In my previous godly children post on this blog we talked about how children being children can often teach us more about Kingdom living than all of our cleverness as adults.
Case in point: At home we always dish up set meal portions and so attending an event with a buffet where you can help yourself to all these foodstuffs was a wonder beyond imagination to my children.
Perhaps it’s a British thing but, out of politeness, we hold back from fully filling our plate to ensure others behind us in the queue get enough (or at least don’t accuse us of being greedy). Those who don’t keep to this unwritten rule are always talked about in the most negative of ways, especially when food runs out.
However, my children didn’t abide by this unwritten rule and piled the food high on their plates and even when they hadn’t finished what they had they went back for more again and again and again.
I could feel the embarrassment in me fuelling a volcanic eruption that would put Mount Vesuvius to shame. But then you get that feeling that God is standing by your shoulder, clearing his throat and saying “ahem” to give you a hint that maybe you’re just missing something beautiful….
Are my children being selfish and not thinking of others? Or is it that they simply have no concept of it running out?
Why would they? They’ve been brought up by parents who love them and provide for their needs and so when they see the huge array of food spread out why would they even think of food running out?
They are models for us to how we should relate to our heavenly Father.
We have a Father who gives good gifts to his children (Mt 7:11) – in fact our Father is so good that we who love our children are called evil in comparison. Think for a moment. The universe was created as a love gift for His Son Jesus (Col 1:16) – that’s the extravagance of our Father. And we are now his children (1 Jn 3:1) and co-heirs with Christ (Rom 8:17).
But do we act like adults at a buffet with God? Do we hold back from asking for too much frightened that our father’s heavenly storehouses (Mal 3:10) will run out? That there won’t be enough blessing to go round? Or that there are others who are more in need and so we shouldn’t ask?
Or do we hold back from asking too much so we don’t become too indebted? So we can live “safe” lives?
Or maybe we believe the lie that Satan has been telling from the beginning that our Father is holding out on us? That he can’t be trusted?
Let’s learn from our children that our Father can do far more than we can ask or imagine (Eph 3:20), who loves His children and wants to bless us.
Maybe it’s time to ask to see the riches of Christ poured out so that we will love so much more and become hopeless indebted to the One who’s worthy of it all.
Last week, Alfie Evans died after his life support was withdrawn by Alder Hey Children’s Hospital after a legal battle with his parents Tom Evans and Kate James.
Alfie had suffered seizures in December 2016 and has been on life support since then. Brain scans showed “catastrophic degradation of his brain tissue” and doctors at Alder Hey believed that further treatment was not only “futile” but also “unkind and inhumane”. His parents disagreed and thus the four month legal battle for the life of Alfie Evans began. The public nature of this battle through the high court, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court and European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) brought it to the attention of the world. Even Pope Francis weighed in and gave Italian citizenship to Alfie and hoped for immediate transfer to one of their hospitals which was denied by the courts as the ruling had been made by then. Unfortunately, because of the “flight risk” the courts then denied the parents the right to take Alfie home.
Who decides the life of Alfie Evans?
Social media has made this a battle between the evil State and the loving parents:
How dare the state overrule the wishes of the parents! Parents are granted the “inalienable natural right to protect the life of their children”. How dare they remove basics such as Oxygen and, for a time, water when these are not medical treatments but the essentials of life.
Then there are those who object to Mr Justice Hayden’s ruling that says that Alfie’s life was futile which riles the pro-life side that believes all life is sacred.
But yet this same State has overruled parents who denied their children blood transfusions (as they were Jehovah’s Witnesses) and has also overruled parents who wanted to take their children abroad to euthanasia centres.
Who gets decide the life of children?
Whether that be through cutting them short through euthanasia or artificially extending them through life support.
I won’t pretend this is easy and the closest my wife and I have come to this nightmare was with our baby Rachel. She was an ectopic pregnancy and when my wife was admitted to hospital in agony they discovered the cause and prepped her for immediate surgery to remove the “problem”. We were overruled as the hospital saw that continued pregnancy would kill my wife.
Who gets to live – my wife or my baby?
But as is often the case in life, we are presented with a false dichotomy and are forced to choose.
You see our children’s lives and indeed our own lives are not ours.
They are a loan from God.
We are accountable to God for all the days of our lives and our children’s lives and it is Him that we should seek counsel from.
Not the State and not ourselves.
Back to that hospital room where my wife and I were weeping over the hospital’s decision. We knew that her life was not ours to take. We called out to God, we begged Him to take Rachel before they did.
