Kids and Grownup Church–They Belong, Too

Our family was far from perfect, but I’m thankful to have been born into it. I was a church kid, born to one of those families who believed in gathering for worship…and not just on rare occasions or when something else more interesting wasn’t going on. Whatever else they did or didn’t get right, my parents/grandparents raised us to be Christ-followers, within a larger group of other imperfect believers and families.  They modeled putting God first, in their tenacity to carve out Sunday for the Lord’s day (they definitely didn’t confuse us with on-again, off-again faithful attendance).  My parents didn’t fight with us or threaten to ground us on the issue…it was just our way of life, so since it was all we ever knew, we kids weren’t really exploring other options. If I may, I would like to just transparently share a little about kids and “grownup” church, and why I believe it’s important that kids experience more than just the nursery and the children’s program alone; we tend to try to keep it all so separate that our kids aren’t integrating into a grownup worship experience. So to keep babies from crying or parents from having to teach a wiggly child to behave for a little while and reverence God’s house, we just never bring them into where there’s grownup church going on.

Parents don’t seem as motivated as they once were with exposing their kids to a very spiritual encounter with God. So when it’s going to put any kind of kink in the routine, or if there’s an inconvenience of any kind; or if it’s not a service where there are kids’ activities running in tandem; or if church night clashes with other activities they like to participate in, the whole family just stays home. And our kids can develop a mindset that church has to be all about entertaining them–if there’s no cotton candy or egg hunt or pizza or face painting–it isn’t really worth the investment of their time. So as soon as they outgrow the games, they just stop coming, period. I grew up in a time when I wasn’t the excuse for my parents to stay home from church at night or during revival. Oh, there might be a sick day factored in there once in a while, but they never kept me out of evening worship services and said it was because I needed my sleep for school the next day. They had me there even when there wasn’t something special just for the little kids. Even if we should have to leave a little early (maybe we did…I don’t remember), they still brought me. Worship wasn’t the obligation we had to hurry and get over with just so we could rush out to go do what we would have rather been doing all along. I got to see the good, the bad, and the ugly of my church family from a young age, and you know…it was a healthy thing. So what was the benefit of my parents bringing me to grownup church, too, and not just kids church?

For starters, I learned a lot about Christians in the real world. I saw people who had to deal with some hard circumstances who didn’t give up. I saw others give up. I saw some quit and come back. I saw the saints and I saw the hypocrites. I saw church conflict, and when it was and wasn’t handled properly. I wasn’t shielded from any of it…and it taught me by example what to do and what not to do. I even saw sincere believers and family members whom I loved, who battled to the death with strongholds they wouldn’t break free from. I heard the way parents and grandparents prayed. I watched them forgive hard things. I saw them volunteer countless hours, hammer and saw, cook, serve, teach, sing, and just…be present.

And yeah, sometimes I got a little less sleep on a church night. It didn’t stunt my growth and I graduated in the top five of my class.

As a little girl, I fell asleep on the church pew and woke up in my own bed many a night. I got to stay back and see the things people miss who cut out early to catch their show on tv. I saw people get saved, get demons cast out, be healed, women shout their hairpins down. I remember watching my Grandma make homemade Communion bread, and I remember how that, as a small child, I knew it was serious that we not take the Lord’s bread and cup with unrepented sin or unforgiveness in our hearts. I took turns with all ages washing the saints’ feet (ladies in one room, fellas in another) in that old ceramic washpan, and sometimes the water got a little dirty in my little country church–and how that people often cried, rejoiced, forgave and made up with one another during that humble sacrament. I got baptized in a creek under an old bridge long before I attended a church that had a fiberglass baptistery. Sometimes I got taken to church when I had the sniffles or a cough…and when I did get sick (as kids will do), my parents didn’t hesitate to get me prayed for and even more importantly, they didn’t hesitate to lay hands on me and pray for me themselves. We had a special bottle of olive oil just for that purpose in our house! And they brought me to church…they didn’t just send me. I’m saying these things not to criticize or judge you if you’re a parent who’s raising your kids different from the way I was raised–but to encourage you to press in closer and let your kids have more than just a sterile, disconnected, indifferent, occasional relationship with the entire household of faith.

Don’t shrinkwrap your kids’ church experience in just the parts you think they should see. Please don’t opt to keep them home whenever the service isn’t tailored to their age group!  You’d be surprised at what a five-year old understands from a grownup preacher’s sermon, and what he or she picks up when it looks as if there’s absolutely no attention being paid at all. You’d be surprised at what your kids can come to understand about prayer, giving, serving, living with integrity, and sharing their faith.

Believe me when I tell you that world doesn’t dumb down what it shows kids now. Your elementary school kids have probably seen more on tv than you knew on your wedding night. Why, then, do we try to ration their experience of real faith in the lives of real people who need grace and redemption and patience with one another? Bring them to all the fun, memorable, age-appropriate stuff..they need that, too. But be thinking ahead to where you want them to be spiritually once they outgrow puppets and VBS.

Integrate them into a full, multigenerational worship experience. Let them know what it’s like to experience conviction, to get lost in worship, to pray in the altar for the Holy Spirit. Moreover, may they learn from watching how you worship and respond to the move of God, how you give, how you serve, how you interact with others in the church family, how you deal with hard times, and how you pray.  Please understand, I’m not undermining the value of children’s Christian education, at all.  I am grateful to be a member of a local church that has a phenomenal childrens program.  I’m just saying, your kids will learn more from watching your life than they ever could from just children’s church alone.  They need both.  They’re going to need to know how to bear up under persecution, how to live without compromising their moral ground, how to do spiritual warfare, and how to pray the prayer of faith when sickness, tragedy, or injustice happens. And make sure that, in spite of some occasional inconvenience, their opportunity to witness the church in all its organic guts and glory isn’t lost in just pacifying them with an electronic babysitter to keep them from being bored (yeah, they can make it for 90 minutes without the iPad and earbuds!).  It is, after all, us visiting God in His special place. He didn’t just leave us the key and tell us to lock up and turn off the lights when we’re done–He wants to come down among us. If we are excited about meeting Him there, and our kids catch the spirit of that excitement too, talk about some quality family time…

I was seven when I gave my heart to Jesus–and it was in a grownup revival service. I was ten when I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit…at night, lingering long in the altar. In both situations, I was a child but yet I knew enough about the presence of God to experience hot tears flowing from a sincere heart who wanted to know Him. It changed my life. Regardless of what your denomination teaches about these things, I’m just sharing with you the precious experience I got to have as a child raised in a Pentecostal church. And just think…had my parents kept me at the house either of those nights, because I was young and because they wanted me in bed at a certain time, or because they reasoned that I would probably encounter Jesus sometime after I got a little older…I might never have made a decision for Christ that translated into a lifetime of rich, growing faith. It was just two church services on the timeline of my life; but oh, if I had missed them…

