Change is afoot!

 Have you ever wandered about change in your life, sometimes it is something that you absolutely embrace but more often than not it is something that you resist, put off, and often throw temper tantrums about. Or is that just me?

 Well change is coming at me in a very rapid pace these days, my son has completed his final year of high school and is about to venture out into the big wide world. He is full of wide eyed dreams and hopes about what his future is going to bring his way. My prayer for him has always been, that no matter the change he encounters in his life, he will never change his mind about God.

Often when young people leave the nest and start to spread their wings a bit, they don’t always see the importance of having that deep abiding relationship with God anymore. My prayer is that my son won’t change his mind about God.

 Another change that is coming our way is that my daughter is entering high school, it is a whole new adventure for her and she is already discovering the wind beneath her wings, she is changing her mind about the friends that she once had and as is normal has changed her mind about the young men around her, as she so eloquently puts it, “Mom I have developed an immunity to the boys cooties, their cooties are now good, yummy!”

My prayer for her remains the same, that she to would stay true to herself, and the relationship that she has developed with God over these last years. I pray to that she will not change her mind about God.

 As for me, I feel a stirring within my spirit for the new things that God is going to bring into my life, the new people that I will be able to minister to, the new situations, good and bad that will grow my faith and dependence on him. Even though I am not always a fan of change, I am a fan of growth, growth in my walk with the lord, growth in my character and the person God is molding and making me to be.

 I am a fan of developing new relationships, even though that requires changes in my life, changes in schedules and commitments.

 Over the years God has brought many changes in my life, from where I lived, to the people that were in my life, to the things that I enjoyed. But the one thing that never changed was his pursuit of my heart.

He has pursued me and drawn me into his heart. He has trained me, loved me back to health and stability and he has taught me the essence of a life lived on purpose for him. He has developed in me such a hunger for more of his Holy Spirit, how you may wander? Well through him revealing more of himself to me, makes me want more of him every day, I am never satisfied with staying where I am in my relationship with him when I know that he has more to share with me.

 One of the biggest changes that he has brought into my life comes from;

  Romans 12:2

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. 

When God first revealed this verse to me, it honestly did not mean to much to me, but as the years have gone on I have discovered that for me to truly come into a deep and intimate walk with God through the Holy Spirit, I need to renew my mind daily, in other words, I need to welcome the change, from the old way of thinking, and living and behaving to God’s way for me.

 I would love to say that this happened over night, but I would be a liar. The truth is, I had to learn to embrace the changes that God wanted to make in my life. I had to want him more than I wanted my sin, I had to learn to lay that stuff down and allow him to show me a better way of living. A way of living that brought life and refreshment into my heart and mind. A way of living that said I choose God and I choose to change my mind about living in an ungodly way.

 How about you? Are you resistant to the change that God wants to bring into your life? Are you resisting choosing him over the sin that brings a moment of pleasure for a life time of death? If you find yourself in this place, I want to tell you that all is not lost.

 There is no time like the present to make a stand for God, to willingly embrace the change that he wants to bring into your life. I have heard people say, “yes but if I truly surrender to God then I am afraid that he will send me to a place somewhere I don’t want to go to be a missionary” I have had those same thoughts myself. The good news is this; God loves you, and wants what is best for you.

 He wants to bring life and joy and peace and hope into your life, unlike the devil that specializes in death and destruction.

There is a verse that I think describes God’s heart towards us the best;

 Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 

If you are feeling the stirrings of a change coming in your life, or even a change of your attitude towards sin, I pray that you will not resist the Holy Spirit’s effort to bring you into a deeper walk with God, and a greater freedom than you ever have experienced before. 

It is not a scary thing to walk with him, in my opinion it is far scarier facing changes without him.

Take a moment right now and search your heart, decide where you are in your walk with the lord, if you are stubbornly holding onto the old way of thinking and living, I pray that you will be stirred within your heart to let it go, embrace the Holy Spirit I know that you will not be disappointed in what he has for you.

Prayer

Dear Lord Jesus, I acknowledge that I have been resisting your efforts to bring change into my life, I realize that all change is not bad, help me to stop resisting you and embrace instead what you have for me, I lay down the control that I have been seeking to have in my life and I ask that you oh lord will be my leader and controller instead. Forgive me lord and fill me a fresh with your Holy Spirit, help me to have a spirit that is willing to be taught by you always.

Thank you lord

Amen

 

 

Teaching Teens Character

 One of the most important things we parents can do is to teach our kids to make good choices.  But good choices can be counter-intuitive.  So, how can they be taught  when the immediate rewards are usually on the side of making bad choices?

Many parents fall into the trap of thinking that good character will happen by default or that someone else will teach it to their kids.  They may enroll their kids in a Christian school, take them to church, and encourage participation in the youth group.  They may seemingly do “all the right things” yet still find their children lacking in character as they become more independent.

What is going wrong?  Perhaps they should look more at their own actions than their teen’s, because as the old saying goes, “More things are caught than taught.”  So much of what we teach our children when it comes to character development—good or bad—is modeled rather than spoken.  Integrity, honor, grace, sensitivity, wisdom, work ethic and more—the things that make up good character—do not happen by accident nor are they taught from textbooks.  They are the end result of seeing good character in their parents, day in and day out.

Our kids watch us to see if we keep our promises to them and to others.  They see us when our guard is down, when we’re in public and private.  They know whether we show grace or vengeance to those who hurt us.  They hear what we say about others and how we resolve our own conflicts.  They see our work ethic “up close and personal.” And they watch to see where we turn when life gets us down.

If you have some work to do in regard to modeling good character, let me share with you some ways to intentionally work on it with your teenager.

Clearly identify a set of beliefs and values for your home.

The first step is to have a clear picture in mind of your own family values, and share that picture with your kids.  I know one family that actually painted their family values on the wall over the staircase.  Every person who walked into that house could quickly and clearly see what they were all about; character issues like honesty, integrity, care for others, dependence on God and respect. And of course, the kids can see them every time they go up and down the stairs.  Developing a list — keep it to no more than ten items — and then making it so it is seen as many times each day as possible will remind your kids what’s really important in regard to their character.

Intentionally model your own decisions.

When character issues come up, gather the kids around to help you decide, pointing to the values your family is living by.  Being practical about sharing your own decisions will help your teens make similar decisions in the future.  For instance, suppose you were shopping and you discover later that the checkout clerk gave you too much change in return.  Ask your kids what they think you should do with the windfall, pointing to honesty and integrity as important values of your family.  Hopefully they will all agree that the right thing to do is to return the overage.  If not, you know you have some work to do.  Yes, it will likely cost you more in gas money to return to the store than the few cents to be returned, but the lesson your kids will learn can be priceless.

Ask for forgiveness when you blow it.

At one time in my life I was shocked by the number of parents who never apologize to their children for anything; today I almost expect it.  Modeling how to apologize may be the single most important lesson you teach your teenager.  When you blow it, and you will, they already know it. So by failing apologize and take responsibility for your bad choice in front of your teen, you teach them that you really don’t believe or live up to your own standards.  I said earlier that bad character can be “caught” as easily as good character, but I think that bad character on a parent’s part can be a stronger lesson.  It can write a permanent scar on a child’s future character if the parent fails to owns up to their error and ask forgiveness for modeling a bad decision.

Don’t over-shelter.

