June 15, 2004
This contains the text from both GN 1075 and 1076.
By MariaMaria #679 FD/MM/FM 3491 4/04
Note: When the phrases "your children," "your kids," "the children," and "the kids" are used in this GN, we're talking about all of our children in the context of the "One Wife" vision, unless otherwise indicated.
1. In this GN I'm going to talk about our precious children‚ specifically those from babies up to age 11. As you know, they'll be joining in on the renewal as well, albeit for a slightly different purpose. For the adults the renewal is a time of cleansing and spiritual strengthening, of getting our hearts right with the Lord, of forsaking our worldly hang-ups and habits‚ and making permanent lifestyle changes, as you've read a whole lot about in the first GN in this series ("Renewal: The Big Picture"). But for the children, the renewal is going to be completely different. The renewal is a wonderful gift of the Lord's love to all of us—younger and older alike—but the manifestations of the Lord's love are different. For the children it's a time when the Lord wants everyone in the Family to tune into them, love them‚ care for them, and pour into them like never before. (Note: Although some of the general counsel in this GN might be helpful for Homes with JETTs and teens‚ GN 1077 will address their needs more specifically.)
2. Due to the Family's sins, weaknesses, compromises, disobediences, and other failures, an area of our lives that has really suffered is the care of our dear children. They haven't had their love cups filled full enough. They haven't been consistently trained and poured into as they deserve. In many cases they have been overlooked in favor of other more "important things." So many other things‚ initiatives, goals, and personal achievements have taken precedence over their quality care. Other things and concerns and priorities have taken the place of meaningful time with our children‚ and the Lord wants to see things change for the better.
3. The renewal is a golden opportunity for the adults and young people to focus on the children, and to make their needs—physical, spiritual, emotional, and otherwise—a priority. It's a time when the Lord wants to bless them as never before, because He loves them. And because they're participating in the renewal along with you, and will need more personalized input as a result of less worldly input‚ this will force you in a good way to devote more time to fulfilling their needs and bringing about the changes that will better their lives. It's something we all know is needed, something we all want to do, so with the renewal the Lord is doing us all a favor by asking us to cut out TV, movies‚ computer games, and other forms of System input, because these are some of the distractions that have kept us from spending quality time with our children.
4. We've had all kinds of "pushes" in the Family over the years—the school vision push, the poster push, the DFing push, the DTD push, the Activated push, the board push, and more. So during these next six months the main focus for the whole Family is going to be on the children and their needs. It'll be a "love your children push," a "pour into your children push," an "invest in your children push." Investing in the hope of our future is probably the most important thing you can do during the renewal, along with your spiritual cleansing as a Home and as individuals. It's not the only purpose of the renewal, but it's a major part of it. You've got to make this special for them. You are responsible to make things happen for them, because the Lord is counting on you to pass on His love to the children in the ways they need it most.
5. For the adults the renewal is very spiritual. The adults will feel the Lord's love through cleansing‚ renewal, changes, progress, instruction, forming new habits, and His help as they begin to restructure their Homes and lives. But the children aren't going to feel the Lord's love in the same ways. They will feel the Lord's love through those they live with—their parents, shepherds, teachers, and other adults and young people in the Home. Of course, the Lord also wants them to grow to love Him and His Word and the things of His Spirit more, and He wants them to keep growing up as His disciples and with a desire to serve Him, but that will happen automatically as we start investing more in every area of their lives. Our children must be a priority.
6. The goal of the renewal for the children is for them to feel more loved, to know that they're cared for as individuals, to get to know their parents and other adults and young people in their Homes better‚ to have deeper and more meaningful communications, to have more time invested in them, to be able to learn things they've never had a chance to learn before, to be taught a better balance in their lives, to go places [physically and spiritually] they've never been before, to be turned on to witnessing‚ to experience things they've never experienced before, to be happier‚ to have fun and enjoy their lives for Jesus, and to experience His love in tangible ways that will make a difference in their lives forever.
7. Our Husband intends the renewal to be a positive, happy experience for our children. He wants to load them with benefits‚ gifts, and special blessings during this time. But regardless of how many promises He gives for our children, His good intentions will come to naught if He doesn't have anyone to help Him fulfill what He has promised. He can't do everything supernaturally. He needs to work through you—and by you I mean each and every adult and younger person in every Home. He has chosen to work through you, because you are a manifestation of His love to our children; you're His representative. He has to have someone to work through, and that someone is you.
8. (Jesus:) Your children are dependent on you. They're dependent on you being My love to them in a way that they can understand, grasp, comprehend, and feel. If you don't show them enough love, how will they know that I love them? If you—and I don't just mean you parents, but all of you—don't give your children the gifts of time, affection, attention, one-on-one interaction, input, fun, and challenge, how are they going to receive these things from My hands? I have no hands but yours to help them. I have no feet but yours to take them where I would like them to go. I have no eyes but yours to see their needs and respond. I have no mouth but yours to speak of My great love and care. You are the vehicle of My love to your children‚ and that is a serious responsibility.
9. I wish for each child to receive many special gifts during this renewal—both physical and spiritual gifts—but I can only give them these gifts if you allow Me to work through you. You are all responsible for helping Me to fulfill My promises to the children‚ and if you don't help Me, who will? Please do not disappoint your children. Please do not allow My promises to pass by unfulfilled. Please do not allow the faith of your little ones to be disappointed—through your failures or laziness or lethargy or lack of faith. Do not allow them to hear Me tell them wonderful promises and great things, and then never see them fulfilled. I need you—each of you—to help Me fulfill My promises, to bring into the lives of the children the gifts that I wish to give them.
10. If you fail to be Me to your little ones, if you fail to do your best for them—My best—then they will be hurt. They will think I have lied to them, or that I am a God Who boasts of great things but can't stay true to My word. I tell each of you, My promises in regards to your children during the renewal are only as strong as your determination to help Me fulfill them. No matter how many wonderful things I wish to do in the lives of your children, and no matter how many gifts I wish to give them, My hands will be tied and My power will be withheld if you do not do your part, if you are not the embodiment of Me to your children.
11. Your young children do not understand My love. They cannot see Me. They cannot comprehend My love as you do. And so it is your duty, your ultimate responsibility, to help them to feel My love through you. Please‚ please help them to receive My special gifts and blessings, and make this renewal a time that they will treasure and remember forever. Make these months a time that they will look back on as a time when they felt My love and care more strongly than ever before through you. This is My greatest heart's desire for our children. Will you help Me to fulfill it?
12. (Jesus:) Do you remember the story in the Good Thots where every Sunday the preacher would smile at the little children when they left Sunday school, but one day he forgot? Do you remember what the little girl said? As she cried and wept she said, "I smiled at God, but He didn't smile back" [GT 2, page 1240, #18]. That's what you are to your children—the very manifestation of My love for them in their lives. Children are so small and are fragile in their emotions, even those who don't seem to show it as much, and they need tangible proof in their lives that I love them‚ that I care for them, and that I want to be with them and do special things for them.
13. You are the only hands that I have in this case. Your love manifested in time is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, way that a child feels My love. And just as I love you so dearly, so do I love them—in an extra special way that is more than you could imagine. As much as My soul hungers for and delights in the romantic love of My brides, there is another love, equally as great—a special love that I have for children, a love I have always had for the small ones.
14. But since children are younger in spirit, they cannot feel Me in the spirit the same as you can, which is why they need to rely on earthly love and attention from those who represent Me to them, which is you. You parents, teachers and helpers are the only means through which I can express My great love for them, and if you do not take the time, who will? If you will not love them for Me, how can I love them?
15. I try to show them My love in special ways—through making a day at the park nice and sunny, through supplying their needs, through keeping them from accidents and sickness. But these do not fill the need in My heart to spend time with them—to play with them, to sing with them, to teach them, to cuddle them close, to kiss them, to set them on My knee and read them a story. I need you to do this for Me, for them, and for you.
16. (Mama: ) Some of the specifics in this GN are mainly directed to you parents and teachers. But even if you're not a parent or teacher‚ there's a wealth of counsel throughout for you too. No matter what your ministry or job for the Lord, if you live in a Home with children, or if there are Homes nearby with children, you have some contact with them. This GN contains vital information for you in your interactions with the children, as well as insight into the important role you will play in making the renewal a memorable‚ life-changing time for them. You are going to need to join together and make a difference in the lives of the children you live with or come in contact with during the renewal by your involvement with them. The care of our children must be everyone's concern. Everyone needs the vision for the care of the children during the renewal—and beyond.
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Secrets to Making the Renewal a Success
17. (Mama:) What a wonderful commission the Lord has given us—to be His love for our children! It's a privilege to be used as His vessels to pass on His gifts and blessings to the children. He even goes so far as to say that our children feeling His love through us is His heart's desire. He's counting on us, He's depending on us, and most importantly He has faith in us.
18. As great and special as the renewal sounds, and as positive as the Lord says it's going to be for the children, things aren't just going to happen like magic. It's going to require work and effort by everyone. But to make our job easier, our Husband has given counsel on the main secrets to success, which I'm going to share with you in this Letter. He's so concerned about our children and wants us to help Him fulfill His promises during these next six months‚ that He's given these specific key points that will enable us to do just that. As you'll see, they aren't huge things that aren't realistic. They are achievable goals, and if we commit to doing each one, then the Lord promises that He will do His part—the things we can't do.
19. I'll briefly list the ten main secrets to a successful renewal for the children:
#1: Have faith and believe it's doable.
#2: Unite as a Home.
#3: Have a positive attitude.
#4: Parents prayerfully explain the renewal to your children.*
#5: Realize that fun is a major goal.
#6: Focus on the benefits.
#7: Use the power of praise and celebrate the renewal.
#8: Plan ahead and incorporate rewards.
#9: Make the Word alive and attractive.
#10: Pray and claim the keys.
*(Note: If your children have contact with the children of Active members or friends, you can use some of the pointers in this Letter to explain it to their parents. Excerpts of paragraphs 2-4 and 127-148 contain points that most other parents would relate to. As you ask the Lord how to best explain this time of renewal‚ He can provide the best explanation for each friend you're in contact with.)
Secret to Success #1: Have Faith and Believe It's Doable
20. I doubt that any of you are thinking that this plan for focusing on the children during the renewal is not a good idea. I can imagine that you look at it as a terrific opportunity, a special mandate from the Lord for all of our Homes around the world, but at the same time you might be wondering right from the start if it's really possible. You probably feel like you're already stretched to your limits‚ but now on top of all that you are barely able to keep up with, along with all of the changes and work involved with the Family restructuring‚ the Lord is asking everyone to tune into the children more. I'm sure you probably all want to and think it's a wonderful idea in theory, but you might wonder if it's a pie-in-the-sky, unattainable goal.
21. When the Lord asks a new thing of us or puts a big challenge before us, it can seem pretty daunting at first. Because we're human and usually tend to look at things logically, some things the Lord asks of us don't even make much sense—at least not at first. Our carnal view often tells us that it can't be done, or the Enemy can make us think that the Lord's plan isn't going to work, or that He has unrealistic expectations of us.
22. I can imagine that some of you might be faced with these kinds of battles when thinking about the renewal. The Lord is asking you, as individuals and as a Home, to invest more time in your children‚ to pour into them more, to give them one-on-one time, and to make this renewal special and fun‚ and you might wonder how you're ever going to be able to make extra time for all of these things. You want to‚ and you know it's important, but maybe you're struggling with its practical application and wondering if it's doable.
23. It's natural to feel this way initially, but please don't remain in that position. Fight to rise above, and ask the Lord to give you the faith to believe that what He's asking of you is doable and possible—because it is. He wouldn't put any task or challenge in front of you if He didn't know it was possible for you to achieve it with His help and key power.
24. The challenges of the restructuring and the renewal are going to test your faith, there's no doubt about that. But that's not a bad thing; it's a good thing. Your faith grows when it is stretched. Your faith is strengthened when it is tested. The Lord is giving you a new mountain to climb, a new mountain of progress that He wants you to scale—it's the mountain of stretching your faith, of expanding your horizons, of overcoming the limitations of the natural realm‚ and believing that "all things are possible to him that believeth." Faith is a vital ingredient for making the renewal a success. So claim the keys of faith and stand on His Word, and the faith you need will be yours.
25. (Dad: ) Your lives are multifaceted. There are so many important things that you need to do each and every day. You need to get your Word time, your sleep, your physical nourishment, and your exercise. You need to spend time with the Lord, you need to keep your Home running, you need to fulfill all of the Charter requirements (or Missionary Membership Statutes), go witnessing, raise funds, and much more. And if all those regular necessities aren't enough, now there are even more things added to your life with the restructuring of the Family, which may include things such as changing status, moving into new Homes and closing down old ones‚ finding new Home members to up your Home size, building a well-rounded missionary work‚ and raising the standard in your personal life and Home.
26. So you might be wondering how you can possibly take on more. How can you, as a Home, possibly devote more quality time to the care of your children and teens and to meeting their needs? It seems like a wonderful goal to strive for, and you want to make the grade, but is it really doable? Is it really possible, or is it just some pie-in-the-sky idea that you're never going to achieve? Right now some of you just don't see how you can give more, stretch more, and do more, without having a nervous breakdown or a spiritual and physical collapse—especially some of you who are in smaller Homes and have few adults and many children. You desperately want to do the right thing, but you wonder how you're ever going to do it. Is it realistic for the Lord to expect more of you‚ and for you to expect it of yourselves? Are you going to crash and burn trying to do His will? Are you going to try and then wind up failing?
27. I want to tell you right now that if the Lord has asked something, if the Lord has commanded it, and if something is His will, then it is doable and realistic. He won't ask more of you than He knows is possible with His help, His strength‚ and His anointing. He's the God of miracles, after all. He's the One Who will help you, as weak and incapable as you may feel, to fulfill His will. If something is important—and the restructuring of the Family and the renewal definitely is—then you can trust that He's going to give you all of the gifts of the Spirit and the spirit helpers you need to not just barely scrape by, but to thrive on the challenges, to thrill to the newness of the changes He's going to bring into your Home, your lives, and the lives of your children.
28. Claim the keys of faith, trust, vision, determination, organization‚ and multitasking. Claim these keys, and any others that the Lord quickens to your mind, and you—as individuals and as a Home—will have all of the gifts of the Spirit that you need to be able to invest in your children like never before. Claim the keys‚ and all that the Lord is asking of you will be doable—and not only doable, but enjoyable and fulfilling. You can invest more in your children. You can give them more quality input, training, and care. The Lord will give you the time, because He knows it's important.
29. Just think back on the Word revolution. At first you probably wondered how you could afford to give the Lord the time He was requiring of you each and every day. But then He said that you couldn't afford not to give Him the time, because the loss would be far greater. Well‚ that's how it is with this renewal and the time the Lord is asking you to invest in your children. You might wonder how you will possibly be able to invest the time needed when there's so much else to do. Well, you can't afford not to. Where there's a will to obey the Lord, He always makes a way to do so.
30. The Lord doesn't just give the mandate without providing the means for you to fulfill it—whether it's the grace‚ or the faith, or the practical solutions. He will show you how you can practically fulfill His will if you ask Him, if you get desperate with Him, if you seek Him for His answers and solutions. Then, once you do your part and start obeying, He'll do His miraculous part that only He can do. First you get desperate and seek Him for His plan, then you obey and start putting His plan into action, and then He will do the miracles of making time where there was no time‚ and making the impossible become possible. You obey and God will make a way!
31. (Mama: ) The next message is an interesting one the Lord gave when we asked Him how this new push of focusing on the children fits in with the other important aspects of the restructuring of the Family. I think you'll find His answer enlightening, encouraging‚ and faith building.
32. (Jesus:) The push for greater emphasis on your children and their care goes hand in hand with the restructuring of the Family, even though it may not appear that way at first glance. You might at first be tempted to think, "How can we possibly tune into our kids more and meet their needs if we have all of these other important restructuring things to think about—finding our level of service, finding new Homes and teams to work with, searching for new housing and accommodations, upping the spiritual standard of our Homes, etc.?"
33. But I want you to step back from the trees for a minute and look at the forest. What are your children? They are the hope of the future, My adult disciples of tomorrow that you are winning today. They are a large percentage of the Family. They are not just along for the ride; they are a major part of the restructuring of the Family. Everything that I'm bringing about in the Family right now is not only going to affect and benefit the adults; it's also going to affect and benefit the children‚ because they are a very important part of the Family.
34. I have instructed the Family to move toward bigger Homes, and this is going to benefit the children. I have instructed each person in the Family to find their appropriate level of service, and this is going to benefit the children. I have instructed the Family to get strengthened spiritually, and this is going to benefit the children. Your children can be a very powerful motivator for you adults to do the right thing, to obey Me, and to make the changes I'm requiring of you. Sometimes you don't see how you can do something that I'm asking of you, but you're motivated to do it for the sake of your children. You want what's best for them, you don't want to fail them‚ you want them to have the care that they need, and you want them to grow up in loving, obedient, going-places Homes.
