About International Women’s Day – the Christian Response

When satan first revealed to us his plan to influence the world for his purposes, he started with a woman. The first International Women’s Day began in the Garden of Eden.

When the man and the woman had everything in complete perfection. They had everything they could ever desire, and more. They actually walked with God.

There was only one thing. One thing God told them was not theirs. Everything else was theirs but this one thing. The fruit from the tree in the middle.

Satan went to the woman first. Maybe he said something like this to himself before approaching the woman with his lies, “Let’s get to the woman first. She will believe our lies then she will influence the man. They will fall in my trap and become mine. Then I will be like God.”

Maybe satan began to say things like this, “God has given the woman everything she could ever desire. Let’s get in her head to make her solely focused on the one thing she can’t have. Let’s make her think that God is withholding good from her. Let’s create in her a desire for more.”

In my mind the first international women’s day happened in the garden. It was the day the woman decided she deserved more than she believed God had given her. Satan first went after the woman, and today he still goes after the woman.  Satan isn’t creative. He uses his same tricks. And we keep falling for them. What was in her heart she didn’t see? Discontentment, covetousness, greed, pride -a desire to be her own God?

One of satan’s oldest tricks is to get in our mind and begin his whispers. “Did God really say?” “God didn’t say that.” With a few crafty words, He takes what God says and twists it causing confusion in our mind, planting seeds of doubt, creating a sense of entitlement, sowing jealousy and envy, breeding anger and bitterness. Of course, we don’t see that. Until it’s too late usually. We’ve walked in his trap.

We don’t see the deception at the time. It’s in hindsight we see. After Eve fell for satan’s lie, God confronted Adam and Eve. Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the snake. She said, “It was the serpent. He deceived me, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:13)

He deceived her and she ate. Today, he deceives women and they eat.

International Women’s Day is a day crafted from the pit of hell, giving birth here, and now disguised as something good.

International Women’s Day website says this – “Women unite to transform the world. Join us to ignite a global sisterhood. International Peace · Global Coherence · Promoting World Peace”

International Women’s Day is a trap, a lie, and it’s meant to divide and destroy. Christian women, don’t fall for the lie satan is feeding to you.

There is only one way to peace. One way to global sisterhood. And God has already shown us the way. He rescued us, redeemed us, we are His. We don’t need to fight for what God has already said is ours!

During the election season, one of my boys asked me what rights women don’t have that men have. He asked with genuine concern in his voice.

“What do you mean?” I questioned back.

“I keep seeing all these commercials that say women need to fight for their rights. What rights don’t you have.”

Even kids see the messaging pumped into women of this age.

My husband and I flew to Omaha on a house-hunting trip. He sat in the seat next to me. Two women entered and had no seat to sit in. My husband stood and offered his seat. He insisted. He couldn’t sit while a woman stood. No other man budged to offer their seats.

The woman looked at me and whispered, “You have a good one. Men these days aren’t like they used to be.”

I smiled at her and responded, “It’s probably because women demand to be treated like a man and men are confused about how a woman wants to be treated.”

She agreed.

Culture has placed men and women in competition with each other. The Bible doesn’t. Biblically, men and women are created equal in God’s eyes, made in His image. Yet they are very different. They complement each other in beautiful, unique ways.

Our culture is interesting in how far we swing. How far to the opposite side we go to right was seems off balance. One extreme to the other.

I saw this on Facebook recently. A new boys’ t-shirt Target put out that says Strong Like Mom.

So what’s so wrong with being strong like mom? Well, nothing except that it fits in with the rest of the messaging against men. The messaging that tries to elevate women above men. To make our boys look to mom as a picture of strength rather than dad. The messaging which satan intends to use to divide, he disguises as a message of unification. He is pitting women against men.

It’s all an effort to tilt and twist what God created so we accept and esteem something out of order. It’s meant so that we believe that God is withholding something from us. It’s meant to create a sense of fight in us. Fight for our value. Fight for our rights. Fight to be heard. Fight to be equal.

Women. We are fighting the wrong battle. The battle isn’t against men. The battle is against the prince of this world, given a short time, to win as many to him as he can before he is thrown in the lake of fire for eternity. (Rev 20:10)

So what’s the right fight for christian women? What is the good fight? It begins with Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”

Women, we must renew our minds daily. Culture is not our guide. Culture is influenced by the devil. It is not truth. It may hold pieces of truth, enough to make us blind, but it isn’t truth.

Women, don’t conform. Don’t conform to the patterns of this world, the patterns that say we must fight for rights we already have, or fight to be heard because we’ve believed a lie that says no one sees us or hears us. Don’t conform to the patterns that tell us to make our boys in our images, strong like mom.

Instead, be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Women and men are strong from the strength of God. He is the giver of strength. I’m raising boys who I want to love and cherish women. I want them to not see a competition of who is stronger or better or smarter. I want them to see a man and a woman the way God sees them. All created in His image.

I want to raise glory-bearers. Boys that become men who will protect and shield their woman. Who will be tender and compassionate to her. To believe in her and encourage her to use her God-given gifts for the glory of the Father, whether in the workplace or in the home or both. I want my boys to be in partnership with their future wives, seeing her as the helpmate she was created to be.

While satan is using women in creating this movement, which is no new movement, he is influencing the minds of our youth.

Our roles as christian adults is to protect the minds of these kids to see the truth of God’s Word. The only way to know Truth is to know Him. And the only way to know the difference between a lie from satan and the truth from God’s Word is to read the Word for ourselves.

Christian women, here’s how we interact with International Women’s Day.

