There are a few women authors who I love: Mary Kassian, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Carolyn McCulley and Mahaney, Francine Rivers, Melanie Jetschke, and this one: Elyse Fitzpatrick. These women all write with a focus on the cross.
None more than this book. This book is meant to be used as a tool in how to counsel those who come to you for help - but also can be used to preach the gospel to yourself.
I've been reading it this semester with a friend of mine, Becca, and it has been a tool that has shaped both of us (I'm thankful that she gave it to me as a bday gift).
One of the biggest truths this book has made me realize is that I don't love very well: honestly and truly love faithfully. It is so hard to love without wanting anything in return or loving those who don't love me. Bring in the gospel: I can't do it - but the Cross is big enough to love through me.
"The Bible also mentions another conduit through which the Father pours his mercy and power into the hearts of his children: deep, meaningful fellowship with our brothers and sisters in the church." (47) As I get ready to leave Louisville after 2.7 years I look back at the relationships I have here. Many women have played a crucial part in my sanctification here: Laura D, Bonnie M, Becca B, Cynthia B, Shana S, Tracy H, Aarica M, Rayann J, Brandi L, Sarah V, Sarah M, Sarah M, Amber P, Lindsay W. But, I also look forward to the women who are in Raleigh who will also (and have) played an important role in my sanctification: Rach W, Sarah M, Tina W, Clariss B, Bonnie B, Vern G, Erin H, Maggie M, Steph C, and I look forward to new girls I will meet there. Also, I think about the wider body of Christ and how women all over have played a role in my sanctification: Phyllis R, Mom, Nena T, Kathy K, Lisa M, Laura M, Janel B, Mary K, Jaye M. What I'm trying to say is: God uses women in my life - not just in the life of the local body of believers - to have a real sanctifying power on my life - because they are rooted in the Gospel too! Thank you to these women and I can't wait to live more of life with each of you!
"In a profound sense, we have been given only two commands: to love God with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus affirms that all other directives in Scripture depend on these two and provide commentary on what it means to love God supremely and to love others as we love ourselves. Just these two simple commands, and yet, every sin we commit finds its genesis in a failure to obey one of the other or both." (55)
And there you have it: the root of all SIN.
"When we don't love others, we will fear them too. We will fear what they might think of us, say about us, or do to us. Our fear will enslave us; we will be tied to their opinions, wants, and demands. Without fervent love driving and informing all our relationships, we will constantly swing back and forth between slavish, joyless servitude (motivated by guilt and self-love) and self-sufficiency and anger (motivated by pride and self-love)." (56)
"Do you _____? If so, you are missing the gospel; you are more sinful and flawed than you ever dared believe, but God graciously chose you when there wasn't one drop of grace in your soul and nothing to recommend you to him." (77) - Total depravity and Unconditional Election - gotta love the truths of Scripture!
"Gospel-centered counseling is counseling based on Scripture that defines us as God does and then applies both gospel declarations and gospel obligations to every sin problem we encounter." (93) This is so different than much "Christian counseling" today.
"We will never be truly free from self-condemnation and the desire for approval until we grasp this fact. We were so sinful we had to die. Personal reformation won't help. We need death." (94).
This is a big area in which I struggle - need to always preach the gospel to myself every day: "If the message of the gospel does not inform every thought, word, and deed, our striving to put off and put on will disintegrate into another way to gain the approval of others, ourselves, and even the Lord." (108)
One area I struggle in is fear of man - ongoing but Christ is slowly changing it. "Because of His sinless life, we can stop worrying about our reputation or trying to make ourselves look good in the eyes of others. We are sinful and flawed but loved and welcomed. We have been counted righteous." (137)
This is something I desperately need to act upon: "He loves us because he chooses to love us, and the depth of our defection from him should produce in us great humility, gratitude, and patience with others' failures." (153)
The past 2 years (almost) I've been in churches that practice Communion every week. That has been some of the BEST of Louisville: "How frequently do we fail to remember him, even during the Lord's Supper, because we are so focused on our glory story that the story of the cross seems weak, passe, and hackneyed? All we are called to do is to remember, and we can't even do that." (174)
This is another book to read - maybe in light of Easter - that is soon approaching!