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The Battle
by Tamara Bernal
Tamara Bernal has written for various Child Care Resource and Referral newsletters, Helium, blogs on MySpace and for Internet subscribers to my Seeds for the Harvest email list.

Picture an American Civil war style military formation, the kind where the armies’ line up in row after row hundreds or thousands deep and face each other on the battlefield. They simply march into each other fighting and shooting.

You are standing at a distance looking at one of the armies. All of the soldiers are lined up in perfect formation. As your view draws nearer you see that the ranks are made up of whole families. They are mothers, fathers, teenagers, young children and babies. Now you are closer and can see their faces. They are people that you know. These troops are all Christian families. You notice that many of them look bored or distracted others have blindfolds on their eyes and others have a gag around their mouth. Their weapons are dangling at their side or half shoved in their pockets. The leader makes a call to begin marching forward and suddenly most of the first row of soldiers’ drops to the ground. Most of them were young children and teenagers, then a parent drops and another, then and on and on it goes. The blood shed is great and the casualties are many. As you look toward the direction from which the gunfire and bombs are coming you see that the enemy is not lined up in perfect formation but is fighting in a guerrilla warfare style of combat. They are hiding behind trees and under rocks and barricades. They are taking only a few flesh wounds but no serious damage.

You look back at the army of Christian families and see that fewer and fewer are marching forward. Many have fallen, many retreated and some simply stood numbly unaware that there even was a battle raging around them. You feel proud that some are still advancing but wonder why they don’t reconsider their approach to this battle.

You start to get very upset by what you are witnessing but how do you help? You wonder “why are they just doing things the same way and not realizing that it is not working”? You start screaming at them to take cover in the shelter provided, you shout “use your weapons” as loud as you can. Some listen and some ignore you and some even begin to scream back at you that “we have always done it this way and we are not going to change!” The most disturbing thing that you see is many of the fallen, bleeding survivors begin crawling , limping or walking over toward the enemy camp waiving a white flag and they are quickly welcomed.

This illustration is of a vision I had about a month ago while in prayer. It was very vivid and very disturbing because I saw many people I know and love being shot down and overtaken by the enemy.

Look around your world, how many marriages and families are being torn apart? How many young people are more interested in the things that the world offers than the things of God? How many teens do you know, or know of, that are in serious trouble? Many are trapped in alcohol abuse, drugs, hopelessness, violence, depression, thoughts of suicide, promiscuity, sexually transmitted diseases, have undergone abortions, have been sexually abused or even just have no sense of purpose for their existence. Many parents are dealing with these same issues in their own lives and become so wrapped up that they don’t realize the damage they are doing. They are passing on a generational curse.

I should say though that as a parent you don’t have to be struggling with the above named issues to do damage. Apathy and lack of communication with your children can be equally damaging. That may sound like a harsh statement. It is not my intent to be harsh only speak the truth in love.

I would also like to take this opportunity to clear up some misconceptions. You can be the most disciplined, organized parent who makes it to all of the sporting events and concerts; you can boast about all of the achievements that your child has accomplished and still be completely off the mark!

If you don’t take the time to really know your child their likes and dislikes, and the uniqueness of their person you will miss out on the very thing God intended for you and your child. I don’t mean reading their journal and listening in on their phone calls. I mean real conversations about life and politics and the things of God. Listen to the tales of the drama between them and their friends. Talk with them about the ugly things going on in the world. Give them a biblical perspective on these things. Teach them to be as wise as serpents and as gentle as doves.

Many parents are afraid to be real with their children. Some believe that they can shelter their kids from the world, others are struggling with shame over past sins and more still have the belief that they are “just kids” and can deal with those issues when they grow up. Here is a blaring newsflash for you! They are dealing with them now!

If you do not talk with your children and prepare them for life in the real world they will be consumed in the battle. The enemy has dispatched his army to capture the hearts and minds of our sons and daughters. Do not be fooled. If you don’t tell them the truth and prepare them and partner with them someone else is just waiting to get a hold of them.

Share your heart with them, let them know who you are; the good the bad and the ugly. Joel 1: 1-3 encourages us to pass our story down “from generation to generation.” They will learn from your successes and failures. Be willing to say I’m sorry. Don’t pretend that you have never done anything sinful or try to justify your reasons for sinning now. Hypocrisy is the number one killer of trust and respect. Manipulative guilt trips run a close second. Practice what you preach; and when you fail, apologize and repent before them.

Jesus, himself, has a lot to say about children He commissions us with great responsibilities in his Sermon on the Mount. (Matthew 18:5-6 ) And anyone who welcomes a little child like this in my name is welcoming me. but if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.

I know that many parents think that they won’t get respect from their children if they are too open with them. First of all, pray for discernment. I am not saying that when your child is two years old you treat him like he’s your best friend or like he is 16 years old. What I am saying is if you lay a solid foundation of the principal of right and wrong while your child is very young, when they begin to voice their disagreement with you; let them. You must teach them to express their disagreements respectfully i.e. No name calling or hitting you or “I hate you” by this you will show them that you respect their feelings but that you must also be respected. If you respond to your little one with whining or by throwing your own tantrum, because they did, you will not gain their respect. On the other hand if you are harsh and you don’t allow them to feel, anything, you are teaching them to stuff their anger and it will manifest somewhere else guaranteed! Be consistent with your decisions, all while acting in love, your child will grow and learn to communicate respectfully with you.

A love statement to parents: I most certainly have not done everything right with my sons. I certainly don’t claim to have it all figured out.

I am, however, on a quest to learn as much as possible from the Word of God and in prayer and take what I can from teachers such as Dr. Dobson and other wise parents. Being a “good parent” shouldn’t be defined by the house they live in or the money they make, it’s not defined by the child’s good grades or achievements it is not defined by how many times you do or don’t go to church in a week or volunteer at the school or if your house is spotless and your closets organized. Doing those things are good but just as our relationship with the Lord is measured and strengthened by the time we spend sharing our heart with Him and truly getting to know him in a deep intimate way so it is in our relationship with our children.

In 2000, George Barna did a survey of teenagers and asked who teens say most influences their faith. The results are as follows: Clergy 10ÀPeers 18ÀChurch 25Àand Parents 60àThey really are watching and listening! You may not think you are called to children’s or youth ministry but if you have children, you are!

I believe that we as the body of Christ must look at the condition of our troops. The divorce rate is higher in the church than in the world. Our kids, as a group, are not doing much better than those who know nothing of God. By sharing the vision and my insights I hope to sound an alarm of sorts. We cannot approach the war thinking that the way our church, our family, our tradition has always done things is going to be enough if those things are all we are relying on to get us through. The Lord left us His Word and His Holy Spirit to help, teach, guide and arm us for such a time as this.

Dear Lord Jesus;
You are amazing and your love for us so abundant! Lord, help us to lead our children by the example of your love. Help us to confront our own issues and be healed so that we can walk in the freedom that you offer. Help us to have the relationship with them that you desire for us. Help us to be discerning and to train them up in the way which you designed them to go. Keep us from the sin of hypocrisy and from having a critical spirit. Help us to learn to be servant leaders in our families that our children might truly know your character by the way we represent you in our daily speech and actions. Oh Lord, help us to prepare an army of warriors who know that we don’t struggle against flesh and blood but against powers and principalities; who are full of the gifts of the spirit and will walk the earth setting the captives free by speaking your truth in love and living according to your will.

In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Published: Aug 30,2008 09:33
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