We are the Branches – A family worship resource

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Fighting the Biggest Battle of our Life! How do we do it?

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The Battle

Back in May our pastor, Joel Treick, gave a sermon on how we are fighting the biggest battle of our life.  He talked about a famous boxer, Buster Douglas, and how he beat Mike Tyson in the biggest boxing match of his life.  You can google this fight if you have never heard about it and see what a big deal this was.  How did this upset and unlikely victory occur?  To quote Joel, “He had inspiration and preparation, he perceived and he believed.”   He had the inspiration of his mother who had recently died, and he prepared by studying his opponent.  We are in the biggest battle of our life right now!  We don’t like to think about it and we lie to ourselves often to ignore it, but the battle is real.  We are fighting against Satan, the enemy of God’s people.  So, how to we do it?  We too need inspiration and preparation.

How Do We Fight?

As a family, how can we equip ourselves and our children to fight this battle?  It’s hard.  It can be exhausting!  But there is help!  We have the Word of God!  We have the battle inspiration of knowing our God and our Savior, and we can prepare for the battle by knowing our enemy and his tactics.  During the sermon, (which you should really go and listen too at http://www.pinewoodschurch.org/resources/sermons/resist-the-devil/)  these two amazing resources put out by Children Desiring God came to mind right away.  We have used them in the past, and after this sermon we were motivated to study them together.  They are God’s Names and  God’s Battle  by Sally Michael.  I love them for many reasons, but the top reasons are they teach who God is (inspiration), and they teach how to fight the sin struggles and battles in our hearts (preparation).  I also love that you don’t even have to prepare ahead.  You just pick up the book and begin reading and teaching.  They are wonderful resources!

Get inspiration!

God’s Names will encourage and help you and your family to know who it is that is our source of inspiration.  There are lies about who God is that we hear from the outside world every day, and there are the subtle lies we hear on the inside in our minds as well.  Fight back with who God says He is!  Fight back and get inspired with truth!

Prepare!

God’s Battle will encourage and help you and your family to know the enemy and his tactics.  Satan is the accuser and the enemy of the truth.  He knows we struggle with obedience, belief, pride, self, fear, rebellion, etc.  This book has encouraged me so much this week to not give up and to keep fighting.  I’m so thankful they are in my house as a reminder and a resource!  Fight back and prepare for the battles by knowing your enemy and his tactics!  Fight back by knowing your sin struggles and learn what you can do and what God has done to help you battle them!

I hope you will buy these resources right now if you don’t already have them, and I hope that they will encourage you and empower you as they have our family.  You are not fighting these battles alone!   “…for He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

 

 

 

 

 

Parenting Means Wrestling Demons

Parenting Means Wrestling Demons 

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This article on desiringgod.org was really encouraging in spite of the title.  Here are a few quotes to entice you.

“You thought parenting would be easier than it is.  Yes, you did.”

“There is a war on children, and we are all, in one way or another, playing some role in it. Every time we move forward as faithful parents (or care for kids in any capacity, including advocating for the voiceless not-yet-born, and volunteering for nursery duty on Sundays), we are wrestling demons — because there is little the demons hate more than little children.”

“When we know we’re wrestling demons, disobedience doesn’t surprise so much as obedience does.”

It’s worth the battle! Be encouraged at how much Jesus loves children.  Keep teaching and keep fighting!

 

 

Christmas and Advent resources

It’s December 1st already!  I’m a little late but I wanted to share all of these wonderful resources that can be used for family devotions and worship time during the advent/Christmas season.  It’s never to late to get started!   Ironically, this time of year is when it should be the easiest to focus on Jesus yet it can actually be the hardest time to focus on what Christmas is really about.  What better way to keep our hearts focused on what all of the decorating, giving, and celebrating is about than to make time as families each day to talk about the good news that God sent His Son and to worship together in our homes.  At the end of each lesson you can pick a Christmas song and sing together with joy.  As a Christian, it’s always Christmas!

Focus on the family puts out family devotions each year and you can download it for free.  You can find this years plus the years past and pick your favorite.  Fantastic resource!

