Body, Soul, and Spirit

Maybe your parents always told you that you are the best and the brightest. You are the smartest and the sharpest. You are the best-looking and the kindest. Maybe they always told you that you did great things. Maybe you made tenth place in your athletic event, but your parents still went all-out with the praise: “Good job for trying! We’re so proud of you. You’re so awesome.” Maybe they always spoke positive and encouraging words, even when you failed. If you got an F on your test, they would say, “It’s okay. It’s no big deal. You’re still smart and sharp. You’re the sharpest and the brightest.” The truth, however, is that there’s a lack of understanding lurking underneath this kind of praise.


The truth is that we’re made up of three parts: body, soul, and spirit. In your spirit, all of that awesome and amazing stuff is true. In our spirits, we are perfect. We couldn’t be more perfect. Our spirits are seated at the right hand of Jesus Christ as finished works. Our spirits are perfect masterpieces, chosen, holy, blameless, and so loved. In the eyes of God, our sins are far removed from us. But while we are on this earth, our bodies and our souls, or our minds, are being renewed in the likeness of Jesus Christ every single day.


Our job on this earth is to tame and renew our minds so they come in line with the Holy Spirit. Our job is to train up the body to come in line with the spirit. Our job is to command the body to stop craving the desires of this world, like sexual immorality and quick fixes. Our job is to train ourselves not to be emotion-led but to be spirit-led. We need to understand that when our emotions flare, this tells us we have a trust issue with God. We need to pause and seek God and pray, “God, why am I so angry about this? Father, why am I so sad? Help me to align my emotions with You, God.”


Emotions are like a dashboard in a car. Sometimes a yellow light will show up on your dashboard and indicate “low fuel.” Everybody knows what to do when that happens: go to the gas station. No problem. Well, sometimes a light comes on and it’s a “check engine” warning. That may spark a panic attack in you or at least cause you some anxiety because you start worrying, “I don’t have the time or the money to go have my engine replaced. Am I going to have to replace my car?” Your mind automatically starts to churn through all of the terrible possibilities because car problems are expensive.


But that reaction is not what the car manufacturer intended. The purpose of the dashboard is to tell you there’s a problem. It lets you know not to continue on this trip any longer until you have this problem checked out, or else you may end up with a bigger problem. It’s a warning system to alert you, “Hey, you need to check the engine. There is a problem.” The car manufacturer didn’t put the system in place to frustrate you or cause you to have anxiety or a panic attack. It’s meant to help you.


God did the same thing with our emotions. He gave us a yellow light to tell us, “Wait a minute. There may be a problem here. Don’t go any further. Stop blabbing your mouth. Don’t tell someone off. Just stop and pause and check the engine.” Instead of an engine check, we need to do a heart check. Ask God, “Show me what I’m missing and help me to see why this is causing me to get so flared up.”


Our job on this earth is to work continuously on getting our emotions and our will in line with the Holy Spirit. God has work that He wants you to do. He has called you. He has chosen you. He pulled you out before you were born, plucked you right out, to do work. The truth is that you can say “no” or you can say “yes.” God sets out the option for you, and it’s your choice to make.


So, what is your decision? If we choose to love God, then every day we constantly have to conform our will to God’s. Think of Jonah. God told him to go to Nineveh, but he was like, “Whatever. I’m not going to line up my will with yours, God. I’m going to Tarshish instead. I’m going to do what I want to do.”


Our job on this earth is to stop and listen to God and say, “God, I want to do what You want me to do.” It’s like someone telling you to go to 7-Eleven, and you go right away to 7-Eleven. It’s like if someone tells you to turn left out of your neighborhood instead of right today, and you simply follow the directions. Maturity in the faith is learning to obey at the very moment God speaks and not to delay.


Our job is to reconcile our mind and our will to the Holy Spirit’s perfection continuously. We need to continue to say “yes” to the will of God. We need to continue to be refined by fire and to make the hard decisions. Even if we don’t want to do what God calls us to do, we need to choose to do it anyway simply because its what God wants. We need to get our flesh in line with the Holy Spirit.


It’s time to tell your body what’s what: “Body, you’re not going to sit here and lie to me and tell me what God says to do is wrong because you don’t feel like doing it. I command you to listen up and obey the Holy Spirit. I’m not going to be sexually impure anymore. I refuse to use my eyes for purposes for which they were not designed. I refuse to use my body for anything for which it was not designed by God. I refuse to allow pain to rule me and get in the way of my doing the work of God. I refuse. Body, you listen up to the voice of the Holy Spirit!”


