Family devotions one day seemed like a disaster, but that ended up being the lesson. The child who was supposed to lead picked a chapter and spent the next ten minutes reading to us, but we were all getting a bit dizzy with their fast-paced reading and rushing through the passage at record speed. Then they gave their own commentary, and 20 minutes later, we were still sitting there rather detached and unengaged. They then suggested we soak for a few moments but put on dance music, making it nearly impossible to ‘be still and know.’ Family devotions felt like a bit of a flop. Until God showed up and said, “Your lesson today is the flopped lesson.” We spent the rest of the time talking about how to lead others and create space for people to engage and for Holy Spirit to come. I asked the ‘leader child’ what the heart of the passage was, and she said, “That you can’t kill Jesus.” BOOM, that was explosive. I encouraged her to make sure as a leader, she did read the entire passage to get the front and back story of the Scriptures, but that sometimes less is more, and had she started with that statement, we could have spent hours unpacking that. My whole point in inviting you into our living room is simply to share that it isn’t about getting it right or doing it correctly. Even in the flop, Jesus shows up. My kids are learning and growing, and they grew in understanding of how to be a better leader. I would say that is a success.
YOU CAN’T KILL JESUS
When we face anger, anxiety, fear, etc., it invites us to encounter Him. Many believe you have to be free of such things to encounter God, but the truth is some of the greatest intimacy comes when we invite Him into those messy places.
How many of you feel lost without corporate worship, weekly gatherings, and deeper interaction? How many long to pass the Communion plate and enter His presence together? With the lack of church meetings, have you found Him on your own? Have you opened your Bible? Hosted your own worship time? Prayed? Taken Communion? Or has no church left you empty? We need to change the language from NO church to KNOW church. YOU are the church as He dwells inside of you. If we can only find His presence, hear Him, and enjoy Him in the company of others, perhaps we know church more than we know HIM! It’s time to buy your own oil by learning how to go after Him in the secret times when no one else is around. When you starve yourself, your body will eventually stop giving you hunger pangs as a way of survival. When you eat, you become hungry. It doesn’t matter if you FEEL like feeding your spirit; we do it anyway SO THAT it creates a hunger for more. We read our Bible, pray, worship, and take Communion, which increases our desire for more. If you are waiting for the hunger to kick in, you could be waiting for a long time. Dive in today and start eating.
HERE’S THE KEY – When corporate gatherings start happening again, there will be an explosion of His Spirit because you will have oil in you to burn! Don’t wait for the church to start again so that you can enjoy someone else’s fire – get your own – today!
I am teaching my children about the Lord’s prayer and what it means to pray, “Heaven come – on earth as it is in heaven.” One morning during family devotions, I told them how I grew up with the belief that God was good and heaven was real, but for later, once you die. It gave us hope for what was to come. But I have learned over the years that Jesus died so we can have life and have it abundantly NOW. We talked about what the Kingdom of heaven looks like; peace, love, joy, power, clear mind, empowerment, connection, belonging, patience, honesty, truth, being seen, known, heard, understood, valued, attached to Him, family, etc. I had them think of something happening in their world and hold it in their hands. I then had them declare and pray, “Heaven, come” over that situation. Lauren felt anxious about the pep rally and having to be present but also take photos for the yearbook, not fully knowing where to be and when. When she declared, “Heaven, come,” she instantly felt peace and confidence that she would be able to figure it out. Emma was burdened by the girls in her class who gossiped behind their friend’s backs and wanted to say something to them. When she declared, “Heaven, come,” she got an increase of conviction that she was to figure out how to lovingly speak truth to them in a way that invites them into something greater (not just calling them out on it). She felt like she was to wait and really go after this with Jesus before saying something. Hudson was really burdened that he did not manage his time well last night and had homework due. When he declared, “Heaven, come,” he felt like God said to use the remaining 15 minutes and get it done. He said there was no way he could do that as it would take at least an hour. I told him to declare, “Heaven, come” over his time. Fifteen minutes later, he put it in his backpack and said, “Well, it might not have been my best job, but I did get it done.” WOW. Ellie was concerned about a test where she had to memorize something. When she declared, “Heaven, come,” she felt like God was highlighting her identity and that she was still loved and wanted even if she failed. Could you imagine a generation of ambassadors for Jesus who declared heaven COME to the world around them as a lifestyle?