I’ve had my ups and downs spiritually, have made some good decisions and some unthinkably foolish ones; but I’m 52 and I’m still deeply, deeply in love with my Savior. This didn’t happen by accident. My parents steered me toward a relationship with God–very intentionally–and part of that involved raising me not just as an occasional visitor to His house, but a regular. It was all I ever knew. Sunday was His day, and very few times was it pre-empted for something else. And because I got to experience needing to exercise my faith, worshiping God in a setting of young and old, being encouraged to seek out my gifts and use them for His glory; and seeing the consequences of when things aren’t handled right by believers actually protected me. It kept me from becoming jaded from offenses and hurts and church splits and injustices–because unfortunately, those things happen. Your child needs to be conditioned to deal with the very things you wish they didn’t have to see.  I learned that men may fail you, mistreat you, withhold favor, betray you…but that God will not. Ever.

If you will live Jesus Christ before them, and be genuine in your faith, your kids will be ok even if they see others who don’t walk the walk. If you’ll value their spiritual growth as much as you value them making first string on the ball team, you are securing something even more important than whether they get skilled enough to win a sports scholarship and a free ride to college. Your kids need to be able to cope with life in a wicked, wicked world. They will worship somethingand if you don’t teach them and model before them how to put the Lord God first in their lives, you may lose them to the world system. If they see you indifferent about your commitment to Christ, don’t be surprised if they grow up completely detached from faith. It’s not going to be enough for your children to say, “Oh yeah…I believe there’s probably a God.” Or, “Hey, I might not be where I ought to be, but I still pray…sometimes”. The time to sell them on the value of that relationship is now, while they’re still impressionable. Your kids need Him for eternal life. They need Him, because drugs and alcohol and debauchery and pornography and crime and suicide are all waiting to grab hold of them.

Some of you prayed that God would bless you with children. Now that you have them, will you truly dedicate them to Him or will you instead teach them that life is all about what they can achieve and get and buy and own and collect and play? Will they encounter His presence or will their lives be all about getting numbed out by newest level of their favorite video game? Don’t raise them up not to know who their Father is, and don’t raise them not to know about a hell that’s to be shunned and heaven to be gained. it’s a matter of eternal life and death.

Being a church kid wasn’t–and isn’t–a bad thing to be. Thanks, Mom and Dad.

That’s all.

Strengthening Ourselves Against the Spirit of Offense

man lights legs silhouette
Photo by Tookapic on Pexels.com

Make a commitment to yourself and to God for this upcoming year not to be sidelined by a spirit of #offense. Some of you may get huffy on me even just reading that first sentence…but hold on and let me elaborate a little!

In my prayer time a couple of days ago, the Lord cautioned me that the enemy was going to launch an attack on the body of Christ in the way of offenses; an attempt to erode our unity. Not so much one big collective attack where everyone is hit at the same time by the same event, but many small instances. The old “death by a thousand cuts” strategy.

We live in a perpetually-offended society nowadays, and believe me when I tell you that listening to constant bad news on TV (true or not), listening to negative music, reading negative articles and books day in and day out can wreak havoc on your spirit man! That spirit of offense can get all over you if you don’t guard your heart! We worry more about our outward appearance being impacted by a lost culture, than we do about the inward impact of those feelings of entitlement, pride, arrogance, and yes, the tendency to get angry, hurt, and offended by everything that doesn’t agree with how we want it. People are ready to sue or to break ties or to ruin others’ reputations at the drop of a hat. And sadly, it happens even in church too.

So how do we cope and make it through the obstacle course of offense? By renewing our minds daily in the Word. By being honest with ourselves before God and recognizing what pushes our buttons. By praying protection over ourselves and our loved ones and inviting the Holy Spirit to change the atmosphere wherever we are—home, school, church, the grocery store parking lot, wherever.

Our minds are going be full of SOMETHING. We have to set parameters and say no to what the Holy Spirit cautions us to avoid. And even though we feel we shouldn’t have to be careful around others, yes, as believers we have an obligation to walk blamelessly before the world. We need to think before we act and do. And we need to arrest that spirit of offense when we feel it rising in us.

At some point over the coming weeks and months, you may feel the enemy say something like:

  • “You should just leave/quit/resign/divorce/part ways. You’re not appreciated. Your (spouse, job, family, group, ministry, church, etc.) ought to have to suffer a little bit and then they’d see how much you are worth.”
  • “They did that on purpose! Are you going to just stand there and take it?”
  • “God didn’t answer your prayers. He must not really love you after all.”
  • “So and so just gave you the stink eye. That person doesn’t like you.”
  • “They just did you wrong because you are (too young, too old, not beautiful, they’re jealous of you, not the same color as them; or they think they’re better than you).”
  • “Your church takes too hard a stance on that point of doctrine. They act like a cult. You should find a church that agrees with what you consider truth.”
  • “Who do they think they are to judge you for your choices?”
  • “They’re not the boss of you.”
  • “You should just go ahead and (hurt/kill) yourself and get out of the way.  That’d make them sorry.”
  • “That attitude can go two ways. If they’re asking for trouble, you know you can’t back down now.”
  • “If that person were really a Christian, he/she would (look, act, vote, participate, speak) just like you. Don’t trust him or her!”

Sound familiar?

Well friends, we have a choice. We can do the work in our prayer and study time to toughen up, or we can run around constantly wounded and on the defensive. People hate having to always tiptoe around one certain person in their lives! Don’t let that person be YOU! Remember that much of the time, folks don’t even know that their words were inappropriate or caused you to be hurt. And yeah, some people are not going to be fair with us—now or ever. The Word tells us to pray for, forgive, and love them anyway. Sometimes we have to do it (without gossiping about them behind their backs, by the way) from a distance—but near or far, God’s grace can enable us to shake it off.

Pray with me: “Father, I don’t want to be overly sensitive. I don’t want to stumble on the rock of offense, this year or ever. I don’t want to abort my mission or abandon a divine assignment You’ve given me over becoming hurt, mad, or offended at someone else. Jesus, some of your followers even abandoned You when Your words offended their sensibilities.  Please help me!

