Posts Tagged With: life

Farewell, My Friends

A year ago I sat out with a small goal: Keep a blog showing how God’s Word applies to everyday life. Show that it is not outdated. Show that it is for us. Show that it really can be read, understood, and practiced.

It was never my goal to have a deep, theological blog. Because that’s just not me. I just wanted to share God’s Word and encourage others in their daily life.

But about six months in, I found the challenges of keeping up a blog regularly to be quite daunting, especially for someone who is not a particularly great writer. Coming up with new things to write about proved to be more difficult than I anticipated. Putting my thoughts and ideas into words that another person can read and understand is not easy.

But the most difficult thing for me is finding the time to write. It just isn’t there. I have spent many hours on each blog that I have posted: writing, editing, rewriting, correcting, finding the perfect picture, making sure I’m not taking a verse out of context, checking grammar, etc.

All of this is to say that this will be my last post. I will be shutting down this blog in a few days.

I want to thank each of you who have stopped by to read a few of my thoughts. Some of you have emailed me, talked with me personally, or sent me text messages. Thank you for doing this. I cannot even tell you how much I appreciated your encouragement. Without it, I would have felt all the time I was spending was in vain and probably would have shut this down a long time ago.

There are many ways you can spend your time and I want to thank you for spending some of it with me.

If you are reading this, farewell my faithful friend. It has been nice growing with you, searching scriptures with you, and sharing thoughts with you. I do pray that this blog has not only encouraged you from time to time, but also showed you that God’s Word is still relevant, He is still on the throne, and nothing happens outside His control.

Sincerely,

Gerri Madison

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The “What If” Game IS A Dangerous Game To Play

 

Saturday was a busy day. It was raining when we headed out to watch my oldest son compete in the conference Scholar Bowl tournament at a nearby school. In early afternoon, as his team finished and we left the school, it had begun to lightly snow. But we were on our way to another school so he could participate in a basketball tournament. As soon as this tournament was over, my husband left to take him to a third school where the high school varsity teams were playing (he keeps stats for the girls and boys team) while my younger son and I headed home.

By this time, it had been snowing for several hours. Snow was beginning to pile up. Road crews were out working but they just couldn’t keep up – it was coming too hard and too fast.

My son and I walked in our home and I fell on the couch, exhausted from the day but mainly from the drive home. It was stressful. My road had not been touched yet and I was slipping and sliding everywhere and my youngest son was in the backseat. What if I had slid off the road? He could have been hurt or even killed.

I’m so glad that my husband is such a good driver and is so careful that I don’t have to worry about him.

Then my phone rang.

It was my husband and he had slid off the road.

Another family that we knew stopped, picked our son up and took him onto the ball game.

But my husband was still stuck on the side of the road and needed help. I called a friend who lived nearby. He willingly and happily went to help my husband. Our friend was able to pull him out but within half a mile my husband slid off two more times. Finally, the friend just brought him home.

This evening we went to get our truck. It’s a small Ford Ranger without 4 wheel drive. Not much good in the snow. It took us nearly twenty minutes to get it out of the driveway he had left it in.

While driving back home, I couldn’t help but to notice the sides of the road. It was lined with steep drop-offs. Yet my husband and son slid onto level ground.

But what if they had slid off here instead?

What if the truck would have rolled?

What if it had crushed the cab with my husband and son inside?

What if… What if… What if…

Tonight as my son and husband went to sleep, I kept praying and thanking God for the protection that He had given to them. I thank Him for always taking care of my family when I cannot. And I just wanted to watch them sleep and hold them close, having been reminded of what a treasure they truly are.

But when it is my turn to go to sleep, my mind turned to the “What if…” game.

For me, personally, it is worse at night when I’m trying to go to sleep. That is when my mind really starts working and going crazy. I suppose during the day I can keep busy enough to not think about it. But at night, well, the night makes up for the day. That means more worry and less sleep. That results in a more tired and stressed mom/wife. Believe me, nobody in my house wants that!

You can probably relate. Maybe you haven’t been in this same exact situation, but you have probably been in some sort of a frightening situation. And you have been left wondering “What if…”

While I am certainly not proficient at this and still need lots of practice, I would like to make a suggestion on how to deal with the “What if…” game. Even though the weather was bad and my husband and son slid off the road, God still looked after my family. As much as I love them, God loves them more. Even as precious as they are to me, they are more precious to God. So instead of playing the “What if…” game, I am going to say to my mind, “No, I’m not going to allow you to go there. Instead I am going to thank the Lord that He did not allow that to happen. I am going to thank the Lord for His sovereignty, love, and grace. I am going to sing praises to the Lord.”