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.
My near-death experience didn’t include any bright lights. In fact, it was the opposite. I grew up going to church but didn’t have a relationship with Jesus. While I remember the vivid details like it was yesterday, there are no words in the English language to describe what hell is like. Words like fear sound like a picnic compared to reality. It was torment. It was without hope. Imagine weights on your feet and sinking to the depth of the pitch-black ocean floor slowly with the keen awareness that no one is around, and no one ever will be, yet you are so aware of your lack of hope. We don’t talk about hell much, but it is a very real place. When God says He sent His Son to save us, He wasn’t kidding. My experience fuels my passion every day to give parents tools to bridge their children, not to a religious belief, but a real relationship with a loving Father who cares passionately about them. Salvation matters.
After I became a Christian, I wrestled deeply with my profound experience with hell. It bothered me that I could never erase that part of my history. My mentor asked me where Jesus was during that time, and this intense religious spirit rose up within me. I was deeply offended that she even suggested God was in my messiest, darkest, most sinful moment. He was too good, too pure, and too holy to stoop so low. I was taught that God is on one side, sin and mess are on the other, and the two don’t mix. She showed me Romans 5:8, which says, “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us *while* we were still sinners.” The Word broke that religious spirit off of me, and I was now willing to ask Jesus where He was in my darkest hour. I saw a picture of my hospital bed and all the life-saving tubes connected to my frail body. I saw Jesus sitting in a chair at the end of my bed with the palm of His hands over His eyes. I couldn’t believe it. HE WAS THERE!!! My mentor sensed He had more to show me, and when we asked, I saw Him slowly pull His hands down and saw His face soaked with tears. Tears flowed freely that day as I realized He was there in my darkest, messiest moment! While seeing Him there didn’t change an ounce of my reality, it changed the entire interpretation of the events. He spared my life even before I was ‘saved’ and cared deeply about my pain. You can’t have an encounter like that and not be marked for life. Friends, HE IS THERE! It is okay to ask Jesus where He was in your darkest hour.
God knew life on earth would be filled with confusion, chaos, and darkness, so He sent His Son to be the way, light and truth.
John 14:6 – “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life.'” I teach my children that they can never lose their balance when they look up. Jesus will show them the steps to take, how to respond with righteousness, and lead them into peace.
WAY – model and teach what is pleasing to the Father.
LIGHT – holiness, goodness, knowledge, wisdom, grace, hope, and God’s revelation.
TRUTH – the true or actual state of a matter, conformity with fact or reality, a verified or indisputable fact.
Do not deny God’s provision in this hour. He has given us His Son as our Savior and a guide to show us the way. Look up!!
As someone who endured profound emotional and mental isolation in childhood, being alone long term is not healthy for me. I know my capacity and take active steps to make sure I am in community. When I feel the most weary, I realize it is because I have come under LIES of isolation. I have to actually reset my mind and heart back to His TRUTH. Let me share them with you in hopes they will align you with His heart and break off discouragement.
**I break agreement with the lie I am alone.
**I break agreement with the lie that I can’t be in community right now.
**I break agreement with the lie that isolation is my duty.
**I break agreement with the lie that says interaction is wrong.
**I break agreement with the lie that people are a danger.
**I break agreement with the lie that I have to fear others.
**I break agreement with the lie that others are a threat.
**I DECLARE that God designed me to interact with others.
**I DECLARE that I am called to impact others.
**I DECLARE that my need to be heard and seen is a part of my wiring.
**I DECLARE that longing for people is healthy.
**I DECLARE that I have the mind of Christ in the midst of the storm.
**I DECLARE that my Father leads me in all situations.
**I DECLARE that my emotional needs are valued and valid.
**I DECLARE that I am not in an emotional or relational time-out.
Ask Jesus, “Jesus, will You please show me the strategy to connect with people today?”
Sometimes we bring our children to Jesus, and other times we bring Jesus to our children.