Found in Him: The Joy of the Incarnation and Our Union With Christ (Mom’s Bookshelf)

Found in Him

Incarnation. Union with Christ.

These are theological terms we may not think about every day. But really, we should. These two crucial doctrines should inform everything we do every single day. Elyse Fitzpatrick has once again taken what can seem like theoretical, academic concepts and made them incredibly applicable in her newest title, Found in Him: The Joy of the Incarnation and Our Union With Christ.

Elyse is one of my very favorite author/speakers. Her book Because He Loves Me had a profound influence on me, and formed the basis of a talk I gave at a women’s conference a year and a half ago, and Give Them Grace provided the foundation for a parenting class my husband and I taught at our church. Her ability to unpack deep theological concepts and make them relevant to everyday life is amazing!

Found in Him explores the practical implications of Christ’s incarnation and our union with him. The book has two sections: the first unpacks the incarnation, and the second shows the reader clearly how this truth is applicable to our everyday lives through our union with Christ. [Read more…]

Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus: A MUST-HAVE Parenting Resource!

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Today is my birthday! To celebrate, I want to give away a copy of one of the best, if not THE best, book on parenting and discipline I’ve ever read…and I’ve read a bunch!

Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson is a true treasure.

I’ve always been a researcher. When I found out I was pregnant for the first time, I read everything I could get my hands on about pregnancy and birth. When I decided to homeschool, I did the same. It’s just how I operate. In my 13 years as a parent, I’ve read literally dozens of books on parenting, discipline, and so on, and I must say that Give Them Grace stands out from them all!

This book truly represents a paradigm shift in how we approach obedience and discipline with our kids. If you’ve read Because He Loves Me: How Christ Transforms Our Daily Life by Elyse Fitzpatrick, you’ll recognize the concepts of gospel indicatives and imperatives and applying the truths of the gospel to every situation in our lives. In a nutshell, Give Them Grace takes these same gospel principles and applies them to parenting.

We’re all legalists at heart. Even if we grasp the principles of the gospel in other areas of our lives, we tend to resort to performance-based, rules-driven parenting. The problem is, our children will respond to this the same way we respond to the law without grace:

Most of us are painfully aware that we’re not perfect parents. We’re also deeply grieved that we don’t have perfect kids. But the remedy to our mutual imperfections isn’t more law, even if it seems to produce tidy or polite children. Christian children (and their parents) don’t need to learn to be “nice.” They need death and resurrection and a Savior who has gone before them as a faithful high priest, who was a child himself, and who lived and died perfectly in their place. They need a Savior who extends the offer of complete forgiveness, total righteousness, and indissoluble adoption to all who will believe. This is the message we all need. We need the gospel of grace and the grace of the gospel. Children can’t use the law any more than we can, because they will respond to it the same way we do. They’ll ignore it or bend it or obey it outwardly for selfish purposes, but this one thing is certain: they won’t obey it from the heart, because they can’t. That’s why Jesus had to die. (p. 17)

It’s the premise of this book that the primary reason the majority of kids from Christian homes stray from the faith is that they never really heard it to begin with. They were taught that God wants them to be good, that poor Jesus is sad when they disobey, and that asking Jesus into their heart is the breadth and depth of the gospel message.  (p. 18)

Our children need to understand that the gospel is so much more than just a set of facts to believe in order to be saved, it’s the fuel for all of life! We communicate this, not through more rules, but by applying the truths of the gospel to every situation…by “giving them grace”, not law.

Granted, this requires humility and transparency that may make some parents uncomfortable. But the mother-daughter team of Fitzpatrick and Johnson skillfully navigate parents through the process with uncommon graciousness and insight. They freely discuss their own mistakes, the appropriate use of rules and different disciplinary measures, and common scenarios we may face. Every page is saturated with practical, grace and gospel filled words of wisdom!

