Wednesday, August 20, 2014

We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby.....or Have We?

by Sandy Jackson

In an age where we can heat up a meal in minutes, transport ourselves across town in a flash, pop up any recipe on the internet, read countless articles at our finger tips about fostering happy marriages and raising “kids we want to keep,” why are America’s mothers and wives feeling ill-equipped to fulfill their duties in these roles. Do not be mistaken, I am thankful for the microwave that popped our popcorn last night in two minutes, our mini-van that embodies the smell of sweaty ballplayers, the ease of googling while I shop the ingredients for the chicken dish I will make for supper, and all the wonderful marital and parental advice I can read on blogs of faithful Christians. But with all the technological advances and modern conveniences women have today, why do we still fall short of getting the important things in life done. Please notice, I did not say the urgent things done. There is a difference.  

I have been reading the Autobiography of G.C. Brewer and was intrigued by one of the chapters titled “Grandpappy and Grandmammy.” The few pages of chapter ten tell of the couple, Mr and Mrs. E.G. Hall, Brewer’s parents-in-law and the events that lead to “Grandpappy” becoming a New Testament Christian. Most of the words are dedicated to describing ‘Miss Betty” aka “Grandmammy.” Her humble servitude was quite remarkable. She birthed eleven children, eight of whom grew into adulthood and seven of those outlived her. Read what the author penned as one of the joys of his mother-in-law’s life.  

The Hall home was the preacher’s home, and many of the older brethren now living, and many more of those who have passed on, enjoyed its hospitality. Better meals no preacher ever ate than those that were cooked by “Grandmammy.” With a houseful of children and without servants, she could “keep” the preacher and attend every service of a meeting. And that was before eugenics, gymnastics, athletics, and swimming had come to make our women strong and robust! (Brewer, p. 52).

G.C. Brewer wrote these words about his mother-in-law from his wife’s childhood recollections and what he himself witnessed as he lived in their home shortly after his marriage to their daughter.  

Here are some points that hit me like a brick as I read the tender words about this “spiritually robust” lady living 79 years before passing from this life in September, 1931.

1.  Leading her family toward heaven was forefront in her mind and heart all the days of her life.  

When she married E.G. Hall, he was not a New Testament Christian. Her husband was exposed to faithful preaching of God’s word as he attended the services of the church along side his wife. Soon he became aware that his preconceived ideas of the church and his salvation did not match the simple teaching of the Bible. Her determination to live a Christian life before her husband and teach him the way of the Lord eventually brought saving results described as, “Grandpappy and Grandmammy were not only one flesh, but they were of one faith” by Mr. Hall believing the truths of the Bible and obeying. (Brewer, p.51.)

Mrs. Hall is described to have loved her children immensely, caring for their every need. It was said her “whole joy in life was seeing her children well and happy and whose daily prayer was that they might be faithful in the service of the Lord. (Brewer, p. 50.) She found joy in what matters most; the same thing John talked about in III John 1:4. Just like every mother that has ever walked on this earth, she was not perfect and made many mistakes, but her concern for her family’s eternal spiritual rewards out weighed any reward they would receive at work, on the ball field, or in the classroom. 

2.  She made no excuses nor complained about the Christian service set before her.

Anyone would understand her fatigue and weariness in caring for a large household, yet she hosted many meals for preachers and other Christians in her home. She didn’t have the conveniences of ordering take-out, or popping a meal in the microwave, or even dashing quickly to the store to pick up last minute items for dinner. She served with what she had with a cheerful disposition. I can imagine her house a little dusty with children running around at foot but a home welcoming to guests when the opportunities afforded her. She taught her children the blessing in giving without a word needing to be spoken....her actions spoke for themselves. 

And just as the psalmist expressed, she experienced “joy in the presence of God.” Psalm 16:11. Brewer writes of his mother-in law recalling her journeys to church services in a wagon pulled by an ox, yet never remembered being late. As mothers, are we well prepared and enthusiastic about worshipping Jehovah every time the saints are gathered together?

3. She saw the bigger picture and made it her purpose in life. 

She did not have a “career,” in the popular acceptation of that term; she did not belong to any clubs; she never sought prominence in public affairs; she never attained either fame or fortune" (Brewer, p. 50). Today, the opportunities for advancement for women are immeasurable, yet the women who hold titles of CEO, PTO presidents and other “prestigious positions” are saying they feel unfulfilled and their families are spiraling down out of control. I’m not saying stay at home moms always have it all together with the perkiest attitudes either. God knew it best when he urged us through Matthew, an inspired writer, to place the kingdom of God and emulating Christ-like ways at the top of our to do list. He promises all of our physical needs will be taken care of. I want to trust and follow the One who has a perfect record of keeping his promises.  

Many Christian women in the 21st century are doing exactly what “Grandmammy” Hall did, living their lives for the Lord, serving their families and encouraging those around them with what state of the art resources they have been blessed with; and each of us has many! These modern day ladies may never have words penned in a biography about their faithful service, but their names are being written in the Book of Life (Revelation 20:12). I’ll admit I enjoy reading about the days gone by and do not intentionally diminish any of the hardships and struggles that people encountered that, honestly, few of us will ever experience in our lifetimes. But I do long for the determined focus that faithful Christians had even just a couple of generations ago. The fact remains that discomforts, toils, afflictions, and difficulty will encompass each generation; but at the time of our departure from this life let it be said of us,“she did what she could” to further the cause of Christ.

Brewer, G.C.  Autobiography of G.C. Brewer. Murfreesboro, Tennessee: Dehoff Publications,1957. 

