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Home » Book Club

Because He Loves Me: Discussion #3

Submitted by on November 21, 2011 – 6:28 pm9 Comments

This post covers chapter 3.

Before you read the chapter…

  1. Someone you don’t know, standing in a waiting line somewhere, suddenly speaks up and asks, “So, who are you?” What would you reply? (Probably you’d give your name.) And if they persevered and said, “No, I didn’t want your name. I wanted to know who you are!” What would you say next?
  2. How different was your answer from one that the next person in line might give? Why?

While (or after) you read chapter 3: The Identity Gift

  1. On page 53, Elyse helpfully gives examples of how a Christian who forgets her new identity is likely to respond to life’s little trials, and then gives examples of how remembering our identity in Christ can change how we react to the self-same trials. I believe you’ll get more out of what you’ve read if you try these written exercises:
    • Think about your “life in the trenches.” Choose a commonly experienced test from your own life, and write a description of it.
    • Now, write out your typical “before” response, and then a gospel-saturated “after” response.
    • Now, think and journal an answer to this question: “How would remembering that Christ is your life while in the middle of this kind of situation give you new power to respond in a God-glorifying way?”
    • Now, this one: “How would such a response amaze and delight your husband and kids, and thus further glorify God?”
    • Finally, go to the Scriptures and see if you can find some that help to cement ties between the life of Christ and your particular struggle. For example, if you are prone to anxiety when your children don’t do well on tests, find verses that connect Christ’s victory with fear, such as 1 John 4:18 or Romans 8:15. Write at least one of these down and try to meditate on it throughout today!
  2. Elyse writes, “Our problem is that if we don’t continually remind ourselves of how he has chosen, renamed, and remade us, the struggle to grow in Christian character will become nothing more than another attempt at self-improvement, and self-improvement always ends in self-loathing or pride” (55).
    • Take some time to write out in your own words how God has chosen, renamed, and remade you.
    • Now, find Scriptures that speak to you about these truths! (Elyse has given some pointers on pages 56 and 57 and 62-64, but personalize this as much as you can!) Take the time, if you can, to copy these verses out by hand.
    • Would you like to share anything that God revealed to you in this exercise? That’s what the “comment” button is for up above (hint!).
  3. Elyse ends this chapter by reminding us that, while the gospel and our new identity in Christ are precious gifts, we want to be sure to thank (and focus on) the Giver. Take some time to do that now, using the verses that you’ve written out to do it as thoroughly and specifically as possible.

As always, we’d be encouraged to hear about how the Lord has met you during your interaction with this chapter of the book! Use the “comment” link above to share if you feel so led!

Below are links that will help you navigate the discussions easier. (You can also use the Archives section of this blog.)

Discussion #2 for this book.

Discussion #4 for this book.

9 Comments »

  • Elizabeth says:

    Ok, just finished chapter 3.. I still don’t get it. It doesn’t matter that my daughter is whining over math and it makes me mad.. I am sinful, so why should I be surprised that she is..that she copies me.. I smile… I am firm…she should do it.. I remind myself that I am a child of God and that he died for worthless me… Ok.. but daughter is still a whiny brat and husband will still be upset with me if I can’t get her up to speed… I don’t get how this helps….. HELP>>> I know Jesus died for me… I accepted that 35 years ago, but it doesn’t seem to make a difference… Off to do some of the exercises you listed above, but I don’t get it…. Sigh.

    • Marcia says:

      Here are some thoughts only to the above…

      To take your last question first: The reason that Jesus’ death for you matters is that you are HIS and your days are HIS. You were created and then redeemed for one purpose: to bring Him glory as you enjoy RELATIONSHIP with Him forever. You are now one of the most key representatives of GOD ALMIGHTY to your daughter. Your reactions and responses to her will shape her concept of God. If you are harsh, she will learn that God is harsh; if you are kind and gentle, she will learn that God is likewise. WE are His ambassadors to our kids. That’s why it matters.