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For slightly older children use John Pipers daily advent readings, Good News of Great Joy.  They are also a free download.

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Seeds Family Worship has God’s Word put to wonderful music.  Buy it and sing and memorize it all month long!  See how memorizing and singing the good news affects your heart and the heart of your family!

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And finally ministry-to -children.com has all kinds of resources from lessons to coloring pages you can use.  Click on the photo bellow for coloring pages and lessons for each week of advent.  You can search “Christmas” in their search engine and find all kinds of wonderful resources.

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Merry Christmas!  May joy fill your heart and your house and you celebrate!

Thanksgiving Devotional/Family Worship Lesson

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Thanksgiving was my favorite  holiday as a child.  I never thought of why really until recently.  I thought it might be because family and friends were gathered together, or maybe because the food was so good, or because we were about to decorate the Christmas tree soon.  All of those things are good and I did like them all.  The real reason I loved Thanksgiving so much I believe is because of the joy that was there that day.  We would eat all together with joy and thankful hearts and talk and laugh and enjoy the blessings of the feast we were having.  It was a celebration.  If felt right.  I always thought in my mind, this is the way it should be ever day. As a child God had written on my heart the truth that we should be living with thanksgiving and joy.

Here is a little Thanksgiving family worship lesson to help you talk about the kind of thanksgiving and joy that lasts forever.


Never Ending Thankfulness!  

Lesson Idea:  Christians should be the most thankful people on the planet because in Jesus Christ we have a source for thankfulness and joy that cannot be taken away and that has no end.

Activity/Game:  Take turns playing the “I’m thankful for” game.  It’s played like the “I’m thinking of” something game.  (Ex:  I’m thankful for someone who made the turkey today. Answer: mom or dad or Aunt Suzie, etc.  I’m thankful for this thing that helps us get from place to place.  Answer: car)

Bible application:  1 Chronicles 16:34  “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!”  (If you feel led the entire song of thanks (verses 8-36) is worth reading during the lesson or at another time in the day, with passion!  Maybe even read Psalm 136 too!)

Oh Give Thanks

Discuss: When we think about all of the things we can be thankful for there are a lot of awesome things: (if you played the game list the things they chose, if not, list your own ideas)   Many of the things we named are temporary things.  They do not last forever.  I would love a Lego castle!  I would be pretty happy to get a lego castle for Christmas.  I would feel joy over my gift.   But, will that joy last forever?  Do the things on this earth last forever?   After a while, I’ll start wanting something else.  Pieces of my castle might get lost or broken.  It will get old.  It won’t be around forever.  I won’t be happy with it forever.  In fact, my joy in my castle or any other earthly thing won’t last forever will it?

In 1 Chronicles 16:34  we hear a part of David’s song of thanks to the Lord, He says, (say with exclamation)  “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” 

At the end of this verse there is an exclamation point.  Who knows what that means?  Yes, it means with excitement or special emphasis.  David is really excited to give thanks to the Lord.  Why is he so happy to give thanks?  He gives us the answer in the second part of the verse, “for his steadfast love endures forever!”   Who’s love is it that endures or lasts forever?  That’s right!  It’s God’s love that lasts forever.  Why is that so exiting?  Why does David exclaim that we should give thanks to the Lord for this?   Remember when we talked about my Lego castle? We talked about how that toy or other earthy things won’t last forever nor will the joy or happiness we have in those things.  Well, God is completely different than the things of this earth.  God is eternal.  That means he has no beginning and no end.  He is forever.  David reminds us that his love is also forever.  In John 3:16 we read that …”God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”  We know his love lasts forever because God gave us Jesus.  Our sin, man’s sin, separated us from God.  If David thought things were going to stay that way, there would be no exclamation in his song of thanks.  But because God loves us so much, He made a way for us to no longer be separated from Him.  He gave us His son Jesus who paid the price for our sin, so that when we believe in Him we can love and be loved by Him forever!  We will not perish like a toy or thing!  We will share in eternal life with our loving God whose “…steadfast love endures forever!”   No matter what happens, no matter what we have or don’t have, no matter what we gain or loose, that love cannot be taken from us.  We should be the most thankful people on the planet!

