Do you know how to plug into the power and understanding that God has for you? Try these seven steps for guaranteed results! If you have already taken some of these steps in your life, focus on the ones that you haven’t yet taken, or those that you feel you have but could improve in.
Step One: Connect with the One Who Has the Answers
Our human resources sometimes hardly seem sufficient to attend to our own needs and problems, let alone take care of others, yet serving others is a daily reality for parents. Parents are on call day and night. Children need you for nearly everything. You are the one they run to for help, love, sympathy, protection, care, and comfort. You are their provider. But it may not take you long to realize that you also need a Provider and Comforter to run to, Someone you can go to anytime, anyplace, under any circumstance to find help and comfort. If you have not received Jesus as your parenting partner yet, do so now.
God sent us His Son Jesus to be an ever-present help. When you open your life to Jesus, you plug into God and God’s power; you gain access to the very Source of all life, light, and supernatural power. And it’s not just for the moment, but He promises you will have His life, His light and His power for all eternity in Heaven!
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). If Jesus had come to us in this Computer Age, He might have phrased it, “You can access God through Me. I am your service provider. I am your interface to God. I am the one and only Connector there is between God and you.”
“For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:5-6).
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
“But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name” (John 1:12 KJV).
“And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:28).
All that you or your loved ones need to do to receive Jesus and plug into God’s love, light and power for eternity is to pray a simple prayer from your heart asking for His help. “Jesus, I believe in You. Please come into my life. Forgive the wrong that I have done in life, and fill me with the love and power and eternal life You have promised to everyone that calls out to You. Amen.”
Finding the Secret Well
A little story from the Bible helps illustrate the wonderful power Jesus has to change people’s lives right where they are, whatever their situation. Sometime or other we all feel weak, empty, dry, hard and brittle within. We long for a drink of the cool refreshing living waters of hope, joy, and peace of mind.
In Palestine, about two thousand years ago, a woman came quietly one day to fetch water from the communal well. It happened to be a very famous well, called Jacob’s well, after the patriarch who had dug it. The woman was a Samaritan, from the town of Sychar. From all appearances, her life had thus far been a failure. She had been married five times. Everyone in town knew her and had an opinion about her. She steeled herself against the gossip and yet more heartbreak by putting up a tough front. She was interested in God and spiritual things, but skeptical and confused by the different things she’d heard.
At the well, this troubled woman met a Stranger. She was shocked that He spoke directly to her, because He was a Jew, and Jewish customs did not allow Jews to have any dealings with Samaritans. The Man asked her to draw water for Him from the well. She was prepared to do so, but being a bold soul herself, she asked Him for an explanation. Why was He ignoring society’s rules to talk to her?
The Man told her that if she knew who was asking her for this act of kindness, she would ask Him for water. He obviously had nothing to draw water with, so how could He get water for her? Was the Fellow just playing games with her or trying to flirt? She decided to ask Him some more questions. Soon she discovered that the Man she was talking to was Jesus, the promised Messiah, the One sent by God to save the world. The water He spoke of giving her was not the water of this world but the living, refreshing, inspiring water of God’s Spirit. And the place God wanted people to worship Him was in their hearts and spirits.
After Jesus told the woman her past, the woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”
Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. … But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:19-24).
We do not know how many children this woman had, if any, or what kind of a parent she was, but we do know that those few minutes by the well with Jesus completely turned this woman’s life around. God suddenly became so close, so real, so personal, so present, so loving, and so easy to make a connection with. It was as simple as opening her heart to Jesus. The woman not only plugged into the power of God that day, but immediately set about getting her whole town plugged in. They may have thought she was a bit wild and crazy at first, but they listened to her and then they came to listen to Jesus and they also believed (John 4:28-30,39-42).
God is ready to begin a brand-new relationship with you right now today just as you are—and tomorrow He will continue to be right there, ready to take you even further. It is the miracle of His love. He loves to make all things new, including you. If you haven’t already, please share this simple story and the prayer to receive Jesus with your loved ones and children. Let them also drink living water from the Fountain of eternal life, Jesus, and find in Him a Friend who will also be close and true.
Are All the Children In?
I think ofttimes as the night draws nigh,
Of an old house on the hill,
Of a yard all wide and blossom-starred
Where the children played at will.
And when the night at last came down,
Hushing the merry din,
Mother would look around and ask,
“Are all the children in?”
‘Tis many and many a year since then,
And the old house on the hill
No longer echoes to childish feet,
And the yard is still, so still.
But I see it all as the shadows creep,
And though many the years have been,
Even now, I can hear my mother ask,
“Are all the children in?”
