In honor of my mom: Motherhood is good, but Jesus is better.

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Everyone knows that motherhood is both good and yet painful at the same time.

As God created, he said that the woman will become a mother, that she is blessed to become so, and that it was all good. God also said that the woman’s motherhood would come through marriage to a man (2:23-25). But then the woman, along with the man, responded sinfully. God and his gifts were not enough (3:1-7). God then responded to this unbelief and assault upon his character by giving the serpent an unmitigated curse: he would receive a mortal blow upon his head, but the man and the woman, though also receiving a curse, would find redemption through a male child who would redeem them back to God (3:15).

The Story of the Bible is centered on Jesus.

Though the Serpent would bruise his heel on the cross, Jesus would crush his head by resurrection. Jesus Wins! And because Jesus wins, all mothers who turn to Christ for redemption find that motherhood is good, but Jesus is better. That’s because motherhood was never meant to be an ultimate experience, or an ultimate goal in life, or provide ultimate value – as if women who don’t bear children have less value than those who do.

By the grace of God, I’m glad to have a mother who, though brought me into the world through pain and had painful episodes in raising me, and had to accept a painful distance of miles since I left home at 17, nonetheless, did not grasp at her motherhood as her god. Jesus is her God.

When explaining the gospel, Jesus uses motherhood to describe how it is that a sinner can be saved. Jesus told one of the wisest religious leaders in Jerusalem that unless he is born again he cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Nicodemus was stumped, saying, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Now if there ever was a Human Anatomy and Biology lesson – this is it. Notice that Nicodemus does not say, “. . . can he be born a second time . . .” He says, “Can he enter a second time . . .” What? Nicodemus acknowledges by implication that it was his father who put him into his mother’s womb the first time. That explains his first birth. How then can this be done again? And that’s the point that Jesus establishes. You Can’t! It was not you who put you into your mother’s womb the first time and it won’t be you who will do it the second time – but the impossible “must” be done. How?

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” – John 3:1-8.

Did you get that? Just as there was a father who put me into my mother’s womb the first time for physical birth, likewise, there must also be a fatherly initiative to birth me into the kingdom. Motherhood is not the gospel – it explains the gospel!

This is Good News – this is the Gospel for all women whether you give birth or not!

This is why I honor my mom on mother’s day. Not only because she gave birth to me, but her motherhood over me did not blind me from seeing Jesus. Too often motherhood becomes more than it was intended. And too often children can become distracted because motherhood is all that some women have. Motherhood is good – but Jesus is better. And when Jesus means more to a mom than her own motherhood, then that’s when we see our own need to be born again.

If you are a mom reading this, whatever you have done, and wherever you are on the spectrum of knowing your need of Jesus, there is always grace to begin explaining the gospel by the way you mother your children. Love Jesus more than them and they will get the picture.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom.

A Time for Reflection

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Last week was very special. I was blessed to spend some turkey-time in the woods with my son, Joshua. No Tom – but good times together.

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This is where we turkey-hunted, Mt. Nebo, WV. It’s close to where my uncle Ron lives. I first saw this view in 1971. Not much has changed – it’s as beautiful as always. The original owners are dead, yet this scene remains. And so it goes.

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This was a new place for me. After the morning hunt, my dad, my uncle Ron, Joshua, and I visited a couple of sites in Clay County that I had yet to see. To the far upper left, near the blooming violet bush and tall, hunter-green cedar, is the cemetery where my grandpa Truman is buried – my dad’s dad. You need a 4X4 to get there.

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I had always wondered what I would feel when I would finally look upon this marker. I’m his grandson. And his great-grandson stands here too. Now I know . . .

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. . . I feel deeply grieved. Not simply that I didn’t know him. But rather, that he didn’t know Jesus. And still doesn’t. I’m silenced at the gravity of this. It’s been 68 years since 1947. That’s a long time. Eternity is even longer. “O Lord, teach me to number my days, that I may get a heart of wisdom” – applied Psalm 90:12. I’m so sorry grandpa. I love you.

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This is another cemetery and this is my dad’s mom – Zelma. I miss her very much (” . . . watch you fers up to”). Born a Sears, married Burl Truman. Widowed with 5 children to raise. Remarried a White. Had two more. She loved Jesus. Still with him to this day – praise the Lord.

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Zelma’s mother – my great grandma Sears, buried beside her daughter. I thank the Lord that this woman loved her Savior and showed her family the hard and narrow way that leads to eternal life.

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Before we leave this cemetery, located in Clay, WV, just above Clay County High School that sits on the Elk River, we take a selfie.

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At our final cemetery in Peach Orchard, Clay Co. This is my dad’s grandpa on his mother’s side. This was a first for me to be here. It’s heart-warming to know that the Lord saved him from the consequences of his sins. Not a stellar beginning . . . but then the grace of God broke through. A country preacher who loved his Lord. I have his sermon notes – they’re a treasure to me.

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Just before we leave where Joseph Sears is buried, uncle Ron tells stories to my son about his ancestors. Surreal: The great great grandson of Joseph Sears hears from the grandson about how he can still hear and see his grandpa preach about Jesus. Priceless!

Take Aways:

1. Time is short. Eternity is Forever. Don’t waste your life loving the gifts of God more than God himself in Christ.

2. When your children’s children, and even their children stand over your grave, what do you want them to know about you? Your life will speak from your grave after you’re gone, and what you want them to hear, is, “Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

3. Don’t sanitize the past, but also, don’t be all maudlin about it either. For the next generation, be clear and truthful, yet encouraging and hopeful all at the same time.

4. Life is a precious gift – enjoy it. Give thanks to the Lord – for his mercies endure forever.

5. If you can, visit your buried family members and gain a heart of wisdom. Better yet, take your children with you, so that they can get a sense of the brevity of their own life.

6. While you can, tell a family member that you love him/her. There will come a day when you can’t.

7. Finally, sing with me! To my family members who are not ready to die, I beg you, sing with me:

I thank you Lord for the day that you gave me in the mountains of Clay, WV.