CHILDREN & SALVATION

CHILDREN & SALVATION

COMING HOME

Introducing your child to the free gift of salvation is the most – THE MOST – important and precious responsibility we have as parents. It is not to be taken lightly or carelessly. Their eternal choice affects your family’s generational legacy and is forever. I am not going to give you the 1,2,3 steps in how to lead your child because this is so much more than “Here, do this…” I encourage you to pray about this first and really sit with Holy Spirit and get His heart for your child and what He is doing in them right now. Take this seriously and partner with Him. There are no rules in how one can accept Jesus but there are some foundational truths in what Biblical salvation must entail. This is so important for parents to not only understand but to proactively teach it to their children especially in today’s world where there are so many false teachings, faulty understandings of God’s plan, and twisted messages.

Biblical salvation must include the truth that: #1. God loves me (Romans 5:8, John 3:16, Romans 8:38-39) #2. I have sinned (Romans 3:23, Matthew 25:46) #3. God sent Jesus to take my place (1 Peter 2:24) #4. If I believe in Him, I will be adopted (Romans 10:9-10). I encourage you to do this in one sitting or pick one theme a day to build up the story. The goal shouldn’t be to get them saved (unless Holy Spirit is moving), but to arm them with truth and understanding. I bought these wooden pieces at the local craft store to help give visuals. Anytime you can role-play, act out or partner with JOY it makes the principles come to life for the child. I encourage you to pray about this and ask Holy Spirit to show you what He is doing in your child’s life already. Partner with Him.

#1. God loves us – period. This is the entire basis of creation and salvation. God loves us and desires that we would choose Him and have a relationship with Him that would reflect a child perfectly secure in their Father’s love, protection, provision, and affirmation. Talk to the kids about God’s love – what does it look, sound, feel like? Ask them if they have felt loved before from someone and then compare that to God’s love for them. Spend time exploring a love that can never ever be damaged or ruined. WOW.

#2. We are ALL sinners. Even cute, sweet little babies are born sinners. We all fall short of the glory of God. No one, not one, can boast, except Jesus of being pleasing to God on their own. This is a massive lesson in humility and having an accurate assessment of our spiritual state without Jesus. Talk to the kids about sin and that it is anything that displeases God. Sin isn’t a list of rules, but things that make God sad because He knows it will not go well with us or bless us. Talk about ways we sin. Yes, some sin appears to be bigger like murder, but to God it is all the same. Talk about how many things we do a day that fall short of His best for us. Share your own experiences with the ways you have fallen short in the past 24 hours. Model humility.

#3. God sent Jesus to die on the Cross for our sins. Someone has to pay the price, be accountable for the crimes committed and God loves us so much He allowed Jesus to get the ‘spanking’ for us. Hell is a real place and when God says He sent His Son to save us, He isn’t kidding. While hell can be a big topic for small children it is important for them to know it isn’t a choice between earth and heaven. God spared us from a dark place that is for forever. You can use as strong or sensitive of language as appropriate for your child, but the picture of hell is that there is isolation/being alone, no connection, total darkness where there is no help, no peace or joy, and never being able to relate to Jesus. A good word picture small children would understand would be sitting in a dark closet in a time out for the rest of their lives. Jesus came to open the closet door and let us out!!! Jesus is the bridge between darkness and light. Jesus is the One who carries us to the Father in His arms. No one gets to the Father except through Jesus.

#4. We have to do our part in accepting this free gift and say with our mouth that we acknowledge we have sinned and believe that Jesus died on the Cross for our sins. When we do that God adopts us into His family forever. Heaven is a huge concept for kids to grasp but zoom in on the fact it is unbreakable and forever. Talk about what it means to be a Son or Daughter in God’s Kingdom. Luke 15:10 – “There is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.”

I encourage you to use the verbiage, “Someday maybe you will decide you want Jesus in your heart,” instead of asking them if they want to pray. Why? Because children love to please you, and this is something that needs to be Holy Spirit-led. Your job is to teach them; His job is to save them. I cannot wait for your children to be adopted, move into the palace and join the party – FOREVER!

