Taste and See: A Letter to my Younger Sisters in the Faith

Dear Sister,

I would love to meet for coffee and tell you what I wish I had understood and experienced ten years ago. Hindsight is 20/20,  isn’t it? The Lord  teaches us through time, and I suppose this is why the Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul exhorts older women to teach the younger women “what is good” (Titus 2:3b). We live in a world that promotes a superficial view of goodness, and we are prone to lose our way—failing to see and believe the One who is truly good. So, if we were sipping coffee and chatting, here’s how I would seek to challenge and encourage  you through what I’ve learned:

*Boast in the Lord*

Regardless of your age or season, you will always be tempted to look to yourself for a defining sense of worth. Whether it’s grades, career success, athletic achievement, the size of your body, quantity and quality of material possessions, number of instagram likes, relationships and attention from the opposite sex; you will find yourself grasping within for a reason to boast. You may be blind to this desperate need to boast in yourself because it often happens within the recesses of your heart even when it doesn’t spring forth from your lips. In addition to worth and value, you will naturally strive to find personal goodness and an ultimate sense of righteousness within. How tempted you will be to claim your own kindness, charity, service, morality, or the fact that you have “checked all the spiritual boxes” as reasons God should count you worthy of His Kingdom. In Psalm chapter 34 , King David writes,

My Soul makes its boast in the Lord;

 Let the humble hear and be glad..

Oh, Magnify the Lord with me,

And let us exalt his name together!

How was David— the warrior King, conqueror of tens of thousands, and man after God’s own heart—able to confidently boast in God alone rather than in his own success or perceived worthiness?

*Taste and See God’s goodness*

The Bible teaches that God alone is good, and He alone is worthy of our boasts. You may know this to be true, but there is a difference in mentally agreeing with truth and personally experiencing that truth. David was able to boast in the Lord because he had tasted the sweetness of God’s goodness in his own life. He encourages his readers to do the same:Taste and See that the Lord is Good (Psalm 34:8A). Jonathan Edwards explains this well:

There is a difference between having an opinion that God is holy and gracious and having a sense of the loveliness and beauty of that holiness and grace. There is a difference between having a rational judgment that honey is sweet and having a sense of its sweetness. A man may have the former yet know not how honey tastes, but a man cannot have the latter unless he has an idea of the taste of honey in his mind.

Until you taste the goodness of God yourself, you will desperately seek to define your value and worth in some “goodness” of your own. Only in understanding God as infinitely good will you discover that human goodness in any form doesn’t measure up. It cannot and will not give you ultimate value, joy, or eternal life.

So, practically speaking, how does one taste and see the goodness of God?

*Take Refuge in Christ*

For you to experience the Father’s goodness, you must trust Him enough to take refuge in His Son. Jesus alone is the shelter God has provided for your salvation and eternal protection. Those who hide in Him are promised ultimate joy.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!

Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!

…The Lord redeems the life of his servants;

None of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned

(Psalm 34:8-9, 22)

No matter what you achieve or how good you are, you will never meet the righteous requirements of God’s goodness because your heart is corrupted by sin (Jer 17:9, Psalm 51:5). Jesus alone meets God’s standard, and he came to earth as a human to live the life you couldn’t live and die the death you deserved to die. He has sheltered you from the righteous wrath of God you deserve by absorbing that wrath in your place. Jesus’s death on the cross is the visible proof of God’s goodness toward you. You take refuge in Him by looking to Jesus and trusting Him as sufficient to make you right with God. As you daily draw from the well of the gospel through God’s Word and His people (the Church–you cannot do it alone), you will  taste the sweetness of God’s perfect goodness and find it so satisfying.

*Reflect His Radiance in Trials*

Taking refuge in Christ does not mean that your life on earth will be free of trouble and hardship. Scripture is clear that you should not expect your life “hidden in Christ” to be easy. On the contrary, following and identifying with Jesus is a call to die to yourself (Luke 9:23) and lose the life you have known. It is a call to stop taking your cues from the world and looking within for your sense of worth, happiness and goodness. It is a call to recognize that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22) but God is working all things out for the ultimate good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Roman 8:28)  even when “good” doesn’t always look the way we want it to look yet. Sister, your best life is not now. It’s later. And it’s eternal.

Those who look to him are radiant,

And their faces shall never be ashamed. . .

Many are the afflictions of the righteous,

But the Lord delivers him out of them all.

If you are in Christ, your freedom from condemnation and eternal deliverance from trials of this life are secure. Take refuge in Jesus when the storms of life rage by saturating yourself in His Word, surrounding yourself with His people, and rehearsing His gospel to your heart daily.  The radiance of His glory will be reflected in your life as you trust Him, and you will find His goodness sweeter and more satisfying than any  worldly treasures you may lose. Do you doubt it? Taste and see.

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Psalm 27:13

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose. -Jim Elliot


When Body Image Becomes an Idol

When Body Image Becomes an Idol

During my high school years, I struggled with an eating disorder. Any weight gain was unacceptable to me–even that which was part of normal growth and development. If the numbers on the scale went up or I had to size up in clothing, I freaked out. Having total control over my body was so important to me that I restricted my caloric intake to a dangerous low while exercising excessively.

