Teaching Our Children to Fight

Last night my daughter, once again, cried as she walked past my darkened office. Once again I asked her why she was crying. Once again she told me she was terrified of the darkness. I’ve been struggling with this for weeks now, my daughter crying when we walk outside at night, or when we’re turning off the lights to go to bed. Perhaps most parents would shrug this off as “normal” child behavior, but I knew it was more.

 

 
I asked her why she was afraid. In between sobs, she replied, “I think something bad will happen to me.” Ironically (not really) this extreme fear took hold of my daughter around the time I started teaching a new class about spiritual warfare. A lot of strange things have been happening since our life group met for the first time. In fact, a few of the ladies have had a hard time even getting to the church to meet for our study. Seems *something* is blocking the way—or at least sending a lot of distractions.

 

 
It’s been no different in my life. In a conversation with my Pastor this week I shared, “If you’re feeling comfortable, if you want to throw a monkey wrench in your cozy life, just start teaching a series on spiritual warfare. That’ll shake things up.” It’s true. When the opposition is ignored, we don’t notice its effect in our lives. But when we start perking up and paying attention, we see how much of a hand the devil really has in the details. This includes our children.

 

 
Recently, a Pastor and Author whom I have grown to respect and admire (his teaching has helped me a great deal) advised me to reconsider a portion of my book manuscript where I mention Satan’s activity in the lives of children, because too many people could have a problem with that, and might not like it or agree with it.

 

 
I thought about it for a few days, until this situation with my daughter came to the fore-front. No, I can’t ignore what I know is the truth. Satan seeks to kill, steal, and destroy, and there is no age limit on his schemes! It is true that God cares for and looks after children, and there is even some evidence in God’s word to suggest that special angels are given charge over children. Yet, that doesn’t make them exempt from the tricks and manipulations of demonic activity, any more than being a Christ follower makes us, as adults, exempt from temptation, testing, and trials (see the book of Job).

 

 
So last night, as my precious five-year-old laid on my bed weeping in fear, I knew it was time to share more with her about her Enemy. My daughter has a wonderful prayer life, and has memorized a great deal of Scripture (the truth—God’s word—is the most important thing we can fill our children’s minds with!), so I knew she would understand and be able to apply the truths we were about to discuss.

 

 
“Where do you think fear comes from?” I asked her.

 
“I don’t know,” she whispered.

 
“Well, you know how God has angels watching over us? Satan has his own angels too, and they are called demons. These demons try to trick us, make us fear, and get us to think about things that go against God’s word, but Jesus is in us, and He is wayyyy more powerful than those demons.”

 
“Ohhhhh,”her eyes were widening.

 
“Because we have Jesus in us, protecting us and watching over us, we also have Jesus’ power over these evil spirits. Whenever we feel afraid we need to pray. We need to thank God for helping us and watching over us, and then tell Satan and his demons to GO AWAY!”

 
“How do I do that?”

 
“First, we thank God for beating Satan the day he died on the cross and came back to life. Jesus beat Satan already, so we always need to thank Him for that. Next we need to say, ‘In the name of Jesus, I command the evil spirit of fear to leave me alone!’ And you know what? That evil spirit has to leave; he has no choice, because Jesus has already beaten him. Sometimes, though, those spirits need a reminder. Because you have Jesus living in you, you are able to tell those spirits to leave in the name of Jesus, because they hate that name and it causes them to run away.”

 
“Can we pray now?”

 
And we did. Samantha prayed first, she even said, “In the name of the Lord Jesus, you evil spirits have to leave!”

 

 
We proceeded to talk for nearly two hours about God, the Bible, and Satan. She kept asking, “Mom, can you tell me another story?” So we talked about all the stories of angels that Mommy could remember, and we talked about Jesus’s life, John the Baptist, and Balaam and his angel-seeing donkey. After a while Samantha, relieved, said, “Mommy, these stories are really helping me feel better!”

 

 
Before closing her eyes to sleep, she asked God to replace her bad dreams (another problem she’d been having) with good dreams of Jesus and angels. And for the first night in weeks she slept soundly—with the lights off.

 

 
This morning she woke up and the first thing she wanted to do was tell me about her dream. She recounted the angels, the pink grass, and Jesus coming to our house for lunch. At the end of her dream, Jesus told her He had to leave, but would be back soon.

 

 
I sat on the couch with my coffee, smiling from ear to ear. “Thank you, Jesus, for giving that gift to my daughter. Thank you for setting her little heart free with your truth.”

 

 
My daughter is only five years old, but she is already well-equipped to continue fighting this battle. She knows Philippians 2:5 and 2 Corinthians 10:5, and she knows how to pray and how to use Scripture to fight her enemy. Most importantly, she has learned not to fear her accuser. Because as big of a bully he is, Jesus is bigger.

 

 

 

This fight is real, friends, and it’s real for our kids too. What are we teaching them? We don’t need to freak them out, but we do need to teach them the truth—all of it, not just the parts we think they can handle. You see, if we try to wait until they’re “old enough” it’ll already be too late. By the time they are teenagers, they may well have succumbed to a variety of destructive thinking patterns if they have not learned how to deal with those thoughts and emotions in a biblical way. Instead of leaving them defenseless, we need to start teaching our children to fight back.

