A Minute for Mommy

Elyse Fitzpatrick & Jessica Thompson When God calls our children to come to him, even if we haven’t gotten it all right, even if we’ve trained little Pharisees or have a house full of prodigals, nothing is impossible for him. … Continue reading

When Does God Love You?

“There is therefore now no condemnation
for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Romans 8:1

Do your children know the biblical answer to this question?

Of course, it’s not only children who need to understand this truth…

Moms, you need to believe it too!

Photo: Cecile Graat

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I think that it’s very easy for us to think about eating only in terms of what it means externally. “How much do I weigh? Do I look good?”…Instead of asking questions about what it means that when I am unhappy with my situation at home, the place I go is to the refrigerator. That, to me, is a much more salient question. What is that saying about my relationship to God?

You see, if I have a situation, perhaps at home, I’m unhappy with the way the children are doing at school or something, so they finally get off to school. As soon as they are gone, then I go and run to the refrigerator or the coffee pot or whatever it is that I particularly like to do, and that’s where I find my solace for the day, then that says something about my heart…

What it’s saying is that there are saviors in my life aside from the Lord Jesus Christ.

You see, Jesus Christ is the One who calls to us, “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Learn what it is to take my yoke upon you” (Matt. 11:28-29).

Instead of doing that I say, “Okay, I’m going to sit down with this Krispy Kreme donut and a cup of coffee, and that’s where I am going to find my comfort.” 

~Elyse Fitzpatrick in “More Than a Diet

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There are some sins I’ve committed in my life that are not a stronghold, they’re not things that plague me, they’re not things that nip at my heels all the time. But this issue of gluttony, compulsive overeating, greed with food, has been for me an area (and for many of you) where maybe for years you have so given into the lust and desires of your flesh, that now you find yourself feeling enslaved.

This is something that I revert to. It’s my default to move into this pattern. That’s where we need to recognize that first of all there is freedom, there is grace, there is hope. Those strongholds, those chains can be broken.

I was thinking of the hymn just in the last twenty-four hours, “He breaks the pow’r of cancelled sin, He sets the prisoner free.” And that’s what we’re really talking about, whether it’s this area of food or any other area of your life, Jesus is Lord.

If you’re His child and His Holy Spirit lives in you, there is hope to be free. Not that you may not struggle with the temptation, not that it may not be an area where you always have to be guarded and careful, but that there can be genuine transformation into the image of Christ, and victory and freedom in that area.

~Nancy Leigh DeMoss in “Food and Besetting Sin

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Growing Slowly but Surely

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you
will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

Philippians 1:6

In a post at the Resurgence this week, Elyse Fitzpatrick describes a struggle to which I can readily relate—the tendency to become paranoid about our own spiritual growth. It’s an exhausting way to live, and I praise the Lord for the ways He has graciously begun to redirect my focus from “what I need to do for Christ” to what He has already done for me. 

In her article, Elyse uses the illustration of a little boy who’s so eager to grow that he stands on his tiptoes to prove he’s getting bigger. If you’ve experienced similar frustrations in regard to your own spiritual progress, you’ll be blessed by this reminder that in Christ your growth in grace is guaranteed… 

I’ve been a Christian for forty years now and I still look around at other believers and wonder, “Am I growing? Will I ever get big? How come she’s so spiritual and I’m still struggling?” I look at my life and then I look at theirs and I think, “Will I ever grow?”

Then sometimes, when I’m at my lowest, I start searching through my “good deeds,” trying to stand on my tiptoes so that I can feel happy about myself. I so want to know that I’m doing better. I really do want to approve of myself, but the more that I try to discern growth in my heart, the move discouraged I become. Others are growing and changing. I’m still fighting with the same sins.

What do I need to hear? How does the Spirit speak to me? Like the loving mom in the vignette above, the Spirit continually reassures me, “You’re growing, because I’m at work. I’ve got this all well in hand and even your sin, the failures that make you think you’re shrinking, are the building blocks of a soul that is being fit for heaven. After all I’ve done to make you my own, would I leave you now?”

