Category Archives: Family

Set Apart: Understanding the Strange Commandment of Circumcision

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There are a lot of unusual commandments in the Bible, but none is stranger than that of circumcision. As new parents, Robby and I had to decide whether or not to circumcise our little boy. After digging into God’s Word a bit, this strange practice now makes a lot more sense.

In talking with other parents, though, I realized that many make this decision based on cultural norms or medical studies, but few understand the biblical basis for circumcision. Here it is in a nutshell.

First, what is circumcision?

The penis has extra skin on the tip called foreskin that retracts as the child develops. Circumcision is the surgical removal of this foreskin. The procedure can be performed on adults or infants.

When did it begin?

We first read of circumcision in the Old Testament when God commanded Abraham to circumcise himself and his children and for the practice to be passed down through his descendants:

“This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised. And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you” (Genesis 17:10-11 NAS).

Interestingly, other groups also practiced circumcision, including the Egyptians and Moabites, so it was not unheard of. However, only Abraham and his descendants used circumcision to symbolize their covenant with God.

Are we required to practice circumcision today?

This was a question the First Century Church struggled with as the first Gentiles became believers.

“Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, ‘Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved’” (Acts 15:1 NAS).

Peter answered them:

“Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are” (Acts 15:10-11 NAS).

The idea here is that if we treat circumcision as part of the Law, and we circumcise ourselves in order to adhere to the Law, then we must adhere to the entire Law…something no one can do.

Should we circumcise our sons today?

Although we aren’t required to circumcise our sons, the practice still holds a lot of value (as do so many of the Old Testament Commandments).

Sign of Faith – The removal of the foreskin is a symbol of separation from the world and unto God. We are a people set apart. What greater and more intimate way can a man declare his faith and obedience to God than through circumcision?

Choosing to circumcise your children is also an act of faith. Robby and I discovered this when we chose to circumcise our little boy. We didn’t want to put him through an unnecessary procedure with potential health complications, but we trusted that God would take care of him (and He did). As a mother, this was a much bigger act of faith than I had ever appreciated before.

Dedication – Although it is not required, a new believer may choose to undergo circumcision as a sign of faith and dedication to the Lord. However, most circumcisions today are performed on infants. While the procedure doesn’t secure the child’s salvation—he still has free will—it is a type of dedication unto the Lord. As my son grows up, he’ll have a constant reminder that God loves him and wants him to be counted among His children.

Health Benefits – Not surprising, doctors have determined that there are medical benefits to circumcision, including a reduced chance of urinary tract infections, penile cancer, and sexually transmitted diseases. It’s also not surprising that doctors have confirmed the eighth day (the day God commanded) is the safest to perform the procedure as this is when the body’s blood-clotting substances are at an all-time high. When God first gave the commandment of circumcision to Abraham, He certainly knew what He was doing!

Whether you circumcise your children or not is a matter of personal choice. There are biblical and practical reasons to support it, but there are also risks associated with any medical procedure. Before you decide, research God’s Word and pray about the best course of action for your family.

As believers, we are called apart from the world. This week, I encourage you to “circumcise your heart,” or to submit your heart to the Lord. More important than any outward symbol, this inward submission is a true sign of your relationship with God.

“Moreover the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live” (Deuteronomy 30:6 NAS).


Click to Tweet: As believers, we are called apart from the world.


Update: A reader submitted a comment regarding Galatians 5:6:

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6 NAS).

He said this verse proves that circumcision is now useless. I disagree.

In the context of this chapter, Paul is speaking to the church at Galatia. There, a number of Jews were essentially telling new Gentile believers that they had to become Jewish before they could become Christian—and a big requirement to being Jewish was to be circumcised. Paul responded to those who were “seeking to be justified by law” that they should not seek the law itself, or the “yoke of slavery,” but instead accept God’s grace that was freely given to them (Galatians 5:4 and 5:1 NAS).

As stated above, circumcision is NOT about salvation—it never was. However, just like the other commandments of the Old Testament, it can still hold value to us today if we seek God’s heart in it and avoid the trap of legalism.

I’d love to hear from you! Please leave your questions or comments below.

Our Controversial Valentine’s Day

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Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and Robby and I have made a controversial decision: we’re not buying anything for each other. Nothing. No cards, no cutesy teddy bears, no plastic hearts filled with candy, no bouquets of flowers.

Why is this controversial? Because the media would have us believe that excess is best, that stuff leads to happiness, and the only way we can show our love is by buying gifts. But this year, Robby and I are saying NO to commercialism.

Here are a few reasons why.

1) Budget

Now that we have a little one in the house, we’re tightening our belt more than ever. Sharing gifts is nice, but it just doesn’t fit into our budget this year.

