On Teaching Perspective to Our Children: Church History

2dyvq1psbgw-jeremiah-higginsOur children being raised in Christian homes in the United States may probably never see the type of suffering we see in the lives of Christian martryrs that have gone before us. It is a rare occasion of true persecution for your faith in this country. I am not talking about Facebook friends chastising your beliefs on social media. I once heard an individual claim they were being “persecuted” for their faith online because there were some that disagreed with them. I thought that this must be a problem with perspective in our culture. Being teased or “yelled at” on Social Media  pales enormously to the suffering of a history of martyrs and saints that experienced death, beatings, sickness, loneliness, disease and more for the Gospel. There are many in the world today still that truly suffer in these ways for the faith. It is a matter of perspective. Much perspective can be gained by studying our Church History.

I have a three part series on teaching perspective to our children: 1. Church History  2. The World and Missions and 3. Our Neighbors. This is on Church History. Even though this post is geared toward teaching children about perspective in the history of our faith and the needs of this world, it is not meant just for children. We grow as we teach, I hope it inspires us as well.

(c) National Trust, Tatton Park; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

(c) National Trust, Tatton Park; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

 

Let us begin by learning of Anne Askew and reading The Ballad Which Anne Askew Made And Sang When She Was In Newgate. 

Like as the armed knight
Appointed to the field,
With this world will I fight
And Faith shall be my shield.

Faith is that weapon strong
Which will not fail at need.
My foes, therefore, among
Therewith will I proceed.

As it is had in strength
And force of Christes way
It will prevail at length
Though all the devils say nay.

Faith in the fathers old
Obtained rightwisness
Which make me very bold
To fear no world’s distress.

I now rejoice in heart
And Hope bid me do so
For Christ will take my part
And ease me of my woe.

Thou saist, lord, who so knock,
To them wilt thou attend.
Undo, therefore, the lock
And thy strong power send.

More enmyes now I have
Than hairs upon my head.
Let them not me deprave
But fight thou in my stead.

On thee my care I cast.
For all their cruel spight
I set not by their haste
For thou art my delight.

I am not she that list
My anchor to let fall
For every drizzling mist
My ship substancial.

Not oft use I to wright
In prose nor yet in rime,
Yet will I shew one sight
That I saw in my time.

I saw a rial throne
Where Justice should have sit
But in her stead was one
Of moody cruel wit.

Absorpt was rightwisness
As of the raging flood
Sathan in his excess
Suct up the guiltless blood.

Then thought I, Jesus lord,
When thou shalt judge us all
Hard is it to record
On these men what will fall.

Yet lord, I thee desire
For that they do to me
Let them not taste the hire
Of their iniquity.

You see when Anne Askew spoke of enemies in her poem she truly meant enemies. The poem is reminisicent of the suffering by enemies in David’s Psalms and just as harrowing. Anne Askew, one of the first known female English poets was a protestant and had been kicked out of her home by her Catholic husband who had her later imprisoned. Charged with heresy for leading bible, prayer and discussions, of which one of those patrons was the then Queen of England, Catherine Parr, she faced many trials. The poem above is not merely a poetic work but truly what she had been experiencing. She was openly critical of the state of the church and was an important figure in the Reformation period. Because Anne Askew did not recant of her criticisms of the unbiblical teachings of the Church of England in her time even while imprisoned, interrogated by the Bishop of London, and tortured she was sentenced to execution by fire in 1546 but not before making the very poignant and critical statement “He errs and speaks without the Book” about the bishop’s executorial sermon. She died for her faith and history shows the Church of England was greatly influenced by reformation saints like her and they did eventually adopt the beliefs they killed Anne Askew for in her time. Even observation of the portrait above by Hans Eworth painted posthumously shows the inscription “Rather Death; Than False of Faith”. This is but one story of Church History.

Perspective in regards to martyrs and saints that have gone before us can help our children and ourselves understand 1. the weight of the knowledge we carry and 2. true suffering does not look what we might be accustomed to knowing. I am pretty sure there are very few Americans that have experienced execution by fire for the sake of the Gospel but even in our country we have heard of church burnings and shootings that should cause us to really pause and view our freedom to share the Gospel and the grace of our thriving in juxtaposition to the histories that have been written and will still be written of those that experience great trial in the name of Christ.

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I do not believe as Christians we should shelter our children from these truths and histories. In the United States, it is easy to become so insular that the world and history have no influence on our myopic hearts. We become hardened in our near-sightedness. So to combat our apathy we can teach our children about these stories and pray. Two resources that we use at home for teaching on martyrs and persecuted saints is Trial and Triumph and the Book of Missionary Heroes. We include this as church history in our schedule but can be read at any point in your week. We have read portions of the Book of Missionary Heroes before Family Worship as an example. Both are in story-form and make these stories accessible.

Another great resource is the Voice of the Martyrs website and the VOTM companion site Kids of CourageYou can read modern accounts and biographies of the persecuted church and write letters to imprisoned Christians around the world.

I believe we all need some perspective in our very narrow world-views. We all suffer with only knowing what if right in front of our eyes. It will do all of us well to challenge, Parent and Child.

Sweet Mercies, Everyday

God’s mercies don’t come in one color; no, they come in every shade of every color of the rainbow of his grace. God’s mercies are not the sound of one instrument; no, they sound the note of every instrument of his grace. God’s mercy is general; all of his children bask in his mercy. God’s mercy is specific; each child receives the mercy that is designed for his or her particular moment of need. God’s mercy is predictable; it is the fountain that never stops flowing. God’s mercy is unpredictable; it comes to us in surprising forms. God’s mercy is a radical theology, but it is more than a theology; it is life to all who believe. God’s mercy is ultimate comfort, but it is also a call to a brand-new way of living. God’s mercy really does change everything forever, for all upon whom this mercy is bestowed. —Paul David Tripp, New Morning Mercies

This past week I turned 33. No Magic happened overnight to make me feel any different. I woke up weary as always. Everyday for the past 33 years, waking up to reality, each and every day…I am not discouraged though and I am incredibly joyful.

I have dreams that I can fly regularly. It’s been my reoccurring dream since I was a child. That and the weird dream animal changeling that chases me, but that’s a story for another day. In my dreams, my fear of heights vanishes and I become able to soar over city and field like a human hand-glider and a running start takes me off. Sometimes, when I just wake up I am still in the in between half dream-half reality and at those moments, my brain hasn’t told my heart yet that the night’s endeavors are not reality. It’s a sleepy, glowy feeling still where all things are yet possible.