Here’s how Paul sought to encourage our timid little hearts: If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

What I need to remember is that the Father didn’t spare his own Son, but gave him up for me. If he would do that, wouldn’t it stand to reason that he will grow me in the way I need to be grown, when I need to be grown? He’s already graciously given me everything I need to be pleasing in his sight. So I can rest in his work and wait for the fruit of it to appear in its season, in his time.  I can trust that even when I fail he’s using my failure to make me more like him–more humble, more dependent, and more thankful for grace…

Read Elyse’s entire article HERE.

Photo: Afonso Lima

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Because women have been created with a specific call to relationship—to be their husbands’ helpers (Gen. 2:18)—it is very easy for them to idolize and live for relationships with men, to look to men as the source of their identity and purpose. Many young women, in particular, are tempted to see themselves as having worth only if they are in a relationship with a man…Frequently, what girls wear, who they hang around with, and what forms of media they embrace are intrinsically tied to getting or keeping the attention and approval of boys…

Of course, the gospel provides a young woman with the ultimate antidote to the worship of any human’s acceptance and approval. The antidote is the worship of the One she was created to worship, Jesus Christ. He, the God-man, can become her identity as she hears Him call her to come and worship Him and find her life in Him rather than in any other man (Col. 3:4). He welcomes and assures her that, although she is an idolater, she is also loved and welcomed by the only Man whose opinion really matters. She doesn’t need to attach herself to anyone other than Him, for in Him she has everything she needs (Phil. 4:19). He is her Bridegroom. She is clothed in His righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21). She is complete in Him (Col. 2:10).

~Elyse Fitzpatrick in “Young Women, Idolatry, & The Powerful Gospel

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God’s Grace for Lawbreakers & Legalists

“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.
It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live
self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age”
Titus 2:11-12

Do you realize it’s highly possible to raise children who grow up to be good law-abiding citizens without ever becoming citizens of the kingdom of Heaven? In the church today, we so often equate external moral conformity with internal spiritual growth we may not recognize that little pharisees need the grace of God just as much as pint-sized rebels. If Christian parents desire to raise children who love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, they must carefully guard against allowing the law to overshadow the Gospel of Jesus Christ within their homes. 

In the following video, Elyse Fitzpatrick and her daughter Jessica Thompson, authors of Give Them Grace, discuss the vital difference between raising kids who merely keep the rules and raising kids who truly love Jesus Christ…  

Give Them Grace is currently available on Amazon for only $7.85.

Related Post: The Difference Between Good and Godly Children

Photo: Karl-Erik Bennion

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So much of what passes for Christianity doesn’t have anything to do with this simple premise: God set his love upon undeserving sinners by turning his back on his deserving Son—all because he loves. How is it possible that we will stand confidently before him on the day of judgment? Because his love “casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). How can we war against our selfishness and learn to love God and our neighbors? Because “he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

Drink deeply of his love, the kind of love he has given us—justifying, propitiating, adopting love. Because of his love we are the “children of God” (1 John 3:1-3). Don’t let familiarity with this truth anesthetize your soul to its power: his beloved Son left his heavenly home, traversed down into our world, lived sinlessly, died shamefully, was forsaken by his Father, and was buried in a cold tomb. The Father gave his Son in exchange for us so that he might claim us as his sons. And then he raised him from the dead to assure us again that we are now forever his.

Jesus Christ, the God-Man, has taken our flesh into the throne room of heaven, and therefore nothing—not our weakness, not our sin, “neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39).

Think on his love. You can’t do it enough.

~Elyse Fitzpatrick and Dennis Johnson in Counsel from the Cross

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The Difference between Good and Godly Children

“May grace and peace be multiplied to you
in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”

2 Peter 1:2

When I was a 4th grade teacher, one of the saddest statements I heard communicated from a parent to a child was a misguided attempt at motivating obedience. “Don’t embarass us.” Although the warning was repeated more than once during the school year, not suprisingly, the shame-inducing words produced no positive changes in the child’s behavior.