All of us want to protect our kids.  That’s a good and important impulse, but it can be carried too far.  By the time your children are teenagers, they need to have experienced situations that required them to stand up on their own two feet.  Of course I’m not suggesting you throw them to the wolves.  But they must learn, and nothing strengthens character like adversity.  The flight simulator can only take a future pilot so far.  Sooner or later they need to take off for real, with a trained pilot at their side; and eventually they will be prepared to take their first solo flight.

Help them choose ahead of time — role-play.

In the heat of the moment, when temptation is strong, it’s hard to do what’s right.  The Bible says that Daniel “purposed in his heart” not to do wrong before he was put to the test.  Much of the disconnect between what good kids are taught at home and at church and how they act can be traced to the fact that they never practiced the decision they would make in certain situations.  So, encourage your kids to settle their moral decisions ahead of time.  Do this by role-playing certain situations they may run into. For instance, suppose your teen is offered pot.  What will they say?  How will they save face with their friends, while also not giving in? When a teenager is cornered by their friends without thinking through a response in advance, they are more likely to make wrong decisions. So work through possible scenarios with your teens as to how they could properly respond to various temptations.

Remind them that failure isn’t final.

If failure were final, no one would ever learn to walk, or ride a bike, or drive a car.  We want our kids to always make the right choice, but they won’t.  So it’s vitally important to teach your children that when they fall, they can ask forgiveness, get back up and do right going forward. No one is perfect, and neither will they be.  Some teens, with their short outlook on life, become convinced they can never recover from what they have done.  They may think what they’ve done is unforgivable, or that their life is ruined; they may even consider suicide.

Poor choices can leave scars, but they don’t have to be life-defining unless we allow them to be. So, encourage your teen that each new day can be a fresh new start.  Teach them to leave their burdens and failures at the cross, for God came to Earth to offer such way out and to lift them back up, no matter how many times they fall.

In summary, let’s be intentional about teaching teenagers character, and focus on that rather than correcting non-character-related issues.  Talk to your teen about the importance of doing right even if no one else does — even when the media glorifies wrong choices. The world we remember growing up — one that taught good character — is gone. Today, bad character is more popular, more glorified, and more rewarding (for the moment).  So sitting back and thinking your teen will learn good character on their own or from others isn’t realistic.  It must be taught and modeled by you.

We talked about this issue in-depth on our radio program a week ago titled “Teens Making Good Choices.”  To listen online look for the program dated June 18, 2011 at http://www.parentingtodaysteens.org.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mark Gregston is an author, speaker, radio host, and the founder and director of Heartlight, a therapeutic boarding school located in East Texas. Call 903-668-2173. Visit http://www.heartlightministries.org , or to read other articles by Mark, visit http://www.markgregston.com.

 

To Walk With God

In the days ahead many will be stirred by proclamations, both true and false, of ominous events set for fulfillment on specific dates. However, we are not being prepared for a “date” but for a marriage. It is the depth of our day-by-day relationship with Christ that defines walking with God at the end of the age.

The confidence we have as we face tomorrow is rooted in the quality of our walk with God today. Thus, as these days unfold, the way of the Lord will be revealed for what it truly is: a narrow path upon which we walk with God. It is an indisputable truth: the only way to prepare for Jesus’ second coming is to faithfully obey what He commanded in His first coming—and His first command was “Follow Me” (John 1:43).

What does it mean to “follow” Jesus but that we walk faithfully with Him throughout our life. The fact is, we anticipate the nearness of the Lord, but we do not know when He might return. While I believe we are very near to the end of the age, still it may be many years before some of the unfulfilled prophecies come to pass. Regardless, our call is to follow the Lamb—to walk with Him every day.

If we study the Scriptures, we will see that, from the beginning, the Lord always provided for those who walked with Him in His presence. No matter what occurred in the world, God’s servants were not held hostage to the fears and anxieties of their times. Their walk with God prepared them for all things.

Jesus said the days prior to His return would be as the days of Noah. Let us look again at Noah’s life. God did not give Noah a predetermined date specifying when the flood would come. The Lord gave Noah two things: a task, which was to build the ark, and time to get the job done.

The Almighty could have destroyed wickedness in a heartbeat. Yet, the Scriptures tell us that the “patience of God kept waiting . . . during the construction of the ark” (1 Pet. 3:20). The priority of God was focused not on what was to be destroyed but on what was being built.

Too many of us are so focused on what the devil is doing that we fail to see what God is doing. The focus of the Lord is not on how dark evil becomes but how Christlike the church becomes! There is a grace streaming from God’s heart. In the midst of great darkness, the Lord has purposed to bring glory to Himself and protection to His people.

God told Noah to build the ark. When the task was completed, then the flood came. We also have a task, a vision from God: build the house of the Lord and participate in the harvest of the nations. Jesus did not say, “When evil gets worse the harvest begins.” He said, “when the crop permits . . . the harvest has come” (Mark 4:29).

Certainly, God’s highest plans will not be diverted by the increase of wickedness. One may say that God’s justice demands He destroy the wicked! Yes, but His nature demands His good plans and promises concerning His glory in the church first be fulfilled!

Look again at Noah. Noah lived at a time when “every intent of the thoughts of his [man’s] heart was only evil continually.” His world, like ours, “was corrupt in the sight of God, and . . . filled with violence” (Gen. 6:5, 11).

Yet, during these same days, “Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord” (Gen. 6:8). What was unique about Noah? How did he find the preserving grace of God in his life? The Scriptures tell us, “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God” (Gen. 6:9).

I love this Scripture: Noah walked with God. What does it mean to walk with God? It means that we stay yielded to His Word and attentive to His presence. Though we do not see Him, we know Him. We have found our place of security in the Almighty. Our peace comes from Him, not people, places, or things.

The name Noah means “rest.” As the Lord’s servant, Noah not only knew his mission in life, but he found His place of rest in God alone. Step-by-step, day-by-day, Noah lived in the Lord’s presence. Noah walked with God and was intimate with Him.

But to know someone deeply does not happen quickly. It takes time to penetrate through the veil of unknowing into the place of enduring friendship and intimacy. This is why walking with God is so pleasing to Him, for it creates a time-tested relationship between God and man. We no longer are controlled by the opinions, criticisms, and approval of the world around us. Only as our walk with God matures does intimacy with the Creator truly begin and peace about the future increase.

Consider Abraham. Abraham was called the friend of God (see Isa. 41:8). When he was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before Me, and be blameless” (Gen. 17:1). Walking with God leads to purity and intimate friendship with God. It is the source of becoming blameless.

Abraham’s descendants, Isaac and Jacob, also walked with God (Gen. 48:15). The lifelong companionship between the Almighty and these patriarch’s set the standard for all who followed, from the kings and the prophets of Israel to each Christian who walks with God today.

My Own Experience
We should not be hard on those who have falsely affixed a prophetic event or even the Second Coming to a specific date. It is usually the sincerity of these people that propels their prophecies into regional or national prominence. I, myself, was swept up in a similar experience in the mid-seventies.

Those were days when threats of nuclear war seemed everywhere; many Christians were predicting divine judgment for America. During those days, I came across an article about a huge comet that was due to appear on Christmas Day, 1975. Previously unknown, the comet was named Kohoutek after the Hungarian astronomer who discovered it. The signs of the times confirmed my fears, but when I read in a religious publication that Kohoutek meant “the wolf that devours the lamb,” I felt certain that this was a “sign in the heavens” confirming that the end was near.

