Being Confident of This

Grace for the work-in-progress woman

How Sanctification Gives Us Hope ~ So Great a Salvation Series

It’s likely you’ve heard the admonition to “preach the gospel to yourself.” But do you have a practical, systematic way for doing that? What do you say when you preach the gospel to yourself?

The gospel message about Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection has the ability to enrich us and make us wealthy in mind and spirit, word and deed (see Colossians 3:16). Yet if we have little grasp on how to effectively let it, we miss out on the power it holds.

Preaching the gospel to ourselves means allowing our thinking, emotions, and responses to daily be shaped by the truth of the gospel.

In this series, we hope to give you practical help in preaching the gospel to yourself. We’ve pulled key gospel concepts and compiled them into a list of words, such as justification, redemption, and sanctification. Don’t let the big words scare you because we’ve explained them!

We’ve also summarized each of these powerful truths in a useable way.

We hope this series will deepen your grasp on the gospel and give you verbiage for what to say when you preach the gospel to yourself.

So-Great-a-Salvation, preaching-the-gospel-to-yourself, gospel series, sanctification, justification, reconciliation, adoption

How to use this series:

To begin, read my post below. Then visit each of the links for more gospel words. Take notes while you visit! You may want to bookmark this page because you’ll probably want to come back here often.

Gospel Words:

Justification by Arabah

Sanctification by Jen

Redemption by Rebekah

Reconciliation by Kathy

Regeneration by Marci

Atonement by Leah

Adoption by Kerry

Consecration by Kimberly

Sanctification

In the Old Testament, there is little mention of the word sanctification. In fact, the NIV doesn’t use that particular word at all, while the NASB mentions of sanctification refer to only a single Hebrew word “qadash” (kaw-dash’). Qadash mostly described objects which were “set apart” for use by God. These were not ordinary objects meant for everyday use, but special items such as those used in the tabernacle by the priests (ceremonial items, the ark of the covenant, etc.). Thus, qadash refers to the uncommon, those things or people (mainly priests) set apart strictly for the Lord.

In the New Testament, we see a different sort of sanctification. Two Greek words are used by both the NIV and NASB: hagiazo (hag-ee-ad’-zo),  the verb form which means to make holy or to sanctify, and hagiasmos  (hag-ee-as-mos’), the noun form which means sanctification or holiness.  Both words also relate to hagios (hag’-ee-os), the adjective form used to describe us as Christians.

In essence, to sanctify means to make holy.  However, the New Testament version of making holy describes a process, the process by which the common (mankind) is set apart and made uncommon!

Sanctification can be broken down into 3 P-words:

  1. Position – In Christ, we are considered sanctified before the Lord. We are already perfect, already uncommon, already complete because of Christ’s blood covering over us. When the Father looks at us, He sees not the work that still needs to be done; instead, He sees only the blood of his perfect Son. The work of positional sanctification takes place the moment we accept God’s free gift of forgiveness through His Son’s death on the cross in payment for our sins. So, for those of us who are in Christ, positional sanctification is in the past – it’s a work already accomplished.
  2. Progress – Although we are positionally perfect in Christ, realistically we know that sin keeps us from perfection. Thus, progressive sanctification refers to the process of growing in Christ-likeness. It is the present and continuing form of sanctification, that work in progress that I speak of so often here.  As we grow in Christ-likeness, His image reflected in us becomes more and more clear!
  3. Perfection – There is also a future component to sanctification. One day, when life on this earth ends for us, we will be made complete in Christ.  At that point in time, the work in progress will be finished!  Sin will mar us no more. We will bear the Father’s image perfectly, and the view God has of us on behalf of His Son will match our true character! Just imagine – no more struggling to do right, no more guilt, no more frustration with self!

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How does sanctification apply to everyday life? 

Romans 12:1-2 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

While we know our position in Christ is secure, we recognize the need for continuing change, for progress.  We know we must be sensitive to the Holy Spirit so that we allow the Lord to mold us into His image.  Therefore, sanctification is a combination of our willingness to follow Christ in obedience and His powerful work in our lives to free us from sin.  According to the verses above from Romans, we offer our bodies and minds; God transforms them. The evidence of the sanctification process in us? The fruit of the Spirit. 🙂

This quote from J. I. Packer defines it well.

