A Minute for Mommy

William P. Smith: Haven’t there been times when your child pushed all your buttons, and you said and did things that later bothered your conscience? Why is your conscience uneasy? Weren’t you just correcting your child’s bad behavior? You are … Continue reading

Believing that Beauty Will Come

“You are good and do good; teach me your statutes.” Psalm 119:68 With the second anniversary of Evangelle’s homecoming approaching later this week, I’ve found myself thinking frequently about how clearly God’s sovereignty and goodness has been displayed in the … Continue reading

Beauty Supplements

Your daily dose of true beauty advice… We are functioning as a judge when we remain bitter against someone. We assess the evidence against someone, render a verdict, and declare him guilty. James challenges our judgmentalism: “There is only one Lawgiver … Continue reading

Beauty Supplements

Your daily dose of true beauty advice…

No human being was ever meant to be the source of personal joy and contentment for someone else. Your spouse, your friends, and your children cannot be the sources of your identity. When you seek to define who you are through those relationships, you are asking another sinner to be your personal messiah, to give you the inward rest of soul that only God can give.

Only when I have sought my identity in the proper place (in my relationship with God) am I able to put you in the proper place as well. When I relate to you knowing that I am God’s child and the recipient of his grace, I am able to serve and love you.

However, if I am seeking to get identity from you, I will watch you too closely. I will become acutely aware of your weaknesses and failures. I will become overly critical, frustrated, and angry. I will be angry not because you are a sinner, but because you have failed to deliver the one thing I seek from you: identity.

When I remember that Christ has given me everything I need to be the person he has designed me to be, I am free to serve and love you. When I know who I am, I am free to be humble, gentle, patient, forbearing and loving as we navigate the inevitable messiness of relationships.

~Timothy S. Lane and Paul David Tripp in Heart of the Matter, p. 45

Beauty Supplements

Your daily dose of true beauty advice…

Whom will I worship? A well-known sufferer was the apostle Paul. His troubles were often caused by other people, but he realized that God authored these sufferings to allow him to walk in the footsteps of Jesus and his sufferings.

Among the more difficult trials was one he called his “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7). Although we never learn the precise nature of this malady, Paul identified at least three causes: his own pride, a messenger from Satan, and God–three causes for one hardship.

Instead of teaching us how to identify the causes of suffering, Scripture directs us to the God who knows all things and is fully trustworthy. In other words, Scripture doesn’t give us knowledge so that we will have intellectual mastery of certain events; it gives us knowledge so that we would know and trust God.

Somehow, turning to God and trusting him with the mysteries of suffering is the answer to the problem of suffering. You might be able to discern some obvious causes of suffering, and knowing those causes might help alleviate the pain. But all suffering is intended to train us to fix our eyes on the true God.

Therefore, regardless of the causes, suffering is an opportunity to answer the deepest and most important of all questions: Whom will I trust? Whom will I worship?

~Edward T. Welch in Heart of the Matter

Photo: OBMonkey

Book Review: Heart of the Matter by CCEF

Over the past few years of studying biblical counseling, I have been greatly helped by the ministry of CCEF (The Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation). If you’ve followed Precious Adornment for any length of time, you have probably noticed that I often share excerpts or videos containing biblical advice from men like David Powlison, Ed Welch, or Paul David Tripp. The reason I do this is because I have learned so much about understanding and applying God’s Word from the counselors, authors, and teachers connected with CCEF, that I want to pass as much of that knowledge on to you as I can.

For that reason, I’m glad that I can now recommend a new resource from CCEF called Heart of the Matter: Daily Reflections for Changing Hearts and Changing Lives. In this one year devotional book, you will find comfort, challenge, conviction, and encouragement in the form of brief, daily readings provided by the faculty of CCEF. These daily devotionals cover a wide array of topics such as suffering, relationships, the process of change, overcoming fear and anxiety, trust in God, forgiveness, and much more. 

As you read this book, you will find that your attention is continually being pointed to Christ and the hope of the Gospel, God’s sovereignty over all things, and His loving purposes for you as His precious child. The readings are deep, yet completely accessible. Because I was reading Heart of the Matter for the purposes of this review, I had to move through it more quickly than I wanted to, and I often found myself thinking that I would benefit much more from reading and considering just one devotional at a time, which is of course, how the book is intended to be used.

