Internal Walk-Through

Buying a home can be stressful, yet exciting! This was, again, evident, as I listened to a Kelly Minter pod cast (one of her Cultivate episodes) the other day; in that episode, she told a story about her aunt and uncle moving into town and needing to buy a house. Since Kelly already lived in town, she became the point person, working with their realtor on their behalf. At some point after the negotiations (our dog distracted me, then, so I lost that part of the story), the realtor suggested another walk-through. It’d been a while since Kelly’d bought her house, so she asked why another walk-through was necessary, since they’d already done one. The realtor shared the wisdom of making sure everything that was agreed upon was still in the house. As they walked through the house, sure enough, the refrigerator was gone!! Kelly related that to ourselves. Sometimes, we remember having compassion or kindness, joy or contentment, but we don’t often do a walk-through to make sure it’s still there.

We’re going to take a walk-through of our hearts and minds today…not exactly looking for the good things (to make sure they’re still there), but to see if anything that isn’t supposed to be there, as children of God, has been brought in.

As we examined last post, we have an opposer who’s seeking to destroy us, our reputations, God’s reputation, and our relationships.

What has our adversary presented you with, that you’ve bought and brought into your innermost space–your heart and mind?
  • Seeing illusions caused by intoxicating influences of sin (i.e., like the unintended consequences of selfishness, greed, lying, pride, etc.), being unable to think clearly, and acting without self-control–1 Peter 5:8.
  • Allowing your decisions, understanding, and opinions to be corrupted and broken down because of sin–2 Corinthians 11:3.
  • Being distracted. Maybe it’s by something good, yet it’s distracting you from God’s purpose for you right now;…or maybe it’s by lust, envy, or justifying that you have every right to respond the way you have–1 Peter 5:8.
  • Being wholly seduced and deceived into focusing on things that are impure and immodest–2 Corinthians 11:3.
  • Staying in a state of brokenness, chaos, and division–Romans 16:20.
  • Holding onto shame and the hidden things of darkness–2 Corinthians 4:2.
  • Walking around, ready to do any evil deed–2 Corinthians 4:2.
  • Mixing truth with corrupt motives (using the word of God as bait to deceitfully ensnare someone)–2 Corinthians 4:2.
  • Sacrificing something spiritually–John 10:10.
  • Cutting off or separating yourself from Truth; turning away from Him in order to follow the adversary–John 10:10, 1 Timothy 5:15.
  • Exposing yourself to sin, the violent attack of the evil one, and the pain that, ultimately, comes from it by not spiritually standing guard–1 John 5:18-19, 1 Peter 5:9.
  • Not keeping your heart and mind in check according to the things of God, and your behavior is showing it–Matthew 16:23.
  • Struggling with or throwing down other people, making them the focus of your fight–Ephesians 6:12. This is something I needed to be reminded of and continue to pray over. It’s interesting that the adversary was thrown down from heaven and has since made us humans his target, deceiving us into throwing down other people, instead of him and the angels that followed him (who were also thrown down out of heaven)–Revelation 12:9.
  • Standing against things/people God is for; hating good (i.e., the things of God); distorting and deviating from the straight (not crooked) ways of the Lord–1 Chronicles 21:1, 2 Timothy 3:3, Acts 13:10.
  • Having pride in your heart, setting yourself on the throne of your life as god, instead of the one, true God–Isaiah 14:12-15.
  • Withholding forgiveness from a believer, leaving an open door to give the adversary more authority in your life…something that doesn’t belong to him; this is, ultimately, the purpose of his thoughts–2 Corinthians 2:10-11.
  • Ignoring God’s written and living Word, not giving Him any consideration–Matthew 13:41.
  • Acting passively…and giving place in your heart to the accuser to fill your heart completely (i.e., with lies)–Acts 5:4. There’s a link, here, between Ananias holding back some money he received for his and his wife’s place (their land) and holding back his heart from giving it to God completely. So we don’t give place is why we’re instructed multiple times in Scripture to “Love the LORD [our] God with all our heart[s]” (Deuteronomy 6:5, Matthew 23:27, Luke 10:27).
  • Being willing to respect and serve the adversary, bending a knee to him by demonstrating your submission to him and his authority over you (even if it’s in just one, particular area)–Matthew 4:9-10.
  • Being preoccupied with your own interests and things that benefit you–2 Timothy 3:2.
  • Loving money or the thought/pursuit of having money–2 Timothy 3:2.
  • Not experiencing, recognizing, or appreciating God’s grace (favor); therefore, you’re responding without thankfulness–2 Timothy 3:2.
  • Unwilling to make others less angry or come to an agreement or covenant–2 Timothy 3:3.
  • Not being content or responsible with what you’ve been given authority over, deserting your home, and going after a different kind of purpose (one that’s empowered by self, not God)–Jude 1:6.
  • Dreaming, yearning for things and/or people that oppose the ways of God and expecting God to bless you–Jude 1:7.
  • Being stained at the core of your soul, so everything else that comes from there becomes tainted, polluted, and displeases God–Jude 1:8.
Is there anything in your or your family’s heart and/or mind that doesn’t belong and needs to be removed?

