Embracing God's Perspective on Motherhood

March 26, 2010 Holly Elliff

Session Transcript

Holly Elliff: All right. Let’s go to the Lord for a minute and get started.

Father, I do thank You that You have a sovereign purpose and a plan for us today. I thank You, Lord, that You have a desire for us. You want to instruct us and teach us by Your Spirit and through Your Word, and so, Father, we ask You to do that. We ask You to be our teacher. And, Lord, we ask Your Spirit to interpret what is said so that You can apply it to our hearts, and we ask You to do that in the strong name of Christ, amen.

All right. We’re going to get going today. Let me tell you a little bit about myself first. My name is Holly. I’m married to Bill. I have eight children, and they range in age from 30 to 13. I also have almost five grandchildren now, which is a very strange experience when you still have kids at home. So my life is a little bizarre.

Let me ask you this question: How many of you think that I started out knowing everything there was to know about mothering, and that’s always what I wanted to do with my life, and that I had no other aspirations? Anybody thinking in that direction?

Well, let me just help you out a little bit here, okay? This is me right before I got married. At that point, I never left my dorm room without my makeup on ever—ever! My hair is perfectly arranged, and if you could see my fingernails, they were really long and really perfect. I spent a lot of time on them.

Now, I’m going to fast forward about four years into my married life. (Laughter) Believe it or not, that is also me. My husband said, “Do you really want to put that picture up there?” I said, “Oh, yeah. It’s going to make some of them feel so much better about their life.”

At that point I think I had maybe a 15-month old . . . I can’t remember. I had two that were very close together at that point. That’s my second one sitting there looking very happy to be my daughter.

So this is not what I necessarily thought I would be doing with my life, and God has changed a lot of my desires and aspirations. If you want to read the whole story about that (I make no money on this, so I can unashamedly tell you it’s there), but in the bookstore, this little booklet is there which kind of tells the story of that progression in my life. It also walks through just some things on parenting. That’s in the bookstore. It says, Turning the Tide: Having More Children Who Follow Christ.

So that kind of tells our story of how we ended up where we are today, but I did not start out there. Just so that you’ll know, and you can relax, if you’re thinking that you need to have it all together about mothering because I still don’t. Okay?

This weekend my prayer is that we’ll be able to see our mothering with fresh eyes. Have you ever seen one of those 3D deals where you get real close to it, and then you pull it away from your eyes like this, and all of a sudden you kind of let your eyes go fuzzy, and this other image appears? Anybody know what I’m talking about, those things?

Well, I want us to step back a little from motherhood today and look at it in a big picture way to see what the Lord has to say to us. We’re going to do that in the book of 1 Peter, so in a minute, we’re going to walk through that book.

Sometimes in the midst of the chaos and the clamor and the confusion of our lives, we forget that our purpose is bigger than just this moment. We sometimes get locked into what’s happening just right then, and we forget that there’s something beyond that, something bigger.

Peter wrote his first letter, this book, to a group of believers who were scattered throughout Asia Minor, to encourage them to develop big-picture theology in the midst of their lives. Now the believers Peter addressed were probably Gentiles for the most part, although we know that there would have been some Jewish believers there, too, because they’re mentioned on the Day of Pentecost. The areas where Peter was writing to had Jewish believers there as well, but probably mostly Gentiles.

Peter addresses these believers during a time period when large-scale physical persecution had not started yet for them, but they did live in a culture that was hostile to Christianity, that was discriminatory to Christianity. So these believers needed the focus that Peter was about to give them.

Peter’s focus in this Epistle was to instruct them in a worldview that would enable them to grow in a culture of discrimination and prejudice against those who claimed the name of Christ. Later on they would encounter persecution and suffering, but at this moment, they were just in a hostile environment.

Peter wasn’t writing this letter to a group of moms in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Right? But applications are all over this book for mothering, and that’s where I want us to go today. So today we have the privilege of applying a little sanctified application to our perspective of motherhood.

For us to mother well, I believe we must have a theology in place that becomes the framework, the skeleton for why we do what we do. Do you believe that you have been called by God to be a mom? Do you believe that’s a good thing? Don’t do this if you’re wondering right now whether or not it’s a good thing because there are days when we’re not sure that it’s a good thing.

I want you to join me as we walk through the progression in this book. We’re going to zip through the book of 1 Peter. It’s only five chapters. It’s pretty short, and I’m going to talk really fast because that’s not where I want us to camp. So I’m going to zip through the book, and then we’re going to come back and look at it from the perspective of motherhood.

Peter declares that his message is for those who have been chosen by God the Father, sanctified by the Spirit, covered by the work of Christ on the cross. Now, if we’re in relationship with Christ through salvation, we cannot remain as we were before. Because of God’s great mercy, we’re born again to a living hope, and a big picture future that alters the composition of our lives during the time we have on earth. The beginning verses of chapter 1 here teach us that we’re in a relationship that is unique to humanity. Verse 12 later on says that even angels long to understand this relationship that we have with the Father.