There is cold reality of this world that we wake up to every day. It is easy to feel fatalistic, and want to give up completely . There is reality and the contrast, what feels like magic, what feels like dream, but is actually the truest reality and the greatest thing possible that has already happened and will happen.

That thing is the amazing mercy and grace extended to us through a true heavenly king living for us as a man and dying for us as a man and raising as a king, and by his tremendous sacrifice his Father makes us heirs with this king. This is no dream or fairy story where the pauper becomes the prince, this is real life. The truest reality. God’s mercy is extended to us, broken and poor in spirit and those that run to Jesus are made sons and daughters of God, heirs to a heavenly throne.

I really used to hate the analogy of a heavenly heirship because of ill-use by those that would cherry pick their bible verses toward a works-based religion but It is silly for me to diminish truth because some are bad truth-tellers. The truth is we deserve nothing but are given everything.

One thing that always stood out to me in the Beatitudes was “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven“. What a merciful statement. The poor in spirit are as the Matthew Henry Commentary states:

 To be contentedly poor, willing to be emptied of worldly wealth, if God orders that to be our lot; to bring our mind to our condition, when it is a low condition. Many are poor in the world, but high in spirit, poor and proud, murmuring and complaining, and blaming their lot, but we must accommodate ourselves to our poverty.

I live in a very poor neighborhood in our city, right next one of the richest neighborhoods in our city. What does that mean? Well, to God none of those arbitrary neighborhood lines make a difference because we are all equally sinners in need of a savior. The rich and poor in reality are really just a vapor and the truly merciful bit is all these worldly distinctions of rich and poor matter nothing to a Merciful, Benevolent God. So, it’s the matrix of the Gospel, where the dream of the Kingdom is real and are “former lives” are no more. Of course, we must live these lives in a way, while we have them, as an emptying of self and an accepting receptacle of the pouring of his spirit. This is why the “poor in spirit” inherit the Kingdom, regardless their bank account balance.

I think a lot about poverty these days. Like I said of where we live, we chose to live here but it is also true that we couldn’t afford to live elsewhere so it is a mingling of desire and necessity for us. I am realizing at 33, life is a dichotomy on the surface. I live with the poor, most would call us poor, but I have daily interactions with many people I would consider wealthy or well-off or doing fine. Then the other end of the spectrum might see us as the ones, “doing fine”.  To be truly honest because I see a lot on both ends I can say that I most never meet a prideful poor person. Poverty has a way of kind of weathering that down. I am not saying that poor and needy people can’t be prideful or that wealthy people cannot be humble and poor in spirit, that would be stupid to say, but what I am saying is that the fear of being judged for asking for help is not there, the fear of sharing their difficult circumstance stories with strangers is not there. Most people that are poor know that their need is great and they can’t do it alone. But, I think I can liken that to what the Bible means by “poor in spirit”, we have need and the Father tells us to lay down our pride and come and He will give us a Kingdom, True mercy.

And again back to mercy… mercy in Hebrew is Checed pronounced kheh’·sed (that k is virtually silent, Hess-id). In the Hebrew Lexicon it means Benevolent, as mutual benefits, mercy to those with misfortune. Isn’t it a beautiful story that regardless our circumstances and state we are all equally in need of God’s benevolence, we are equal at the Cross, all in need of adoption into this heavenly family? This is mercy and it isn’t a dream, it is the realest thing.

In this neighborhood, a church from the suburbs, my church, is beginning to make this place their worldly home, merging with an existing body and praying for how we can serve this community as Crawford Avenue Baptist Church. I am obviously not from the suburbs but this suburban church was a very good church home for our family and we made the trek out to Berea Baptist Church in Evans, Georgia every week to be a part of this family because the word was taught and hearts were being changed. The geography was not important. Now, in God’s infinite mercy, He is bringing a whole family to this community in Harrisburg, Augusta, Georgia to make a whole, new family and to love the people here. I know God is being merciful to us by providing new facilities for our church when we needed them. I know God is being merciful to both churches by bringing us together as a family. I know God is being merciful to me because I have prayed (and I am sure others have) for a Gospel-Drenched church to love Harrisburg well and to contrast the poor and often damaging theologies taught by the well-meaning here, I know God is being merciful to the residents and transients of Harrisburg because, well, as churches go, they can’t do better than one that truly does aspire with the help of the Spirit to righteousness. To be completely sappy now, excuse me ;), there is a Berea Love Bomb about to happen in Harrisburg but more than that, much more, is that God’s mercy means that the love bombing has been happening from the beginning and it wasn’t us doing it, it was God. The plans He orchestrated and the hands He moved, He already knew He would do it, I am so thankful for his immense mercy.

So, as we start to see how all things are merciful things as they work together, even the hard and hurting things, the wandering times, the home-less times, everything is colored by his mercy. We know that the Father loves us well and we can rejoice in sweet new mercies everyday and call out to the one that makes us his own, and this is all, dream coming true.

Here I raise my Ebenezer
Here there by Thy great help I’ve come
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home
Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wandering from the fold of God
He, to rescue me from danger
Interposed His precious blood

image2 (1)Read more about Berea Baptist Church’s Merger with Crawford Avenue in the community of Harrisburg in Augusta, Ga: HERE.

Messy Hearts over Messy Homes.

Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. -PSALM 51:6

I haven’t posted in quite awhile. I have a series of health concerns right now that have made life slightly harried. The doctors discovered that I have a non-threatening cyst in my sinus that is compressing a nerve in my face causing odd symptoms like facial numbness and dizziness. And while at the doctor for that issue they diagnosed me with Hypothyroidism, which makes complete sense if you know me in real life. I haven’t been able to give another answer than tired to the question, “how are you?” in years. I am on a thyroid replacement now and am praying that it will help my body make the needed changes. The fact that I can even write a single coherent sentence is probably proof that it is.

So, I have been tired, recovering and the house is a mess (well, it normally is but x100). There is no perfect in this equation. There never really was on my best day though, you understand. But God doesn’t call us to perfection he calls us to righteousness. He calls us to deal with messy hearts first. There can be a lot of guilt or criticism placed on women to keep pristine homes at the sake of the Gospel. Guilt has no place in our lives, we can lay that down at the feet of Christ. We are perfectly imperfect and Christ is perfectly perfect. Mothers and Wives, this is hard stuff, this life. Believe me, you need grace.

