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A Grace-filled Home: 5 Ideas, with Dane Ortlund

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
March 8, 2023 5:15 am

A Grace-filled Home: 5 Ideas, with Dane Ortlund

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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March 8, 2023 5:15 am

Want ideas for a grace-filled home? Bestselling author Dave Ortlund offers real-life ways to marinate your family in God's scandalous, subversive kindness.

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One thought comes to mind here.

We're talking about grace in the home. What about this? Physical affection, lots of it all the time. Someone said to me recently, you sure hug your kids a lot.

I was like, yes. The phenomenon I have discovered when they hit fifth grade, they stop acting like they want it. So I go in for the hug, fourth grade, they hug back, fifth grade, they go limp. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Ann Wilson.

And I'm Dave Wilson. And you can find us at or on the Family Life app. This is Family Life Today. All right, today's a fun day.

It is fun. We're going to talk about how to apply grace in the home. And I have no idea, so I'm going to let you guys talk about it. You and Dane, we got Dane Ortlund back in the studio. We've been talking about grace, surprised by Jesus, gentle and lowly. You know, I look at you and I think you're the grace-giving, grace expert. Talk to my boys. Talk to my boys. I was going to say, Stacy and your wife of how many years?

Twenty-one. She would say that. I think she would say that. I do, too. You know, especially if you take her to a nice restaurant tonight.

You might have earned a few points. She's a gracious woman. That's why she would say that. Dane, how many years have you been pastoring? Oh, let me see. Not quite two. I got to do all the math here.

Let's see. Yeah, 23 months. You spent how many years at Crossway? Ten years at Crossway.

So you were writing and evaluating literature. What were you doing there? I was playing a lot of ping pong, honestly.

Ping pong, let's go. Crossway is a wonderful place to work. Worked on the Bibles.

Worked with books. It was a lot of fun. A lot of fun. I'm really grateful for my years there. But you've been a dad now, 16 years?

I suppose you're right. 16 years. You're oldest 16?

Yes. Oldest is 16. Five kids, 16 down to six.

Four boys and a girl. All right. And so we've been talking the last couple days about grace. And you've been surprised by Jesus had a lot to do with his heart of grace. So we thought it might be fun to come up with five ideas for a grace-filled home.

Do you have one? I said five ideas. We've got Dane in the studio. I didn't say I was coming up with them.

You're going to see how many he has. We've got the grace expert here. I see how it works there. No, I mean, obviously Ann and I talked a little bit about it. So we thought if you could give us three, we'll give two.

Or if you could give us seven, we'll give zero. Either way, let's have a conversation about it. What's the first one that came to your mind, Dane? The first one that comes to my mind is something you guys said. I think you said it earlier this weekend, namely. No, it had to be me.

Now I'm positive it wasn't you, Dave. We will not pass on what we are not drinking down. We will not be able to communicate except in unconvincing theoretical abstraction what we are not ourselves feeding upon. And you said if we're not finding it in the word ourselves, we won't have anything to pass on. So first things first, I want to be the kind of dad and the kind of husband who whatever else is going on with my kids, with my wife in the home, I am myself.

Oh, guys, it's like when you get on the plane and they say, you know, if the oxygen mask drops down, don't try to put it on your kid first or you're going to put it on yourself first. You need it if you're going to be able to help anyone else. I need the grace of God like a glow in my heart. Not merely true doctrine on paper. Not less than that, but actually a glow. Like the sun gives off both light and warmth. Not only the light of grace, but the warmth of grace alive within me. Then maybe something that comes out in the overflow. That's a word I think you used, Anne. Definitely not, Dave.

I think it was you, Anne. I like that I'm getting the status for anything. The overflow of that. This is how Jonathan Edwards would talk. The overflow of what I'm experiencing is what others are picking up and feeding on.

That's the kind of home I want. That's good. I mean, when you hear that, what do you think? I think, amen. It's really hard to do it. I mean, what I think is, amen, and I feel work. I feel like, do the work. Which means, open the word. And again, it isn't like this magic little vitamin pill, poof, you know, you get it.

But it's like, man, when I immerse and, I mean, I'm sure you feel the same thing. Every time I open the word, I mean, every time, there is something that opens my eyes to the character and the heart of God. Usually through Christ, that I hadn't seen or understood a year ago. That's right.