Looking back, I can put my problem in biblically accurate terms: I practiced body-focused idolatry that resulted in disordered eating. My thoughts and feelings concerning my body and food trumped what God had to say about these things in his word. I knew this was an area of my life not surrendered to God. If not for his pursuing grace, things could have gotten very bad.

Body idolatry and eating disorders are multifaceted problems. Helping people with these issues requires time, wisdom, prayer and the involvement of multiple people, including medical professionals. It requires a holistic approach that deals with both body and soul. The church shouldn’t shy away in fear.

Ultimately, it was my parents who spoke biblical truth into this area of my life and helped me see my problem as more than just physical. God used their watchful care and their faithfulness to nourish me with truth. Like me, those struggling with body idolatry and eating disorders need faithful men and women in the body of Christ to come alongside and care for them in grace and truth before it’s too late.

Awareness and Physical Care

A person with an eating disorder typically won’t be upfront and honest about it. With this issue comes hiding, denying, and often lying. To help a struggling person, you must be attuned to warning signs (weight loss, restricted eating, etc.) to identify the problem. A medical doctor needs to thoroughly examine and assess potential danger and harm. Seeing a doctor or nutritionist regularly may be a vital part of someone’s physical care and something she won’t receive apart from the insistence and help of another.

The Word’s Nourishment

Along with physical care and nourishment, those struggling with disordered eating need to be constantly nourished by the word of God. Jesus makes this clear in Matthew 4:4, “Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” For those with disordered eating, spiritual components are tightly interwoven with physical. Issues of the heart need to be exposed and confronted with the truth of God’s word. Scripture draws out these divisions (Heb 4:12) and shines light on lies the heart believes.

A person consumed with body idolatry likely won’t be feeding consistently on the word herself. She’ll need to be fed specific biblical truths about her identity, her body and food by others through consistent counseling.

The Reality of the Gospel

Body idolatry at its root is an issue of misplaced identity and worship. God tells us in his word that all human beings possess great dignity and worth as those made in his image (Gen 1:27). We’re the crown of God’s creation, and we reflect something true about his nature. But we’ve all sought to find our loveliness and worth in something other than God (something like our own bodies), and we’ve worshipped the created rather than the Creator (Rom 1:22-25). God hasn’t left us in our idolatry, though. While we were running away, God sent Jesus to die the death we deserved for our rebellion (Rom 5:8) and to restore our misplaced identity by giving us a new, righteous identity in him. If we agree with God about our sin, turn from it, and look to Jesus in faith we are forgiven and healed (1 John 1:9). This is the good news that someone with an eating disorder needs to hear over and over and over. Helping this person find her reality in Christ, rather than the size of her body or the control she exercises over it, is the foundation for helping her find freedom.

Truth About the Body and Food

When a person’s reality is rooted in Christ, it frees her to think rightly about her body and food.

The Bible says life is more than food and the body more than clothes (Matt 6:5). The body and food are not ends in themselves for us to control and worship for our own fulfillment. They’re important in that they are means to help us accomplish God’s kingdom purposes, and they should be cared for and enjoyed to this great and glorious end (Matt 6:33).

For those of us in Christ, our bodies are the dwelling place of his Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19), created in him for the purpose of good works (Eph 2:10). We should strive to eat in ways that appropriately fuel our bodies to bring God glory by accomplishing the various works he has ordained for each of us to do. For some this will mean eating more. For some it will mean eating less. For others it will mean eating differently. A person struggling with body or food idolatry needs to be trained, in concrete and practical ways, to eat to the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31).

People with eating disorders need help and care from a number of sources. The body of Christ must be one of these sources. We must be equipped to step up and address this issue head on with wisdom and confidence in the sufficiency of scripture. We need to continually speak the truth in love as we seek appropriate help for those who struggle, recognizing that ultimately one person has the divine power needed to overcome (2 Pet 1:3), and he shares freely with all who come to him.

The Home as the Hub of Life on Mission

The Home as the Hub of Life on Mission

Our family is in the process of moving from one house to another, and I’m kind of feeling all the feels about it. There’s the nostalgia and twinge of sadness as we say goodbye to a house where we’ve made sweet memories and grown as a family, but there’s also the excitement about a new place for a new season. All these feelings brought about by our upcoming change of address have gotten me thinking about the fact that a home is much more than just brick and mortar.

When we think of a house, we may think of shelter or a space to decorate according to our various styles. When we think of a home, we might envision a refuge or place of belonging. But in the Kingdom of God, does a home have a deeper purpose than even these good things? Does the Bible have anything to say about God’s purpose for the home?