I will pray over this, specifically, with you all!

Comment at the top or reply at the bottom of this page with how I can.

The Opposition–We’re Being Watched

For years, we watched shows with our kids about animals, especially those in Africa. It was mesmerizing to watch the powerful lions, how they interacted, how the lionesses banded together to hunt their prey, and how the pride male (the king of the pride) controlled the uprising of the younger males. We’d watch as the lionesses camouflaged themselves in the grasses, eyeing a wildebeest herd very intently, identifying the calves or sickly animals; they were weaker, easier to take down, and quickly became a meal for the pride.

Peter tells us a bit about our spiritual opposition (adversary) in 1 Peter 5:8.
  • The devil is like a lion!
  • This opponent is a strong resistance!
  • He uses false, unjustified, criticizing statements to damage our reputations, God’s, and, ultimately, hurt us.
  • He wants to punish us by putting a rift in our relationship with others and with God.
As children of God, the devil is seeking US!

Most of us know this…but do we know the Greek word for “seek” in 1 Peter 5:8 means to seek by inquiring?!? The devil is investigating…searching…asking questions to find out if we’re weak and easy prey or if we’re strong in the LORD. Have you ever had questions randomly pop up in your mind…ones that induce doubt, fear, pain, anxiety,…? Can you take a guess where those inquiring questions are coming from? It’s nothing new. The devil started with Eve in the garden and is continuing the same kind of scheme today. How we respond (in actions and/or words) will tell him all he needs to know–if we’re weak…or strong in the LORD.

Many of you may be reading this and thinking, “I know this! I’m good! I haven’t fallen for that!” I truly hope that’s the case! May I ask you some questions, though? They’re ones I’m asking myself…AND my family…to be sure I/we don’t have “blood” running down my/our leg without knowing, we’re not walking with a “limp,” or are completely oblivious to Truth.

Today, we’re going to look at things that can be seen on the outside (we’ll look at things in the heart and mind next post). The Bible gives us a comprehensive list. I haven’t posted in a while, but this is what I’ve been picking apart with the Spirit, piece by piece, in its original language. If you don’t have time to fully ingest it all today, just absorb small morsels at a time, asking the Spirit of God to reveal any areas that need His healing. It’s worth giving our lives a detailed inspection.

