Marie Notcheva highly recommends Because He Loves Me: How Christ Transforms Our Daily Life by Elyse Fitzpatrick. This gem articulates the gospel and encourages readers to live it every day. Marie is a featured Heart2Heart Counselor and writes a blog. Here article appeared first here on her website and is used with permission.
Elyse Fitzpatrick is who I want to be when I grow up.
Of course, I mean that completely in the Ephesians 4:15 sense of “grow up.” The ability to articulate the simple, profound truth of the Gospel and its implications for day-to-day life as beautifully as Elyse has in Because He Loves Me: How Christ Transforms Our Daily Life speaks of a real spiritual maturity. Her passion, from the first page of this encouraging book, is for her reader to have the same joyful, settled assurance of Christ’s love that she herself has found in the pages of Scripture.
Whose Responsible for Your Spiritual Growth?
Why is it that so many of us recognize our need for the Gospel – the Person and work of Jesus Christ – for salvation; then slowly move past the Good News in our daily strivings to “please God”?
We come to the Cross for justification, but practically live as if sanctification depended solely on us.
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Elyse spots this tendency – which often leads to a moralistic, defeated attitude – and reminds the reader of the only antidote: applying the finished work of Christ to our continually sinning hearts.
Weaving the entire thread of Scripture around a central point – that God FIRST loved us – Elyse shows how getting this knowlege of His deep, abiding, personal, and unfathomable love for us down into the very marrow of our bones completely changes everything. In fact, it transforms our whole identity – who we reckon ourselves to be.
If we see ourselves as “foster children,” who can be evicted or abandoned at any moment, we will live like it. Realizing we are a permanent, cherished part of the family – His adopted children – transforms our hearts and enables us to live for Christ in His strength.
As she writes, “Any obedience that isn’t motivated by His great love is nothing more than penance” (page 148). Well said.
The Impact of the Gospel on You
How does the Gospel message impact our walk, 10, 20, even 30 years after our conversion, when we can rattle off the Doctrines of Grace like the days of the week?
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.
This tendency to take our eyes off of Him and focus inwardly on our failure becomes a vicious cycle, especially when one is battling a life-dominating sin. Many of you bear witness to this fact. I once received the following e-mail from a reader:
…I have been REALLY struggling again lately. I have trouble turning to God, because I feel sometimes like I don’t deserve His forgiveness, or to ask Him for help.
Lately I have been obsessing about food and eating all day long, and binging and purging A LOT! I work as a nanny, so I am alone with kids and in a house full of junk food I wouldn’t buy, and have found myself unable to keep from destructive eating behaviors.
Please pray for me that I will go back to Christ for guidance, and be able to truly repent for my sin. Please also pray that I will stop worshiping false idols of food and thinness, and instead live to glorify Him… (emphasis mine).
This young lady sincerely loves God and wants to please Him, but her words reveal that she has fallen into the trap so common to all of us: living as if our position before God is based on our own merit.
When did any of us, in our “best” moments, EVER “deserve” His forgiveness? We didn’t. Christ secured it for us – while we were still His enemies. We forget this. When we succeed, we feel good and can worship. Failure brings shame and a fear of approaching God, which naturally leads to more failure and despair. We are, as Elyse points out in this book, essentially not trusting God that He is as good as He says He is.
This is unbelief, and it leads to idols. When we don’t feel fully secure in our position in Christ – solely based on His righteousness and grace – we seek the satisfaction that should be found in Him alone through counterfeits. Putting our trust in these “earthly treasures” leads to fear, worry, and anxiety – which leads us ever further away from the Cross.
Freedom from fear comes from contemplating and remembering the love of God, manifested in Christ. As I have written before (and Elyse so much more articulately), change in our behavior can only come from truly realizing and appreciating who God is and what He has done for us. Knowing that His kindness is what has led us to repentance (Romans 2:4) motivates us to love Him back, and approach Him with confidence. Our ‘identity in Christ’ (as Elyse refers to it; I might use ‘position’) is permanent and irrevocable. It is what frees us up to walk in love.