I am thoroughly convinced that the Bible contains every truth required to care for the human soul (2 Pet. 1:3-4), and I believe that Heart of the Matter illustrates well what a rich resource God has provided for us in His Word. The authors go deep into the Scriptures to reveal profoundly beautiful truths that we too often miss in our hurried approach to Bible reading. 

Book Giveaway!

New Growth Press has provided me with the opportunity to give a copy of Heart of the Matter to two of my readers. If you would like to enter the giveaway, please add a comment to this blog post and make sure to provide your email address in the appropriate field (so I can contact you if you win!).

At midnight tomorrow night, I will use Random.org to choose two winning comments.


Thanks to everyone for participating in the Heart of the Matter book giveaway. As promised, I used Random.org to find two winners…

The first winner is Colleen who posted the third comment. Congratulations, Colleen!

And proving that God has a sense of humor, the second winner is Taaron N Niki Parsons who posted the 18th comment.

Many thanks to New Growth Press for making this giveaway possible.

Biblical Hope for Those Struggling with Homosexuality

“And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ
and by the Spirit of our God.”

1 Corinthians 6:11

I recently watched as the host of a news program called Dr. Albert Mohler “crazy” for expressing his belief that Christ empowers people to change and turn away from all forms of sin, including the sin of homosexual behavior. Is she right? Are we as Christians crazy or hateful for believing that homosexuality is not only a sin, but also one that can be overcome? 

Although the voices of popular culture continually grow louder and more forceful in their attempts to reverse our convictions on this issue, it is the Word of God alone which must guide our thinking. Today as always, the Bible offers hope and victory for those tempted and enslaved by homosexual attraction and behavior.

Pastor John MacArthur clearly states Scripture’s unchanged teaching on homosexuality, “What does God think of homosexuals? Well, the answer is He loves them just like He loves you and just like He loves me. No different…It is God’s desire that they be saved, that they be justified, that they be sanctified, that they be washed. And that homosexuality and that homosexual behavior be only part of their past so that it can be said of them, ‘Such were some of you.’” (Sermon links listed below)

Below, I’ve compiled a list of solid biblical resources to help both those who struggle with homosexual desire and those who hope to minister to others in regard to this issue.

Articles & Booklets

Homosexuality: Speaking the Truth in Love by Ed Welch

The Words No Parents Wants to Hear by Tim Geiger of Harvest USA

Desiring God list of resources for understanding and addressing homosexual behavior in light of Scripture

Audio Messages

Struggling with Same-Sex Attraction by Ellen Dykas and Dave White (2009 CCEF National Conference)

When Sons and Daughters Say They Are Gay by John Freeman (2009 CCEF National Conference)

What Does the Bible Actually Say about Homosexuality? by Robert Gagnon (2009 CCEF National Conference)

Hope, Holiness, and Homosexuality by Dr. John Street (2010 Shepherds’ Conference)

What God Thinks of Homosexuals by Dr. John MacArthur

Thinking Biblically about Homosexuality by Dr. John MacArthur

Personal Testimony

Out of a Far Country 6-part Revive Our Hearts interview with Christopher Yuan and his mother Angela

Dating, Decisions, & Dancing

This post first appeared on Precious Adornment in March 2010.

“In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives…”

1 Peter 3:1-2

When it comes to dating and marriage, it’s a whole lot easier to choose the right kind of man than to change the man you choose. And all the married ladies said, “A-A-A-M-E-N!” When I was single, it was tough to know exactly what I should be looking for in a potential husband. Was I expecting too much? I often wondered. On more than one occasion, people I knew had intimated as much.

Some of you who are single now may be troubled by the same concerns. Am I being too demanding? Should I lower my standards? Is close enough good enough? Let me put your minds at ease, girls. The answers are No. No. And you guessed it, No. It has often been said but is worth repeating: It’s far better to be single and wish you were married than to be married and wish you weren’t. Write it on a post-it note and stick it to your forehead. Think up a little tune and set it to music. It’s a truth worth remembering.

Now, here to expound further on this topic are authors Debby Jones and Jackie Kendall. The following excerpts are taken from their book Lady in Waiting:

You want to marry someone for the qualities he possesses now, not for the qualities you hope he will develop. The most common mistake made by marriage partners is marrying someone they intend to change. Since it is nearly impossible to change a person, you will want to set standards of dating, or of building friendships, with men who are characterized by the qualities below.* A single woman can sidestep a lifetime of tragedy by seriously considering these characteristics in a prospective steady date.