      It also matters because He commands us to love, but we can’t do it on our own. Until we GET IT that Jesus’ death for us was horrible and unjust, an act of supreme condescension, and unutterably loving, we stumble about trying to please Him in our own strength. When others aren’t “pulling their weight” we tend to judge, accuse, and grow weary of doing well towards them. Unless we are filled with the love of God, our wells run dry. We ONLY love because He first loved us. And, if we have accepted Him, we live (and draw on) His life. When we join our lives to His, He takes all of our sin and we get all of His righteousness. It’s like if we married a millionaire, and now His reputation, bank account, and possessions are all legally, morally, and actually OURS. We can draw on His strength, righteousness, and depths of love if we see ourselves as His choice possession. We cease choking our fellow servants, and learn to love them instead (Matthew 18:23-35).

      I agree that you shouldn’t be surprised that your daughter is a sinner, but it’s loving to wonder WHY she is whining? It’s normal for us Marthas to see her as an obstacle to the successful completion of our day. But, it’s LOVING to take time to first understand her, and then to help her to see her sin in relation to the gospel, and thus take time to instruct her gently. Maybe you do this already and just didn’t say so above! But, in case not, here’s a thumbnail sketch…

      Galatians 6:1-2 teaches us to see a struggling sinner as being CAUGHT in sin. Trapped, and struggling, like in a net. (You say she is a “brat” and that may be so, but you can search the Bible through and you won’t find that term applied to sinners by a loving God.) A big part of loving others is picturing them as God sees them, and seeking to help them in His image.

      My impulse is always to say “hey, life is tough, so get over it.” Jesus in me says it differently: I start by seeking to understand how she sees the world. I ask a series of questions like, “Honey, why is this hard for you?” and then proceed to really LISTEN. After I understand the world from her viewpoint better, I move on to offer God-centered COMFORT, and (where needed) to preach the gospel to her. The CONTENT (not always all of it, and not always using these words) would be something like this (punctuated by her responses): “Honey, the world is hard because we are sinful; we want our own way and we whine and complain when we don’t get it. God knows this about us, but we won’t be happy being our own little gods of our worlds, and so He doesn’t let us stay this way. He sent Jesus to pay for our rebellion (our “I don’t want to” response to Father’s wise disposal of our day’s events) and to help us (by His Spirit) to do works that He has for us to do. Sometimes *I* don’t *want* to do my tasks. That’s hard! How I learn to obey God and do my work joyfully is to learn to ask Jesus to help me to *want* to do it. I remember how He obeyed His Father, and willingly died for me, and then it’s easier to *want* to do what He has given me to do, which is always so much easier than dying.”

      You and husband need to be unified and clear about daughter’s advancement. If you are driven by husband’s criticism, it’s harder to be guided by love’s impulses which sometimes mean that we simply do not get through a math lesson on a given day. I’d suggest that you ask him how he wants you to act with regard to all of the above when your daughter is whiny about her math.

  • Elizabeth says:

    So here is what I wrote for some of those questions above:

    My teenage son sits down for me to help him with math. Almost immediately he is rude telling me to hurry up and get this over with because it is stupid.. Taking a deep breath, I tell him that is not acceptable and he will lose his ipod if he continues. He rolls his eyes and produces a fake look. I try to explain and he says, “ok, ok, I get it.” I know he doesn’t. I pray and ask God to help me, but at this point I’m getting angry. I’m trying to help him. I don’t get how he doesn’t see that. I get up and silently take his ipod from his room. Son gets mad and retreats to his room. I go on to help my other two. Later when he is in a better mood, he smiles and gives me a hug. I give him one back, but remind him that the Lord says we are to honor our parents. “But math is stupid.” Nothing God has created is stupid… You need to learn to do things you do not like. I have to do things I don’t like all the time, but I do them because they need to be done and God has called me to it. That is why I haven’t given up on you!!! I’m not really enjoying math with you right now.