Remembering God’s Love for You
In the final section of Because He Loves Me, Elyse demonstrates how remembering and contemplating this unfathomable love God has for us is the true motivation for lasting change. She writes,
Our natural unbelief will always cast doubt on His love for us. It is the awareness of His love and only this that will equip us to wage war against sin. Until we really grasp how much He loves us, we’ll never be able to imitate Him.
We won’t come near to Him if we’re afraid of His judgment. We won’t repent and keep pursuing godliness if we don’t believe that our sin doesn’t faze His love for us one bit. We won’t want to be like Him if we believe that His love is small, stingy, censorious, severe. And we’ll never be filled with His fullness until we begin to grasp the extent of His love (Eph. 3:19).
As a member of His family, you’re the apple of His eye, the child He loves to bless.
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You’re His darling.
“Every failure in sanctification is a failure in worship.”
Far from minimizing the seriousness of sin, Elyse reminds the reader how costly it was to God – and invites her to rest in this reality. At the same time, we are thus enabled to “wage a vicious war against sin” – the imperative (command) that naturally follows the indicative (what God has already declared to be true). Every sin, from greed to sexual immorality, is a failure to love as we’ve been loved – at its root, unbelief.
The key to walking in freedom and joy, then, is remembering that we’re beloved children, redeemed by Jesus, set free from the power of sin. This settled confidence produces thanksgiving ane edifying speech, rather than complaining and bitterness. This is what applying the Gospel to every area of our lives looks like in practice.
I have been recommending Because He Loves Me to women who write me about their specific struggles, as well as counselors and anyone else who would benefit from the reminder of what Christ’s perfect life, love, cross, resurrection, and intercession really mean to us as we grow in Him.
In short, everyone reading this would likely benefit from the encouraging and joyful explanation Elyse presents on the synergy of God’s grace and our response. Like C.J. Mahaney’s The Cross Centered Life, Because He Loves Me trains the reader to reflect more deeply on the finished work of Christ on her behalf as a catalyst to worship, rather than presenting sanctification as a spiritual self-help plan.
See more about this wonderful book here.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
The amazing power of generosity. . .heals.
Has a friend generously listened to you? Who has noticed that you need a helping hand? Or, when you show generosity to a friend or stranger? Perhaps you sent a Get Well card to a relative or wished Happy Birthday to a Facebook friend.
Your generosity matters. It helps to heal the hurting. Here’s an amazing story of generosity. Read on.
Homeless. Need Food. Please Help.
Pulling up to a red light, Kate noticed a young man clutching a sign. It read, “HOMELESS. NEED FOOD. PLEASE HELP.” The icy wind reddened his hands. She knew what she had to do, even though it inconvenienced her.
She drove to a store, bought men’s gloves and returned to the sign holder. She rolled down her window and handed them to him.
And she prayed for his mother.
Kate has a grown son too. Addicted to drugs. Sleeping somewhere. She couldn’t warm her own child but she could show Jesus to a stranger.
Debbie Macomber shares this true story in her book One Simple Act: Discovering the Power of Generosity. A sister in Christ and fiction author, she understands the need to give love. She’s dyslexic and her third grade teacher told her mother, “She’ll never do well in school.” And she didn’t.
But her love of words and her parent’s encouragement, and later her husband’s, gave her the boost to sign up for a writers’ conference in New York, and — to use a cliche — the rest is history.
Finding Hope Through Generosity
This post isn’t about Debbie or Kate. It’s about you and overcoming your struggles in Jesus’ power. I want you to find hope and healing. One thing I learned:
Sometimes to find healing you need to reach out to a hurting soul and help her.
Here’s an example: A woman I counseled by Skype — whom I’ll call Sandy — spied a lady dumpster-diving for food scraps behind a fast-food joint. She maneuvered her car from the drive-thru lane and into a parking spot. Sandy had bought two lunches, one for herself and one for the lady. She handed one bag of food to the lady. She said, “I don’t want your food. I don’t take no charity.”
