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Helping Our Children Take Their Thoughts Captive for Christ


When I was a child, I remember telling my parents (multiple times) that “no one” liked me at school. My Daddy would sing an enthusiastic chorus of “Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, I’m gonna eat some worms. Big, fat juicy ones. Little, skinny, tiny ones. I’m gonna eat some worms.”

I knew that meant he thought I shouldn’t think the way I did. But I continued on believing the lies I was telling myself. I had no idea how to stop my negative emotions, feelings and thoughts. I allowed myself to be completely held captive by them so many times.

This week I had the privilege of talking with our children about some of their feelings and thoughts and helping them sort through lies and replace them with the truth. Will they be able to absorb all that I am sharing with them? I don’t know! Time will tell. But how I pray that they might begin to learn to take their thoughts captive for Christ now, replacing the lies with God’s truth.

We wrote out all the upsetting thoughts they were having together:

– Silver (our kitten) left because he hates me.

– This bad thing happened as punishment from God for something I did wrong.

– Nothing good can happen this week. I am doomed to have a terrible week.

Here are some examples of other thought battles your children (and maybe you, too) may be facing at times:

– No one likes me.

– I don’t have any friends.

– My mom/husband/parents/sister/brother/friend hates me.

– I am worthless.

– I can’t do anything right.

– I don’t deserve to be loved.

– God can’t forgive me.

– God isn’t really good.

– God is out to get me.

– God only loves good people and I messed up too much for Him to ever love me.

– I’m a loser.

– I’m unattractive/too fat/too thin/not curvy enough/not pretty enough/not handsome enough.

– I’m stupid.

– I’ll never find a man/a woman to date/marry.

– No one would ever want me.

– I am an inconvenience.

When we allow ourselves to marinate in lies for weeks, months and years, we eventually believe these things are true. They become “fixed beliefs” about ourselves, others and God. How much damage we do to ourselves by clinging to lies! We carry this baggage into adulthood, into our marriages, and parenting. Then these toxic lies wreak destruction on our walk with Christ and our relationships.

Here is what I do whenever I have destructive thoughts/feelings or if I discover our children are having destructive thoughts/feelings:

1. We write them down – in detail. I try to write out every single thing I am telling myself or ask my children to share every single negative thought they are telling themselves and we write it all down.

2. We compare each negative thought to the truth of God’s Word and write down God’s truth. We talk about when feelings and negative thoughts might be lying to us and how it is important to look at our feelings and thoughts, but ultimately, we believe God’s Word, not our feelings or thoughts. Feelings are indicators that we need to examine what is going on in our lives and in our minds. Are we being sinned against? Are we sinning in our own thoughts? Is there something we need to address with someone or with God? The key to remember is that our feelings, emotions and negative thoughts are not always accurate. We let God reign in our hearts. We do not allow our feelings to become our tyrants.

3. We compare the negative thoughts and feelings to the truth in real life (when applicable) and write down the real truth. We question the negative feelings and seek to find actual proof to verify whether these ideas are really true or not. If our feelings are not telling us the truth, we reject the lies and we embrace the real truth.

This is how we take every thought captive for Christ (II Corinthians 10:5).


– Silver left because he hates me.

God’s truth:

  • The most important thing in the world is that God loves me – I can just look at the cross to see the incredible evidence of God’s unfathomable love for me (John 3:16-17).
  • Even if everyone else did hate me, I have the greatest treasure there is when I have God’s love for me. If God is for me, who can be against me? (Romans 8)

Real life truth:

Silver is a cat. He shows affection to all of us. There is evidence that he “loves” all of us as much as a cat can love us. There is no evidence that he “hates” any of us. He purrs when he is around us. He seems happy around all of us. He left because he was probably curious about the world outside and saw a chance to sneak out. Then he probably panicked and was terrified being outside and stayed hidden for days because that is his instinct. His leaving had nothing to do with him not being happy here or him not loving us.

– This bad thing happened to me as punishment from God for something I did wrong.

