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Why brokenness matters

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One of the sad parts of full time ministry is the regular bombardment of bad news. Although, I’m rarely the first to know, I often hear stories of failed marriages, battles with cancer, struggles with sin, or even wayward children.

Brokenness is all around us. One minute into the evening news shows us the affects of sin from every part of the globe.
Unfortunately, that bad news doesn’t contain itself to other countries or even other churches. It’s readily available in our own living rooms and church pews.

So, the question has to be asked. If brokenness is so rampant, what are we supposed to do with it? Do we ignore it and put on a plastic smile? Do we take pride in it, because it makes us like everyone else? Do we simply ignore it?

Let’s take a look together at why brokenness matters in the life of the believer. 

why-brokenness-matters

  1. All brokenness brings pain. 

From medical diagnoses to adultery, the fractured pieces of our lives bring pain to both ourselves and those around us. It’s inevitable.

If a husband is diagnosed with a rare, incurable disease, his wife and children are also greatly affected.

If a wife is unfaithful to her spouse, the infection of that sin spreads to her children, extended family, friendships, etc.

The phrase “no man is an island” is particularly applicable here. Brokenness cannot stay contained to one person. Psalm 37:39 says,

“But all sinners will be destroyed; there will be no future for the wicked”

The first failure in the Garden of  Eden had gigantic repercussions. Included in the deception of the snake was a forgetfulness of the long stretching effects of sin. Eve was only thinking about her own opportunity for greatness and Adam was only intrigued by what God might be withholding from them through His “don’t eat” rule. Neither comprehended the pain that would be brought upon thousands of generations to come after a simple bite of fruit.

          2. All brokenness brings shame 

I can still smell the musty carpet in the church nursery turned 6th grade classroom. Mrs. Cook had just left the room with a warning to keep our mouths closed and our bodies in our chairs. Usually, the teacher’s pet, I didn’t initially plan on disobeying, but my best friend really needed to know the plans for our afternoon recess. I spoke a few words as quickly and quietly as possible before our teacher appeared in the doorway.

“Who talked while I was gone?” she asked as soon as she returned. About a dozen hands sheepishly lifted into the air which earned them the current classroom consequence. My hand was not one of them.

Immediately, my heart was filled with the heaviness of shame.

I had talked. I had disobeyed. I had sinned. And I deserved the full punishment for it!

The story has several other elements including a tearful admission and apology to Mrs. Cook three days later and the most beautiful illustration of forgiveness I had experienced in my short 11 years, but I will never forget the agony of guilt that followed me after my lie.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t the last time I would experience shame after sin. It attacks us immediately after any failure big or small. It comes after eating one too many brownies to losing your cool with your four year old again. It can even rear its ugly head at unintentional brokenness. We experience guilt at our failure to solve world hunger and our lack of time to bring that new mom a meal.

Our shame causes us to hide just like Adam and Eve after their disobedience. Shame feels terrible so we sew together parts of our personality and lifestyle to cover the true state of our hearts. We act strong and unaffected by our brokenness, hoping that others won’t notice. We laugh at our failures while all the time cringing inside at our lack of perfection. We shift the blame to others to minimize our own faults.

Shame leaves us feeling hopeless which is why the next point is so important.

          3. All brokenness brings hope

The effects of sin in the world and in our own hearts, bring us to the end of ourselves. Our search to find strength and resilience inside consistently comes up short leading us to look to something bigger outside of ourselves.

It won’t be found in “Inspirational Books” section of Barnes & Noble and it might not be the verse your friends quote to you when you share your shortcomings and needs at small group, but it is the answer and hope to the brokenness surrounding each one of us.

I will put enmity between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
    and you shall bruise his heel.”

Genesis 3:15

In the middle of verses depicting the desperation of human nature, we find a glorious hope in these few words. Adam and Eve had messed up and were hiding in their shame (as we can so easily relate). The Serpent seemed to have gotten his way and the beautiful life of the Garden was quickly wilting. God gives a glimpse of the future when a Rescuer, a Messiah, would come to bruise Satan’s head conquering Him and ending his dominion.