Sandy put the bag of food just inside the dumpster and walked back to her car, glancing backward to see what the lady would do.
She took the food.
Now Sandy and the lady made a game of sorts. Sandy places food by the dumpster when she sees the lady and the lady eats. Sandy feels she is making a difference. She feels less alone.
Generosity Reveals Jesus to a Hurting World
This simple act of generosity reveals Jesus to a lady and to a hurting world.
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You can show Jesus too, like Kate, like Sandy, like the little boy who gave his little lunch to a big Jesus who multiplied it and fed 5,000 men and probably as many women and children. The boy willingly gave what he had and received so much more.
“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. (John 6:9-10, NIV)
This boy’s generosity is forever told worldwide. How blessed he is.
When you and I are kind to others, we are blessed too.
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Be generous. Show Jesus. Give thanks. You belong to Someone big who cares. Your generosity takes your eyes off yourself and on Him.
Do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. (Hebrews 13:16, NIV).
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
Biblical counselor Julie Ganschow questions psychology and embraces biblical counseling in her article “Why I Am a Biblical Counselor,” which appeared first here on her website and is used with permission. Julie is among the counselors listed in Heart2Heart Counselor Directory on LucyAnnMoll.com, where I counsel hope to your heart.
This month I was at the 40th-anniversary celebration for the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC). I was once again reminded how important biblical counselors are for the church.
Several of the speakers (Dr. Richard Ganz, Dr. David Powlison, Dr. Garrett Higbee) are former psychologists who once made their living from practicing psychology. These men and several others that I know realized that despite their best efforts, they were not truly helping people. Part of Dr. Ganz’ testimony is that when he began to understand that the Scriptures were sufficient to help people he was actually fired from his job.
Church Gave the Hurting to Psychology
Psychology is anti-God at its roots but for decades now, the church has given the care of hurting people over to secular and “Christian” psychology. The church gave up the care of hurting people and put them in the hands of the medical doctor.
Unfortunately, the church at large has bought into the medical model for people helping, and as a result, anti-God, pro-sin individuals are now in the multi-billion-dollar business of labeling what is in many cases sin or sinful behaviors as diseases or disorders. The truth about psychology is there is actually little that is scientific about how behaviors and mental processes are conducted, and little that is scientific about the psychological approach to studying organisms.
I believe that psychologists and psychiatrists get into their respective fields because they want to help people. They think they are!
Psychology relies upon various theories of personality to help people. One important issue in psychiatry and psychology (including Christian psychology) is that there are numerous theories, but no agreement among them on which theory is right or even best. Many Psychologists, especially Christian ones, say that because the Bible doesn’t contain these theories it is not sufficient for counseling the really tough problems like kleptomania, and schizophrenia.
The Bible Presents the Better Way
The Bible does not present a theory of personality but is clear on God’s viewpoint on man. While psychology’s premise is that man is a higher evolved form of animal, God has an entirely different opinion of us. He tells us we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139), and that we are made in HIS image and likeness (Genesis 1, 2).
God’s Word reveals to us why it is not wisdom but pure foolishness to look at man for the solutions to the problems we face (Isaiah 55:8-9). Due to original sin, we have departed from our initially created state of being. This is why we struggle to understand God’s ways!
Our sinful state causes us to have flawed logic and reason. Because of the sin that has completely marred the image of God within us, sometimes, we need counsel and help; we need others to come along beside us and redirect us back to the path of righteousness.
Biblical counselors who are ministering to the unbeliever and the Christian have the ability to show them something better than diagnosis codes and a life dominated by “disease” and medication.
Our counsel is life-giving and hope-filled because it flows from the God of the universe who knows us better than we know ourselves. A personal relationship with God and the Bible is the only source of help for our spiritual and emotional problems. Scripture is the only reliable unchangeable resource to which we can turn to solve our spiritual problems.
Isaiah 8:19-20 — …people should ask their God for help. Why should people who are still alive ask something from the dead?
Psalm 119:9 — How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your Word.
