thoughts from a Mother’s Day Sunday

Yesterday being Mother’s Day, me being a mom and a having a mom and knowing moms and women who long to be moms and/or grieve the loss of their children, it was a day full of thoughts turned prayers.

Yesterday also being the last Sunday in a series on marriage at my church, and me being married and knowing firsthand the unique kinds of trials marriage brings, it was a day of reflection turned worship.

About a week ago I read Psalm 27 and it grabbed me.  I’ve been mulling it over ever since.  One particular verse has me thinking about my one thing.

One thing have I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to inquire in his temple.

What’s the one thing I am asking God for and seeking after?  One thing.  Mostly its been for my marriage.  Or my kids.  The two things yesterday hit on.  When I read Psalm 27 I hear the writer exclaiming that in the midst of fearful troubles and rejections, his one thing was a triune request: To be in God’s presence all his life, to see the beauty of God and to be able to talk with God and may requests of him.  If I’m honest at first reading I feel like that’s just out of reach.  How can I say my one thing is all about God when my kids are struggling and I’m exhausted and my marriage is so troubled?  How could the Psalmist say this when danger and fears and rejection by his own parents surrounded him?

As I listened yesterday to the preaching of the message that God has ransomed us from slavery to sin and idolatry, like Hosea ransomed Gomer, the mental image of the Son of God crying out, “I buy you back!  I buy you with my own life!” while I was shamefully sold-out to sin flashed through my mind. I heard 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

And then Psalm 27 started making more sense.  There’s only one thing I really need in the midst of fears and suffering: Christ.  If he didn’t buy me back to God I would never be able to run to him as a refuge.  I wouldn’t be able be in his presence daily or see his endless beauty or talk with him and seek his answer.

In the midst of parenting trials and marriage troubles, where fears and the pain of betrayal and rejection and sins threaten to destroy, the one thing I need more than anything is Christ.  And when I lift my eyes off this storm around me and believe the promise that he his with me, and dwell on the beauty of his glory, and seek his face and his counsel, everything is set right.  The storm may rage, but with the psalmist I can say:

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living!
Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!

Confessions: Pet sin

***(I just have note that my friend, after originally writing this post helped me more accurately jog my memory as to when this event happened in the past… not 11 years ago but more like 8 or 9. I know it really doesn’t matter, but since it was brought to my attention and this post is being shared other places I just wanted to clear that up.)***

It’s 3am.

About 8 years ago I faced a night like tonight. Because I tend to rank sin on a scale of badness, what I did tonight almost slips past the cross of Christ in my mind like a pet. A pet sin. But tonight my broken Jesus, who was bruised for my transgressions was looking at me the whole time and I can no longer call my sin anything less than it is in light of the cross. It’s lust.

I think if I were to make known what I did tonight some, like me, might laugh or sigh, or poopoo what happened. Some might think, “Aw come on Sheila, you’re being too hard on yourself.” I understand. That’s what I did the entire time I indulged my flesh in the secret of the night tonight… I made excuses to the Holy Spirit. This is MY sin. This may not be sin to you, but it is to me and I’m tired of carrying it around like a pet. It’s not a pet, it’s chains!

Tonight I woke up to let my cat out. The first thing I thought of was the leftover chocolate cake sitting on the counter from my son’s party. I immediately cut myself a large slice and sat down at my table to devour it. I’d never do this in front of my husband or kids… I wouldn’t want to look like I was indulging myself. And if I did, I do it with a hard attitude, as though to say, “Geeze! Can’t I even have a piece of cake!?” And that’s exactly what I did. I sat down and argued with the Holy Spirit while I ate it saying, “Can’t I even have a piece of cake?!!” Problem is I was sitting in front of our little lamb, who is laying on a stream of red satin underneath a boquet of flowers with the banner, “Christ our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed…” hanging over it.

After I hardened my heart to the Spirit over a piece of cake, Christ’s light was shining so much, I couldn’t hide. Where can I go from His Spirit? Why do I even try to go?! I was drawn to His Word like a baby sheep longing for milk! I opened to Psalm 23.

“The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want...” -Psalm 23:1

His holy life layed down for mine exposed the true nature of my sin. It wasn’t about cake. It wasn’t about food. It was about lust. And before the holiness of God I saw that what I did tonight was not different at all in the eyes of my Maker than what I did 11 years ago.

8 years ago I called a dear friend weeping. Overcome by the guilt of what I’d just done while I knew Jesus was there. It wasn’t cake that night. It was pornography.