Absolutely true. And I would say, through the word, and through your life, and through friendships, and through your local church. John Newton's last words, I am a great sinner, truth number one, truth number two, but I have a great Savior. Okay. If I bracket out the first one, I just think, I have such a great Savior, but I don't feel acutely my need for that Savior. I am a great sinner.

I am screwing it up every day, but I have a great Savior. Okay. I want those two twin truths, which are mutually reinforcing, to be alive in my heart.

I'm going to see it in the scripture, mainly. But also, I'm going to see, I just lost my temper with my eight-year-old. Again. And I need to go make that right.

Guess what? I just got a little bit more traction with this truth. I am a great sinner. Therefore, take fresh refuge in, but I have a great Savior.

And let those two truths come together and be spilling outism. I think that right there is what has drawn me to Jesus more than anything. As I was parenting, it brought out so much in me that was so sinful. I just remember thinking, I had no idea I was this angry. I had no idea I was this impatient. I had no idea I was this judgmental of other people.

I mean, so many things came out. I was desperate and so broken that I was running to Jesus. And I remember saying, like, Lord, I'm going to mess these kids up so bad.

There's going to be no hope. And so, I remember thinking, I need to be with Him because I'm so desperate in need of. And I would beat myself up horribly. Terrible mom.

And who is instigating the enemy too? Like, you're a terrible, terrible mom. You are going to mess them up.

They will never walk with Jesus. And it will be all my fault. I mean, all of that, those are words from the enemy. And so, as I would get in the word, I learned how to take my thoughts captive. When I read Romans and I'm laying my life down as a living sacrifice. Oh, Lord, I need to do this 20 times, a million times a day. It just confirmed in me like, oh, the grace has to start exactly as you said, Dane.

It starts with me being with Jesus and Him reminded me, I've paid that for you. Yes, excellent. He, and this is what's so mind-blowing, is you said, He's cheering for me. Right. When I go to Him and say, Lord, I messed up again.

Like, how could I lose my temper? Oh, Anne, I'm with you. I love you. You know, He doesn't condone my sin, but He's forgiven it.

And so, that changes everything. And I would just add as I'm sitting here listening to you, before we go to the other four from Dane. No, here's what I would say. I wonder what you feel, Dane, about Stacy, about Anne.

She lives this. Yes. And I've watched you.

Because I'm desperate. No, I mean, when you were saying that, I was thinking, man, when we were first married, even when we first had kids, this is 30, how old is 36? So 36 years ago, we weren't very good at grace. No. We were good at law.

And there has to be rules. And I'm not saying that, but I've watched you 16 years now, one year Bible. Every time I walk into the kitchen, there you are with the Word of God, many times on your knees, hands raised, worshiping God. And you are a grace giver. You've given me grace I do not deserve. You model. Oh, Dave, but I didn't. You know how bad I was.

Hey, you know what? Just say thank you. Oh, thanks, hun.

There you go. I'm trying to give a compliment here. Thank you. How right you are, Dave. I have felt so loved by you, and it's getting better and better. Me too, Dave. And I feel like I've gotten worse and worse.

I know. You have loved me and given me more grace. All right, so that's one, and we're already rolling here. Well, you guys have reminded me of another. I mean, Anne, when you were just saying when we're losing our temper, when we keep screwing up, and I'm thinking, I wish I had an 18-year prototype being a dad and then really do the thing. You only can do it one time. It's called grandkids.

What about this real nitty gritty? Okay, I just lost my temper again. I need to own that to my child in a redemptive way and in a healthy way. But if I screw up and they know I've screwed up and then I walk through the kitchen acting like nothing has happened, that has to have a hardening effect on them. But if I will pull them aside and say, I really lost it there, didn't I?

If I could do that over again, I would handle that differently. I am so sorry. No, I'm sorry if you felt. That's not an apology. That's an I'm sorry that you're so weak.

No, no, that's an insult. Clothed as an apology. I am so sorry. Will you please forgive me?

Can we try again? Or whatever makes sense in your family's culture. So they're thinking, okay, we don't all have to walk around in this home putting up a front or like a bubble that might burst at any moment if I screw up. We're all going to make mistakes and we're going to let there be free flowing requests for forgiveness and extending it. And we're basically taking the gospel of grace that we teach them in our scripture around the dinner table. We're taking that gospel and we're flopping it on its side. And therefore, we're making them experience horizontally what we want them to believe vertically. So I believe and I want to grow in modeling this, guys, in doing this.

