Give them the gift of peace. Soaking means to be saturated in His presence and nothing else (that means no to-do list, worrying, striving, or doing – just being).
COVER THEM IN PEACE
Ask, “Jesus, what lies am I believing about my parenting?” I am fairly certain I know your response. No, I am not a mind reader, but I do know that the enemy throws out these seeds to all parents, hoping to get us to partner with them because it may feel or sound true. The lie you believe about your parenting most likely sounds something like the following: I am ruining my children. I am not enough. My child will grow up to hate me. I do not have what it takes.
Friends, the enemy is a liar, and you ARE enough. Not because of you, but because GOD gave you your child, and He trusts Himself to work all things out (even your shortcomings, wounds, and messes). When a parent partners with this lie, he is taking out two generations in one because a parent who believes they aren’t enough will act like they aren’t enough. If you struggle with the lie that you aren’t enough, are ruining your child, or don’t have what it takes, write the lie out and destroy it (burn it, trash it, shred it, stomp on it, flush it or rip it). THEN ask, “Jesus, what is Your truth about my parenting?” The next time the enemy throws that lie at you, counter it with what Jesus said.
Your family’s prayers can change the world – literally! Revelations shares how the story ends. Pay attention to Revelations 8 – “The smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God . . . Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth” (Rev. 8:4-5).
This is not to be taken lightly or flippant. When you pray, you are filling the prayer bowls of heaven. Gather your family and place a bowl with a little water in the center of the table. Give each person a glass filled with water and a spoon. Play a game to see how many spoonfuls of water they can get into the larger bowl to make it spill over (literally). It will simply take ONE more spoon full of water to tip the water over the edge. Have fun, and let joy break out. Then share the verse above and tell them that their prayers can change the world. I encourage you to use Philippians 4:6-7 as your prayer guide as a family. Talk about the verse, act it out, and then pray in response to each line. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
**Don’t worry about anything – make a list of the things you are worried about.
**Take that list and pray over each item.
**Tell God what you want and need.
**Thank Him for what He has done in the past.
**Thank Him for what He is going to do now.
Hopefully by now you have worked through and settled the question if God wants to speak to you. Faith is an important ingredient in our relationship with our Father. In fact, Hebrews 11:6 says that it is impossible to please God without faith! Ponder for a moment what life would be like if you went mute and had to try to teach, train, and love on your children without words. Seriously, think about how many times a day you use your words to guide your children to teach and train them, encourage them, cheer them on and help them. How often do you use your words to lavish love all over them and tell them how precious and beautiful they are to you? Now, how many times a day do you let your Father speak to you? Stop for a moment and ask yourself.
Why not spend the next hour with your children and tell them you are all going to play a game. NO TALKING. Each person has to communicate what they want to say without using words. Too many believers have limited their relationship to God with the written Word (which is very important), but He wants us to relate to Him, hear Him, feel His love, and experience Him. I liken the difference to wives whose husbands are overseas. While they may exchange beautiful love letters, it is not the same as the wife whose husband is there every night holding her, kissing her, and protecting her. The latter is the kind of love Jesus wants to have with us. We all know no marriage would be healthy or survive without communication. That is how personal God wants our relationship with Him to be. How could anyone find that level of intimacy with someone without talking, listening, and responding to each other? I have often heard people say that they believed God loved them in the “He loves the whole wide world” sense but had never fully understood how much He loved THEM personally until they heard Him speaking to them (John 10:27; Revelations 3:20). The purpose of the cross wasn’t only for forgiveness but also to grant us a relationship with God. God paid a pretty big price to offer us a relationship with Him. Do we not really believe that He wants to communicate with us (John 14:6)? We often pray, fast, believe, declare, hope, meditate, quote Scriptures, seek medical help, strive, ask others to pray, do it on our own strength and lean on our own understanding, but have we simply just asked Him?