Women who are familiar with the Bible may remember that in Titus chapter two, the work of the home is mentioned. Here, the apostle Paul exhorts Titus to teach what accords with sound doctrine (the gospel): Older women are to train younger women to “love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home . . . that the word of God will not be reviled” (2:4-5). Paul is not here saying that women should only work in the home. The point Paul makes is that the home is significant in God’s gospel mission; therefore, the work of the home is extremely valuable to Him. The Bible is clear that the mission of believers is to spread God’s glory to all the world by making disciples through the power of the gospel (Matt 28:19-20, Rom 1:16). This mission is not disconnected from Paul’s exhortations to women concerning work in the home. When Titus chapter two is interpreted in light of Christ’s great commission mandate, women will begin to see that their homes can serve as a “hub” or effective center for living a life on mission for Christ .

The mission begins within the walls.

I love Mother Teresa’s thought provoking words: “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” Al Mohler recently made a similar statement: “If we can’t reach our children, we can’t reach the world.” Our mission to reach the world with the gospel starts at home. The people who live within our walls {spouses, children, roommates} are our closest neighbors and usually the people with whom God has given us the greatest influence. Hearts and minds are shaped early and, as parents, we have the hearts of our children first. As we are faithful to love and care for our kids in the day-to-day, we have thousands of opportunities to make intentional deposits of gospel truth into their hearts and lives while praying for God to bring transformation and growth.

When we view the home as the hub of our mission efforts, even the most mundane and exhausting work required in keeping a house and caring for those we love is important and meaningful; yet, at the same time, it doesn’t rule us. Christ rules us. We can work faithfully by His strength and for His glory while recognizing that our joy is not dependent on whether or not we have a beautifully decorated and tidy home, a thankful spouse, or well-behaved children.

To use our homes as the hub of our mission efforts does not mean we are domestic goddesses who keep picture-perfect homes and never make mistakes in front of those who live in our home. In fact, it’s really just the opposite. Being on mission within the walls of our homes means that we really get the gospel ourselves. We understand that apart from Christ we are broken and flawed and weak. We recognize that every failure–every bad attitude, impatient word or careless act–is an opportunity to point to the Perfect One whose righteousness has been credited to us through faith and who is slowly transforming our hearts as we turn from our sin and look to Him alone. The ugly things in our hearts that are exposed in front of those we love give us the chance to demonstrate humility and true repentance as we shout the good news that the gospel of Jesus is our greatest hope in our weakest moments. To be on mission in our homes, we must model our deep need and highlight God’s great grace.

The mission moves beyond the walls when the door is open.

God has provided us earthly homes as temporary places of refuge, not that we may sequester ourselves behind closed doors and only minister to those within our walls, but that we may open our doors and bid others to come in and  see that the it is The Lord is good. These physical structures we live in are just temporary dwellings, but they can be a powerful  tool to point others forward to our eternal dwelling in Christ if we will simply open our doors.

A missional home is an open home, not a perfect home. Are we willing to welcome others into our imperfect (and in my case, messy) homes to share of our time, our food, and ourselves? In the book of Acts, Luke records that the early Church did life together. Followers of Christ gathered daily to learn, worship, break bread, and remember the gospel together. They also applied the gospel together as they generously gave of what they had to meet the needs of others. In short, they lived life with a “what’s mine is yours” mentality. “And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were beings saved” (Acts 2:47b). As they lived life together with open homes and hands, the gospel spread.

We live in an individualistic culture of locked doors, drawn curtains and privacy fences. The American mentality is “you can only count on what you earn”. But if our homes are going to function as little gospel outposts for taking the good news to the world, we must work by Christ’s strength to keep our doors open regardless of how uncomfortable or costly it may feel.

We each need to ask ourselves questions such as these: Is my home open to those in the Body of Christ? Do I regularly welcome believers in to share a meal or coffee and speak about the things of the Lord together? Is my home a refuge for others in need of a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, godly counsel or just a free place to spend the night? As I welcome the Body of Christ, am I intentionally seeking to build relationships with the lost in my circle of influence while petitioning the Lord to add to [our] number those who are being saved? Do I speak to neighbors and try to get to know them through time? Do I develop friendships with lost coworkers who do not know the Lord and invite them into my home? Do I pray for them and ask the Lord for opportunities? There are countless creative ways to use our homes for God’s Kingdom mission if we will open our eyes and ask daily for his strength and help.

Lest we become easily discouraged, let us remember that we will not be perfect in managing our homes for effective gospel mission. We will struggle and always have room to grow, but weakness itself is a gift. It reminds us that our hope is in something greater than our home and our own efforts at faithful obedience. In the hard moments, let us shift our perspective to the truth that Gloria Furman communicates so well:

The remnant Israelites learned that their home was not their refuge. In our modern time, we need to know this too. We need to know that our home is not a projection of our image but a space in which we work to display the image of Christ. Home points to a peace that is beyond color schemes and adornments. It points to the fact that the Lord is our refuge. Jesus Christ is the greatest missional home manager the world has ever seen. He builds his house, and he sets his house in order. He is head over his church, and he loves her perfectly. He nourishes her with his word. Christ reigns in sovereign superiority; he is the basis of all our joy. We must live our lives focused on his sovereign lordship over the cosmos.“

Yes. And amen.