God’s truth:

  • God can and does use hardship, difficulties and suffering as discipline for His children because He loves us (Hebrews 12).
  • God can and does use suffering and trials to help us grow stronger in our faith (James 1, James 5, I Peter, Job, Hebrews 12).
  • There are consequences to sin many times that we must still face even if we turn from our sin and are forgiven by God. Some consequences can be things like: if I steal, I may have to spend time in jail. If I do drugs, I may get addicted to them. If I lie, people may not trust me anymore. If I lash out and say mean, hateful things, I may lose friendships. If I don’t study for a test, I may get a bad grade. If I am sexually active outside of marriage, I may get an STD for which there is no cure (I Cor. 6:18). God’s forgiveness does not take away earthly consequences of sin.
  • Jesus took all of the wrath of God against our sin on Himself on the cross and satisfied God’s righteous wrath against our sin (Romans 6). So, I don’t suffer “punishment” from God now because God sees Jesus when He looks at me because I trust Him as my Savior and submit to Him fully as Lord. I don’t have to fear punishment as a disciple of Christ because I get to abide in Him now (John 15).

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. I John 4:18

  • Not everything bad that happens is punishment or discipline. In this case, Silver left because he was a curious cat. It most likely had nothing to do with any of us or anything we did, other than that Dad and I were not observant enough when we were coming in or out of the house. God can use this situation to teach us discipline, yes (Hebrews 12). But God is not “punishing” us by sending Silver away to hurt us.
  • No matter why something bad happened, our God is sovereign and He is able to use this painful trial for good in our lives and for His glory. We can trust God even with this situation (Romans 8:28-29).

Real life truth:

Same as above. Silver left because he was a curious cat and he had a chance to sneak outside, not because God is out to get us or trying to punish us. But God can and will use this situation for our ultimate good and His ultimate glory.

– Nothing good can happen this week. I am doomed to have a terrible week.

God’s truth:

  • Good and bad things happen to everyone (Matthew 5:45, Job, Psalm).
  • There are always things for which we can thank and praise God (I Thessalonians 5:15-18, Philippians 4:4-8).
  • God gives good gifts to His children (Matthew 7:11).
  • God is incapable of having evil motives toward us (James 1:13).
  • God is only good, all the time and He is the only One who is good (Mark 10:18).
  • If God is for me, who can be against me? (Romans 8:31)
  • When God’s Spirit fills me up, He promises I will have the fruit of His Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control no matter what my circumstances may be (Galatians 5:22-23).
  • As a follower of Christ, I lay down my expectations, my “rights,” my plans, my ideas, my goals, my desires, my will, my wisdom and my strength at the foot of the cross of Christ. I pick up His will, His wisdom, His vision, His desires, His perspective, His resources, His power, His goals, His desires and His purposes. I die to self and live for Christ (Romans 6). I lay down my definition of “good” and embrace God’s definition of “good” and His eternal perspective.
  • If I want to be negative and want to complain, I can find negative things to think about and I can make myself miserable. I can choose to sin by focusing on negative things and on complaining. Or I can choose not to complain but rather to fill my heart, mind and mouth with praises for God and thanksgiving (Philippians 2:14-16, I Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Real life truth:

Good and bad things will happen every day. I have the power to choose to focus on the good or to focus on the bad. I can choose to obey God in how I respond to both the good and the bad. God can give me His joy and peace no matter what my circumstances are.

– No one likes me.

God’s Truth:

  • God loves me more than I can ever imagine (John 3:16-17, Romans 8:28-31).
  • I am very valuable to God. He made me in His image (Genesis 2, Psalm 139).
  • Ultimately, when this life is over, God’s opinion is all that will matter, not the opinion of people (I Thessalonians 2, Ephesians 6:6, Galatians 1:10, Matthew 6:33).
  • If I truly do have enemies, how does God command me to treat them? (Romans 12:9-21)

Real Life truth:

I do have some friends. Their names are…

There are some people who have been mean to me at times. Their names are…

Why might they mistreat me?

Have I possibly done something mean to them that I need to apologize for?

What can I do on my end to make these relationships better?

Am I being a godly friend and a good example?

Are these people hurting in some way?

Do they know Christ?

How can I pray for them?

How can I bless them?

What can I say that would be productive?

What are some constructive comments I can have ready in case someone does say something hateful to me?

At what point do I need to involve adults/teachers/parents?



Which of these examples above do you tend to tell yourself, or what are your biggest thought battles? What is God’s truth about that issue? What is the real life truth about that issue? You are welcome to share as you process these thoughts and take them captive for Christ!


What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31-38

30 thoughts on “Helping Our Children Take Their Thoughts Captive for Christ

  1. Hi April,

    I would say this is one of my biggest struggles right now is fear. I fear of stuff that has not happened. Mainly pertaining to health. My mentor passed away last year and ever since then I have had a fear or getting sick with what she had. I try to block out the though but somehow everyday I think about it. I know I need to do a better job of training my thoughts but it’s hard sometimes and I know I can’t do this alone. I used to be a big hypochondriac and do not want to go back to that. Thanks for this post. Your posts has helped me tremendously in my marriage.

