It was your typical Tuesday, except for the atypical text message from a church acquaintance—the husband of a woman I deeply admire:“You will like this morning’s Spurgeon excerpt. Many references to gardening are in there. Blessings upon you and David this day.”Wow. So cool. I immediately felt considered, remembered, and spurred toward the Lord.Unfortunately, this type of interaction is not too typical in our PCA circles, is it? We aren’t sure how to do exactly what my acquaintance-friend did: communicate care, thoughtfulness, and honor in a respectful and appropriate way across gender or even generation. But he did it—he did exactly that. And my heart was moved toward the Lord because of the small but thoughtful act of my brother.How did he/we get to this place? To a place of safety in authentically extending the hand of friendship across genders in an appropriate, God-honoring way, encouraging the edification of all involved? Especially in this current socio-political climate of each gender elbowing the other out of the way to assert their self-importance? In our case, I’m chalking it up to church wide devotional.A couple years back, our church body began this practice, and it’s now become a significant thread in the life of our congregation—so much so, in fact, that we now refer to it as a means of grace. The brain trust of one of our associate pastors, Greg Poole, church wide devotional was born out of pastoral realization that significant numbers of Oak Mountain PCA’s flock were not spending daily time with the Lord on a consistent basis. (And sssssh, come closer: some of those numbers even represented church staff.)We needed a plan, and we needed one fast. A devotional was selected, full participation was encouraged, and before long the numbers told the story—the members of our congregation reporting time spent in daily devotion to God increased so significantly that Greg and staff were already on the hunt for which devotional to use the following year…
Editor’s Note: From its inception, the women in the PCA have loved on and supported the denomination in practical ways. One way has been through the annual women’s ministry love gift. This year, the women’s ministry of the PCA is praying for and partnering with the different agencies and committees of the denomination regionally. Throughout the year, we will highlight the committees and agencies to learn more about what they do and how we can pray for them.I recently interviewed Dr. Roy Taylor, stated clerk of the PCA’s Administrative Committee about their work for the PCA.Christina: Can you tell us the history of the Administrative Committee? Why it was formed?Dr. Taylor: The AC was formed by the First General Assembly in 1973 to provide the legal and organizational structure for the PCA to exist and function as a denomination.Christina: Many in the PCA are likely aware that the Administrative Committee is responsible for General Assembly, but there is more that you do for the PCA. Can you tell us what the Committee does?Dr. Taylor: The AC is to the PCA what Intel computer chips are to computers. The AC enables the General Assembly, the other Committees and Agencies to function, serves like the State Department to relate to other denominations, and advances the purity, peace, unity, and progress of the PCA. The AC also acts as the Board of Directors of the PCA Corporation and provides the skeleton for the PCA to exist and minister.
The church I attend recently began a small-group discipleship ministry for our women. As part of getting to know each other better, the leader of my group asked us to share a little-known fact about ourselves. I decided to tell the group about living in Argentina in the early-1970’s. The usual questions regarding life in a foreign country followed, accompanied by my well-practiced answers. Being so far away from family and friends at a time when communication was limited to snail mail was decidedly difficult, but the opportunity to experience a different culture and learn a second language was priceless.We spent two years abroad because my dad accepted a temporary transfer to work for the Argentine subsidiary of his U.S. employer. Thus, part of the pre-move preparations involved my parents’ 2-week, company-paid attendance at a local Berlitz total-immersion language school. It was a stressful, morning-to-night grind, no English allowed.Unlike my beleaguered parents, I began my language studies once we landed in Argentina. I was enrolled in an American school where I had classes in English in the morning and classes in Spanish in the afternoon. That, plus daily interaction with native speakers in our community, provided an excellent learning environment. Nonetheless, my parents hired a tutor to help me with the intricacies of sentence structure and verb tenses.Community ImmersionJust as I benefitted greatly from learning Spanish in a Spanish-speaking country, Christians thrive best when we’re part of God’s visible church. Scripture is clear that each of us has an important, God-ordained place in His body (1Corinthians 12:12-30) and that we should not neglect meeting together (Hebrews 10:24-25). Furthermore, God’s family is composed of members of varying ages, abilities, and spiritual maturities, just like biological families. We are called to do life together in compassionate covenant communities, where we rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn and come alongside each other to teach, support, and encourage according to the gifts we’ve been given (Romans 12:3-21).
