I grew up with a legalistic pressure to witness to others. There was little emphasis on loving the person, just on getting them ‘saved.’ Needless to say, this approach made for some painfully awkward moments. Jesus was all about the person, loving them where they were and offering them hope for the future. He doesn’t tell us to do this out of our own strength, but rather with the power He has given us (see Matthew 10:7-8 and Mark 16:17-18). We are commanded to usher the things in heaven to earth everywhere we go so that people will see the Kingdom of God is real, alive, and active today. I call this playing in the Kingdom because there is an element of childlike joy, ease, and fun that goes hand in hand with partnering with God on earth. God gives us incredible gifts like speaking to us, hearing what He has to say to others through us, healing the sick, and revealing hidden things. (See John 16:13, John 14:12, Deuteronomy 29:29, Matthew 10:8, and 2 Peter 1:21). It is a privilege and honor to be able to play in His Kingdom.
PLAYING IN HIS KINGDOM
- Playing in the Kingdom
I believe this statement includes our children on the playground, in the classroom and with friends!
“As Christians we should be the best atmosphere shifters on the planet.”
Ellie (8) walked into the store and immediately grabbed this huge Valentine’s box of candy and declared, “We have to buy this!” to which I replied, “Oh, no, we don’t.” She said it wasn’t for her but for someone else. Her persistence caught me off guard, and she was clearly on assignment. I wasn’t sure what God was up to, but I was excited to see it unfold. She spotted a worker and knew immediately it was for her, but she was busy. We kept walking around, and Ellie had this ‘Christmas morning’ type of excitement about giving this girl a gift. We made our way to the seasonal section, and I tried to get her to pick out a less expensive one, but she said, “No, Mom, it can’t be small, but something that lavishes on her.” Finally, the worker was available, and Ellie explained to her that God told her to buy a gift for someone and that she was highlighted to her. She was so taken off guard and unsure how to respond. Ellie went on to say that God wanted her to know that she was loved and so special to Him and then handed her the (BIG) box of chocolates.
Children have the ability to access people’s hearts in ways adults can’t reach. They are such sharp arrows in the Kingdom!
People all around us are waiting for heaven to come to earth. God is waiting for us to bring heaven to earth. We have the privilege and honor of changing the world for the people around us TODAY. What we declare and pray makes a difference! I challenge every family to go for a walk around their neighborhood today and pray over each house they pass. Command fear and anxiety to go and release the peace of Jesus, the love of God, and the joy of heaven to flood each home. The times we have done this, the Lord has given us great compassion and His heart for our neighbors. This is a great way to be part of the solution and not just a victim of circumstances. It is impossible for nothing to happen when we pray. So be the light in your neighborhood by doing a walk-by-prayer-mission.
We were on the road, and as we were packing up our hotel, I noticed how clean and neat it was despite the night before when it was trashed with our stuff everywhere. I realized I had taught the kids that we lay down our rights in order to show love. In this case, I taught them over the years we have every right to trash a hotel room and let housekeeping do their job, but is that who we WANT to be? We have decided as a family we want the housekeeping staff to walk in and say, “Oh WOW,” which often includes leaving them notes, a tip, and finding a tidy room. The Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy, which means right living must occur if we live in and share His Kingdom with others. The laying down of our ‘rights’ to do things His way brings peace and joy that no amount of ‘rights’ could ever bring. It is an honor to play in His Kingdom by loving others well.
“Jesus, who do You want me to show extra kindness to today?”
Gather as a family in the living room, in the car, at the dinner table, or at bedtime, and ask Jesus together. This is so empowering for children because they witness how God communicates with you, it increases their faith, and you get to encounter Him as a whole family. Spiritual hearing is a muscle that is strengthened by worshiping and praying. The more you do it, the stronger you become at it.
I was teaching parents how to pray for their needs, and a father sent me this testimony. Wahoo!
“It works for vehicles too! We live an hour from town on a steep, windy, narrow mountain road. It was -15 degrees on the drive to town, and I hit a patch of ice, did a 360 turn, and slid into the snowbank. The car then wouldn’t start, so I had the girls and I pray. After praying, the car started, and we continued the remaining drive to town.”
