Skip to main content

How Long?

>>>Listen on iTunes<<<

When will it snow, Mommy? Can we watch a Christmas movie and drink hot chocolate tonight? Is that package for me? How many days left until we open presents?

The Christmas season is packed with expectancy. From the moment the first scent of leftover holiday cheer is release from the storage box, everyone in the home looks forward to the culmination of these joyful few weeks. Christmas is coming!

As theologically-minded parents, we have the opportunity to use that feeling of anticipation to teach our children one of the most major themes of Scripture which is the presence of God with man.

In the beginning, the Creator designed a perfect garden, with perfect foliage, perfect animals, and perfect food in which He walked in perfect relationship with Adam and Eve. That communion was tragically broken with their sinful rebellion, but the story didn’t end there. Genesis 3:15 says, 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.” Something was coming to resolve this curse, but it wouldn’t be as immediate as this first family may have suspected. 

The entire Old Testament traces the suspense surrounding the wait for a permanent resolution to this sin problem. God instructs his people to build the tabernacle and later the temple as dwelling places for His Presence. God’s relationship with his chosen people came at the price of sacrifice after sacrifice, year after year.

A small child may feel like the days leading up to Christmas are endless. Each seems to drag as she waits patiently for the hope promised to her. In a similar and even more significant way, Israel longed for the arrival of their Rescuer. How long would God wait to fulfill his long-standing promises?

“And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.”

In His perfect, never early, never late timing, the Father set into motion the answer to His covenant with mankind.

“And the Word [Jesus] became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

God himself would now tabernacle with his Creation. Jesus would be both the High Priest and the Sacrifice necessary to complete the plan set in motion in Genesis. When He returned to Heaven, he would send the Holy Spirit to dwell in the hearts of the redeemed. The Church is now a living temple for the presence of God.

But, we’re still waiting. There’s more to come.

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

What a breaktaking description of the end of the story! We live in anticipation for all to be made new. We look around at our broken world and ask, “How long?” but we can wait with hope. Just as a small child confidently knows that there will be gifts under the tree on December 25, we as believers cling to the fulfillment and resolution that is surely coming with Jesus’ return.

The celebration of Jesus’ birth is a chance for our families to wonder at the greatest Gift ever given and prepare for the final chapter of God’s story yet to come!

Immanuel, God is with us!

 

 

 

Headache-free Bible Study for Children

Listenonitunes

Email subscribers – click through to the website to listen

Most Christ-focused families realize that Bible study is an vital step in spiritual growth. After all, how else can our children know and love the God of the Bible if we don’t take time to read His words?

headache-freebible-study-forchildren

There are many helpful books and articles on developing a family worship time – a few minutes a day set aside for Bible-reading, prayer, and singing as a family.  I wouldn’t begin to act like our family has arrived in this area. Unfortunately this special time gets lost in the mix of busy weeks, sick kids, and Netflix binges. So, if you need help in this area, you may want to read, Family Worship, by Donald Whitney. His ideas are simple yet effective in setting up a regular time of corporate (or combined) worship time in your home.

Recently, however, our family has had success in individual Bible study times for our boys. As parents, we want them to grow to desire the corporate aspects of church worship and the sweet fellowship of private study equally. Because things have been going so well for the last month or so, I thought I would share our ideas with you!

*Ages 0-3

These are formative years. Don’t discount reading to them before bed from a children’s Bible such as the Jesus Storybook Bible. While the illustrations initially catch our two year old daughter’s attention, she is starting to learn words such as Jesus and sin. This is so important in her understanding of her sin problem and her Rescuer in the next few years.

*Ages 4-7

When our middle son saw that his older brother was spending time studying the Bible each day, he wanted to follow suit. There is only one problem – he can’t quite read.

Enter: The Bible App for Kids

I hope you already have this app on your phone or tablet. We have had it for a few years, but have only used it while waiting in the doctor’s office or similar situations. Using it strategically as a Bible study tool has been a wonderful help for our pre-reader. This app traces Scripture from Genesis to Revelation highlighting some of the most well-known stories along the way. Each is a separate interactive chapter with animated characters and music to keep the child engaged. At the end of each story, are several questions for comprehension. It has been exciting to see our son’s excitement to get to his “Bible time” each morning after breakfast.

screen-shot-2016-09-10-at-3-17-33-pm

As he gets older and advances in his reading ability, we will incorporate actual Bible reading and he hears Scripture read aloud in family worship times and during homeschool. Until then, I’m so thankful for this technology that helps bridge the reading gap!

