Jesus doesn’t have band-aids.
The number one thing I hear my children thank me for is teaching them how to hear God. We had a long season where they were learning and growing. We practiced and strengthened their spiritual muscle of hearing (just like reading the Word, worshiping, or praying). I was teaching them that He is safe, good, and trustworthy. In the beginning, it was never about the fruit; it was about building a relationship with Him so that they knew He was there in their time of need. They have repeatedly witnessed Him speaking, showing up, leading, guiding, correcting, healing, loving, encouraging, and helping them. With all of the parenting methods out there today, I am convinced the two greatest gifts I can give my children are knowing how to hear their Father and helping them resolve hurts, lies, and offenses.
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Your children are not victims of your journey.
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.
The biggest war the next generation will face in their lifetime is the battle over their identity! Parents, teaching your child who they are – who God says they are – the parts that cannot be changed – the areas that aren’t moved or reduced based on circumstances – is a LIFELINE in today’s culture.
For those of you who do Easter eggs with the kids, hide one that is EMPTY. Make a big deal about it being the best one. When they open it, they will be confused. Explain to them that the BEST NEWS is that the tomb is EMPTY, and that is why we celebrate Easter. The Cross is part of the journey, but the EMPTY tomb is what we celebrate.
On the first day of our JOURNEY class, we talk about being hungry for MORE. Nearly 100% of the answers reflect a deep desire for more of Him but a fear. Fear is just a lie to get YOU to forgo the goodness God has for you. The enemy can’t stop you, so he whispers lies that produce fear, which causes us to shy away, afraid the lie will actually come true. God is calling you deeper. Be known for your yes to Him, not for partnering with fear. I encourage you to break agreement with the lie and take it right to the throne by asking, “God, is it true that _______? What is Your truth?”
Teaching children to walk in character is a VERB, and it is best done in the home by loving parents.
I went away with the sole purpose of hearing His heartbeat for families. Here is a portion of what I heard Him say:
OPPOSITE DIRECTION – There has been a force leading parents in the opposite direction, and many have found themselves going the wrong way but haven’t known how to pull themselves out of it. Parents have felt overwhelmed and powerless in the battle. I see buckets of slime thrown over the heads of parents, preventing them from seeing and hearing clearly. It has caused them to feel dazed. Fear has crept in over the next generation, and because of this, the battle line has moved inch by inch in the wrong direction. But God….
INTO THE CURRENT – Do you remember in the movie Finding Nemo, when Marlin awakens on the back of the sea turtle Crush and learns they’re riding the East Australian Current? All they had to do was roll into the current, and it swept them up in the direction they were supposed to go. They rested and played while the current moved them at record speed. That is the picture God gave me for families this year and what I will be anchoring my ministry and family around in 2018.
FINDING THE SON – Just like Nemo’s dad, Marlin, who was on a pursuit to see his son, scores of families in the church will leave the comforts of what is familiar to join the adventure of finding the Son. I am not talking about salvation, as they are already believers, but rather those who lack the power of the Cross in their lives. Families in the church are going to taste and see the power of the Cross and the transforming power of the name of Jesus in ways they have only read about before. Once they experience it for themselves, they will gain strength and resolve to make sure their children don’t become unbelieving believers but walk in the power of John 14:12.
QUIET REVOLT – There is going to be a quiet revolt as many make a personal choice to rebel in opposition to armed resistance to the established way of life. It will not be by force or control but by determination and conviction fueled by a deep hunger for the righteousness of God. Households will be reclaimed for the Lord’s purpose, and PARENTS WILL roll into the massive undercurrent of the Lord’s power that will sweep them under His wing and set the next generation back on course.
AN AUDIENCE OF ONE – The term ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’ is the pursuit of striving to keep up with what everyone else is doing. The Joneses will move out, and JESUS will move in! 1 John 4:4.