    My teenage son sits down for me to help him with math. Almost immediately he is rude, telling me to hurry up and get this over with because it is stupid. I think, God so many times you try to help me and don’t see it. It doesn’t matter whether he responds or not. It doesn’t matter to your infinite goodness whether I do or not. I display your glory… Ok, I get this far but now what??? I don’t get how this changes our interaction???????? If the result is still a sullen boy… I just don’t get this…

    Is 43:1
    Lord, you created me and you formed me. You have called me by name to homeschool. I am yours.

    Is 49:16- I’m not sure how to apply this one with building walls and such.

    Psalm 139
    Lord, you know me.. You know how frustrated I am. You know all my thoughts. (Ok…if you know all that why don’t you fix it?????) You know what I am posting here. You are everywhere. I can never get away from you. (Ok..this is rather terrifying to me. I do not find it joyful like the Psalmist. He knows the real me and know that although I am his child, I haven’t been doing what he wants…though part of it is I just don’t get it. I thought I was…) You shaped me… I have trouble with that. I have birth defects that have been fixed but have left scars. I will never be beautiful.. If you knew me and formed me…why did you make me so imperfect. Why didn’t you love me enough to make me perfect???? I’ve tried so hard…. How can I trust you.. But if I don’t, I will live in hell for eternity… Help me be the person you want me to be. You made me this way… I’m just not like other people… Investigate me and make me see clearly.

    Eph 1:4
    You can make me holy and whole by your love, O Lord. You have adopted me…

    Ex 6:7
    You will bring me out of Egypt. But o Lord, you brought the Israelites out of Egypt. But most of them never made it into the promised land… They were always doing things wrong, just like me… They grumbled and complained.. I’m just so tired.

    Rev 21:3
    It does sound wonderful that death will be gone and you will brush the tears from my eyes.. Do you brush the silent tears that are never shed????

    Romans 11;36
    Everything I am comes from you. Everything happens through you. Nothing will be wasted.

    John 3:16
    You love me so much that you gave your Son for me that I could live with you forever.. even though I could never deserve it. I know that you only did it because you are God and you had to. You do things even though you don’t want to… You do them because you are God and you know best.

    John 15: 16
    You put me here to bear fruit. I feel like our peach trees that never give us any good fruit. They always have worms in them… I don’t know why my husband just doesn’t cut them down. I’m sure you feel that way about me..

    1 Cor 3:14-15
    I know that my work doesn’t pass inspection.. Over 45 years of wasted effort….

    • Marcia says:

      Elizabeth… this is so beautiful to God:

      “Psalm 139
      Lord, you know me.. You know how frustrated I am. You know all my thoughts. (Ok…if you know all that why don’t you fix it?????) You know what I am posting here. You are everywhere. I can never get away from you. (Ok..this is rather terrifying to me. I do not find it joyful like the Psalmist. He knows the real me and know that although I am his child, I haven’t been doing what he wants…though part of it is I just don’t get it. I thought I was…) You shaped me… I have trouble with that. I have birth defects that have been fixed but have left scars. I will never be beautiful.. If you knew me and formed me…why did you make me so imperfect. Why didn’t you love me enough to make me perfect???? I’ve tried so hard…. How can I trust you.. But if I don’t, I will live in hell for eternity… Help me be the person you want me to be. You made me this way… I’m just not like other people… Investigate me and make me see clearly.”

      You are being REAL with your Father. That is so good! Let me offer a response in Jesus’ name:

      1. ALL my my Father’s wrath, Elizabeth, was spent on My Son. ALL of it. HE paid for every drop. HE absorbed it ALL. It is spent; it is FINISHED. As a result, when I look at you, dear daughter, I do not see “the real you” as you think of yourself. I see a perfect child as I am working to make you to be.

      2. You are frustrated, and sad about your imperfect looks and actions, because you are coming to an end of yourself. Apart from me, you will be frustrated. Apart from my, you remain imperfect. But because I love you, I will not leave you there. Like Paul with his illness, I don’t take away these things all at once because I want you to learn a precious lesson: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, like Paul, I will teach you to boast all the more gladly of your weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon you while you instruct other struggling sinner in my loving ways (2 Corinthians 12:9).