1- Pray. Pray for women everywhere who are believing the lies that they must fight the wrong fight. Pray for eyes to be opened to the truth. Pray against satan’s deception. Pray for our youth. Pray for our little girls and boys growing up in this culture bent to destroy them.

2- Read God’s Word – Know it. Let it transform you. Let it illuminate the darkness.

3- Don’t focus on the issues. Focus on Christ. When satan can’t get a christian to believe his lies, he will create in them an intense focus on the issues. He will get them to fight the wrong battle still. But when our eyes are on Christ, we are looking at the Victor, we are covered in peace, and we can love our brothers and sister well.

4- Love one another- Love others well. It’s not a feeling. It’s an action. Satan stirs up division and hate. God stirs up love. Fight the division and anger and hate with love. “A gentle answers turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)

When My Tradition is at the Expense of Another’s Family

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My sister told me a story that I can’t get out of my head. She was paying for her groceries at Wal-Mart. She began asking the woman scanning her groceries about her Thanksgiving plans, her work schedule, and the frenzy of shopping around the corner that would take place at Wal-Mart.

The woman began to share about her personal family situation- divorce, split families, a 44-year-old single mom. Because of the volume of business at Wal-Mart, she would be required to work over the Thanksgiving holidays. She would be working Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Her 14 year-old will sit at home by himself while she works Thanksgiving Day from 10-7. She has no other place for him to go. She requested off, she’s worked there 21 years. The answer was no. Mandatory for all.

I’m not upset at Wal-Mart, or any store for that matter. They didn’t create this. We did. Our materialism. Our focus on gifts. Our clinging to traditions. That is what has created a scenario for the stores that places them in a position to capitalize on the opportunity.

In my mind, I’ve created a picture of this woman and her son. I see her 14-year-old like I picture my Jacob and my heart breaks. God won’t let me shake this image I’ve painted. For this particular woman, maybe I’m off. Maybe I’ve romanticized her story in my heart. Maybe not. Regardless of this one story, I think God won’t let me shake it because our world is full of stories like this we fail to see.

I tend to live in my own little bubble at times. Thankful for my little world, focusing on the blessings that abound in my home. But there is a larger world outside my little bubble that breaks my heart when I allow myself to go there. It’s easier to live blind to the hurting world around us. I’m certain that is not the way of Jesus.

Right now I’m sitting in a cozy guest room at my mom’s house in Georgia. I’ve enjoyed days of lounging, laughing, and feasting, surrounded by the love of family. It’s easy for me to focus right here. To thank God for these blessings. But He keeps bringing back the picture of this woman and her son. He loves them as He loves me.

Thanksgiving Day on social media we will see feeds filled with beautiful family photos. The captions will say “Thankful” “Blessed” “Family”. I will love scrolling and seeing these beautiful pictures filling my feed. But there are others all around us who don’t have the picture perfect looking family. Many will feel thankful still. Many will not. Many will feel blessed minus the Rockwell portrait, many will not.

I was reading in Matthew this morning as I reflected on how thankful I am today. Thankful for my family near and far. I read this and then God brought to mind the lady I’ve never met from Wal-Mart.

Matthew 12:46-50

46 While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers[a] stood outside, asking to speak to him.[b] 48 But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

I don’t know if this woman is a believer or not. I don’t know anything about her. But I know that she has captured my heart.

Until 4 years ago, one of my favorite days of the entire year was Black Friday. Every year as long as I can remember I shopped on Black Friday. Either with my mom, sister, or friends. I rarely missed one. Thanksgiving night we’d scour the sale ads, make our strategic mapping of the course, then spend an entire day shopping.

Three years ago Seeking Christmas was published. I thought I was writing Seeking Christmas to help families discover the true magic of Christmas by giving tools to create traditions that focused on what Christmas really means. Today I look back and see that Seeking Christmas changed me. It was a pivotal turning point. The changing process wasn’t overnight. It’s been over years.

Part of why I wrote Seeking Christmas was to counter the commercialism and materialism of our culture. It creeps into our families in an effort to entangle us. While I’m a huge proponent of traditions, I also am a fan of breaking traditions and creating new ones. Sometimes we cling to something because we believe we can’t break tradition. It’s what we’ve done forever, so we must continue on. When we stay in that place, we miss out on creating more meaningful moments. The clinging to tradition can be stifling. It can choke out what might have been.

The year Seeking Christmas was published I attempted the traditional Black Friday shopping, but my spirit was unsettled. Each store I went into I saw all that is wrong with Christmas. The carts filled to overflowing with gifts, the maxed out credit cards, the pushing and shoving to make sure you get the item you came for with no thoughts to the others wanting the same item, the honked horns at stolen parking spaces. For the first year in my shopping life, I left Black Friday without buying a single thing. And I felt sad. I was sad at what had always been that I’d not clearly seen. I was sad that I spent my morning out supporting the very thing I hoped to change within families.

The year after Seeking Christmas was published, I broke my Black Friday tradition for the first time ever. The reason is that it didn’t coincide with the heart of my message. How could I write about celebrating what Christmas is truly about and then spend a day shopping and feeding the very thing that is wrong with Christmas? That year we created a new tradition instead of going out shopping, we would stay in creating. We crafted and made handmade gifts. Each year since has been a little different.

I thought I would grieve the giving up of Black Friday. I thought I would feel I was missing out. The opposite happened. It freed me. Over the past several years, we’ve focused less and less on material gifts. Yes, we give our kids plenty of gifts, but we give more experiences than toys. We give them gifts of opportunities, memories, and trips. These usually aren’t bought in the store.

Five years ago you never would’ve convinced me I would ever give up Black Friday shopping. Like many things, when we feel the prick of God in our spirit and we act on it, He blesses us.