35. You can't really separate the issue of the restructuring of the Family and the push to focus on the children. They are intertwined. The things I ask you to do to restructure—finding new teams, strengthening yourself spiritually, finding new housing, strengthening your Home's teamwork‚ learning to safeguard and shepherd one another, being in My perfect will—are things that are going to benefit your children as well. And similarly, the things that you do for your children, and the choices you make for the good of your children, are going to help with your Home's restructuring and will help the decisions you make in your service to Me to be more in line with My will.
36. For example, if you're doing what's best for your children, you'll know that being in a bigger Home is going to benefit them. In a bigger Home you'll have a more well-balanced team that can contribute to their care, and more people to help supply their educational needs, fill their vacuum for fun and variety‚ and teach them new skills and hobbies. In a bigger Home your children will probably also live with more children their age and have more friends and fellowship. In a bigger Home you'll be able to combine the needs of each age group of children and better meet them, as opposed to trying to meet the needs of a wide spectrum of ages all at once.
37. If you're doing what's best for your children, you'll want to find out what My will is for your life as far as your level of service‚ and get there—if you aren't there already. Being in the center of My will is something that will directly benefit your children, because they'll receive My full blessings along with you. As you find the place where you'll be content and happy, your children will partake of that same contentment and happiness. As you get your heart right with Me and find out where I want you, you'll have the peace and faith to do My will. This makes for a happier Home‚ happier parents, and happier children.
38. If you're doing what's best for your children, you'll want to strengthen yourself spiritually. When you're obedient to the Word, when you're keeping your spiritual life in check, and when you're making progress and moving forward in the spirit, this makes you a happier person and parent. It also makes you a better role model for your children to follow‚ as you live the verse, "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ." When you're striving to be the best disciple you can be‚ your children directly benefit from that. You give them better care, you portray a better sample, and your life will be more balanced in every way.
Your children are the greatest disciples of all, the ones that inherit your own traits and spirituality and spirit, and in a sense, the Lord! When you're training yourself, and the Lord's training you, He's also training your children! (MOP 9:62)
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39. So, as you can see, this focus on the children does not take away from the focus of restructuring the Family. It goes hand in hand. Investing in your children is part of the restructuring of the Family, and thinking about them is what can help to motivate you in the decisions you make. For example, if you're trying to find a new Home, pray for one that is not only going to meet the needs of the adults, but also the needs of the children—whether it be a good-sized yard, nearby parks and play areas, an adequate schoolroom and/or recreational room, spacious bedrooms for the children‚ somewhere nearby that you can easily take them witnessing, etc.
40. When you're working to up the standard in any area of your Home, or change something as a result of the restructuring of the Family, include the children. That's the key. If your weak point is witnessing, pray about how you can include the children in the push. If you need to find a new house, help the children to feel included by keeping them updated and asking them to pray for those who are house hunting. If you need to find new personnel for your Home or join up with another team, involve the children by sharing the need and asking them to pray.
41. I will use your focus on the children to help strengthen the Family. By investing in them, you will be investing in the future of the Family. By making decisions for the children and putting aside other selfish concerns to do what's best for the children, you will find yourselves automatically shifting your focus to the things that really count—your spiritual lives, your sample to the children, raising the standard of your Home, being more obedient to the Word, getting out witnessing more, bringing the Word and the things of the spirit to life, and wanting to please Me and not fail Me or your children.
42. The power to be Me for your children doesn't come from yourself, but from being connected to Me and obeying My Word. So this will automatically begin to strengthen you and your Homes. It is a very big part of the restructuring of the Family. Your children look to you, they love you, they follow you. You are Me to your children‚ and as this realization sinks in, you will be more motivated than ever to give them the things that I desire to give them and to make your Home one that is happy, on track‚ living the Word, alive in spirit, and receiving My full blessings. You can do it for Me and for your children at the same time.
43. You will have a lot of different irons in the fire, but that just means you're going to need the supernatural power of the keys to have a good balance and wisdom in all things. What I'm asking of you isn't an impossibility. It's simply a perfect time for you to call on the keys of multitasking and let them work for you! Call on the keys, expect miracles, and you'll get them!
44. (Mama: ) Did you know that children—even a large number of them—will greatly enhance the effectiveness of your Home as a missionary unit? Check out this message.
45. (Jesus:) I know some of you, My brides, feel that a lot of children will bog you down‚ but that really depends on your perspective. What does it mean to be a fruitful Family Home? Does it mean full independence? Does it mean the ability to selfishly fulfill your personal plans and visions without interruption? Does it mean a bunch of adults doing as they please? Or does it mean a Home that feeds My sheep? I think you know the answer.
46. Children are so incredibly important to Me. Training them is exactly as important as winning souls, gaining disciples, having a growing Activated church, giving food and clothing to the poor, etc. When's the last time you really thought about that? Some of you look at childcare as an extra burden, like doing dishes, raising the funds for the rent, or having to change the oil in your car—something that hinders your primary job as a missionary and disciple. But what you fail to realize is that training children is an extremely important ministry, and if your Home members can be a little more open-minded, you'll realize that by bringing into your Home a large family with a good "quiver" of children you're greatly enhancing the effectiveness of your Home as a missionary unit.
47. Do you want to serve Me to the greatest capacity possible? Do you want to really give it your all and make your Home as effective and useful as possible? One of the easiest ways to do that is to set up a working, efficient childcare situation right in your midst.
48. Granted, children are hard work. But that's just an excuse, because I don't think you really have a problem with hard work or you wouldn't have dedicated your life to missionary or discipleship service. Every one of you can actually augment your shepherding and witnessing skills by keeping children around and at least occasionally helping them out. Children also bring a certain joy to your Home that no other ministry can supply. It's just a matter of donning the right attitude and realizing that most Family Homes are not complete without an adequate number of children.
49. If you're a specialized Home that can't take in as many children for a valid reason that I have endorsed—such as being in a sensitive country or being a special Service Home—then I'm sorry that you're going to miss out on some of the specific benefits that come with the territory of having lots of children. A lack of children is a loss you'll have to live with, and a sacrifice I'm asking you to make. But for those of you who have the opportunity to take in children but don't have many or any yet, then you should be going out of your way to find large families and professional teachers who can contribute to a working childcare ministry in your Home. So what are you waiting for?
50. P.S.: Is your house too small to take in more kids? Well, get out there and find a new one! Nice big yards, swimming pools, and nearby playground facilities are all a big plus!
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Secret to Success #2: Unite as a Home
51. (Mama: ) We are "One Wife," and our children are a very important part of our Family and our Homes, and everyone must work together for our kids to get the care they need. It calls for everyone in the Home to feel responsible for the children. Everyone should want to see the children happy, well cared for, and benefiting from the renewal. It's not just the parents' and teachers' job. Everyone should play a part. Uniting together as a Home to pour into the children will make all the difference. Uniting as a Home is a key to renewal success.
52. One of the benefits the Lord said is going to come with the renewal is more of the "One Wife" spirit. Everyone helping to care for and teach the children is part of the "One Wife" vision; it builds unity. When the children are just the parents' responsibility or the CC workers' responsibility, that's not living the "One Wife" vision. The children in our Homes belong to everyone in spirit, and even though the parents and teachers have a greater responsibility to care for the children on a daily basis‚ even you who don't carry the full responsibility are responsible to do your part, what the Lord shows you He expects of you.
53. (Jesus:) Some of you think that children are the responsibility of the parents alone, and your mindset is, "You made the babies; you take care of them." This thinking is wrong, and undermines the Family! First of all, I am the One Who makes babies. Every single child I send is a gift from My hand to the Family.
54. As you are married to Me, you are married to one another. The children in the Family belong to all of you, and anyone who does not consider the children in the Family your responsibility‚ whether they are your own flesh-and-blood children or not, does not have My mind on the matter. Every child of David's attitude toward children in the Family should be, "They are all our children."
55. Some of you in the Family today, who have no children of your own flesh, must check your hearts to see if you are putting your single lives and independence on a pedestal. Ask yourself if you are living in unselfish and genuine sacrificial love. Are you doing whatever I am calling you to do to help with the children in your Home or area—whether it's actually spending time with the children and helping to teach and train them, or whether it's helping out some way in the Home so others can fill this role? Are you supporting the children in prayer? Are you helping to support them and the parents in whatever way you can? Or are you being partial to yourself, considering first your own interests and selfish desires rather than doing what you can to help with the children? If you are selfish with your own time, to the neglect of the children when there is a need, then you are striking at the very foundation of the One Wife vision I have given to the children of David. You are working against the unity and the oneness that I expect of the Family.
56. The Family's children are all your children. Of course, the natural parents have a direct responsibility, but I have made you One Wife, one Family, and you are all responsible for each other, including the children. You are all married together. This attitude of, "They're your kids and your problem" must be rooted out. The solution is that you must begin by accepting that the children in the Family belong to all of you. Get down on your knees and cry out to Me for My love, which will constrain you. Call on the power of the keys of unity‚ harmony, unselfishness and love to help you start living Acts 2:44-45. "All that believed were together and had all things common " and this includes your children.
57. Call on the keys of faith, yieldedness and obedience to the Words of David. Through the keys of the Kingdom your love will go beyond your human ability, your unity will grow, and your home of hearts will become a reality as you raise your children in My ways.
58. (Mama: ) All of you should pray about what you can do to get involved with the children. During the renewal every Home is going to have to bond and become a strong team‚ with everyone supporting one another and sharing the load of the care of the children, for the renewal to work and be a positive, fun experience for them. The parents and teachers can't possibly do it on their own; it has to be a united, teamwork effort. And if the children are bored and left to their own devices, or if the renewal turns out to be a bad experience in their eyes, then it's going to be the fault of every adult and young person in the Home who could have done more to help but didn't.
59. The Lord will be calling some of you singles and non-parents to use this renewal as an opportunity to stretch your "One Wife" muscles and participate more in the care of the children—to notice them, to pour into them, to take a child (or children) under your wing and teach them something new, or to go on outings with them occasionally‚ to have fresh and fun Word times with them, to help out or join in on some parent times or parent days‚ or just to offer your services so the parents and teachers can have a break from time to time. The extra time you'll gain from the fast of worldly input is a wonderful opportunity for those who aren't involved with the children on a regular basis to pour into them, to teach them beneficial things—skills and talents like sewing, cooking, handyman, carpentry, guitar or keyboard playing, story writing, artwork‚ crafts, crocheting‚ knitting, home décor, dancing, a foreign language‚ mechanics, typing, computer skills, witnessing, and much more.
60. When you think about the hours that some of the children previously would have spent on the computer or watching videos, for example, collectively that's a lot of hours—especially if you have quite a number of children in your Home. But those hours aren't just going to disappear; they're going to need to be filled with good, positive, fun activities, outings, events, get-outs, Word times, praise and prayer times‚ etc.
61. If every person could sacrifice some time every week toward the care of the children, it would make a huge difference. Or if because of unusual circumstances you can't, and the Lord confirms this, you could perhaps fill other slots in the schedule to lighten the load of others in your Home who are more involved with the children. And if you can't get involved with the children any other way, then you can certainly commit to praying and supporting those in your Home who are caring for the children, as well as praying for the children themselves.
62. (Jesus:) You as a Home need to look at your children as your greatest mission field, your most important job, your main objective for the next six months. I am asking you to unite as one to focus on them, their needs, their care, and their happiness. And in order to do this, you must understand that it is My commission to you as a Home to make a concerted effort together to make it so. The investment I'm asking you to make in your children at this time is as important as your own spiritual cleansing and renewal, and the other aspects of the restructuring of the Family.
63. I'm telling you right now that the care of the children is your Home's most important united responsibility during the renewal. It needs to be your goal, your focus, and the area that you sink your greatest resources, time, energies, and love into. Everyone needs to be involved in one way or another. There is something everyone can do to be obedient to My commission of pouring into the children, and I expect everyone's participation. It needs to be a Home effort, a Home push, and a united goal that everyone is striving for together.
64. When I came to Earth‚ I didn't just focus on the adults and their spiritual cleansing and discipleship. I also spent time with the children and I invested in the children. Whenever My disciples would want to hurry Me along or send the children away, I would remind them that loving the children was one of My most favorite things, a very important part of My ministry. I said, "Suffer little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not." The focuses on spiritual cleansing and on the children are equally important. Both are needed, and go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other.
65. (Mama:) I want to repeat what the Lord said in the message above, just to make sure the point is crystal clear: "The care of the children is your Home's most important united responsibility during the renewal. It needs to be your goal‚ your focus, and the area that you sink your greatest resources, time, energies, and love into."
66. So because it's going to be one of your Home's main goals for the next six months, you will want to get together and discuss and pray about how you are going to make it a reality. Make a clear plan of what you as a Home are going to do in order to make the renewal period a truly enjoyable gift for the kids. It will mean rearranging your schedule, working things a little differently than you have in the past, gleaning ideas from your personal renewal P&Ps, having people commit to certain time slots with the children‚ and trying new things. It will probably seem a bit daunting at first, but the Lord has tailored counsel up His sleeve for every Home and situation. If you ask Him‚ I'm positive He'll give you a good, workable plan during the renewal that will fit your Home's needs and circumstances.
Secret to Success #3: Have a Positive Attitude
67. The attitudes of you adults and young people toward the renewal are key, and are going to have a big impact on the attitudes of your Home's children. If you are positive, inspired, and looking forward to the renewal with hope, then you will more easily be able to transfer those same good attitudes to your children. But if you are negative and resisting the renewal in your heart, then your children will also feel that and react similarly. It will be nearly impossible for the children to cheerfully yield to the renewal period if you aren't leading the way and being positive role models for them to follow and emulate.
68. If you are struggling with the renewal personally, especially if you're a parent, and haven't gotten your "issues" worked out with the Lord, then you'd better do so before you broach the subject with your children. If you put off getting your heart right with the Lord, this will affect your children in a big way. You can't afford to not get your heart right with the Lord. If for no other reason, you have to do it for your children. You must bring your personal concerns to the Lord first and get the faith you need for the renewal, so that you will be in the position of being able to be a strength and support to your children if they get hit with trials and battles concerning it.
69. You're responsible to ask the Lord for the faith and peace you need, so that you can then pass on that same faith and peace to your children. You have to come to grips with the difficulties and concerns you face‚ so that you can then help your children come to grips with theirs. And if you are battling with trials related to the personal adjustments that will come with the renewal, ensure that your children do not catch on to it. You must fight to keep a positive attitude at all times, not only for your own good but for the good of your children as well.
70. Please also ask the Lord to speak to you in prophecy regarding any specific problems or difficulties you're anticipating with your Home's children and their care during the renewal. Bring all of your concerns—your personal concerns and the concerns you have for your children—to the Lord and ask Him about each one. His Words will give you faith, which you can then transmit to your children.
71. You parents—and all of you adults and young people, for that matter—have a big responsibility to make the renewal a positive experience for your children. The way you handle things, the way you explain things‚ and the way you care for your children and pour into them during the renewal period is going to have a huge bearing on how much they will get out of it.
72. Regarding this, the Lord said: "If your children come out of the renewal feeling bored and unfulfilled, and therefore have bad memories about this renewal, you have in essence taught them that I am a dead God, not a living God. You will have taught them by your poor example and lack of love that I am the same as the dead God of the churches." If they come out of the renewal bored‚ dying to get back to worldly input, and looking at it as a negative experience, then that would be an extremely sad and bad end result. That's definitely not the vision.
73. This renewal is a golden opportunity for you parents and Home members to help your children progress, expand their horizons, and have a ball of a time serving the Lord and learning and experiencing new things. And if it doesn't turn out to be a positive experience, then it's not the Lord's fault or the fault of the renewal itself; it will be your fault for not fighting to help your children make the most of it. So please, dear parents and teachers and non-parents alike, do your part so that your Home's children will be able to look back on the days of the renewal as some of their favorite childhood memories.
74. (Jesus:) It's so easy for you parents to look at this renewal period from a carnal viewpoint. It seems like a "punishment" because the children are being asked to forsake—along with the adults—worldly input. For many children‚ worldly input is a big source of their enjoyment and fun, so cutting this out can seem rather cruel if you look at it in the natural. You can be tempted to feel like, "Poor kids. What did they do to deserve this? Why are we being so hard on them?" But that's not how I see it.
75. Just as I see the time of renewal as a gift of My love for the adults, so do I see it as a gift of love for the children. You shouldn't look at it like, "Oh, how hard, how cruel." Instead you should look at it like, "This is a special gift of the Lord's love for the children, and I need to see it as such." If you look at it in a positive light and truly see My hand in this time, then you'll be able to convey that same sample to your children.
76. Your children are very intuitive. You can't fake it. You can't pretend that you think something is positive if you're really thinking negatively about it in your heart. You can't pretend something is going to be good and wonderful for the children if you don't truly believe it in your heart. So it all starts with you young people and adults getting your hearts right with Me. It starts with you seeing things with the right perspective, and only then will you be able to help your children to have the right perspective.
77. Do not focus on what the children are "losing" during this time. Focus on what they are gaining. Focus on the benefits. It's a time when you're going to be able to pour into your children in ways that you haven't before. It's a time when you'll be able to fulfill special needs and desires in your children's lives. Maybe it's a skill they want to learn that you haven't had time to teach them, or some outings or excursions that they've always wanted to go on‚ performing or witnessing opportunities‚ or more personal time as a family. Ask your children what they would like to do, how they would like to spend their time‚ and then make commitments to do those things during the renewal. Plan fun things, and make them happen. (Note: See list of ideas in GN 1076, page 5.)