What kinds of things could be popping up in your life that can be a welcoming sign to that preying opposer?
  • Being a pushover, giving up and giving in (having a moveable, changeable trust in God)–1 Peter 5:9.
  • Not publicly making a stand for God–1 Peter 5:9.
  • Making sinning a practice, continuing to carry out the same kinds of sin indefinitely. It’s evident that these behavioral/heart decisions oppose who God is and are spurred on by the slanderer…the false accuser…through getting us to focus on us, not God–1 John 3:8.
  • Resembling the wrong father (the father of lies, rather than God the Father); spending time with, relating to, obeying, and connecting with the devil intimately, instead of the One Who gives us life–John 8:44, 1 John 3:10.
  • Saying something untrue about someone to damage his/her reputation; saying someone’s done something wrong, when he/she either hasn’t or you don’t have the facts to back it up; pointing out someone’s faults publicly in a disapproving, morally wrong way with an intent to hurt him/her, punishing him or her by putting a rift in a relationship–2 Timothy 3:3. Sound familiar? It’s the exact same Greek word used for “the devil!”
  • Treating another member of the family of God differently than how God would prefer (without a family affection toward them)—1 John 3:10, 2 Timothy 3:3.
  • Destroying others with our lies/deceitful words; using imitations to deceive people, exploiting those without discernment who have a lot of emotional pain (that they brought on themselves), enticing them with their own greed.–John 8:44, Exodus 23:7, Acts 13:10.
  • Betraying others–2 Timothy 3:4.
  • Pretending to be a messenger of Christ–2 Corinthians 11:13-15.
  • Deceitfully teaching others what a messenger of Christ looks like–2 Corinthians 11:13-15.
  • Standing with the devil, welcoming him and his ways into your choices; giving him opportunities to act through you; deciding to act under his power and direction, instead of God’s, actively doing what he prefers–James 4:7, Ephesians 4:27, 1 John 3:10. Actively involved with others who welcome him and his ways–2 Timothy 3:5.
  • Having no moral values and being unfair–Acts 13:10.
  • Playfully misbehaving and making trouble–Acts 13:10.
  • Being a bait-stick of a trap, luring someone into a sin, which, then, entraps them–Matthew 13:41.
  • Secretly taking something–John 10:10.
  • Disobeying–Ephesians 2:2.
  • Fully living according to this wicked world’s specific, dark qualities as well as the ruling authority of demonic spiritual forces, instead of the authority God has given you as His saint through faith in Christ, accompanied by His Spirit. Allowing demonic spiritual forces to influence you as the source of your emotions, what you like, what you want, etc., and engage with you, giving the power in a situation to take it from one step to the next–Ephesians 2:2, Genesis 3:1-6, Acts 26:18.
  • Jumping into what the adversary is stirring up, instead of talking with God about it first to see if it’s something He wants you to do–1 Chronicles 21:1.
  • Rejecting what God prefers and outwardly disobeying (rebelling against) Him and your parents–2 Timothy 3:2, 1 John 3:10.
  • Buying into the accuser’s lies and then acting on them; scheming (i.e., lying to the Holy Spirit)–Acts 5:2-4.
  • Behaving pridefully and/or appearing arrogantly better or higher–1 Timothy 3:6, 2 Timothy 3:4.
  • Saying something’s true without being able to back it up (boasting about your importance or abilities without basis and having an arrogance that goes with that); moving on to others, who will listen, when found out–2 Timothy 3:2.
  • Speaking with a lack of respect about God or things connected with Him (i.e., blaspheming); purposely, arrogantly disrespecting the things of God; refusing to acknowledge things that are good (things that would give others a good opinion of God and His extensive worth)–2 Timothy 3:2, 1 Timothy 1:20, Jude 1:8.
  • Lacking self restraint–2 Timothy 3:3.
  • Being savage–2 Timothy 3:3.
  • Being reckless–2 Timothy 3:4.
  • Loving pleasure more than loving God; giving yourself over to pleasing yourself completely (aka, whoring, fornication)–2 Timothy 3:4, Jude 1:7.
  • Looking like you have a deep respect for the things of God, but saying no to the power you could receive by leaning into God’s abilities–2 Timothy 3:5.
  • Having a bad, unattractive character testimony to those outside the family of God…one that doesn’t inspire others to willingly and excitedly accept what’s beautiful and praiseworthy…and, therefore, feeling disgraced by your damaged reputation–1 Timothy 3:7.
  • Looking for help from ghosts or people who summon spirits (i.e., necromancer, wizard, soothsayer): 1. of those who’ve died in order to foretell the future, 2. that have the power to affect actions, behaviors, and opinions, 3. for magic (linking an action with an effect, mystically), 4. for sorcery (wielding evil spirits with a different, hateful intent), and 5. for obtaining knowledge/wisdom of the unknown/invisible realm–Leviticus 19:31.
  • Rejecting those ruling over you–Jude 1:8.

Any of these prick a bit? He’s looking for an open door, a weak spot…someone he can gulp down entirely. I don’t want him to destroy you or me! I pray that if we, in any way, are standing opposite God, rather than with Him, “God will grant us repentance, so that [we] may know the Truth, and that [we] may come to [our] senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:25-26 NKJV).

How may I pray for you, specifically, today?

Just like wildebeests gather around an injured one to protect it from the hunting lionesses, I want to gather around each other, providing strength through the power of the Holy Spirit in prayer!

Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

Practical Parenting Tips for Discipling Kiddos–Part 3

Has anyone else been tempted to get overwhelmed with their own discipling? There are so many things in these last two posts, and again in this one, that speak to me, as I want to disciple my kiddos well. If you feel overwhelmed at times, please hear this: Even focusing on one of these areas can improve your communication with your kids, can show them God, and can even change what your child thinks or believes. I’ve experienced it! So, close the door on that temptation and put your discipleship of Jesus in action with the kiddos…and they don’t have to be yours! Show these principles with those in your path today.

