Pray For Them

I’m at the point in my motherhood journey where the cutesy stuff just isn’t cutting it anymore. My kids are in high school and middle school now and that naive, innocent phase, as much as it stings my heart, is over. The world expands more and more each passing year and there’s not a darn thing I can do to slow it down. We spend a huge chunk of their lives shielding them from all the bad stuff, and then suddenly have to make an uncomfortable shift: teach them about all the things before the world does. To say I feel like I’m in a battle for souls is not an understatement.

There’s the natural teen stuff we all had to deal with like friendships and dating, but now we have all kinds of bonus issues like easy-access internet pornography, social media nonsense, and vaping. The quick, 5 minutes with Jesus stuff isn’t cutting it anymore. My kids are at Christian schools and the things they are having to deal with keeps me awake many a night. Even the ‘good’ kids are slip-sliding away into all kinds of gray areas that leave me questioning everything. They are inundated with Biblical truth and walking off into a totally different direction.

My son’s high school had their first suicide last week. I can’t even breathe when I think about it. Kids who he grew up with and have known for years are taking paths that I know they weren’t raised to take. So I cry out to God for an explanation and an answer… what can I do to keep this from happening? I’m a doer. If I can read it to them, type it out, teach it, put it on a notecard, I’m on it. My struggle is that I think if I can just convey the right information to them, they’ll want to choose God.

Today, the Lord just kind of flattened this right out of me… in a good way. I pulled out an old prayer I wrote for them a few years ago and read it out loud. Jesus is their Savior, not me.

This is irrationally hard for me to admit. My marching orders come from Jesus. I can’t control my way to Godly teenagers, but I can guide them and pray for them. Here’s just a bit of what I prayed for my kids today:

  • Give them wisdom to not be unequally yoked in their relationships. Send them friends that will build them up.
  • May rebellion never get a foothold in their lives. Give them a healthy understanding of boundaries and may ungodly things be unattractive to them.
  • Show them it’s ok to be different. May they live supernaturally, not strategically.
  • May they desire holiness over being popular or relevant.
  • May they dwell on the the good things they have and not their weaknesses.
  • May forgiveness, confession and compassion be a part of their daily lives as they learn to receive and give mercy.
  • Give them a vision, a big picture to live for that goes beyond what they can see now. Assure them that momentary troubles are not permanent and that You have good plans for them.

I’m learning that the time to pray is when I least feel like praying. That’s ok. This is an offensive war we are in. Letting the days slip by without giving them the tools they need is my greatest fear. We can’t be ignorant of what is happening to our loved ones or think they are immune from the enemy’s attacks. None of us are. But thanks be to God that He has them in the palm of His hand and we can remove ourselves from the drivers seat.

Perhaps this is what our teens need most: parents with a single-minded determination to follow him. We will not do so perfectly, but our own stumbling progress toward discipleship puts us on the same road as our teens — and what a joy it is to be traveling toward Christ together.

Michele Morin

Traveling the road together is a huge privilege. Scary as can be at times, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Don’t sit by while the world has it’s way with your kids or anyone close to you… know God’s word and pray it. Shout it out loud. Let the heavens know to whom you belong.

Dismal Forebodings

One of my favorite books as a teen was the classic Christian allegory Hinds Feet On High Places by Hannah Hurnard. It’s the story of a little girl named Much-Afraid, who lives in the Valley of Humiliation with her family The Fearings… they plague her existence with their negativity. The aunt who raised her is called Mrs. Dismal Forebodings, a fearful old soul afraid of her own shadow. The poor old woman could hardly stand to go outside or open a window for fear of what calamity may befall her. One day the Shepherd comes to invite Much-Afraid on a pilgrimage to the High Places where He promises her a new life and identity. She is frightened at the idea but longs to leave the Valley and go with Him. Her family is no help. Everyone in the old Fearings clan is so wrapped up in their own bondage, they try to keep poor Much-Afraid locked up with them. When the Shepherd passes by the cottage  with his sheep, He gently calls to her to come along. Her cousin Coward covers her mouth so she cannot respond. They all begin babbling negative thoughts so she cannot hear the Shepherds voice. She feels an “incoherent fear” come over her and is so confused, she can’t even move. The valley-dwellers love company and will do almost anything to keep someone from leaving for the mountains.

Dismal Forebodings… the inexplicable feeling that the bottom is about to drop out. The nagging fear when you wake up in the middle of the night and everything seems dreadful. Little things are big, big things are paralyzing. Have you ever just longed for it to be morning? Not because the sunrise brings a solution, but because things just aren’t as bad in the light of day. You can combat things more easily, move around, get some perspective. The night is just dark and quiet. We spend our days soaking up fear like sponges, it’s no wonder we can’t sleep at night.

