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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.

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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

Constant

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Recently, I asked some of my Facebook friends this question.

The 1st word that pops into my head when I think of motherhood is:_______________________.

Some of the answers I received didn’t surprise me at all….

Chaos

Adventure

Crazy

Love

There was one answer that made me stop to ponder.

Constant

The Miriam-Webster Dictionary defines this short word as “happening all the time or very often over a period of time”.

Any woman who has been mothering for any length of time (even 24 hours) can identify with this word.

A new baby needs frequent and regular feedings. A toddler needs continual supervision for his safety. A school-aged child needs answers to life’s pressing questions at any given moment. A teen needs stable and firm guidance as she heads into adulthood.

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A mom is always “on” and always available. Sometimes this even occurs when the mom is physically unavailable.

A couple of weeks ago, I had knee surgery. While it was a fairly simple procedure, it put me in bed for several days. Even when I finally ventured around the house on my crutches, I was often physically unable to help my kids in the normal ways. I was afraid to carry my toddler down the stairs while my knee was so weak. I couldn’t kneel by the bathtub to rinse the soap out of my son’s hair. I was dependent on meals prepared by others each evening.

This bodily break did not cause a hiatus in the constancy of motherhood, though. I still worried about the sibling squabbles I heard and awoke to the cries of my little one in the middle of the night. Even from the couch, I was mothering mentally.

If you are a mother, you are not disagreeing with me at this point. I’m sure you are nodding your head in agreement.

 

It was the alternate definition of this word that struck me, however.

“staying the same : not changing”

I wish I could say that I stay the same each day. I wish I could claim that my kids know exactly which version of Mommy they’ll greet each morning. I wish I was unchanging in the face of daily stress and lack of sleep.

Motherhood is constant, but I am not constant in my mothering.

There is only one Person who truly and faithfully embodies this word, constant.

I, the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.

Malachi 3:6

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

James 1:17

God is not human,that he should lie,
    not a human being, that he should change his mind.
Does he speak and then not act?
    Does he promise and not fulfill?

Numbers 23:19

My God isn’t affected by emotion or exhaustion. He never wavers and never changes. It is His very immutable nature that brought about our desperately needed redemption. He didn’t change His standard of required perfection and He didn’t go back on His word to provide a Lamb to meet those demands.

JesusChristthesame

This is such good news when I lose my temper over something insignificant once again or when my living room resembles a disaster zone. In my weakest, most inconsistent moments, I’m still qualified to receive the inheritance of the saints not through my own stability, but Christ’s!

Because of the constant demands of motherhood, I desperately need a constant God. My only hope for consistency is found in Him!

Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Hebrews 13:8

P.S. Thank you to those who entered in our Steadfast Love Giveaway! I announced the winner HERE.

Geometry Proof {themes from Galatians 3}

Good news! I know your life is busy so you can read OR listen to today’s post! Just click play and listen to the audio blog {subscribers click READ MORE at the bottom of your email}! Let me know what you think in the comments or email me!

 

Read Part 1 and Part 2
I remember my first high school geometry class vividly.
I sat in the front row and eagerly listened to the teacher’s opening lesson. “See this basketball? It takes up space!”
Got it!

“Now when I take the ball away, the volume of the space it was occupying is still there even though the basketball isn’t!”
What?
I was lost already and thus began a difficult year of math. My mind struggled to comprehend the abstract concepts needed to process geometric proofs and solutions.

Imagine my surprise, when I began studying Galatians 3 and found a treatise from Paul that reminded me of one of those geometry calculations.

Feel free to stop and read Galatians 3:15-29 here, but here is Paul’s basic argument:

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*In the Old Testament, God made a promise, a covenant with Abraham in which he promises an inheritance to both Abraham and his offspring.
*Christ is the complete and perfect Offspring.
*430 years later, the Law was given to Moses and the people of Israel, but it did not nullify the previous promise to Abraham.  Paul notes that the inheritance was still to come through a Promise and the law was to “save a seat” for the fulfillment of the promise.
*We were born under the law but through faith have put on Christ’s righteousness. Therefore, we are “in Christ”.
*If we are in Christ, then we are also sons of Abraham and heirs to that promise from long ago!