Stacey has to do this less than I do in apologizing when appropriate regularly to my kids. That's big. I coached high school football at the local high school for 10 years. And one of the reasons I wanted to do it is I really had a passion to see boys become men. And we had a chapel service, public high school, every Thursday night that I got to speak at.

But my three sons were going to all go through there. So I was not only going to be a coach, but I'd get to be with my boys. And as short as I can make this, Dane, what happened in a playoff game, we were pretty good. We won state title. We went to many playoff games. I get a flag from the ref, because we scored a touchdown on a guy, as our players handed the ball to the ref, takes his knees out, like eight yards back of the end zone, five seconds after the play.

And they had been doing stuff the whole game. And so the sideline ref standing right beside me, I go, what was that? And he goes, what?

I go, you got to be kidding me? You're not going to do anything about that? He throws a flag on me. You can't get a flag on the sideline. And we had told our kids, you never do anything. And so the head coach comes over to me and goes, dude, what did you say? I could get thrown out and not coached next weekend. You don't go back to the yard. Dude, I just said, what was that? He goes, yeah, sure you did. Well, the next day, Saturday morning, we're watching film, the whole team.

I got 60, 70 kids in there. And everybody thinks the coach-pastor cursed. Because why would they throw a flag? So I get up in front of the team and I go, I need to apologize. I'm going to be honest. I did not curse.

I know that's the rumor. Even parents were saying Coach Wilson cursed. I go, I'd tell you if I did, I just, I said something wrong and I was wrong. And I am sorry. And I should have never done that. And we've told you kids never do that.

I own that. I've had kids since then, decades later, say, I don't remember a thing you coached. I remember that confession. That apology was what they remember.

That is what our kids remember. Such an important thing to do in a grace-filled home. Okay, Ann, your turn. We're talking about five things that we want to fill our home with grace. I think in looking back, often in disciplining our kids, I'm the one that apologized more, Dane.

Dave, he would seldom fly off the handle. I would get to- No, I just heard she said, I don't apologize. No, no, no. I'm sorry. You didn't need to. Didn't need to. That's what you meant. No, you didn't need to. Good recovery there.

There you go. Because I'm the one that would usually blow up or get mad or I would just, and the way I say it is, I reacted much more often than responding with grace. I would hear something and I would just go crazy like, what, are you kidding me? And then I'd be blowing up and they like, oh, here she goes. It was comical sometimes.

She got pretty hot sometimes. Probably. But I wish now a grace-filled home, and not that we'll ever do this perfectly, but I think now that I've grown in understanding the grace of the gospel, I would take a breath. And why would I be surprised they're going to mess up?

I'd mess up all the time. So take a breath, say a prayer and try to respond rather than react to the situation. Because I think what I often did was I was looking at their behavior rather than looking at the heart and what was going on underneath.

Love that. So I think that one, when you turn to grace, you go deeper into, why was I so concerned about their behavior and reacting? I was reacting because I was afraid of what people would think of me. I was living in fear of what they might do in the long run.

And there's not a trust in Jesus in that. And so to get to their hearts and say, tell me what's going on, that feels like a grace-filled home to me. Yes. What do you think? Yeah, I was just thinking, you know, one of the things, Dane, about having adult kids is they come tell you these things that they didn't like.

Oh, thanks for giving me something to look forward to. There you go. I mean, that's what one of our sons said is, you cared more about our behavior than our heart. They said that to me. And that was a good- It was a great word.

It was true. You know, and it's like if you could stop for a second instead of reacting, just say, what would grace look like in this moment? And respond that way. Well, of what's going on in their heart that would lead them to this action? That's right.

Yes. And that's, man, as a parent, that's where we need Jesus, like, Lord, calm my heart. I'm thinking of the fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, and peace, right there. Those three, if I could apply that in my parenting role- Kindness, patience, goodness, gentleness.

Self-control. Right. That could change a lot. All right, Dane, you have another thing you would bring into a grace-filled home? Sure, I'll mention something. I just want to say amen to what you both were just saying there.

It's really profound. I can change his actions. I can make his will bend. I can bend his will.

You will say I'm sorry to your mother. Oh, that's true. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Sorry, Mom. Oh, you are just oozing love and respect there, buddy. But how to get down to the heart.