For example, I really appreciated the discussion of prodigals and pharisees in chapter 4. The authors use the familiar story of the prodigal son in Luke 15 to illustrate that our children (and we!) may most identify with either son. The “younger brother” types struggle to obey while the “older brother” types are rule-keepers (represented by David and Susan in the following quote). Both desperately need Jesus:

So, how can we teach our children to rejoice in God’s generous mercy and love? We know that we need to train them in rules for obedience; that’s obvious. But how can we teach them about something so outside the norm, such as God’s joy in being merciful to sinners?
The first way we do that is to see and confess our propensity to live like one of the two sons. Confess to your David that you, too, break the rules and that you always justify yourself for doing so. Alternately, confess to Susan that you, too, love to rely on the rules and to feel superior to others. 

Being specific about the ways you are simultaneously proud and disobedient will help your children understand that the gospel is for sinners. The gospel is not good news to those who pride themselves on their hard work. It is infuriating news. But it is good news to younger-brother types who are tempted to turn away from the faith early on because they don’t think that the gospel is for sinners. They think it is for good people who like being “gooder.”

Consistent, transparent, and specific confession of sin will help children see how their parents struggle with sin in the same ways that they do. This dynamic is especially important if there is a highly successful elder-brother type in the home. Teaching David that he and Susan and Mom and Dad are all lost, all sick, all in need of salvation is so very crucial, whereas saying things like, ‘Why can’t you be more like Susan?’ obliterates the gospel message. It tells David that there is something intrinsically wrong with him that isn’t wrong with Susan. It destroys his hope of ever hearing God’s benediction of goodness over his life. It breeds unbelief and despair. And, it is false.

God finds great joy in welcoming dirty, starving Davids to his table. And because they feel their lostness so keenly, they may more easily recognize their need for the Rescuer. Their lives are usually messier and more dramatic, but they’re also more authentic and can be greatly used by the Lord because they know they’ve been forgiven for so much. 

As much as David needs to hear about your struggle with sin, Susan needs it even more. She’s usually the parent pleaser who honestly enjoys making you happy and thinks that your happiness and God’s are analagous. What she desperately needs to realize is that her parents are deeply sinful, even though the gospel has made them love holiness. Specific confession of pride, judging, criticism, envy, and selfish ambition will help Susan understand her own propensities to fail in the same ways, while praising Susan for being a ‘good girl’ will breed toxic pride in her heart. It will teach her that she isn’t all that bad. She won’t recognize her need for the Rescuer, although she may say that she’s a Christian. What does Susan need to hear? She needs to hear that her desire to prove her own worthiness is one of the greatest hindrances to faith that she’ll ever face. (p. 71-72)

I can certainly see this dynamic at work in our family. We have children who fit into each category and it’s so easy to let the rule-keeper slide and crack down on the rule-breaker! Not to mention, we as parents can respond to our kids both as lazy prodigals and demanding Pharisees, often in the same day, as this chapter goes on to discuss.

Each chapter ends with a short section titled “Remembering God’s Grace”, containing several thought-provoking application questions. An appendix lists specific, common problems parents face, such as lying, disobedience, blame-shifting, etc. and clearly outlines how to address them with the gospel.

If we want more than just outwardly obedient, well-behaved children, then they must grasp the magnitude of the gospel, which means that the gospel must transform our parenting!  Give Them Grace is a not-to-be-missed resource for Christian parents…and Crossway has graciously provided a copy for me to give to one of you!

The giveaway is now closed, so hop on over to Amazon for your copy of this must-read! 🙂

Here’s how to enter:

  • Check out the book details at Crossway, then leave a comment telling me what appeals to you about it.
  • Subscribe to Home With Purpose using Google Connect (in my sidebar), Feedburner, Networked Blogs, or by email.
  • Like the Home With Purpose Facebook page.
  • Post about the giveaway on your Facebook page.
  • Tweet about the giveaway. Here’s a sample tweet you could use: “Free copy of @GiveThemGrace by @ElyseFitz an essential resource 4 every parent! #Giveaway by @KmamaTX & @CrosswayBooks: http://bit.ly/nSgoaF
  • Display my button on your blog’s sidebar.
Each action is worth one entry, meaning you can enter up to six times. Be sure to leave a separate comment for each entry!
The giveaway will be open until next Wednesday, July 13th, at 11:59 PM CDT.
If you just can’t wait to dive in, you can order a copy from Amazon.