Now, if the book ended right here after these first few verses, we would probably be more attracted to it because at this point we’ve been chosen by Christ; we’ve been blessed with an inheritance that’s secure’ we’ve been guaranteed God’s power to sustain our faith. I like movies with a happy ending. How about you? I don’t want a movie that ends sad or that’s difficult.

But in this book, Peter asks the question of us: “Are you willing to step back, to look big picture at your life?” Would we really be content with a book or a movie that was only the real, or the advo-real, or just the introduction of the book, that didn’t give us the whole picture? Peter here gives us the whole picture.

Verses 6 and 7 tells us that the relationship we have with Christ means that our book is going to have some other chapters. The phrase, “for a little while,” that’s used in these verses means the whole of our life on earth. So when he says here, “for a little while you may go through these things,” it’s really just the time we have here on earth. So you can see that his perspective is big picture, it’s eternal.

As we rejoice in our salvation, we also realize that we’ll get to experience what Peter calls “various trials” that will test the validity of our faith. He compares our faith to that which becomes as precious as purified gold as it’s tested by fire.

By the way, don’t you love the phrase, “various trials”? I wish we had about two hours. We could just pass the mic around and let everybody tell a story about something that they’ve encountered as a mother because I think in motherhood you encounter some of the most bizarre trials in the world. You never know what’s going to happen as a mom. So we’re not going to settle for just the introduction because the relationship we have with Christ means that we’re called to a life of distinctiveness.

My daughter Jessica, who’s currently 13 years old, loves to cook, but Jessica doesn’t just like to use recipe books. She likes to create things. So we never have to wonder if Jessica has been in the kitchen because her favorite ingredient is garlic. She loves it, so we can open the door to the house and immediately tell that Jessica has been in the kitchen. We don’t ever have to wonder what the predominate flavor in the food is going to be because it’s going to be garlic if Jessica cooked it. It’s distinctive. We know immediately that it’s there.

What does it mean for us to be distinctive, for us to be different? Verse 13 here and following gives us a list of what that means. We’re to be sober-minded. We’re not to waste our life on trivial things. We’re to be full of hope.

Verse 14 says we’re to be obedient children, not conformed to our former way of life before Christ.

Verse 15 and 16 says we’re to be holy in our conduct. We’re to have a proper respect, a right view for our Heavenly Father.

Verses 18 and 19 here remind us that we have been ransomed at a high cost, not purchased with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of the lamb of Christ.

Verses 20 and 21 says that we were granted faith and hope through Him, that we’re to love from a pure heart, that we’re born again because of God as revealed in His Word in the gospel which will not fade away.

Chapter 2 reminds us that we’re to grow up. We need to develop a hunger for the things of God. Like a newborn, we’re to long for milk, for the milk of God’s Word. We’re to have a pure hunger. We’re not to do anything that will delete that hunger. It’s kind of like the reason we take out our trash. It just doesn’t belong in our house. So Peter says we’re to put away malice and deceit and hypocrisy and envy and slander.

Because of our relationship with Christ the cornerstone, the Bible calls Him the original living stone, we also become living stones as we come to Him and grow. We’re being built up into a collective spiritual living house, the Bible says, a holy priesthood that will not be put to shame. In verses 6 through 8, we have the honor of understanding the truth of Christ. While to others He becomes a stone to stumble over, for us, He is our cornerstone.

Look at verses 9 and 10 there in 1 Peter. If you have your Bible, flip over to chapter 2 of 1 Peter. Look at verse 9 and 10: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

He stops there, and he says to us: “We have some new names in Christ. We are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s possession, proclaimers of God’s excellence, those who have been called from darkness into light, God’s people who are recipients of mercy.”

In verses 11 through 25, we’re called to recognize the condition of the world in which we live. Peter reminds us that we’re in a battle with our flesh. Who we are apart from Christ and how we conduct ourselves during our time on earth affects our ability to glorify God.

We’re to live as servants of God with proper honor for authorities and those whom we serve.

I love verses 15 and 16 in chapter 2: “For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence ignorant or foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a covering for evil or an excuse, but as living servants of God.”

Verse 18 through 25 encourage us to examine the posture of Christ as we encounter suffering. Peter refers to this passage in moments when we’re doing the right thing. So we’re not suffering because we’ve walked into sin. We’re just suffering. In the course of our life we encounter difficulty, those various trials. He says it’s a gracious thing to be forced to be mindful of God. It’s a gift, a reward that accompanies entrusting ourselves to God rather than retaliating when we’re wronged.