The Bible gives us numerous insights regarding how intimately God is involved in the emotional and mental life of His people. Nothing escapes God’s notice, not any thought, belief, desire, want, or perceived need. He is the one who restores us to health and wholeness when we are ill in any way.
Real Change Through Renewing of the Mind
Scripture insists that we be transformed changed by the renewing of our minds by the Word of God (Romans 12:2). If Scripture commands that we do this, it must be possible! That is the function of salvation, preaching, teaching, biblical counseling, and discipleship. The more of Jesus we know, and the more of His life we emulate, the more awkward and out of place we will feel in this world.
2 Corinthians 5:9 sets up the standard for our behavior – to be pleasing to God.
Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.
We are to be in the process of transformation our entire Christian lives. Beholding the glory of God and desiring the same for our own lives (2 Corinthians 3:18). The understanding of the Christian is to believe in heart and in practice that everything that happens to us is for our good, all for the purpose of conforming us to the likeness of Christ (Romans 8:28-29).
I am a biblical counselor because the Bible has far superior answers to anything psychology can explain about deep issues. I have hope to offer, I have God’s unchanging truth to offer, and I have the promise of a changed heart and a changed life through Christ. The biblical counselor’s answer to difficult events in life is to help others become more and more like Christ as a direct result of going through them. –JG
An Offer for You
Friends, did Julie’s message touch you? Do you sense that God wants you to find hope and healing through biblical counseling? Perhaps you’re fighting anxiety or depression. Maybe depression has dogged you or you have a relational conflict.
Please contact me. I am a trained biblical counselor who counsels women and families all over the world by Skype and in person in greater Chicago. I offer a complimentary 15-minute phone consultation. Get hope today.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
Did you know the Jesus prays for you — yes, you — at all times? Nothing can separate you from God’s love!
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Once loved, you can now deeply love others!
When Satan accuses one of the saints – that’s you, me, and every believer – Jesus tells our Heavenly Father, “I got her covered. She’s mine.” Isn’t it comforting to know that Jesus sees your sorrows and your joys, your trials and your triumphs. . .and he prays tor you? and protects you?
Jesus prays for you when you. . .
- fret over a loved one’s poor health
- your husband fails to communicate
- are lonely or scared
- call yourself ugly names
What difficulty are you facing now? Do you know Jesus’ followers are forever loved by him and that absolutely nothing “wlll be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39)?
Jesus Prays with Power
Listen to the gospel — the Good News — in the Apostle Paul’s words to the Christians in Rome,
Jesus Christ, who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? (Rom. 8:34-35, NIV).
Jesus lived a sinless life, was crucified, buried, and rose again on the third day, defeating Death and guaranteeing eternal life to those who love him.
Even more, when you have trouble praying, the Holy Spirit prays for you.
The Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will” (Rom. 8:26, 27, NIV).
Isn’t amazing that the God of the universe would bother to even to take note of us? He made man from dust. Our lives are a mist. But he is all-sufficient, all-knowing, all-good. How unlike God are you and me!
He doesn’t need me.
Or anyone else.
He is God. He is love.
Jesus Prays with Love
God invites you and me to know him deeply, experience his love, and follow him. When you know you are forever loved by Jesus, don’t you desire to love others? Even the “unlovables.”
Among today’s unlovables are gangbangers, the homeless, Syrian refugees, and many more. Who comes to your mind? The lady at church who gossips? Maybe your onery neighbor?
Some people find themselves living in a home that’s unloving. What can they do? What can you do? If this describes you, would you take this challenge?
For three months (or any time frame you choose) in the morning prayerfully yourself two questions:
- Who in my home needs my love right now?
- How can I show love to him or her love?
Then pray and ask God to help you follow through. The goal is not to get others in your home to love you back. It’s to love others and pray for them.
Did you know that in Jesus, you have all the love you need?
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An Offer or Two
First, if life is hard now, may I encourage you to contact me so we can talk about the possibility of counseling? I counsel by Skype around the world and in person in greater Chicago. Contact me and request a complimentary 15-minute phone consultation.
Second, are you enjoying my blog posts? Please sign up with receive them in your inbox along with my “Transform Your Thoughts Journal.” Thanks!