TITANIC GENERATION – Many generations have been like the Titanic, doomed to sink because of the lack of vision and clarity. On the outside, life looks like a big party, but they failed to navigate the things below the surface and sunk. This is the year many will partner with the Great Captain to TURN THE SHIP AROUND in the right direction. This generation has a unique calling in their bloodline. Those who have gone before you didn’t know who they were or how to do it. The next generation will never know the days of defeat, isolation, rejection, or fear that you had to walk through. But before the beginning of time, God had YOU in mind for your bloodline and called you to partner with Him to turn the ship of your family line around. It is a unique calling and one that the previous generations nor future generations fully understand. Do not mistake the uniqueness of this assignment for isolation, as there are many being called in this generation to turn their ship around.
CURRENT CHANGES – God is going to change the current in many families where parents have parented out of fear of man, doubt, and unbelief. The childlike faith of their children will begin to flow UP the generations and transform parents as they become students of their child’s pure faith and joy.
WHOLE PARENT – I see parents standing tall on two solid legs with their arms stretched out with open hands. The Spirit of the Lord has healed their brokenness, set them free, and repaid what was stolen. I see their hand extending down, feeding their children from a place of wholeness and security, producing fruit way beyond themselves at that age.
WHOLE GRANDPARENTS – On the other side, I see their hands stretched upwards to their parents. Because of the good work He has done, God will use this generation to extend healing to their parents (grandparents). This is the year THREE generations will come together in wholeness, unity, and honor. The glue is the Cross of forgiveness, healing, and redemption. There will be mighty encounters with the love of the Father as adult children become the instruments of healing and give to their parents what they never received from them. God is going to change the current in many families where pain, lack, and heartbreak were passed down; healing will begin to flow UP the generations.
PLAYING IN THE KINGDOM – The moment your child was born, God sent you an invitation to play in the Kingdom WITH your children. I see the invitation on many kitchen counters tossed aside like junk mail. This year many, many, many families will discover, open, and accept the invitation. There will be great joy, laughter, and more fruit than you could ever imagine as you learn to play in His Kingdom TOGETHER everywhere you go. A parent/child team is a force to be reckoned with.
Parents will awaken to the drum of His voice. Parents will know who they are so they can teach their children who they are. Parents will unthaw from the things that have kept them frozen. Parents will awaken from the seductive lure of social media and become fierce warriors to protect their children. Parents will heal from their childhood wounds so that they can help their children deal with their owies in childhood. Parents will get so radically set free of their strongholds that they parent in word *and* example. Parents will deal with their bitterness so that their children can learn how to be free of their offenses. Parents will say no to the popular vote and begin to parent the uniqueness of their children by God’s design. This is the year of His family, YOUR FAMILY!
Call a family meeting and place a treat or prize in the center of the room (pick something the kids would really value or appreciate). Ask them who would like the treat. Tell them that the person who can stand on one leg the longest will win the prize. Some will be disqualified immediately, and others will put in their best effort, but it will cost their bodies something. Celebrate the one who stood the longest. Read together Matthew 26:40, and share how Jesus was going through one of His most agonizing moments on earth. Have them recall a time they went through something really, really hard. Validate that it was hard but that it did not produce hematohidrosis (look up the word together as a family). In that hour of His anguish, He wanted to find His friends praying, but they were too tired and fell asleep. Jesus gives His friends a severe warning. We must STAY AWAKE **and** PRAY so we do not become tempted. Many things draw us away from Jesus, but in this hour, there is one temptation that will lead MANY away. Ask the children if they can guess what it is. Together explore the answer found in Matthew 24:11.
STAY AWAKE AND PRAY! Ask them, “Have you prayed today?” “Have you prayed in the last 24 hours?” Tell them you are going to have a prayer time for five minutes and instruct everyone to pray out loud (it doesn’t have to be very loud but ask them to pray with words and not just in their minds). At the end of five minutes, ask how hard was it to keep going for five minutes. We get tired, and our minds get distracted, just like the disciples who fell asleep. Jesus is giving us KEYS not only to endure but overcome the days ahead.
Increase your family prayer time each day. On the first day, pray together for one minute. Second day, pray for two minutes…
I encourage you to stop whatever you are doing and invite the children to grab their pillows and blankets. Have everyone lay in the living room with you and put on some worship music. No talking, no praying, just soaking in His love and goodness. You don’t need to do this for hours – even one song can shift the atmosphere in your home.