 Moms, please go read this piece I read the week: God’s Math for Good Mothering by Liz Wann. Be encouraged by much needed grace.

And we do need Grace. Grace is not a ticket to easy living. Grace is Christ saying it’s hard but I give you myself for this moment, for all the moments. Each and every hard and tear-filled moment, each joyful moment, each discouraging and heart-dampening moment, all of them, he came to be with us for all of them.

So, as I look at my laundry mountain and bristle from some recent experiences with how people perceive me, my home and my messy life, I want to encourage others. Don’t be more concerned about your messy home than your messy heart. All these things we surround ourselves with are usually outward presentations of inward hearts. Of course the keeping of the home is a God honoring position and we shouldn’t shrug it aside but we have precedent for knowing what is of the most import.

And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.
(Luke 10:39 ESV)

“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

(Luke 10:38-42 ESV)

Martha was anxious and troubled about Mary’s choice to sit at Christ’s feet. She was anxious and troubled about many things, but Christ lovingly instructed her to focus only on the one thing. Only one thing is necessary. The greek word for neccessary is chreia (Strong’s G5532) which refers to anything needed for life or sustenance.  “such things as suited the exigency, such things as we needed for sustenance and the journey. ” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon) So, the one thing, Christ should be our primary focus.

I don’t want to be anxious about the many things but focused on the one thing. I do though, struggle with all the anxieties placed on me from the many things. And, oh, there are so many things that cause them these days. Our hearts, schedules and facebook feeds are full of them. Are you assailed by the many things that distract from the one thing?

Then let us focus on the one thing, Christ, and let the work we do with our hands be an outpouring of transforming hearts.

“He applauded her for her wisdom: She hath chosen the good part;for she chose to be with Christ, to take her part with him; she chose the better business, and the better happiness, and took a better way of honouring Christ and of pleasing him, by receiving his word into her heart, than Martha did by providing for his entertainment in her house.” -Matthew Henry Commentary

The verse at the top of the blog, Psalm 51:6 is something I want to know, truth in the inward being. This is where wisdom starts at the place where we awe and reverently fear the Lord and sit at his feet because we know we can’t do anything but, because only ONE thing matters.

C. H. Spurgeon says: To sit at Jesus’ feet implies faith as well as submission. Mary believed in what Jesus said, and, therefore, sat there to be taught by him. It is absolutely necessary that we have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, in his power as God and man, in his death as being expiatory, in his crucifixion as being a sacrifice for our sins. We must trust him for time and eternity, in all his relationships as Prophet, Priest, and King. We must rely on him; he must be our hope, our salvation, our all in all. This one thing is absolutely necessary: without it we are undone. A believing submission, and a submissive faith in Jesus we must have, or perish.

So, I encourage us to be concerned with our messy hearts firstly or it will be our undoing. God will provide the ability and the tools necessary for the messy homes if we trust in him and are not anxious. Like always, this blog is a way of preaching to myself, so I need to hear this most of all.

Perhaps, you do not struggle with anxiety when it comes to homemaking and you are a “Mary” in your home. Maybe, home keeping is of a second nature and something that pours out from a place of wisdom and trust in God. I am so thankful there are people that are gifted in this way. Alternatively, I struggle and know many that do as well, with keeping the home. My encouragement is not “let your house get messy” but rather if the dishes go undone because you carve time for bible study and prayer then let them. There is no need to worry about these things and no need to be concerned with people’s opinions of you in regards to them.

 I pray as well that believing women can love and not judge one another. Sometimes the most emotional harm done to Christian Women are committed by other well-meaning “Christian Women”. A messy home is usually symptomatic and representative of need and if you love one another harsh criticism or gossip is not the answer. Be the sister that shows Grace and sees people’s lives in the Gospel lens of Christ where the many things are of no matter. But also when there is need be the Sister that prays and offers help. In my illness recently I have had the sweetest help from sisters in our church. They have brought food, cared for children and one lovely friend even hired a house cleaner to help me tackle what felt insurmountable. They have done all of this with zero criticism and so much Grace that I am just drowning in Grace. That’s a good thing. I am beyond blessed, God is good and uses his people for his good.

I am probably the worst homemaker, though I’m sure there are worse if I’m not hyperbolic. I have never had a desire to keep up house nor did I even have the desire originally to stay at home with children. But, I know God is changing my heart and even though my distracted mind or the opinions of others can cause me anxieties, I want to sit at his feet and give those thoughts to him. If I am more concerned with my messy heart firstly, I know God will shine his Gospel light on my messy life and home and we can deal with it together. I may be the worst homemaker, but he is the greatest heart maker and only he can do the changing.

Practicing Affirmation

Image from Dual Design

The book Practicing Affirmation by Sam Crabtree is a very practical guide to Gospel centered affirmation. The title might make you believe that this is some sort of how-to manual or self-help guide but it is more about showing how Jesus affirms us and how we should affirm others in the church, our homes and beyond. There is a very useful list in the back to to help brainstorm ways to affirm others if you are having a hard time doing so and can’t break that mold. I am cynical and critical by nature and affirmation is not always the first thing on my mind. I’ve started trying to implement the rule of thumb that Sam Crabtree shared from John Piper about C.J. Mahaney’s ministry that states “three for one”. Three affirmations to every criticism and well when I do do it, I can see immediate change. Thankful for this book that can help me practically affirm and encourage others when I’m not so good at it by nature.

I will be coming back to this as I need to really flesh out affirmation in my life. Have you read this book or are interested? I’d love to talk with you about it.

purchase the book through Crossway: https://www.crossway.org/books/practicing-affirmation-tpb/

This book was a complimentary copy from Crossway.

What speaking the truth in love is not.

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. -Ephesians 4:11-14

People watching and specifically trend watching is something I do when not even noticing and now we live in a world of immediate pulpits for our opinions i.e. Social Media, the Internet, so it is so much easier these days to see sin trends because there they are blinking at us from a computer screen. Of course I know that this is again preaching to myself because I see my own trends of sin and disobedience in this as well.  Writing this post took prayer and study of the Word and listening to others on the matter and I feel like it may just stabbing a tank with a spoon (it’s a heavy topic, for myself as well) but I hope I can benefit from the writing of it.