I remember the excuses I made. But that night they were all broken because all I could see was my Jesus hanging on a tree. That night before the cross, Jesus broke my wicked bonds to sexual lust. Tonight, by His blood, He’s breaking my bonds to appetite lust.

As I sat before my slain Lamb I realized tonight was a turning point, just like it was for me 11 years ago, and I had to confess it. I had to bring it out in the open. Because I want to be healed. It’s not a pet for me, it’s a ravenous wolf that’s never satisfied.

I’ll never be the same. Tonight the blood of Jesus dripped on my cake. It dripped on my lips. It poured on my tongue. It soaked my stomach. I can never pick it up again without seen the Cross.

Oh my Lord! You are my Shepherd… I shall NOT want the fullfillment of my flesh’s lust in any area! I shall be satisfied in YOU! For YOU prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies! May the table of Your body broken for me, and the wine of Your blood poured out for me, forever satisfy me, even while the enemy who once claimed godhood over the appetites of my flesh is present.

This has been me in this area of lustful appetite even until tonight:

For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. – Philippians 3:19 NIV

NO LONGER! NO LONGER LORD! JESUS you have come! You have conquered! You have exposed this sin in me! I run from it! I run exposed to YOU! I run to YOUR salvation! From tonight on my stomach shall never be a idolic “god” I hold in my hand while I try to enter Your promised land! NEVER AGAIN! Let YOUR blood mark this night! Let it mark my stomach! Let it mark my mind! For from tonight I set my blood stained hands that have clung to this idol of my stomach on this:

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. – Philippians 3:19b-20 NIV

And this:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. -1 John 1:9 NIV

I write all this out here in the open because my Lord says:

When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh?… Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. – Isaiah 58:7-8 NKJV

My Lord, who exposed Himself and covered me on the cross calls me to expose my own sin and not hide myself from my own fellow man. But rather to cover my exposed brother or sister with the mercy of the Cross when I see them. This is not what I tend to do. I tend to hide my self under the cover of sleeping hours, or behind closed doors, or while away on an errand, and expose others when I see their offensive sin. But that’s not my Lord’s way. He heals me when I call my friend and confess my sin, or willingly let my shame be exposed to you here, and cover my friend, or you, or my husband when I see nakedness. This is how He cleanses us from our sin. This is how we can walk in His righteousness.

I wonder if any of you would, with me tonight, be exposed before our Lord. I wonder if any would see Him looking at our hands like He looked at mine tonight saying, “You’re still holding that idol in your hand like a pet! Drop it! You can’t go any further in if You’re still holding that.” I wonder if any would look at the Cross with me tonight in our nakedness. I wonder if any would be broken by His love and ask Him to mark our hands and our appetites for whatever it is our flesh lusts for with His blood so that we may never again approach that idol as though it were a pet. May His love and His grace make us tremble. May it shake us so much that we are free from our chains but not destroyed.

Oh may we see our “pet” sins as chains! And may we not cuddle our chains, or play with them in secret, but expose them before His cross, and each other, and let His blood break them! I don’t want cake at 3am, or cookies in the middle of the day, or a KitKat on the way home from the store, to hold me back from further entering the life in the Spirit God leads me to through the cross! If He looks at me, exposing my “pet” as an idol, which is chaining me when He’s made me free… oh let me drop it like a poisonous snake!

I’m looking to You who knew no sin, and became sin for me that I might become the righteousness of God tonight! I want YOU, not this!

Isaiah 51:3

Timothy Mom Thoughts: Learning about The Lamb through Passover


(image found here)

“1 Now the LORD gave the following instructions to Moses and Aaron while they were still in the land of Egypt… 3 Announce to the whole community that on the tenth day of this month each family just choose a lamb or a young goat for a sacrifice… 5 This animal must be a one-year-old male, either a sheep or a goat, with no physical defects. 6 “Take special care of these lambs until the evening of the fourteenth day of this first month. Then each family in the community must slaughter its lamb. 7 They are to take some of the lamb’s blood and smear it on the top and sides of the doorframe of the house where the lamb will be eaten. 8 That evening everyone must eat roast lamb with bitter herbs and bread made without yeast… 14 You must remember this day forever. Each year you will celebrate it as a special festival to the LORD… 26 Then your children will ask, ‘What does all this mean? What is this ceremony about?’ 27 And you will reply, ‘It is the celebration of the LORD’s Passover… ” -Exodus 12:1, 3, 5-8,14,26-27 NLT

One of the key things the Spirit has impressed upon me in my quest to teach my sons God’s word is the importance of not cleaning up God’s gospel into a nice flannel-graph Easter story. He’s drawn me to the Old Testament as a source for what He REALLY wants to impress upon my kids’ hearts.