And in His graciousness we experienced His peace that was beyond anything we can describe and contrary to the anxiousness we had been experiencing just moments before. And in His mercy we found out afterwards that Rachel had burst the fallopian tube and was already dead before they operated.
And in His infinite love and care he sent an angel to visit my wife after the operation – but that’s a story for another time.
When facing these trials let us not get sucked into the world’s two choices and end up demanding our rights, but instead call out to the One from whom all life comes and to whom we are accountable.
Father, I ask for You to send your angels to encamp around Tom Evans and Kate James and their family. Give them Your peace that passes all understanding and help them to grieve well. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
So last weekend I had my issue focussed prayer ministry session from my local Restoring the Foundations team. The plan was to work through some of the issues that had come up during my time of darkness that I went through at the end of last year.
The core issues they identified were abandonment, victimisation, rejection and anger. One of the recurring lies that came up was:
I don’t belong, I will always be on the outside
Now part of the ministry is to reject this lie and ask the Holy Spirit to replace it with Truth. But I really didn’t see this as a “lie”, just a sad fact of life.
Sure I have been told I was “leadership material” by a particular church but never given a role and in the end had to leave them to pursue what God had called me to.
Sure I have been told to stop ministering to people (despite the freedom that was being experienced by those I was praying for) because of .
Sure I have given prophetic words to two churches that were ignored but turned out to be true and had they heeded them it would have prevented their implosions.
It’s been a repeated sad fact of my life. I just don’t fit in the comfortable church mould – that’s why my wife and I ran an organic church for 3 years. We catered to those who didn’t fit in the box.
It is what it is. I wouldn’t have said it was a lie.
But I trusted these two people ministering so duly repented and asked God to show me the truth as I really didn’t get it. Here is the picture story I experienced in my mind:
I saw a vague path in a woods. As I asked about it I saw Jesus’ hand extended towards me in invitation – so I took his hand to follow him and left everyone else around me. As I did so I found that I was actually stepping off of a treadmill to go with Him.
I followed the path until it came to some overgrown bushes – I pushed through and found myself in a clearing with an overgrown fountain. I cleaned off the moss and it started pouring out water. I drunk some and it was refreshing.
I asked “Is this it? Is this just a special place for me?”
I saw myself filling an ice-cream tub with the water and taking it back to those I’d left who were still back where I left them. As I poured out this water for them to drink they were all clamouring to taste. They asked me where I got it from and I told them.
So then we all set off together and hacked a wide path to the clearing.
There were now picnic tables there in the clearing and we all sat down to eat and drink.
To me this picture story opened my eyes to the truth of my identity. I wasn’t an outsider – I am someone who goes places while they are comfortable staying in the same place. I am a pioneer, a visionary, a prophet, whatever you want to call it.
But stopping with me having a nice time on my own drinking the sweet water is not God’s purpose for me. Visionaries aren’t just meant to go off and do their own thing or “what God told them to do” – starting up a ministry on their own independent/outside of the Body of Christ.
We’re not meant to think that we’ll always be on the outside. That’s a lie that Satan tells us to prevent the blessing spreading to others.
We are meant to bring back what we find to the Body of Christ and let them taste it.
Just telling them won’t shift them. It is only when they taste and see that the LORD is good will they develop any desire to go beyond where they are currently happy at.
And then we will all go and occupy the new place that has been found and share God’s blessing together.
Don’t believe the lie that we don’t belong and have to be separate to the Body – it’s a lie to prevent blessing from being shared – it’s a lie to prevent the Kingdom from expanding.
I do belong to the Body of Christ and I’m the nerve that communicates Jesus’ dream of our future journey to the senses of the Body so that the whole body wants to move and go up to Zion together. Amen.
Some years ago, one of my daughters was a bit sweet on a boy who lived in our local neighbourhood. At first, I thought she was just going out to play with his sisters, but then I could see that she was openly flirting with the lad even though she was only about eight years old at the time.
Whenever she saw him, she would go outside and hang around. But it wasn’t until a chance observation that I realised this boy was treating my daughter appallingly. In addition to his nasty behaviour toward her, he was using her affection to get her to do whatever he wanted. I tried talking to her about the issue, but she just couldn’t see it.
Why lectures don’t work
In the West we pride ourselves on Greek logic and rational thinking. Christians in particular are caught up in this and so we teach truth via clear explanations and facts.
But it doesn’t work.
Be honest. How many sermons can you remember? How many lectures from your parents can you remember? In fact, how many of your university lectures can you remember?
If you do remember anything then I can pretty much guarantee it is because you remember a story or illustration or you remember how you felt.
You see information is great for the mind but it doesn’t engage the soul.