78. Through your attitudes and actions at the beginning of the renewal and throughout, you parents and adults can open your children's eyes to a whole new world of excitement, adventure‚ and fun—in the physical and spiritual realms—that they didn't even know existed. Or you can reinforce the idea that life is only fun with movies, computer games, and other forms of worldly entertainment.
79. If your children go through this renewal period bored and unchallenged, then they will be convinced more than ever that their lives can't be fun without worldly things. But if they go through this renewal period with you pouring more into them than you ever have before, with you making things happen for them and turning it into a fun experience, they're going to flourish and grow like never before—spiritually, physically, emotionally, mentally, and in every other way. They will learn with you that there is more to life that is fun than what they had previously thought. They'll expand their horizons, learn new things, and come out happier for it.
80. (Jesus: ) A large factor in how easily your children accept the concept of giving up worldly input during the period of renewal is whether you as parents view it in a positive and upbeat light. If you're full of faith that this time will only strengthen you and your children, draw you closer together as a family, force you in a good way to introduce more godly‚ unifying activities and fellowships together, then your children will sense this. Then, even if they respond with dismay at the idea of missing out on their movies or computer games, they'll come around and actually end up in retrospect enjoying the time and growing by leaps and bounds as they get more one–on-one input, more united input, more mentoring, more fun Word-based and spiritual activities, and learn more social skills as they do more activities with their peers and families.
Secret to Success #4: Parents Prayerfully Explain the Renewal to Your Children
81. (Mama: ) We're moving on to secret to success #4 now. This is a very important one, parents, because your explanation to your children is going to set the tone for the renewal. It's crucial that they start the renewal off on the right foot, with the right mindset.
82. As I mentioned in "Renewal: The Big Picture" (ML #3489), you parents have the responsibility of explaining the renewal to your children. The Lord said this would be best for a number of reasons, the main one being that it's important that the children see that you, as their parents, are personally behind the renewal and are committed to doing everything you can to make it fun. Of course, if your children have other teachers or helpers, they will probably also talk about the renewal with the children and plan their times with them. But in most cases, unless the Lord specifically shows you otherwise, the initial explanation should be done by you‚ the parents.
83. As far as the timing of the explanation, it would be ideal if you could explain the renewal to your children as soon after reading this GN as possible. If at all feasible, please don't wait till June 15 to break the news, so to speak. It's best if your children have time to get used to the idea, and it will also allow you enough time for discussions and planning ahead (more on this later). Even a week or a few days in advance is certainly better than informing them right on June 15. But, as always, the Lord knows when would be the best time for your children, so please be sure to ask Him.
84. You adults have had time to think about the renewal, and this has helped to prepare you. And though your children don't need as much preparation, they should still know at least a little in advance if you are able to work it out logistically to do so. You're not letting them know ahead of time so that they can try and watch as many movies or play as many computer games as possible before the renewal begins, but so that they can get used to the idea and even get excited about it. You might even want to pray about beginning to cut back on some of the worldly influences in advance‚ if you think it might be helpful for your particular children in making it easier for them to stop completely when the renewal starts. Or start doing some other united activities together now, to show by sample that when they are no longer watching movies or playing computer games, there are other fun activities to take the place of these things.
85. You should have already received MLK 198, "A Special Gift of Renewal," which has been designed to help you introduce the renewal plan to your children. If you have not yet received this in a mailing, you can find it in the Pubs section of the MO site. FCP 68 is made up of new key promises that Jesus gave to help your children during the renewal. They should be included in this mailing‚ and you can also find them in the Pubs section of the MO site. We suggest you cut these out and get them on key rings or included in a key promise box so you can start using them with your children as soon as possible. These promises will be especially helpful for the children in the beginning of the renewal.
86. In GenUp 21 (page 16) there is an article for your OCs on the importance of minimizing ungodly influences. A MLK covering this topic will be coming to you shortly after the renewal is underway‚ to help explain this topic to your younger children. There's also another MLK in the works on teaching the children by example how to use some of the new renewal key promises found in FCP 68. God bless the children's pubs team, who have worked hard on these pubs. Of course, even these pubs won't be enough. The personal touch is still most important, and you parents will need to have discussions with your children—answering their questions, supporting the messages in their pubs, and including your children in on decisions regarding the next six months so that they feel a part, etc.
87. In some cases, your children may already know about the renewal. Maybe you parents have already explained it to them, or they heard about it from others. If this is the situation with your children, it would still be a good idea to discuss it with them further after you read this counsel. Please seek the Lord about how to address it with your children again, and how best to answer any of their lingering questions. If your children have heard about the renewal in a negative way, you will need to apologize to them that they heard about it without knowing the full positive picture, and then proceed to discuss the renewal with them positively, according to the counsel in this GN.—And be sure you keep your children and their perception and anticipation of the renewal in your prayers.
88. Following are two messages from the Lord with some helpful tips to keep in mind when giving the explanation to your children. These might be especially helpful if they react at all negatively when they hear about the fast of worldly input. Even though the renewal is so positive and the Lord is going to bring so much good into the lives of our children‚ the Enemy may still try to get in and cause difficulties and battles initially—and if your children are initially frustrated and disappointed, they may take it out on you‚ dear parents. In that case, as the Lord says‚ you just have to focus on the outcome and not the current cost; look at the goal and not at the difficulty of the moment.
89. (Jesus:) You must focus on the outcome. You must keep your vision on what you're giving your children and not on the current cost to the children.
90. You have one thing going in your favor with these children—they are young, and they adore you! You are the sunrise in their lives. You represent Me to them. They know you are their parents, and they love you dearly. Capitalize on that love. They trust you. Capitalize on that trust.
91. Capitalize on this love and trust that is in their hearts. Don't let their outward show of rebellion dissuade you. Believe that the heart of that child is still a child's heart, one that is in love with his parent and trusts him implicitly. Build on that.
92. The Enemy would have you focus on the child's hurt or defiance. But you must see past that outer surface into the heart of the child who fully and truly loves you and trusts you. It's there. That heart is still there; it's just been temporarily covered up with the confusion of the moment. You can't be part of that confusion. The child needs you to be the strong and stalwart one in this time of change, and you can do it.
93. You must look at the goal and not at the moment. The Enemy will try to get you to focus on the moment, on the strain of your child throwing accusations or being defiant. But you must keep your focus on the goal, on the life of joy you are leading your children into.
94. (Jesus:) I know and you know that it's good for children who are accustomed to regular System input to learn to broaden their horizons, and especially to realize that there is a lot of fun and joy to be found in spiritual activities or activities involving witnessing and fellowship. But today's entertainment is so fast-paced, professional, and available, that you as parents have some serious competition.
95. Although the children don't need to understand all of the spiritual principles behind the renewal and the purpose of it for the adults‚ it's still a good opportunity to explain to them some of the spiritual principles that they are able to grasp, such as rewards in this life and the next for obedience to Me and My Word, or the dangers of too much worldly input. But you also want to avoid giving them the impression that something is wrong with them for liking worldly input. This will not bear good fruit in their lives, because it could cause condemnation or confusion. The truth is, if a young child is exposed to too much worldly input, the fault falls on the parents, teachers, or other adults and young people who have either put too much emphasis on it or have been lazy and allowed worldly input to be a babysitter far too often.
96. Here's the secret in explaining the renewal: It's your responsibility to get across the point that it's going to be six months of fun and exciting new experiences. Don't give the kids the impression that it's some sort of operation to remove a cancer from them—even if you as parents feel that might be the case. Of course, you'll have to make it clear to your kids that they are not allowed to watch System movies, play noneducational computer games, listen to System music, or read System storybooks or novels, but once that's explained, try as much as possible not to dwell on the "don'ts‚" but rather to constantly emphasize the "dos."
97. Make it easy for the children to be good by putting away all System movies, CDs, and noneducational books, and by deleting any and all remnants of the noneducational computer games from your computer. If the children are having an especially big trial about the renewal period, then you may want to do this when they aren't looking, so you don't rub it in. However, some kids will understand and actually become at least initially excited about it, and may even want to help you put it all away. It really depends on the child.
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98. (Mama:) While I was working on this GN, I was constantly putting myself in the shoes of you parents. I asked the Lord to help me to feel what you were feeling—your battles and burdens. I also wondered what I would do if I was the parent of young children and was in the position of needing to explain the renewal to them. Clearly, the explanation to the younger children would be very different from the explanation to the JETTs and teens. But I had a hard time thinking of exactly what I would say. Even though the Lord has given a lot of good counsel and His viewpoint is positive and clear, I thought that it would be even more helpful if I could include some practical examples of how to explain the general concept to the children.
99. So I asked the Lord for some sample explanations, specifically for younger children, which He happily gave. These aren't for you to read to your children or quote word for word. They probably wouldn't even appeal to every child. They're just examples for you to meditate on and build on. If any of the examples stand out to you‚ you could use the ideas or concepts with any other specifics the Lord shows you that will speak to your children's hearts and help them to understand. Since He has the key to each child's heart, He may very well remind you of other examples you can use when you pray and ask Him how to best explain it to your children. There are many different word pictures, ideas, and stories you could use to help them understand, depending on the ages of your children.
100. Example #1: The Word is like the spiritual food that keeps us strong, healthy‚ and free from spiritual sicknesses. It's similar to how eating healthy foods like vegetables, fruits‚ and good proteins and starches keeps our bodies healthy and strong. But we and the other adults in our Home haven't been eating enough of the good healthy food of the Word. Instead, we've been eating too much of the white sugar spiritual foods, so we've gotten a little bit weak and tired. It's just like we can get weak in our physical bodies when we eat too much food made out of white sugar and not enough healthier foods.
101. Now Jesus wants us and the other adults to start eating more healthy spiritual food—and more healthy physical food too. He wants us to stop eating some of the things made from spiritual white sugar that are making us weak so that we can get strong again. The things that we've been having too much of are worldly things like movies and computer games. Although these aren't always bad, and they can be fun sometimes, we need to forsake them completely for a little while so that we can start eating more of the good Word food that makes us stronger and healthier, and so that we can spend more time with you children. Then when we're healthier and we have a better balance, we can eat some of those sweet things again in moderation, but then we will be wiser and won't let ourselves get weak.
102. We would like you children to learn to eat better with us, because we want to be a healthy family. We want our whole Home to be healthier, and Jesus wants that too. So if we forsake the spiritual sugary things like computer games and movies for a while, we're going to learn to eat better food, stuff that's going to make us healthier. The healthier stuff is like doing more fun things like get-outs‚ exciting Word times, united activities, Word games‚ new hobbies, parties, special dinners‚ witnessing outings, etc. We are going to spend more time with you, too, and it's going to be really special.
103. Jesus loves us and all of the adults, and He wants us to stay spiritually healthy for Him so that we can keep serving Him and doing our best for Him. He also loves you children, and wants you to be healthy too. He's our big Daddy, and He wants us to be happy and have fun as we get strong and healthy for Him.
104. We might not even miss the movies and the computer games much, because we're going to be having so much fun. Jesus is going to make it really special for you‚ and us, and all of the adults and young people in the Home are going to make it fun for you too. So for six months we're going to have a great time together—and this is just the beginning. As a family and Home we're going to do things we never had the chance to do before, and try new things, and at the end, Jesus promises that we're going to be so much happier. Isn't that wonderful?
105. Example #2: Our Home is like a car, and Jesus is our Mechanic. We're a good car‚ and He likes us, but He just wants to make us better. We need a bit of a tune–up and we need some repairs. It's like Jesus wants to change our tires so that we can drive better. He wants to fill us up with gas, so that we can drive farther. He wants to fix the engine and make sure all of the parts are working well. He wants to even give us a new paint job so that when we come out of His mechanic shop we'll be brand-new.
106. The renewal is like being in the mechanic's shop. When we're in the mechanic's shop‚ we're not going to be able to do all of the things we normally do, because we have to be still so Jesus can fix us. Jesus wants us to forsake some things—like watching movies and playing computer games or other things that are not edifying or uplifting to our spirit—so that He can teach us new things, so that we can spend more time together with you children‚ and so that He can make us a better, faster, newer car. He doesn't want us to be distracted with too much, so that we can watch Him fix us and learn new things so that we don't break down in the future.
107. Example #3: Sometimes when our clothes get a bit old and worn, we have to get new ones—either buy them, or provision them, or pray for the Lord to supply some other way. Well, right now Jesus wants to give us all some new spiritual clothes. He wants to make them for the adults and the children. He wants to make us some clothes that are so much better and nicer than the clothes we have now—they'll be more suitable and comfortable, and we'll really like wearing them.
108. He's our Tailor, and in order for Him to make us the new clothes, we have to take off the old ones. He's not going to throw the old ones in the trash can, because they still have some wear left in them, and we'll use them again in the future a little. He just needs us to forsake them for a while so that He can take our measurements and create the new clothes He wants to give us. We'll be able to try out some of them right away, but it's going to take about six months for Him to outfit us completely. The old clothes we're going to have to forsake for a while are things like movies, TV, computer games, etc. But it's going to be worth it.
109. At first we might worry that the new clothes Jesus is making aren't going to be as good. But we're going to find out that they're even better than the clothes we wore before. The new clothing represents all the gifts Jesus wants to give you children, like learning new things, spending more time with us, your parents, your older brothers and sisters, and others in the Home, having fun witnessing opportunities‚ going on excursions‚ having parties and activities and fellowships, as well as exciting Word, prayer and praise times.
110. At the end of the six months, which Jesus calls the renewal‚ you'll be full of stories about your new spiritual garments. You'll be able to tell your friends the things you learned and did, and how happy you are with the special gifts Jesus gave you.
111. Example #4, for very young children who might be confused by some of the word pictures: We have something important to tell you. Very soon we're going to be taking a break from TV shows, movies, and computer games so that we can do a bunch of really fun things together instead. I know you like to play games and watch movies and TV, and so do Daddy and Mommy, but Jesus told us that it's not so good for us to do that all the time because we need to learn that Jesus wants us to have fun doing other things so that we make Him happy, and if we do what Jesus says, He says it will make us really happy too.
112. So Daddy and Mommy and all the other adults and children are going to put away all our games and movies for a long time so that we can do other really fun things instead. We're going to do more fun things than you've ever done before. We'll have lots of parties and really big, fun play times with your toys, and we'll go to new places you've never been before [insert other activities that you know will appeal to your children], and we'll even get to do fun things that we're not going to tell you about yet because we want them to be a surprise! What sort of fun things would you like to do instead of your regular game night or movie night?
Secret to Success #5: Realize That Fun Is a Major Goal
113. (Mama:) The Lord wants the renewal to be fun for all of our children, and He wants you parents and teachers—and every Home member—to do all you can to make the renewal a positive experience for the children in your Home. It can be‚ and will be, with His help! Forsaking worldly input should not be synonymous with forsaking fun. If our children come out of the renewal with that mindset, then something is wrong. The things of the world are being put aside for a time so they can have more fun, not less—and better, more meaningful fun.
114. Worldly input should not automatically equal fun for the kids, and they shouldn't think of one when they think of the other. If you make the children's time without worldly input fun and enjoyable and even better than the life they knew with worldly input, that will mold their future for the better in a positive way. Whereas if they come out feeling like life without the world is boring and unchallenging, then they're going to be worse off than they were before they went into it.
115. This time can be a great time for you and your children. If you use this time to really seek the Lord for things to do with your Home's kids to keep them inspired and to help them see that having fun doesn't always have to revolve around a movie or a computer game, for example, if you take time to plan things for them, interact with them more‚ and pour into them more‚ then you will reap the fruits and the results in their lives like never before. This is the best opportunity that you have ever had to tune in to your kids, so don't pass it up. Take full advantage of it.
116. Fun comes in all shapes and sizes—and the fun that comes from activities involving fellowship and bonds of love and good input is the more satisfying type of fun in the long run. Our children need fun experiences, and you parents and teachers, and all members of the Home, need to make that happen. This is an opportunity to let our children experience a wide spectrum of new avenues for fun and enjoyment. Help them expand their definitions of "fun," and have a blast doing it!
117. (Jesus: ) It's your responsibility to plan the next six months as much as you can in order to ensure it will be packed with some truly enjoyable activities and experiences. If the children end up extra bored for six months, then the renewal period could actually send the wrong message—that life is miserable without System input. If you allow this to happen‚ then you are accountable.
118. Do not simply assume that because I have ordained this renewal period that I will automatically give the children so much grace that they'll hardly notice it. While I will help out some and give them a bit of extra grace for some special circumstances, I want you—all of you adults and young people—to work hard to bring the children so much joy and happiness during the renewal period that they're not even going to want to go back to the same amount of System input they had before. It's going to take more work—especially if you're used to using System input as a babysitter—but it's an important opportunity for you to affect your children in a positive way by broadening their horizons and strengthening them spiritually.
