Tuesday, February 18, 2014

It's Time to Fight

Have you ever felt like God was trying to get your attention? Like everywhere you turned you kept being confronted by the same truths? That's what's been happening in my life lately.

I am reading a lot currently. Reading for different groups that I am a part of and reading to know Christ more intimately. All of the books I am reading are different- for different purposes, chosen by different people- and yet, as I am reading them, I find myself confronted by the same truths. It's gotten my attention.

I am reading through the book of Romans right now and discussing it with two college girls who I've been in a discipleship relationship with for 3 years now.

I am reading Jerry Bridges' book Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate with those same girls plus two other college girls.

Our BCM leadership team is reading Follow Me by David Platt.

And I am reading Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home by Gloria Furman for a Mom's Book Club.

Clearly, very different books for very different purposes. And yet, I feel God speaking to me in each of them the same thing: Fight, Carrie.

I think I tend to fall into one of two camps when it comes to my own sinfulness: self-loathing or apathy. I either get really down about my sin and beat myself up. Or I justify it or ignore it completely. And over and over lately, God has been convicting me and speaking to me.

The truth is- I AM a wretch. My sin is abhorrent. It is, as Jerry Bridges puts it, "cosmic treason" and a "despising of God himself." But, because of Christ, I am no longer bound by this sin! I am no longer a slave to it. When I wallow in my sin, it feels so powerful, like I cannot overcome it. And when I am apathetic towards it, I am just handing myself over to my flesh and surrendering. 

The thing is- over and over the Bible tells us that we are at war with our flesh. We must fight! But we don't fight in our own strength or power, because we could never win. We fight, filled with the Holy Spirit, empowered by the grace of God and believing the Gospel is true! Jerry Bridges uses the analogy of an appliance- like a refrigerator. It is the motor that does the work in the refrigerator, but the only reason the motor can work is because it is plugged into the electricity. It is the electricity that powers the motor to do the work. We are the motor, we do the work- the Holy Spirit is our power source.

So, how do we fight?
- Gloria Furman spends a whole chapter of her book clarifying the truth of the Gospel and reminding us to preach the Gospel to ourselves everyday. "If God's matchless power is available to us, why would we prefer to rely on our inferior strength for personal growth in holiness?" p. 47
- We fight believing the Gospel is true- knowing that our sin has been completely atoned for, knowing that the victory has already been won, knowing that whatever sin we struggle with- the grace of God is greater and more powerful (Paul talks about this in Romans 5:20-21 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded ALL THE MORE, so that as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.) And knowing that we have already received the perfect righteousness of Christ. In Respectable Sins, Jerry Bridges really breaks down this righteousness for us. He applies it to specific sins. Struggling with anxiety? Christ was never anxious. He perfectly trusted God. And THAT righteousness belongs to you. Struggling with gossip? Bitterness? Discontentment? Jesus was not a gossip, he was never bitter and he was content all of his days. THAT righteousness is yours in Christ's death.

 What does it look like, practically, to fight with the Gospel?
- Prayer- I've been encouraged to pray over my day before it begins- and not just the "day" but specifically pray for each event I have planned- even the mundane and ordinary ones. Pray for the loads of laundry I will do, the homeschool lessons, the meal preparation- specifically pray for the things that will lay ahead, the things I have planned- that God would empower me to fight, to wage war, in those moments, against my sinful nature, knowing that God is already using those moments to make me more like Jesus and has already gone before me in battle. And then, I've been convicted to utter small, desperate prayers as those moments arrive- as I can see that I am getting angry, or impatient, or as I see that this next task is going to really push me- to utter pleas in those moments.

- Remember of the Gospel throughout my day- The thing is, I don't want to compartmentalize God. I don't want Him to be something I think about only when I have my Bible out. If I do that, I'll never be able to fight. God is there all day with me. He is concerned about my thoughts and my activities- even the ones no one sees. And I am responsible to Him and dependent on Him in every moment. I can't forget that. So, I am putting up reminders to myself- like notes on my mirror, or refrigerator. I am scheduling texts to myself that say "God is with you right now," or "Whatever you do, do it for the glory of God," or "You have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith" or "There is more grace in Him than sin in me." Just reminders that will buzz on my phone throughout the day keeping my thoughts on Him.

- Music- a soundtrack to my day. A soundtrack filled with truth and Gospel words- filling my head and my home and my heart with the powerful words of God.