Compelled by my inner convictions, I began to warn every church in Detroit, all 1,200 of them, that the world would end that Christmas. I even managed to become a guest on the most-watched morning talk show in Detroit, where I warned as many as three million people of God’s imminent wrath.

Christmas came and went and nothing happened. The comet was an over-exaggerated astronomical flop. I had been so sure of my insights, so fearfully compelled by the signs of the times, yet so wrongly informed. Then in late January, I happened to meet a woman fluent in Hungarian. I asked her to translate Kohoutek into English. She thought it meant something like “add a tomato to the stew.”

God knew my motives were right, even though my knowledge was wrong. Out of that humiliating experience I began to research other “end of the world” movements in church history. In my study, I discovered two significant items that occurred in Europe. Masses of people were convinced the year 1666 would see the rise of the Antichrist. This thought led to waves of fanaticism and fear which spread from country to country.

I had also been reading a devotional containing a series of letters written by a man named Brother Lawrence, a monk who served Christ as a dishwasher in a monastery. The simple, yet profound, sense of God’s presence that accompanied Brother Lawrence made this book, The Practice of the Presence of God, an enduring Christian classic. But what changed my life was that his first letters were written in the year 1666, during the time when Europe was awash with fear of the Antichrist! For all the turmoil in the world around him, at least one soul dwelt in the peace of Jesus Christ.

Brother Lawrence serves as a model for our generation. For when the terrors and confusion of the end of the age increase, it is only in the Lord’s presence that we shall find a calm harbor. And to truly know Him then, we must walk with Him now.

Enoch Walked With God
One of my favorite texts is from Genesis 5:22-day24. It reads, “Then Enoch walked with God three hundred years . . . and he was not, for God took him.” Hebrews 11:5 tells us that Enoch had “obtained the witness . . . he was pleasing to God.”

Enoch walked with God 300 years. Every day, Enoch arose and sought the Lord, walking faithfully with the Almighty. Eventually, Enoch became so pleasing to God that, without passing through death, He was taken home to be with the Lord.

So also with us, when we faithfully walk with God we bring great pleasure to our Father. The Scripture says that Enoch “obtained the witness” that his life was “pleasing to God.” God communicated His pleasure to Enoch. To know the pleasure of God is to taste the nectar of heaven itself.

Whatever may happen in the future, the God of the future is walking with us today. And while we may not be able to see into tomorrow, our faithfulness to Christ today is our best security for whatever lies ahead.

As the first person raptured by Christ, Enoch sets the standard for all whom Jesus will one day gather to Himself. They simply and passionately walk with God.

 

Article Written by: Francis Frangipane

http://www.frangipane.org/
The preceding message is adapted from a chapter in Francis’ book, The Days of His Presence. For more information on this book, please visit the Arrow Bookstore.

 Trust is a must!

 Over the years I have struggled with the concept of trust, for some people it is easy, but to be honest, it has been one of the hardest things for me to do. At a very young age, I had my trust violated by someone that I was supposed to be able to trust, and it bred many years of isolation and mistrust in my life.

 Even now in my adult life I struggle to truly trust someone with my feelings, my heart and my time. It can be a lonely road to walk. I am sure that some of you reading this article will be able to relate to what I am saying.

 The good news however is that over the years, God in his great mercy has been teaching me, that yes men and women will probably let me down, hurt my feelings and even betray my trust in them, but He will never let me down.

 He might not necessarily come through for me in the way I think he needs to, but in the end I can most definitely see that he had my best interest at heart all of the time.

So how has he been teaching me this very valuable and essential principle you might wander, well it started in his word and then spilt out into my every day life.

I have developed a deep love, passion and respect for the word of God. So it would make sense that through His word he would teach me the fundamentals of trusting in him.

 One of the verses that I have not only memorized, but seek to live by is found in the book of Proverbs.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

My question to the lord always was, “Well lord, you say I have to walk in trust with you, with all of my heart, but how do I do that if I don’t really know you or even understand all that you are trying to teach me in your word?”

The Lords response to me, through his word is found in the following verses:

Proverbs 3

My son, (daughter) do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity. 

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.  Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. 

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. 

This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. 

I had a decision to make, either, I really put my whole life, passion and trust into God and his precepts, or I walked away and did it my way. Well my way was one of misery, self destruction and great sadness, so I chose to believe God! I chose to take him at his word and believe him when he said that I could trust him for everything. (I was not always successful in this but I perservered, like a baby learning to walk, slowly but surely they learn to be steady in their walking). I learnt over the years, through much trial and error, to trust in him completely.

The lord said, that I must not forsake his teachings, well where do you find out what he teaches? The bible of course, so if I wanted to know and understand what God was trying to teach me, and lead me into, I needed to become a student of his word. The more I studied the word, the deeper my passion for God became, and the deeper the passion, the more I learnt to trust him, both in the little things and the big things that I encountered in life.

Soon, I knew that my behavior was changing, because my heart was changing. My heart changed because of the things that I read in the word of God, things like, I should no longer use coarse language and drink to get drunk. Instead I should be filled with the Holy Spirit, and I should use my words to bring hope and healing to others instead of death and destruction to them. God promised that when we came to him with our brokenness and hurts that he would heal them, my friends, it was all true, I took those broken pieces of my life and God has put them all back together in a whole new way.

 God wants to transform your life if you will let him, he wants to remove from you all of the hurts and anger, fear and doubts, and instead replace it with his Holy Spirit that will bring hope, healing, laughter and joy back into your life.

 Trusting in God is not a scary thing to do, rather, not trusting in him and living your life with out him is like walking a tightrope with no safety net underneath you.

 There are teachings that are going around society today, that go something like this,

  • Trust your heart.
  • Look inside of you, you will be stronger if you do
  • Meditate on something good and it will bring you inner peace
  • Work hard at being nice to everyone around you and you will find favor with God and man.
  • To name a few!

 The bible says,

Jeremiah 17:9

 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

 Only when we place our complete trust in God, who created us, can we be assured that we are walking on a path that will lead us to life, joy and happiness. He will help us with our decision making, the healing of our hearts and give us an eternal inheritance that will never be taken from us.

If you decide to try to navigate the stormy waters of life on your own and you find yourself always miserable and things never working out quite right for you, maybe it is time to rethink your strategy.

I want to encourage you today, to start your journey of trusting in Jesus Christ. If you have never done that before, and you are wandering how, it is simple, the bible says, that without belief in Jesus Christ we are dead. Our spirits within us are dead, and they are only made alive when we ask confess that we believe that Jesus Christ, really is the Son of God, the most High, the creator of the world and the universe, and from that belief in our hearts, we then confess with our mouths that Jesus is lord.

The bible says that if we will do that, and believe it, we are made to be sons and daughters of God, and we will be given the gift of eternal life. You might have heard of other very complicated theories on getting to heaven, but this is all that God requires of us, that we believe Him and then learn to walk in obedience to precepts.

After we have taken that first step of belief in God, we need to admit that we are sinners, and that in order for us to truly learn to trust God with our lives, we have to confess our sins to Him. The bible teaches us, in 1 John 1, that if we tell God the sins that we have committed that he will forgive us, and wash us clean of them. That means then we now have a free and open communication between us and God. No longer is sin keeping us away from our heavenly father.

