BLOG site of Amy R. Maxwell

I am the wife of B.J. Maxwell (married August of 1997) and mother of our four adopted children.
I am blessed with the awesome privilege to care for & love my husband, invest in & love our children, and keep our home.
May I steward these gifts well, for the glory and praise of Christ Jesus our precious Lord & Savior!

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus . . . sweetest name I know!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Teaching Our Kids About Same-Sex Marriage

First and foremost . . .
I am a Christian.

I believe Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” From that verse on, I believe that God has orchestrated all of history to testify what He would do and is doing through Christ Jesus, His Son. I believe in John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

I believe that Jesus is the Son of God. He bore our sins at the cross and He rose from the dead. I believe the truth of Romans 5:8-9, that God “demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.”

As a follower of Christ, I believe that we must be born again (John 3). I believe that salvation is not merely a belief in God (James 2:19) but a life that is set apart by faith through Christ Jesus our Lord. I now rejoice in the amazement of Galatians 2:20, for “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Because Christ now lives within me, I am compelled by faith to obey Scripture and do that which is pleasing to my Heavenly Father (2 Timothy 1:9). I am no longer conformed to this world (Romans 12:2) for I am “His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works” (Ephesians 2:10). I do not seek to gain man's approval (Galatians 1:10), but rather, I seek to live a life that is brimming over with much love, faith, hope, and steadfastness. I believe that Christ is glorified in me when I love and obey the truths of Scripture. I esteem to follow the commands of Colossians 3:12-17:
“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”
My life will never be perfect. I will struggle with sin until my eyes close in death and open to the Word of God in the flesh. Often I do not long for what is good and right and I seek after things that are foolishness. I struggle with pride, anger, bitterness, selfishness, gluttony, laziness, the approval of others, and discontentment . . . among many others. Yet, God's Word tells me that I am no longer enslaved to that sin (Romans 6:12-19) and that I can run to God who is rich in mercy and grace (2 Peter 1:2; Hebrews 4:16). We all need the grace and forgiveness of Christ Jesus our Lord. Sin is sin. We all need “new hearts” (Ezekiel 36:26).

We have been talking through the Supreme Court's decision (to recognize same-sex marriage) with our children over the past few days. We have emphasized that God's Word is very clear on the matter of “marriage” (Genesis 1:27; 1 Timothy 1:9-10; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Romans 1:26-27; Leviticus 18:22); just as it is very clear on a deceitful tongue, stirring up strife, worry, hate, etc. We reminded them that God commands us, above all, to love. Remember when the Pharisees asked Jesus (in Matthew 22:34-46) what was the greatest commandment in the Law? Jesus answered, “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” So what does this look like when we are faced with neighbors who struggle with sin that is different than ours? We love them. We don't shame them. We don't ignore them nor make fun of them. We look to God for our example, “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). We should never condone anyone's sin. We should never encourage others to explicitly go against the Word of God. But rather, we put on the Lord Jesus Christ and look to his example in Philippians 2:1-11, as well as the many encounters we read about in the Gospels where Jesus lived & taught among “the tax collectors and sinners” (Mark 2:15). Our life must be governed by the truths and commands of Scripture if we claim to be born again.

I have several friends on social media who are in same-sex relationships. I would never want to shame them publicly. Is this how I would want to be treated? We all need Jesus. Perhaps they do not even know Jesus, or the truths of Scripture. How helpful is it when believers are judging and condemning others on what they might see as truth? “How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard?” (Romans 10:14) Show them Jesus. Show them the Jesus of Scripture.
“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
When in doubt, love. 
Love like Jesus.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Endurance in Trials (James 1:2-4)

The kids and I are studying the book of James this summer. I have always loved this little New Testament letter. I am grateful for the many ways James addresses our “tongues” and for his exhortation to rejoice in trials. My all time favorite verse (3:17) is also tucked away in this little gem.

The past two days the kids and I have been discussing verses 1-18 of chapter 1. We have especially sought God's wisdom & grace on verses 2-4. This morning we discussed various trials that the Lord has brought us through . . . Nana T's death, Abby's sickness (when she was hospitalized), our last church situation, losing Miriam, Mommy's health, etc. We then discussed how James tells us to consider these trials as “joy”. What?! Those trials are/were some of the hardest and most painful we have had to bear as a family. How can we count them as JOY?!

We returned to verse 3. It says, “the testing of your faith produces endurance.” What exactly is endurance? How does the testing of our faith produce endurance?
In Merriam-Webster's Dictionary, endurance is defined as, “the ability to withstand hardship or adversity; the ability to sustain a prolonged stressful effort or activity.”
So, going through trials gives us the ability to withstand hardship? But that still does not explain how we can count it as joy. We looked to verse 4 for help. Verse 4 reads, “And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Obviously, we can't be perfect this side of heaven. Now what? Who is the only perfect man to walk this earth? “Christ Jesus, it is he!!” (My mind automatically went to the hymn, A Mighty Fortress is Our God.) The children were quick to put this point together . . . “Enduring trials makes us more like Jesus. And Jesus helps us endure trials!”

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial.” (v12)

We discussed many trials (big and small). What happens when a sibling hits you and calls you a name? Or a friend tells a lie about you? It is easy to react quickly with anger and to unleash our tongues. But does that bring honor to God? Are we “enduring” and shining the light of Jesus when we react in anger? Absolutely not. We seek God for help & grace so that we can respond in love & wisdom. Endurance is putting on Jesus.

Our faith will be tested. That is inevitable. How we respond to trials is important. Our response to these trials reveals what we treasure the most . . . It reveals where our desires truly lie. As I sought to apply this to our family, I reminded the kids that their response to sin (whether or not they are truly sorrowful over sin) and their reactions in the face of trials/hardships reveal whether the Lord has truly given them new hearts. James tells us that a “new heart” is not a heart the merely believes in Jesus (2:19) but a heart that is sorrowful over sin and esteems Christ (and his work at the cross). Trials are a sure way to reveal what is hidden in our hearts.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him . . . Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” (James 1:5, 17)

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for making us more like your Son, Jesus Christ, through “various trials”. Help us to endure with great hope, joy, and faithfulness.