More Than Just a Mom
About the Guest
Gloria Furman, a popular blogger and mother of four, gives mothers a biblical view of motherhood. Too many moms, Furman says, see limitations rather than the incredible opportunities they have to make disciples for Christ. Mom, you are a woman on a mission!
Gloria FurmanGloria Furman is a wife, mother of four young children, doula, and blogger. In 2008, her family moved to the Middle East to plant Redeemer Church of Dubai, where her husband, Dave, serves as the pastor. She is the author of Glimpses of Grace, Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full, and The Pastor’s Wife, and blogs regularly at the Gospel Coalition and GloriaFurman.com.
Gloria Furman gives mothers a biblical view of motherhood. Too many moms, Furman says, see limitations rather than the incredible opportunities they have to make disciples for Christ.
More Than Just a Mom
Bob: Of all the things we teach our children as they grow, have you ever stopped to think, “What’s the most important thing we tell them?” Gloria Furman says it’s clearly the gospel.
Gloria: If this message—“by grace you have been saved / it is God who makes you alive, together with Christ”—if this message isn’t the one big message that I share with my kids, all of that other training and discernment is going to be butted up against those YouTube videos, and the commercials, and the movies, and the songs, and their friends. I want the gospel to be my one big soapbox to stand on.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, December 26th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Gloria Furman thinks it’s time for us, as parents, to start looking at our assignment through new lenses—have a new priority for how we parent.
We’ll hear more about that today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us.
Dennis: I have a question for you, Bob. Have you ever thought of yourself as being just a dad?
Bob: Just a dad—I remember thinking, “I am a dad,” when our daughter, Amy, was born. For the first time, it kind of hit me, “I’m a dad.” I don’t think about “just a dad”—I don’t think I’ve thought of myself that way.
Dennis: I have never had that thought; however, there are women today, who are moms, who will describe themselves, “I’m just a mom.” If you’re just a mom—that’s what way you think about it—you’re in for a delightful surprise today, because Gloria Furman has a great new book called Missional Motherhood. She’s going to lift your sights / your identity out of the mundane to the glorious. Am I right, Gloria?
Gloria: I hope so! [Laughter]
Dennis: Yes; the book delivers!
Well, Gloria’s been on FamilyLife Today before. She and her husband have four children. They live in Dubai, where they have a started a church, Redeemer—has over a thousand people attending from more than 60 countries. She is, as I mentioned, a mom of four on a mission.
Describe what you’re talking about when you attack this response, “I’m just a mom.”
Gloria: I do attack that response. I loaded two really big cannons and fired everything I can think of out of those cannons toward that—the one cannon being a biblical theology of motherhood in the first half of that book, and in the second half of the book a systematic look at the person and work of Jesus Christ. My big premise is that—
Bob: Wait—wait, wait, wait. You just blew people’s minds: “I’m talking about motherhood; so—
Dennis: Well, she said cannons.
Gloria: And I’m firing cannons! [Laughter]
Bob: “—and I fired cannons with an Old Testament survey and the systematic theology of Jesus to get to motherhood”?
Gloria: Yes; I’m getting there.
Bob: Okay. [Laughter]
Take me there!
Dennis: Give her a chance, Bob!
Gloria: If God has created all things for Him, by Him, through Him—all of this unto Jesus—and motherhood is part of His mission, then nothing that God does could be a trifling “just” or a demeaning “just.” God is the Architect of our motherhood, and all of this is for His glory. There’s nothing demeaning about it whatsoever. It has eternal purposes in mind and God’s glory at the end of it, and all throughout it is the Spirit at work in and among us. So I loaded those two cannons and pointed them directly at that phrase, “I’m just a mom”; and I just fired them. [Laughter]
Dennis: I love it! When I read it, I literally just kind of cheered—I said: “Yes! I really like that!” because we’ve done a lot of broadcasts over the past 24 years, trying to lift moms out of the mundane and give them a biblical view of who they are and why God made them.