I’m not saying Black Friday shopping is wrong. But there are times God will poke us and He is calling us to something that will cause us to walk against the current we are living in. That is what He did in my life and continues to do.

God continues to poke me at things that others freely enjoy and He gives me the option of listening to Him or following what others seem free to do. I’ve found that my soul rests still when I listen to the poke of God. When I resist the poke and go along with everyone else, the gratification is temporary. And the poke comes back.

This Thanksgiving would you consider the lady in Wal-Mart who is required to work because the demand for store hours is such that she will work 3 straight mandatory days? If there is any way you can not shop on Thursday or Friday, would you kindly consider it? Our dollars send the loudest message of all to stores. When we spend, we tell them we like what they are doing. When we don’t spend, we tell them we want to see change.

Family is the heart of civilization. Family is the beautiful gift our Creator gave us. What is most important is family. And according to Jesus, our “family” isn’t only by blood or marriage relations, it’s by those who follow the will of the Father.

To honor family, we must honor all families. To cherish our own at the sake of another seems selfish. To spend our money on a day or days that others are forced to work when they should be home loving on their own family seems unfair.

If God has poked your spirit over Black Friday shopping, may this be the year you follow the poke? It’s only two days of prolonging the purchase. Waiting until Saturday. Delaying our desires for the sake of another. It seems small and insignificant. Like our few dollars make any difference. But they do. I believe God multiplies our offering of restraint to bless the families at work on these days from our spending.

Here’s a radical idea. Maybe a new tradition is going out on Black Friday, but not spending a dime. And all we do is go to the people, the ones working, and bless them in some way. Pray with them or over them. Hand them a gift, take them a plate of food, give them a gift card. If you love being out on Black Friday, but you have felt a poke, maybe it’s time to create a new tradition.

 

 

Because I love you I’m going to say this to you.

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Hearing the truth isn’t easy. Sometimes the truth stings, burns, and hurts deeply. Sometimes before healing begins, truth must enter the wound first. The wound is already there. The truth doesn’t inflict the wound, but the wound is secretly infected. So the truth must enter and purge out the bacteria. The purifying burns.

What I’m about to say will sting.

Let’s start with what scripture says…

2 John 4-11

Truth and Deception

I was very glad to find some of your children walking in the truth, in keeping with a command we have received from the Father. So now I urge you, dear lady—not as if I were writing you a new command, but one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk according to His commands. This is the command as you have heard it from the beginning: you must walk in love.[c]

Many deceivers have gone out into the world; they do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh.[d] This is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves so you don’t lose what we[e] have worked for, but that you may receive a full reward. Anyone who does not remain in Christ’s teaching but goes beyond it, does not have God. The one who remains in that teaching, this one has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your home, and don’t say, “Welcome,” to him; 11 for the one who says, “Welcome,” to him shares in his evil works.

Jude 3-4

Dear friends, although I was eager to write you about the salvation we share, I found it necessary to write and exhort you to contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all. For some men, who were designated for this judgment long ago, have come in by stealth; they are ungodly, turning the grace of our God into promiscuity and denying Jesus Christ, our only Master and Lord.

Jude 16-18

These people are discontented grumblers, walking according to their desires; their mouths utter arrogant words, flattering people for their own advantage.

17 But you, dear friends, remember what was predicted by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; 18 they told you, “In the end time there will be scoffers walking according to their own ungodly desires.” 19 These people create divisions and are unbelievers,[h] not having the Spirit.

Truth and love must not be separated. Look at verse 6 again in 2 John before we go further: “ And this is love: that we walk according to His commands. This is the command as you have heard it from the beginning: you must walk in love.[c]

Love is walking according to His commands. This must remain at the forefront during the conversation that will follow. What is walking according to His commands? It is following Truth.

We are also warned about deceivers. We are warned throughout God’s Word to be on the lookout for deceivers. Is this unloving or judgemental? No, it is not. We are guarding our hearts so our love doesn’t run cold.

In this age of constant information, it’s easy to find ourselves worn down from the beating of the same drum over  a story. Our attention spans are short online. We’ve heard it and read it from 10 different viewpoints and we are ready to move on. This also leads us to a numbing of our senses. I imagine you’ve read many thought-provoking, disturbing, and heart wrenching articles on the Jen Hatmaker situation.

The Lord keeps pushing me towards writing about this and here is why. Truth and love go to together. The Word of God is being twisted and distorted. And I fear many of you will be deceived. I love my readers. I love this community. And there is this mama bear burning inside me that is flaming mad about the deception going on.

I believe the end is very near. As in nearer than we can imagine. I believe it is exactly why many Christians are feeling so fatigued and worn down. It’s not that evil has necessarily increased (though I think it has), it’s that a veil is being removed and we are seeing what has always been.

Jen Hatmaker has a ginormous following. This in itself is dangerous. When you serve a platform her size, standing for Truth in this culture is a most difficult task. (In fact, I will lose subscribers after this post. It happens every time.) This culture isn’t truth-driven. This culture claims to be love-driven, but it’s not. If we were love-seekers, we’d be truth-seekers. You simply cannot separate love and truth. To lead with lies is to hate.

I believe Jen Hatmaker and her husband have been deceived and blinded by satan and this breaks my heart. We each must guard our hearts from deception. How? By knowing the Word of God. When we know truth, we don’t believe lies.

When Jesus spoke of the end of the age in Matthew 24: 10-14, he said, “Then many will take offense, betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. Because lawlessness will multiply, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be delivered. This good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed in all the world as a testimony of all nations. And then the end will come.”

