Last week Adeline and I spent a quick getaway in Lancaster, PA, to visit some dear friends. Eight years ago this week Josh and I moved to Lancaster County; it's where Adeline was born and where we put down roots, expecting to stay long term. God eventually moved us to my Michigan hometown but I dearly love this city and the people we met there.
Jen and Ret (below) have been an encouragement to my heart for all the years I've known them, and Jo (far left) was my bible study leader when I wandered into church holding a one-week-old baby, knowing nobody. She was a pivotal part of my spiritual journey and I am ever grateful to her.
There is so much sweetness in a weekend like this one. One particular morning as Jen and Ret and I sat on the patio, coffee in hand, the conversation turned to legalism. How do we reconstruct our view of God according to Scripture instead of the disordered teachings of an unhealthy (or abusive) church?
“Really, it's asking the question – ” Ret said. “'What is the truth when God loves my soul?'"
I wrote it down the moment she said it. Tears sprang to my eyes and I thought: That's it. That's the question when leaving legalism, when walking through grief, when struggling with uncertain times. This question breaks every outwardly righteous act, every pressure to perform, down to the foundation and forces us to look inward at the beliefs we've endorsed.
If God loves me this fully, am I living as if it is true?
If God so loved the world, and I am “the world”, I can rest in God's favor.
If God loves me this much… I no longer have anything to prove.
All the truth of Scripture must be viewed through this lens because all the truth of Scripture is God's Immanuel-quest to dwell with His people. I've said this before and I'll say it again: God is a home-builder and the home He is building is with us. That's why Immanuel is Jesus' name: God With Us.
So many of us study the truth but do so while wearing fleshly glasses. Without the Spirit's illumination, the words of Scripture do not transform. They do not inspire, comfort, or bring joy. But when the Holy Spirit brings Scripture alive, we experience truth from a God who loves our souls.
If we insist on believing God does not love us – does not like us – truth will be hard and heavy to carry. But that truth is not biblical. The biblical story is of a God who never stops reaching down, even when we spit on, curse, and kill Him.
So perhaps Ret's question is the one we ask when doubt assaults us. Perhaps it's the question we grasp in hand when we aren't sure which way to go:
What is the truth here, since I know God loves my soul?
If God really loves me, the truth is that I'm not condemned.
If God really loves me, the truth is that I'm His own.
If God really loves me, the truth is I'm not forgotten.
If God really loves me, the truth is I don't have to repeat my parents' sins.
If God really loves me, the truth is my darkest sins can be redeemed.
If God really loves me, the truth is… I can become righteous like Him.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved. (Eph. 2:4-5)
Ask Anything Q/A
How do you get to the big things on your to-do list when immediate needs take all your time?
So… if immediate “needs” are always taking all the time, it is more likely a discipline issue than it is actual needs! We must be careful to discern between “wants” and “needs” (including with our children). A few tips: keep your big things to only three a day. More than that is just too much. I have TOP THREE priorities for each day and I break those into smaller tasks. Then I ask myself: “Is the thing I'm tempted to do right now ACTUALLY urgent or am I procrastinating with busy work that doesn't need to be done?” When kids present the “immediate need”, you can discern whether it is indeed a need or if it's something they can/should do themselves, which teaches responsibility. If it's a baby, I often wear them in a carrier while I do my tasks.
Has eschatology ever been a test of orthodoxy in church history… a first tier issue?
I've read several different church history books and studied many different creeds and councils, and I have never encountered the idea that we must hold a specific view of the end times as a measuring stick for orthodoxy (sound teaching). That is, until premillennialism was adopted in mid-1800s. Prior to that (and after, in non-evangelical denominations) the general consensus was that 1) Jesus would return 2) He would judge the living and the dead 3) He would reign on high 4) we would join Him.
Are children sinners in the way adults are sinners?
Most scholars, even across the Reformed/Wesleyan divide, would say no. In Wesleyanism children are born with a “bent” or disposition toward sin. When they act upon this in willful rebellion is when they are separated from God. Deuteronomy indicates that there is a point when children simply do not know good and evil (Deut. 1:39); King David assumed his dead child was with God and he would one day join the infant (2 Sam. 12:23). The way sin is described in Scripture indicates that of course we cannot save ourselves by works (Rom. 3:23). But it also indicates that the conscious choice to sin comes with age.
Verity Conference Important Details
As we get closer to Verity Conference on October 13-14, I will be sharing some details to help with planning your visit to the area to maximize your experience! We can't wait to see you!
RSVP to the Verity Conference Event on Facebook so all questions, ride share, and house share requests can go to one spot! This way you don't have to search the Every Woman a Theologian FB group.
Things to Do: There is SO much in the fall that is picturesque and fun to do! If you have a little extra time, here are some suggestions:
Pond Hill Farm: We go here every quarter but fall is the TIME to visit. They have great pizza, cider, donuts, and on weekends, pumpkin bowling, smashing, music and more. A great place with kids but also fun for a girls' visit, and you have to take the beautiful Tunnel of Trees to get there!
Walloon Lake/Village: This tiny village is on the way to Boyne City (another fun place to visit or stay). There is an antique shop, general store, and the beautiful Sweetwater Floral. Eat at Barrelback with a view of the lake.
Downtown Petoskey: Enjoy the boutique shops downtown at the height of fall! Be sure to check out McLean and Eakin Booksellers, Katydid for gifts, Emma for the most adorable dresses, and North Perk for coffee. My favorite sandwiches are at Roast and Toast and for ice cream, Murdicks. Another great place for dinner with a view is Palette Bistro.
The Friday evening session with me is one of my FAVORITE parts of Verity. It captures the more intimate setting of our very first conference (80 women in a seminary rental room!) TBH… I might show up in pajamas. I kind of like the casual connection we go for in that session!
If you have not bought your ticket yet, do so soon- local people are the last to buy, so we expect the last 100 to go quickly as they make plans. If you are local to northern Michigan, use the code “localmi" for your rate.
New Holland Coffee: My friend Michelle is the real deal and got up at 6 AM to meet me for coffee since we couldn't meet any other time! She took me to the downtown location of New Holland Coffee and it is SO cute and trendy. (Also, hello to Abby our sweet barista who recognized me from Instagram and made me feel at home!)
Verity Home has me so excited because we are going to be completely set up at the conference! We just got some stunning display cases and I cannot WAIT for you to experience EWAT in real life.
This brunette lob with bangs. I used to have bangs (many moons ago) and may go back!
This washed cotton/linen duvet: After yearssss of the same comforter Josh told me to get the one I really wanted, and I grabbed this duvet cover. I love it so far!
This board game for horse lovers: I was obsessed with this game as a kid and we recently bought it for Addies' birthday.
At Home with Phylicia
Homeschool this week:
Monday: We met for co-op followed by a library run so the girls could pick out books for quiet time. They are really into the Wings of Fire series (Addie) and Barbie princess readers (Eva).
Tuesday: History and geography deep dive plus our read aloud routine! Starting math for the fall, and beginning soccer.
Wednesday: Piano lessons and a nature walk; we are studying the Autumnal equinox this time and collecting some fall season “samples” to discuss and draw. We will do science this day because we're already doing a little on our nature walk.
Thursday: English and Latin work plus morning time read-aloud.
Friday: I have a meeting with a friend at a park, so the kids will get to enjoy being outside - I usually come early and bring our books to read aloud, practice memory work, and draw.