So what does speaking the truth in love mean?

If you look at the specific phrase “Rather, speaking the truth in love” from the scripture, you can draw out the two virtues; truth and love. Truth in this verse in the greek is alētheuō (Strong’s G226) meaning to to deal faithfully or truly with anyone or “I say, speak truth, I do truth”It comes from the the root word alēthēs (Strong’s G227) which means primarily, “unconcealed, manifest”Truth in this context is used here: Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true. John 3 :33 and here: At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. 1 John 2:8 We could say that the Truth discussed is a divine truth and as we are transformed and daily transforming that true light lovingly shines light in dark places.

What speaking the truth in love is not.

 I don’t believe that the examples Christ and the Disciples set for us show speaking the truth to be anything but simply about primary Biblical Truths. We shouldn’t make bad theology slathered in warm fuzzies a thing or even good theology spoken unlovingly or any permeations of either. “Truth” is the Truth of Jesus Christ, not the truth of our own hearts, feelings, emotions, opinions, and that Truth is shined upon the Truth of the reality our sin and our need for Grace. I understand that we live in a culture where we feel we must be heard, forums for public speech have never been so near us as a few key swipes on our digital devices.  Speaking our minds on an issues or voicing feelings are not innately bad things but we do need to understand that there is a distinction between “Biblical Truth” and “personal truth”, and honestly the heart is just a big fat liar, it can’t be trusted. What we shout from the rooftops of personal value systems is not as important than the Gospel.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick;  who can understand it? –Jeremiah 17:9

I recently heard this conversation; “I told them what I was feeling on the matter and they didn’t like it. I was just speaking the truth in love, it’s truth to me, well, and I thought it was loving because it may have seemed harsh but it would have been unloving to say nothing at all, in my opinion. Is it my fault that they were offended by my opinions?”. There is no Love here, it was just a moral truth on the speaker’s part. Love as a guise to spouting one’s opinion is faked kindness and veiled self-righteosuness. When I wrote this post: Be Wary of the Flags you Fly, I was speaking a lot about opinions we hold onto as titles in our lives, I hope this is a step further.

As a fellow believer I want to hear about the things that are important to you, I want to listen to your heart but I also want to say “Let’s examine what we speak of most”. If we only speak of politics, personal choices of food, dress, health, parenting, entertainment and all the personal opinions about how the world is going to hell in a handbasket and so on into oblivion what truth are we speaking about? It isn’t the truth of Life. Let’s stop making all this talk of death things our primary discourse. What I mean is that all those opinions, all those things that create those opinions, they all die. THEY ALL DIE. Isn’t it time to examine our Facebook feeds and our mouth feeds to see if we speak of death things mostly or of Life things.  I don’t want the take-away of this post to be that you should never express opinions on anything or talk about only Christ. That isn’t my intention, You may know I am very opinionated person but I do believe that the distinction have to be made between what is Truth, Gospel Truth, and what just “truth” to you and you cannot equate the two.

My opinion and my emotions are not Biblical Truth.

Regardless about how you feel on a subject, your opinion unless lined up with scripture fully is not truth. It may be “truth” to you on some level, but it is not “biblical truth”. Being raised in churches with high emotional content, with most things done in a way to impact emotions firstly and then add Jesus in, I remember a lot of opinions and feelings about God, about life, about everything under the sun and I believed a lot of those opinions and conjecture to be Biblical Truth. The fact that it wasn’t and simply put it scarred me deeply. I was wary for many, many years with spiritual people starting sentences with “I feel…”, to the point I would avoid these conversations completely. As an adult and reformed and studying the word I don’t believe emotions are unwelcome in the church but instead of our manipulated emotions or opinions moving us toward truth like I had seen in the past, we should be moved emotionally by truth in the scriptures, firstly. I am moved by the truth of what God has done and promised to me not by my emotions. So when I say our opinions and emotions are not truth, I do mean it, I mean that if it is not scripture, it is not Biblical Truth. And you are probably reading this and going “yah, right” because you have been on the other end of my emotions and bad advice at one point or another and I am truly sorry.

Biblical Truth is not complaining from my moral perspective.

Moralism is one of the greatest enemies of Biblical Truth.

The legalist is usually a moral person. In fact, the majority of moral people in the Western world are legalists because their so-called Judeo-Christian morality, inherited from their forefathers, does not grow out of a humble, contrite reliance on the blood-bought, Spirit-wrought, merciful enabling of God. On the contrary, for the legalist, morality serves the same function that immorality does for the antinomian or the progressive–namely, as the expression or self-reliance and self-assertion. The reason some Pharisees tithed and fasted was the same reason some university students take off their clothes and lie around naked in the parks in Munich and Amsterdam. -John Piper

Moralism or Legalism is a problem in the church and for anyone that has been on the other end of moral judgement knows that there is something that is off-message here. Moralism says that we can make ourselves holy, we can make ourselves right in the eyes of God but most importantly to the Moralist, really to the eyes of Man. Look holy, walk holy, eat holy things, wear holy clothes, this is what makes us perfect, this is what makes us more like God. There is no room for Grace, Repentance or the Love of Christ, no room for Biblical Truth. Diedrich Bonhoeffer calls it “Cheap Grace”, ‘Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate’. I think we have to ask ourselves if our value systems, our morals trump Biblical Truth in our lives and are we careful what we speak to others if this is the case?

I remember a very unfortunate conversation I had as a college student, I think about it every know and then remorsefully. I was spending the night with a new friend, a girl that had been visiting my church and was searching for truth. She would ask questions and I would try to answer them in my very naive, very un-scriptured way. I was speaking personal opinions as Truth. I couldn’t back up what I said with scripture because I didn’t know it and I didn’t know how to, to be honest. Some very sensitive questions I answered like a whiplash based on my American Moral Value System and now I know how wrong I was and how much my words lacked Love and Grace. I left her confused and with more questions than before. I spoke from my Morals because Moralism was my religion and Grace was just a pretty word we sung at church.

Biblical Truth is Biblical Truth but We Cannot Forget Love.

I read somewhere once that Speaking the truth in love is not saying true things nicely. I agree with that statement. If we agree that speaking truth in love means “biblical truth”  but that also when speaking Biblical Truths we can’t just shout true things in people’s faces and expect anything from that.

