Do We Need a Still Small Voice Before We Obey?

Women love to hear from God. We love telling people about the still small voice speaking to us. Perhaps it makes us feel special and loved to know we’ve heard the voice of God. It’s a sign of favor. It’s relational. He’s shared something unique with us, it’s our own secret, and no one can tell us otherwise.

But why do we want to hear from God in this special way? Do we think we need a sign to tell us what do? Must we have everything lined up just right to make perfect sense of our confusing circumstances? Maybe we need the assurance and affirmation?

Whatever the case may be, the Holy Spirit brings things to our remembrance (John 14:26) only in accordance with His Word. This still small voice must not be of our own making but must be grounded in the living Word of God. We have already been specially loved by God; He has already invited us into relationship with Him; He has already spoken unique words to us alone—they are found in, and through, Scripture. Serious study of Scripture is one aspect of developing our relationship with God that informs every other aspect. His Word is all we need for our obedience in a life of godliness.

Read the rest at Revive Our Hearts >>

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Planting Seeds of Gospel Hope

She was a new mom who stayed home with her baby boy. A woman in the neighborhood was home with her growing family as well. She, along with a few other ladies from the neighborhood, led a Bible study and invited the new mom to join them. The good news was on their tongues and expressed in their deeds towards her. They told her about a God who offered forgiveness of sins through his own death and resurrection. She was accepted and loved by these women, and so she believed God could accept and love her through Jesus. God used these neighborhood women to shine his light into this new mom’s heart; she believed by faith in the son of God and accepted his words as true. Her husband could see the change in her and began to ask questions. After meeting up with the husband of the woman who led the Bible study, he came to faith as well.

This couple grew in their passion for the gospel as their family grew in size. They desired to tell others the same message they were told and began cultivating relationships in their surrounding neighborhood and workplace. Many years later, as this couple and their youngest daughter were gathered in their family room discussing the Bible, this father led his little girl to Christ and she was forever changed. That little girl was me.

Because of this, my parent’s heart for evangelism spread to me. I spent much of my high school and college years intentionally building relationships with unbelievers, sharing the gospel with strangers, and passing out tracts. I even wanted to bring this message to other nations as a missionary. But God was leading me to a different season than I imagined for myself. A season that didn’t look like typical missions work or much of an evangelistic opportunity. I was to become a wife and mother.

Read the rest at Risen Motherhood >>

The Hidden Beauty of Repetition

Here is my original contribution to Morning by Morning’s Gospel and the Arts series:

Monotony can be depressing. There are times when I have to put on my cap of duty and just get the bathroom cleaned. Or times when I’m tired of taking my boys to the same places to play over and over again. Sometimes it feels like I just planned my meals yesterday and now I already have to think about what we’ll eat this week, and then actually shop for it all, again. I try not to think about the monotony of repetition when I get up with my three children during the week: get up, change the baby, make my bed, dress myself, put the toddler on the potty, get the boys dressed and beds made, go downstairs to make breakfast for us all, finally I make my cup of coffee, and back upstairs to start our school time. Repeat. Repeat again.

Repetition can be comforting at times, but also boring. I spend the majority of my time taking care of my family and my home. Care-taking and homemaking are repetitive tasks. I just fed the baby, and two hours later, I repeat. I just told my boys to stop fighting and fifteen minutes later I’m saying it again. I begin the evening’s meal preparation, even though I just put away dishes from our previous meal. Everyday is fundamentally the same. Homemaking can be dry and dull, but what if it’s really meant to be full of life and creative expression?

Read the rest at Morning by Morning >>

Why Redeeming Our Thoughts Matters

Broken sexuality has been before our eyes continuously in the form of hashtags and headlines. It’s been a steady stream of repeated revelations of sex abuse scandals. For many, their deeds of darkness have finally been brought into the light (Eph. 5:11), and there has been appropriate public outcry over many of these revelations.

How do these dark deeds become actions in the first place, though? The answer is complex. One aspect that might be passed over because it’s often viewed as normal in our culture, is pornography. We’re a culture steeped in pornographic images, even if it’s soft porn found in mainstream films, TV shows, and books. Though there is not always a direct correlation between pornography and sexual abuse, there is a possible connection between the two that should be taken more seriously.