Facts are dry and don’t engage the heart whereas stories draw you in and teach concepts in a much deeper way than ever “objective” facts could hope to do. This is the Hebrew way of life – sharing their collective redemption story with their children.
For example, telling their children the story of Israel’s redemption through the Passover meal (Ex 12:24-27) or telling their children the story behind the memorial stones placed by the river Jordan (Josh 4:2-7). Indeed much of the Bible is written as narrative/story of God’s interaction with people and then Jesus primarily taught truth through parables.
Stories, unlike facts, draw us in and invite our participation whether they’re true or fictional.
A great example of this is the story of the Prodigal Son (Lk 10:25-37). What more needs to be added to the narrative that would help us understand the Father’s love? It perfectly carries the message as is.
You see parables aren’t merely illustrations for the message – they are the message.
It is imperative that we let the story do its job and don’t reduce it to a moral.
Those who tell the best stories will have the most power. Many criticised C S Lewis for “wasting time” writing the Narnia books. But history tells us the power these stories have had in shaping and inspiring people.
Facts and warnings weren’t reaching my daughter and so I needed something else that would communicate the danger of giving her affection to someone who was mistreating her.
So I made up a story called “The Princess and the Crocodile” where a princess who loves animals wants a crocodile but her father refuses saying it won’t be a good pet because it won’t love her back. So she decides to go to the river and…well, let’s just she gets in a sticky situation…
This opened her eyes to the reality of her situation and now five years later, I’ve expanded the tale, and have released it as an ebook to help other parents teach their children to realise how precious their love is. It is my prayer that it will help children to only give their heart to those who will value it.
Once again there has been another mass shooting this time in a Florida school in Parkland where 17 students were shot by a former student Nicky Cruz.
Once again the media is full of people using it to advance an agenda whether it be gun control, mental health, school security, the uselessness of prayers or abortion as the biggest killer of children.
But perhaps we should ask the most important question: what would Jesus do?
In Luke 13:1-5 we see Jesus told about a tragedy where Pilate murdered some Israelites as they were in the middle of their sacrifices which was considered a truly heinous action.
Does Jesus respond with outcry against the Romans? A demand for justice? A demand to rise up with the Zealots to fight back? Does he respond with sympathy? A call to pray to stop these injustices?
He responds saying that we all deserve to die.
This seems shocking and barbaric to us today.
You probably, like me, want to explain away Jesus actions to something more palatable. Whilst we will look at context in a moment – the important thing is that Jesus is the truth so if we react adversely to his words or actions then it is because we are believing a lie.
Now in those days it was believed that sin would be punished in this life – therefore if something bad happened then it was a sign of Gods judgement. Hence Jesus responds by asking whether those who were killed by others or even by accident are more sinful.
At which point we probably laugh at such foolish behaviour and think ourselves superior and never likely to fall into such errors.
However, CS Lewis hits the nail on the head with:
“[The devil] always sends errors into the world in pairs–pairs of opposites. And he always encourages us to spend a lot of time thinking which is the worse. You see why, of course? He relies on your extra dislike of the one error to draw you gradually into the opposite one.”
Today, we believe the opposite error – that none of us deserve death or punishment and all of us should go to heaven. This may be expressed more subtlety as “those poor innocent children” and “no-one deserves such a death”.
Jesus’ answer to the false belief of those days, which was repeated by Paul in Romans: “we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” and “the wages of sin are death”, speaks against both errors.
Since all deserve to die and be punished for our wilful rebellion against the Creator of the universe then a death doesn’t mean that victims are more sinful but nor does it mean that it is unfair because they are innocent or don’t deserve it.
However, it does mean that “we do not know the day or hour” and it is important to get ourselves right with God before we face judgement. And such a tragedy always brings us all face to face with our mortality and provides a window to speak to people’s hearts however much we might think it’s not the time.
Some years ago in our town a small boy drowned in a garden pond. This was a heart-breaking tragedy which severely affected my wife and I remember praying for God to intervene in this couple’s life. A couple of years later my wife met the mother of that boy and expressed her deepest condolences. Her response was a testimony to the greatness of God and how so many of her family had been saved as a result of this tragedy. For we have a God that can bring light into the darkest places.
So let us not be so insensitive that we don’t “mourn with those who mourn” but let us also not be so inoffensive that we waste a golden opportunity to share the Gospel.
Let this time be a time to bring not just earthly comfort to those trying to make sense of this tragedy but eternal comfort of a life with Christ. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Two weeks ago my older brother sent me a message to let me know that he was divorcing his wife.
It was like a punch in the gut.
