Dear Parents: Hand Over the File

A Quick Note…

Hi friends! I welcome us all back from the July break to a parenting series I’m doing for the month of August – one I pray will be meaningful and encouraging to your soul, if you come here as a parent, yourself. Even if not, may there be a nugget you can take away, as parenting parallels so much of life.

Please know: it is not from any pedestal I share, but from deep in the trenches with you.

God, help us all as we seek to guide young lives to become great warriors for the Kingdom! 

Find me at church a few weeks ago, not singing during worship.

Turns out, when you have a bowling ball burden resting square on your chest, pending a big decision by one of your kids, discord, a conflict, a timing issue, and things that look a bit of a mess, sometimes the mouth is too overwhelmed to open.

We have a good family.

But the first mistake people sometimes make about good families is assuming that people who love their family hard, play hard and post fun pictures about it sometimes have nightly dinner like the Cleavers followed by Bible memory quoting before the 2 hour prayer sessions, capping off the night with Walton-esque goodnights.

The second mistake is to assume they never have problems.

I won’t spend the time here on why this is the craziest wrong assumption because I think deep down we all know just how crazy it is, but just please hear it again one more time, loud and clear:

No family is perfect. Every family has problems. Pictures are snapshots, the end.

But back to me at church, that Sunday a few weeks ago.

As I am there with worship music playing around me, heavy with the burdens, silent before the Lord with my mind going over and over all the many things, I want relief, release, resolution…all the issues to be solved immediately and perfectly and in the way I think. I am overcome with the sheer complication of several big issues at once and trying to process as I do in my typical intuitive, linear way of how all the things must become solved, one by one…with every thought, becoming more and more overcome by the totality of all the things I can’t fix or solve and my frustration over this.

And I sense God speaking to my heart: Hand over the file.

 It is an odd visual, but I let my mind go there – picturing a file with papers all stuffed in it, hanging out, an unorganized mess, much like my thoughts at the moment…shoving it into His hands and saying, “ok, here, have it. Do something with it. I can’t anymore.”

Standing there in the middle of church, it’s exactly what I do.

Hand over to Jesus my entire pretend file of all the parenting burdens and mentally walk away.

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I don’t know what are your parenting burdens.

I don’t know what conflicts you have in your home, where there is discord or complication or something that looks like a complete mess you aren’t sure how to ever sort out.

But what I can tell you is that Jesus wants the entire file, and He can handle whatever is in it.

So why not today – you take all the things, pile them in that file marked, “For Jesus”, give it to Him and walk away?

Parenting is a constant handing back to God the job that requires His management.

Sometimes we just forget and try to do the job, ourselves.

With you.

Love you.

Love Jesus most.

Always His,

Order 5 Word Prayers!

Prayer Doesn’t Have to Be Intimidating

Do you find yourself frustrated in your communication with God? Does a thriving prayer life feel completely out of reach?

The strength of your prayers lies in your heart intent, not your word count. Discover a new joy in your conversations with God!

How To Speak Up For Jesus Without Being That Christian Jerk

It’s late, you’re on social media and at that crucial point of decision.

Do you type the comment or do you stop yourself, walk away and leave it alone?

It’s a tough call to make in a tough age of tough talk surrounding tough issues.

For the believer in Jesus Christ, we find ourselves in a hard place that at times is difficult to maneuver.

On one hand, we don’t want to dishonor the name of Jesus by getting into a heated battle of words. This is the right goal, always, first, foremost and forevermore.  A Christian jerk is rarely, if ever, heard.

We don’t want to add to the vitriol and stir up already rough waters.

But on the other hand, we have this nagging thing inside of us that is telling us we need to be more vocal about our faith.  We can’t shake the feeling that in our effort to not become that Christian jerk, we have become Peter — watching from a safe distance instead of honorably standing with our God. (Matt. 26:58) This doesn’t feel good – this shrinking back from the faith we say we love.

“But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” (Hebrews 10:39 ESV) 

Shrinking back, staying silent, is not an option for a follower of Jesus Christ. Neither is being a mouthy Christian jerk. Jesus spoke up for us in the ultimate way on the cross; how much more do we owe Him our going on record? He was rejected, but it was never because He was a Christian jerk. Everything He did was perfect. We won’t be, but we can model our efforts in maneuvering these difficult when to speak/how to speak moments after Him.

  • We must understand the difference between opinion and Gospel conviction. Anyone can spew opinion. Opinion has divided families and hurt hearts and carried wrong motive even before a word was spoken. Opinion hears something it doesn’t like, feels urged to argue by way of quick reaction, and dives into conversation just for diving in sake – driven by the prideful idea that its voice is the most important. More often than not, the opinion wants to silence and even make a fool out of a differing opinion and is offended when others do not agree. Self drives opinion, and the characteristics are easy to identify because it usually results in combat and turmoil. On the other hand, Gospel conviction is a deep groaning for the Truth of the Word to be made known, in order for people to come to know Jesus as the Answer. It weighs response and feels burdened to let people know the better way, but not because it’s a personal vendetta to win. Gospel conviction may still be received poorly, as some people will always reject Jesus. But when we speak up for Him with the heart of Gospel conviction, the tone we take can still draw people to Him.