The reality is that sometimes the human body and soul fail. That’s true of Christians, not just unbelievers. We make mistakes because we’re human and we’re being transformed. We’re in the process of being transformed. Because we’re being transformed and we’re still in the process, we’re going to fail.


If you were raised by parents who never let you see your failures or who caught you every time before you failed, they were doing you an injustice. If you are a parent who catches your kids before they fail or never lets them see their failures, you’re doing them a complete disservice because you’re not preparing them for the reality of living in this world as imperfect beings. Your children will hurt later when they fail. They won’t know how to respond to failure or how to handle negative criticism from an employer or spouse or their own children. They may get mad or fall apart or run away. Prepare your children with the truth so they will know how to handle life when they’re no longer under your protection.


The truth is that your spirit is perfect but your body and your soul are not. It’s your imperfection that reminds you how much you need the Savior to get through every day. Your failures help you to understand that you always need to say “yes” to God’s will over your own. It gives you a dependency on God when you know you fail without Him.


Failing doesn’t mean you are a failure. Instead, failing means you did something that missed the perfect mark of what God asked you to do. Failing means you did something without giving a hundred percent of your heart to the Lord and serving Him. Failing is doing life on your own, apart from God. Failing is leaning into your emotions and giving way to them; it’s yelling at your children or your spouse or your friends and taking out your anger and inadequacies on them. Failing is not recognizing that you are still human and you need to make the decisions God has asked you to make so you can be transformed into His likeness in every area and your body and soul can be brought into submission to the Holy Spirit.


You need to understand that you are made up of body, soul, and spirit. Your spirit is perfect in Christ. You are a masterpiece, God’s workmanship. When you know who you are and you stand firm in it, it’s way easier to bring your body and your soul into submission to God.


You can say, “Hey, soul, stop trying to go your own way. Stop trying to be emotion-led, because God is worthy and He has made me a masterpiece. I’m going to stand in my identity in Christ. I am a chosen, loved, holy, blameless person of God, and I am going to stand fully in that truth. I refuse to go my own way. I refuse to live out of my emotions. I refuse to let the sun go down on my anger tonight because my Father, who has named me and adopted me, is worthy. I refuse to allow my body to command me or lust to rule me or selfish ambition to take me places where God never intended for me to go.”



Pray every day, “Father, I want to stand in who You say I am. I want to bring my body and soul into submission to You. In Jesus’ name, I bind all these. In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, amen.

My Faith Is Weak—I Need More Faith

Immediately the boys father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24 NIV)

We all have the faith of Jesus Christ. That’s what Scripture says. You cannot come to God without Him. He actually gives you the faith to believe in Him. The faith you have isn’t your own. You didn’t muster it up. You’re not some great person of faith. Yes, sometimes He gives people a spiritual gift of faith, but it’s still from Him. He is the author of it.


If you and I have the same faith because God gave it to us so we could know Him and love Him, then how do we make our faith work more effectually? Some people have more effective faith than I do. I look at them and think, “How is that? How is that possible?” I believe it comes from their relationship with God. They’re seeking Him and pursuing Him. They’re reading His Word, chomping it up, ingesting it, and believing what it says with childlike faith. It stirs them up.

I received a gift from a friend of mine. It’s a candle. I don’t burn candles in my home. I haven’t burned them since I had kids. I don’t want to risk the accidental knocking over and fire or wax in the carpet. It was a gift my friend gave to me, but it’s never really been used. It just sits there. I think that’s what faith is like. God gives it to you, and you either light it and use it, or you don’t and it just sits there.

So how do we light the candle of our faith? I believe the answer is in Hebrews 11:1. It says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (KJV). I believe hope is the fire for your faith. Hope is your part, and faith is God’s part. God gave you the faith; now, can you keep up your hope? Can you keep yourself focused on the promises of God? Can you keep yourself focused on this amazing promise: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NIV)?

Jesus also said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled” (John 14:1 NIV). He wouldn’t give you a command you could not keep. I believe that when you let your heart be troubled, you lose your hope, and it’s not there to spark your faith. We need to learn, remember, and put our hope in the promises of God. 

