Parent advice

Some tips from a different perspective
Image by Nicki Varkevisser CC BY 2.0 Cropped

For Christian parents

Christian based content

The strongman

On a recent flight to Russia, we were surrounded by six drunk Russian men. They had also smuggled flagons of alcohol on board the flight, so they were very drunk. Our 21 year old female team leader came under their attention and the men became increasingly obnoxious and started stroking her face and hair. Our leader (Diane) became very distressed and couldn’t escape their attention. The flight was fully booked so there were no spare seats available.

Nothing we did or said to her would console or comfort her. It was up to me as the older member of the team to take action. With great uncertainty, I told the men to leave Diane alone. My grasp of Russian is very sketchy, but with the few words I knew and the tone of my voice, they complied and they left her alone for the rest of the flight. There were a few more minor episodes during the flight which required me to reassert my authority in the situation.

All that was needed was for me to take my position of authority on behalf of this girl and resist the situation on her behalf. I had to overcome my uncertainty and fear and actually do something. The situation was much more bearable for the rest of the flight, although the effects of the encounter were still evident in her for a while after.

The oppressor had to be stopped and removed before our leader could receive love and comfort from others and move on in her life. I didn’t know the correct language and I had no direct experience in this particular area, but I was able to change the situation on behalf of another person who, because of her inexperience, was unable to properly help herself.

…. how can anyone enter a strong man's house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house.

In this case we are taking back our 'property' from the strongman - the one making illegal claims on Diane. Are you uncertain and inexperienced about binding a spiritual strongman? If you are a Christian, then you have spiritual authority over the powers of darkness – even if you don’t feel like it. It didn’t matter whether our team leader could hear me or not – the exchange was aimed at the ones oppressing, not at the person (your child in your case). (Note: If you are not a Christian, you won’t be able to do this first step and it is dangerous for you to try it)

What form does the strongman take? Whatever dominant negative characteristics are resident within your child is a good place to start. Rebellion, inferiority, lust, insecurity and fear are some starting points. Generally better for your child not to know about this, otherwise they will think there is something wrong with them with the associated risk of alienating them further.

The Holy Spirit

Enlist the help of the Holy Spirit – after all, Jesus said the Holy Spirit has been sent to earth to help us. There is a passage of scripture which describes in parables people getting their urgent needs met. The passage finishes with the following statement:

If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!

When you invite the Holy Spirit into a specific situation, He comes in with all His attributes: softens the stony heart; heals; comforts and brings life. The person is able to receive and accept the love of God into their life as well.

Often the change will be subtle in the direction a life is going. A change from the tide going out to the tide coming in. A trend over time rather than an immediate dramatic change.

Miracle

The story in Russia was even more dramatic – physical miraculous healing and changed hearts.

A 12 year old boy, Zhenya had his front tooth knocked almost completely out when he was hit in the mouth by a steel swing set. The tooth was still in its socket but was facing straight back toward his throat. Because of the snow storm we had just experienced, no one could take him to a dentist to get help. As a last resort I prayed for him - mostly hoping the pain would ease. I wondered how well that would go. I did however ask the Holy Spirit into his situation to help him. Interesting that I prayed in English but Zhenya could not understand English.

Over the next couple of days Zhenya asked me to pray for him again several times, because of the pain he was experiencing. It seemed to give him some comfort I think. On the forth morning however, when he woke up, he came running to my room to show me his tooth – it had moved completely back into its correct position overnight! All day I kept lifting his top lip to look at the tooth – it was totally normal! On top of that, without any prompting, Zhenya announced to me that he now loves God and asked if I could get a Bible for him. The Holy Spirit does a complete work when He is invited into a situation. The whole orphanage knew the situation and saw the results.

You don't have to be a Christian to invite the Holy Spirit into a situation - anyone can. There is nothing to fear here. God is all about restoring people. He will move into any situation He is invited into.