*Older Child (8-12)

Our oldest can read fluently and is starting to grasp more and more theological concepts, and we knew we wanted him to have a strategic plan for Bible study. My husband created a little reading plan for him based on the book of John.

Each morning, armed with his Bible, a notebook, and a pen, he reads the assigned passage (some are meant to be read 2x). Then writes down the meaning of the verses as he understands them and one take-away thought to remember. Because he is still young, however, he needs some guidance in his study. So each evening after his siblings are in bed, he discusses what he studied with either my husband or me. This gives us the chance to check his comprehension and discuss any important theological themes in the reading.

It has been so precious to see him grow in his desire to know God through his Word and his assigned passages are often challenging or convicting to me as we work through them together.

***

All of these Bible study methods are free and simple, and none of them are particularly time-consuming which is important in this season. I have honestly been shocked to see how quickly these ideas have become a habitual part of our morning routine.

What about you? Do you have ideas for Bible-study for young children? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. We’re always game to try something new!

 

Police Shootings & the Average American Mom

Our nation has been rocked again with the news of two men who were fatally shot in altercations with police officers and also multiple officers killed during a protest in Dallas. This kind of news brings deep sadness, outrage, and protests from those in their immediate community as well as the rest of us around the country.

I am not usually one to write pieces immediately after an event. Instead I read reports and reflections from those much wiser than me and pray quiet prayers in my heart for the families and lives involved in tragedies such as these.

Police Shooting&The Average AMerican Mom

Although my kids are young enough that they can be sheltered from stories like this, I couldn’t help but think, however, after hearing the news this week that the #blacklivesmatter movement has real implications for my own life as a stay-at-home mom. You see I think #blacklivesmatter, while an important hashtag, reflects a deeper theological truth that our children must realize as we train them in God’s Word.

The term imago dei is Latin for “the image of God”. Christians use it to succinctly describe the relationship between God and man explained in Genesis 1:27.  All humans reflect their Maker regardless of his or her physical characteristics. Our souls were created by an Almighty God to mirror His glory back to Him. Again various authors have written much more eloquently than I will, but this idea must be a part of the training of our children. In other words, because that other boy in my child’s Sunday School class was made in imago dei, he should be treated with kindness. Because my son’s little sister was made in imago dei, her worth in God’s eyes requires that he treats her with love and respect (even when she steals his favorite toy).

When our children learn the value of human life at a young age, their eyes will be open to the devaluing of human life in their society. Side note: this plays out in many more situations than police brutality. Abortion, abuse, and euthanasia are all sourced in a lack of appreciation of the worth of ALL human life.

I don’t have many solid answers for our nation’s violence issue. Shootings at nightclubs, schools, convenience stores, and even churches all point to the sad brokenness and sickness of a world ensnared by sin.

This is exactly why Jesus came. There was no one else who could begin the process of repair for people so lost and evil. While we don’t yet see complete perfection, it is coming! This our hope in the darkness.

In the meantime, may God burden our hearts as parents to instill in our children a deep love for their fellow human beings and a deep sense of responsibility to protect them when at all possible no matter the race, no matter the color, no matter the uniform, no matter the sin.

And may we never become numb to another soul entering eternity. May we pray for our neighbors who live in a very real fear for their lives. May we give them our support, prayers, and ultimately the hope of a soul Rescuer.

The gospel is for everyone. Period.

Should I teach my kids about Hell?

Listenonitunes

Email subscribers, click through to the website to listen. 

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

A call for joyful moms (and Christians)…

Listenonitunes

Email subscribers, click through to the website to listen. 

Motherhood can seem like a rollercoaster. One minute you find yourself at the top of the hill enjoying the fruits of your hard work and the next you are careening down the hill of spilled milk and sibling rivalry. Each day can hold sweet memories and head-banging frustrations.

I’ve noticed a pattern of negativity among modern moms. We vent about those annoyances and even our humorous stories are tainted with sarcasm. Mothering is hard. Life is hard. Somehow we feel better by complaining about it.

I think that’s where we have gone wrong. In an attempt to be authentic and real, we have lost our joy. We have adopted an attitude of martyrdom about the requirements of this God-given job.