There are any number of opportunities in a day for me to have my feelings hurt, if I choose to. Crucify the drama queen nature in me! I reject that tendency to want to dramatize and rehearse and nurse and tell others about how this person or that organization or that race or this group was unfair to me. It’s hard, Lord. Sometimes people’s words and actions are downright intentional! I feel sometimes like people who don’t understand my pain are against me. But by Your grace I am rising above offense, in Jesus’ name.

Today I put on the whole armor of God. I protect my mind with the helmet of salvation, my heart with the breastplate of righteousness, my whole being with the shield of faith, my vital organs and private parts with the loinbelt of truth, and my feet with the gospel of peace. I have the Word and Your Spirit in my hand as a sword of defense from the attack of the enemy. You have equipped me to protect my spirit, soul, mind, will, emotions, and entire body. I will not leave the place of prayer improperly dressed to meet my day!

Lord, Your Word tells me in Matthew 18 exactly what to do when a brother offends me—it’s actually a good template for my other relationships too. It starts with personal communication, not a Facebook rant. I will handle situations the way the Bible tells me to. I will not assume that the other person automatically knows, and I will not read his or her every action or inaction as some kind of negative response! I will be civil but honest when these kinds of communications must happen. The object is restoration and forgiveness. Father, in this moment I release and forgive every person who has knowingly or unknowingly offended me!

Lord, I remind myself today that the enemy’s goal is collateral damage. A hit at me is intended to wound and scatter and render ineffective my whole circle of influence. The offense was a weapon not of flesh and blood, but unseen wicked spiritual forces at work. I can’t afford to see this attack in the natural! I will ask what the devil is trying to accomplish if I accept his bait—for that is exactly the post I can’t afford to abandon! I refuse to leave my family, my church, or my assignment over becoming offended!

Finally, I will exercise more caution in the way my words or decisions affect others. When I know I’ve hurt someone, I will man or woman up and go make it right. I won’t just let that person simmer and stew in offense. I won’t just write it off as the other party needing to grow up. Maybe that’s the case and maybe it isn’t; but God isn’t judging me on someone else’s actions. He judges me by how I handle things from my end! I will take the high road. I will at least initiate the conversation that opens a door to reconciliation.

And finally, Father, I thank You for not leaving me comfortless! In a fallen, unfair world, Your Holy Spirit consoles and gives me peace. In the name of Jesus, I go forth today declaring that I AM NOT A VICTIM! I WILL NOT LET THE DEVIL MOVE ME FROM WHERE GOD HAS ASSIGNED ME! I am a Psalm 1 believer who refuses to be influenced by the negatives of others—a tree thriving in rich soil, which bears fruit and whose leaves aren’t withered. I am not ignorant of the devices (strategies, traps) of the devil. I won’t miscarry my destiny because of a vagabond, offended spirit. I am strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Amen and amen!” 🙌🏼🙌🏼🙌🏼

Never Departing—Raising Kids with Values and Not Just Skills

arrows“Dedicate your children to God and point them in the way that they should go, and the values they’ve learned from you will be with them for life.”  (Proverbs 22:6 TPT The Passion Translation®. Copyright © 2017 by BroadStreet Publishing® Group, LLC.)

Your child’s real future isn’t in scholarship, it’s in #discipleship. Scholarship says, “I got it all because of ME.” Discipleship says, “yes I have talent, but even that is because of HIM.”

Praise the Lord for favor and open doors, for free rides to college, and I’m all for getting all the education and credentials we can; but please, Christian parents, don’t elevate your child’s talent above his or her spiritual well-being. If we teaching our children it is all about their earthly goals, we are teaching them to build on sand instead of the Rock. If their entire hope is tied up in their talent—their life plans formed solely around what their own hands can do–then their future is as fragile as one unfortunate sports injury or failed entrance exam. And what good would a scholarship be on the timeline of forever if that renowned college were to transform your child into someone who no longer believes there even IS a God? Celebrate that talent, but don’t make talent an idol. Don’t neglect the foundation in favor of making the facade look good. Want eternity for your kids even more than you want moments...yes, let’s want heaven for them even more than we want a degree from that prestigious university hanging on their wall! If we seek Him first and His righteousness, did our Lord not say that “all these things” (the things that the world would make the primary or sole focus) would be added to us?

I get grieved when I see once God-focused homes where the celebration is no longer on the children’s Jeremiah 29:11 future, but on exalting nothing more than skills and beauty and temporary achievements. Are your children discovering their spiritual gifts? Are they growing strong in their relationship with God, connected to stable children’s or youth church groups where they are fortified by other young believers and godly adult mentors? Are they being brought to see and participate in the move of the Holy Spirit in revivals, prayer gatherings, youth camps, and worship services, or is there never time or desire for those things because of all the other pursuits we have enabled? Do they hear prayer and the Word read in the home, or does God only receive honorable mention from time to time? Are the dreams they chase guided by godly wisdom and balance, or are we endorsing paths that lead far away from God by not teaching them to use those talents for His divine purpose? If we aren’t training them up in the way they should go, how can they stay on a path they were never taught not to depart from!

Lord, speak to our hearts today as Christian parents and recalibrate our focus. Forgive us for grooming our kids to grow up as unbelieving adults who were raised in lukewarm, powerless Christian homes rife with duplicity. You gave them to us as arrows; show us when the problem lies in our aim. You have blessed us with healthy, smart, beautiful kids–and we will teach them how to use their gifts to glorify You rather than to replace You.

Help us to train them to be as effective in fervent prayer as they are in the fast pitch; to tear down strongholds even better than they can sack the opposition’s quarterback; to be Esthers instead of divas; Solomons instead of just intellectuals; Davids instead of rock gods; Daniels instead of conformists. Help us to model in front of them a burning, living relationship with You instead of just a religious experience we once had. Help us not to have poisoned our kids with pride and self-absorption! Remind us to tell them often that we are pleased with them not just because of all they can do but rather, who they are in YOU! Help us not to live our lives vicariously through our kids, trying to recapture our own missed opportunities. We want them to be successful and strong, but O God, we want them to love You even more than we ourselves have loved you. We want them to rise and be the ushers of a last-day awakening, who use their gifts and talents and testimonies to draw people to the Savior!

We choose today to openly to put You first, and to teach them to put You first, too. We will guard our conversations in our homes, what we take into our gateways of eyes and ears. If You tell us we need to change some things, add or take away some things, we will not ignore Your voice! We will communicate to our kids that no matter what else they do or don’t become, we want them to love and serve You first and foremost. We will help them hone their skills, but will teach them to give You all the glory for what those skills help them achieve. We will instill eternal-mindedness into them, and we will live lives in front of them that back up what we teach. It will show in how we invest our time, our money, our affections. We will have great fun with them and laugh and make memories; and we will teach them how to have compassion, how to give, how to love with perfect love, and how to flee from temptation. We will teach them how to cling to truth, stand firm even when the world bullies them for what they believe, and we will teach them how to forgive and be forgiven. We will love them like You want us to love them–unconditionally–and will love them too much to let them be deceived and led by the devil away from their life purpose!

