When there is a loss in the family, whether due to divorce or death of a family member, children tend to feel like it is their fault. Professionsals call this belief system magical thinking. In the movie, Home Alone, Kevin wished his parents would disappear. Then he woke up the next morning and found them gone. He believed his impulsive wish had come true. He thought his momentary desire caused the permanent loss of his entire family. Although he found resourceful ways to fight the bungling thieves, Kevin believed he was alone in the world and tried to make the best of it. When his family returned, he leaped into their arms with joy. That example shows how children process loss. They need to know it is not their fault that there was a change in their family. The adults in their lives must help them know the loss is not their fault, but in a way they can understand. On this blog we will spend some time examining ways to help grieving children. We will also discuss things parents and churches can do to help raise emotionally and spiritually healthy families. I invite you to share ideas of your own and to ask questions about family issues. We can work together with God to build a better family, whcih helps to build a better world.
Every year we take time out from our busy schedules to celebrate Christmas. We decorate our homes, eat, wrap presents, eat, party, eat, open presents, and eat. At least that is true for those of us who are blessed enough to have a home and food. What if we kept that Christmas attitude all year? The first thing you might say is, “We would be a fatter nation than we already are!” That may be true, but if our hearts are in the right place food will no longer be the driving force in our lives. Why do we place so much value on Christmas? It use to be because God sent His Son, Jesus, to pay the price for our sins, but that gets little press these days. Children are taught to believe in Santa Claus while ignoring the real meaning of the holiday, the birth of the Son of God. God said there has to be payment for sin, but there was no one sinless who could pay for our sins. The Bible says there is no remission of sin without the shedding of blood, so God, His Spirit in human form, had to pay for our sins on the cross. Do you want to accept the most precious gift ever given? Ask God to forgive you for your sinful life. Believe that Jesus died for your sins, and pray and ask God to be your Father. You will be His beloved child and He will be your loving Father. Then you can celebrate the joy of Christmas all year.
How many movies have you seen about being good? They are especially popular around Christmas. They tell children they have to be good so Santa will bring them gifts. On the other hand, how many heroes can Hollywood find to “Save Christmas?”
It is fun to play Santa to our favorite children, but the philosophy can lead to a greater deception. If we tell them they can be good enough for Santa to bring gifts, then they will believe they can be good enough to get to heaven, too. That is the opposite of the truth. The Bible says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:24 NIV. None of us can be good enough for a perfect God. It’s exciting to know that we can receive His gift of eternal life without being good enough? “For the wages of sin is death, but the the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus, our Lord.” Romans 6:23 NIV
If we can’t earn this gift, then how do we get it? God is just and sin has to be punished, but He is also loving and wants to forgive His children. He had a plan from before time began. He sent His perfect Son, Jesus, to take the punishment for our sins through His blood on the cross. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God, not of works, least anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV
If you would like to be a child of God and receive this gift of heaven when you die, then stop right now and tell God you believe Jesus died for your sins. Tell Him you are sorry and want to follow Him and His guidelines for your life. Thank Him for loving you and sending Jesus to die for you. If you have sincerely prayed this prayer, then God will answer by adopting you into His spiritual family. If you are now my new spiritual brother or sister or if you have questions, please reply to my blog. God bless you for reading this.
“Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served the Baals; and they forsook the Lord of their fathers….and they followed other gods from among the gods of the people who were all around them, and they bowed down to them and they provoked the Lord to anger….And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel. So he delivered them into the hands of the plunderers who despoiled them….Nevertheless, the Lord raised up judges who delivered them out of the hand of those who plundered them.”
2 Peter 2:1-3
“But there were false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you…And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words.”
How do those verses from the Old and New Testament apply to America? We are a nation that has been under God’s protection for a long time. He has given us grace, that is gifts we don’t deserve, mercy, and the freedom to vote for our ledership. Don’t take those gifts lightly, because they come from God. Ask Him for wisdom and vote accordingly, not according to your wallet, but according to God. If enough people do that, America will rise again to the glory from God it once had.
Are you feeling heavy? Leftover anger is exhausting, like a backpack full of books you have to carry around all day. Because it steals emotional energy that could be used more effectively another way, it handicaps you in your life. “Oh, but you don’t know what they did to me,” you say. No, but no matter what they did, your anger still doesn’t hurt them. Your behavior might, but not your anger. It, meaning they, still controls you and they are going on with their life. “I want to forgive, but I just can’t,” you say. That may be true, but with God’s help, you can. I believe that Jesus’ sweat became great drops of blood as he felt the burden of all the sins of the world in the Garden of Gethsemane – and He forgave. Luke 22:44. If He was willing to do that for you, don’t you believe He can help you forgive if you ask? After all, Psalm 18:47a says, “It is God who avenges me.” He can take care of that better than we can. Try this prayer out loud: “Lord, (Say name of person who hurt you) hurt me by (Name the hurtful event). I want to forgive, but I can’t do it by myself. Please take this anger from me. I give it to you freely. In Jesus’ name, Amen. Now, let Him lift the anger from you. He will take it, but you must let it go. He will not take it against your will.
The next step to spiritual healing is taking an honest look at the turkey you have stored in the refrigerator. When you put it in there, it was fresh and tasty. Now it looks green and shiny and offends your sniffer. Stored anger does that to your spiritual and physical health. It becomes bitterness to your heart. Hebrews 12:14-15 (NIV) says, “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness without which no one will see the Lord: looking carfully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble and by this many become defiled.”
Take a look at your anger. Have you been storing it in your heart for more than a day? If so, it is becoming spoiled like the turkey. Ephesians 4:26 reminds us, “‘Be angry, and do not sin.’ Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.” Old anger is like spoiled turkey. Both pollute the body. We can try to hold it down, but then we get sicker. We can let it explode all over everyone, but then we hurt people and feel guilty. There is another answer – God’s answer – forgiveness. Many people say they want to forgive, but just can’t. The next blog will give you a way to get rid of the anger without hurting anyone.
There is a stench in your refrigerator and you want to get rid of it, but there is a problem. The refrigerator door is closed. As long as the door is closed, you can’t get the remove the spoiled turkey. You don’t smell it, so you can pretend it isn’t there. That is just like anger. Anger is a secondary emotion that keeps us from looking deeper to find the lie that is causing the problem. As long as the anger is there, we can keep the door closed on the real problem and pretend it doesn’t exist. It keeps us trapped and controlled by the person we perceive to have caused our anger. That person isn’t hurt by the anger, we are. Our behavior may hurt the person, but not our angry emotion. If we take that one step further, we find that it leads to a more serious problem: it gives control to Satan. The Bible is clear about this:
“Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, not give place to the devil.” Ephesians 4:26-27