Believer, the Local Church is for Your Spiritual Good

Gathering with the local church

Do you ever feel like gathering with fellow believers on Sunday mornings is a habit that you do because it is just that–a habit? I know I can feel that way sometimes. However, despite our tendency to get caught in the routine of it, God designed gathering with the local church to be so much more than a habit or an opportunity to socialize! He designed the local church for our good!

All throughout the New Testament, we read about the local church: we read about who should be in positions of leadership, specific practices to have within the local church, as well how we should serve in the local church and interact with each other, to name just a few topics. As we consider what Scripture teaches about the local church, one overarching theme woven throughout it all is that gathering with the local church is for the spiritual growth of the believer.

But what exactly does this mean? How is physically gathering with a group of other believers supposed to affect one’s spiritual growth?

Here are three reasons to consider:

Spiritual growth is designed to happen in the context of the local church.

Ephesians 4:12-13 tells us that the spiritual leaders of the local church are given “to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” The picture of the universal church being a body takes on flesh and blood in the context of the local church: each member takes on a role and a function for the healthy functioning of the local body of believers. In his excellent book What is a Healthy Church Member, Thabiti Anyabwile sums up this passage with this simple statement: “Ephesians 4:11-16 offers a pretty strong argument that participation in the body of Christ is the main way in which Christ strengthens and matures us” (pg. 91).

And so we believe that attending and participating in a local church is the particular means that God has given us for the growth and edification of every believer.

Spiritual growth is designed to happen while we sit under the teaching and preaching of the Word of God.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good word.” We see here the role that Scripture plays in a believer’s spiritual growth: God uses Scripture to complete and equip the believer. While it is vital that a believer be reading the Word throughout the week, God has designed the local church to provide spiritual leadership and instruction for the growth and maturity of the Body, as we’ve already seen from Ephesians

Spiritual growth is designed to happen when we worship and fellowship with the believers.

In Ephesians 5:19, we are instructed to address “one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart.”
When we open our mouths and speak words of praise to God for His enduring faithfulness, steadfast love, and never-ceasing grace and mercy, we remind each other of God’s work in each of our lives.

When we sing of the dark valleys that God takes His children through and also the tender compassion He has towards His children, we encourage each other to keep pressing forward with our eyes on the Savior who walks beside us.

When we sing of the cross that saves, we rehearse to each other who we once were and who we have now become because of Christ.

Indeed, there is incredible spiritual worth in lifting our voices together in song to build each other up in songs and hymns and spiritual songs. We must not take this task lightly.

However, as much as we know in our minds the importance of this regular gathering with the saints, it is easy to let it slip, isn’t it? Hebrews 10:24-25 warns us to guard against getting lazy in encouraging each other through this intentional gathering: “And let us consider how to stir up on another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

Because of this tendency to slack off on gathering together for instruction, mutual encouragement, and accountability, we must make church a part of our regular, weekly rhythm. Our weekly gathering together with fellow believers is important for our spiritual growth and maturity, both for ourselves and for the other believers around us.

The next time you find yourself going through the motions as you head to church, remind yourself of God’s divine purpose for the local church in your life and thank Him for it!

What I Wish I Knew Before Becoming a Mom

During those nine long months of that first pregnancy, most of us first-time moms probably did all sorts of research about pregnancy.

First, we probably focused on figuring out if that new ache or pain that showed up during our first, second, or third was normal. Then, as that 40-weeks mark drew closer and closer, we studied up on signs of the onset of true labor and what to pack for the hospital. And then, of course, we read all about labor and delivery.

Finally, with each passing day, the anticipation heightened to where we were just ready for this baby to come.

And then suddenly, it happened: the baby that we had waited so long to come finally arrived!

The baby was in our arms.

We were now a mom.

What an incredible experience.

And then we realized that, despite all the studying and reading and researching that we had done, we hadn’t covered everything. We still had a lot to learn.

With Mother’s Day just around the corner, here are some of the things we wish we had known about being a mom and caring for our new little bundle of joy!


Postpartum is hard. For some women, those first few days and weeks might even be harder than labor and delivery, so give yourself time to recover. It is okay to give yourself permission to say ‘no’ to extra activities and allow yourself to take it extra slow those first few weeks. Your body just went through a major ordeal and you hit the ground running. Feel free to ask fellow moms about their postpartum experience, as well as their labor and delivery experience! Most women are more than willing to share their experiences in all these areas!