Ok. More notes from Dr. Kathy Koch’s Q & A session (her full speaking event can be found at the end of this post)…

LOOK FOR EVIDENCE THAT THEY WORSHIP WITH INTEGRITY AND TRUTH
  • Tell them when you see it! What you say matters!
  • If you value your relationship with Christ, put it on display!
  • Do they hunger for the Word? Do YOU? “Because I love God, I read His Word. Because I love God, I serve. Because I love God, I pray.” Share your love for God as the basis for what you do, not a heavy handed “Did you read your Bible today?!?”
  • Raise kids to know: 1) that they’re created in the image of God, strategically and intentionally; 2) that they’re created for His glory; and 3) that God wants them and others to find Him!
  • Teach that prayer is a relationship, an ongoing conversation with your best friend.
WE CAN’T HOLD OTHERS ACCOUNTABLE FOR WHAT THEY DON’T BELIEVE
  • It’s wrong and critical to hold others to a standard they don’t know (believe); they’ve been deceived.
  • Teach Truth! Expose the lie. “According to Scripture,…” Use as many verses as possible (not just ones we typically gravitate toward). Use other, real-world examples, especially if they don’t believe Scripture.
FOCUS MORE ON WHAT YOU WANT THAN WHAT YOU CURRENTLY SEE
  • As mentioned in Part 1, “Change=exchange.” So, if laziness is what you see, the opposite would be hard work, effort, diligence (effort over time), perseverance (effort in the face of difficulties), teachability, humility, teamwork, honoring your father and mother…For every one sin (negative), there are almost always multiple (sometimes 20) related positives.
  • Pray for what you want to see; talk about the positives; maybe even journal as a family about it.
  • Laziness is caught; there’s almost always someone they’ve seen who is lazy and successful.
  • Laziness is a lack of purpose. Using Ephesians 2:10 as a basis, ask, “How do you live on purpose?” “How did you live on purpose today?” “What gifts have you been created with? Are you walking in them?” You can also say, “I, as your mom, will not allow you to not steward the gift that God’s given you. I’ve seen this passion in you since you were five! Let’s re-light that or figure out how.”
  • Give them opportunities to serve to get beyond themselves. Serving someone who needs something they can offer is one of the best ways to move from a lazy apathy to an act of energy.
  • America’s school drop-out rate (pre-Covid) was 6,250/DAY! Schools aren’t doing a good job of engaging kids with meaningful content…nor are a lot of churches. Every verse of Scripture was put there on purpose, for a purpose, but if we don’t teach kids the relevancy of Scripture to them, they’ll believe that God and the Bible are irrelevant. A lack of engagement is a lack of purposeful belief that it matters. How does it matter?
STOP ASKING QUESTIONS KIDS CAN’T ANSWER
  • Rather than asking kids “What do you want to do when you grow up?” invite people over for dinner, exposing the child to different jobs…talk about what the dinner guest does, what they like about it, what their biggest struggles are in their job, etc.
  • Download with the child after dinner; ask them what they liked/didn’t like about that occupation and gauge their interest level in it.
HOMESCHOOLING
  • There’s no behind or ahead in homeschooling; there’s freedom.
  • Have fair expectations for your kids AND you, the parent.
KIDS ARE BEING RAISED BY (NOT JUST WITH) TECHNOLOGY
  • They think everything should be easy (i.e., auto correct, GPS, ordering online), so why should life be so hard?
  • Kids are addicted to the adrenaline drop (when the device dings, vibrates, etc.), not the devices themselves, per se. It does distract them, shifting their focus.
  • 5 lies technology’s taught our kids:
  1. I’m at the center of my own universe. They look at the phone, buzzing, see who it is and say, “I’m not in the mood”…I’M THE CENTER!
  2. I deserve to be happy. They play what they want only when THEY want it. This is why they’re not persevering and digging deep; they believe happiness is their right.
  3. I deserve choice (i.e., drop-down menus), and we feed the lie…literally! We don’t say no to “I want fried chicken, not grilled!” Choice is a privilege, not a right. They haven’t been taught that…or don’t believe that, so they think they can go to bed when they want.
  4. I’m my own authority. I’m in charge. They treat parents, church, and God like Amazon Prime.
  5. Because information is all I need, I don’t need teachers. Information is everywhere, but information won’t change you; we have to have not only knowledge, but wisdom (agreeing with God). Wisdom–the right application to the right situation with the right outcome, which requires Life (God)is found in God (Job 12:13-25, 28:12-24, Romans 11:33, Proverbs 1:23)–. Put down our devices, so they’ll put down theirs. Let US (God through us) be the ones to show them joy and passion. Let US be the ones to live on purpose. Let US be the ones to not keep track (it doesn’t matter how many people “liked” this post or who’s read it today; I’m obeying what God told me to do). Culture is loud…not just for what it says, but how it says it. Remember: Context and environment are important in how we communicate.
WATCH THE Q & A