“Listen carefully: I have given you authority [that you now possess] to tread on serpents and scorpions, and [the ability to exercise authority] over all the power of the enemy (Satan); and nothing will [in any way] harm you.” (Luke 10:19 AMP)

I keep my eyes on this truth. It keeps stirring me up. It builds up my hope. It makes my hope grow and become active and alive so it can light the candle of my faiththe faith that God has deposited in me. It’s not really my faith, so I cannot boast in it! I refer to it as my faith, but it’s really not. It was a gift given to me by God. It’s His. He deposited it. When I place my hope in Him, it lights and connects. The faith He has given me ignites, and sparks fly!

Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Jump into your Bible. As you read, your hope in the Lord will grow and SOAR! 

Love, 
Sheri 


Encourage Yourself in the Lord

Several years ago, I got an offer to go work for a company in Dallas. I drove down to check everything out. Wow. I couldn’t believe rush hour traffic. Rush hour started at three o’clock and lasted until seven o’clock every evening. That is four hours. Your commute from home to work could easily be ninety minutes to two hours. My friends did it often. They would leave for the office by 6 a.m. so they could beat traffic on the way to the office, and they would come home at seven. I thought about the quality of life, and I turned that job down quickly.

In rush hour, you are never alone. There’s traffic everywhere. Everywhere you look, you see people, and you can wave and smile at people. On the other hand, sometimes if you’re driving at night on a country road, you may not see anyone for an hour.

                                      

Scripture says there is a wide path and a narrow path. I think of it in terms of traffic. The wide path is like rush hour traffic. It’s busy. Most people are on this road, going in the same direction. They’re all on a mission to get somewhere, from here to there, point A to point B. The narrow path is the less-traveled road. The people on it are few and far between. You might be walking all by yourself for a while before you see another person passing by.
I think the narrow path in Christ can feel lonely at times. You can look around and see the busy rush hour traffic, but you don’t jump in and join it. You choose to take a secondary road. It’s like deciding, “I’m getting off of interstate 40 onto this side road. I’m going to take the backwoods route.”
Think about it. When you get off onto those secondary roads, they’re more peaceful and winding. They’re beautiful. But sometimes the rest stop is a backwoods mechanic shop with a filthy bathroom. The towns are few and far between. Sometimes you have to pee in the grass. It can be challenging to take the narrow path of God because it isn’t traveled by as many people.
Christians can fall into the trap of doing things because everyone else is doing them. Sometimes we don’t even think about it or we figure, “It’s okay for this family, so it’s okay for our family.” I see Christians doing this every day. They give their kids wider and wider boundaries. What they are doing is taking them from the narrow path to the wide path. Their children start exposing themselves to entertainment and other influences that may jeopardize their purity. Before you know it, instead of following God, they are following the world.
As Christians, we need to protect the wellspring of life that is our heart and make good choices. I believe Christians should be out front. People should want to be like us. They should be following our way and wanting to make the choices we’re making because our fruit is awesome. We don’t look like the world. We love the world, but we don’t look like the world. We’re in the world but not of the world.
I will tell you right now, making the decision to stay on the narrow path no matter what is lonely at times. You are going to find that your friends on the narrow path are a wide range of ages, say seventy down to twelve. There are so few people that you have to change your perspective of what your friendship circle should look like so you can be close with people who you know are making these choices with you.
I would encourage you to connect, but when you feel lonely, encourage yourself in the Lord. Keep yourself encouraged like David in 1 Samuel 30. Don’t look to anyone else to encourage you. Enjoy their encouragement when it comes along but don’t rely on it. Don’t stand on it for strength. Stand on the Lord and His strength and remember what He has done for you already.

Parents Are Asking the Wrong Question

“Did you have fun today?”
“What did you do for fun?”
“Did you have fun with your friends?”
What is the one consistent word here? Its the three-letter word fun


F-U-N. 
Fun.

This type of question is ruining our children’s ability simply to BE. I hear parents, grandparents, and siblings asking young people, “Are you going to have a fun day? What did you do that was fun? Did you have fun with your friends?” 

I hear people asking this sort of question all of the time, even in my own house.
Is this really the question we should be asking? Should we gauge the quality of a young person’s day based on whether he or she had fun? 

We need to ask ourselves what we are teaching our children by asking this.

We are giving them the impression that 
life is all about having fun.
I’m not trying to suggest that children—or adults for that matter—should never have fun. We should love what we do. We should be engaged; we should have energy for life. We should enjoy our lives because Jesus came to bring us life “to the full” (John 10:10 NIV).
On the other hand, Jesus also said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NIV). 