Drive it home:  Because of what God did through His son Jesus, we have a source for thankfulness and joy that cannot be taken away and that has no end. Let’s pray that we can be full of thankfulness and joy every day for this GREAT gift!

Pray: Heavenly Father, we have so much to be thankful for.  You have given us great things.  Help us to remember that the things of this life, of this earth are temporary.  Help us to give thanks and rejoice that your love lasts forever.  Nothing can take that love way because of Jesus.  I pray that we would look to Jesus every day and that we really would be the most thankful and joyful people on the planet.  Use us to bring you glory. We thank you and praise your name!  AMEN

Sing!  Go to Seeds family worship and look for  Psalm 95:1-4, 1 Chronicles 16:9-10, or Psalm 136:1-6:26!  They are all great  verses of praise!   You can go to their playlist here:  http://www.seedsfamilyworship.com/product/seeds-of-praise-vol-3/.  You can memorize God’s Word while you sing.  Play all the songs of praise as you color or do a craft.

Coloring pages:  At http://ministry-to-children.com/thanksgiving-coloring-pages/ you will find a page of coloring pages.  Type in Thanksgiving on their search engine and  you will find many other craft ideas and resources.  Here is a link to a Thanksgiving wreath craft you can color and a photo of a tree you can color and make “thankful leaves” for.  http://ministry-to-children.com/thankfulness-to-god-wreath-craft-project/

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https://wearethebranchesfamilyworship.com/thankfulness/

 

How to Raise Godly Children in an Ungodly World

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“How can we navigate these waters so our children know how to grow up knowing what’s right, even when the world lives and screams otherwise? In what ways can we equip them to walk with the Lord?”

I came across this blog on my Facebook newsfeed today and felt it was extremely relevant and had some really valuable things to think on and apply.  It’s not meant to be a comprehensive list but the 3 things she outlines in further detail can help us as we strive to raise our children for Christ.

  1. Renew their minds with His Word.
  2. Equip them for trials and suffering.
  3. Teach love without compromise.

A daily family worship time would be a great platform to apply these teachings.  Thankful for the encouragement and the reminder today!  There is never a time where I feel like we don’t need one another to help us run this race.  You can read the full article here:  How to Raise Godly Children in an Ungodly World.

 

Broken Toy Love

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This “Little Bit of Grace” moment happened a couple of months ago.   It took me a little while to write about it and share.  I’m still amazed each time how God uses ordinary life moments to speak wonderful little bits of truth and grace to us.  It encourages me so much.  This particular moment reminded me of what real love looks like–broken toy love in this instance.  =)  I hope that it encourages you also.

Broken Toy Love

Today I was driving back from the grocery store with Gracie and I noticed that she was playing with a broken toy.  It was a miniature Toothless, the dragon from How to Train Your Dragon that has a wing broken off of it.  She’s had it for a while now, and I was thinking it might be time to toss it in the trash.  I mentioned this idea to her, that maybe it was time to throw it away, especially since she had another one that was just fine.  She said, “Oh mommy, I still love it.  It’s like how God is with us.  He still loves us, even though we are broken.”  I was defeated.  I’m not sure if she had a genuine insightful moment or if she was using her gift of insight to manipulate me.  Either way, she had me there.  What was I supposed to say then?  In my mind I could see the mounds of broken toys collecting in my house–piles and piles of little representatives of God’s love!  My daughter, toy savior of the world.  In all seriousness though, it is pretty awesome that God actually does loves us this way.  Just like Gracie looks at her broken toy with love, God looks at our broken hearts and bodies with love.  She doesn’t see brokenness at all and neither does God because the toy is hers and we are His.  When you belong to Jesus, He sees His Son when He sees you.  That is pretty spectacular don’t you think?  I never grow weary in my need to hear the good news the Gospel brings.