I'm still figuring out how to do that, but I just agree with you. You know, one thought comes to mind here. We're talking about grace in the home. What about this? Physical affection.

Now, just hang on here. Physical affection, lots of it all the time. Someone said to me recently, you sure hug your kids a lot.

I was like, yes. And it's boys and girls. I used to say girls and boys. Physical affection. The phenomenon I have discovered, three of my boys are fifth grade or older. When they hit fifth grade, they stop acting like they want it. So I go in for the hug. Fourth grade, they hug back. Fifth grade, they go limp.

Really? Oh, you're getting too close, Dad. I wonder if actually they need it in that moment all the more. Physical affection.

I mean, psychiatrists can tell us neurologically and physiologically and psychologically, certain things are clicking into place that will make them a more balanced 65-year-old one day when we are in healthy ways physically showing affection to our kids and showing them. I love the way my friend Paul Zall defines grace. He says grace is one-way love. Law is two-way love.

Love me, I love you. Grace is one-way love, like a one-way road. When I go up to Chloe or Ben or Jeremiah and just sweep them up, give them a, they are just, you know, give them so many smooches on the cheek. They can't stand it, but they are feeling loved.

And I remember feeling this from my dad, who's a very physically affectionate guy. They are experiencing one-way love, which is grace. They did not go and do something. I'll hug them when they do something good too. But just because they were existing, they were playing checkers. They were eating cereal.

They were walking in from school with their backpack. And your heart explodes with love and affection. So physically and healthy way express that. I think they experienced that as love and grace. It's so good because what happens is as teenagers, when they go limp, we think, they don't need it anymore.

They don't want it anymore. And so we get our feelings hurt. And so then we pull away. We get passive.

We pull back. I was thinking about, I have sexual abuse in my background. My dad was very appropriate.

The abuse happened outside the home. And I remember being eight years old, saying to my dad, as I was getting ready to go to bed, say goodnight to everyone. And I remember saying, I'm probably too old now to kiss and hug you goodnight.

And he said, you probably are. And he meant it well. And I remember I went into my bedroom and I was so sad. It was the only time that love was expressed physically in an appropriate way.

The only time. And I lost it from there on out. And so I look at that, Dane, I think, oh. I think a lot of parents are listening thinking, oh, yeah. And dads especially.

Because it's easy for dads not to. And I found, Dane, I don't know if you have, you know, we had three sons. When they were little boys, I'd crawl in bed with them. I'd hug them. We'd lay there and read scripture together as five-year-olds, six-year-olds. When they were middle school, I remember it feeling uncomfortable for me. It's like, hey, my face is touching their face and there's a beard there.

And it was like, ooh, rather than awesome. And I want to say what you're saying. Every dad, break through that barrier.

Yes. Hug your son. Hug your daughter.

Don't ever stop. That's a grace embrace. It is.

You know. I'm 43. My dad is 72. To this day, when I walk into my parents' home in Franklin, Tennessee, he gives me a big hug. Maybe it lasts a few seconds too long. I'm kidding. It's a real hug. Like, most of the men at my church, when I give them a hug, we're both kind of like, okay, let's release really fast here before this gets awkward. It's kind of sad, isn't it? Yeah.

Give a good hug and, like, you're communicating, I have sincere affection for you. We're embodied creatures. We're not spirits only.

And God made us for that. Yeah, I was thinking, there's no hugs in law. No.

When you're living by law. No, it's a point of finger. Yeah, you get a hug if you obey, but grace, the embrace of grace is a hug because.

Yes, it is. Because you're made in the image of God. Because you're loved. You're my son.

Okay, do you have one? Prayer. And here's what I mean by that. I decided the day our oldest son was born, and we've said this here many times, that I was going to fast one day a week for my son. I'm going to pray for his wife someday, and he'll be a man of God someday.

He's a baby. And I thought I'd do it for about a month. I've done it 36 years, pretty much every Friday. And when I did their weddings as the dad and the pastor, I'm looking at this young woman thinking, I prayed for her before she was born.

Didn't know her name, but whatever. So I thought if you commit your family and your kids to say, I am going to be like war-like, battle-like in prayer for them, that's bringing grace in the home. I love that. Because it's hard to pray for your kids and then just be a law-giving dad all the time. It's like, no, if I'm connecting with the Father, I'm receiving grace from the Father, I want to impart that to my kids. And I think it's really easy to pray little trite prayers for your kids rather than saying, no, no, no, I'm going to go to a battle for them and ask God to really do something remarkable in them all the days of their life. Thou art coming to a king, large petitions with thee bring. For his grace and power are such, none can ever ask too much.

