Friday, October 15, 2010

The Joy of a Child

One of the top questions I get asked in life is "When are you and Belinda going to have children?"  Well I don't have the answer to that and while I know that most people who ask it have no ill intentions, sometimes it does get old.  I usually just smile and say that it's in God's hands and that we have the teenagers we're working with and that's enough for the moment.  It's not that I do not like to be around children, because to be honest children make me smile.  I have shared before about the soft warm heart that my nephew Noah has in posts like this.  Even just yesterday he got excited when he was with Belinda because he thought he heard my voice.  To hear that melted my heart because I honestly wonder sometimes if anyone other than a couple of people would be excited to see me.

I'm sitting in the coffee shop about to do some school work when a young child probably about 3 years old came walking in with his grandparents.  His face lit up and he said "wow it sure smells good in here!", to which his grandfather said "it sure does".  I guess first of all I have an extreme of emotions running in me about this.  I honestly do not miss being a child at all, because I would not want to have to re-live some of the painful experiences in life that I have endured.  But I have really missed my granny recently who surprisingly passed away 2 1/2 years ago.  I guess seeing this child with his grandparents like this made me miss those moments with my grandparents when I was small (yes, I was small at one point in life).  Back to the point, the joy in this little boys face really triggered my emotions.  It then made me think of another child I saw earlier this year.

We were at the Dairy Barn (the local ice cream shop) earlier this year when a mom and her young son probably about 4 years old came to get ice cream.  I can't remember everything in detail but I do remember that when the little boy got his ice cream that there was something wrong with the order (size, flavor, or something).  The mom said "I'm sorry it's not what you wanted" to which he replied with a huge smile "It's ok".  The boy wasn't concerned that it wasn't exactly what he had ordered.  He wasn't concerned with the thought that they "owed" him and needed to fix the order.  He was overjoyed, thankful, and extremely content with what he did have.  Wow!  This really struck me I think because we live in a society that is filled with complaining and with expectations that people owe them.  

Anyway all of these thoughts on the soft, joyful hearts of some children made me think.  We hear it said many times about having the faith of child like it talks about in Matthew 18:3.  The first song I ever sang in church was even the song "Like a Child" by Jars of Clay. But what if we lived our lives with the joy of a child, specifically like these I have mentioned?  If we are children of God, then we should have the joy of one that comes from being in Jesus Christ.  I do not mean that we need to fall back and have the lack of responsibility like a child does.  But consider how much worry you have in life and how much stress.  Sure it's unavoidable.  I know because I have allowed my stress to develop in me a stomach ulcer.  As I grow in Christ, I want to truly lay my burdens down at the feet of Jesus, and not pick them back up.  I want to be overjoyed and content with everything that I have, even if it's not exactly like I pictured it.  I want have a heart that is full of the joy that only comes from being a child of God.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Integrity Check

Last Wednesday night we took at look at Joshua 9 and 10 and how Joshua showed his integrity by defending the Gibeonites.  Integrity is defined as the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.  In other words integrity is doing what you are supposed to do.

In Joshua 9, the Gibeonites realize that they do not want to suffer defeat from the Israelites just as Jericho and Ai did.  They decided it would be best to make a treaty with them, but they would have to deceive them into believing that they were from a far away land.  They put on old clothes and equipment, and when they met up with the Israelites they told them they were from far away.  Joshua 9:14 says that they agreed to a treaty without seeking God's counsel.  Joshua later discovered the truth that they were actually from close by, but because of the treaty he had made in God's name, he could not change his mind and defeat them.  The Gibeonites ended up becoming slaves for what they had done.

In Joshua 10, 5 kings come together to try to defeat Israel by first attacking Gibeon.  Joshua could have made the decision to just allow them to defeat Gibeon because it wouldn't be him that was doing it.  But he chose to do the right thing.  His integrity shone through as they went and defended Gibeon by defeating these 5 kingdoms.  A pretty incredible thing happens in Joshua 10:12-14.  As the Israelites are running out of sunlight for battle, Joshua asks God to make the sun stand still, and He does!  God causes the sun to stand still for about an entire day while the Israelites defeat their enemies.  Because Joshua honored God, God honored Joshua.

So looking at how Joshua maintained his integrity we looked at ways you can lose your integrity:
1)  When you do something you know you should not do.  It could be that you are doing something to spite someone.  Whatever the reason, if you know what you should not do but do it anyway, you lose integrity.  Same is true if you know what you are supposed to do and do not do it.
2)  Situational Dedication- this is when you go to church, act holy, but you only live that way in certain situations or you try to fool people.  Or you might just live that way when it is convenient for you.  