 

Wow! We who were once enemies of God and slaves to sins are now recipients of the promise given to Abraham thousands of years ago.

 

Heirs. Sons. Daughters.

 

How often throughout the chaos and calamities of life, do we forget our eternal position? We live as though we are still in bondage to the despair and destruction of sin. We try to wear the rags of iniquity when Christ has purchased robes of righteousness for us.
Because of the riches we have in Jesus already contrasted with the sinful, broken world and bodies we still live in everyday, we may feel some conflict with our title as “heir”.
We are forgetful people. That’s why the Holy Spirit was given the job of testifying with our hearts each day reminding us of our place as God’s children. (Romans 8:16)

 

In some ways, I’m left with the same feeling as when the bell rang at the end of that first geometry class. I don’t get it. My mind simply can’t comprehend it.

The author of Ephesians sums up this enigma,

“This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”

 

It’s a beautiful mystery and it’s perplexity brings a reverence for the mind and heart of my God. One day the fog will be lifted and we will see the fullness of His promise.
Until then, I’m want to know my co-heir more each day. As Charles Spurgeon once preached,

 

This joint heirship binds us faster to Jesus, since we are nothing and have nothing apart from him.”

 

Join me next week for Part 4 of Galatians: No Other Gospel. As always, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments or reply to your subscription email.

 

Can Santa point us to Jesus?

Ho Ho Ho! Merry Christmas! It’s that time of year where we’re surrounded by reindeer, magic snowmen, and elves! As families who want to emphasize the beauty of the advent, it can be hard to wade through the surface traditions that Christmastime brings.

Instead of fighting against the mentions of Santa and his midnight delivery of toys to children around the globe, it might be helpful to find references to the gospel even in the familiar traditions of this season. It’s possible that even St. Nick can help us point our kids (and ourselves) to Christ!

Can Santa point us to Jesus-

 

You better watch out! You better think twice! He’s gonna find out who’s naughty and nice……

The truth is that we are ALL naughty! The fall in the Garden of Eden long ago sealed our fate as depraved, “bad” human beings and our position on the naughty list. Giving money to the Salvation Army bell ringers or showing up for a Christmas Eve service does nothing to move our names to the preferred nice list. In fact, even the most consistently “good” person can never measure up to God’s holy standard. (Romans 3:10). We don’t have to be left on that cursed naughty list though. Jesus Christ covered up his divine nature with our sinful flesh and lived perfectly for us. His record is now ours when we accept His work on our behalf meaning that when the Father sees us, we are no longer “naughty” but perfectly “nice”.

Oh, we are Santa’s elves. We work hard all day….

In order to make enough toys for every boy and girl in the world, those elves have a ton of work to do! I’m sure magic helps a bit, but a lot of effort goes into the process! Jesus completed a task far greater than any Christmas toy as He hung on the cross for us. John 19:30 tells us that he breathed, “It is finished” as he bore the wrath of a holy God in His body. He would be separated from His Father because of our sin, not His. Any work we do would never come close to the effectiveness of His work on our behalf and is only done out of our gratefulness to Him. The work is done!

5 golden rings, 4 calling birds, 3 french hens, 2 turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree……

Except for the rings, those gift ideas probably don’t appear on too many Christmas wish lists these days, but the desire for more “stuff” hasn’t disappeared. We spend hour shopping for the perfect present for each person in our family and look forward to early Christmas morning when we enjoy the surprised look on their faces! Unfortunately, even the most expensive of gifts won’t last forever. Toys will break (even as early as Christmas afternoon), cars will be dented, and jewelry will be misplaced. All is not lost, however! The gift of grace earned through Christ will never end. Through it, we receive abundant life which begins when receive it and comes to completeness in eternity! The gift of salvation will last forever!