Bible addresses fear a lot. Everyone from Abraham down to the disciples is given some kind of ‘fear not’ along their journey:

After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.’ Genesis 15:1

“Then the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Joshua 8:1

“Immediately he spoke to them and said, ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’” Mark 6:50

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you.” Isaiah 41:10

In addition to the ‘fear nots’ the Bible tells us not to worry, despair, or be anxious. As long as we humans walk the earth, there will be no shortage of things to fret about.

So we have pills advertised non-stop on our televisions and calming apps on our phones. If the first pill didn’t work, there’s an add-on pill, surely that will help. The app tells us to be ‘mindful’ of what triggers us. Map it out. Rate it on a scale from 1-10. Control it, and maybe it won’t control you. It’s a sidestepping game, like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

When Much-Afraid finally leaves the Valley with the Shepherd, He tells her they are climbing up to the High Places. The journey will make her whole and most importantly, she will get to know Him better – but they must climb together. She will not be able to go around the mountains, that would be useless. There can be no gazing up at their beauty from the valley. What she needs is up on the steep slopes, and she is going to have to climb up to get to it.

It can be a hard climb up and out of fear. I thought that as my kids grew older, I would get better at it, but the fears just rearrange themselves into newer, more distressing forms. It’s not going away with a pill or an app… only the light can dissipate the darkness.

“The Shepherd laughed too. “I love doing preposterous things,” he replied. “Why, I don’t know anything more exhilarating and delightful than turning weakness into strength, and fear into faith, and that which has been marred into perfection. If there is one thing  which I should enjoy doing at this moment it is turning a jellyfish into a mountain goat. That is my special work,” he added with the light of a great joy in his face. “Transforming things —to take Much-Afraid, for instance, and to transform her into—“ He broke off and then went on laughingly. “Well, we shall see later on what she finds herself transformed into.”

May we be changed. May we go with the Shepherd up to the High Places and see who we really are. Floppy jellyfish can become mountain climbers when they put themselves under His care. It’s Jesus’ special work to transform us and what an honor it is to leave the valley and go climbing with Him!

 

Fear and Hustling

Break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he comes and rain righteousness upon you. –Hosea 10:12

I’m no farmer, so I looked up the exact meaning of the word fallow in the dictionary after coming across this verse. It means land that is unseeded, unsown, idle or obsolete. It’s land that could be used to grow crops, but has been left alone to compact and harden. Fallow land will yield absolutely nothing come harvest time, except possibly some weeds.

Hosea is pleading with the people of Israel to get real about the sin in their lives and turn away from it. Throughout the book, he refers to them as an unfaithful harlot whose straying has wreaked havoc, causing all kinds of idolatry and chaos. This verse is an encouragement, a plea in the middle of an otherwise dreary chapter, to snap out of it and return to the God who really is on their side. Continue reading

On Nightmares and Disarming Foes

“Whatever foes may be before the Christian, they are all overcome. There are lions, but their teeth are broken; there are serpents, but their fangs are extracted; there are rivers, but they are bridged or fordable; there are flames, but we wear that matchless garment which renders us invulnerable to fire. The sword that has been forged against us is already blunted; the instruments of war which the enemy is preparing have already lost their point. God has taken away in the person of Christ all the power that anything can have to hurt us. Well then, the army may safely march on, and you may go joyously along your journey, for all your enemies are conquered beforehand. What shall you do but march on to take the prey? They are beaten, they are vanquished; all you have to do is to divide the spoil. You shall, it is true, often engage in combat; but your fight shall be with a vanquished foe. His head is broken; he may attempt to injure you, but his strength shall not be sufficient for his malicious design. Your victory shall be easy, and your treasure shall be beyond all count.”  Charles Spurgeon

Have you ever woken up from a wickedly vivid dream and thought… yikes! what can that mean?! I had a dream like that last night and was only reminded of it when I read this quote on Instagram this morning (how pleasant when social media is actually helpful). We were in a large house and there was a giant snake on the loose… like, it just kept popping up, falling from the ceiling, slithering all over the place, an absolute nightmare. A whole crowd of people were trying to pin it down and get rid of it, but we just couldn’t. It finally went to bite someone and once it latched on, we realized it didn’t have any fangs and were so relieved that it couldn’t actually harm us. We ended up hacking it to pieces… it was really gross and unpleasant.

I know God speaks through things like this if we will only pay attention. Life is full of little puzzle pieces that fit together like that if we are on the lookout. There’s a song that plays often on the Christian radio called “Fear Is A Liar” and I can’t get it out of my head. The enemy is such a liar. It’s actually quite devastating that we don’t realize it sooner. He whispers junk to us all day long… as we drive, while we work, it’s relentless.

I saw a facebook post for a young teenage girl who said that for her birthday in lieu of gifts,  she’d like everyone to donate money to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, because it’s something she personally deals a lot with.

You guys. It broke my heart. There is no reason people should be in this kind of a state. Not because we don’t have problems. Not because we don’t struggle. I’m certainly not saying we shouldn’t support organizations that are meant to help people, I am saying that FEAR IS A LIAR and if we don’t recognize that fact first and foremost, we are simply thrashing around in quicksand with no hope of getting out.