Playing the “What if…” game is a dangerous game to play. It totally discounts the Lord’s sovereign will. In the Lord’s sovereign will, He allowed our truck to slide off in a relatively safe place. He did not allow our truck to roll or the cab to be crushed. So why do we allow to let our minds dwell there? That is not honoring, glorifying, or praising the Lord – the very thing that we, as His children, are called to do.

Colossians 3:2 tells us “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Basically, that verse is telling us to think of things that are eternal and praise the Lord for them. It is telling us to trust God. It is telling us to think of Him in ALL things. Don’t worry so much about the “What if’s…” because those are not things that are eternal. He has already taken care of them.

We all have deep, dark places that our minds want to visit from time to time. If we allow them to dwell there, they can very easily lead us into a depression.

These are real fears. I’m not taking away from that. Yet, we cannot allow our minds to reside there. In fact, the Scriptures tell us not to. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “…Take every thought captive to obey Christ.” That verse is speaking of the importance of training our minds for Christ. And it sounds simple to do. But it is very difficult and challenging.

Consider this; we are all training our minds for something. So what will it be? Self-pity or admiration of the Lord? Praise and worship or fear and terror? Unbelief or praise? Fear and fright or trust of His faithfulness?

 

“But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.” (Psalm 73:28)

 

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Worship Where You Are

 

Have you ever noticed that we, in general, are list makers? We get very caught up in them. And for good reason. We get busy with family, our jobs, making supper, church, getting the laundry done, that if we don’t write it down we will probably forget it.

Usually, at the beginning of my day, I will come up with two things that I really want to accomplish by the end of the day. And more often than not, they are still not done when I am putting my kids to bed for the night.

Life is just so busy!

Taking my son to playgroup in the morning. Catching a quick bite at some fast food restaurant.  Get some groceries. Buy some new socks for my husband and shoes for my son. Pick up a wedding gift. Drive home safely and unload groceries. Fix a quick supper before taking my older son to basketball practice. Then soccer practice. And on to his baseball game. Arrive home in time to drop in bed, exhausted.

And in the midst of all the chaos and busyness is God.

Sometimes we have this illusion that we must have a “quiet time” with God. And certainly that is needed. But that is not the only time that we have fellowship with Him. Our fellowship with the Lord is not codependent upon our environment.

To have quietness, peacefulness, and solitude is a good thing. Silence can be a great help to keep us from distraction when praying. God often uses quietness to speak to us through His Word. And time alone with Him is truly a gift. But so is the time when you feel that you’re the Ringmaster of a Three Ring Circus. So is the time when you find your toddler playing in the toilet. So is the time when you have locked your keys in the car after a trip to the grocery store and your children are overly tired.

God is sovereign in EVERYTHING!

Not just when we are worshipping on Sunday morning. Not just when we are singing praises or in a Bible Study. Or in our quiet time. But in every moment of every day.

Nothing, no nothing, happens without the Lord ordaining it. He is worthy of our trust and our praise in every moment of every day. No matter how difficult the moment or day may be.

It is often during these difficult moments that I am reminded how sovereign the Lord truly is. My son needs my help to complete a puzzle as I am trying to brown some hamburger for supper. Of course I want to help him, but I also don’t want our supper to burn either. And then I am humbled that God saw fit to ordain this moment. It is times like these when I am made aware of my sins. Of my own selfishness. Of my lack of love and trust in the Lord.

The truth is that we can have fellowship and worship right where we are. Even is the midst of the circus. Sure, it’s nice and lovely when it is solemn and serene, but that is not the only time when God is working for His glory.

A “quiet time” should not be just another thing on our to-do list that we don’t get done. We must hear the call to worship through our day. Use these opportunities to see evidence of God’s grace. Don’t forget that God is with you, ALWAYS. I know days can be long. I know the lists might not get done. I know it is difficult. But fix your eyes on Christ. Respond to His call with worship.

“The sufferings of the present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).