Shame. Guilt. Fear. Bribery. Rigidity. Indulgence. In their attempts to produce obedient children, parents may try any or all of these approaches, often settling for a combination of whatever feels the most convenient and produces the most results. Christian parents, however, are called to something so much better.  

In his foreword for the book Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson, Tullian Tchividjian (grandson of Billy Graham and pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church) counsels parents to avoid the error of legalistic childrearing by keeping their homes saturated with grace… 

The biggest lie about grace that Satan wants Christian parents to buy is the idea that grace is dangerous and therefore needs to be “kept in check.” By believing this, we not only prove we don’t understand grace, but we violate gospel advancement in the lives of our children. A “yes, grace, but…” disposition is the kind of fearful posture that keeps moralism swirling around in their hearts. And if there’s anything God hates, it’s moralism!

I understand the fear of grace. As a parent of three children, one of my responsibilities is to disciple them into a deeper understanding of obedience, teaching them to say no to the things God hates and yes to the things God loves. But all too often I have (wrongly) concluded that the only way to keep licentious hearts in line is to give more rules. The fact is, however, that the only time licentious people start to obey is when they get a taste of God’s radical, unconditional acceptance of sinners.

The irony of gospel-based sanctification is that those who end up obeying more are those who increasingly realize that their standing with God is not based on their obedience but on Christ’s. In other words, the children who actually end up performing better are those who understand that their relationship with God doesn’t depend on their performance for Jesus but on Jesus’ performance for them.

With the right mixture of fear and guilt, I can get my three children to obey in the short term. But my desire is not that they obey for five minutes or even for five days. My desire is that they obey for fifty years! And that will take something bigger and brighter than fear and guilt. The primary reason our children fail in their doing is that they fail to grasp at a deep, heart level what Jesus has already done. They often give up in their efforts to obey because we have unconsciously trained them to obsess more over their feats for Jesus than over Jesus’ feats for them.

When the apostle John (or Jesus) talks about keeping God’s commands as a way to know whether or not we love Jesus, he is not using the law as a way to motivate. He is simply stating a fact (1 John 5:2). Those who love God will keep on keeping his commands. The question is how do we keep God’s commands? What sustains a long obedience in the same direction? As every parent knows, behavioral compliance to rules without heart change will be shallow and short-lived. But shallow and short-lived is not what God wants. God wants a persistent obedience from the heart. How is that possible? Long-term, sustained, gospel-motivated obedience can come only from faith in what Jesus has already done, not fear of what we must do. Any obedience not grounded in or motivated by the gospel is unsustainable. 

[Give Them Grace, pp. 11-12]

Learn more about God’s grace and your parenting by reading the insights provided by Elyse Fitzpatrick and her daughter Jessica in Give Them Grace.  

 
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It’s essential for us to think about God’s love today because it is only his love that can grant us the joy that will strengthen our hearts, the courage that will embolden us in our fight against sin and the assurance that will enable us to open up our lives to him so that he might deal powerfully with our unbelief and idolatry. If we’re not completely convinced that his love is ours right now–fully and unalterably ours–we’ll always hide in the shadows, focusing on our performance, fearing his wrath. Prayer will be hard because we won’t want to approach him or be transparent before him. Witnessing will be a chore, for who would want to talk to others about a god who is demanding, angry, or cold? If we don’t consciously live in the light of his love, the gospel will be secondary, virtually meaningless, and Jesus Christ will fade into insignificance. Our faith will become all about us, our performance, and how we think we’re doing, and our transformation will be hindered.

What must we remember? Simply that God loves us so much that he crushed his Son so that we might be his and that this love isn’t based on our worthiness or performance. His love doesn’t fluctuate from day-to-day. It was settled the moment he set it upon you before the foundation of the world. God has spoken to us about his love and the gospel in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Will that love transform the way you live today?