From there, we learn to take baby steps of faith in Him. Trusting him for our daily bread, for a parking spot, for a loved one that is sick and in need of a miracle, or what ever other situation we might find ourselves in.

God in his great mercy and love for us, wants us to learn to walk in faith, he wants us to trust him in all areas of our lives, no matter how mundane they might seem to us. He wants to show you the wonders of all that he has for you today!

Take that step of faith, ask him into your life, if you have not already, renew your commitment of learning to rely on him instead of yourself, and see the great wonders of walking moment, by moment and step by step with him.

As you can see in Proverbs that when we learn to trust in God, and ask him into our every day lives, not relying on our own wisdom and understanding of how things are, he promises to lead us and guide us and that my dear friend, is a promise that you can absolutely count on.

 

Rule in the Midst of Your Enemies!

True peace does not come from extreme indifference, nor does it originate from becoming so “spiritual” that you fail to notice the world around you. Peace is the fruit of being confident in God’s love; it is born of the revelation that, regardless of the battle, “greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). You are not self-assured, you are God-assured.

The God of Peace Will Crush Satan
To wage effective spiritual warfare, we must understand and use spiritual authority. Spiritual authority, however, is not forcing your will upon another person. When you have spiritual authority, you have established God’s peace in an area that once was full of conflict and oppression. Therefore, to truly be able to move in authority, we must first have peace.

The apostle Paul taught, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” (Rom. 16:20). When we maintain peace during warfare, it is a crushing deathblow to satanic oppression and fear. Our victory never comes from our emotions or our intellect. Our victory comes by refusing to judge by what our eyes see or our ears hear and by trusting that what God has promised will come to pass.

We will never know Christ’s victory in its fullness until we stop reacting humanly to our circumstances. When you truly have authority over something you can look at that thing without worry, fear or intimidation. Your peace is the proof of your victory. Jesus’ authority over the violent storm (see Matthew 8:23-27) was the exercise and expansion of His peace over the elements. He did not fight against the storm, nor did He fear it. In perfect peace, He faced its fury and subdued it with His authority. In Pilate’s court, in a world stirred to an emotional frenzy by the powers of hell, a holy tranquility surrounded Christ—peace that was born out of His resolve to do God’s will no matter what the cost. His Spirit emanated a calm that perfectly represented the peace at God’s throne. In a matter of moments it was no longer Jesus who was on trial, but Satan, Pilate and the religious establishment in Israel.

Satan’s arsenal consists of such things as fear, worry, doubt and self-pity. Every one of these weapons robs us of peace and leaves us troubled inside. Do you want to discern where the enemy is coming against you? In the network of your relationships, wherever you do not have peace, you have war. Conversely, wherever you have peace, you have victory. When Satan hurls his darts against you, the more peace you have during adversity, the more truly you are walking in Christ’s victory.

Paul tells us to be “in no way alarmed by your opponents—which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you” (Phil. 1:28). Your peace, your immovable stand upon the Word of God is a sign that you are positioned correctly in focused submission to the will of God. The very fact that you are “in no way alarmed” by your adversary is a sign that you have authority over him.

Peacemakers Are Sons of God
Peace is Spirit power. Peace is an attribute of the Holy Spirit, and when you are walking in peace, you are walking in power. A peacemaker is not merely someone who protests against war; he is one who is inwardly so yielded to Christ in spirit and purpose that he can be called a son of God (see Matthew 5:9). Where he goes, God goes and where God goes, he goes. He is fearless, calm and bold. Peace emanates from him the way light and heat radiate from fire.

In the battles of life, your peace is actually a weapon. Indeed, your confidence declares that you are not falling for the lies of the devil. You see, the first step toward having spiritual authority over the adversary is having peace in spite of our circumstances. When Jesus confronted the devil, He did not confront Satan with His emotions or in fear. Knowing that the devil was a liar, He simply refused to be influenced by any other voice than God’s. His peace overwhelmed Satan. His authority then shattered the lie, which sent demons fleeing.

Rest Before Rule
In the 23rd Psalm, David declared, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me” (v. 4). There is a place of walking with God where you simply “fear no evil.” During his lifetime, David faced many enemies including a lion, a bear and a giant. In this psalm he stood in the “shadow of death” itself, yet he feared no evil. David’s trust was in the Lord. He said, “You are with me.” Because God is with you, every adversity you face will unfold in victory as you maintain your faith in God. David continued, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” (v. 5). The battle you are in will soon become a meal to you, an experience that will nourish and build you up spiritually.

Only God’s peace will quell your fleshly reactions in battle. The source of God’s peace is God Himself. Indeed, “before the throne there was something like a sea of glass, like crystal” (Rev. 4:6). The glass sea is a symbol: there are no ripples, no waves, no anxieties troubling God. The Lord is never worried, never in a hurry nor without an answer. The sea around Him is perfectly still and totally calm. All our victories flow out from being seated here with Him.

God is our Father. The heavenly Jerusalem is our mother, the birthplace of our new nature (see Galatians 4:26). And you, you are a beloved child of God, part of the Father’s family and a member of His household (see Ephesians 2:19). You must know by revelation that you are not struggling to get into heaven; rather, you were born there in spiritual rebirth (see John 3:1-8 AMP). Let your heart be settled and positioned correctly in your relationship with the Almighty.

To those who have been born again from above, He says, “Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet” (Ps. 110:1). Before you go into warfare, recognize that it is not you that the devil is afraid of; it is Christ in you! We have been raised up and seated with Christ in heavenly places (see Ephesians 2:6). This is why the Holy Spirit continues to speak to us that worship of God is our first response in battle. Position yourself in the presence of God. Sit, at rest, in the knowledge that Christ has already made your enemies the footstool for your feet. From a position of rest, the Word of the Lord continues, “The Lord will stretch forth Your strong scepter from Zion, saying, “Rule in the midst of Your enemies’ ” (Ps. 110:2).

Rest precedes rule. Peace precedes power. Do not seek to rule over the devil until you are submitting to God’s rule over you. The focal point of all victory comes from seeking God until you find Him, and after finding Him, allowing His presence to fill your spirit with His peace. From full assurance at His right hand, as you rest in His victory, so will you rule in the midst of your enemies.

The preceding message is adapted from a chapter in Francis’ book

  The Three Battlegrounds
The Shelter of the Most High
This Day We Fight

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This message is adapted from Pastor Frangipane’s revised book, The Three Battlegrounds. As we considered how many political and religious leaders have fallen to immorality, as well as so many others, it seemed right to us that a fresh reminder of this enemy’s deception be added to our discernment.

Elijah, Jehu, and the War Against Jezebel

There is a war, a very ancient war, between the spirit of Elijah and the spirit of Jezebel. In this age-old battle, Elijah represents the interests of heaven: the call to repentance and the return to God. Jezebel, on the other hand, represents that unique principality whose purpose is to hinder and defeat the return of the church to God.

To The Victor Goes Our Nation
To understand the conflict between the Elijah spirit and the spirit of Jezebel, we must understand these two adversaries as they are seen in the Scriptures. Each is the spiritual counterpart of the other. Is Elijah bold? Jezebel is brazen. Is Elijah ruthless toward evil? Jezebel is vicious toward righteousness. Does Elijah speak of the ways and words of God? Jezebel is full of systems of witchcraft and words of deceit. The war between Elijah and Jezebel continues today. The chief warriors on either side are the prophets of both foes; to the victor goes the soul of our nation.

