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When Easter Sunday Feels Like Every Other Day…..

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***This is a repost from my first blog, A Steady Rain. After another busy Easter Sunday, I wanted to remind my own heart of these truths. I hope it’s a blessing to you too!

When Easter SundayFeels like every other day

I’ll spare you the details but our Easter Sunday morning was not the peaceful, serene, and reflective morning you might expect from your pastor’s family. The day started with tempers, disobedience, throw up, and the list could go on… I’m really hoping I’m not alone in this but I’m guessing that there were disappointments and failures not only in the morning but all throughout your Easter Sunday.

We all desire perfection and beauty. We somehow hope that because the date on the calendar says it’s a special day that the people and events of the day will follow suit. But Scripture tells us otherwise. Our lives, our world, our souls are hopelessly broken. Even our Easter Sunday mornings are tainted with the ugliness of sin. 

I enjoyed our Easter Sunday morning service so much this year. It wasn’t because there was some major change in the service itself. There definitely wasn’t gorgeous weather (it snowed super hard all morning). It wasn’t even because the kids were amazingly well behaved (they weren’t). It was because I had been confronted head-on with the desperation of my own soul that morning. 

When Easter SundayFeels like every other day (2)

I gravely need the resurrection. I need the hope that is offered me through Christ not because I have any potential in myself to succeed, but because Christ turned the cross from a symbol of guilt to one of unwavering love. 

Easter IS like every other day of our existence because we live in the confidence that death has been defeated on our behalf. Our biggest failures and shortcomings point to the One who crushed the serpent’s head at the cross!

He is risen, indeed!!

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

Fresh Start – hope for the new year….

I’m so excited to share some hope with you today from one of my favorite authors, Jessica Thompson. She has been so kind to share some gospel encouragement with us as we head into the new year! Enjoy! 

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Fresh Start

 

Often when my boys are playing video games I hear them yell out in agony and the very next thing I hear is the game starting over again. The failure of a poorly thrown virtual pass is erased and the score is once again 0-0. We all love a restart. I think this is why we love January 1st so much. The old is gone. The new is here. The score is 0-0. I don’t have to be reminded of the failures of 2015 because now 2016 has come. Time to begin again.

Here’s the thing though, our hope is not in a fresh start with better results. Our hope is not in our ability to get it right this time because honestly, we will continue to fail over and over again. What can we hope in? The prophet Jeremiah asks this same question in Lamentations 3:17-18 “my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, ‘My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the Lord.’” But then the Holy Spirit reminds him of where to look and then he pens, “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope, The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”(22-23) In the Christian life, every morning is like January 1st, it is a new start. The failures of yesteryear, yesterday, yestermoment were gone before they were even committed, erased by the blood of the Lamb. His faithfulness brings us hope.

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My default is that my faithfulness brings me hope. When I can look at my success and say, “See I did it before I can do it again!” I am trusting in myself. I am living as though my will power is my hope. The truth of the matter is that my will power is so broken that Christ’s body had to be broken in order for me to find forgiveness and acceptance. As long as I am trusting in myself I will either be proud (Yep, nailed it again) or depressed (I will never get it right). But when I forsake my self-trust and learn to trust in His faithfulness alone I will have a new hope every morning. New mercies. Same love. Forever faithfulness. That is what our God has promised us.

So when you fail today, tomorrow, in the next five minutes stop and pray that the Holy Spirit grounds your heart right here, “there’s one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope: God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left.(Message paraphrase)
Our hope for 2016 is always Him. A God who never changes, never gives up on us, and promises to always forgive. That hope pushes me towards him every single time. It pushes me toward loving God and loving others. Our eternal hope is Christ himself.

publicityjess

Jessica is an author of several books and a frequent conference speaker. Her heart is to see women, families, and children freed from the bondage of moralism and to live in the truth that in the gospel there is joyful freedom awaiting them. Jess has a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology and with her mother, Elyse Fitzpatrick, she co-authored the books Give Them Grace and Answering Your Kids’ Toughest Questions. She has also written Exploring Grace Together and Everyday Grace: Infusing All Your Relationships With the Love of Jesus. Jess believes the truth that salvation is “naked confidence in the mercy of God.” She has been married to her high school sweetheart since 1995. Together they have three teenage children.
Connect with her at www.givethemgrace.com or on Twitter at @thejesslou