Ash Wednesday is quickly approaching, March 1st, and the first day of Lent is March 5th. It’s during this time when believers reflect on their walk with Jesus and fast or abstain from many things to weaken their flesh and focus on life in the Spirit. Many times, we don’t include children in our Lenten fasts. However, the Lord shared with me a great and necessary fast that we can all do with our little ones this year.
Calling Them Out
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” 1 Peter 2:9 (NIV).
“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit” Proverbs 18:21 (NIV).
One of our jobs as godly parents is to “call out” of our children who God created them to be. Calling out means to teach them who they are in Christ and constantly remind them of what God says about them. We do this by teaching them the Word of God and constantly speaking it into their lives. This is important because there are strong opposing voices in the world trying to convince our children that their lives don’t matter and that they are not unique and valuable. As a result, the behavior of many of our young people reflect the negative conditioning. As believers in Christ, God gives us the power and authority to speak against those voices and to cast them down in the lives of our children.
There was an article on the internet recently about Chance the Rapper. He said there was a period in his life when he started to do drugs and engage in negative behaviors. He said one day his grandmother came to him and told him she didn’t like the person he was becoming, and she prayed against it. Chance said the prayer felt like a curse over his life because shortly after, every negative thing he tried to do failed, and he finally came to the realization of who God is and how God was active in his life. Chance the Rapper’s story is a powerful reminder for parents of the power and authority in Christ we have to “call out” our children from darkness into the light of Jesus Christ.
Canceling Contrary Voices
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”—Ephesians 6:12 (NIV).
My three-year old daughter loves music, and she can sing along to many songs. We listen to all types of music. However, the Lord recently showed me how music and other forms of media like television and print condition and teach our children who they are in this world. Of course, the majority of those messages are opposed to what God says about them. Here are a few lyrics to popular songs that teach our children about their worth as men and women:
“Take all of me. I just want to be the girl you like, the kind of girl you like”—Beyonce “Partitition.”
“All I want for my birthday is a big booty hoe. When I die, bury me inside the Gucci store. When I die, bury me inside the Louis store”—2 Chainz “Birthday Song.”
“I ain’t gotta flex, boy I got it oh oh ooh. Give that hoe some ex, she gon’ wanna sex, every nigga in the set, now she’s just screaming like oh oh oh ooh”—Rich Homie Quan “Flex.”
These songs also come with graphic videos that reinforce negative images and messages. The song lyrics are extreme and no child should listen to this kind of music, but these songs come on the radio every day, and many of our children and youth know these songs. They teach our children to objectify women, disregard the sanctity of their body and sexuality, the commodification of ourselves, how to operate in relationships (dysfunctional ones) and many other destructive messages contrary to the Word of God. Television, print media and social media are equally powerful.
This Year’s Lenten Fast
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke” Isaiah 58:6 (NIV)?
As a result, the fast the Lord is calling for parents in this season is one of shutting out the contrary voices in the lives of our children and youth and amplifying the voice of God.
I believe this is imperative because we have a generation of children and youth who don’t know who they are and who God created them to be. They don’t know the power they possess, and they’re destroying themselves and others as a result. We only need to point to places like Chicago where the youth are dying at alarming numbers as a result of gang and gun violence. Chicago is not unique. These kinds of tragedies happen everywhere.
A man and a two year old child were killed in this shooting.
“Who told you that you were naked?” (Genesis 3:11)
After Adam and Eve sinned, covered themselves with fig leaves and hid from God, they gave God the excuse that they hid because they were naked. God responded by asking them who told them they were naked. God raised this question because the message Adam and Eve gave God was contrary to what He told them. God knew Adam and Eve were talking to someone other than Him, and the message they received was meant to destroy them.
Our children and youth are living by contrary messages. These messages are from the pit of hell because they’re meant to steal, kill and destroy. God wants us as parents to take an honest look at our children and teenagers and see if they are behaving and acting out in ways because of the contrary messages they receive every day. Then God wants us to consider the source of those messages and raise the questions:
“Who told you you were ugly?”
“Who told you you couldn’t succeed?”
“Who told you you weren’t precious and valuable”
“Who told you your life didn’t matter?”
“Who told you it was a sin and crime to be black?”
“Who told you God doesn’t love you?”
“Who told you I don’t love you?”
The Children’s Lenten Fast: Think on These Things
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things”—Philippians 4:8 (NIV).
God wants us to shut out every contrary voice in our children’s lives and replace it with the Word of God and messages that line up with scripture. This means replacing secular music with music that affirms and teaches who we are in Christ. This means closely monitoring television programs. This means sitting down with our children and youth daily and reading the Word of God with them. This means speaking the Word of God over our children every morning before they go to school. Use this 2017 Lenten season to shut out the negative messages around our children and replace them with the amplified voice of God. I know we will see a change in our children. I know God’s Word in our children’s lives will not return void. I believe that the Holy Spirit will use this season to make the Word of God take root in the lives of our children and teenagers so they will produce much fruit in their lives.
An example of how we can speak God’s Word into our children’s lives.
Please let me know in the comments, if you plan on doing this fast with your children for Lent or if the Lord has showed you another fast.