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Why we need to quit trying to clean ourselves up

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. Galatians 2:20-21

Why we need to study the book of Galatians

The book of Galatians is filled with truths about the gospel—the good news of what Jesus has done to redeem us so that we can enjoy His presence for eternity. At first glance, it may seem that talk of circumcision and the Law is not applicable to us, but the motivations and mistakes hidden behind the traps the churches in Galatia found themselves in, also abound today.

Here is an excerpt from the Galatians Study Pack, where we study Galatians together. I have daily coaching videos to help you start out on the right foot and understand the cultural background behind the words we see on the page. Indeed, the book of Galatians holds much for each of us today.

One huge key to living a Christian life

So if you and I are trying to become right by any other means than depending on Christ righteousness on our behalf, we are denying the crucifixion of Christ. We are saying, “Jesus what you did on the cross was pretty awesome but I’ll take it from here because I gotta get I gotta clean myself up.”

We gotta quit this notion that I gotta clean myself up before I can come to Christ. We’re never ever ever gonna be able to clean ourselves up enough to come to Christ. Ever.

We come to Christ because we are broken.

We come to Christ because we are dirty.

We come to Christ because we are unrighteous.

And what does He gives us? He gives us grace. He gives us mercy and he gives us our very righteousness.

Go look up 2 Corinthians 5:20. It says that, “He made Him—Jesus—who knew no sin to be sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of Christ.”

He takes on our sins and then gives us His perfect righteousness. That is the only way to true justification. That is the only way to true righteousness. It is a gift that is given to us. It is not earned.

Then, when we really get that we have been given the righteousness of Christ, it is amazing motivation to worship and honor the sacrifice of Christ with my life.

Because God has made me righteous, I choose to live a righteous life.

Because God has made me perfect, I choose to walk in holiness.

I mess it up all the time but when I mess up, I have to turn right back and keep my eyes on Jesus and remember that he is given me righteousness and then it fuels me right again to continue in righteous living.

See what’s going on here is that we have this internal, inward foundational truths about us as Christians. Jesus has made me righteous. Jesus has made you righteous. If you have trusted him for salvation, if you trusted him to take care of your sin problem, he’s done it. He’s taking care of your sin problem. Your sin has been paid for and now you have His righteousness. That is true of who you are at the deepest part of who you are. You are righteous.

And so our work here on earth is sanctification. We get to join in what God is doing to make those inward truths become external reality so that over time I look more and more like Jesus. That is the working out of our salvation.

We already have salvation. It is within us. We have been given everything we need to live a godly life. We get to spend
the rest of our life working those truths out since they become more and more and more true of our everyday living.

Galatians Bible Study

You can access the rest of this teaching video and jump into the Galatians Bible study pack. Through this customizable Bible study through Galatians, you will better understand the gospel and the freedom we have in Christ. Whether you are brand new to Bible study, or a seasoned veteran, this Bible study pack will help you take your next step toward better Bible study—even if you have a busy schedule. All from the comfort of your own home!

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The Motherhood Lies We Must Stop Believing

As soon as I closed the door to my oldest’s kindergarten class the tears started flowing. With a pinched face, I desperately tried to control my breathing and keep the deluge of emotions down so I could make it to the car before I completely crumbled.

I was a mess of emotions.

My breakdown wasn’t primarily because I was sad to not have him by my side, or that fact that I wasn’t ready for him to grow up just yet. I was torn up because I was disappointed in myself. I had spent months and months of researching and planning toward homeschooling. I’d built it up in my mind as the best option for our family of five. It was what the super-moms did—the really strong, spiritual ones kept their kids at home and shaped their hearts and minds in the best way possible.

We had attempted a trial month that summer to test the homeschooling waters. It was a miserable failure. What I had idealized and idolized was an absolute nightmare. My five-year-old had the attention span of an excitable dog with a squirrel nearby. My three-year-old was as clingy and sassy as could be. And my one-year-old was into EVERYTHING and continually fought for the seat in my lap that the three-year-old just wouldn’t give up.

It was a nightmare.

THE LIES

As I completed the walk of shame back to my car on that first day of kindergarten, feelings of failure overwhelmed me. Even though I knew my child was supposed to be in the public school that year (because the other option = mental breakdown), a great disappointment plagued me. I wasn’t enough. I was a bad mom. My kids were going to be less-than because I couldn’t get it together enough to homeschool them.

Yikes. The destruction and falsehood of these lies are clear to me now. And whether it is about your school choices, food choices, discipline choices, or any-other-thing-related-to-parenting choices, my guess is that you’ve listened to these lies as well:

“I’m not ______ enough for my kids.”