I recently heard that people who hear God’s voice (and seek Him) are successful people. I agree – God is all-knowing all the time, and desires to share His answers with us, but we need to ask and then be quiet for a moment and listen to His response. Proverbs 25:2 says, “It is God’s privilege to conceal things, and the king’s privilege to discover it.” The reason why the Creator of the universe would concern Himself with speaking to us is for one reason alone – He loves us (Romans 5:8)! Many of us have been bruised by life circumstances, past relationships, or parents who parented out of their own wounds which can make it hard for us to grasp the depth and width of God’s love for us (Ephesians 3:8). But that’s the whole point of the Good News – we are LOVED! Radically wanted and loved in a way no human ever has and with a depth so deep we would never be able to consume it all. A proper response to His love is hunger – hunger for MORE of Him! Some of the greatest encounters with God are when we get to a place of such holy dissatisfaction with the reality there is MORE of Him and cry out for it. While we have all of God available to us when we first believe there will always be more of Him to discover, explore, experience, and encounter – always! How hungry are you for Him? Hungry people do what it takes, go great distances and pay the cost to get food. Spiritual hunger is a good thing. Matthew 5:6 says, “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.”
How hungry are you?
LET’S BREAK IT DOWN – Take a sheet of paper and write “Dad” on the left side. Under that write “Mom” and under that write “Siblings/Friends.” In the column next to each of these, write out three to five strong beliefs you have about them. We aren’t looking for obituary tributes; we are looking for YOUR truth. I am not asking what you know to be true as in, “Well, they did the best they could.” Use words that feel true to your little girl/boy heart. Maybe it will be things like, “They loved me, but were too busy,” or “kind”, “would yell a lot,” “unpredictable.”
THREE IN ONE – God provides all that we need. God is our Father. We have His Son Jesus and His Spirit. They are ONE – we serve ONE God, but they are all different. For example, my son is one person, but he is a son, brother, and friend all rolled into one person. There are different sides of him, but all parts of one whole. We need to have a relationship with each of the godhead to walk in the fullness of who God intended us to be. If we love Jesus but have no relationship with Father God, we are out of balance. If we are cool with Father God but have no room for Holy Spirit, we are missing out!
He provided us an earthy family that mimics the godhead. Now, write “God” in the third column on the first row, then “Holy Spirit”, then “Jesus”. The dad represents God the Father who provides and protects us. The mom represents Holy Spirit who comforts, educates, and nurtures us. And our siblings or friends represent Jesus, who is our friend and companion. At least that was God’s design.
If there is trouble, who would a child want to handle it? Probably Dad. But if the child hurts themselves, most often they would want Mom. As a child gets older, who do they want to tell all their secrets to and giggle with? Their friends, right? We learn about the godhead through the relationships that God gives us on earth.
It would be a safe guess that whatever you wrote down in the “Dad”, “Mom”, “Siblings/Friends” column is also how you view the godhead (unless you have already had significant healing). The goal is NOT to focus on how bad your parents were but to realign yourself with the truth of God the Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit. See the difference?
All parents have a natural desire to shield their children from harm. I remember when the bubble was broken for my children. I was crushed that their innocence and know-no-pain world had come to a crashing halt. For some reason I couldn’t get over it, and it was paralyzing to me. Then a wise woman in my church told me about a family who had done everything right – they raised amazing godly children who were loving, honoring, respectful and happy – until the day a bully showed up on the playground and made their life a living hell. I asked her, “You mean that even if I did everything right, the bubble would have probably popped some other way?” She replied sadly but honestly, “Yep!” I realized then the meaning of a fallen world. While we do not expect the bad, we come to realize that our enemy is real, and he is good at his job. That is why we need to be better at ours!
For any area that you have a weak spot with the godhead due to your experience with your earthly relationships, walk through the following steps:
- Forgive your earthly parent/sibling/friend for whatever you wrote down.
- Renounce that God/Jesus/Holy Spirit are that way.
- Ask Him for His truth.
- Receive His truth!
THIS is why we need to stop and take a little inventory of our lives so that we can see how our childhood has shaped us and perhaps altered our view of the godhead. Often what happens is we are so determined to do things differently from our parents that we end up in extremes and still out of balance. At times my mom was so against sugar and treats that I coveted them any time I was around them. I didn’t want to be like that with my kids, but I realized I said yes to sugar too much. Another good example is abuse. A child is abused and swears they will never do such a thing to their child but goes so far to the other side that their child has never known a day of consequences or learned self-control. There has to be a balance – the balance is Jesus. And the only way to come into proper alignment is to have our eyes fixed on Him.