The Gospel Transformation Bible sums up the hope offered in the middle of this fresh brokenness:

Though the corruptions of sin quickly infect humanity, grace is displayed for Adam’s and Eve’s descendants (“offspring” or “seed”): there is a seed despite Adam’s and Eve’s sin ; there is a means to relate to God despite sin; there is protection for a murdered despite sin; there is warning of the corruption of sin and at the same time indication of the faithfulness of God to provide the “seed” for sinners. 

In other words, there is salvation in the shattered world we experience each day through sickness, sin, and corruption. The Second Adam restores the life that was lost to Satan and offers victory and peace. While we still battle the flesh and its evil effects, we will one day reign with Him as rulers over a once again perfect Earth.

Because of this hope, don’t downplay your brokenness. Don’t hide behind the facade of independence. Don’t wallow in your shame.

Instead rest in Jesus’ perfection. Hide in His work on your behalf. Rejoice in His victory.

Wait expectantly for the day when all brokenness will be replaced with unblemished wholeness forever.

Fresh Out of Amazing {a review}

ListenonitunesYou may define that feeling as….

Burnt-out.

Exhausted.

Drained.

Stressed.

Weary.

My sweet friend, Stacey, calls it “fresh out of amazing”.

No matter the name, we can all identify with the hopeless places in which we find ourselves throughout this journey called life. From chaotic grocery store trips with small children to the agonizing pain of a cancer diagnosis, we have all experienced the loneliness and despair in those moments.

That’s why I’m so thankful for the honest reflection and gentle encouragement that Stacey offers in her new book aptly titled, Fresh Out of Amazing.

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The book is divided into two sections. Part 1 introduces us to five different “fresh out of amazing girls”. Before she begins, however, she reminds of the faithfulness of our Father to begin AND finish the heart renovations He is accomplishing in our lives. He promises to give His perfect grace and complete the work with an infinite eternal view. This was such an important reminder at the start of the book.

I would have to admit that I saw glimpses of myself in each one of the weary women Stacey describes, but my heart was especially challenged and encouraged by the chapter, “Burdened and Busy”. Stacey used Martha, the distracted servant, as an example of a woman who was busy but didn’t need to be burdened because Jesus offered to carry that load for her. Stacy says, “A heart full of duty is no comparison to a heart full of devotion”. She also points out a beautiful transformation in Martha’s life when later in her story we see her actively seeking her Lord in the midst of her brother’s death. She had learned to seek the “better thing”.

In the second half of the book Stacey invites the readers to “gaze into the heart of Jesus”. She spends time explaining practical ways to rest in the burden-carrying grace Christ offers. My heart was especially touched by Chapter 10: Worship – Even If…..I Still Will. Based on an earlier discussion from Habakkuk’s message, she emphasizes his powerful words, “The righteous will live by faith” which is quoted later on in Scripture. We worship our God by reflecting on His faithfulness and waiting in silent expectation for Him. “Sometimes the bravest thing we can do is worship God.”

Stacey includes a mini-challenge and study guide for small groups at the end of the book for those readers who would like to dig deeper. This book is perfectly laid out for a book club discussion. In the midst of real and raw confessions and “fresh out of amazing” stories, Stacey does a wonderful job of pointing our eyes to the One who is always and forever amazing. I thank God for laying these words on her heart and for her bravery in sharing them with us!

Find out more about Stacey and her newest book (Coming September 2016) at freshoutofamazing.com

Pre-order your own copy on Amazon and receive the first 6 chapters right away!

**I was given a free advanced reader’s copy to read and review. These thoughts are completely my own.

Training wheels {and why a believer doesn’t need them}

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Our family has officially fallen in love with bike riding.

From bumpy neighborhood sidewalks to secluded trails, we have been busy exploring our town on wheels this summer.