119. You can even explain to the children that the renewal period is a special time of extra fun—where they'll get to go witnessing, maybe have extra fun parties, engage in interesting hobbies, learn new sports, have particularly exciting extra Word times, and have more quality time with you, their parents. You just have to realize that you'll have to follow through with it, even if it means significant extra time and effort on your part.
120. For you adults, the overall purpose of the renewal is not necessarily to try to add lots of extra fun for yourselves‚ but rather to have more time to dedicate to Me and be cleansed from the world. I'm not expecting you adults to try to fill every minute with other personal fun activities, but to take ample time to dedicate your hearts to Me and find My perfect will in your life.
121. For young children‚ the renewal period is intended for a slightly different purpose than for the adults. Obviously, young children are not at the point where they can make decisions about their life, but instead I want this renewal period to teach them that the things of the spirit and the simple things of life can be just as enjoyable as worldly input. Emphasize the fun aspect‚ and try to make your times of fellowship, activities, outings, Word, prayer, and praise something they look forward to as much as a movie or a computer game.
122. I know you're probably wondering if I really mean that it's possible for your children to grow to enjoy the Word and the things of the spirit as much as they do movies and computer games. Perhaps you wonder if I'm just living a dream world or speaking hypothetically. No, I'm not. If you put forth the effort and a believing will, then your children can grow to love the things of My Spirit as much as movies or computer games. It will take time‚ effort, determination, and wild and inspiring ideas from the spirit world to get them hooked, but it is possible—and this is the goal you're shooting for. You may not reach the goal immediately, but it's something worth striving for, because in time it will become a reality.
123. (Jesus: ) It's going to take hard work to fill up your children's evenings, to be thinking and praying ahead so that they don't look at this time as depressing and devoid of fun. The idea is not that this period of renewal is devoid of fun. You might even have to ask Me for a mindset change as parents regarding your and your children's definition of "fun."
124. You might need to adjust to getting outdoors more for physical activities, throwing or kicking a ball around, taking walks or hikes, going on picnics, getting lots of good fresh air—weather and climate permitting. You won't just be able to kick back in the evening, and might need to think more about having a couple of board game nights with your children‚ doing dress-ups or charades or inspirations or testimony nights, taking your kids to special events, going personal witnessing in the park, and more. I am the God of ideas and inspiration, and as you seek Me you will find a fountain that overflows and never runs dry.
Secret to Success #6: Focus on the Benefits
125. (Mama:) Another real key for the renewal is for you adults and young people to focus on the benefits‚ not the losses, and to help the children to do the same. You are all going to have to invest a lot more time and prayer in planning meaningful activities and input for your children, rather than just opting to sit them in front of a video or computer‚ so focusing on the gains and praising the Lord for all of the benefits will encourage you and help you to know that every sacrifice is going to be more than worth it.
126. So to give you a boost of encouragement and a peek at some of the benefits, here is a message from our Husband with promises of the wonderful things that the renewal will bring into the lives of your children. He explains how it will strengthen them and you, and expounds on some of the benefits you and they can expect.
127. (Jesus:) This is one of those times that right now seems like it will be really difficult, long, wearying, and something you can't wait to be over. Especially being busy parents, and feeling as if you already have way more to do than you can accomplish in the day‚ I understand how you would feel that way. Many of you depend on videos and computer games and books to help keep your kids occupied while you tend to other things. And without those "props," you don't see how you're going to make it. I understand. You've become accustomed to leaning on those things‚ and so without them you're going to feel pretty desperate and stretched for a little while. But I want to reassure you that the benefits are going to far outweigh the difficulties. Let Me give you some examples.
128. As you work to bring the Word alive to your kids, they are going to gain a deep and insatiable hunger for the Word. It's going to become alive to them. They're going to start discovering how interesting, how deep, how fascinating it is. This is going to help them gain the foundation that they need—that foundation that so many of the kids and young people in the Family don't really have yet, because they've had so many other distractions to take up their time and attention‚ so many things that seemed more interesting than the Word.
129. Without System videos and TV and computer games, you'll be able to spend more time with your kids, doing things together. It's going to forge a bond of love and friendship and togetherness with your kids that you haven't experienced before. They're going to appreciate your time and attention. They're going to start talking to you and to others more, and will learn to find more joy in fellowship and conversation and doing things together. Rather than it being something to just get over with so that they can rush off to their free time with the computer or video or books or whatever it is your kids normally do, they'll learn to value the things you do together more. It will level the playing field a bit, by taking out the fast–paced multimedia experience that no teacher or friend can compete with.
130. At first things might seem slow or boring to them, but after a while they'll realize that's all they have, and they'll start to gain interest. And through that fellowship‚ conversation, time spent together doing things, discussing things‚ they'll learn. They'll learn about applying the Word to their lives. They'll learn new skills. They'll learn how to be more creative and innovative. They'll learn how to talk and converse respectfully and with genuine interest. They'll learn how to relate to people better. They'll learn how to make others happy, and thus find happiness themselves.
131. Have you ever noticed that so much of System entertainment is selfish by nature? It promotes going into your own little world to watch that movie or play that game or read that book. So taking all that away opens new doors for your kids to learn how to interact lovingly and harmoniously with others. It will help them learn to be more loving and giving with their time, include others, and through doing so, they will be happier.
132. Witnessing will be more fun and exciting for your kids. There are all sorts of opportunities that I will raise up to help your kids have fun while they're out ministering to others, so start looking for those opportunities!—Excursions and outings that can combine with some witnessing, or passing out tracts‚ or following up on sheep.
133. And, My loving parents, you will get to know your kids better. You will see sides of them you haven't yet seen. You will learn to know their hearts, their deep thoughts. You'll have more time to communicate and pray together, win victories together, study My Word together. And after a while, you won't even miss the System entertainment. You'll realize how much it distracted you from the best things. And when it comes time for the fast to be lifted‚ your hunger for the System will have waned, and your kids' hunger will have too.
134. So take advantage of this time to build new habits, and then fight to keep them, so that when you are allowed to do those other things again, they don't take such predominance in your lives or your kids' lives.
135. Looking back on this time, you'll see it as one of the most precious times of your life. You'll be so thankful that it was something I enforced, because it's not something you would choose to do yourselves, but you'll be so happy with the fruit it bears.
136. Some of your children's service for Me will be saved through this time. It will give them the opportunity to build a true foundation based on love for Me and others, and My Word.
137. I know it's going to be difficult at first. You're going to wonder how you're going to make it through six months. You're going to have to really pray and seek Me about new activities and things to keep your kids busy and happy and out of trouble. But through that praying and seeking Me, I will show you wonderful things. I will lighten your load. I will help you build new habits. And the wonderful results in your lives, and the lives of your children, will be more than enough reward for every sacrifice. I promise.
138. (Jesus: ) You've probably read articles about parents in the world who decided that the TV was taking way too much prominence in their children's lives. So they turned it off for a month, or three months, or however long they decided on. At first their kids howled and gave them a terrible time about it, and it was hard on the parents too‚ because they had to work harder to do other entertaining things with their kids—reading together, playing together, going out in nature together, cooking or baking, talking, learning new things. But eventually the kids became happier, more communicative. The whole family was so much happier that in some cases they then decided to get rid of the TV permanently‚ or at least greatly restricted its viewing. They never wanted to go back to the way things were before.
139. (Mama:) An interesting fact we found that backs up what the Lord says in this prophecy is that in the U.S. they have a national TV-Turnoff Week. The goal is that participants unplug the tube for a week in an effort to encourage children and adults to watch much less television in order to promote healthier lives and communities. Since 1995, more than 24 million Americans have turned off their television and re-engaged in life. Afterwards, almost all of the participants responded that they now watch less TV and watch more selectively as a result of the "fast." Many said their viewing habits would be permanent, and that breaking free of TV is a liberating and enriching experience. For many, participation was a springboard to making lasting changes in their viewing—and lifestyle—habits.
140. Some of the reactions from participants in the TV-Turnoff Week were:
* Children "rediscovered" about three more hours each day. They read more‚ exercised more, and spent more time with family and friends, playing board games, telling stories, and talking with mom and dad.
* It was a very valuable experience. We were forced to think about the role that TV plays in our lives, and we discovered the joy of living!
* Hallelujah! Turn off that TV! I do want to emphatically stress that there is much more to life than the boring, degrading‚ demeaning fare on the boob tube. I urge [everyone] to use this week to break your addiction to television. Just say no! Turn on life!
* I had a great time‚ and my only question is: If this is so great, why don't we turn off the TV for the other 51 weeks of the year?
* The worst single choice I ever made was getting my husband cable for his birthday. Now there are woodworking, gardening, quilting, cooking, and home improvement shows on 24 hours a day! If we weren't watching these shows‚ we'd probably be woodworking, gardening‚ quilting, cooking, and improving our home.
* I got rid of my television altogether, and I have never regretted it for one moment. My life is so much richer now. I got my imagination back.
* Cutting back on TV is a great way to find the time to play outside, take a walk, or pick up a new sport.
* The easiest way to reduce inactivity is to turn off the TV set. Almost anything else uses more energy than watching TV.
* Because children are influenced by what their parents do, it is important that whatever effort you make to exercise more, eat better, or watch less TV is done as a family.
* Turning off the TV becomes a great family endeavor, a way to bond and spend time together.
* We have not watched TV for more than 16 years, not out of a statement against society or any overt religious injunction, but a simple desire to have time for a more meaningful marriage and family in the face of a busy life.
* I would do it this way again in a minute, and I think if anyone is considering it‚ go all the way and toss that TV out! You'll have more family time, better communication, great readers, self-reliant and imaginative kids, and more snuggle time with your spouse!
141. (Mama: ) Don't worry, we don't intend to get rid of our TV/video setups indefinitely; we're just going to gain more wisdom and prayerfulness in this, and every other area, of our lives! I'm including these for your interest only‚ and not because I think we all should toss out our TVs and video machines. Ha! But the point is that turning off the TV for a time to get back to the basics of life and to spend more time with family and friends is not something that no one else in the world has ever done or considered a good thing. As you can see from these short testimonials, even those in the world agree that shutting down the TV, to put things back into perspective, is a positive experience.
142. This might even be a point that you parents can make to your children when explaining the renewal. They'd probably be interested if you clued them in on the fact that this kind of thing is not just unique to the Family. Sometimes people in the world do it too, because they want to spend more time with their children, have more time for people‚ or gain a better balance in their lives, and they're happy with the results—just as we will be.
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143. (Jesus continues:) So many people in the world today wish for an opportunity like the one that's in front of you now, but they just don't have the willpower and strength to make it happen themselves. They know that it's laziness and it's robbing them and their children of so much to let the TV baby-sit, to let their kids play those computer games that are violent and less edifying or educational than they should be. They know that it's stealing the time they could have together, the experiences, the bond of love and the opportunities for teaching and learning together that families are supposed to have. But they feel they don't have the time to make it happen, so they let it pass. They let these shallow, worldly, meaningless and sometimes downright harmful influences keep entertaining the kids and dictating their lives, which in the long run really take the joy out of life and tear down all that is good.
144. I know it's hard to imagine now‚ but once you've made it over the hurdle and gotten used to the fact that you can't just put on a movie for the kids to keep them entertained, that you have to do something with them; that you can't let them play computer games for parent time, you've got to read with them, talk with them, walk with them‚ get out of the house together—after you've made it over that hurdle, My loves, I promise that you're going to love it.
145. You're going to love the peaceful spirit that it brings into the Home, simply because the System doesn't have so many avenues of entrance. You're going to love the greater unity and closeness that it brings‚ because you're fellowshipping and talking together, rather than plopping down in front of a video. You're going to love the opportunities it gives you to really know your children‚ to be close, to share your hearts and dreams, to teach them all that you know about witnessing, cooking, mechanics, sewing‚ or whatever it is they're interested in. You're going to love it!
146. I'm not saying it's going to be easy. The first part is going to be very difficult as you all adjust and learn to accept things, and then, even though it gets easier, it's never going to be as easy as going the lazy way and resorting to System entertainment for times of relaxation. But it's going to be so much better for your spirits—yours and your children's.
147. (Mama: ) I want to clarify here that the fast of worldly input does not and should not imply that all movies, computer games‚ novels, and forms of worldly entertainment are necessarily bad and wrong. This is not the message the Lord wants you to get from the renewal, and it's not the message He wants you to convey to the children. It's simply that the Lord wants the whole Family to devote this time to concentrating on other areas of our lives that are more important. He wants to teach us all—adults and children alike—to have a better balance in all things.
148. It's not necessarily the worldly things in themselves that are bad. (Unless you have been overindulgent with your children and have allowed far too much of their lives to be taken up with worldly input, or you have allowed them worldly input that isn't wholesome or godly, in which case you'd need to sort this out with the Lord and start following Him much more closely in this area of your children's lives.) We need to forsake the things of the world for a time to focus on the things of the spirit, and emphasize the other important aspects of our lives—and our children's lives—that worldly influences have often overshadowed.
Secret to Success #7: Use the Power of Praise and Celebrate the Renewal
149. A smaller but important thing you may want to include in your renewal success program is a celebration to start off the renewal with a bang. A fun and appropriate idea for kicking off the renewal would be to have a "count your blessings" time with your children‚ or even with the whole Home—a special praise time where you think of and praise Jesus for all the good things that the renewal is going to bring into all of your lives. Have your children come up with as many things to thank the Lord for as they can by themselves, and then prompt them with some ideas of your own. Turn it into a fun activity with a nice dinner, a special snack, or some yummy drinks. If you are able to have this special "count your blessings" time before the renewal begins, that would be ideal. If not, you could incorporate it into your children's devotions on the morning of June 15 (the first day of the renewal).
150. Here are some "blessings" or "gifts" that you can build on (see MLK 198, where the Lord pictures some of these and other gifts for the children):
* That you'll be able to spend more quality time together as a family and as a Home.
* That you'll be able to do more fun things together (specify some that you hope to do together during the renewal).
* Because everyone will be spending more time with people (as opposed to computers or the media), the children will learn and grow in their communication skills and how to relate to others.
* The children will grow in learning how to make others happy, and that will make them happier too.
* There'll be more fun opportunities for the children to witness and win souls.
* There will be more opportunities for excursions and outings, for education and for recreation.
* Parents will get to know their children better‚ and vice versa.
* Closer and deeper bonds of friendship with their peers‚ based on the Word and uplifting fellowship.
* The renewal is an opportunity to build new habits.
* New people (older brothers and sisters, and SGAs and adults in the Home) will spend time with the children, teaching them new things and pouring into them.
* There will be more united activities and fellowships in the Home, and even in the area.
* There will be fun Word, prayer‚ and praise times.
* They will gain more Word in their hearts through doing Word–based games and activities.
* They might have the opportunity to learn a new skill or hobby that they've always wanted to learn.
* They might be able to go on more faith trips.
* Because there will be more united endeavors and activities, the children will feel more a part of the Home and be able to play a more active role in the Home.
* Your Home, as well as each family within the Home, will learn how to pray and hear from the Lord for ideas of things to do.
* They will have a closer and more personal link with Jesus, and see more of the fruits of obeying Him and His Word.
Secret to Success #8: Plan Ahead and Incorporate Rewards
151. (Mama:) You parents and teachers—and everyone who takes time with the children—will need to think ahead and plan your times with the children in advance. You parents will need to plan your parent times and parent days. You who are with the children for get-out need to have a goal and program of what you're going to do. You who are with the children for Word time need to plan those in advance as well. This is a very important point, and is a huge key to keeping things lively and hopping and fun for your children.
152. As good as your intentions are, it's nearly impossible to plan things on the run. If you just leave your times with the children to fate, chances are that they're not going to be that high a quality. On top of that, they'll probably end up being more work for you as parents and caregivers, more stressful and hectic‚ and less fun and enjoyable for the children. It takes initial work and prayer to make a plan and a calendar of events—whether you make it by week, or by month, or for the whole six months—but it will be time well spent. You might also want to discuss as a Home how to allot or raise some funds for special activities you could do as a Home with and for the children over the next six months.
153. There are many benefits to thinking and planning ahead. You will be able to provision outings and events in advance, organize activities and get–togethers with other Homes in your area, and even order your lit ahead of time so that your children will always be able to pass out a witness wherever they go. Your children will also have the thrill of being able to look forward to fun events, and this will be an incentive for them. You could even print out calendars with the different highlights sprinkled throughout—outings, activities, parties, special dinners, witnessing adventures, road trips, parent-time activity plans, etc.—that the children can refer to and be excited by.
Planning is a vital part of teaching our children our values through shared experiences. We have to plan to spend time with them. We have to plan the time we spend with them, and we have to plan what values we want them to acquire through the experience. If we fail to plan, other commitments swallow the time we should be giving to our children.
Making no plan is a plan in itself‚ a plan to fail at spending time with the most important people on earth—our children. Busy fathers and mothers must write "special appointment" across an evening, a day, or a week, and then keep that special appointment as if it were a sacred obligation. It is. I can assure you that twenty years from now you will never remember what other things you could have done on those evenings given to your children, but none of you ever will forget what you did while spending time with them.