Book Review: “The Accidental Feminist”

Right now, my primary calling is to nurture the lives of {3!} little boys, but even though I have no female children, I am also called to cultivate and nurture life in girls and other women. I love studying and learning how to best glorify God in my womanhood. As God is teaching and shaping me, He expects me, not to keep what I learn to myself, but to pass it on to others. He expects that of all of us.

This summer, I’ve had the opportunity to read and discuss The Accidental Feminist: Restoring Our Delight in God’s Good Design {authored by Courtney Reissig} with some of my favorite college/just-post-college girls. We’ve kept it simple. We read a couple chapters a week, underline portions to discuss and meet at Panera one night a week for a few hours to talk about what God is revealing and teaching us, how we’re submitting to or resisting His truth, questions we have, etc. I think it’s been a fruitful time and that we’ve all learned a lot. And when a good resource is found, it should be shared. So, I’m popping in to briefly comment on the book we read.

For a while now, I’ve been looking for a book that both highlights the Bible’s teaching about our God-given purpose as women AND is relevant to women in various roles and seasons of life. This is the book I’ve been looking for. There are a lot of resources out there on marriage and motherhood. This book, however, addresses not just the wife and mother, but all women: teenagers, students, young women, older women, married women, single women, women that work outside the home, women that work inside the home. Reissig does an excellent job of bringing out the Bible’s teaching on womanhood for all who are made female, regardless of their particular season and circumstances. She shows all readers how to bring God glory by practically living out their womanhood. This book is very relevant.

The Accidental Feminist is biblically driven. Reissig seeks to assert only what Scripture itself asserts. She has a high view of God’s Word and is committed to helping women see the rightness and goodness of His plan and His way for those created in His image as female. The Accidental Feminist is also well-researched. Reissig has clearly done her homework about the American feminist movement and the effects it has had on the culture and the views of women from the 1950’s until now. She highlights the much-needed positives that have come from the movement {women’s right to vote and own property, etc} but ultimately demonstrates how the root of feminism is in opposition to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Skeptical? Give it a read!

Finally, The Accidental Feminist is honest and gospel-centered. Reissig is quick to remind readers that all of us {herself included} naturally resist God’s will and God’s way apart from Christ. That’s the nature of our sin and our fallen-ness. We question God because we think we know better than Him. We question His rightness and His goodness in all things and wonder if he really does have our best interests at heart. Isn’t that what Adam and Eve did when they ate the fruit? All of humanity has followed in their footsteps ever since. But, praise God, we aren’t left there in our stubborn rebellion. All throughout her book, Reissig continually drives readers back to the gospel and the hope of restoration that is found in Jesus alone, the One who perfectly submitted to His Father’s will and way even when it cost Him everything. Reissig reminds us that, on our own, every woman {and man} falls terribly short of God’s good design, but Jesus enables us to be restored to that good design when we trust and rest in Him alone.

My prayer is that God will use this resource to draw numerous women closer to Himself as we seek to image Him accurately in our womanhood. Read The Accidental Feminist and help nurture spiritual life by sharing it with other women in your life!



Here I am again. At the end of the day. At the end of myself.

Motherhood has to be the hardest and most beautiful job on earth.

Yes, messy and hard and beautiful and precious.

It’s hard because people are hard. It’s messy because people are messy. And it’s beautiful and precious because people are beautiful and precious as image-bearers of God. We’re all hopelessly broken. We love ourselves more than we love each other. We worship our comfort, our success, our hopes and plans, and our tidy houses. We want to fit our children neatly into our little boxes. We want them to be compliant and smiley and to get with the program for heaven’s sake!

But children aren’t our show prizes. They’re not our cute little family trophies in their monogrammed outfits with neatly combed hair. They’re not our consolation or comfort or fulfillment. And they’re certainly not our projects.

They’re people. Teeny, tiny little people created in the image of God but born broken into a fallen world. People who so naturally image the selfishness and pride of their parents. People who so desperately need to be studied, learned, and nurtured according to their individual personalities. Little people who need to be truly loved—sacrificially and unconditionally even in times when they are completely unlovable. People who need to see first hand what it means to rightly image the beauty of God in a dark world.

No one told me just how hard motherhood would be and just how much it would humble me. I realize every day how inept I am at rightly imaging God’s holiness and beauty before my children. At the end of the day, I mourn my continual impatience when my kids are inconveniencing me. I hate the selfishness and perfectionism that still try to rule in my heart and make it all about me.  I feel discouraged by the lack of “important” tasks accomplished and wonder how laundry, dirty diapers, correcting disobedience, and refereeing sharing wars could possibly take up so much time and leave me so utterly exhausted.  I wonder if I have the endurance to do it all over again tomorrow. And sometimes I question if it really matters.

The logical conclusion that I reach as I put my head on the pillow every night is I need help. BIG HELP. 

“I lift up my eyes to the hills, From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” 

The Creator of heaven and earth sent his Son to be my help. His Son took the ugliness of my selfish pride, impatience, and all other mothering failures and bore God’s wrath against them in His own body on the cross. God not only pours out his forgiving grace on me through Jesus, but also His transforming grace. In Christ, I have power over the sins that still fight for control in my life. In Christ, I have endurance for motherhood through the little years and beyond. In Christ, I learn how to think rightly about myself and my children.

