- with each passing day I wake up with another wild idea of how it would make life just a tinge easier if I did another task. With all of that being said, aside from my little projects, I’ve taken the last month of nesting to go back to my first love. Blogging aside, just practicing what I have been praying for since 2014 began – worship in the mundane. Gloriously, God has been so good to give me just that (most of the time)- sweet, sweet worship. Worship in correction, worship in being still, worship in being busy.

Norah Grace and I have spent our spring primarily outdoors thus far. All she talks about are red ants, silly worms, moo cows and rocks! Our stroller rides and hand-in-hand walks have been a treasure for me as I count each second with her a gift before we welcome baby brother into the world and out of utero. I’ve been basking in God’s marvelous handiwork in creating the human mind. As I see Norah’s thought process develop day in and day out as she begins chanting her ABC’s or trying to count on her fingers, I look back at the days when she was under a year and I wondered if she would ever remember the songs I was singing her. Turns out, she sings them with me now:)

I’ve been using this time away from the blogosphere to check my heart and fill it with scripture. In preparing for Norah’s birth, I wrote out promises of God made throughout the bible and put them on note cards with the corresponding scripture. This time around I want to hide a long portion of scripture in my heart so I have an anthem of truth to cling to while dealing with the pain. It’s been neat to not walk through this alone – Josh has our entire youth group memorizing Romans 8 together as well! There is such power in the recited Word of God, and I’m glad to have accountability as we work through the same text.

During Holy Week, I’m taking each day to soak in Christ crucified and raised, especially with consideration over the two souls I’ve been given to invest my life in as a mother. 2 Corinthians 4:6 is the verse I pray over Norah- “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” We pray with hope that God will shine the light, Jesus our Lord and his saving grace and power, into Norah’s heart at a young age. I’ve had conversations with people considering God lately; however, they deviate from Jesus and speak of a generalized “God” figure. I am convinced biblically that such a God outside of Jesus and the gospel is nonexistent. I am sure of this. There is one name that we call upon to be saved and that is Jesus. His blood holds the reconciling power. Romans 3:25 is steady on my mind for Owen- Christ, “whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.” I painted this verse on a pallet now hanging in Owen’s nursery. I pray this verse over his soul now and all the days God has set before him. Josh and I long for not only the deep theology in this verse to penetrate Owen’s heart, but the vast love of God that flows richly through it to be known to him. The blood that runs to make us righteous before God is that of Jesus Christ, to him be the glory and honor forever!

 

My 2014 Reading List

I have listed below a few recommendations for any readers out there- mothers, housewives, any believers of Jesus Christ, skeptics. Some listed are books that I have already read in recent years and need a re-read for the sanctification of my own soul and others have been left uncharted until this year (Lord-willing).

Let me provide some reasoning behind my book choices. Ultimately, all of these books have been selected to stir my affections for God more and discard the affections for things of this world that steal my joy. I have chosen based on the criteria of my personal likings and what I feel like my soul needs. I am a wife, mother, and homemaker which has fueled several of these selections. I aim to see God’s glory and calling in each of these roles to a greater degree. I  have a passion for the nations as I have seen it clearly in the bible and other cultures through my own personal travels and friendships made cross-culturally. Theology is a must in my life and this household as the reality is we are all “theologizing” in some form or fashion and God has guided many scholars out there to further the sanctification of the saints in the knowledge of the scriptures and I want to drink from that fountain. I am a linguistics enthusiast. Not only is it amazing that our brains have been fashioned to develop in language skills throughout our entire lives, but I also see its place in the furtherance of the gospel through bible translation. And without further ado, I introduce my 2014 reading list:

Housewife Theologian by Aimee Byrd

Glimpses of Grace by Gloria Furman

Marriage To a Difficult Man: The Uncommon Union of Jonathan & Sarah Edwards by Elisabeth D. Dodds

Let the Nations be Glad! by John Piper

Display of Arminianism by John Owen

The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Twelve Extraordinary Women by John MacArthur

A Chance To Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael by Elisabeth Elliot

Uncle Cam: The Story of William Cameron Townsend founder of the Wycliffe Bible Translators and the Summer Institute of Linguistics by James & Marti Hefley

The Origins and Developments of the English Language by Thomas Pyles and John Algeo

Ashamed of the Gospel by John MacArthur

To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain by Matt Chandler

[sections from] From Heaven He Came and Sought Her

[sections from] Systematic Theology: An Introduction To Christian Belief by John M. Frame

Jesus Loves Me, This I Know

I sing “Jesus Loves Me” with Norah everyday and multiple times a day at that. Whenever I stop singing she chimes in, “Mommy, yeeeessss Jesus!!!” wanting me to sing it again and again until she is satisfied.

