Teaching the Gospel Through Broken Snow Globes

IMG_0060.JPG

First of all yes it is March and yes we still have remnants of Christmas decorations in our house. A couple of weeks ago we had some snow globes on an end table in our house near the door. My three year old and I were heading out the door and if you have toddlers you can relate with me. Whenever you leave the house you have to pack up every toy you own and bring it wherever you are going. So on this particular day as we are getting ready to leave my toddler packed up an unnecessary amount of toys that she didn't need in a backpack, so much filled that it was bulging at the seems ready to topple her over. So here we are going out the door with her obnoxiously large backpack on and my daughter swings around to say bye to bubba, our dog and commence the sound of broken glass. Snow globe down. This isn't my first rodeo cleaning up broken glass so I instantly go into clean up mode. Pick her up and put her on the couch, lock our dog in a room and get out the vacuum. It was a small snow globe and it was a fast clean up, no sweat. When I finished I turn to see my daughter on the couch crying. Here I thought it was because of the snow globe being broken and losing a toy. However it wasn't because of that, it was because she thought that because she broke the snow globe that she would be on the naughty list. I learned from my wife later I guess that is from Santa Clause 3 or something. So I picked her up and told her that there would never be anything she could ever do to be on the naughty list because I am her daddy and I love her. Then I asked her if she wanted to know why she will never be on my naughty list no matter what she's done. It is because God has loved me in my "naughtiness" and He still loves me because of Jesus. Even when I make mistakes and I sin He still loves me because of what Jesus has done and because of the grace He has shown me when I don't deserve it, it allows me to show you grace when you don't deserve it. Even better, when we trust Jesus we have the promise that we will never be on God's naughty list no matter what and He will love us forever. 

Just like we teach our kids to crawl, walk, count, talk, etc. We also have been tasked with the responsibility of teaching and showing our kid's the Gospel of God's grace. By God's grace He has placed our kid's in a family of faith so that we can model grace to our children. Every moment we have with our kids we should use as opportunities to show our kid's the Gospel. Let me just say this, I don't do it perfectly. By God's grace in this moment I didn't throw my arms up and yell and scream that my daughter has now inconvenienced our leaving of the house as I have done in the past. My prayer is constantly that God would help me to see opportunities to show grace and to teach the Gospel to my daughter because it is the only thing that can change her heart. It is the only thing that matters. Manipulation won't change her heart, threats won't changer her heart, bribing her won't change her heart. All of these things will only lead to behavior modification and won't last. The only thing that can change a heart is the Gospel, that we are more sinful than we can imagine, yet more loved than we can ever hope. 

"God has opened your eyes to his presence and glory so you could help open the eyes of your children. So capture the opportunities around you to point to him. Don’t let a day pass without doing it and don’t feel that it’s weird to talk about God all the time. He is so pictured by his creation that it is positively weird not to be reminded of him and talk about him all the time. No one gives grace better than a parent who humbly admits that he desperately needs it himself." - Paul David Tripp

May this be our prayer, that as parents who have received grace from God that we would extend and teach grace to our kid's so that their eyes would be opened by God's grace to His presence and glory.

KNOW: The Heretics

As M. James Sawyer once said "there is no such thing as new heresies, only recycled ones." Solomon echos this same concept in Ecclesiastes 1:9 when he says "there is nothing new under the sun." As we understand church history and look at the landscape of some of the teachings that are happening around the church universally there are seeds of heresies being taught, most of the time unintentionally. As a children's pastor I see it all the time when it comes to the idea of how do we talk to kid's about the Trinity. This is a question this gets asked a lot in a kid's ministry group I am apart of on Facebook. In attempts to try and help convey this concept to kid's a lot of times the ideas that get offered in comments are not Trinitarian but rather a form of Sabellianism. What do I mean by this? If you try and convey the truths of the Trinity as an apple, an egg, or whatever else the common illustrations are, that is Sabellianism and it is a heresy. I am humbled by God's grace in the fact that I was once one of those people! Not because I was intentionally trying to be a heretic but I just didn't know. I didn't have a biblical understanding of the Trinity and in my attempts to try and make it understandable I distorted it. This is how most heresies were started. It wasn't from a blatant disregard for the Bible, however some of them were. Most started from the basis of a finite human trying to intellectually explain an infinite God. In our modern day the word heresy or calling someone a heretic has morphed into this idea of someone who doesn't agree with you.