The Way of Love If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. -1 Corinthians 13:1 ESV

We can look at the Woman at the Well for a beautiful illustration:

… Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again,  but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true. … – John 4

Christ lovingly shines that Gospel Light mentioned above in 1 John 2:8 on her sin and speaks divine truth to her.

We know that sharing the Gospel can be hard when we are learning to do it and Biblical Discipline within believers can sometimes be tougher and more uncomfortable than we’d want but the motivations of heart are very important. The motivation that comes from a heart that desires to add members to it’s family because we know Truth is so needed for hurting, broken people and to Love on them with the Love of Christ is beautiful. And that Agape, Brotherly Love that we feel for each member of the body that will help build each other up within that family is also just as beautiful. “that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” – 1 Cor 12:25 and 26.

The world looks much different than in decades past, we have the internet and smartphones and a flood of social networking sites and apps that we can hide behind. A million ways to connect and we must choose to do them wisely. Whether we are speaking directly or indirectly we must be careful about speaking non-gospel truths with the same authority we speak of the Gospel and when we do share Gospel truth our motivations should always be out of Love and not to prove ourselves right. John Piper says that Truth shapes Love and I agree. How can we show the truth of a Loving God to others if we don’t show Love ourselves.

“Truth without love is imperious self-righteousness. Love without truth is cowardly self-indulgence.” -Tim Keller

But I want to encourage us to speak Truth more and to do it in Love. We don’t need to follow the trends of society, our fruit should be different, look different. The Gospel is primary and should be the primary thing we speak of and always in Love.

Plans and Priorities 2015

I’m slowly getting back into blogging this year after a whirlwind of a holiday season and one post last week and one this week kicks it off. I have been a bit busy organizing the new Charlotte Mason Living site and IG, and am really excited about all the wonderful Charlotte Mason ladies participating and contributing. Please check it out if you home school. Like I mentioned last week I was going to review my plans and priorities from last year and discuss my progress and then set my plans and priorities for 2015.

Over all, I think it was a really good thing to set plans and priorities last year, I was able to accomplish a lot of what I set just by naming the desire to do it and working toward it slowly. It’s not about checking everything off the list, it is more about the process. We all know resolutions most times can be pointless but if we write down the things we want and think of practical steps to get us there, the elephant doesn’t seem so big. I do like to cross things out, still. No, really, it is nice to check things off the list, I sometimes put things I have already finished on lists at home just so I can cross them out, we all know that accomplished feeling. There is reward in even working toward a goal. Well, we all know that I am a procrastinator at by nature but not wanting to be as I get older my inner self starter is emerging. Thank God, truly, because I think we can only live like uninterested college students for so long.

So, like I mentioned in my last post I have my plans and priorites set into three categories; Faith, Art, and Family.  I post all these here every year for accountability to myself and from others, so please ask me how these things are going and share your priorites as well. The key word for us this year is Resolute. It’s not about resolutions but about the resolve to do what we set out to do.

Here it is:

Faith- The only two things that matter when it comes to my priorities for Faith; Study and Pray, Study and Pray, Study and Pray. Last year I had a long list of priorities when it came to Faith and through listening to those wiser than myself and learning through last year, I know that all things faith really should spring forth from those two things. Here’s a great article on reading the word in 2015: Desiring God.

Family- My role as Wife and Mother is a priority. I am praying that I continue to make my family a priority above other trivial things, social media, etc. I am learning everyday a little bit more about how to maintain a household and care for a family. It is not easy, and even though sometimes there is an illusion of easy or perfection, the truth is that it is the hardest job I have ever had. My number one plan and priority for our Family is that we learn to show Grace and Love like Christ does to us.

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Homeschooling is of course a part of our family life and as I pointed out we are Charlotte Mason homeschoolers. Charlotte Mason says that “Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life.”. This is true for anyone not just CM families. We teach and learn and live each and every day.  As part of my plans and priorities I am going to flush that statement out more this year and try to create an atmosphere that breeds good habits, learning well and broadly, and encompasses our family values and faith. Homeschooling for us is not “doing school” at home. It is life. We do Liturgy every morning, We read aloud, We learn about artists and poets and nature. It is a generous education and I am learning so much as we progress too. We really just enjoy the time spent together and it has been a lovely experience for us. I hope to help all these to thrive even more in 2015.

Edited to add Health is very important this year for our family and will pursue it with family, I hope to write more about that later.

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Art- This of course is last on my list of priorities but it is not unimportant to our lives. While we continue to work on exciting things for bensonbenson co. and for ourselves, I hope to not let that creative part of me shrivel up. I feel like doing art is like learning a language, it’s a “use it or lose it” sort of thing, in a way, but it is also like “riding a bike”, I guess if I have to use all the cliches. What I mean is that though some things are forgotten, some always remain, I am learning to keep myself focused on art in a way that motivates me to create. I am working on a book cover and some other small projects right now and it has been really great putting to good use my Art background.IMG_1510

A pattern I made for the Book Cover project. Im really loving it.

Pray for me as we start the year, 2014 was a tough year for us and with the grace of God we kicked it’s butt, I pray the same and more for 2015. What are your Plans and Priorities for the year? Share them here and I will definitely ask you about them when I see you.

 

 

 

 

True Thanksgiving, True Joy

The one day we designate for Thanksgiving each year is soon upon us and of course that means we can just go thankless the other 364 days of the year. I am just kidding but seriously there is something to be said for continuing the tradition of thankfulness all throughout the year.

Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ -Ephesians 5:20

It’s a nice thought to say,” let’s be thankful all the year”, but I truly mean it. When sorrow waits at your gates or lives in your home we can combat it by remembering the sweet grace and mercy given to us as we count our blessings ,count it all joy. I wrote that post that I just linked before a very recent sorrow and it still rings true before, during and after. As always I am preaching to myself. When complaining flows from ours mouths like dark water meaning our hearts are sick and broken, true thanksgiving can battle broken hearts, because the source is of joy is immense and forever.

The reason I believe that true thankfulness can battle brokenness and darkness is because it comes from a place of that knows there is nothing that I deserve, you deserve and yet we can have so much despite that. This may be a theological difference of opinion for readers and I but I see ring true in my life and I see it ring true in scripture, so it is not purely anecdotal. Thankfulness, not for things, not for possessions, but for His hand moving in our lives. Yes, we can give thanks for the physical things too but they are temporal and their time is soon coming to a close, there are eternal things, made out of nothing things, made with an astonishing power.  Ann Voskamp says:

And when yet another harvest globe rolls off top, off back of the wagon, and I bend for the stem, for the blessing overflowing, I know but this.