Categories: worship | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Why Encouragement Is Important

 

Several years ago I went into a pet store for something. The clerk behind the counter was very busy working on a crossword puzzle. Another lady walked in shortly after me. She went straight to the counter and asked if they carried a certain kind of dog food. Without looking up, the clerk pointed and said, “It’s at the end of that aisle.” A few moments later, the customer returned, asking for more help finding it. The clerk very haughtily put down her puzzle, stormed down the aisle, and said in a nasty tone, “Open your eyes and look, lady. It’s right here!”

The way this sales clerk reacted was so hateful that I nearly walked out of the store and I didn’t even have anything to do with it! But then I noticed the customer walking up to the counter with the dog food. Wanting to see how this played out, I decided to stick around and watch.

Nothing eventful happened. The clerk told her how much she owed. She paid the price, was given a receipt, and turned to walk out.

But then she stopped. She slowly turned  around to the sales clerk who was already back to her puzzle. She walked up next to the clerk. And in a concerned tone said, “I really do hope your day gets better.”

 

I tell you that story because I have often noticed when someone is especially grouchy it is because they are in need of encouragement.

When someone, like the sales clerk I spoke about, treats you poorly it is human nature to want or even try to reciprocate. We want to get them back. We want to even the score. We want to make them feel as badly as they just made us feel. We have all felt it from time to time. I felt it that day and I wasn’t even involved in the situation.

Instead, I’ll challenge you to find a place in Scripture where revenge is applauded by the Lord. Because I have looked and I cannot find it. Not once. Instead I’ve found a verse were the Lord days, “Vengeance is mine” (Deuteronomy 32:35). And in John 15:12, Jesus says, “…love one another just as I have loved you.”

And how much did Christ love us? Enough to be betrayed, humiliated, mocked, beaten, tortured, crucified, deserted and separated from His Father. That’s how much!

Compared to that, do we have anything to get upset about? Do we have anything to be offended about? No, I don’t think so.

Still, times will come when we will be treated hatefully. Times will come when we will witness others being treated unfairly. They are coming. It is a certainty with life.

Let’s coat our minds with Scripture. By doing this we will learn how He expects us to react to such situations. This also helps us to train our minds to prepare for these circumstances.  But don’t forget to pray. Ask the Lord to give you words to say. Ask for His wisdom and true, pure love that can only come from Him. Ask Him to give you encouragement as you encourage others.

Like the lady who purchased the dog food, let’s encourage when given the opportunity instead of returning hate for hate. She could have easily given the sales clerk a piece of her mind. But she didn’t. She chose to speak peacefully, kindly, and humbly.

Nearly fifteen years later, I still remember this happening. I remember the sales clerks look of astonishment. I remember her mouth gaped open, not knowing what to say. And I remember the meek tone she spoke with when I went to pay for my item.

Such a huge contrast!

Did anything significant just take place? No, not really. Just one woman was faithful to seize the opportunity to encourage another woman.

I want to be like her!

I want to be known to be an encourager–to rise to the occasion, not allowing human feelings to cloud my judgment. I want to be a speaker and doer of kindness, demonstrating Christ to the world. I want to show love.

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Families of Different Shapes and Sizes

 

My husband and I have been blessed with two sons. One of them is twelve and the other just turned four. They are nearly nine years apart. That is quite a difference. We know that and they know that too. But in the Lord’s sovereign will, that is how He saw fit to do it.

Two days after our youngest son was born we had to make a quick stop at Wal-Mart. I walk in, carrying my baby in his carseat, with my older son walking beside me. A friendly lady came over to see the new baby and commented, “What a sweet baby! What does big brother think?”

My son stood a little taller when he heard the “big brother” comment. How many years he had prayed to get to be a big brother!

“I am VERY excited,” he said.

The lady looked at me, “And how many others do you have” she asked.

“Only these two boys,” I told her.

Her face fell a little, “Well, even with different daddies they can still be good friends,” she said before walking off.

I was shocked!

But what was worse is that my then-eight-year-old son heard this comment too. And I could tell by the look on his face that he was hurt even more than I was. He was no longer standing tall and his shoulders were now drooping. The thought that someone might think that his baby brother was not completely his was like a dagger to his heart. “Why does she think that we have different dads,” he asked.

I wish I could say that this is the only time someone has made this assumption, but it isn’t. Nearly every time we’re in public, someone will make this assumption about my family. At times people will compliment my husband on his “acceptance” of both of my boys. That’s a hard one to swallow too.

There are two things I want you to know:

1. My children hear these comments too. I should not have to explain to a two year old child why someone thinks that he and his brother do not share the same parents. It just isn’t appropriate.