Help us to hear Your voice concerning our kids, Father. Your planned future for them is better than anything we could lay hold of for them on our own. As we trust You for that future, we will be good stewards of our little arrows; and by Your grace, they will grow to be arrows hitting not just any mark, but the actual destinies for which You handcrafted each of them uniquely, fearfully and wonderfully!. We consecrate ourselves, our homes, and our children today. Bless them, protect them, do great things through them, and let them never depart from You, in Jesus’ name.

(Adapted from my Facebook status, August 11, 2017)

Release and Renew: Prayers for Those with Heartbreaking Jobs

”I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13 NAS1977)

Be deliberate today in your pursuit of the goodness of God. I speak especially to those in careers where you daily see the ugliest side of humanity, or perhaps the most hopeless-appearing situations. Soldiers, law enforcement, social workers, oncology nurses/doctors, ministers, teachers, counselors, and others–at the end of your day you must find a way to disconnect from the despair, lest you become a casualty instead of a catalyst for healing and hope. You can find that in prayer. At the beginning of your day you have to coat yourself in the hope of the Word to shield yourself from what you’re going to encounter. You might say, “why aren’t you suggesting I pray for the people I encounter instead of myself? This feels so selfish. What about their problems?” I’m writing this today to help keep you strong enough to do the hard work you do. You can’t help others if you wind up taken out by despair. It’s time to gear up because we NEED you doing what you do. Please, stay strong! Take care of your spirit!

Our world is sad. It’s bad out there. There’s so much despair and so many wicked activities taking place. There’s so much sickness and tragedy and cruelty. So many children, elderly, weak, innocent who are preyed upon. So many people operating under demonic influence inflicting pain and suffering on themselves and others. So much ADDICTION.

I’ll be honest. I went through my Twitter feed earlier this morning and the bad news was exhausting. I wanted to go back to bed and pull the covers over my head. I honestly thought, “Death’s not such a bad thing…it’ll be a relief to leave this world and go on to heaven!” But then I remembered what Paul said about it being more expedient (needful) that he remain behind to help others instead of going on to be with the Lord. I want heaven. I want to go and be with the Lord and be away from all the madness for all eternity…eventually. But what I really want to do first is effectively hold back the worst of evil by collectively offering up effectual fervent prayer. I want to point others to Jesus and be someone who hammers signposts in the ground of life that show a lost world the direction in which to run to find hope. THE ONLY way I can remain objective is to have God’s Word tattooed on my heart and mind, and to stay close enough to Him to hear His voice. Otherwise I just disappear into the sludge of despair with everyone else who’s given up and is waiting to die.

So for all of you who are so bravely doing the jobs I could not do (or rather, don’t necessarily WANT to do), I just encourage you this morning to cover yourself. Even if you’re already well into your shift, there’s no time like the present to start. Pray with me:

“God, thank You for helping me survive all the situations I encountered yesterday. Your Word says Your mercies are new every morning. Today I receive Your new mercy. Clothe me with salvation, with humility, with strength. Just like the “whole armor of God,” I put on my tactical gear. My head’s covered with salvation. My heart’s covered with righteousness. My tactical belt is truth…I can attach every tool I need to do my job to this truth. My feet are covered with peace. My shield is faith. My defense weaponry is Your Word and Your Spirit! That said, Lord, I’m getting ready to walk into the unknown today. I will encounter messed-up lives. I will meet hurting people. My heart will break over what’s not fair. Use me to make a difference, to be Your light bearer in a dark place. Help me to respond not out of anger, but with great wisdom.

Help me to do my best while I’m on the job and then help me to LET IT GO at the end of the day. Lord, help me not to carry these problems home to my family. I need my family and they need me. Help me to appreciate and be ministered to by the innocence of the home I’ve worked so hard to build and protect.

Keep me safe today, guard me against burnout; help me to strategize with the mind of Christ about how I can use my gifts to bless others and my strengths to help those who are in the place of need. Help me not to lose my sense of compassion nor my sense of duty to minister to the disparaged. I don’t want to be callous or insensitive when someone is needing treated gently. Help me to be just and fair with all people, even those who aren’t just and fair with me. Remind me that I represent YOU and can’t afford to let my words and actions go contrary to Yours. Help me not to think as the world thinks, but as YOU think about situations. Keep me from being jaded. Keep my heart tender even as you keep it from breaking in two at the things which also grieve YOU. In Jesus’ name.”

And at night (or the end of your workday, whenever that is 😉 ):

“Father, thank You for helping me to make it to the conclusion of another day. These burdens I bore all day long, these suffering people I worked with, the situations I can’t necessarily fix with an easy button…these worries and cares all want to come home with me. The memories want to invade my ability to wind down, to hear my spouse and children’s conversations, to keep me from the place of prayer and the much needed place of recharging and sleep.

But just like a set of coveralls, I choose to unzip the activities of the day and I step out of them. What I couldn’t fix today, I will deal with tomorrow, but for now I let it go. I’m not God–You are. I trust You to put things on hold, to keep the people I can’t help 24/7, to send others alongside to help, and to keep this world spinning on its axis for another day. In Jesus’ name I reject the effects of constant exposure to negative forces. I will not cope with frustration and sorrow by engaging in substance abuse or destructive relationships. I will seek out things that keep my heart pure and guileless, I will freely laugh at every possible opportunity, and I will give mindful thanks for the simple blessings You afford me, like a beautiful sunrise or the giggles of a small child.

I boldly declare that the helmet of salvation will keep my mind and protect me from becoming a walking case of PTSD. You are strengthening me, You are renewing my mind, You are restoring my innocence, and You ARE my joy, my strength. I will run to You and not be so “tough.” You’re the One I run to when I’m out of my league. It’s ok for me to be vulnerable in Your presence because You heal me and help me. I plead the blood of Jesus now to wash me clean, to cleanse the portals of my mind from what I need to let go of. Thanks now for blessing my family time, my worship time, my downtime and strengthening me to fight another day. I love You and trust You. Amen”

Repentance: Don’t Hide–HEAL

Don’t let the enemy guilt you out of your #destiny. If you have sinned or otherwise failed or fallen short, repent. Yes, I know there’s seemingly nothing profound in that advice, but it’s still true. I didn’t say resign; I said #repent.