As I was holding her before nap time the other day, these words got me to thinking. Do I really believe that Jesus loves me? Do I walk in that truth? How do I know the love of God?

And those questions are the whole reason for this specific look into the depth of God’s love for his people and his glory.

It was the will of The Lord to crush him.

Smitten by God.

Afflicted.

His sacrifice was a pleasing aroma to God.

The bible says these things with regards to the death of Christ, and as the celebration of Christ’s resurrection approaches, I want to savor the truth that yes, Jesus does love me! and the bible tells me so through his death and the foreknowledge of God in that.
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As mentioned in several prior posts, looking to the gospel of Christ in the ordinary things of life has been this year’s challenge and theme for me thus far. I want the gospel to be always fresh on my mind whether I’m washing dishes or cooking dinner. While contemplating the love of God, I was reminded of a chapter in Piper’s The Pleasures of God titled “The Pleasure of God in Bruising the Son.” That takes me to Isaiah 53. [Emphasis added]

Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned-every one-to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.

Wow. When I stop and think about the love present within the Trinity that has been perfect and complete for all eternity, my soul bows in awe that according to God’s divine purpose, that second Person of the Trinity would come in human flesh, completely God and completely man, to be bruised for our transgressions. It makes me consider what God is about in all of this.

God is about God. For the sake of His Name he acts. God also has a great love for his people. Both his reputation among the nations and his people chosen throughout the nations please him. Considering this, there appears to be a great conflict present in the fact that the Father sent his Son and would bruise the Son for the impenitent.

Again, God loves his name and his people.

We see in the death of Christ a beautiful resolution of the two.

The Son was bruised by the Father.

Something had to be done to reconcile the Father’s love for his glory and his love for sinners. Through Isaiah 53, we see that it is The Lord’s work that brings about all of this. Sin does matter and God cannot act like it doesn’t.

Sin is deserving of death. We see this clearly stated in the Old Testament as sacrifices were mandated to make atonement for the sins of men.

Verse 5 shows that it was because of man’s sin that Jesus was bruised. Jesus was without sin.

But how could the Father delight in bruising His Son? His pleasure was not summed up in the actual suffering and death of Jesus, but rather the aftermath. Sinners united with their Creator. Righteousness imputed. Christ glorified. God’s people justified. It is all about what Jesus accomplished on the cross that pleased God.

It is also evident that Jesus is about God’s glory, not just the Father. He willingly submits to the will of the Father and even goes as far to say in John 10:15,17, “I lay down my life for the sheep…For this reason the father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it up again.”

Charles Spurgeon comments on this topic that men outside of the faith will not see such great a secret in the life of Christ. It will appear from the surface that Christ was put to death due to the “enmity of the Jews” or the “fickle character of the Roman governor,” but he goes on to say that those that have enlightened eyes will find the secret. “He sees the solemn decree of God fulfilled by men, who were the ignorant, but guilty instruments of its accomplishment.”

Peter affirms that last statement in Acts 2:23: “this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God”

Christ was indeed sent into the world by God with a purpose. The means by which God chose to bring the death of Jesus about may appear to be the works of man solely, yet to believe such a notion would diminish the work of God completely.

We see the affection God has for his children in sending Jesus Christ to die. It is love indeed!

So going back to my initial questions:

Do I believe that Jesus loves me? I will draw from the wells of his salvation forever! Yes! Yes! Yes! I am loved by Christ through the good workings of God to bring such a relationship about.

Do I walk in that truth? Not always. Such a reality ebbs and flows in my heart. On some days, I feel the clouds of life. The light of the Son can’t seem to break through. Yet on other days, I’m beaming in the truth that I have been bought by his blood, and what precious blood that shall never run cold for me! Thankfully through the working of the Spirit in changing me from one degree of glory to the next more and more into the image of the Son, I have a gospel being preached to me by many people and that gospel is always sufficient.

How do I know the love of God? That while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. The righteous for the unrighteous. That’s how I know the love of God. When looking deeper into what all is entailed in such a working, my soul is moved by the love of God, wrapped tightly around Christ.

Three Ugly-Beautiful Gifts

Repentance

It wasn’t until I read Thomas Watson’s book entitled The Doctrine of Repentance that I felt a bashfulness before God when dealing with my sin. [Phenomenal read and I highly recommend!]
I don’t even know if I necessarily thought such a response was good.

Watson comments on the shame of Adam in sinning as follows:
“Adam never blushed in the time of innocency. While he kept the whiteness of the lily, he hard not the blushing of the rose; but when he had deflowered his soul by sin, then he was ashamed. Sin has tainted our blood. We are guilty of high treason against the Crown of heaven. This may cause a holy modesty and blushing.”