So how does your integrity stand up?  Are you following God at all times or only when you want to?  Make a commitment to honor God in all you do.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Encourage or Tear Down?

This past week we had the incredible opportunity to go to an Atlanta Braves game.  Some good friends invited us to go and we could not pass on the opportunity.  It is always funny because my wife not watching baseball much in her life always has some interesting questions, but one particular question really had my thoughts stirring.

I believe it was the 5th inning, Tim Hudson was pitching with two runners on.  The game was neck and neck so far and Hudson was trying to pitch out of a jam.  When Hudson had two outs and then two strikes on the next batter, the stadium erupted with cheer as Hudson delivered his next pitch.  Belinda asked why everyone was cheering.  I explained that he was in a jam at a critical point in the game, two runners on, close game, two outs and two strikes on the batter.  I told her that the fans were doing this to encourage Hudson, hopefully building him up so that he would get the batter out to end the inning.  And guess what, he ended up getting the batter out to end the inning!

Later in the game when it was still a close, Derek Lee who is a recent acquisition for the Braves came to bat.  He grounded out and a man not to far from us heckled him for a few minutes yelling things such as "Go back to Chicago Derek".  It was not only annoying, but discouraging as a fan at this game.  I do not understand how people can be so discouraging with their words, or why they would even want to.

I was thinking about this while getting ready this morning and Ephesians 4:29 came to mind.  Then while I was driving to work the radio station I was listening to read it for their verse of the day.  I like how the Message translation puts it: Watch the watch you talk.  Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth.  Say only what helps, each word is a gift.  We are to encourage or build one another up.  I know I have blogged and preached about this before, but it is something that I truly believe in.  I guess I feel this way because it seems that we are hurt by words on a daily basis, and you may have experienced it as well.  Our flesh will want us to retaliate with words, but that is not the answer.  I love how this verse says "Say only what helps".  I find that many times people want to complain, whine, or say hurtful words thinking that they are "helping" but in actuality they are tearing you down.  I do not understand this.  I do not understand it at all.  However it sets the example to me in how I should NOT be.  So be careful with the words you use today.  Make it a priority to only build others up and never tear them down.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Friday Morning Thoughts

I just wanted to share my random thoughts this Friday morning:

-The music in the coffee shop is a little odd today.  Usually it's entertaining or just fun to listen to, but today it's a little odd.  Not exactly sure how to describe it.
-Was a little disappointed that they were out of my usual blueberry muffin today in the coffee shop forcing me to get a mixed berry muffin.  It's good but nowhere near as good as blueberry.
-It's October- 1) can't believe it's already October.  Seems like yesterday it was June but the past few months have been a fog too.  2) We get a vacation this month!  It feels like it's been 5 years since we had one, but it's only been 13 months.
-Michael W. Smith's new album "Wonder" came out this week and it is incredible.  It's amazing how God has gifted this man and I'm truly thankful for that.
-We will be going to see Michael W. Smith in concert with Jason Gray, Third Day, Max Lucado, and Toby Mac.  Really looking forward to seeing my two favorite artists in one night: Michael W. Smith and Jason Gray.
-I am trying my best to not want an iPhone enough that I would switch to AT&T.
-One of these days I want to take an entire day to do nothing but sit and play guitar, worshiping God and doing some writing.  
-I'm probably going to add another class this semester for the 2nd half.  Yeah I know I must be crazy, but if everything will line up I may be able to cram everything in and graduate in the Spring.  Not sure if it will work out but definitely am ready to be done with school!
-We actually get to hang out tonight with some of our best friends that we only get to see every few months.  I don't want to name drop or anything but he plays in my favorite band They Came Running.
-I feel like my vocal issues are getting worse.  This morning I felt like I had to scream to be loud enough for Belinda to hear me.  But then again her ears could be clogged up lol
-I realize a little more each day how Belinda and I do not fit any possible cookie cutter mode for a family.  I think that's awesome in some ways because it makes us unique.  But hard in the sense that I don't feel like many people get us and what our purpose in life is.
-I really hope the Braves pull the Wild Card out.  It would be incredible for them to actually win the World Series with it being Bobby Cox's last year.
-There is a couple probably in their late 60's early 70's having breakfast here in the coffee shop.  That will definitely be Belinda and I when we are that age.  I hope to still be rocking my earrings then too!
-I had a brief conversation with an old co-worker yesterday.  Let me know that I don't stay in touch with past co-workers and old friends like I should.
-As I was reading earlier in Psalm 45:17 it says- I will cause Your name to be remembered in all generations; Therefore the peoples will give You thanks forever and ever.  I want to be that person who makes God known for generations to come.