Subdued by God
To employ John Calvin’s phrase to describe his conversion to Christ, I was subdued by God (Dues subegit) on March 23, 2005, six weeks following the birth of my first child. In God’s gracious sovereignty, I encountered most every modern-day heresy in the first couple of years of my Christian life. Frustrating at the time, I now see this as God’s plan to grow in me a fervent appetite for sustained and rigorous Bible study, and an insatiable desire for precise theological teaching.
Podcasting was in its early stages in those days, and it was God’s gracious provision to me that I was able to immerse myself daily in the biblical expositions of men like John Piper and John MacArthur, and later Sinclair Ferguson and R.C. Sproul. In the years when I had little energy to stay awake for a book (or free hands to hold something other than a baby), podcast sermons and lectures were my classroom. I am forever grateful for the way I came to understand — through countless Bible studies, sermons and lectures — many of the theological aspects of my own salvation, e.g., the sovereignty of God in regeneration, the efficacious atonement of his Son on the cross, my subsequent union with Christ, and the long road of sanctification by the power of the indwelling Spirit.
I began the teaching ministry of TruthBeautyGoodness on June 1, 2015, unsure precisely what God was calling me to do with the limited time and resources on my hands. For the past two years, I have grown under the Lord’s hand of discipline and redirection multiple times. I have tried podcasting (twice), blogging (briefly), as well as a few other projects. Though I have been reliably inconsistent with the manner and frequency of my ministry since the summer of 2015, the Lord continues to bring women to me who are thirsty for deeply biblical and theological teaching, in every single area of life.
These days, as I have just turned 40, and my fourth child is nearing age 5, I have a little more time (and brain capacity) to engage in some significant ministry. I have two books bursting out of my heart and mind, waiting to be written. I will begin teaching my first theology + literature class at a local college this fall. I will continue to offer several online webinars each year and have a whole slew of domestic, theological, and literary products I have dreamed of developing for many years.
I am entirely unsure, once again, what it is the Lord will grant me the opportunity and ability to do for the advancement of his Kingdom. But of this one thing I am certain: God is continuing to repair the ruins of my own heart, hour by hour. C.S. Lewis puts it this way:
Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is he up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself. — Mere Christianity
I have been married to Chris (quite possibly the most patient, loving, and long-suffering man alive) since 2000, with whom I founded our family business: Sword & Trowel. We have four children ages 12, 10, 8, and 4, whom I educate classically in the home. I am also an adjunct professor at New College Franklin and recently began pursuing my M.A. in Theological Studies at Reformed Theological Seminary. My favorite place to be is inside of my head, thinking through theological truths and weaving them into our family culture.
I also love engaging in dramatic + musical theatre with my children and am currently wearing the hat of a playwright, as I write my first historical-literary-musical-poetic theatrical production. Lord willing, we may hit the road in 2018!
Some of the most influential theologians on my thinking include:
Saint Augustine: “The whole life of a good Christian is a holy longing. What you long for, you do not yet see, but by longing you are made capacious so that when what you are to see has come, you may be filled. For just as if you should wish to fill a pocket, and you know how big the object that will be put in is, you stretch the pocket, whether made of sackcloth or leather or anything — you know how large a thing you will place there, and you see that the pocket is narrow. By stretching, you make it more capacious. So God, by postponing, stretches the longing, by longing stretches the soul, by stretching makes it capacious. Let us long therefore, brethren, because we are going to be filled.”
Martin Luther: “The love of God does not find, but creates, that which is pleasing to it.”
John Calvin: “Doctrine is rightly received when it takes possession of the entire soul and finds a dwelling place and shelter in the most intimate affections of the heart…In order for doctrine to be fruitful to us, it must overflow into our hearts, spread into our daily routines, and truly transform us within.”
Samuel Rutherford: “Let our Lord’s sweet hand square us and hammer us, and strike off the knots of pride, self-love, world-worship, and infidelity, that He may make us stones and pillars in His Father’s house.”
John Owen: “Affections are in the soul as the helm is in the ship. If the affections are laid on by a skillful hand, he can turn the whole vessel whichever way he wishes.”
John Bunyan: “It is always hard to see the purpose in wilderness wanderings until after they are over.”
Charles Spurgeon: “Let thy religion begin at home. Many tradesmen export their best commodities — the Christian should not…let him have a care to put forth the sweetest fruit of spiritual life and testimony in his own family.”
C.S. Lewis: “Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.” [Screwtape Letters]
Dorothy L. Sayers: “The Christian faith is the most exciting drama that ever staggered the imagination of man…and the dogma is the drama.”
Francis Schaeffer: “No work of art is more important than the Christian’s own life, and every Christian is called upon to be an artist in this sense. Each man has the gift of creativity in terms of the way he lives his life. In this sense, the Christian’s life is to be an art work. The Christian’s life is to be a thing of truth and also a thing of beauty in the midst of a lost and despairing world.”
Madeleine L’Engle: “The journey homewards. Coming home. That’s what it’s all about. The journey to the coming of the Kingdom. That’s probably the chief difference between the Christian and the secular artist — the purpose of the work, be it story or music or painting, is to further the coming of the Kingdom, to make us aware of our status as children of God, and to turn our feet toward home.”
Albert Mohler: “I’m not primarily concerned about the church surrendering to the large culture…I am more concerned the church will abdicate its responsibility inside the church, and that will be at a far greater cost and a far greater unfaithfulness.”
Sinclair Ferguson: “Because we are branches, our response to pruning is often to say, “Oh, that hurts! Stop it!” And we need to understand this picture: that if we are united to Jesus Christ, the way the Father often makes us most fruitful is by the way he cuts away from our lives everything that is extraneous to his glory. To the amateur eye, it seems both wasteful and sore, but not to the Heavenly Father, and not to the disciple who understands what it is the Heavenly Father is doing.”
R.C. Sproul: “It’s dangerous to assume that because a person is drawn to holiness in his study that he is thereby a holy man. There is irony here. I am sure that the reason I have a deep hunger to learn of the holiness of God is precisely because I am not holy. I am a profane man—a man who spends more time out of the temple than in it. But I have had just enough of a taste of the majesty of God to want more. I know what it means to be a forgiven man and what it means to be sent on a mission. My soul cries for more. My soul needs more.”
John Piper: “If the Word of God is coming with power each week, it does not simply satisfy hunger; it creates hunger.”
George Grant (my pastor): “When God calls, he equips; when he equips, he enables; when he enable, he qualifies; when he qualifies, he provides.”