Does God have a plan for your family?

Holly Elliff

Holly Elliff | 10.05.09
Twitter: @TSCMomlink


familyMy kids play a game at sleepovers called Two Truths and a Lie. It’s pretty simple, really. You tell two facts about yourself that are accurate—add one that’s not—and your friends get to guess which one is the lie.

The sad reality about motherhood today is that many times we can’t tell the difference between the truth and the lies that are rampant in our culture. The debate about the value of being a mom has been raging for decades.

It’s pretty evident that when God unveiled His plan in Genesis 2, it was extremely simple. One man, one woman, living as husband and wife and multiplying as they cooperate with God to bring forth, increase, and bear fruit that God called children.

The Lie, of course was perpetrated by Satan. Scripture calls him the deceiver, and he also has a plan. His bottom line is always the same—to create doubt about what God really said and to convince us that if He did say it, He probably didn’t mean it.

God has distinct priorities for us in Scripture that ensure the preservation of His plan. Just for starters, those who claim the name of Christ are to have a home that pictures to the world what Christ is like. We’re to teach our children to love the Word, to follow Christ, and to see His redemptive truth taught in all nations.

And what is Satan’s priority? Simple. To keep us from living out God’s priorities.

Obviously, the pattern God set for us in Scripture—particularly in the realm of how we view children—has been radically altered. Many of these changes have roots in feminist ideology, and we are now experiencing the results of over four decades of moms and potential moms abandoning ship. As Christian women, we have been far more influenced by these philosophical changes in our culture than we realize.

As the door began to swing shut on traditional values, another door began to swing open and birth control, sterilization, and abortion became household words. As we began to de-value children, even the Christian community became numb to where the open door was taking us. Now, almost 50 million abortions later, we wonder how we got to this point.

When one of my sons had pneumonia, the doctor took the before-and-after x-rays and compared them so he could identify even subtle changes. What might happen if we really got honest about what we believe about children and held our current life choices up to the scrutiny of God’s plan? Many Christian homes now mirror the pattern of our culture. We may have more television sets in our homes than children.

Not only are we having fewer children, but as believers, our children are walking away from Christ at an alarming rate. In a statistical study here in America, Thom Rainer in the book The Bridger Generation, states that only 4 percent of those born in the last 30 years are coming to Christ. That means approximately 96 percent of my children’s peers probably will not be governed by biblical values. If nothing changes, and unless there is sweeping revival, the influence of Christ in this nation and the world will shrink—not because the message is impotent, but because there will be so few messengers.

Tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might and the wonders He has done. He established a testimony in Jacob and a law in Israel which He commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God but keep His commandments (Ps. 78:4–7).

Be sure to check out Holly's booklet: "Turning the Tide: Having More Children Who Follow Christ."