I messaged him back telling him our story of how God turned our marriage around using the marriage course and I pleaded with him to get help from the God who can bring light into the darkest of places. But it was to no avail. He had already determined that was the action he would take and nothing was going to change his mind. All that is left for my wife and I to do is to support his soon-to-be ex-wife in whatever way we can.
Why does divorce affect me so deeply? Because I understand it’s true meaning. So let’s take a look at what the bible says about divorce.
The Old Testament and Divorce
Now actually the OT testament only hints at how divorce worked amongst the Hebrew people. For example, it makes no mention the provisions made in the ketubah (marriage contract) of the money that had to be paid to the wife if the husband divorces divorce her and only mentions the certificate of divorce when addressing the issue of remarrying your wife.
“When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favour in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house, and if she goes and becomes another man’s wife, and the latter man hates her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter man dies, who took her to be his wife, then her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled, for that is an abomination before the LORD.” (Dt 24:1-4a)
It appears to say that if something is so bad that it warrants divorce then it’s clearly so bad that remarriage is out of the question. This protects against hasty decisions and protects the woman against exploitation. Indeed, the combination of a certificate verifying her status and receiving at least her dowry back upon divorce meant she had a chance of life unlike women in other cultures.
The New Testament and Divorce
Fast forward about 1500 years and this passage is no longer about remarrying but about the meaning of “indecency” that Moses commanded them to divorce their wives for.
There were two schools of thought on this: Rabbi Shammai took the conservative view that the sole grounds for divorce was some grave matrimonial offence whereas Rabbi Hillel who took the liberal view that any trivial offence such as burning the dinner or the husband losing interest in his wife.
You’ll never guess which view was preferred by the Pharisees and indeed the population at large and hence why they asked Jesus whether it was lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause (Mt 19:3)
Jesus and Divorce
So what does Jesus say about divorce?
Well Jesus would have none of this – he takes them back to how marriage was designed in Gen 2 – one man, one woman, one flesh, joined together (literally glued) by God in a lifelong covenant (Mal 2:14) and no man should ever separate what God has joined together! (Mt 19:6)
“The man who hates and divorces his wife…does violence to the one he should protect,”. Mal2:16
This is a hard teaching. Small wonder that the disciples despaired saying “it is better not to marry” (Mt 19:10)
Jesus makes clear that the commands about divorce were a concession due to man’s hardness of heart (Mt19:8) and not part of God’s plan at all.
Remember the man and woman and the Spirit are a prophetic image of the Trinity. God is many but One eternally. Divorce caused by our hardness of hearts ruptures that image.
Hence to divorce is to proclaim that Christ gives up on us.
Now Israel repeatedly broke their covenant with YHWH and ran after other gods (Jer 3:6).
How did God react? He wanted to forgive them and have them return (Is 54:6-7). Hosea was even commanded to marry a prostitute (Hos 1:2) to demonstrate YHWH’s commitment to Israel despite their waywardness.
Today and divorce
2000 years on and history repeats itself.
We have the conservative camp (like Rabbi Shammai) that says you can’t divorce except for adultery – even if one spouse is abusing the other.
We have the liberal camp (like Rabbi Hillel) that says you can divorce for whatever reason as God wants you to be happy.
The argument is over whether Jesus really meant what he said or whether we can excuse it due to a cultural thing or whatever gives us what the hardness of our hearts desire.
And Jesus is still calling us back to the heart of marriage and its prophetic declaration about the nature of God and Christ’s love for us.
Reality and hope
Anyone who says marriage is easy is lying – it will bring us to the end of our pride and ourselves as we journey into oneness.
There should be no surprise that it is hard as Satan, the anti-Christ, desires to destroy anything that glorifies Christ and since marriage prophetically speaks of His eternal love for us then of course it will be a target. Of course he’s going to tempt us with lies like “the grass is greener on the other side” or “you don’t feel it anymore” or “it shouldn’t be this hard” or “you deserve better than this”.
We will find ourselves on our knees calling out for His help to overcome our selfishness and hence it is no surprise that the biggest indicator of a marriage surviving is whether a couple prays together. We need Christ’s help and the support of the Body of Christ to daily take up our cross and walk the path of love.
If there are struggles then we stand with them as the Body and support them however we can through godly wisdom, prayer and practical support.
If someone is not living up to their calling in marriage then we should challenge them and use church discipline if necessary — always hoping that they will turn and repent.
However, for reconciliation there needs to be repentance and forgiveness. And without both of these divorce may occur. But let it always be with weeping that Christ has not been glorified and anything thereafter (even if they have successful remarriages) now no longer images the God who gave up everything for us to keep His covenant of love with us.