#Repentance isn’t just being sorry for something you’ve done (or in some cases, haven’t done), it’s evaluating where you went wrong and making the necessary corrections to keep it from happening again: a change of heart and action. Maybe you’ve done something or allowed something and it’s wrinkled the fender of your reputation and distanced you from God. Maybe you’re just disappointed in yourself and it’s easier to bail than to humbly start all over. The first thing Adam and Eve did after they sinned was to HIDE. And may I even say, the more we are respected and admired, the harder it feels to get back up when we stumble because the accuser wants our shame to be very public.

Yeah, Satan’s goal is to take us out and damage as many people as he can in the process…but friends, when we’ve taken a faceplant, the world needs to SEE us recover, even if a few folks (and particularly some who are supposed to be on our “side”) hurl a few insult-and-accusation stones as we are picking ourselves up. Sometimes we privately recover, but truthfully, sometimes what we resolve to just do in private enables us to wallow a little longer in the mess–and kept hidden, sometimes we fix it, but sometimes we just choose to stay broken. Don’t stay in that place. It’s a rat’s nest.

There may be shame in failure but there’s no shame in turning to God to fix us when we have failed. Last night before I went to sleep, this verse went through my mind and I just meditated on it as I drifted off: “So now, those who are in Christ Jesus are not judged guilty. Through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit that brings life made me free from the law that brings sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2 NCV) The KJV says there’s “therefore now no condemnation.”

Because of our trust in the redemptive power of the cross, we can machete our way through the choking, dense growth of sin’s effect on our lives and emerge back onto the right path intact. Paul realized the possibility of preaching to others but himself becoming a castaway–so he held himself accountable. So should we.

It’s just where we are. Sharing the good news is relatively easy. Being the “living epistle read of every man” part, not so much. The best thing to do is to keep ourselves holy, on guard, prayed-up, free from bondages. It’s a lot easier to maintain than to break down and repair. But if you are reading this from the cave where you went to hide after your embarrassing fall, please know there is HOPE for you. Sure, there’ll be a few who would remind you of your inadequacy, but there is a whole host of witnesses crying out just beyond your earshot, “Get up! Try! Finish! Keep going! You’re almost home!” There’s a Father checking out the window, pacing in the roadway, wanting to put a ring on your stinky, stained hand and restore you with full privilege instead of demoting you from sonship to servitude.

I remember once when I was still in school, one of my schoolmates wound up getting badly burned when he threw gasoline on a bonfire. The kid was ashamed/afraid to tell his parents because it was a foolish act of disobedience, messing with fire and flammables; and because he hid the terrible burn under his clothing without getting help, the burn got badly infected and became a serious, dangerous problem much worse than a parent’s chastisement for disobeying. No doubt the scars are still on that leg, decades later. We hide our burns too, sometimes, don’t we?

Peter had to repent when he fell. Yep, one of “the three amigos” whom Jesus kept privy to His most important missions actually betrayed Him in a most contemptible way when things got too dangerous. But Jesus WANTED him back. He even said to him, “when you’re restored, strengthen the others.” See, your recovery is never just about you. Jesus didn’t choose to just gloss it over and strengthen them Himself in Peter’s absence; He in essence told Peter, “YOU do it.” There’s going to be a visible restoration of the part of you that needs healed, friend, and the people who’ve been let down by your absence are also going to be strengthened…by YOU. It is this action that will bring you full circle and it will keep you accountable in the future because of its humbling quality.

As much as it feels to the contrary, you aren’t expendable. God needs you on that front line. Replacing you is not His ultimate will — redeeming you, however, IS! He saw in ages past where a you-shaped piece of the puzzle needed to go, and He created you to fit exactly right there in the big picture. He doesn’t have a bunch of spare you’s just lying around in case you malfunction! Repentance says you are willing to let Him rebuild you to keep doing what He created you to do. And sometimes, we need rebuilt not only because of our sins, but also even from just being battle-weary, worn-out, and hyperextended. Let Him.

Lay aside what’s holding you back. Phooey on what anyone might say or think, don’t you wallow in condemnation one more day. Your destiny is right where you left it, and Jesus can recalibrate the driving directions from WHEREVER this moment finds you…to make sure you arrive safely. Come home.

OCD NO MORE (Warning–read only if you want your life back!)

figure_measure_1600_wht_5484“Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God. And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours].” Phil 4:6-7 (AMP)

I believe one of Satan’s greatest deceptions is to convince people that the very things which hold them in bondage put them at some sort of advantage. He does this with unbelievers and believers alike. The belief that one drives a little better when drinking. Or that getting high helps release or enhance the talent of the singer or musician. The belief that cleanliness or fitness or aesthetic appearance taken severely beyond the norm makes us better, safer, more beautiful than the people around us–turning us into germaphobes, steroid-abusers, anorexics, addicts to plastic surgery. Any time our enemy can convince us that imbalance is helping us in some way, he will keep us testing its limits over and over, in increasing quantities, till he ultimately kills or cripples us with it.

Yes, we recognize the more obvious destructive misconceptions, but what about the more subtle ones? The belief that one’s tendency for worry or obsessiveness or unyielding perfectionism makes that person invaluable and better on the job or at home or in the church? Yes, it might bring some results, but the cost to that person’s emotional and physical (and perhaps even spiritual) health, not to mention its cost to relationships with those around him or her, is proof that it’s turned from mere attentiveness into a bondage that needs broken.

Bottom line: God doesn’t need you to violate His Word to accomplish His will!

If the Bible says, “Be anxious for nothing…” (and that whole verse is beneficial here) then it applies even that person who’s given to detail and excellence and finesse. So yes, friends, even you who are leaders, professionals, artists, even movers and shakers in the business realm, yes, YOU…are meant to be able to lie down and rest at night and be able to lay aside the garments which define you in the eyes of those around you. You’re not better at what you do by having your thermostat broken, you’re just suffering and nobody’s told you that you don’t have to in order to walk in the place of greatness! As a matter of fact, the devil wants a child of God, in particular, to believe that it’s ok for his/her controlling obsession to run unchecked because that person is letting it consume him/her “for God.” How cruel indeed this deception, and it’s not at all from the Father! Do good, godly people fall into that trap? Yes, sadly, all the time. It’s time for you to deal with yours today if this writing is resonating any at all with you.

