When my kids were little, we would play a game of ‘Hot Potato’ where we would stand in a circle, and I would toss a beach ball to one of them. As I threw the ball, I would make a statement, “You are kind,” and they had to grab the ball, discern if it was a truth or lie, and then throw it back to me, declaring which one it was. “You are wanted” – TRUTH, “You are ugly” – LIE, “You belong” – TRUTH, “You are stupid at math” – LIE, (math might not be their strong suit, but they are not stupid). I was teaching them that not every thought they have or words spoken over them are the truth. In fact, some of them are downright LIES and can be thrown out. Little did I know back then just how profoundly it would shape them as they got older. They are so quick to grab the thought, discern it (generally because it feels awful), and then toss it back out. Jesus tells us to take every thought captive! Grab a ball today and teach your children to discern what is a LIE and what is TRUTH.
THROW IT OUT
I was in a season where I was aware that the words coming out of my mouth were critical and sharp. I am not typically one to hold a grudge or offense for very long, but it was like I was constantly calling out the bad. Little things like the man who cut me off, the person who didn’t use their blinker, or the lady who didn’t return her shopping cart. Once I said it, I let it go, but it bothered me that I even had the eyes to see it. They were things that should not require my energy or time. I became so aware of it that I told the kids I would pay them $1 every time they caught me being critical. But it only seemed to increase. I finally met with my friend, a professional counselor, and asked her what the problem was that I could not control my critical words. She said something to me that not only changed my life and set me free but became a KEY that I have used with others for their freedom. She said, “Shame HAS to blame,” and began to introduce me to shame’s profound effects on our mind, body, and soul. Shame is so toxic to our existence that it kills, shuts down, and robs us of our God-given abilities. Shame is like acid. By blaming others (my critical words), it was releasing some of the toxicity. It was survival to manage the shame. I HAD to blame. The goal, therefore, was not to manage the release of the shame but to resolve the shame once and for all. Thus began a several month-long journey of discovering the root of the shame and how to release it GOD’S WAY.
I created a ten-day online experience for others to join me on the journey of loving yourself deeper, wider, and more passionately than you have been loved before. You will watch a video teaching, and I will provide activities and exercises based on the teachings for the rest of the days. The second week focuses on how to raise children to be proactive, so they never have to find themselves again down the road.
You can register here: Moms & Dads – ONLINE CLASS – Let the Children Fly
My friend told me about a story with her son, and I think it is GLORIOUS. Her adopted son had a rough year with his dad moving out and his big sister moving away. He recently spent time at his dad’s house while his parents were in town. The young boy returned to his mom’s house and was OUT OF CONTROL! Yelling, kicking, hitting, screaming – unglued. She shared how she normally would have exercised some serious authority over his behavior and would have dealt firmly with him for his outburst. But she could see he was hurting and said, “Buddy, can Mommy hold you for a moment?” He was hesitant but eventually came to her, put his face in her neck, and just wept. He woke up the next morning back to himself again. There is a time and place to discipline a child for negative behavior, and there is a time and place to partner with Holy Spirit and move in the opposite spirit. This boy was simply trying to express the BIG emotions going on inside of his heart. He needed the security of a mother’s love, and whatever was causing his heart so much agitation was released through her affection.
Do you think the ouija board is just innocent child’s play? It is NOT! I delivered a young mom from a demonic spirit from playing the game. She is about to graduate from an 18-month rehab program and had great fears about a previous boyfriend threatening her once she is out. We talked about how we invite what we fear and the need to close that door. I was about to help her with that when I had this strong spirit of witchcraft come over me. I sensed God had me ask her when was the first time she felt unprotected. When she was 4 years old, she was at a friend’s house who introduced her to the ouija board and from that moment on, she felt a presence, almost like a protective presence. It was a spirit that was invited in to ‘parent’ her. Her dad was a workaholic and always busy, which created a deep longing in her. The sad thing is that SHE invited the spirit in through the game. All these years, this spirit has manipulated and influenced her all the way to an abusive relationship with a very unsafe man that she never felt like she could get free from. I am happy to report that not only did she get SET FREE from that ‘fake parent,’ but she got activated in her gift of discernment. Jesus, You are so so so good! Set the captives free!
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.
