May 31

Prodigals AND Pharisees

I am still pluggin’ away at Give Them Grace. (Update: You can read my full review here.)

It is so, so good.

One of the chapters has really stuck with me,  Chapter 4: Jesus Loves All His Little Prodigals and Pharisees. In it, Elyse and Jessica do great job at revealing the need for Jesus in both the child who has a hard time obeying, as well as the “good” little girl or boy. They both desperately need Jesus. The rebellious and the self-righteous. The prodigal and the pharisee. The rule-breaker and the rule-follower.

They encourage us to teach both “types” of children about the grace of God through confession of our own sin:

Consistent, transparent, and specific confession of sin will help children see how their parents struggle with sin in the same ways that they do. (page 71)

So, we must find ways to identify with our children. To the ones who have little self-control, instead of threatening, bribing or trying tactics like “why can’t you be more like so-and-so?”, we search our own hearts for the places in which we lack self-control, and we talk to them about our own sin and try to identify with them. Even mommy needs God’s grace.

…it is good news to younger-brother types who are tempted to turn away from the faith fairly early on because they don’t think that the gospel is for sinners. They think it is for good people who like being “gooder”. (page 71, emphasis mine)

To the proud little “good” girls and boys who have learned to follow the rules well and work the system for their reward, we must be careful not to feed into their self-righteousness and pride. We must be able to identify our own pride and self-righteousness and confess it to our rule-followers.

Specific confession of pride, judging, criticism, envy, and selfish ambition will help Susan understand her own propensities to fail in the same ways, while praising her for being a “good girl” will breed toxic pride in her heart…She won’t recognize her need for the Rescuer… (page 72, emphasis mine)

What a sad day it would be to realize that all our efforts in “Christian” parenting have only bred a bunch of proud, self-glorifying adults who don’t see their need for Christ. The gospel is not good news to them, because they don’t need it like “those sinners” out there on the streets.

My son came home the other day and proudly exclaimed “I stayed on ‘green’ all day today!” The local elementary school uses a color chart to help manage the children’s behavior. Green is good, yellow is ok, red means you have had a bad, bad day, and usually involves the principal. This chapter was heavy on my mind and I could see his pride and his desire for my approval. He then went into telling me how another boy in his class got on “red” because he had been very bad that day.

Instead of praising my son for being a “good” boy, I told him I was excited for him that he stayed on green, then I told him, “Kenneth, I am so thankful that God has given you the grace to stay on green!” Not the response he was looking for, although he still seemed to be “boosted” by my answer. He tried it again a few minutes later- “I stayed on green ALL DAY today!” to which I replied, again “Kenneth, I am so thankful for God’s grace in your life!” Then, when he brought up, again, that the other little boy had been on red, I told him “Kenneth, we need to pray for him, that he would experience the grace of God so that he can be obedient. Did you know that without the grace of God, you would be on red all the time? Mommy would, too. Without God’s grace I would be in trouble all of the time and incredibly disobedient. Aren’t you glad that we have been given the grace of God, so that we can be obedient?”

I just love this. We have has some of these conversations before, where I have suggested that we pray for his friends at school, especially those who get in trouble, and have tried to help him understand that not everyone has a mommy and daddy who live together, or who have the blessings that he has. But, I have left out this focus on grace, and on the reality of where he and I would be without the grace of God in our lives.

If you are a parent, grandparent, or teacher of children of any kind, YOU MUST HAVE THIS BOOK. Crossway has graciously offered to give away a copy to one of my readers!  Here is how to enter:

  1. Check out the book details at
  2. Tweet about this giveaway. Here is a sample tweet you can use: “Free copy of @GiveThemGrace, a must-have book for every Christian parent. #Giveaway by @KatieOrr22 and @CrosswayBooks:
  3. “Share” this giveaway post on Facebook (its easy, just click the “Share” button below to have it sent to your Facebook wall), or share about it in your own words through a status update.

You will be entered to win every time you take action AND leave a comment. If you take multiple actions, be sure to leave a separate comment for each action. Each comment is its own entry, so you can enter up to four times!

Comments will close on Friday evening at 11pm EST and a winner will be chosen and notified on Saturday.

Or, if you can’t wait, order it now! I still plan on making an “official” review, once I have finished reading the book. Here is my full review.

Linked up with Thought Provoking Thursday.


Book Reviews, Family, gospel, grace, Home First, parenting, Reviews

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  1. I would love to read this book! I always need more about the gospel and grace – I need it for myself, as well as for my kids!
    Thanks for a chance to win.

  2. I subscribe to Living Devotionally….great site, thanks so much!

  3. I tweeted. And subscribed. I would facebook it, but my FB friends would question why I’m interested in books in parenting when they don’t yet know I’m pregnant 🙂

  4. I went to Would love to read this book.

  5. I’ve been wanting to read this, so I’m super excited about your giveaway! I checked it out on the Crossway site – awesome!

  6. I didn’t find a fb “like” button, only a “share” button… But, I shared it to my profile!

    1. Ha! You are correct! I changed the wording. Sorry for the confusion! Thanks for entering!

  7. I love how this focuses on relating to our children rather than seeming “better” than them: “we search our own hearts for the places in which we lack self-control, and we talk to them about our own sin and try to identify with them. Even mommy needs God’s grace.” I’ve read about this book in a couple of places now. Excited to read it in the future. Thank you for this opportunity.

  8. I checked it out at crossway and it is on my “to read” list for sure!

  9. Sounds like a great book – visited Crossway. Thanks for the opp!

  10. And I just subscribed to Living Devotionally! I’ve read Do Not Depart but this is my first time here; happy to find you. 🙂

  11. …and I think i just subscribed to livingdevotionally–never done that before so interested to see how it works 🙂

    1. Haha! It is a bit confusing at first. The email subscription is the easiest way. Although once you understand how a reader works, it is really a great time saver, and keeps your inbox from being filled up especially if you are subscribed to more than one blog. Here is more info on RSS feeds:
      Thanks for reading!

  12. Contest entries out of the way, thank you so much for your post–my kindergarten sons school uses the exact same color system and I had never thought of it in the way you so thoughtfully did, only a few days of school left but what a neat way to bring his attention to God’s grace, he has been so smug about his month of Green faces.

  13. I love subscribing to “Living Devotionally”- What a blessing your words are to me- I always find encouragement. Thank-you!! (And I loved your example of talking with your little boy! How wonderful to point him to Christ!!)

  14. I know I would love this book! Thanks for the giveaway!

  15. Love reading about this book on your blog! Doing a bible study on the topic of grace so this topic has been heavy on my heart and mind. I have been trying to reconcile grace in my discipline and correction. Sounds like this book is the answer! Thank you!

  16. Really hoping to win this book! Tweeted, put on fb, and subscribed! All that I’ve read on this book sounds incredibly encouraging! Such great focus!Thanks!

  17. I’m reading this book right now. It’s so revolutionary especially for me coming from a background of perfectionism and legalism. Can’t wait to read more!

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