The gospel enables me to see my children for what God says they really are: Blessings {Psalm 127:3}. Blessings when they’re sweet and blessings when they’re not. Blessings when they obey and blessings when they disobey. Blessings when my heart is exploding with love and blessings when it’s overcome with frustration.  The gospel teaches me how to think rightly about motherhood.

God has given women the beautiful gift of bearing and nurturing life in a world still under the curse of death. Pain will be intricately intertwined in this gift because of our sin and theirs. Motherhood will never be easy {so we should stop expecting it to be}, but it is always a gift. Children are gifts. As mothers, we have the awesome privilege and responsibility to faithfully care for “the least of these”–those who cannot care for themselves. We have the opportunity to show them what Jesus is really like by loving them, even {and especially} when they act unlovable. We image our Savior when we serve them through thankless, exhausting work that no one else sees or acknowledges. But God sees. And, praise Him, we have a Helper who covers our mothering failures with His blood and transforms us from the inside out.

Our greatest job and privilege as mothers is to show our children that they need this Helper as much as we do. Only through Him will they reflect God’s beauty accurately and spread His glory throughout our dark world. It’s the glorious task they were created to do. And it’s the glorious task we were created to do. So, mamas? Let’s think rightly about motherhood. Let’s see it for the significant thing it is. And by His grace, let’s seek and pray to raise up faithful little image-bearers in Christ who will spread his glory all over the world.


Evaluating entertainment choices {and why I’m not seeing “50 Shades of Grey”}

Entertainment is an area of Christian life where there is some freedom. Here’s what I mean. The Bible doesn’t explicitly say that followers of Christ should only listen to Christian music or that believers shouldn’t watch any movies with a rating higher than ‘PG’.” It’s not always a black and white issue and there is no hard-fast rule. There is some level of freedom in this area to make choices according to wisdom and conscience.

Here’s what I’m not saying, though. I’m not saying that the Bible has nothing to say about our entertainment choices. Quite the contrary, actually. The Bible is full of commands and exhortations about the kinds of things followers of Jesus should allow to come into our minds and take up residence. God’s Word calls believers to be disciplined thinkers–those who think rightly about reality. And the ironic thing is that we Christians can be pretty flippant when it comes to making biblically wise choices about our entertainment. We often naively assume (or at least profess) that what we watch or listen to has nothing to do with who we are at the core. We believe books, movies and music can’t really affect what we believe or how we think and behave because it’s just entertainment. Right?!? In a supposed effort to avoid legalism and total abstraction from modern culture {good ditches to avoid}, it’s too easy to fall into the opposite ditch of reading, watching, and listening to anything and everything our world heralds as supreme entertainment without a second thought. But here’s the problem. As those who are in Christ, we need to give it some thought. As children of God on gospel mission, we’re sent into the world but not from the world. It is crucial that we understand the culture into which we’re sent; yet, we are to think, believe, and behave in ways that are distinct from that culture. And this is not just for our own benefit but for the benefit of a lost and watching world {John 17:14-21}. Since we are incessantly infiltrated by the prevailing thought of the culture, this “in-the-world-not-of-the-world” thing can seem pretty tricky. But God tells us how to do it: We are to constantly renew our minds {Romans 12:2} by dwelling on that which is true {Philippians 4:8}. And the Bible is the one source that always tells us what’s really true about reality because God’s words are truth {John 17:17}.

And here’s where we get to 50 Shades of Grey, the first volume of a wildly popular trilogy of erotic romance novels with a film adaptation set to release around Valentine’s Day. I have not {and will not} read any of the books, but I’ve heard plenty about them and done some research. Here’s what I know: These books have topped best-selling lists around the world, yet most critical reviews have ranked them pretty low in terms of quality literature. The plot follows the relationship of 21-year-old Anastasia Steele and 27-year-old, successful businessman Christian Grey. The story is centered around their growing attractions and sexual relationship—a relationship that is deviant, borderline abusive and, apparently, described in explicit detail throughout the book. In fact, I’ve read several reviews that termed the series “porn without the pictures” or “mommy-porn.” And here’s the thing: Both believing and non-believing women alike {particularly those college-aged to mid-thirties} have devoured these books. Unfortunately, I think the situation will be no different when the movie hits theaters in a few weeks. But as Christ-followers, we need to think twice before buying movie tickets. And here’s why:

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-4

To be in union with Christ means that God sees us as united with His Son. We share His righteousness through faith, and therefore, we are  to think like he thinks, to live like he lived, to enjoy things He would enjoy. To seek the things that are above is to intentionally seek more of Christ and to dwell on things that His Word tells us are true, honorable, pure, lovely, and commendable {Philippians 4:8}.

