CULTIVATING GRATITUDE

CULTIVATING GRATITUDE

Take a moment and introduce your child to Psalms 100:4-5. Children of this generation understand the language of needing a ‘password’ to enter. I love how we get to write His word on their hearts!

Psalm 100:4-5 (NIV) – “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good, and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”

SLANDER

Slander steals and kills! God hates slander (Proverbs 6:16, 19). It is evil. That’s why Paul lists it as a behavior of those who hate God (Romans 1:30) and why James calls it demonic behavior (James 3:15-16). Slander occurs whenever someone says something untrue about someone else that results, intentionally or unintentionally, in damaging that someone else’s reputation. And when it occurs, it becomes a divisive, discouraging, and confusing weight that often affects numerous people – sometimes many, many people. Because of its poisonous power, IT IS ONE OF THE ADVERSARY’S CHIEF STRATEGIES TO DIVIDE relationships and deter and derail the mission of the church. We must be on our guard against this closely clinging sin and frequently lay it aside (Hebrews 12:1). Slander applies to siblings too. 

The Subtlety of Slander

Sometimes, saying something untrue and damaging about someone is bold and blunt. But the slander is often insidiously subtle, especially since we have heard it in almost every context and grown accustomed to it all our lives. This means we must heighten our sensitivity to it and lower our tolerance to it. Slander can wear a hundred masks. I’ll mention a few common ones. Sometimes we pass along slanderous information that seems almost like harmless hearsay. Yet, the effect it has on our listeners is to leave them with an unfairly negative perception of another. Sometimes we embellish with information or tone a negative report about someone in order to enhance our listener’s perception of ourselves. Sometimes we have a very real concern about someone, but we share it with someone who cannot benefit from it or help with the concern. We do this because we want our listeners to think worse of a particular person. Or suppose we share a concern with an appropriate person. In that case, we can sometimes indulge our speculations or presumptions, mixing them almost imperceptibly with facts for our listeners, distorting the concern to sway an outcome in the desired direction. The net effect of all forms of slander is to unjustly devalue another person’s reputation. 

Slander Is Stealing

This devaluing is at the heart of what makes slander evil. The Bible tells us, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold” (Proverbs 22:1). In this context, a good name represents a person’s character, which is the most valuable thing about their identity. A good name is who we are in the minds of others. And since relationships trade in the currency of trust, a reputation is a very precious asset. So whenever we handle a person’s name – who they are in the minds of others – we are stewarding a treasure that belongs to them. If we unjustly damage a person’s reputation, we are stealing their good name and vandalizing their character. This causes real, sometimes long-lasting damage to people because restoring a devalued name is difficult. Who knows what love, joy, counsel, comfort, and opportunities we take from people if we care for their name carelessly? God knows. And He hates it. God hates when we speak evil of his name (Exodus 20:7) and when we speak evil of others (Titus 3:2). He will hold us accountable for every careless word we speak (Matthew 12:36). This is a great incentive for us to “put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander” (1 Peter 2:1).

Fight Slander First in Yourself

The foremost slanderer we must silence is the one inside us. Full of malignant pride, our sinful natures are not interested in truth but in self-glory. So they seek to manipulate others through slander (or flattery) for our own selfish benefit. Sin (and therefore our demonic harassers) seizes on a concern for or an offense we’ve received from another and seeks to distort it into thinking evil of that person. Thinking evil of another is assigning imagined or exaggerated negative qualities to them that doesn’t exist. Often this begins as private fantasies where we nurture our concerns or offense by imagining ourselves justified in our righteousness and others condemned in their evil. But in truth, all we’re doing is passing our own evil thoughts on to imaginations disguised as other people. That’s our sinful nature’s slanderer talking. We are fools to listen to it. And when our slander spills out from ourselves to others – and it will if we don’t catch it soon enough – it is both selfishly indulgent and cowardly. Slander is indulgent because we often seek the self-flattery buzz of our listener approving and admiring us more than the one we are slandering. We are robbing another’s reputation to get the drug of self-flattery. Slander is cowardly because it’s a way of nurturing a concern or an offense and gaining sympathizers without doing the courageous work of bringing it directly to the source of our concern or offense. Our rationalizations for this can be countless, but essentially we don’t have the guts to deal with it head-on. This means our character is in serious question since we are willing to vandalize another’s character to gain allies.

We must grow ruthless in ignoring and silencing our slandering sinful natures. 