2. I understand why you make this assumption. I, myself, have two brothers that do not have the same father as me. But they are no less my brothers. Just because we do not share one hundred percent of the same DNA, they are just as much a part of me as my other brother and sisters. The love is no different.

Still, I want you to know that a marriage can last longer than nine years. It is possible for the same couple to have two children with several years between them. Likewise, it is possible for two children to share the same parents even if there is a gap in years.

I consider it an honor and blessing to get to raise these two boys. I regard it as the thrill of my life. And even if they did have separate fathers, they would be no less special or joyous. All children are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). That, alone, gives worth and value to their lives.

It is discouraging to hear these comments. I am a young mother, striving to love and care for my husband and children. Sometimes I need encouragement. Sometimes I need training (Titus 2:4). If you are a more seasoned mother than me, you could provide both of these to me –whether or not I have children from the same father.

The truth is that families come in many different shapes and sizes. There are many families adopting children from overseas. Although these families may look a little different than a traditional family, these mothers and fathers need encouragement too. Remember that they have waited a long time on paperwork to go through. They did not get the pleasure of birthing their child. In most cases, they did not even get to hold their child as a baby. Yet they are still striving to care for and nurture their families. It is undoubtedly discouraging at times. These parents need love. They need support. They need prayers.

We all do.

So here’s an idea…  Let’s try to encourage families. When you see a family, even one that looks a little unique, try saying, “Wow, what a beautiful family you have.” Or, “You are so blessed to get the privilege of raising these children.” I can guarantee that you will bless the parents greatly. And probably the children too!

 

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!” (Psalm 127:3-5)

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Rules For Dating My Son

 

Have you noticed that girls seem to be chasing boys these days? Just this evening a girl asked my twelve year old son to be her boyfriend. Hello, he’s twelve years old! No twelve year old needs a boyfriend or girlfriend. But I do realize that some of these girls may make a fine wife for my son in some twenty or thirty years. So to help these girls out, I have compiled a list of rules for dating my son.

  1. My son does not have his own cell phone. Feel free to call him on mine. I should warn you that a customer service representative will be listening.
  2. You may talk with him at church. Bring your Bible.
  3. Do not touch my son. Do not even pick lint off his shirt. He can do that himself. You may only touch him if you are standing on the edge of a cliff, have lost your balance, are about to fall off, and he is the only person around. But I would prefer you to grab a tree instead.
  4. He cannot borrow my car for your date. He is only twelve. He has a bike. If you have a wagon and can attach it to his bike then you can ride in that.
  5. Here is a list of all the places approved for your date:
  6. I realize that it is popular to wear “Rihanna” styled clothing. My husband and I want to be open minded and fair about this. So you are free to show up in such clothing. Just please know that I may use a hot glue gun to properly affix it to your body. I may also attach more fabric to you.
  7. His uncle is the principal at school. If you pass him a note, his uncle will read it – for grammatical purposes of course.

Please know that my husband and I have been praying for this boy since before God gave him breath. We pray that if the Lord wills him to marry, that it is a Godly woman. So please chase Jesus first. Search His Word for direction in your life. Study it to learn how to be a Godly wife and what type of man to look for. Pray that the Lord brings a Godly man into your life. Seek out Godly women to watch, study from, and to be discipled by.

Categories: parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Why Evangelize?

 

I met *Jason the first time when I switched school in fifth grade. He was smart, funny, and very silly. He was the class clown. He could make anyone laugh. He was everyone’s friend.

But as we grew and advanced through grades, he seemed to find trouble more and more. And it wasn’t just in the classroom. Or with teachers or school officials. The first time he had a run-in with the law, we were in eighth grade (I think). He fought. He stole. He cheated.

The fun boy that we all knew and loved was gone. This mean kid had taken his place. And this “new” Jason seemed to only be getting worse.

And then he moved.

I did not see or hear from him until we were in our late 20s. Imagine how surprised I was to see him at a church’s VBS! I spoke with him for quite a while. He hadn’t graduated from high school but chose to get his GED. He met a nice girl. Got married. Became a police officer (that was the one that really shocked me!). Had three children. His wife left him and he continued to raise his children. Alone.

At this point, you could have sneezed and I would have fallen over!

And most of all, he was a wonderful dad. He played with his kids. He enjoyed his kids. He loved his kids. He worked very hard to support them.