I long to live in a world where people love each other the same way Gracie loves her broken toys.  We tend to avoid brokenness.  We like happiness and perfection and it pleases us to be around it.  If someone is broken, most of the time we would rather distance ourselves from them.  If I just completely “freak out” right in front of you, you will probably want to avoid me the next time you see me.  You may want to avoid me forever!  I would have revealed the brokenness in my heart in a big way and that would make me a lot less easy to love.  If I go through something really terrible and it’s difficult to talk about, you might start to avoid me too.  Brokenness in the world makes us uncomfortable, and we don’t like to be uncomfortable, so we put our comfort ahead of love.  Of course, love is being willing to make yourself uncomfortable for the sake of another.  The kind of blind love Gracie has for her little broken toy is so rare to find from person to person.  I guess this is why Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35) The kind of love Jesus has, the kind of love God has, is so radical that it will actually tell some one that you are His if they see you love the way He loves.  He loves the undesirables, the messed up, the outcast, the thief, the diseased, the sinners, the broken people.   He loves us!  We are all broken.  We are to love one another not based on who we are, but based on who He is.  I am convicted every single time I am reminded of this truth.  It does not come easily at times.  I read something last week that I didn’t know would relate to this, but it’s a statement made by Corrie ten Boom.  She said this: “When Jesus requires that we love our enemies [or broken people], He gives us the love He demands from us.  We are channels of His love, not reservoirs.”  The best definition I found for channel was “a route through which anything passes or progresses.”  God’s love passes through us to the person for whom it is intended.  What a wonderful image!  What a relief!  It is His love, not ours.  He is able.

I’m still going to work on getting rid of all the broken toys, eventually. That kind of clutter makes me crazy!  I am eternally grateful that God does not get rid of us, but instead He repairs us and makes us like new again in Christ.  Someday He will make all things new! (Rev 21:5)  In the mean time, “He still loves us, even though we are broken.” May we have broken toy love too!

Never Ending Thankfulness!

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Thanksgiving was my favorite  holiday as a child.  I never thought of why really until recently.  I thought it might be because family and friends were gathered together, or maybe because the food was so good, or because we were about to decorate the Christmas tree soon.  All of those things are good and I did like them all.  The real reason I loved Thanksgiving so much I believe is because of the joy that was there that day.  We would eat all together with joy and thankful hearts and talk and laugh and enjoy the blessings of the feast we were having.  It was a celebration.  If felt right.  I always thought in my mind, this is the way it should be ever day. As a child God had written on my heart the truth that we should be living with thanksgiving and joy.

Here is a little Thanksgiving family worship lesson to help you talk about the kind of thanksgiving and joy that lasts forever.


Never Ending Thankfulness!  

Lesson Idea:  Christians should be the most thankful people on the planet because in Jesus Christ we have a source for thankfulness and joy that cannot be taken away and that has no end.

Activity/Game:  Take turns playing the “I’m thankful for” game.  It’s played like the “I’m thinking of” something game.  (Ex:  I’m thankful for someone who made the turkey today. Answer: mom or dad or Aunt Suzie, etc.  I’m thankful for this thing that helps us get from place to place.  Answer: car)

Bible application:  1 Chronicles 16:34  “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!”  (If you feel led the entire song of thanks (verses 8-36) is worth reading during the lesson or at another time in the day, with passion!  Maybe even read Psalm 136 too!)

Oh Give Thanks

Discuss: When we think about all of the things we can be thankful for there are a lot of awesome things: (if you played the game list the things they chose, if not, list your own ideas)   Many of the things we named are temporary things.  They do not last forever.  I would love a Lego castle!  I would be pretty happy to get a lego castle for Christmas.  I would feel joy over my gift.   But, will that joy last forever?  Do the things on this earth last forever?   After a while, I’ll start wanting something else.  Pieces of my castle might get lost or broken.  It will get old.  It won’t be around forever.  I won’t be happy with it forever.  In fact, my joy in my castle or any other earthly thing won’t last forever will it?