I wonder if, when the shadows fall
On the last short, earthly day,
When we say goodbye to the world outside,
All tired with our childish play,
When we step out into that Other Land
Where Mother so long has been,
Will we hear her ask, as we did of old, “Are all the children in?”
And I wonder, too, what the Lord will say,
To us older children of His.
Have we cared for the lambs? Have we showed them the fold?
A privilege joyful it is.
And I wonder, too, what our answers will be,
When His loving questions begin:
“Have you heeded My voice? Have you told of My love?
Have you brought My children in?”
Step Two: Get Filled Up with the Holy Spirit
Parenting takes a lot of wisdom, patience, insight, and spiritual strength. When Jesus departed this earth for Heaven, He knew that “parenting” His movement would take great courage and spiritual power to accomplish. To help His disciples carry on, Jesus promised to send them a Comforter, the Holy Spirit. “John … baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now [and] you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:5,8). Jesus was true to His word, and shortly after His ascension, hundreds of believers received a powerful infilling of the Holy Spirit.
Why do you, as a parent, need the Holy Spirit? Like salvation, the power and presence of the Holy Spirit working in one’s life in its fullness is a tremendous spiritual gift from God. God’s Holy Spirit helps you become a better parent because it spiritually empowers you and gives you more of God’s own wisdom and understanding.
Solomon became wise by God’s Spirit. Samson’s great strength came from the Holy Spirit. And the Bible tells us that the Pharaoh of Egypt set Joseph over all the land because of the wisdom that the Spirit of God had given him (Genesis 41:38). Jesus promised His disciples that the Holy Spirit would teach them all things, and bring all things to their remembrance (John 14:26).
To be filled with the Holy Spirit, all you need to do is ask! (Luke 11:9-13). Just say a simple prayer like the following: “Dear Jesus, I know that I need more of Your love and power in my life, so please fill me with Your Holy Spirit right now. Help me to love others, to develop a closer relationship with You, to understand Your Word better, and put it into practice in my life. Please give me love, strength, and wisdom through Your Spirit filling me.”
(God’s gifts of salvation and the Holy Spirit are big topics, and there’s a lot you can learn about their significance in your life. For a more in-depth explanation, see God’s Gifts, in the Get Activated series.)
Step Three: Study God’s Word
The Bible is a great parenting handbook, as evidenced by the “Bible Study on Childcare and Training” that you’ll find at the end of this booklet. It also has the answers to so many fundamental questions in life—questions that all parents need answers to almost as soon as their children can talk: Where do we come from? How did we get here? Who is God? Why do people die? What happens to people when they die? Will I ever get to see God? What are angels? And many more.
Not only is God’s Word a good source of answers to life’s basic questions, it is also one way that God has chosen to help us learn to discern between right and wrong in our lives and the lives of our children, and to have the courage to follow the right, even when it’s tough to do so.
It is also through reading and believing God’s recorded Word that we gain the faith and strength to carry on through the trying times that we all as parents face at some time or another. “Faith comes by hearing … the Word of God” (Romans 10:17).
So it stands to reason that reading God’s Word is one of the most important things you can do to grow in faith and learn about God. Reading, studying, memorizing, meditating upon, and then following the advice and counsel in God’s Word will literally transform your life. As you teach your children to do the same, they will build a strong foundation of love and faith that will help them weather the storms of life they are certain to encounter when they get older.
In a world of rapid changes and sometimes fickle friends, children need and appreciate the constancy and stability offered by hearing God’s Word read to them. You and they can find comfort in hearing God Himself promising that they can safely believe what He tells them. That even if everything else fails, His Word cannot and will not fail, and He will continue to care for them. “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My Words will by no means pass away” (Luke 21:33). With God’s help and guidance from His Word, children gain confidence that they have a strong connection with the One who can help them make it safely through the maze of life.
God’s Word contains many very encouraging promises that parents can hold onto. God’s Word is like His contract, His agreement as your partner, so it’s to your advantage to read what He has to say. After all, He is the only One who really does know everything there is to know about everything, especially raising the precious children He gave you.
God promises that as you seek His truth by drinking in His Word, you will become like a fruitful tree, planted by a fresh, clear, unending water supply (Psalm 1:2-3). As you drink in the living water of His Word, it will help you bear good fruit in the children you are raising. “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life” (Proverbs 11:30). Pray for guidance as you read God’s Word. As you study it, ask Him to speak to your heart, and show you how you can apply it to your personal situation and life, and in the upbringing of your children.
“The entrance of Your Words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple” (Psalm 119:130).
