Are Some Jobs More Spiritual Than Others?

Being a mom is a thankless calling.

So often, I find myself reheating my coffee, shuffling across the kitchen floor hoping to steal a few moments to myself to perhaps read a verse of scripture or wash a dish, when I hear the usual chorus of my life rising from the adjacent room… there’s the, “I had that first!” followed by the (insert act of violence here) and then, without fail, the dreaded wailing of a toddler wronged.

It’s in these moments I think, “oh Lord. Send me to the slums of India, the back alleys of Taiwan, the underground church of China… just anywhere but the living room.”

Are Some Jobs More Spiritual Than Others


I hope I’m not the only mom who sits, feet firmly planted on my carpet, nursing yet another baby, folding yet another towel, settling what feels like the seven millionth squabble of the hour, looking out my window and feeling as if it’s all such a waste for the kingdom. Why, oh Lord, would you give me the personality I have, the gifts I have, the desire to reach the unchurched, only to call me to the depths of the playroom?

I’ve yet to be part of a church community that did not, at some point, pray over missionaries that were being sent to a land, far, far away. And, as I’ve swayed in the back with a colicky baby I’ve looked on at the missionary couple with a tinge of envy. They’re really doing something for God! I think. And I am just relegated to this life of meaningless domesticity.

I’ve since realized that I had somehow created a spiritual hierarchy of work in my mind… a false hierarchy. Part of the scandal of the reformation in the 1500s, was that it completely redefined the concept of “work” for the believer. No longer were monks, nuns, and priests alone at the top of the spiritual pyramid. Now, the reformers said, all good work is holy work. In fact, it was Martin Luther who said, “God himself will milk the cows through him whose vocation it is.” No one’s occupation is more or less holy than the pastor or missionary or city maintenance employee next door.

In Tim Keller’s “Every Good Endeavor” he points out one of the main problems with my (or anyone for that matter) assigning spiritual value to a particular occupation. The church receives conflicting messages regarding the nature of work. We are to evangelize our coworkers, promote social justice, be excellent workers, create beauty, impact culture, have a joyful heart, be satisfied, or make loads of money to then be generous. The problem, Keller says, with these messages is that it isn’t possible for us to do all of them simultaneously which is confusing to Christians.

So, they’re left to simply picking whichever aim suits them or their particular wing of evangelicalism and judging those who don’t measure up. And, furthermore, I have noticed in my own experience in the Church, each local church perhaps defines spiritual work differently. I have been a part of churches that champion the stay-at-home mom’s role, unknowingly inflicting guilt on the working mom. I’ve also been a part of churches that emphasize the importance of global missions, leaving those of us serving locally to feel as if we somehow aren’t measuring up.

In Tish Harrison Warren’s, “The Liturgy of the Ordinary,” she admits the following:

“It is hard for me to believe that checking email could ever be a place of prayer. I want God to call me to other things, things that feel more important, meaningful, and thrilling. But this work, in this hour, is a living prayer that I may ‘go in peace to love and serve the Lord.’”

I love that the apostle Paul challenges us in 1 Corinthians 10:31, that, “whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” He takes something small and simple, eating and drinking, and challenges us to glorify God in the seemingly insignificant. If God cares about the “small” actions that make up our day, then can one not argue that He also cares about the “small” vocations in which some of us find ourselves?

I don’t need to serve another master… the other master that tells me to jump through this hoop or go to this country in order to be a true servant of God. I only need to serve the One Master who has called me to where I am. If I truly believe that the Lord has, as according to Acts 17:26, determined my allotted time and place of living, then I can truly believe that it is not without purpose.

I don’t need to serve another master… the other master that tells me to jump through this hoop or go to this country in order to be a true servant of God. I only need to serve the One Master who has called me to where I am. Click To Tweet


So, I resolve to carry on. I resolve to wipe the nose, change the diaper, load the dishwasher, serve my neighbor, and pray for those blessed feet that carry the news of the gospel to the unreached places that I may not ever go. My feet may be restless at times, but they are planted. If you are of the same afflicting (restless feet that are planted), let this lead you to prayer. Pray for those whose feet may go but, also, pray for the opportunities in front of you. What you are doing is holy work. What you are doing is gospel work.



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By | 2018-01-31T02:27:03+00:00 January 28th, 2018|0 Comments

How to Change Your Spouse

I participated in a Q&A recently where a woman anonymously submitted this question: The Word instructs wives to submit to their husband’s and RESPECT them. How can I respect a man who is not respectable in my eyes?

First, my big picture advice was this: Be willing to go to your pastor or a godly couple in the church to talk these things through. The local church is designed to help us walk through issues just like this. Marriage is not easy. However, it is good, and it is a sacred bond between a man and a woman that is worth fighting for. I don’t say fighting each other! I mean it is worth making the effort to preserve.

I won’t go into all the details of my answer, but I would like to include a very important aspect of my response in today’s post. How do we really go about changing our spouse? If the husband isn’t leading well enough or if the wife isn’t submitting well enough, what do we do to fix it? Here’s what you need to do first:

Take the focus off the other person for a moment.

