The central theme that runs through my Timebenders series is spiritual warfare. If you read any book in the series, I think you’ll hear echoes of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians:
Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand (Ephesians 6:11-13).
The issue of spiritual warfare is not an abstract or theoretical concept to me. It’s very real. This generation lives in morally and spiritually dangerous times. Through the Timebenders books, I hope to help bring these biblical truths alive in our children’s imaginations—and their everyday lives. I was impacted at an early age by Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, which has a similar spiritual warfare theme. I want to help new generations of readers to have the same experience, and develop the same understanding of God’s truth.
It’s never too early to teach children the importance of reliance on God through prayer. It’s never too early to teach a child that one person plus God is a majority in any situation. It’s never too early to teach children the importance of making good moral choices, and that bad moral choices come with unpleasant consequences. These are some of the themes that are woven into the adventure tale that is Timebenders.
Another key theme in Timebenders is that God wants to use each of us in a powerful way, and we should never underestimate God’s purpose for our lives. This concept come from another one of Paul’s letters:
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him (1 Corinthians 1:27-29).
Each of us has a role to play in God’s eternal plan. God is pleased to use ordinary believers like you and me—and our children—to demonstrate His wisdom throughout the universe. As the apostle Paul wrote:
His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 3:10).
So we are engaged in a war, an all-out battle of good versus evil, the forces of God versus the “the rulers … the authorities … the powers of this dark world … the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (And, of course, when Paul talks about the “heavenly realms,” he does not mean “heaven,” the believer’s destination with God. He means the spiritual realm, the unseen region of reality where spiritual warfare takes place.)
As your children read the Timebenders books, or as you read them together with your kids, I’d like to leave you with a few thoughts and suggestions about spiritual warfare and your children. I’d like to encourage you to:
1. Pray daily with your children and for your children. Pray with them and teach them that talking to God is as natural as any other conversation. Go into their rooms at night when they are sleeping and ask God to protect them, to strengthen their faith, and to make them strong and wise. Whenever you sense that your children need your prayers, stop what you are doing, focus your attention on God, and pray for your children.
2. Bless your children. Let your children hear you thank God for them. Tell them you love them, that they are a blessing in your life, that they are God’s gift to you. When they fail or do wrong, let them know you always love them and you are always cheering for them. Give them your blessing on a daily, continual basis.
3. Keep the lines of communication open. Talk to your children—and listen to them. When they talk to you, look them in the eye and let them know they have your complete and undivided attention. Ask your children lots of questions—especially open-ended questions that must be answered in complete sentences, not monosyllables. The only way we get to know our children’s thoughts, fears, hopes, and dreams is by continual two-way communication.
4. Avoid rescuing your children from consequences. One of the best ways to discipline your children is to allow natural consequences to impact their lives and teach them important life lessons. Don’t let a child get away with poor ethical choices, such as writing a book report from an online review instead of reading the book. If a child does wrong, and suffers consequences as a natural result, then you frequently don’t need to lecture your child or impose a restriction. You can simply say, “Yes, I know this is hard, but that’s what happens when we do such-and-such.”
5. Use every “teachable moment.” The more time you spend with your children, the more teaching and disciple-making opportunities you will have. Jesus used the day-to-day events in His disciples’ lives to teach them valuable lessons about spiritual warfare. In Luke 10, He taught them how to pray, witness, preach the Kingdom of God, and do battle with evil—then he sent them out, two by two, to use the skills He had taught them in real-life situations. As parents, we need to use real-life situations in our children’s lives to make the lessons of the Kingdom real in their lives.
My friend Pat Williams, vice president and co-founder of the Orlando Magic, has been a dad to nineteen children—four birth children, fourteen by international adoption, and one by remarriage. He has experienced seven lifetimes worth of Christian parenting! He says, “If you watch TV with your kids, you’ll have many opportunities to discuss righteousness, moral living, sexual purity, and other issues of the Christian life with your child. When you read with your child or help him with homework or school projects, you’ll have opportunities to grow closer and impart lessons about character and diligence. Even times of conflict and tension can be teachable moments for growth and instruction. Don’t let those opportunities pass you by. Take advantage of each one.”
4. Spend time serving God alongside your children. Find projects that you can do with your children that involve serving God and serving others. Maybe there’s a rescue mission or homeless shelter that needs volunteers to serve meals or paint walls. Or you and your kids could go on a short-term mission venture. Or you and your children could do something as simple as manicure a lawn, plant flowers, and wash windows for an elderly neighbor. Do it in the name of Jesus—and see how your own family is impacted.
5. Be aware of the influences in your child’s life. Know who their friends are—and be aware of their influence on your kids. Know what your kids are watching, reading, and listening to, and the computer and video games they play. Remember that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against … spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” So be watchful about such influences as the occult, Ouija boards, vampires, witchcraft, and similar practices.
As my friend, author Rachel Hauck, has said, “In spiritual warfare, the devil doesn’t fight fair.” And the Lord’s friend, the apostle Peter, put it this way:
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).
God bless you as you raise your children to be warriors and ambassadors for Him!