Monday, April 28, 2014

The Dangers of Pride

This week for our Bible time during homeschool we are discussing the story of David and his son, Absalom. This story spoke to me about the actions of Absalom and his problem with being vain. In a sense, I think we can all look at our own pasts and find times where we were vain. As sad as this story is to read, I think we've all been Absalom in some way or another at some point in time.

2 Samuel 14:25 In all Israel there was not a man so highly praised for his handsome appearance as Absalom. From the top of his head to the sole of his foot there was no blemish in him.

As I read the story, I pictured Absalom as the "Gaston" of his day, like the character from Beauty and the Beast. He was handsome and charming, not to mention obsessed with winning the hearts of the people so he could be king. He would wake up early each morning and go to the city gate. While he was there, he acted as politician trying to win favor over the people to create followers.


2 Samuel 15:1-6 In the course of time, Absalom provided himself with a chariot and horses and with fifty men to run ahead of him. He would get up early and stand by the side of the road leading to the city gate. Whenever anyone came with a complaint to be placed before the king for a decision, Absalom would call out to him, "What town are you from?" He would answer, " Your servant is from one of the tribes of Israel." Then Absalom would say to him, "Look, your claims are valid and proper, but there is no representative of the king to hear you." And Absalom would add, "If only I were appointed judge in the land! Then everyone who has a complaint or case could come to me and I would see that he gets justice." Also, whenever anyone approached him to bow down before him, Absalom would reach out his hand, take hold of him and kiss him. Absalom behaved in this way toward all the Israelites who came to the king asking for justice, and so he stole the hearts of the men of Israel.

Pretty soon, Absalom gained enough followers who supported him in wanting to become king. His father, David, heard of this news and was probably shocked that his son was trying to steal his crown away from him. His son's followers had increased in strength and before he knew it, he planned to do anything he could to become king, even at the expense of hurting his own father. His pride got in the way of God's plan for the kingdom as he tried to make his own plan.

What happens when we try to designate our own plans instead of following God's plans? Do we succeed? Do we ever get so caught up in creating followers that we loose sight of what is really important?

So what happens next? David has to flee Jerusalem to keep from being killed.

2 Samuel 15:14 Then David said to all his officials who were with him in Jerusalem, "Come! We must flee, or none of us will escape from Absalom. We must leave immediately, or he will move quickly to overtake us and bring ruin upon us and put the city to the sword."

I can't imagine being a father and having to run away from my own son who is plotting to kill me for his own power. I can't imagine having spent all of these years raising a child only to have them turn against me.

Yet, if we truly searched our hearts, I bet we could think of times where we wanted something so much that we acted in a similar matter. I'm not talking about hurting a family member physically. But I'm talking about a time we wanted to feel important, powerful, or even have people like us that we do it to the expense of hurting others. Let's be truly honest! We've all done it at some point in time. We've all acted with pride or with vanity in our hearts that we've hurt others and ourselves. We put our own wants and needs ahead of God's needs.

Perhaps, you cared so much about what someone thought about you that it became an obsession. Perhaps, you were trying to promote yourself in your career doing things that God wouldn't have wanted you to do. Or maybe, we thought that by doing something, it would allow others to like us more. It's such a sad way to live when we think about it. Yet, we've all done it or might be doing it now.

Continuing to read the story, we learn that David's followers are much stronger than Absalom's followers. David's men marched out to fight and David gives them a command.

2 Samuel 18:5 The king commanded Joab, Abishai and Ittai, "Be gentle with the young man Absalom for my sake." And all the troops heard the king give orders concerning Absalom to each of the commanders.

David knew what had to be done to his own son. He could have taken his rage and had his men treat Absalom unpleasantly. But his command was to "be gentle." In all the times that someone has hurt you with their pride or vanity, how have you responded? Did you respond in being gentle or did you seek the most unpleasant of revenge? Sure, David knew his son would have to die but he still commanded them to "be gentle."

2 Samuel 18:9 Now Absalom happened to meet David's men. He was riding his mule, and as the mule went under the thick branches of a large oak, Absalom's head got caught in the tree. He was left hanging in midair, while the mule he was riding kept on going.

Absalom ended up getting hung in a tree by his own mule as he went to meet David's army of men. Sadly, Absalom died in that tree leaving David to mourn for his son. What a sad story, right? I can't even imagine having to raise a child, watch them become prideful, and then end up dying because of their pride. Wow!

Phillippians 2:3,4 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

In this world, we are encouraged to be narcissists, thinking about what we want, and we are persuaded to feel entitled to everything. How often do we consider others better than ourselves? What can you do today to be less selfish? When we do things for others, our hearts grow in joy. I love that feeling!

As I pondered this story, I sat back to question my own thoughts. As sinners, we can get so carried away with our pride and conceit sometimes. I am so thankful that we have His word to go back to, to read from, and to ask God for forgiveness in our lives. When I read this story to the kids, I realized that I had an area of pride that I needed to work on in my own life. So I am going to spend some time asking God to take that pride away in order to live that joyful life. Be encouraged, my friends! He is there and He is ready to speak to our hearts.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

No Greater Joy

Matthew 28:19-20 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

Last weekend, we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus around the globe. During Easter Sunday, our family was blessed to be able to watch the baptism of our oldest son, Hunter.

When Mike and I first started having children, we knew that our greatest joy would be that our children walked with the Lord, above all else. So far, the oldest two have given their hearts to Him. In March, Hunter approached us and asked us if he could get baptized on Easter. We were thrilled with both his decision of getting baptized and his wanting to do it on Easter.