Milk let-downs are painful! No one warned me that in those first few months of breastfeeding there would be multiple times a day where my breasts would feel like there were a thousand prickles poking into me. They also didn’t warn me that I would be almost frozen in place while waiting for the sensation to pass. I thought something was seriously wrong and that I might have had mastitis. Eventually, it got better but I still didn’t know if it was normal. At a later appointment, I mentioned it to my doctor. She laughed it off and said “Oh yes! I can remember being in the store, just standing there waiting for it to pass.” Four kids later and I can now also attest, it’s normal.

Breastfeeding isn’t as easy as it might look. There are so many facets of breastfeeding that can go wrong. And sometimes breastfeeding can be hard. Really hard. So if your breastfeeding journey is so much harder than you expected it to be, it is okay to make the decision to pursue an alternative method of feeding your child. You are not less of a mom if you choose to not exclusively breastfeed! 

Having a simple manual breast pump on hand is a lifesaver. Even if you’re not planning to ever use it, get one. With my first child, we had latch issues, so when my milk first came in, I was in so much pain! My little hand pump relieved the incredible pressure and helped me to endure during those first six weeks until I could finally say “Ok, I think this is how nursing is supposed to work!” I am so thankful for that little pump. 

As a side-note, if you are having trouble with breastfeeding, getting an appointment with a lactation consultant is money well-spent! They take their time with you and are ever so helpful! However, if you’re tight on money, there are a lot of great, free resources online that offer help in this area as well. If you are on Instagram, @karrie_locher is a postpartum nurse and has an incredible amount of helpful information in her story highlights on postpartum in general, as well as tons of help for troubleshooting problems you run into while breastfeeding or pumping.

Parenting is not all black and white. I started my parenting journey thinking it was going to be pretty cut and dry as far as teaching my kids what is right and wrong and training them with yes or no. Boy, did I ever have a lot to learn (and the water is only getting deeper). For example, my child has a meltdown. Now I not only have to address that their fit is wrong but also evaluate their little heart because it is not wrong for them to have sadness in many instances. So here I have to correct sin while at the same time caring for genuine emotion. Parenting takes a lot more grace and wisdom and TIME as we nurture little hearts! 

It is okay to make exceptions to good habits. Working to establish routines and schedules and sleep habits and so on can feel all-consuming at times. And then, when bedtime ends up being an hour later than usual or a road trip throws routine all out of whack, it is easy to feel like all of our hard work for the little progress that we have made is being thrown out the window. But you know what? In the end, it usually doesn’t end up being as bad as we expected it to be. So relax, take life as it comes, and try to not stress too much about those exceptions when they come your way!

Parenting reveals the sin in my heart. Before I became a parent, I had no idea that God would use parenting as a tool to help me grown in my sanctification. I am slowly learning that more often than not, it is my own sinful heart that is to blame for a rough day of parenting, not my child’s misbehavior.


Being a mom is definitely not an easy job–so many ups and downs, joys and sorrows. However, there really is nothing that can quite compare to the incredible joy of having someone call you Mom!

Loving on the mom with a newborn

We recently welcomed baby #4 into our family. What an exhaustingly sweet time! With each addition to our family I have been amazed at the creative and loving ways people have shown up for us in these seasons of transition. Today, I’m sharing some of my favorite ways to bless a momma with a newborn so you can also show love and support to those moms that are in your life. 

  1. Set up two weeks of meals for after baby arrives ( Here is an extremely easy tool to help you set something like this up. https://takethemameal.com/ )
  2. Help prep freezer meals that she can pull out later.
  3. Give local restaurant gift cards for her pull out in a pinch. (Subway, Pizza Hut, etc.)
  4. Drop off a year supply (can be less 😉 ) of paper plates, silverware, etc. 
  5. Set up a diaper/wipes pounding. 
  6. Offer to come over and clean/vacuum while she takes a bath/shower. 
  7. Text her and let her know you are praying for her. 
  8. Write notes/verses on a bunch of newborn diapers so she can smile while she’s doing changes.
  9. Make a goodie basket for her to pull out whenever she goes to nurse. This can include mini water bottles, snacks, verse cards, lanolin cream, fun little gifts for her to open, etc. 
  10. Drop off new toys/books for any older siblings to help keep them entertained while they all adjust to large amounts of time being taken up with nursing/feedings. 
  11. Take any older siblings to the park or library so Mom can snatch a quick nap.
  12. Offer to sit with the baby while Mom goes and does something with any older siblings in order to give them some needed quality time together.
  13. Babysit ALL the kids so she and her husband can go on a date. 
  14. Offer to vacuum out their family car. (Someone did this for us with baby #4. I had never even contemplated it as being a helpful idea but this allowed the van to become a clean space for my brain to relax in every time I had to load all the kids up. And instead of being greeted by a mess, I was reminded me of just how loved I am.)