THE GIRL IN THE MIRROR

Do you like the girl in the mirror? I want to encourage you with something. Maybe the battle isn’t so much in despising what you see in the mirror but what you were taught about the girl in the mirror. Our parents and grandparents were raised in a generation where women needed to have a stamp of excellence on them, which included looking immaculate at all times. It was not proper to go out without your hair done, makeup on, or dressed spiffy, even just going to the grocery store. Heck, they even wore heels to the park. Things HAVE changed in our culture, where it is socially acceptable to go to the store in your messy bun, workout clothes, and sweat. But maybe what hasn’t changed is what that taught you about the girl in the mirror. Moms lamented about their bodies and cursed their imperfections with little girls watching, which taught them motherhood = lack, being disqualified, unattractive, undesirable, fat, and not good enough. When little girls grow up and become moms themselves, they have it ingrained in them that now they are disqualified too. If this is how you feel about the girl in your mirror, I encourage you to grab hold of that LIE and push it back where it belongs. Tell that girl she is amazing, has birthed life, that there is grace in the imperfection (whatever that even means), that she has earned her stretch marks and wrinkles. Be compassionate to her and let the girl behind you see a mom who is empowered and kind to her body. You will teach a whole new generation that motherhood = beauty, character, love, compassion, grace, and true beauty. Fill in the blank below.

“The girl in the mirror is ____”.

INTERRUPTING

How many of us get annoyed when we speak to our children, and they don’t listen because they are engaged elsewhere (book, TV, homework, screen time, etc.)? How many of you get annoyed when you are in the middle of something (book, TV, housework, screen time, etc.), and your kids interrupt you as if you aren’t doing anything? Hmmm… maybe we are actually teaching our children to interrupt by what we are modeling for them. We think just because we are adults, we can crash into their world at any time and expect them to instantly stop what they are doing and give us their full attention. While that would be awesome, that isn’t reality. Perhaps we should be modeling for our children how we would appreciate and value them interrupting us when we are in the middle of something, and they need our attention. I have taught my kids that when they need me, but see I am in the middle of something, to come and place their hand on my arm. I place my other hand on top of theirs to say, “I see you,” and they need to wait until I can switch my attention to them. When they got older, I showed them how to say, “Excuse me, Mom, is this a good time to interrupt you?” If I am engaged with another person (on the phone or in person), and the kids would not show honor, I would say, “Excuse me for a moment,” to the person and then say to my children, “You are so important, but I am important too, and right now Mama is talking to Ms. Smith.” This is a people skill that children need to be taught, trained, and equipped in with intentional parenting. Nothing welcomes favor more than honor and respect!

PROVE THEM WRONG

Having three teenagers so close in age has created some competition for crossing milestones, such as who will get their driver’s license first. One child came to me in tears, saying they wanted to get theirs first to “prove them wrong.” I asked what she meant, and she shared that the others were poking fun at her, saying she would be a terrible driver and would probably be the first to crash. That did not sit well with me, so I called a family meeting to talk about it. I asked if anyone had made jokes along those lines, and 3 of them raised their hand. I told them that for their ‘joke’ to come true, my car would be damaged, and if my car went out of commission, not only would they lose a chance to drive it, but their world would change significantly without a family car. I began to list all of the ways my car blessed them. I told them that they were prophesying that their sister would not only hurt my car, but chances are another car or, worse, another human being would also be affected. I shared with them the amount of the loan on my car and that I am required to pay for it whether the vehicle is operable or not, and it would be a significant financial hardship to me if that happened. I asked, “Why in the world would you want to ‘prophesy’ hardship, financial ruin, heartbreak, and loss over your family?” They started to catch on. It isn’t funny to make fun of someone else failing so that you can be the first. That is not being a success; that is being a bully. A truly successful person celebrates those around them and champions them to greatness, which goes for siblings.

EQUIPPING THEM WITH SKILLS

Parenting is a verb that unfolds over time. We do not sit our children down when they are two and tell them everything there is to know about life. We grow and roll with them as they develop and mature. The same is true for safety. Children under five are mainly going to be with mom and dad, so their world is different than the child who is at the age of going to school, sleepovers, playing with neighbors alone, etc. Giving them the language and tools to be safe will open wider and wider over the years, eventually having them walk out your door prepared with tools to be successful, healthy, functioning adults. When new situations arise (playing alone outside, going to school, sleepovers), you first have to ask yourself, “What have I, as the parent, done to teach them about this in the time of peace?” When a child is begging to go play with the neighbors, that is not the time to teach. Your YES should be dependent upon: #1. Have you equipped them with how to handle that situation in the time of peace? #2. Do they have the skills and responsibility to be successful? Sending them out the door, to the neighbors, or even at school without first preparing and arming them with tools gambles with their success. 

SYSTEM UPGRADES

As a mom of four, I had my grocery trips down to a science. I had my toddler in the front, my baby in the carrier of the cart, and my four-year-old twins holding onto each side of the cart. There was peace and joy when we went to the store. Until the day they all outgrew their places, and they were running around playing tag while I attempted to shop. I rationalized that they were fine because they were being joyful, but the joy broke out into the next aisle, where they zoomed up and down the rows of food. Finally, they rounded the corner and nearly plowed over an elderly lady with a walker! I realized my previous system was no longer effective. I had to go home and call another family meeting where I taught them what going to the store looked like in this new stage. This is the process of building them with age-appropriate character throughout their childhood years.