Enjoy this holiday season! Sing silly carols and make gingerbread houses with your family! Have fun choosing gifts for one another and finding the best place for mistletoe. But, let the joy of the holidays be fueled by the Prince of Peace whose coming provided eternal riches for your soul! Even the Grinch can’t take that away!


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Rule follower…

What do you think of when you hear the word law?

Maybe it’s a stone tablet with unattainable rules engraved on its face. Maybe it’s the speed limit sign that always seems too slow. Maybe it’s a judge deciding a criminal’s jail sentence for breaking society’s rules of order.

Photo Credit

We often see the law as a negative thing. Even when we study the Old Testament we see a list of harsh rules with immediate consequences when broken. The strange thing is that Scripture actually points to the fact that the law is something we should delight in and cherish (James 1:25).

Listen to David’s words in Psalm 119:

“Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.”

“Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.”

“Let your mercy come to me, that I may live; for your law is my delight.”

Wondrous? Delight? These are never words that I would associate with the rules and standards of the law.

We may find little insight in Psalm 19:7…

“The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;”

It seems that the principles and commands found it God’s law were intended to bring liberty and an abundant life. Why then do we tend to think of the law in a negative way?

Rule Follower

The bad news isn’t the law but the fact that our depraved hearts simply can’t and won’t keep it perfectly.  It points to our need of a Savior to perfectly delight in God’s law on our behalf.

“….and by Him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.”

Through Christ, we can enjoy the peace and joy that comes from perfectly following God’s law. Because he faithfully followed the letter of the law, we can say with Paul, “For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being…” (Rom. 7:22).

If you have placed your trust in the finished work of Christ for you, then when God looks at you He sees a joyful (perfect) rule-follower! That, my friends, is a wondrous thought!

>>>As always I love to hear your thoughts! Share in the comments section or hit “reply” to your subscriber email!

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When my prayers aren’t answered…

I may be the last Christian in the country who hasn’t seen the War Room movie. It’s certainly not because I wouldn’t want to see it, but three kids and a movie theatre an hour away made it a little difficult for a movie date. Hopefully, we’ll get a chance to rent it on DVD.

I’m glad for films like this that remind Christians of the power in prayer. Our access to God through Jesus is one of the distinguishing characteristics of our faith when compared to the other religions of the world.

But many of us are left wondering what happens if our prayers aren’t answered as clearly as movies like this portray. What if the requests of our life aren’t left wrapped in a pretty bow after we pray about them?

What happens when….

Your marriage is not only still broken but seems to be on the fast track to divorce.

Your cancer seems to be growing rather than shrinking.

Those relationship issues still aren’t solved and it seems like they may never be in this lifetime.

Your spouse seems to have no interest in coming to church with you, let alone embracing the gospel.

What then?

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To better understand the purpose of prayer, I think it may help us to look at a the most famous prayer of all – the Lord’s Prayer found in Matthew 6. You may be familiar with these verses already, but I hope you’ll stick with me! Jesus says,

 In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

 1. Prayer isn’t primarily about us. 
Notice the beginning and end of Jesus’ prayer. Hallowed be Your name reminds us of the holiness of our Heavenly Father and how His name prompts our reverence. He also refers to power and glory that belong to our King. The bookends of this prayer focus on the greatness of our God.

 

2. Prayer recognizes God’s sovereignty.
“Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We will never know the mind of God. Scripture reminds us that His ways and thoughts are far above our own plans and supposed wisdom. The trials, joys, and questions of life come to us only after being sifted through the fingers of an all-knowing, purposeful God.

 

3. Prayer trusts God for today.
When Jesus prays about our daily bread, it reminds us of the manna God provided for the children of Israel in the Old Testament. They were not to store up this special bread, but instead take just enough for that day’s needs. They woke up each day with the faith in Yahweh that He would provide. In the same way, God will often supply our needs both physically and emotionally on a seemingly short term basis. This forces us to rely on our Father in a more urgent, needy way and cultivates a dependent relationship where He can amaze us with His provision.