Our oldest son is quickly becoming a master cyclist and our toddler enjoys the view over my shoulders from her carrier seat. Our middle son, however, is still very dependent on his training wheels. This is not necessarily a problem for a four year old, however one of these small wheels gave us significant issues on many of our rides. The screw would loosen causing the wheel to tilt and turn resulting in his inability to balance. The poor guy wanted to ride like his older brother but was restricted by his dependence on the inconsistent third wheel. True freedom will come for him in another summer or two when he can throw away the “help” of the training wheels and balance on the two tires created for riding.

Training Wheels

I find myself often leaning on alternative “wheels” on this ride of life. Finding balance and freedom in the gospel alone seems scary. Certainly, I need something more than Christ’s work to effectively complete the trail in front of me.

So I strap on the training wheels of affirmation. If others approve of my work and support my endeavors, I will be successful. My work is only meaningful after all if others appreciate it.

I tighten the screws on the training wheels of perfection. Sure I will never be perfect enough to gain eternal favor with a holy God, but I need to get as close to flawless as possible in my everyday work. When I fail, it’s just a sign that I need to try harder next time.

I lean on the training wheels of worry. Someone needs to think through every scenario and outcome. There are so many details that could go wrong. If I can circumvent just a few of them, my ride will be smoother.

Unfortunately these wheels (along with dozens more) are just like my son’s tilting bike. They are broken and offer no true or lasting support.

Affirmation leaves me craving more and more attention from others. I act hypocritically because my actions are based on another’s opinion of me. I waste precious time in a conflicted state between slavery to others and slavery to Christ.

Perfection leaves me weary. My attempts to hide my shortcomings and to reach an unattainable ideal are exhausting and endless. My day begins with mistakes and ends with failures. I have convinced myself that if I work hard enough I will muster up my own version of holiness.

Worry wears me out too. My mind dwells on the cares of this life leading to discouragement and dismay. The beautiful goals and plans that seem to answer the worry crumble all too easily.

The truth is that as a believer, as a redeemed daughter of God, I don’t need spiritual training wheels. Anything less than the truth, love, forgiveness, and unfathomable grace found in the gospel of Jesus will not give me the support I need to finish the race.

Here’s even better news.  My son needs help learning to balance until he is physically strong enough to ride like his older brother. This is not so for the believer. At salvation we receive the glorious benefits of Christ’s work on our behalf and from that moment forward, we have the complete enabling of the Spirit. Our growth depends not on our own strength and fortitude, but on our increased dependence on the unchanging truths of the gospel.

I can receive disapproving comments from others because I stand approved eternally before my Father.

I can fail on a daily basis because the ultimate work has been completed perfectly for me in Christ’s death and resurrection.

I can cast all my cares on Him because He cared enough to rescue my dead soul for His glory.

Friends, take off your spiritual training wheels (they will never stand up to the task anyway), and lean on the everlasting, all-powerful work of the Savior. You will enjoy the ride so much more if you do!

Spiritual Sticky Notes

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When I was in Jr. High my Sunday School teacher helped us make little prayer journals to use in our quiet time with God. It had sections for new requests, ongoing requests, and then one for answered prayer.

stickynotes

I didn’t think about it much at the time (I was a 13 year old girl after all), but that “answered prayer” section and what it represents could be vital to my relationship with the Lord.

Why? Because I’m ridiculously forgetful. I’m not just talking about the “Where are my keys?” and “Why did I walk into this room?” kind of forgetfulness. This is a mindset that plagues my walk with Christ by feeding insecurities and doubts of His faithfulness.
I’ve had conversation after conversation with my much wiser husband about my frustrations with answered prayer. I complain that my prayers feel like they’re hitting the so-called ceiling. These are the kind of talks that you wouldn’t expect to hear from your pastor’s wife.

“God just NEVER clearly answers me.”
“I just wish God would write His plans in the sky for me to follow!” 
“I feel like God is so far away!”

Those ideas can spin out of control quickly leading to some pretty depressing and self-focused thoughts. That’s why it’s so important to document even the smallest answers from my Father.

One day, I was in the middle of cooking dinner when I decided to thank God for a small leading in my life and to ask for His continued blessing in a couple specific areas. It was a prayer lasting maybe two minutes before my thoughts went back to the food before me.
Later in the evening, I hopped on Twitter and found a direct message from an old blogging friend confirming EXACTLY what I had asked God for at EXACTLY the time I was praying in the kitchen! I couldn’t believe it!

