Favorite Verse of the Year: Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”


I have to come back to this verse to close this year of devotions. It is my life verse, as I mentioned back in the August 17th devotional. But it is so much more than that.

This verse is the driving force behind my walk with Christ. I cannot live the Christ Life without this verse ringing in my ears. I cannot join Christ in His pursuit of His lost sheep unless this verse is in my head and heart. Why is this verse so powerful in my life?

Because I can picture myself on the cross with Christ, as I read this verse. I can just see all my rights and privileges being nailed to the cross. My life means nothing outside the crucified death of all that is fleshly in me. I have to allow all those worldly, fleshly, me-focused thoughts to die on that cross so that I can truly live.


I have spent this year writing this devotional to you parents so that you may have a couple of nuggets to share with your children. I know that the Christian faith is only one generation away from extinction unless we do our part as adult believers to bring along the next generation. But you cannot do this on your own. You, too, have to be crucified daily! You have to give up any pretense you may have that you can actually parent your child. You can’t! But Christ can through you! And He can do it perfectly if we will just get out the way.

My prayer for you this next year is that you will begin each day in the Word and on your knees. Give up all that you are so that you can be all that you should be – in Him.




Malachi 2:17 “You have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet you say, ‘How have we wearied Him?’ In that you say, ‘Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and He delights in them,’ or, ‘Where is the God of justice?’”


When most people think of a quotable verse from Malachi, they instantly think of 3:10 “’Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.’” That is a great verse and certainly worthy of knowing and following.

But as I read Malachi this time verse 2:17 hit me. It seemed to reflect the age in which we live. Everywhere you look people are justifying evil as good. Lifestyles that use to be kept secret are now proudly marched down the street for all to see. Preachers have been called out for simply preaching the Word of God. How dare we call sin what it is – SIN!


Our children have to know, if nothing else sticks, that evil is evil. We have to teach them what God says is evil is definitely evil. There is no “wiggle room” when it comes to sin. There are no “shades of gray” when we use God’s Word to confront sin in our life or in the lives of others. They need to know it is okay to confront someone about their sin and warn them of the consequences. Now that has to be done in love and with the purpose of bringing them back to Christ. Our job is not to judge anyone. But we have to be diligent to proclaim the truth to a deceived world.

We are about to begin a brand new year. Each year seems to move quicker and quicker. Your children are growing up so quickly, right? You do not have time to waste when it comes to teaching them the foundational truths of God’s Word. And there is no truth more important than this one. Evil is Evil and Good is Good! What God calls sin is SIN, no matter what the world calls it. Your children have to know it in their soul or they will believe anything the world throws at them. You may have heard the saying, “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.” That’s true.

Don’t gloss over your sins or the sins of your children. Be in their face about sin. Time is short! Don’t procrastinate! We must warn those we love! He is coming soon! Don’t delay! But above all, love them! Teach them! Show them how to live a life surrendered to Him!




Revelation 22:17 “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.”


We have an open invitation from the Spirit and the bride to come into the very presence of the Holy One. Isn’t that fantastic? We are invited to be a part of the heavenly hosts.

But look at the next sentence in that verse. We are instructed to also invite others to come. What good is a party without partygoers? What fun is a celebration if you are by yourself? Don’t you want everyone you know to be a part of this eternal celebration?

And finally John says in this verse for all who are thirsty to come quench their thirst with the water of life. Wow! I’m thirsty! How about you? Are you thirsting for the life giving water? Can you be a water bearer to others?


The next time your family has a birthday party, read this verse. Talk about how we need to be just as excited to invite everyone to the Savior’s presence as we are to invite our friends and family to our birthday party. Why not invite some of your lost friends to your party and give the Gospel message? Why not give them the “water of life” rather than just punch or soda?

We truly need to teach our children that sharing the joy of Jesus is a thrilling, not scary thing. We need to show them the joy that comes from being obedient in spreading the Gospel, of giving that cool drink of water from the spring of life, Jesus.

Let me ask you a question. When was the last time you shared Jesus with someone? When was the last time you gave a drink to a thirsty soul? When was the last time you issued that call to come to Jesus? Don’t wait! Do it today!



Zechariah 9:9 “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”


Isn’t it amazing that Zechariah wrote these words over 500 years before Christ came on the earth? Remember Palm Sunday? There was Jesus riding into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey. You see, Jesus knew every single prophecy that had been written because He had, through His Spirit, given the words to the authors. He was preparing for His triumphal entry over half a century before it happened.

