Saturday, December 21, 2013

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

From Tim Keller’s 2007 Christmas sermon:
The world embraces Christmas in a way it has never embraced Good Friday and Easter. I think the world sees Christmas as being rather affirming — it’s all about peace and goodwill. Isn’t that nice? Actually, the message of Christmas is incredibly confrontational. It says the reason for Christmas is the world’s wisdom has failed.
One of the (many) sermons my dad preached which has stuck with me over the  years had to do with how comfortable we are with Jesus as a baby.   As long as Jesus is the babe of Christmas, in a manger, we don't feel so challenged.  We don't really want to contend with the Jesus of Easter or the Jesus who makes demands on our lives.  We'd rather keep him in a stable - domesticated and safe.
I've been challenged this Advent season to consider a life worthy of the gospel - worthy of our calling (Philippians 1:27).  A life that cannot be understood or explained apart from the gospel.
May we all encounter Christ this Christmas and see the confrontation in terms that far exceed the confrontation of whether a clerk says "Merry Christmas" or not.  May the confrontational message of Christmas engage our hearts and minds this year like never before.
Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

John Piper's Poem - "The Calvinist"

Very much worth listening to.

Saturday, November 30, 2013


I noticed that this is what I wrote almost exactly one year ago today.   It has been a fast year.

My life is made up of a succession of days that constitute my opportunity to glorify God.  It will do no good to begrudge the character or nature of these days; rather, I need/want to revel in the unique opportunity those days afford to me in order that I can deliberately and intensely glorify and enjoy God.  This is the moment in all of history which God has entrusted to my stewardship.  Now what will I do with it?

Contemplating the past year as well as the approaching new year.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Parenting Is Hard for a Reason 

(read original, by Christina Fox, here)

It had been a long and trying day where nothing went the way it should. I must have corrected the kids every five minutes. After refereeing fights and cleaning up messes all day, I was exhausted, irritated, and impatient.
Sitting at the dinner table that evening, it was my oldest son's turn to give thanks. When I heard him say, "And God, could you please help mommy to be patient with us?" I realized I wasn't the only one affected by our difficult day. I was part of the problem.

Before I had children, I considered myself a patient person. Having worked with children professionally, I felt confident in my ability to interact with them. I assumed that working with troubled children would automatically qualify me for parenting. It was soon after I had my first child that I realized just how wrong I was.

When my kids were small, I couldn't understand why things weren't going as they should. I read all the books. I followed each method and step listed on the pages. I did everything I was told to do. But my children didn't always sleep the way the experts said they would. They didn't potty train in a day. I'm not convinced they've learned their manners. And they didn't (and still don't) do what I say the first time.

I couldn't wrap my mind around it all. When parents seek to raise their children in a godly way, how can parenting still be so hard? But If I believe that God is sovereign, then I must believe he is sovereign even over all the challenges I have with my children. If they have a rough day, whine, complain, and don't get along, it is not outside his control.

Refine and Transform

While I used to despair over my children's imperfect sleep patterns, rambunctious behavior, and failure to say please and thank you, I now realize there is a greater purpose---my refinement. Each struggle, each exhausting day, each behavioral problem, is an opportunity for me to grow in my faith. God uses my children as mirrors to reflect to me the sin I didn't realize resides in my heart. He is in fact using my own kids to refine and transform me.

Parenthood is tilling the soil in my heart, weeding out the sins that keep me from growing in faith. Some of the roots run deep and have entangled themselves around my heart. Before having children, I didn't realize how deeply rooted sins like impatience, selfishness, and irritability grew in the sin-fertilized soil of my heart. It took the challenges of raising children to reveal them to me.

This weeding is sometimes a painful process. Like the tough layers of leathery dragon skin that Aslan pulled from Eustice to restore him back to a boy, the process of seeing my sin and having it rooted out of my heart is painful. Yet it is so necessary.

But even as God reveals my sins of impatience, irritability, and selfishness, he also reveals his grace. When my children are easily distracted and I respond with impatience, not only does the Spirit reveal that sin to me, he also points out to me all the ways God is patient with my own distracted heart. When struggles in parenting reveal my sin of irritability, it also shows me God's endless forbearance. When the weeds of selfishness become apparent in my heart, I also see how selfless Christ was for me at the cross.

Time and again, the gospel of grace covers my sin, bringing me back to the cross of Christ. Jesus knew I could never be a perfect mom. He knew I couldn't respond to my children with love and grace at every moment. He knew I'd have days where I would fail. And that's why he came. At the cross he suffered for every time I am impatient, for every time I fail to teach and train my children, and for every time I don't love them as he loves them.

Hard for a Reason

Parenting is hard. But as I've learned, it is hard for a reason. God is in the process of making all things new, including our hearts. He is pruning, weeding, and tilling the soil in our hearts to make us increasingly like Christ. One day, his work will be complete, and we'll see the breathtaking result of his refining work in us. The weeds will be gone, and our sin will be no more.

That day when I came face to face with my sins at the dinner table, I count it as grace. For it is God's gracious love that desires to rid me of the sins that keep me from him. And after my son prayed, I asked him for grace and forgiveness for my impatience that day. Reminding him that I am sinner just as he is, I used the opportunity to point him to the grace of Christ who bore all our sins on the cross.