GODHEAD PARENTING – Once you learn the incredible ways earthly relationships can impact or distort a child’s view of the godhead, it changes the way you parent. I am constantly looking for ways to reveal to them the fullness of the godhead. For example, being part of a single parent family can make it easy for my children to feel like orphans, but I am constantly calling out the way their dad still provides for them financially. When I bless them with something and they say thanks, I am quick to say, “Bless your dad for providing the funds.” It is hard for them to feel like an orphan when they are thanking God for how their earthly father is providing for them. This is not an attempt to ignore reality, but I take seriously not letting earthly relationships define their view of God, Jesus or Holy Spirit. There have been times when I have responded to them harshly or with anger and when I go back to make it right, I will say, “Holy Spirit is never harsh or mean with you and I am sorry that I treated you that way.”
DIVORCE – Can you see a bit more clearly how a child becomes a spiritual orphan? When parents are bitter towards each other and slander one another in front of the kids, it destroys not only their worth and value but also their view of the godhead. One of the most powerful things you can say to a child going through a divorce is simply, “God would never leave you!” What is happening in the natural is unpleasant, but how a child transfers these lies to their beliefs about the godhead is how lasting wounds are created.
Something that always brings a shift for me is when I hold my hand palms up and say, “Lord, I let go. You can have this one. I will not carry it, hold onto it or worry about it. This one is on You.” It removes the tension I feel from operating outside of my control.
Have you ever said, “PEOPLE ARE SO BLIND”? Raise your hand. How many people have read something on social media and thought, “They are crazy. How can they be so blind?” How many of you have seen the war of words with people attempting to change someone by proving they are wrong? STOP this! It only furthers the insanity. Here’s why! The Bible says if someone cannot see the truth, pray that the scales of their eyes would be removed. They aren’t trying NOT to see in many cases. They simply have scales on their eyes, making them blind. Speaking to their intellect and getting into a debate is not how God tells us to respond. We are to pray for them to have eyes to see. Give it a try. Instead of being the social media police telling people why they are wrong, try praying for God to remove the scales from their eyes. Trust me, GOD bringing revelation to someone is where real transformation occurs. Psalm 119:18 – “If you have eyes to see, pray for their eyesight to be as clear as yours. Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions.”
We should be praying this over ourselves often too. “Jesus, open my eyes so that I may see as You see.”
Teaching about the birds and bees is different from sexual safety. I believe sex education should start in the home so that children have a solid understanding and do not learn it for the first time on the playground with mixed and twisted information. Over time, this is an evolving process that happens in layers as they age and mature. However, sexual safety is something that every parent must be intentional with and proactively equip their children to be safe. We teach our children how to keep their heads safe using bike helmets, their bodies safe by not answering the door, their hands safe while holding yours, and their mouths healthy using a toothbrush, but we also need to teach them about sexual safety. What age is this for? ALL!!! I cannot stress this enough. Unless your child is with you 24/7, and I mean 24/7, then perhaps they don’t need to be equipped, but if they go to school, have playdates, overnights, babysitters, friends, neighbors, and attend church, they need to be equipped.
Rest doesn’t mean sitting idle and doing nothing. It means getting your identity from Him, not in what you do. If rest is something you struggle with, ask, “Jesus, will You please show me what about rest makes my heart so uncomfortable?”
When you think of persecution, what words come to mind? Fear? Intimidation? Worry? Lack? The apostle Paul was no stranger to the world of being persecuted, and yet he describes it with words like joy, honor, growth, and opportunity. This generation has been introduced to an anti-bullying campaign. While I fully agree, no child should have to endure bullying. My concern is that it has taught this generation to simply raise their hand every time someone so much as bumps into them, expecting someone will come to their rescue and stop their discomfort. This generation needs to have the skill sets to deal with bullying, pressure, and real persecution.
What skill sets are needed?
Identity – You can’t fight a battle properly if you don’t know who you are (or you will be fighting the wrong battle). When words, slander, accusation, and misunderstandings happen, they become events, not defining moments that cripple your worth and value. We say OUCH and respond appropriately without cowering or retaliation. In the days to come, when your child endures challenging moments, and reacts, help them process the truth about who they are despite the events. I have empowered my children to ask, “Jesus, will You please shine Your flashlight in my heart and show me what LIE am I believing right now?” Much of the time, their above-average reaction to the situation was because they believed a lie about who they were. Break up with the lie by declaring, “I confess I have partnered with the lie that _____. I break up with that lie and renounce it (I taught my children that renouncing it was like breaking it over your leg like you would a stick).” Follow up by asking, “Jesus, what is Your truth?” The more you can help them walk through this, the faster they will be to run to Him in their moment of distress. As the kids got used to this, I would begin saying, “Why don’t you go to your room and grab your journal and talk to Jesus,” and they would ask these questions on their own. Now I don’t have to coach them because they WANT to process this with Him of their own accord. Pray for an increased understanding of who you are as a Son and Daughter.
