Every Woman a Theologian
—  How to Walk by the Spirit —
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Dear friend,
This week on Every Woman a Theologian we are pressing into the Holy Spirit (personally and theologically!). I love when things line up like this: We are also studying the Spirit in my local bible study on Monday nights. There is so much to learn about Him; the depths of this walk in step with God's heart can never be fully plumbed.
Many of us know we should walk by the Spirit, but we don't know how. We haven't been taught the practicals. I shared this to Instagram on Monday, but it's worth reshaping here (you can see the shareable IG version here). 
Galatians 5 tells believers to “walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the lusts of the flesh.” Paul lists examples of these lusts & excesses in the next paragraph, followed by the famous list of spiritual fruits in Gal. 5:22-23. He intentionally lines up the fruits of a godless life with the fruits of a life built on Christ & His leading.
The language of “walking” is not new or unique to Paul. This is the same sentiment expressed in the Old Testament regarding faithful saints who “walked” with God: Enoch, Noah, Abraham, etc. We walk by/with the Spirit in the same sense: we don’t make a move without His leading. (We saw what happened when these OT saints made moves without Him!)
The Spirit in us is the Spirit of God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God who came to earth as Jesus (Emmanuel: God With Us). To walk by the Spirit, then, is daily, hourly reliance on the God we claim to believe in. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart… in all your ways acknowledge Him.” (Prov. 3:5-6)
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Humans like shortcuts, so when we hear that Christian strength & character depend on hourly connection to Christ, we seek an easier way: list of rules, predictable behaviors, and “spiritual” routines quickly become the end instead of the means. Walking by the Spirit can’t be shortcut. It is as Jesus described it: Abiding in Him as He abides in us. (Jn 15)
When we don’t walk by the Spirit, we make fleshly choices. Sometimes they aren’t objectively wrong, but they are wrong for us. The Holy Spirit personally guides, speaks, leads, and applies Scriptural truths to our lives as we remain in the Vine: Jesus. Christian life is not about striving. It’s about attachment.
When I don’t walk by the Spirit, I buy things I don’t need. I get angry at my kids. I become irritated at a person’s behavior and am unable to give them grace. I resent my husband. I am easily offended. I eat things when I’m not even hungry and live in the “lusts” (out of control desires) of my flesh.
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But when I walk by the Spirit, I am aware of my propensities and have His gentle strength toward self-control. I have the words for each situation. I am slow to speak and slow to anger. I am willing to wait on God and see how He wants me to proceed in a given situation.
The way to walk by the Spirit is found in 1 Thess. 5:16: “pray continually”. Christ’s sacrifice bought us connection to God, but we must take advantage of that attachment. To the degree you are attached to Christ in prayer, you will hear the Spirit’s voice and have the ability to obey. Your feelings might not change right away; the strength comes as you step out in faithful obedience.
And when you do: “You will bear much fruit, and so prove to be [His] disciples.” (John 15:8)
Five Faves

  • Faith and Focus Planner: This is new to me this year but I have really enjoyed it! It's a nice combo of Full Focus and Monk Manual's best features.
  • Training Young Hearts series: Ivan loves this book series and Abbey Wedgeworth just came out with two new editions available for preorder! We use these all the time.
  • Meal Prepping: Josh and I usually eat leftovers for lunch, but this week we meal prepped lunches for ourselves thanks to inspiration from my friend Natasha, who has her own meal prep coaching business.
  • Nespresso Pod Hack: Okay, we all know hazelnut is my favorite Nespresso pod flavor. But I get lazy and forget to buy new pods… so Josh and I figured out a way to re-load pods after you've used them. After you cut off the metal foil and dump out the grounds, you can repack the pod with your favorite ground coffee and add one of these sticky foil tops. Jury's out on how many times you can reuse!
  • My Everyday Heirloom Laurel necklace: This necklace is a treasure to me. In Greek and Roman culture, the laurel crown represented victory. It is no coincidence Paul uses the language of the “crown” when talking about the Christian life and the reward of living faithfully. Every day I wear this necklace, I am reminded of what I'm fighting for: the crown that does not perish. Because it is unique, with recognizable symbolism, I've had amazing conversations with people of other religions about the laurel crown. I hope to hand this special heirloom down to one of my girls as a reminder of the faith we hold. Use code PHYLICIA20 for a discount!
Ask Anything Q/A