41TbmU9atRL._SX355_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

"Heresy is not located in one’s beliefs about baptism, one’s beliefs about the continuation of certain spiritual gifts, or one’s beliefs about a specific view of the atonement. It is a specific and direct denial of any of the central beliefs of the Christian church about the deity and identity of the triune God and about the person and work of Jesus Christ." - Justin S. Holcomb

Do I believe that the Bible talks about those topics mentioned above? Absolutely. To call someone a heretic however because of my difference in opinions about those topics is not accurate however if it does not fall in the bounds of the central beliefs of the Christian church as mentioned in the quote above. The reality that we must face when it comes to our understanding of the central beliefs of the Christian church is that our understanding is all an act of God's grace. I said above I am humbled by the fact that God graciously showed me where I was wrong in my understanding of the Trinity. Most of those growing pains are a natural result in the process of sanctification and the understanding of the Christian beliefs. The difference between a heretic and someone growing in Christ is when God's grace comes to us will we submit our feelings to the Word of God. I mentioned above that most of these heresies started innocently in an attempts to intellectually understand an infinite God. The difference however is when they were confronted with the truth of the Scriptures, there was not a submission to the Word of God. The question we must ask ourselves is will we learn from the councils and the creeds that have been established before us, that God graciously gave us so that we can have an understanding of the central teachings of Christianity that are rooted in Scriptures.

"The disadvantage of men not knowing the past is that they do not know the present. History is a hill or high point of vantage, from which alone men see the town in which they live or the age in which they are living." —G. K. Chesterton, “On St. George Revivified”

Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles

32052334.jpg

Let's face it, parenting is one of the hardest things we will do in this lifetime. If you are a parent you just said AMEN! Every year I try to read a couple of parenting books to help me become a better parent and to help me be a better children's pastor. What I love about Paul David Tripp's book that is different from all the other parenting books you will read is he constantly makes you face the reality that you are not in control of the heart change that your kids need. If we are being honest, a lot of times when we are reading parenting books it is because we see a deficiency in our children that we want to fix. We turn to parenting books for easy how to's and try and fix our children's behavior. The reality we have to face though is that we cannot produce a changed heart only God can. We can manipulate behavior modification in the lives of our kids through different tactics, but the reality is they will not be long lasting. The reality that all of us as parents must face is that our kid's are born sinners in need of a savior just like us. Every misbehavior flows out of that sin nature and the only cure is a changed heart through faith in Christ. It is not something we can force, manipulate or control. We need to pray and ask for God's grace to transform our kids hearts and ask that he would help us be ambassadors of His grace. This book has challenged me to parent from a place of grace rather than reactionary to the misbehaviors in the moment. It has challenged me to see the misbehaviors and the moments that my kid throws fits as opportunities to show God's grace and to explain that it is out of a response of the grace that God has shown us. It has challenged me to see that my kid is not my possession that I own but she is God's and I am called to steward the gift of her life and the gift of being her parent being an ambassador of God's grace to show her God's grace in her life. This has been one of the best parenting books I have read and I encourage anyone who is a parent to pick it up and read it asking for God's grace to help you. Our roles as parents in not to be the perfect parent, but to point them to the perfect Savior and pray and pray and pray that He would move on their hearts and draw them to Himself. Lord, we need your grace!

Here are some quotes to reflect on:

”If your eyes ever see and your ears ever hear the sin, weakness, and failure of your children, it is never a hassle, never an interruption, never an accident; it is always grace. God loves your children and has put them in a family of faith, and he will reveal the need of their hearts to you so that you can be his tool of rescue and transformation. It is important to see these moments as opportunities of grace and resist turning a moment of ministry into a moment of anger.”

“Parenting is hard; it will expose your weaknesses and it will challenge your faith. There are times when you won’t feel very good about what you just did or said. There will be days when your work with your children will seem more futile than helpful. But the good news of the gospel is that you don’t have to hide your struggle. You don’t have to act as if you’re doing better than you are. No, you are welcomed by grace to cry out for help, you run to God in your need, and you are assured that not only will you not be turned away, but your heavenly Father will pay careful attention to your cries. “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit (Ps. 34: 18).”