Topics: Womanhood


  1. Lord, have mercy on us and all our kin.
    Show us Your Truth in our every day lives.
    Let us, as women, live this Truth before all others with whom we come in contact.
    Grant us Grace and grant us Mercy.
    Thank You, Father above.
    posted by ann
    on Monday, October 5, 2009 at 9:50 am
  2. You are so right. Just keep on encouraging the mothers to stay true to God's Word in all aspects. When it comes to rearing children, it is particularly important to use every means available to put God's Word in their hearts. Help them to live out God's Word through loving but strict guidance. We must rear our children on purpose. A child left to himself will bring his mother shame. As a grandmother of nine I can say that the test of parenting skills is in the grandchildren. When I see my children living their lives on purpose and according to the Bible, and seeing positive results, I could not be more pleased. I guess I will never stop being a mother! The "formative years" never seem to end. I see my grown children (oldest is 39) going through the same things I went through when my children were of the same age as my grandchildren. I can truly say, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth." 3 John 4. Was it easy? No. Is is easy now? No. Satan is still out there spreading falsehood and sending his firery darts. My encouragement is for parents to pray and obey God's Word regardless of what others say or think. Even some Christian books on rearing children are too full of psychology and not enough of God's Word. Stay by the Book, ladies, just stay by the Book.
    posted by Karyl
    on Monday, October 5, 2009 at 10:02 am
  3. Before the time of birth control my grandmother had seven children and my mother was the 6th. My husband's grandmother had 11 children. Neither of these women attained fame but they were women of faith that established godly homes. We are grateful for the spiritual heritage that we have received.
    In the Bible God intervened in the lives of specific women,
    protecting their health and allowing pregnancy--Sarai, Hagar, Rachel, Hannah. I am struck by the fact that these women were dependent on God. In our current culture we have grown to feel that pregnancy and childbirth are solely controlled by medicine and technology.
    My prayer is that we can acknowledge our need for God and seek his ways.
    posted by Carol Van Der Woude
    on Monday, October 5, 2009 at 11:20 am
  4. Among the women in the Bible mentioned I left out Leah. God saw her circumstances and intervened.
    posted by Carol Van Der Woude
    on Monday, October 5, 2009 at 11:24 am
  5. Thanks Holly for practicing what you preach. I have been greatly encouraged by you just knowing you have had eight children. I get discouraged sometimes with people who have had no children encouraging me to be a good mom. I know the Scripture is still the same coming out of their mouth so there is no excuse for not accepting truth from someone no matter what their situation in life . However, it does encourage me to hear someone who's "been there" say "You can do it!"
    Thank you so much for the sacrifices you make to be involved in this ministry.
    posted by Susan McCurdy
    on Monday, October 5, 2009 at 12:20 pm
  6. wow, I think you hit it dead on. We are decieved by satan and made to think that God does not mean what he says. I have to constantly remind myself that God means what he says. He is trustworthy, and if we let go and follow His plan for our lives, I believe that we will find blessings beyond our wildest dreams. I know that I let my fear be fueled by satan and too often I prevent God's blessings.
    posted by sarah
    on Monday, October 5, 2009 at 5:46 pm
  7. Thank you, Holly.

    By God's grace I've embraced the truth about letting God plan our family size, but only more recently (through Nancy's program) have I begun to see the seriousness of the second problem you mentioned -- children walking away from Christ.

    I am starting to have a deeper conviction about passing the baton of truth on to the next generation, and being intentional -- as much as I can -- about discipling my own children. As with so many things God calls us to, I know I am not equal to the task in my own strength, but through obedience, humility, prayer, faith, love, the Word of God, the Holy Spirit, mentoring, persistence, faithfulness... by His grace... I believe I (and others who may need to) can rise up and trust Him to help us! (And yes, bring a revival in our hearts and the hearts of our children, Lord...) Revive Our Hearts has been a tremendous help to me in many if not all areas of parenting, and you have been a blessing, Holly, as an example and mother of 8!

    In His love,
    posted by Leslie S.
    on Monday, October 5, 2009 at 7:36 pm
  8. Oh, how our culture has permeated even the church! I agree whole heartedly. In January my husband and I had our 3rd child. Of course as young adults before we were walking with the Lord our agreement was on the magic number "3". Here we have approached that number and I do not have peace at all that this is it. In our birth control culture and sterilization culture my husband, who is a believer, just doesn't want to wrestle with this issue (he's afraid of having 20 I think he's open to having one more if I say that's what I want, but I so badly want to know what scripture says about this topic. If I went to a pastor I think they would say it's ok to limit your family with sterilzation....and I attend a wonderful bible believing church. Oh can you see how I'm wrestling with this topic? It is a matter of trust and faith in the Lord's soveriegnty. Scripture tells us specifically to be fruitful and was never withdrawn in the new testement, so I think it's still relevant, but what does that mean? Is 3 enough, or do we continue on what is natural?

    Holly, I have looked for some of your past interviews on Revive Our Hearts to see if you give any specifics in this area. I haven't been able to read the transcripts yet, but I would so love to be counseled in this area with the word of God.