We talked more and more. I was still so shocked that this was the same Jason that I had gone to school with. I was elated to see the changes he had made in his life. Before we left, he gave me his phone number and asked if I would please let him know the next time we had a class reunion (I was surprised he had any interest in coming).

Just a couple months later we did have a reunion. I called him and he did come. We were all thrilled to see the man and father that he had become.

And then life went on and things went back to normal and I never saw him again.

About six months later I was cleaning and found the scrap of paper he had written his phone number on. I certainly did not want my husband to think that I had any ulterior motive for keeping Jason’s number so I threw it away. I had done my job anyhow.

The very next day I received a phone call that he had unexpectedly passed away during the night.

I was stunned. Shocked. He was what, 28 years old? People are not supposed to die when they are 28 years old! I felt sick at my stomach. I thought about his sweet children.

But most of all, I thought about him. I wondered about him. Where was he? There was no doubt that a huge change had occurred in his life. Was that because Christ had entered? Maybe. After all, I did see him at a VBS. But I didn’t know for sure. Why didn’t I ask?

Why did I never call him?

Why did I never share the gospel with him?

How many months did I have his number? It was available to me and I did not seize the opportunity. I could have invited him and his children over for supper. I could have asked his family to meet mine at the park to play. I really do think he would have liked that.

But I didn’t.

And the sad truth is that I didn’t even think about it. Didn’t even cross my mind. Why? I don’t even know. Laziness, maybe. Selfishness, maybe. Out of my comfort zone, maybe. Or maybe just believing there will be another day.

I do understand the sovereignty of God. I realize that Jason’s ultimate fate was not/is not dependent upon how obedient I am in sharing the gospel. So I’m not saying that I have a huge amount of guilt. I just realize that I missed an opportunity and a blessing.

And that grieves me.

So what is my point? None of us is guaranteed another day.

With every breath, brag on Jesus.

Keep him foremost in your mind. This is not in our human nature to do, so pray that the Lord increase your love for Him and His word.

Don’t pass up an opportunity to love another person. To really love them. After all, we are all created in His image (Genesis 1:27).

Pray that God gives you opportunities to share the gospel. And then look for them so you recognize them when you see them.

Put away selfish desires and selfish motives.

Take time to commit Scripture to memory. You might not always have your Bible with you. Be prepared.

And most of all, cling to the cross.

Maybe you will be outside your comfort zone. But so what? Do you think that the Apostle Paul was ever outside of his? Probably. Yet, he is known as the greatest evangelist of all times.

All we can do is be obedient when the opportunity arises. The rest is up to God. I am so thankful for this. It is not up to how well I present the Scriptures, how good of a speaker I am, or anything else. If a work is done in someone’s heart, it is the Lord who did it. I am merely a tool in His hand. And if He is able to use something as broken and shattered as me, I am humbled and honored that He chose to use me.

I pray that I arise when the opportunity comes. No more Jasons.

 

“I planted, Apollos watered, but God have the growth.” –1 Corinthians 3:6

“…yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” –James 4:14

 

*Name changed to protect privacy

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Prepare In The Off Season

 

My twelve year old son is a very good basketball player. He is diligent. He works hard. He practices daily. He has ten or twelve agility exercises that he does every day. Even away from home. He takes a four mile run every other day to keep his endurance up. He shoots fifty free-throws a day. To strengthen his abdominal muscles, he hula hoops with a five pound hoop for twenty minutes a day.  He practices dribbling. He practices boxing out. He practices shooting from various locations all over the court. He practices ball handling. And he does it diligently and faithfully every day.

And at the time I’m writing this, it’s mid-July. Games won’t start for three more months. Practices won’t start until football is over and football hasn’t begun yet. Not even the practices.

Yet I watch him push himself every day. I am not standing out there with a whistle and stop watch yelling at him to go quicker, do more. Neither is my husband or anyone else. We are watching from behind the window of our nice, cushy, air-conditioned home.

Why on earth would any twelve year old kid want to spend his summer or off season like this? I have questioned this myself. But the simple answer is that he preparing. He does this because he wants to be a better player. He’s not content with player that he was last season. He wants to improve.  And when the practices start, they will be easier. And when the games begin, he will be better.

He simply has a love for the game.

As I watch him, I am convicted of my own lack of discipline. It is very easy to find other things to do. The laundry needs folded, the baby needs a bath, the toilet needs cleaned, the floors need vacuumed, and supper needs prepared. All the while, my Bible lies in the same place it did two days ago.