Hardships are part of life. We will experience struggles. We must often deal with troubling circumstances. In times of trial, however, we can have peace and find strength because we know Jesus loves us. He understands our pain and is both able and willing to help us in all things. We can find joy in the growth of our relationship with Him.

It will not be fun, but there is GOOD in it.

Recently, I took care of a child for a friend of mine. When my friend came to pick up her daughter, one of the first things she did was ask her child, “What did you do for fun today?” Her daughter replied, “Nothing. I haven’t done anything fun today.” The reaction to this statement bordered on shock, as if such a circumstance were unthinkable. 

Why is it unthinkable? What is horrible about a child not having fun all of the time? You shouldnt entertain your own children, and I shouldnt entertain them, either.
If I gear my children’s lives toward fun, I am setting them up for future failure, depression, and battles when life isnt fun. I am setting them up for disappointment in marriage because they won’t be able to appreciate those low-key days of rest and recovery with their spouses after hectic times. I want my children to be able to treasure the quiet moments of simple companionship. 

When we emphasize the value of fun, 
we are sowing in our children 
the need to be entertained continuously. 


We are setting them up to view other people in terms of how they can make life more fun. We are encouraging our children to seek relationships based on fun. We are teaching them that it is okay to avoid or abandon tasks and relationships that don’t seem fun.

Many children today are constantly asking, “What are we going to do now?” They are always seeking new ways to entertain themselves. Next time your kids are with a play date or hanging out with teenage friends, listen to them talk with each other. Take note of how often they ask each other what they will do next. 

Listen to them tell each other that what they’ve been doing is getting old; they are bored and ready for the next source of entertainment. Girls who play indoors are always jumping to the next activity: “Hey, lets edit pictures. Lets do a photo shoot. Let’s play a game. Lets make a video. Lets make a song. Lets do all of these projects together. Lets go play this sport. Lets go play that. Im tired of this—lets move on.”
As a mother, I certainly appreciate when my children can entertain themselves and come up with activities on their own. The trouble is that kids don’t stay focused on a particular goal. They don’t stay engaged and committed. You don’t see kids building a fort all day long the way we did when we were young. These days its more of a frenzy. Kids dart from one activity to the next to the next to the next. Theres no break.
I don’t hear kids suggesting to each other that they hang out and talk for a while or read a book or study the Bible. I know these suggestions sound odd, but they shouldn’t. Life isnt about bouncing wildly from one fun activity to the next. I’m afraid that children who live in restless pursuit of entertainment will grow into adults who are never satisfied with simply being. God created us as human beings, yet we allow our children to be only human doings. We are setting our children on a dangerous course because, let’s face it, most entertainment for kids and for adults is of this world and not of God. 

The desire for stimulation can distract us from 
the values and purposes of God. 


Will our children be too busy ping-ponging around to realize that?

I believe we need to stop asking children, “Did you have fun today?” We need to stop telling them when they leave the house, “Be sure to have fun!” Since it’s in our power to influence our children’s focus, let’s choose some different questions: 

Whom did you encourage today? 
How were you encouraged today? 
Did you share your beautiful smile with someone? 
Did anyone surprise you with a beautiful smile? 
Did you see someone do something kind today? 
Did you share with a friend today? 
Did you help your friends mommy when you were at their house all day? 
Did you leave their place better than you found it? 
When you spent time with your friends, did you ask how they were doing and actually listen to the answer? 
Did you ask them if they were hurting in any way?
We assume our children are too young and emotionally immature to have those kinds of conversations with us and their friends. How can we believe this when we know that children are not too young to be hurt? They could already, on any given day, be suffering rejection and deep wounds. They are already being challenged morally. They are already struggling with matters of the mind and spirit and body. Our children need adults who are willing to be transparent and dig deeply with them at the earliest ages.
We should never look down on people because they are young. We shouldnt assume children are incapable of deep conversation. It is up to us to teach them. 

If we raise our children to pursue fun, we cant expect them 
suddenly to transform into insightful, compassionate 
human beings when they reach adulthood. 


We need to teach them while they are young: “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Prov. 22:6 NIV). We need to teach our children how to be introspective, how to search their own souls and seek the Lord. We need to teach them to pay attention to their thoughts, emotions, and experiences. We need to teach them to take a genuine, loving interest in other people’s thoughts, emotions, and experiences. People are never too young to learn the Lord’s ways and do the Lord’s work.