~Elyse Fitzpatrick in Because He Loves Me

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As I’ve traveled around the country, speaking at good Bible-believing churches, I’ve discovered that the kind of biblical relationship to which I think the New Testament calls us is almost nonexistent. For example, I recently spoke at a conference that was well attended by women who were serious about their faith. They weren’t “playing church,” and they wouldn’t have thought of themselves as tourists. But when I asked for a show of hands of those who were in a biblical relationship with others to whom they regularly confessed sin, expected accountability, and regularly confronted the sins of those same others, only a smattering of hands went up. That’s not to say these dear sisters weren’t eager to follow the Lord. It was just that this kind of relationship, this depth of biblical fellowship, was way beyond their normal practice.

The kind of fellowship I’m enjoining flies right in the face of our American individualism and desire for privacy. We don’t want anyone poking around in our affairs, and we certainly don’t want to be accused of poking about in anyone else’s. This idolatry of privacy and individualism is one of the greatest detriments to sanctification in the church today. God has placed us in a family because we don’t grow very well on our own. It’s still not good to be alone. We need the encouragement, correction, and loving involvement of others who are willing to risk everything for the sake of the beauty of his bride.

~Elyse Fitzpatrick in Because He Loves Me

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Winning the War Against Worry

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow.
It empties today of its strength.”
Corrie Ten Boom
Are you too busy worrying about tomorrow to enjoy what God has done for you today? Elyse Fitzpatrick offers some wise counsel to the worrywarts among us… 
Learn more about this topic in Elyse’s book Overcoming Fear, Worry, and Anxiety.

Savoring the Sweet Taste of Grace

 “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do,
do all to the glory of God.”
1 Corinthians 10:31
 
Reading through the famous Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards recently, I noticed that more than one referred to his daily diet: 
 
#20 Resolved, to maintain the strictest temperance in eating and drinking.
#40 Resolved, to inquire every night, before I go to bed, whether I have acted in the best way I possibly could, with respect to eating and drinking.
 
Of course I don’t know this for sure, but I have a strong suspicion that Jonathan Edwards probably wouldn’t have been a fan of the whole “Life is short–eat dessert first” philosophy of eating.
 
How many of you cringed inside at the thought of evaluating your daily food intake according to such high standards? Yeah, me too. 
 
Food is one of God’s good gifts, but unfortunately, we as women seem especially prone to experience a love/hate relationship with the food we eat. What would it take for us to learn to enjoy this gift with gratitude and self-control instead of with guilt and self-loathing?
 
Biblical counselor and author Elyse Fitzpatrick explains the answer… 
 
 
 
For more biblical guidance on the topics of food and the glory of God, check out Elyse’s book Love to Eat, Hate to Eat.
 

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Our world’s obsession with outward appearance and weight has led many of us to think in shallow terms about what makes for peace and joy. “If I could just wear a size 8 (or if my hips weren’t so big, or if I had a smaller waist, or…), I know I would be content, successful, or happy.” As silly as that sounds, I know that many women subconsciously think that way. I confess that I have thought that way. (As if there isn’t an unhappy size 8 woman anywhere in the world!) We believe the lie that outward perfection (which, by the way is an impossible goal) is the key to inner peace and joy. Or perhaps we are duped into thinking that the false happiness and contentment that comes from being satisfied with the image we see in the mirror is the true peace and contentment that we are seeking from our relationship with God. We seek after lesser joys.

~Elyse Fitzpatrick in Love to Eat, Hate to Eat

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Before the time of Israel’s kings, a priest named Eli acted as God’s ruler. Eli had a significant problem: he didn’t honor God. Even though He knew Jehovah and had the highest position of authority in the temple, he thought more of pleasing his two rebellious sons than of pleasing God (1 Sam. 2:29)…

As I look back over my life as a mom, I can see numbers of ways that I bowed to my children’s demands rather than honoring God. I can see how I acquiesced to their desires and gave them what they wanted because I wanted to pamper them or make them happy. Sometimes I wanted to be their friend so much that I didn’t care about my friendship with God. Other times I even fought against my husband’s leadership because I didn’t want their displeasure. In my heart, I’m like Eli. I made an idol of my children’s good opinion…

Honoring God means that the Lord’s pleasure and glory come first. It means giving respect and deference to Him and esteeming Him above the thoughts of those we love.

~Elyse Fitzpatrick in Idols of the Heart

Can you relate to this struggle? 

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