Lord, Your Word says we aren’t ignorant of the devices of the devil (2 Corinthians 2:11). You are a giver of peace, of joy, of rest, of blessed assurance. Those of us who want to be fruitful and productive can sometimes let our zeal for excellence push us beyond Your safe boundaries. We can ticker down our lists of what we’ve accomplished but at the end of the day, our obsession and need to be in control of our environment makes us miserable, sick, exhausted, and it probably makes anyone tied to us equally nervous, tensed, stressed because they in turn are trying to appease our relentless nature. Our unforgiveness of our own perceived inadequacies can turn inward and manifest in autoimmune disorders, traumatic stress disorders, early death or disability due to stress-induced disease…if we don’t get a handle on it. So we release and forgive ourselves and others for not being perfect! The devil is crafty–he tries to make us feel guilty if we relax our hold. He has convinced many that this sickness and misery is the price they must pay to carry the talent, anointing, or advancement they’ve worked so hard to achieve. We are not going to be those people anymore! We reject the idea that our obsessive nature is just the cross we must bear, or that this type of bondage is a good thing. We don’t need it in order to be valuable–that’s a lie straight from hell! WE WILL NOT LET OUR GOD-GIVEN GIFTS BECOME OUR WEAPONS OF SELF-DESTRUCTION, IN JESUS’ NAME!

So we come into agreement with Your Word today and we are going to make a marked effort to surrender all to You. This is probably one of those areas Paul referred to when in 1 Cor. 15:31 he said that he “died (to self)” daily. You are teaching us the boundary at which we are to stop. We have the ability to work on something and release it as finished, in peace and trust that it is enough. Your Holy Spirit assures us that we can let go of a few things or that enough time has been spent on a particular detail. We crucify that driving force in us that won’t let us rest, that won’t let others rest, and that won’t trust You to keep what we commit to You!  We ask You to deliver us from perfectionism, the need to micromanage our lives and others’, from any spirits attached to this unhealthy belief that our best is never good enough or that we could have done more. We renounce any negative confessions spoken over us by ourselves or others, and we receive healing of any damage inflicted to our souls from someone who didn’t love or accept us enough.  We rebuke the spirit of fear that brings with it paranoia, inferiority complex, jealousy, inordinate competitiveness, domination, controlling spirits, and compulsiveness.  We ask you to forgive us when our own pride is the culprit. We will not confess OCD over ourselves–not even jokingly–like it’s a beneficial trait. It’s a curse and we have been redeemed from the curse! Remind us of how Satan has used this to the destruction of many brilliant people, like Howard Hughes, who became so obsessive he died a rich, alone madman in self-imposed exile, afraid of germs and people and imperfection. We rebuke the spirit of fear that tells us if we relax, we will lose our “superpowers” or our competitive edge. Our times are in Your hands, Father. You will keep us in perfect peace as we cast our cares on the One through Whom true promotion comes!

We will be excellent, we will be tenacious and we will work while it is day, but we repent, reject, and renounce all times in the past where we embraced this bondage as some kind of good thing. We are going to rely on You more and our own abilities less. We give this to You, knowing that You are setting us up to be MORE fruitful in the long run. When someone brings up OCD to us in the future (probably from times we’ve joked about it in the past), we are going to reply, “No, I’m not given to obsessive behavior anymore! I’m delivered! I have an eye for detail and I operate in strong gifts and abilities, but I no longer let perfectionism hold me in bondage. I do the best I can now to just plant seed, allow someone else to water, and trust God to give the increase…and with that, I’m resting while God is at work making my effort pay off! I’m healed!”

In Jesus’ name we pray today, Amen.

(Note: This and other issues I hope to be covering in the CALL THOSE THINGS: Bible-Based Confessions Over Mental and Emotional Health edition…available at some time in the future.)

That Your Prayers Be Not Hindered

praying handsWives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives,  when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.  Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.  For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.   Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.  Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.  For,“Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech.  They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it.  For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”  — 1 Peter 3:1-12

 

I want to interject early on, that there is a difference between medical conditions which trigger certain behaviors, and spiritual conditions.  When someone is (or should be) under medical treatment and/or medications for such conditions, I would never advise you to stop treatment or counseling.  In fact, I beg of you to get checked out if you suspect you’re dealing with bipolar, depression, PTSD, or any other mental health issue that might make it easy for you to mistreat others.  The difference is, medication can help with a physical/mental condition–there is no shame in needing it–but if your problem is spiritual, you cannot medicate away a spiritual problem!  May all of us transparent with ourselves enough to know when sin is the root cause of our bad behavior–and may we aggressively do the work to get it out of our lives.

I also want to note that, this article can’t possibly take into account every single home’s unique issues.  I do want to, however, talk about just a few of them.  If these don’t touch on the particular problems, causes, and conditions in your own home, just know that I’m trying to touch a small area in a very broad issue.  Please, if you’re having problems, don’t just take my small blog post as an all-inclusive approach to dealing with them.  Consult with a qualified marriage counselor, pastor, mental health advisor, someone who can get into the finer points of your particular crisis.

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It’s not often that I start a devotional out with such a long passage of Scripture, but to condense this very important passage would not do any justice to the teaching topic I’m addressing this morning:  cruelty in the home, most notably, spousal abuse.

There aren’t many instances in Scripture where spousal abuse is recorded; yet, treating one’s family well–including (and especially) the husband or wife–is a recurring theme throughout the Scriptures.  It’s important to God. Being kind to one’s mate should be a given, right?  Yes, it should be.  There are some things God shouldn’t have to come right out and get elementary about, and yet…  He had to spell out that we not have sex with animals, with our parents/kids/near kin, etc.  If you think that mankind is inherently good, well, think again.  The human heart, without God shaping it and molding it, is desperately wicked.  When mapping out a plan for godly living, yes, He got very specific.  He knew there would be a few delinquents in the bunch who might come back later and say, “Well, no one ever told ME that a person’s not supposed to do that!”

A Double Life

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.  Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:  For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.  James 1:8, 19-20

You cannot be cruel in your home and it not affect your life outside your home.  I knew of a man once whom everyone in the general public loved.  He was very charismatic, very accommodating to others.  He was the “open doors, help little old ladies across the street” kind of guy.  He was well respected in the business world and in the political realm; yet there was an elephant in the room.  When he went home at night, he left the nice-man suit in his car in the garage, and put on the monster costume.  He was a verbal abuser to his entire family, but especially to his wife.  It would eventually come out that on occasions he got physical with her, too.  She remained with him until her children were grown, reasoning within herself that it was ok, so long as he didn’t physically harm the kids.  Then, one day she and his children were well out of harm’s way, and everyone was shocked.  They couldn’t figure out what on earth would break up such a happy home.  Then, slowly, the stories begin to emerge about what was actually going on in that home.  The wife would confide, the kids would confide; eventually, what was such a carefully-guarded secret was all over the place.