I’m not saying there aren’t serious issues that arise in marriage that need to be dealt with by going to counseling or even confronting particular sin issues. But here’s what I’m saying: focus on changing you.

You see, marriage is a beautiful covenant between two broken people. The only marriage ever to occur that was between two non-sinners happened at the end of Genesis 2. And it took all of just a handful of subsequent verses to change that forever. Marriage is messy sometimes because people are sinners.

Paul exhorts husbands and wives in Ephesians 5:22,25 “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord…Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…”

Often times in marriage disagreements I hear the wife say something like “I would follow you if you would lead better” or the husband says “I would lead better if you’d submit better.” Yet, here is the reality of Ephesians 5: There are no exception clauses. Paul doesn’t say only love perfect wives, or only submit to perfect husbands, for if he did, these exhortations would be completely meaningless! It’s not the lovely wives that are to be loved or the respectable husbands that are to be respected. That’s not what Paul says.

He says Wives, submit to your husbands and husbands, love your wives. We can’t get out of these commands by claiming our spouse is imperfect. In fact, in other places in Scripture all Christians are told to submit to governmental leaders (1 Peter 2:13ff) and we know that the leaders of the New Testament era were certainly not Christians. The point being, instead of waiting around on your spouse to do what they are supposed to do, first focus on doing what you are supposed to do.

Let the fullness of Christ in you spill over into your marriage relationship. Focus on being the spouse God has called you to be first. No, you can’t be perfect, but there are areas we can all grow in. Wives, follow your husband’s leadership even if it is imperfect. This doesn’t mean you have to be a ‘slave’ or do something that Christ forbids, but it does mean that you can follow in areas your husband is leading even if you don’t always agree.

Husbands, love your wives even if they are contentious. My friend Jim Elliff recently wrote an excellent article about the sad story of James Fraser. Does not Christ continually love the church even though she is imperfect? Is He not full of grace toward Her? Did He not give up His life for Her? Strive to love your wife that way, even if she balks sometimes. You keep doing what God has called you to do.

None of this is to imply that the other person doesn’t need work too. In fact, I don’t even know who they are but I know they need work. Why? They are a fallen human being! If they are a Christian though, I am certain that your joy in Christ will eventually rub off on them (of course, marriage counseling might be a tremendous help too. And there is no shame in wanting to work on your marriage through biblical counseling!).

Let your fullness in Christ spill over. Let your meditations on Scripture, and prayer, and love for the local church pour over in your life so that your husband or wife sees your joy and love for Christ. May your witness show them that obedience to Christ brings delight. If they are not a Christian, your fullness in Christ might just win them to the Lord (see 1 Peter 3:1).

As you strive to do what Scripture teaches regarding your role in marriage, pray for your spouse. Pray that they would understand the role God has for them as well. Pray that the gospel would continually work in their hearts. Pray that you would love and cherish them as the gift they really are to you.

Marriage is hard work sometimes. But sometimes the hardest work might be humbling yourself and seeking the Lord to work in your life before you worry about what your spouse needs to fix. In all of this however, it is worth it.


Recommended Reading


By | 2018-01-31T02:27:16+00:00 January 19th, 2018|0 Comments

The False Security of Morning Sickness

The False Security of Morning Sickness by Kara Garis

The False Security of Morning Sickness by Kara Garis

“How are you feeling?”

I stared at the text message, wondering how I should respond… because, truthfully, I felt terrible. I couldn’t keep anything down and I was exhausted. Being ten-weeks pregnant while parenting three other children wasn’t the easiest thing I had done. I spent most days counting down the seconds until nap time, and then bed time, when I could flop back on the couch and just focus on resting.

“Meh… I’ve felt better!” I typed back, inserting a green, nauseated emoji.

“Well, look at the bright side… sickness means healthy baby!”

I nodded. That had, honestly, been what sustained me through days on end of my forehead being pressed firmly to the bathroom tile while my children argued in the next room: the mantra of… “morning sickness means healthy baby!” It seemed to take the edge off of the suffering. Never mind that this was another opportunity to experience, in the tiniest of ways, Christ’s suffering for me… the greatest good was a healthy baby.

As a mother who has experienced the suffering of two miscarriages, I can personally attest that battling fear and anxiety each pregnancy is a real struggle. Any time the nausea seems to lessen, my first thoughts are, “I hope the baby didn’t die.” Each and every time. I breathe a small sigh of relief when I pass the sacred 12-week mark and, then, another at 25 weeks… yet the fear of cord accidents, placental abruption and any other unforeseen misstep weigh heavily on my mind until the baby is placed in my arms. My arms… where I can finally protect them from harm.

But… this is the lie.

Even today, as I write this article, I am 12 weeks and 2 days pregnant. I am still slightly nauseated but mostly better. The exhaustion is alive and well… but the notion of morning sickness being the hope to which I can helplessly cling is a false hope that truly won’t deliver because, as we believers know, to hope in anything but Christ is futile.

