Motherhood is Missional, A Review

I received a copy of Missional Motherhood, The Bible Study from Lifeway for the purpose of reviewing.  I purchased the book that inspired the study, Missional Motherhood.  This is an honest review of the STUDY, and is in no way influenced by the gifted study.

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I have been a mother for over 17 years.  During that time I have not only been a part of Women’s Ministries that are full of moms, but also MOPS International groups.  One thing I have learned about being a mom, over all of these years, is that I still have room to learn more.  Another thing I have learned is that many of us mothers share a similar feeling, a desire to be more than “just a mom”.

There are some women who were born to be mothers, and what I mean by that is that these are women who desired nothing more than being a mom when they were of age.  They played house, always taking the role of mom.  They loved on other babies, and the news of becoming a big sister was something that excited them beyond measure.  They were babysitters and helped in the church nursery as soon as they were old enough.  In fact, at a very early age they probably knew how many babies they wanted to have and even what their names would be.

Then there are other women, who didn’t have motherhood on their radar as their ultimate calling.  It wasn’t something that they desired from a young age.  When they played with their dolls they took the role of teacher or doctor.  Their life goals were aimed at having a successful career, doing something significant in the world, or even serving as missionaries in a foreign country.  Children may or not have been included in those dreams and goals.

I was in the latter camp.  When I was pregnant with my first child the plan had been that I would return to work & my husband would stay  home those first few years.  At the time, I made more income than he did.  It just made fiscal sense.  Yet, once that tiny little body was place in my arms… the Lord changed my heart.  We decided that I would stay home and we would trust in the Lord’s provision.  He never failed us.

Yet, it was very difficult for me when I would be asked the question:  So, what do you do?

It wasn’t common in our area for women to stay home with their children.  Even members of my own family didn’t understand the decision.  Was I wasting my education, my skills, my talents, and my potential?   It was like I lost my identity and become someone’s wife… someone’s mom.   Over the years, as I have sat with other women … I hear those thoughts echoed.

We desire to be known, to be seen, to have purpose, and to have impact.  Somewhere along the line we lost the view of motherhood as a calling and instead it became something we just “do”.  Our value and worth began to reside in our accomplishments outside of the home, and when that was no longer an option… we felt lost.  Like we were doing nothing important, and yet the Lord had given us a very important calling.

Society’s focus on accomplishments have tainted our view’s of motherhood, and Gloria Furman does a great job at point out our need to reclaim this role.  Utilizing scriptures from the Old and New Testament, we examine how the role of Motherhood fits into God’s plan.   The Bible Study encompasses many of the bible study techniques that we may be familiar with in conjunction with our own personal reflections.  What I also appreciate is Gloria Furman not only talks about the mission of motherhood in regard to the typical American family but explores what this looks like in other cultures and how we interact with other cultures.

Throughout the study we begin to see how our role as mother is part of our Great Commission calling, for every woman.  For the mom who questions her purpose, this study helps her find her identity in Christ and the mission God has called her to fulfill in this season of her life.    We explore how our every day lives fall into the larger story of God’s redemptive plan.

From life giving creation to The Great Commission, our role as mothers is far beyond “just a mom”.  We are disciplers, mentors, teachers, leaders, guides, nurturers, providers, and so much more…. all in the confines of our own homes.  When our identity is rooted in Christ, then the gifts we have been given by the Holy Spirit are put to use in our homes.  This is our mission field, where we serve as a teacher to those in our charge and an example to the world watching us.  We are a family set apart, different… and we can find satisfaction in our purpose.

Whether you are a first time mom, a seasoned mother, or an empty-nester serving as a mentor mom… we all still have a thing or two to learn and share.  This would be a great study for a small group of mothers, MOPS group, or even as a gift to a mom to be.

Missions Highlight – The Philippines

My friend’s step daughter is embarking on another missions trip, this time to the Philippines with the movement “Beauty For Ashes” that will be partnering with another organization “Wipe Every Tear”.  This trip will be focusing on women who are currently in the sex trade industry in the Philippines.

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A note from Cynnamon:

Hello, my name is Cynnamon and I am 24 years old. Ever since I can remember I have had a strong passion and desire to do missions work. In July of last year I set out to do an all women’s healing trip with Beauty For Ashes in Guatemala.  Beauty For Ashes is a movement to create a place for women to share their stories with one another as they embark on their journey towards freedom. That trip to Guatemala really restored my worth in Christ and really opened my eyes to the needs of people all over the world. Recently, I have been presented with another opportunity to serve women in the Philippines with the Beauty For Ashes team. We will be working with an organization called Wipe Every Tear and working with women rescued from the sex trade. We will be activities with the women in small settings and groups. Our goal is to help restore their worth and remind them that their value is seen only through the eyes of Christ and nobody else. From now until I leave for the Philippines on July 28th, I will be working diligently to raise the funds for my trip. The total cost of my trip will be $3,000. This trip is unlike anything I have ever done before and I can’t wait to see how God will show up during this time of fundraising. Will you consider joining me on this journey? Your prayers and financial support are very important to me.