- Memorizing scripture- when it's right there in my mind, I can meditate on it no matter what I am doing. Right now I am memorizing Romans 1. So far, I have memorize Romans 1:1-12, and I find myself whispering it throughout the day, thinking about it because I am trying so desperately to get my mommy-brain to memorize it!"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, we we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" According to Scripture, the minds, hearts and lives of Christians revolve entirely around the words of Christ. Follow Me p. 78.

And lastly, remember the WHY of our fight. We are not fighting our sin because we want our home to be a happier place, or our marriage to be better, or our stress levels to go down (although I think all of those things will happen). We don't live and fight in the Gospel because this life will be better for us if we do. The reality of the Gospel is that our salvation is not about us. It's about Jesus. We fight for righteousness because a sinless Savior died to give us that righteousness so that every nation, tribe and tongue will know, and bow down, and proclaim that He is Lord.

According to Jesus' own words, he died so that "repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations." Far beyond just dying for you and me, Jesus was dying to purchase people "for God from every tribe and language and people and nation." Disciples of Jesus know that he is not merely a personal Lord and Savior, worthy of someone's individual approval. Disciples of Jesus know that he is the cosmic Lord and Savior worthy of everyone's eternal praise. Follow Me p. 90

I desire that all my activities of an ordinary day will honor God before other people. Jesus said, "In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." Respectable Sins p. 57

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the Gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy scriptures, concerning His Son who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of Holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord. Through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of His name among the nations. Romans 1:1-5

Jesus' work on the cross means more for you that an example for good living. The Bible is God's story of how he redeems a people he has chosen to worship him for all eternity. Glimpses of Grace p. 45

For His name, for His glory, for His fame- I fight. And because the battle is His, I win. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Happy Birthday Caleb!

Dearest Caleb,

Dude! How are you eight already? I just can't believe how the years are flying by! Watching the Winter Olympics with you this year has brought back a lot of memories of that February 8 years ago. It was during 3 am feedings in a hospital room with our first born son (you!) that your daddy and I first discovered the Olympic sport of curling!

Caleb, you are growing into such a wonderful boy. We are so proud of you. You are passionate and strong willed. Sometimes that means we have our conflicts in this house, but your daddy and I know that being strong willed is a wonderful character trait. We pray that God will grow you into a man after His own heart who is strong in his convictions and founded in truth. Last summer, we were so blessed to baptize you and now watching you grow in the faith- understanding even more of the Gospel- what a joy it is!

I love being your teacher. You are so smart and so articulate. Our conversations at school each day are so fun! Our discussions of the Bible, or our science books are so interesting. You still love science and animals the best. Just today you told me you want to be a wild life biologist when you grow up. I think you might be onto something there, since you usually are the one teaching me when it comes to animals!

You are a natural leader. Your brothers and your sister follow your every move- but so do other children. I can't wait to see how God uses you as you grow! Your sister has you wrapped, though! You adore her and cannot say no to her!

Caleb, what a joy it has been to have you in our lives these 8 years. You bless me everyday. God is already using you in my life to make me more like Jesus. We feel blessed everyday that God has given us such a special son. We love you, sweet boy. You are a gift. Happy Birthday!

We love you, no matter what, forever and ever!


Friday, February 14, 2014

Basketball 2014

Well, our first season of basketball is in the books. The boys had a great time and all 3 greatly improved throughout the season. I just had to share their precious pictures and the video of Caleb's 3rd basket, which he scored in his last game. Enjoy! Swim season is right around the corner!

(Check out his celebration after his score!)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Snow Days 2014

Well, like most of you here in the south, we got a bunch of snow over the past few days. Altogether I think we got about 6-7 inches, which is a ton for us!!

We had a great time playing in the snow. On Tuesday afternoon it started snowing, but it was too warm to stick to the roads. So we ran errands and made sure we were ready for the BIG storm coming. And then when we got home we played in the 1-2 inches on the grass. It was perfect snowman snow!

Then on Wednesday morning it started snowing and it snowed all day! We got about 4 inches of snow and then about 1 inch of sleet on top after we went to bed. It was very powdery snow- so no snowman, but lots of snowangels and sledding! Then when we woke up on Thursday it was snowing again! It snowed from about 7 am-2 pm and this snow was again perfect for snowman making! We made a VERY tall snowman- taller than Daddy! The boys and Daddy had a snowball fight while Eden and I went sledding down a few hills. Then we all went to Winthrop Lake and did a bit more sledding. We had a great day! By the end of it, we had another 2 inches of snow fall! We drank lots of hot chocolate, made lots of snowcream, decorated sugar cookies, played board games and watched movies- when we weren't playing outside. What a wonderful three days!