People Will Tell You, “You’re Perfect Just the Way You Are.” You’re Not!

“People will tell you, ‘you’re perfect just the way you are.’ You’re not!”chris pratt bryce dallas howard mtv movie tv awards 2018 154104003

Actor Chris Pratt delivered this line as a part of his acceptance speech during the MTV movie and TV awards this past June. (You might be familiar with him from his roles in the latest Jurassic Park movies or the Guardians of the Galaxy).

Out of context, this line might seem like a strange thing to include in an acceptance speech. But, believe it or not, Chris was actually speaking about his faith. He went on to explain that, in our imperfectness, God delivers grace, which was paid for by someone else’s blood.

He’s right! And he makes a great point.

The world wants us to believe that we are perfect just the way we are. Society teaches us to accept our uniqueness, embrace it, and celebrate it. We must not view any personality  trait or mindset as wrong or flawed, but always as beautiful and right.

The truth is, that’s just wrong.

Why?

Because nobody is perfect. We are all flawed.

But let’s just say, for a moment, that people actually are perfect. If we are all perfect, then we must be able to solve all problems, create only good things, and ensure our own ticket to heaven. If we are perfect just the way we are, we don’t need forgiveness, we don’t need grace, and we don’t need Jesus.

Youth are taught that they are perfect just the way they are. Well then, how are they supposed to feel when they actually do mess something up and can’t fix it? If they are supposed to be perfect, but can’t live up to those standards, wouldn’t that false notion actually lead them to feelings of negativity, insufficiency, and even worthlessness? It can! The “gospel” of individual perfection is not good news at all.

That’s why we need to teach our kids that they are imperfect. They will mess up and make mistakes. You see, it is only in this imperfect nature that the need for Jesus becomes so obvious, and necessary. And this is where we can uplift our children with the real gospel.

No one is perfect. We need help; we need a Savior. Jesus is there! When we fail, he lifts us up. When we are sorry, he forgives us. When we pray, he hears us. And when he died, he buried our sins in the grave and gave us new life when he resurrected.

In our imperfection, there is hope! That’s the real message we need to be instilling: “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

“People will tell you, ‘you’re perfect just the way you are.’ You’re not!”

No, we are not. We need help. Praise be to God that he came, he conquered, and he saves!

 

Image source: http://www.justjared.com/photo-gallery/4104003/chris-pratt-bryce-dallas-howard-mtv-movie-tv-awards-2018-15/

Will Heaven be… Boring?

What does heaven look like?

I recently asked that question to a group of young children. Here is how they responded.

“It’s in the sky.”

“There are lots of clouds and it’s really, really bright.”

“It’s not the red place (hell).”

“There’s a big castle in the middle of it.”

“There are golden steps all over.”

When you think of heaven, do any of these images come to mind? Ask anyone – Christian or not – and it’s likely they’ll agree with this list.

Now. Have you ever thought to yourself something like this: “I know I’m supposed to want to go to heaven, but I think I’ll really miss some of this earth’s beauty. I just love trees and mountain peaks. I know my life isn’t perfect here, but there are parts I truly do enjoy. Will I really enjoy heaven? I mean, what will I be doing up there… for eternity?”

If you’ve ever had a thought like this, you’re not alone. The great news is, heaven will not be boring. And it won’t be pastel blue and bland, either. The Bible gives us some really amazing clues about what heaven will be like.

First, we know that heaven will be paradise. When Jesus spoke to the thief on the cross, he called it just that (Luke 23:43)! In the book of Genesis, God’s word tells us that, before humankind fell into sin, life was very good. Adam and Eve lived in a paradise. The garden of Eden gives us a glimpse of what heaven may be like. Picture fresh spring waters, newly blooming fruit trees, fantastically unique animals, and landscapes like you’ve never scene. If Eden is a taste of what heaven looks like, then heaven will be complex, vibrant, and beautiful.

Second, we can bet that we won’t be bored. Adam and Eve had tasks to do. They weren’t bored. They took care of the garden, and nurtured it. God even had Adam name all of the animals (that would have been a very creative and stimulating work day)!

Revelation 7:15 says that people in heaven “are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple.” When we are made new and brought to our perfect home, we will be worshiping and serving God according to our callings.

In his book “What Happens When You Die” Pastor Michael Newman describes how fulfilling heaven will be.

Heaven is a place of stimulating and creative activity. It is a place where we will find our niche, our calling, and our purpose. It is a place where we will be engaged in what we were created to do. If you’ve ever jumped out of bed in the morning, eager to tackle the tasks that awaited you, you’ve experienced a taste of heaven.

The Bible even talks about food being in heaven. Isaiah 25:6 describes a “feast of rich food” and “the best of meats” and the “finest of wines.” Doesn’t that sound satisfying? In heaven, we will feast like we’ve never feasted before!

All of this rich fullness, vibrant beauty, and peaceful complexity is God’s gift to us, his children. When Jesus defeated sin, death, and the devil, each of us was given the promise of life in this beautiful heaven with Jesus. When we think of how glorious and fulfilling heaven will be, it’s hard to not want to be there.

When we speak to our children about heaven, we can go beyond the “stereotypical” descriptions of light blues and clouds. We can, in confidence, tell them how colorful, spectacular, and satisfying life in heaven will be. Heaven will have the most beautiful trees, the clearest waters, the tastiest food, and the most engaging activities. And best of all, we will all be living together in complete peace and happiness with our God, Jesus.

Boring? Not even close!

 

 

 

 

Encouraging Comments any Parent would Love to Hear

“Wow, you’ve got your hands full.”

It’s a comment most parents have heard at some point or other. But, do we enjoy hearing it (again and again)? Most strangers probably don’t mean anything derogatory  by it; in fact, they are most likely heartened at the sight of lively, active children. Yet, comments like that and others like it (“they keep you busy!”) don’t really leave parents feeling encouraged. They just leave us, well, flat.

Anytime we walk past someone trying to corral their kids down the sidewalk or line up behind a family with three busy children in the grocery store, we can resonate with them. Our gut instinct tells us to help in some way, or at least to empathize. Can we offer a kind, encouraging word without falling prey to the typical “small-talk” parenting comments and without coming on too strongly?

You bet.

King Solomon understood the power of a few kind words. Proverbs 16:24 says: “gracious words are a honeycomb; sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Words can go a long way. As parents, we’re frequently told how tough our job is and how busy we must be and how tired we look. But honey is better!

Here are a few sweet comments.

“You have such a beautiful family.”

“You are doing a great job.”

“Your children are blessed to have you as their parent.”

“That was such a great way to communicate with your kids.”

“Your family is so well-behaved.”

“You’re a great role-model for your children.”

These are just a few examples. There are plenty of other helpful, encouraging, appropriate, and kind compliments to offer. And there are times when no words may be best, too (jutting in right in the middle of a discipline session wouldn’t be good timing). But parenting truly is tough, and receiving some kind words truly does wonders for our mental stamina (sweet to the soul) and physical well-being (healing to the bones).

The next time you find yourself alongside a frantic or stressed parent, know that thoughtful words may do a lot of good. Resist the urge to share a “common” parenting phrase and offer some sincere, encouraging words. They are sweet!