For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.–Romans 8:38-39

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Announcing The Gospel Coalition National Women’s Conference

I’m so excited to share with you this announcement from The Gospel Coalition. Last year’s conference was filled with great teaching from women around the world and sweet fellowship with friends near and far. Please mark your calendars for June 27-29, 2014 and give me a shout out if you plan to attend. Hope to see many of you there as we learn from the Book of Nehemiah next year.

From The Gospel Coalition website:

We’re doing it again! The Gospel Coalition’s second National Women’s Conference will take place June 27 to 29, 2014, in Orlando, Florida. Registration will open August 1. We look forward to sharing this event with thousands of women from across the nation and around the world.

We’re excited about this conference for at least three reasons. First, there’s the momentum from our last women’s conference. What a joy last June to see 3,800 women gather (along with thousands more, from 67 countries, joining via livestream) for a conference that was “for women but not all about women.” The title “Here Is Our God!”summed it up: we saw and heard the Lord God more clearly together, through the expositional teaching of his Word. We not only took it in; we also considered together how to share it and live it out faithfully. There was a focused energy and a deep fellowship among the women filling those halls.

Read the rest here.

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Glimpses of Grace is a Huge Dose of Gospel

Gloria Furman is a dear sister and friend in Christ whose blog and encouragement have been a constant blessing to me. I had the joy of reading Gloria’s new book Glimpses of Grace, and offering this endorsement:

Post image for It’s a Book!

We need gospel fuel to joyfully serve our families, and that’s what Glimpses of Grace provides. Many days I unload a barrage of law upon my family, when what they need from me is grace, encouragement, and reminders of God’s faithfulness. I thank the Lord for using Gloria to point me to the glorious gospel of his grace so that I might extend the same grace to my husband and children. As homemakers we can be smothered by the ordinary, blinded by the mundane, living in a fog of routine and fatigue, unable to see how to clean messy noses or break up sibling squabbles for the glory of God. In Glimpses of Grace Gloria helps to lift the fog by showing us how the gospel can change our perspective as we serve and love our families.

Tim Challies writes an excellent review that begins:

“I am sure that almost every homemaker, every mother, every woman, has experienced the disconnect between what she knows and what she feels, between knowing that her calling is good and the reality that it can be exasperating and so often feels unfulfilling. In Glimpses of Grace Gloria Furman brings the gospel to bear on a woman’s distinct calling and calls her to treasure the gospel in her home.

Read the rest of Tim’s review here.

Encourage your heart by getting the book here.

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From Building Blocks to Rollercoasters: A Metaphor for Shepherding

Post image for From Building Blocks to Rollercoasters: a Metaphor for ShepherdingRecently, I had the privilege of contributing to an ongoing discussion at the Domestic Kingdom blog, on pointing preschoolers to Jesus. It was an honor to join the conversation. Be sure to check out the other posts in this series, as well as the many other helpful resources at DK.

One evening after dinner, the older children were completing homework, mom was working in the kitchen, dad was on the computer, and our 5 year old (excuse me, he wants me to point out that he’s 5and a half) was asked to get ready for his shower. He likes the actual shower, it’s the “getting ready” part (gathering towels and pj’s and turning on the water) that he doesn’t like.

So, he asks my oldest daughter if she would help him. She asks him to get them himself because she’s busy with homework. I interrupt in my most instructive mommy voice, and say “You’refive and a half years old and perfectly capable of getting ready for your shower on your own.  Why would you ask your sister to do it, when you can see that she’s busy with her homework. What do you call that? (thinking he’d realize he was being lazy and inconsiderate of his sister’s time).

With a tilt of his head, and a slightly quizzical look, he replies “A favor?”. Well, yeah, from his perspective, I guess he would have thought that. I was so thrown off that he missed my teachable moment (and holding back hysterical laughter), that I couldn’t think of another wise thing to say, so I just told him to obey mommy before he gets into trouble!

This scenario is pretty typical in my home. I start out excited for the opportunity to seize a new teachable moment, but my children have their own agenda in mind, and well, sometimes things don’t turn out the way I plan.

But God’s grace is right there, giving me new moments and fresh opportunities to point my children to Christ.

So, on an ordinary day, how would I redeem that missed moment? Probably after his shower, at bedtime, I’d ask if he remembered the conversation and his response (praying silently that he would indeed remember). I’d explain (now that I know I can’t assume he can connect those dots) how his attitude was selfish and lazy, and remind him of our Bible verse in Philippians 2:3-4 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” I’d ask him questions about his understanding of those verses and pray hard that he would not respond with something like “I understand my sister was not looking out for my interests but her own!”