The volume of writings which create the Old Testament speak of Jesus. And it’s in the types and pictures God has drawn for us there that we really learn of Him.

I think we do our kids a disservice by sterilizing the gospel for them. When I hear about teens jumping the Christian-family-church-going ship I wonder, “Lord, have they ever trembled at Your word?”

I wonder if many of our kids grow up with our neat little stories and devotionals but they never really see the horror of God’s sacrifice for them. They never really are impressed with the great price. They never really get a visual in pews, worship bands, hymnals, seeker-friendly messages, and groups for every classification under the sun.

In Moses’ day, a child would see the family lamb, the perfect family lamb, laid down, throat cut, blood poured out and then wiped all over their doors. And each year, if their parents were faithful, they’d hear about the story of God’s awful (in the sense of full of awe) deliverance from Egypt and they’d see a spotless lamb slaughtered as a reminder. God says seeing all this would cause their kids to ask, “Why?”

I truly believe as parents we’d quicken the fear of God in our kids (which the scripture says is the beginning of knowing the Holy One- Jesus… see Proverbs 9:10), spark true seeking of answers in them, and cause them to tremble at His word, taking seriously the gospel, if we’d take the time to regularly remember the cross of Christ with them. And I think learning through the Passover is an especially good way for our children to see the price of the cross and learn about the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

So that’s what we’re doing in this house. Last year was our first Passover. It was truly covered by grace as I’m sure in every way it was less than stone-written-law-perfect, but in Spirit it was flawless and penetrating. My kids really did ask, “Why are we doing this mom?” Even my sweet husband asked why I was teaching the kids this, which gave me an awesome oppurtunity to speak the gospel of Christ to Him with joy!

This year, in preparing a little more than last year, my boys and I are studying lambs, bread and plants to help us understand the typology of Christ in the Passover even more.

One of the decisions I made was to let them see a video of a sheep being butchered (after it was dead). I know, I just lost a bunch of you. I promise it is not as graphic as you may think. After I showed this to my boys I read Isaiah 53:7 to them and talked with them about how Jesus is our Lamb who takes away our sins, and how He willingly, and silently died for us.

This left a huge impression on my boys! Boys like gross stuff anyway. Seeing the video and then talking with them about Christ’s sacrifice really made them think.

Personally, I hate watching anything die! I don’t even watch those videos on Animal Planet of a lion taking down a deer. I just feel it and it makes me shudder. But when it comes to seeing myself in desperated need of Jesus, I need to shudder. If I don’t shudder I may not run to Him or taste of His love. I want my kids to shudder and run to Him too!

The other day my husband and I caught a piece of a documentary about animal sacrifice in religions throughout history. As I watched it I thought about how sterilized we are in America.

Our nation is so secular… our meat is purchased in neat little packages in the store without a thought to the mooing cow or bleating lamb that laid down its life so we could have a nice dinner. I thought about how its hard in the culture we live in to really grasp the cross of Christ. We don’t suffer and we don’t know suffering. We don’t see it and if we do we try to hide it. We certainly don’t want to walk our dinner down to the local butcher and watch its throat get cut and its body get chopped up and ground so we can eat. But if we did I think we’d have a much greater appreciation for the cross and the story God is trying to get across to us and to our kids through the Passover lamb.

We have such a pretty, clean, American image of Christ in our minds. But the slaughtering of a lamb, blood strewn all over a door, and blood sprinkled over priests, people and offerings… these pictures that God chose to illustrate His story and our salvation are not pretty, neat, clean or American!

I challenge you to take a look at the stories of the Old Testament, the animal sacrifices, the Passover, etc., and picture what that would be like in real life. Picture yourself sprinling blood all over everything. Picture it drying there. The stains. Would our kids ask questions if we had blood all over our doors?

Now, take a look at the One about whom all those graphic pictures were written. Read about the Lamb of God in the New Testament. How would God have you remember the fearful and amazing message of the cross? What can you do to cause your kids to ask why?

Here are some links to videos about sheep, shepherds, Our Shepherd, and even the butchering of sheep. Maybe a little study of these things as a family followed by telling them about the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world is in order?

Redeeming the time