The “Good” Gap: Believing in the Goodness of God

A couple weeks ago my husband and I decided to watch The Shack by William P. Young. The book was captivating and beautiful, so I couldn’t wait to see it. As my husband made popcorn, I decided check out the bonus material. It began with Young talking about how the book came to be a movie and the impact it has had. I was crying before the movie even started. And, of course, I sobbed through the whole thing.

This beautifully written book and movie profoundly illustrates our misunderstanding of God’s character. In the story, “Papa,” or God, says that many people don’t believe He is good.

I have often looked at the many lukewarm Christians in American churches and wondered, how are they not in love with Jesus Christ? To know Him is to truly adore Him. So, what is missing?

Most Christians believe there is a God who created everything and revealed Himself in scripture. They believe that God hears our prayers and occasionally performs miracles. They don’t have to be convinced of that.

While not fully understanding, they know and have heard that He loves them. The concept of love is elusive, though. It is the most overused word in the English language and therefore, has lost its meaning. However, they still know that God loves us.

We hear preaching about our guilt as human beings and the grace we have been freely given. We know that God sent his son to die for us and by the blood of Jesus we have been saved. Most of us are familiar with the idea of grace and know the gospel story well.

To some in the church, their idea of God might look like this.

God created → God loves → we were Guilty → God saved → end of story

Each one of these statements are true and important elements of God’s story. But something is missing.

Being in love with someone does not come from head knowledge alone, it also comes from the heart. What is the missing piece? What is keeping so many Christians from radically falling in love with Jesus Christ?

We may believe in Him. We may believe that He is all powerful and all knowing and created our world. But, do we believe that He is good? The gap between being a lukewarm Christian and radically following Christ exists when we don’t believe that He is good.

Knowing that God is good is everything. Most of the people I know that are radically following Christ use the phrase, “God is good.” God is ALL good in ALL things at ALL times and gives peace and hope to an otherwise hopeless world.

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. Psalm 107:1

For our faith to be radical, to be sold out Christ, we need to get to the “God is good” part.

God created → God loves → we were Guilty → God saved → GOD IS GOOD

Who is God to me?

God is loving, merciful, forgiving, and the great comforter.

I could say that He is loving and merciful, but that leaves out His great compassion.
I could say that He is kind and forgiving, but that leaves out His faithfulness.
I could say that He is strong and powerful, but that leaves out that He is perfect peace.

God is just so many things. One could say He is everything!

In other words . . . . . He is soooo good! Saying that God is good encompasses everything about His character. All the things of God fall underneath the umbrella of His “goodness.”

So, if your faith seems stale. If you can’t muster up the passion for Jesus that others seem to be able to. Focus on His goodness. Meditate on it. Pray that God would reveal His goodness to you. Everything He has for you is good. Everything He has for you is better than anything in this world.

If you’ve wondered where I’ve been over the last month and a half, why the blog has been radio silent, it’s because I’ve had my own dark path to navigate. My own cold and rough ” green mile” to traverse. However, I have been led by the promises of God’s goodness. His love and mercy illuminated my path. Hope told me that what’s on the other side is good, even better than before. And I trust in a God that has never left my side. I trust in a God that is good.

The Lord is good to all; He has compassion on all he has made. Psalm 145:9

The good He has for you may be packaged in trials. His good for you may be on a rough road or walking through the valley of the shadow of death. His good for you might be facing piles of pain that you have carried your entire life. However, the road of His goodness, regardless of how messy or dark, leads to freedom. There is nothing better in this life than freedom. And true freedom only comes through one source, Jesus Christ.

 

Feeding Our Kids A Law-Based Faith

The following is an excerpt from my upcoming book, Pouring In; Instilling a Personal, Powerful, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in The Next Generation.


Sam Williamson, who writes for The Noble Heart, said, “It’s virtually one hundred percent predictable that we are converted by one message and then preach another. We are converted by the unbelievable hope of God’s love for the undeserving, but we lecture on behavior.”