May we all embrace the challenges of parenting, knowing that each frustrating moment is an opportunity for growth---one pulled weed at a time.

Christina Fox is a licensed mental health counselor, coffee drinker, writer, and homeschooling mom, not necessarily in that order. She lives with her husband of 16 years and two boys in sunny South Florida. You can find her sharing her journey in faith and on Facebook at

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

I wonder ...

Several years ago I went to my first Catholic wedding.   A friend of Pam's was getting married and it happened to be in a Catholic church.  I was very interested to be an observer at a full Catholic wedding including the mass.  I'd heard about Catholic weddings but had not ever been to one.   So it was with great curiosity, yet with suitable Baptist skepticism, that we went that day.

The wedding vows were not exceptionally different than that which I had heard many times at many weddings.  There was perhaps a little more ceremony and grandeur because of the cathedral setting - stained glass windows, high, vaulted ceiling, and the feeling of transcendent purpose all due to the purposeful architecture which surrounded us.  But when they ended the ceremony with the communion service I was stunned at the imagery.   I am probably reading more into this than was actually going through many of their minds as they participated - but I think I caught the original intent of the symbolism and actions.    The vast majority of the attendees, at that moment, became participants in the wedding.  No longer were they mere observers like me.  Kneeling down in solemn prayer and in solidarity, they with one voice petitioned God on behalf of the newly married couple.  As part of the symbolism of commitment and unity, they shared the bread and wine of communion.   What an image!   The sharing of one loaf, of one cup, of one purpose, picturing something transcendent and more than a mere ceremony as each participant was committing, along with the couple, to be faithful to Christ and to His purposes for their marriage.   In one sense the observers became active participants, actively engaged in the marriage - not only in this event but in the entire marriage - as they promised to be there to encourage the new couple, train them, hold them accountable, pray for them, and to just be there for them.   What an image!  What a ceremony!   What a way to begin a marriage! 

Sure, as a Baptist, I object to the teachings they hold regarding the mass and regarding justification.   And given the teachings behind those images, I'd have to reject them.  But what would it be like if we Baptists used those images backed by the truth of the gospel and the truth of the ordinance of the Lord's table?  As Christians we know that to have a successful marriage, it will take remarkably more than mere intention.  It requires humility, commitment, support, accountability, and grace - all things that are found (or supposed to be found) in the New Testament Church of our Lord Jesus Christ.   I would not mind seeing our churches adopt the images used by the Catholics when we have our weddings - but not merely at the wedding, but all through the marriage.   What would our marriages be like if we regularly and humbly depended on the Body of Christ, represented in the bread and wine of the Lord's table, but fleshed out in the actions and prayers of the local New Testament Church, as they intentionally and purposefully encouraged, challenged, and held to account each marriage therein?

This last week, as our church celebrated the Lord's Supper, it was also an occasion for a matter of church discipline.   Our pastor pointed out to us that it is a long tradition that matters of church discipline are carried out around the Lord's Table.   How appropriate!   It only makes sense.  Unity, pictured by the sharing of the symbols of the body and blood of Christ, as well as the picture of the brokenness that He experienced on our behalf reminded us of the solemnity of the occasion.   It reminded us all that were it not for the body and blood of our Lord, shed for us, we would not be saved.  We have no grounds for feeling superior or judgmental - rather we are humbled as we carry out a loving and painful responsibility to a fellow traveler.

It occurred to me as we left church that night and as I remembered the wedding I described above, why do we not combine the Lord's Supper with more life events of significance - and not just the elements of the Supper, but also the fleshed out imagery?  Why not combine the Lord's Supper with marriage (perhaps this would be a separate service from the wedding - intimate with just the church family present)?  Why not share the Lord's Supper when a fellow member dies and we have the funeral?  This would seal in our minds (and theirs) our commitment to the spouse and family. Why not at baby dedications as the church promises to love and support and flesh out the body of Christ to the new baby and his parents in the huge journey they are commencing?  Why not at graduation?   Why not?

In an age where members of the church remain autonomous and feel like mere observers and not members, would not the inclusion of the Supper in big events in our lives remind us of our participation and commitment to the local body of Christ.  Would it not raise our expectations about the involvement of our fellow members in the most important and even intimate aspects of our lives?  Would it not be a good thing - consistent with overall beliefs about the church?  Would it not contribute to unity; to humility; to submitting one to another?

I wonder…

Friday, May 24, 2013

Prayer of confession:

(I believe originally by A.W. Tozer)

Father I want to know you, but my coward heart fears to give up its toys. I cannot part with them without inward bleeding and I do not try to hide from you the terror of the parting. I come trembling but I do come. 

Please root from my heart all those things that I have cherished so long and which have become a very part of my living self so that you may enter and dwell there without a rival. 

Then shall you make the place of your feet glorious. Then shall my heart have no need for the sun to shine in it for you yourself will be the light in it. And there shall be no night there. 

May it be so, Lord Jesus. 

We pray it in your name.