Thanks is never for the things. Thanks is for His touch.

That gifts have no significance in and of themselves. Gifts only have meaning in that they trace the outline of God’s heart.

Ann Voskamp aways has refreshing view on looking at life as a gift:

To thank God in all is to bend the knee in allegiance to God Who alone knows all.

To thank God in all is to give God glory in all. Is this not our chief end?

When I only give thanks for some things, aren’t I likely to miss giving God glory in mostthings?

Murmuring thanks isn’t to deny that an event isn’t a tragedy and neither does it deny that there’s a cracking fissure straight across the heart.

Giving thanks is only this: making the canyon of pain into a megaphone to proclaim the ultimate goodness of God.

Our thanks to God is our witness to the goodness of God when Satan and all the world would sneer at us to recant.

I lay my hand on the rain-filmed windowpane and I see clearer. But this is not easy: That which I refuse to thank Christ for, I refuse to believe Christ can redeem.

The grey sky’s drumming steady on the truck’s tin roof.

I wish my words recently could be as poetic because I am at a word loss these days. I struggle to articulate what’s going on deeply but I know that whatever God is doing in this season is changing me for more joy, for more thankfulness. Not a once-a-year, lip service, thankfulness but a thankfulness that stems from true joy planted in the heart of the believer.

 The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;

to one who orders his way rightly

I will show the salvation of God!” -Psalm 50:23

Life is not a “things” race yet we as broken humans want to make is so. The most joyful people in life have the simplest of pleasures and I wonder if sometimes we are too over stimulated, over coddled, over praised to know what those simple joys pleasures look like, we don’t recognize them anymore.

“You say, ‘If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.’ You make a mistake.
If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled.”

[Charles Haddon Spurgeon]

Spurgeon, the Prince of Preachers, always seems to say the words I need to hear. I want to, from a genuine heart, take joy in all I have been given and to be satisfied in him. Let us look to the Lord and say “I am satisfied in You’. My heart like the deer that pants, pants for and thanks God for the many blessings that sustain us.

One look at our social media streams speak a much different picture and I can say I have participated in the loud protestations, be it on Facebook or in real life, that do not make way for joy and satisfaction. We feel our complaints are important at the moment and then they seem fleeting in the passing of time. As we learn to take joy and be satisfied in Christ and know life is what pours from our lips instead of complaining, comparing, jealousy, anger, we can remember there is a comfort that comes from Him.

One of my favorite songs is below, I listen to this song in my lowest lows and even in my best of times to remember what he is delivering me through. Listen to it, I’ve shared it many times before, but listen to the words:

Let my sighs give way to songs that sing about your faithfulness
Let my pain reveal your glory as my only real rest
Let my losses show me all I truly have is you

Listen to it and from a heart of true thanksgiving remember it every day of your life. True Thanksgiving, True Joy.

 

 

What I’m Reading- November 2014

Firstly, I want to thank all my friend/readers for the overwhelming support I received on my last post about my loss in pregnancy and taking joy in the midst. You have touched me with your kindness and I love being a part of such a wonderful community of friends. Just thank you.

Secondly, As you may know I have a book problem. Not only am I a bibliophile and love collecting beautiful books, I like to read them simultaneously which means sometimes some books never get finished. I am trying to work on reading all my books from beginning to end. It feels like a big task. It is usually not a problem when I love a book and can’t seem to put it down even for sleep but usually this is an issue when reading multiple non-fiction titles. Which I do read a lot of. It probably is not a good thing for me to read multiple books at a time but that is habit almost thirty years in the making. I think I need to change the habit of not finishing books at least so I’ll list the books I’m reading now as a sort of semi-accountability and to keep track. This choatic Type-B actually really likes a good book list, usually I have more fiction than religious non-fiction in my list but this is a season for me to glean wisdom from wise believers (but, hopefully every season is too).

Right now I am reading:

The Stories We Tell: How TV and Movies Long for and Echo the Truth by Mike Cosper – This book is about the culture of TV and movies and how those stories are a cry to something deeper and powerful than they may even know. I am really enjoying it so far and since the intro began with a 30Rock quote I pretty much am sold.

Daughters of the King– I love Instagram, I have met so many lovely women and IG friends (I like to call them) that live all over the world that are speaking truth into my life. Melissa Deming is one of those friends. I am going through her book Daughters of the King and it impeccably tells the gospel story by walking you through the Bible showing you your place in the story. I am thankful for this book, thank you Melissa for sharing it with me.

Stepping Heavenward– This book was a gift from my beautiful friend Wendy for my Birthday this year. Stepping Heavenward was written by Elizabeth Prentiss who wrote the Hymn; More Love To Thee, Oh Christ and this book seems to be just as lovely as that hymn. There is something special about following the character, Katherine, through her young life and on as she begins to understand the sweetness of God. It’s helping me to understand as well.

Shepherding a Child’s Heart– Do you want a book that lays out Biblical Parenting and Discipline? We have had recent struggles with Emma but I am trying to glean from the Bible and other biblical books good wisdom for how to tackle these times. We have started to implement a lot of the information and it has already been a big help. This book does deal with Biblical discipline in God’s design, now there is a lot of debate about what that design looks like, but there is no debate in our home so this book will be a mainstay. We like this book and what it extols and we are seeing fruit little by little from Tedd Tripp’s wisdom.

Good News for Weary Women- Read this book if you are a believer and a woman, no, I mean really, stop what you are doing and read this book. Elyse Fitzpatrick doesn’t even know how she’s touched my life with this book and other titles. This book tells us there is good news for us, weary women. I love that she just comes out and says what I need to hear, that people tell women a lot of dumb things but there is Hope. She speaks candidly in the way my ears and heart need and I appreciate that so much. This book feels like a good Godly girlfriend telling you sweet truth.
I honestly think this book will help undo some of those stupid things people have said to women, Thank God. It is so good to knowing the freeing love of Christ. I am thankful that Mrs. Fitzpatrick wrote straight to my heart in this book.

So, many of these titles I will probably post a review on once I have finished them. Have you read any of these, did you enjoy them? Also, what are you reading now?

