Back To School Prayers

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Well, it’s that time again. I really can’t believe it, but back to school is upon us. 

Fierce schedules.

Fall sports.

Studying.

Homework.

I hate to say it, but…exams!

It's here, y’all. It’s here. 

As a mom, I have compiled a list of scriptures to pray over my kids that I thought I’d share. These are fitting for parents to pray over their kids, college students to pray over themselves and teachers to pray over each other. 

Here are some prayers and scriptures I am praying over my kids:

*Translation is ESV unless otherwise noted.

 

Patience: Lord, bless my kids with patience this year. May they desire to grow and mature each day. Give them grace as they learn to give grace to others. 

Romans 8:25  But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Galatians 6:9  And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

James 1:3  For you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

Galatians 5:22  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

Preparation: Prepare their hearts for the good days and the bad, for victories and defeat. Point them to scripture in their celebrations and frustrations. Bring them your word and hide it in their heart. 

Isaiah 54:17 (NKJV) No weapon formed against you shall prosper.

Matthew 24:13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

2 Timothy 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.

 

Peace: I pray that they would learn to trust you and the peace you offer. Show me how to bring your peace where there is anxiety, anger, dissension and beyond. Your peace overwhelms the things that overwhelm us. 

Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

2 Thessalonians 3:16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.

Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Isaiah 26:3 You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

 

Purpose: I pray that every day my kids would discover their purpose a little more. Show me the things that ignite their passions and strengthen their gifts. 

Romans 8:28  And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

1 Corinthians 2:9 But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him."

Psalm 138:8 The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.

Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

The Church Should Not Be Scary

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I got a text recently that sank my heart. It was from someone I’ve mentored for years and it went something like this: 

Kristin, I…..(she proceeded to confess a major sin to me).

It wasn’t her sin that disappointed me. It was the church. Sure, I read the text thinking: I wish you wouldn’t have done that. Mainly because I know her sin. I've lived it. These two hands just can’t throw a stone because, well…I get it. I know the shame that comes with it and I know the gut wrenching healing process too. I didn’t want that for her.

But here’s the thing: not only was she disappointed in herself, she was questioning her identity and if God could continue to use her. She didn’t want to be looked at differently by the ones she loves so much- her church family. Ugh…just ugh. 

There’s a bigger picture here. We ALL mess up. We ALL sin. We ALL need to know what to do with that, but none of us are really talking about it. Now before you read any further, I want you to know I’ve been in Pastoral ministry for the last several years. I love the local church and am devoted to its mission. So, these are the questions I toss around in my head:

Where do we go when we mess up? 

Who do we turn to when we want to break free of our bad decisions and find our way back to Jesus? 

Is there a place where it’s safe to be seen?

Why do people come to church and still feel unloved?

It got me thinking so hard. I went to bed that night with tears streaming down my face because we tend to address how people behave and neglect the beliefs that are causing them to act that way. It made me want to gather every pastor, church leader and Christ follower I know and ask them: Hey, do we really know what to do with sin?

  • People think they have to clean themselves up to come to church.
  • Church members are terrified to share their sin with each other in fear of what others may think. I mean let’s face it, some of our sins are pretty heavy. 
  • Church leaders often talk about sin in past tense like it’s so far removed. 
  • The art of transparency is extremely filtered these days. 

My heart longs for people to come to church and experience love. True. Genuine. Love. The kind that says: I see you in your darkest moment and I still love you. Because the church should be the safest place to be messy. If we are going to lead like Jesus led, we have to be ok with getting dirty. Remember the woman who was caught in the act of adultery? The religious leaders brought her to Jesus to expose her sin and fling accusations. They were poised with stones in their hands, ready to pelt her to death.

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John 8:6-11 (HCSB)

Jesus stooped down and started writing on the ground with His finger. 7 When they persisted in questioning Him, He stood up and said to them, “The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her.”

8 Then He stooped down again and continued writing on the ground. 9 When they heard this, they left one by one, starting with the older men. Only He was left, with the woman in the center. 10 When Jesus stood up, He said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

11 “No one, Lord,” she answered.

“Neither do I condemn you,” said Jesus. “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.”

 

She was uncondemned. In other words, he refused to label her. Side-note: I’m so grateful for this. Jesus came to free us from our sins, including being defined by them. 

That’s what love does. It looks people in the eye and says:

I will help you without judging you.

I will pick you up off the floor and remind you of who you are. 

I will pray for you. 

I will speak truth to you. 

I will see your heart and not your sin.

I will not try to have all the answers.

I will take you to Jesus.

I will not let you go until I’m certain you’ve heard from him.

I will watch as He takes your mistakes and uses them to show you His power. 

I will celebrate your courage. 

I will do all of these things because I am the church and church isn’t a place we go it’s who we are.