Yes… there are lions and serpents and raging rivers and fiery flames. If only we understood… not just intellectually, but in our very bones, that Christ has indeed already defeated all those things. Satan is in his death throes, he knows his time is limited, and he will do anything to have more company on his way down. Jesus isn’t just waiting for us up in heaven somewhere, He’s here now and offers us life abundantly. 

When we know that fear is a liar, we understand that the beasts have been de-clawed, the sword has no sharp edge, and our armor is fireproof. It makes me heartsick to see teenagers so tangled up in pressures of the world that a pill is their only consolation. The number of adults out here in ‘suburbia-land’ that are numbing themselves with addictions of all kinds is awful. Ignoring our fears won’t make them go away.

I am scared every day for any number of reasons. Sometimes, I wake up in the night with thoughts that will not be hushed.

What if my kids believe the lies? What if this job is a dead end? What will I do when they don’t need me anymore? Did I remember to close the garage door? There’s probably a bear in there right now… 

It’s enough to make a person literally crazy. No wonder everyone is taking a pill and downing a bottle of wine.

What if we lived and made decisions based on the actual truth instead of our fears? What if, instead of short little bursts of inspiration, we stood flat-footed on the solid-rock truth that Jesus actually DID disarm our enemy long ago?

So there’s a snake in the house… he can’t hurt you. Get it out.

So the flames are burning hot and strong? Your armor is fireproof. Walk through it.

So the enemy is pointing a knife at your heart? It’s been blunted. Push it away.

He will try, but everything about him is phony when placed in the light of what Jesus already has done. Yes, there is trouble around every corner, but dear believers, it doesn’t have to paralyze you to the point of inaction. If we spend all our time running from what scares us, how will we every know the joy in chasing after Jesus?

Combat, yes. Battle, it’s certain.

The enemy is defeated, and that makes all the difference.

Call Up The Fire

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“Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  (2 Timothy 1:6-7)

“Do not neglect the gift that is in you… meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them… continue in them…” (1 Timothy 4:14,15).

Stir up the gift that is in you… Do not neglect the gift that is in you…

Paul is writing to his “beloved son” Timothy who was trusted with ministering to the church in Ephesus. He encouraged Timothy to see to it that people weren’t deviating from the truth or getting involved in silly and useless arguments. He is reminding his young disciple that growth in the church and in the hearts of the people doesn’t just happen – they must be attentive and careful not to neglect what God has entrusted them with.

When Paul says “stir it up”, he is using a word that means “rekindle or fan the flame”.

A fire goes out when it’s deprived of oxygen. When it’s attended to however, the little embers can become something great. We all have some embers burning unseen under a pile of logs. They are the very dreams and thoughts of God Himself toward us. Amazing things that He placed in us as gifts and callings, the very best version of ourselves waiting to be awakened.

Sometimes though, it’s easier to just let the embers be. Calling up the fire can be frightening, especially when we don’t know what will happen.

We’d like to speak up for truth, but we don’t want to be made fun of. We have some exciting ideas, but they may not work out at all. Being “in the world” and not “of the world” is a fine line sometimes, what if we make a huge mistake?

Paul understood this. After he told Timothy to stir up his gifts, he reminded him of something very important: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  There is no shame in stirring up and attending to the gifts and dreams God has placed in your heart. How many amazing things never happen because we are simply too scared to blow on the fire a bit? We’re so afraid of starting a wildfire that we let our flame burn out completely. One of the greatest tricks of the enemy is to get us comfortable with the status quo. He doesn’t want us poking the logs. He wants our embers to burn out, and he is pretty good at placing fear and complacency in our hearts to make sure that happens.

God created each of us to fit our own unique mold. Our dreams, gifts and goals are different from anyone else’s. We waste a lot of time fretting about what everyone else is doing and trying to fit into someone else’s mold. What if we focused on what God has already placed inside us and gave those embers a little breath? Tip off a log or two and stir things up. Allow God to show you what your fire looks like.

The world is burning. It’s a destructive, awful kind of heat that promises to consume everything in it’s path if it isn’t fought. It will do us no good to sit back and hope it passes. It isn’t the most popular thing to say, but we are in a battle friends. It isn’t a new thing, God’s Word talks about it all the time and commands us to participate. We need to fight fire with fire. The good news? The fight is a good one, a worthwhile one. It requires maturity and conviction and a deep, abiding connection to Jesus. Whatever your gift, stir it up and do not neglect it. Be so genuinely who God created you to be that there is no room for anything else. Meditate on the gifts that are in you already. Find them, dig them up, and give them oxygen. This is how we are meant to operate! When we step out and embrace these things, fear of failure or the unknown has no place. We are able to do everything with power, love and in a sound mind.

That’s a pretty big deal. God’s power, His love, and a mind free from fear clears the path for our little embers to become something powerful!

Go poke an ember. Blow on it. See what God has in store.