Verse 24 reminds us that Christ bore and endured our sin on the cross so it would be possible for us to die to sin and to live to righteousness.

It’s almost ironic that immediately following these verses on authority and suffering, Peter talks about maintaining right relationships within marriage. Now, we’re not going to take time to read those again, but you know what that says there. Right? What wives are called to do toward their husbands; what husbands are called to do toward their wives.

I want to encourage you to go back again. Read those verses from big picture perspective, and put them in context of chapters 1 and 2 where Peter is saying, “Here’s who you are. So you can’t live like everybody else. Your marriage shouldn’t look like everybody else’s marriage.” We are called to a difference in our lives.

Peter continues in this chapter to paint a picture portraying who we’re to be in Christ. We’re to have unity in mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, a humble mind. We’re to react with blessing when we’re reviled. Peter again links suffering for righteousness with the blessing of God.

In verse 13 he really just gives us a prescription here for conflict. Do you have any conflict in your mothering? Do you ever have conflict? My daughter called me the other day. She currently has a 3-year old and an 18-month old. She called me and said, “I think I’m going to die.” (Laughter) She had had a really, really terrible experience at the grocery store, which is why I always went at midnight by myself. Her kids were fighting. Some older lady had looked at her like she had never understood any principle of discipline, and Jennifer was very embarrassed. She came home and said, “I don’t know what to do.”

There are moments in motherhood that are just hard, that are difficult. We encounter conflict. So Peter gives us a list here. He says that we’re not to be intimidated by fear or worry; we’re to honor Christ as Lord. We’re always to be ready to give a defense for the hope that is in us in a way that is gentle and respectful. We’re to maintain a good conscience so that those who are vile will have nothing else to say, and if we do encounter suffering in the course of God’s will, let it be for doing something good and not evil.

In verses 18 through 22, we’re reminded again why we have the privilege of being called to a distinctive life because Christ allowed Himself to be put to death and made alive in the Spirit, the righteous one for the unrighteous. And again, as those in Noah’s day who had the opportunity to come and trust God, the door has been for us to know God through the resurrected Christ.

Now, Peter, throughout this book might as well be shouting to us at every turn: “I want you to step back. I want you to get perspective. I want you to remember that God is big and people are small and eternity is forever.” So he’s saying to us, “Put those glasses on so you can see the real picture here. It’s not about this moment.”

He continues to remind us in chapter 4 that we’ll have the opportunity many times to adopt the same purpose, the same way of thinking that God has.

Verse 2 says, “Live the rest of the time in the flesh, no longer for human passions but for the will of God.” So we’re to leave behind the excesses of our past.

Verse 7 says that if we have on our 3D glasses, we can recognize as Peter does that the events God ordained as His salvation plan have already occurred. Those major events have already happened: Christ’s death; Christ’s resurrection; His ascension into Heaven; the gift of the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit sent at Pentecost—all those things have already happened. So, now we’re waiting, just as Peter did, for the return of Christ.

So we’re ready, and we’re expectant, but we’re already serving. We’re not just fixed on heaven. We’re already in the midst of what God has called us to do as we wait.

So we’re called to be self-controlled, sober-minded, and of sound judgment, useful to God and purposeful in prayer. We’re to love fervently, abundantly, and earnestly so our love extends forgiveness and overlooks offenses. Our Christ-like love can then overflow to others so we’re hospitable without complaint. We use the gifts God has given us to serve, and we realize we’re stewards of God’s grace.

I love verse 11: “As we speak, speak what God has ordained; and as we serve, serve with the strength that God has supplied so that in everything we do, God might be glorified in us and through us.” So the glory and honor is bestowed where it belongs. God gets the glory. It doesn’t come to us.

Now, you know those messages that you repeat to your children over and over and over, and you say it, and you say it again? Do you know that in the book of 1 Peter, he repeats to us these truths over and over again. He basically has said the same thing to us in every single chapter. Do you think he thought it was important for us to get this theology worked into our life?

Chapter  4 verses 12 through 16—look at that real quick, and then we’re going to get to our real purpose here for this room. “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you as though something strange were happening to you, but rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed. If you’re insulted for the name of Christ, you’re blessed because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.”

He goes on to say, “Don’t suffer because you’re doing wrong; suffer because you’re in the course of your life, you’re looking like Christ and encountering trials.” Those of us who know Christ are to trust our faithful, sovereign Creator with His perfect will for our lives as we seek to do what is right.

Now, we’re going to stop there. We’re going to come back to chapter 5, but I really want us to turn a corner and look at the area of motherhood in the context of the theology contained in this book.

When the Lord took me to 1 Peter for this session, I thought, “First Peter? I’m sorry, but I don’t teach on suffering.” (Laughter) This book has some amazing applications to motherhood, so we’re going to look at those.