What are your tips for discerning what books to read?
This is a great question, and it requires a nuanced answer. There are a few considerations we should take when discerning what to read:
  • Spiritual maturity and experience: A new believer needs a strong faith foundation in the basics of Christianity. They probably shouldn't read about covenantalism vs. dispensationalism before they've laid that foundation, or deep dive into biblical views on social justice until they have a solid understanding of what happened at the Cross, the role of the Spirit, etc. In the same vein, a person who has been a Christian for a long time should move on from elementary things (Hebrews 5) and build on that foundation with more challenging topics and questions (including those they don't fully agree with).
  • Culture and bias: No one is completely objective. Reading is a way to lose some subjectivity and open our minds to how others view the world. “Mark and avoid” is not an act of critical thinking if the reader is a mature believer grounded in orthodox Christian theology (for young/new believers, or those coming out of legalism, time should be taken to rebuild a new foundation). A strong Christian should be able to read widely, sift wisely, and implement carefully.
  • Temptation and wisdom: Scripture tells us to consume what is “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise” (Phil. 4:8). While keeping up on modern literature is commendable (to a degree), consuming sexually explicit or violent content on a regular basis does not align with the Christian values of “true, good, and beautiful”. If sex and violence are the only themes a follower of Christ enjoys, the heart has fallen far from what is good and God-glorifying. The good news: Our tastes can be refined! Switch up your reading to things that honor your mind and body. (Listen to the Spirit's conviction on whether you should, or can, skip sexual scenes in books or need to abstain completely)
What I'm Reading

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
I ran to the library to grab this after I finished Far from the Madding Crowd. I loved War and Peace last year, so this is next up! It's actually a MUCH easier read than War and Peace. I know it's not for everyone, but I've enjoyed it so far! A good winter read, given the setting. (One reason I enjoy books like this is the underlying theme/cultural thought. I like to think about how the ideas in books like this shaped the culture.)
Finishing Up:
  • Gilead by Marilyn Robinson: I am halfway through this and finishing it in February. I have really enjoyed the quiet, calm reflections on life, ministry and faith. I resonate with a lot of it, especially how noticing the smallest things lifts us into communion with God.
  • Confessions by Augustine: About halfway through this one too. It's fascinating to get a look inside Augustine's mind and how he processed his childhood decisions in light of theology. I think it also shows a clear picture of how experience can shape theology, and vice versa.
  • Lots of church history books for the podcast series! (which restarts this week)
With the kids:
  • Wingfeather Saga Book 1 - by Andrew Peterson
  • Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan
  • Assorted poetry by William Blake
  • Hero Tales
  • The Child's Story Bible: Exodus
SPECIAL: We love reading Where is Jesus, our kids' book about the covenants in Scripture! You can grab it for 50% off right now (limited stock). 
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At Home with Phylicia

  • Sabbath: This week I showed a DITL of our Sunday Sabbath, which I don't usually do since we take media off that day. I saved it to a highlight on Instagram. Here's a little of how we do it for those who missed:
    •  We do not celebrate Sabbath in the Jewish sense and we do not follow any hard and fast “rules”. Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.
    • We choose Sunday since it is the Lord's Day in church history and this is when the Church historically gathered. It's also the best day for us to set aside before beginning the week.
    • We take a break from media, which means no video games, sports, movies, iPads, or phones (other than occasionally checks). Typically this break lasts from morning to 7/8 PM.
    • We take a break from income producing work as well as house chores - so we don't do dishes, laundry, cleaning, etc.
    • Instead, we attend church together, chat with friends for an hour or so afterward, then come home for lunch. After that we read, talk, nap, go for walks, build things, draw, paint, and do whatever sounds fun as a family! We've been observing Sabbath this way for almost a year and a half now. I hope it encourages you to create margin in a way that works for your family <3
for the awakening,