If only I could be as disciplined as my son.

And shouldn’t I? He practices so hard because he wants to improve. He desires to be a stronger player. Because he loves basketball.

Yet I confess to love the Lord and at the same time have a hard time fitting Him into my day. Is it just me, or does something seem not quite right here? And I wonder if I’m the only one with this problem.

Right now, I feel that I am in the “off season” too. Times are relatively pleasant right now. But for how much longer? Unlike my son who knows when his games will begin, I don’t know when times will be challenging. But the trials are coming. Times will be rough. I need to be preparing now. In the off season. Because tomorrow is another day. Tomorrow things may be hard. Tomorrow a trial may begin.

So I must remind myself the necessity of training. Even when things are busy. Even when I’m on vacation. Even though the laundry might not get done today. I must also pray that the Lord increases my love for Him. That He increases my desire to have daily fellowship with Him.

And how does one prepare in the off season? The same way that one prepares during the season. Ask my son. He’ll tell you the only difference is that right now there is no coach yelling at him, he is practicing at home instead of the gym at school, and he is not with his team. Other than that things are the same. The same drills. The same techniques. The same desire. We must not let up in the off season.

What does that mean for you and me? That means that we must spend time in Scripture. Spend time in prayer. Spend time committing Scripture to memory. Spend time worshiping, praising, and exalting His holy name. Fasting may be necessary from time to time. Time spent preparing for the sermon on Sunday, Bible studies, family studies, or Sunday school will not be time wasted. Spend time with the Lord, just like we do when things are difficult.

I know that it can be hard to fit it in. Believe me, I know. Many people recommend waking up early before the kids wake to get this time in with the Lord. But I am not a morning person. My mind just doesn’t process things very well in the morning so that never worked for me.

My husband and I have worked out a system. When he gets off work, he usually wants to spend some time outside. He takes our boys with him and they work or play until I come out. This gives me the time alone that I need without feeling a time pressure. After I come out, he goes in. We have found this to be an especially sweet time and precious time with the Lord and our boys.

This is also a way to hold one another accountable. I confess that I am not as disciplined as my son. I do need someone to hold me accountable.

I do not know when times will be hard for me again. But they are coming. Like my son, I want to be prepared. He has reminded me that the best way to be prepared is to work in the off season. To push yourself. Ask God for discipline. Ask God for strength. Ask God to show us our weaknesses.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 1Corinthians 9:24-25

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What About Joseph?

 

I have been reading through the gospels recently and noticed something I’ve failed to see before. Isn’t it strange that Jesus would be put on trial, beaten until he no longer looks human, and crucified and there is no record of Joseph, His earthly father, being present? The Scriptures speak of Mary being there (John 19:25-27) but never Joseph. This strikes me as very odd. What parent would not be there to defend, protect, care for, and grieve for their child? But after a search in the Scriptures, the last time I can find Joseph’s presence mentioned is when Jesus is twelve years old. Their family makes a trip to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. On the way back His parents realize that Jesus is not with them, they were traveling as a group with several families, and make the trek back to Jerusalem for Him. When they find Him, He is teaching in the temple (Luke 2:41-52). After this incident, Joseph is never mentioned again.  Does this seem strange to anyone else? All the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, speak of Mary being active throughout the Jesus’ adult life, but none speak of Joseph past this point.

We know that Joseph was a righteous man because…

  1. God chose him to be Jesus’ earthly father.
  2. When he found out Mary was pregnant he could have divorced her and he had planned to do so. But when the Lord told him not to, he obeyed (Matt 1:18-25).

We also know that Joseph was a protector because…

  1. When the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph and told him of Herod’s plan to kill baby Jesus, immediately their small family fled to Egypt (Matt 2:13-15). They stayed in Egypt until after Herod died (Matt 2:19-21).
  2. When they were on their way back from Egypt, Joseph found out that Herod’s son had taken his father’s place. Joseph took his family to Nazareth, a city in Galilee, instead (Matt 2:22-23).

With all that said, I don’t believe that one could draw the conclusion that Joseph was a poor father or had possibly abandoned them. It appears that he was a wonderful and devoted father.

All this leads me to one conclusion…  Sometime after Jesus was twelve years old, but before He began His ministry, Joseph passed away. This means that for at least part of His life Jesus was raised in a single parent household. This also means He probably had many more responsibilities, including caring for His younger brothers and sisters.