When you get on an airplane, they tell you, if these little things drop out of the ceiling, what are you supposed to do? You put the mask first on yourself and then on your child. So we’re going to look at these principles as they relate to us and then at the way we would apply those to our children.

First of all, we are called in this book to true salvation. Scripture calls Christ the cornerstone. As we think about the lives of our children, we have to ask: What is the most important thing that our kids need? Do they need more money? The best brand of tennis shoes? To be able to take every class in the earth? To have a new car when they turn 16?

Would you agree that genuine relationship with Christ is the most important need for our child? Peter reminds us why all the way through this book because, if our kids come to Christ, then that relationship for our child determines where he spends eternity. It guarantees an inheritance that will never perish. It’s a relationship protected by the power of God. It’s an indicator of the mercy that God gives my child once he’s in relationship with Him for his entire life.

It teaches my child to love the One who loved Him first and the source of all other love. Do I want my child to be able to have a right marriage relationship some day? Then he needs the source of love.

Now, obviously, we can’t make our children follow Christ. We can’t initiate that process. We can’t will it to happen or conform their hearts enough to earn their salvation. That’s a little frightening because that means it’s something we can’t control. It’s something that we can’t be responsible for. They have to make that choice, but there are some things that we can be responsible for.

We need to know for sure that we have been ransomed from our futile ways with the precious blood of Christ, that we have been ransomed from our futile ways with the blood of Christ. Chapter 1 says I know that my faith and my hope are in God and that I have been born again, not of perishable things but of imperishable, that this will never change because, you see, I cannot lead my children into a relationship that I don’t possess. So, if I am not sure that I have a right relationship with Christ, the chances of my children are lessened. It’s important.

I need to become a living stone that’s being built up, day after day, year by year, choice after choice.

We took our kids last year to Carlsbad Caverns. While we were in there, the guide is telling us the difference between the living parts of the cave and the dead parts of the cave. The living parts of the cave means that there’s still water dripping through the rock, that it’s picking up mineral deposits and those are building up layer after layer after layer and making stalactites and stalagmites and pillars and formations. That’s happening because that cave is still living.

Now, that process takes a really long time, and sometimes we feel like any process in our life takes a really long time. The key is we must be in process. The fact that we’re here this weekend means that we’re in process. God is speaking truth. We have the opportunity to grow, to change. So we’re to be living stones.

We’re to pray with purpose. Chapter 4:7 instructs us in that. First Thessalonians 5:17 reminds us that we’re to pray without ceasing. Now, obviously, most of us can’t spend many hours a day locked away in a closet somewhere in quiet. Right? I don’t have that opportunity.

I tried to do that once—locked myself in the bathroom because I really needed time with the Lord. I said to my kids, “I don’t want to see anybody.” They were working on homework. In a minute, this math paper slid under the bathroom door, and I knew whose it was. I said, “Joshua . . .” and it slid back. (Laughter) Just like that.

It’s hard to find quiet space when you’re a mom. If you have a bunch of kids, it’s really, really tough, but we’re to pray with purpose. Now, what that means is we’re to ask the Lord to teach us how to pray in the midst of our life, of our normal life so that we become regulars at the throne of grace. We need to be there often, but you can pray while you’re doing laundry, pushing your grocery cart in between rescuing kids and things that don’t belong in there.

Brother Andrew—who wrote Practicing the Presence of Christ?—learned that principle as a monk peeling potatoes in the kitchen by himself, whatever he was doing, practicing the presence of Christ. Can you practice the presence of Christ in the midst of everything you do? Is He there? Yes. Is the Holy Spirit there all the time? Yes. He is. So look for ways to pray with purpose. We can learn to live in an atmosphere of communication with our Father.

Then we’re called to transformation. Now, mothering is all about transformation. It kind of begins with the egg and the sperm. Do you know that within 24 hours that baby already has its own DNA? We already know if we could find a way to look at it whether it’s a boy or girl. Within 24 hours, that’s already happened. Within just a few more days, it begins to totally rearrange our hormonal system—something we don’t even know is there yet—transformation.

Now, that new genetic code is constantly transforming into that new little person that did not exist 24 hours before except in the creative mind of God. Within a week, that new life transforms our hormones. Within a few months, our taste buds, our sleep patterns, our body, our figure have all been transformed by that little tiny infant that God has placed there.

Even if your entrance into motherhood is as a result of God blessing your home through adoption or through fostering, you have experienced transformation in the midst of that process, and it changes our life.

God is big on transformation. This concept begins in Genesis, and it’s a theme throughout all of Scripture. You can find it in every book—there is transformation. Transformation begins in us at the moment of salvation, and it continues until we die if we are living stones. The rate at which my transformation occurs depends on how constantly I choose to cooperate with my Heavenly Father.

