Obedience isn’t legalism

At my core, I am a rule follower and a recovering know-it-all.

I fight her daily… the old Christina. The one who thinks she’s in control of everything, and that if everyone did things the “right” way everything would run smoothly.

I will be the first to tell you that being anything like my sinful self is never where I want to be and wouldn’t be beneficial for anyone.

But I have noticed a trend. It is the idea that anything that is submissive to Christ is legalism. It is thinking that if God asked me to work on studying God’s word in a deeper fashion that this is in some way an expectation that I expect everyone else to do it, too.

The trend leads people to believe that if God calls me to a need for service that I am judging others for not doing it too.

I will continue to fight to make sure that I am not doing things for rule’s sake. Law is not my Lord, but I must intervene for those thinking that any form of following Christ is legalism.

As we follow Jesus, we will discover that there are both commands and convictions. The danger is in the either/or people. For them, it’s either all commandments or all convictions.

Old Christina would tell you that it was all black and white and that all things were commands. This helps the Christinas of this world feel secure in their legalism. It helps to have a clear measuring stick to see how much better I am than those next to me.

However, there is also a danger in thinking everything is all convictions and swinging over to moral relativism.

James hits the nail on the head when he says we are to be doers and not hearers only.

But obedience is not legalism.

Let me say it again… OBEDIENCE IS NOT LEGALISM.

Jesus filled ALL of the law without one drop of legalism.

Now sometimes obedience is following the law, but not because it’s the law or the right thing to do but because the Spirit is prompting.

Obedience at first glance has some similarities to following the law, but as we look closer we see distinctions.

Obedience is Spirit driven while legalism is self-driven. Obedience frees where legalism binds up. Obedience is following Jesus to be where He is while legalism is doing what Jesus did to get what Jesus got.

Let this picture help you understand. Psalm 119:32 says, “I will run in the ways of your commands.” Legalistic people don’t run because they are too tied up.

So RUN! You don’t have to obey the rules. You GET to follow Jesus.

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Jesus girls live Titus 2

Two years ago, as I started thinking about our 2016-2017 school year and all of the changes that a baby turning into a toddler brought. I felt God leading us to be a part of a homeschool co-op.

This is not something I had desired or felt the need for until this point of our journey. The shift happened when God sent us our surprise, Snickle.

As I began to pray I was nudged by the Spirit towards our co-op.

As most co-ops require, I had to apply and go through an interview process.

My sis-in-law was already a part of it and I had heard amazing things about it. (Once even from a hairstylist when taking Sonic in for a cut.) I really felt that this was the fit for our family.

Soon after our application was accepted.

It is an amazingly encouraging place, and a well-oiled machine.

These Mamas get it done!

Towards the end of the school year, they had a sign up for a moms retreat. I really didn’t know what to expect, but God had already shown me so much about these women and their hearts. So I signed up and made my preparations to go.

What I have loved about this group (from day one) is their authenticity. They were welcoming and real. This combination is powerful.

This weekend was no different. The authenticity during our group times was refreshing.

I am convinced (as much as ever) that there is no truer authenticity than a Jesus girl.

Church girls and religious girls are not the same as Jesus girls, but Jesus girls, MAN!

A lady who follows Jesus is powerful. She knows who she is. She steps out in faith. She does the hard work when sanctification comes along to sharpen her.

I didn’t sit at a table where the leaders acted like they had it all together or hid things. This weekend I SAW them.

I would imagine that people who do not follow Christ would have a much harder time sharing the truth. Since Jesus is the TRUTH, I would imagine it next to impossible to share the truth of yourself with even one person.

But I sat at a table crying for women whose hearts were just like mine. I watch their steps and envision my own one day. I pray that I am still loving my children, husband, and parents well. I pray that I will walk the road of release as honestly and as beautifully as they do. I pray that I am still putting myself in the perspective that God has for me when I am in their shoes.

It is their authenticity, the ladies at my church, and the ladies at Lunch with the Girls that answer the call of Titus 2. I have never known anything better than authenticity to help teach the younger woman to love her husband and children well.

President James Garfield said, “There are men and women who make the world better just by being the kind of people they are. They have the gift of kindness or courage or loyalty or integrity. It really matters very little whether they are behind the wheel of a truck or running a business or bringing up a family. They teach the truth by living it.”

Thank you, God, for the hearts of women. Thank you, God, for the hearts of my friends.

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Be careful not to rob their testimony

My friend was sitting on her couch in tears telling me about the hardships her daughter was going through.