When I read Jen’s original interview, my heart literally sank. It was so full of theological error I felt my head spinning. How could she possibly be a follower of Christ and believe these lies? Not only believe but take a bold, public stance. She is a leader, a teacher, she is held to a high standard.

You simply cannot be a true believer, a true disciple of Christ and believe and teach what Hatmaker is teaching. (Refer back to 2 John 9).

All I could think about as I read her words were how many women follow her that don’t know their Bibles well enough to realize she is speaking against the Word of God. If Jen Hatmaker says it, they will take it as truth. This should never be. We should test everything against the Word of God. Don’t take my word for anything I’m writing. Take it to scripture. Test it there.

Satan has done this same trick from the beginning. He takes God’s Word and manipulates it. So it carries some truth in it so as not to be obvious, then he twists it in order to deceive us.

If you don’t know your Bible, you will read the Hatmaker’s words and think they made a decent case for their position. Reading our Bible is crucial in these days. The end is nearer every day. We have to know our Bibles!

When I read the words of Brandon Hatmaker, my mouth hit the floor. Here’s a sampling of these shattering words.

“To be clear…

Jen and I are 100% on the same page regarding her recent interview about our love and hope for the LGBTQ community. This is a journey we have been on together. We both believe a same-sex marriage, as a life-long monogamous commitment, can be holy before God.”

Holy? He called sin holy?

He goes on to talk about the pain and suffering in this world and their journey to “help”. Well, how about we start with the gospel? That’s always a great place to start. Love and truth. The gospel. Love poured out.

He continues, “We’ve seen so much pain among the LGBTQ community: Suicidal teenagers. Divided families. Split churches. So. Much. Pain.” Again, how about using truth in love? You know why there is so much pain, suicide, split families and churches in this community? It’s because they are living separated from Christ. Christ is the bridge the Hatmakers need to be preaching. They love to talk about healing by building bridges, did they forget about the bridge of the cross? It’s been built, but we have to choose to walk across that bridge. The consequences of sin is death. Yes, living a life of sin will bring pain, death, and heartache.  They are leaving out the cross and trying to find a new solution to a problem that arose in the garden. It’s called sin. God gave us the solution already. But the deceiver is spinning us around the issue so we can’t get to the root and ultimately the solution.

Sin brings death. But the gift of God brings eternal life. What the LGBT community needs is christians to pour love on them with the truth. We love them by treating them as created in the image of God. We love them by telling them they are living apart from Christ and the way to Him means we must deny ourselves. The best thing I read on the internet last week was this article. Please take the time to read it. Written from a former lesbian who gave her life to Christ and realized she had to walk away from that lifestyle in order to receive Christ.

The Bible tells us to deny ourselves and pick up our cross. To deny ourself is to lay down the sins we love so that we can pick up the cross. That cross represents true grace. Unmerited favor. When we accept Christ, we don’t continue in our life of sin. Yes, we will stumble. Yes, we will continue to sin. But we don’t remain in our known sin patterns. The beauty is that when we surrender to Christ, we are given a Helper, the Holy Spirit.

What was impossible now becomes possible. All things are possible through Christ who strengthens me. (Phil 4:13) Without Christ, we can’t fight sin. With the Holy Spirit living inside us, He gives us strength to walk away from our sin. It’s beautiful. It’s love. And it’s truth.

The Bible is clear that when we come to Christ for salvation, we first repent. We can’t become a christian without a turning away from our sin. A confession, a surrender of the sins we love, and a commitment to let God give us the strength to walk in His light, which is away from sin.

It’s no different than a thief. Say they’ve lived a life of stealing. They see the light, they want Christ. They confess, ask forgiveness, and repent. They turn away from a life of stealing. They can’t be in Christ and continue to live a life of stealing.

An adulterer, same philosophy. A murderer. To come to Christ for the forgiveness of sins, we must turn away from those sins. It’s only in the homosexual conversation that we are now saying, “It’s ok, you don’t have to turn away from your sin. You can still be in Christ and continue in your life of sin.”

This is why what the Hatmaker’s have done is so devastating. There is no gray area in scripture about homosexuality. It is a sin. God calls it sin. What satan has done so brilliantly is to begin to tell us that it’s not sin. We are born that way or it’s “holy” as the Hatmaker’s believe.

I believe the reason God is pressing me to write on this topic is because of the strong allegiance I’ve seen to the Hatmakers. Her supporters are clinging to her for dear life. They are waving their support banners and believing every word she says. You know the most loving thing we can do for our christian brothers and sisters? It’s to reveal the lie, proclaim the truth, and pray for the deceivers and the deceived.

We should give no man, or woman, our unhindered devotion. That is idolatry. And that is what is happening here. People love Jen Hatmaker so much, they have set her up on their altar of worship. Instead, we should love her enough to pray for the deception she is under. To pray she sees the truth and turns back to the Word of God. And pray for those under her influence.

When we know Truth, we won’t be deceived. Guard your heart from deception. Unfollow those who you know are deceivers of Truth, don’t applaud them. Pray for them to see the truth. Pray for your brothers and sisters living in an age of deception. And look up. He is coming soon!

I know many of you are going to walk away from this post angry. You will believe I’m judgemental and harsh. And I’m sorry if that is how you leave this conversation. God did not give me this platform for myself. He gave it for His glory. And when I see this dividing our christian community, and I see the Word of God trampled in this obvious way, I can’t remain silent. Because I love you too much. And love holds hands with Truth. If I didn’t love you and only cared about my readership and platform, I’d keep my mouth closed so as not to offend or step on any toes. Like I tell my kids all the time, dealing with hard issues is only worth it in the eyes of love. If I don’t love you, I don’t care about entering into a mess. I’ll stay away because I don’t really care about you. But love insists I enter into this.