In the tradition of Samuel, Elijah was the head of the school of prophets. Under him were the sons of the prophets—literally hundreds of seers and prophetic minstrels—who proclaimed the Word of the Lord. In this war, however, Jezebel had viciously and systematically murdered all of God’s servants until only Elijah remained (see 1 Kings 18:22). Elijah, as the last of the prophets, then challenged the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of the Asherah to a demonstration of power: their gods against the power of the Lord.

These 850 men were the false prophets, the satanic priests “who ate at Jezebel’s table” (1 Kings 18:19). They were the most powerful, demonized individuals that the hosts of darkness could produce. King Ahab, Jezebel’s husband, sent a message out to “all the sons of Israel” (v. 20), and the nation came to witness the war between the God of Elijah and the demons of Jezebel.

The terms of the challenge were simple: Each was to place an ox upon an altar. Elijah then said, “You call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord, and the God who answers by fire, He is God” (v. 24). Six hours later the cult priests still could produce no fire; twelve hours passed and Elijah began to mock them, “Call out [to Baal] with a loud voice, for he is a god; either he is occupied or gone aside . . . perhaps he is asleep and needs to be awakened” (v. 27). Then, just before evening, Elijah prayed over his sacrifice and “the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt offering.” The Scriptures continue: “When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The Lord, He is God; the Lord, He is God'” (vv. 38-39). Immediately after this powerful witness of the Lord, Elijah had the Hebrews secure the prophets of Baal and all of them were put to death.

We would suppose that, at this point, Elijah would have gone into Jezreel and asked God to finish off Jezebel, but he did not. In fact—and this may surprise you—Elijah came under spiritual warfare. When Jezebel heard what had happened to her servants, in a fit of rage she released a flood of witchcraft and demonic power against Elijah that put fear into his heart, and Elijah fled.

You may ask, How could such a mighty prophet turn and run? The answer is not simple. In fact, the situation worsened. We then see Elijah sitting under a juniper tree, bewailing that he is no better than his fathers—actually praying that he might die! (see 1 Kings 19:4) What pressure overwhelmed this great man of God that he would fall prey to fear and discouragement? He succumbed to the witchcraft of Jezebel.

And now, let the reader understand: When you stand against the principality of Jezebel, even though you resist her lusts and witchcrafts, you must guard against the power-demons of fear and discouragement, for these she will send against you to distract you from your warfare and your victory!

The Drama Continues . . .
It is a mystery, yet biblically true, that under certain conditions the Holy Spirit will transfer a leader’s anointing to one or more uniquely prepared people. This occurred when the Lord took the “Spirit who was upon [Moses], and placed the same upon the seventy elders” (Num. 11:24–25 NKJV). Again, we see the effect of this principle with Joshua, who “was filled with the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him” (Deut. 34:9). Of course, our very salvation reaps the reward of this precept, for Christ is not just a religion, but His actual Spirit and virtue have been imparted to us.

With this concept in mind, we can better accept how the spirit of Elijah was sent to minister through the person of John the Baptist. Once before, Elijah’s spirit had been placed upon another individual. You will remember that Elisha, the prophet who succeeded Elijah, received a double portion of Elijah’s spirit (see 2 Kings 2:9-11). Now, again, the spirit of Elijah was ministering, activating, inspiring and creating in John the Baptist that same kind of intensity that dwelt in Elijah himself. John was to go “as a forerunner before [the Lord] in the spirit and power of Elijah” (Luke 1:17).

Jesus said of the Baptist, “John himself is Elijah who was to come” (Matt. 11:14, see also 17:11-13). John even looked like Elijah. The spiritual influence of Elijah had returned to the world in the person of John the Baptist. Like Elijah, John proclaimed the need for repentance wherever he saw sin. One such area was in the adulterous lives of King Herod and his wife Herodias. When John confronted them, Herodias had him imprisoned (see Mark 6:17-18).

But who was this manipulating and working through the dark, psychic side of Herodias? As Elijah’s spirit ministered through John, so Jezebel had resurfaced through the rebellion of the seductress, Herodius. Remember, through Jezebel’s many witchcrafts (see 2 Kings 9:22), she attacked Elijah, causing fear and discouragement, which led to Elijah’s time of self-doubt and confusion. Now Herodius had come forcibly against the Baptist. This is the prophet who had visibly seen the Spirit descend upon Christ; he heard the Father’s audible voice announcing His beloved Son; he gazed with awe upon the purity of Israel’s Messiah. Now, fear and discouragement are weighing upon the prophet’s shoulders. Doubt floods his soul about Christ: “Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?” (Matt. 11:3).

“A strategic day came when Herod . . . gave a banquet” (Mark 6:21). “Strategic” is the perfect word to describe the timing of this event. For in this war between the spirits of Elijah and Jezebel, Herodias had her daughter dance before Herod, enticing out of him a promise to give whatever she asked. At her mother’s request—more truly, at Jezebel’s request—she demanded and received the head of the Baptist. And temporarily, the confrontation between the spirits of these two eternal enemies subsided.

Elijah Is Coming!
Two thousand years ago, Jesus stated that the ministry of Elijah was not over. He promised, “Elijah is coming and will restore all things” (Matt. 17:11). Also, Malachi the prophet wrote, “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. He will restore . . .” (Mal. 4:5-6). Elijah is coming to war and restore. He came before the great day and he is returning before the terrible day of the Lord.

Remember, however, the principle of impartation. For today, even as God did with Elijah, Elisha and John the Baptist, the Lord is raising up an Elijah company of prophets, Spirit-filled men and women sent forth to prepare the way for the return of Christ!

Let it also be known that if Elijah is coming before Jesus returns, so also is Jezebel. Indeed, do you not see her in our land in the abundance of witchcraft and harlotries? Do you not hear her brazen voice rejecting God’s authority and exalting her rebellion in radical feminism? Have you not, with shame, beheld her as she caused God’s “bond-servants” to “commit acts of immorality” (Rev. 2:20)? Seeing Jezebel so blatantly manifest herself only confirms that the spirit of Elijah is also here bringing repentance and raising up warring prophets throughout our land. In fact, if you are going to serve God during the reign of a “Jezebel,” the warfare itself will thrust you into a prophetic anointing simply that you may survive!

In the Old Testament we see how God destroyed Jezebel. Jehu, the newly crowned king of Israel, was sent by the word of the Lord through Elijah’s successor, Elisha, to fulfill God’s promise. As Jehu and his men furiously drove their chariots toward Jezreel, the kings of Israel and Judah came out to meet him. They asked, “Is it peace, Jehu?” And he answered, “What peace, so long as the harlotries of your mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many?” (2 Kings 9:21-22) And Jehu slew the two kings. Immediately afterward, he rode into Jezreel to confront Jezebel.

The Word tells us that when she saw him, “She put paint on her eyes and adorned her head” and looking out an upper window, she called to him, “”Is it peace, Zimri, murderer of your master?’ And he looked up at the window and said, “Who is on my side? Who?’ So two or three eunuchs looked out at him. Then he said, “Throw her down.’ So they threw her down, and some of her blood splattered on the wall and on the horses; and he trampled her underfoot” (2 Kings 9:30–33 NKJV).