Have you figured out yet there is a war raged against the next generation? The name of the war is IDENTITY. Matthew 4 outlines how Satan attempted to steal, kill and destroy Jesus’ focus, calling, and identity. I love Jesus’ response each time as He simply declared, “It is written…” The Word was the weapon that anchored Him in victory. Jesus didn’t have to ‘fight’ this battle. He simply declared, “Nope, Daddy said so,” and that was enough. We already know the enemy is defeated but we must do our part as parents to respond as Jesus did to protect the attack on our children’s identity. We learn from Matthew 4 HOW the enemy works to steal, kill and destroy identity. There are countless examples all around us of people who are losing or have lost the battle over their identity. But take heart, dear friends, because God, as always, provides us with strategy in the midst of the battle. He is looking for those willing to pick up the sword of the Word and claim victory in their family. The enemy came to Jesus when He was ISOLATED. God puts us in a family for a reason. The church is called to be a place where the parts of the Body come together as One with Him at the center. This is the epitome of being seen, covered and known. When we are connected in family and community it is like a pack of lions surrounding the young. When the enemy shows his head, the lionesses arise. However, when families do not offer children a “You matter” and “I see you” type of community, the child feels isolated, even in their own home. Parenting styles that operate out of legalism, control and continued anger isolate the child leaving them open to the temptation of the enemy. The enemy tempted Jesus with a WARPED VERSION of the very thing that He was hungry for. Jesus was hungry for His Father and denied Himself physical food so that He could spiritually feast on the intimate connection with His Father. The enemy attempted to feed Him with food that could not nourish His soul. There is a longing in the soul of man for his Creator, yet the enemy fills him with the tastes of the world that satisfy the flesh and leave the soul empty. The more one feasts on porn, addiction, drugs, phone addiction, alcohol, video games, anger, control, etc. the deeper the hunger for it grows. All of these things DO meet a need for connection and power, but it is a warped version of the real thing God has intended for us. People who are isolated (physically, mentally, or emotionally) have deep hunger pangs to be in community which is why they make easy targets for warped versions of the real thing. Have you heard of people in desperate situations where they are isolated and get so hungry, they drink their own urine? While it sounds extreme to us, it is survival to the one in isolation and lack. The enemy offers ‘urine’ and they are so thirsty they do not fully realize what they are consuming. God did not design our bodies to be nourished by urine. The enemy then whispers seeds of DOUBT by attempting to give ‘evidence’ that God can’t really be who He says He is. Doubt comes wrapped in lies that may even look, sound or feel true, but are still false. The nature of deception is to cause someone to believe something that is not true, typically in order to gain some personal advantage. The enemy gains advantage when the lie is embraced because it gives him an invitation to influence that person. It is like going to the front door and welcoming him in our minds. This is also why it is pointless to shout at someone, “You can’t believe that” or “That is not true.” To them, it IS true. Children who have a big Daddy are less likely to get bullied. The bigger our faith, the less we are subjected to the temptation or ‘evidence’ to doubt.
Parents, it is vital to teach children that not every thought that crosses their mind is to be considered their thoughts or truth. We grab a hold of those thoughts that create arguments against God and toss them out. Oh, I long for you to see this. The war for our children looks like this: Isolate them in their own homes, feed them with the world that feds the flesh but empties the soul, cause doubt through lies that may sound true but are still lies, become their own god rejecting all others. God’s plan for our child’s identity looks like this: Put them in families where they are seen, heard, and valued, feed them with the Word of God, anchor them in His Truth and hold them accountable for living in a way that is pleasing to God, speak truth over them OFTEN, teach them to submit to God’s authority. This is an active, intentional strategy that requires parents to be engaged, plugged in and alert.
HeartWork – Which area is being highlighted that needs to be increased in your family? Increasing connection? Speaking truth over them? Teaching them about His Word? Learning how to submit to God? Take some time and process this with God.
John 10:10 is a life verse for me, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” I preach on it, teach on it, live from it and believe it. But for years, I have always said, “kill, steal and destroy,” which is NOT what the Word says. It says, “steal, kill and destroy.” When I realized this error, I repented, as it is important to me to have a pure Biblical message. While this may seem insignificant to switch the two words around, God showed me it is extremely significant. Kill means to be done with – period. Destroy means to damage to the point of no return. The enemy can’t kill or destroy unless he steals from you first. How does he steal from us? By lying to us at the moment when it looks, feels, and sounds true but is still just a LIE. Partnering with the lie opens the door for him to come and kill and destroy. Jesus came to help us walk in truth and gave us tools and power to destroy the lies of the enemy. That is a loaded revelation!