My wife and I have sought to support those in marriage struggles however we can and we have wept with those where there has been no reconciliation and then practically supported the injured party afterwards.
There has even been an occasion where I have had to rescue someone from dangerous spouse and then ensure they have somewhere safe to go.
However, in all these occasions I don’t rejoice over how things are better now – I weep for what should have been.
Yes the world is broken but may that never lead us to accept anything less than that which brings glory to Jesus, let us do all we can to declare His undying love to a dark world before it is too late.
Now in the third year of my blog and things have only got more honest as I continue to share the revelation I have received my journey into sexual wholeness and to my true identity as a child of God and how that works out in my roles as a godly husband and father.
I can only continue to express my gratitude for those who handle my vulnerable posts with care and give me encouraging feedback and messages of support. Thank you so much.
So in order from least to most views here are the top ten posts of the year:
Despite not being written in the last year, organic search traffic has led to this entry into the top 10. It’s a very quick overview of how we have got mixed up, particularly in appreciating the goodness of our god given sexuality. (124 views)
This post looks at how God designed male and female to embody his polar characteristics of (masculine) transcendence and (feminine) immanence. So that together male and female give the full image of God. (173 views)
There is much pressure on the church to change the image of God. This post builds on our understanding of what masculine and feminine mean and therefore why God is expressed as principally masculine and we are feminine in relation to Him, even though both male and female are in His image. (331 views)
A follow up to my original post (and number 2 on this list), this one talks about how viewing women as mothers, sisters and daughters in Christ can transform relationships and put to death lust. (376 views)
The third entry from a previous year that is picking up a lot of organic traffic. In this vulnerable post I share the difference between worldly solutions to lust with a godly approach which has helped me. (1,672 views)
A guest post from Joshua D Jones on the need to develop godly friendships across the gender divide to experience the fullness of Christ’s body. (2,783 views)
The fourth older post (and last year’s top post) that is still receiving a lot of organic traffic is this one on recognising how bad behaviour is often an immature gifting that needs to be directed to its true purpose (112 views).
Four posts from 2017 that got bumped off this list due to traffic to older posts were:
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?
This is how I felt two weeks ago.
Like a sunset, where the light fades so gradually that you didn’t notice it until suddenly it’s dark, that is what happened to me over the last couple of months.
It started with a work situation that got worse, and then I was pushing myself beyond what I should have done to publish my latest book until I had no resources left.
I asked my facebook friends to pray:
And I experienced the presence of God for a day. It was like the clouds parting and the sun shining through.
But yet the sun was always there – it’s just I couldn’t see it directly.
I still felt cold as on a winter’s day but the glory of seeing the sun brought hope that spring would return.
But after that day, when the clouds covered the sun again, it was tempting to think that “prayer doesn’t work” as it didn’t stay sunny all the time…
God is here
But I realised that actually prayer showed me the reality of the sun’s omnipresence.
God is here with me in the darkness, as David wrote in Psalm 23:
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me
He is with me in the darkness and as he also wrote in Psalm 139:
even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
I might not feel him, but He is here.
What I can do is acknowledge that truth and thank Him for being here with me.
In Shiva, the Jewish grieving process, they a friend or member of the family sit with the bereaved for 7 days. They don’t say anything they just keep company and listen.
There’s something so godly about this. They act like the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, who is with us in our distress.
This is how Christ fulfils His promise of being with us always. This is the truth whether we feel it or not.
I just have to open myself up to that truth.
I felt like someone on an operating table undergoing open heart surgery. Therefore I just have to be still and cease my striving and let the Great Physician operate on me.
I was done with crying out for change and rescue, I was in a place where I just had to sit and open myself up to him.
Sometimes that involved just sitting and letting the words of worship songs speak truth into my life (especially if my thoughts are spiralling down – songs catch my attention and break my chain of thought).
Sometimes that involved reading the Psalms of lamentations where David expresses the reality that I’m going through. But mostly it was just sitting acknowledging the truth of His comforting presence.
Sometimes it was just pouring out my heart like David. Even though it might feel like I was talking to empty space – the act of talking establishes intimacy with the One who is always there, and let’s the light pour in as I was honest about my struggles and disappointments – even with how He has not rescued me the way I was hoping.
Sometimes, like David in Psalm 22, it was remembering the previous times of darkness, like when our babies died, but then recalling how He met us in those times.
And gradually the healing came.
He revealed that my current circumstances had triggered a repressed memory of bullying by a former boss where I was hauled into her office and was being told what I should and shouldn’t do.