When is the last time you prepared for something with your kids? Maybe you made a trip to see family during the recent Christmas holidays. You probably packed your clothes and the presents you were taking. You probably gassed up the car and made sure it was ready for the trip. This verse tells us that Jesus did the exact same thing. He prepared way ahead for His “trip” to earth. He knew exactly when and where He was going, but He had to lay out the prophecies so we would know He was the long awaited Messiah.


As your children grow up they will make many trips to ballgames, friends’ houses and even vacations. Remind them that just as they prepare for these trips, our Savior prepared the way centuries ahead of time for His arrival. He cared so much for us that He actually prepared for His own sacrificial death. He came knowing He would die for us.

Don’t forget how quick the crowd turned on Him, too. One day they are cheering “Hosanna” and the next “Crucify Him.” He even knew that would happen, and He still came. Prophecy is important. Don’t read over this verse. Every “forthtelling” about Jesus is one more proof of His divinity.

Won’t you thank Him today for His sacrifice for you?




Revelation 20:1-3 “1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; 3 and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.”


Did you read that? Did you catch that? One, count them, ONE angel grabbed hold of the Devil and threw him into the pit. Why do we fear him so? God didn’t send a legion of angels to do the job. It only took one.

We hear all the time how scary and powerful the devil is. And he is if we try to take him on ourselves. He can whip any of us. But when we surrender our will to the Lord and let Him do our fighting, the devil shrinks away in utter defeat.

It’s no wonder he is mad all the time. He already knows he has lost. Why don’t we just keep reminding him of that? Of course, when we do, do it all in the power of the One who is All Powerful.


Children are naturally curious about the devil. They see things on TV or hear things from friends that greatly exaggerate Satan’s power. We need to educate them about the reality of the devil, but also make sure they understand that they, through the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives, can defeat him with just one word – Jesus.

The next time your child brings up the devil or the subject comes up in your house, take the time to talk about these verses. Knowing the end of a story before you read it can ruin the whole book, but not in this case. Knowing we win, in the end, is comforting. It gives us courage to fight every day for truth and holiness. Amen?




Zechariah 4:6 “Then he said to me, ‘This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel saying, “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.”’”


How many times have you tried to accomplish something for God out of your own power or might? Come on! Be honest! We have all attempted it. And what happens? Well, sometimes we actually manage to get it done, but it seldom lasts. Other times it fails miserably. Why? Because we have left the Spirit of God out of the equation.

Don’t you know that God doesn’t NEED us to accomplish His will? He is, after all, omnipotent. He can accomplish anything He wants when He wants in whatever way He wants. But He chooses to use us as part of His plan, but only if we yield to His direction and guidance. Otherwise, we wind up doing it on our own, and He gets no glory from it.


How do we teach our children to allow God to use them to accomplish His will in their lives? How do we show them the importance of letting His Spirit guide them in life’s pursuits? We do that by doing it ourselves. We do that by allowing our children, at a level that is appropriate for their age, know what we are wrestling with ourselves. We do that by showing our children what it looks like to submit to His Spirit.

Now, your children may not be old enough to understand everything involved in the situation. Write it down. Make some notes. My wife and I have shared stories with our kids that happened when they were small but had an important impact on our family. Sharing those stories later can help your children understand your own faith journey and can definitely aid them as they begin their own journey of dependence on God.

It is not YOUR might or YOUR power that will accomplish anything for eternity. It is only through His Spirit that we can see everlasting change in us and others.




Revelation 19:6 “Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.”


This scene in Revelation occurs in heaven. So let me ask you something? Why should we let heaven have all the fun? I mean, seriously. Why can’t we shout “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty reigns.”?

Too many times we restrain ourselves in our worship. I am not suggesting that we become completely out of control or all “loosey goosey.” But I am saying we need to be free to follow the Spirit as He leads. There are times in worship during the Praise and Worship time that I just want to shout these very words. But I don’t for fear of the response of those around me. Shame on me!


How do we teach our children that It is okay to express yourself in worship? We do that by example. Our expression, however, should never be a distraction to others as they worship. It is one thing to raise your hands and cry out to God with others, but it is a whole different thing to do that at the expense of others’ worship experience.

Just recently during a guest performance in our Children’s Church I watched one of our 4 year olds quietly expressing her own worship. She was seated, but she was definitely dancing in her heart. Her arms and body swayed in motion with the music. She, however, was not a distraction to anyone else. In fact, most of those around her didn’t even seem to notice. She was freely worshipping the Lord. I am sure she was saying in her soul, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty reigns.”