My smallest and most insignificant requests are heard and answered specifically by a sovereign God!

I love what Colossians 4:2 says,
 Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.

Paul reminds us to be watchful for God’s smallest answers with a spirit of thankfulness. I know I can’t be completely alone in my spiritual forgetfulness. Why else would we find verses like I Corinthians 15:1?
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand…….

stickynotesquote

It’s critical to leave ourselves spiritual sticky notes as a reminder of the deep riches we have in Christ and the answers our Heavenly Father readily gives to our prayers. Without them we will forget the goodness of our God and step quickly into a realm of amnesia-induced distrust. 

Do you keep a journal, blog, or other source to keep track of even the smallest answers to prayer? I’m attempting to be more consistent in “remembering” the small things and I’d love to hear your experiences with praying and receiving answers! Share in the comments section below!

No Time for Quiet Time

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Shortly after the birth of one of my children, I was commiserating with a few friends at small group. Two of them had newborns and one had three small foster children. We discussed the difficulty that we seem to face as mothers when it comes to our time with God.

When moms are sleep deprived and off-schedule, it can be extremely difficult to find a steady quiet time with God. The cycle continues when we go several days (or even weeks) without that communion causing us to feel even more discouraged and malnourished spiritually.

I’ve noticed that this same thing can happen even without newborns in the house. A bad night’s sleep, a busy week, or poor time-management can throw us off schedule more often than we’d like.

No time for quiet time
So! What’s a mommy to do? Here’s a few ideas that may help:

1. As soon as possible, create a daily schedule. 
During the first few weeks after a sweet baby arrives, it’s virtually impossible to plan out a day. An exploding diaper or colicky little one can wreak havoc on a schedule.
After a couple months, though, it becomes a little easier to get into a routine. I’ve found that it helps me to write out a daily schedule and post it on the fridge until it becomes a habit. (Yes, my dear husband makes fun of me for this OCD move).
Start by scheduling a 15-20 minute time exclusively for your time with God. Hopefully, this time can grow later on, but at least you have it carved out of your day.
Stick to your schedule as closely as possible remembering that flexibility is necessary on certain days. What seems a little forced at first, soon becomes a regular, special part of your day.

2. Spend time with God wherever and whenever possible. 

Unfortunately, I find that my quiet prayer time can get interrupted quickly so I have some backup quiet spots: the shower (not foolproof) and the kitchen sink.
In the 10 minutes or so I spend in each respective location God and I can catch up a little bit.
I’ve been surprised at the things He’s spoken to my heart during these short conversations.

3. Use technology.

I love technology. I use my laptop, iPad, and phone regularly to strengthen my faith. I have used several Bible reading plans on the YouVersion app. If I get behind, I can easily adjust my reading to catch up.
I also listen to sermons and podcasts on my phone or iPad while I do other housekeeping duties. It’s a great way to preach grace to myself while also checking things off my to-do list. Find some of my favorite podcasts on the Resources page.

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Whatever you find works for you in the craziness of motherhood, remember this:

Our God isn’t limited to a living room recliner and a 1 hour minimum to speak to our hearts. You may be surprised at what He uses to comfort, encourage, and challenge you.
Please don’t feel guilty for not reaching certain standards in your devotion time with Him.

Christ completed a perfect relationship with His Father for us so we can enjoy the freedom to approach God even in imperfect circumstances.

Where to turn when you’re out of strength…

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“Just keep moving, Rachel….”

My sister had dragged me into exercising with her once again. While she still energetically ran in place, I begged her to let me sit down. My legs felt like jelly and I was sure I must be ready to pass out! I thought I might die!

“It’s okay if you don’t do the jumping jacks. Just walk in place instead. Whatever you do, don’t stop moving.”

Obviously, I survived that tortuous workout and several others over the years. I have followed the advice of many fitness gurus to “find my why” in working out. I know that my health is important to my family, so I never exercise because I really want to, but because I know it’s good for me.