In 1 Chronicles 16:34  we hear a part of David’s song of thanks to the Lord, He says, (say with exclamation)  “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” 

At the end of this verse there is an exclamation point.  Who knows what that means?  Yes, it means with excitement or special emphasis.  David is really excited to give thanks to the Lord.  Why is he so happy to give thanks?  He gives us the answer in the second part of the verse, “for his steadfast love endures forever!”   Who’s love is it that endures or lasts forever?  That’s right!  It’s God’s love that lasts forever.  Why is that so exiting?  Why does David exclaim that we should give thanks to the Lord for this?   Remember when we talked about my Lego castle? We talked about how that toy or other earthy things won’t last forever nor will the joy or happiness we have in those things.  Well, God is completely different than the things of this earth.  God is eternal.  That means he has no beginning and no end.  He is forever.  David reminds us that his love is also forever.  In John 3:16 we read that …”God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”  We know his love lasts forever because God gave us Jesus.  Our sin, man’s sin, separated us from God.  If David thought things were going to stay that way, there would be no exclamation in his song of thanks.  But because God loves us so much, He made a way for us to no longer be separated from Him.  He gave us His son Jesus who paid the price for our sin, so that when we believe in Him we can love and be loved by Him forever!  We will not perish like a toy or thing!  We will share in eternal life with our loving God whose “…steadfast love endures forever!”   No matter what happens, no matter what we have or don’t have, no matter what we gain or loose, that love cannot be taken from us.  We should be the most thankful people on the planet!

Drive it home:  Because of what God did through His son Jesus, we have a source for thankfulness and joy that cannot be taken away and that has no end. Let’s pray that we can be full of thankfulness and joy every day for this GREAT gift!

Pray: Heavenly Father, we have so much to be thankful for.  You have given us great things.  Help us to remember that the things of this life, of this earth are temporary.  Help us to give thanks and rejoice that your love lasts forever.  Nothing can take that love way because of Jesus.  I pray that we would look to Jesus every day and that we really would be the most thankful and joyful people on the planet.  Use us to bring you glory. We thank you and praise your name!  AMEN

Sing!  Go to Seeds family worship and look for  Psalm 95:1-4, 1 Chronicles 16:9-10, or Psalm 136:1-6:26!  They are all great  verses of praise!   You can go to their playlist here:  http://www.seedsfamilyworship.com/product/seeds-of-praise-vol-3/.  You can memorize God’s Word while you sing.  Play all the songs of praise as you color or do a craft.

Coloring pages:  At http://ministry-to-children.com/thanksgiving-coloring-pages/ you will find a page of coloring pages.  Type in Thanksgiving on their search engine and  you will find many other craft ideas and resources.  Here is a link to a Thanksgiving wreath craft you can color and a photo of a tree you can color and make “thankful leaves” for.  http://ministry-to-children.com/thankfulness-to-god-wreath-craft-project/

 

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I just wanted to share this encouraging article on Desiring God’s website today.

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Five Ways Children Will (can) Change the World

by giving them:

1. A Hungry Passion to Meet God in His Word
2. A Prayerful Dependence on God in Everything
3. A Contagious Gratitude to God for Everything
4. A Happy Faithfulness to Your Local Church Family
5. A Compassionate Heart for World Missions

“At what other point in life do we have such a convenient opportunity to teach, model, rebuke, and encourage the characteristics we desire to see in another person? We have tiny disciples living right under our roof. We so often talk about the ministry we’re doing with others — discipleship over coffee or another Bible study — but what about at our own breakfast table?”

Click to read the full article. I’m just showing the outline and a quote…to draw you in.  ; )

New Book Resources! SEEDS Free Shipping!

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I wanted to share a few things with you all starting with this article from TIm Challies, 6 Great New Books for Kids.  I’m especially excited about The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden by Kevin DeYoung and God’s Gospel by Jill Nelson.   The entire series by Jill Nelson you can find at http://www.childrendesiringgod.org.  They are a wonderful resource and we have gone through 4 of them so far as a family.

Click here to see all 6 books from the article:   6 Great New Books for Kids.