I remember the day I made a big parenting mess. My reaction was strong, and the child’s crime did not justify the response. I was triggered and knew it. Normally situations like that would take me days to overcome all of the shame and profound guilt. My mind would spin about being a terrible mom and how sorry I felt for my children. I felt so inadequate raising them, knowing I was on my own journey. Nothing cripples a mama more than feeling like she is negatively affecting her own babies. But I remember the day well. I made a mess, and this time I could give myself compassion and grace. Yes, I needed to confess my behavior to God and ask my child for forgiveness, but this time I did not go down the rapid river of shame. Instead, I stood my ground in being repentant – admitting wrongdoing – but not condemning myself. I was able to speak to my heart gently and not full of accusations. I could be humble that I was wrong without beating myself up. It was glorious. It was the day I experienced making a mistake without shame.
One morning, Lauren (then 15) led our family devotions. All of the kids woke up super late and assumed that waking late meant we would forgo our new commitment to meet in the living room at 7 EVERY morning to spend time with Jesus as a family. We talked about the sacrifice it sometimes takes to follow Jesus and that if their outfit, hair, makeup, packed lunch, etc., were perfect, it would add little to their day, but giving God room and time to speak to them would fill them in a way the other things can’t. Lauren chose to read to us from her daily devotion about the urgency of the Lord’s return and making every day count. She had each of us think of one person in our world that needed to know they were loved, and then we asked Jesus to show us HOW. Lauren shared that God highlighted a new girl at school who was crying. When she asked Him HOW she could love her, He said to hand her a card with her phone number on it and invite her to come over for dinner and go to youth group with her. The Spirit of God was all over this assignment, and we spent the rest of the time praying for Lauren’s confidence to walk in love and obedience. The ONLY thing Lauren had planned was to read the verse. God showed up and did the rest. We don’t have to be a Bible scholar, school teacher, or executive leader to usher our children to Jesus. We need to be intentional about making space and have faith He will show up.
Ponder for a moment why God would say there is incredible power in blessings and kindness. The reality is it has the ability to transform the worst of situations. So how can you be an agent of ‘doing good’ today?
For years I noticed something in my life that would occur, yet I never had the language for it. Frustrated over its constant intrusion, I sat on the couch and told God I wouldn’t get up until it was exposed. Shortly after, my children walked in from school, and I heard Him say, “Your ministry team just walked in.” Anytime the kids are involved in ministry, I know it will be good. I called them all over and explained that there was ‘something’ going on in our family, and I wasn’t even sure what it was called or where it came from, but Jesus did, and we could ask Him. Their responses blew me away! One heard a stampede of elephants that happened over and over. Another saw a man morph into the Incredible Hulk and felt fear over this raging anger. Another heard the word ‘rejection,’ and my youngest began to cry. She said, “Mom, I don’t understand it, but I see the sweetest baby who is so cute, but no one even likes her.” Instantly my mind recalled one of the stories my grandma shared when I was interviewing her about her life journey. In 1894, my (great, great, great) grandfather came to America from Germany, leaving behind his wife and young sons. He worked for two years before having enough money to send for them to join him. At their long-awaited reunion, he sees his wife, three sons, and a brand-new baby girl (obviously, not his). He told his wife he would feed her, and that was about it. He taught the boys to reject her, and she spent the rest of her life hated and unwanted simply for being the fruit of her mother’s choices. The thing I was feeling was an unloving spirit. There has been a family disconnect between mothers and daughters in our family line ever since. The stories of blatant rejection and cruelty are heart-wrenching. I am the generation that breaks it and restores the mother/daughter connection as God intended. As a family, we sat in a circle and forgave our great, great, great grandma for having an affair. We forgave our great, great, great grandpa for partnering with a spirit of rejection and for not handling his anger well. We forgave him for using the parenting tool of fear and control and for not knowing how to work through this pain in a healthy way. And then we told the unloving spirit it was no longer welcome in our family!