DDpostgraphic (13)

Several years ago, I watched a skit of Bob Newhart as a psychologist. A patient comes into his office for counsel, and after some hilarious introductory comments, she begins to describe her paralyzing fear of being buried alive in a box. He listens to her struggles for only a few minutes before he gives her his advice summed up in two words. “Stop it!” Throughout the rest of the skit, he answers every argument with that same phrase! “Just stop it!” No matter the issue, she needed to just quit it!

It would be the same situation, if I wrote a blog post like this simply challenging you to stop focusing on the negatives of motherhood or life in general. Within ourselves, we have to power to just “stop it”. The sin and failures of our heart cannot be changed with more law. It is only the power of the gospel that transforms!

Let’s look at John 16:33….

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” 

Jesus himself acknowledges that the Fall brought brokenness and trouble into every corner of our world. He doesn’t encourage us to muster up some surfacey happiness that will never last. Instead He points eyes to His work. He has overcome. My joy in motherhood and in life is the joy of the Lord not my circumstances.

Because He is sovereign over even the most minute details of my day, I can be joyful.

Because He has given me grace that covers my moment by moment failures, I can can be joyful.

Because He loved me before I even acknowledged Him, I can be joyful.

JoyofLord

I’m not hoping that Christian moms of the 21st century become happier or bubblier about the circumstances they find themselves in each day. I’m praying that moms become so enamored with the love of Jesus that the joy of the Lord oozes from their every word and deed.

The joy of the Lord is my strength…..Nehemiah 8:10

Constant

Listenonitunes

Email subscribers, click through to the website to listen. 

 

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.

DDpostgraphic (14)

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.

Reset button

Listenonitunes

I could feel the tension building.

I had stayed calm when cereal was purposely dumped on the floor. I had smiled and given a gentle reminder when the child leaning back in his chair finally crashed to the ground. I even had even kept my cool when I heard complaints about the special Valentine’s candy I was offering.

I couldn’t do it anymore. These kids were about to bear the brunt of a full mommy blow-up and it was going to be nasty!

That’s when the idea struck me….have a restart. We were going to start this day all over again! So I set a timer for five minutes and we all went to our rooms for a breather. We reset our hearts and our minds and when we reconvened, there was much less danger for a parental explosion.

Friends, that kind of do-over is no less common in our spiritual walk. We live in the already/not yet of redemptive time. Hebrews 2:8 reminds us that Christ has already conquered death and sin, yet at this point we don’t see our world in complete submission to Him. That’s still coming. In the meantime, we will sin. We will experience pain.  We will acutely feel our brokenness. That’s why it’s necessary for us to regularly hit the reset button of the gospel.

When I feel tempted with sin, it’s more than a just good idea to stop and read scriptures like:

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”     I Corinthians 5:21

Or when my heart is overwhelmed with the trials and repetitive tasks of life:

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.”  Jeremiah 31:3

Desktop

A while back, I designed this picture for my laptop screensaver. One day my oldest read it and said, why does it just say morning? His mercies are new in the evening too!

He didn’t realize how many times, I would open my computer at the end of a chaotic and disappointing day only to be reminded of God’s never failing, never ending mercy in the evening too! Because of Christ’s work, His favor always rests on me. Every morning, every evening, and the many hours in between are wrapped in His love and His faithfulness (not mine).

I’m so thankful for the restart button of the gospel. The chance to run back to the finished and perfect work Jesus completed for me. His grace weaves my failures, blow-ups, and do-overs into a beautiful tapestry for His glory.

Run to Him. Ask Him to remind your soul of His steadfast love and new mercies! Accept the renewal He so generously offers!

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
    “therefore I will hope in him.”

Lamentations 3:22-24

Who do you think you are? {themes from Galatians 1}

Exciting 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!

Who Do You Think You Are? Audio

 

She crossed her chubby arms and tapped her tiny foot impatiently.

“Who do you think you are?”
She pointed to the handmade sign. “Can’t you see it says ‘No boys allowed’? Only girls can come into this clubhouse! Now, go away!”
It doesn’t take long for us as humans to start questioning and challenging our identity and authority as it relates to others. Some abuse that authority and others feel like they can never gain any. We all struggle to find our true identity.
As we begin looking at some of the major themes in the book of Galatians, these two root issues are so important. Let’s take a look at them separately.

