A Prayer for Wednesday

“Learn much of the Lord Jesus. For every look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ. Let your soul be filled with a sense of the excellence of Christ.” –Robert Murray M’Cheyne

Heavenly Father,

We come to you today as weak and sinful women. Sometimes it can feel as though our lives are characterized by failures, unmet goals, and faithlessness. Even on our best days, we are acutely aware of our unworthiness to be called your daughters.

But as we gaze upon our own messy and imperfect lives, would you lift our eyes to the throne of your Son? Would you give us a vision of our loving Savior and victorious King!

We praise you because your affections for us are not be based upon our ability (or rather inability) to please you, but instead they are secured by Christ’s perfect obedience on our behalf. We know that because our substitute–Jesus Christ–never sinned, we can enjoy the blessings of your perfect, overwhelming and abundant love. Would you allow us to live in the freedom of this knowledge today?

We also know that the ability to please you and bring glory to your Name is something only you can bring about. You are able to use even the frailest of women for your good purposes and can take our meager, flawed offerings of obedience and produce great fruit for your Kingdom. You delight in revealing your strength through our weakness, your wisdom through our ignorance, your faithfulness through our fickleness. We offer ourselves up to be used as vessels for the spreading of your gospel. Fill us up today and send us out into our homes, our communities, our workplaces, and our schools to be poured out again for the glory of your Name. We desire that your name be glorified, not our own.

Yes Lord, would you help us to look not at ourselves, but at Jesus today. Help us to draw near to this Jesus who could raise the dead to life, could give the blind their sight, and make the lame walk. This Jesus who has chosen to shower us with his immeasurable grace. Give us a vision of his untamable power and his unfathomable gentleness that we might be captivated by his character. We can get so distracted and disheartened by our failures, but you desire for us to cling to the cross where they were all paid for by our merciful Savior.

Teach our souls to trust in this good news and fill our souls with a sense of the excellence of Christ.

In this is freedom.

In this is joy.

In our Savior’s holy name we pray, Amen.

Bookmarks 9/17/13

Bookmarks“But the most important thing is that there are far more young women who would rather have the Christians thinking they are worldly than the world thinking they are Christians. If they knew we were Christians it would ruin our witness. If they could tell by the swimsuit I wear that I believe God can see my actions, then my testimony would be blown. If my clothes said that I believed in abstinence before marriage I would be so embarrassed. We would rather be associated with the immoral women who wear pretty clothes than with the League of Godly Womanhood for the Domestic Future. There is something deeply wrong with this. We are more ashamed of the Body of Christ than we are of our own sexuality, and that is a far more spiritually crippling problem.” -Rachel Jankovic

10 Thoughts on Modesty: Rachel Jankovic tackles some important arguments and thought processes in regard to modesty. Lots of good thoughts here. Also see this series for more thoughts on modesty…

Lessons from the Breakup: John Bloom shares 9 lessons to be learned during the pain of an unsuccessful dating relationship.

All You Need is Love: Paul Tripp shares why community is so important when you are facing various trials. We are meant to give and receive the love of God through one another!

Two Posts on Minimizing to Maximize: I was encouraged by both of these posts, one from GirlTalk and another from GraceLaced on the importance and wisdom in prioritizing and choosing what is most important.

When Kids Distract You from Worship: Doug Wilson shares some gentle encouragement with those who bring their little ones into the service with them.

Why Women Should Teach: Jen Wilkin shares some thoughts with pastors on the benefit good, knowledgeable, gifted women teachers in women’s ministry and how they can strengthen and encourage them.

Study Bible Giveaway: My friend, Kim Lenon, is giving a way a new ESV Inductive Study Bible on her blog. Melissa Deming, Christina Fox and I had the opportunity to share our passion for Bible study in this post!

Ender’s Game Read Along: Redeemed Reader is hosting a fun and insightful read along for the classic sci-fi novel Ender’s Game, which is hitting the big screen on November 1st!

Catechizing Through Music

"A Family Prayer" by George Andrew ReidAre you familiar with the concept of catechizing? It sounds like a very stuffy, old, and boring term doesn’t it? In reality a catechism is just a summary of doctrinal beliefs written in question and answer format, for the purpose of memorization. It is a very useful tool for learning the foundations of Christian theology, and has historically been used to teach children the truths of Scripture at an early age. Still sounds stuffy? Let me try to help you see past the terminology. Listen to the way Kathy Keller describes the process of catechizing your children:

“… you are furnishing your child with the mental foundation on which the rest of his or her spiritual life will be built. Or, to switch metaphors, you are laying the kindling and the logs in the fireplace, so that when the spark of the Holy Spirit ignites your child’s heart, there will be a steady, mature blaze.” -Kathy Keller

There now, that doesn’t sound boring does it? THAT sounds like something I want to do!

In fact, my husband and I have always planned to incorporate an updated version of the Westminster Shorter Catechism (the one written specifically for children) into our family devotions. As we thought about our future family in those dreamlike dating and early marriage days, we had grand visions of what those times of Bible reading, singing, praying and catechizing would look like. All of our little children would be dressed, happy, quiet, and willing as they participated in this spiritually enriching process–at least that is how we envisioned it.

Fast forward to reality, and the process turned out to be much more grueling and “challenging” than we had initially thought it would be. The catechism just wasn’t happening. So we thought perhaps they were too young–okay, so they were pretty young at the time–and that we would pick it up again a few years down the line. Perhaps we had just been too ambitious to try to catechize a 2 and 3 1/2 year old.

