Dear Church, Stop Hiding Sin 

There is an icky, modern lie that worms its way into the hearts and minds of our churches. It is marring the Name of the Lord and denying Christ’s work on the Cross wherever it goes.  What is it? It is the lie that we need to protect the reputation of Christ by hiding sin in the Church. But it isn’t a new problem. It is a problem that has been lurking around since the beginning of the church. Satan has plagued us since the Garden of Eden when he wormed his way into Eve’s heart and made her question if God really meant what He said and if it was truly for her good.  And here we are, thousands and thousands of years later, still questioning if God really meant what He said about our conduct.  But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. – 1 Peter 2:9-12, ESV I think, like Eve, we are well-intentioned and want to do right. But God does not need us to protect Him from our sin natures. God knows we are a broken, sinful people and came to save us from that very sin. But when we as a Church hide brokenness, we deny our need for the mercy of God.  Scandals plague the church because instead of bringing them into the light and calling out sin, we minimize them and hide sin so that the world doesn’t think the people of Christ are broken. Whether it’s sex scandals, financial misconduct, or even “little” sins like drunkenness, anger, or greed, we tend to hide from it and point to others, not ourselves.  We’ve seen the effects again and again when sin is inevitably brought to light and the Name of Christ is scandalized not by the sin, but by cover-ups…

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5 Ways to Teach the Bible to Toddlers

A few weeks ago, I shared the article, “How Not to Teach Your Kids the Bible,” on my Facebook page. While it was helpful for some, it left others asking how teaching the Bible should look for toddlers who can neither read nor sit still for long.   While I don’t have children, I am the oldest of *put down your hot drinks so you don’t spit them out in shock* TEN children. Because of this, I grew up watching my mom implement several of these ideas with my younger siblings and using them myself to help teach the Bible to my siblings, nieces, and nephews.  Note: Some of the links below are affiliate links. See my sidebar for my full disclosure.  Here are 5 ways to teach the Bible to toddlers:  1. Read Aloud Read the Bible together. Even if it is just a few verses, try to develop the habit of reading at breakfast or before bed. There are many options for wonderful children’s Bibles that keep the heart of the message of the Gospel but don’t be afraid to simply read them the actual Word of God. Children are capable of much more than we give them credit for! You might need to scale your expectations and start by reading simply a verse or two at first, but take time to read the Bible, even when they’re young. Crack open the Scriptures and read through a few verses together. Ask them what they think it means and guide them towards the truth.      2. Pray with Them Praying aloud with your children from a Biblical perspective (not implying simple moralism, prosperity gospel, etc.) is another way to slowly demonstrate a proper understanding of the Bible to them. If you’re not sure where to begin, pray Scripture over them and together. Read through the Beatitudes praying, “Blessed are the pure in heart. Lord, give us pure hearts. Blessed are the merciful, Lord, open our eyes to opportunities to show your mercy to others.” Read through the Lord’s prayer and memorize it together. It may seem daunting but if you make a habit of praying it together at the same time (before dinner, bed, in the car, etc.), it’s amazing how quickly they will learn it.  3. Use Music Start teaching your kids through music. Songs that teach scripture memory stick in their minds forever. Hide Em In Your Heart by Steve…

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Loving Out of Extravagant Love of God

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and with it comes proclamations of what love looks like. We hear stories of sweet couples that made it to old age reminders of what “true” love looks like. Mostly, it’s about what should demand from one another and expect to give in love.  What is love? That’s the question we’ve been asking for years.  We argue about soul mates, about what love means, what it should look like when two people commit to one another and share memes and sweet stories of what we deem to be true, enduring love.  But rarely do we talk about what love needs to endure. Instead, we are dazzled by the end product without remembering the pressure they had to endure. And often, we idolize ourselves, imagining that our beloved should be the end product, the patient, kind, selfless lover while excusing our impatient, selfish behavior.  True love, extravagant love, isn’t rooted in what others deserve, but in what God has done for us.  In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4:10, ESV The purest form of love was offered up, not because we’d earned something, but because we were underserved. Christ lavished loved upon you and I through sacrifice. No empty words or cliche gifts, but at the high cost of His Body and Blood.  That is the love that we have given to us. A costly, self-giving love.  This is love, not empty words of endurance or flowing promises, but hearts that sacrifice themselves for one another. But we cannot hope to sustain this kind of love without letting it flow through us.  I know I am broken and unable to love as I ought. I am impatient, unkind, and often ready to jump ship. But in my brokenness and inability, the Holy Spirit equips me to live loving others because by reminding me of who I am and promoting me to call upon that grace and by reforming me into the image of Christ.  Because the sacrifice of Christ is one that should forever change who I am. It does not simply change who I am in the eyes of God, but it changes my heart.  He loved me, undeservedly, but loves me far too much to let me stay just as…

