I recently talked with a mom and her young adult daughter about sex and how she navigated through life, making solid choices in a world that screams otherwise. She credited it to this – she was taught sex isn’t something you *shouldn’t* do, but something you *should* protect and value. It wasn’t a ‘thou shall not,’ but rather an ‘I want to protect.’ It was a game changer for her. Sexual empowerment looks like choices and helping children see the value in making healthy choices to protect what is most sacred vs. dictating and demanding they follow a rule to govern themselves.
The sense of belonging is something we all crave. It was given by God to Adam and Eve but lost when they exited Eden. God gives us families who know us intimately and provide a safe place where we can grow and learn. When that safety or trust is broken – physically or emotionally – it affects our core need to belong. Sibling relationships are where children get their greatest sense of belonging, so guarding this connection is important. When there is a conflict between two siblings, the enemy whispers, “You do not belong,” and a child who believes they do not belong will act like they do not belong. Explain this and ask if they have ever felt like they didn’t belong. Share a story from when you were a child and felt that way.
In the days ahead, when you hear siblings being rough and unkind to each other lovingly, go to them and ask them, “Are you communicating to your family that they belong?” “How can you speak to them in a way that assures them they matter?” I often say to my children, “You can express yourself in a way that doesn’t make them feel like they don’t belong.”
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.
Often, when we are in a cycle, we think we are the only ones, but I want to expose that and say this is a pattern passed down between the generations in many families. Let me first give you a little history. Our grandparents were raised with the popular parenting belief that children should be seen and not heard. Many parents adopted the parenting style at that time that children should obey the first time and that outward appearance mattered more than what was going on inside of the child. While there is always good in each generation that should be honored and passed down, one thing that came from this type of parenting style is the shutting down of JOY. It taught children that to be playful was idle, undesirable, and annoying. It told little ones that they needed to be serious, productive, and serious at all times, yet it is the nature of a child to find joy in small things. No one has to teach them how to be joyful, silly, and carefree. They are born that way. To conform to the adult expectations around them, they must learn to suppress these ‘foolish’ desires. Here’s the problem. We can’t change the way we are wired. No man can remove what God has put in us. However, we can build walls around it to shut it up, hide it and keep it from getting us in trouble. God created a chemical in our brain that is only released when we are in a joyful childlike state (Hmmm, He is pretty smart). This joy-induced chemical is a built-in MEDICINE to our souls that God knew we needed.
If JOY and PLAY are something you struggle with as a parent, I encourage you to walk through the following questions and allow Jesus to minister to your heart. “Jesus, what about play makes my heart so uncomfortable?” “Jesus, who taught me that play isn’t okay?” “Jesus, what lie do I believe about play and joy?” “Jesus, what is Your truth about childlike joy?” “I choose to forgive _____ for teaching me that my joy was not acceptable.” “Jesus, will You please restore my ability to play and be carefree?”
Moms and Dads, you have permission to PLAY today!
I am deeply convicted about this hour of refinement for the Church. As a friend and out of care for your heart, I ask:
- Are you drinking deep from God’s word?
- Is there any part of your heart that needs to be seen or heard and not ignored?
- Who do you need to forgive?
- Is Jesus getting your best or leftovers?
- What needs to be addressed or come into alignment with your children/spouse?
We are in this for the long haul, and I care enough to ask, as we all need little heart checks!
Psalms 5 reflects how the righteous man prays for deliverance not only for freedom from suffering but to allow himself to serve God without distraction. This is an excellent passage in the midst of all the turmoil in our government. Read this chapter as a family and talk about the reality of how one person’s choices affect those around them. But God has keys and a strategy for overcoming and thriving in the midst.
Prayer for Help – Psalms 5:1-12 – “Hear my words, O Lord. Think about my crying. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God. For I pray to you. In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice. In the morning I will lay my prayers before You and will look up. You are not a God Who is pleased with what is bad. The sinful cannot be with You. The proud cannot stand before You. You hate all who do wrong. You destroy those who tell lies. The Lord hates liars and men who kill other people. But as for me, by Your great loving-kindness, I will come into Your house. At Your holy house I will put my face to the ground before You in love and fear. O Lord, lead me in what is right and good, because of the ones who hate me. Make Your way straight in front of me. For in their talk there is no truth. Their hearts destroy. Their mouths are like an open grave. With their tongues, they say sweet-sounding words that are not true. Hold them guilty, O God! Let them fall by their own plans. Throw them out because of their many sins. For they have fought against You. But let all who put their trust in You be glad. Let them sing with joy forever. You make a covering for them, that all who love Your name may be glad in You. For You will make those happy who do what is right, O Lord. You will cover them all around with Your favor.”
Be still for a moment and ask, “Jesus, will You please show me a picture of what makes Your heart happy?”
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 get to witness how God communicates with you, which increases their faith, and together you get to encounter Him. Spiritual healing is a muscle that is strengthened by worshiping and praying. The more you do it, the stronger you become at it.
The thing about fear is that we can strongly dislike something so much that we actually open the door to a spirit of fear. Think about that for a moment – we don’t want something to happen, but in the process, we are welcoming it in. When we allow the spirit of fear in, it will wreak havoc on our thoughts and emotions, making us partner with it more. A silly cycle that ends up producing the very thing we didn’t want. 2 Timothy 1:7 is our weapon. “For GOD did NOT give me a spirit of fear (plug in what you fear), but of POWER, LOVE, and SOUND MIND (meaning your heart and mind are both in unity and at peace).” If God didn’t give you that fear/worry, then who did? Is that who you want to partner with?