Planning for a shared adventure begins to falter when no one takes it on as a special assignment. Someone who enjoys the task should be responsible. If no one in your family enjoys planning, you can make the planning itself a family event. Take an evening or a weekend afternoon and make a tentative plan for the next six months. Get a calendar and start filling in the dates with activities. Before your planning session, it would be wise to lay some ground rules such as, "Nobody calls anybody else's idea 'stupid.'" And "Everybody has to suggest one idea sometime during the evening." (From Raising Kids on Purpose, by Gwen Weising.)
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154. (Jesus: ) Here are a few more little scheduling tips:
* Make time in the schedule to prepare for the planned activities.
* If someone is going to have special time with the children, try to give them a little time to get ready before the kids arrive, so that the time can be as quality and interesting and fun as possible once they're with the kids.
* If you've discussed and planned something and it looks like it isn't going to work out, pray and find out what I have in store for a "Plan B," and tell the kids as far in advance as possible so that they're not disappointed at the last minute. Remember that I want to make this time fun for them, so if you're looking to Me‚ I'll give the ideas and also provide the means.
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155. (Mama:) Along the lines of organizing activities and events with the other Homes in your area‚ a CO who read an advance copy of this GN had the following comment. While the goal and vision for the Family is to have larger Homes, at this point many of you Homes are still small and would benefit greatly from working together to make things happen for the children in your area.
156. (From a CO:) Homes working together to provide activities for their children could be a key in making the renewal fun for our kids. Sometimes something you are unable to do on your own as a Home is much more feasible when you work together with other Homes. For example, one Home that has a van might be able to provide transportation‚ while another Home that has a good provisioner might provision excursion places‚ etc. Sometimes our children's need for fellowship is neglected since it takes time to plan, and there is often no transportation, funds, or time left for the kids' activities. But working together can make these things easier.
157. Often the best part of an activity for the kids is having their friends and playmates join them. Even simple activities done at home are enhanced by the fellowship factor, which is a real key in keeping our children and young people happy, and so they aren't comparing with worldly kids whom they feel have more fellowship than them. This is especially needed in small Homes where there is only one family. (End of comment from CO.)
158. (Mama: ) Another pro to planning ahead is that you can sprinkle little "rewards" for your children throughout the weeks and months of the renewal. If the children have some special events or outings or parties to look forward to, it will encourage them to stay positive through the rough times. It will motivate the older ones to help with the younger ones when you need them to, and will be a powerful incentive for all of the children to behave and be good, because they'll be looking forward to something special as a reward for being yielded and obedient.
159. You'll want to pray about what sort of rewards would mean the most to the children in your Home, and then include them in your Home's renewal plan. For example, maybe you'd want to plan something special at the end of each month‚ as a mini-celebration for the progress and victories and all that the Lord has done for you in the last four weeks. Rewards at certain landmarks could be bigger than others, as well.
160. Perhaps at the halfway mark you could plan something extra special. The rewards could be anything—from a special snack and activity or a party, to a special camping trip or excursion to an amusement park, or maybe something that complements one of the skills they're learning, or a special new notebook to keep their Word jewels in. I know that as you seek the Lord‚ He'll show you what would be most appropriate, meaningful, and fun for your children.
161. Just as adults need encouragement and incentives, so do children. It makes us big people feel happy when we know the Lord is pleased with our progress, or when we are applauded or encouraged when we've crossed a major milestone, and we love to receive His blessings and rewards. Well, it's the same with our children. Some extra special incentives and rewards scattered throughout the renewal, which they know about in advance, to encourage the children in their behavior and progress and obedience, is an idea well worth considering and praying about.
162. Here's a message from the Lord along the lines of thinking ahead and setting goals for your times with the children:
163. (Jesus:) The Activity Books are chock-full of ideas, crafts, games‚ projects, and fun things that you can do with your children. The point is not to just let them play with toys, but it's to show them that even though there are no movies and other avenues of worldly input, life can be just as fun, or even more fun, when they do other things.
164. If you have a number of children of different ages, there are Family-made board games that will keep the older ones occupied while you play with your younger children, or do coloring projects, make cards for your friends and sheep, etc. The ideas of things that can be done are limitless, and you will find the renewal to be a very enriching time for you and your children. It will help you—whether you're a parent, teacher, or part-time caregiver—to reconnect with your kids and regain the joy of loving them and pouring into them.
165. It seems like such a chore right now to think of so many months where you won't be as free to put your children in front of a movie or computer game. But believe Me‚ in time you'll be very thankful for the chance to get back to being the parent, teacher, or friend and caregiver that you want to be—someone who's fun, who has lots of good ideas. Once the kids in your Home are grown and gone, you'll feel so bad if you know that a lot of precious time was spent in front of a TV. That's not really parenting or childcare. It's getting you some needed rest, but it's still not parenting or childcare—it's babysitting.
166. Of course, there are many Family–made programs and shows that you can still show to your kids, but I want that to be in moderation too. Because while you're getting back to the basics of your spiritual life and walk with Me, I also want to use this time to help the kids to find other ways to occupy and enjoy themselves.
167. Something that you should do is to plan out your times with the children in advance so that you won't have all the kids running around bored when you're not sure what to do. You need ideas, plans, courses, and goals. They can be simple goals, like: "Let's try to color this wall picture, or finish this collage by the end of the week!" or‚ "How about we try to go to the park and play tag three times this week!" Things like that are a lot of fun.
168. It's good to try and have a Word-based activity with your kids too, even if it's just starting off your time with them with an inspiration of two or three songs, praying for the parent time, and then going on to your activity. And on parent day you could include skits or flannelgraphs or chalk talk or other object lessons as part of your Word time with them, to make it fun and special and activity-like.
169. Have plans and ideas or a list of a few possible things you could do, so you're able to be flexible, depending on all the circumstances you need to take into account‚ like the weather, your kids' behavior, health, moods, etc.
170. It's good to never start running low on ideas, or your times with the children will start to become a little dry‚ and the message that will be conveyed to your kids is that life is boring without worldly input—which is the worst sample and message they could get from this time. So for their spiritual life's sake, make things fun and exciting; it's crucial to their growth!
171. Everything in life can be a learning experience with children. Their enthusiasm will bring back that spark of excitement that you feel you're lacking in raising them right and pouring all you can into their eager hearts and minds. They're like little sponges ready to learn and explore, so feed that desire for learning and excitement by making it one of your top priorities.
172. When you keep them occupied, excited, and challenged with a lot happening, they're much more likely to behave and to listen to what you have to say—and your lives, while busier, will be much easier! I will bless you as you put your all into your kids and give them the time and attention they need and deserve!
173. (Mama:) I want to include a few ideas of some things you could consider doing with your children during the renewal. You could even read this list—or the ones that you feel are feasible in your situation—with your children, ask them for any additional ideas they may have of things they'd like to do, and then pray and hear from the Lord together about which would be best, and how many would be realistic to fit into six months. Most children will be excited about generating ideas, having a say in what they get to do, and helping to make the decisions. You and they will be surprised at all the fun things you can do together that don't involve System input.
174. Be sure to write down what you plan to do‚ and then try to make as many of them happen as possible. It's extremely important that you come through for the children and do the things with them that you decide on together. I can't stress it enough. It would be better to have more realistic goals that you can commit to reaching than to promise the children too much and then not be able to fit it all in or make it happen. So start small, and don't pack the calendar with more than you can actually do. It would be very sad if they got their hopes up and then were disappointed. Please pray desperately for the Lord's wisdom, so that you don't make your activity/event goals too high or too low. The Lord will help you to find a perfect balance if you ask Him for His keys of anointing, prevision, balance, and planning.
175. In addition to this list, which is just a brief, WS has compiled some files of activity ideas, party ideas, get-out ideas, excursion ideas, list of Word-based games, and more, which we pray will be a blessing to you. (These files, and others‚ will be posted on the MO site, DV. Or for those of you on fields where it's difficult to download from the MO site, Lord willing the files will be sent around on CDs to the Homes.) That's not to mention the wealth of ideas that are in Activity Books 1-5, the CCHBs (Learning and Play Activities, parts 1-3), the Childcare Reference Handbook, and other assorted pubs, which you can dig into and glean from. [Note: Activity Book 5 is not printed in book format, but in the following individual mags:
* The Activity Book‚ Volume V: Section 1, Plants.
* The Activity Book, Volume V: Section 2, Animals.
* The Activity Book, Volume V: Section 3, Weather.]
*Swifts and road trips
*Themed special dinners (i.e., Mexican, Chinese, Arabic, etc.)
*Teach new hobbies
*Teach new sports
*Exciting Word, praise, and prayer times
*Barbeques and picnics
*Beach party (if near the ocean)
*An excursion to a museum
*A Home or area sports day at a local park, with a picnic lunch
*An outing to a zoo, aquarium, or planetarium
*Provision tickets to a ballet or something similar
*Hold an area contest (such as who can get out the most Activated mags) with prizes
*Involve your children in a CTP
*Cooking activities, fancy birthday cakes, etc. (see Activity Book 3)
*Handyman projects (Activity Book 3)
*Use a video camera to make a fun home video. Then let the others watch it for some homemade‚ wholesome entertainment
*Plan and perform skits or plays
*Assemble a model car, airplane, etc.
*Learn to use the computer and an inexpensive camera to create an area newsletter with interviews and news items
*Create area sports teams, practice together, and have your very own sporting event, with drinks and a barbeque
*Get the kids who play instruments together for a "jam session"
*Organize local activity days for the kids with the Homes near you (or through the boards)
*Dance classes for the children and young people if someone in your Home is talented in that area
*An outing to an amusement park or water park
*Talent show (Home or area-wide)
*United hike in a nature reserve or forest area
*Organize a treasure hunt
*Spelling bee or memory bee
*Tour a factory to see how something is manufactured
End of text box.
Secret to Success #9: Make the Word Alive and Attractive
176. (Mama:) As I mentioned in the beginning of this Letter, the Lord wants our children to grow to love Him and His Word and the things of His Spirit more. He wants them to get to know Him better and be strengthened in the spirit, and the key to doing this is not to turn every waking hour of our children's lives into Word classes, but to instead make the Word and the things of the Spirit alive, attractive‚ fun, and even irresistible.
177. In fact, as I was working on this GN‚ I was wondering if I was emphasizing games‚ hobbies, and non-Word-related activities too much. I wanted to make sure I had a good balance, and wasn't going to the opposite extreme of focusing too much on all of these other extracurricular things to the neglect of the Word and the spiritual input our children need. The Lord says a number of times that He wants to give the children a greater hunger for the Word during the renewal and teach them to love the things of the spirit, so I wanted to be sure we were hitting the mark.
178. When I asked the Lord about this, He gave the following interesting message that made things clearer. He said that just as the Word is the most important thing in our lives as adults‚ so it is the most important thing for our children. But just as we adults can't spend all of our day reading the Word, or receiving prophecies, or reveling in the bed of love, because there are other things to do, it's the same with children. They desperately need the Word input, and they need a healthy amount of time when they can focus on the things of the spirit. But then there are many other things that make up their lives—their school time and education, their get–out, their communications with others, their playtime, and even their times of relaxation and recreation.
179. (Jesus:) The children need to discover that the Word and prayer and praise and all of the things that revolve around the spirit are fun and enjoyable. Word time and prayer and praise for children can't be a bore and chore. Children need excitement and fun in every area of their lives, and if the Word and the things of the spirit are dull and boring, then they'll grow up resisting it or disliking it, or thinking it's just something they "have to do," but something that isn't at all fun or enjoyable.
180. My goal for the children during the renewal as far as Word intake and fellowship with the things of the spirit is this: I do not necessarily intend nor instruct that you need to lengthen your children's time in the Word, prayer and praise. You just need to put more into the children's time in My temple. Children, especially young children, have short attention spans, and can only drink in so much at a time. But the vision you need is to take that time your children have with Me‚ with My Word, and reveling in the things of the spirit, and make those times truly unforgettable. Invest in these times so that your children look forward to them, don't want to go a day without them, and truly grow to love the things of the spirit.
181. The only exception to this would be those children who aren't getting enough Word or spiritual input. If that's the case, then the length of their intake should be upped. But for the most part, the emphasis should not be on more time but on the quality of the time.
182. Children aren't mature enough to just sit down and read the Word because I have said so. They can't comprehend that. They don't understand Me well enough, and they don't understand My love and ways as deeply as adults do. A connection with Me and an understanding of My ways and My love takes time. It's built through experience, and it is tried and proven through years of knowing Me. So, although your children do love and know Me to a point, their connection with Me is very dependent on you, the adults they live with. If the Word is made alive to them, then it will be alive in their hearts. If the things of My Spirit are made fun‚ lively, challenging, and inviting, then they will look forward to them and be strengthened thereby.
183. Children's attitudes toward the Word are very dependent on your attitudes, and the time and care and attention you devote to making it irresistible for them. If your children learn to desire and appreciate the Word and the things of the spirit because those things are presented to them in the right way, then they will have a serious head start in life, and when they get older they will be much more inclined to have a deep hunger and receptivity in their hearts for My Word, and all that is a part of Me and My Spirit.
184. It is to your advantage to seriously seek for ways to make the children's Word time high quality. As the Word becomes more alive and exciting in your children's lives during their devotional times, it will also become more natural to incorporate the Word and the things of the spirit in every area of their lives—into their school time, their extra project time‚ their get–out, their communications with others, their playtime, and their times of relaxation and recreation. This is the goal: To teach the children to take the Word and My Spirit with them wherever they go, to teach them to apply the Word in every area of their lives. And it all starts with quality, fun, exciting and alive Word and devotions times.
185. (Mama: ) So, dear parents and adults, please take full advantage of this renewal period by making the things of the spirit attractive for your children. Make the Word‚ prayer, praise, and spiritual activities fun and enjoyable, as well as something they will look forward to each day. It's a golden opportunity to hook your children on the Word and the things of the spirit.
186. Even though you have the grandest intentions, however, I realize that you sometimes lack ideas or readily available materials for spicing up your children's spiritual activities and Word times. So the Lord laid it on my heart to see what we in WS could do to make it realistic for you to bring the Word and the things of the spirit more to life in your children's lives. It's a big job, so we want to help you succeed by doing what we can. Some of the things we're planning to send your way soon, Lord willing—which we will post on the MO site—are:
* The new Word Curriculum/Word Course, which will be available on the MO site in early June, God willing. The Word Curriculum is for children ages 0-11 and the Word Course is for JETTs and junior teens.
* Praise time ideas
* Prayer ideas
* Devotions/Word time ideas
* Word-based activity ideas
* New children's devotionals (Note: See a sample of these on pages 13-16 of this GN.)
* New children's vitamins
(Note: Again, for those of you in fields where it's difficult to download from the MO site, these files will be sent around on CDs to the Homes, via your local FED and CP boards, D.V. Some FED and CP boards are also working on material or activities for the renewal period, which they will make available to the Homes in their areas.)
Secret to Success #10: Pray and Claim the Keys
187. This last secret to success is an extremely important one that we can't afford to overlook. Aside from all of the other very good and needful things that we can do during the renewal to help our children, the most important thing we can do is to pray for them. Adding the vital ingredient of prayer and claiming the keys for our children will ensure that we're doing our very best for them.
188. There are, as always, a lot of practical details that need tending to‚ but so much will be accomplished and so many victories will come about through prayer—and only through prayer. We might do all the right things in the natural‚ but if we don't take advantage of the power of prayer and the keys, we won't be availing ourselves of the full power that is at our disposal. Some victories will only be won through our prayers.
189. (Jesus:) I can't emphasize enough how much your prayers and claiming the keys will make the difference for your children and young people during this time of renewal. There are many battles to fight and victories to win. But no matter how hard you try in other areas, it's your prayers that are going to make the biggest difference.
190. I, and the hosts of Heaven, will be praying for you and your children during this time. We will have a continuous vigil, pulling down the power of Heaven on your behalf. And your prayers will complete that circle of power and tap you in to the power that we are putting so close, making so available to you.
191. Please make it one of your priorities during the renewal period to focus your intercessory prayers on your children and their needs. Keep a running prayer request list and make it available for all. Discuss it as a Home and come up with a plan for your prayer times that you can stick to—whether teaming up with someone, or having a rotating schedule for your prayer vigil times‚ or dedicating some of your united times to this prayer topic, or other ideas I may give you—and follow through.
192. It's your prayers that will make the difference. It's your prayers that will bind the forces of the netherworld and shield your children from their attacks. It's your prayers that will open up the windows of the spirit to your kids, so that they can tangibly experience what I'm promising them in My Word. It's your prayers that will open their hearts to My Spirit. Through your prayers you can make it easy for them to partake of all that I want to give them through this time.
193. How sad it would be if your children went through this period of time only forsaking but not really experiencing the fulfillment of My promises. I want this time of renewal to be just as wonderful for them as it will be for you. I want them to partake of the rewards of the spirit just as deeply, and be satisfied in their hearts. I want them to quench their thirst on the waters of the spirit and godly fellowship and fun and the rewards of unity and obedience. I have so much to give them, but it will take your intercessory prayers to fight for them and help them.