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Your 40 Day Guide to Lent (+50 Thing to Give Up for Lent That Aren’t Chocolate)

Lent is full of mystery and confusion. We wonder how and we wonder why and often, spend days fumbling through wondering if we’re doing it right. But Lent doesn’t have to be complicated. I know what it’s like to feel overwhelmed by your faith. That’s why I designed a workbook to simplify your Lent by helping you determine how to practically live out your faith and by providing daily accountability.  Note: Some of the links below are affiliate links. See my sidebar for my full disclosure.  40 Days to the Cross is a Lenten workbook designed to provide guidance and accountability on your journey to the foot of the Cross through the 40 days of Lent. If you’re ready to dig deeper into your faith this Lent, join me this season by utilizing this workbook to embrace the practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving as the Church has for generations. If you’re ready to take your faith to the next level, 40 Days to the Cross is for you.  Looking for the physical copy of 40 Days to the Cross? You can find it here on Amazon! One of the common practices of Lent is fasting. Fasting is seen in a variety of forms but is an important part of the Christian life that is often neglected. It can be overwhelming to think of what to fast from, or give up, for Lent.  Here are 50 things (besides chocolate) to give up for Lent and 10 focus on seeing this Lenten season: Note: Please talk with your doctor before beginning any fasting program. Food Meat Coffee Bread Animal Products (Meat, Dairy, Honey, etc.) Alcohol  Deserts Soda Pasta Food You Didn’t Cook (i.e. Fast Food) Butter Habits Throwing Away Leftovers  Leaving Things Untidy Thinking of Your Needs First Unwholesome Speech Eating More Than You Need Shopping for Wants, Not Needs Embracing the Path of Least Resistance  Seeking Instant Gratification Constantly Turning on Background Noise Snacking Between Meals Mindsets Greed Selfishness Gluttony Sloth Anger Lust Jealousy  Superiority Unforgiveness Pride Things (To Give Up or Donate) Clothes You No Longer Wear (Someone Else Can Use Them) Single-Use Plastic Books Everything in Your “Someday I Might Need It” Closet Online Shopping Excessive Amounts of Shoes, T-Shirts, etc.  Accessories You Haven’t Worn Recently Old Electronics Promotional Items Someone Gave You for Free but You Never Use One Item for Each of the 40 Days of Lent  Luxuries…

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10 Principles for the Modern Proverbs 31 Woman to Apply to Her Work

That pesky Proverbs 31 woman is back at it again. We read about her—her industry, family, and fear of the Lord— and it’s easy to be overwhelmed. How do we even begin to live like a modern Proverbs 31 woman?  Honestly? Reading through Proverbs 31can be quite intimidating. Especially when we factor in cultural difference and start talking about purple linen and keeping your hand to the distaff.  But Proverbs 31 is mainstream for a reason. There is so much wisdom about Christian life that can be seen if we slow down, look past the cultural principles to the heart of the message and apply the wisdom to our own lives. Specifically, there is a lot about how Christian women should work and relate to the world. Let’s look at Proverbs 31, not as a list of areas we’re falling short, but as a list of guidelines that we can apply to whatever the Lord has called us to do with our lives.  Here are 10 principles from Proverbs 31 Christian women should apply to their work:  1. Work Hard and Don’t Resent It  She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. – Proverbs 31:13, ESV Don’t resent the work God has given you to do, seek after it and embrace it. The Proverbs 31 woman doesn’t shy away from work or see it as a curse but recognize it is part of the life-giving purpose God has created her to fulfill. Instead of seeing our work as simply a burden to check off, let’s embrace our ability to mirror God as He worked in the 6 days He created the world. While our work may be harder because of the Fall, it is still beautiful and life-giving. We should embrace it as such.  2. Get to Work, Don’t Let it Get to You She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens. – Proverbs 31:15, ESV Wake up early. (I’m mostly writing to myself here.) When you rise early, you have an opportunity to get ahead of the day and get on top of your work before it gets on top of you. Rise (earlier than you need to) and make sure that everything needed for the day is prepared. Take time to prepare your heart by spending time in prayer and Scripture. Look over your planner or to-do list and…

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