And guess what? God tells us that sex is all of those wonderful things when it’s done His way. A passionate sexual relationship between a husband and wife within the covenant bonds of marriage can be a beautiful, erotic, satisfying, and even holy thing. A sexual relationship between a man who is committed to love and cherish His wife sacrificially and a woman who is willing to respect and submit to the loving, selfless leadership of her husband tells the truth about God and His goodness. Sex God’s way is safe and good and so very fulfilling when both people in the relationship are focused on truly loving and pleasing the other. But sin always causes us to twist what God says is good because we believe He’s holding out on us. Sin perverts our sexual desire and causes us to crave what God has said is not good–to believe that we know better than Him. Sin causes us to be completely controlled by our perverse appetites {lusts} and to feed them with the twisted entertainment our culture is constantly producing and calling good. And that’s what we all do apart from Christ. Left to ourselves, all of us are broken, sexual sinners. But those who are in Christ have experienced true forgiveness and the start of transformation. And our lives should start to look different. Married or single, those in Christ are called to holy sexuality.

“And such were some of you. But you were washed. You were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God. . . Flee from sexual immorality.” 1 Corinthians 7:11, 18a

Fleeing sexual immorality is not a gray area {no pun intended} for the believer. It’s black and white. And  fleeing sexually immoral acts begins with fleeing immoral thoughts, which begins with fleeing immoral pictures and word pictures. To flee means to run–to not allow immorality to even get close to our minds, much less our bodies. When it comes to womanhood, relationships, and sexuality, we must take in and dwell on what God says is true and right and good. As those who have been freed from the power of sin by the blood Jesus and have experienced His forgiving and transforming grace, we are to champion healthy, biblical femininity and erotic, marital love. As we live our lives in a world that proclaims lies from every medium, we must proclaim the truth about reality. . . the truth that God’s way is good and satisfying because God Himself is ultimately good and satisfying. And we just can’t do that if we’re sitting in a dark theater fully engrossed in 50 Shades of Grey.

Rest and the Gospel

Rest seems elusive these days.

Each new day brings a host of tasks to complete and, seemingly, not enough time to complete them.

Both food preparation and the feeding of little mouths are constant. As soon as one meal is completed and cleaned up, it’s almost time to start preparing for the next.

Inordinate amounts of time are spent washing dirty dishes, cleaning dirty floors, and laundering stained, dirty clothing. But the sink is never empty. The floors are always dirty. And by the time several large loads of clothes are neatly folded and put away, hampers are full again. Such is the life of a mama at home with two littles.

Then, there’s the hurry scurry of rushing to church activities, play dates, lunch meetings, counseling sessions, appointments, errands, and for the last several months, completing hours of reading, writing, and paperwork into the late hours of most nights.

I catch myself thinking {and sometimes saying}, “What I really need is a child-free month in Cancun!” or “Wouldn’t it be great if paying a mortgage was like paying for a hotel and included a maid to come in and make beds and wash towels every day?” Sometimes the exhaustion is heavy, and a change in circumstances seems like the ultimate solution—a sure quick-fix at least.

Please don’t read this transparent confession of weariness as ungrateful discontent. The earthly blessings in my life run deep and far and wide. My husband and children are gifts I do not take for granted. My days with them are not guaranteed, and each new day at home with my babies is a treasure I would not trade. I am doing work I love, work I am passionate about, work I believe can bring glory to God and eternal good when done in faith. Truly, my combined roles of wife, mother, ministry partner to Adam, and biblical counselor to women make up my  “dream job,” as cliché as that sounds.

But, the truth is, my roles are too big for me. They’re too hard for me. To do them well requires more strength than I have to give. More wisdom than I have to offer. More patience and gentleness and faithfulness and love than I have dwelling within me. And since I don’t have what it takes, I find myself weary and searching {even grasping} for rest. But the rest I need is deeper than the kind of rest that comes from a good afternoon nap, a “check out” veg session on social media, a relaxing vacation, or even help around the house. The kind of rest I really need is a deep, life-penetrating rest—a rest that will carry me the through the physical and mental exhaustion of the day-to-day grind and far beyond that. That is the kind of sustaining rest I long for and crave. So, where is rest of that depth to be found?

In counseling and discipleship, I am constantly offering up the hope of the gospel to women. As I minister the Word, my goal is to help them understand how the good news of Jesus Christ {his substitutionary death on the cross and resurrection from the dead} speaks into every situation and circumstance of life. So, how does the the gospel offer hope for the weary stay-at-home mom? Intellectually, I know that Christ offers the rest I really need. But how do I plug into that rest? How does it become a reality in my particular circumstances?

In thinking through these questions, I am constantly returning to the familiar words of Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. 

Rest for your souls.

What does this really mean? Obviously, the rest Christ is offering here is a spiritual rest—an eternal, soul rest. So, how does this apply in the day-to-day life of a believing and worn-out mama?

I recently came across a podcast in which Paul Tripp talked about true rest. In it, he said the following:

I am always in situations that are bigger than I am, where I am in moments that are bigger than me—bigger than my wisdom, bigger than my strength. I am always confronted with how little I control, how little I understand. Rest is not found in my control. It’s not found in my strength. It’s not found in my wisdom. It’s found in this God who has infused my life by His grace. 

{And the light bulb came on}


I am a constant student of God’s grace through Christ—learning how much I need it, how to live in it, breath by it, rest through it, work because of it.