It is important for our children to learn how to connect with their friends on a deeper level. Otherwise the friendships they have when they are young won’t be sustainable beyond this particular season of their lives. We should teach kids from a young age the value of developing sound, lasting relationships.
Spending time with other people isn’t about cramming in as many fun activities as possible. Rather, it’s about companionship. It’s about relaxing your guard and getting to know each other. It’s about learning how to love each other. Close friends know how to rest together. They find refreshment in each other’s company. Kids need to understand that it’s okay to say, “You know what, Im tired. Lets chill and hang out. Maybe we can read together or talk for a while.”
What’s not okay is complaining about being bored. Maybe one person enjoys sharing some quiet time while another person doesn’t. The main objective isnt to have fun and be entertained. When you are with the people you love, you can find enjoyment in the busy times as well as the quiet times.
I notice many children today who seemoverstimulated and utterly exhausted. Adults allow and expect kids to stay on the go all of the time, jumping from one activity to the next to the next to the next. No wonder kids are tired! No one has taught them how to be still. No one has taught them the value of being still.
Stillness calms people. It is enjoyable. It allows us to rest and reflect. Kids, too, can learn to be comfortable enough with themselves and the people around them simply to be. 

How else will they ever hear the still, quiet voice of God?



My Faith Is Weak—I Need More Faith

Immediately the boys father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24 NIV)

We all have the faith of Jesus Christ. That’s what Scripture says. You cannot come to God without Him. He actually gives you the faith to believe in Him. The faith you have isn’t your own. You didn’t muster it up. You’re not some great person of faith. Yes, sometimes He gives people a spiritual gift of faith, but it’s still from Him. He is the author of it.


If you and I have the same faith because God gave it to us so we could know Him and love Him, then how do we make our faith work more effectually? Some people have more effective faith than I do. I look at them and think, “How is that? How is that possible?” I believe it comes from their relationship with God. They’re seeking Him and pursuing Him. They’re reading His Word, chomping it up, ingesting it, and believing what it says with childlike faith. It stirs them up.

I received a gift from a friend of mine. It’s a candle. I don’t burn candles in my home. I haven’t burned them since I had kids. I don’t want to risk the accidental knocking over and fire or wax in the carpet. It was a gift my friend gave to me, but it’s never really been used. It just sits there. I think that’s what faith is like. God gives it to you, and you either light it and use it, or you don’t and it just sits there.

So how do we light the candle of our faith? I believe the answer is in Hebrews 11:1. It says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (KJV). I believe hope is the fire for your faith. Hope is your part, and faith is God’s part. God gave you the faith; now, can you keep up your hope? Can you keep yourself focused on the promises of God? Can you keep yourself focused on this amazing promise: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NIV)?

Jesus also said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled” (John 14:1 NIV). He wouldn’t give you a command you could not keep. I believe that when you let your heart be troubled, you lose your hope, and it’s not there to spark your faith. We need to learn, remember, and put our hope in the promises of God. 

“Listen carefully: I have given you authority [that you now possess] to tread on serpents and scorpions, and [the ability to exercise authority] over all the power of the enemy (Satan); and nothing will [in any way] harm you.” (Luke 10:19 AMP)

I keep my eyes on this truth. It keeps stirring me up. It builds up my hope. It makes my hope grow and become active and alive so it can light the candle of my faiththe faith that God has deposited in me. It’s not really my faith, so I cannot boast in it! I refer to it as my faith, but it’s really not. It was a gift given to me by God. It’s His. He deposited it. When I place my hope in Him, it lights and connects. The faith He has given me ignites, and sparks fly!

Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Jump into your Bible. As you read, your hope in the Lord will grow and SOAR! 

Love, 
Sheri 


Parents Are Asking the Wrong Question

“Did you have fun today?”
“What did you do for fun?”
“Did you have fun with your friends?”
What is the one consistent word here? Its the three-letter word fun


F-U-N. 
Fun.

This type of question is ruining our children’s ability simply to BE. I hear parents, grandparents, and siblings asking young people, “Are you going to have a fun day? What did you do that was fun? Did you have fun with your friends?” 

I hear people asking this sort of question all of the time, even in my own house.
Is the focus of this question the right one parents should be asking? Should we gauge the quality of a young person’s day based on whether or not they had fun? 

We need to ask ourselves what we are teaching our children by asking this. 

We are giving them the impression that life is all about having fun.
I’m not trying to suggest children—or adults—should never have fun. We should love what we do. We should be engaged; we should have energy for life. We should enjoy our lives because Jesus came to bring us life “to the full” (John 10:10 NIV).
On the other hand, Jesus also said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NIV). 