If that weren’t a sad enough note to end this little story on, the man didn’t just go back to business-as-usual in his outside life.  With no one at home to take his frustrations out on, the monster costume was occasionally worn to work and out in the community under his clothes.  His stellar reputation went south, and though he was a man of means, he lost everything of true value.  Eventually even his financial prosperity proved to be tainted by the cruelty in his heart.

Abuse Isn’t Always Covert

Flip the situation and I’ll tell you of another.  I used to know a married couple that I absolutely hated running into.  They were friends of ours, and I didn’t dislike them, per se.  I was just always left deeply uncomfortable by the way the wife continually, and in every conversation, insulted her husband to us…right in front of him!  She would go on and on about foolish choices he made, and how if he’d only have listened to her, he wouldn’t have done them…or how he always did this wrong, or always failed in that area.  Her whole discussion would always seem to center on how superior she was to him in every way.  I could tell this man was resentful and deeply ashamed of what she was doing, and yet, the climate never seemed to change.  They had a rocky, on-again, off-again relationship.  It always felt good whenever we were able to finagle ourselves away from them!  Was that spousal abuse?  It absolutely was!

No Place for Abuse in a Christian Home!

Why am I sharing this in a devotional?  Because I see it, shamefully so, in Christian homes and not just in the homes of nonbelievers.  And yes, those stories abound as well of women who are abusers in the home.  Their outcomes are no better than this man’s.  And this situation I’ve shared with you is a secular story.  You’re seeing ones like it on the news nearly daily now.  There are countless big-time athletes and actors and celebrities who’ve lost their status because their abusive characters outside the workplace cause their employers to view them as a public relations risk.  No one wants to be associated with a bully or a thug, or even a jerk!  Even some of the best-looking actors in Hollywood have completely lost their heartthrob status when it came out that they were abusers of their spouses and families.

I wonder–knowing what an outspoken man Peter was–how and when he eventually came to the place in his walk with God where these teachings had lodged within his own heart!  Peter–the same man who wrote the above passage is the same hot-head who cut off the high priest’s servant’s ear in the Garden of Gethsemane.  He’s the same fellow who denied Jesus three times, and other major debacles of character.  Yet, he apparently at least eventually got the revelation that God values self-control in a man (and a woman).  Jesus even showed up at his house at one point to heal Peter’s mother-in-law of a fever, and she rose up afterwards and ministered to them.  A man who has relationship issues wouldn’t call Jesus to his home to heal one of his in-laws!  He’d probably do anything that he could to keep Jesus from entering his home, for fear that Jesus would sense a spirit of offense there.  Peter’s writings here would indicate that, at least in time, he understood the necessity of one’s horizontal relationships’ being in harmony to positively open up the VERTICAL relationship with God.

I’m not writing this devotional to try to shame men into becoming walked-on wimps, and I’m not writing it to tell women that they have no voice and should just be door mats to their husbands.  I’m writing it to urge you to get your houses in order…because how you treat your family matters to God.  You will be judged for it.  The fruitfulness of your hopes, dreams, and prayers depends on it, too.  If you don’t particularly like being successful, being thought well of, being blessed, being whole in mind and body, then just ignore everything I’ve said…BUT!  If you do want to have a blessed, prosperous life where everything doesn’t go to pieces, then you need to respect the conditions for blessing that God has set forth in His Word.

Common Excuses We Use Not to Change

  1.  It’s just the way I am.  I inherited this temper.  So lame!  This is the laziest excuse to let one’s emotions run the show.  You are right about one thing…without God’s help, you really can’t change.  And if you inherited a short fuse, stop bragging about it!  It’s not something to be proud of.  If you have anger issues or a personality trait that is endangering the welfare of your family, be man or woman enough to admit it before God and before a qualified marriage counselor.  Don’t wait until the damage is beyond repair.  You may not feel that bad about it now, but at some point in time, you will reap some painful things for the pain you inflict on others.
  2. It’s his/her fault that I lose it.  My spouse sets me off with that mouth!  While it’s true, our spouses can lend to the overall problem, it is still up to you to control your own spirit!  Temporarily distance yourself if you have to, rather than engaging so heatedly into discussions that you wind up saying and doing regretful things.  Back off.  Take a walk.  Better yet, pray and get into God’s Word.  Take the initiative to arrange for pastoral and qualified family counseling if you have these types of issues.  Whatever you do, don’t let that volcano of hate and anger spew into your home!
  3. He/she knows I really don’t mean it.  We always cool off eventually.  I can promise you this:  when you say hurtful things to your children or spouse, they play over and over like a broken record long after the argument is over.  Don’t be the cause of your family having to deal with the sin of unforgiveness through repeated abuse on your part!  Nothing good can come of you causing your spouse and kids to develop hard, callous hearts.  It will tell on you, eventually.
  4. As long as no one at work, church, school, or our community knows we have these problems, it should all work out ok.  You see, that’s the lie Satan plants to keep us satisfied that we still have it all under control.  Remember, God’s opinion ultimately is the most important, and if you are disobeying His guidelines for the way you treat others, you are sinning, PERIOD.  Just because no one else seems to be observing the problem, doesn’t mean that they aren’t already picking up on the bad vibes.  People aren’t that stupid, friend!  Your spouse and children have body language and many other non-verbal means of communicating to the world that you are not treating them well, even when they are trying to hide their embarrassing secret.
  5. I came from an abusive background and I didn’t turn out so bad. I’m not nearly as bad as my dad/mom.  Are you kidding?  The very fact that your own family is repeating the same nightmare in another generation is a serious problem.  What if your children’s relationships turn out to be even worse than your parents’, just because you failed to deal with it in your own life?  Yes, it’s serious.  Don’t grade yourself on a curve against others who you perceive are/were worse than you are.  Examine your life against God’s standard in His Word, and make whatever changes you need to make to live a life pleasing to Him!  Proverbs says that when a person’s ways please the the Lord, He makes even that person’s enemies to be at peace with him/her.  Righteousness and a truly right heart will positively, even miraculously, affect your ability to get along well with others.  It is truth.
  6. I don’t feel well.  My health issues make me moody and my family knows it.  Yes, they certainly do know it, and they resent being the brunt of your frustration.  And if you want their prayers, love, understanding, and support, you will try harder not to let your personal pain affect your treatment of them.  The best way to have someone actually on your side is not to turn him or her into an enemy by being an ogre!
  7. I’m just talking mean to him/her.  Since I’m not name-calling or using foul language, it’s not really verbal/emotional abuse.  Baloney, friend.  You are not that deceived!  If the way you are speaking and behaving is causing abnormal fears, manipulation, torment, sadness, depression, suicidal thoughts, resentment, self-hatred, depreciation, insults, you are not behaving like Jesus!  Yes, sometimes we have to address issues in our homes.  Things need discussed, resolved, debated, corrected, at times changed for the better of everyone involved.  Sometimes we must be iron sharpening iron…you may be instrumental in discipline in your home, but you are not called to be a verbal axe-wielder in your home.  You can have even serious, somber, firm discussions with others without stepping into a spirit of strife.  Weigh every action and word against how Jesus would handle what you’re handling, and if you are emotionally scarring another person, you need to stop it, NOW.