  • Puts the needs of others ahead of his own.
  • Rejoices in his relationship with Christ.
  • Maintains proper relationships.
  • Refuses to jump ahead of God’s timing.
  • Seeks to meet the practical needs of others.
  • Stands for what is right.
  • Follows through on his God-given responsibilities.
  • Understands the importance of feelings and emotions.
  • Flees temptations to compromise…

None of the men you date will have all these qualities perfected. All of us are at differing levels of maturity. A man of God is one who works toward being conformed to the character of Christ. But be careful when a quality of God’s Spirit is completely missing in a man’s life and he is unwilling to deal with it before marriage. Realize that if character is absent before the wedding ceremony, it will be missing after the wedding ceremony and cause considerable problems during marriage.

Was Boaz, Ruth’s knight, the last man of godly character, or was he just one of many? We are convinced that God still grooms Boazs for His daughters today. This does not mean a guy has to be perfect in order for you to go out with him. It does mean that he needs to be growing in Christlikeness by the enabling power of the Holy Spirit before you start to date him.

(pp. 131-134) *Each point is explained more fully in the book.

Now, I imagine there are ladies reading this who are thinking, “If only I’d heard this kind of information ten years ago, back when I still had the option of choosing the right kind of man.” Perhaps you’ve experienced firsthand just how futile it is to focus your efforts on changing your husband. But if you can’t change him, is there any hope for you and your marriage? I have an answer for you too, yes, yes, and yes! If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, there is always hope.

In the following video, Winston Smith, a counselor and teacher from the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation, provides some helpful thoughts on the topic of change within marriage:

Instead of focusing our attention on our husband’s dancing deficiencies, let’s aim our efforts at mastering the steps ourselves. We’ll be more contented, our husbands will be less cramped (the corner of the rooftop is a bit confining—Prov. 25:24), and our marriages will be changed. Most importantly of all, our Lord will be glorified as we earnestly seek to follow His lead.

Photo: Watje11

Breaking the Cycle of Bad Habits

“You are not your own; you were bought at a price.
Therefore honor God with your body.”

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

In a time when public interest in obsessive-compulsive behaviors has been increased through programs like Obsessed, Intervention, and My Strange Addiction, I thought it was interesting to hear a biblical counselor’s perspective on the topic. In the following video from CCEF‘s Ask the Counselor series, Mike Emlet responds to the question: “How can I stop persistent bad behavior?”

Photo: Joana Croft

When Words are Overwhelming

“The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer”

Proverbs 15:28

When someone you love hurts or grieves, what should you do? You want to make the pain go away, but how? You want to say something to provide hope, but what?

If we’re not careful in such situations, our good intentions will get tangled up in our rush to provide answers. In the following video, Dr. Mike Emlet of CCEF describes what he thinks is the most common mistake made in giving advice and talks about ways to avoid it…   

Photo: andyreis

Finding Hope after Miscarriage

“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.”
Psalm 34:18
“As a Christian woman, how do I think rightly about recurrent miscarriages?”
Dr. David Powlison of CCEF approaches this sensitive question with compassion and wisdom…

Photo: Mario Alberto Magallanes Trejo

What to Do When Your Faith Feels Weak

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me,
and delivered me from all my fears.”

Psalm 34:4

During our walk with Christ, most of us will face times when our faith feels so puny and small it would make a mustard seed look big in comparison. In those moments of spiritual weakness, what should we do?
Winston Smith of CCEF offers some wise thoughts…

Photo: cristiano galbiati

Beauty Supplements

Your daily dose of true beauty advice…

Depression tries to tell us what is true and what isn’t. For example, it says that you will never feel any different, and you can’t continue to live in such a condition. It says that God doesn’t care, and no one loves you. It tries to persuade you that nothing matters. Know, however, that depression lies! You have to tell it the truth, rather than listen to its interpretation of life…

Turn toward God, and instead of listening to your depression, listen to what he says about himself. The center of his message to you is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus, the Son of God, became the Son of Man. He obeyed the Father perfectly, emptied himself, and became your servant. He died to give you life. Now he is the King, and through his death he brings you into his kingdom. Here on earth the kingdom of heaven is riddled with suffering, but we know the King is with us and our suffering is only for a short while. We also know that the King takes our suffering, which seems senseless, and makes it profitable in his kingdom. Read all of Romans 8 and pay special attention to these words, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers” (Romans 8:28–29).

This is God’s message to you. Beg for grace and mercy so you can hear it over the din of your depression.

~Ed Welch in “Hope for the Depressed

Photo: OBMonkey