I am so glad there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Praise God! There would be no hope for me if it weren’t for grace. I would be hopelessly heading to Hell. And so would you. And, so would our kids. We can’t save ourselves from our humanity. We all need a Savior.

The story of Jesus’ life is about a love so great that we can hardly fathom and a pardon so outrageous that none of us deserve.

For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. Romans 6:14

Robin Roberts from the morning show, Good Morning America, recently quoted her mother as saying, “God does not love us because of who we are, God loves us because of who He is.” Wow! Right on Robin’s Mom!

There isn’t anything greater in this world than God’s love and grace we have been freely given in Jesus Christ. The gospel is about God’s love and grace. Grace is everything. Let’s celebrate that in our homes and in our churches.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:11-12

It is the foolishness and simplicity of the gospel that makes it irresistible. A man died in my place, and therefore, I live. It’s lunacy! It’s the crazy, radical love that God has for us.

As Christian parents, we seem to focus on what our kids should or shouldn’t do when it comes to the faith. I have fallen into this trap myself. Why? Do we focus on the law in our own relationship with God? I certainly don’t.

It’s natural for parents to lay down the law. That is what we do. We keep our kids from breaking the law, eating themselves to death, and flunking out of school. They have to follow rules, eat in moderation, and study, study, study!

We do this out of love. And we do it because we know what’s best for them. However, when it comes to teaching our kids faith, we have to take a different approach.

A couple years ago, Emily and I were fighting about what she was allowed to wear to school. Yoga pants and leggings have been the bane of my existence since my girls were in middle school! We have struggled and fought with our girls for years about dressing modestly. Modesty is not a popular concept.

Emily was really into hair, makeup, and fashion then. She put a lot of time and energy into her beauty regimen and it concerned me. I didn’t want her to mistakenly think that she was in any way defined by her beauty. Or that her beauty brought her power.

During our devotions one Saturday, I decided to have us study Isaiah 3:16–17.

The Lord says, “The women of Zion are haughty, walking along with outstretched necks, flirting with their eyes, strutting along with swaying hips, with ornaments jingling on their ankles. Therefore, the Lord will bring sores on the heads of the women of Zion; the Lord will make their scalps bald.”

The passage goes on to talk about how vain and seductive women can be. It talks about how women use their beauty as a source of power.

You can imagine how well that went over. It was clear to whom I was directing this teaching. Dumb!! I should have known better.

A couple weeks later, I realized that I was teaching her a law-based faith. I went up to her room and I apologized for focusing on what she was doing wrong.

It’s so hard as parents not to make this mistake. What is parenting for the first decade of our kids’ lives if not teaching them right from wrong?

Obedience to Christ must be taught within the context of extreme love and grace.

Kara Powell, coauthor of Growing Young, discusses a helpful method for teaching kids faith that avoids the behavior-based model. She takes the basic “Guilt—Grace—Gratitude” model of the Heidelberg Catechism from Reformed theology, and adds the topics, God’s Goodness, God’s People and God’s Vision, to make it a complete picture of the gospel. She calls it “grounding moral obedience in the invitation of grace.”

Guilt is only one small part of the gospel story. We must overwhelm our kids with the message of God’s love and grace through the blood of Jesus. And teach them all aspects of the gospel story.

Powell’s method is a great way to teach the gospel to our kids. If we try to keep this progression in mind, they might have a better chance of understanding the true gospel.

All aspects of the faith are important. We must not get stuck on guilt and obedience.

He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace. 2 Timothy 1:9

We must demonstrate the beauty of grace in our parenting. This is crucial. Just as the king forgave the debt of his servant who owed him money in Matthew 18, we must extend grace to our kids.

Young people won’t be won to Christ by pounding the rules into their heads. Or, by shaming them. It’s our job to teach them about God’s abundant love and grace. We must show them the beauty of the gospel.