The scribes and pharisees completely missed grace. They never even saw their great need for it because their own legalistic, perceived self-righteousness was so blinding. They tied up heavy burdens on others’ backs, placing greater external demands on the people than God’s law actually required and greater demands than they themselves were willing to keep (Matthew 23:4). Despite their rigid external “law-keeping,” their hypocrisy was great because they totally missed the heart of the law: to love God with heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:36-37). The pharisees oppressed God’s people and drove them toward weariness because they missed grace.

But Jesus came and turned the tables. While He didn’t promise an easy path (in fact, He guaranteed a difficult one–see Matthew 16:24-25), he did offer an easy rest. The only requirement was to come to Him. To those oppressed and weary of striving to meet a mark they always fell short of, Jesus said (and says), “Come!” 

Coming to Jesus to find true rest means falling on our faces before him in realization of our desperate need for (first and foremost) His saving grace and then for His sustaining grace in the days that follow. Coming to Jesus means crying out, “I can’t do it! I can’t carry this heavy, burdensome load! I am too corrupt and sinful. Too weak. Too weary. I fall short every time, regardless of how I strive. But Jesus, YOU are perfect in righteousness. YOU are perfect in strength. YOU are perfect in holiness. YOU lived the life I couldn’t live, died the death I deserved to die, and conquered the sin I could not conquer. I need to be found in YOU.” As we repent of sin and cling to Christ in faith to make us right before God, we can be found in Him. That is the beautiful hope of the gospel.

If  we miss grace, we miss rest. True rest for our souls is realized only when we fling ourselves upon His grace and receive pardon for sin, transformed hearts, and the ability to live rightly:

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away, through my groaning all day long. . . I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD, and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. . . You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. . . Many are the sorrows of the wicked,but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD. Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous,and shout for joy, all you upright in heart! (Psalm 32)

The reality and presence of eternal rest affects every facet of real life on this earth. In other words, the eternal rest that Jesus has provided for my soul infuses the day-to-day rest that Jesus offers for my mind and body. True temporal rest is recognized in light of everlasting rest. Because if Jesus can provide eternal rest for my soul, then he can certainly provide sustaining rest for me in the exhausting “little years” of motherhood and graduate school. If Jesus can give me the saving grace necessary to cover every sinful thought and deed, then he can certainly give me the sustaining grace necessary to unload the dishwasher for the millionth time. If Jesus offers the grace necessary to regenerate my dead heart, then he also offers the grace necessary to be faithful in good works, like caring for my family even when I think I desperately need “me time” more than anything. Jesus’s yoke is easy and burden is light because obeying Him is the natural overflow of a heart resting in the reality of His grace. Pressing on in good works is not what I do to earn right standing with God. Pressing on in good works is about learning from Jesus and following His way. It is the natural result of my right standing with God because of His grace through Christ.

Living in the reality of my need for grace not only helps me to press on in good works, it also enables me to cease striving and take time to physically rest. It enables me to stop and take an occasional, guilt-free afternoon nap, regardless of the laundry that needs to be folded. It allows me let the kitchen floor remain unswept another day because intentional time playing with my children is more important than a spotless kitchen. It enables me to relax and say, “it’s ok!” in the midst of craziness and chaos and two-year-old tantrums. Christ has provided eternal rest for my soul through His grace! And that grace is beautiful and precious and freeing. And that grace is enough.

Lord Jesus, please enable me to truly live in the hope of true rest that you hold out to me through your grace. 

{And all the tired mamas said, “Amen!” ;)}

Thoughts on Staying at Home

So what does your mom do all day? 

This question was posed by some of my high school (or maybe middle school?) friends in reference to my very own stay-at-home mother.

I remember being shocked and even a little offended by the question. The tone implied that my mom was (at best) bored or (at worst) lazy. Like, what in the world could she possibly have to do but watch TV all day?

In reality my mom was (and is) one of the busiest, hardest workers I know. Not to mention, she’s smart as a whip. She made the choice to leave a successful career outside the home in order to be at home with her children. And personally, I’m very thankful for that decision. I was shaped by that decision.

I realize this is not the right decision for every mother. For some it’s not even a valid option. And that is all well and good. 

But as women and mothers who are following Christ, I think it is important to evaluate the way we think about these issues of women working, whether in or out of the home. Because it’s easy to fall into one of two ditches in terms of our thinking.

In most of the secular world, and even in many Christian circles, staying at home is not en vogue, if you will. With the economy as it is today, many women feel that they don’t have a choice in order to maintain the lifestyle they desire or believe they need. In these circles, its easy to develop the mindset that staying at home is somehow less valuable (and less work) than working a paying job outside the home. For those in these circles who do choose to stay at home, it may be easy to believe that the job they are doing is somehow small or insignificant.

In other arenas, however,  staying home is the more common choice. For instance, most of the moms I knew at seminary stayed home with their kids. For these, the temptation is to elevate the role of “stay-at-home mom”—to seek to find their worth and purpose in this position or even in their children.

Both of these are ditches to avoid.