Other than shaking quads and burning biceps, one of the biggest deterrents to regular exercise is the inevitable loss of energy. I usually start off determined and strong, but it never lasts. Shortly into the workout, my jumps are lower and my squats are higher. I want to be toned and healthy, but I convince myself, that I’m not strong enough to finish. I don’t have the power to push through the pain.

I know I’m not be alone in this stamina issue. Fitness companies offer pre-workout drinks and Pinterest is packed with links to pre-workout snacks. We all want to be able to push through and finish our workouts so we can experience the post-sweat high of accomplishment.

WhenYou'reOutofStrength

In the Bible, our call as believers to live both holy and loving lives is equated with physical strain too. The author of Hebrews penned these famous words, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…”

Perseverance.

Stamina.

Resolution.

We are told in Scripture to run lives committed to Christ and free from unnecessary burdens or wrongdoing, but where do we find the energy to complete such a task? Any effort dependent on our own fortitude will never last. Our spiritual legs weaken and we struggle to catch a breath in between all the serving, giving, reading,and praying. We simply lack the energy to even jog on our own. We need nourishment for our exhausted spiritual muscles.

Now, this is only a short blog post and many have written entire commentaries on the book of Hebrews, but it is interesting to note that this well-known and much quoted verse in Hebrews comes after eleven chapters outlining the beauty and sufficiency of our Savior. The author takes his readers on a journey through Hebrew history, pointing to the innumerable ways that Jesus is better that the traditions and commandments they held so dear. Each chapter is full of doctrinal truths such as redemption, substitution, and sacrifice. In other words, it is the endurance of Christ that offers us sustaining hope as we run.

This is why the study of theology is so vitally important. Truly grasping the truths of the gospel and God’s story of redemption throughout time never stops with head knowledge. It always translates into the motivation to press on in our walk.

Consider these passages written by Paul.

“For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God,who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.” I Timothy 4:10

“For this I toil, struggling with all HIS energy that he powerfully works within me.” Colossians 1:28

TheologyFuel

Christ is both the motivation and the strength for the work we are called to do. When I am enamored with Christ and His work, I am empowered to live a life that reflects Him to those around me.

In other words, Scriptural knowledge is of no help when we simply become spiritually obese. When we allow theological truth to do its work in our hearts (even when it’s painful), it becomes the fuel we need to continue steadfastly in the faith.

 

 

Blotch {a giveaway}…

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She shook her tiny toddler finger in my face and scowled. “Stop,” she commanded with all the authority she could muster. My mouth fell open. How had she learned to be so bossy, so demanding?

The truth is that I shouldn’t have been the least surprised. After three children, I’ve clearly seen how early and naturally sin manifests itself.  As my husband said while holding each of our newborn babies for the first time, “What a cute little sinner”.

In order to correctly teach the doctrine of sin to our kids, we must reinforce the fact that we are inherently or naturally sinners from the time of our conception. It is that original sin that then reveals itself in wrong behaviors and attitudes. In other words, we fail to meet God’s perfect standards before we have officially committed our first misdeed.

Just like when we teach about the eternal punishment for sin, it’s this bad news that makes the good news so wonderful! Jesus took the separation and consequences of our evil choices on himself to offer us a way out of the horrible mess we all find ourselves in from birth.

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It can be intimidating to explain these concepts to our kids and we fear that we might explain it incorrectly or somehow confuse their little minds. That’s why it can be so helpful to have resources like the brand new book, Blotch by Andy Addis.

This 5-chapter parable, follows the story of Blotch who is a boy who lives in a kingdom where everyone is born with one mark on their skin. Each time they act or think wrongly, a new blotch appears. He is determined to find out a way to get rid of these embarrassing spots, so he sets out on a journey. Along the way, he meets different people dealing with this blotch problem in different ways (hiding them, ignoring them, etc…). He finally finds the answer to this pressing dilemma when he meets a kind stranger who is willing to offer himself in a sacrificial way.