    1. Kat G,
      That is a struggle for all of us as we begin this journey.

      The question is, “Is God bigger than my fear?” What if He allows my biggest fears to happen? Is He still going to be with me? Will He use the situation for my greatest good and HIs glory? Do His promises still stand? Am I willing to trust His wisdom which is infinitely higher than my own? Am I willing to trust Him when I suffer?

      The more I know God, the more my fears will melt away. Fears are often the opposite of our idols.

      I invite you to search the following terms on my home page – please let me know if you want to discuss anything:

      – fear
      – idol
      – idolatry
      – control

      Much love to you!

    2. Kay G.,

      I used to be very afraid of canger or dying or my husband dying, too.

      I wrote down all of my fears. Then wrote down the truth about God’s character, His wisdom, His sovereignty and His timing. Then, it was like taking a leap off of a spiritual cliff for me, I chose to trust God instead of clinging to fear.

      I decided I would lay down all of my fears and concerns, all that I had and all that I was to Christ and give Him total control. Even if it meant I got cancer. Even if it meant I had to suffer, even if it meant I had to live through my greatest fears. It was scary at first. But I had to realize I had no control over these things at all. God does. Will I trust Him or try to handle things on my own? The most dangerous place to be is trusting myself. The most spiritually abundant place to be is trusting God. His motives toward me are always good. So even when bad things or tragedies happen, I can decide to trust Him fully.

      Will I actually be tested on these things? Probably so at some time. Am I ok with that now? Yes. I do trust God. I know I may suffer and may go through tragedy. But I also know that if I have Jesus, He will be more than enough for me. I have experienced His peace and joy and the fruit of His Spirit and His abundant life. I know now that my greatest need is for Him and that if I have Him, I have everything!

  2. This is such a good post, for me and my kids. I have been very much catching myself in lying thoughts a lot recently. And my kids have been really struggling in their relationships with each other, and i think this may be the root of the issue, lying thoughts.

    I tend to start to feel really trapped come winter time, where I am stuck in the house all the time. My husband is not comfortable with me driving anywhere on icy roads with the kids, (I’m honestly not that comfortable with it either) and living in an area where the snow will last from now until March it’s hard. throw that in with my husband being out hunting every minute he can, and 4 children that are also feeling stir crazy, not a good combination. My thoughts have been a huge struggle over these part few weeks.

    Last night I found myself starting to question my worth, if the only thing that people would notice if I wasn’t here were that they would be missing meals, and have a filthy house. Not good thoughts. Thankfully my one year old snapped me out of it when he came and just hugged me out of the blue, and my 3 year old hurt herself and needed me to make it better. Helped me see the truth that I am much more then a cook and maid to them. I still have to fight that lie regarding my husband only noticing those things.

    That’s one of my biggest struggles, is if my husband really loves or notices, or cares about me. Am I just a maid, cleaning service, and nanny to him? I know I’m not, but those lies creep up on me all the time, and can be really convincing at times. I did start to keep a love diary, where I record the sweet things he does for me, or things that made me feel really loved, so turning to that when those lies, and these harder times creep up.

    i think i do need to start journaling to compare these lies with truths of scripture. And i need to do the same with my kids.

    1. Sarah,

      It sounds like it would be a great idea to write out the thoughts you are having and to take your thoughts captive for Christ and not allow them total freedom to wreck your marriage, intimacy with Christ and your family.

      God is able to give you His joy and peace, even in these cramped quarters. I can’t wait to see what He has in store for you as you trust Him and seek to align your heart, mind and thoughts with His. Ask Him to replace your desires with His and for you to long for His will more than anything else, to love what He loves and to hate what He hates.

      If you haven’t read it already, you may want to check out “My Demon.”

  3. April <3

    Thank you so much for this post. My daughter always tells me that no one likes her. At school or at home.

    When I was younger ( I had her young) I did tell her I did not like her .she does things I just don't understand. I am working on rebuilding a relationship with her. she also said people at school don't like her but she has many friends.

    I needed post for myself I battle with lies all day.

    1. Shy,
      I am so glad this post blessed you. From what I know of your story, you are going to have many, many lies to uncover and address. But I am thrilled that you have a chance to do this and to find healing in Jesus!! Woohoo!!!! I can’t wait to see all that He has in store for renewing your heart, mind and soul and conforming you to the image of Christ.