Can I sit there like a non-living stone if I want to? Can I refuse to grow? Sure, I can. God will let you stay right where you are if you want that. You won’t be very happy, but He will let you do that.

When that precious baby is placed in our arms, he may be sweet, but change is coming. (Laughter) There’s going to be transformation in that relationship. God longs to change and transform us so we can model for our kids what is acceptable.

Remember what 1 Peter 1 and 2 taught us: “Long for pure spiritual milk that by it you may grow up to live out your salvation.” The blueprint for everything our kids needs to learn is already there in God’s Word.

In a few chapters that we ran through in this one book of Scripture, there are over 30 imperative verbs. Those are to-do verbs, things that we can be called to do—in this one book. In the course of Scripture is everything we need to teach and train our kids, to see transformation.

Peter believed that transformation was a good thing. Transformation can’t occur without surrender and obedience. Are we modeling before our kids a teachable spirit? What do they see in us? How often does the Lord have to confront us before we agree with Him?

Remember in 1:13 it says, “As obedient children, don’t be conformed to your former passions, your former ignorance, your former way of life, but as He who called you is holy, be holy in all your conduct.” So, if we are called to be holy, are we called to generate our own transformation into holiness? Are we responsible to generate that transformation? No. We surrender to it. We receive it. But we don’t have to generate it.

I’m so grateful that God who so freely gives us all that we need for life and for godliness granted to us at the moment of conception as a believer the gift of His Holy Spirit.

My husband and I recently spent a couple of weeks in Cambodia with one of our sons who’s on the mission field there. It was really an interesting experience especially when it came to food and stuff like that. Not only could I not read a menu, but I couldn’t even really recognize some of the things they ate unless it had little sucker things on it, like an octopus or a squid, then I could kind of have a clue about what it was in my food.

The great thing was, though, that I had my son David with me who knew where to go. He knew how to accomplish our plan. He could speak the language. He could order me things that weren’t going to kill me. (Laughter) So I was really grateful that he was there. He could help me accomplish everything that was necessary, and he could interpret everything I needed to understand.

God has given us a built-in Interpreter through the Person of the Holy Spirit. Humility is the key that opens the door of grace in my life so that God’s Spirit can do His job within me. That job is to enable me to desire God’s will and then to do the will of my Heavenly Father.

First Peter 5:5 encourages us to “clothe ourselves in humility because God opposes the proud, but He pours out His grace on the humble.” So we have a choice. We can be empowered by God, or we can be opposed by Him.

If He’s putting His finger on something in your life this week, and you are resisting, and you’re saying, “No,” or you’re saying, “Later,” then you’re being opposed by God because His Holy Spirit is not free to help you do the things that He’s calling you to do. So we can be opposed by God, or we can be empowered by Him. What better way to model yielding and surrender before our children than to understand it for ourselves. Right?

Then we’re called to teach and to train our kids. Teaching and training our kids is sometimes excruciating. It is a long—I mean, it’s the stalagmite coming out of the ground. It takes a long time, and it’s hard. It requires a lot of qualities that I do not possess apart from the work of the Holy Spirit in my life.

We show them what to do, then we show them again, then we show them again. Then we tell them again, and again and again. So we teach, and we train. Training involves ingrained teaching that has been absorbed, and we’re going to teach them how to stay on that path. It works its way in so that it becomes almost automatic.

Empowered by the Holy Spirit, we’re to be intentional about how we live and allowing God to teach and train us so that we can, in turn, turn around and teach and train our children. Our conduct, Peter says, is to be honorable so that even if others don’t agree with us, they will see our good deeds and bring honor to the Christ who lives within us.

Are we going to be around other people who don’t agree with us? Yes. Sure we are. We live in a society that would mostly not agree with us. So we need a theology that teaches us so that we can then teach our children.

As we respond to God’s promptings in our own life, then we have a platform from which to launch our instruction for our children. Peter says that we’re to be obedient children.

Now, we use this definition of obedience with our kids: “Obedience is doing what you’re told to do, when you’re told to do it, with a right heart attitude.” What you’re told to do—when you’re told to do it—with a right heart attitude. It’s really simple because it’s not obedience unless all three components are there. It’s real simple until I turn around and apply that formula to my own life.

Is God telling me to do something? Am I doing what God says to do? Am I doing it when He says to do it—immediately? Is He touching something in my life? Did I respond immediately, saying “Yes, Lord,” to that? Am I responding with a right heart attitude? Am I willing to be obedient?

Is there any area in my life, in your life where we’re not fully obeying the Lord? This is a great weekend to ask that question.

We train our kids how to relate to the world around them. We give them volumes of instruction about practical issues that allow them to survive and equip them to live in society.

Things like, “Just because it’s a really warm day, you cannot go visit the neighbors in your underwear.” (Laughter)

Or maybe, “No, you cannot tell that very large woman in front of us in line at the grocery store that she is big and fat. She will not have a happy day. (Laughter) You don’t have to say everything that comes into your head.”

Or, “If someone offers you a bite of their cake, and you don’t like it, you cannot turn around and spit it back out onto their plate.” (Laughter)

Or maybe, “No, you do not announce in the middle of a church fellowship at our home that you have made a successful visit to the little boy’s room.” (Laughter)

Again, those little various trials that we encounter as a mother . . . so we teach them how to survive in society. But as our kids get older, teaching and training really becomes critical. Not only do they have to understand their responsibility in their physical surroundings, but they need to know how to think and how to reason biblically.

How they perceive the world around them will determine how they make choices. What they believe has value. Before our kids come to Christ, we can only instruct them in the difference between right and wrong. We can teach them the value of God’s Word. We can teach them that mom talks to Jesus when she’s happy or sad or has a problem. They can learn those things.

But after our kids come to Christ, when they have a genuine relationship with Christ, obedience doesn’t just happen because we have a rule about it.

We can appeal to the Holy Spirit within them. We can help them learn that God has given them a Helper so that they can begin to discern good and evil.

Sit down with your daughters in front of the Disney channel. Watch one of those shows that has 12- and 13-year-old girls in long-term relationships dressed in whatever they want to wear. Watch it with her, and as you’re watching, say to her, “Okay, I’m going to make a list of what I see in here that maybe doesn’t match up with what God would want, and I want you to make a list of what you see that doesn’t match up, and then we’ll just compare our lists and see.”

It’s such a cool thing when your older kids say to you, “Oh, mom, we don’t want to watch this. This is a crummy show.”

They need to develop an ability to discern quickly the difference between good and evil.

Our kids can learn that they can choose to obey even if they don’t feel like it. Our kids can learn, if they’re believers, how not to be ruled by their emotions, how to have minds that are governed by truth, how to be sober-minded, right in their mind, sophrone, like Nancy said last night, to be sober-minded, as Peter says in chapter 1, to be humble in mind, as he talks about in chapter 3, to think like Christ and be self-controlled, as he talked about in chapter 4 of this book.

We must teach and model the difference to our kids between internal control and external control. Internal control means, “I am making a choice to be obedient.” External control means, “I didn’t make the right choice and somebody else is going to help me get obedient.” There’s a big difference.

When they’re younger, they must learn to obey because we said so, but as young believers, we want them to listen when God gives them instruction by His Spirit and through His Word. They can learn that they have a choice about sin. Girls, in this culture it is critical for our kids to learn that they have a choice about sin, that there is forgiveness and training about how to get back on the path when they do make a wrong choice.

If we life transparent lives before them, we will be quick to acknowledge our own sin. We will be honest about our own failures. It’s hard for us to tell our kids that they need to have a right attitude when we’ve just been screaming at them in the car. Be honest about our own failures. And then seek forgiveness when we have wronged others or even when we have been wronged, and we didn’t have a right response to that.

We need to live out the hope that is within us. When we do that, when we live before our kids in a very transparent way, what we do is we hand them a spiritual GPS system that can guide them because they have already experienced seeing those things lived out in their home.

Then we’re called to transition. First Peter 4:12 says, “Don’t be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you as though some strange thing were happening to you, but rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s suffering”—and most of us have not suffered—“that you may also rejoice and be glad.”

I wish I had been more of a study of God’s Word when I was a very young mother. I was mostly just trying to survive when I was younger. I have to tell you that I’ve been surprised by the fact that being a mom includes so many transitions. When I was just trying to get the laundry done and keep people fed, I wasn’t looking way down the road to where I am now. I didn’t understand all the transitions that were coming in my life; I wouldn’t have even said that word in connection with motherhood.

I have to admit that I didn’t map out my motherhood strategy. When I was initiated into the ranks as a first-time mom, I had no idea what I was getting into. Of course, I had no idea that God was going to take me from one child to eight children, two in heaven, and now a grandmom. So that transition is part of God’s culture for us.

My oldest daughter is now over 30. My youngest is 13. I have six more in between those two, and I’ve transitioned in the last 30 years or so from being a very naïve mother of one to being called “Honey,” by almost five little people that are my grandchildren.

There’s a song by country artist Kenny Chesney called “Don’t Blink.” A few years ago we moved my mom to Little Rock. She lived in Nashville her whole life. She has Alzheimer’s. She loves country music. So when we’re in the car, we put country music on sometimes, so I’ve heard some pretty good songs—some really bad ones. This is one of the good ones. A song by Kenny Chesney called “Don’t Blink.”