Bob: The exalted role—because it really is true that, when God calls you to be a mom, we’re talking about something that is foundational to who we are, as human beings, and giving life to and nurturing the next generation. I mean, really?—is there much more significance than that?
Gloria: Right; right—nurturing life in the face of death. Just in general, people think there’s something else out there that we ought to be grasping for other than whatever God’s design for our lives might be. That plays itself out in different ways. I could name different examples of different kinds of conversations I’ve had with women about this; but I’m talking to women, in general, and not just to people who’ve had biological children. So when I say that women nurture the life that God creates, I also mean to include spiritual life as the Lord Jesus has given us His directive and marching orders for us: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, teaching them to obey everything I’ve commanded, baptizing them…”
Bob: So you’re making motherhood bigger than just giving biological life.
Gloria: Yes; I’m reminding us that it’s a verb. We mother and use the synonym, nurture—so nurturing the life that God creates. I came into contact with this pretty early on in my Christian walk, because I was saved in college. The leaders of that little Bible study were two young single women. They mothered me, spiritually, and they shared the gospel with me. They shared with me their very lives. As Paul says to the Corinthians, their hearts were wide open to me; and they taught me from the Scriptures who God is, who I am, and how to live rightly in light of the fact that Easter really did happen.
My own mother mothered me so well; and then, when God opened my eyes in college, there were single ladies mothering me.
Dennis: You don’t know this—more than likely, because your kids are younger / you’re not ready for a new resource FamilyLife has just created in the past year—but it’s called Passport2Identity™, There is one for boys to go through with their father and one for girls to go through with their mother.
A part of what we were doing when we put that together was—we talked about, “What is the essence of femininity/masculinity from the Bible?” One of the themes of Passport2Identity for girls is that women are nurturers—they do bring forth life.
Bob: They’re life-givers; yes.
Dennis: It’s interesting—the very core message you have in your book, Missional Motherhood, is calling women outside of defining their lives—you with me?—according to what the world says and according to what the Bible says.
Dennis: “Let’s be a part of joining God and bringing spiritual life to people, not just physical life as well.”
Gloria: Right; right. We so often look at what we can see as the limits, and boundaries, and resources for our mothering. We look at our biology, our fertility, our access to fertility treatments, our marriage status even.
But when we are new creations in Christ, we have the Spirit of God at our disposal. He is our indwelling Spirit. Through us, Jesus is making disciples of the nations—we are no longer limited: “My marriage status—I’m single. I can’t make disciples,”—no! You can make disciples. “Physically, I’m not fit enough,” or “I’m not healthy enough to have children,”—but you are spiritually fit, through Christ, to make disciples. Spiritual mothering is the groundwork/the calling for our mothering work.
Dennis: So as you look in the mirror—you see yourself—you don’t just see a mom of four children you’re helping grow up to maturity—you see a woman, who has also been given a mission of giving spiritual life to other women / speaking into the life of your husband, encouraging him—you’re a life-giver beyond just your children.
Gloria: Right; right. I could look at my list of things to do that day—like: “I have laundry; I have meetings; I need to look at the budget; I have to pay bills; I have to get kids to and from school,”—and all of that is—it may be true, but I have a permanent role—I’ve been given a ministry of reconciliation. So I make my appeal as an ambassador of Christ—I implore people, “Be reconciled to God through Jesus.” That is the undertone / the motive—all of the goal of my work, as a mom. All of that comes about, because God’s given me a ministry of reconciliation.
Bob: So, I’m trying to sit here and think of like the woman, who is listening, whose blood pressure may be going up as she hears you talk about this. You know, there are some, who their blood pressure does go up, and they go: “Why are you gender stereotyping nurturing? I mean, isn’t your husband Dave a nurturer? Doesn’t he nurture your kids? Why are you throwing this all on women and saying, ‘This is for women’? This is just binary gender stereotyping? Why are you doing that?”