Click Here to Donate!

In the Midst of Azusa, Forgiveness Was Found

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First, just in case you don’t know what AZUSA is…. 110 years ago, on Azusa Street a revival began. On the 110th anniversary, many church leaders, congregations, believers, musicians, etc came together to pray for a new revival.  The church is calling out for a third great awakening.

I have never personally witnessed an event of this magnitude, in fact the only revival I have ever attended was a community one held at a local church.  I was in middle school.  There were a LOT of people, but nothing like Azusa on Saturday, April 9 2016.

First, I want to comment on the diversity of those who came to worship together.  I was not their live, but watching online as much as I could throughout the day.  When the camera would pan the audience and the stage, there were so many colors… ages… genders… just, people.  God’s people.  Together.  In one accord.

I found myself brought to tears each time I heard the Word of God spoken, prayers, or songs of Praise… in a language that is not my own.  English. Spanish. Native American. Hebrew. Arabic. Latin…  it was just beautiful.

Second, I want to point to the overall theme of the event… while the church was calling out for revival… they were acknowledging that we have to get ourselves in order before it can.  There was so much emphasis on getting our own houses in order, so that the spirit of revival can be unleashed.

If we want to usher revival in we have to clean our house first. 1Tim3:5 If anyone can’t manage his own family, how can he manage the church

If you look at the great revivals of the past, those who witnessed it would tell you that there were small pockets of revival happening at the same time in various locations.  Small movements that grew into great movements and spread like holy wild-fire!

What was the core issue that Azusa pointed to, that the church needed to get in order?  Unity under Christ.  We’ve been divided too long, doing what seems right to men and our own minds.  We have allowed man’s notions of what is “godly” to divides us against each other.  Denomination vs. denomination.  Christian vs. christian.  In order to unify under Christ, we must begin with forgiveness.

We must get our house in order as a church, to be a vessel of revival into the world. Forgive and seek forgiveness

Division is one of the things that breaks my heart about the current day church.   We have put ourselves first, our way of thinking… interpretation… worshiping… praying… studying… etc.  We hold people to our “standard” of what righteousness looks like and quite often we are incapable of living up to that standard in the first place.  We allow pride to take root, and then we elevate ourselves about other believers because they are not as wise or knowledgeable as we are.  And then we see friendships divide, churches divide, denominations divide.

We watch our family crumble.  Then a bitter root takes hold, because that bitterness helps us justify our choose to separate, judge, and criticize our brothers and sisters in Christ.  We justify our sin of division, when Christ has called us to reconcile to each other and be one body, one church, under Christ.

We wonder why our prayers are not answered, yet we are in active sin while bitterness, pride, and unforgiveness are sewn into our hearts.  We wonder why our ministry isn’t moving forward, when we have become our own stumbling block.  We wonder why God is not blessing us, when we are constantly building up a wall between us and Him.

If you are holding bitterness, a bad word about God’s anointed, anger toward someone, hate… we are in sin.

When we allow that bitterness to take root, we can speak and act terribly about those God calls His children.    We are criticizing God’s creation, the work He is doing in a person, the mission He has put on their heart, and even God himself!  Because, we are created in His image.  This doesn’t exclude the moments when we are holding unforgiveness, bitterness, or critical thoughts about our own selves.

Every time we criticize our sister/brother in Christ, we are being critical of Jesus who lives in them. God help us.

If it goes unchecked and that bitterness takes root, it can make itself a comfy home in our heart and lives, and it will choke out everything good that tries to come into our life. We can become so focused on the root and it’s offshoots… we miss what God is doing around us.  We become wrapped up in it’s vines and become slaves to it, unable to serve God because we are bound to anger and hurt.

Holding unforgiveness in your heart toward someone, you both are slaves in bondage to it. Free your slaves. Jer34:8

We will keep adding to the weight of the baggage we carry, and we will carry that baggage far longer than God would have us.  It will become heavier, slowing down our walk, weighing us down, stealing our energy, our hope, and our future.  We can’t reach the blessing, when we are dragging dead weight behind us.  Eventually it will win, and break you down until you just give up.

What is the baggage you have been carrying for TOO LONG, that is slowing you down & holding you back from blessing?

We are told in the scriptures that if we have an offense between us and our brother, we are to put our offering down and go handle that first.  We are not to bring our offering into the temple until we have reconciled.  So, until then, every offering you make is empty.  Who is it that you need to forgive?  A friend, relative, church… yourself?  Are you carrying the weight of your own sin?  The sin Christ died for, and cast to the depths of the sea… did you fish it back up?  Are you taking it back from the foot of the cross?  Are you saying… “everything but this Lord, this sin is too big for you.”