I won’t spoil the end for you, but I will say that this book explained the gospel in a gentle, yet clear way. It’s illustrations perfectly fit the story and my boys couldn’t wait for me to turn the page. It also includes notes for parents and a discussion guide to accompany each chapter. It worked well for us during our homeschool Bible time, but it would also be a great tool for family worship in the evenings as well.

I would encourage you to add this tool to your family library as you seek to share the simple yet profound story of the gospel with your children. You may even find yourself gripped once again with the beauty of the King who offers to remove your stains too!

Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for my review. The thoughts and opinions are my own.

I have one copy of Blotch to giveaway. Enter below. U.S. residents only. Winner will be chosen on April 16, 2016 and contacted via email.

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To the weary mom….

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A man, he works from sun till sun, but a woman’s work is never done.

I can hear my mom sighing at the end of another long day. She quotes this little saying while putting away one more load of laundry or packing one more lunch. As a mom now myself, these words have so much more meaning to me. The work is never done. There always one more dish in the sink or one more toy to put away.

As our family has grown, my homemaking standards have lowered. I can leave those clothes in the dryer and fold them tomorrow. I guess the floor could be swept after breakfast in the morning. It’s not that I wouldn’t love to live in a perfectly clean, model home, but with three small children, that dream is far from reality. At the end of the day, my body and mind just want to rest. I long to sit down with the work completely done.

That feeling of incompleteness doesn’t just stop with dust bunnies and piles of superhero figures though. I find myself longing for rest in many areas of my life. When will I stop wrestling with the sin of discontentment? Will I ever stop struggling with my identity? Why do I find myself clinging to the same idols over and over again? When will Jesus come back so my soul can finally rest?

While I don’t have a chapter and verse to support my theory, I imagine that an Israelite high priest may identify with some of those same feelings. He worked every day in the temple offering sacrifices for the sins of the people. With a nation so large, there was a never-ending stream of brokenness for which to atone. In the rooms where he worked, there were altars, candles, and holy artifacts, but no chairs. No place to sit. No place to rest. The work of salvation was never finished.

That is until Jesus arrived on the scene.

Finally, the endless cycle of sin, confession, and sacrifice could be broken. He did the work His Father asked Him to do. There was no need for God to lower His standard of holiness. Christ accomplished the task perfectly and completely. The necessity of continual sacrifices in the temple was done. It was finished.

And our High Priest sat down.

  • He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high….Hebrews 1:3
  • Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven…Hebrews 8:1
  • But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God….Hebrews 10:12
  • looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

If Christ has sealed our salvation, why do we find ourselves often unsettled? Why does rest seem so elusive? Why do we attempt to continue to offer sacrifices in hopes of God’s favor?

Sitdown

He isn’t striving. He isn’t stressing. He isn’t struggling.

He is sitting down.

He invites us to rest in His accomplishments – to sit down in His finished work.

Is your kitchen far from magazine worthy? Have your children found your last nerve? Is that besetting sin rearing its ugly head today?

Sit down (physically if you need to) and rejoice. The ultimate undertaking has been completed for you. Because of Jesus, the weight of perfection is no longer on your shoulders. Instead, you carry a burden made light by His atonement and a yoke made easy by His redemption.

It is only in Jesus’ settled location at his Father’s side that our souls can find ultimate peace.

 

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Should I teach my kids about Hell?

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Should I teach my kids about Hell-

It was my turn to teach the ladies Bible study. As I flipped to the correct chapter in our curriculum, my heart sank a little. Hell. I was going to have to teach 20 adult women about the reality and necessity of the worst place ever! Why couldn’t the topic have been more uplifting?  I could find a lot to say about joy or faith! The more I studied, though, the more I was shocked to see that even the doctrine of Hell can point us to hope.

Kevin DeYoung says this about the place of eternal damnation….

“Christians should have anguish in heart at the thought of eternal suffering, but we should also see the glory of God in the Bible’s teaching on eternal punishment”

Many deny the reality of Hell or the fact that a loving God could send unbelievers there. Even those of us who believe it it’s existence wrestle with those same questions. Isn’t God merciful? Isn’t eternity a little too long for 70 years of “mistakes”?