Gloria: Well, I wouldn’t use the word, “stereotype.”
I would just kind of go back into Genesis 1, where God created them male and female. Another great place to start, if you want to talk about your blood pressure, is after the fall—God is proclaiming the curses. He curses the serpent; He curses Adam’s work; and then Eve’s procreation pain. In the midst of all of that, He gives a promise—He says He’s going to send a serpent-crusher, the seed of the woman, to deliver. Adam then turns to his wife and names her Eve, the mother of all living.
God’s just painted this very bleak picture of, “Now you’re going to live as dead; because I said you would surely die, and you surely will die.” In the middle of all of that, and looking at all of those obstacles / those surmounting obstacles—they’re about to get kicked out—he looks at her and he says, “God promises,” and he calls her Eve, which I think is—I mean, we have so many more places we could look; but one of the first and best places, I think, to look is right there after the promise.
Bob: So you’re tying together that declaration with this responsibility of mothering and saying: “There’s something about the fact that God made you a woman and not a man. Intrinsic with that womanhood is this call to do something that you can do probably better than any of us men could do—not just give biological life—but minister life in a way that most men can’t do it.”
Dennis: Yes; and why didn’t you call it “Missional Life-giving”? [Laughter] There are probably some women, who are out there, who—their blood pressure’s high and they’re going, “Why should you use the word, ‘motherhood’?—because I don’t see myself that way.”
Gloria: Oh. I used to not see myself that way either, really. In the book, I share a funny story about when I was a kid. I got fired from my first job.
My teacher wanted me to tutor other kids in reading because she saw that I was excelling; but then I got fired pretty quickly, because I didn’t have the patience to persevere with anyone. She said that was the main reason that I was being fired: “Little Gloria does not have the patience to bring anyone along with her.”
Dennis: How old was little Gloria?
Gloria: About eight. [Laughter]
Dennis: Okay; alright.
Gloria: I don’t remember being sad about being fired from my first job. I remember thinking, “I don’t have time for this.” As a young woman, I pretty much had that little story going through my head: “I just don’t have time for this. I’m going places. I have an agenda. I have to do what I have to do. I don’t have time for this.”
Thankfully, the Lord opened my eyes to the bigger story that He made me a part of. He made me a part of the story—where He is on a mission; He is going places; He is filling the earth with image-bearers, re-created in the image of His Son; and He will fill this earth with His glory. I get to be a part of that. I get to nurture life in the face of death. That is something I do not deserve.
Dennis: So, to those who want to embrace feminism—and as they do that, they’re really in the process of rejecting God and how He made them—what would you say to them? I mean, they don’t even know what’s going on. They just listen to the culture—I get it—I understand that the noise out there / the brainwash that’s occurring. What would you say to a young lady or to the parents, who are raising a daughter, who’s in college today?—
Bob: Because this is the default-thinking of Christian women today.
Gloria: Yes; I would speak to the noise and the brainwashing directly—and share God’s words of life as loud and clear as I possibly can, and as winsomely as I possibly could / as joyfully as I possibly could—live that out—my joy and contentment in the way God designed me, the way He gave me strengths and weaknesses, the way He gave me opportunities and missed opportunities—the way He’s designed all of those things to work together for His glory—and just revel in those things.
The noise—you need to train your children up to discern it—so help them with discernment.
Talking with my nine-year-old about marketing these days—it’s really funny. We read ads everywhere. I’ll ask her—I’ll stop and say, “Can you read that?” and she can read it. I’ll say, “What are they promising you?” “Um—a shirt for that much money.” “Yes; but why?—how much?—what are they going to give you at the end of it?” Always, at the end of this little exercise: “They’re promising you happiness.”
We’re just talking about consumerism and marketing; but I’m trying to teach her how to discern these things, because she’s young and naive and: “Oh, I need that! They told me I need it!” “Who told you that you need that?”—kind of how the serpent told Eve—“Who told you that you were naked? Who told you that you didn’t have something?” At the end, we talk about happiness and that lollipop on the commercial—or whatever it is—will give you “x” minutes of happiness. “Let’s talk about eternal joy / let’s talk about the fullness of joy. Where do we get that?”—so kind of circling it all back around.