Now the Holy Spirit only ever brings up things that He was to shine light into and bring healing. So I knew that He wanted to transform this memory – I needed to see Jesus in this memory.
I asked “where were you when that was happening?”
I have an active imagination – which is why I hear God speak to me through stories and then write them in turn – and I wanted to be sure it was Him and not just me imagining Him in the memory. So I had determined that if it was Him then He would do something I wouldn’t ever expect in my imagination.
And it happened – I saw Jesus in my memory hugging the boss and telling me how she had not been loved by her mother and so she sought to control others to help her cope with her out-of-control life.
This broke me. No longer was I in the memory feeling like a little boy and helpless. I rose up from my seat and responded to what Jesus was doing and starting praying for her. This not only transformed the memory but also called the godly man out of me.
This has now gradually filtered through to my current life – the circumstance at work has found it’s proper place. It’s annoying and I don’t think the current direction the company is taking is the right one – but it’s no longer causing the anxiety it did and I am gradually feeling better in my head and able to function normally.
Spring is coming.
If it helps here is a kind of rough summary of how I worshipped (gave God worth) in the darkness:
Admit the truth of where you’re at
Admit the greater truth of Immanuel – God with us
Use songs, psalms and talk to express to Him and yourself where you’re at and the truth of who He is
Recall His works and faithfulness in the past
Rest and receive all that He has in the present
Father, for those reading this who are where I was at – ,may You meet them like You met me. May they know You are there, even if they can’t feel You. May they rest in Your everlasting arms. Help them to open up and deepen their relationship with You and receive all that You have for them in this season. In name of Jesus who has experienced the worst the world can throw at us and who is with us now through the Comforter. Amen.
This is an abridged version of Kevin’s excellent teaching. The PDF of the full version is available to download here or you can download an mp3 of me reading it here or watch/listen to it on YouTube:
From Torment to Tormentor
What do you when you are a grown man and you have monsters coming out of the closet and things touching you in the middle of the night? Well that was my experience in the early nineties. You see, at that particular time in my life, God was introducing me to a gift called discerning of spirits. Needless to say, I did not enjoy this training period but God used it to teach me about the badge of authority we have in the name of Jesus that makes demons tremble. Eventually, it was me doing the harassing.
This all happened my single days. Then I found a good “thang” and we had children. One of them started showing signs of prophetic gifting very early and spoke of seeing things. It became apparent to me that I needed to train my children because I now knew that the monster in the closet was very real.
How to Convey the Idea
Jesus is Everyone’s Boss…Even Satan
First I taught my children that Jesus was like the Chief Police Officer. To really make this idea stick, I also told them that Jesus being a police officer meant that there were bad people who were breaking God’s laws. I them told them that these law breakers are spirits called demons. That really stuck with them and embedded Jesus in their minds as one with power to force bad things to do right.
You Are His Deputies
The next thing I did was teach them that as followers of Jesus Christ that we too are police officers. I then explained to them that as police officers we are also responsible for making sure the demons stay in line. To reinforce this idea I obtained three toy badges, one for each child. I then pinned it to them. Then I made them wear them around the house to solidify in their minds that they are indeed the ones in power over the demons.
I also used the substitute teacher to help them understand the concept of the deputy. I explained to them that the Bible says that Jesus went away to His Father to prepare a place for us, and as soon as He was ready He would come back for us. I then explained to them that in order for Him to leave He had to leave someone in charge to deal with the law breaking demons. I further explained to them that those people who were to take Jesus’ place is them…the Church. To make it plain for them I said, “When you go to school and the teacher is not there, who is in charge? They said, “The substitute!” Then I said, “So are you telling me that the substitute can assign homework? They said, “Yes.” Then I said, “Can they tell you what to do and send you to the office if you disobey them.” Again they said yes. Then I said, “So you agree that the teacher has given the substitute all of the same powers that he/she has.” Agreeing again, they said, “Yes.” Then I said, “That is what you are…Jesus’ substitute. And as such you can tell demons what to do and they will obey you.” I told them that the demons were not going to obey them per se, but they would respect the authority they have as a substitute. I ended saying, “That is what a deputy is, He is a substitute for the chief police officer.”
After teaching my children this lesson, demons decided it was time to test their understanding. Their goal is to try to steal the idea from our heart before it blossoms into understanding that we effectively use (Matt 13:19). So my children began to have different kinds of encounters. Now again, these encounters were not unique for my children. My oldest daughter was only 8 when she first reported to me that something was touching her in the night. She said, “Demon, leave me in Jesus name.” My daughter said that the touching stopped and to this day it has not happened again.