“God’s method of sanctification is neither activism (self-reliant activity) nor apathy (God-reliant passivity), but God-dependent effort (2 Cor. 7:1; Phil. 3:10-14; Heb. 12:14).”

The worst thing we can possibly do as Christians is to relegate our Redeemer to the work of salvation, yet bar Him from the work of sanctification. If we trust Christ for eternity, but not for the day to day, then we limit His power. We fail to find freedom and the abundant life He has planned for us.

My sisters, the power of Christ in us is real. His promise to make us into new creations is not just for some distant future when we become complete in Him, but it’s for today! Right now! Moment by moment.

Our Savior came to free us from sin, not just from the guilt of sin, but from sin itself.  This is the goal of sanctification – freeing us to become whom He meant us to be from the very beginning – His image bearers.

Perfect.

Holy.

Set-apart.

Uncommon.

So, we can claim the promise of my life verse, Phil. 1:6, which perfectly sums up the 3 P-words of sanctification. (Key verse to memorize!)

“[B]eing confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (emphasis mine)

He began the work (position); He carries it on (progress); He promises completion (perfection).

I’ve been reminded of this truth often this winter. There comes a time in the Midwest when the landscape becomes a palette of brownish gray dead things.  The grass is dead. The trees are dead. And unless there is fresh snow, the roads become ugly gray muck. At some point, it seems as if spring will never come.

But as I looked out our window the other day, I noticed a tree that was budding.  Even beneath the snow, you could see the slight redness of the buds. Although the tree looked dead, important work was taking place beneath the surface of what I first saw.

Growth.

And in several weeks, we will see the fully glory of that work when all of nature bursts forth in colorful re-birth.

Spring. New Life. Hope.

As I contemplated these things, the Lord reminded me of how often this scenario plays out in my own spiritual landscape.  At times, it seems my progress is stunted – there is too much “deadness” about me, too much sin.  I see only gray and become easily overwhelmed and discouraged.

But beneath the surface, He is doing important work in me. I may not see all of the fruits of sanctification yet, but they will come! And when they do, they will be glorious to behold!

So, the next time you feel overwhelmed by your own sin, stuck in a rut, doomed to failure – preach the gospel truth of sanctification to yourself.

“I am God’s work in progress. As such, I aim not for perfection but for imperfect progress (growth and transformation), only by the power of Christ in me. In the meantime, I trust His promise to carry that work to completion.”

This, my sisters in Christ, this is the hope of sanctification.

Jen 🙂

Sharing with: Grace and Truth, Wholehearted Wednesdays, The Homemaking Party

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One Simple Way to Meet Your Goals

I’ll admit, I tend to resist goals.

My perfectionist nature resists setting a standard for fear that I might fail. It’s one of the reasons I had such a hard time finding my “one word.”

I don’t like to be wrong.

I don’t like to fall short.

But the flip side of that is never stretching myself, never reaching for something more, never giving myself a chance to succeed.

It’s not that I don’t have any goals for myself at all for; it’s just that I don’t often claim them, don’t voice them aloud, don’t share them with others, don’t hold myself accountable.  I’m guilty of keeping my goals general rather than specific because that makes them easier to meet.

However, this year I recognize the need to risk a little more, step out in faith while trusting in the God who is at work in us and promises to complete that work (Phil. 1:6).  I recognize the need to put some of the goals I hold in my mind and heart into actual words and to share them here with you all.

So, here goes – goals for 2015. 🙂

One Simple Way to Meet Your Goals, setting goals for 2015, goals for the year, how to meet your goals

One of my goals for the year is to do my part in restoring my health. I need more sleep. I need more exercise. I need to eat more balanced meals and to take in less sugar. This past month or so of illness has been eye-opening. I need to do these things in order to be healthy, but more importantly to honor the Father with my body, to walk in obedience with Him.