God help us.

We can’t bring our offering to the table if we are holding a grudge against someone. Who do you need to forgive?

When we are focused so much on our own pain, bitterness, anger, and what we see as unfair… we miss the fact that our world is mourning and crying out in pain.  Instead of crying out on their behalf, we say:  WHAT ABOUT ME?  What about my pain?  What about my situation?  What about my hurt?  Where is my help?  Where is my blessing?

People groups around the earth are crying out in pain, will you cry with them. Will you mourn with them?

We can not unite under Christ when we are too focused on our own selves.  When we are seeking my own needs or blessings first.  The first shall be last, and the last shall be first.

If Christ can call out to the Lord to forgive those who stood against him, accused him, crucified him… why can we not say of our oppressors, “Lord… forgive them… they know not what they do.”

We need to get on our knees and pray.

Lord, let there be a sweeping release of forgiveness across the country between all people, unite us seventy-seven times seven!

We need to forgive others, and ourselves.  Our past, is our past. It was washed clean and we need to stop picking that back up.  We need to take that stronghold of shame, and let it go.  We need to believe that we are that new creation in Christ, a new thing… a new work, where we are continuing to grow in our pursuit of holiness.  A good work He continues in us until the day of fruition when we are united with the saints in Heaven.

Lord, free of us of our bondage to sin… our wayward steps… our critical words… and our flesh. Spirit come.

Lord we repent of our attitudes of separation and division, let us reunite under you! Amen.

Lord, set the captives free! Spirit, move us to mourn as one body & move us to unite under Jesus

And, we need to pray as if we are the only ones praying.  We need intercessors who are standing in the gap for those who are too weak to pray, or too broken.  We need intercessors to pray for the lost, the prodigals, the ones who have gone astray.  We need to pray fervently, as if everything depends on our pray.  Then when we are all praying, as if we are the only ones, there is a complete community of intercessors praying on behalf of YOU too.

Pray as if no one else is praying. If we all pray, as if no one else is praying we will all be intercessors.

As forgiveness and healing sweeps across our body, and we unite we become a city on a hill, shining the light of the Son, for the lost to find their way home.  We begin to look different from the world, not because of our dress or the words we speak. Instead we look different because we love differently, we forgive even the unforgivable.  We will not be divided but united under the Truth.  Standing in agreement of His Word, and let by His Spirit instead of our own thoughts and our own flesh.

— John 16:13 —

When the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.

In our brokenness HE is magnified because in our healing HE gets the glory.

We must pray that the Holy Spirit will flood our hearts & compel us with your Word, let it pour out of our mouths, a sweet song to a weary world.   So that we can go out and disciple the nations, starting here in our country.  One person, one family, one community at a time.  The mission field is here, in our own back yards.  We still have unreached communities here.  We have missionaries coming INTO the United States in order to preach the gospel!  We must get our house in order, and then we go… we go out beyond our backyards, into the unchurched communities, and then into the world.   Sharing the gospel, baptizing the people, making disciples, and building up leaders to continue the good work.

Lord, send a fire of revival into the hearts of your people. Let us touch the communities around us in a mighty way.

Praise God for what is about to come.

This brings me to my third point, what I took away from Azusa.  I watched church leaders…. catholic, messianic, denominations, cultures/ethnicities… forgive each other.

If others can forgive, so can I.  And, so can you.

“You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth”

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Acts 1:8

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A good blogger considers the statistics of their site, they want to see how many views the blog is getting.  We can even look to see which posts are getting the most attention, feedback, or views.   This helps the blogger get an idea of who their audience is and what they are interested in reading.  From this information we can mold future stories to fit the demographic of our readers.

That is what a good blogger does anyway.  Many months ago, another blogger challenged me to not look at my numbers but instead to look to the locations my readers were coming from. 

The photo above is a screenshot of every country that had at least one person access my blog in 2015.  My eyes opened.  Over forty countries were represented, even in my wildest of dreams I couldn’t imagine going on over forty missions trips in a year.   I couldn’t imagine a single speaking engagement from 2015 that would have given me access to people from all over the world.

I realize a greater responsibility for my words now that I see the weight of such a blog.  I sit here, typing, as  representative of Christ.  A witness to my home town, state, country and the ends of the worth.  This means that I must make the greatest effort in ensuring that I handle the word of God with accuracy and humility.  I need to handle hard topics with sensitivity to culture and in submission to the Holy Spirit’s guidance. 

As I move forward in 2016, I will remind myself of something our Pastor says often at the close of service…   “The Mission Field Starts Here”.