There was something in Jehu’s spirit that we must possess today. While we must be compassionate toward those captured by her influence (see Rev. 2:21), we must show no mercy to the Jezebel spirit itself. Jehu offered Jezebel no hope for reform, no compromise whatsoever. So we must offer this demon no opportunity to probe our soul and unlock vulnerabilities to her “many witchcrafts.” She must be cast down from her high place of influence. Indeed, as she lay bleeding and near death, Jehu “trampled her underfoot!” Likewise, we must follow Christ and fearlessly walk upon this serpent, crushing it under our feet (see Luke 10:19; Rom. 16:20).

So also with us, we must have no tolerance whatsoever for this spirit. There can be no peace, no relaxing under our “fig tree” until the spirit of Jezebel is conquered! We must stop living for comfort as long as her harlotries and witchcrafts are so many in our land. We must refuse to settle for a false peace based on compromise and fear, especially when the Spirit of God is calling for war!

It is significant that the eunuchs cast her down. Some of you who are reading this have been made eunuchs, slaves to this evil spirit. Today, right now, God is giving you the privilege of participating in the eternal judgment against Jezebel. You cast her down! Side with God, and let the judgments of God come forth.

It is time for the prophets to unite against this spirit. Even now, we wash ourselves in the precious blood of Jesus. Under the anointing of Elijah, in the power of the Holy Spirit, let us arise in the indignation of Jehu and cast Jezebel down!

Let’s pray: Heavenly Father, I submit my heart to You. In the name and authority of Jesus Christ, I turn now against the spirit of Jezebel. As a servant of Jesus Christ, I release those who have been Jezebel’s captives, even those reading my words right now! I speak to Jezebel’s “eunuchs”: if you are truly on the Lord’s side, then cast down your sympathetic thoughts toward this evil, cruel master, Jezebel! Renounce her evil imaginations from your mind! In the power of Jesus’ name, I release you from her psychic grip upon your soul. In the authority of the living Christ, walk free from the spirit of Jezebel! Amen.

–From The Three Battlegrounds

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Arnold Schwarzenegger, Anthony Weiner, Mark Sanford, Bill Clinton, Tiger Woods, Eliot Spitzer, John Edwards, Kobe Bryant, and on and on. The list of famous people who have fallen into adultery or sex scandals seems endless. Yet the sequence is always the same: temptation, moral failure, lying to cover up, initial exposure, more evidence mounts, more lies and, finally, public confession, tearful apologies and deep humiliation.

There may be many reasons for the breakdown of marital fidelity, but one primary issue is the influence of the Jezebel spirit. This spirit stimulates heightened sexuality, then exploits these unfulfilled desires in both men and women. It corrupts political leaders and church leaders alike. It runs rampant through the heated hormones of the young and, as a result, is a major cause of abortion.

The church needs to discern the influence of this spirit, especially since so much of Jezebel’s corruption occurs in the darkness and secrecy.


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Keepers of the Springs

 Once upon a time, a certain town grew up at the foot of a mountain range. It was sheltered in the lee of the protecting heights, so that the wind that shuddered at the doors and flung handfuls of sleet against the window panes was a wind whose fury was spent.

 High up in the hills, a strange and quiet forest dweller took it upon himself to be the Keeper of the Springs.

He patrolled the hills and wherever he found a spring, he cleaned its brown pool of silt and fallen leaves, of mud and mould and took away from the spring all foreign matter, so that the water which bubbled up through the sand ran down clean and cold and pure.

It leaped sparkling over rocks and dropped joyously in crystal cascades until, swollen by other streams it became a river of life to the busy town.

Millwheels were whirled by its rush, gardens were refreshed by it’s waters. Fountains three it like diamonds into the air. Swans sailed on its limpid surface and children laughed as they played on its banks in the sunshine.

 But the city council was a group of hard headed, hard boiled business men. They scanned the civic budget and found in it, the salary of the keeper of the springs.

 Said the keeper of the purse, “Why should we pay this romance ranger?  We never see him, he is not necessary to our towns work life. If we build a reservoir just above the town , we can dispense with his services and save his salary.”

 Therefore the City Council voted to dispense with the unnecessary cost of a Keeper of the Springs, and to build a cement reservoir.

So the Keeper of the Springs no longer visited the brown pools but watched from the heights while they built the reservoir.

When it was finished, it soon filled up with water, to be sure, but the water did not seem to be the same. It did not seem to be as clean, and a green scum soon befouled its stagnant surface.

 There were constant troubles wit the delicate machinery of the mills, for it was often clogged with slime, and the swans found another home about the town.

 At last and epidemic raged, and the clammy, yellow fingers of sickness reached into every home in every street and lane.

 The City Council met again. Sorrowfully, it faced the city’s plight, and frankly it acknowledged the mistake of the dismissal of the Keeper of the Springs.

 They sought him out in his hermit hut high in the hills and begged him to return to his former joyous labor. Gladly he agreed and began once more to make his rounds.

 It was not long until pure water came lilting down under tunnels of ferns and mosses and to sparkle in the cleansed reservoir.

 Millwheels turned again as of old, Stenches disappeared. Sickness waned and convalescent children playing in the sun laughed again because the sun had come back.

 Mr. Jones, Meet the Master”  written by, Peter Marshall, Pg, 135-136

  I came across this great story last night as I was doing some reading, and thought of how perfectly it portrayed a relationship with Christ Jesus.

 When we invite him into our lives he comes in and begins the work of cleaning up the “garbage that we have collected in our lives, our sin, hurt, hatred, anger, jealousy, pain.”

 He removes those things from our lives so that His Spirit can flow freely through us, nourishing others around us and filling us with a sense of purpose, life, joy and hope.

 And just like the committee in this story decided that it was no longer necessary to pay the Keeper of the Springs for the up keep of their water source, we often think as we get busy in our lives and move into new seasons that we also can do without the cleansing work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

 Before we know it, we have allowed ourselves to go back into the old patterns of living and thinking, we no longer feel the need to guard our hearts and minds, so our tongue reflects what we have allowed to inhabit our hearts.

Remember a relationship with God is a process, and the process involves you being willing to let the Holy Spirit clean out the old, and clothe yourself with Him instead. When we clothe ourselves with Him, we say yes to Him cleaning out the debris of the old way of living and thinking, daily submitting and surrendering to his will for your life.

 Brothers and sisters, if you find yourself pictured in the above story, where you have no longer felt it necessary to include Jesus in your every day life, I beg you to reconsider your decision. Stop what you are doing and see how destructive it is to go back to the old way of doing things.

 Psalm 51: 10 – 13

10Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.     
11Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.     
12Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.     
13Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you.

 Ask the Holy Spirit to be first in your life again, ask him to cleanse you of wrong thinking, and attitudes that bring destruction upon you. Ask him to search your heart and show you any wickedness so that you may be cleansed, and no longer have the foul smell of sin around you.

 Psalm 139: 23-24

    23Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.     
24See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

 Let the Holy Spirit dwell richly within you, so that you may know the lord, and become a source of living water that will in turn bring life to others around you.

 Colossians 1: 9 – 14

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 
And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 
being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 
giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. 
For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

 I pray that you will see how important it is to have the cleansing work of the Holy Spirit in your life, all of the time.

