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.

What it means to say, “She gave birth to me” on Mother’s Day

Below are some of the things I said yesterday in my Mother’s Day Message. I hope you are encouraged.

“Are You My Mother?” is the title question for one of our favorite children’s books we read to our children when they were young. With a baby bird wandering through life asking a dog, a cat, a machine – “Are You My Mother?” the little bird searches for what it believes to be true – there must be a mother for me.

But a deeper question is irresistible: Who am I and how did I get here? I would not care to know who my mother is and to know her if I did not want to know my own identity as a human. Our self-understanding of who we are is connected to who birthed us.

With respect to the question pursued in the children’s book, “Are you my mother?”, Drema Kay Truman is the only human on the planet of whom I can say, “she is my mother – she gave birth to me.” As a child, she was my parent but not merely my parent. A           grandmother, or aunt, or a consenting adult could be regarded as my parent but no one else can be my mother in the sense of saying, “she gave birth to me.”  Only a female can give birth. I exist because a female gave birth to me. Furthermore, I exist because a female and a male loved one another in a marriage union that safeguarded what is ideal and best for children to flourish under. I exist because of one female and one male. Not two females, not two males, not one female, not one male, but because of one          female and one male in marriage.

Our identity and self-understanding of who we are as living creatures cannot be explained by merely saying that we have parents. We must say, by necessity, that “I am here because I have a mother and a father who bore me.”

Here are five things that God gave me when he gave me my mother:

1. When God gave me a mother He gave me an explanation for my existence. In no way do I attempt to lessen the sorrows of those who do not know their mother and father. But only to point out that there is an irresistible tug on the heart to know who gave birth to you. I want to know where my physical life began. Why? I want to know how I got here. My mother had me, and her mother had her and her mother’s mother had her mom – until you are back here in Genesis one: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created him.” (Gen. 1:27).

As my mother is the source of my reality, in part, there is also a voice of truth that speaks down through the pages of time that explains all reality: ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth – and I made you for my own glory and for our everlasting joy together.’

2. When God gave me a mother He gave me an explanation for my self-identity.        Not only do I want an explanation, a point of reference for my existence, but, ‘Who Am I?’ is answered by “made in the likeness of God” but not apart from likeness of mom and dad. In Gen. 4:25-5:5, Moses writes that we are made in the likeness of God, then says that Adam fathered Seth, “a son in his own likeness, after his image.”

Seth looked like Adam and Eve (one flesh union, bone of my bone). I look like my mother and father.  As a child grows up he or she begins to make the connection that the features on your face are similar to the features on daddy’s face, and similar to the features on mommy’s face. You also come to realize that, as a boy, I am more like my daddy than my mommy, I am male like my daddy is male. As a girl, I am more like my mommy, than my daddy. I am female, like my mommy is female.

Furthermore, God named the male man, Adam, and Adam named the female man, “woman” – then named her Eve after the fall into sin, then we see Adam naming his son – Seth. Point: I did not and you did not come into this world with a name tag already embedded in you. You did not come pre-stamped for delivery with a name tattooed on your behind. You had no point of self-reference by which you could say who you are.

Naming is very important in scripture. It teaches my heart that my identity is a bestowed one from a higher level of authority over my life for my good. Since my mother gave birth to me, it teaches me that I need another kind of rebirth – I need to be born again. But I can’t birth myself into the kingdom of God anymore than I birthed myself alive in 1964. Also, my mother named me because she is the source of my life and has authority over it. This is partly why Jesus wants us baptized into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It demonstrates ownership for ones well-being. As a child, I derive all of my understanding of who I am from my mother and father.

3. When God  gave me my mother, He gave me an explanation for my role as a male man, which also includes female man. This is a complementarian view of male and female relationships and roles.

“Then the man said, This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” (Gen. 2:23-25)

This does not mean that singleness is a lesser kind of existence. The examples of God-honoring singleness are many in Scripture – especially Jesus himself. But in terms of how I am to function so that the human race goes on, it goes on through leaving a mother and father and taking a wife, therefore multiplying and filling the earth with a few more lovers of Jesus Christ. Not just filling the earth with more humans, but impacting, influencing the human race with children who live their lives pointing the way to our Creator who sent his son.

It is a logical deduction for children to easily get: my mommy had me . . . one day, I will leave, get a female and have children, like my daddy left his mommy and daddy and married my mommy, who left her mommy and daddy. It’s that simple!

4. When God gave me a mother He gave me an explanation for my miserable end.

“You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” and “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Gen. 2:16-17; 3:19)

Death strips away my existence and my self-identity and my family. Dust has no eye-color, fingerprints, or bodily features. My mother and father are dying – everyone’s mother and father are dying. You are dying. I am dying. I am not a god, I am a human like my mother and father is human. My future has finality in it. You and I will come to a final end – to dust. We may not like the explanation  – but at least it is the truth. The human race dies because we all exchanged a promise for a lie. God promised us joy and provisions and blessings in living for him, the Devil suggested a lie that said we could have it all on our own terms without God. Death is the answer to our question: Can I be God? Evidently not.

Which leads us to this final blessing that when God gave me a mother . . .

5. He gave me The Answer for my need and longing for everlasting life.

In order to hear the good news you have to believe the bad news. Death does not have to have the last word. Believe it. But believe this too: When you consider your own mother who birthed you into this world, you should believe that there is another birth that is offered to you – one that will restore all that is lost. Jesus Christ, the seed of the woman (Gen. 3:15) crushed the head of the Devil and his offspring on the cross. God offers clothing of righteousness for your sin – he has provided the righteousness of his own son so that you are not exposed and naked before him (Gen. 3:21).

Adam renamed his wife, “Eve” – the mother of all living. Her seed was born through a virgin girl named Mary – his name is Jesus, “for he will save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). Question: When you think about your mother who birthed you into existence, do you think about how you are going to live forever, given the fact that your mother is going to die and so are you?

This is what it means to contemplate the mystery of your own existence through your birth-mother. It guides me to think about the one who made my mother and made me so that I can hear the good news of Jesus Christ.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom!

I love you and thank the Lord for giving you to me as my mother.