 

4. Prayer is fueled by the gospel. 
Forgiveness of debts – freedom from sin’s bondage -Sound familiar? We should constantly be rehearsing the truths of the gospel in our prayers. Until our own hearts are overwhelmed with God’s forgiveness, how can we ever expect to offer it to our debtors. Until we realize our deadness before Christ, how will we ever seek purity over that tempting sin? Our prayers are a chance to preach the good news to our own hearts.

 

I believe that prayer is more than rattling off a list of requests. The gospel gives us a supernatural desire to approach God without expecting anything in return. Gospel-fueled prayer enables us to be content with both the yes and no “answers” taking joy in the fact that we have just spent more time in His holy presence because of Christ’s accomplishment on our behalf.
We can trust our prayers to a sovereign Father who has proven His love to us in the greatest way imaginable already. Christ is the ultimate answer to any prayer.

The Ology {A recommendation for your kids}….

Our family LOVES music! It’s not rare for music of some sort to be playing as soon as we start the car. All three kids listen to CD’s as they fall asleep. Sometimes I find my oldest putting on one of their favorites to listen to while they play puzzles and super heroes.

It’s amazing how much sinks into little brains, and even music in the background can play a huge role in their understanding of doctrine, God, and the gospel.

That’s why I’m super excited about the latest kids recording from Sovereign Grace Music! Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 9.25.49 PM

It covers major themes of Scripture in a fun way for kids! It also pairs perfectly with the new book, The Ology: Ancient Truths Ever New by Marty Machowski. It’s a great way to introduce kids to the basics of theology in a simple way .

The other great news is that the songs are enjoyable for daddies and mommies too! No annoying kids songs here!!!

Here are a couple preview videos for you to enjoy over at the Sovereign Grace FB Page!

Just the Way God Wanted Us to Be

Our Help

Order your copy HERE! 

 

 

 

Spiritual Baby Teeth…

My youngest just turned 1 in July, and I’ve found after three kids that the first year is a strange combination of fast and slow. When I’m getting out of bed for the third time before midnight, the moments seem endless. When that 1st tooth {finally} pops through and she looks suddenly more like a toddler than an infant, I pray for time to slow down.

During the last 14 months (no matter how fast or slow it felt) my daughter was gradually growing. The tiny onesies that had more than enough room, now would barely fit over her head. Her neck that now twists from side to side to see her brothers behind the highchair could hardly bear the weight of her newborn head just a few months ago. Her vocabulary increases daily and her eyes light up as she understands new concepts.

This constant, although slow, growth is a sign of a healthy baby girl.

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In the same way, Bible study can seem like a slow {and intimidating} process at times. We feel wobbly on our spiritual legs and unsure of our Scripture vocabulary. We can feel stuck on passages that we just can’t seem to comprehend and the verses we try to memorize quickly seem to fall out of our mommy brains.

What we can’t so easily see is the how that slow process is producing beautiful growth in our lives. As we consume the “milk of the Word” we are maturing in our perspectives and love for others. We are savoring the sweet taste of His words as David writes in Psalm 119:103.

The only difference in my “growing baby” illustration is that as a child develops and matures, she should become more and more independent. True maturity in the life of the believer is actually displayed in more and more dependence upon her Savior.

My hope for this post is that you will be encouraged as you study God’s Word. You may feel like the process is endless. You may feel like a spiritual infant who will never grow up. But it is God who promises to enlighten our understanding through the Holy Spirit.

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My prayer as we continue to dive deeper into the wonders of the gospel together is summed up perfectly in Ephesians 1:18.

…..having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints…..

 

 

This post is linked to Mommy Moments

Naptime Doctrine…..

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the word doctrine often sounds like an extremely boring term. It conjures up images of an old professor in a tweed jacket using big words like propitiation and protoevangelium. It gives the idea of knowledge for knowledge sake. Dry terminology to fill books and commentaries that only get read during a pastor’s sermon preparation.