Learning from the Godly Moms of Great Men

In what was originally a blog post series, Tim Challies shares eleven short biographical sketches of the mothers of godly men who have left their mark in history and how these mothers impacted the lives of their sons. These men include men such as Charles Spurgeon, D. L. Moody, John Newton, and J. Gresham Machen. In very brief chapters, Challies highlights women who had great wealth and great poverty, women with a higher education and very little education, women who had a number of children and few children, as well as women who were married and widowed. Their circumstances were as varied as a group of eleven women’s circumstances today would be. However, all these women had one thing in common: they loved their sons.

As varied as these women’s circumstances were, God also used a variety of means to impact these men. One mom diligently prayed for the salvation of her son; another mom consistently responded with love and gentleness when her son questioned his faith. While most of these women were already believers when they were raising their sons, one mom became a believer after her son was already an adult. Another mom was simply faithful to the tasks that were set before her: to work hard so she could provide for her children.

And God used these women to impact the world through their sons.

I really appreciate the devotional-like quality of Devoted and am thankful for how it reminded me of the incredible potential that God has given to us as mothers. Sometimes I get incredibly weary of being a mom; sometimes I even resent the sacrifices that I sometimes have to make because of being a mom. However, as I finished the last page of Devoted, I was thankful for the encouragement that, even in my most weary and frustrating day of parenting, God can still use my feeble and sin-marked efforts to bring about good in the life of my child.

Fellow mom, if you’ve ever wondered whether what you’re doing as a mom is making a difference in the life of your children, this book can help you see that God does, and can, use the seemingly everyday and insignificant things that we do to impact the lives of our children.

“Best Advice” we’ve ever received

The past year has been different in so many ways for all of us. Most of us have spent a lot more time at home and a lot less time with people; perhaps we’ve also had to do without or get creative with essentials. And undoubtedly, we have all had to redefine “normal.” Yet even with all the changes, a lot of things have stayed the same–we are still wives, mothers, homemakers, friends–and so some advice we have been given by other women over the years rings just as strong and true today as it ever has. We hope these little nuggets of advice that have been helpful to us will be a blessing to you and encourage your heart as you go about the roles and responsibilities that God has placed before you!

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“There are times when my husband doesn’t deserve my service and that’s when I just say ‘Lord, this service is for you!’”  

A dear friend of mine shared these thoughts at a time when I was really struggling with submission. Her timely comment helped me to remove my husband from the situation in my mind and realize anew that my service is ultimately an act of worship to my God. – Chrystal

 “Make your plans in pencil.” 

A missionary lady shared this with a group of us when I was in Bible College.  The point is that we can make plans but as we make our plans we must remember that God is ultimately  in control and we should hold those plans in an open hand. There have been countless times over the years where I have gone to write something in my planner, set down my pen and gone to find a pencil. There have been many times that I have gone back with the eraser and been thankful for that perspective when I made those plans in pencil.  – Rachel

“When I was having a rough day with my kids, I’d put them in the bathtub and let them play for a while. Some days they took three baths!” 

My older friend shared this with me and we both laughed over it. Her frankness about parenting not always being easy was such an encouragement to me! And it also gave me the freedom to use her idea on my own rough parenting days. – Chrystal

Just do something!” 

When asking an older, wiser woman for advice on how to know God’s will for my life, she gave the illustration of a parked car: it isn’t going to go anywhere as long as it is parked, but once the car is moving, the driver is able to steer it in one direction or another. Similarly, when wondering whether something is God’s will for my life, many times I just need to do something instead of waiting around for the answer to fall in my lap. God will then open or close doors, as He sees fit!   – Angie

“Live your life in such a way that for those coming behind you, it will have mattered that you were here.”

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth shared something along these lines at one of her conferences and I have thought about it many times since then. I may never meet my grandchildren or great-grandchildren but the choices I am making today can make an eternal difference in their lives. – Chrystal

Ask yourself “What can I do now to help make life easier later?” 

This is the question that I learned to start asking when I read The Lazy Genius by Kendra Adachi. As simple as it seems, this question has been so helpful during my current season of life with young children. It has made me learn the importance of redeeming the time and realize how helpful it is to pick up a few toys quickly or do some simple prep for supper during naptime.  – Angie