Hardships are part of life. We will experience struggles. We must often deal with troubling circumstances. In times of trial, however, we can have peace and find strength because we know Jesus loves us. He understands our pain and is both able and willing to help us in all things. We can find joy in the growth of our relationship with Him. It will not be fun, but there is good in it.

Recently, I took care of a child for a friend of mine. When my friend came to pick up her daughter, one of the first things she did was ask her child, “What did you do for fun today?” Her daughter replied, “Nothing. I haven’t done anything fun today.” The reaction to this statement bordered on shock, as if such a circumstance were unthinkable. Yet why is it unthinkable? What is horrible about a child not having fun all of the time? You shouldnt entertain your own children, and I shouldnt entertain yours, either.
If I gear my children’s lives toward fun, I am setting them up for future failure, depression, and battles when life isnt fun. I am setting them up for disappointment in marriage because they won’t be able to appreciate those low-key days of rest and recovery with their spouses after hectic times. Will they be able to treasure the quiet moments of simple companionship? 

When we emphasize the value of fun, we are sowing their the need to be entertained continuously. We are setting them up to view other people in terms of how they can make life more fun. We are encouraging our children to seek relationships based on fun. We are teaching them that it is okay to avoid or abandon tasks and relationships if they don’t seem fun.
Many children today are constantly asking, “What are we going to do now?” They are always seeking new ways to entertain themselves. Next time your kids are with a play date or hanging out with teenage friends, listen to them talk with each other. Take note of how often they ask each other what they will do next. Listen to them tell each other what they’ve been doing is getting old; they are bored and ready for the next source of entertainment. Girls who play indoors are always jumping to the next activity: “Hey, lets edit pictures. Lets do a photo shoot. Let’s play a game. Lets make a video. Lets make a song. Lets do all of these projects together. Lets go play this sport. Lets go play that. Im tired of this—lets move on.”
As a mother, I certainly appreciate when my children can entertain themselves and come up with activities on their own. The trouble is, kids don’t stay focused on a particular goal. They don’t stay engaged and committed. You don’t see kids building a fort all day long the way we did when we were young. These days its more of a frenzy: Kids dart from one activity to the next to the next to the next. Theres no break.
I don’t hear kids suggesting to each other to hang out and talk for a while or read a book or study the Bible. I know these suggestions sounds odd, but they shouldn’t. Life isnt about bouncing wildly from one fun activity to the next. I’m afraid children who live in restless pursuit of entertainment will grow into adults who are never satisfied with simply being. God created us as human beings, yet we allow our children to be only human doings. We are setting our children on a dangerous course because, let’s face it, most entertainment for kids and for adults is of this world and not of God. The desire for stimulation can distract us from the values and purposes of God. Will our children be too busy ping-ponging around to realize that?
I believe we need to stop asking children, “Did you have fun today?” We need to stop telling them when they leave the house, “Be sure to have fun!” Since it’s in our power to influence our children’s focus, let’s choose some different questions: Who did you encourage today? How were you encouraged today? Did you share your beautiful smile with someone? Did anyone surprise you with a beautiful smile and prompt you to smile back? Did you see someone do something kind today? Did you share with a friend today? Did you help your friends mommy when you were at their house all day? Did you leave their place better than you found it? When you spent time with your friends, did you ask how they were doing and actually listen to the answer? Did you ask them if they were hurting in any way?
We assume our children are too young and emotionally immature to have those kinds of conversations with us and with their friends. How can we believe this when we know children are not too young to be hurt? They could already, on any given day, be suffering rejection and deep wounds. They are already being challenged morally. They are already struggling with matters of the mind and spirit and body. Our children need adults who are willing to be transparent and dig deeply with them at the earliest ages.
We should never look down on people because they are young. We shouldnt assume children are incapable of deep conversation. It is up to us to teach them. If we raise our children to pursue fun, we can’t expect them suddenly to transform into insightful, compassionate human beings when they reach adulthood. We need to teach them while they are young: “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Prov. 22:6 NIV). We need to teach our children how to be introspective—how to search their own souls and seek the Lord. We need to teach them to pay attention to their thoughts, emotions, and experiences. We need to teach them to take a genuine, loving interest in other people’s thoughts, emotions, and experiences. People are never too young to learn the Lord’s ways and do the Lord’s work.
It is important for our children to learn how to connect with their friends on a deeper level. Otherwise the friendships they have when they are young won’t be sustainable beyond this particular season of their lives. We should teach kids from a young age the value of developing sound, lasting relationships.
Spending time with other people isn’t about cramming in as many fun activities as possible. Rather, it’s about companionship. It’s about relaxing your guard and getting to know each other. It’s about learning how to love each other. Close friends know how to rest together. They find refreshment in each other’s company. Kids need to understand that it’s okay to say, “You know what, Im tired. Lets chill and hang out. Maybe we can read together or talk for a while.”
What’s not okay is complaining about being bored. Maybe one person enjoys sharing some quiet time while another person doesn’t. The main objective isnt to have fun—to be entertained. When you are with the people you love, you can find enjoyment in the busy times as well as the quiet times.
I notice many children today who seemoverstimulated and utterly exhausted. Adults allow and expect kids to stay on the go all of the time, jumping from one activity to the next to the next to the next. No wonder kids are tired! No one has taught them how to be still. No one has taught them the value of being still.
Stillness calms people. It is enjoyable. It allows us to rest and reflect. Kids, too, can learn to be comfortable enough with themselves and the people around them simply to be. How else will they ever hear the still, quiet voice of God?