Q & A–53:00 mark

Practical Parenting Tips for Discipling Kiddos–Part 2

I said I’d take her to the store that day to look for jeans. When it was nearing time to go, I checked in to make sure she’d gotten her homework and job done (some people call them “chores,” but we call them “jobs,” as chores sound loathing; everyone has a job to do). Nope; it wasn’t finished. It’s the parent’s right to change his or her plan, based on new information (or so I understood years ago from a book authored by a Christian psychologist). I wanted to teach my kiddo responsibility, so…plans changed; we didn’t go to the store.

My mindset got rocked a bit when I watched a Q & A session with Dr. Kathy Koch, which followed her talk titled “Secure Children’s Hearts to Unlock Their Potential” (I referred to this in the last post, which is worth checking out!). Parents were encouraged to follow through on our promises, even if something negative (like a job not being done) follows…It shows our kids unconditional love, like God’s, as well as faithfulness, rather than “love” based on behavior.

Below are more tips on discipling kiddos’ hearts from that Q & A session. These are just my notes…a snapshot, but I hope you’ll still be blessed (watch the video at the end of this post to catch Dr. Kathy’s full Q & A session!).

LET YOUR LOVE COMPEL YOU, NOT THE FACT THAT YOU LOOK LIKE THEM
  • Go TO them. INITIATE conversation; it honors them.
  • Say, “I love you too much to argue with you,” or “I love you too much to let you continue talking to me that way.”
OFFER SPECIFIC PRAISE, NOT JUST THAT THEY’RE “GOOD”
  • Focus the praise on WHO THEY ARE, not on the related behavior.
  • Say, “You’re BEing so kind!” rather than “You’re such a good girl! That was nice that you smiled at her, even though she’s been so mean to you,” or “You’re BEing so diligent!” rather than “Good boy for finishing that!”
CORRECT; DON’T CRITICIZE

* “Correct” means “put wrong right.”

  • Specifically share how to make a wrong right.
  • Say, “You’re BEing _____________; try _____________ next time” (i.e., “You’re BEing careless; try moving everything on the counter when you’re wiping it down to make sure the counter gets clean. Dust and dirt gets trapped under things, too. If you move the things on the counter, you’ll BE extra careful.”).

* “Criticize” means “point out wrong.”

  • There is no such thing as “constructive criticism!”
  • Don’t use nouns; IDENTITY controls BEHAVIOR.
  • Don’t say, “You ARE _______________.”
PROVIDE EVIDENCE THAT YOU’RE RIGHT
  • Say, “I know, because _____________” (i.e., I know you’re BEing untruthful…and even deceitful, because I heard you say, “_______________,” to your sister; you just told me the opposite.”
  • Evidence doesn’t lie.
  • We HAVE to have current evidence; we can’t base our assessment on past behaviors. Otherwise, we don’t let them change; we just stick the child in their past.
  • Make sure what we’re teaching as “right” is according to SCRIPTURE, not our own opinion!
FEEL IT BEFORE FIXING IT
  • Humble ourselves.
  • Ask, “How can I help you?” or “What do you need?”
  • Remember our tone of voice, time of day, etc. Boys will talk more when they can avoid our eyes; the dinner table is not the best place to have a serious conversation with them. Go for a drive with them, take a walk, etc.
  • Talk about forgiving them for the choice they made.
  • Say thank you more often.

There is SO MUCH here that I’ve been learning and re-learning…SO much I’m trying to marinate on and put into practice! One way is that I tend to fix it and then feel it; in fact, as I’m typing this, I’ve been called out on the timing of when I brought something up to one of my kiddos. Ouch. Point taken! Humility: the exercise of the day!…With the tips above heavy on my heart, I went into the kitchen, where my kiddo was, waited for the right moment, gently held both hands, and began to share how God has forgiven me numerous times for speaking out of anger; because He’s forgiven me, I’m choosing to forgive, too. Then, I asked for forgiveness for focusing more on what needed to be done than choosing a better time to address the issue…Walls of defense, frustration, anger? They all crumbled…visibly. Humility, forgiveness, truth? They, by God’s mercy, restored a beautiful connection.

I’m truly a work in progress! Thank you, LORD, for loving me enough to correct me!