Read the Rest at ERLC >> 

Goodbye Christopher Robin Beckons Us Back to the Hundred Acre Wood

Peace in wartime, happiness in sadness, fame in obscurity, and stillness amidst the busyness. These are all longings we experience in life on earth. And all are present in the film Goodbye Christopher Robin. The movie is about author and playwright A. A. Milne and the creation of Winnie the Pooh, centering around a boy who loved his toys and the woods. A creative telling of Milne’s life and his relationship with his son, the film shows the impact of one bear on a boy and the whole world. Goodbye Christopher Robin opens with Milne as an adult in post–World War I London. He suffers from war trauma, which is triggered by loud pops and bangs. He’s returned from battle but it stays with him; he becomes disenfranchised with play-writing in the city and flees to the country to write a book against war. Once there, he hits writer’s block and must find inspiration. He finds it in an unlikely place: the imagination of a child and the wonder of nature. These became his new weapons to fight off the existence of war. As the nanny, Olive, says in the opening of the film:

Once upon a time there was a great war that brought so much sadness to so many people, hardly anyone could remember what happiness was like. But something happened that changed all that. It helped us to believe in the good things, the fun things, and a world full of imagination. And then, just like a tap you turned on, happiness came pouring out.

Winnie the Pooh happened. And it became a global sensation. Milne’s son, whom he and his wife called Billy Moon, became known for his birth name, Christopher Robin. The real boy was popularized as an illustrated book character. His toys became Pooh and friends, and his beloved woods were renamed the Hundred Acre Wood. Suddenly, everyone wanted to know about the boy and his imaginary world. He was expected to pose for magazines, attend social events for book promotion, and have tea with important people. Everyone was happy again… but not the real Christopher Robin.

Read the rest at Christ and Pop Culture >>

Finding Freedom at the End of Yourself

God has used marriage and motherhood to bring me to the end of myself. In my single years, I took pride in my emotional stability, my innate strength, my independence, and even my lack of felt need for a man. I didn’t even think I was too bad in the godliness department.

Yet it wasn’t long after embarking on the ship to motherhood-land that I realized how impatient and angry I could be. And five years into my marriage, I was struck by a blow I was always afraid to face. Both of these instances drove me to my knees in desperation.

The last seven years of marriage and motherhood have bitten chunks out of my usual stable emotions, showed me how weak I actually am, killed my independence, and helped me feel needy for one particular man: the sinless Savior who died for me.

Read the rest at Revive Our Hearts >>

Learning to Laugh with The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Like the Proverbs 31 woman,
Midge Maisel has the boldness to laugh at the days to come.


Midge Maisel waits for her husband to doze off, rushes to the bathroom, and hastily cleans off her makeup. She slinks into bed only to wake up in the early morning hours, return to the bathroom, reapply her makeup, and sneak back into bed. When he wakes up, her husband sees her perfectly applied face, which mirrors her perfectly applied life. Midge Maisel is a young housewife living in New York’s Upper West side. She married her husband, Joel, right out of college, had two children, and is the typical privileged homemaker of the 1950s. The unraveling of her perfect little world is the basis of Amazon’s Golden Globe-winning series, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

Read the rest at Think Christian >>

Book Review: Wilderness Wanderings by Stacy Reaoch

I just had a baby three weeks ago. She is the third child I’ve carried and birthed after her two big brothers. This past week was my first time being alone with a newborn, a three year old, and a five year old. I’m in that transition stage of trying to figure out a new routine and get everything done (or at least as much as I can) with a big change.

Because of the new baby girl, and changes to my everyday life, I thought it would be a good time to share about a free book I received from Stacy Reaoch. This is a book written exactly for someone like myself in my new stage of life. It’s really for every woman, especially a woman who wants to go through a chronological study in the Bible, but it’s great for moms who have limited time.