    I have rambled and hope I made at least a bit of sense. (There is some urgency in my fingers as I type because my husband is deployed coming home in Nov., so we haven't had to really wrestle with permanent decisions yet, but I know it will come). I do realize that I must submit to my husband if he makes a final decision in this area, but it is definatly a topic I am trying to find my conviction in.

    God bless you ladies.....this was my first post on the true woman blog :).
    posted by Kylie
    on Tuesday, October 6, 2009 at 12:43 am
  9. Holly I am so thankful to you and to the few others along the way who have shown me what the Bible says about families and children. I was very scared when my husband and I decided to quit using birth control. I kept thinking, "but we could have like TEN children!" The Lord has blessed us along the way - it hasn't always been easy, but it has always been enjoyable. I am so thankful for this life the Lord has given me. Now with eleven children, I'm very sad that I'm probably moving past my child bearing years. My whole theme along the way is that God's timing is better than mine, so I accept His plan now, but the thought of no more new babies in my home is not good news to me!

    Something that I've been challenged with lately as a result of Nancy's broadcast is that she mentioned that maybe one of the reasons we're not persecuted in America today is because we don't really speak out for Jesus - there's nothing to persecute! That spoke to me because I know that most people in my church just think that I have all of these children because I love children. I don't speak out about the fact that God also loves children and must be very grieved when we try not to have them. I have reaped the benefits in my life of people like you who have taught me and who were willing to step up and say things that are different from what people are hearing at church - then I've just gone about my business and fit in with everyone else as best I can, without teaching them what I've learned. THANK YOU for not only following the Lord - but also stepping up and helping others to do the same.
    posted by Annie
    on Tuesday, October 6, 2009 at 7:50 am
  10. How we respond to trials show our children the reality of A Risen Savior. I had memorized Scripture by singing made up tunes. Our children can't help but memorize it. As far as many children, God's in control. When I was not a born-again Christian I had our first child. We planned on two. But when our daughter was born I said:"She's such a miracle, I want as many as God will give me!" We had 12 babies born to us. Just having many children doesn't make you spiritual. Us humans are extremely selfish at heart. Thank God for His marvelous grace, mercy & peace.
    We talked about sharing the Gospel earlier. This morning I got this in my e-mail box from Luis Palau;
    "The Basic Gospel

    When you tell people about Jesus, do you ever have a hard time getting down to the basic gospel? Sometimes it's easier to talk about the church or good works than to actually tell someone the gospel. One way to make sure that you have told someone the whole gospel is to break it down into four parts.

    First, your witness for Christ has to include the crucifixion. Since each of us have sinned, we can't make it to heaven without someone paying the consequence of our sin - and that consequence is death. That's why Jesus chose to die - to pay the price for our sin. Second, emphasize the resurrection. If Jesus had stayed dead then the gospel wouldn't be Good News at all. But, Jesus came back from the dead on the third day. Third, they must believe. Acts 16:31 says, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved." And then fourth, they must receive Him by faith, in their hearts, with repentance. Romans 10:9 says, "If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."

    That, my friend, is the basic gospel. When you are telling someone about Jesus, include these four points and you will have shared the content of the good news gospel."
    Good timing :-) Love in Christ, Leslie Dawn Neagle
    posted by Leslie N.
    on Tuesday, October 6, 2009 at 2:27 pm
  11. Kylie, I just know there are many sisters who are praying for you and your husband right now because you had the courage to share. Your post reflects real wisdom and a heart to please the Lord; I believe He will honor that and speak to you.
    My husband and I were where your family is about 10 years ago. After searching God's word and prayer, I could not see the act of preventing a life (birth control) the same way as taking a life (abortion). On one Scripture seemed to be quiet, on the other it was clear. I was left with putting this issue in the area of faith and conscience before God, and praying that God would guide my husband to exercise the measure of faith that had been given him in a way that would please God.
    I can tell you, based on my experience, that your conscience can be at rest if you are willing to walk under the protective umbrella of your husband's authority.
    Lord, please give Kylie the grace and wisdom to express her concerns to her husband. Guide him Lord in the good plans you have to bless their family. Bring trusted cousel into Kylie's life as she searches your Word for herself, and please protect her from all evil and anything that would lead her away from her simple and pure devotion to Christ.
    posted by Allison
    on Tuesday, October 6, 2009 at 2:44 pm
  12. Kylie, wow I appreciate your heart.
    and Allison you have some good guidance.