 I’m so thankful for the help of these talented teachers and writers!   Parents, don’t give up teaching your children the Word of God!   It can be discouraging when they aren’t paying attention or when you ask them about something profound and they respond by telling you that they like elephants.  I’ve been there. One time during one particular family worship lesson we had to tell our daughter to stop picking her nose, licking the table, and to get her feet off of us.  Persevere!  Keep going.  Pray for patience and keep teaching!  The Word of God does not return empty.  (Isaiah 55:11)

Read this article by Voddie Bauchman Jr. for some encouragement, conviction, and motivation.  http://www.familylife.com/articles/topics/parenting/foundations/spiritual-development/its-up-to-parents-to-teach-children-gods-word

“Contrary to popular belief, the home—not the church—has been entrusted with the primary responsibility of teaching children the Bible. In our age of professionalism we tend to hire out virtually every parental responsibility. We want Johnny to succeed at sports, so we hire a professional for private lessons. We want Susie to get into a good college, so we hire a special tutor to boost her SAT score. We want our children to be upstanding citizens and Christians, so we hire a children’s pastor or youth minister.

There is nothing wrong with wanting our children to succeed (as long as we have a biblical view of success). Nor is there anything inherently wrong with seeking help when we need it. However, we have gone beyond seeking help to abdicating our responsibility.”

Truth.  We tend to follow the culture and what’s normal in our culture becomes normal for us.   Let’s not be afraid to break the trend.  Establishing a Family Worship time is a great way to make Biblical teaching a regular priority.  There are so many great resources available to help us with this joyful task.  Check out the books and websites page to learn more about some of them.


On another note, Seeds Family Worship has free shipping all this week!  If you haven’t starting listening to their music this is a great time to start.  God’s Word put to great music!  I love this ministry and their work has blessed our family and my heart in so many ways.  Check them out here:  www.seedsfamilyworship.com.  Check out their free resources as well!

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That’s it for now!  Praying that we can fight the good fight so our children will know Truth and that we will be motivated by a deep love for God who has loved us “beyond all measure”!

Do You Still Love Me?

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I wanted to share this “Little Bit of Grace” moment about God’s love.  It’s at the top of the Little Bit of Grace page but I”ll post the entire text here too.  It’s titled “Do You Still Love Me?”. Through a parenting moment with our daughter Gracie God reminded me just how much we desperately need to know we are loved.  I don’t know anyone who doesn’t need to know this.   It (the good news of the Gospel!) is a necessary thing for us to be reminded of and such an important thing for us to talk to our children about.  These “Little Bit of Grace” moments are nothing more than little ordinary parenting moments that God uses to remind us of extraordinary truths.  I love how He does that!  So, here it is.

Do You Still Love Me?

My sweet Gracie has a very sensitive heart.  It’s a blessing and a struggle sometimes.   She might cry about not wanting to grow up and leave us one day and she also might cry over the stress of not knowing whether she should eat her fish by itself or turn it into a fish taco (life is so unfair sometimes). One of the ways this has affected her is that each time she messes up or does something wrong (sin) she always says the same thing, with tears streaming down, “Do you still love me?”.  I always tell her the same thing.  “Yes!  Of course I still love you. You could never do anything that would make me stop loving you.”  Lately I have been saying, “I wish you would stop asking me that.  You know I love you.  I’ve told you over and over that you could never do anything that would make me stop loving you.”  Today I felt guilty about the impatience that had grown in my heart.  God was trying to show me something and my own sin was getting in the way.  When she looked up at me today I saw her little tears and I asked her, “Is it hard to believe I still love you when you mess up or behave bad?”  The emotion and tears came flooding out and she whimpered out a loud “Yes!”.  I asked her if she felt like she deserved to be loved.  She said, “No!”, with yet another flood of tears.  Then, I realized that I wasn’t acting like I still love her when I got irritated.  Oh man.

My precious little 6 year old girl feels like she is unlovable when she doesn’t live up to her idea (or my idea! = / )of what a “good girl” is.  She feels like she’s not good enough to deserve love.   She knows when she disobeys, does something she is not supposed to do, or is careless, I am not pleased with her.  She sees my disappointment and displeasure and that upsets her.  I admit it takes me a few minutes to move past the moments where she has been “bad”.   My first reaction is to remove my love from her.   I have to mentally tell myself to love her when she is being a little, um, difficult child.  That’s so terrible.  I feel like a terrible mother just thinking about it.  I hope I’m not the only one who has to do that!?  I love her!  I do!  She is my child.  It’s just not the first thing I want to do when she talks back to me or drops a ball from the top of the stairs into the cat litter, just for fun (yes, she did).