Initiating Change Through Prayer and Honest Self-Examination

There’s no way I can possibly cram all the helpful elements to enhancing our spousal relationships into this little blog post, but what I will do is this:  I have included a couple of prayers for spouses whose anger issues are jeopardizing their marriages.  I am proposing not anger management, but anger crucifixion!  It’s time to take these issues to the cross, once and for all.

I do want to say this, as we end on a positive note:  today is a new day.  We can repent and apologize for the sins of our past, and start from this day forward to make better choices. I so respect Larry and Tiz Huch, television ministers, for their very transparent testimony of how God restored their marriage after years of abusive behavior.  We need to see more testimonies like theirs of couples who’ve overcome the past, forgiven, and gone on to have happy marriages.  I want you to know that there is hope for you too–but you must be willing to fight the real enemy, the devil, for it!  God is ready to meet you right where you are, and His grace is sufficient.

Husbands“Heavenly Father, I feel the pressure on every side to be in charge.  The hardest time I have holding it together is when I come home, because that’s where I want most to be able to be myself.  But Lord, I don’t like the man I see myself become when I’m around my family.  Forgive me for the horrible way I have let my anger leech into my homelife.  As the spiritual leader of our home, it says that I have spiritual issues of my own which need dealt with.  Lord, I don’t want to damage my children for future relationships!  I don’t want my wife to secretly despise me.  The truth is, I don’t know how to change and without Your help, I can’t change.  I ask You, in Jesus’ name, to break off any generational curses of parental and spousal abuse from my bloodline now.  Sever all negative ties between my family history and my own immediate family now.  If there is abuse in our lineage, let my family be the generation in which it is stopped.  Lord, shine the light of Your Word into my spirit man.  Chase the wickedness out of the corners of my soul where it loves to hide.  Father, if there is an indwelling of any unclean spirit in me or on me which influences me to verbally, emotionally, or physically abuse my wife and children, I resist it now.  I submit myself to You because Your Word says that if I will humble myself, submit to you, and resist the devil, he MUST flee from me!  Drive out every evil spirit that influences me to harm others and to harm myself.  Fill me up to overflowing with Your Holy Spirit and help me to recognize all open doors to evil in my life.  I go behind Your revelation of these things and I shut them, one by one.  In Jesus’ name, may every legal access the devil has to our home be deadbolted shut now and forevermore.  Father, as I repent and submit myself to Your Word, I will also repent to and before my family for the wrong things I have said and done to them.  Your Word says that anger rests in the bosom of fools.  I don’t want to be a fool.  I want to love my family the way You do, and to protect my spouse the way Christ shields and covers His Church.  If I cannot see substantial changes coming, I will be man enough to initiate marital counseling.  I will not hide our problems behind the guise of a Christian home, but I will get help and I will stop the abuse from perpetuating to another generation.  Help me to love like You love.  Thank You for forgiving me and extending Your grace and mercy over our situation now.”

Wives –  “Heavenly Father, You have heard my silent cries for help, and I know that it is not Your plan for my family to be harboring this ugly secret.  Verbal and physical abuse are not attributes of the Spirit-filled!  These ugly manifestations have no place in our home.  I look to You for wisdom to be able to be the thermostat of our home.  While it is not right for my husband to abuse me, I know that I need to recognize “triggers” that provoke outbursts.  I can’t always prevent bad moods and temper flares from occurring, but You can enable me to divert certain situations before they even occur.  Lord, forgive me for times when I nag or boss or belittle my husband.  Forgive me for sometimes not resisting the urge to push his buttons by inserting a little dig or subtle insult into discussions.  While it is wrong for him to mistreat me, it is equally wrong for me to dare him to do so.  I will set a watch upon the words of my mouth.  I will learn to give soft answers that turn away wrath, and I will set in motion a spiritual mood change in our home through praise and worship, thanksgiving, prayer, reading and speaking Your Word aloud, and through the cleansing of evil spirits from my household in intercession!  Help me to proactive in this area.  Help me to build up my husband’s spirit man and not to tear him down.  I repent of every time I have emasculated him through open insults, rebellion, and belittling him in front of others–especially our children.  Help me to have new-found respect for him, and help me to forgive.  Oh, Lord, how I need Your help there!  Cause my moods to come into harmony in ways that affect his moods more positively.  Your Word says that my lifestyle has the power to win him over to You just by the witness I live before him!  No amount of preachiness or nagging could ever influence him like seeing Your love pour out of me.  Help me to identify characteristics in my personality which might cause arguments (complaining, griping, negative words, insults, sarcasm, bossiness), and to put these things on the altar for good!  Make me that kind of woman, Father, so full of Your Holy Spirit that he cannot resist the pull toward You.  I will apologize to him for my shortcomings, and I will take the high road to reconcile whenever we have disagreements.  I will not assume that he can read my mind!  If I have concerns, I will speak gently to him about them and allow Your Holy Spirit to convict him in those areas.  Lord, I ask You in Jesus’ name to break generational curses that come into our family from my side of the bloodline.  Whether emotional disorders, addictions, abuse or being enslaved by those who abuse, or any other trap of Satan to perpetuate damage into our children, I stop it now by submitting our heritage to You!    Doors that You have made me responsible to shut, I will close.  I will set no wicked thing before my eyes, and I will not entertain the foolish advice of a broken world on how to conduct my household affairs!  I look to You, O God, and I pray that, should our marriage require counseling, that You will pair my husband and me with the right counselor(s) who can help us to heal and move forward.  And please, if remaining in our home is endangering the safety and well-being of myself and our children–if You see that my spouse is unwilling to be helped and will go on harming us–give me the discernment and courage to know when and where to flee for protection.  In Jesus’ name I ask, Amen!”