I’m not sure how to make those goals specific other than to say I aim to eat the recommended daily values of fruits and veggies and to also limit myself to those daily values in other areas where I tend to eat as I wish. I started using My Fitness Pal to help me keep track of both my activity and my eating habits.  I also aim to be in bed by 11 p.m. at the latest! Pray for me, sisters!

one simple way to meet your goals, goal setting, goals for 2015, how to meet your goals for the New Year, resolutions

Another goal for the year is to use my time more wisely through better planning.  Time management affects so many areas of my life, but to be specific, I plan to spend at least two mornings a week writing and working on this blog. Previously, I’ve squeezed writing in here and there, but I’m finding lately that if I don’t plan time to write, it just doesn’t happen. And then I lay awake at night with all of these great ideas and phrases and sometimes whole sentences or paragraphs swirling around in my mind. Anyone else? 🙂

I want to obey the Lord in best using this gift of writing. I don’t want to put that on hold unless He asks that of me, and lately He seems to be asking more in this area. So, I want to be faithful even if it means saying a firm “no” to other things that occupy my time.

Women everywhere understand this pull to be involved in ALL of the good things, but often in our attempts to do so, we miss out on the best things. Especially as a pastor’s wife, I’m learning that over-scheduling is rampant in our world and creates unnecessary stress. If I want the best for me and for my family, I have to learn to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading and not man’s wisdom. I make it my goal to please Christ.

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

Gal. 1:10

A final goal is to love my husband as Christ does.  It’s been a really tough year for both of us. The trials have been nearly constant and there is always the temptation to withdraw into oneself in order to survive the refining fires. But we cannot! For the sake of our marriage and our family, we must learn to suffer together, to support one another even when we already feel the weight of our own burdens. I see already how the Father is working that understanding into us, teaching us a better way. I know He will be faithful to complete the work in our marriage, as well.

he makes all things beautiful verse, goals in marriage, setting goals for the year

One practical way I can love my husband better is to consistently reach out to him, whether through words or actions or touch. I can hug and kiss him when he leaves for the day and when he comes home. I can look at him and ask him how his day was even if I’m busy when he comes in the door. My goal is to intentionally seek connection with him, to encourage him, and to help him feel loved – every day.

Whew!

When I read all of the words above, I am easily overwhelmed!  I see all of the flaws, the areas that need work. There are so many and I…I am only one. Do you feel that same lacking, sisters?  That same inadequacy?

However, the Father reminds me that I can accomplish these goals by doing one simple thing: abide in Him.

It’s true! If I focus on abiding in Him, I will be sensitive to His leading and these other areas of life will fall into place so much easier than if I try to work towards these goals all on my own.  If I get up with this long list of “must do’s” each day, I’ll be worn out and discouraged before lunchtime. But if I get up with the goal of abiding in Him and following His leading, I can be at peace. You can too!

It comes back to that work-in-progress truth, my sisters in Christ.

He promises.

And I believe Him.

Jen 🙂

Sharing with: The Loft, Grace and Truth,

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Counting Bedtime Blessings

Bedtime Blessings, counting blessings, motherhood, love

It’s past midnight now, yet I sit sleepy-eyed in the too quiet house.  Our four children are all tucked safely into bed and my husband snores beside me.  An extra chill hangs in the air as temperatures outdoor have dipped below zero once again.

I should have gone to bed long ago, but the quiet is so peaceful and I’m feeling so thankful.  Not for any one thing in particular, really, but for many small things all at once that pile up to one pretty spectacular life that I just don’t deserve.

And it’s because of Him, our Creator God, that I am gifted with this one life, this one year, this one day never to be repeated again.

So, I’m thankful because in the midst of trial, I’m finally seeing some of the good.  I don’t always see it, don’t always “count it joy,” but today I can see the progress.

Today I realized that this time of trial has greatly strengthened our marriage.  I’m able to  appreciate my husband in ways that I haven’t been able to before.  He’s been my comfort in times of need and my encourager in times of weakness.  We’ve regained that sense of companionship that so easily gets lost in the daily urgency of parenthood and of ministry. I’m counting that a victory!