Today, I was gently reminded that the need to know we are loved when we sin or mess up isn’t unique to Gracie.   When I get in an argument with my husband we tend to remove love from each other until one or both of us apologize and there is forgiveness.  After all, he doesn’t deserve my love for a little while when he acts that way, right?  We know we should love like Christ and it should be unconditional but our sinful hearts tell us not to at first.  Oh, how similar are my feelings when it comes to how I think God must be with me!  I say I know God loves me (His Word is true, not what I feel. I know this.) but I still struggle with unbelief somewhere in my soul.  Surely God must not feel like loving me when I am a “difficult child”.  He must look at me with displeasure and disappointment.  After all, I have a really hard time loving me when I think about all the things I don’t do right.  Those thoughts are lies, all lies!  Romans 5:8 tells us that,

“but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” 

God showed us his love for us by sending his son, Jesus Christ, to die for us, while we were sinners, aka “bad” or “difficult” children.   God loves us when we are messing up.  Is that hard to believe?  Yup, because we do tend to make love a condition of good or pleasing behavior so we unknowingly attach that same behavior to God.    When I say good or pleasing behavior I mean keeping God’s commandments but if I’m being honest I think that means just looking like I think I’m supposed to look most of the time or being the kind of woman I think I’m supposed to be.   Like Gracie, I’m not living up to my own idea of what a “good girl” is.  Worst of all, I’m getting my idea of what makes me valuable or lovable from the world.   All people have a sense that something is wrong with them, it’s jokes about our human state that make us laugh so hard on tv shows or movies.  It’s funny but our imperfect, sinful state leaves us feeling lacking and unable to “measure up”.  We look at those around us and we look to God and ask, “Do you still love me?”

God has already told us the truth about all this in His Word.  Romans 3:23 states that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  God is Holy, and we’re not good enough (fall short), because of our sin, to be with Him.  We don’t deserve His love.  But God has loved us, (does love us!) enough to give His son, Jesus Christ, so that now we have a way to Him.  Once we are in Christ we no longer have to worry about not being good enough for God.  We have forgiveness and our good behavior is not a condition of that forgiveness.   Now, being good or obedient is something we do out of a desire to love our merciful and awesome God.   Wow!  I read the good news of the Gospel and hear the good news of the Gospel all the time and I never react like a should.  We all DO have a DESPERATE need to know that we are loved, just like my Gracie.  We are desperate people!  We are just better at pretending and denying it than children are.  We seek to be loved by:  being the best at our jobs, being the best wife, being the best husband, being the best child, looking good physically, doing all the “right” things, saying all the “right” things, being funny, doing good deeds, etc.

The Gospel is called the good news because it IS good news.  God does love us!  We ARE loved!  That thing you did doesn’t make you unlovable.  That person who doesn’t love you the way you need to be loved doesn’t define your worth. This is good news people!  When you believe in what Jesus has done and you repent and receive His truth into your heart and life you can ask God over and over again, “Do you still love me?” and He will always say, “Yes! You could never do anything that would make me stop loving you.”  The writer Amy Carmichael said, “Our feelings do not affect God’s facts.”  I love this!  This is truth!   1 John 3:20 says ” …for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.”   Do you know everything?  Do I?  No, absolutely not.  When our hearts do condemn us we really need to stop trusting in what we think we know and stop believing that something we could ever do would be good enough to earn us the love we so desperately need.  Instead we must trust with all our hearts that what Jesus did is good enough because what He did for us IS LOVE and nothing we could ever do is bad enough to take that love away or good enough to make it stronger.  If you are in Christ, when He sees you, He sees His son, and He loves His son.  He loves you!  Believe it!  “God is greater than” your heart!