The song tells the story of a young man who hears an interview on TV. They’re interviewing a man who is turning 102. The interviewer says to the 102-year-old man, “What would you tell someone about how to have success in life? What’s your secret to life?”

The chorus goes like this—I’m not going to sing it for you, you’ll be glad to know—but he says, “Don’t blink. Just like that, you’re six years old, and you take a nap, and you’re 25, and your high school sweetheart becomes your wife, but don’t blink. You might miss your babies growing like mine did, turning into moms and dads, and the next thing you know, your better half of 50 years is there in bed, and you’re praying that God takes you instead. Trust me, friend, a hundred years goes faster than you think, so don’t blink.”

Girls, the other day I met a gal who lives in my neighborhood. I didn’t know her, but one of our young moms came and picked me up and said, “I can’t do this by myself. You’re going to have to go with me.” She had heard about this gal. Her name is Lynn. Lynn was diagnosed about two months ago with pancreatic cancer. She’s a young mother. She has a four-year-old and a seven-year-old. She has stage four pancreatic cancer. She does not have long to live.

So we went and just dropped in on Lynn and asked her if there was anything we could do for her, how we could pray for her. Do you know what she said? She said, “I just never thought that I wouldn’t have any more time with my kids.”

Don’t blink because the days in which we live are precious. On the days when it’s hard, remember that none of us are guaranteed “X” number of days. We’re in transition as moms from the moment we bring that newborn home. Some of those changes we long for—we can’t wait for them to walk, or we can’t wait for them to talk, or to quit nursing, or to be able to buckle their own car seat. We long for those things.

Some transitions not so much because we also start releasing them. We release them to school, to driving, to college, to marriage, to God’s call on their life—which might be halfway around the world. Transition involves letting go, relinquishing my control. It’s really a spiritual principle—just one that we aren’t quick to learn.

Transitions require big picture dependence on the Lord for direction. That’s when we’ve got to put on those glasses so we can step back and see our life in light of eternity. First Peter 5 gives us some practical exhortation that we can apply.

In verses 2 and 3, “shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion but willingly as God would have you, not for shameful gain, but eagerly, not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.”

We watch our kids more during our time with them from total dependence to independence. God put that process in place, and it’s a necessary part of our living stones becoming the spiritual house and the holy priesthood that God has called them to be.

In China, they believed for many years that women should have tiny feet and that was beautiful. So what they did was, when a little girl was very, very young, they would take her foot, and they would split the foot so that it was half its normal side. They would kind of bend it this way and split it so it could not grow any bigger because they thought that was beautiful. What they ended up with were women who had tiny feet that they considered beautiful, but they couldn’t walk. They didn’t grow.

In God’s economy, not growing is unnatural. It defeats His purposes. If we hold too tightly as our children grow up, they will not develop for themselves their own spiritual house. Our kids will not thrive in this current culture if they only have a form of Christianity. They can be spiritually house-trained because we have rules, but that is worthless when they’re not around you. They have to have that inner GPS system that allows them to go to God themselves and make right choices that keep them on course.

Peter wrote to believers who lived in a culture that wasn’t conducive to the growth of Christianity. The culture they lived in prompted the writing of this book. Peter encouraged these believers to be prepared in their minds for action. He knew they would need to be able to defend their faith, to give an account for the hope they possessed. And our kids need to stand as those who have been called out of darkness.

Our kids are not growing up in the culture we grew up in at all. They have to be called out of darkness. If we aren’t careful, then our kids will grow up so accustomed to the darkness around them that it will feel more comfortable to them than living in the light. It’s much easier to go with the flow than to set yourself apart. Our homes are really a proving ground where the principles of God’s Word can be tested and found to be true.

Currently in our culture, one out of two marriages ends in divorce. That statistic applies to Christian homes as well. Stats for Christian marriages are no different than those of non-believers. It seems that there is an incredibly huge chasm between what we claim to know and what we actually live out or experience as believers. Our kids are seeing that.

According to a study finished several years ago by Tom Rainer, head of Life Way, only 4%—and this study was done several years ago. At that point, only 4% of this generation was coming to Christ. That means that 96% of my children’s peers will be non-believers—96% of my children’s peers will be non-believers.

We need to be women who realize with Peter in chapter 5, verse 8 that we must be sober-minded. How many times has he used that word in this book? We must be watchful. We need to understand that our adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone that he may devour. We are to resist him and stand firm in our faith. We need children who can resist him in a very dark culture and stand firm in their faith.

Chapter 3:14 reminds us that we are not to live in fear and be troubled, but we are to be careful to honor and sanctify Christ as Lord in our hearts, to be ready, to be prepared to give a defense for what we believe and why.

We must be women who have a biblical worldview of our own so that, as students of God’s Word, we allow the Lord to govern us, to teach us, to train us so that we become transparent, although never perfect, pictures of a long obedience in the right direction.