With just one-hundred and twenty-five pages and twenty-five short devotional chapters, Wilderness Wanderings: Finding Contentment in the Desert Times of Life, takes us through the Israelites’ wilderness journey to the Promised Land. Each chapter begins with a Scripture reference from either Exodus or Numbers, along with a brief meditation on the passage, followed by real life application, reflection questions, and a prayer.

In just a small book, Stacy reminds us of big truths. Truths of God’s promises, provision, and glory. And lessons about faith, obedience, and perseverance. She brings us into the wilderness where it feels like we’re lost and wandering, but are in fact exactly where God wants us to find him.

 

Christmas and Communion: Let all Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

“Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descending
Comes our homage to demand.”


Bethlehem was an unlikely place for a King to be born. But Micah prophesied of this little town ushering in a newborn King:

“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
   who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
   one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
   from ancient days.” – Micah 5:2

God himself would come to this little town, inhabit flesh and blood, and then offer it up as a holy sacrifice for us. He was born into “the house of bread” (Bethlehem), so he could become the bread of life for us (John 6:35). Bread conjures up ideas of provision, nourishment, and life. A house of bread seems to connote something plentiful and abundant. Jesus told us that his body would be like bread, broken for us on the cross (Luke 22:19). And now, we use bread as a reminder of his broken offering. The bread of life offered in Jesus’ broken body is plentiful and abundant; it’s a storehouse full. His broken body is our provision, nourishment, and life.

Not only did God come in a body, but he came in blood. He came to earth in flesh and blood to offer up his flesh and blood. It’s no coincidence that Jesus introduced the disciples to their first communion at a Passover meal. The disciples would have been familiar with the story of Moses and their ancestors in Egypt: when God sent the final plague that would take the lives of every firstborn Egyptian male, but the people of Israel would be passed over through the blood of a lamb. They were spared by the death of another. So, when Jesus compares wine to his blood at a Passover meal, he’s initiating a new covenant (Luke 22:20); a covenant bonded by the blood of a better sacrifice – the Lamb of God. No one could fathom the ancient mystery that God would be the one to give “his own self for heavenly food.”

That truth that God himself “came in human vesture” to offer up his body and blood for our eternal provision and life calls for our holy silence.

Habakkuk 2:20 says,
“But the Lord is in his holy temple;
let all the earth keep silence before him.”

We fear and tremble before our God, not only because he is holy and great, but because he is good. We marvel at his grace offered to us through the body and blood of Jesus. He is in his holy temple, high and lifted up as the one true God, and at this we marvel. But because of this we also wonder at his lowliness in Bethlehem. Remembering that silent night should make us silent in awe before a holy God on high descending to us “with blessing in his hand.” We remember this blessing when we partake in communion; when we remember the body and the blood. So, let all mortal flesh keep silence.

This is one of the short devotional meditations found in the free e-book Emmanuel: Readings for the Advent Season

 

 

 

 

Sorrow and Joy at Christmas Time

Many Christmas songs are solely exalting, rejoicing, and celebrating – full of holly and jolly, fa la la la la’s, and jingle bells. But this Latin hymn, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, doesn’t give us a one-sided view of life; it holds a beautiful tension between sorrowing and rejoicing. The song reminds us that we are in the already, but not yet of God’s redemptive plan. Our Savior has come, but he is coming again, so we wait and long. He has paid the penalty for our sin, but the effects of sin are still active in our hearts and in our world.

The hymn itself is mournful and dark sounding, because of its lower, richer tones. The beat is slow and methodical. The lyrics open with the people of Israel waiting in “lonely exile”. Scripture is clear about their exile in Egypt and then in Babylon, but their physical exile was, and still is, a picture of their spiritual exile. God allowed them to be taken captive, because he was punishing them. The Israelites needed to repent, but they never seemed to learn their lesson. They were like sheep without a Shepherd; wandering and lost. Their physical exile was meant to point them to a deeper need in their hearts; a need to be ransomed from their dark inner captivity.