I’m hoping it leaves her just a taste of [being] skeptical about advertisements; but hopefully, I’m helping teach her how to ask questions and discern.
Dennis: What you’re doing is one of Barbara’s soapboxes. When we were raising our kids, she wanted to teach our kids how to think critically.
Dennis: I mean, all these messages are coming through. If you just believe it because you hear it there, as a young person, you’re going to end up being deceived.
Gloria: Right; yes. Yes; I talk about this in the book quite a bit—that the architect of the course of this world is Satan. He has designed the course of this world to only ever validate and motivate you in your flesh and in your sinful desires. All the course of this world does is affirm our sinful flesh and our pride, and we need to be delivered out of those things.
I can help my daughter learn discernment all I want. I could help her be the most thoughtful, thinking person; but unless God makes her alive together with Christ, all of that is just really head knowledge.
In Ephesians, Chapter 2, Paul is waxing eloquent about the course of this world and how that is designed against us to only dull our spiritual senses. In verse 4, he breaks out and he says: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ. By grace you have been saved.”
If this message isn’t the one big message that I share with my kids, all of that other training and discernment is going to be butted up against those YouTube videos, and the commercials, and the movies, and the songs, and their friends. I want the gospel to be my one big soapbox to stand on.
Bob: Your husband shared a story with me that gave me a little insight into you.
Gloria: Uh-oh. [Laughter]
Bob: He was telling me about when the two of you first started thinking about Dubai as the place that you belonged. He was saying he was on the phone—you were both on the phone with somebody who was talking to you about going to Dubai.
Gloria: Right; yes.
Bob: He said you got off the phone while he was still talking. [Laughter] And what did you do?
Gloria: I brought a chair from the dining room into our bedroom. I stood on it, and I got a suitcase out of the closet, and I put my clothes in it, and then I just did a big sweep on my favorite shelf of books and put my favorite books in the suitcase, zipped it up, and stood by the door.
Bob: He’s still on the phone.
Gloria: Yes; he’s still on the phone. I interrupted by shouting down the hallway, “Let’s go!” [Laughter]
Bob: You got the suitcase packed and you’re at the door, ready to go.
Gloria: Right; I was ready! [Laughter]
Bob: So here’s what that told me about you—that said: “Gloria is a ‘Let’s take the hill!’-Type A-‘Let’s charge!’-‘Let’s get going with what matters!’ kind of a person.
“Gloria’s not the person who’s going to write a book about doing laundry and finding glimpses of grace in the mundane things of life. She’s not about the mundane! She’s an adventurer! She’s somebody, who in college, would get excited about the ceiling she’s going to break through in life to find significance.” Is that who you are?
Gloria: Maybe. [Laughter] I remember going to college with that big goal in mind, “I’m going to climb the highest ladder I can find.” Somewhere, in that first freshman year, I became a Christian and, at the same time, had that big identity crisis: “What am I doing?!” I ended up dropping my major, because my motives were sheerly in making money: “I’m just going to have to cut this off, because all I can think about in class is how I’m going to make loads of money and climb the tallest ladder I can see.”
Maybe the new hill to climb is that Great Commission—I pray it is.
Bob: Where, in your thinking, did the idea that raising the four kids God’s given you become a big part of that hill that God’s put in front of you?
Gloria: When we were in seminary, the Lord began working on my heart in terms of raising children. I think the pat answer we’d given everyone when we got married was, “Oh, we’ll—five years.” Five years was—I don’t know why we said five—it was just a magical number, because that was far enough that people wouldn’t keep asking me every month if I was going to be pregnant soon and small enough that the grandparents wouldn’t be worried. [Laughter] I just said, “Five years—five years.”