“I’m a bad mom.”

“My kids are going to suffer because I can’t get it together enough to ___________.”

Ladies, we must kill these lies. Our thought-life is a breeding ground for either destruction or victory in every area of our lives. If we allow lies to run rampant and reign our inner life, everything else about our reality will be affected. We must fight for freedom from these lies.

DON’T FIGHT THE LIES ALONE

I’ve learned to be engaged in this fight—the long journey toward healthy thinking—and it is certainly not over. I still worry about whether or not the choices we are making are right and best. I still wonder how I am messing up my kids by doing or not doing something. I still forget that their development and growth is not all up to me.

Perhaps that last one is the kicker: It’s not all up to me.

Today, as I walk into my tenth school year as a mom, though the lies don’t hold as much power over me as they did, I still hear their siren call. I still have to grab them, throw them down, and tell them to flee. Then I have to replace these lies with truth:

I am not defined by the type or quality of mother I am.
I have choices (in food, school, etc.). That fact is evidence of great blessing.
I am not enough, and will never be enough. But I don’t need to be.

My kids need to find sufficiency in Christ, not me.
My kids need to find their security in Christ, not me.
My kids need to find their significance in Christ, not me.

God is in control…even if I get the choices all wrong.
God loves my kids infinitely more than I do.
God is working in my kids in ways I never could.

His faithfulness is not dependent on my actions.
His goodness is not something I have to earn.
His provision and protection for me and my children are steadfast. Always.

BE OPEN TO CHANGE; TRUST THE LORD

I’ve also learned to take it a kid at a time and a year at a time. Every choice I make is not immutable. We can change our path at any time. We’ve moved twice since that first day of school and have been in and out of different schooling options. I’ve been all sorts of types of a mom. Stay-at-home mom. Work-at-home mom. Work-outside-of-the-home mom. Homeschool mom. Public school mom. Car-line mom. Bus-rider-kids mom. Baseball mom. Theater mom. Band mom. This year, for the first time, I’ll be a virtual school mom for my middle child.

Along the way, each stage had its benefits and downsides, its joys and pains. But as I look back through all our changes, I can see the unchanging and faithful hand of God leading and guiding us as we make these important decisions. More importantly, I can see the faithful hand of God changing us in the process.

Lord, as we navigate aaaaall the choices we face as parents, will you remind us of who you are. Help us cling to the truth of what the Bible tells us about you, more than we hold to the social norms and what’s “best” for our kids. Don’t allow us to put our kids at the center of our lives. Instead, keep our focus centered on you.

The post was originally published over at LifeWay Voices.

My Part in Spiritual Growth

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15 ESV)

I long to abide—to stay in deep fellowship with my God.

The thought of  holding on for a lifetime is wearying, but there is great, sustaining grace!

I teeter between devotion that fuels me forward for a while, followed by despair that my efforts didn’t take me further.

Do my best.

The trap of comparison strangles. If I spend too much time thinking I should be this or that—or her—I become paralyzed with all I am not.

I don’t need to be a full-time missionary, have gone to seminary, or homeschool my kids to be approved.

I am only to do my best. Right here. Right now.

God doesn’t expect me to be something I am not called to be. He only wants me to do my best—not someone else’s best—right where He has placed me.

Present myself to God.

What great and glorious grace I have been given! Thousands upon thousands of mercies He has extended me.

Oh, how I want to give all of me to thank Him!

And so, dear brothers and sisters,  I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice – the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. (Romans 12:1 NLT)

Every day—every moment—is an offering to Him.

Rightly handle the Word.

His Word is living. His Word is active. My bread and water for each day—an abundant source of life.

Read it. Study it. Know it.

Meditate on it.

These are the prerequisites to handling it rightly.

The longing for approval.

I long for approval—to hear those words: “Well done.”

So, I will do my best right where He has called me. I will live each moment as an offering of thanks.  I will strive to know and understand His Word which will guide the way forward.

I will be approved.

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The Rich Became Poor

I have been given grace upon grace.

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9 ESV)

Jesus became poor for me. He sacrificed all so that this poor, desperate, lifeless soul might have life abundant.

My soul is truly rich.

As I seek to follow Jesus in this example to become poor for the sake of others—deny myself, take up my cross, and follow Him—I often hesitate.

Become poor?

Take up my cross and die?

Am I really willing to become “poor” so that others may be rich? Do I really intend to die, so that others may live?

Again, the answer is no—without grace.

He has given me much grace and it is this grace alone that enables me to give sacrificially. Give my time, my money, myself; all so others may become rich through Christ.

