Posts tagged spiritual warfare
Am I Distracting my Child from Their Purpose?

Sitting in church on a cold February morning, the Pastor was making his way through the book of Ecclesiastes.  And then it hit me. As I was listening to a message on things that distract us from the meaning of life, I was convicted.  Before I share with you what specifically I was challenged with in my life, let me first be honest. 

I am enamored with "things." I struggle with wanting a bigger house, more furniture, more clothes, more jewelry. In fact, these are things I deeply desire and even can justify why I should have.  Maybe you can relate? And "things" aren't bad. Living a lavish lifestyle and having plenty, in and of itself, is not bad. Abraham, one of the most prominent men in the Bible, was just one of many whom God blessed with "stuff." Wealth is not bad. God Himself pours out His blessings and provides not only essentials, but abundance for His children.

But something struck me in a new and fresh way that wintry Sunday morning.

pirate ship toys.jpg

As the snow softly fell outside the window, I heard an ungodly statistic fall on my ears. The amount of excess that is disposed of and thrown away by American families is insane. American children have more toys than all of the other children in the world, and yet we don't even value the surplus and abundance we have. So not only is there a gratefulness issue of not appreciating and valuing what God blesses us with, there is a distraction issue. Again, let me be honest. Truth be told, my children have abundance when it comes to things. Their toy room has looked like a freaking toy store at times. Each one of my girls has always had a heart of gratitude and they appreciate and value what they have been blessed with. They go to great lengths to take care of and not destroy the toys they have been given.

Toys serve a great purpose. Independent play and imaginary play are born with dolls, action figures, or stuffed animals.  Sensory skills, coordination, and manipulation, as well as creativity, are mastered when playing with Legos or play-doh. My conviction has less to do with the abundance and more to do with the heart. 

The first challenge is obvious. Are we giving our children an abundance out of our desire for them to live lavish lifestyles to the point that we are not teaching them gratitude? Are we filling their rooms and closets with so much stuff that we neglect to teach them to be grateful and to be stewards of what they have been entrusted with. Do we teach them to take care of their belongings and to have hearts that are thankful, recognizing that they are not entitled to a plethora of toys, books, clothes, or electronics?  We have a generation that is demanding because our children have been taught to be entitled since birth.  We feed their sense of self and then wonder why they are so entitled, selfish, and ungrateful. This leads to my bigger concern as a mother. 

Am I distracting and hindering my children from their intended purpose? Am I contributing to their demise? You see, if I actually believe that my children (and myself) have been created for a purpose, then I must know what that purpose is. I believe the Bible clearly states that God has created each and every one of us with a purpose.  And while each of our individual skill sets look differently and our gifts vary, our purpose is the same. The Bible tells us that ALL of creation was created for the glory of God. God's desire in creating mankind was to bring Him glory and for us to have fellowship with Him. My purpose, and my children's purpose, is to know God and to make Him known--to bring Him glory. That is when it hit me. 

At what point am I contributing to distracting my children from their intended purpose in being created?  Am I giving my children so much that I am feeding their desire to serve self? Am I giving my children in abundance to the point that they are not lacking, but are instead feeding pride, and a sense of entitlement that they deserve what they have? Do I keep my kids so busy, so distracted, surrounded by so much "stuff" that I am actually contributing to their demanding that self is put on the throne of their lives instead of God?  By giving them abundance, am I teaching them that the world revolves around them? 

We are all at war. We are at war and in constant battle to fight for who will win control of our heart. Where is our affection? Satan would love nothing more than for us to stay distracted. Because when we are distracted and are feeding self, we are not making room for God.  We are placing ourselves on the throne of our lives, serving self, and making ourselves gods. But we cannot serve two masters. As a mother, I am challenged to make sure I am feeding what I want to actually want to grow.  I am convicted in areas where I am contributing to teaching my children to feed self, rather than living out their purpose for which they have been created. 