    I am not sure I would say that scripture is silent on the issue. I think there are principles about the blessing of children, the provision of God, the importance of family etc... that apply here.

    Randy Alcorn has a good booklet about using the pill as Birth Control. It is worth a read! I think the word 'birth control' can be a broad term, and it depends really what you mean by it, and what your attitude is towards having children. Are you doing natural family planning with an attitude of trust in God's blessings? Are you using other forms of birth control because you are opposed to having more kids? Are you somewhere in between?

    I think God wants us to embrace the value of life - all life, and also to embrace His ability to provide for all that we need. I also think there is room for couples to make decisions about family planning, being sure to keep God at the center.

    This is my current opinion - God may change my mind!

    Blessings to you all ladies, I appreciate you!
    posted by Elizabeth Pumphrey
    on Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 1:57 am
  13. I don't think God's Word is silent on this, either. Like Holly said - it's just so simple. God told us what to do in the beginning, and expects us to do it. In the New Testament, it's not commanded, but it's obvious that motherhood is still the expected role of women, that God wants His people to increase, and that God simply loves children (people!). I do also love and agree with what Holly said about how Satan wants to make us question what God really said. And of course he would want us to question this issue - he hates God's children and loves all the things we might choose to have and do rather than raise them.

    Also - IF the Bible were silent on this issue - there are many things the Bible doesn't specifically say are wrong - yet we can take all of our knowledge of who God is and KNOW. Like cloning, implanting eight fertilized eggs into a woman... I'm not thinking we should just go with anything that the Bible doesn't specifically address.

    Holly - I was wondering how your children feel about this issue. So far, my children feel the same way I do. But I do feel a little worried - just worldly cares, I know. I do feel certain that God has a plan in it all and also that we can't go wrong following Him... But my 19 year old daughter has sure lessened the number of available men by speaking out about not ever wanting to use birth control!!
    posted by Annie
    on Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 8:04 am
  14. Kylie,
    I am so glad you had the courage to share your situation and your heart. I think it is awesome that the Lord has burdened your heart for His plan for children and your childbearing and that you are willing to seek Him on this. I thank God that you are willing to place your life as a mother at the feet of our Lord and say, "not my will, but yours, Lord." I know the Lord hears your cries and will not forget your willingness to follow His guidance. Having said that, the Lord is so pleased when you honor His established authority in your life. My encouragement to you would be to pray for the Lord to intervene and work in your husband's heart. Proverbs 21:1 - The king's heart is in the hands of the Lord; He directs it like a watercourse wherever He pleases. Only the Lord can change a man's (and woman's) heart. Allow the Lord to work in your husband's heart in His timing by praying and willingly and lovingly submitting to your husband's leadership in the area of childbearing. The Lord will not forget your pleas, believe me! I will pray for you as you follow our Lord.
    posted by Kelli McDonald
    on Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 10:30 am
  15. Annie, I agree with you that God's Word is not silent on guiding principles that couple's should use as they wrestle with the issue of family size. I don't share your conviction, though, that those principles can only lead to one course of action (no intervention/interference). God does call couples to be fruitful and multiply and to regard their children as a blessing from Him.
    He also calls us to give and share the gospel. What does that look like? I might be obedient and have the right heart attitude (which pleases God) but not share my faith the way another does, or give to the same degree. In those two matters stewardship and accountability principles apply and maturity in Christ plays a role.
    I believe those who've felt led to let God decide how many children they have will be blessed richly on earth and in heaven for their faith and love. And I love that Revive Our Hearts challenges us and makes us examine the areas where we have been unwittingly influenced by our culture! Along with you, Elizabeth, I admit that this post reflects my current understanding, and that God is invited to change my mind.
    posted by Allison
    on Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 4:11 pm
  16. Allison - I'm not sure I really understand what you're saying, although I do think that we know what be fruitful and multiply looks like. We can't tell by looking at others - but we know what it looks like in our own lives. Maybe some other things can look different - like sharing our faith. One might go into full-time missions while another is living out his faith while working in a secular job and volunteering in the community and at church. Although there are different ways to do that, I can tell you that I already have one grown child in China and my second teaches others how to share the gospel and does that locally. I'm so excited to see what the younger children will do for the Lord - but I guess my point is that no matter how I share my faith, thirteen of us will eventually spread out and share it so much more than just two or four of us can. I tithe with my own money. Above and beyond giving might not happen as well for us with so many little ones, but again - one of these days there will be eleven more of us tithing. I'm not out in the work force or anywhere sharing my faith daily - but there's no getting around sharing my faith when I go out with eleven children. People ASK what my faith is! It's wonderful for me to share because I don't feel I'm stepping on any toes or anything - they asked! It has been a perfect example for my children to see that when you follow the Lord, you will be different and people will ask questions. I just can't think of any ministry that we can have for the Lord that would suffer in any way because Christians had more children.