Bringing in Reinforcement
Modelling the Truth
Your children will have to see you walk out the truth in the same way that the disciples saw Jesus modelling His teaching for them. They saw Him cast out demons. They saw Him heal the sick. That’s why Jesus could give them power and send them out to do the work without Him being present.
Children do what children see! Why should they believe in the power of God that never seems available to you?
That means that you must be prepared to assist them in reinforcing their authority. One time all four of them were attacked with sickness. All four! So I went to each one of them and with confidence and calmness commanded the spirit to leave them and it did. As you can imagine, that was a confidence booster for them to see what they were taught come to life.
Now I can do this because I God has taught me some things that make this possible. If you want to know what He taught me you can hear the teaching yourself on my YouTube channel.
Restating the Truth
You are also going to find that some challenges are too big for their faith. The disciples also crossed paths with a boy that had a demon that did not respond to their authority or faith. But yet a few chapters before they were casting out demons with no problem. It is logical to assume that the resistance of the demon to their authority caused them to lose the faith they had earlier. Hence Jesus’ statement regarding them having “no faith.” When these moments occur take it as an opportunity to teach and model for them how to keep growing and going forward. I do a lot of reinforcing and restating the idea of authority in Christ.
If a farmer plants a seed and waters it but goes out the next day looking for a crop and becomes discouraged, we know s/he is impatient. A good farmer knows that it takes time, patience, and persistence to get a good crop. And let me tell you, as they get older, they will get tired of the reminder, but stay with it. My children roll their eyes sometimes but they also lay hands on each other when it is required.
Reinforcing What is Right
Lastly, you will need to reinforce standards of righteousness and stress the importance of holiness. I know that as Christians we are holy but Peter also reminded us to “be holy.” Paul also says, “be angry and do not sin, nor give place to the devil.” He seems to indicate that while sin has lost its power over the believer, it has not lost its appeal to the demonic. We must understand that there are some things that attract monsters to our closet.
Here is an example. My daughter is an incredible artist. One day her arts teacher gave her an assignment to draw a still life. So she chose to draw a Buddha statue. Nearly half of the way through the drawing she came down with a cold. I asked her if she had attempted to get rid of it. She said yes but it won’t go. So I prayed for her and it would not go. So I said, “Lord, what is going on here.” This developed into bronchitis. God reminded me of the passage “you should not create any graven images”. I thought, “Really, Lord. You are holding her accountable for an art assignment?” So I told her what it was and why it was there. At first she gave me that “here dad goes again” look, but she believed me. Anyway, afterwards we prayed together repenting and asking for forgiveness.
The next day the cough started to subside and a day later the mucus was completely gone; it had cleared up on its own. My daughter got to see first-hand the relationship between sin, demons, and sickness.
Teaching them About Spiritual Warfare
One morning I came into my daughter’s room and I noticed that just over her bed was a shadowy figure. Since I knew what it was I rebuked it, but I did wonder why it was there.
However, it would come back from time to time and I also started to notice that my daughter was referring to herself as “weird” and her view of herself began to deteriorate.
I needed to teach her the battlefield in her mind. To do so I used the last supper: In John 13 we see Satan’s mode of operation. First, he gave Judas an idea, “And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him.” Then Judas’ acceptance of that idea gave Satan access to his life, “Now after the piece of bread, Satan entered him.” Jesus then speaks to Satan and tells him to do what you do quickly. Judas now yields to the will of Satan, “Having received the piece of bread, he (Satan through Judas) went out immediately.”
This shows my children the importance of guarding their thought life. Sometimes the negative voices are demons trying to gain access to their lives and bend them to its will.
Lastly, I teach them that Satan is a liar and that lies bind us but truth frees us. Lies are chains in the spirit and truth are keys in the spirit. Knowing this I speak truth against those lies that the enemy tries to sell my children. If you children suffer from low self-esteem that is affecting their behaviour, it is because there is a lie from hell that is giving the spirit access to your child. Find the lie and speak truth to it. It will break the spirit’s hold.
What They Really Need to Know
Sin opens the gate an allows evil to come in. That means that even though we know that God forgave and forgives us for sin, that does not mean that Satan respects those boundaries. He will see an open gate as an invitation to come in and bite you.
The blood of Christ is the legal right you have to freedom. Though sin may let Satan into our lives, repentance and the blood of Christ closes the gate and prohibits Satan from holding it again you.
Choose your battle and choose your weapons. Sometimes they will come up against things that they don’t have the faith for and getting in your bed is a good option!