WEIGHING IN

Do any of these tips resonate with you? If so, which one(s)? I’d love to hear! Leave a comment at the top of this post or a reply at the bottom of the post.

Would you be courageous enough to share an example where God’s way brought about something beautiful?

NEXT POST: MORE NOTES & APPLICATIONS FROM DR. KATHY‘S Q & A!
WATCH THE Q & A

If you have the time to take in the full Q & A session with Dr. Kathy, check it out below.

Q & A session begins at the 53:00 mark (it follows Dr. Kathy’s speech).

Practical Parenting Tips for Discipling Kiddos

Parenting…It feels like a constant chess game, doesn’t it? Over the years, my husband and I have approached parenting many different ways. One way has worked with one kid, but not another; so, we’ve had to “re-strategize.” Each child has moved into different phases of life, and what may have been “successful” at one point has needed to be changed at another. It’s definitely a journey! It’s a rewarding one in SO many ways, but I’m being real; it can be hard!

MY PRAYER: HOW CAN I DISCIPLE THE KIDS WELL?…AND GOD’S ANSWER

I’ve been praying about discipling our kiddos well. Two weeks ago, the LORD answered in a couple different ways:

  1. A reminder from our pastor in his sermon that discipleship has RELATIONSHIP at its center. He also noted Christ’s instructions, in Matthew 28:19-20, for how to make disciples. It’s teaching them to obey what Christ has commanded them. These commands aren’t just a list of dos and don’ts; they have purpose with a specific end result in mind. I can focus on the moment too intently and lose sight of the long-term goal. A shift in focus can make a HUGE difference!
  2. An email from our Children’s Ministry Director, inviting me and others to watch a live stream, featuring Dr. Kathy Koch, titled, “Secure Children’s Hearts to Unlock Their Potential.” It was, in my opinion, worth sharing, whether you’re a parent of littles, teens, or adults; work with kiddos; have grandkids; or influence the life of one.
“SECURE CHILDREN’S HEARTS TO UNLOCK THEIR POTENTIAL” NOTES AND APPLICATIONS

Here are some of my notes from Dr. Kathy’s talk with some applications; if you want to dig into one point more deeply to hear exactly what she had to say, you can find the full talk at the end of this post. I pray you, too, will be challenged and encouraged!

* KIDS HAVE POTENTIAL AND CURRENT VALUE!

  • We’re raising adults, not children.
  • Kids are human BEINGS, not human DOINGS! Celebrate WHO THEY ARE (they’re character, heart, and who they’re becoming), not WHAT THEY DO/DID.

* CHILDREN DESERVE TO BE AND MUST BE TAUGHT, NOT TOLD OR YELLED AT.

  • They’re not stupid; they’re just inexperienced.

“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.”

Isaiah 1:16-17 NKJV
  • They have to be taught what IS evil to know what to STOP doing.
  • They have to be taught what IS good to know what TO do.
  • Teach character and beliefs (they won’t always absorb truth just from living with us).
  • Teach how to change. The word “change” means “exchange” (to replace with something different); teach them how to change something that doesn’t line up with what God prefers (i.e., what can they replace it with–the opposite of what you’re seeing). Make sure to apply what you’re teaching to your own life!

“if indeed you heard about Him and were taught in Him, just as the truth is in Jesus. You were taught with reference to your former way of life to lay aside the old man who is being corrupted in accordance with deceitful desires, to be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and to put on the new man, who has been created in God’s image–in righteousness and holiness that comes from truth.”

Ephesians 4:21-24 NETB
  • Pray that the Spirit will reveal what needs to be “laid aside” in our own lives, as well, as parents, to model the righteousness and holiness of Christ better to our kids.

* BELIEFS CAUSE BEHAVIOR.

  • Deal with the heart. Interview; ask about the cause for their behavior. Talk about their beliefs.
  • Inspect; look for patterns (i.e., Does the behavior show up only when substitutes are in the classroom, when they’re hungry, when they’re on electronics?). If there’s no pattern/consistency, they’re still trying to work it out, internally. If there’s a specific pattern, it’s become part of their essence.
  • Talk more about what you WANT than what you SEE (i.e., We’re supposed to show love–who God IS–by showing kindness/mercy to those who don’t deserve it. How could you have let the Holy Spirit help you respond to _______ differently and shown them kindness/mercy in that situation?).
NEXT POST: NOTES AND APPLICATIONS FROM DR. KATHY‘S Q & A!
DEEP DIVE…WATCH THE LIVE STREAM

If you have the time and would like to take in the speaking event I watched, featuring Dr. Kathy, check it out below.