YOUR HEDGE ISN’T HIGH ENOUGH

Fear knocked, and I felt seduced by it for an hour. I finally called a friend to pray with me and heard God say, “Your hedge is not high enough.” I knew He meant that I needed to increase prayers and declarations. I needed to put a verb in my prayers, so I asked Holy Spirit for a creative idea, and this is what He gave me. I had the kids all write out their worries, fears, and statements about the coronavirus. We shared our vulnerability as a family and then shredded them. We then wrote out TRUTH statements and hung them on our Cross. We feasted on these throughout the day. We wanted to do a prophetic act about the virus passing over our home, and instantly I remembered these balls I got at the dollar store years ago (they actually look like the virus). We put a bucket of warm soapy water outside our front door, made bold declarations that the virus would pass us over, and threw them into the soapy water. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you are building a hedge of prayer around your family in this hour.

SEXUAL SAFETY

We teach our kids bike safety. We teach them not to answer the door for stranger safety. We teach them “Stop, Drop and Roll” for fire safety. We teach them to wear a life jacket for water safety. But do we teach them sexual safety? Predators are looking for one thing – a child who has no grid for what is happening and has never been taught about sexual safety. When a child encounters things that are sexually unsafe, their spirit knows something is wrong, but they freeze because they do not know how to handle what is happening. They have been taught to obey adults, not to talk back, to never hit, etc.

#1. Children need to know the proper names for body parts – all of them. 

#2. Children need to know what to do should they ever feel unsafe. 

#3. Children need to know that they are never alone and can ask Jesus for help in ALL circumstances.

NAME TAGS

Name tags identify who we are. God has written over our lives who we are with permanent markers, and we will spend a lifetime exploring the depths of our identity. When we use labels on someone, we are smearing their name tag with shame (“something is wrong with you”). A person can no longer see and explore what God says about them because you just put a blanket of shame over them. They may lie, but they aren’t liars. They may be immature, but they aren’t brats. They may be weak, but they aren’t useless. They may be ignorant, but they aren’t dumb. They may be wrong, but they aren’t hopeless. Watch the dynamics of what happens in the spiritual realm when we do this. Someone has not yet fully understood the revelation of who they are and acts accordingly. People who do not know who they are act like starving, desperate, striving orphans. Someone else is uncomfortable with their behavior and slaps a label on them, which covers up their real identity (if they could have seen it in the first place, they wouldn’t have behaved the way they did), and now instead of growing and discovering the reality of who they really are, they are doing battle with the enemy himself and what he says about them. This is a lose/lose situation. When we see people behave in a way that is less than God called them to be, do not partner with the enemy to feel powerful in your discomfort. Call out who they are despite their weakness to point them in the direction and give them a life raft of hope to cling to.

GODHEAD PARENTING

Once you learn the incredible ways earthly relationships can impact or distort a child’s view of the godhead (God, Jesus, Holy Spirit), it changes the way, you parent. I am constantly looking for ways to reveal to them the reality of who God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit really are. There have been times when I have not modeled it well and have responded harshly or with impatience. When I go back to make it right, I will say, “Holy Spirit is never harsh or impatient with you, and I am sorry that I treated you that way.” One of the most helpful things you can say to a child going through a divorce is, “Do you know God will never leave you?” or to the child being bullied, “Jesus would never treat you like that.” Humans fall short, but God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit do not.

BIRTH ORDER

This is in response to the many questions I get about toddlers who are regressing or acting out when the new baby comes home. I had 14-month-old twins when their brother was born, so I went after making sure they felt secure. It is a big deal for a child to have their birth order changed. Think about it – they are the only ones who get Mom’s attention; she leaves for a few days and comes back with a new baby she is with all the time. Often, Mom is recovering physically, and others intentionally keep the older child away from Mom so she can rest. This is confusing to a child, and they can surely build up resentment toward their new sibling. One thing that was super helpful was the ‘5-minute dates’ with the twins when I knew Hudson would need me for feedings and such. I would bring them to the floor with me, and we would spend quality time together. If Hudson started to cry, I would say out loud, “Oh no, not now, Hudson. Lauren and Emma are very special to me, and I am spending time with them now. You will have to wait.” Of course, you don’t make a newborn wait long, but they have no concept of time. I was communicating to them that the baby has not replaced them, and they are still so valued and important to me. But then I would tell them it was Hudson’s turn and that they needed to play by my feet, watch a movie, read a book, etc. If they wanted juice or help when I was feeding Hudson, I reminded them it was his turn, and they had to wait. I intentionally filled them up like this for many days after we brought him home, and the transition was smooth for all.