 Blessings

 

Alcohol Abuse and Teens

Recently I read an article about a new trend in America—parents allowing their teens to drink at home. Apparently, the idea behind this is that drinking in the home setting will demystify alcohol and help the young people learn to drink responsibly.

Before I tell you what I think about that trend, let me share this fact with you. 11% of the alcohol consumed in the United States is consumed by underage kids. That’s a staggering statistic. Alcohol abuse among teens is becoming an enormous problem in America.

With that in mind, here is my comment on parents letting or even encouraging their teenagers to drink at home. With all the kindness and Christian charity this Texan can muster I ask these parents:  Are you nuts? If you follow that same line of thinking, then you’ll also allow them to have sex at home, take drugs at home, lie and cheat at home. That’s just crazy!

It reminds me of a recent graduation party I heard about for the some kids from a Christian school. The parents provided all the alcohol the kids could drink, reasoning that if they drink at the party and gave them a ride home, they’d not be out on the streets drinking and driving. Not only was this a stupid idea, it landed the parents in jail (and rightly so!).

Since they cannot buy it, where do kids find alcohol?  According to government statistics, 56% of current underage drinkers (ages 12-20) reported that their last use of alcohol occurred in someone else’s home; 30% reported that it occurred in their own home. 21% were given it by a parent, guardian, or other adult family member.

Teens will interpret the permission to drink at home (or in their friends’ homes) as permission and training to do it elsewhere.  It won’t teach them responsibility; it is going to teach them to drink even more. In fact, for some kids it can build a taste and desire in them for alcohol throughout their lives. Your teen doesn’t need any more encouragement to use alcohol at their age than they’re getting already.

I am a teen advocate. My career revolves around helping teens and their parents deal with serious issues, and I have seen too many broken hearts and wounded lives as a result of teen alcohol use to take it casually.  A teen’s maturity level is simply not developed enough to make good decisions regarding alcohol. The physical changes to their brains and bodies that they are undergoing mean they cannot properly assess the impact drinking is having on them. And that’s why a kid can be sent off to war at age 18, but by law still cannot drink until age 21. Even so, today’s teen culture is swimming in a sea of alcohol use because the law is rarely enforced.

Regardless of your position on alcohol use by adults (and I know many good people draw that line in different places) I don’t think there’s any question that it is utterly irresponsible for a parent to encourage or give permission to a teen to drink at home. And this especially holds true if there has been anyone in their family on either side who has had a lifelong struggle with alcohol, since this trait could have been passed on to the teen.

Several of the kids at Heartlight at any given time are here primarily because of issues that come from drinking. I asked one of them the other day why she started drinking, and she said, “Because of the people I hung around with.” In order to fit in, this sixteen year old girl began using alcohol despite what her parents had taught her and the fact that her older brother had died in a drunk driving accident.

She said, “I was scared to say no.  I didn’t want to be the outsider.” Your teen is going to face a challenge like that; so have you prepared them for it?

I urge you to take this issue seriously. Your teen will almost certainly be offered drinks by their peers and not want to feel left out.  They will likely have to make a decision about getting into a car with someone who has been drinking. This is the real world, and we as parents need to be preparing them to face those challenges.

Part of that preparation comes from having an ongoing conversation with them about drinking. This isn’t something that can be said once and then left alone. Ask your child questions like “Do any of your friends drink?” “Have you been pressured to drink?” “What do you think about alcohol?” If they respond by saying they “Tried it” I encourage you to thank them for being honest and work with them to understand why it isn’t a good idea for teens to drink.

Because our culture is so accepting of alcohol use by teens, concerned parents need to lay down clear and firm boundaries in this area. Your child needs to know what the consequences will be before they use alcohol. For example, you might tell them that they will lose their car if you learn they have been drinking and driving. And if they get arrested for DUI, you won’t provide bail for them.  That may sound harsh, but consider the alternatives. What will happen if they hit and kill someone while driving drunk? Teens don’t think about those possibilities when they see the glamorous side of drinking presented by our culture. And once they are drunk, they certainly won’t think about it. So it is our job as parents to make sure they consider the consequences before they drink.

Perhaps you might say something like this. “When you are age 21, whether you drink is up to you. Right now, though, it is up to me to make sure you don’t drink. I’m going to draw the line and hold that line to protect you.” Your teen may not like the boundaries you set (although they’ll probably appreciate it more than they would ever admit unless you gave them truth serum) but he needs them, if for nothing else than to tell his peers the dire consequences if he is caught. This is often reason enough for his peers to stop badgering him to drink.

Teenage alcohol use is an issue that needs to be addressed head-on. You may think “my teen will never become an alcoholic, or get arrested for driving under the influence, or get pregnant because she was too drunk to care.” It happens more than you might think it does.  So, what is the best way to respond? When it comes to alcohol use by teens today, passive (“Don’t ask, don’t tell”) parenting certainly won’t protect your teen. Permissive (“Let’s allow kids to drink at home”) parenting can actually encourage it. So it is up to you to practice proactive (“No alcohol until age 21″) parenting, and hold the line.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mark Gregston is an author, speaker, radio host, and the founder and director of Heartlight, a therapeutic boarding school located in East Texas. Call 903-668-2173. Visit http://www.heartlightministries.org,

 or to read other articles by Mark,

visit http://www.markgregston.com.

 

 

 

 

 

What a week this has been!

Have you ever had a week were you might have thought to yourself, “Could I please get a refund, I am not having fun” Well that is how my past week has gone and to be honest, a refund right now will really help.

So what have I learned from this week, well a couple of things?

When you to set your heart and mind to walk closer with the Holy Spirit, endeavoring to trust him moment by moment, that resolve is tested.

My hearts desire is to walk in a deeper, strong and surrendered life with God, but my flesh loves to often have the last say in the matter. As I have tried to remain focused on the lord, and let him guide me, a few things have become very apparent to me.

 The first thing is, that if I am to learn to truly walk in “The Spirit all of the time” that I have to choose to do it every moment, not just sometimes during the day and not others.

I need to pay attention to the voice of the Holy Spirit when he is speaking to me, even about the little things.

 If I don’t I find that I miss what he is trying to lead me into.

 For instance, at the beginning of the week I chose to cancel a meeting that I had scheduled for Sunday, if I had not paid attention to the leading of the Holy Spirit and cancelled the meeting, I would have had a house full of guest and two very sick kids. Instead, thankfully I had listened and cancelled the meeting, and my two kids have had the day to rest and recuperate.

 The other thing that I learned throughout my “give me a refund week” was that when I continually chose to walk closer to God, and things were not always smooth sailing, I knew, that I had a strength to rely on, a wisdom to tap into and a confidence in my God to help me through whatever came my way.

 In the midst of it all, the lord opened my eyes to a little gift that he had for me, and that was another part of the restoration of who I am as his daughter. I had the privilege of being able to attend my son’s high school graduation celebrations. He wore the cap and gown, and looked so grown up that part of me wanted to cry out with pride at all that he has achieved and the other part of me wanted to cry out for my baby, the one I had loved, nurtured, cuddled, tickled, disciplined, laughed with, oh the memories.