Bob: And how long was it?
Gloria: I think it was about five or six years.
Bob: And all that time, was there something going off inside of you, going, “I’m ready to be a mom,” or was it like, “Uhh…”?
Gloria: I don’t think I ever felt ready. I still don’t feel ready [Laughter] for the new challenges ahead as they grow and change. The dynamic of the family changes every time we add one.
Gloria: How about that?! [Laughter]
Dennis: Yes; no kidding. [Laughter]
You know, what I hear you saying here is that a mom is a life-giver in training her child—her sons and daughters—how to think, how to be spiritually minded, how to walk with God, how to find a mission that God designed for them and uniquely them—not just how to do a back handspring on a gymnastics floor, or a routine in gymnastics, or soccer, or in a play, or in music, or in making great grades, or in training for a career—but you’re training your kids to be ambassadors, disciples, followers of Christ / to know how to do life in the midst of a lot of confusing messages.
I think if moms could hear that message today—if they could get that one thought from this broadcast—it would lift them away from “just being a mom.”
Bob: There is great significance in what Dennis has just described; isn’t there?
Bob: It is significance that the culture says has lost its luster: “The daycare center can take care of that,” or “Somebody else can take care of that,” or “You have bigger things to do than to raise the next generation.” You’re looking and going, “No; I can do the bigger things and raise the next generation, because the bigger things involve the next generation.”
This is what you’ve written about in the book, Missional Motherhood, which is a book that we have copies of in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. You can go online at FamilyLifeToday.com to order a copy, or call 1-800-FL-TODAY.
Again, our website is FamilyLifeToday.com; or call us, toll-free, at 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.” Ask about Gloria Furman’s new book, Missional Motherhood, when you get in touch with us.
We want to wish a “Happy anniversary!” today to Father Dale DeLong and Sharlet Gilbert, who were married a year ago today. They live in Richmond, California. So “Happy first anniversary! Hope your first year was a great first year.”
Our goal, here at FamilyLife, is to help more couples celebrate more anniversaries. Over the last 40 years, we’ve had the opportunity to help strengthen millions of marriages and families, not just here in the U.S., but around the world. The reason we’ve had that opportunity is because of the partnership we have with our listeners. Together, we are bringing practical biblical help and hope to marriages and families all around the globe.
Dennis: And Bob, I just need to step in here and let our listeners know that, for whatever reason, we’ve heard from fewer of our listening audience this fall.
In fact, we’re a couple of thousand donors short from where we need to be right now to keep FamilyLife Today on the air across the nation as it is today. I’m just coming to our listeners today to say: “Would you like to partner with us to make sure this transformational ministry to marriages and families, at this time, in our nation’s history—frankly, at a time that many of us never dreamed would be here—of marriages and families in crisis today around the very definition of what a marriage and a family really is”?
We just need your help. I don’t know how else to say it any more plainly. If you believe in this mission / if you want to be a part of it and participate with us in this ministry, now would be the time to go online or pick up a phone and say: “You guys are doing the right thing, coming at marriage and family from the Bible and from God’s point of view.
“We want to keep you on this station and all across the country.”
Bob: The next seven days are going to be critical for FamilyLife. It determines what 2017 will look like for this ministry. The good news is during the last days of 2016 we still have available some matching gift money. Any listener who makes a donation today, your donation is going to be tripled. What you give will be matched by a double donation from the matching gift fund to triple the impact of your gift. So, would you go to our website and make a year-end contribution today? It’s easy to do. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com, and donate online or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY to donate. Or you can mail your donation and the matching- gift funds will apply. Send your donation to FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; and our zip code is 72223.
We just want to say, “Thanks,” in advance, for partnering with us in this ministry.
Now, tomorrow, we’re going to hear more from Gloria Furman. We’re going to talk about how a mom can think missionally—think about the disciples you are raising and how you can pour into them, spiritually. We’ll talk more about that tomorrow. Hope you can be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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