Sin does not diminish your authority, only your faith can do that. A crooked police officer is still a police officer with authority. Similarly, sin does not give Satan authority over them – it is God who corrects them not Satan. This is important so they don’t live in fear of being trapped by a spirit claiming to have rights over them due to some area of their life that God is still working on.
Reinforce the role of the Holy Spirit as a helper. God has provided them with a team to help them win – they have the Spirit, angels and that all of heaven behind them.
Teach them the process. Satan gives them an idea; a lie. They believe the lie. The acceptance of that lie makes them bendable to Satan’s will.
Teach them the truth about what God says through His word about them. Understanding “the truth” about who they are, what they are created for, and their spiritual position. gives them resistance power.
Hopefully, this will article will lead to an improvement in your quality of life, quality of sleep, and the betterment of your relationship with God and your family.
After reading the exceptional book Forbidden Friendships it is my absolute pleasure to have the author, Joshua D Jones, guest post on the topic of whether Christian men and women can ever be friends:
Having close friendships with members of the opposite gender is healthy, biblical and important for spiritual growth. Sadly, in the name of integrity, some churches construct walls that keep us from meaningful brother-sister friendships. These divisions are neither biblical nor in line with church history at its best. And contrary to their promise of safety, adhering to them actually puts us at greater risk of sexual immorality, not less.
Many churches employ the terms “brother” and “sister”—but they are often empty of any real meaning. Some now teach that men and women should never be close friends, believing that mixed friendships will lead into sexual sin or “emotional” affairs. Others may admit that men and women can share friendship—but then they let it die the death of a thousand qualifications. One well-known church website boasts of how none of the church staff ever “has lunch with someone of the opposite sex” or “rides alone in the car with someone of the opposite sex.” Boundaries abound. Sadly, though these rules have become commonplace over the last 20 years, adhering to them does not appear to have made us any purer.
God designed us male and female. We need each other. Marriage and family are not the only places this need should be expressed. If that were the case, single people would be helplessly cut off from the love and fellowship mixed friendship brings. And let’s be honest: we often don’t know what to do with the singles in our midst. In other centuries, Christian celibacy was viewed as a gift and a symbol of the coming kingdom of God. Jesus was single. Paul was both single and thankful for it. Now we pray for single people in hopes they find the magical one and only – giving them advice that is more Hollywood than Holy Word.
In response to the sexual revolution of the 1960s, various high-profile scandals – and the recent changes in marriage laws – many Christians have gotten defensive about marriage. It is right for us to defend the Biblical doctrines of marriage. But in doing so we have exalted the relationship to a godlike status – promising it can fulfil every social and emotional need. In the process, friendship – an institution that was once sacred to Christians – has taken a far back seat to marriage, out of fear that a friend might compete with a spouse. Friendships with the same gender are often neglected, and mixed friendships are seen as taboo.
My wife cannot fulfil the role of all of the sister/ mother relationships that my soul needs. Neither can I replace all of the brother/ father relationships that God may have for my wife in the church. We are not called to be a gathering of tightly defined families for God. We are called to be THE Family of God. It’s true that we must avoid putting ourselves in situations that bring about strong temptation – with either gender. And, yes, cross sex friendships can have pitfalls that we must be wise to avoid. We are naïve if we pretend that our fallen nature always makes this easy. But the possibility of something good being abused or misused is not a valid excuse for avoiding the good thing altogether.
Our new integrity rules are counter-productive because we have genuine needs for healthy male-female relationships. If we don’t get those needs met in healthy ways, we make ourselves vulnerable to seeking them out in unhealthy ways. The man who receives holy female affirmation from sisters in Christ is less likely to search for unholy female affirmation on a computer screen or and improper relationships. The woman who has godly fathers and brothers in the church caring for and encouraging her is less likely to be looking for ungodly masculine love through erotica and illicit interactions. By separating ourselves from healthy interaction with the opposite sex, we are not farther from sin but more open to it.
Contrary to what Freud taught, we can live happily without sex. But we can’t live happily without intimacy. Paul instructs Timothy, “Talk to younger men as you would to your own brothers. Treat older women as you would your mother, and treat younger women with all purity as you would your own sisters” (1 Tim 5:2). The church is to be a place where father, mother, sister, brother, aunt and uncle relationships can flourish – across biological, generational, and gender lines.
Joshua D. Jones tweets, reads, prays, and smokes pipe tobacco in his yellow arm chair in Therfield, England. He enjoys his family and meeting up with his best friends for coffee, food, and conversations about everything and nothing. He gets to pastor Therfield Chapel – a delightful church full of fun and ferocious saints. He frolics in fields of nouns, verbs, and alliterating adjectives over at his blog, sanitys-cove.com.