I called a family meeting and told the kids to act like Jesus was in the room and had the love language of words of affirmation. We popcorn-styled, going around and around, calling out the amazing things about Jesus. His character, goodness, faithfulness, the way He loves, is so smart, etc. It stirred up our faith in who He is and anchored us in His ability. So, give it a try today. Tell Jesus who He is.
WHO IS JESUS?
Jesus says in Mark 12:30-31 – “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
I once heard someone say, “When you read the Word of God, you should see dark spots in your life.” What they meant is God’s Word is perfect – Jesus was perfect – we are still in a process of being sanctified. It is a maturing process, but the measuring stick should always be His Word. Take an honest assessment of this verse. How are you doing with it? How are each of your children doing? Call a family meeting and share the Word. Talk about ways each person has done a good job of loving God and others, and then talk about ways you can all improve and obey this commandment.
This season has been hard. Does anyone relate? It feels like we are waiting and stewarding everything new without our normal joys and connections. I felt the Lord inviting me to find JOY. I gathered the kids, and we made a list of all the things the Lord IS DOING or HAS DONE for us in this season. WOW. We cried when we realized that God’s hand had been so near and active. It shifted our perspective and lightened our hearts.
How about you? Why not gather the family and make a list of all the ways you have seen, heard, experienced, witnessed, or encountered God’s hand IN this season?
We became a single-family two weeks before Christmas when the kids were tiny. That year Santa, baking cookies, and white elephant gift exchanges felt so empty to me. I burned for my children to understand they had a Father who adored them through the gift of Baby Jesus! I wanted to see how much of the story they already understood, so I told them to go in the backroom and create a skit with Hudson being Joseph, Emma as Gabriel, Lauren as Mary, and little Ellie playing the role of a wise man. It was the most precious thing I had ever witnessed. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I heard their version of the Christmas story.
This became a parenting tool for me. I would have the children role-play, act out or give a 2-minute speech on a subject, and I did it to discern what they knew, did not yet understand, or how they saw things from their point of view. I would use their play/skit or message as a way to add more to the story and help expand their understanding. It made ‘teaching’ fun and full of joy rather than lecturing. Now that they are older, they are less thrilled with acting out a story, but I have them create a 2-minute video or speech and share it with the family. It helps them pull in deep to see what is inside of them. This has been great with topics such as drugs, slander, bullying, kindness, respect, etc. Pick any story in the Bible and ask your children to create a skit acting it out. Then add more to the story as the days roll on to help them grasp the story deeper.
This concept has been so helpful to me as I have helped my children navigate friendships over the years. Line up four chairs and have your child sit on an end. You sit in the chair furthest from them and explain how anyone they meet is a 3rd chair friend. You might say “hi” or ask how they are doing, but they remain far away from your heart. Move to the next chair and explain this is a 2nd chair friend. You might say “hi” and sit with them at lunch, laugh with them in class, or even hang out at the mall together. You have fun with them and enjoy being around them. But your 1st chair is the one closest to you. These people know you at your worst and best and everything in between. They make you laugh hard and have the power to influence you. No one starts in the 1st chair. They have to be invited in, and it is cultivated over time. Over the years, we have seen this played out as friends change chairs. When they come home excited about someone they have met, we celebrate the connection, but I am aware that there is a process of connection developing and asking questions along the way.
Emma came home excited one day about a new ‘best friend.’ They had fun together and giggled hard. But over time, the friend began to invite Emma to do things that went against what we stood for as a family. She had to learn she could surely still giggle and be friends with this gal but pulling her into her 1st chair would not go well with her down the road. Lauren had a friend who would love her one minute and be so cruel the next. It was a love/hate response; she never knew which one she was getting. The ‘love’ felt so fulfilling and fun that she had difficulty seeing the flip as bad. Because she was learning how to build healthy relationships, I had to help her see that this is not how 1st chair friends treat each other. It was so painful for her to back off the relationship, but years later, she still comments on how glad she was that she could create room for other friends who were indeed 1st chair worthy. I often say, “Either you influence them, or they influence you, so you better make sure you are heading in the same direction.” I have no problems with my children being friends with unbelievers (how else are we going to impact those around us?) or with children from different beliefs and backgrounds. I DO have a problem if those children become 1st chairs. How do you switch chairs? By how much or little you feed it. Help your child pull in new friends closer by inviting them over to join your family for dinner, creating a fun outing, helping them with their homework, asking them how their day went, tell them something they like or appreciate about them. Support the things they like to do, attend their sports games, text to compliment them, and invite them over just for fun. It is impossible to have a 1st chair and only do this once. Building closer friendships take intentionality, consistency, and frequency. If a child has pulled someone in too far too fast before discerning that the connection is not healthy, simply stop feeding the relationship, and it will not grow. I encourage them to sit by the person at their lunch table, say “hi,” and always communicate with the message that they are valuable. But do not invite them to connect deeper or 1:1. If they are invited somewhere, they say they are busy, or their mom says NO. I do not want to empower my children how to reject, hurt, or create a wound in someone so how they navigate their chairs matters. Pull out the chairs and teach your children today about their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd chair friendships.