Watson sums up true gospel repentance with six ingredients:
1. Sight of sin
2. Sorrow for sin
3. Confession of sin
4. Shame for sin
5. Hatred for sin
6. Turning from sin

The self-accusing nature of true repentance is hard and sometimes can be an ugly process. We have to battle with our minds as to whether we stand on the basis of our sin actually being what it is, namely an affront to God’s glory.

But what a beautiful thing it is to know that the Spirit is working through our hearts and sanctifying believers! A hard heart, unregenerate, will not feel the weight of their sin though guilt may be present. Even Judas Iscariot felt regret, yet regret and guilt are not enough for true repentance.

2 Corinthians 7:9-10
“As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”

I am considering this an ugly-beautiful gift because sin in and of itself is ugly. No beauty in God-belittling things. But when a heart turns from such a way to completely run to God and his gospel and find satisfaction in that rather than a fleeting thought or act, what a grace it is!

Marriage

Within this covenant is found a raw relationship that no one else in the world really has a true picture of other than the two in it. There are words said that shall never be heard by other ears. Actions taken that not a soul outside of the two will know of.

Considering that, pain and joy are intermingling. As mentioned above, repentance is beautiful but the sin involved is ugly. This covenant, created by God for man and woman to image the relationship of Christ and His church is breath-taking in beauty, yet the affects of a fallen world and sinful men and women make it ugly at times.

The reality of this makes me more conscious of how I treat my husband. What do my responses convey when I am asked to do something that I may not necessarily want to do or think is best? Am I considering Christ in my reactions? Do I appear as loving or domineering? Of course, I would LOVE to say that each of these questions work as a filter every day with each conversation I have with my other half, but truthfully, it isn’t always the case.

Even this week I consider the emotional roller-coaster I have been in and how that affects Josh. In one instance I am bewildered as to why leftovers are such a big deal (for the 3rd time…cough, cough…I might have cooked too much to begin with!) and then I spout out how people in other countries don’t have all these options. They eat rice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and are pleased! Then I am beaming with pride for my husband in another instance and wanting to applaud him in every way possible. Marriage points continuously to man’s fallenness and God’s perfection. The need for the gospel is the resounding theme.

Marriage is a gift. The coupling of two souls as a representation of our glorious Lord! And due to God’s grace, sin no longer has a ruling power over us. We are not condemned because Christ was condemned on our behalf. We are to forgive as Christ has forgiven us (Col. 3:13). We are not dependent on our spouses to satisfy our souls. Instead, we join hand-in-hand and flee to the Fountain for living water.

It is a shadow of what is to come.

Right after we married, I truthfully tried to run from the reality that I wouldn’t be married to Josh after death. What a sad thought it was to me! Why would I ever need to lose this pleasure and joy of being married to him? I just didn’t want to think deeper into it because I knew that when I went there I would see how he wouldn’t be necessary. Now, not that his sweetness has grown old to me, but rather, Christ has grown increasingly beautiful through my marriage with Josh and that is why I can GLADLY anticipate the Wedding Supper of the Lamb.

Marriage is a constant reminder of God’s grace – that in my weakness He is glorified and I can glory in the cross and boast in his work.

Pull-Ups and Potty-Training

I think every mother that has potty-trained their child or is in the process of doing so can look at a pull-up and know immediately why I would list this as an ugly-beautiful gift.

Wow, awesome! A diaper that our toddler can pull up themselves! Great, perfect, exactly what we need to transition to underwear.

But wait. The cute facade of a mouse on the front or a little red car might be appealing while we are putting the box into our shopping cart as our toddler reaches for everything surrounding them, but then when we realize during a pull-up change (you know, when your toddler completely forgets they are wearing these neat in-betweens and reverts back to baby ways) and we realize that we didn’t get the ones with the velcro sides…yeah, that’s ugly alright.

Potty-training has proved to be a gift most definitely. Norah and I are bonding in new ways as I’m keeping her in the “bafroom” much longer to teach patience. I’ve found that she loves my jewelry box and calls for it every time she is in our bathroom. She also loves clapping for herself and Elmo when she looks at her Elmo themed potty-training chart we have up in her bathroom. Every time we go to Walmart, we take Norah down the toy aisle to show her the Elmo potty toy. She loves it! She will sit in the cart happily clapping for Elmo and asking about him during our entire venture through the store. There’s a new aspect of Norah that I’m learning through all of this. She experiences shame to some degree now as she is more aware of how this all works. I want her to know that she is safe to be vulnerable and instruct her with gentleness towards better ways.

Pull-ups and everything else entailed in the potty-training effort is a reminder for me of God’s abundant patience. He is not swift to deal harshly with me in my errors, intentional or not, but is a fountain of kindness even in correction. The portion I have been given on this earth is a gift- one filled with giggles, crying, and messes and I see a gleaming providence behind it.