Let’s take a step back, though, and look at the definition of doctrine:

doctrine: (n) something that is taught; teachings collectively:

Christian doctrine, therefore, would simply be teaching the truths of Scripture. For instance Paul says in I Corinthians 15:3, “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,”

Doctrinal teaching is essential to our Christian faith. In fact in 2 Timothy, we are instructed to place a high regard on sound teaching.

“What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching,with faith and love in Christ Jesus.

Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you–guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.” 2 Timothy 1:13-14

 

In other words, every believer is a theologian! 

You may be thinking at this point, “That sound great, but I can barely teach my 5 year old how to tie his shoes. How in the world can I teach him doctrine?”
The beauty of our Christian faith is that it goes far beyond catechisms and memorized facts. Those can be very helpful, but the doctrine we are passing on to our kids is real-life gospel.
It’s using our knowledge of the good news of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection to affect change in our own hearts first which then spills over to our parenting and marriage relationships.
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Here’s a small example….
My middle son is currently struggling with disobedience and the worst time is always naptime. The other day after disciplining him several times, I sat on the edge of his bed and talked with him about Jesus.

 

When Jesus was a little boy, can you believe he ALWAYS obeyed his mommy and daddy? When he was 4 like you he was perfect!! Do you know why? Well, Jesus is God and He became a little boy like you so that He could do what you and I can’t do – live perfectly. He lived his whole life without sinning once and then took the punishment for what we would do as sinners! He loves you so much that He wanted to do that for you! Aren’t you thankful for a Rescuer like Jesus?

 

That, my friends, on a four year old level is the doctrine of incarnation – Jesus becoming man.
I didn’t need to use that term to teach my son an important tenet of the gospel message.  You see, doctrine isn’t dry and boring at all.
Doctrine is the seed that grows into beautiful spiritual fruit in the life of the Christian (even the 4 year old ones).

 

 

*Looking for more resources for kids and the gospel? Check out the book, Give them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson

*I have included an affiliate link above. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Thank you for supporting this site!

*This post is linked to Mommy Moments, Titus 2sDay, and Grace & Truth

Why Dishes & Doctrine….

If you’re anything like me, your days consist of the mundane duties of a housewife – cooking, kissing boo-boo’s, cleaning toilets, breaking up sibling fights, and dishes…..lots of dishes. 
Doctrine and theology seems better left to the pastors and seminary professors. After all, as busy moms we need “in the trenches” help, encouragement, and advice. The study of eschatology seems too ethereal for our crazy lives.

 

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A few weeks ago, a man in our church family invited us to fly with him in his 1979 Cessna. As we climbed to 3500 feet above the earth, I was in awe. The noise and traffic of life below ceased. All we could hear was the rumble of the plane (and a couple cute co-pilot voices). What struck me as we flew over the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon and gazed out over the horizon was the change in our perspective. The places I go to every day were still there. The geography hadn’t changed a bit, but from above I saw our county in a whole new light. Where I would usually see roads and trees, I saw rolling mountains. Where I would usually cross a little bridge, I could now see an endless river. It was breathtaking.
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Theology (the study of the nature of God and his relation to the world) is one of the most practical things we can do as busy moms because just like our plane flight, it causes us to look at life in a different way. Knowing my God has forgiven me of a debt that I could never repay on my own gives me the perspective to forgive my spouse once again. Knowing that the Bible is a story of God’s pursuit and redemption of His people helps me when I read a Bible story to my kids before bed. Knowing that Christ will be returning for His Church one day gives me hope that the nastiness and pain of this world will one day be gone.
There are thousands of things about theology that I will never know or understand, but the older I get the more I am realizing that God wants me to study Him because the more I know Him the more I will love Him. Theology can’t just be for the men. Our children desperately need us to be grounded in Scripture and devoted to knowing our Father. 
I hope that this blog will be a journey of growing and maturing in doctrine and the tougher things of our faith. My hope and prayer is that we’ll find that sweet spot where motherhood and theology collide!

 

Join me on that journey?

 

 

This post is linked to Reflect, the Titus 2sDay Link-up, and the Titus 2 Tuesday Link-up.