In order to have a better understanding of Hell, we first have to seek to know the character of God. I could write a series of 1,000 posts highlighting all of the aspects of God. He is perfectly faithful. He is perfectly loving. He is perfectly good. He is alway present. He is always seeing. He is always understanding.

He is all of these (and more) all of the time. We can’t separate God’s attributes from one another.  When He is showing mercy, he is still 100% just. When He shows love, he still shows total power.

Sin is the polar opposite of who God is. Because of His perfect character, the ONLY reaction he can have toward the sin in all of humanity is wrath – complete righteous anger. There is no other option. What terrible news! This eternal God MUST punish our wrongdoing with eternal death.

The worst thing about this terrible place created for Satan and his demons, is the ultimate separation from God and anything good! It’s not the red horns or hot flames that make this place unbearable. It’s the utter absence of joy, hope, peace, and love. The oppressive darkness and evil there cause unimaginable torment.

That’s not the end of the story, though. Remember that even in His infinite justice, God is immeasurably merciful. His character caused Him to offer His Son, Jesus to bear the brunt of punishment. Christ was made to be sin even though not one part of Him was tainted with wrongdoing. God poured out that eternal, unbearable, wrath on Jesus. He made a way out for us.

This is hope. This is the good news. This is the gospel.

Should I teach my kids about Hell (2)

So, to answer the question posed in the title, yes. If we are to fully teach the gospel to our children, they must realize the seriousness of their plight without Jesus. When we downplay the bad news, we inevitably downplay the good news. Here are a few thoughts when approaching this subject with your little ones.

  • Teach on an age-appropriate level.                                                                                                              Just like any other difficult topic (death, terrorism, adultery, etc….) it’s important to use wording and explanations that make sense to that particular child. For instance, I wouldn’t introduce words like brimstone or damnation to my 4 year old. Instead, I might explain it as a terrible place with no happiness or love (see next point).
  • Focus on what is NOT in Hell.                                                                                                                      Many times, when describing Hell, our minds jump immediately to fire, darkness, and demons. As I mentioned earlier, the worst part of this place is the absence of God and His goodness.  Our children need to grasp the severity of being separated from our Creator forever more than the hotness of the flames.
  • Do NOT use Hell as a sole motivator for salvation.                                                                                  One of the worst things we can do when teaching our kids about the gospel is to coerce a prayer based out of fear of Hell or a desire to live in Heaven. Following Christ is a commitment and brings eternal life that begins immediately, not just when we die. Encourage your child to see their need of a Rescuer from their own sinful hearts today, not just a terrible place in the future.

When we share the gospel with others (including our children), we are often afraid that they will be turned off with words like punishment or Hell, but without that terrible news, the gospel doesn’t fully make sense and definitely isn’t glorious. Without the darkness, we would never cherish the light!

“I (Jesus) have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes

in me should stay in darkness.”

John 12:46

Exciting News!

Listenonitunes

 

Life is busy. The laundry cycle never ends. Kids seem to contract the stomach bug at the least convenient times. There’s often a key ingredient missing for the recipe I need to make tonight!

That’s why I want Dishes & Doctrine to come to you! I know you don’t always have time to read an email or sit down to read a post at your leisure.

During our Galatians series, I decided to offer audio versions of each post and response was very positive. It was a huge help to busy moms to listen while literally washing the dishes or sweeping the floor!

That’s why I’m excited to announce that for the foreseeable future the Dishes & Doctrine Audio Blog is here to stay!

DDAudioblog2

In fact, we’re even officially on iTunes now so you can subscribe to automatically receive new episodes there.

So the basics:

  • Each week you’ll still find a new post here on on the blog.
  • It’s your choice if you want to read or listen. Just click the button at the top of each post to pop over to iTunes to listen.
  • Find any posts/episodes that you’ve missed on the Audio Blog tab or by searching on iTunes.

I really hope this is a help to you as you join me in seeking to know our God more through His word! “Talk” to you soon!