One Way to Become Poor

Will you pray about where God is leading you and your family to give—to become just a little “poorer”—to bring the riches of Christ to others?

One way our family is becoming poorer is through bringing a verse a month to the Vidunda people, through OneVerse. It takes only $26 to sponsor a verse and bring the Word of God to the nations.

Will you join me in helping to end Bible poverty through sending the riches of God’s Word to those who do not have it?

Will you prayerfully consider the reality of the millions out there who do not have not even one verse of scripture in their native tongue, and cry out with me “I’m not OK with that!

If you are a blogger, and interested in becoming OneVerse Blogger, to help end Bible poverty, head on over to the OneVerse/Seed Company blog, where I am linking up today!

What it takes

Abide. Remain. Do not depart. This is what we have been charged with. The Christian life is all about holding on and staying connected to the source of all we need.

I long to be tied to the dock—for a lifetime. Not just today, tomorrow, or next week, but to the end.

Honestly? The thought of holding tightly for a lifetime is wearying.

What it takes to cling to Christ

Grace.

Hard work.

Grace.

Hard work.

Grace.

Grace.

Grace.

I cannot hold on—I will not hold on—without His hands surrounding mine.

When my little ones are learning to swing, I cover their little hands and grip the chain. When they let go they don’t fall because my hands are surrounding theirs. I am holding on for them.

So it is with grace.

Grace is His big, strong hands covering mine. Gently yet firmly grasping the rope with my hands safely sandwiched between.

My soul clings to you;

Your right hand upholds me.

(Psalm 63:8 ESV)

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For When My House is in Chaos

For when my kitchen is a mess…

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…the living room has exploded…

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…and the laundry is taking over…

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…and for when I am weary of it all…

…I am thankful that when the God of all order looks at me He sees Christ’s perfect obedience—not all the chaos in my life, nor my disobedience.

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past. (Romans 3:23-25 NLT)

Not because of what I’ve done, but because of what Christ has done on my behalf,  He is well-pleased with me.

(…and at least my floors are clean!)

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Prodigals AND Pharisees

I am still pluggin’ away at Give Them Grace. (Update: You can read my full review here.)

It is so, so good.

One of the chapters has really stuck with me,  Chapter 4: Jesus Loves All His Little Prodigals and Pharisees. In it, Elyse and Jessica do great job at revealing the need for Jesus in both the child who has a hard time obeying, as well as the “good” little girl or boy. They both desperately need Jesus. The rebellious and the self-righteous. The prodigal and the pharisee. The rule-breaker and the rule-follower.

They encourage us to teach both “types” of children about the grace of God through confession of our own sin:

Consistent, transparent, and specific confession of sin will help children see how their parents struggle with sin in the same ways that they do. (page 71)

So, we must find ways to identify with our children. To the ones who have little self-control, instead of threatening, bribing or trying tactics like “why can’t you be more like so-and-so?”, we search our own hearts for the places in which we lack self-control, and we talk to them about our own sin and try to identify with them. Even mommy needs God’s grace.

…it is good news to younger-brother types who are tempted to turn away from the faith fairly early on because they don’t think that the gospel is for sinners. They think it is for good people who like being “gooder”. (page 71, emphasis mine)

To the proud little “good” girls and boys who have learned to follow the rules well and work the system for their reward, we must be careful not to feed into their self-righteousness and pride. We must be able to identify our own pride and self-righteousness and confess it to our rule-followers.

Specific confession of pride, judging, criticism, envy, and selfish ambition will help Susan understand her own propensities to fail in the same ways, while praising her for being a “good girl” will breed toxic pride in her heart…She won’t recognize her need for the Rescuer… (page 72, emphasis mine)

What a sad day it would be to realize that all our efforts in “Christian” parenting have only bred a bunch of proud, self-glorifying adults who don’t see their need for Christ. The gospel is not good news to them, because they don’t need it like “those sinners” out there on the streets.

My son came home the other day and proudly exclaimed “I stayed on ‘green’ all day today!” The local elementary school uses a color chart to help manage the children’s behavior. Green is good, yellow is ok, red means you have had a bad, bad day, and usually involves the principal. This chapter was heavy on my mind and I could see his pride and his desire for my approval. He then went into telling me how another boy in his class got on “red” because he had been very bad that day.