194. Of all the things that I have told you, and all the instruction that I have given you, this is one of the most important points to take note of: the power of prayer and claiming the keys. It's something that each and every Home can do. It doesn't require extra money or personnel or cool locations or flamboyant characters to bring it about. All it requires is your love, your sincerity, and your sacrifice to make the time and expend the effort that intercessory prayer requires. Please discuss how you can make it a part of your daily lives‚ and guard that time as if it were your children's lives and future service for Me—for it is.
195. As you obey and pour out your hearts to Me in prayer, you will see miracles in your children's and young people's lives. All the pieces of the picture are there. This could be a turning point in their service for Me, their long-term commitment, their building the habits that will enable them to be disciples and My witnesses of the End. But you can be sure the Enemy will be fighting hard, so you must pray. Your prayers are what will bring it all together and make it a reality. Thank you for praying, My loves. You will see the results‚ and you will be eternally rewarded.
The Blessings Will Be Innumerable
196. (Mama: ) In closing, here is a message of encouragement from the One Who has full faith in you and Who knows you will be able to meet the challenges ahead.
197. (Jesus:) The challenges ahead are monumental, but you are worthy of them. I know that you will rise to the occasion, that you will do your part to make this renewal what I need it to be for the children. I know that you love Me and don't want to fail Me. I know that you love your children and don't want to fail them. It's this love—your love for Me and your love for your children—that will compel you, that will drive you, that will give you the strength to walk on the path I've put before you.
198. It looks like a very difficult path, and at first it won't be easy‚ but it's not always going to be that hard. At first it will be quite an uphill climb, and will require extra determination and strength to begin. But then once you make it up the first incline and over the first hump, it will start to get easier. With time it will be smoother sailing‚ and with more time it will be more enjoyable, exciting, and fulfilling for you and your children than you ever thought it would be. As everyone joins together—parents, children, teachers, and Family members of all kinds—to make the renewal a success, so it will be. The unity of everyone working together will make the loads lighter, the burdens fewer, and the changes easier.
199. Trust Me, My loves. I know what I'm doing, even if you don't. I know where the road's leading, even if you can't see very far ahead. I love you and your children, and I have your best interests at heart. In the decisions that I'm making today, and in the decisions that I will make in the future‚ My love for you is what drives Me. I wouldn't ask this challenge of you if I didn't love you and yours. I know it's for the best, and in time you will also know it is for the best. It will benefit you and your children like nothing else ever has. You will know at the end of this time that it was My hand that led you, and blessed you, and kept you. You will be truly thankful, because My blessings will fill your hearts and lives and Homes.
200. Right now you look up and you see a big blanket of blackness‚ but little by little, stars of blessings will start to twinkle and fill the sky of your lives. My blessings—big and small—will be innumerable, like hundreds of stars in a clear night sky. What looks like bleak blackness today will in time be filled with the sparkling diamonds of My goodness and rewards. Please trust Me, My loves, until you start to see the lights appear.
201. (Mama: ) Peter and I love you all dearly, and we're going to be praying for you every day during the renewal—for your determination, will, strength, faith, yieldedness‚ and all of the gifts of the spirit that you'll need. We'll especially be praying for you parents and teachers who will carry a big part of the responsibility in caring for the children and making this time the positive experience that Jesus wants it to be. Please be patient during the difficult part at the beginning, when the uphill climb will require more determination and strength, and be encouraged to know that in time it will be smooth sailing by comparison. Isn't that a wonderful promise?
202. We'll also be praying for all of you who aren't parents and teachers, as I'm sure you're going to be doing all that you can to pour into our wonderful children. They're your children in spirit as well, and I know that as you pray and hear from the Lord about how He wants to use you to invest in their lives, and to help the parents and teachers in whatever ways you can, He will show you what you can do to make a difference. And as you step out by faith and obey what the Lord shows you, He will more than repay. He will give back to you much more than you could ever sacrifice. He'll fill your life with the blessings and rewards He knows you desire most, for your love and giving.
203. As you probably well know, when your children are happy, challenged, content, and channeling their energies positively‚ it changes things in your Home for the better. Your Home becomes a happier place, the problems lessen, and things run smoother. So really it's in the best interests of your Home to invest in your children, because by helping them to be happier‚ you'll be contributing to a happier Home. Everything improves—even your Home life—when the children's needs are being met. Their happiness spills over into other areas of your Home and has a positive ripple effect.
204. Despite the tests and challenges and difficulties, our Husband has all the answers, solutions, and miracles you need! The renewal is going to be a test of your faith in the Lord's ability and in His key power to help you through the challenges you'll face. It's going to be a test of your love and giving, to see how much you're willing to sacrifice for Jesus and for the sake of your children. It's going to be a test of your unity as a Home, as everyone bonds together to make things work smoothly and effectively. It's going to need to be a teamwork effort from start to finish, and because our Lover has ordained it, He's going to help you to make it happen.
205. Thanks to all of you—parents, teachers, and everyone else—for making these next six months a truly special, memorable, meaningful time for our children. It's going to make a difference in their lives and enhance their service to Jesus and others. Nothing you give them or pour into them or teach them will be lost.
With love and many thanks for playing a big part in molding our children's futures,
P.S. 20–Point Summary of Letter and New Key Promises
1.All Home members need to unite together as a team to pour into the children during the renewal. The unity of everyone working together will make the loads lighter, the burdens fewer, and the changes easier. Ensure that you, as a Home, do all of the points on the "United Home To-Do List" that follows.
Key promise: The keys of unity will bind you together with the ropes of My love‚ so that I can empower you to be a strong team, a loving Home, a "One Wife" Family.
2. Everyone should pray about getting more involved with the children. The singles and non-parents should participate more in the care of the children.
Key promise: The keys of unselfishness and love will provide you with the power to give more than you've ever given before, and then refill you with more blessings than you've ever received before.
3. Each Home should get together and discuss and pray and hear from the Lord about the care of the children during the renewal. Rearrange the schedule if necessary, and make a solid, workable plan.
Key promise: Claim the keys of organization and planning as you discuss and meet, and My spirit helpers who are gifted with ideas and inspiration will pass on to you their heavenly plans and programs.
4. You parents need to explain the renewal to your children as soon as possible after reading this GN.
Key promise: I see deep into the heart of every child, and as you depend on the keys I will give you the supernatural wisdom, anointing, discernment, and love that you need to explain My will and plan clearly and completely.
5. You adults need to have a positive attitude toward the renewal so that you can help your children to have the right attitudes.
Key promise: You can be positive about anything, even the most difficult and trying circumstances, as you claim the keys of 5-D vision and let Me give you a glimpse of My perspective.
6. Ask the Lord to speak to you in prophecy regarding problems or difficulties you're facing personally, or that you're anticipating with your Home's children and their care during the renewal.
Key promise: I have the answers to everything, even the things that concern and trouble you the most‚ and My Words that soothe and comfort your heart will be immediately available as you turn My keys of prophecy.
7. Ask your Home's children what they would like to do during the renewal and how they would like to spend their time, hear from the Lord together, and then make commitments. Stick to your plan.
Key promise: I am a God of terrific ideas, solutions‚ and plans! Just call on the keys to access My mind, and I will download into your "computers" the ideas to inspire your children and turn them on to the renewal.
8. If you have been overindulgent with your children and have allowed them worldly input that isn't wholesome or godly, sort this out with the Lord and start following Him much more closely in this area of your children's lives.
Key promise: It's never too late to turn around and start heading in the right direction, and as you call on the keys of change I will make the transition easier and smoother than it might otherwise be.
9. Don't let your children's outward show of rebellion dissuade you. Ask the Lord for faith and conviction. Look at the goal and not at the moment. Keep your focus on the life of joy you are leading your children into.
Key promise: Hold tightly to My stabilizing force of faith, and the keys of obedience and conviction will help you to lovingly stand strong even if your decisions are met with resistance.
10. Don't dwell on the "don'ts," but emphasize the "dos." Emphasize all the fun and excitement your children will be experiencing over the next six months. Help your children progress‚ expand their horizons, and have a ball of a time serving the Lord and learning and experiencing new things.
Key promise: The keys of new-bottle faith and ingenuity will help you to impart to your children that I am anything but a dull, boring, lifeless God, and will help you to teach them that I am the Creator of the best avenues of fun, joy, and happiness.
11. Please‚ Home members, try to spend a lot of good, quality, fun, edifying time with your kids, giving them your undivided attention. Get to know them better. You could even read some of the children's pubs from time to time, so that you can connect with them on that level and bring the Word into your conversations and interactions.
Key promise: The renewal is My gift of love to you, and the keys of obedience will help you to make the most of it by pouring into your children like never before.
12. Make your times of fellowship, Word, prayer, praise, and witnessing something your children look forward to as much as a movie or a computer game. Make these times quality. Seek the Lord for His ideas and inspirations. If you have someone in your Home who is particularly gifted in making the Word fun for the children, consider him or her having Word time with the children on a more regular basis. Don't focus too much on the extracurricular activities to the neglect of the Word and the spiritual input your children need.
Key promise: Call on the keys for the ideas and inspiration for fantastical, attractive, and invigorating times in My Word‚ and a switch will turn on in the hearts of your children, helping them to grasp and love the things of the spirit like never before.
13. Think ahead. Invest time and prayer in planning in advance meaningful activities and input for your children. Have realistic goals that you can commit to reaching, rather than promise the children too much and then not be able to fit it all in or make it happen.
Key promise: When you access the keys of prevision and organization by getting down to business with Me and planning ahead‚ I will see to it that your initial sacrifice of invested time is more than repaid with successful and miraculous results.
14. Don't listen to the Enemy when he tells you it can't be done, or that the Lord's plan isn't going to work, or that He has unrealistic expectations.
Key promise: As you call on the keys you will thrive on the challenges, thrill to the changes‚ and be a vessel that I can work through to bring My blessings and gifts into the lives of your children.
15. Build new‚ healthier habits with your children and then fight to keep those habits.
Key promise: The keys of change will break any and all old habits, help you build new and better ones, and then give you the determination to never lose the ground you have gained in the spirit or go back to the way things were before.
16. Help the Lord to fulfill His promises to the children by doing your part.
Key promise: You will be a conduit of My love to the children, My hands to pass on to them an abundance of blessings from the spirit world, and a manifestation of Me‚ as you depend on the keys.
17. Kick off the renewal with a "count your blessings" celebration and praise time. Praise Jesus for all the good things that the renewal is going to bring into all of your lives.
Key promise: Give the Devil the boot immediately by calling on the keys of praise and thanking Me for your innumerable blessings‚ and his wanna-be power will be destroyed.
18. Sprinkle little "rewards" for your children throughout the weeks and months of the renewal. Pray about what sort of rewards would mean the most to the children in your Home, and then include them in your Home's renewal plan.
Key promise: I know the exact rewards and incentives that are going to encourage your children and help them to be good, and as you claim the keys and open up to receive My Words, I will deliver the specifics to you.
19. Claim the keys of faith, trust, vision‚ determination, organization, multitasking, anointing, prevision, balance, and planning.
Key promise: Because I love you and want to see the renewal succeed even more than you do, I promise to give you immediate access to all of the spirit help and gifts of My Spirit that you will need as you call on the keys.
20. Take full advantage of the power of prayer and the keys.
Key promise: As you call on the keys and pray for the children in your Home every day‚ know that those minutes are the most productive minutes of your day, because I will change things in the spirit that you wouldn't be able to change in the natural, and bring the victories that your heart desires.
United Home To-Do List
1) Pray about what you can do to get involved with the children.
(P&P question:) What can I do to invest in the children during the renewal? I want it to be a fun, positive experience for them, and I don't want to fail them because of something I could have done to help but didn't. So please show me what I can do to pour into the children. How can I give more and sacrifice more of my own personal desires or time for the sake of the children? What, practically speaking, can I do to make a difference?
(Note: If the children in your Home are presently going to System school, please ask the Lord for specifics regarding this question. Fulfilling the goals of the renewal while your children are in System school will probably be quite a big challenge for you‚ so the Lord will undoubtedly have extra guidelines, and important counsel and instruction for you.)
2) Ask the Lord to speak to you in prophecy regarding any specific problems or difficulties you're anticipating with your Home's children and their care during the renewal.
(P&P question:) I know that I'm responsible to have faith‚ peace, and a positive attitude toward the renewal, so I can pass that same spirit on to the children in my Home. So please speak to me, Jesus, about anything that I may be concerned about—whether it's something I'm personally concerned about‚ or something I'm concerned about regarding the children. Please give me Your answers so that I can have the right outlook and mindset when I'm around the children. I don't want my own battles or difficulties or concerns to get in the way of me being Your love to the children‚ so please tell me anything You know I need to strengthen my faith so that I can be the support and help they need me to be.
3) Parents, pray and ask the Lord when would be the best time to inform your children (child) about the renewal, and what is the key to your children's (or child's) hearts. If you live in a Home with more than one family with children, you'll want to coordinate informing the children so that they hear the news at the same time.
(P&P question:) Dear Jesus, You know my children (or child) better than I know them (or him or her) myself, and You have the key to their hearts. Please speak to me clearly and show me when would be the best time to talk with my children. What day would be best, and what time of day? And what would be the best approach‚ as well as the best examples‚ word pictures, and ways of expressing things that would be easiest for them to accept and understand? Please give me any insight, understanding‚ wisdom, counsel, or instruction that You know I need in order to relate to my children and pass on the concept of the renewal to them.
4) Get together as a Home and make a clear and workable plan of what you're going to do in order to make the renewal period truly enjoyable for the children. Rearrange your schedule to accommodate the needs of the children, have different people in the Home volunteer for slots with the children (according to what the Lord showed each person in prophecy—see #1 on this to-do list), and make a tentative outline for the next six months or a calendar of events. Incorporate rewards and incentives into this plan.
5) Ask your Home's children what they would like to do during the renewal. Then hear from the Lord together and make commitments. Incorporate their ideas into your Home's renewal plan.
6) Have a children's celebration and "count your blessings" praise time‚ accompanied by a nice dinner, a special snack, or yummy drinks, sometime before the renewal begins (or on the morning of renewal day one).
7) Make a plan of how you, as a Home, are going to invest more time in intercessory prayer for your children during the renewal, and commit to doing it.
8) Parents, please ask the Lord the following important question as soon into the renewal as you are able to fit it in.
(P&P question:) In what areas am I failing as a parent‚ and what can I do to be a better parent? What can I do to help my children grow stronger spiritually, and what are their greatest spiritual needs at this time? Please speak to me, dearest Husband, about my parenting, my children's spiritual lives and upbringing‚ how I can shepherd and help my children more, in what areas I should be improving regarding their care, or anything else that You'd like to give me a message about.
Sample Devotional Stories
(These are sample stories for your information only. Lord willing, we will have the finals of these, and others‚ on the MO site and ready for you to download and read to your children by the time the renewal starts. Please pray for this.)
Sandra lay back on her bed and contemplated the events of the day. This renewal period is not as bad as I thought it was going to be, she thought happily. In fact, it's been more fun and exciting than my old life. I don't think I ever want to go back to the way things were before!
Her mind drifted back over the preceding days' activities, and a smile crossed her face as she remembered the fun fellowship they'd had at the park with the other Homes in the area. I never dreamed we'd be gypsy dancing and having Holy Ghost samples in the park, she thought.
Boy, that was fun! It was fun fellowshipping with the other kids around here, and on top of that‚ the Lord blessed us with some hungry sheep to witness to. That was really exciting, I have to admit, much more exciting than reading a novel or sitting at my computer playing games! I never thought I'd see the day when thoughts like that would be going through my head, thought Sandra in amazement.
A knock on the door roused Sandra from her reverie and the thoughts of all the fun she'd been having.
"Come in," said Sandra cheerily. In popped the head of her little sister Connie.
"Hi, Connie! What's up?"
"Oh, hi‚ Sandra. Mom wanted to know if you could come help her with dinner. You know‚ we have some important guests coming over tonight, and then Uncle James is going to give an Endtime Bible study afterwards!"
"Sure, Connie. Tell Mom I'll be right there, and that I'm more than happy to help!"
I really like this new life, thought Sandra. I never really enjoyed contributing so much to the Home and being a help, but now all of a sudden I want to be the biggest blessing I can possibly be. I'm really changing! Wow! Thank You Jesus! This renewal really is all that Mom and Dad said it would be after all!
Question: In what ways can you see you are changing into a new creature? Talk about some of the fun things you've done during the renewal that you didn't do before.
Key promise: I can make all things new through the power of the keys. I can transform you into the person you always wanted to be.
Captain Starblaster vs. the Mars–root
Captain Starblaster was surrounded by Martians, their expectant faces and quadruple sets of eyes all focused on him. He was thankful that the dim light their campfire provided wasn't quite bright enough to expose the tears forming in his eyes or the slight quiver in his firm and manly jaw.
Yes, Mars-root was that bad!
As the first earthman to visit Mars, he had come in peace. Thankfully, the Martians also had received him in peace. After the reception party in his honor‚ it was time to sample the local hospitality. Mars-beer was okay, but Mars-root was not. Water on Mars is not located above ground, but deep beneath the surface in underground caverns. The only thing that could be called an actual "plant" by Earth standards was Mars-root. Naturally, their society's food and drink revolved almost entirely around it.