Introducing your child to the free gift of salvation is the most – THE MOST – important and precious responsibility we have as parents. It is not to be taken lightly or carelessly. Their eternal choice affects your family’s generational legacy and is forever. I am not going to give you the 1,2,3 steps in how to lead your child because this is so much more than “Here, do this…” I encourage you to pray about this first and really sit with Holy Spirit and get His heart for your child and what He is doing in them right now. Take this seriously and partner with Him. There are no rules in how one can accept Jesus but there are some foundational truths in what Biblical salvation must entail. This is so important for parents to not only understand but to proactively teach it to their children especially in today’s world where there are so many false teachings, faulty understandings of God’s plan, and twisted messages.
Biblical salvation must include the truth that: #1. God loves me (Romans 5:8, John 3:16, Romans 8:38-39) #2. I have sinned (Romans 3:23, Matthew 25:46) #3. God sent Jesus to take my place (1 Peter 2:24) #4. If I believe in Him, I will be adopted (Romans 10:9-10). I encourage you to do this in one sitting or pick one theme a day to build up the story. The goal shouldn’t be to get them saved (unless Holy Spirit is moving), but to arm them with truth and understanding. I bought these wooden pieces at the local craft store to help give visuals. Anytime you can role-play, act out or partner with JOY it makes the principles come to life for the child. I encourage you to pray about this and ask Holy Spirit to show you what He is doing in your child’s life already. Partner with Him.
#1. God loves us – period. This is the entire basis of creation and salvation. God loves us and desires that we would choose Him and have a relationship with Him that would reflect a child perfectly secure in their Father’s love, protection, provision, and affirmation. Talk to the kids about God’s love – what does it look, sound, feel like? Ask them if they have felt loved before from someone and then compare that to God’s love for them. Spend time exploring a love that can never ever be damaged or ruined. WOW.
#2. We are ALL sinners. Even cute, sweet little babies are born sinners. We all fall short of the glory of God. No one, not one, can boast, except Jesus of being pleasing to God on their own. This is a massive lesson in humility and having an accurate assessment of our spiritual state without Jesus. Talk to the kids about sin and that it is anything that displeases God. Sin isn’t a list of rules, but things that make God sad because He knows it will not go well with us or bless us. Talk about ways we sin. Yes, some sin appears to be bigger like murder, but to God it is all the same. Talk about how many things we do a day that fall short of His best for us. Share your own experiences with the ways you have fallen short in the past 24 hours. Model humility.
#3. God sent Jesus to die on the Cross for our sins. Someone has to pay the price, be accountable for the crimes committed and God loves us so much He allowed Jesus to get the ‘spanking’ for us. Hell is a real place and when God says He sent His Son to save us, He isn’t kidding. While hell can be a big topic for small children it is important for them to know it isn’t a choice between earth and heaven. God spared us from a dark place that is for forever. You can use as strong or sensitive of language as appropriate for your child, but the picture of hell is that there is isolation/being alone, no connection, total darkness where there is no help, no peace or joy, and never being able to relate to Jesus. A good word picture small children would understand would be sitting in a dark closet in a time out for the rest of their lives. Jesus came to open the closet door and let us out!!! Jesus is the bridge between darkness and light. Jesus is the One who carries us to the Father in His arms. No one gets to the Father except through Jesus.
#4. We have to do our part in accepting this free gift and say with our mouth that we acknowledge we have sinned and believe that Jesus died on the Cross for our sins. When we do that God adopts us into His family forever. Heaven is a huge concept for kids to grasp but zoom in on the fact it is unbreakable and forever. Talk about what it means to be a Son or Daughter in God’s Kingdom. Luke 15:10 – “There is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.”
I encourage you to use the verbiage, “Someday maybe you will decide you want Jesus in your heart,” instead of asking them if they want to pray. Why? Because children love to please you, and this is something that needs to be Holy Spirit-led. Your job is to teach them; His job is to save them. I cannot wait for your children to be adopted, move into the palace and join the party – FOREVER!