Why Just Reading the Bible to Your Kids is Not Enough

I recently read an article talking about the growing popularity of witchcraft among teens and millennials in America. The article said that while interest in Christianity and religion is decreasing every year, belief in horoscopes, tarot cards and palm reading is increasing. Not only do more and more people feel that it is ok, studies show that over 50% of millennials believe that astrology is a science and read their horoscopes daily. I believe that part of this acceptance is due to the normalcy that modern culture puts on New-Age references. Board games, computer games, children’s-fiction, video games, TV shows and other forms of entertainment make the occult seem normal and permissible. 

However, I believe that there is a much larger reason as to why so many teenagers and millennials are leaning towards witchcraft (or other similar mediums) for guidance. I believe it is because we are created to look to the supernatural for direction, and many are not finding it in the Church. 

As human beings, we have a deep sense that there must be something beyond us. Even though many Americans would say they are not religious, a recent study said that 89% of Americans still say they believe in a god or a universal spirit.  It is in our very DNA to long for something beyond us, and we crave a connection to the supernatural. Almost every person still prays to something when her or she is about to get into a car accident or a close friend is dying. All humans are desperate for something beyond them, and yet, so often in modern churches, people go to a church service and leave without ever connecting to the supernatural. Christianity to many people is a good, moral worldview, but in reality, seems absent of any sort of real power. 

It makes sense that people who are actually desperate for a real power beyond themselves may have gone to a church and left because they didn’t find it there. It may not be that they like the idea of Satan over God, but more so that they see the evidence of something beyond them in witchcraft and just a bunch people doing “good things” church. If they are already struggling with how to get through life in their own power, a worldview comprised primarily of a list of rules is not what they need. They need something real.

So how, as Christians, do we help prevent our children from falling into this same trap? Do we try to scare our kids into obedience by forbidding them to interact with anything associated to the devil or the demonic? I don’t think so. In fact, in many ways I feel that this approach does more harm than good, because it is giving off the impression that Satan is stronger than God. 1 John 4:4 says, “For he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world!” Instead of just telling our kids to avoid Satan, we have to show our kids an even greater power-- the power of Jesus Christ. Once they actually encounter the greater power, they will be able to recognize the counterfeit power that the enemy offers as fool’s gold compared to true gold.

John 1:5 says, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome it.” Light is always stronger than darkness. You cannot turn on the light in the room and have darkness decide to stay--it must leave. We should not be afraid of Satan, but rather, he should be afraid of us! The problem is not whether God is more powerful than Satan, but whether we are actually giving God opportunities to show his power.

Our churches need to be places where people come in and encounter something that is beyond themselves. We have to start asking him to speak and learning how to listen. We have to start praying and expecting God to answer. We have to start asking for miracles and sharing testimonies-- and this will only become real in our churches when it becomes normal in our homes. True encounters with God start around your dinner table, in your car while driving to soccer practice and in your kids’ bedrooms at night when you pray.

Some practical ways to lead your kids to actually encounter a real and living God are as follows: 

1. Pray for real things and share testimonies around the dinner table about how God is actually responding to your prayers. All too often we pray for things at night with our kids but don’t report back on how God answers or how He is responding to our prayers. This makes God look like an unresponsive statue-- when in reality he is more real than anything around us! We need to teach them how to listen as they pray and look for answers to their prayers over the next few days and weeks. 

“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”- James 5:16

2. Read Scripture together as a family every day, and teach your children how to hear God’s voice through it. All too often we just study the Word like a textbook, but don’t learn how to let God actually speak to us through it. Have them ask God questions, and then as you read scripture together, have them share what God was putting on their heart in response to the passage.

“Direct my footsteps according to your word…”- Psalm 119:113

“For the word of God is alive and active.”- Hebrews 4:12

3. Teach your kids how to encounter God during worship. All too often our children think that worship is just singing songs about God-- when in reality it is so much more. Teach them how to actually connect their hearts to their Creator and respond to what He is doing in their lives with an overflow of worship. One way you can do this is put on worship music at home, give them some crayons and have them draw what comes to mind as they hear the words of the song and share what they felt God was speaking to them through the lyrics. You can also have them write out a list of things they saw God do in their life over the past week before they enter into worship so they actually have something to worship Him about. Another idea is to ask and encourage them to write their own worship songs, or write out prayers during worship rather than just singing someone else’s lyrics. 

“Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory. Because Your love is better than life, my lips will praise You.”- Psalm 63:2-3

4. Teach them to ask God for ideas. When they are struggling with something, have them ask God to put an idea in their mind and share that idea with you so that you can help guide them with whether the idea lines up with scripture. If they don’t learn to ask God for ideas, they will begin to want to go to other sources such as horoscopes, tarot readings and astrology for guidance. God loves to speak to his children, and loves to respond when we ask Him for wisdom!

“As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me strength.”- Psalm 138:3

5. Teach them how to walk with God. Take time regularly to pray as a family, and have each person ask God to put someone on their mind or heart to reach out to as well as what they should do for that person. They may have an idea to call a grandparent, or feel like God wants them to write an encouraging note to the homeless guy on the corner. Once everyone shares their ideas, go out and do them and then report back what happened. By teaching them how to live in response to the urgings of the Holy Spirit, they will learn that life with God is so much more exciting and real than just living a life trying to make themselves happy. 

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."- Isaiah 30:21

Most of all, pray for your children. Pray that they will encounter the presence and power of God in a real way. Pray that they will get to know his voice, follow his promptings, and be a light in the darkness. Pray that they become a force to be reckoned with, and that whenever Satan hears their footsteps, he will tremble and flee. Knowing the reality of a powerful God not only means that they can resist the temptation of a lower power, but also that they will be the ones charging the darkness with the light of Christ. Parents, do not be afraid, but instead, lead your kids to experience the reality of the truth that our God is stronger!

Coffee and Fellowship

As I sat to write this blog this morning, writer’s block over-whelmed me. I certainly have plenty of things I could write about. My life has been a flurry of activity with a multitude of trials and tribulations as of late.  Should I write about contentment, prodigal children, mental illness, spiritual warfare, marital communication? The potential topic list went on and on in my head.  So, in utter frustration, I prayed that God would give me a word, that He would show me what He wanted me to share, that He would use me as His conduit.  Then, in such an unexpected way, low and behold, He answered my prayer in a mighty way!  

I decided to take a break from the computer and get a bite to eat. After eating my frozen meal (quick and easy so I could get back to “writing“), I went outside to bring in my Amazon delivery and saw an unexpected bag from another store. What was in that bag brought me to tears, gave me the topic for this blog, and reminded me of what God wants us all to remember. In it was a new coffee maker, given in love from dear friends, secretly delivered by them to my front porch.  Why? Because my existing maker has decided to be temperamental, and won’t always work.  And, my friends know me…they know I don’t function well without my coffee… they know what is going on in my life and want to help in any way they can… they care… they love as Christ loves.

Dear ones, we were made to be in relationship, with Him and with others. I know that sounds simple and not very profound, but I can attest to you that it is of utmost importance. It is critical that you surround yourself with people that love you, that are walking in the ways of the Lord, that not only speak the truth, but live the truth. I am not at liberty to share about the events going on in my family’s life right now, but suffice to say that we are experiencing first hand what can happen when you do and when you don’t surround yourself with Christian friends and fellowship. Also, it is so important to be that Godly person for someone else, to share the love of Christ with others, to be a person who is a doer, not only a hearer, of the word. (James 1:22)

When you don’t surround yourself with loving, Godly friends, you leave yourself exposed and vulnerable to the enemy. The enemy is real and he delights in isolating you from your friends, family, and faith. He wants to have you to himself so that he can devour you. 1 Peter 5:8 reminds us that “…Your adversary the devil prowls around like a lion seeking someone to devour”. Even Jesus was alone and isolated when He endured the temptations of the devil, and after that time, He was attended to by angels (Matthew 4:1-11). Like Jesus, we need angels to minister to us in times of trial, and those angels, metaphorically speaking, are our friends and family.  We can not endure without them.

What my friends did for me was so much more than feeding my coffee habit, they fed my soul.  Although their great kindness and generosity made me feel so loved, by them and by Jesus, their prayers and support are even more priceless to me. If you don’t have a community of believers supporting you, may I encourage you to seek them... join a small group or a Bible study, get involved at church, invite others for fellowship, sign up for the P4M discipleship program, do something to get connected.  And if you do have a circle of believing friends, don’t forget to give, not just receive!