 

A Letter To My Middle Schooler- I hope you aren’t cool

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Dear Boys,

When I was in middle school, all I wanted was to be cool. In my day cool looked much different than it looks today. Cool comes with a cost. Know what you are buying when you make that exchange.

Most middle schoolers want to fit in in such a way so they will not stand out. They want to be cool in their own way. Cool for one may not be cool for another.

Begin by defining cool for yourself. Don’t let the world define cool for you. The world may say cool is what God calls rebellion. The world may say cool is to love things that aren’t lovely or pure. The world may say cool is to be someone God wants to protect you from being. The world may call cool what God calls idolatrous or foolish.

The world may say it’s cool to have a girlfriend when you know that having a girlfriend will lead you into areas of temptation you aren’t prepared to fight. All your friends may have girlfriends and say you are weird if you don’t. Don’t believe that lie. The ways of the world are foolish to God. 1 Cor 3:19 “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”;

The world may say it’s cool to wear designer clothes and name brand shoes. But God’s Word says in Col 3:2 “Set your mind on things above not on earthly things.”

The world may say it’s cool to watch certain shows and movies or read certain books that are the latest craze. Your friends will stand in lines at bookstores or go to midnight showings. They may religiously watch a weekly show that in your spirit you know something isn’t right. It’s because you know God’s Word tells you in Phil 4:8 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

The world may say it’s cool to use curse words. God’s Word says in Eph 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

The world may say it’s cool to talk bad about your friends or say unkind things about people who are different from you. But God’s Word says in Proverbs 16:28 “A perverse man spreads strife, And a slanderer separates intimate friends.” and in Proverbs 21:23 “He who guards his mouth and his tongue, Guards his soul from troubles.”

The world will offer you many definitions of cool, but you don’t need to accept any definition other than the one that aligns to a Biblical standard. You have known the words of the Lord. Walk in truth. Walk with Him. The world will do all it can to show you an alternate path. It will take truth and twist it ever so slightly creating a path that will lead you off the one God has paved for you to walk. It’s what satan did in the garden. He took truth and twisted it creating a lie. If you don’t know God’s Word, you won’t be able to discern between the truth and the twisted truth.

The world does not define you. Your friends do not define you. No one has a right to label you as cool, weird, nerdy, etc. They will try to define you, but you don’t allow anyone to define you. God already defined you. He created you and He is the only One who has the right to define who you are.

You are His. Here is who He says you are.

Eph 2:10 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Galatians 4:11 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

During your middle school years, you will look for where you fit in. You will seek to find your worth and value in friends, academics, sports, all kinds of areas. Your friends don’t complete you, your grades don’t make you, your talents don’t define you. These are simply gifts from God. Enjoy them, delight in them. Thank God for them. But don’t let them become who you are.

You are a child of God. As a child of God, you are free. Totally, completely free. Free to walk in the Spirit. Free to live released of the pressure to be a certain way or to walk a certain line. You are free to be the one He created you to be.

When you choose this road, the one of being a true follower a Christ, a true disciple, you will stand out. You won’t blend in. His desire is that you are set apart. You are set apart for His good purposes. When you are set apart, you will not be liked by everyone.

This is why it’s ok for everyone to not like you.

“If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”

My prayer for you is that you seek to be like Jesus who didn’t get in with the cool crowd. In fact, he was radical and forever changed the world.

Since birth I’ve prayed for you to be a man after God’s own heart. I’ve prayed for you to love God more than anything in this entire world. I’ve prayed that you would follow God so hard you would strike fear in the eyes of the enemy.

Stand strong. Be bold. Choose courage.

Anyone can be like the world. It’s takes courage and strength to become the man of God He wants you to be. Walk in your calling. Be who He created you to be not who the world says you are. You are a child of God. Only God can define you.

The Golden Calves Our Kids Worship

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“Mom, I just wanted to tell you I’m so glad you didn’t get us electronics when we were young. If you had I know we would’ve loved them and could’ve ended up addicted.”

I stopped at his doorway silent for a moment.

“I appreciate you saying that.”

He smiled back, “It’s true. I don’t care anything about having a smart phone or any device, but if I had one years ago, I know it would have ended up something I wanted to be on all the time.”

My mind immediately went to the first post I ever wrote about electronics. I had to turn off the comments because some became simply vicious. I was called names, ridiculed, and told my kids would simply rebel.

It didn’t bother me. When you write online, you open yourself to all kinds of attacks. Those types of comments paled in comparison to the ones who agreed with my post and felt the same way.

Commenters told me my children would hate me for withholding electronics from them. The reason my children don’t hate us for this decision is because we have told them and shown them how much we love them, we have shared the why’s, and we have shown them something much more beautiful. We’ve shown them life. Real life.

Real life, real beauty, real conversations. We’ve offered them the real over the fake. What’s not to love about that? The letter I wrote our boys expressed to them that the root of our limiting electronics is the fact that we don’t want to miss out on life with them. They will be 18 in the blink of an eye. I don’t want to miss a minute. When they understand it’s because we love them and don’t want to miss out on experiencing life with them, they see into our hearts.

When it comes to phones, ipads, devices, video games, or anything of the sort, I so often have parents tell me they didn’t want to enter into this world BUT they wanted their kids to fit in.

I get it. But at the same time, I say, “No!” No, we shouldn’t desire our kids fit in if it is in an area we feel contention over. If it opens them to a world you aren’t ready to parent them through, keep that door closed. If it opens a door to a world that is dangerous to their hearts and minds, keep it closed. If it opens the door to a world that is out to devour them, keep it closed.

The dangers are real, and we are guardians over their hearts and minds until they learn how to guard themselves.

