From legalism to freedom in Christ

Dear Connect friends,

I come from Christian families on both sides of my family. Both of my granddads were southern preachers, and there were many missionaries in my dad’s families.

The denomination that we were a part of is a very legalistic one and painfully so I would say. We were happy enough in our beliefs, but we were very exclusive of the other Christian denominations and would look down on anyone who associated with them in Christian fellowship unless they were trying to convert them to our beliefs. We believed our denomination was the true Church and because of that we considered everyone else a denomination, but we weren’t. We believed we weren’t saved by works but taught that we had to be immersed in water baptism to be saved, and pretty much behaved as if we were lost every time we sinned and had to repent to be again in God’s favor and to have any hope of salvation. Once my husband and I learned the truth from a precious man who wrote a book to help free those in our denomination we realized what bondage we had always been under. We then attended a Baptist church with some dear friends and began a journey of learning about salvation of grace through faith. It has been many years of growth as we have struggled to understand the new concepts of our freedom and the many things we had never learned as a result of being so exclusive and not allowing any teachings to be learned from our other fellow Christians of different denominations.

When I was just 12 I made the decision to be baptized, which in our denomination was our way of saying we have accepted God’s gift of salvation and wanted to be a Christian. I truly did love the Lord and His word, but I spent years with the self righteous attitude that comes from a legalistic upbringing, as well as being a bit of a know it all by nature anyway. Over the years our Father has humbled me and showed me the beauty of His truths, and I feel as if the RZIM ministry has given me an understanding of love for others that I have never experienced.

There is one decision that my husband and I made that has changed our lives dramatically. It has become our trademark in a way and that is that we have a very large family. We had always wanted a large family of 6 children, but it was after our 4th that I had the idea that God would want us to put our family size in His hands and never say no to having another child. They are considered a blessing after all, so why say no to more of those blessings? Well, we did it, and here I am expecting #13 at the age of 43. The journey has been difficult, and in spite of easy pregnancies and short labors I suffered from some slight PTSD from so many childbirth experiences, which included anxiety attacks and a sense of doom whenever I had a trigger. But we never gave up, and I have been delivered from the anxiety attacks and that sense of gloom and doom, and with every challenge and obstacle we have encountered, which were many, God’s grace helped us through and we learned even more and have truly been enormously blessed. It is my wish for everyone to understand that I am not a super woman, and I knew nothing of children beyond the occasional babysitting job, and I was so inexperienced when I had my first baby at 19, but I feel the Lord must have given me this desire since I have been drawn to babies and children ever since I can remember. But none of this has been possible by my strength, but the ability to do this has purely come from God. All I had to do was accept the challenge and allow Him to provide and to never give up and to continually look to Him. I want to challenge Christians to never say “I can’t” when we know we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. Whatever He calls us to do, we CAN.


What a wonderful testimony Carrie!

We had a Carrie just a few months ago in our church who had 16 – but I think she’s older than you, so you’ve got a good chance of overtaking her! :slight_smile:

They left our church for the best of all possible reasons – to start another church about 40 minutes away. They definitely have a great core to begin with! And they’re not novices at church planting - they’ve helped start several others before.

Anyway, I’m glad to hear how God has led you. Anytime a group is afraid to discuss their positions with others (I don’t mean necessarily new converts who may feel ungrounded and shaky, but the group as a whole, including even their leaders), that would strike me as suspicious. I would think that someone concerned about improving their undertsanding of the truth would be open to discussions. The only reason to fear such encounters would be if one’s pet views are more important to them than the truth - and they have little confidence that their peculiar ideas will really withstand inspection.

I’m glad the truth was more important to you!


Thank you very much for sharing your story with us @gchop.


James, what a wonderful family to work to plant so many churches! And I am sure their children are like ours and do a lot to help. When my husband wants to help someone and needs workers he just gathers a crew from our household and shows up with four strong kids and himself. We have our own little ministry in our home!

Regarding the denomination of my childhood, it must seem very puzzling at how exclusive they are to not be open to other ideas and interpretations. I cannot account for that except for that by not believing the Spirit helps us they are basically quenching the spirit. We were taught to grow in much head knowledge and highly valued knowing our bible. We concentrated a lot in the Old Testament and the gospels and knew them well. I have thought on this and decided it was just easier for us to understand the old law and stories than it was for us to understand the teachings of Paul and the other disciples who wrote the books of the New Testaments. And we also believed we were the only ones who were trying to do only what was taught in the Bible (with mostly head knowledge it was fairly shallow at times) so we believed everyone else was doing what they wanted and not following the truth. It’s a crazy claim I know, but that was the mindset that was passed down through the generations. And yes, somehow we were consumed with our own views and it seemed it was unusual for anyone to change them. We were always bent in defending what we believed and not trying to understand why anyone else believed differently.


Thank you for open your heart and sharing your story with us @gchop.


Thank you for sharing that @gchop. You have been a blessing to this forum. Your background and your Holy Spirit driven motivation has enabled you to touch the hearts of many here. God-bless your journey.


That’s wonderful.

A few weeks ago, I heard, I think it was David Platt say God gives grace for what you need today rather than the grace you need tomorrow. He said essentially what you are saying here. He and his wife talked and they decided they wanted to have another child. His emphasis was on God’s grace and how God will provide the grace needed for towmorrow when it comes and how that had to do with having the right amount of grace for another child when that time came. I thought it was a great illustration of how God provides grace for parents and even how that translates to me as a single man and my need for grace in my own walk of faith.

