I posted this last May on my personal blog, and we thought this would be a good way to start off this weekend. I love each of you and am praying for you in these days!
Listen, my opinion probably doesn’t hold much weight in parenting since I’ve been fighting, rejoicing, asking and fumbling my way through with the Lord as a single parent for five short (but long) years. I’m thankful, though for the grace and intentionality shown in Christ’s pursuit of my girl through giving me the desire to at least want to learn to do this thing well. That desire in me is His grace for her.
Parenting is a verb. It’s not an adjective about me. It’s part of the mantel of responsibility the Lord has entrusted to my scope of daily and moment by moment living.
One of the greatest pieces of parenting insight I’ve received is that we have the unique opportunity and responsibility to teach, equip and influence our children from the beginning rather than allowing the world to influence and educate them. This is discipleship at its finest. Some people take the approach of, “we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.” I think in some cases this makes sense to do, depending on the topic and age you’re dealing with. But consider the profound wisdom in the Lord’s practical approach in showing Adam the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God knew that this tree would kill them. He warned Adam. He told him not to eat from it. He told him why. Because God loved them and wanted them to live.
And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17 ESV)
God doesn’t speak in confusing language. He says what He means and means what He says. But let’s be like Him with our kids. They need to trust that what we say is what we mean. If the Word says that we’re going to be held accountable for every word that we utter, then what we say matters. (I think we forget that. I do sometimes.) If what we say matters, shouldn’t we think before we spew the words we’re saying to these little people, understanding they are of immeasurable value?
(Sidenote: There are wonderful mysteries and paradoxes we all have yet to discover, but he says seek and you will find. Knock and I will open. Ask and I will answer. I’m not talking about His incredible vastness. I’m talking about that when the Lord says something, we can heed his instruction because it always for our good.)
The enemy came in and said, “He doesn’t mean die-die. He means that naive part of you will die, you’ll see what the world is really about, and you’ll see that you can really be like God.” What was the consequence of our ancestors listening to the wrong voice of influence? What was the consequence of you or I listening to the wrong voice of influence? We have all lived or are living in it. What’s more… What will be the consequence if we squander our opportunity as parents (or grown ups in a kid’s life) to teach our children which voice of influence to listen to? I’m no theologian or scholar. But I know my Good God, and I know my enemy who really does want to disarm and destroy us. I want my kids and those in my family’s life to know this, too.
I just read a Facebook post and then an article on the “craze” right now where kids are summoning demons with what is essentially a homemade Ouija board. It’s on the news, social media, and multiple friends who are teachers in nearby school districts have witnessed this. Whether your kid has social media or not, they’re going to be influenced by someone, right? If it’s not you in some intentional fashion, it’s undoubtedly going to be someone else in that manner. I can’t brush this off. It enrages me. I’m grieved heavily. Fourth graders. This isn’t “a game” they’re playing. They’re being sucked in and victimized. Does this sound dramatic? If it does, then you don’t actually understand what these children are engaging in.
The enemy operates in the way of a gnarly creeper luring thoughtless, not-yet-developed people back to his house with some form of amusement. “It’s a fun game. Just come play and see what happens. It’ll be fun!” Meanwhile, people engaging this are reportedly hearing voices, inanimate objects are moving, etc. They believe it is a Mexican man speaking from the dead. These are not the voices of the dead. Well, these demons’ time is short, but these aren’t dead people talking to the kids. They’re just that. Demons. Agents of this present darkness being invited into the psyche and soul as they explore and ask the snake silly questions. Each encounter is venom. They’re inviting torment. There is nothing fun and exciting about playing with fire. It’s dangerous and you will get burned.
I tell you the truth, I love this promise, but I can’t remember the time I’ve taken transformational comfort in it until earlier moments today when I was sitting with this reality.
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Parents, teach your children what they want to know and what they do not want to know. Tell them the truth. You’re preparing them for battle from before the moment they take their first breath. Teach them what it is to put on the armor of God. Give them a live example by putting it on yourself first. Teach them how to seek truth in the midst of so much deception.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
You are not disqualified by what you do not know. I’m personally thankful for this reality, because I have to hold her hands and pray before I open up the Word with Samara and her questions. I want her to know where I look for answers, because within myself I don’t have them. I want her to know to ask Him for herself. The verse says “be strong IN THE LORD and the strength of HIS might.” It doesn’t say, “get your junk together, figure things out, and do what you’ve got to do to be the best parent/ person you can be.” No. We failed miserably at that. We need Jesus. We need a supernatural God to fight this supernatural fight. The great news? This isn’t scary. We know how this story ends. We know who’s already won and wins every time when we really let Him be our Defense.
Seek wisdom and look for insight. Yes. Be all over this. But don’t wait until you know everything or your kids will suffer greatly. Because, baby, it’s not going to happen. Start now. It’s not about how you start, but how you finish, right? It’s great to start strong and finish strong. If you’re like me in this, you’re thankful for transformative redemption, and a God who keeps His promise in that 1) His Word does not return void, 2) His arm is never too short to reach us, and 3) He will complete the good work He starts. If you started in a way that you fear how the story will end, let King Jesus write the rest for you. He’s already started. Remember Calvary. He’s calling you there to lay your pen, paper, and pride down. The most powerful words I’ve prayed over my daughter were, “I need Your help.”
Be encouraged. Breathe. If your child is already in school and you don’t even know where you’d start in teaching him/ her/ them. Start with Jesus. Reach out and ask wise counsel for practical steps. There are so many resources. You’ve just got to pick them up. If you’re going to be lackadaisical and lack discipline, don’t let it be at the expense of your kids. They’re watching everything you do and everything that you do not do.
PRAY. We do not battle against flesh and blood. Our battles aren’t won with groundings, spankings, time-outs, and withholding. No, we are called to intercessory prayer on behalf of our children. To miss this is not a small feat. I’m not speaking “Christianese” here. Let’s pray for our kids the same way Paul prays for the churches he’s planted. Go read what I’m talking about in his letters and consider how this could change the dynamics of your family.
Sometimes enforcing what is right means you have to force yourself to follow through with what you’ve said you’re going to do. For instance, I’m a big fan of setting alarms on my phone to remind me when my day needs to change gears. I’m one who gets lost in tasks… Not because of insane productivity (be not mistaken), but because I wonder into lalaland considering the symbolism of everything around me to some philosophical concept. It’s ridiculous, y’all.
This is incomplete. But if we’re not talking about real stuff that’s happening, we’re not going to win in real life. We’re not the blind leading the blind.
BE AWARE. BE ALIVE. BE INTENTIONAL. BE AN EXAMPLE. BUT FIRST, BE HIS.
To view Liesel's personal blog, CLICK HERE.