Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Comforts from the Cross

I have a new favorite author, Elyse Fitzpatrick. I recently finished two of her books: Comforts from the Cross and Idols of the Heart. Both books are unlike a lot of the offerings from current Christian authors in that her message to women is not about maximizing your potential, discovering yourself or living your dreams. Rather, Fitzpatrick consistently points to the cross as our only hope, our only joy, our only glory. In fact, more than once in my reading of either book I would have to pause and put the book down because my sense of conviction was so strong--which is good thing. Totally good. It is the Lord's kindness that draws us to repentance!

Comforts from the Cross is subtitled: Celebrating the Gospel One Day at a Time. And it does. A devotional comprised of thirty one meditations on the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, Comforts from the Cross points women to the only true source of satisfaction and joy. From the publisher's description:

Daily comforts from the gospel of Christ provide busy Christian women with brief but deep reminders of how his truths powerfully connect to their daily lives.

Nothing comforts a woman’s soul more than a fully understood and embraced gospel. But many women aren’t finding solace in their relationship with Christ because they don’t see how his life, death, and resurrection connect with soccer practices and swim lessons. Besides, they just don’t have time to sit down and read a theology book, no matter how much they might hunger for God’s truths.

That’s where Elyse Fitzpatrick’s latest book comes in. Comforts from the Cross provides those well-intentioned women with bite-sized readings to remind them of their place in Christ and of his love and ministry in their busy lives. It also dusts off the facts of the gospel to show how ancient truths such as justification, sanctification, and redemption can free and enliven their souls every day. Even more, these five-minute celebrations of the gospel relieve readers of legalistic condemnation and empower them for joyful obedience by engendering fresh love for the Savior.

I've quoted excerpts here on my blog but perhaps the most convicting portion of the book (to me) is found in the chapter titled "Glory to God Alone." There Fitzpatrick writes:
The truth about our twisted hearts, whether we're comfortable admitting it, is that we want very much to have a little bit of the glory come to us. We want to be able to approve of ourselves, to look at our record and say, "What a good girl am I!" Then when we fail, when we let ourselves or others down, we hide from God, give in to despair and self indulgence or recommit to trying harder, over and over again in an endless cycle of self-righteousness, self-loathing, pride, and shame.
Hello, she's reading my mail.
We want Christ's glory for ourselves. Jesus Christ is willing to share his righteousness with you, to impute to your record his perfect obedience. But his glory he will not share with anyone. You will not receive praise in heaven; no one will glorify your name. No one will say to you, "This person is here because of you." The praise will all belong to him because he has accomplished it all. Our desire to take his glory for our own isn't merely futile; it's an attack against his perfect work.
Here's the good news...
We won't value or cherish him as we should until we openly and freely embrace our wretchedness and our utter inability to reform ourselves. Only then will we fall freely into his arms of grace and there joyfully exalt the salvation he has purchased with his blood. As we learn to despair of seeing any merit or power in our own goodness, we will see his merit and power for what it is: our only hope of salvation. This perspective, and only this perspective, will enable us to love him as he deserves to be loved.

Our utter inability to save ourselves or even to maintain our salvation once it's been granted to us brings great glory to the Son: it exalts his power, his purity, his grace, and his mercy.
Listen, I told you it was convicting. Or it is for me. But, remember, conviction is good because it points us to the cross as the only means for forgiveness and restoration!

Comforts from the Cross is full of God-glorifying gospel truth and relates that truth to the real lives of women: our insecurities, our desire for satisfaction, our yearning for meaning and purpose. I am thankful for the ministry of Elyse Fitzpatrick and I look forward to reading more of her books. In fact, I have Counsel from the Cross currently awaiting its turn in my To Be Read pile...

6 comments:

  1. These books sound wonderful. ANd yes, conviction hurts but as you pointed out - it's necessary. But BLAH sometimes (like recently for me)!

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  2. Can't we go back to the fun Q&A's about you?! LOL

    Wow and ouch. She's been in my mail too.

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  3. You add to my wish list. I add to yours. It's a beautiful relationship. What an amazing book.

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  4. There you go again -- forcing me to buy more books. I've managed to supress the urge as I've seen you quote these books before, but now...well, Amazon, here I come. :)

    Seriously -- good stuff. And also...ouch.

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  5. There you go again -- forcing me to buy more books. I've managed to supress the urge as I've seen you quote these books before, but now...well, Amazon, here I come. :)

    Seriously -- good stuff. And also...ouch.

    ReplyDelete