Once you learn the incredible ways earthly relationships can impact or distort a child’s view of the godhead (God, Jesus, Holy Spirit), it changes the way, you parent. I am constantly looking for ways to reveal to them the reality of who God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit really are. There have been times when I have not modeled it well and have responded harshly or with impatience. When I go back to make it right, I will say, “Holy Spirit is never harsh or impatient with you, and I am sorry that I treated you that way.” One of the most helpful things you can say to a child going through a divorce is, “Do you know God will never leave you?” or to the child being bullied, “Jesus would never treat you like that.” Humans fall short, but God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit do not.
Fear knocked, and I felt seduced by it for an hour. I finally called a friend to pray with me and heard God say, “Your hedge is not high enough.” I knew He meant that I needed to increase prayers and declarations. I needed to put a verb in my prayers, so I asked Holy Spirit for a creative idea, and this is what He gave me. I had the kids all write out their worries, fears, and statements about the coronavirus. We shared our vulnerability as a family and then shredded them. We then wrote out TRUTH statements and hung them on our Cross. We feasted on these throughout the day. We wanted to do a prophetic act about the virus passing over our home, and instantly I remembered these balls I got at the dollar store years ago (they actually look like the virus). We put a bucket of warm soapy water outside our front door, made bold declarations that the virus would pass us over, and threw them into the soapy water. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you are building a hedge of prayer around your family in this hour.
My mom used to drive around in an old Chevy Monte Carlo with a bumper sticker that read, “Have you hugged your kid today?” I used to think it was awesome that she had a reminder each time she got in the car. I longed for her embrace as it made me feel wanted, safe and seen. Sadly, hugs were few and far between, but they still held a tremendous value. I want to ask YOU, “Have you hugged your kid today?”
Homework – Make it a goal to reach out and offer a hug to your child at least THREE times today. Set a reminder in your phone, do it before/after each meal, or when they ask for something. Be intentional and hug those kids today!
Before moving forward to the new school year, let’s take a look at the previous school year. How we end is generally how we will begin. Meaning if nothing is done to steward your child’s weakness from last year, you can bank on it being an issue again the next year. Let’s break the cycle and help our children become more successful in the area they need to grow the most. Take a moment and ask yourself these questions about each child: What is something that caused continued chaos or frustration (Low grades? Disciplinary issues? Being late? Attitudes? Missing items?)? We cannot help our children grow in their capacity if we are not willing to first acknowledge there is a need for growth.
For my son, the area that brought a lot of frustration was taking out the garbage. I wanted to scream every Friday morning, “You had but one job,” but that is NOT the issue. The issue had nothing to do with the garbage cans overflowing. It had everything to do with taking responsibility for the things that have been entrusted to him. Oh, and I can see that this is also an issue with turning in his reading logs and remembering to bring his gym uniform to school. He was learning how to manage and steward responsibility, which is a lifelong trait that will bless him or hinder him. If I want to HELP HIM grow his capacity, I need to be able to look deeper than the behavior or subject line (trash, gym shirt, reading log) and see the underlying character issue beneath. If we only parent the subject, life becomes a list of rules: “Thou shall not forget the trash.” “Thou shall remember to bring thy gym shirt.” But what is REALLY going on is that he lacks faithfulness, which is the fruit of the spirit that lives within him (Galatians 5:22). When I only see the failed trash, it creates frustration in me as a parent. When I see that my son has an issue where he needs to grow, I am positioned to equip and train him to increase his capacity. One focuses on the subject; the other focuses on his heart and character so that he can carry that character growth everywhere he goes.
Here is the catch about increasing capacity. It does not happen by expectations, demanding, or threatening. It comes by creating a PLAN. Let me explain. I can hound my son, give consequences, discipline him, take away his phone, etc. But it will do little to produce faithfulness in him. However, if I take a moment and create a plan, I would see that his lack of taking out the cans, turning in reading logs, and bringing his uniform to school has more to do with learning how to manage things that occur once a week. It is not that he isn’t willing or even has a bad attitude about it. It is that he needed a plan to remind himself of these items that needed to get done that were not a part of his daily routine (which he is great at). Whoa. Now I actually feel compassion for him and want to help him vs. being mad and frustrated at his failed chores. He put a reminder on his phone the night before and a note on the wall that he sees every morning. Suddenly his capacity to be faithful with weekly items increased. What is one area that brought continued chaos or frustration last school year?