Other Recommended Reading:

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Better Way

by Jill Jackson

In the previous articles, we discussed the trials of those who grew up in “Christ-less Christian homes.” We noted that the first step to walking down the “road of a better way” is to acquire a balanced view of sin. But how does one walk miles, not just a few steps, from those trials and baggage on that road? 

The past is over, the future is yet to be, and what you choose to do in the present will largely determine what life has in store for you. Will you choose to hold onto your baggage? Will you allow the past to burden you? Will you continue to be the victim suffering in silence, allowing your perception to be molded by your experience? Or will you choose God’s plan for the family as found in the Scriptures? Will you choose to allow your start in life to turn you away from God, or will you draw near to God as the sustainer of your life? Will you continue to go through life pointing the finger of blame at your parents, neglecting to see the accountability you have for your choices today? Will you hold onto resentment like a cherished friend, despite the destruction she brings to your life?

The time has come to let go of the hurt, anger and the desire for justice and validation. Now is the time to leave the wounds from your parents behind. Now is the time to quit trying to prove to them, or others, that what they did was wrong. Now is the time to worry about yourself and leave the concerns of the past in God’s hands. Concern yourself with the people your choices will impact in life (i.e. your own family).

Recognizing the choices we make affect ourselves, and those around us, is a principle Joshua tried to get the Israelites to see. He urged them to fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and faithfulness. His desire was for them to be loyal to God alone and to turn from the false gods they had worshipped. He asked them to make a choice, to decide whom they will serve: the one true God, or the false gods they had been influenced to worship by previous generations; or those they had come to know in Canaan. He goes on to declare that he, and those within his house, would serve the Lord (Joshua 24:14-15).

Today, like the Israelites, you have a choice. Fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and faithfulness by the instructions found in his word, or allow previous generations (or the world) to be your guiding influence in life. You have an opportunity to give your family the things you wish you had: positive role models, spiritual guidance, the ideal Christian home. You can choose to serve God, and spare those who depend on you from the heartache you experienced, by following the plan of action found in Colossians chapter three.

Choose to serve the Lord by setting “your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2). Recognize this world is not our home. There is a better home we can claim as our own, if we will live according to God’s commands. There’s more to life than the physical dwelling we are now experiencing. There’s something to be gained that will make all the suffering and perseverance worth it. Focus on what awaits you.

Choose to serve the Lord by putting to death what is earthly in you (Colossians 3:5-10). When Christ was put on in baptism, a declaration was made that we recognized our lost state and desired our sins to be washed away. When we were lifted up from that watery grave, we made a commitment to put our sins to death—to begin a new life in which our aim was to live for Christ and conquer the sins that plague us. This conquering process requires an understanding of our vulnerability to temptation, a watchfulness for pitfalls, and prayers for God’s help (Matthew 26:41). Christians are called to be different from those in the world; but if there is no proactive effort to put to death what is earthly within, how will we stand out as ones who have put on Christ?

Choose to serve the Lord by putting on the virtues of Christ (Colossians 3:12-15). The Christian life is not just about conquering sin—it’s about becoming more like Christ! There’s no Christian who can be pleasing to God while failing to manifest the name of Christ in her life. Christ provided the perfect example of one who was full of virtues we need to emulate. He was full of compassion. He was kind, humble, meek, and patient. He was forgiving, loving, and peaceful. When dealing with relationships (especially troubled ones), how much improvement could be seen if we showed more compassion, kindness and forgiveness? How many burdens could be lifted if we seek peace in our relationships? How much easier it could be to implement these virtues if our attitude is more humble than haughty? Put on the virtues of Christ.

Choose to serve the Lord by letting the word dwell in you (Colossians 3:16). One can’t expect to create a better home if the crucial ingredient—God’s word—isn’t permeating the heart. Within the Bible are the directions for a happy life. Will it be problem free? No. Will it always be easy to serve God? No. But consistent study of the Bible will equip us with an understanding of right and wrong. Encouragement comes from reading the struggles others endured for the sake of Christ. Because our hearts and minds are filled with hope for our heavenly home, we are motivated to press on.

Choose to serve the Lord by giving thanks to God (Colossians 3:17). Certainly, some weren’t given the start in life they deserved. Hardships can result from the choices of others. But one must move from a constant focus of what was wrong with her childhood home, to what’s right in her life, if she ever hopes to continue to walk down the road to a better life. Thank God for the ways he has provided for you—for the good role models in your life, for the people who have showed you kindness and generosity, for the job he has blessed you with, for the family he has given you, and for the opportunity you have to give your children something you did not have.

Put your baggage down. Understand you don’t have to be burdened with it from this point on. Choose to step on the road to a better way by acquiring a balanced view of sin—recognizing you are imperfect and in need of God’s forgiveness, that you must forgive to be forgiven, that your parents’ sins do not give you the right to sin, and that sin always separates one from God. With that perspective in place, begin walking that road to a better life. Choose to make God’s ways your priority. Serve him in word and deed. Focus on the eternal. Be driven to put to death the sins you struggle with. Strive to become more like Christ. Be proactive in putting the word into your mind and heart. Thank God for the ways he has cared for you. Make these actions a daily priority and in doing so, you will bring your family closer to the ideal Christian home—a home where the family looks forward to the eternal reward, where people strive to live better tomorrow than they did today, where Christ is the ultimate role model and where the Bible is the most treasured book. Will it be a place where perfect people live? No, but it will be a home in which Christ dwells.

Recommended Reading

Jackson, Jason. Character Studies in Joshua. Christian Courier:
Jackson, Wayne. He Restores My Soul. Christian Courier:

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