Pray: “Fear, I see you and no longer partner with you. I declare that my GOD has equipped me with power, love, and a sound mind, and I will no longer bite the bait to open the door. In Jesus’ name.”
Caught with your hands in the cookie jar. This phrase means being unable to resist forbidden temptations. You are told not to take any more cookies from the jar, but you can’t resist and help yourself. Crawl into this story with me. Let’s say your brother was caught stealing, and your parents were dealing with it. Their response was firm and strong because this wasn’t his first time stealing. A first-time offense is always handled differently than someone who is a repeat offender. It is hard to witness someone being dealt with for their sin. When this happens in your house, you do not want to be found holding onto your sin of stealing. Imagine what it would feel like to hear your parents discipline your brother, knowing you were guilty of the same thing. The parent’s heart is not to PUNISH their son, but to help correct him as his sin will not go well with him, lead to a fruitful life or attract favor and blessings. No discipline seems pleasant at the time but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11.
GOD IS EXPOSING SEXUAL SIN. Not only is He exposing it, but He is also moving powerfully, and no one can hide behind their bank account, fame, popularity, or power. When God deals with sin, we want to make sure we are not caught with our hands in the cookie jar. There are many in the body of Christ struggling with sexual sin. This is for men, women, and children. I firmly believe these issues are rooted in a greater unmet need or unresolved heart splinter, and just like the woman caught in adultery, Jesus cares deeply about the root (the why), not just the behavior. However, this is a wake-up call for those in the body – do not be caught with your hand in the cookie jar of sexual sin. God is bringing into the light what has been kept in the dark about sexual sin. We see this on a global, corporate, and high-end level. While many of us are shocked at the stories coming out, God knew about them all along. Nothing has been hidden from Him. He is allowing the covers to be pulled back and for the nakedness of sin to be revealed. Not because He is an angry Father on the warpath to punish, but because sin will not profit you, allow you to become the full expression of who you were meant to be, and enjoy the relationships around you the way He designed. Sin steals, kills, and destroys; that is not His heart for you. When God decides it is time to respond to a certain sin, we do not want to be found on the side of unrighteousness.
If this is you, I encourage you to repent and get the help you need to overcome this sin that entangles many believers. If you have participated in or are engaging in any of the following: **emotional affair, **pornography, **adultery, **R-rated movies that are explicit, **allowing children to view sexual scenes in movies, **fantasizing, **sex outside of marriage, **unbroken soul ties from previous sexual sin, **repeat images on your mind from sexual sin, it is time to make this right and confess this to the Lord. You do not need to be beaten down by this sin anymore. Christ gave His life with you in mind, and there is nothing that isn’t covered by His blood.
Confess – tell Him what you did wrong.
Repent – turn from it and move in the opposite direction.
Restore – ask Him to restore what was lost, stolen, or broken because of sin.
For adults, we want to make sure we SHUT THE DOOR to sexual sin, but for children, we want to teach them how NOT TO OPEN THE DOOR in the first place. We do this by: teaching them about their body – including proper names, revealing the truth about God-designed sex and relationships (in layers and stages based on age appropriateness), not allowing R-rated movies to ‘educate’ them, putting boundaries around their sexuality (no man, woman, or child is allowed to look, touch, or take pictures – nor are they to look, touch, or take pictures of others), empowering them with the word NO when it comes to sexual safety, teaching them that secrets are not acceptable (surprises are, secrets are not), having connection be a core value of your home.
The power of pornography is removed in intentional healthy relationships and is often a root of a vacancy in relationships. For those entangled, I want you to know there IS freedom and hope. I have seen men get free from addiction. I have seen God reveal demonic sexual spirits behind the addiction stemming from sexual abuse in the family. I have seen women get free from the inability to engage in sexual relations with their husbands stemming from sexual legalism. I have seen secrets kept from entire generations come into the light. I have seen affairs end. I have seen countless people living twisted sexual lifestyles become sons and daughters. I have seen people in such sexual bondage they thought suicide was their only ticket to freedom become unchained. I have seen it all and give testimony that whatever you are battling, there is freedom waiting for YOU! It is time to clean the house of sexual sin.
Picture a funnel. Do you give your child so much freedom at an early age and then, as the year’s progress, begin to take away their freedom? Or do you start with smaller freedoms and gradually increase it as they display self-control to be able to use freedom wisely? Oftentimes, parents have this mentality that if they put restrictions on their small child, they are breaking their spirit, harnessing them, and controlling them. I beg to differ. When we allow our children to do whatever they want whenever they want, we are teaching them that the world is open and free. While that may be a perfect world, it is not the reality in which they live. The truth is if they steal, they will go to jail. If they speed, they will pay a fine. If they do not pay taxes, the IRS will knock on their door. The world is full of consequences and models God’s principle of reaping and sowing. There will be a time when you will have to say NO to your child, yet the more you teach them they can have whatever they want whenever they want it, the harder the battle will be for them when reality hits. Let’s flip the funnel upside down and limit their freedom as they have the self-control to manage themselves. We do not allow a one-year-old to climb the stairs because their little legs are not strong enough to carry them. We do not allow a ten-year-old to drive a car because it will create greater harm. The same applies to our parenting. You are not stifling them; you are building them up for success for the long haul.
P.S. Teenagers do not like their freedoms taken away! You will have fewer battles down the road if you start out small and build upon them. Entitlement is a tricky thing to break.