Action point

I’ve seen these two points work to change lives – bind the strongman and invite the Holy Spirit in. Maybe your theology has trouble accommodating this? What is there to lose if your child needs a touch of God – life is tough for our young people relying on their own strength. Change will come from the inside this way.

Bible example

This is a story of how King David’s wives and children were taken captive by an enemy. He pursued the enemy and recovered his family. This is a historical story but it also has spiritual parallels for todays world. Notice in the following story, the men wept and many were bitter in spirit because of what had happened to their sons and daughters. They also wanted to blame their leader for the state of their children – do you relate to any of this?

Three days later, David and his men arrived back in Ziklag. Amalekites had raided the Negev and Ziklag. They tore Ziklag to pieces and then burned it down. They captured all the women, young and old. They didn’t kill anyone, but drove them like a herd of cattle. By the time David and his men entered the village, it had been burned to the ground, and their wives, sons, and daughters all taken prisoner.

David and his men burst out in loud wails—wept and wept until they were exhausted with weeping. David’s two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail widow of Nabal of Carmel, had been taken prisoner along with the rest. And suddenly David was in even worse trouble. There was talk among the men, bitter over the loss of their families, of stoning him.

David strengthened himself with trust in his God. He ordered Abiathar the priest, son of Ahimelech, “Bring me the Ephod so I can consult God.” Abiathar brought it to David.

Then David prayed to God, “Shall I go after these raiders? Can I catch them?” The answer came, “Go after them! Yes, you’ll catch them! Yes, you’ll make the rescue!”

David went, he and the six hundred men with him. They arrived at the Brook Besor, where some of them dropped out. David and four hundred men kept up the pursuit, but two hundred of them were too fatigued to cross the Brook Besor, and stayed there.

Some who went on came across an Egyptian in a field and took him to David. They gave him bread and he ate. And he drank some water. They gave him a piece of fig cake and a couple of raisin muffins. Life began to revive in him. He hadn’t eaten or drunk a thing for three days and nights!

David said to him, “Who do you belong to? Where are you from?” “I’m an Egyptian slave of an Amalekite,” he said. “My master walked off and left me when I got sick—that was three days ago. We had raided the Negev of the Kerethites, of Judah, and of Caleb. Ziklag we burned.”

David asked him, “Can you take us to the raiders?” “Promise me by God,” he said, “that you won’t kill me or turn me over to my old master, and I’ll take you straight to the raiders.”

He led David to them. They were scattered all over the place, eating and drinking, gorging themselves on all the loot they had plundered from Philistia and Judah.

David pounced. He fought them from before sunrise until evening of the next day. None got away except for four hundred of the younger men who escaped by riding off on camels. David rescued everything the Amalekites had taken. And he rescued his two wives! Nothing and no one was missing—young or old, son or daughter, plunder or whatever. David recovered the whole lot.

Bring children up in the right way?

Dr James Dobson of Focus on the Family says that the often quoted scripture Proverbs 22:6 'Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it' is not a promise. In Proverbs, these are a series of probabilities – most likely if you bring your child up in a certain way he will not depart from it.

If this was a promise, it would override the free will of the child. The main principle of the Bible is that God has given each a free will to do and choose as we please and to carry the consequences of those decisions. One person's actions can’t predetermine the outcome of another person’s life in this way.

Secondly, relying on this 'promise' stops us getting in and doing battle where necessary to rescue your child from his situation. David didn’t rely on a promise that his family would return because he had brought them up in the way they should go. He went out and got them back, because that is what the situation demanded.

Time for action

God has given you, as a Christian parent, the authority to do battle in the spiritual realm for your child. King David had to physically fight solidly for 24 hours to regain his family. Your spiritual fight might be long too, but we are on the winning side, because Jesus gave us the authority when he defeated the devil.

It is also wise to have the covering and support of a Christian church and Christian friends as you launch into this 'warfare'. Several people praying together can have a greater effect than one.