Lord, free us in our worship of You. Let our spirits join with Your Spirit in the exercise of worship.






Zephaniah 2:3 “Seek the Lord, all you humble of the earth who have carried out His ordinances; seek righteousness, seek humility. Perhaps you will be hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger.”


Who doesn’t like a good game of hide and seek? Tell me something. How many times did you play that game as a child? Heck, even as adults there is something thrilling about running and finding a good hiding place and then waiting for “it” to find you. I can still remember hiding with my heart pounding. And when you finally hear “it” call time you realize you are safe from being found that round.

This verse today isn’t about hiding, but it’s about seeking. You are “it” in this verse. The best thing though is that God is not trying to hide from you. He wants to be found by you. The word “seek” really means to find through worship. Get the picture? As you come to worship you will “find” the Lord. You will “find” righteousness. You will “find” humility. When you do that you are “safe” from His anger.


This is a verse that is so easy to explain to our children as we play that simple childhood game with them. Children learn truths through activities like that. You can explain things so much easier by playing than by preaching. Look for opportunities to teach Biblical truths through playtime. Attach a verse or doctrinal truth to every activity.

You are probably saying, “Carl, give me a break. I don’t want to be preaching to my kids all the time.” Well, that’s the beauty of connecting Biblical truths in daily activities. It won’t come across as preaching. You are simply applying truths to things you do normally. After all, the Lord should be a part of every aspect of our lives, even playtime.

Won’t you today teach just one Biblical truth to your child or someone else? Won’t you point them to the Lord, to righteousness and humility? They will thank you in the end.



Revelation 18:4 “I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues;”


God is a merciful God. Even in then end when He is about to pummel Babylon He calls out those who He desires to spare. What mercy! What grace!

Can you think of some times in your life when God spared you from the wrath you deserved? Without naming specifics, I could list a whole bunch of times when God could have legitimately struck me dead. I deserved nothing except punishment. But He, in His loving kindness, extended grace and mercy.

Now don’t get me wrong. I didn’t get away with anything. Many of those instances left me with scars, some of which I still bear. But those scars prove to remind me of just how great a God I have.


Don’t we, as parents, do the same for our children if we see them headed into trouble? Don’t we call them out of that danger? At least we try to, right? We don’t want to see them go through the same struggles we did at their age. We have “been there, done that.” Unfortunately, sometimes our children will not heed our warnings and jump right into the fire.

So, what do you do when they are warned and deliberately remain in that “Babylon”? You love them anyway. You continually reach out to them to give godly advice, but you love them unconditionally. They have to learn on their own that there are consequences for sin. As hard as that is for us as parents, all we can do is love and guide them.

Will you today thank Him for sparing you when He could have “zapped” you? Will you look at your scars as reminders of grace?




Habakkuk 3:19 “The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places.”


It is amazing to me to watch mountain goats or other animals climb rocky hills or mountain slopes. They seem to walk effortlessly along paths they and others have blazed. You or I would most definitely slide down that hill. We aren’t built for that kind of climbing.

On my last trip to Kenya I walked to the edge of steep mountain valley with some friends. There was a clearly marked path down the mountain, across the valley floor and up the next mountain. I could actually see people on the other slope climbing up. I wanted to go down the path, but I was wearing the wrong shoes. My shoes had no traction. I would have had to literally slide down the hill and would have had no hope in climbing up the other side.


When was the last time your child slipped and fell? Was it during a storm when the ground was wet or icy? Was it due to their footwear not being suited for the terrain? Maybe it was because they just tripped over something while trying to break in those new shoes you got them. This is a great verse to use with them as you tend to their scrape or cut.

You can remind them that in life we are going to face some difficult things, but God is our strength. He will give us the right stuff to get us through it, if we will just listen to Him. In fact, He will MAKE us walk on high places (difficult terrain) sometimes. Why? To be able to face the next hill or the next hill. He knows what is ahead. We don’t.

Aren’t you glad that the Lord has the right shoes for us to wear depending on the path He has chosen for us? He knows every bend and hill. He knows when we need to climb or just walk. He knows when we need to stop, rest and take in the view. But He knows also that our path is helping to blaze a trail for our children to follow.

So put on your walking shoes and trust the Lord to guide and direct you as you traverse those difficult paths He has chosen for you. Remember He is your strength.