When we give our kids over to electronics out of peer pressure, that is what we are modeling to them. How can we expect them to fight their own peer pressure when we show them that is how we make many of our decisions?

Start as we intend to go. It’s much easier stay on course than it is it start down a path, crash into obstacles, get lost in the forest, and try to find the path you wish you had started on to begin with.

This article is heartbreaking – Digital heroin.

That is what we are up against. An addiction equal to a heroin addiction. This should terrify us into an awakening. This should give us the resolve we need to do what is right for our kids at the risk of them not being “cool” in the eyes of some.

Were our kids called to be cool? Or were they called to be set apart?

I don’t want cool kids. I want set apart kids.

It doesn’t take much for an addiction to set in. We are worshipers at heart. The problem begins when we place our natural inclinations toward worship on anything other than God. Enter idolatry.

The current craze is Pokemon Go. Much controversy surrounds this game. Years ago my children became interested in Pokemon cards. A few weeks later strange behaviors began to take place in one of my sons. I began praying through his room asking God to reveal if there was something in our home which opened a door to the enemy. Later this child came to me and said he felt he needed to get rid of his Pokemon cards and his Wii game Skylanders. All went to the trash, we prayed through the room and house. Strange behaviors left with the items we threw out. So I’m sensitive to Pokemon or anything with occult ties and origins.

With Pokemon go, we have a view into how easily our children become worshipers. How quickly they give their heart to something and fix their eyes on the object of their worship. If we are raising our kids to love and honor God, it should concern us when something, anything, grabs their heart in such an obvious, addicting way. (Side note: This is a great article if you have concerns about your child playing Pokemon Go)

We have an opportunity to train our children to worship the only One worth worshiping. A child or teen, or adult for that matter, has no problem with worshiping. It’s a matter of where they fix their eyes and heart. It will be given to something.

What if we teach them from Revelation? Teach them what awaits us. Show them the God who is worthy of our entire hearts?

When we spend more time teaching and showing our kids who God really is, they will thirst and hunger for the One who quenches every desire. They will hunger for the only One who can truly fill them. If we spend time talking about eternity, talking about Heaven, talking about things that matter, we can plant seeds in their hearts that grow into fruit bearing, life giving pursuits.

Total Immersion Is The Way To Bathe Our Kids in Truth

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In 2012 and 2014, we hosted orphans from Latvia in our home. If you visit my posts in December of 2012 and June 2014, you can read all about our experiences. Both children we hosted astounded me with how quickly they learned English. I didn’t purchase a fancy language program or even buy a dictionary. It was total immersion.

In a 4 week period of total immersion, they learned more than any book could’ve taught them over the course of a year or longer. The change was phenomenal.

These children lived with us, a family actually speaking English, for weeks. They saw us living out the English language, putting it in practice moment by moment.

Training our children in the way they should go should be total immersion. In this world and this culture, sprinkling will not do. The key is that we as parents have to live it out. We can’t simply talk about God in general terms. We can’t put them in church programs and hope they become good, moral children. We have to live out the gospel in our homes.

At some point along my journey of faith, I stopped compartmentalizing my faith life and my “real” life. My lives merged and became all about God all the time. God began to change my perspective on pretty much everything.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 ” These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

I think God is serious about this command. Another way to translate is – Totally immerse your kids in me. Talk about me all the time. Tell them what you know of me. Tell them what I’ve instructed. Don’t ever stop. Driving carpool, fixing dinner, throwing the baseball…whatever you are doing, show them who I am. I am the great I Am.

Last week I shared the most profound parenting advice I’ve ever received. When that advice began to sink in is the point God gripped my heart.

I’ve talked to families recently that shared how empty they feel. They want to grow spiritually but feel dry. Life is busy, hard, and they don’t know where to start. If this is you, I urge you to focus on one small step today. Often we look at where we want to go, and it is overwhelming. If we focus on simply each step in front of us, eventually we will get to where we are going by focusing one step at a time. The staircase as a whole can be quite intimidating, but we can handle one step today.

So what does total immersion look like on a practical level? For me total immersion is an all in approach. I tend to be an all in or all out kind of person.

The worst advice Steve and I ever received came when we were new Christians. The advice was not to get “crazy” with our faith. At the time I didn’t see how ludicrous that advice was. Can we get too crazy for Jesus? This world could use a little more of that in my opinion.

Parenting takes an enormous about of intentionality. It’s easy to focus on intentionally creating memories, intentionally investing in their sports development, intentionally investing in their academics. However, intentionally investing in their soul is by far the most important thing we can do for our children.

Here are practical ways to become a family that is all in for Jesus. A family that desires to become totally immersed.