      3. You can trust me because of what I did. While you were dead in these imperfections, in your pride, in your sins, I came looking for you. You can trust me because I ALWAYS keep my promises! You can trust me because you know in your heart by the witness of My Holy Spirit that this momentary affliction is preparing for you an eternal weight of glory (2 Cor. 4:17). You can trust me because I am WITH you in your pain, your suffering, your doubts, your trials, and your loneliness. Hagar called Me the God who Sees. Isaiah called Me Emmanuel–God with us. I AM! I am the LIVING God. And I will never leave you nor forsake you. I am at work now, and I will complete the good work that I began in you. You can trust me because I love you with an everlasting love, sealed in blood, that no power on earth can break (Romans 8:28).

  • Marcia says:

    OK… let me be REALLY specific. (It’s really good to isolate a MOMENT when we are trying to really see how this works… so bear with me.)

    “My teenage son sits down for me to help him with math. Almost immediately he is rude telling me to hurry up and get this over with because it is stupid.. Taking a deep breath, I tell him that is not acceptable and he will lose his ipod if he continues. He rolls his eyes and produces a fake look.”

    Let me rewrite it a different way:

    My teenage son sits down for me to help him with math. Almost immediately he is rude telling me to hurry up and get this over with because it is stupid.

    I stop my agenda for the lesson and give him my full attention, while praying to God silently for wisdom and patience. I ask him, kindly and seriously, why he thinks that math is stupid.

    I wait for his response (it could be so many things that I’m not going to make it up, but the point is that I go on conversing with him trying to truly UNDERSTAND what he sees and how he feels and–often–what is the lie that he is believing). I see this as the REAL business of this moment. The math lesson is a pale one compared to the lesson that I’m hoping to now deliver.

    As I listen to my son, I realize that all of his reasons boil down to this: he has become the god of math. He has decided that math is beneath him and not worthy of him. He is not relating well to God or me because he has decided to take over this part of his world and rule it. By a series of questions–real questions–I show him this category. I help him to see the big picture: since the Garden, human beings have craved living apart from God, independently choosing their own ideas of good and evil. His attitude towards math shows his sinful attitude toward the Father that he should be willingly and cheerfully obeying.

    I then seek an example of how I likewise sin. There is always one such example. There’s the task I shirk, the obligation that I resent, or the work that I feel is beneath me. There are the ways that I seek to grasp a hold of my own life and defy God (and other God-given authorities). I seek then to share these with my son. I do this for two reasons: to humble myself so that I can place myself beside him at the foot of the cross of Christ, and also to show him that I don’t stand at his judge. He is not grumbling against me; he is fighting with God, and in rebellion to Him.

    After I share my own sin, I also share my own answer. Grace is only found in surrender to God. God came after us so that we *could* obey Him joyfully. Apart from Him, we can do nothing.

    Lastly, pray together. Ask him to pray for you in your sin area, and then you pray for him regarding math. If conviction has come, and if you are relationally OK, then the math lesson can progress. If he’s still in rebellion, it may THEN take discipline of some effective kind before your son will learn to submit to God and to you with joy.

    ______________________

    Jumping straight to the consequence–taking the ipod away–did not give your son a chance to see his sin from God’s perspective, or wrestle with the Almighty. It set you up for failure because you didn’t win his heart, as God has won yours. Our goal is to be filled with the love of God so that we can be looking for ways to help others see that love, which, in the end, is the ONLY true motivator of godly obedience.

    Please let me know if any of my responses have at all helped you, Elizabeth! I am praying for you. Thank you for your honest posts!

  • Elizabeth says:

    I wanted to address this quote:

    I then seek an example of how I likewise sin. There is always one such example. There’s the task I shirk, the obligation that I resent, or the work that I feel is beneath me. There are the ways that I seek to grasp a hold of my own life and defy God (and other God-given authorities). I seek then to share these with my son. I do this for two reasons: to humble myself so that I can place myself beside him at the foot of the cross of Christ, and also to show him that I don’t stand at his judge. He is not grumbling against me; he is fighting with God, and in rebellion to Him.