Today, we are not like the Israelites, in the sense that our Emmanuel (meaning “God with us”) has already come. We already have the hope that the Israelites longed to see. The Son of God has appeared to us. He was with us in bodily form on this earth and crushed his body on a tree to redeem our whole being. Though he cried out, “It is finished!” it’s clearly evident that things still aren’t perfect. So we are sorrowful, yet always rejoicing. Our Emmanuel has come and fully secured our eternal salvation. But we still wait for our final deliverance: for everything to be made right, for our sin and tears to be gone, for the banishment of suffering and pain, for our bodies to be resurrected, for the earth to be made new.

We can still cry out with the Israelites in our own earthly exile, because we still wait for the day when we’ll see him face to face and be with him forever. We wait for “death’s dark shadow to be put to flight” completely and finally. We yearn for the day when “our sad divisions cease” and the King of Peace will complete his full plan of redemption. We have reason to lift up our eyes and rejoice, because he will come. He did it once, and he’ll do it again.

This translation of an anonymous Latin hymn doubles as a prayer for the first and second coming of Christ. It takes us into the mind of old Israel, longing for the first coming of the Messiah. And it goes beyond that longing by voicing the yearning of the church of Christ for the Messiah, Jesus Christ, to consummate the history of redemption. – John Piper

This is one of the short devotional meditations found in the free e-book Emmanuel: Readings for the Advent Season

Body Image and Baby Jesus

Before getting pregnant with my third child I worried about my body image. Will I be able to lose the baby weight a third time? Will there be more sagging? More stretching and scars? My postpartum body just doesn’t measure up to images on social media or the magazine aisle at checkout.

The cultural and social pressure out there is tough on our bodies, especially for women. Fat is stigmatized, muscle should be toned, and beach body ready by summertime. If the view of our bodies is reduced to only a scale number and a certain “fit look” then we are missing out on God’s design for our bodies.

They are a temple of the Holy Spirit, which he bought at a great cost (1 Corinthians 6:19–20). Since our bodies are good and not our own, we are called to cherish and care for them and use them in service and sacrifice (Romans 12:1).

Although tempted to believe otherwise when I look in the mirror, my pregnant body is good and my postpartum body is good. Scars and sagging skin are the marks I bear on my body in service of others, like when Jesus showed the disciples the nail scars in his hands. It was good for him to sacrifice his body for me, and it’s good for me to sacrifice my body for another.

Read the rest at Desiring God >>

Emmanuel: Readings for the Advent Season

For the last month and a half or so I’ve been working on creating content for this e-book with the help of Katie Tumino. (Ellie Eugenia worked on the design and layout.) Inside are short devotional meditations inspired by Christmas hymns. I wrote two myself, as well as Katie and Ellie, but we also had a few other contributors writing their own pieces.

We’re offering it for free! 

Get it here.

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Momma, Jesus Invites you to Come and Rest

Resting around my house can be quite difficult. My two boys don’t take naps anymore, and the only time I feel like I can “get away” is through handheld devices and copious amounts of snacks. But of course I can’t do that for too long or I feel guilty. So, the work doesn’t end, and it feels like there is no true Sabbath for me. Resting on the seventh day just doesn’t seem possible. How can a busy mom find rest for herself? It’s ultimately through cultivating a place of rest that can never be taken away and isn’t restricted to one day of the week. It’s a place of rest in the heart, rooted in a particular person.

Read more at Risen Motherhood >>

Mourning the Death that Change Brings

I couldn’t wait to marry my husband. Most of our relationship had been long distance, and I wanted to be with him all the time. But after the wedding, I had to move from Orlando to Philadelphia. I left all my friends, family, a church I loved, and a well-established life of fourteen years.

Though I was happy to be with my husband, I was also very unhappy with my new life. I cried a lot. I cried when city life and marriage struggles got overwhelming. I cried thinking about the father-daughter dance at my wedding and how I had left those whom I was closest to. I cried because I had no friends, except my husband. And I had never suffered a shortage of friends in Florida.

I became a different person in Philadelphia. I was always so outgoing, and I suddenly grew more reserved and quiet around my husband’s friends and acquaintances. At the time, I didn’t stop and process or even admit something was wrong with me. I just tried to get through the unacknowledged struggle. It wasn’t until five years into my marriage that I could look back and see what had taken place. And I realize now that it was a death and resurrection.

Read the rest at Revive Our Hearts >>