Stout Captain Starblaster was the first to be offered the dark brown paste. It was ground Mars-root, and he was the first human to taste it. He thought he would be the last.
It tasted worse than anything you could ever imagine. Consider which vegetable you dislike the most in all the world, multiply it by 10, let it rot for a few years, then grind it into paste and you'll have something kind of like Mars-root. However, Captain Starblaster couldn't show his disgust. He was an emissary from Earth‚ commissioned by Star Command to establish friendly contact with the Martians. What could he do? What could any man do?
Brave Captain Starblaster managed to swallow.
He quickly brushed away the tear from his eye, put on his widest grin, and said‚ "Good!" The Martians erupted into cheers, twiggling their antennas together in an act kind of like clapping. They accepted permanent peace with Earth, and the two societies were joined together in eternal friendship.
But that's not quite the end of our story. "Captain Starblaster vs. the Mars-root" has an interesting ending. Captain Starblaster became the governor of the first Earth colony on Mars. Not only was he able to endure Mars-root during the public feasts for diplomatic purposes, but he came to quite enjoy the stuff. As he learned more about it, he found that the initial terrible taste was not in fact so terrible, but was actually quite interesting, and it was only that he was so accustomed to eating Earth food that made the Mars-root taste strange. Soon he stopped eating Earth food entirely and lived solely on Mars-root and Mars–beer.
He grew 1 foot and 9 inches after that. He didn't grow a third eye, but even in gravity boots he could leap twice his own height‚ remember complete books after reading them only once, detect the sound of spacecraft landing half a hemisphere away, and for some reason, became allergic to lemonade. The Martians gave him the affectionate name of "Roothead," and he was loved by human and Martian alike till the end of his life, which, did we mention, was 370 years long?
To Discuss: What is the "Mars-root" in your life? What's something that you don't think you could ever like, but is actually good for you? Discuss solutions the Word gives that can help you come to like it.
Key Promise: If it's My will for you, there is nothing the keys can't help you like or get used to.
Daryl Dives In
It had been a rather busy day for Daryl, so by the time evening came he was very thankful for an opportunity to go to his bedroom and catch up on a personal Word project he had started.
As he sat reading, Daryl started thinking about the different changes that had taken place in his Home since the renewal period had started. It was becoming very obvious what blessings the Lord was pouring out on their Home in the way of more financial support, having more Activated members join their weekly Bible study, more provisioning‚ etc.
Even in his own life‚ Daryl could see that there were changes that he hadn't expected. It hadn't been easy for him to give up all the things that he had felt were the only fun in his life—his music, computer games, videos‚ etc.—and his initial reaction had been pretty rebellious, feeling that it just wasn't fair for a kid his age to have to be expected to go through all that, but slowly the miracle had begun in his life.
He saw those in his Home forsaking the worldly influences, even though it was difficult for them at first. He saw the other young people in the Home get on board with what the Lord was doing in their lives. They were getting into deep Endtime Bible studies, getting into witnessing, and the fire was contagious. Soon Daryl was hooked on the new routine of activities and amazed that the former pull of System music in his life wasn't as strong as it was when he had first started the renewal period. It encouraged his faith that the Lord was honoring his obedience and his life was changing in a way he was happy about.
Yet after all the miracles and changes Daryl had seen the Lord do in his life and his Home, there was still a nagging question in the back of his mind. He couldn't get over the thought that once the renewal period was over, things would just go back to normal—that things to do with the Word or spiritual subjects wouldn't be as exciting‚ that the young people wouldn't be as into witnessing, because they would be trying to catch up on the movies they had missed. There was a chance he would fall back into his old state of being so into his computer games and music, and then he would have gone through this whole forsaking of worldly input for nothing.
While deep in thought he hadn't noticed someone coming into the room, until he felt a hand on his shoulder and turned to see Lisa standing there. "Hey, Daryl, are you particularly busy right now?" Lisa asked. "Because we could really use your help with the Endtime Bible class we're going to give our Activated members tonight."
Lisa knew that Daryl was full of his subject, because not long after the renewal period had begun, he had made it his passion to read and study as much as possible on the subject, whether it was Dad's older Letters, the Endtime series, or just straight from the Bible. He had taken time to discuss the subject with some of the FGA Endtime buffs in the Home who had helped him get the specifics down. It was actually quite a thrill for him to be this inspired and excited about the Word.
"Sure, Lisa‚" Daryl replied without hesitation. "Let me just finish the project I was working on and I'll be there in a minute."
As Daryl sat down in the living room with his heavily marked Bible in hand, he saw that they had quite a crowd tonight. There were ten of their regular members present and four others that were coming for the first time. The group was mesmerized by the Daniel 2 class Daryl was helping to give‚ and soon their meeting was over.
Some had lingered to be able to talk with the young people there and have more of their personal questions answered. Daryl noticed Richard, a first-timer that they had met while witnessing the week before, and went over to talk to him.
"I just can't believe that all this info has been around for thousands of years‚ yet so few know about it or have the insight on it that you do." Richard observed. "You have such an important responsibility to tell people about these things. You have been privileged with knowledge that very few are privy to, and you must tell everyone about it. Just hearing what was taught tonight has made me want to change my life around and has gotten me thinking about what the real priorities in life are."
Daryl could see where this was leading. The Lord was using Richard to help him see that things wouldn't go back to being the same. Daryl knew the truth. He had the truth and it was his responsibility to tell the world about it. It's almost like the Lord was giving him a peek into the future, and what he saw before him was almost overwhelming.
I see, Daryl thought. This is why we won't go back to the way things were before. This is why from here on‚ the choice we make we'll have to live. The Last Days are here, and there's no going back.
To Discuss: What's a possible blessing that you think will come about from the renewal period for you? Discuss ideas of how to keep making progress after the renewal is over.
Key Promise: Claim the companion keys of unswerving dedication, radical reality, and crazy faith, so you'll be able to rise to the challenge and changes ahead of you!
Testimonies from Parents and Family Members in Brazil
"They are the better for it—and so are we!"
From Maria (20), Brazil
Our Home arrived in Brazil at the beginning of the fast period [in 2003]. Soon after our arrival I prepared the explanation for the girls I oversee, S. (10) and C. (8). I first explained why we were having the fast and how we all had a lot to learn from it, and then I explained what it would entail.
Their first reaction was a little gloomy. No movies? No new mailings? But as I explained that we would be able to use the extra time to spend time together as a Home, having what we called "Having Fun with Jesus" nights—in which we'd play games like Quizorama, or charades‚ or watch Bible movies, etc.—they soon warmed up to the idea and put on a brave face.
As a Home we focused on having one or two of these activity nights a week, inviting the older kids whenever appropriate, which was most of the time. To tell you the truth, we all but forgot about movies. We made sure we spent extra time together and found lots of fun things to do—exploring Bible games, having special dinners‚ going on beach outings, etc. I'm sure these united activities really helped them enjoy this time.
Another important effect of the fast was their increased interest in the Word. When we watched a Bible movie they would bring their Bibles along and look everything up, asking questions‚ and gaining an exceptional interest in the Bible. Our Word times also became more feeding, and I found them studying the Word by themselves more than ever. They spent more time with the Lord and received beautiful prophecies to show for it. When asking S. what she thought changed during the fast, she said, "Since there was not much else to read, I would get a lot of time to read the Word and enjoyed it more than ever." I can attest that from then on, their hunger for the Word has increased tremendously.
I think a part of their acceptance of the fast was a reflection of how they saw us adults react. If we were moaning and groaning about it, they would surely do the same. Thank God they saw it as a challenge to "clean their hearts and minds from the things of this world." I know they are the better for it—and so are we!
Now when I explained the renewal they took it really well, and I pray the effects will continue to be as impressive.
"I wouldn't trade those months for anything."
From Jody (FGA, mother of nine), Brazil
We had 11 kids under 15, and it was an interesting challenge for us to keep things upbeat and fun. I wound up dusting off my old bag of tricks, and coming up with some new ones as well.
We had a united Home meeting to start off the fast and came up with some plans and ideas for the kids—sort of the "raisins instead of candy" approach. We were so very thankful that we had just merged with another family‚ as it turned out to be an immense blessing for the kids to have the fellowship and the bountiful benefits that communal living has to offer at such a time.
The soccer lessons they were already having with a professional coach certainly helped keep them busy. We also had our super-sheep dance teacher help them to add a professional touch to their outreach show. We worked on our new outreach projects, puppet show, art projects, and music projects. Projects and sports were the name of the game. I was fortunate enough to have a good collection of Bible movies, the latest TA videos, and tons of wonderful documentaries, etc., so we used those to fill in. We basically had a crash course in hands-on parenting! Ha!
The kids said that it was actually fun for them to be so busy together as a Home. When they returned to watching movies‚ their preferences had actually changed to not enjoying the more shallow and foolish types of films as much‚ since they were so used to more informative documentaries and meaningful types of activities.
If I were to do it all again—which we're gonna—I would try to make documentaries and other wholesome or Word-based videos, educational games‚ board games, arts and craft projects available to the area, plan more united parent days, camps, witnessing adventures‚ even things like Family-style science fairs, etc. I would tap into some of our live-outs who have special talents or professional training for things such as coaching sports, music, dance‚ and other arts instruction.
Pubbed ideas helped‚ and we sure went through lots of colored pencils when coloring photocopied XN covers, but we had a very special time. Maybe we could have art contests? Coloring contests?
It goes without saying that witnessing is a fundamental activity, and we could even inspire other projects, such as something specific to raise funds for. I also discovered fishing with my 12-year-old—which was great eating, great fellowship, and very relaxing for both of us. We learned so many parallels to witnessing! Ha!
It was a special time, as dear Jesus had promised. I saw what could be done with a little extra effort and prayer, and was actually quite convicted as to how much I'd fallen back on inferior, more passive, lazier, "easier" activities. I wouldn't trade those months for anything! I'd do it again! The Lord never fails to give us something better when He takes something away. I rediscovered so much‚ learned so much, and now there's much that we've decided to not even go back to! What a miracle! It was only Jesus Who gave the grace, ideas, inspiration, and energy. (I'm pushing 50 now!) Ultimately, He did it all!
This renewal could be a super uniting time for the whole Family, just as it was here in Brazil! I truly look forward to it!
"Lesson learning was easier."
From Melody, Brazil
The fast of worldly input was a very special time for all of us. Of course, it wasn't easy, but it did us and our kids a lot of good. Here are a few testimonies and tips, which we hope will be a blessing to all as we partake once more of this fast.
First of all‚ we had to explain to the children why we were going to have this fast. At the time, our older kids (junior teen, JETT, and two OCs) were going to a private school, so it was a little difficult for them to understand why they had to be punished for the "problems of the adults." And the strong System pull and peer pressure from school made it harder for them to understand. But they came through, with lots of explanation, prayer, and fun activities to replace what they were used to doing for "fun"—like playing computer games, watching videos and TV, listening to System music, etc.
We had a very good video club contact that would let us get a lot of free videos, so we had been used to letting the kids watch a lot of videos on the weekends. We also have a broadband 24-hour Internet connection, so everyone (adults included) was used to getting online and surfing or playing games‚ so it was quite a challenge to find new activities and things to do during parent times and family days.
The parents started having "family meetings" once a week on Saturday night to discuss what projects and activities the kids wanted to do on the weekend and during the next week for parent times. This became a special "ritual‚" which the kids really enjoyed and would never let us forget to do.
Another thing we did was purchase Bible trivia and other sorts of Bible board games, which we would all play together on the weekends or during parent times (we also used the Family-made ones). We would rent (or buy) the Bible movies (from the list of movies we could watch) and all get together, usually OCs on up, and have a special snack and fellowship together and then watch the video. We didn't do this every week, but when we did, it was a very special occasion.
Another special thing the Lord did with this fast was to literally get us off our rears and going out with the kids for special outings, something we rarely did before. We started putting aside a budget for Sunday outings, and the Lord blessed it and supplied our needs in every way. We discovered new parks and learned to keep our eyes open for special places to go with the kids.
A miracle is that we were able to make a contact in the biggest indoor amusement park in São Paulo. Our Home's kids have gone there countless times‚ and the other kids in the area have also enjoyed it. We were even able to do a couple of CTP projects and take over 100 kids, whom we work with‚ there as well.
Another miracle was that after the older kids committed to memory all 40 verses of Hebrews 11, the Lord supplied a special treat of 60 free tickets to the Playcenter, the biggest outdoor amusement park in the city, and we were able to invite all of the Homes in the area to come with their young people. In prophecy the Lord had told us that it was a special touch of His love for the young people.
Our Home also started having regular (once a week) Loving Jesus activities. Each person in the Home‚ including the teens, took a turn leading it. We also started having a half-an-hour praise time every night from 7 to 7:30, with everyone from kids to adults participating. We also brought our devotions more to life by discussing and sharing what we were getting out of the Word, and doing this helped us all to absorb the Word more.
We got more united as a Home by making asking for prayer and apologizing publicly an everyday thing. This brought us all closer together, and since everyone was doing it, no one was shy or ashamed; we were also more aware of what each person was going through and we could support each other in prayer.
All in all, even though in a way it was a tense time, where the Lord was really spotlighting lots of areas in our lives and asking us to make radical changes, it was also a special time when we were able to get more united as a Home, a time where lesson learning was easier because we were all going through it at the same time!
"He'll help us fly over the impossibilities!"
From Katrina (SGA‚ of Eman, mother of four—ages 7, 8, 9 and 10), Brazil
One of my main considerations at the onset of our six months was how the kids were going to react. My husband and I thoroughly read through the messages regarding children that were sent to us from the Brazil COs during this time. After much prayer and desperation, He told us step by step how to explain it to each of our children. He told us what would be the keys to carrying them through this difficult time.
After our explanation and their initial crying and heartbreak at what seemed like an eternity for a child to forgo watching movies and playing on the computer‚ the Lord then gave us and them supernatural grace as we came to Him continually about how to spice up their lives with different fun activities. In the end, He did it, and we won great victories through the power of the keys.
I would like to share with you some of the things that the Lord did for us as a Home and with the kids, which I know now are things that have changed their and our lives forever!
Parents, haven't there sometimes been things going on in the Home that you have a trial about‚ as you know they're affecting your kids negatively? You bring these things up in Home councils, you mention them periodically, but it just seems very hard to uproot these deeply ingrained habits. Examples of these are: computer games being played that you don't fully agree with; too much time spent on computer games, to where some adults and kids alike are addicted; not much happens as far as "fun" or interaction in the Home, except for movies; this then results in a lot of movie talk, to where your dinner conversations are centered around this subject; there is bad language going around; it's hard to get people to spend quality time playing with the kids, as there are so many other enticements pulling in other directions. The list goes on and on. Get the picture?
Quite a few of these above-mentioned bad habits may be something that you're seriously battling personally with trying to overcome. You know that, besides it being a detriment to your spirit, it's having a terrible effect on your kids and they're becoming more Systemite than Family in their mentalities and interests. But, "God, it's hard to stop!" Well, the answer is here! You don't have to battle this yourself anymore. The Lord is forcibly pulling the rug right out from under you and you don't even have to "battle" against these bad habits in your kids/Home/personal life anymore because they simply won't exist!
Take my word for it and plan ahead!—It'll make all the difference in the world!
To help in your planning, following are a few examples of things we started in our Home during the six months. Most of these are things I'd always wanted to do‚ but since computer time and movies are so easy to fall back on, I always ended up putting other activities on the back burner. So not only will you be ridding your children of vices you've always known weren't good for them‚ but you will be catapulted into a lot of "shelved" ideas and activities you'd always wanted to do but never "had the time for," so to speak!
* My kids are pretty musical, but we'd never seriously gotten into training them in this area. Through discount provisioning, we enrolled our kids in a music school. This forced us into daily practice at Home. Then I'd see the kids laboriously working away on their instruments, even during free times—and enjoying it! During Christmastime, their self-esteem skyrocketed as they were called on to play their little instruments, which they'd been so diligent to practice on. They also did a show for everyone at their music school (500 people). They are now all inspired about starting a band together and are already picking out different Family songs they'd like to learn. This channeled their energies into a worthwhile hobby that will now be useful for a lifetime! They performed for many and felt personal fulfillment in seeing what they were each capable of and had to offer.
* We'd call up a few other Homes, ask them to bring sports stuff, snacks, guitars‚ etc., and we'd all play together at the beach. It was a blast! We had more fun fellowship with other Homes than we'd ever had before!
* We looked through the newspaper and researched the different educational activities that were going on in the city—the circus, too.
* We have a national in our Home who has parents that live up in the mountains, so we piled all the kids in the car and spent a weekend hiking‚ riding horses, fishing, provisioning meals out, etc.
* We did more activities as a Home—charades, Bible games, card games, etc.
* We started a "restaurant night." About once a month we'd cook a special meal, such as pizza‚ and the kids would set up a candlelight dinner with music. Two kids dressed up as "waiters‚" with one of the adults coordinating. At the end of the meal, the kids would play whatever they'd been learning on their instruments while the adults enjoyed dessert! This became a favorite with the kids.