  1.  Prayer – Prayer is where the power is. Whatever you do, when not guided through prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit, is our own attempts. If we want our family to be all in, we pray us there. Begin a family prayer journal. Hold family prayer meetings. Pray before meals. Pray as you part ways during the day. Pray when you come together at night. Pray as you close out the night with each child. Pray beyond yourselves. Pray for others. Pray for this world. Pray specifically. Pray boldly. Pray as if you believe He actually cares and listens. Pray as you are driving the kids around town. Pray out loud in the car. Stop and pray immediately for things. Don’t put off prayer by saying, “Let’s pray about that.” Instead, stop and pray immediately. Guide children into the habit of praying without ceasing. 1 Thes 5:16-1816 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
  2. Use Car Time Wisely – Families today spend almost more time in the car than they do at home. We are a busy society running our children to school, activities, errands, etc. Some of the deepest conversations take place in the car. Two of my boys accepted Christ while we were driving around town. Don’t discount the value of this time. At the same time, protect this time. Make car time distraction free by not allowing electronic devices to steal these moments. You are guaranteed time in the car together- guard it, protect it, and use it to immerse them. A few ideas for using car time intentionally.
    1. Audiobooks and Radio DramasAdventures in Oddysey, Chronicles of Narnia, The Story. These are a few of our favorites. Adventures in Oddysey is great for all ages. Truth in a story that captivates them from the beginning. The Story in audio is amazing. It is scripture told in chronological order as one big story. It’s powerful and we have listened to it several times through. Narnia, amazing.
    2. Christian music – I listen to one station only, and it plays only christian music. I’m not ashamed or embarrassed that I have no idea who the latest heartthrob is. I can hear a song that the world knows, and I’ve never heard it. And my kids likely haven’t either. Music is powerful. It influences our moods, our thoughts, our beliefs. I don’t believe it’s innocent fun when the lyrics speak in ways that dishonor God. I’m given a high calling to protect the hearts and minds of my kids. At their ages, I greatly control and influence what goes into their ears and hearts. I don’t want them listening to the messages of this world. The prince of this world is satan, and he uses music as one of his weapons that looks completely harmless. On the flip side, I want my kids to worship God always, not just on Sundays. We worship Him in our heart by what we allow in.
    3. Spiritual Conversations – Use this time to discuss current worldviews. Compare them to the truth of God’s Word. When my boys were little these conversations were quite basic. Now that they are older, we have used car time to discuss topics such as sex and purity, politics, abortion. We discuss apologetics, world religions, etc. Yesterday my 12 year old and I had a heated debate when he made a generalization to state his side of the argument. I agreed with his position but his method of arguing it was poor so I attempted to destroy his argument quite successfully. He became defensive and upset, which further helped me state my argument. When it was over, we had a great discussion on why generalizations don’t hold and how he could have argued his case better. This happened in the 10 minute drive from church to lunch. Every minute we have counts.
    4. Just talk – Going back to my earlier point, keep car time a guarded time where electronics aren’t welcome. Protect this time especially if you are a busy family. Great conversation happens in the car. After school is when my kids are ready to let go of the stress of the day and share their days. Enjoy each other. While in the car, nothing competes for our attention, we simply have each other. Laugh, share, invest in the relationship.
  3. Books and Movies – If we want to totally immerse, then the majority of what we read and watch should intentionally reveal God to our children. We read aloud as a family regularly. We read individually to each of the boys each night. We often read during a meal time, it could be any meal. During the summer, we read aloud during the afternoon after we’ve all had some time to rest from the day. We use these opportunities to impart truth. The options here are vast.
    1. Fiction, historical fiction, adventure books – I need to do a whole post on books. And I think I will, but for now a few favorites: The Prince Warriors by Priscilla Schirer, The Cooper Kids Series by Frank Peretti, The Kingdom Series by Chuck Black. My boys love these. I truly have a giant list I need to share outside of this post.
    2. Devotions – Two favorites are Point Me To Jesus  and Josh McDowell’s Family Devotions
    3. Apologetics or non-fiction for kids – I have so many favorites in this category. Jesus Is Alive by Josh McDowell, Heaven for Kids by Randy Alcorn, Lee Strobel’s Case books for kids (Case for Christ, Case for Faith, Case for Creator), The amazing Bible Adventure for Kids by Josh McDowell, The Awesome Book of Bible Answers for Kids by Josh McDowell, The New Answers Book by Ken Ham.
    4. Biographies or books on heroes of the faith. Christian Heroes Then and Now. Incredible. Books like The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom you simply never forget. They impact your faith and encourage you to live boldly.
  4. Slow Down – The less chaotic schedules are the more time there is to have conversations that must take place. Are your kids overloaded with activities to the point you read this list and think there is no way? If so, what can go? And what is most important in light of eternity?
  5. Talk, Talk, and More Talk – Our kids receive messages from the world at a pace that never slows and never stops. The information, the news, the social media, all of it creates a constant stream of worldliness that we have an opportunity to guide them through. But it’s exhausting and we must determine not to take the easy way out. Our kids need a constant bath in truth. A constant bath in what is holy, righteous, beautiful, pure, and good. The world has twisted ideas and blurred lines so that many kids don’t see the harm in what God sees as deadly. Our role is to keep that dialogue steady and strong.
  6. Keep them busy but not entertained – Kids today simply don’t understand boredom. They have everything they want at the push of a button and touch of an icon. And we’ve created environments where our kids believe the world spins around their desires. They struggle to see outside themselves because we spend so much energy catering to their desires. Serving as a family can be a way to walk the walk together.
  7. Read the Bible– This is critical. The Bible is truth. If they don’t know it, they don’t know truth and the world will eat them alive. They need to see mom AND dad reading God’s Word. They need to see it transform us day by day. They need to see us go to it and find answers to life’s perplexities.

I can give this list that sounds wonderful, ideal. And some will read it and think it’s impossible. Others will read it and pick one thing to focus on. Still others will go all in. But there is one key to totally immersing our kids in truth. We must be connected as a family for this to work. If the family unit is split apart because of crazy schedules, if kids spend more time with friends and activities than at home, if the relationships have been broken and torn, then some of what I listed will be met with a fight. So if that describes your family, don’t leave here discouraged. Simply start with step one. Pray. That is where the power is. Let the Holy Spirit direct you to the next step of repairing and restoring strained relationships.

The world has forever shifted. The “world” has launched a full attack against our kids. The attacks often are disguised as anything but an attack. As parents we can find ourselves wanting our kids to fit in and not be alienated. But that is not biblical either. We are aliens here and it’s ok for our kids to grow up as aliens. Otherwise, if they fit right in, they may never desire anything other than what everyone else has accepted.