 

(See also Discerning the Devil: In Childhood)

 

 
Instead of singing this with our kids:

 
“I may never march in the infantry,
ride in the calvary,
shoot the artillery,
I may never fly o’er the enemy
but I’m in the Lord’s army yes sir!”

 
(What exactly is the Lord’s army doing, if not fighting? Should we scratch out Ephesians 6:10-18 too?)

 

 
We need to be singing this:

 
“There is power, power, wonder working power,
in the blood, of the Lamb!
There is power, power, wonder working power
in the precious blood of the Lamb!”

 

 

And this:

 

 

“I know Who goes before me,

I know Who stands behind.

The God of Angel Armies,

is always by my side!”

 

 

(This happens to be one of mine and my daughter’s favorites!)

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profilepic3Rebecca Aarup is a redeemed prodigal, set free from over a decade of mental illness, eating disorders, addiction, and more. She now enjoys sharing her story of freedom and transformation with a lost and hurting world, as well as teaching about spiritual warfare and the importance of understanding our identity in Christ.

Rebecca is also an author and freelance writer, having written devotionals and teaching articles for a variety of publications including The Secret Place (Judson press), Evangel (Light and Life Communications), and Mustard Seed Ministries. Beyond writing, Rebecca is a wife, home-schooling mom, and Bible student at Liberty University. She lives in Glendale, Az with her husband Chris and daughter, Samantha.  You can read more from Rebecca by following her on twitter and facebook.

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Balancing Act II

“Righteous are you, O Lord, and your laws are right. The statutes you have laid down are righteous.” Psalm 119:137-138 NIV

Balancing Act II

As important as it is to stay balanced through our studies in the word of God, it is also important to stay balanced in our everyday life. When we are unbalanced with our nutrition we become vitamin deficient. When we have an unbalanced activity level our muscles atrophy. If we have two vehicles and we only focus on maintaining one of them, the other one will fail to work properly. If we play too much and refuse to work, the bills won’t get paid. Balance is necessary everywhere.

I wanted to get more specific with this issue of balance. I have a confession to make; I raise my hand in guilt. I become easily side-tracked, like a cat with cat-nip. Throw me a toy (said theological debate) and I chase like a cat rabid for a fix. Come back to me a few days later and I’m tired, cranky, drained, emotional, and no better off than when it started. God whispers to my heart, balance, you’ve lost your balance child.

Sigh

Yes, I’ve done it again. Next time I will keep my mouth shut, live peaceably with all people…and all that good stuff.

Oh look, is that cat-nip?! Chases toy….

We all have our hang ups, our vices, our debates or truths we hold dear and defend. God help those who get in the way! We can be ravenous about our beliefs. Give a group of believers some tricky subjects and watch the blood flow:

Tongues

Prophecies

Tribulation/End Times

Sports

Politics

Ding! Let’s get ready to rumble folks!

It’s downright ugly what we do to each other over such issues. God is righteous, or just. His word is right. Why do we act like unrighteous heathens quarreling like rabid animals over things that cause strife and divisions? Is it edifying, does it build up the church, does it draw us to love and good works? Is this how we are communicating with each other?

Balance

How easy it is to lose focus!

My Pastor said something in his sermon today that clarified the issue for me.

Just because it’s important, doesn’t mean we need to focus on it.

Think about that for a minute. Example: Should I devote my life to figuring out what day Jesus will return? Well, it is important isn’t it? Yes, but is it our focus to try to figure out the exact date? No. It’s our greater focus to live for him now, while there is still time, and live in anticipation for his return, whenever that may be.

God’s righteous word is full of important issues. All of them worthy of our attention, but are we to lose sight of the big picture and focus on one particular item alone? Who’s to say which subject is more important than the next? Isn’t that more or less up to the individual preference? One person loves all things Old Testament, another loves all things end times….both important, but neither to be weighed as more important than the other.

Is it ok to discuss these issues? Of course! Argue, fight, get hurt feelings, lose relationships, and attack people over them? No!

When engaging in discussion, we should always consider:

Does it edify the brethren?

Does it honor God?

Am I speaking truth as best as I understand it as laid out in God’s word?

Usually the best option is to agree to disagree and move on. It really is the spiritually mature choice. Our faith is best lived out, not blared out through verbal attacks.

“Run after mature righteousness-faith, love, peace -joining those who are in honest and serious prayer before God. Refuse to get involved in inane discussions; they always end up in fights. God’s servants must not be argumentative, but a gentle listener and a servant who keeps cool…” 2 Timothy 2:23-24 MSG

As we balance out our daily Bible study, let us also balance out our daily communication with our sisters and brothers in Christ. The next time that hot debate topic comes up, whether it is about religion or politics, food, television, books, or sports, why don’t you consider the Psalmists view of Gods character first and how you can be a reflection of that in your conversation.  Are we displaying a balanced mature faith by living righteously?

We live righteously by following a righteous word.

Balance

Prayer

Thank you for your righteousness, for being a just and holy God. Thank you for being perfectly balanced, and for walking on this earth in human form, demonstrating what it means to be perfect. I know I fall so short of that standard, but I want you to continue to change my heart and make it clean. I want to be balanced in my words and actions, as well as my prayer and Bible study. Jesus, continue to purge the bad habits from my life! Before I sleep tonight, reveal to me any unbalanced ways that need healing, and restore them. Let this truth be on my heart as I sleep tonight, your statutes are righteous! I want to be righteous like you!