By Jon Bloom 

CLEANING UP OUR MESS

When the kids were really little, I would have them say, “I am sorry.” Once they understood that correction/discipline meant they did something to cause harm, I would have them ASK for forgiveness, such as, “I am sorry. Will you please forgive me?” And they had to wait for the reply of the other person. When they were around 4-8, I would have them say what they were sorry for, such as, “I am sorry for hitting your arm.” When they got older, I had them ask for forgiveness and state WHY what they did was not okay, such as, “I am sorry I hit your arm. It is not okay because I used my strength instead of my words.” Now that they are in their teen years, it is common for them to clean up their messes by asking forgiveness and releasing compassion and validation for how their choices have affected others. I am confident my grandchildren will reap the fruit of this because a successful marriage is not built upon perfection but on the ability to clean up one’s mess well.

I AM THEIR TEACHER

Teaching children to walk in character is a VERB, and it is best done in the home by loving parents. 

COME ON IN

God seems to be highlighting a particular area, and I want to camp out and create some conversation on the topic of parents’ concern over keeping their children sexually safe. I have ministered to a handful of parents as God is setting them free from fear and moving them to rise up in their God-given authority. We welcome what we FEAR. It is like opening the front door and saying, “Oh, I see you. Come on in.” While that is not our heart, it is the nature of what fear does in the spiritual realm. Fear is not a tool of heaven and will not produce the Kingdom fruit you desire. YES! There are real dangers in today’s world, and there is a full-on demonic assault against our children’s identity and sexual purity. BUT God has answers and solutions to help us equip and protect them. You are on the front lines, and now is not the time to shrink back, surrender or admit defeat. It is time to rise up, get your armor on, and declare that your house will be passed over with the schemes of the enemy.

DO YOU FEEL A WEIGHT ON YOU?

A while back, the Lord told me to pray for a leader who was enduring much. I went to pray for them and felt this incredible weight over them, like the shoulder pads of a football player, except they were made of steel. I know my prayers are powerful, but the weight felt so heavy it was unmovable. I went back to the Lord and asked for strategy since He is the one who told me to pray. And I heard Him say this, “You are right, Lisa, the weight is too heavy to lift it off of them, so I want you to pray that they come out from under it,” and I saw this person duck down, move to the right and stand up straight again like coming out from under a bridge. I laughed at the ease and simplicity of dealing with the weight. God ALWAYS has a strategy for dealing with a trial – always! Go ahead and give it a try.

Gather the family and talk about what burdens everyone is facing. Maybe it is a test at school, issues at work, conflict in the home, or unique circumstances. Have everyone stand and picture the weight on their shoulders. Now have them duck, turn and stand up straight again. We can move out from under the weight of what consumes us. Every time I do this, I breathe easier and lighter.

DO NOT LET THE SUN GO DOWN

Ephesians 4:6 clearly tells us to get rid of all anger before a certain time of day, but why? I do not think something magical happens at midnight to all those with anger in their hearts; however, I DO believe that when we sleep, we are without natural defense and unable to put on our armor, as Ephesians 6 talks about. Our spirit and mind are very much alive when we sleep, but our active thinking is not. When a child goes to bed with hurts, lies, anger, or offense in their heart, it can open the door to the enemy to produce nightmares, imbed lies, and increases fear and anxiety. If these issues are present, it is better to lose sleep and address it than end the day with it being unresolved. A fantastic way to help a child be at peace before bedtime is by filling up their love tanks, even just for a few minutes, praying together, or playing worship music which calms their heart. Another great way is to play the High/Low game.

High/Low game – When our family endured trauma, it was so important to me to know what was going on inside my children’s minds and hearts. Each evening when I would tuck them in, we would play the High/Low game. I would ask what the high of their day was and then what the low was. Sometimes they would say the most amazing things; the simplest of events was what touched them the most, yet things I totally missed caused the lowest. It helped me get a pulse on their hearts to see what was important to them, but also if they believed any lies or had unforgiveness that needed to be resolved. I would often get another child out of bed to resolve something between their siblings. As the kids enter school, this is an incredible game to play to see what they are carrying around in their hearts.