My first job out of college was at a domestic violence shelter.I was twenty-one years old, newly married, and the ink on my college diploma had barely dried when I took the job as a counselor for women who were caught in violent relationships. Though I had the heart and desire to help these women, I was sorely prepared. Though I had learned a lot about the helping field in college, I had little experience.I was underqualified. I knew it and the women I helped knew it.Fast forward a number of years later when I was expecting my first child. I had read dozens of parenting books. I had taught parenting classes as part of my counseling work. I had talked to every mom-friend I knew to get their advice on various aspects of motherhood. But when I held my newborn son in my arms, I knew it. I think he knew it too.I was underqualified. Incapable. Insufficient.Underqualified MomI’ve always been an independent sort. When I have a goal, I work hard and pursue it. I may seek advice or assistance along the way, but ultimately, I know if I want to get to where I’m headed, I have to do the work that’s required. I faced motherhood the same way. I’m not a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of person; I like to be prepared. So I bought all the books, studied all the methods, and read all the research.I applied myself to motherhood the same way I did a project or paper in college. I put everything into it the way I did my work. But unlike other things in life, motherhood did not fit so neatly into a box. My children did not always conform to what the books said. The methods often failed. The research often turned out meaningless.As a result, I was humbled. Like the stretch marks forever etched in my skin, motherhood stretched me beyond what I was capable of within myself. I learned that I was weak and insufficient and couldn’t rely on my own resources or strength. I had to face the truth that I couldn’t depend on my own wisdom. I couldn’t find help and hope in methods. I couldn’t make life work for me.If there’s one thing motherhood has taught me, it’s that I can’t do it on my own. I need help from outside myself. I need Jesus.
Homeschooling was a lifestyle I never dreamed I would tackle. After all, aren’t homeschoolers the type that sew their own clothing, study dead languages, concoct their own toothpaste formulas, and name all their children obscure Bible names like Beulah and Festus? I was certainly not outfitted for such an undertaking. I can’t sew in a straight line. Crafting gives me hives. And spelling is a struggle, so there’s no way I’m teaching Latin or working with names more challenging than Tom or Pam. Bottom line – I would never homeschool my own kids. Until I did.God has used this journey of homeschooling to grow me. I have learned many creative parenting skills and life lessons. I have learned how to hide for indefinite amounts of time from my children. (I spend A LOT of time with my children. Don’t judge.) I have discovered under-appreciated celebrities like Bill Nye, the Gator Boys, and Barney. I’ve also learned how to sneak an extra half-hour of sleep in the morning by leaving Pop Tarts and juice boxes outside my bedroom door.In all seriousness, homeschooling has given me the opportunity to disciple my children day in and day out. There have certainly been days when my crew acts like their own cut-throat reality show, “Survivor: Homeschool Edition.” But then there are other days full of warm snuggles, delightful books, and heartfelt conversations in which I praise God for these moments I have to pour into my children.Discipling our children is not a separate task from the discipline of parenting. To disciple our children is to teach or train them. No matter how we choose to school our children, no matter whether our children live full-time with us, no matter the age of our children, our primary job as Christian parents is to teach our children to follow after Christ. There is not a separate category devoted to teaching our children the things of the Lord. In Deuteronomy 11:18-19, the Lord gives his people this command:You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.Reaching our children’s hearts for the sake of the Gospel should be the primary focus of each day. The Lord never tires of seeking after us. We should be no less diligent in pursuing the hearts of our children.
Editor’s Note: This is the second in a two part series on the story of Abraham. To read the other post, click here.
Amid the unspeakably gorgeous mountain setting at the Billy Graham Training Center in North Carolina, a simple photograph made an indelible impression on me. The photo captured a wooden desk lined with Bibles and other study helps, several open at once; the desk belonged to Ruth Graham. For nearly a year, this picture has not left my mind and it’s made me curious to learn more about Billy Graham’s beloved wife. In her book It’s My Turn, Ruth remembers striving to get her way during their early years of marriage. In his gracious but firm tone, Billy once responded, “God will lead me and you will do the following.” She closed her chapter by stating, “I’ve been following ever since.”
These remarks by Billy and Ruth beautifully depict the image of Christ and his church. As we place our faith in Christ and believe in his goodness, we will follow as he leads. In doing so, a beautiful story unfolds.