 It was bittersweet, as I know that we are now entering a new phase of our lives as his parents, but I know that even in that, as I cling to the lord, for strength, wisdom, counsel and life, he will continue to lead and guide me, and show me how to be the kind of mother, that will welcome my grown son, and one day his future wife into my home. The kind of mother that will pray always for her boy turned man that he will never stray from what God has placed in his heart.

I praise God, that he so lovingly leads us and grows us into people whose hearts belong to him. I praise him that he draws us to him always, and then shows us how to walk his way, a way that will not bring us harm but life.

I don’t know where you are on your walk with God, through his Holy Spirit, today, but I do know that as he is teaching me to walk moment by moment with him, a little nudge here and a nudge there, he wants to do the same with you.

 If this is a new concept for you, “having a personal and moment by moment relationship with God” do not worry about messing up, be concerned about seeking him, he will show you the way, he will speak into your heart what is best for you, and I promise you, he will not lead you down a path that will lead you into destruction.

My prayer for you today, is that you will allow the Holy Spirit, to draw you into a deeper walk with the lord, I pray that you will all him to refresh you, and fill you to the full knowledge of God.

 When you find yourself in a week like I just had, you to can be reassured that the Holy Spirit will be your strength, your hope, your wisdom and your guidance, he will not leave you to figure it out by yourself.

 Take a risk, and trust him today, you will be amazed at how much peace you will experience, through it all.

 

 

 

Encouraging Independence in Your Teen

“I can do this on my own!”  “I don’t need any help!”  “Quit treating me like a child!”  How do you respond to statements like these from your teenager?  Do they upset you, or do you see these as signs of a necessary process taking place?

Rather than viewing such words as a slap in the face from an ungrateful or rebellious child, I encourage you instead to view them as signs that your training is working and that your child is getting ready for adulthood. I’m not saying that anything goes as far as allowing disrespectful words or a really bad attitude, but we need understand that these statements are not inherently rebellious. Look behind the words to what is really going on; it may be that you are holding on too tightly and not giving them enough opportunity to assume responsibility.

A parent asked me recently about the concept I often talk about of extending the rope and giving teens more freedom and responsibility. “How do we know at what stage to do that?” That’s a great question. Here’s how I suggest you go about answering it for your child. First, sit down and establish what you want to accomplish with your child in the next six to twelve months. Come up with a plan to move them from dependence to independence in certain areas.

Once you have identified areas where you want to give them more responsibility, do it now.  Don’t wait. If you are just thinking about doing it, it probably should have already happened. If you hold on, they will have to fight for it, and that increases tension. Picture this: let’s say you told your teenage daughter she could have a cell phone when she’s fifteen. So give it to her at fourteen and a half. Say something like, “I appreciate the way you’ve taken responsibility and I believe you’re ready for this now instead of later.” She will look at you in a different way and appreciate it far more than she would have if she had gotten it when she was entitled, as a 15th birthday present.

Most kids do a good job of stepping up when they’re given responsibility. If we wait until we think they’re ready, the seeds of rebellion from frustration may already be growing. By gradually increasing their responsibility and freedoms before we think they are capable of handling them, we are helping prepare them for the future and preventing the negative feelings that they aren’t trusted. Let me share with you a few practical steps that go a long way toward promoting independence in your older teen’s life.

Give them room to decide some things on their own.

It’s tempting for parents to make all the choices for their teens. It’s faster, and there isn’t a battle every time. But making decisions for your teen can be destructive to their independence. Decision-making is a skill that only comes with practice. It isn’t something that’s magically conferred on them when they turn 18 or 21. Letting them make choices means that they will probably do some things wrong and make poor choices, but they’ll learn from those, too.

For example, instead of telling them what time to get up, ask them what time they think they should get up, and remind them you will not take them if they are late. If they say 7 o’clock when you know the bus comes at 7:15, just say, “Okay.” Then, after they miss the bus and have to find their own way to school, they may reconsider their decision—but they will have learned the lesson rather than having you make the choice for them. Let them figure it out on their own.

Don’t continually force your opinion on them.

We sometimes don’t trust what we have taught our children. Did you ever plant a garden or some flowers? What happens if you yank the seeds out every day to see if they’re growing? No plants and no flowers! Give the truths that you have poured into their hearts and minds some time and space to take root and grow.

God promises that His Word produces results in time. Let your teenager develop their own spiritual ideas and opinions rather than forcing them to parrot yours exactly. One of the reasons that so many Christian young people stop going to church when they leave home is that their faith never became their own; it was always their parents’ faith. They went along with it for as long as they had to, but once they left home they no longer had a reason to go. Remember, we are responsible to teach our children about God, but we cannot make them accept our faith in God as their own faith.

Major on the majors, not the minors.

Face it, some things simply don’t matter that much. They may matter to you, but do they matter to your child’s future? Some parents spend a lot of time focusing on the minor things like appearance. Even if you don’t particularly love their latest haircut or shirt style, if it isn’t an issue of modesty, it’s not worth making a federal case out of it. Allow them the freedom to express their own personality.

The music I liked as a teen drove my parents crazy. They couldn’t understand why I liked that “noise.” But even though I may not like a particular type of music a teen enjoys, if they are suicidal or on drugs or dealing with major anger issues, music isn’t going to be my focus. I want to spend my time on the things that matter most, and allow the teens to develop their own tastes. Believe me, it’s amazing how much their tastes will change over time, and before long they’ll like much of the same music you and I do. For now, they will mostly listen to what their friends are, so they can keep up on it and not appear to be out of touch with their culture.

Don’t drive them crazy.

Many parents of teens use the “Spare the rod and spoil the child” approach, saying it is scriptural, while overlooking the “Fathers, do not exasperate your children” reference. The definition of “exasperation” includes a number of words that clearly describe the situation like: “make furious, irritate, provoke, annoy, anger, inflame, infuriate, exacerbate, make worse, enrage, and aggravate.” Using the same discipline technique in the teen years as when they were young will lead to exasperation. It just doesn’t work with teens, and it turns them against their parents. Oh, they may appear more docile, but it is likely that they are seething inside or broken in spirit. There are better ways to discipline a teenager which usually entail letting them feel the “pain” of the loss of privileges and added duties.

Some may read the “Do not exasperate” verse thinking that the intent of the writer was to only to discourage parents from abandoning, cursing, demoralizing, abusing, or screaming at their child. However, I believe teenagers can also be exasperated by parents who treat them still as children, not as thinking, reasoning, pre-adults.

In conclusion, I want to remind you that the measurement of good character is not just following all the rules; it is the presence of taking initiative and thinking well and responding properly to life’s challenges. One of our primary responsibilities as parents is to train our children and give them the tools to be successful adults. By promoting independence in growing and appropriate ways as they get older, we are preparing them to make good decisions and move ahead confidently into life on their own.

We talked about this issue in depth on our radio program last week titled “Helping Independence Happen.” To listen online, look for the program dated May 21, 2011 at http://www.parentingtodaysteens.org.

Our topic on the weekend radio program this week is “Alcohol Abuse” – Times are changing, and our kids face mounting peer pressure to experiment with alcohol. But when a teen is caught drinking, parental involvement is a must. I’ll help you discuss alcohol abuse with your teen. Look for it on your local station or online after Saturday morning at http://www.parentingtodaysteens.org.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mark Gregston is an author, speaker, radio host, and the founder and director of Heartlight, a therapeutic boarding school located in East Texas.