Even more, after finishing only part of the laundry and part of the coupon clipping, I felt free to stop and just “be” with them, those fabulous  kids who amaze me with their zest for life and their love for others.  And again I’m thankful because I don’t always take the time to stop and read books or play legos or look at drawings or dance. I can’t always resist the desire for domestic perfection, but I’m never sorry when I do.  Another victory I’m claiming!

And I, I walk away the richer for it.  I fall even more in love with these creatures the Lord has entrusted to us.

bedtime blessings, counting blessings, love, family

I notice the way my daughter’s bedtime hugs and kisses always come with compliments like beautifulest or sweetest or nicest or bestest.  And when I pay her a compliment in return, her face fairly glows with joy.  She’s my enthusiastic encourager.

I notice, too, the way our youngest son really hugs me back, both small arms around my neck and a nice squeeze (but not too hard), maybe even a few pats on the back.  He lingers there, not old enough to be embarrassed yet by sitting in Mommy’s lap.   He’s my sweet snuggler.

I can’t leave out our middle son, our macho man, who seems unusually happy and eager to please this evening (bedtime is normally met with his frowns).  In fact, he asks me to stop reading before his bedtime story is finished so that he will have time to pick up his blankets from the floor (shocking!), the leftovers of a massive tent-fort built on this unexpected snow day.  It delighted me because…he’s my energetic entertainer.

The only one left is our oldest son, quick to help, slow to anger.  His shoulders seem to grow broader by the day as his voice deepens.   He’s developing a hunger and thirst for the Lord that thrills this mama’s heart.  He’s my gentle leader of the pack. 🙂

What really struck me this evening, though, was the sense of peace that pervaded the air here.  The transformation that love in action has on our children is profound.  When they know that in this moment right here, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they are incredibly loved, that they are valued for who they are, then they blossom right before my eyes.

No tears at bedtime, no scowling, no stalling…

I can see it on their smiling faces, that in just a few lovely hours, they’ve been filled to the brim so much so that it just overflows in return – love and joy and peace.

bedtime blessings, great love, God loves us, children of God

Suddenly, I realize that it’s no different for me.  How much easier it is for me to obey my Heavenly Father when I’ve taken time to revel in His love for me, His perfect, unfailing, unconditional love for me.  Not for everyone else, but for me.

How quick I am to chose right instead of wrong.

How strong I stand in the face of temptation.

How peaceful I feel.

And in me, the joy is unspeakable because it’s true.  My Father God loves me. He’s patient with me.  He comforts me.  He rejoices in me.  He blesses me with an abundance of good things.

And even on the tough days, when I act like an ungrateful child, He waits for me.  And when I sink to the ground in absolute despair, He sits beside me.  And when I’m ready to press on, He helps me stand.

Isn’t it the same for all of us, sisters?  If we could just live every day with this soul-deep thankfulness for who He is and for who we are because of Him, then being the women of faith we should be, the ones we really long to be, wouldn’t be half as hard!

Instead, the work-in-progress would come easy to us.  The victories frequent rather than few and far between.   It would spill right over the edges of our very selves and stream out to everyone around us, this supernatural love.

All of those good things that we cannot manufacture on our own?  They begin with Him, through Him, from Him.

Because He is good and His love endures forever.

We can be confident in that Love, sisters, for it tells us who we are.

It brings us victory!

Jen 🙂

You may find me linking up at any of these places.

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Confessions of a Holiday Hypocrite

Rewind a month and a half to the beginning of December last year.  The hope and joy of  the Christmas season lay spread before me as thoughts  of maximizing holiday fun and education swirled through my head.  On this blog, I shared with you our plans for the Christmas Adventure Box and other Christmas traditions.   I envisioned handmade gifts and peaceful evenings at home near the brightly lit tree. I had the best laid plans…and like many best laid plans, they went awry.

Yes, I fell prey to Pinterest Syndrome, quite deadly to a mama’s often already shaky confidence.  Pinterest Syndrome begins with a few deceptively simple ideas, really good ideas mind you, but it grows into a nasty and surprisingly strong anticipation of all things good and no things ordinary or, heaven forbid, even bad.  Expectations soar to incredible heights, destined to plummet at the first sign of potential failure.  And here I thought I was creating a “simple” Christmas this year… (I’ll forgive you if you snicker a little at this point.)