John Newton said, “If it were possible for me to alter any part of His plan, I could only spoil it.” Yet, as I choose to place my hope ultimately in a healthy baby… trusting morning sickness or healthy diet or obsessive fetal heartbeat monitoring along the way, I am foolishly holding my plan up as the ultimate good… rather than the plan of the Creator. Thanks, God… for making the world and sustaining everything and all of that… but I can handle my children and my family. You go handle the Middle East.

If I can believe that a hope that does not put us to shame (Romans 5:5) is a result of suffering in the likeness of our Savior (Philippians 2:3-11) and that God truly works EVERY thing together for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28), then I can wake each morning trusting my unborn baby to God and his goodness. Yes, I am to be wise and to steward this pregnancy well… but morning sickness is a terrible Savior.

Beyond that, once the baby is in my arms… I am still not able to prevent illness or injury. I can only, again, wake each morning with open hands and trust my children to their Creator who is good.

Can we press on, believing God is ultimately in control and good, even if it means we will not carry this child to term? Is His goodness contingent upon a wrinkled, pink baby delivered at 40 weeks? And then a happy childhood free from tragedy or illness? If I stand at the graveside of my child, can I do so with hands raised to God in praise? Or will that dark moment be the one that causes me to turn my back on my Maker?

Is Jesus truly enough?

Any time I choose to rely on what the world relies on for safety and security, I am reminded of how quickly it can be taken away… leaving us lost and confused, wondering how on earth this could have happened… when we were so faithful to do what the world says to do.

Christ is really the only hope that lives. Christ is the only hope that satisfies… both in times of infinite blessing and nights of suffocating grief.

So, I will, today, resolve to trust the Lord not only with my unborn child… but with my 5-year-old, my 3-year-old and my 17-month-old. I could choose to trust in morning sickness, the right education, a certain income, a suburban neighborhood, or an organic diet. But… ultimately… those things will never keep their promises. There is only One who does.

Recommended Reading

All Things for Good by Thomas Watson


By | 2018-01-31T02:33:53+00:00 October 10th, 2017|0 Comments

Redefining Self-Care in Light of Eternity

Redefining Self-Care in Light of Eternity by Kara Garis

Redefining Self-Care in Light of Eternity by Kara Garis

Each morning, I roll out of the bed quickly in efforts to stop the tiny toddler trotting happily across my floor, making a beeline for his baby sister’s crib. I scoop him up, try not to trip over the dog, and plod to the kitchen, shushing my son along the way. Coffee is poured. Oatmeal is heated in the microwave. I realize I left my glasses on my dresser and squint, bleary-eyed, at the clock. 5:39 AM.

These days are exhausting. I know I’m not the only mom on the planet that’s tired.

I live in the world of #firstworldproblems. So many of the parenting podcasts I listen to stress the importance of self-care. “Moms, take care of yourselves!” or “Put your own oxygen mask on so you can take care of your children!” I get it. There’s definitely truth to these things or they wouldn’t say it.

Now, I’m not going to be that mom that says we aren’t allowed to complain or lament the woes of parenting littles. It is for sure a challenge and there is some degree of needing to take care of ourselves so we don’t take it out on our kiddos. But in that same vein, I think maybe we have made self-care an expectation. I think if you were to poll moms around the world, they might look at you blankly if you asked them about their self-care routine. It’s interesting how we, the country of independence, have established habits of moving away from family and community to find ourselves and make it on our own, only to lament the denial of self-care when we are stuck in the emotionally and physically draining season of shepherding tiny hearts. I wonder if self-care was as much of an issue to the mothers of my grandparents’ generation, since they lived so close to sisters and aunts and parents.

I am less than an hour’s drive from family. I by no means got away to exert my independence as some of my friends did. But there is a part of me that has started to become a bit of a mommy martyr. Feeling as if I am sacrificing all of myself for these children, as if I am some sort of mommy hero for all that I’ve given up. Anytime I see a woman out running during the day I think to myself, longingly, “I could go for a run. But, these kids..” as if the eternal task of discipling these tiny souls entrusted to me is worth disregarding for the short-term effects of a 5-mile run.

To be a mother is a call to sacrifice. Philippians 2 says that we are to look to Christ as our example who, though he was in the form of GOD, did not count equality with God something to be grasped but rather humbled himself, taking the form of a servant. How does this apply to me? How do I set Christ as my example in these years?

I cannot push on in my own strength. But maybe looking to Christ as my example means, while I do not negate self-care, I redefine self-care. Maybe redefining self-care looks like, as 2 Corinthians 4 says, looking to things that are unseen and eternal. Maybe self-care doesn’t involve getting to run everyday. Maybe self-care doesn’t look like an afternoon at Starbucks with a book and a journal.

In this season, self-care looks a little more like reading my Bible out loud to help me focus on getting the Word in… which shows my kids that it is a priority to me and also gets them some extra Bible as well. Self-care looks like prioritizing prayer and reading my Bible during rest time rather than doing a workout video. Because, while a workout video would definitely curb my calorie intake and maybe give me a slightly smaller waistline, it’s eternity that matters.

So, press on, Moms. Look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. Take care of yourselves, please. But take care of yourselves in light of eternity.


Recommended Reading

By | 2018-01-31T02:36:27+00:00 September 19th, 2017|0 Comments


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