Thank you so much to Crossway for providing both review and giveaway copies of the book!

 

Because He Loves Me: How Christ Transforms Our Daily Life (Mom’s Bookshelf)

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What is “the gospel”? Simply a set of facts to believe, or much more?

I recently finished reading Because He Loves Me: How Christ Transforms Our Daily Life by Elyse Fitzpatrick. I thoroughly enjoyed this book! It delves into the topic of how the gospel can – and should – permeate and affect every area of our life. It’s applicable to each and every situation we encounter.

Too many Christians seem to think that the gospel is simply a set of facts you must believe in order to be saved. Ms. Fitzpatrick sets out to shatter that misconception and show how gospel truth applies to our daily circumstances.

“Let me explain what I mean. If I asked you, ‘Where did the ongoing incarnation of Jesus Christ intersect with your life yesterday?’ would you have an answer? We all know that the crucifixion is important for our initial salvation, but what did it mean to you this morning? Does Calvary inform and warm your heart when you’re waiting in line at the grocery store or hearing bad news from your doctor? Does his sinless life comfort you when you realize that you’ve just sinned in that same way again? In other words, is he significantly relevant to you in your daily walk with him? ” (p. 18)

The book is divided into two sections. The first section of the book clearly lays out the “identity transformation” that we undergo and the inheritance that’s ours when we accept Christ. The second section shows how this reality plays out in every part of our lives – how the gospel is applicable to every situation.

First, Ms. Fitzpatrick lays the foundation. She contends that many Christians have “spiritual amnesia”, that “even though we believe the gospel, the occasions in which the gospel (the incarnation, sinless life, death, bodily resurrection, and ascension of the Son of God) actually intersect and powerfully affect our daily life are infrequent.” (p. 41).  Yet in Christ, we’ve been given a whole new identity – His! We stand justified and are no longer under condemnation. Our inheritance includes not only eternal life in His presence (Jn. 3:16), but everlasting happiness in Him (Ps. 16:11) and reconciliation and peace with Him (Col. 1: 21-22) right now.

In the second section, she exhorts us to “be who we are” in light of these truths, explaining that laying the proper foundation first is critical because “…your growth in holiness is firmly bound to your appreciation of the gospel and God’s love, for it is only an appreciation of his love that can motivate genuine obedience. Outward obedience can be and frequently is generated by other motives, such as the fear of failure or desire for approval, but this kind of obedience (which isn’t obedience at all) only results in pride, despair, or self-indulgence and, because it is done out of love for self, more sin.” (p. 109)
 

In Scripture, we see a beautiful balance between indicative statements (what has already been indicated or declared about us…who we are in Christ) and imperatives (commands or directions). For example, consider Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another (imperative), as God in Christ forgave you (indicative).” We see this pattern repeatedly…because such-and-such is true about you (indicative) you should (or should not) do such-and-such (imperative)…or even you should not do this but instead do that.

We tend to two extremes: emphasizing gospel-declarations (indicative statements) and downplaying gospel-obligations (imperatives) or vice-versa, but both are essential. They are unavoidably tied together and must never be severed. Our transformation into Christlikeness is simply the process of growing to be in practice what we’ve already been made in Christ.

Ms. Fitzpatrick develops this concept in detail throughout the rest of the book, discussing both our “positive” and “negative” gospel obligations (what we’re exhorted to do and not do) and the absolute necessity for our motivation to be grounded in gospel declarations…who we are in Christ.

I’m barely skimming the surface of the rich application contained here.

Each chapter ends with a section of questions for reflection or discussion, making the book perfect for personal use or a group.

I could continue at length but this short review will never do the book justice. I’ll just end by saying that I highly recommend it.

Get it. Read it. Apply it.

Thank you to Angie at Crossway for providing a review copy for me. I was not required to give a positive review and received no other compensation.