Do you know that you don’t have to be a perfect mom for your kids to understand that the desire of your heart is to please Christ? You’re going to fail. I fail. All the time I have to go back to my kids and make it right. But when we fail, and we make it right, we are still living stones. We’re still growing into what God would have us to be if we are faithful in obedience.

Our children as they mature will make their own choices. We have no guarantee that those choices will be what we would have chosen for them. That’s part of the transition between holding on and letting go. However, we’ll have far fewer regrets if we have taught our children consistently to love God and follow Him, not with our lips, not with just a form of righteousness, but controlled by the Spirit of God in the manner in which we have lived before them.

In chapter 3:10, Peter quotes Psalm 34. Look at that, look at chapter 3, verse 10. He says this—it’s really kind of a summary of where we’ve been in this book. “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil and do good. Let him seek peace and pursue it, for the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” Most of our culture does not know Christ.

So then, dear sisters, we’re called to do this final thing: We are called to trust. Chapter 5 says we are to clothe ourselves with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. We’re to humble ourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so at the proper time He may exalt us, casting all our anxiety on Him because He cares for us. He cares what happens in my life. He cares what happens in your life. He cares what happens in the life of our children.

The word that Peter uses there for cast is really a wrestling term. It’s the idea of picking your enemy up and holding him up over your heard and twirling him around like this, and then tossing him down on the mat. So when Peter says here, “cast your cares, your anxieties, on the Lord,” it’s not a wimpy thing. It’s a strong choice because God did not build us to carry the responsibility or the weight of the process of mothering our children in our own strength. We are to cast every facet of our mothering at the feet of Christ.

How foolish it would be, chapter 5, verse 10 assures us, that after we have suffered—and I use that term loosely for us here in America because we really don’t understand it, do we?—after we have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, the God of all wisdom, all love, all patience, all endurance, all joy, who has called us to His eternal glory in Christ will Himself—God will Himself—restore, confirm, strengthen and establish us.

You see, verse 11 reminds us that God is sovereign over the affairs of man, that He knows the course of our live, and as we walk in obedience to Him, we see His life worked into ours, lived out through ours, and the chances of our children adopting that same attitude are so much greater.

Now, girls, let me close with this: As we moved my mom to Little Rock, we had to go through tons of stuff in her house, clean everything out. I want you to imagine with me for a minute that in doing that, I found a whole little stash—which we did find stashes of various things—but what if I had found a whole little stash of diamonds in my mom’s house. Maybe they were in a little pouch, and I poured them into my hands to carry them around.

Let’s say that I’m going through the course of my day, but I’m carrying these diamonds. Everything I do, all day long, I’m carrying these diamonds. Are they precious? Yes. Are they costly, bought with a great price? Oh, yes. But here I am—I’m at Wal-Mart. I’m juggling kids, or I’m running late, so diamonds are just slipping out of my hands. They’re falling over here, but I’m too busy, or I’m too tired, or I’m too angry to go back and pick them up. They’re just gone.

Or maybe it’s a day when I’m really frustrated with my husband, and I’m just dribbling diamonds all day long, but I don’t care. It’s not worth it. He doesn’t deserve my respect or my love. So my kids are watching, and I’m walking around, and I’m just dribbling diamonds all over the place.

Or maybe it’s a moment in relationship with my child where I know that I didn’t respond in a right way, and I’m so angry, that diamonds are just flying all over the place, but I let them go because I don’t care.

You know what? Our days that we have with our children are like diamonds. They are precious, and I can tell you from this end of the spectrum, it will go faster than you think. Don’t waste what God is pouring into your life. Don’t waste the opportunity to live before your kids in a way that looks like Christ. So they will come along and say, “Here, mom, you dropped these, but I’ve got them. I’ve been gathering them up.”

Let’s pray.

Father, I do thank You that You are sovereignly wise over the content of our lives. Father, I pray that as women in this room hearing Your truth from Your Word that we would live out that truth in a way that brings You honor and glory, recognizing that the days in which we live are evil and that time is short and the lives of our children are precious.

Father, make us wise women who end our lives looking more and more like You in front of our children, before our husbands, our friends, our family. Father, may we look like Jesus to a watching world.

We ask it in Jesus’ name, amen.

Thank you girls. (Applause)

Leslie: The message you just heard was presented at Revive Our Hearts’ True Woman ’10 conference in Chattanooga. You can hear any of the messages delivered there and more by visiting www.truewoman.com. There you’ll find even more ways to connect from books and resources for yourself, your friends, or your life group to on-demand multi-media to ongoing conversations you can be a part of.

True Woman ‘10 is a ministry of Revive Our Hearts, helping you become God’s true woman.