August 18th, 2014
I hate weakness.
I don’t like to feel inadequate or incapable. I don’t like being dependent on others. I don’t like not knowing what’s going to happen. I don’t like feeling helpless in the face of a trial. I don’t like feeling spent and overwhelmed. I don’t like it when I am physically weak, emotionally weak, mentally weak, or spiritually weak.
Did I mention that I don’t like being weak?
But ironically, God’s word looks at my weakness differently. It’s part of the prerequisite for coming to Christ. Jesus said in Luke 5:31-32, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” He came to call those who are sinful and weak and desperate and broken and lost. He came to take our burdens and free us from our slavery to sin. “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).
The reality of my weakness hit me this past week when I fell and broke my arm. I’ve since had to rely on others to help me do the simplest of things. Even as I type this, I have to hit delete over and over for the number of mistakes I am making trying to type one handed. My arm throbs and aches. This injury, though not tragic or life altering, is a good reminder that I am weak, not just physically but also in every other way.
But there is hope for my weakness. This is not an eternal condition. I am not locked into this weakness. It doesn’t define me and it doesn’t rule me. That’s because Jesus came to become weak for me. He took on frail human flesh and lived in this world of sin. Completely perfect, he faced all the temptations I face but never sinned. He felt the weight of weakness that comes with humanity but always obeyed. He trusted his Father, relied on the strength of the Spirit, and bore the weight of my sin on the cross.
Jesus was made weak so that I could be made strong.
When God looks at me, he doesn’t see my sin, he sees Christ. When I face weakness of any kind, Jesus is with me, through the power of the Spirit. He is strengthening and enabling me to go through trials so that I might grow in holiness. He is using my very own weaknesses to show me just how much I need him. He is drawing me into greater reliance upon his grace.
And he’s doing the same for you.
Our weakness is no match for Christ. It’s not an obstacle he has to overcome. He doesn’t look at us and bemoan the fact he’s not been given the cream of the crop. Rather, he laughs at weakness and says “Look what I can do with it!” He uses a runaway murderer with a speech disorder to free his people from slavery. He uses a resistant, rebellious, and tribal hearted prophet to preach repentance to the most violent society of the day. He pulls the worst of sinners from the clenches of Satan and transforms him into a missionary to the Gentiles, giving that same missionary a “thorn in the flesh” to remind him of his constant need for Christ:
“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
Weakness is the means by which Christ saved us from sin. It’s also the means by which he draws us to us, transforms us, magnifies his name, and spreads the gospel to the world.
If the reality of your own weakness is mocking you today, this prayer is for you:
I come to you today feeling so weak and helpless. There are many thing on my plate, so many worries, so many uncertainties, so many things that I just can’t do. Every time I think about what lies ahead for me, I feel overwhelmed. When I consider carrying this burden for days on end, I feel like I just might drown. Everything seems impossible.
You said to come to you with my burdens. The Bible says you are our “Rock” and our “Fortress.” You are all knowing and all powerful. You know the burdens that I bear. You are not surprised by them. In fact, you’ve allowed them into my life. I may not know the purpose for them, but I do know that I can trust your goodness. You are always faithful to do what is best for me. You care most about my holiness, even above my immediate happiness. I ask that you remove this burden from me, take away my weakness, but ultimately, I desire most of all that your will be done.
I confess that I hate this weakness in me. I don’t like not knowing what to do. I don’t like being incapable and insufficient. Forgive me for wanting to be sufficient in myself. Forgive me for wanting to be in control. Forgive me for complaining and grumbling. Forgive me for doubting your love for me. And forgive me for not being willing to trust and rely on you and your grace.
This weakness in me shows me how much I need Jesus. For he was the All Sufficient One; the second person of the Trinity who clothed himself with the weakness of human flesh. Only the perfect Son of God could completely obey and fulfill all the law’s demands. Only Christ could do what we could not do. May this weakness of mine be an ever present reminder that Jesus became weak for me, died in my place, and rose in triumph from the grave, so that I could be strong through your transforming grace.