Our best parenting practices are laced with sin, and so are our children’s most godly responses to our correction and training.

So where does that leave us as we consider our parenting?

It leaves us in the arms of our dear Savior, depending upon His grace, trusting in His providence working with and for our families in all our interactions, joys, and sorrows.

My daily activities vary with the children depending on their age, but generally this is what we do to add purpose to our days.

Build Blocks & Make Playdough (Shaping Stage: 2 to about 9 or 10) – Blocks and playdough are a new mom’s best friends. They can go with you everywhere! Not only do they keep the kiddies busy, but they encourage creativity and imagination in the early years (like stuffing the playdough in the holes of the blocks, or eating it, or tossing the blocks at the pet dog). Seriously, the early years are the shaping years. It is during this time that their little minds are easily molded and shaped Godward. They want to mimic our every move and we should make good use of this time in their development. From the time they can understand simple directions, we can begin to teach them who God is and the extravagant love of Christ by:

  1. Memorizing lots of Scripture (Numbers 6:24-26Psalm 99:5Proverbs 13:20John 17:3,Ephesians 6:11 John 1:9 are great starters for the wee ones)
  2. Listening to Scripture songs
  3. Learning the children’s shorter catechism, and
  4. Recounting lots of Bible stories to them.

These kinds of activities on a daily basis are our “building blocks”, and God’s Word is the strong foundation (Deuteronomy 6:6-7) on which we place these spiritual blocks that they will later learn to maneuver on their own as they grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ.

Baking (Reasoning Stage: 9 or 10 to about 13) – Easy Bake ovens are fine, but I find the instructions on the Pillsbury box much easier to follow! Plus, I’d much rather bake something the whole family can enjoy, rather than the tiny snacks that are best for one person with the easy bake oven. Baking with my children is highly messy and fun! As they enter the elementary and middle school years, following instructions is kicked up a notch. Growing out of the playdough and building block stages of shaping and learning facts, they are now able to read and follow instructions on their own. If we were baking, I’d ask them “Did you remember to put in the eggs? How long are we to bake our cookies? In the same way, as a parent, I remind them of what should now sound familiar to them (e.g. “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” Proverbs 13:20). But in this new stage, I help them learn to understand and apply what they know by asking key questions and providing prompts (eg. “Are you walking with the wise in this situation, or are you keeping company with fools?). Knowing what the ingredients are is in the shaping stage. Understanding how and when to use them is this reasoning stage.

Ride Rollercoasters (Abstract Stage: 13 through Adulthood) – Roller coasters freak me out! I’m NOT one of those persons whose excitement swells as the rollercoaster eases its way to the edge of what feels like devastation. I definitely don’t enjoy the free-fall, fast paced, frenzy that ensues over the next five minutes as my insides flip flop and my nerves rattle until the G forces release me from their pull. I think raising young adults is a little bit like this. They have the strong foundation of the Word in their hearts, they understand how to apply it to life’s circumstances, but now they need to work through living out what they know and understand (Proverbs 1:5). Life is coming at them fast and furious, and as a parent, I must go along for the ride, no matter how scary it seems to me, and trust that they will safely make it through the twists and turns of life. Their hearts have been shaped by God’s Word, and they have learned to reason from it. Now, we traverse life together and I offer counsel and wisdom to keep them from falling off the tracks.

In all these stages, we have to remember that the best gift we can give our children is the gospel.

During the bulk of these training years, we’re immersing our children in the facts of the gospel and its implications for how we are to live out each day.

– Remember God’s grace: We present various facets of the gospel appropriate to their age and ability to understand, but we must keep the gospel as center. It is the grace of God that brings salvation which teaches our children how to say “no” to the world, and “yes” to godliness (Titus 2:11-12).

– Remember you’re not alone: We should also remember that we’re not alone. God in His grace, has given us His Spirit to grant us wisdom and understanding. He tells us to ask for wisdom and He will give it to us generously (James 1:5). We have the strong, godly leadership of our husbands partnering with us as we raise our children. We also have a community of believers walking with us as we covenant together in our local bodies to raise our children in the nurture and training of the Lord.

I definitely don’t have all this down perfectly (very far, far from it!), but I’m enjoying each stage as we play playdough, bake and ride rollercoasters for the glory of God!