3 John 1:4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

As each one chooses this path in their lives of walking in the truth, I can truly say my heart overflows with joy. As a believer, what more could I want in life?

The funny part is that in my earlier years of parenting, I used to wonder how I could be a disciple in the world when all I was doing was being a mom and wife. I didn't know how I could live out my calling in this world when my calling was right in front of me. I bought into this lie that I wasn't doing enough. During those younger years, I was blessed to be apart of a wonderful organization called MOPS in Oklahoma. While there, I had some wonderful Mentor Moms teach us that we are disciples to our children. What a powerful calling! Since then, I have prayed over my children and I have taught them all that I know from the Bible. We spend many days in discussion about what we believe.

Being a disciple doesn't mean we have to go to another country on a mission's trip. Being a disciple can mean sharing the good news among our families, children, friends, our children's coaches, and even the people at the grocery store. Starting at home with our own children is a great place to start. Studying the Bible together, going through life together, forgiving one another, and even asking your own children for forgiveness when you've wronged them all leads to the cross.

1 Corinthians 15:59 Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Just like when you take those marriage vows, you go through good times and bad. Our children will also see the good times and bad as well. It's what you do during those bad times and how you come out of it that will be a testimony to others. Living life day to day with your family is a testimony in and of itself. Is it easy? Definitely not. It's a far cry from being easy. Everything we say and do is in Technicolor to those closest to us. Continuing to love and forgive each other as Christ forgave us is the best way to continue living a life of joy. Life is full of ups and downs but the only way up is through Him.

Acts 13:38-39 Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Heart That Fails

Well, I did it. One day in and I've already failed. I failed in my attempt at having unspeakable joy. It was one of those moments where I spoke too soon. The words came out and I guiltily realized that I couldn't take them back. Ever do that? I was all geared up to do something only to be taken back by my own selfish words. Then I read it up on my wall, a reminder that I need daily. "I will hold myself to a standard of grace not perfection."

In my attempt to live a joyful life, I have to remember this about grace and perfection. I have to realize my mistake, seek forgiveness, and move on to capturing that joy

It's funny how we go back and forth with what we really want to be and who we actually are as sinners. Nonetheless, this time of year and always is a great reminder of that grace when we remember what Christ has done for us up on that cross. 

Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. 

Usually when we are in those situations, the biggest issue is our heart. If our hearts are in the right place, we wouldn't have made those mistakes. We need to guard our hearts. We need to realize what it is that is taking the joy away from our hearts and put a stop to it. 

I remember as a kid when I would sing that song, "I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart. Where? Down in my heart. Where? Down in my heart to stay."  Many of us learn these songs as children. Sometimes, it takes awhile to truly grasp what these words really mean. Do I have that joy in my heart? If I don't, what's keeping me from it? 

What kinds of things can take your joy away? Perhaps, it's a meltdown from your toddler or an awkward moment with a family member. Maybe a co-worker drives you crazy. I want to challenge you to make a list. Write down those people or situations that suck the joy out of you. Once you have that list, reflect on each one for a minute.

 Examine your own heart. Did you have any motives? 

Jeremiah 17:9-10 ESV The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”

Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

Now with that same list, I encourage you to spend some time in prayer about each one. Ask God to give you wisdom in knowing what to do or how to handle each situation better. Give it all to God. Ask Him to give you a peace that surpasses all understanding. Remember that call to be joyful always. 

I am so thankful for God's gift of grace and forgiveness. Aren't you? Let's keep encouraging each other on this road to joy in our hearts! 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Unspeakable Joy Movement

1 Peter 1:8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.

     There is a growing trend here in America. As Christians, especially, we gripe and complain. We spend our days offended and hurt. We are negative and unhappy. But I am choosing a new way. 

1Thessalonians 5:16 Be joyful always.

I am choosing to live a life of joy

Living a life of joy is to live a full life. Being joyful always is looking at the storms you've been given and finding the joy that comes from it. Folks, this is not easy. We all face hard times. We all struggle. But each day, God wakes us up and gives us a new chance. 

James 1:2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds. 

I could complain that last night I didn't get much sleep. This morning, some of my kids didn't wake up happy either. But as the mother, my morning mood will affect everyone. 

Do you ever have a day that isn't going so well and then being around a joyful person just completely uplifts you? Do you want to help be apart of a movement to live a joyful life? Do you want others to see you with that unspeakable joy and become hungry for Christ?

Sometimes, as a mother, I fall to my knees to God and ask him to fill me with joy again. Sometimes, when I find my joy escaping, I step outside to some quiet, take a deep breath, and admire God's creation. I listen for the birds. I will hear a morning dove make her calls. I feel the wind brush past me. Those deep breaths I take give me reassurance that I am getting a new chance. I am forgiven and I celebrate that His mercies are new. There is something about the great outdoors that really reconnects me to Him. I feel the joy returning and I'm able to finish my day. Do you have a place that you can go to ask God to refill your joy?

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

I am going to share my unspeakable joy through this blog. If you carry on a conversation with me in person, you may notice that I am not complaining with you. That is because I want to choose joy instead. I may slip at times as any person does as we are all sinners. But my new motto is living with joy. As a believer, I want to share my joy in knowing Him and bring others to Christ. 

Let's stop the negative vibes that seem to promote more unhappiness. Don't give the devil any satisfaction and let's glorify God instead. Let's look for moments of joy each day and share that joy with others. Let's "be kind to one another and build each other up? (1Thessalonians 5:11)"

I want to live a joy that's unspeakable. How about you