The Nots of Forgiveness

Ok, so there’s this word that seems to make people wince like no other word I’ve ever known. I’ve suggested it to so many people, I can’t even keep count…and they often look at me like I have two heads or I’ve said something completely outlandish and obscene. And maybe I did because it’s the christian f-word. Forgiveness

If you think about it, suggesting we do something so extravagant for someone who has done something so earth shattering is kind of like adding salt in a very deep wound. I mean, let’s be real: how do we even begin to forgive someone who just flat out doesn’t deserve it?

I could write out the definition of forgiveness (which may or may not be helpful) or we could talk about what forgiveness is not.

Forgiveness is NOT:

  • Denying what happened. You don’t have to be ok, say it’s ok or try to even pretend it’s ok. My youngest used to always tell my oldest, “It’s ok. I forgive you.” I told her to drop the “it’s ok” part because it’s not. We don’t need to deny what happened or deny the pain it caused, but we can keep the “I forgive you” part. 
  • Burying it. Nowhere in the Bible does it say to swallow our feelings. David sang them out in song, Jacob wrestled them out with God, Moses fell on his face and poured out his heart. Yet, we walk around bloodied and bruised and issue an “I forgive them” statement because that’s what we’re supposed to do, but then we see that person in public and turn the other way. God can’t bless what we bury. We must face our feelings to truly forgive. 
  • Releasing them from the responsibilities of their actions. Issuing forgiveness is not giving others the ability to walk away with no consequences. It’s releasing them from being responsible to you and giving them over to be responsible to God. 
  • Forgetting. We don’t have to forget what happened, we have to change the power it has in our life.
  • Becoming a doormat. The Lord asks us to forgive, but He does not ask us to keep allowing unrighteousness. 

There really isn’t anything about forgiveness that dismisses what was done to us. It’s a decision to do the hard work of healing and then not hold it against those that wronged us. Yeah, it’s not an easy task. 

It will challenge us. 

It will awaken strength in us we didn’t know was there. 

It will change us. 

Luke 6:27 (ESV) “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you…”

Why? Not because it sets them free. Because it sets you free.

Truths To Remember When It Hurts

I read a quote on Pinterest the other day:

It sounds simple. I mean those words sound pretty. I’d hang them on my wall. BUT the idea is cuter in concept because there’s a word for things that fall apart: broken. 

And nothing about brokenness is simple. Nothing. When things break, it hurts. 

Broken trust. Shattered hope. Crumbled relationships. Demolished dreams. Crushed spirits. Fractured Faith.  

When your heart is in 1000 pieces, it gets complicated. Like really, really complicated. There are emotions to sift through, questions to be answered, lies the enemy is screaming at you and the need to process the chaos. I have a theology on brokenness: God does some of His most beautiful work in our wreckage. If we’ll invite Him into our pain, He’ll pick up the pieces of our hearts and create something new with it; something that wasn’t there before. He takes our wounds and turns them into wisdom. 

Hear me hurting people: we have hope. Beautiful, unstoppable HOPE. We have some solid truth the remember in our pain.

  • He knows what it’s like to be broken. 

Isaiah 53:5 (NASB)“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”

He was wounded.

He was bruised.

He was chastised.

He was flat out beaten down.

Here's the truth: He gets us. 

And with his stripes, we are healed. 

Healing is found in Him. And y’all, sometimes we just need stuff broken off of us for that to happen. Pride. Lust. Insecurity. Fear. Yes, those things are revealed and healed in broken places. His brokenness brought forth death so that ours could bring forth life. 

  • We see Him better in our breaking.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (NIV) “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

There’s something about pain that pushes us into the arms of Jesus like nothing else does. It allows us to see Him for who He is and ask Him the hard questions: Do you see my hurt, Lord? What do you want to say about it? What do you want to show me in this situation? Go ahead, I dare you. Ask Him for a new perspective and a stellar learning experience. He’s the best teacher. 

  • Brokenness takes us to places we’ve never gone before.

In the book of Joshua, he is leading a lot of people into the promised land. Moses, his leader, has died. He went from being led to being the leader, from a land he knew well to a land he knew nothing about and on top of that, the cloud by day and fire by night was no longer guiding them. So his faith would have to suffice. God removed his leader, his land and his "maps app."

Joshua 3:4 (NIV) “…you haven’t traveled this way before.”

This is different from everything he had ever known. New places, new territory, new thought processes…all because something in his past was broken off. He's terrified, alone, grieving and yet some how that's the moment he steps into his promise. God often gives us a new perspective before He takes us to new places. 

Yes, things fall apart. Sometimes it’s a strategic move from God, sometimes it’s a strategic move from the enemy. Either way, there is this one truth that emerges from the rubbles of our deepest hurts: There is always beauty in the brokenness.

Isaiah 43:19 (NIV) “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”