My mother sat with stacks of books on Dyslexia when my brother was diagnosed.

The defensive mom came to the “rescue” of the child who did not turn in an assignment on time.

My friend’s arms are still empty

I said “no” to those children in child services.

The adventure of the Bible is the underdog being supplied with a supernatural ability that allows the ordinary to be a part of an extraordinary purpose.

But are we praying that our loved ones won’t actually need him?

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Words from the closest

“Well done.”

That was all she wrote.

That moment last week was one of my highlights.

Here is why.

She knows me. I mean really knows me.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m her big cousin and we are the closest thing to a sister we each have blood wise. I know that my 15 years advantage sets me up for her approval, but the point is she doesn’t have to approve at all.

She is, after all, in the stage of life to be hyper-critical. She is in her mid-twenties and she knows how everything can be done better (just like I did at her age).

So with an up close and personal look at her imperfect cousin, she could have ignored my post, but she didn’t.

And her response was, “Well done.”

My post was on the next year of milestones in my life.

I want my life to matter. I want it to be real and have an impact. But I am also realistic and very aware of my own sinfulness and shortcomings. And if there was anyone I couldn’t keep that from it would be my cousin B (not that she can keep much from me either 😉 ).

So I find her words the most refreshing and encouraging because SHE is saying it about ME.

Not the Instagram me, the blogging me, or the church me (though thank God that gap is smaller every day), but the real warts and all ME. She said those encouraging words to the real me.

Those words were more valuable than those further away because they couldn’t see what she sees.

Those who get reports on the news or the posts on social media will not understand a marathon run like the ones running beside each other or cheering from the sidelines.

B runs with me in this life. She sees the trips. She sees the injuries to myself and those I cause others. She runs beside me. She sees the sweat up close and the B.O. that is impossible to mask.

So when she says, “Well done.” It isn’t trite. It isn’t a guess. It is praise of the hard work that is laid at the foot of the cross to become holy.

The words from those closest to us hold more weight than those who are further away. It is real, and it is weighty.

In what way can we leave those around us with invaluable words that can only come from those running the race with us? How can we who see both the sweat and the finish line cheer on those next to us? Why are we reluctant to let those words fall from our lips or our fingertips?

Guys, words from the closest are probably the most important of all.

I challenge you to share a weighty word today. Give someone a smile or a tear. Give someone the strength to keep running their race. It might not cost you much, but it is priceless to the recipient.

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It’s both

I have never had a relationship based on feeling alone.

There is something more to it. There is an element of stubbornness. There is a deep connectedness that holds on when the feelings don’t match the situation.

There is also a putting the interest of others above your own. (Certainly, not all of the time, but I would say equal parts or a little more.) There is an interest in the person. There is an interest in his or her story. There is an interest in the things that he or she knows about.

There is an expertise that one gets about that person. Of course, knowledge alone does not determine my relationship with him or her, but I cannot know nothing of him or her either.

I am in love with WK… in the giddy school girl way. I am in love with him in the melt your insides and rip your clothes off way. I am in love with him in the get all dressed up to look my best for him on special nights kind of way. I am in love with him in the hold hands in public and sit on the same side of the table kind of way.

But that’s not it. If it was, it would be shallow. If it was, it would be tiring to keep up. If it was, I would question my love for him when I got a headache or was distracted with a challenge.

I am also in love with him in the grow old with him kind of way. I am in love with him in the do laundry, do dishes, and bear children for him kind of way. I am love with him in the I will pay attention (more than hearing or listening) to stories about cars and computers kind of way. I am in love with him in the making his life my life kind of way.

It’s both. It’s a marriage of both the feeling of love and the constitution of it.

Sometimes I feel the feelings. Sometimes I do the work of them.

A deep abiding love will both make your heart soar and your muscles ache. It will make you feel amazing and it will wear you out. It is both an emotion and an institution.

Culturally we like to apply the shallow kind of love to God as well as people. But it’s both…

I am in love with my Savior… In a giddy school girl kind of way, and a lay down my life for Him kind of way. I am in love in the heart soaring, and the read Leviticus kind of way. I am in love in a follow him when things look nice and when things look awful kind of way. I am in love with Him in a sing hallelujah, and in a memorize His word kind of way.

It’s both. It’s a marriage of both the relationship and the regulations.

If I would give this kind of love to my husband why would I give anything less to my Lord?

I hope that we learn a deeper love each day… one that causes us to cheer and to sacrifice.

It’s the only kind of love worth having.

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