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
Do you love your sin? Or are you sick of it? In this soul-baring article by counselor Suzanne Holland, she shares how to uproot the sin you love and hate. Suzanne’s article appeared first here and is used with permission. She is among the women listed in Heart2Heart Counselor Directory.
Some people really love their sin. Are you one of them?
If someone were to ask me this question, I would immediately respond with an emphatic “No! I love the Lord,” and I struggle against sinful attitudes and actions every day. My flesh is relentless in its desire to be satisfied, but I am battling it daily, with some success. I’m sure that I don’t love my sin!
If I don’t love my sin, then why does it seem I’m unable to uproot it from my heart? I’m not talking here about the sin nature, or the flesh or the influence of the enemy. I’m talking about what we Christians call besetting sins.
What Is a Besetting Sin?
These are the sins that seem to be constantly tempting us. Like the child’s game of Whack-a-Mole, we think we’ve got it beaten, and it pops up somewhere else. It seems we are in a constant, life-long cycle of sin-consequence-repentance-forgiveness. This is very discouraging, and we wonder if we will ever overcome this sin.
These besetting sins seem more deeply rooted than others. If you think about it, you can probably remember other sins that used to be problematic for you in your early Christian days, but no longer seem to be much of an issue.
For example, I used to have a significant anger problem. I was very impatient and easily annoyed, which would quickly turn to anger and frustration. I had to confess and repent many times, but eventually I seemed to get a handle on that, and it doesn’t control me anymore.
But another sin habit really seems to have a death grip on my heart.
My awareness of this particular issue has been keenly sharpened over the last few years as I have struggled with chronic pain and disability. That issue is self-pity.
I am always amazed at how easily I can fall into this mode of feeling sorry for myself because I can’t do the things I want to do. I was watching an old Willy Wonka movie yesterday, and I saw myself in the character of Veruca Salt, who was terribly spoiled and petulant. As I watched her demand that her father buy her everything she wanted, I became convicted of my own discontentment.
How to Handle a Besetting Sin
But for me, it’s more than just discontentment. When I can’t have what I want, and my Father won’t get it for me, I begin to feel sorry for myself.
As I watch others who seem to have a better life than I do, I become jealous, and this compounds my misery. I become a spoiled brat who believes she is entitled to whatever she wants, just because she wants it! This is not acceptable for a child of the living God! But how can I change?
Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 7:24).
Thank God indeed, I already have the answer to my problem! I have been freed from this sin. Now, I must receive the pardon and break free of the bonds of besetting sin.
I owe Him my life, my every breath, my very soul! How can I possibly feel sorry for myself when I have eternal life? This time here on earth, in this broken body, is a vapor (James 4:14). Besides that, there are many who are living in much greater difficulty than I am. Some of them would probably give anything to have what I have.
Opening Your Eyes to the Truth
The key to uprooting this sin in my life is to open my eyes to these truths, and to the people all around me who are suffering. Ministering to others is the absolute best cure for self-pity. I have experienced this many times as I am working on this sin pattern in my own life. As I reach out to help others, my own problems are diminished, I am more grateful, and I begin to move toward that contentment that seems so elusive.
Veruca’s father repeated something to her over and over as she sang about all her demands. He said, “You can have all that when you get home.” This is the refrain I must keep in mind, to combat these feelings of self-pity, jealousy and discouragement. All these things I desire and cry out to God for, will be mine when I get Home to Him.
There will be no pain, no sorrow, and no limits on what I can do. But I must be patient. My contentment rests in trusting God to enable me to do all He has called me to do here, nothing more and nothing less. I can be satisfied in knowing that He will bring me to perfection in Him on that day when I arrive at Home.
If you haven’t seen the Willy Wonka movie, and you’d like to meet Veruka, click here. You may see a little bit of yourself in her, too!
Friends, did you learn from Suzanne’s article on uprooting sin? She is among the biblical counselors on the Heart2Heart Counseling Directory. Visit her directory page here. Consider making an appointment with her.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,