SUICIDE

WISE & EMPTY WISDOM (Excerpt from my book)

I was ticked. Okay, more like mad at hell that these wise men in front of me were clueless about suicide and the hopelessness that consumed me. Their only solution was to have me be babysat by one of my friends for the night and make her promise not to leave me out of her sight. Suicide is a lie. A demonic lie, and they had little to no awareness of how to help me get free. Instead, I was left alone to face the demonic spirit with a babysitter. Did they never consider that I would wake up with the lie the next morning? Would anyone ever understand what was swirling around my mind and heart? Ever??? Suicide is not an emotional issue; it is not solved in the natural. It is not about death; it is a self-hatred issue. A demonic lie has a legal right to speak to your mind because of unresolved emotional issues that have convinced you to turn on yourself. The enemy has a legal right to influence you and get you to do his dirty work in the first part of John 10:10. He wants you dead and is cashing in on your trauma, shame, and hopelessness that has caused you to turn against yourself. You cannot reason with this lie through the mind or emotions. Giving them a list of reasons why their life is worth living is like handing an anorexic a mirror to convince her that she is not fat. While the emotions and mind were a part of ushering in the demonic spirit, it is a spiritual issue and must be fought with spiritual tools. When the church fails to recognize this, it only pushes the despair that there truly is no hope for freedom. Instead of people being fully free, they learn to manage it. That is, until life circumstances create enough pressure to crumble the inferior operating system. If the second part of John 10:10 declares Jesus’ victory over death, then the church needs to be equipped and empowered to help set people free – fully free!

HOPE CHALLENGE

I am putting out a challenge to all Let the Children Fly families. A while ago, I was feeling really discouraged and said, “I just wish someone would see me,” and I heard the Lord say, “Go see others.” Each morning we would have devotion time as a family, and I told the kids to bring their phones. I prayed, asking God to highlight someone in my mind. I started a group text with me, that person, and my kids, and we each gave them a prophetic word. It was so life-giving to US that we did it again and again. Ever since, each morning, we have a prophetic time where we intentionally ask Jesus for a word for someone else. 

I challenge your family to join us. It not only strengthens your spiritual hearing, but it also brings light and hope to the hearts of others.

IS GOD TRANSITIONING YOU TO MOVE?

There is a big difference between moving and transitioning. I see scores of people called by God to move into new locations in this season, and I believe He is RE-positioning many in the Body of Christ for His purposes. Over the years, I have watched people leave their community and struggle through the turbulence of entry into their new homes. I have often coached people to ask a small group of friends to commit to walking them through the transition for weeks or even months to come, like stakes in a tree until the tree can stand on its own. Now that we have walked through our own journey of transitioning, I wanted to add a few more gems that have helped us leave behind precious communities. Make a list of what you will need to leave behind and what is yours. You will have to leave things behind and the more you can identify what that is, grieve it and let it go, the easier it will be. Make a list of what is yours. You get to take many things with you, and it is important to realize that certain things are yours to carry everywhere you go. 

When we left Redding, we determined that things like seeking His presence, worshiping, praying for the sick, certain relationships, hunger for God, adventures with Him, etc., were ours and things we get to take with us. The more you are aware of it ahead of time, the easier it will be to hold onto them. Conflict or friction sharpens us to become more like Him and is bound to happen in community. Make sure you ask the Lord if there is anyone you need to forgive and work that out in your heart before you depart, so you don’t carry that with you. Furthermore, ask Jesus if you need to make things right with anyone before you depart, so they don’t have to carry that with them. It is healthy to end well. Someone told me once we begin our journey to go to the city limits, get out, and literally shake the dust off. This is not a negative act but one that says, “I leave behind what is behind and press on towards what is before me.” We did this at 4 in the morning with our U-Haul; it was a powerful prophetic act. I could feel a shift in my spirit. The whole physical journey (drive) home was deep and rich. I allowed my mind to flow with memories, thoughts, and testimonies. I cried, felt uncomfortable and messy, yet by the time I arrived, I felt like I had drained so much of my process I was able to embrace the new. The other thing that surprised me was that I felt this strange oppression with former things when we arrived. I kept resisting but felt like I was managing it and not walking in freedom. Finally, someone who also transitioned years before shared that there are OLD GARMENTS of who you were before when you lived there.  The minute she said that, I was able to shake it off and walk in who I am today, not who I was before. Very powerful. 

Do not let old garments and identities attempt to lure you back. Community is built by intentionality. Do not wait for people to embrace you. Even though you are the new kid in town, be the leader in creating connections, community, and building relationships. These points have been anchors for me as we continue to process our journey into new territory.

GET UP AND FIGHT – SURRENDER

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.