“When you roam, they [God’s Words] will lead you; when you sleep, they will keep you; and when you awake, they will speak with you” (Proverbs 6:22).
Step Four: Talk to God
“Love, humility and prayer solve all problems.”—David Brandt Berg
Let’s face it: We all fail as parents sometimes. We make mistakes; we get frustrated, upset, and angry; we do not have the patience we need. It happens to everybody. But if, when we realize that we just can’t handle a situation, we stop, pray, and humbly look to God for His help, then we can find solutions.
Make it a daily habit to take a break—or several throughout the day—to talk to God, if only for a few moments. Put the world on pause and stop and pray before things get too hectic or out of hand. When you feel the pressure mounting, quiet yourself and talk things out with Him. We love to be able to answer our children’s questions and help them solve their problems, and God is the same way with us.
Don’t try to sort out the problem yourself. Stop and get God’s answers. Don’t try to keep going until you explode and say or do things in haste that you will later regret. Take a few quiet moments to get refilled from the reservoir of love, peace, strength, and confidence that God opens up when you draw close to Him. Reading a few verses of Scripture or other inspirational writings can settle and lift your spirit during these quiet moments.
If possible, have your spouse, a friend, or an older child take care of the kids for a few moments—or longer if possible––while you recharge. But even if there’s no one else around, you can still stop for a moment or two to shoot up a little prayer for help, and God can give you the strength and wisdom that you need to handle the situation on the spot.
Don’t forget that your children also need the peace, inner strengthening, and reassurance that come through prayer. It can draw you closer together as a family too. Impart this habit to them by having special prayer time together. Morning, mealtime, and bedtime prayers are wonderful times to let your children share in the blessings that come through praying together. It can draw you closer together as a family, too.
Step Five: Listen to God
Radio and television are amazing inventions. Invisible waves fill the air around us with thousands of sights and sounds that we only get to see or hear when we use special electronic equipment that captures these signals and translates them for us. As amazing as these inventions are, the human being is even more incredible in his ability to communicate beyond the physical, with worlds of the spirit where our Creator dwells. The human spirit can reach out to things unseen, beyond our normal senses.
Most children are particularly sensitive to the spirit world. They see angels, talk to God, and fly away from this world in their dreams. They have an innocently simple and trusting faith in the world beyond. No wonder Jesus said that we need to become more like children to enter His kingdom.
Although sometimes a little more difficult for us than for children, we too can learn to listen to God for the answers we need and to hear the things He wants to tell us about the care of our children—or anything else we need help with, for that matter.
Fortunately, God doesn’t expect us to face and figure out how to raise our children in this world, with all its challenges and problems, on our own! It’s too much, too hard for us. We don’t have the wisdom, the strength, or understanding, but God does and He wants to tell us just what we need to do if we will listen. Learning to listen to God can be a little like being in a crowded room or a noisy eating place where everyone is talking and your friend speaks to you but you don’t hear her. Once you know she is talking to you, you give her your full attention and really tune in.
The cafeteria of life can get very confusing and noisy, and you might be tempted to say, “If only God would talk to me and just tell me what to do!” But the fact is that God is right there trying to get your attention and talk to you. His Spirit is at work on our hearts all the time, trying to lead us, trying to show us, trying to bring us to an understanding of the way that we should go. Once you realize this, it becomes much easier for you to stop, block out the world around you, and turn your heart to Him. If you get quiet and ask Him to speak and give you solutions and directions, He will answer. You’ll then be able to hear His voice in your heart telling you what to do, or maybe whispering some words of encouragement and comfort that will give you the strength and faith you need.
If you are always hurrying around and fretting impatiently, you will never be able to focus your full attention—your eyes, your ears, your mind, your heart—on the Lord, for the solutions to your problems, the answers to your questions, the best decision for your situation.
“In quietness and confidence shall your strength be” (Isaiah 30:15). You are going to have to get quiet by yourself—somewhere, somehow, sometime—if you are going to hear from God. With most people, prayer is a one-way conversation—and they do all the talking. But prayer is not just speaking your piece, but letting God speak His, too!
You should hear from God every day! It doesn’t have to be out loud; it doesn’t have to be with an audible voice. It can just be in that “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12) that you feel inside of you, sometimes not even words, just an impression that you have. God doesn’t have to communicate in words; He can just give you a feeling or a picture or an idea.