When I look into the future and see my weakness, help me to trust you. May I, like Paul, embrace my weakness so that you can be my strength. May you work through my weakness to change me. May I glorify you in my weakness, looking away from myself and to the wonders of your amazing love through Christ.
Grant me gospel joy, even in the midst of this struggle. It’s because of Jesus and through Jesus that I can pray, Amen.
August 14th, 2014
With the new school year starting, everyone’s getting back into normal routine. No more sleeping in late or staying in pj’s until mid morning. For my kids, it means getting back into our homeschool routine.
Over the summer we studied Proverbs in our morning devotional time. During the school year, I like to do the catechism. If you are unfamiliar with the use of catechisms in teaching children God’s word, it’s basically a tool that helps children learn biblical truth through a question and answer format. Children have an amazing ability to memorize things and that makes catechism work an excellent tool in teaching them about Jesus. Verbal children as young as 2 can begin memorizing the catechism.
In our house, we use The Westminster Shorter Catechism. The Westminster Confession of Faith was written in the mid 1600′s when a group of “learned, godly and judicious Divines” met over a period of five years at the request of English Parliament to provide advice on doctrine, worship, discipline, etc. for the Church of England. As a result of these meetings, the Westminster Confession of Faith and what’s called the Larger Catechism and Shorter Catechism were written. Since that time, churches around the world have adopted the Westminster Confession as a summary of their standard of doctrine, after and subordinate to the bible. The catechism provides an excellent summary of the teachings in scripture in a question and answer format. Examples of such doctrines covered include: the Trinity, original sin, justification, the covenants, ten commandments, and much more.
Here are a couple examples of questions asked:
Q2.: What authority from God directs us how to glorify and enjoy him?
A: The only authority for glorifying and enjoying Him is the Bible, which is the word of God and is made up of the Old and New Testaments.
Q 86: What is faith in Jesus Christ? A: Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon him alone for salvation, as he is offered to us in the gospel.
There are other catechisms, such as the Heidelberg and the Augsburg Confession. Some churches also write their own. Check with your local church to see what catechism they recommend.
Resources for using the catechism:
1. For young children, there is a simpler version of the Westminster designed for little ones. Sample questions include:
Q: Who made you? A: God
Q: What is God? A: God is a spirit and does not have a body like man.
You can get a child’s version here.
2. There are a few devotional resources we like to use in conjunction with the catechism. The first is Training Hearts, Teaching Minds: Family Devotions Based on the Shorter Catechism written by Starr Meade. This book has you focus on one question per week and includes a devotional for each day of the week where it unpacks the question. There are passages in Scripture to read each day that help children understand the doctrine being studied. Another resource is Big Truths for Little Kids: Teaching Your Children to Live for God which contains stories about the daily life of a brother and sister, Caleb and Cassie. As the characters in the story learn to apply God’s word to their hearts, your children do as well. Each chapter contains a story, passages to read, and catechism questions to learn.
3. The Heidelberg catechism is another one I love. I still remember a few of the questions we used to recite in church growing up. My favorite is this one:
Q. What is your only comfort in life and death?
A. That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. Therefore, by His Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for Him.
Starr Meade has written a devotional for this one as well called, Comforting Hearts, Teaching Minds: Family Devotions Based on the Heidelberg Catechism.
4. Tim Keller’s church has developed a catechism using a combination of the Heidelberg and the Westminster, called New City Catechism. You can find it as an app on many devices. You can find out more about it here.
5. When I learned the catechism growing up, we always learned a proof text alongside it. When you have found a catechism that you want to use, include a Bible verse for your children to memorize as well.
6. One of my friends has an Etsy shop where she makes fun and adorable covers for catechism books for kids (including the Heidelberg and Westminster). You can find her shop here.
Do you have your children learn a catechism? Do you have any additional resources to recommend?
I hate weakness. I don’t like to feel inadequate or incapable. I don’t like being dependent on others. I don’t like not knowing what’s going to happen. I don’t like feeling helpless in the face of a trial. I don’t like feeling spent and overwhelmed. I don’t like it when I am physically weak, emotionally […]
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