350 posts

Merry Christmas

What does Merry Christmas mean? The first widespread usage of the greeting Merry Christmas apparently began in 1843 with the publishing of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Not surprisingly, the greeting first   appeared on Christmas cards that same year. The idea behind this phrase is that Christmas should be a happy, joyous time. So when you wish someone a Merry Christmas, you are, in fact, offering a blessing to them for a merry or happy occasion. For Christians, this is where it gets interesting. The annual celebration of Christ’s birth is not directly commanded in Scripture. However, we do have a good example to follow in the proclamation of the angels announcing Christ’s birth. We looked briefly at this announcement, […]

Peace on Earth

This Christmas season the truth about God and his Son is mixed with cultural myth and fantasy. This mixture dilutes the power of the gospel. This mixing of truth and cultural myth can also help to mislead your children about the real meaning of the incarnation of Christ. For example, look at Luke 2:14: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” ESV

What about those who didn’t know Christ?

In this series of posts on talking to your children about the death of one close to them, there is one aspect that was not specifically covered : how should the death of an unbeliever be discussed? This is an important consideration. Dan posted the following comment on a previous post: This post is very timely! My kids just lost their grandfather last week. I do not believe that he knew Christ. Any advice on dealing with this would be helpful and appreciated.

The God of all Comfort

This is the third and last post in this series on what to say to your children when someone close to them dies. The topic of death is challenging. But as Christians, we should not fear talking about it. Jesus Christ has won the victory over death. Our children must see that we have the faith and courage to actually live out this reality. This is the test of whether we live by faith or by sight. Our children know the difference. In order to comfort our children we must experience comfort ourselves. This is Paul’s message in his second letter to the Corinthians.

Talking about death with your children – part 2

In the last post we began discussing how to talk about death with your children. In that post we laid the foundation for thinking biblically about death and dying. Our culture attempts to avoid the reality of death by emphasizing the illusion of life without Christ. In 1 Timothy 6:19 Paul encourages us to take hold of life that is truly life. By implication, this means that there is life that is really not life at all, but death masquerading as life. It is this imposture of life that our culture worships. Thus, the culture focuses not on the life to come, but exclusively on life in the fallen world. The 21st century is unlike the 19th century in this […]

Talking about death to your children

Someone recently wrote in and asked how to talk with a young child who had just unexpectedly lost a close relative. This is a subject we have not yet specifically addressed in this blog, but it is a question that needs good biblical answers. The discussion must be addressed with gentleness and care. There are some things that can and should take place to prepare for this discussion. So, let’s start with laying a solid biblical foundation about life and death.

The Gospel, Anger and Romans 13

Anger has come to dominate the headlines. Members of Congress have ventured out from the safe haven of the Washington Beltway back to their home states. Their reception by the home folks has been less than peaceful. Many constituents have exchanged the traditional summer grilling of hot dogs and burgers for grilling their congressional leaders. One hallmark of town hall meetings has been anger. The proposed healthcare plans by the Senate, House, and White House all have provisions that have fed angry interchanges at meetings across the country. Since all of the plans for health care reform are still just plans, it is difficult to debate what might  be. Nevertheless, as concerns are raised about such provisions as end of […]

Deal Making with God

USA Today reports in its August 7 edition that two mountain villages in southern Switzerland have determined to ask God not to continue to shrink the massive Aletsch Glacier. Since 1678, villagers from the mountain hamlets of Fiesch and Fiescherta, which lie at the base of the glacier, have vowed to live virtuous lives if God would stop the advance of the glacier and thus spare their lives. After 400 years the villagers are concerned that their prayers have worked too well. So now these folks have petitioned the Pope to allow them to change their vow and now to ask God instead to stop shrinking the glacier and to reverse the impact of climate change. This story illustrates an […]

Rewards and the Sermon on the Mount

The Sermon on the Mount has an intriguing perspective on rewards. Christ encourages his listeners to abandon the way of the religious establishment. The folks who were part of the religious establishment did good deeds so that they would be noticed by people. In sharp contrast, Christ teaches that good deeds should not be done to be noticed by others. Notice Matthew 6:1: Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

Motivation for Obedience

The Apostle Paul commands children, in the sixth chapter of Ephesians, to obey their parents in the Lord so that it will go well with them and so that they will enjoy long life on the earth. Paul forcefully argues in this same book that salvation is exclusively obtained by the gracious gift of God to those who do not deserve it. Is this a contradiction? Is he offering long life in exchange for obedience? No, there is no contradiction here. Paul clearly teaches that it is not possible to earn good standing with God, so the long life cannot be understood as achieving some kind of merit. Obedience is a response to God, rather than the source of goodness. […]