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Working up a Thirst

This morning, I’ve been working hard! First, there was the cooking and preparing the children for school, then cleaning, laundry, dusting, organizing, sweeping, mopping, etc.! Before long, I had “worked up a thirst”, so I sat with a nice cold glass of water to quench my thirst, rest from my labors, and joyfully contemplate how this hard work would bless and serve my own family and others as we prepare to show hospitality to friends this evening.
It occurred to me that the Christian life should be one of “working up a thirst” as well. As I reflected on the best part of my morning, the time when I sat at the Master’s feet, speaking to Him and hearing from Him, I thought of how we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, how we are created in Christ to do good works, how we should work with all our heart as for the Lord and how our work should be produced by our faith, prompted by love, and how our endurance is inspired by our hope in Christ. The more I meditated and pondered these passages, the greater my thirst became for more! More of His Word, more of His grace, more of His empowering Spirit to joyfully carry me through the cares of the day.

Today, as I work, I pray that, whatever I do, I would work at it with all my heart, working for the Lord and not for man. For as I work for Him, His Word is at work in me, molding and shaping me more into the image of Christ! Then, one day, we will never thirst again!

They are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. (Revelation 7:15-17)

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What I’m Thinking About This Easter…

Here are some things that have stoked my spiritual fire over the past weeks as I’ve look forward to Easter:

Nancy Leigh DeMoss, at Revive Our Hearts, has been teaching a Lenten series on the humanity, deity, teachings, humility, life, death, and resurrection of Christ, showing how He is absolutely incomparable–there is no one like Him. It has been a rich study! I’d encourage you to listen and be fed and freshly awakened to love and savor our Savior!

Pastor Dave Jorge and the First Baptist Church Choir has led us so well in singing of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ! I only wish there was video to link to, so you could experience the beauty and wonder of our risen Lord through their powerful musical renditions of songs such as God Has Come, What Kind of King, Journey to Calvary, Beautiful the Love, Not Guilty, Were You There?, There Stands a Cross, and others.

I’m also thinking about a quote I read in George Whitefield: Daily Readings. The devotion comes from Romans 10:9 “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Christ is indeed risen; that Jesus should rise from the dead was absolutely necessary. He had often appealed to this as the last and most convincing proof he would give them that he was the true Messiah. His words his enemies remembered and urged it as an argument to induce Pilate to grant them a watch, to prevent his being stolen out of the grave. “We know what the deceiver said while he was alive, ‘After three days I will rise again.'” They said this so that, had he not risen again, they might have justly said, “We know this man was an impostor.” But more, Christ’s resurrection was necessary on our account. “He rose again for our justification;” or, for the debt we owed to God for our sins – that our debt might be fully satisfied and discharged. It had pleased the Father (forever adored be his infinite love and free grace!) to wound his only Son for our transgressions, and to arrest and confine him in the prison of the grave, as our surety, for the guilt we had contracted by disobeying his commandments. Now, had Christ continued always in the grave, we could have had no more assurance that our sins were satisfied for, than any common debtor can have of his creditor’s being satisfied, whilst his surety is kept confined. But he being released from the power of death, we are thereby assured, that with his sacrifice God was well pleased, that our atonement was finished on the cross, and that he has made a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the world.

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Making the Bible Come Alive

“The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.” John 6:63

R. C. Sproul offers a valuable warning as he writes of his frustration at being asked to speak and “make the Bible come alive!”

I had to force myself to swallow my words. I wanted to say,
“You want me to make the Bible come alive? I didn’t know
that it had died. In fact, I never even heard that it was ill.
Who was the attending physician at the Bible’s demise?”
No, I can’t make the Bible come alive for anyone.
The Bible is already alive. It makes me come alive.

quoted in Bible Study: Following the Ways of the Word by Kathleen Buswell Nielson.

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For Those Who Mourn With the People of Japan

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.
(Psalm 46:1-4)


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TGIF – “Thank God It’s Finished”

Sometimes, at the end of a busy week, I feel a bit deflated when thinking about all the items on my checklist that were still left undone. As I’ve thought about the busy-ness of each week, and the tasks at hand, I’ve been reflecting on the fact that even while daily tasks get pushed aside for another day, and rest seems a distant, almost impossible goal, my true rest began when I trusted in Christ.

I may not finish all that I’ve planned for the day or the week, but our heavenly Father’s work was finished from the creation of the world. He never sleeps or slumbers, yet He is at rest.

For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did;
but the message they heard was of no value to them,
because those who heard did not combine it with faith.
Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said,
“So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’”
And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world.
For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words:
“And on the seventh day God rested from all his work.”
Hebrews 4:2-4

Make no mistake, our bodies need rest! But the real rest I need is often not physical. The rest I need is one of resting in Christ, renewing my heart with the Word of Life. As Pastor John Piper has said, “The human heart does not replenish itself with sleep. The body does, but not the heart….We replenish our hearts not with sleep, but with the Word of God and prayer.” (quoted in Shopping for Time).

So, for this weekend, get some real rest! That’s my plan and I pray it’s yours too.