Authority – When we learn our powerful authority in Christ, we learn how to use it in battle to fight the right enemy. We do not have authority over other humans whom God has given a free will to make their own choices, but we do have authority over the spirit realm that operates through a person. If someone makes accusations or slander against you, you can bind the spirit from using your name. If someone attempts to control you through words, you can take authority over the spirit of intimidation. I say something like, “Spirit of intimidation. I see you and do not partner with you. I break any agreement associated with my name.” Moms and dads, you have got to know your own spiritual authority so that you can empower and equip your children. Pursue understanding authority as a family.
Suffering – Yes, I said children need to learn how to suffer well. If we teach our children a life with Christ is all about the platform, fame, and blessings, we are setting them up for real failure. Following Christ means denying ourselves and picking up our Cross. Suffering to a child means not getting the cookie before dinner, having to go to bed when you tell them, or not being able to get that new toy while grocery shopping. To a child, this is a big deal. Our response should be to offer comfort and validation in their suffering, not to relieve them from the pain of suffering. Children who have never had to endure suffering, learn how to manage it and will have an incredibly hard time when real pressure and hardship come down the road. Suffering allows us to have fellowship with a Savior that understands. Talk about this with your family and how Jesus suffered, and when we walk through hard things, Jesus not only understands but we can walk with Him in it.
Like most families, we have our share of sibling issues, but something about it has always sat funny with me. It was like I could feel something working against them but could never put my finger on it. Their tones and attitudes toward each other don’t reflect the gift that they have been given. I called a family meeting and had them close their eyes. I told them we were not asking Jesus this time, nor did I want the right answer. I wanted an answer that reflected their heart. I asked them to give me thumbs up or thumbs down if they would feel something in their heart if they walked into a room and saw me in it. Everyone gave thumbs up. I asked them how their heart would feel if they saw their sister, a few thumbs halfway and one thumb down. I asked about each person, and their answers broke my heart. I was thankful for their honesty, but it pierced my heart deeply. I had them close their eyes again and asked them to give me thumbs up or down if, when they walked into a room with their peers, they felt awkward and like they didn’t belong. Each of them sheepishly put their thumb halfway or all the way down, almost surprised they were exposed to this truth of their heart. I would say all my kids are popular in that they are well-known and liked by adults and peers, yet their sense of belonging was under attack because of how they were functioning as a family. Children get their sense of belonging from siblings, not Mom and Dad. If we tolerate negative sibling connections and bullies in the living room, we are setting them up to feel isolated even amongst a crowd. I brought out the whiteboard and began to draw out our family line and how each generation has been influenced and affected by rejection. To the best of my knowledge, it started with my illegitimate great, great, great aunt who was fed rejection daily by those who called themselves family. After that, each generation hosted profound rejection between mother and child with favoritism towards one another.
I mapped out that my children will get married and have kids roughly in 2030. Their children will have children in approximately 2060, and their grandchildren will be around in 2090. Just like our ancestors of 100 years ago have affected their generational bloodline, so will they until the year 3000 – what a sobering thought. Our choices today affect future generations. We have been given a gift of life, family, and knowing Christ’s redemptive work and are called to steward it well in our lifetime. It was time to break it once and for all! We began to work as a family on our court case regarding the lack of sibling love. We argued that it violated God’s command to love each other and did not glorify His name to have such disunity. We searched for verses that backed up our case and took time to stand before Jesus, asking for forgiveness for the way we have partnered with the generation curse and allowed it to bear bad fruit. I had the children move to the same side of the room as if it were a real courtroom and had them repeat after me the court case before the Judge who judges all things. It was super powerful for all of us. One of the children heard the Judge’s gavel hit the bench, and with that, we rested our case. We put on worship music and sat in His presence together as a family. I encountered a flood of emotions as I felt the release of the conflict and was filled with His redeeming grace. Instantly I noticed a difference in the way they treated each other.