Instead of praising my son for being a “good” boy, I told him I was excited for him that he stayed on green, then I told him, “Kenneth, I am so thankful that God has given you the grace to stay on green!” Not the response he was looking for, although he still seemed to be “boosted” by my answer. He tried it again a few minutes later- “I stayed on green ALL DAY today!” to which I replied, again “Kenneth, I am so thankful for God’s grace in your life!” Then, when he brought up, again, that the other little boy had been on red, I told him “Kenneth, we need to pray for him, that he would experience the grace of God so that he can be obedient. Did you know that without the grace of God, you would be on red all the time? Mommy would, too. Without God’s grace I would be in trouble all of the time and incredibly disobedient. Aren’t you glad that we have been given the grace of God, so that we can be obedient?”

I just love this. We have has some of these conversations before, where I have suggested that we pray for his friends at school, especially those who get in trouble, and have tried to help him understand that not everyone has a mommy and daddy who live together, or who have the blessings that he has. But, I have left out this focus on grace, and on the reality of where he and I would be without the grace of God in our lives.

If you are a parent, grandparent, or teacher of children of any kind, YOU MUST HAVE THIS BOOK. Crossway has graciously offered to give away a copy to one of my readers!  Here is how to enter:

  1. Check out the book details at Crossway.org.
  2. Tweet about this giveaway. Here is a sample tweet you can use: “Free copy of @GiveThemGrace, a must-have book for every Christian parent. #Giveaway by @KatieOrr22 and @CrosswayBooks: http://ow.ly/57cIb
  3. “Share” this giveaway post on Facebook (its easy, just click the “Share” button below to have it sent to your Facebook wall), or share about it in your own words through a status update.

You will be entered to win every time you take action AND leave a comment. If you take multiple actions, be sure to leave a separate comment for each action. Each comment is its own entry, so you can enter up to four times!

Comments will close on Friday evening at 11pm EST and a winner will be chosen and notified on Saturday.

Or, if you can’t wait, order it now! I still plan on making an “official” review, once I have finished reading the book. Here is my full review.

Linked up with Thought Provoking Thursday.

Anna’s Song

I’ll admit that bedtime is not one of my favorite times. I rush through it, just pushing towards the finish line of my day as mommy.

Often I regret speeding through it all, instead of stopping and savoring the moments I have with them. They want to be rocked, loved, sung to. I know that this will not always be the case, and I will wish that I had more often taken the five minutes to sing instead of rushing off to write a post or check my email.

Since she was a baby, I have sung Amazing Grace to my sweet Anna. Lately her usual request is “God is Bigger than the Boogie-man”, yet I still try to sneak in “her song” when I can.

I long for her to know and understand the truths of God’s great and glorious grace!

{Gracious Lord, reveal your grace to her heart}

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

{Grace that is irresistible to her soul}

T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.

{Grace that she cannot escape from, no matter what comes her way}

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.

{Grace that will never let her go}

When we’ve been here ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun.
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’ve first begun.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Philippians 4:23

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Give Them Grace

I just started reading Elyse Fitzpatrick’s new book Give Them Grace this week, and am already enjoying it immensely.

If a Mormon can parent the same way you do, your parenting isn’t Christian. -Elyse M Fitzpatrick, Give Them Grace

I have been thinking much about this statement. I feel this tension. The tension between training and correcting my kids yet avoiding a try harder mentality which drives them to self-righteousness (a futile pursuit). Can a five year old obey perfectly? No way! His only hope is Christ. I want to pave the way to that hope for my children.

The one encouragement we can always give our children (and one another) is that God is more powerful than our sin, and he’s strong enough to make us want to do the right thing. -Elyse M Fitzpatrick, Give Them Grace

This has proved difficult for me. In the moments where my kids are out of control…what do I do?! I know that I need to (and I want to!) point them to Christ. But how?

If not rooted in gratitude for God’s love for us in Christ, morality is deadlier to the soul that immorality. -Elyse M Fitzpatrick, Give Them Grace

Did you catch that? Raising up good little Christian boys and girls is a worse fate than the rebellious, prodigal son! These “good kids” may grow up to be better civil citizens and may avoid the consequences that the prodigal may have to endure, but the self-righteous soul may have a harder time accepting the grace of God than the prodigal who has wallowed in the pig-sty.

I look forward to sharing more with you about this book, but I want to hear your thoughts on these statements, and the struggle to point our kids to the grace of Christ in the midst of the difficult moments of parenting.

What about your parenting sets you apart from a devout works-based Mormon family? How do you point your children to Christ in your training towards obedience?

Photobucket(Oh, and Crossway has graciously agreed to provide a copy to one of you! The giveaway will be sometime next week, so stick around for the chance to win your own copy.)
Linking up with Thought Provoking Thursday.

I was given a copy of Give Them Grace in exchange for my review. All thoughts here are my own!