In my defense, the holiday season was progressing suspiciously well for our family.  Thanksgiving came and went with no major incidents, unlike years past.  Everyone was healthy for the moment, a rare winter treat in a family of six.  My husband and I even managed to put up the Christmas tree and lights with no arguing and minimal frustration, despite the circus of craziness that four enthusiastic children create when forced to wait.  We felt like champions!  We had conquered a pattern of holiday frustration for the first time in years!

Then somewhere along the line, life began to get very real.  Our youngest son, four years old,  decided the holiday season would be a good time to test our parental authority, especially at family gatherings and in other publicly humiliating places including the church Christmas play dress rehearsal.  Not exactly the peace I had anticipated.  Our budget grew tight.  I grew stressed about all of the things on my list.

On top of all of that, we became suddenly busy with all of the typical holiday concerts and gatherings.  So much for those quiet evenings at home listening to my favorite Christmas cds. Instead we hustled back and forth from our children’s school to the church, to  the store, to family gatherings, and so forth.  And it was all fun and good and mostly necessary, but it does make one a little weary. 🙂

bare tree, winter, disappointment

For the most part, I was able to maintain the joy and hope of the season, after all there was a lot of sweet memory-making sprinkled into the mix, but I held onto a dark secret.

After all of the praise and promise of the Christmas Adventure Box that I shared with you, we didn’t even manage to do it this year!  At all.  Nothing.  Nada. Zip.  It just didn’t happen.  In fact, the only traditions we managed to hang onto after the decorating of our tree were the reading of the Christmas story from the Bible and our Christmas Eve supper.  I didn’t even attempt to mail out Christmas cards and I had no pictures available for family members like I usually would.  I felt like a failure.

Add to that  a little family drama and my carefully planned and highly anticipated season of hope and joy crumbled before me.  The disappointment that followed was slightly bitter and came with a side dose of  viral illness, as well as over a foot of snow, that kept me and most of our children cooped up at home for weeks…. literally.

I could have blogged about it, but to be honest, I felt unworthy.  I struggled with the disappointment and the frustrations of life that were getting in my way.  And so like most hypocrites, especially those who succumb to Pinterest Syndrome on occasion, I hid from you all.   I quit writing.  I quit taking pictures.  I made excuses and planned to resume in the new year.  And when I was finally struck with the viral plague that entered our home, I wallowed in my misery.  For a few days, God and I were barely on speaking terms. 🙂

Honestly, I’m not sad that I took time away from writing here to spend on such a worthy cause as family time.  But I am disappointed in my hypocritical self, not so much for failing to get the Christmas Adventure Box done – after all, it’s not the most important thing in life and sometimes as mamas we have to pare life down to just the nitty gritty in order to survive with sanity (and with a family who still loves us and wants to be around us…). 🙂

My disappointment is more in my hiding away in blogger shame and silence.

The thing is that I believe in Grace, I really do.  I’m very aware that without Grace, I’d be a hopeless mess, truly I would.  With Grace I still have nothing to boast about except for a God who gives second chances, and third, and fourth, to infinity and eternity, a God who loves me deeply for who I am, not for who the world thinks I should be, a God who through the blood of Jesus, sees the best version of me even when I’m acting my worst.  But like many mamas, I have a hard time extending that grace to my own self.

So, I confess.  I’ve been a Holiday Hypocrite.  In fact, I could be called an everyday hypocrite, too,  because I’m far from perfect, so far.  I still lose my temper. I still forget important events. I still argue with my husband and become impatient with my children.  I’m still selfish with my time.  I’m still prideful.  I still say “no” to the Holy Spirit in so many ways.  I’m still learning who God made me to be.

But that’s the beauty of our journey, sisters, that we get chance after chance to do things differently.  Those failures we feel so deeply are not the end of the story.  We are given infinite opportunities to let our Father God change who we are, from the inside out.  And that good work He began in saving us from a life of sin, He promises to continue to the very end.  We can have complete confidence in that!

red berries, winter, hope

So, keep up the good work, my sisters in Christ, even if your holidays or your New Years failed to live up to your expectations. Fight the good fight.  Run the good race.  And when you fail or fall, let Him pick your hypocritical self  back up again and hold you for a while, heal your wounds if needed, and send you off on your way , but not alone for He runs alongside you.

Don’t let those fiery darts from the Enemy bog you down, not now, but put on the full armor of God so you will stand firm in your faith. No more hiding away, no more pretending to be something we are not, no more fearing what the world thinks.  Just being okay with the fact that we are sinners, helpless and hopeless sinners, but He loves us anyways.  And His work is not yet complete.

“Not to us, Lord, not to us
but to your name be the glory,
because of your love and faithfulness.”

Psalm 115:1

Jen 🙂

You may also find me linking up with any of these lovely blogs.

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Welcome to the Sisterhood

I’m linking this up with Lisa Jo for Five Minute Friday today (even though I wrote it this afternoon) because she chose the word Grace, which I obviously had already written on today! 🙂  Funny how that works out sometimes.  I considered writing another post, but I just feel like this is fitting.  So, I hope my Five Minute Friday friends don’t mind too much. 🙂  It took way more than 5 minutes, but shouldn’t take much longer than that to read!

When this blog first began, I mentioned that God created all of us sisters in Christ unique from one another, and that He did so with a purpose!  Lately, I’ve been reminded of that fact.  Not only are we unique as individuals, but our walks with the Lord will be unique from one another, as well.  Thus, the ways in which we live out our faith will vary from person to person.

Paul describes it well in Romans 14:

 1 Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters…

 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall.

And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

My weaknesses and strengths will not be the same as your weaknesses and strengths, amen?!  Unfortunately, because they are different, I’ll be tempted to compare myself to you, my sisters in Christ, and you to me.  As a work-in-progress woman, I’m still learning how to have confidence in the woman God has created me to be.

However, as much as I loathe this tendency to compare, I see another, more destructive risk to this comparison game, the risk of self-righteousness.  You see, sometimes I compare myself to another sister in Christ and find her lacking, instead. (Gasp!  Shock and Awe!  Let’s be honest – it happens more often than we like to admit.)

Of course, it’s not always quite that blatant; sin rarely is.  But these thoughts that I don’t even want to acknowledge slowly creep in.  I’m so thankful my children are well-behaved (….because so-and-so certainly needs to get a handle on hers).  Or perhaps you hide it more cleverly in thoughts like this – I’ve studied the scriptures, so my position is biblical (which would make any opposing position unbiblical by default).  When we start thinking we have the corner on the market in knowledge, wisdom, or understanding, look out!  We are due for a major fall

Self-righteousness – thinking we can somehow make ourselves right.

How I wish I fell prey to it less often!

Self-righteousness centers around actions and outward appearances rather than the heart itself.   Oh, how we like to focus on the outward rather than the inward, sisters.  I know because I struggle with it, too!

And that right there is the problem: the tendency to quantify and qualify that which we cannot!  The truth is, we’re all on equal footing, all saved by grace alone and not by works, so that we might not boast.  But how often do we find ourselves boasting in our minds and hearts? I readily admit; I’m just as guilty.  God’s grace cannot be qualified.  We cannot and dare not attach strings to something He gives freely!  And oh, is His grace big, my sisters!  It’s so much more than what I can imagine.

Grace, sisters in Christ, freedom in Christ

You may parent differently, dress differently, celebrate differently, eat differently, educate differently, and on and on.  And the truth is – that’s okay.   Part of finding confidence in Christ, learning to be who He created us to be, is also learning to extend that same grace and freedom to others.  Can I not rejoice in the freedom to be me, yet still celebrate your freedom to be you?

More truth from Romans 14:

13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. 14 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. 15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval. (emphasis mine)

What is the pleasing way?  It is not “a matter of eating and drinking,” not a matter of the details, rather it is a matter of “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit,” choosing to live by the Spirit.  That choice brings to mind 1 Cor. 10:3:1

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

In the scope of eternity, the “whatever” doesn’t matter, sisters!  The “glory of God” is what matters.  Do you see it?! 🙂

I want to shout for joy because our God is so good and gracious!  He knows our tendencies to get caught up in frivolous arguments.  He spells it out for us – whatever you do – whichever choice you make – if God’s glory is truly the motivation, then go for it, sister!

sisters in Christ, freedom and grace, not judgement, unity, Body of Christ

If we, fellow sisters in Christ, cannot celebrate each other’s choices to follow hard after the Lord, then who can we celebrate with?  This world certainly won’t be encouraging and celebrating us in our efforts to live worthy of the calling we have received.  Such self-destructive behavior can only be celebrated by the enemy, that twister of truth, creator of lies.  And I, for one, do not wish to give him any cause for celebration!

 “Beloved, let us love one another,” 1 John 4:7

We are sisters in Christ.

Let’s build each other up in love, lest we all fall prey to the enemy who seeks to devour.

 “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”

Romans 14:19

United in Christ,

united in Love.

Welcome to the sisterhood,

and let the celebrations begin!

Jen 🙂

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Work-in-Progress Parenting: Emotional Children

Last night, our second-born, strong-willed, ball-of-energy-and-strength-and-passion son was showing me a few of his latest “tricks.” I watched somewhat half-heartedly and made the typical distracted mom comments such as “Wow!” or “That’s crazy!” or “How do you DO that?” until he made this horrible grimace. He effectively described it as “putting pressure” on his face. I happened to notice that it looked a lot like his typical angry face. 🙂

Curious, I asked him why he would do that – put pressure on his face. He matter-of-factly explained that it helps him get his anger out when he’s frustrated or feeling angry. Then he showed me another of his typical angry poses (fisted hands clenched tightly at his sides) and told me that putting pressure on his body helps him get anger out, too. Once he was done with the demonstration, he sauntered away, like it was no big deal for a seven-year-old to have such knowledge of his own emotions and body.
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I sat there stunned.  Not because our son is so intelligent, although he truly is, but because a posture that I tend to “read” as angry disrespect  or rebellion was, in fact, the complete opposite of what I had assumed.  His tense posture was actually an attempt at self-control!  And here I had been scolding him to “have a better attitude” whenever the “pressure” face and those “pressure” hands appeared.

He understood his own emotions (and boy, does he have b-i-g ones) better than I sometimes understand my own.  He was learning self-control methods that work for him, without any help from me.

The conversation reminded me that even though I have now logged over thirteen years of parenting experience, I don’t know it all.  In fact, I never will! Each child is created uniquely and requires unique parenting, a truth I tend to forget.

What I perceived as defiance or disrespect was the most self-controlled, respectful thing my son was capable of in his angry moments.

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I hope I never again tell him to change his attitude when I see the “pressure face.”  I hope I remember that he’s making a greater effort than I ever realized and applaud him for maintaining self-control in the face of anger.  He has come so far in the area of emotions and self-control in the last few years, and I’m so quick to forget that in a heated moment! I’m so quick to forget that he, too, is a work-in-progress, just like his siblings, just like his parents, just like every other human on the face of the earth.

It wasn’t a proud moment for me, rather it was a thank-you-Lord moment.  I couldn’t take credit for his heart changes; in fact, I was unintentionally discouraging some of the progress he was making.  But God can take credit.  Because our little boy who is so quickly growing into a young man accepted the free gift of salvation a year or so ago.  And in a week, he’ll publicly proclaim his son-ship in Christ before family and friends as he wades into the baptismal waters.

I see the work the Lord is doing in his young heart and mind already.  Even though our son’s passion and energy often cause trouble for him, I have faith that someday he will use those gifts to be a great leader and a bold truth-teller.

What faithfulness on the Lord’s behalf!

My sisters in Christ, when you find yourself in the midst of a season of seeming lack of progress, take heart.  Continue to follow the Lord in your parenting, and wait to see what happens. Pray for their little hearts and minds to open to the Father’s touch.

Look for progress in the little things, the still, small moments.  Remember who your child has been created to be.  He’s created to be different than your other children and different even than you.

Take every opportunity to rejoice over the slightest step forward.

Because God knows what He’s doing.  He created these children, these gifts, purposefully.

Only He can see where that purpose might lead them.

Jen 🙂

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