    Again - I may be misunderstanding - but although someone may give more than me, and I share the gospel more than them - that doesn't mean that I quit giving and leave it up to them? Bearing children isn't like a Fruit of the Spirit or anything - it was the very way God told us to live life.

    I agree whole-heartedly that we should let our husbands lead our family. But letting my husband lead doesn't mean that everything he does is right. In the past, my husband has always had a devotional time each night before the kids go to bed. We are not doing that right now. My husband just seems tired and not into that at this time. He is leading, it's fine. We get all of our prayer/Bible time in during the day, yet I miss that time at night. But my point is that it's okay for him to lead us that way - but that doesn't mean that it's right or that I should teach others that it's good to skip their devotional time?? If a man does not want to have more children, the wife will certainly be wise to let him lead - but that doesn't turn the husband's decision a right or Godly decision.
    posted by annie
    on Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 10:39 pm
  17. Thank you ladies for all your encouragement!

    I do not personally believe in birth control that would be prescribed or administrated in a dr's office. I worked in a pregnancy center for awhile when I was younger and the study I did on BC convinced me it was not a good thing. I did however feel it was fine to prevent pregnancy via other means as long as it wasn't potentially harming a life. I am now considering these thoughs so much more since hearing more teaching on it. In our culture we just don't hear these arguements at all....even in the church. It is all new to me in the last year or so. I have thought about many scriptures and they all seem consistent with Gods pro-family stance! (hehe...imagine that..of course God is pro-family..he created the family). Be fruitful and multiply, filling your quiver, on and on..... One set of verses I have considered recently is how God brought death on Tamar's husbands brother because they spilled their semen. This has left me wondering, "What does God think when we do not allow the natural course to take place and we prevent it. This is something, like I said earlier, that I am still wrestling with myself, it's hard for me to know how to share it with my husband. Prayer prayer prayer!!

    Also, I have never had a problem with
    posted by Kylie
    on Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 7:14 pm
  18. I feel like there is no place for me in your prescibed plan.

    You leave out couples who are infertile and can't adopt because of disabilities.

    Didn't God have a plan for us?
    posted by Pat
    on Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 10:45 am
  19. Dear Pat,

    I can understand how you feel. We are hitting motherhood hard this month on the blog, but that's just because we've been walking through each True Woman Manifesto commitment for one month each. This month it just happens to be commitment number eleven: "Receive children as a blessing from the Lord, seeking to train them to love and follow Christ and to consecrate their lives for the sake of His gospel and Kingdom."