 

  • We must first establish a legit track record of love. People will listen to those who speak up for Jesus when their record speaks for itself in a positive way. On the other hand, the reason the preaching of many Christians falls on deaf ears is because it hasn’t been backed up by a life that has earned respect, therefore, it is just noise. We’ve got to establish a legit record of loving people before we can speak into their life. Have we listened well? Have we gotten involved in the hurts and needs of others? Have we treated people with kindness? Does our life align with the character of Christ? If no to these things, then let’s get busy. We have work to do. Let us become the people who others respect before we start adding to the conversation.

 

  • We must become a student of speaking. I think this a point many of us miss. Speaking up for Jesus is so important and carries huge Kingdom importance, yet we barely give our training for this a second thought. I write about this in my book, Put Your Warrior Boots On, that we must yes, go on record for Jesus, and equally, have the wisdom to know when to speak. (A practical 9 points to consider for this is in the book.) One does not negate the other and in fact, the two go beautifully together and Jesus requires us to be responsible with both. We need to pray that God would give us the wisdom to know when to speak and learn from the Word what speaking up for Him looks like so that we learn from the perfect model how to do that which doesn’t come natural to the human tongue.

 

The world needs level headed, Jesus-filled, heart-led believers to point the way to responsible, civil conversations, both on and off the Internet.

No more self-focused opinions resulting in the label of a Christian jerk.

But a legit track record of love leading to the voice of steadied Gospel conviction.

It’s what Jesus would do.

Order 5 Word Prayers!

Prayer Doesn’t Have to Be Intimidating

Do you find yourself frustrated in your communication with God? Does a thriving prayer life feel completely out of reach?

The strength of your prayers lies in your heart intent, not your word count. Discover a new joy in your conversations with God!

3 Ways to Stand Firm While Others Fire Arrows

You’re so strong she says to me in a weird voice, like I’m some kind of nature’s freak.

Yeah, everyone is strong until they aren’t. Everyone does well in life until they don’t.

But when the arrows start coming – the hard things in life…the character assignations…the conflict with family over faith…the strong better be not be caught resting on human laurels.

It will take feet firmly planted. A standing firm in a Jesus strong kind of a way.

If you want to know how a person gets strong, don’t look at their DNA. That kind of strong will only take us so far. Look, instead, at what kind of shoes they are wearing – spiritual shoes, meant to endure the combat of a life and death battle for keeps. Well, at least that’s what Ephesians 6:10-12 calls it (Look it up in the Message translation later. You’ll see.).

Those standing firm while other fire arrows will be wearing the warrior boots.

 

Warrior Boots of Standard

We stand firm when we know what we believe and we tell the truth (to ourselves and others). I’ve come to realize lately, with all the noise on social media, that there is a vast difference between giving opinion and truly knowing what we believe. Many words do not equal depth of conviction. I wonder if all of our loud opinions aren’t, in fact, a cover for a lack of groundedness in what we truly believe. We stand firm, too, when we raise our standard of truth in our life. Complete and total truth, first to ourselves. We can’t be strong if we aren’t free. And we will never be free if we aren’t honest with ourselves. There is no life like a life of a clean conscience. This is the standing firm life.

 

Warrior Boots of Strength

When we rise up and go on record for our faith, people can fire arrows but our witness emboldens us to withstand them, through the help of God. Action leads to strength and that strength then leads to more action. Warrior boot wearers won’t settle for a passive faith. It is the active faith, the bold faith, that qualifies the Jesus follower to stand firm in the face of difficult times without wavering. This is the Jesus strong life we all crave.

 

Warrior Boots of Trust

There’s no way to stand firm in this life without trusting God, completely. We know this, but at some point in the process, it often breaks down. Trust is not just something we fall into or happen upon. It’s a choice. We choose God. We choose to trust Him over the way we feel. We choose to believe what He says and set aside what we see that might look different. We decide to follow Him for the rest of our life, no matter who or what or when or how. Trust is more than just an intention. It is a life-long follow through.

Life is tough and arrows headed our way are a sure thing.

But we can stand firm in the face of them.

We just have to be wearing the right kind of boots.

Order 5 Word Prayers!

Prayer Doesn’t Have to Be Intimidating

Do you find yourself frustrated in your communication with God? Does a thriving prayer life feel completely out of reach?

The strength of your prayers lies in your heart intent, not your word count. Discover a new joy in your conversations with God!