Dana DirksenBut it wasn’t long after we had tucked away our handy 1st Questions and Answers book that I stumbled upon Dana Dirksen’s Songs for Saplings CDs. I was already familiar with her ABC album which is comprised of Bible verses that correspond with the alphabet, but had not yet heard her Questions with Answers CDs. Let me tell you, this series of albums is worth its weight in gold. I purchased the first CD for my boys and after just a few days of listening to the songs as we travelled in the car, my boys were singing the catechism to themselves. Yes, singing the catechism–questions AND answers–all by themselves without any prompting by me. My husband was flabbergasted at the ease with which they were able to recall the very same information we had so painfully sought to help them memorize only months before. Music, had helped them to commit these important and beautiful truths to heart.

Needless to say, I quickly ordered the next CDs in the series and my kids have been listening to them ever since. Dana’s songs are so well done, fun, and creative and do not shy away from big, theological words like many children’s songs. For instance, one of the songs asks, “What is sanctification?” and answers, “Sanctification is God making me Holy, in heart and behavior.” This might not sound like a very entertaining addition to your musical library, but Dana manages to pull off these deep theological truths in a fun and age appropriate way. My boys actually ask for these songs when we get in the car!

One of the things I appreciate the most about each song is that it includes not only the Q & A, but a supporting Scripture. I think this is brilliant because it roots their doctrinal beliefs in the Word of God and helps you (the parent) to know where to go in order to further study the doctrine being taught. Your children not only learn what the Bible says about a particular topic, but where it says it. See what I mean about gold? Yes.

As I have begun homeschooling my oldest, Elliot, I have been making a point to solidify his memorization of the catechism in a more tradition sense. After we have finished reading our Bible passage for the day, we walk through each question saying it and the answer out loud. This has been a breeze because he already has most of them memorized thanks to Dana’s songs.

There are 4 Questions with Answers CD’s so far: God and Creation, The Fall and Salvation, Christ and His Work, and The Word of God. That’s 80 songs. That’s 80 doctrinal truths to easily and joyfully teach your children through song! I heartily recommend this resource for every parent–even if you don’t intend to formally catechize your children. Just hearing and singing these fun songs will benefit them. And who knows, they might just get catechized along the way without you even knowing it!

I recently contacted Songs for Saplings to let them know how much I appreciated their work and that I would be reviewing the CDs on my blog. I was absolutely thrilled when they replied with a generous offer for the readers of Desiring Virtue. You can download the first Questions with Answers CD at 85% off by using the coupon code desiringvirtue. That means you can get the first CD for $.90! Just follow these instructions before September 20th to download your copy at a substantial discount:

  1. Visit the Questions with Answers, Volume 1 Download page by clicking here.
  2. Click “Buy now”
  3. In the pop up screen, click “Have a Discount Code?”
  4. Enter desiringvirtue and click apply
  5. The price will change from $6 to $.90! –that is a GREAT deal!

You can sample Dana’s music below (the Q&A songs begin on track 8) and either purchase her CDs through the Songs for Saplings website or on Amazon.

Thank you Songs for Saplings, for this wonderful resource and special offer for Desiring Virtue’s readers!

Signature

Bookmarks 9/12/13

BookmarksTrials and the Goodness of God: Gloria Furman shares some sweet encouragement to anyone who is going through trials. She points out that if trials bring us nearer to Christ, then our trials are blessings indeed:

“When there’s nothing in heaven or on earth or under the earth that can separate you from Christ’s love, waves of trials can only throw you onto the Rock of Ages. Resting on that Rock is where I’d like to be and stay forever, and may the Lord bless the means he uses to remind me of that.” -Gloria Furman

The Comparison Game: Christina Fox challenges us to check our hearts when we find ourselves tempted to compare our lives/circumstances/talents to other women.

Excellent and Ordinary: Michael Horton brings meaning to the ordinary and cautions us to not find our worth in our achievements.

Little Sins, Big Consequences: Rachel Jankovic reminds us that the little sins in our lives can have a big impact on our children’s lives.

Women Bloggers and Women Preachers: Aimee Byrd takes a look at the differences between being called to pastor and being called to be an active member of the Body of Christ.

More Than Proverbs 31 and Titus 2: Did you get a chance to catch my first post over at Credo Magazine? I had the opportunity to share my heart for women needing more than rules and guidelines for the Christian life–we need the gospel.

Purity Before Marriage Provides Trust in Marriage: Garrett Kell shares how your physical relationship before you get married can impact your relationship after you get married.

Women Need More Than Proverbs 31 and Titus 2

Credo Blog Guest PostToday I have the incredible honor of sharing my heart for gospel-centered theology for women over at Credo Magazine’s blog. I am thrilled and humbled to announce that I will have the joy of contributing to Credo’s blog on a monthly basis, adding a female voice to the cast of male writers who have been serving the body of Christ there already. I hope you will join me as I talk about the need for applying the gospel to our view of the Proverb’s 31 and Titus 2 Women. Here is an excerpt:

It has been my experience that women especially can find it hard to keep the gospel at the center of their daily pursuit of holiness. Why would I say this? Because there seems to be a disproportional emphasis within women’s ministries, retreats, conferences, the blogosphere, and friendships focusing on biblical texts that are specifically applicable to the female sex but lacking in proper biblical context. We go to women’s retreats expounding on the different virtues of the Proverbs 31 Woman without ever hearing the gospel from where those virtues spring. We engage in Titus 2 relationships, mentoring each other in the practical outworkings of our faith without ever reminding one another of the life-giving truths of the gospel it’s all rooted in. We find accountability partners who will help us focus on the lists of things we need to change about ourselves rather than on the One who has promised to change us.

As a result, our lives can often feel like a vicious cycle of striving to be the perfect wife and mother, failing to be the perfect wife and mother, and then being overcome by guilt because of our inability to be the perfect wife and mother. We have not been taught these important passages of Scripture – which are meant for our edification – within the broader context of Scripture, and we rarely see them coupled with the good news of the gospel… {Read The Full Article Here}