GalatiansPt1

AUTHORITY IN CHRIST (Galatians 1:4)

Paul is writing the book of Galatians to a church who has lost its direction and focus as believers in Christ. He sees an urgent and dangerous problem that needs to be addressed immediately. Before he explains the issue and suggests solutions he establishes his authority not in himself, but in Jesus Christ. We find references to Christ’s resurrection even in the first verse of this book. In fact, throughout this letter, Paul rarely strays far from the anchor of the gospel. His advice and input carries weight to the hearers not because of Paul’s greatness, but  because of Christ’s.

 

There are times when we are also called to share truth with others. As moms, one of our primary responsibilities is to impart wisdom and instruction to the little ones in our home. It’s so easy to revert to the “Because I said so” mentality when in fact our authority really rests in the “Because He says so” of Scripture.
When we have an intimidating conversation with a coworker or friend, it brings much relief to realize that our words don’t hold weight because of our eloquence, but because of the power of God’s words and working in their life.
We share gospel truths not because we are qualified, but because He is!

IDENTITY IN CHRIST {Galatians 1:6-10}
So what exactly is the main issue with this body of believers? We soon learn that the Galatian church had forgotten their new identity in Christ and were actively turning to things other than Him for their security and rescue. They were attempting to fill a gospel-shaped hole in their spirits with things other than the work of Jesus.
This wasn’t a new idea to Paul. Later on in this first chapter he reminds them that he was growing steadily in his popularity among the Jews. His persecution of Christians and advancement of Judaism was applauded. When he was literally stopped in his tracks on the road to Damascus, he was given not only a new name, but a new identity and mission. He bluntly tells his readers that if he was seeking validation from his peers he wouldn’t be preaching Christ (v.10).


It’s easy to shake our heads at the Galatians and wonder how they could so easily turn to replacements for the good news they already received through Christ. Honestly examining our own hearts reveals that we have some identity issues too.
Here are a few of my identities:

–Good wife: This identity includes consistent dishwashing, crisp ironing, and squeaky clean floors. It requires immediate submission to all decisions and calm responses to heated discussions. If perfection is not attained in all aspects, this identity is deemed a failure.

–Wonderful mom: This identity includes gourmet PB&J making skills, organization of all superhero costumes, and creative bedtime storytelling. Negotiation is a requirement for this position. If perfection is not attained in all aspects, this identity is deemed a failure. 

–Church leader: This identity includes a cheerful disposition at all times, memory of church members names and current spiritual/physical needs, and an ability to explain any passage of Scripture a moment’s notice. If perfection is not attained in all aspects, this identity is deemed a failure. 

Obviously these identities are completely unattainable, but they bring pride and despair on a regular basis depending on my current level of success in each area. Can you relate?

Maybe you find your identity in your number of friends, advice giving opportunities, or creative ability. The possibilities are endless.
That’s why we can’t skim over the first part of Galatians. Our identity IS important and if we are in Christ our identity has been perfectly sealed. We are His!

Practically, this means that I can crash and burn in any area of my existence, but my validation doesn’t come from those faulty identities.

This makes the question of our authority and identity a simple one to answer. Both are found in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Straying from this answer leads us down a dangerous path and resting in it brings us confidence and peace in the face of the world’s many “gospels”.

As you head into the chaos that is life, ask yourself not “Who am I?” but “Whose am I?”. Those two letters make all the difference.

Join me next week for Part 2 of our study in Galatians. I’d love to hear what you’re learning as you read this truth packed book. Share 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!


Want more gospel encouragement in your inbox? Subscribe here for The Kitchen Table Newsletter and receive a brand new video series I created just for you!

The Fruit of Gratefulness….

“What do you say?” I ask my son as he takes the cookie from the waitress.

“Thank you!” he says with his silly four year old grin.

I pat him on the shoulder with an approving look and secretly feel proud of myself that I’m raising such polite children. Even my one-year-old toddler says something slightly resembling those two words although nobody outside our immediate family would be able to decipher it.

I really swell with pride when our oldest, clearly and loudly responds, “Thank you” on his own accord. I must really be doing this mothering thing right! After all, every parent includes gratefulness in the list of character qualities they want their children to develop by 18 years old.

fruit of gratefulness 2

As we head into another busy holiday season, though, I wonder if we’re missing the mark with this thing called gratefulness. How can we cultivate this attitude in even our smallest children?

To read the rest of this post, visit Emily Jensen, my writing home for today….