* The kids went witnessing more than ever before! We had one day a week where we'd take them Activating. Two of us girls would each take two kids and then go store to store in a shopping mall, winning souls, passing out tracts, and getting Activated subscriptions. It amazed us that this was always the best subscription day of the week. Then‚ of course, the Lord would always supply a special provisioned snack before heading home. It was so inspiring to see the kids turned on to witnessing! Instead of talking about movies, they were talking about all the fun things that happened to them while they were out‚ how many subscriptions were sold each day, etc. My older son even got a little notebook and started writing down phone numbers of people we'd meet and began inviting them to Bible class!
* Through all the witnessing and interaction the kids experienced, they improved 100% in their Portuguese, and are also much more outgoing and sociable!
* We provisioned bowling, ice skating, and an amusement park during this time.
* We realized how important sports-related activities are to the kids, so we planned lots of different soccer games, beach outings, etc. It was a wonderful switch from sitting down staring at computer or video screens, to being out enjoying each other in the fresh air.
* We made an important point of trying to spend more personal time with our kids. The kids had more daddy time than I think they've ever had before between the sports and the music training‚ as well as personal times when we'd sometimes invite the older ones to play a board game on our bed at night.
The kids were spiritually strengthened during this time‚ and they are now more skilled in their use of the new weapons. They are also a lot more interested in Word time and understand more about the spiritual realm.
They also have a greater understanding of what the Family is. Before the six months, one of my kids asked me, "Mom, I don't really understand what the difference is between us and the System kids. Don't we basically do the same things as them? We have school, and we have get-out, and then go tracting every once in a while; besides that, I don't really see a difference!" This shook me up and got me desperate.
Looking back, I see that the six months pulled us out of all that lethargy and compromise that made us seem like nothing "special" or "great" in the eyes of our kids. Because we had to fight for our place in the Family together—kids and adults, arm-in-arm, walking toward a goal—this meant that our kids had to truly understand what the goal was that we were walking toward. This resulted in long talks about what the Family is really all about, the Charter‚ what's the difference between us and the System people, what are the rewards and blessings‚ what the sacrifices are that we have to make in order to receive the spiritual blessings, and why those are so important.
All of this deepened the lives of my kids to such an extent that I wouldn't trade this time for anything in the world. Although we were crushed, squeezed, purged, and tried to the limit at times, it yielded the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto us who were exercised thereby!
I pray that these few things are of some help to you. Of course, we have by no means "attained," and are still fighting to maintain all we have learned. We are encouraged that now the Family as a whole is focusing on the heights the Lord has promised we'll attain through yieldedness and the power of the keys, and thus He'll help us fly over the impossibilities as we shed our old lives that weighed us down. Like the key quote: "The rulers of darkness cannot stand before the power of the keys of the Kingdom. Wield that power with faith and a fighting spirit and you will find total freedom!"
"Now the children enjoy spending time together."
From the Amoroso Home, Brazil
The fast helped us and the kids in our Home to be more united, more loving, and better disciples for the Lord.
Our Home has mainly small kids, from 0 to 9 years old, so when we prayed about how to explain to them about the fast of worldly influences, the Lord told us to emphasize the positive and tell them that Jesus wanted all of us, adults and kids, to be better disciples, to spend more time with Him and with each other, and therefore we were going to stop watching System movies for a while and do more activities together. (To the older one, R., her parents gave a more detailed explanation.) They all took it pretty well.
When visiting relatives, they would even remind each other about not watching TV, and they were really happy to spend more time with us, the parents, doing different activities‚ other than just sitting down and watching a movie on Saturday night.
During the fast we started to spend more time together as a Home—playing games‚ having special dinners and activities to promote more unity, and as a result of that, the kids surprised us one Sunday morning with a special breakfast they prepared for all the adults of the Home! They served us and did a special show using Christmas songs that they'd "secretly" practiced. They even made up their own dance steps! There was one supervising adult who "knew about it all" to help them, but it was a nice surprise, even for us parents!
The kids also had the idea of all rooming together. We talked to them and told them that first they would have to work on their unity‚ negative comparing, and putting each other down. They really worked hard and went to the Word (with their teachers' and parents' help), and now as a result of the fast, things are much better. They are more loving with each other, learning to share more, and finally they have the "kids' room" as a reward for their faithfulness and willingness to change.
Now the children enjoy spending time together, to the point that it's hard to separate our families at parent time! Ha! And when it comes to the kids' activity night, it doesn't make much of a difference if there is a video or not, because they know they're going to have fun anyway!
"It has caused a lasting change in what we call 'fun'!"
From Mariane (mother of 6), Brazil
Sad to say‚ my kids were addicted to movies, and now I can see that I was too! I got desperate with the Lord and braced myself for their reaction to the fast, which was not positive. But with the whole explanation about how we as a Family in Brazil had gone astray (and sad to say, they had seen some examples of it firsthand), and that this was for our good and our strengthening, they took it much better than I had expected.
When I say they were addicted, I'm not exaggerating. I tried to keep watching a video to a once-a-week occasion, but I had gotten quite lethargic with parent times and parent days, always feeling like I was just too tired to do anything else. So they ended up watching a lot of movies‚ a lot of repeats, and my little ones were always quoting lines of cartoons—it was really sad. I wanted to pull out of that rut, and I am so thankful for the six-month fast that made it easy to change in this area.
After a few weeks of different fun activities, the children didn't even mention or ask for videos. And now, four months after the end of the fast, we are not back to a routine of having a movie every weekend—which shows that it has caused a lasting change in what we call "fun"!
The fast did the same for me. Not only did I get used to not having my sacred W&R night movie, but I also relearned to enjoy the more meaningful types of movies. The Home I lived in at the time had regular "Home time" once a week in the evenings—Loving Jesus inspirations, united activities‚ games, and basically enjoying each other—and those became the highlight of our week as a Home and brought us together in much greater and deeper unity. It is amazing how sometimes we fail to take the time to get to know one another and enjoy each other's company. These evenings filled a real need.
We also resurrected Family video productions, like the Family Fun series, Burn Free, and even Treasure Attics and Cherub Wings! It's so much better to hear the kids singing these songs and quoting parts of these videos instead (although we are also careful not to overdo even with these). We also found some really cool alternatives to video time, such as riding bicycles at the beach (distributing tracts while we're at it!) and playing Scrabble.
It was initially really hard for my 11- and 9-year-old bookworms to forsake reading novels. Although they only read classics and school–related stuff‚ there was a tendency to read those over reading the Word. But something truly wonderful happened—we rediscovered the Heaven's Library books and mags. We had such sweet times reading them together after the little ones' bedtime, that it renewed my vision as a mother of how Word activities and input can be fun and much more rewarding than anything else. Now it has become a tradition; we always have our "reading project for personal time." I even received a spirit story, which lasted as a bedtime story for the little ones for about three weeks! The children got so much more Word time than they used to before, and through this they developed a greater hunger for the Word and a renewed interest in witnessing as well.
During the six-month fast, the older girls (9 and 11) also learned basic sewing, knitting, and embroidery. We had really special times together with some baking and cooking projects.
I think a key to the fast being taken in a positive light by the children was to be positive and even enthusiastic about it, and not feel sorry for them.
I can truly say that the fast of worldly input was a catalyst for positive and needed changes in my life and in the life of my family. It played a major role in the miracle of changing our habits and spiritual appetites, and brought us together as a family. It is so sweet how the Lord, through the power of the keys, made it easy to do what He was asking of us.
I believe one of the keys was to plan ahead and substitute what the kids used to have for something nice. At first, maybe they would kind of complain, but we can testify that after a little while it opened up a new world to them and to us as parents! What at first seemed to be something to "suffer through" and "get over with" became the beginning of a new lifestyle, a much healthier, more fun and Family-like one, which we desired but did not know exactly how to get.
"XNs and MLKs that's what they missed!"
From Christopher Dust (20), Brazil
Kids can really surprise you! When you think they'll for sure have a certain reaction, they end up having a completely different one.
When we received the news of the fast of worldly input, one question we had was‚ "How are these kids ever going to live without movies?" They were probably watching a movie or cartoon or something System five nights out of seven—and if it was hard on us young people to accept this fast, how much more would it be for them! And on top of it, these weren't your usual easygoing kids, either. It was JETTs who thought they were teens, and OCs who thought they were JETTs, and an MC who well, thought he was older than everyone else.
We waited in suspense, knowing that the parents were giving the "bad" news to the kids, expecting at any minute to hear glass shattering and doors slamming. But none of that happened. When they were given the whole picture‚ the whys and wherefores of it and the greater purpose behind the fast, they didn't even care at all that they weren't going to be watching System movies or playing computer games! It was so surprising! What they really got sad and frustrated about was the fact that there would be no new XNs and MLKs—and when it really came down to it, that's what they missed.
I'm not exaggerating or trying to make it sound all spiritual; there were some negative attitudes and difficulties. There will probably be different attitudes and reactions around the world in our OCs and JETTs when the period of renewal comes, but kids are marvelous and full of surprises, and if there's any "hump," they'll most probably get over it quickly. With their highly creative minds, they'll probably end up doing what our JETTs and OCs did—things like digging into that old, forgotten Home video library and putting on those oldie goldies like‚ "Sing Unto the Lord," "New Worlds to Discover," "Final Stand," and getting a good appetite for those.
So here's to all you JETTs and OCs! You guys are wonderful, especially if you're disciples and want to serve the Lord! So many times you are way more than we "old" people expect you to be!
"The fast helped us all to discover simple joys!"
From C. (FGA), Brazil
One of the beautiful good fruits I saw and experienced with a JETT boy and teen girl I lived with during part of the fast was a sweet desire to spend time fellowshipping and doing things with adults. We'd make popcorn and play Scrabble sometimes, and we all loved it! They would also spend lots of time reading Heaven's Library books, sometimes reading out loud together. (They were brother and sister.) I think the fast helped us all to discover (or rediscover) simple joys and helped us get to know each other better, contributing to unity in a very real way.
A post-fast fruit is a lesser emphasis on videos in the kids' attitudes; videos aren't as big a deal as they were before the fast. Of course, they still really enjoy them, but there's a better balance in their attitudes and appetites, and they even truly enjoy watching more serious videos such as classics and film biographies of great men and women. In fact, since the fast ended, though we like to watch movies, nobody in our Home has the old, "We've got to have a movie a week" addiction, and it's very refreshing!
"We have tasted and proved that the Lord is good."
From R. (SGA, mother of one), Brazil
My husband and I have one son, who at the time was 2½ years old. Both my husband and I are witnessers and provisioners, which meant that we weren't always able to be home for our son. We also were having some serious problems with disunity, familiarity, and comparing between us, and our son was reflecting this. Often he would "lose it" and scream and get violent because he didn't like the correction or guidance that his teachers‚ and especially us parents, would give him. His personality is very determined and stubborn, but this was more than just normal childish disobedience or stubbornness. Because of our own sins we were not going on the attack against it, but instead blaming each other. Lord forgive us!
As I look back and recount the things that happened and remember how it was, all I can say is that, "He took me out of a slimy pit and out of the miry clay; He set my feet upon a rock and established my goings."
I was a mess spiritually, had "tried all I knew," and was ready to give up, considering a separation. I was unmotivated and thought that the Lord probably didn't care about my personal situation. I lived condemned, in fear of man and of failing, yet being tempted to just give it all up since, "I'm not going to make it anyway."
Then someone received a prophecy for us, where the Lord in His mercy revealed the war that was going on in the spirit, both for our service for the Lord and fruitfulness, but mostly for our son. Like Grandpa has always said‚ children are very sensitive spiritually and can see things in the spirit much more than we can. They sense our spirits and pick up our spirits in an instant, which was what the Lord showed was happening with us. Our son was open prey for the Devil and his cohorts. The Lord even showed us in a vision that this was exactly what was happening, while we were too busy to really face the problem and take the responsibility. It made us search our souls and ask the Lord for the desperation and desire to change and yield to Him.
As we went into the six months we came before the Home and, as a couple, asked the Lord for a deep cleansing and for the keys of revolution and change. In our personal times of prayer and prophecy, the Lord showed us the desperate need before us‚ and encouraged us that the keys were just what we needed and that they could meet the need!
Many of the victories that the Lord told us that we would see, we had to take by faith at the beginning—although others in the Home were very encouraging and said that they could already see a change happening in our son.
We needed to learn to be open and humble enough to receive correction from others in the Home, and from each other too. We had to limit the work we did to tune in to our son. Lots of prayer from everyone in the Home and others we knew, as well as pouring lots of the Word into our son, were keys that brought the victory.
Now we are able to talk about situations that arise and hear from the Lord about them, whereas before we weren't able to. Now we can make progress, and most of all, our son can; now he is becoming a little soldier for Jesus. He is learning about our spirit helpers, about his personal spirit helper, and can fight in the spirit with praise when tempted to murmur because of correction. He has made progress in being obedient, listening, and can behave and be a good sample.
The Lord said that our son is our thermometer‚ and if we were out of it, he would show it. Wow! Jesus gave us some Letters to read as homework on children‚ and although there are still barriers and bad habits between us that we are overcoming, like a united disciplinary standard and being loving but firm, the battle for the spiritual well-being of our son has been won. Now we have the faith to claim the keys for his future, pour into him, and teach him to be a witness.
These six months were a time that saved my life, my happiness, and my service for the Lord. Jesus has shown me how real the new weapons are. We have tasted and proved that the Lord is good, and so has our son!
"This was an extremely beneficial experience."
From Daniel, Lily, Pawel and Melanie, Brazil
This a little testimony of how the worldly fast helped us. At the beginning it was hard‚ especially for the JETTs and teens, to let go of movie watching. This was the hardest because we didn't have the other System influences such as computer games, Internet‚ System music, etc. But little by little we got used to having Saturday night activities where all of us were involved in the planning, even the JETTs and teens‚ and we enjoyed it very much. We had games, charades, a circus, interviews with uncles and aunties, performances, etc.
This experience united us a lot, and after the fast was over we didn't want to get stuck on movie watching again for the weekends. So we voted on watching two movies and having two united activities a month to help us not to lose the good habit of enjoying each other too.
The fast of System influences was a blessing in disguise, and we have seen the positive effects in the lives of our children and teens. This was an extremely beneficial experience in their lives.
"Movies, computer games, and novels aren't the only entertaining things."
From Juliana (12, of Jere and Mariane), Brazil
At the beginning of those six months all I could think of was, "Can't wait till it's over!" But then I realized that such a big shakeup must have a big cause‚ so I asked the Lord about it. He encouraged me, telling me that it was all for the best, that this "pruning" would make me into a more fruitful tree. It sure did! I spent more time with Him and it renewed my hunger for His Words.
I made a big discovery, too, that movies, computer games, and novels aren't the only entertaining things. After some time, I barely missed them. There are many movies on the list [the list of movies approved for viewing during the fast] I didn't even watch in those months. Whenever I'd feel tempted to watch TV, read a novel, or something else, I'd put CM status as my goal and concentrate on fighting to win it—and, thanks to Jesus, I did!
"I've learned not to place so much value on System things."
From Daniela (10, of Jere and Mariane), Brazil
I was in the dumps at first, and blaming the adults for it all, but as time went by‚ I started realizing that it wasn't only the adults who had caused all this trouble. That's when I started appreciating the Word list more, because I knew it was changing something in me. It gave me more of an appetite for the Word. Now a lot of things are clearer in my life‚ and I've learned not to place so much value on System things.
"After the fast I compared things more with the Word."
From Cristal (15, of Matthew and Dulce), Brazil
One of the things that hit me very hard was the fact that we were not going to have movies anymore. But God bless my dad, who had the patience to explain. Everyone knows that we have a problem in the Family with bad language. Where does that come from? It comes from the movies.
I still had battles with not watching movies after the explanation, but afterward I found out it was super good, because I thought a lot about movies and compared things with them. But after the fast I compared things more with the Word. Before I would say, "Yes, just like in the movie we watched last week." And now I hear myself saying, "Yes‚ just like that MOP quote."
Another thing was that I also had more of a chance to study the old Letters, which certainly apply to today.
Notice regarding an exemption for the children in Brazil
(Mama:) As you read in "Forward, Always Forward," the Lord said that it was His highest will for the Homes in Brazil to partake of the renewal period fully along with the whole Family, and that they would receive spiritual blessings and treasures as a result.
However‚ when we prayed about the children in Brazil (ages 0-11), the Lord gave some minor exceptions for them. He's allowing this because He knows that facing another six months of strict "restrictions" would be hard for them to understand. The parents in Brazil have worked hard to bring a better balance into their children's lives, and for the most part they have. So it would be tough to explain to their kids, especially the younger ones, why, after working toward obedience and just having been granted the allowance of some privileges like movie viewing in moderation, the Lord would suddenly take the little that they have away from them again. In His great wisdom, and given the unique circumstances of the children in Brazil being the only ones in the world to face this situation twice, so close together, He's given some minor exceptions to the renewal fast of worldly input, and we wanted to inform you of this so that you would understand the reasoning behind it.
The children in Brazil will participate in the renewal just like all the other kids around the world. It's not that they are exempt from the renewal as an event; they've just been granted exemption from some aspects of the worldly input fast.
Copyright © 2004 by The Family
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