I had two significant encounters that changed my relationship with Holy Spirit. Here is the second one.
I was so hungry for more of Him and heard about a conference called Awaken to Destiny with a man named Randy Clark. I went. The worship was deep, yet I felt a disconnect. I got back to my hotel room late and sobbed. I told the Lord, “Whatever this space is between us, I can’t take it anymore. I cannot possibly go through another worship hour, another great speaker, and know that there is MORE but not be able to experience it.” I literally felt like there was a part of me that would die if He didn’t close the gap. The following morning, I woke at 4, and in ways that only Holy Spirit can orchestrate. He brought me to this YouTube video. Watch it for yourself: Healing the Orphaned Spirit – Leif Hetland – YouTube.
I went back to the conference and felt like a totally different person. Later that day, Randy called for “impartation.” I had no idea what that word even meant. I knew that some people were going forward, but others were not. I found myself walking up front, honestly not knowing who was supposed to be there. But I didn’t care. I was so hungry it didn’t matter if I made a fool out of myself. I had this awareness that since I was three people deep from the stage, Randy would not be able to touch or pray for me, which I was okay with. I felt safer being three rows away from him (because I knew he was powerful and wasn’t sure what would happen, which scared me a bit). I found my arms stretched out and kept saying “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,” repeatedly, but with such force; it felt embarrassing and freeing at the same time. Suddenly, this massive, giant-like hand clapped itself over my left shoulder, and I fell to the ground. I felt this physical wave of deep warmth I have never ever felt before. I honestly did not know at that point if this was God or not. I just knew that I felt so loved, and I liked it. I was aware that others were on the ground, too, but had no grid for what was happening.
When you sit on the sideline watching, it is NOTHING like being the one who is experiencing it for the first time. I opened my eyes just a crack to see this man step over me, the same one who put his hand on my shoulder. I knew it was that man named Bill Johnson who was speaking later that day, but I knew nothing about him except for the fact that his touch sent me into the most powerful experience with God’s love that this girl has ever known. I stood up from that encounter and have never been the same. His love touched something so deep in a way that I did not know was humanly possible this side of heaven. Why am I sharing all of this with you? Because I want you to see that I spent a decade pursuing God, Jesus, and the Word with everything I had but was resisting Holy Spirit just as strong. My mind would not allow me to be entertained with the truth about Him. I had to EXPERIENCE Him to know Him because my mind had created boundaries preventing me from learning more about who He was. Saul was the same way. He was Jesus’ #1 enemy until he EXPERIENCED Him. These two encounters (experiences with Holy Spirit) forever changed my life and ushered me into my calling and purpose on earth.
Want to help your child reset after coming home from school? Give them an intentional few minutes of just being still in God’s presence. I would prepare a snack for them and tell them to grab a corner of the living room and enjoy their snack while lying quietly. Sometimes all it took was five minutes, and you could feel the shift in the atmosphere.
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.
A while back, we went out to eat, and this man was cursing up a storm and yelling loudly. When we sat down, the kids wanted to call out the bad and do the whole, “Did you see that man…?” I stopped them and said, “Ask Jesus what He wants you to know about that man.” They started saying things like, “He was hurt as a boy,” “He doesn’t know who he is,” “He doesn’t know Jesus.” Hurt people do hurtful things. People act out what other people have spoken over them. When we ask Jesus to show us what’s going on inside of others, our perspective changes. One of the most powerful ways we can release the Kingdom as a family is to see stuff like that in our normal everyday life and ask Jesus to show us what He sees. We will shift how we view, judge, and see that person when we see through His eyes.
When God says be HUMBLE, He means for us to be humble, always, and that includes in our parenting. Often parents fear that if they are humble with their children, they will somehow lose their parental authority. That is not accurate. You will gain their respect because you are modeling for them the Kingdom and connecting with their hearts. It is okay to learn from your children and hear what may need to be improved upon. I often check in with my kids and ask them, “What is something Mom has done well?” “What is something you wish Mom would improve upon to make your heart feel loved and seen?” The answers always surprise me and motivate me to become more like Jesus in my parenting. The truth is, either way, you are going to hear it – either now or when they are older and dealing with the fruit. I would much rather listen to their hearts while they are still children and deal with it in childhood, where I can grow and make a positive difference in their lives. Don’t be afraid of feedback. Allow God to parent you in your parenting journey.