Beginning: 16:00 mark

Duration: 36 mins

Q & A session beginning (follows Dr. Kathy’s speech): 53:00 mark

I hope you’re as blessed as I’ve been! Help other readers by commenting below, if there’s something that stuck out to you from her lecture that I don’t have listed above.

Epitaph: What Does it Say?

An epitaph isn’t something we think about often, but it is rather fitting, as many believers are observing Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection this week. There have been some interesting epitaphs written over the years:

“Famous voice actor Mel Blanc–who gave voice to characters including Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Porky Pig–immortalized one of his most well-known lines on his tombstone:”1

“That’s All Folks!”

“Actress Bette Davis had to fight her way up…at every step of her career. She immortalized her struggles–and triumphs–on her final resting place:”1

“She did it the hard way.”

“Quoting a famous line from one of his most famous speeches–“I Have a Dream”–Martin Luther King Jr.’s epitaph embodies his faith and inspirational spirit:”1

“Free at last. Free at last. Thank God Almighty; I’m free at last.”

EPITAPHS CAN SAY A LOT ABOUT YOUR LIFE OR DEATH…EVEN, HOW OTHERS FELT ABOUT YOUR LIFE OR DEATH

Our family listened to a sermon in December last year on Jesus’ family tree, based on Matthew 1. Sure, it may not be the most exciting passage in Scripture, but it has a purpose. As we followed along, reading all the names, my husband pointed out the following verse:

“and Jesse fathered King David. David fathered Solomon by the wife of Uriah,”

Matthew 1:6 ISV

We lost power shortly after we read that and continued talking as a family. I don’t remember ever noticing how Bathsheba was referenced here before. Scripture doesn’t mention her name, like it does Rahab, Ruth, and Mary; it just calls her, “the wife of Uriah.” Even though Uriah wasn’t technically part of Jesus’ kingly lineage, he was still an honorable mention for his faithful allegiance to King David.

This epitaph, of sorts, is a constant reminder of David’s sin with Uriah’s wife…there for everyone to read. Typically, our sin isn’t something we want to broadcast for everyone to see or know. Isn’t it fitting, though, whose name you see at the end of that genealogy (Matthew 1:16)? God provided the ultimate sacrifice in Jesus, the Messiah, to be the payment for sins and The Way to receive forgiveness. This is a reminder that all of us sin…and that because of Christ’s death for us (and resurrection), we can all be covered with His forgiveness! It’s because of His forgiveness that we can “come clean” with our sin, sharing our experiences, and the reality of the hope we have because of Jesus!

IN JOHN 19, WE SEE ANOTHER KIND OF EPITAPH

It hung on the cross, above Jesus’ head…a sign to all explaining why He was being punished this way…the “accusation,” as Matthew, Mark, and Luke wrote in their accounts of the crucifixion. Another word for the Greek word Matthew, Mark, and Luke used, meaning “accusation,” is “crime.”

Crime? He was without sin (1 Peter 2:22, 1 John 3:5)!

Exactly! John said, in his gospel, that Pilate had questioned Him and heard the case against Him, yet there wasn’t any fault found in Him (John 18:38, 19:4). So, Pilate wrote an inscription to be fastened to Christ’s cross:

The King of the Jews

This same saying was written in three different languages for those who passed by to be able to read…and they did. John 19:20 tells us that “many of the Jews read this sign, as where Jesus was crucified was near the city.” Black letters written on a white tablet, which is what this was said to be, according to the Greek word “epigraphé,” would be easily read. Jesus had claimed that He was the King of the Jews, when Pilate questioned Him (Matthew 27:11, Mark 15:2, Luke 23:3, and John 18:37), so it makes sense why Pilate wrote this inscription, as this is what he knew was true from questioning Him.

John called the “inscription” a “title,” rather than a crime in his gospel. It’s interesting that a synonym for “inscription” is “epitaph…” Christ’s epitaph was not a crime, though they considered it so. It was one of His many titles. Do you know how “the one chosen” in ancient times was crowned king? A horn full of oil was poured on the top of one’s head for his anointing…to grant him the title/position as king. To be king is an appointment by God (Daniel 2:21). Guess who else was an anointed king (Hebrews 1:8-9)?

“Jacob fathered Joseph, the husband of Mary, who was the mother of Jesus, who is called the Messiah.”

Matthew 1:16 ISV

“Messiah” also means “Christ” and…

Anointed One!”

Now, that’s an epitaph!