      I hope you get a chance to sincerely apologize to your daughter for saying you didn’t like her. I am sure you see now how destructive and soul crushing those kinds of comments can be to adults, but they are even more devastating to children. I hope you will assure her that you love her and will always love her no matter what, just like God loves you. And that you will speak words of love and God’s truth and life and healing into her precious soul.

      I am excited for both of you to begin to face these lies and replace them with God’s truth. If you get to a lie and get stuck on what God’s truth is, please let me know, and I will be glad to point you to His Word.

      Much love, my precious sister!!

  4. Dear Daughter,
    My heart goes out to you with your health issues, as I too have many. Recently, The Lord had a Dear Friend send me a weblink to 5 videos about natural ways of completely healing the immune system (dermatitis being an auto immune disorder).The link takes you to a list of 5 videos from a conference. I think today might be the last day to view the videos for free. I don’t know if this information will be helpful to you. I rarely share links with others, but I feel that I should give it to you. I believe the video by Dr. Richard Horowitz discussed dermatitis. Here is the link:

    I will keep you in prayer, Dear Sister. Keep Trusting Jesus – He is Always with you, holding You, and Loving You.

    1. To my sister InJESUS4ever,
      It is a grave responsibility to take on the health care of our precious friends. I would caution you to think twice or thrice about posting links for medical or healing advice. Dear Daughter mentioned her illness, but she also shared she was under the care of her chosen doctor. This is an anonymous site. Your credentials as a health care provider and the credentials of the link are unknown. There are plenty of forums where fellow travelers on the autoimmune journey share medical tips. Let’s keep this as a place where we can support one another emotionally and in Christ, not where endorsements for practitioners and their products are given. I hope you understand this message comes with peace and goodwill. It’s just that we have such a good thing going here, focusing on what we can do as wives to obey God’s commands…I for one would like to keep it that way.

  5. Hi April, such a practical post. About6 years ago I was diagnosed with a life threatening immune disease. I was told most people with this disease need a liver transplant to survive about 5 years from diagnosis. The fear I had of leaving my children motherless was incredible. I cried for about a week and blabbed on to my husband about it. Then he told me to stop talking about it. The truth is it’s unpredictable and I could not control the disease. Speaking about it made it control my thoughts with fear. 6 months into my illness my husband took me out of our church that was always praying for my healing and full of people who would always ask how I was and look out for me. He took me to a church where I knew no one and no one knew of my illness. I kept it under wraps and didn’t speak about it much at home. It went to the back of my mind and the fears went away. I eat healthy, exercise take my meds and have my regular tests and my liver condition has not changed. I praise God that this experience has taught me to focus on God (my new church is very God focused-not healing (nothing wrong with healing)and man focused). Focusing on myself and my problems increases my fears. I have peace in God now. Sometimes i lapse into fear, but in general God has taught me to trust in Him and focus on Him through this situation. I’ve told my children what’s going on and when I tell them in a casual peaceful way they are not fearful either.

    1. Charli,


      Thank you SO VERY MUCH for sharing your story. What an interesting approach. I am so glad that you are resting in God’s peace and not ravaged by fear all the time. Thank God that He is sovereign and He alone determines the number of our days. I’m thankful that you are able to demonstrate faith to your children, as well.

      Much love to you!!!!! Praying for GOd’s greatest glory in your life and family!

  6. This sort of brought to focus an issue with my 2 yr old. She picked up a bad word from a close relative so if she doesnt like something she will say “shut the f up.” Ive had the most difficult time gettin her to stop sayin it. I tried explaining it but I think shes still a little young to really understand & I tried swatting her butt on a few occasions which has only seemed to cause her to be affraid of me when she does something she shouldnt so yesterday I just gave up & prayed for God to touch her little heart & mind & give her some understanding to reject it. Today she was playin with her cousin & they were babbling back n fourth & she started sayin “shut the” & than she sucked her lips in her mouth & held them tight & looked at me with wide eyes & than smiled & asked me to take her picture. It was the first time she caught her self & didnt say the word & switched her focus to something else. It may just be a minor thing but it was wonderful to see God in action. Praise God!

    1. NC,
      Our children definitely pick up on bad habits and words, don’t they? I agree that she is very young – and obviously has no idea what she is saying.

      What a precious thing that she stopped herself! WOW! If only adults could have so much self control. 🙂 I love that she smiled and asked you to take her picture. HA!

      Praising God with you for this step in the right direction!