Thanks for sharing this testimony. I appreciate this reminder that God gives grace to us today for the need of today and how if I need more grace tomorrow, God will provide that grace when tomorrow comes. A very important lesson during the Covid-19 epidemic.


Thanks Jesse! You reminded me of the words Christ spoke: “"Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:34‬ ‭Chapter 6 is such a good passage that teaches us not to worry. Do not tell yourself, “I can’t do that.” Instead tell yourself, “With God’s grace I can.” :blush:


Carrie, thank you for that wonderful testimony from bondage to freedom in Christ.
Becoming comfortable in what we know and not wanting to change rings true for me. All I ever knew was what I was taught. Believing it to be right by people that I loved deeply made it ok to me. Not until I left the family religion, did a search for meaning kick in which thank God, though it was a rough well traveled road it ultimately led to the Way, Truth. and Life. On a funny note at one time before we married, I told my wife I wanted 12 children because I came from a family of nine. She looked and plainly said you better find another woman. Well I did just that my 4 children had 12 grands so far. I say that because you are a rare gem in this day and time. Thank you again for your friendship.

Ps Do you have news of Sanah?


Thank you Mike! And I really don’t blame your wife. Sometimes I think I might just be crazy. :joy:
It is great that you have so many grandkids! You must love them so. :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:
PS Our friend is doing well. :wink:


Dear Ms. Carrie,

You and your husband have come thorugh a lot, Meaning it takes a lot to leave from a place that’s not so good to a better place that is in Jesus. It seems it is faith that drives you both, and in our Lord you are both home with the delights of all of your children in Christ.

I sometime find, in your post, you often alude to people who might judge you for many children. For those of us who have been foster children, and clawed and scraped for a minute of love from a person, then I would say… especially now upon knowing your children … what a gift in Christ you and your husband have given to the world.

However, escaping from a legalistic structure is the main thing that is so brave! It’s not easy to walk away from a system that this is all you have known. It must feel much like a cult to be entrapped in a system embedded in Law without faith and love. Maybe you can explain more about this to us. But being able to break free and come fully to the Lord is amazing and paramount.

You and family present one of the most simple verses. Acts 16:31 ’ Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.’

How beautiful to see and come to know an entire family in our Lord, but more so, faith so strong that you and your husband followed our Lord and broke free from the chains that bound you.

MAy our Lord continue to strengthen and guide you. Your faith is a light on the path Ms. Carrie.

Blessings always,


Thank you for your encouragement Sanah! Whatever we do for our Lord in faith has got to be a delight to us. This life we live with a large family is definitely (not to say there are never frustrations) a delight. May all our steps be taken in faith. There is no other way that glorifies God. :blush:

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Carrie, I always respect what you say so I become a “follower” of various ones posts because I connect with them. Well, you are one such person and you almost slipped by but a post by Sanah caught my attention to your testimony.

You are aware of the fact that we have 7 children and the 24th grandchild is on the way, but I can identify with leaving the number of blessings in His hands. Our family was even considered large so I can picture people’s expression as they enunciate “12 children!” We have a lodge and we all worked together and they learned good work habits, social skills as well as providing a means to pay for college. I admire you and your husband for leaving the family in His hands.

Regarding your superiority attitude in your church, we faced a similar situation. Others were Christians, dear love them, but they were just not to the level that we were. Jesus was so faithful in convicting my wife and I of our judgemental attitude. That’s a long story in itself but as you share your testimony, it is very encouraging to see how our Lord meets us all in the individualistic ways He does that we can understand. He created us all uniquely so His plan is different for us all. Thank you so much Carrie, for heeding His call.

On our prayer thread, you should let us know as your delivery time is nearing. It’d be an honor to pray for you during your delivery. My wife Nancy, just breathed pushed and with some coaching, delivered all of our children naturally. In fact, she freaked out one of our doctors because she walked to keep things moving and then, got down on her haunches and pushed. Oh, I’m sure you have oodles of delivery stories to tell. I respect you so much Carrie! You have children to deal with yet reply with those on Connect as if you had all of the time in the world. Mothers are amazing creations! You can handle 8 kids at the grocery store while pushing a cart and grabbing the bag of apples with your mouth. Men have a hard enough time just getting the apples all by themselves! I think mothers are stronger than the most muscular man alive.


Thank you Tim for your encouraging words! I’ll admit, moms are pretty amazing people. I know many that I admire so much. God gave us a special job and the character traits and instincts to go along with it. My husband recently spoke to a lady who usually works but is now home with her husband and one child. They didn’t plan to have any more children but after spending time at home with her child she is finding she wants another baby! Her instincts are kicking in! God definitely made women to nurture and however they find to answer that call it is beautiful when they do. Not all are able to have children, but there are many people out there who benefit from their nurturing instincts. :blush:


Carrie, thank you so much for sharing your personal testimony. I deeply appreciate your willingness to be open and share the triumphs along with the hurts in life. I was so encouraged by your kind and honest words! You are an inspiration to so many of us in Connect and I always smile at anything you post. :blush: You have so much of God’s love and hope to share, and it shines through your every post. God bless you my friend, I am praying for you as you continue to encourage so many. :rose::tulip::cherry_blossom: Happy Easter!

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Carrie, @gchop, thank you for sharing! I, too, had a very legalistic upbringing. I am in awe that you have so many kids as I could barely care for the TWO that I had (haha) but my “kids” are more numerous than just the ones I birthed as I work in a school and in ministry. I truly believe that you have a special gift. I have a friend who has a lot of children plus she adopted 3 more. That is certainly a special gift from the Lord and an amazing ministry. Many blessings to you!