Also, I am glad that many have mentioned how the love the new look of the blog and I am so glad, Thank you for the kind words.

I’ll leave you with a hymn of encouragement from Mrs. Prentiss:

More love to Thee, O Christ, more love to Thee!
Hear Thou the prayer I make on bended knee.
This is my earnest plea: More love, O Christ, to Thee;
More love to Thee, more love to Thee!

Once earthly joy I craved, sought peace and rest;
Now Thee alone I seek, give what is best.
This all my prayer shall be: More love, O Christ to Thee;
More love to Thee, more love to Thee!

Let sorrow do its work, come grief or pain;
Sweet are Thy messengers, sweet their refrain,
When they can sing with me: More love, O Christ, to Thee;
More love to Thee, more love to Thee!

Then shall my latest breath whisper Thy praise;
This be the parting cry my heart shall raise;
This still its prayer shall be: More love, O Christ to Thee;
More love to Thee, more love to Thee!

Sorrowful, Yet Always Rejoicing

I have been absent for awhile, absent although not absent in thought. The words have failed me. I couldn’t speak because I didn’t know how. You see this is a post about loss, specifically my recent loss, our recent loss, something so deep and painful for me that it would be easiest to lose the words forever and shut them up in my heart letting them wilt into nothingness, That is even more painful though, and pain is powerful but can be redeemed. But this is not really only a post about loss it is much more a post about Joy, Rejoicing. I will explain later.

Before I go any further please stop reading now if you will be uncomfortable with how real I am about to get with my account. I feel I cannot better explain except for truthfully and plainly. This is all part of my healing process as God pours grace and mercy on me. Additionally this is my pain, yours may be much greater in the scales of things that hurt, so know there is no comparison and I am not saying I understand all pain, nor do I even understand mine. This is just a story.

I am no good with dates, so some of these that I am throwing out are arbitrary. A few months ago as I started to feel the familiar queasiness and exhaustion I had a feeling that there was something happening, that familiar something that had happened twice before. We checked and positive was the answer. Mixed emotions of joy and worry ensued. Joy because a child is always a joyful occasion and worry because the “What are we going to do?”s start. We we’re happy, as happy as a couple could be as we started dreaming and planning. We we’re keeping it a secret for most until the time we felt was appropriate, it was still really early and we felt it was best. We still talked and dreamt about this little one forming and growing and starting making plans as we anticipated.

I was less than a week out from my first OB appointment because we could not calculate the date of conception correctly. I hadn’t even seen a doctor yet when scary things started happening. Over the weekend I started feeling very off, I felt off before any signs there was anything wrong happened. The feeling started on a Friday and mild spotting followed. Because spotting could be normal I tried to remind myself of this and just rest my mind. What started mild became much worse and alarming, enough to require an Emergency Room visit on Monday of the next week. There was nothing they could say, everything looked fine but my body said different. They told me it was “o.k.”. The ultrasound said I was still pregnant, they said I was fine but to go home and rest. They tried to assure me. I don’t know if it was that I knew different or that I couldn’t trust them in that situation, but I knew it felt like empty assurances. The next day I knew for certain, I cried and prayed for the bleeding to stop, for everything to go back to normal, rewind the last few days. It didn’t. I miscarried on Tuesday Morning. It was the worst and most painful experience and there is no point in sharing the minute details but know it was tramautic, emotionally and physically.

Not because I am super spiritual but there hangs a picture on our bathroom wall of a woman robed in white clinging to a rock amongst a lapping torrent of waves. The only thing I could think of was to stare at it and out of a need for comfort I started to sing Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in thee. I needed that rock for comfort in my time of need and sorrow.

So, on Tuesday Morning I knew and the Doctor confirmed it on Wednesday Morning. I felt like I couldn’t breathe, it still feels a little that way. The Doctor was telling me that it wasn’t my fault and there are the statistics and the good news was that it probably won’t happen again and I was screaming on the inside not knowing if I should sit and listen or run away and I was just trying to make it through the appointment, praying silently, without passing out.

Emotions are like a wave now, sometimes it hits me so hard I feel like I’ve been kneed in the chest and other times it’s a smaller ebb of pain intermingled with this growing peace. I prayed for peace and am still praying for peace, it comes, if you ask. It may take time for you to ask. It may take pain ebbs lessening, perhaps anger too, to learn to rejoice in the suffering and in your sorrow, but I am learning so much about the sweetness of God in even my sorrow. I need the reminders to myself.

Charles Spurgeon said “I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.” and isn’t that such a beautiful quote. I hold that quote very close to my heart because I feel a lifetime of dissapointment with people, with the world and as I struggle with depression and recent events I need that rock. This is not a post about a miscarriage or loss really or definitely not a request for pity. This a post about learning to kiss the waves, those hideous waves.  This is an encouragement. It is about being sorrowful, yes, sorrow is appropriate and needed for healing but in that sorrow there is a source for that can bring joy and rejoicing despite it. I am preaching this to myself.

That title Sorrowful, Yet Always Rejoicing did not come from my own head, it comes from 2 Corinthians 6:10:

 As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.

This foreign notion that I could have sorrow and rejoice as well is not of the World. It is an otherworldly notion. It is a mark of a believer, joy.

C.S. Lewis said, “Joy is the serious business of heaven”

I have had to ask myself very recently, am I joyful person? I may look joyful on the surface, but am I truly joyful? The answer most times has been “No”. Truthfully, my human nature is one of a bitter, jealous and angry person. I am in need of that joy, desperately. Jesus is transforming me daily and I want to grasp and cling to that joy as slowly or as quickly, I pray, as it comes for me.

I am definitely not telling you to pick yourself up by the bootstraps, to just feel better, or that it’ll all work out or whatever bad advice you have been given. Well meaning people give a lot of bad advice. This is a hurting person saying that there is a source that can heal all wounds. There is a reason to rejoice in our suffering, believers.

There is a line in Rock of Ages that goes:

Could my zeal no respite know, Could my tears forever flow, All for sin could not atone; Thou must save, and Thou alone.

It may feel like tears will forever flow and I can’t tell you they won’t but we can learn from Christ and others that have gone before us to rejoice through our sorrow that there is nothing that this world can offer to heal my broken heart, to heal yours but there is one we can hide ourselves in, the Rock is cleaved for me, for you, for all that would plead for it. Thank God.