1 Peter 2:11 “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.

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The Most Profound Parenting Advice I Ever Received

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To listen to the audio recording of today’s post, click here.

Several years ago a group of us young moms sat around talking about our desire to raise children who deeply loved the Lord. Our children were babies, full of innocence and complete reliance on us. How could we raise them to place their faith in Jesus and grow in Him in a world like this?

A mentor mom listened carefully before she said something I’ll never forget, and it is the very thing to spark something inside of me changing me in ways I never imagined. This mentor mom said, “We can only lead our children as far as we ourselves have gone.”

Let that soak in for a moment. We can only lead our children as far as we ourselves have gone with the Lord.

If I stay at a pace of 5 minutes a day with God, how can I expect my children to give God more than 5 minutes of their day? If I’ve never grown to see God in ALL of my life, how can I expect my children to see God in ALL of their life? If my prayer life consists of basic “God bless us and keep us safe” type of prayers, how can I expect my children to view God as a personal God who desires intimate conversation? If I don’t let the truth of scripture guide every single decision I make, why would I think my kids would do differently?

If I make excuses for why I don’t have time to read His Word, why will my children believe His Word is more important than anything they read or do? If I prioritize my life so that I run around frantic and busy pushing God to the end of my to-do list, why will my kids want to make Him their first love? If I chase other things harder than I run after God, why will my kids want to run after Him?

When I first began to ponder these thoughts, the task seemed daunting. Until I began praying a prayer that changed everything. “God make me love you more than anything in this entire world. Make me love you more and more every single day.”

If the greatest command (Matt 22:38) is to love God with all our hearts, minds, and souls, I imagine that asking God to love Him more than anything else brings delight to the Father.

I want my kids to know that I love God more than I love them. More important than wanting my kids to know this, is for them to see this played out – authentically. Kids are hypocrite detectors. They know in an instant when we say one thing but live another. If I proclaim to love God more than anything, yet “loving God” occurs only on Sunday mornings, my kids will know that the love I proclaim is love with my lips only.

I talk to moms all the time who tell me they want to spend more time with God, they want to pray more, read the Bible more. They want to live a life that He flows through so that their kids will walk with Jesus and never turn away.

The only way for this to happen in the culture we live in is total immersion. No sprinkling will do.

Satan roams the earth seeking to destroy and devour our children and us. That is his goal. One of his methods is to make us love this world, to see it as mostly good with a little evil. If we view the world this way, we live in this world and we sprinkle in a little God for good measure. We take our kids to church on Sunday. Maybe Awana or VBS. We say our bedtime prayers and we hope that is enough. It’s exactly what satan hopes we do.

This world wants to consume our kids. To battle back, we must totally immerse our kids, soak, saturate them to the very core with Truth. That means reading Bible stories isn’t enough. Going to church once a week, not enough.

If we want our kids to grow up to be a light then total transformation must take place in us first. That will guide everything we do in the lives of our children.

This doesn’t mean that the spiritual lives of our kids rest solely on us. I was raised in a loving home, but one that didn’t have Christ as its first love. God is Sovereign and uses many methods for pursuing His children. Our kids are given to us for a time, and we are good stewards when we raise them to love the Lord with everything in them. Ultimately, the decision to love and follow the Lord rests on our children. But we have a great calling in their lives to model to them the way.

Parents, it starts with us. If we want strong christian kids, it starts right here in our own hearts. We surrender it all to Christ. We come to Him empty and desperate with a simple prayer. “Lord, I’m desperate for you. This world is evil and terrifying, but your Word tells us to take heart because you overcame the world. I desire to love you more than I love anything in this world. I desire to raise a family that loves you wholeheartedly. Lord, make me love you more today than I did yesterday. I’m not capable of loving you even a fraction of a degree the way I want to love you. So I ask you to make my heart love you more. Take me and transform me. Then let your Spirit overflow from me influencing the ones you’ve placed in my life. My heart’s desire is to be a family that follows you wherever you lead us no matter what.”

Often our desire to raise children who love the Lord is so fear-driven that we do the exact opposite of what we should do. We begin to push away our children from the very thing we desire for them. When we let fear rule our hearts, we cling tight, we dig our nails in, we fight. We begin to attempt to control life around us because it’s the only way we know how to fight the fear. When we do this, Christ isn’t flowing through us. We have pushed Him into the shadows. Christ isn’t fear. He is freedom, grace, beauty, and truth.

When we are ruled by Christ, we walk in total freedom. When we have soaked in His truth and know His promises, fear is pushed back into the darkness where it came from.

I tell my kids all the time they can’t control the people or the circumstances around them. All they can control is their own actions and reactions. If my greatest desire is for my kids to walk with the Lord, if I’m not careful that will take precedence over my love for God, which should be more important than my child’s walk with God. If my child’s walk is most important, fear will move in. Little by little.

Satan loves to distract us. His desire is for us to be so focused on raising kids to love the Lord, that we become desperate for it. He will shoot his arrow setting little fires for us to put out that will increase our fear. We will place all our efforts on putting out fires in the lives of our kids in order that they can love the Lord. When really, it’s much simpler than that. We make Him our first love.

When He is our first love, His light shines through and radiates to those around us. Our words won’t be as needed because all that flows from us pours out love. Love changes the world. Love changes our families. Love changes everything. It all starts with love. It all ends with love. All that happens in the middle is because love poured out for us and we’ve allowed it to flow through us to others.

The most profound advice I’ve ever received is to make God my first love. When He is my first love, I will never be the same. When love courses through me, it impacts all around me. This is why it’s the greatest commandment.

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