God In Our Sickness

While perusing the Ask Pastor John podcast today, I came across the four episodes listed below and find them all similar to some degree. I have often contemplated what is biblical in regards to how we respond to our maladies, and I think it is absolutely necessary to consider the causation of God and the dimensions by which he may choose to bring such things about. After listening, I feel like I see the overarching truth that whether we deal with sickness through physical or supernatural means, God brings about all good and we need to be reminded of that.

Does God Cause All Sickness? (Episode 280) #askpastorjohn

Anxiety: Sin, Disorder, or Both? (Episode 281) #askpastorjohn

Is A.D.D. a Sin? (Episode 282) #askpastorjohn

Anti-Depressants, Sleep, Diet, and Exercise (Episode 283) #askpastorjohn

3 Gifts That Changed Today

1 Peter 2:24

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”

I woke up with this passage on my mind, and I’ll be honest, it’s been a praise and work of God alone for such a grace to occur. For some reason, this past week has felt especially busy for me. Filing our taxes, finishing up a few projects, and meeting some deadlines for work have had me in a slight frenzy mentally and spiritually. But there I was, fully graced with the gospel as my head was just coming off the pillow.

When I consider my former ways in the rebellion I once walked in and the great transfer that occurred as Christ hung on the cross for such treason, I can only be changed. It is this reality that awakened my soul this morning.

I recall listening to Piper during a long run after class one day while in college. I was desperately seeking answers about Calvinism and found a sermon regarding God’s irresistible grace to those he calls. Piper likened it to someone standing over you as you are sleeping and shouting “Wake up!” There is nothing we can do in our current state to resist the call to wake up. I was reminded through this text (and with the fitting circumstance of me still laying in bed) of God’s goodness in calling us and how it is only through the substitutionary work of Christ that such a awakening is possible.

Severed from sin – The ESV Study Bible uses the word “sever” while commenting on 1 Peter 2:24. Broken off of something is the image that first comes to mind. Completely alienated from what we were. Now, I can just sit on that all day and glory in the fact that I am no longer identified by being an enemy of cross, but rather, completely identified by the righteousness of the sin-bearer, Christ my Lord.

Devoted to holiness- If I have been severed from sin, then I must be joined to another something, completely opposite of that sin. The only answer is Christ. Hidden in Him (Col. 3:3); found to be righteous in him through his righteousness; loved by him and made right before the Father which leads to one of the sweetest words in my life: justification.

The physical agony of the Cross is startling enough, but oh how much deeper were his wounds. I’m not only physically healed as Christ was not only physically wounded. He bore my sins and took them upon himself. He was the only sacrifice that would atone for the sins of man and only his blood would supply the demands for the elect. Christ became our Passover Lamb.

Isaiah 53:4-5

“Surely he has bore our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.”

I see today the reality that my Lord Jesus Christ was smitten, wounded, and crushed for my sin according to the will of the God (53:10). Simultaneously with such condemnation, Christ’s sacrifice served as a fragrant offering to God (Ephesians 5:2).

I’m set on this being my reality even with life’s tasks knocking at the door. I need not clock out mentally from what God has called me to labor in throughout my days, but instead work heartily for him and rest in the changing work of Christ crucified.

“Gospel Peace in a Cluttered House”

http://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/gospel-peace-in-a-cluttered-house

I listened to this interview this morning as Norah and I made our way home from our trip into town. What resonated with me the most was how Gloria Furman pointed back to a her early days of motherhood and the bitterness that welled up in her heart because I’ve been there, and truthfully I think all believing mothers have or will. Our discontentment within our home may appear to be due to the fact that we can’t get the time we need or organize the cupboards like we would like, but it is a much deeper issue. It runs to the heart, and that is where the battle must occur. Are we believing lies? What are our idols?

A Dip Cone

Lastly, I finish this post with a gift that has indeed changed my day: a Braum’s chocolate dip waffle cone. That’s right, I said it. I’m going to be the typical pregnant lady for a second and admit a craving I succumbed to with gladness:) There’s just something about walking all morning in and out of this glorious 70 degree Texas weather that screamed “stop!” to me as I was driving home, and seriously, thank God it did because that cone was worshipful. :) have I mentioned that  I’m seven months prego? 😜

{A Comment on the Joy Dare: I’ve decided to not overload myself with the Joy Dare, but take it back to its roots. The whole purpose of this challenge is to increase my joy, not become a burdensome task I add to my “spirituality.” So though January was a booming month of blogging for me, I’m taking it slow now, especially as I prepare for the coming of our son in just two months. I’ve continued noting each day in my leather-bound journal, but time just isn’t there everyday to detail each gift via blog.}