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Growing up, around the table before Easter dinner, we’d talk about different aspects of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. Maybe this season, you could ask your those you’re celebrating with to discuss:

  • In what areas is Jesus King over your life, and in what areas do you need to let Him reign more?
  • What are some other titles for Jesus? Spend some time in awe of Him.
  • If you were to do die, what epitaph would others write on your tombstone? What title would they give you? What would you be remembered for?

1 “10 Famous Epitaphs: The Good, the Bad, and the Weird.” Merkle Monuments, 1 May 2018, https://www.merklemonuments.com/10-famous-epitaphs-the-good-the-bad-and-the-weird/.

Joy Breakers

Written by Guest Writer, Shirley Taylor

Have you ever been so excited about an upcoming event, but when it arrived, something happened that felt like it robbed you of the joy you were anticipating?  This has happened to me more times than I’d like to admit through the years, but I can never remember anything quite like the experience I had some weeks ago.

For over a month, I had looked forward to the weekend we would spend with family, watching our grandkids play in their respective sports’ tournaments.  The weekend started out great.  Seeing our granddaughter using her God-given skills, playing volleyball with such love and enjoyment for the sport, brought so much joy to my heart!  I definitely wore my proud MeMa hat!

A few days later, it was time to see our grandson in action, playing basketball.  He had worked so hard, preparing for this season, and I couldn’t wait to cheer him on.  I was so excited to finally take in one of his games!  The night arrived, we found our seats in the appropriate cheering section, and I couldn’t wait for the game to start!  Prior to the game, a group of teens from the opposing team decided to find their seats two rows behind us and proceeded to fling brutal comments to our team’s players.  This went on throughout the game, even to the point of disrespecting the referees.  Needless to say, my MeMa hat was ready to blow, especially when they made my grandson one of their targets!  I had spent the past hour turning around, hoping they could sense my displeasure at their mockings, but nothing helped.  I had had enough and finally turned around and asked them to please “shut up.”  I’m not proud of what I did. In fact, it bothered me for days afterward.  I left the game feeling robbed of my witness and joy as a believer and angry at those who had felt it necessary to brutalize my grandson and his teammates.

The next morning, after a night of wrestling with my emotions over this, the Lord gently reminded me of the night Jesus had been taken to face those who sought His death.  The chief priests and all the council were having trouble finding witnesses whose testimonies would prove they were justified in trying to get rid of this One who had made such blasphemous claims.  Even though their false witnesses’ stories didn’t agree, they wouldn’t give up.  Because of Roman rule, this council didn’t have the authority to put anyone to death, but if they could bring their claims to Pilate, the Roman governor, hopefully he could be persuaded to see their reason for wanting this Jesus to be put to death.  The next morning, they bound Jesus and delivered Him to Pilate.  When the chief priests threw accusations at Jesus, in front of Pilate, Jesus never tried to defend Himself. 

At one point, Pilate even asked Jesus, “Do You answer nothing?  Look at all the things they’re testifying against You.”  Still, Jesus kept silent, and Pilate marveled. 

Isaiah chapter 53 tells us what Jesus was subjected to.  He was despised, rejected by men, acquainted with grief, wounded, bruised, oppressed and afflicted.  He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, He opened not His mouth.  The Father laid on Him every sin that has ever been or will be committed throughout time.  Jesus took all of that in silence.  When the religious rulers, because of their envy, stirred up the crowd to cry out “Crucify Him,” Pilate relented, and even though he could find no fault in Jesus, he had Jesus scourged and later crucified. 

As I read these accounts, I thought again of the way I reacted to those who thought it necessary to slander my grandson and his teammates.  How I wish I had acted differently.  My heart aches as I think of the times I brought shame to Jesus because of my words or actions.  I realized that even though I wasn’t one of the chief priests or soldiers mocking Jesus, or striking Him with the whip loaded with pieces of metal, the one placing the crown of thorns on Jesus’ head, or the soldier pounding the nails in His hands and feet, my sin put Him there.  My sin nailed Him to the cross.  He went through all of that for me; taking MY punishment for MY sin.  His death and resurrection brought about that precious moment when I heard Him knocking at the door of my heart.  I opened the door and invited Him in, bringing about a relationship with Him that brings an indescribable joy that the world could never understand.

Jesus has often reminded me to pray for those teens and their need for Jesus in their lives.  Any time I find myself face to face with a joy breaker these days, I want to remember how Christ forgave me and choose the joy that only He can give.

Photo by Senjuti Kundu on Unsplash