Encourage yourself in the Lord

Several years ago, I got an offer to go to work for a company in Dallas. I drove down to check everything out. Wow. I couldn’t believe rush hour traffic. Rush hour started at three o’clock and lasted until seven o’clock every evening. That is four hours. Your commute from home to work could easily be up to two hours just for you driving. Ninety minutes to two hours, my friends did it often. They would leave for the office by six am so they could beat traffic on the way in to the office and they would come home at seven. I just thought about the quality of life and I turned that job down quickly.

In rush hour, you never are alone. There’s traffic everywhere. You constantly have to look and see—you see people, and you can wave at people and smile at people. They are everywhere, just constantly busy. But at night, when you’re driving—sometimes, you might be in a drive in a country road, and not see anyone for an hour.
                                     
Scripture says that there is a wide path and a narrow path. I think of those like traffic. The wide path is like rush hour traffic. It’s busy. Everyone is on it. Everyone’s going the same direction. They are all heading towards home. They’re all on a mission to get somewhere, from here to there, point A to point B. But the narrow path is a less-travelled road. Sometimes, people that are on it are few and far between. You might be walking a while all by yourself until you see another person passing you by.
I think the narrow path in Christ can feel lonely at times. You can look around and you can see the busy rush hour traffic but you don’t jump in and go on it. You choose to take a secondary road. If you’ve ever been on a trip or you’re like, “I’m getting off of interstate 40 and I’m going to go on this side road and backwoods.”
Think about it. When you get off on those roads, they’re more peaceful, they’re more winding. They’re beautiful. But sometimes the rest stops are a backwoods mechanic shop and its bathroom is filthy, dirty. There are few, far between. Sometimes you have to pee in the grass. It’s because, truly, the narrow path of God isn’t travelled by as many people. You’ve got people that are going to movies that may jeopardize your own purity because we gotta protect the wellspring of life which is our heart and make good choices.
So every choice we make, we never make it because everyone else is doing it or, “It’s okay for this family so it’s okay for our family.” I see Christians doing this every day. Every day, they are giving their kids wider and wider boundaries. What they are doing is they are taking them from the narrow path to a wider path. They are increasing their path from the narrow path into the wide path. So all of a sudden, the world is leading our children, not our children being led by God.
I believe that Christians should be the front. People should wanna be like us. They should be following our way. They should be making choices that we’re making because our fruit is awesome. We don’t look like the world. We love the world, but we don’t look like the world. We’re in the world, but not of the world.
I will tell you right now, making the decision to stay firmly planted on the narrow path no matter what is lonely at times. I think if you’re in your twenties, you’re gonna find that your friends on a narrow path is gonna be in a huge age range. Say 70 down to 12. There are so few people—few, and far between. You have to change your perspective of what your friendship circle is going to look like so that you can have an inner circle that is close and tight and the people that you know are making those choices with you.
I would encourage you to connect. When you feel lonely, just encourage yourself in the Lord. Keep yourself encouraged like 1 Samuel 36. Don’t look to anyone else to encourage you. Enjoy their encouragement when it comes along but don’t look to it. Don’t stand on it for strength. Stand on the Lord and His strength and what he has done for you already.