To help keep us on track, we’re using the app GoodBudget, which is like an electronic version of the envelope system. I definitely recommend this app if you’d like to monitor your spending and establish a budget this year.

2) Minimalism/ Simplicity

As I’ve shared before, Robby and I are trying to simplify our lives, and minimalism is a big part of that. We’ve come to realize that we have way more than we need, and we certainly don’t need to add more trinkets that we’ll need to store, dust, and organize forever.

If you’re interested in simplifying your life, I recommend the resources by Joshua Becker on his site www.becomingminimalist.com. (Read my review of Becker’s insightful book, The More of Less, on my goodreads page.)

3) Zero Waste

Something that’s recently come to my attention is the Zero Waste movement. The idea is simple: reduce the amount of waste we produce so we can leave a cleaner, better world for our kids. This starts by turning our shopping habits upside down, first by buying second-hand items or hand-making gifts. If it’s necessary to buy new products, then care should be taken to buy ethically-sourced items. For more info, check out the various Facebook groups dedicated to Zero Waste, such as this one.

What are we doing?

This Valentine’s Day, Robby and I will enjoy a nice dinner at home with the little one. We may also exchange handmade gifts, such as homemade cards and handwritten notes. I might try to make a nice dessert, and Robby can pick me a bouquet of flowers from our yard (hint, hint, honey!).

The media wants you believe that you have to spend money on stuff, even if you don’t want it or can’t afford it. But Robby and I are choosing a simpler way this year, even if that seems a bit weird or controversial, and I encourage you to do the same. Say no to the ad agencies and enjoy Valentine’s Day (and every day!) in a way that brings you joy and not debt. If you’re looking for more ideas, check out this article I wrote, “To Romance Your Wife, Consider Her Love Language.”


What are your plans for Valentine’s Day? How are you incorporating your ideals, such as sticking to a budget, minimalism, and zero waste? I’d love to hear your plans and DIY hacks!

4 Lessons from a Hungry Baby

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My little son Gordon is now 8 weeks old and, of course, he’s completely adorable. At this age, though, nearly the entire day consists of eating and sleeping, with the occasional diaper change and bath in between. I’ve now spent approximately 14,538 hours feeding him, and I’ve come to realize something: we have a lot to learn by watching hungry babies eat.

Here’s a list of four observations I’ve made and what we can learn from them.

1 – Babies are not patient

Gordon usually gives us clear hunger signals (like trying to eat his hands), but I’m not always fast enough to avoid the pterodactyl-like screaming that accompanies his little hunger pains.

When it comes to our spiritual lives, we often act like babies. Sure, we’ll give God a few minutes to sort things out, but if He’s not quick enough, we’ll pitch quite the tantrum. We would do better to realize that God loves us and has our best interest at heart. However, His ways are higher than our ways. When we find ourselves waiting for what we need or want in life, our faith should be supported by godly patience.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23 NAS).

2 – Pacifiers and fingers don’t contain milk

Gordon will occasionally use a pacifier, and he’s just discovered his fingers. However, neither of these items contain the milk he wants. When he sucks on them and nothing comes out, he gets frustrated and spits them out. Then he’ll try to suck on them again. Finally, when I have a bottle ready, I often have to pry the pacifier out of his mouth in order to give it to him.

Life offers us a lot of pacifiers, including work, entertainment, and relationships. However, none of these things will give us the spiritual nutrition we need. If you’re feeling parched—or even starved—then it may be time to set aside some worldly things so that you can take hold of the great things God is offering you.

And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you (Luke 12:29-31 NAS).

3 – Drinking while pooping leads to gagging

Not to sound vulgar, but little babies have a hard time coordinating their bodily functions. If Gordon tries to potty while sucking on a bottle, he starts to sputter, cough, and gag.

Are you waiting for God to give you something, to answer a prayer or take care of some need? Perhaps you need to make room in your life by first getting rid of the junk, such as sin, emotional baggage, and clutter. Take care of business, then reach out for God’s provision.

“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together,” says the LORD, “though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool” (Isaiah 1:16-18 NAS).

4 – Gulping causes gas

Bottles are tricky because the milk flows so freely. When Gordon is excited (remember, he has no patience), he’ll gulp the milk like he hasn’t eaten in days. However, this causes him to consume more air, which leads to gas.

Our world encourages—even requires—us to multi-task to the point that most of us are not only over-worked, but we’re bone tired. We’re weary. We can’t hardly function because we’re overflowing with too many responsibilities, demands, and to-do lists. If this is you, push back. Take a breather. Seek stillness with God and ask Him to reset your priorities. Only then will you be able to slow down and truly appreciate the things He gives you and the places He sends you.

He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake (Psalm 23:2-3 NAS).

 

Do these lessons resonate with you? If so, I’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below with your thoughts or encouragement for other readers.