God’s Spirit is like a broadcasting station, broadcasting all the time. You just have to learn how to tune in. If you’ve got an open channel and tune in, the Lord will fill you—your mind, your heart, your ears, your eyes. You just have to have faith. Jesus speaks any time, anywhere, if you believe—any time you believe! So when you ask the Lord for an answer, expect an answer, and take the first thing that comes. If you really believe and ask the Lord, and you want to hear or see, you won’t be disappointed. And that thing you see or hear with the eyes or ears of your spirit, that’s from the Lord—and it will be such a comfort to you. Expect God to answer! Just open up your heart and let the sunshine in.
—David Brandt Berg
Just as the tiniest turn of the wheel at the helm will set a great ship on a different course, so in life small changes in direction—especially as inspired by God—can set you and your children on a whole new and happier course in life. Following the right counsel and taking the right course of action at the right time distinguishes a person as wise (Proverbs 12:15; 23:19; Ecclesiastes 8:5). Listening to God can help make you a wiser parent.
God’s voice of direction can come in many forms. He can speak to us as we read His Word, through it showing us the way to go. Sometimes He will speak to us in His still small voice while we are quiet in prayer, communing with His Spirit, praising Him, or calling upon Him for help. Sometimes He may speak to us through dreams or visions. Sometimes His voice comes through the godly counsel of a friend. Still other times we will hear His voice in our hearts or minds, giving us His advice or comfort.
It seems quite incredible to some that God Himself is very willing to communicate directly with each of us. Still, people everywhere are discovering that God very literally speaks to them, giving them instruction or words of encouragement, or reminding them of verses they have read from His Word, or in other ways—such as a strong intuition or tug of the heart—clearly, simply showing them just what to do. When we call out to God and ask Him for help or direction in our roles as parents and caretakers, He will give it. He promised, “Ask, and it will be given you; seek and you will find” (Matthew 7:7).
“In all your ways acknowledge Him [God], and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:6).
“When the Spirit of truth [the Holy Spirit] has come, He will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13).
“Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left” (Isaiah 30:21).
Step Six: Keep Thanking God for Everything
How happy it makes us when our children show their appreciation in a note, a little bouquet of flowers, an attempt at giving us breakfast in bed, a spontaneous kiss on the cheek, or the like. Expressing your thankfulness and appreciation to God is just as pleasing to Him and sets a very good example to our children. Showing God your thankfulness can actually lift and revitalize your own spirit as you do it, and it helps your children also appreciate God and others more.
The Bible says, “The joy of the Lord is my strength. You, O Lord, are the One who lifts up my head” (Nehemiah 8:10; Psalm 3:3). We parents sometimes need a lot of extra strength and someone to come along and “lift up our heads”—or our spirits—especially if things are going wrong with one of our children. At times like that, it takes a lot of faith to trust God in spite of what seems to be happening. To “know that all things work together for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28), to believe that God is still in control, to be sure that He loves you and will never leave you, to stay positive when sorely tested—all that takes real faith. The way to express faith is to thank God for everything, even seemingly bad things, knowing that He has a reason for it all.
And you’ll find that as you keep praising and thanking Him, you’ll lift right out of your discouragement and heaviness of heart.
“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name” (Psalm 100:4).
Step Seven: Live in the Love of God
The shortest and simplest description of God in the Bible is found in 1 John 4:8: “God is love.” God is love, and by inference all true love is a reflection of God. As parents, we know that our human love often falls way short of the mark. We are sometimes impatient, we lose our temper, and we may say things to our spouse or children that we wish we could just erase. We feel terrible. We know we are not perfect and do not have perfect love. The good news is that we don’t have to go on operating only on our own limited love supply. God is happy to empower us with His own richer, deeper love that can transform even a bad situation into something good.
The next time you run out of love and are ready to explode, take action immediately to unplug from the anger and the upset. Put your emotions and angry thoughts on hold for a moment, pull back, and look up. Take a deep breath and ask God to give you His love and understanding. He can give you peace in the midst of what seems like a storm.
Like all the other wonderful things available from God, His love is free anytime, anywhere. You just have to stop and ask. It is a powerful, all-embracing, creative force that can transform our lives and how we feel and think about things in a moment. The apostle Paul describes some of the qualities of this love in 1 Corinthians 13: It is able to suffer long (be patient, enduring) and yet remain kind; it does not envy others or parade proudly about; it is not rude or selfish or antagonistic; it does not think evil of others or take pleasure in wickedness. This kind of love is able to believe more, hope more, and endure more, because it comes from faith and trust in God and from His Spirit of love. In short, it is the kind of love that cannot fail. That’s exactly the kind of love a parent needs.
Much of the message Jesus preached focused on letting God’s love work in our lives––learning to love God with our whole hearts, and our children and our neighbors as ourselves. The apostle John describes this godly, perfect love as follows: