Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Holly Elliff asks, are you equipping your children for the challenges they’ll face?

Holly Elliff: Why would we send them out into life without the real armor that Ephesians 6 says the God has built for our children?

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, January 16.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Did you ever stop to think that the investment you’re making in your children could affect the world with the gospel? And if you’re single and involved with younger women or maybe you are a grandmom  investing in your grandchildren, you’re affecting the world through them as well.

Yesterday my good friends, Bill and Holly Elliff, began to show us how important it is to have a heart for the next generation. The investment you make in your children’s lives or maybe your nieces and nephews, grandchildren, or children in your church or community, when you invest in them, you might be helping to spread the gospel in powerful ways. 

We’ll hear more about that as we hear part two of this message that was  recorded at True Woman '12.

First, let me remind you that True Woman '14 is coming to Indianapolis this October 9–11. Why should you consider joining us in Indy? 

Here’s what Bob Lepine says. Bob is on the advisory board for Revive Our Hearts, and he’s been the emcee of the past True Woman conferences.

Bob Lepine: I would say to a woman who is looking at coming to a True Woman event: You need to be ready to be impacted; you need to be ready to meet God; you need to be ready to engage. There's going to be some substance, and you're going to be challenged, encouraged, and you may be convicted. You can expect God to show up.

I've been at five events. If you come to True Woman, you can expect to find God here because He shows up when His Word is preached, where prayer is preeminent. God shows up here, and I think that's what we all can expect.

Nancy: True Woman '14 is coming to Indianapolis October 9–11. Get in on early discounted registration when you sign up before May 1. Register or get all the details by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com.

Now let’s get back to Bill and Holly Elliff. Bill is the pastor of The Summit Church in Little Rock, Arkansas. He and his wife, Holly, have been good friends of mine and the ministry of Revive Our Hearts for many years.

Yesterday they began teaching from 2 Timothy chapter 1. They’ll pick back up in the series, “Epicenter: The World-Changing Impact of a Christ-Centered Home.” Bill’s talking about recognizing your child’s spiritual gifts.

Bill Elliff:  So how in the world do we help them discover those gifts, discover who they really are in Christ, and then create this family that's white-hot with a sincere faith and functioning spiritual gifts that can really affect the world? Let me just give you some thoughts about that.

Number one, we need to become students of our children. Every kid is so different. I look at our eight kids, and there is not one of them that's the same. They are so different, and they've got different spiritual gifts. My first daughter has the gift of mercy; my second daughter doesn't. (Can I hear an "amen?")

I remember when we were new parents and just learning how to discipline our children—I would look at Jennifer, and she would just melt. She'd start crying. She would repent of stuff she'd not even done, because of her gift of mercy. Then my second daughter, I just had to wear her out to get her to understand things.

They're different kinds of people. We need to ask the Lord, "Give me insight into my child, so I can know who they are, what they're made of, and the particular gifts that You have supernaturally placed in their life when they have come to know Jesus Christ."

And then create an environment. If you take a tree and plant it in concrete, it's not going to grow. But if you take a tree and put it in the right soil, right sunlight, right water, right food, it's going to have incredible growth. All of us know, we need to create as best we can a home environment where our children are growing. As they're growing in Christ, they're going to naturally begin to feel—and you're going to see—the expression of those gifts.

And then help them exercise their spiritual gifts. Your kids and mine grow physically by exercise, and sometimes we need to kick them out the door.

I remember my wife used to say in the summer, with our kids, she'd send them out, lock the door, and say, "Don't come in unless there's blood, and there's got to be a significant amount of blood before you come in." So we need to help them exercise. We need to do that with our kids spiritually.

So we think we've got a son here that's a leader, we think we have a daughter who has a gift of administration. Help them exercise that gift—give them little opportunities to serve in those particular realms.

Then we need to compliment success. When we see the little beginnings, the outcroppings, of those gifts beginning to develop in the lives of our children, then we need to just flood their soul with encouragement, because they're not going to get a lot of that in the world. We need to acknowledge those successes and that all those successes come from God, so that they understand the proper place that that's originated from.

By the way, ladies, can I pause right here? All that I'm saying about our kids also goes for our mates. This is what husbands should be doing for their wives; this is what wives should be doing for their husbands. You should look at your husband—find what his spiritual gift is. Help him exercise that; encourage him when he succeeds in that.

And here's another thing, and that's to navigate failures. Our kids are going to fail. There are going to be times when they don't do that real well in their life, and we need to help them know how to handle that because that's what life is all the way through.

Then we need to expand their horizons, give them ever-expanding opportunities, and fiercely combat the lies that their lives can't make a difference.

My mother was a country woman who loved Jesus and read His Word and did what it said. Somehow, with the four of us children, when we left home, we thought we could change the world—every one of us. I remember one day talking to my brothers and saying, "Did you think that?"

And he said, "Yeah, I thought that."

"Did you think that?"

"Yeah, I thought that."

And we started talking, "How did we come to that conclusion?" It was our mother, who constantly told us, "God has a plan for your life that is wonderful. Your life can change the world."

Holly: Another essential component is in verses 7 and 8. Look at that with me. It says this: "For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God."

You remember those commercials that end with this question: "What's in your wallet?" Well, this verse really encourages us to take a little bit of inventory about what is in our life. God has given us incredible gifts if we are His child. We see some of those here: power, love, and self-control or discipline. Do you ever need any of those things as you're raising your kids?

Do you need self-control? Do you need discipline in your own life? None of us really wants to get out of our chair and go clean the kitchen or do laundry, right? Those things are hard—sometimes they require discipline of us. Or get up early when you've been up all night with your kids.

This verse also points out to us an attribute that doesn't come from God, and we're not speaking here of awe or reverence. But this scripture is very specific, and it reminds us that God has not given us a spirit of fear. So if we find ourselves fearful at any point in our lives, where does that come from? It comes from the one who is determined to derail God's agenda for our home. Satan, who is the father of all lies.

You may be thinking, I'm not really a fearful person. I'm just kind of discouraged. You know the interesting thing about that? Look at this word—"dis" means "without." So when we are discouraged, we are without courage. Discouragement is just fear kind of dressed up in nicer clothes, because we can say we are discouraged, and nobody looks at us strangely. If we say we're fearful, they might.

So it's just fear dressed up in nicer clothes. But it is just as destructive, because it's the opposite of faith. We can't do these essential things without understanding what it means to access the gifts that God has given us. When we are women who embrace courage, we help equip our kids for battle.

We live in a world that opposes Christ, and as believers we're not even designed to feel at home here. Why? This is not our home. We will never feel at home here on earth, because God has built us to live in a different kingdom than this. But we are responsible to equip our kids for the opposition they will encounter during their time here on this earth, if they stand for Christ.

We can't send our kids out in the morning in their pajamas or their long johns. Although I've had some escape in their underwear before, but that would not be my choice. I wouldn't plan for that. My boys—I have four boys and four girls—my boys used to love to dress up, and they used to like to put on things that made them look like knights in armor with capes or soldiers with their guns and be equipped for battle. But that was just pretend.

Why would we send them out into life without the real armor that Ephesians 6 says God has built for our children? This world is not friendly to our kids, so we need to equip them with the armor that God has already provided for them.

When we get on a plane, we're instructed to do what? Take the oxygen mask if something happens, put it on ourselves first and then our child. In the same way, we need to be women who understand how to access the armor of God, so that we are equipped, so that we can then turn and teach our children, "Here's how you walk in the world."

We can't expect our children to give an account for the hope that is within them unless we are grounded in that ourselves. What do we model about our possessions, our values, our modesty, what we believe about purity, our faithfulness to our marriage vows, how we make decisions?

Do our kids know that God is at the core of every decision we make? Or is He? Do they see that in our home? What do we model about the power of prayer? When our kids come to us and say, "Mom, I don't know what to do about this," is our first response, "You know what? We need to pray about that." And just right there, no matter where you are.

I have prayed with our kids in the car, on street corners, outside an appointment before they went in, in the middle of the day, through text messages—whatever it took. But they understand that prayer is an essential part of what enables them to take their next step.

Our children will take their cues from us. God needs to be part of every equation, and we cannot do that in our own strength. I love that God equips us for what He calls us to.

So our next essential is the sense of calling that our homes need. In verses 9 and 10, again we see attributes God has put in place for us. "God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works"—nothing we have done—"but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has now been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel."

We don't manufacture these gifts, these attributes that are essential ingredients. Only God can do that. Scripture says He saves us from an eternity without Him, and He calls us to this holy calling. It's a distinctive lifestyle. It's not based on any of our accomplishments, but on His purpose. And then He gives us enabling grace, so that we are able to do His will.

We believe that grace is the power and the desire to do what God has called us to. We don't create it, but this verse says God, Christ, did that before the ages began. We are, however, responsible to access that grace.

My granddaughter, Truth, who is four, is also just like my daughter Becca, who is my strong-willed one. Truth and I were walking a few months ago, and it was cold. And I'm cold-natured, so I had on my really long coat—and we're walking down this path—and Truth said to me, "Honey" (that's my grandmother name), "I'm really cold." And she was up ahead of me.

I said, "Truth, run back this way." Now normally Truth would not have run back, but she was cold and so she did. She ran back to me, and I opened up my really coat and I tucked Truth in right here, and she kind of glued to my leg and walked inside my long coat.

And she wasn't cold anymore. She was covered. She had what she needed. In the same way, Christ calls us to run to Him, to access the grace, the covering, that He has already designed for us. We have all these things on our phone, right? What are they called? Apps, right? Do you know that Apple was not the inventor of apps? Because God did that a long time ago.

God gave us the means to apply what we need to our lives. So if we find that we need power, there's an app for that in God's Word. Now you say it with me. If we need grace, there's an app for that. If we need love, hope, endurance . . . (women respond, "There's an app for that.")

We don't have to work for those things. God has already put them in place. But what we do have to do is make a choice to access those things. If Truth had kept running up that hill, she would have just stayed cold. But the solution was already there. She wouldn't have accessed it, and she wouldn't have had it.

In the same way, we walk around as women complaining—and I know, I've done my share of that—about what we don't have, but God has already put it in place. We're just not running to Him to access what He has already given us by His Spirit and through His Word.

God has the supply. Scripture says in verse 10, "It has now been manifested—or made known, it's evident—because Christ has brought all of this to light." Like Paul, after the Damascus road experience, where one minute Paul had no eyes to see—the scales fell from his eyes, and then Paul could clearly see what Christ was calling him to.

Just like Paul, we need new eyes to see and access what Christ has provided for us and to understand our calling. Christ has abolished death and He has, Scripture says, "deposited to our account life and immortality." Now I rarely go through a week—maybe not more than two or three days—where I don't get a message, a text, a phone call, an email, from one of my children, and it goes like this: "Hey Mom, I don't get paid 'til Tuesday, but I have four dollars in my account." This just happened yesterday before I left—"Can you run by the bank and put some money in my account so I can make it 'til Tuesday?"

When you have eight kids that happens a lot. Sometimes it's at 2:00 a.m., like it was last night when my son called me at 2:00 a.m., not remembering that I was in Indianapolis and it was really 3:00 a.m. You know what? What God has deposited in our account is absolutely amazing. Scripture says He has already done it. He has already made the deposit in us, for us.

He has entrusted these truths to us, and as verse 12 says—and I love this verse—"I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that He will guard these deposits that He has made in me, that He is making in my children, until I am with Him." Until then, I need to be a transparent picture of God's deposit in my life, so that they can see God's deposit in their life.

Girls, we can't afford to indulge ourselves in the things of this world instead of understanding the deposit—the treasures—that God has entrusted to us. We need to run to Him, because He already has us covered.

Nancy: That’s my friend Holly Elliff, along with her husband Bill. They’ve been showing parents how to equip their children for the work God has called them to do.

That message is part of a series called “Epicenter: The World-Changing Impact of a Christ-Centered Home.”

They delivered that message at True Woman '12 in Indianapolis, at one of the breakout sessions. At each True Woman Conference, we all meet together for main sessions. But then women can also choose breakout sessions on Friday afternoon that fit with their interest and season of life.

So a lot of those breakout sessions cover practical issues like parenting, marriage, or singleness.

This year we have speakers for the breakout sessions that are new the True Woman Conferences, including Lauren Chandler, Angie Smith, Jani Ortlund, and others. And the plenary speakers will be hosting practical breakouts as well—speakers like Mary Kassian, Janet Parshall, and our sweet friend, Joni Eareckson Tada.

True Woman '14 is coming to Indianapolis this October 9–11. Get all the details at ReviveOurHearts.com, or call 1–800–569–5959.  

Tomorrow, Bill and Holly Elliff will be back with us. Maybe you look at all the challenges in the world and wonder, What can our one family do to make a difference? Bill and Holly will show you the far-reaching effect each family can have. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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