In the first nine verses of Genesis Chapter 12, God does all of the speaking. He asked Abram for a dramatic response and gave an overview of the dramatic promises to follow. There are no recorded words from Abram. Only action. “So Abram went, as the Lord had told him” recounts verse 4. God is leading and Abram is following. It is simple and difficult at the same time.
Through Abram’s first steps toward the Promised Land, there are truths to apply to the journey you and I are on today.
Who is your shepherd? Who are you seeking to follow? A couple months ago, I spoke to a group of college women and was asked to discuss what my faith was like in college. I expressed that, as a Christian, I struggled to understand what it means to be God’s child. I failed to grasp that I was precious to God.
I grew up in a home that was chaotic. It was questionable about who was in charge and I often felt like I had to be in charge, though I didn’t want to be. I wasn’t able to even be a child most of the time. This earthly experience rubbed off, and sometimes still does, on my faith. I didn’t feel invited to be a child of God—even though God’s word assured me that I was through faith (Galatians 3:26).
As I talked about that struggle in the college ministry meeting and noticed where I am today many years out of college, I saw a beautiful picture of God’s faithfulness. Over all these years, God has done what He promises. He continually pursued me and loved me (Psalm 139:7-8).
While there is still a lot of transformation and growth to take place in life, God has sought me and kept me in His flock. He has shepherded me and reminded me, I am His little lamb.
If I asked, “Who are you discipling in the workplace?” how would you respond? Are you thinking, “Should I even be discipling in the workplace? Shouldn’t discipleship happen in the church? What if I am a full-time mom?”I had similar thoughts over the years. I prided myself in being able to compartmentalize my work-life and church-life. I heard of evangelism in the workplace but discipling in the workplace was a foreign concept until I spent three years in Cambodia on medical missions. There I heard our team leader preach that discipleship began with evangelism when Jesus first evangelized his future disciples from the fishing industry in the Gospels. Since then, God has been growing a heart for discipleship not only with women in the church, but even with pharmacy students and coworkers.Opportunities to Share of ChristI always felt something was amiss while training future pharmacists to become good clinicians. During my first year as a faculty member, I had three students—a Muslim, a Buddhist, and a Jewish student—assigned to me for six weeks. At the end of the rotation, one student asked, “Dr. Jun, you seem to have a lot of peace. Where does that come from?” Inwardly, I was so happy to be asked this, but outwardly, all I could say was, “uhm, you know…” Regrettably, I failed to give an answer for the hope that was in me.While my actions may have brought about curiosity, I failed to use my words to communicate the Gospel. I was not prepared and was ashamed to disclose that I was a Christian at work.
Editor’s Note: From its inception, the women in the PCA have loved on and supported the denomination in practical ways. One way has been through the annual women’s ministry love gift. This year, the women’s ministry of the PCA is praying for and partnering with the different agencies and committees of the denomination regionally. Throughout the year, we will highlight the committees and agencies to learn more about what they do and how we can pray for them.
Below is an interview I did with Wallace Anderson about the work and ministry of Ridge Haven:
Christina: Can you tell us about Ridge Haven and how it serves the PCA?
Last week, four of us gathered as elders’ wives to pray for our growing church-plant and our husbands. My friend, Susan, had news. She had officially registered to adopt! I felt my stomach flip. An unfamiliar mixture of joy and bitterness clouded my congratulations. I tried to shake it off, but I realized I felt (perhaps) how a woman who has been unsuccessfully trying to conceive feels when her friend announces a pregnancy. I wanted to be happy— I am happy— but a gnawing jealousy arose.
My family and I are planting a church in a “security-sensitive” country. This past year, two of our team families were deported and our own visa was put on hold (and still is). The anti-foreigner (especially “anti-foreign religion”) government has been sniffing out suspicious activity and deporting at will. It is not a stretch to say we could be asked to leave tomorrow.
At the beginning of 2018, before all the unhappy deportations started, my husband and I decided we were going to pursue adoption. A new law made it possible for foreigners to adopt, as long as the child was disabled in some way. We waited for the allotted two weeks to get our visa approved so we could start the adoption process. Two weeks turned into months, a year, and now 14 months. We continue to wait for the government to give us official permission to stay here.