    This is such a foreign concept… I have tried my entire life to do things the right way, so that no one would ever be mad at me. I did things because my parents told me to. They would spank me if I did not. You had no choice. You must obey. If I don’t do what God wants then I go to hell. Period. My husband is equally a go by the rules kind of guy. This son has expressed that he is so tired of how perfect we are. He hates our “I was the perfect” child stories.. But I had to be. Everything I do is because I must or I will be punished or God/husband/father ( you fill in the blank) will not love me or like me. So how do I share…. I’ve tried incredibly hard to do everything right because I must. He doesn’t see the point.. So you share thoughts of how you thought incorrectly???? That could make a novel…all the things I thought but could never express. But even that is wrong.. Good grief. Now I have to control my thoughts… I give up.

    • Marcia says:

      Let me ask you a few real, honest question (not a trick one):

      Question #1: You seem to be saying that you have been trained (forced) to obey, and have embraced “obedience or else” and so you believe it is possible to simply decide to “be good” or to obey. Is this indeed what you are saying?

      Question #2: You write above, “Everything I do is because I must or I will be punished or God/husband/father (you fill in the blank) will not love me or like me.” Do you do nothing out of love for others, or from gratitude, or because you delight to serve them?

      Question #3: “I have tried my entire life to do things the right way, so that no one would ever be mad at me. I did things because my parents told me to. They would spank me if I did not. You had no choice. You must obey.” This may be your experience, but do you believe that this is an expression of the gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ?

      Question #4: If willing, perfect obedience is all there is to being a Christian, what difference is there between the disciples of Jesus and those who follow Hindu, Jewish, or Muslim teachings?

      Question #5:: If willing, perfect obedience is within our grasp, then what’s the rest of the Bible about?

      In the quote you reference above, I was trying (imperfectly, for sure) to say that we humans all sin (whether in thought or deed, it doesn’t matter) in similar ways (or are at least tempted to). Because we are in authority and given the job of correcting our children, and because we are often more mature in God than are they, it is easy to judge and condemn out children, forgetting our own struggles to obey and learn sanctification. It is an act of loving compassion to find an area where you, too, are or were in the past tempted or sinned so that you can reach out to your struggling son in love and tell him that you truly understand him *before* you correct him, or dole out consequences for his sin. (This idea is based on these Scriptures: 1 Cor. 13:4a, Gal. 6:1-2, 1 Jn. 1:8, and 2 Cor. 1:3-4.)

      Elizabeth, I am praying for you and truly not trying to be combative here. I’m trying to help. Please believe this!

  • Elizabeth says:

    1. No, I don’t believe it is possible. That is why it is so discouraging. My father believed it was, but it was not. If I make a mistake now, I seriously tell myself how stupid I am.. My daughter hates that…

    2. No, I really don’t.. I sure wish I did.. I discovered something in the 5th chapter that I just realized.. Wow.. Now I’m not sure how to fix it.. I guess this is my midlife crisis. I’ve suddenly realized that I’ve never done ANYTHING because I wanted to.. I don’t even have a clue how to figure out what I want.

    3. No, the Bible clearly says we don’t have to earn it.

    4. There wouldn’t be a difference.

    Why would I consider this combative??? It is nice to have someone to talk to about these things..

  • Beth says:

    The things that stuck out to me about this chapter where that “our history has changed” and “our citizenship has changed.” We adopted a daughter from China 2 1/2 years ago. It really hits home because both of the above are true. Her whole destiny was changed completely when she became a member of our family. There wasn’t anything she did to have this new destiny given to her. Her destiny was to be an orphan without a family or opportunity to be who God destined her to be. Through no effort on her part, but purely by our choosing to love her, her destiny changed. Isn’t that the whole gospel message?

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