  7. Hi April,thank you for this post. I am someone who battles constantly with negative thoughts of rejection. The only love I really feel towards me is my children. I could be clingy to them with no problem. They are two and 3weeks old. I found your website by looking up clingy wives. Thank you for that post as well:) during the course of my life many people have left me. I really don’t have any friends other than my children and husband. So this post came at a perfect timing. Please pray for me that the Lord helps me heal from the pain of rejection and loneliness. Thank you my dear as I will look through some more of your post so I can be a peaceful wife in Jesus name:)

    1. Congratulations, Tiffany, on your sweet babies!!!

      I am praying for you right now to heal from you past wounds and to find all of your needs met in Christ.

      I invite you to search the following words on my home page:
      – idol
      – idolatry
      – discontentment
      – ungodly womanhood
      – godly femininity
      – peace

      Much love!!!!!


  8. I have an off topic question, what would your opinion be on jury duty & what does the bible say about it? I havent been selected yet but there are about 30 other people including myself & 12 will be chosen to serve on the jury. I kinda have a feeling Gods placed me in this position for a reason but at the same time I dont want to be responsible for someone elses fate if I were wrong in the verdict. I can honestly say I would let the Lord guide me through any decisions I would have to make but would I be individually held accountable for a decision like that or would the it be the group as a whole? As I said I havent been chosen & I dont know if I will be but its brought many questions to mind.

    1. NC,

      Romans 3 says we are to submit ourselves to the government. If you go to jury duty, pray for God’s wisdom for you and the other jurors as well as the judge. You are only responsible for yourself.

      Much love!

  9. Julie,

    I haven’t been the mother of an adult prodigal child at this point. But, I believe that the steps a woman would take in such a situation would be similar to the steps s wife would take if her husband was an unbeliever and far from God or if a close friend or extended family member was far from God.

    It is important for the mom to remember where her responsibilities begin and end. She is responsible for herself. She can set a godly, Spirit-filled example. She can pray and fast fervently. She can love the adult child with the love of God. She can set healthy boundaries if necessary. She can honor her husband’s leadership. And she can trust God to open her child’s eyes. Only God’s Spirit can bring conviction. She is not the Holy Soirit. And she is not the adult child. She doesn’t get to make decisions for the child, only for herself. She can give godly counsel IF the adult child asks for her counsel. But it is going to be a lot of waiting on God, trusting Him to work, praying, and resting in His sovereignty and love. She can pray for opportunities to share and she can be very sensitive to God’s Spirit. But, much like with a husband, I Peter 3:1-2 would probably be a powerful approach. A prodigal adult child is probably not going to be very receptive to his/her mom’s words about spiritual things. They will be more affected by a mom’s godly attitude and behavior and respect.

    Much love to you! Praying for the salvation of this child!

  10. Julie,
    The mom could take her fears and write them all down, and then write down Scripture with the promises of God and about the sovereignty of God, purposely replacing her fears with the truth of God’s Word.


    Fear – I am afraid Paul will never accept Christ.
    Truth – God is sovereign over this and I can trust Him (list verses with evidence)

    Fear – I am afraid Paul will make wrong and sinful decisions that will permanently destroy his future.
    Truth – God is able to use all things for the good of those who love Him and who are called according to His purpose. If God calls Paul to Himself, He is able to use even this mistake and that sin for His ultimate glory.

    Fear – I am afraid for Paul’s eternity.
    Truth – God does not want anyone to perish but wants everyone to be saved. 2 Peter 3:9 It is God’s will for my son to be saved.

    1. Julie,

      There isn’t a specific promise that anyone will come to Christ. But we pray in faith, pleading on behalf of others who do not yet know Christ.

      I cannot imagine the pain these moms experience, either. 🙁 but I know God’s grief and pain is even greater and He longs for these precious children to come to Him.
      Thanks for praying with these moms!

  11. Julie,
    Think about how God used Paul’s former training as a Pharisee and even his persecution of believers for His glory later. And look at the way He used my 14+ years of sin to bring great glory to Himself later.

    He is sovereign!!!!!!!! What a blessed peace we can have as we trust Him. 🙂

  12. Jackieh,

    I know your situation is a difficult one right now. But I also know that God is with you and that you can turn to Him for wisdom, direction, strength, and for HIMSELF. He can heal your heart and soul. He can radically change you. And He is able to heal your marriage. We will pray for that together. My greatest concerns right now are – are you safe? And your walk with Christ.

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