I am not trying to make anyone uncomfortable with this post but the fact of the matter that through this very personal suffering some things have become very clear to me about my personal faith and I can only respond to God’s grace with boldness. I can only want for you joy.  If you do not know the comfort of Christ in your situation and have long suffered or would like to know God, I want to pray with you, for you. Let us run to the throne and rejoice, the wonderful, frightfully beautiful throne of the Rock of Ages.

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I am sharing the artwork I made for this post. I hope it can be a comfort, as well as this song by Liz Vice that has brought me much comfort recently. Also if you like big words like Christian Hedonism you can read more about Sorrowful, Yet Always Rejoicing from people that know much more than I: The Ethos of Christian Hedonism; Sorrowful, Yet Always Rejoicing-John Piper

SYAR print 4×6

SYAR print 8×10

Also, I hope you like the new look to the site, I worked on it to make it more clean, readable and fit my aesthetic. Hope you enjoy.

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mini idols

 

This may possibly be an unpopular post, it’s definitely not a feel-good post. This is a post about the reality of Parenthood and the dangers we all face as believing parents when we make our children or our Parenthood greater than God. I will call them mini idols.

I brought this topic up at home group last night as we discussed Proverbs and heart idols. Parents, have we made idols of of our own children? I know as a parent it is easy to fall into the trap of loving my children best, thinking they are better than all other well-loved children. Of course this is common for parents, we think our children are the greatest things to walk this side of our spiral shaped galaxy and possibly beyond that. But what if they aren’t? What if are children are just like us, people that fall short? What if what society models as a parent is completely wrong?  What are we teaching them by elevating them to the highest points in our hearts and minds? What is it doing to our families? As a believer, what is the solution.

After bringing this topic up in home group last night, my friend Wendy sent me this article: How American Parenting is killing American Marriage. If you get a moment you should read it today. To summarize, the way we prioritize our children over everything else is hurting our Families, hurting our Marriages. It’s pretty taboo to say that you love your Husband/Spouse more than your children because we all know that ignoring one another for 18 plus years works wonderfully. It sounds like to the layman that you must hate your children, because obviously you hate your children if you happen to put your spouse first or even more shockingly God. Ayelet Waldman, who is not a believer that I know of, went on OPRAH to explain that she believed that loving her husband before her children has been a wonderfully healthy thing for her kids to witness, she received death threats and reports to Child Protective Services. Now, if a non-believer is telling us these things, how much more important is it for the believer to realize that God must be first then our Spouse and then our Children. I mean you don’t have to agree but this is biblical truth.

There are so many opinions on how we should raise children and there is no possible way to do them all, nor should the believer. Our Godly Mandates as parents should look foreign to the world. They may not like it. All the books by this Doctor or that Specialist are no match for Godly wisdom. Remember that worldly wisdom is foolishness. There is a grand story at work and we should be shaping our families with that mindset. American Society tells us that parental love looks like bussing your children around to all the things, giving them all the things, never letting them miss out or lose or be disappointed, keeping them cage in our homes and teaching them to be afraid of all the things, the list is longer, I’ll stop there. We need to be wary that this cultural example is contrary to a biblical one. We need to be careful that we aren’t forming mini idols based on culture and and our selfish desires.

There are many ways we can make children and Parenting our Idols. Christina Fox gives some examples in this post, more specifically for Mothers who seem to fall prey the easiest to this issue: The Idols of a Mother’s Heart (I’ll paraphrase):

-We can make Affirmation our Idol. We are affirmed in our beliefs about our children when family, friends or strangers tell us we are “doing a great job”, our kids are “pretty” or they are “well-behaved”. We can be prideful and desire affirmation more and more. We also can desire affirmation from our own children.

-“Our children in and of themselves can become idols.” Living for your kids and making them happy can become the most important thing in our lives, it’s a dangerous thing to do.

-Success. The “perfect family”, successful children, the “American Dream”.

-Control in every area of children’s lives, planning life out with no deviations or exceptions. This shapes the family dynamic causes us to fear, worry, have anxiety, and just plain grumpy.

When we make our Children or Parenting or Motherhood an idol in our lives we are setting a dangerous path for our children. Dissenters may say you cannot love your children too much, and of course that’s true, we can’t measure the love God has for us but what that looks like is obviously different then the love of the world. 1 Corinthians 13 is our reminder. As parents what does my love look like toward my child? Does it look the Father’s love?

My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives. Hebrews 12:5- 6 

Not only must we put God first and prioritize our family biblically we must not put our children so high as to forget that we are commanded to lead them and discipline them. A lack of discipline is not love, a choice to not discipline your child only offers greater hardship for them later.

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11

I think it is clear but I just wanted to state that there is a difference between Discipline and Punishment, the first is corrective and the latter in Punitive, so on the other end we need to seek God in our parenting on how to do the first, we can go the other extreme and punish our children for our irritances with them. Godly love disciplines and reproves.

So back to making our children idols or role as a parent an idol, so how do we safeguard against these. I am a Mother so I tend to speak from that viewpoint a lot. We may all know Mothers occasionally that may have extreme views on this or that and let everyone know whenever they can, they might hold one of the previously listed idols of parenthood in their heart as the utmost importance. But it can be the quiet mother as well that holds their children idol in their heart. This is not a judgmental statement. this is the reality that we all can fall easily to idolatry of our children, our families, our role as parent. 1 Corinthians 10:14-18 states:

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?  Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. Consider the people of Israel:are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything?

We must be vigilant to keep ourselves focused on God and to keep our hearts tuned to Him. That is when our children will benefit. There have been many times where I followed my own selfish desires as a parent. My child is not perfect and it is foolishness to act like she is but also I have let my flesh anger toward my child when I should be leading her. I also fall to wanting to hear the affirmation that my children are “the best” or what have you. I need to pray for the Spirit to reveal the idols of my heart so that God can deal with them. We must be humble as parents as well, our children are not our own. They have been given to us, we do not deserve them and it is our duty to raise the according to the instruction of that Giver. Children will be formed by how their parents act, so in my humility must ask my daughters to forgive me when I have sinned in my parenthood.  Just like our children we need Godly reproof to battle the idols that pop up in our lives:

Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Revelation 3:19

The only way we can can combat the idols of parenthood or our mini idols is to turn to God.