The Bible is clear that all wives are to be “home focused,” regardless of whether or not they work outside the home. In Titus 2:3-5, Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, teaches that the primary role of a wife is to be a worker at home, loving and caring for her husband and children. The woman who devotes her life’s work to the care of her husband, children, and home for the glory of the Lord is pleasing to the Lord. Her work is challenging. It requires great wisdom, strength, and skill derived from the Lord Himself. Her work is valuable and precious in the sight of God. However, this passage does not prohibit women from working out of the home. In fact, Scripture references outside employment for the excellent wife of Proverbs 31 (Prov 31:16, 18, 24). In this passage, the excellent wife is praised for being industrious in helping provide for her family.

Life will not look the same for every wife. Whether staying home or working outside the home, all believing wives must remember to find their worth in a person, rather than a position. For those of us who have repented of our sin and trusted Christ in faith, we possess worth because we are identified with Jesus. When God looks at us, he doesn’t see brokenness, failure, and sin. He sees his spotless son. In this, there is incomparable worth.

And our purpose, whether in or out of the home, is to bring Him glory by working for what is eternal and seeking to please Him. We are to seek first His Kingdom wherever we work, in whatever we do. There is nothing more eternally important than shepherding your own children’s hearts in the ways of the Lord. But all mothers must remember that true purpose is found, not in results, but rather in bringing God glory through faithful obedience. Ultimately, we can’t change a child’s heart. We are called to be faithful in spiritual training and shepherding, but only God can save them.

So, regardless of who we are, where we work, and what our lives look like presently, may we be reminded that life is a vapor. May we respect one another in the varied roles to which God has called us. And more importantly. . . in our mothering, our domestic care, our paid employment, in all things. . . let’s work for the things that will last: the Word of God and the souls of men. Let’s work for His glory, a glory that will never fade.

So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please Him. 2 Corinthians 5:9.

Submission is Not a Dirty Word

In American society and even among many evangelical Christians, the term submission is often considered a dirty word. This term tends to be particularly offensive to women, most of whom have some vague notion that the Bible commands them to be submissive to men because of their inferior status. Based on general perceptions of his teachings, many consider the apostle Paul to be sexist in his theology. While, in actuality, these notions are false, they are exaggerated and perpetrated by American culture’s perception of what a woman should be. Culture says women are no different from men and, thus, should compete with them at every level. Society tells women (and men for that matter) to look out for “number one” and to subject themselves to no one. The message women are receiving from the world is that homemaking is for the unintelligent, children are a burden, and husbands must be controlled and manipulated through sexual prowess. While the world’s message is loud and clear, Christian women must consult a different source for the knowledge of real truth. The questions must be asked: What does God say about the nature and role of women? What is God’s agenda for the Christian wife? Nancy Wilson writes, “We must find out what the Bible teaches about marriage, about children, about men and women and their roles, and then we must be obedient with no apologies, no matter what the cost. Is this radical Christianity? No. This is basic Christianity.”

 The good news for women is that, upon careful and thorough study of the biblical text, the truth emerges that Paul really was not at all sexist in his teaching. On the contrary, he held women in high regard as created by God with great dignity, worth, and unique purpose. This paper will focus specifically on the Bible’s teaching concerning the submissive role of wives to their husbands. The goal is to clearly demonstrate that the biblical mandate for submission of wives to husbands within marriage is not a sexist concept. Rather, it is God’s perfect, creation design, established to beautifully accomplish His redemptive and Kingdom purposes. Furthermore, it is not and was never intended to be a punishment or demeaning burden to women. Rather, God’s design for submission is intended to be a gift of grace to wives, their husbands and the family as a whole. 


The excerpt above is the introduction to a research paper I recently finished for my Marriage and Family Counseling class. I was motivated to write on this topic after a discussion in my BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) small group. When the concept of submission came up, someone commented, “Submission is a dirty word in our culture!” And isn’t that the truth!?! Without the transforming power of Christ in our hearts, we all internally resist submission to anyone or anything. It’s part of our fallenness. But to the one who is found in Christ, submission shouldn’t be a dirty word. The Bible tells us all to submit to God. It also tells us to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. The Bible calls children to submit to parents, wives to submit to husbands, and all people to submit to governing authorities. Submission is a truly Christian concept.

This paper was written in an effort to bring to light what the Bible really teaches concerning the submission of wives to their husbands. Writing this paper was convicting to my own heart, as I realized how my own spirit so easily rebels against submission to my husband and ultimately to God. But in Christ, there is hope for me. And for you. My prayer is that, as women and wives grow in their affection for the Lord Jesus and His Word, we will truly see the beauty and grace in God’s design for submission within the marriage relationship. Because we follow a God who is perfect in character…perfect in wisdom and love and truth…we can obey His way with trust and joy.

You can read the whole paper here. While it is somewhat lengthy, it is necessary to read  it in its entirety in order to avoid a skewed perspective. So, read it when you have some time, when you need a resource as you minister to women in your sphere of life, or when you’re just seeking to grow in your personal knowledge of the Bible’s teaching on this issue.

The Truth About Marriage

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

And this brings hope. Blessed, blessed hope.