I forget if that was Newton or who that was. I love what you just said, Dave. Prayer is grace, isn't it? Because you're doing it on behalf of another.

Right, right. They're not praying for themselves. Hopefully they're doing that too. You're doing something on their behalf. That is pure grace. Yeah, it's an act of grace.

Yes. That's beautiful. Yeah, I remember meeting with older dads when I was a young dad and I literally asked them to go to lunch because I saw their teenage kids and thought, if my son looks like that, acts like that, they must be doing something.

And the thing I heard from many dads was, I pray like crazy for these kids. I'm helped by that. So that's grace. Excellent. All right, we've got a couple minutes left.

Dane, I guess we're going to throw it to you. Oh my goodness. Well, guys, I love what you both are saying. I guess one other thought that comes to mind is, and here I'm really thinking of the really young ones. You know, the ones who are looking back at you out of their crib or you're feeding them and they're flinging the mac and cheese onto the floor. Understand that you as a mom, as a dad, are actually telling them what God is like. You are creating pathways in their mind and heart to be able to receive what God is like. So that as you rejoice in them and enjoy them, my dad puts it this way, our kids receive enjoyment as love. If you enjoy them, they receive that as love.

If you just say, I love you, but then you enjoy other things or other people, they don't actually believe that you love them. If you enjoy them, if you smile at them, if you rejoice over them, they will grow up to believe that the love and grace of God is a believable reality because they got it in microcosm from an actual flesh and blood individual. It must be very hard for orphans or others who grow up, anyone who grows up in a cold home to really believe that there is a God, a heavenly father who's not like my father. So let's be dads and moms who make the real God believable by the way we love them and the tone and culture we set in the home. What a reassuring word for young moms and dads who are just hanging on by a thread. We've been there. You guys have been there.

We have too and we're watching our kids do with their young ones. You feel like nothing matters, like I'm not doing anything. It does feel that way.

It feels futile. I love that as your kids are looking into their eyes and you're enjoying them and it's an act of worship and they're seeing the love of a father and a love of a mother that's beautiful. Yeah, Dane, when you said that, all I could see was a smile. Yes. And I thought grace is a smile. Bingo. Love that. You know, if they're walking in and I know you're mad and you're frustrated and if you can just muster up a smile, that's what he's doing when he sees us. Yes.

And I know we don't believe that. No. Every time. Especially in the middle of our sin, he's like, I'm still smiling. I still love you.

Yes. I still embrace you. I know what you've done and it doesn't change anything. It's like, how is that possible? If we could communicate that.

It's the beauty of the gospel. I tell you what, you do that. You do that. Oh, you do that. You both do that. I want to do it like you do when our grandkids walk, I mean, when Bryce walks in, when Olive walks in. I may do it with them well, but I don't do it with you as well.

That's true. No, that's a good action for me. No, you do it with me. You really do. Thanks, Dane.

Dane, this has been Rich. Thank you. It is so fun talking with you both. Thank you.

You're listening to Dave and Anne Wilson with Dane Ortlund on Family Life Today. You do it, right? No, I do it. Do you smile?

Maybe you do it. Well, Dane, if he smiles or not, his book is called Surprised by Jesus, Subversive Grace in the Four Gospels. We'll send you two copies as our thanks when you partner financially with us at That's one copy for you and one to give away.

You can get your copies when you give at or by calling 800-358-6329. That's 800, F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. So if you enjoyed the conversation with Dane today, and I don't know how you couldn't have enjoyed that, you won't want to miss the 2024 Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise, where Dane is actually going to be one of our speakers for the whole week on the boat. You know, our biggest sale is happening right now. You can join us next February in the Caribbean with many of your favorite Christian speakers and artists for a romantic week you won't forget. I've actually been on this cruise before.

There is absolutely nothing like it. I can guarantee that. You can learn more at

Find out all the details about next February's cruise. Okay, so maybe you're personally in a different situation. Maybe you're in a blended family and you might be thinking, grace? What grace? Well, that's an important question. And I invite you to join us tomorrow where you'll hear from the expert Ron Deal on the grace and forgiveness God gives specifically in blended families. You won't want to miss that. On behalf of David Ann Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
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