    As a single woman, I can assure you that God has a plan for those of us without kids, too! Here's the challenge I issued at the beginning of this month:

    "For those of you (like me) who don’t have kids, don’t think for a second that this will be a month of wading through irrelevant content with your hand over your mouth in a perpetual yawn! All of our lives intersect with parents and kids—and you have more of an impact on them than you might think. I challenge you to get creative and apply what you’re learning—even as we’re talking about the struggle of infertility, adoption, how to read the Bible to kids, and so much more."

    I hope you'll stick with us through this month, Pat. If not, though, I understand.


    posted by Paula Hendricks
    on Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 5:17 pm
  20. Hi girls, I just want to thank you for the gracious way you have responded to each other.

    There are godly, biblical believers all over the spectrum when the issue of birth control is the topic.

    The core issue really is this ~ am I in agreement with the Lord when He declares that children are a blessing and a gift?

    Do I have a belief system that is distinctly different from the world in this area?

    Have I just asked the question- Father, what do you want for OUR family?

    I am not concerned about your belief system being just like mine- I am responsible for the path the Lord has me on. We are called to be women who take any truth we hear and hold it up to the light of God's word. The Lord is certainly big enough to teach, reprove, correct and confirm whatever He desires for each of us.

    I will be praying that the Lord will do just that!

    God bless, Holly
    posted by
    on Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 1:49 am
  21. Pat, thanks for your honest comments. I certainly understand that this is difficult for you.

    My struggle was to release control to the Lord and not fear being pregnant forever. My daughter, Jennifer had a different area where she had to get to faith. Jennifer and Randy were married for six years before the Lord blessed them with children.

    Those years were really hard for her and led to many moments of surrender to circumstances she couldn't control.

    I pray that the Lord wil grant the desires of your heart, in the way that He knows is His perfect plan for your life. God bless, Holly
    posted by
    on Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 1:59 am
  22. I have 7 children b/c we chose to trust God instead of trusting birth control. I don't think it is a sin to use birth control, but I do think it is a sin to decide to limit your family size w/o consulting God. I am mystified as to why one of the posters above felt they had to either have more children or use permanent sterilization. Why not use birth control for awhile & see how God leads you? If you get pregnant using birth control, then God's in charge & you're not! If you don't get pregnant when you're not using birth control, then God's in charge & you're not! I believe much of this is an issue with us struggling w/ the idea that God is sovereign in our lives & trusting Him in ALL things. Having 7 kids is challenging, but now that my youngest is 7, it is a breeze & I would not have it any other way. I feel SO sorry for my friends who are my age & are now facing an empty nest! I have many fun yrs left w/ my kids, 5 of whom are still at home. And when they finally are gone, I am almost guaranteed to have grandchildren! Many wonder why we stopped at 7, & oddly enough, we felt like it was enough, & then a few mos later, I experienced pelvic floor problems that prevented me from having any more kids. At that point, I felt like God confirmed, "You are right--7 is enough for you!"
    posted by LeeAnn Cheeley
    on Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 11:14 am
  23. "It’s pretty evident that when God unveiled His plan in Genesis 2, it was extremely simple. One man, one woman, living as husband and wife and multiplying as they cooperate with God to bring forth, increase, and bear fruit that God called children."

    I totally disagree with this. You are saying that for a married couple to be following "God's plan" they must birth children.

    That leaves an awful lot of couples in a terrible spot - either bring forth "fruit" called children or you are outside "the plan."

    Why would God's words to Adam and Eve be a mandate for all marriages?

    It cannot be, or else God has purposely made it impossible for my husband and I to be part of His plans!
    posted by Pat
    on Tuesday, October 20, 2009 at 1:28 pm

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