If you have been raised for at least part of your life in a single parent home, as I was, this should be of great comfort to you. He truly understands the loneliness. He understands the tear you feel inside of you. He understands the desire for the other parent. All the times you want to see them, touch them, hear their voice, receive their instruction, but you can’t. He understands that kind of hurt and pain.

While Jesus Himself never had children, He did have younger brothers and sisters that He most definitely helped care for. And by the time Joseph would have passed, Jesus would have been old enough to have some fatherly instincts kick in. Imagine the huge responsibility He must have felt for them. He must have helped wipe tears away (remember they had lost their father too) and comfort them in the night. He probably helped clean up a few scraped knees and elbows and took care of them when they were sick. Maybe even walked them to school and home again. We know that Joseph was a carpenter, he taught Jesus, and Jesus probably taught his brothers what Joseph had taught Him. I do believe that Jesus understands what it is like to be a parent. I believe He understands that deep love, sense of protection, and self sacrifice that a parent has for their child.

If you have experienced a loss, Jesus experienced a deep loss too. We know that Jesus mourned because the Scriptures record Him weeping at the tomb of his good friend, Lazarus (John 11:35). But undoubtedly the loss of a father would be more severe than the loss of a friend, especially at a younger and tenderer age. Although it is true that Jesus must have had much more of a realization that either you or I ever will about where His loved one was or the unity that they would experience again, He still must have grieved. He had to have mourned. He must have had many sleepless nights. He must have hurt very much and not just for Himself, but for His mother, brothers, and sisters as well.

If you are a single parent, take heart, this is of great encouragement! He understands the daily struggles and challenges that you go through. He watched his own mother go through them too. Do you ever worry if your child is going to be okay with only one parent in the home? The greatest man of all times lived part of His life with only one parent. There is no better example of a man than Him. He is what we all want our children to imitate. Can we even begin to list all His great qualities? How about love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control (Galatians 5:22), just to name a few!

To me, this has changed part of my view of Christ. Somehow, he seems even more human, more realistic. And isn’t this just like the Father? If Jesus is our intercessor, He needs to understand all our needs and all our trials. This is why it is so important that Christ came as a man. So He understands our need for nourishment, our limitations with energy and the need for rest, and the daily trials we go through. We go through losses. We feel extreme pressure.  We struggle and face challenge daily. With removing Joseph from Jesus’ life, He was made more aware of more struggles that we face. He knew what it was like to lose someone you love very much. He knew what it was like to have parental love and to miss it too. He knew, from watching his own mother, what it was like to raise children as a single parent. Wow! I am never ceased to be amazed at the thoroughness of our Lord.

 

Categories: encouragement, Lord's sovereign will, parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Please Don’t Judge My Parenting, Part 2: The Sisterhood We Can Have In Christ

Generally speaking, women are not kind to one another. I know that sounds judgmental, but it is true. Women are mean. We are gossips. We are spiteful. We compete with one another. Anyone who has ever spoken to a woman about another woman knows this to be true. But what grieves me is when I see this type of behavior making its way into the church.

Often times we divide ourselves over petty differences, like parenting styles or lifestyle choices. It seems that we would rather throw a dirty look across a room rather than walk over to our sister in Christ and humbly share God’s wisdom with her. For some reason we like our divisions. We feel comfortable in them. And it makes us feel powerful if we are able to influence another woman’s choices.

Yet, we are called to bear with one another, love one another, and forgive one another just as God has forgiven us (Colossians 3:12-13). This is what it looks like to love one another with the distinct love that marks us as followers of Jesus (John 13:35).  Remember, that Jesus died to save our sisters too. When we treasure them, just as Christ does, it honors Him.

Our hearts have been knit together through the pouring of Christ’s blood (Colossians 2:2). We share a bond that can run much deeper than any denomination, ethnicities, shared interest, or political views.  We share a type of fellowship that is unique to us. What other group of sisters share a Father that sacrificed His Son for them? I believe that is a bond that makes all other differences fail in comparison.

Take a moment to think about Christian ideals and virtues. What woman doesn’t want to have more patience? Or to be more compassionate? The truth is that we need other women in our lives to teach us and remind us of the great depths of the love of Christ. Taking our spiritual life away from other Christian ladies is unhelpful and can even be spiritually damaging. When we would rather visit with our friends about worldly concerns and completely avoid the horizons of eternity, we are not doing them or ourselves any favors.

I am saying that we ought to seek advice from other women. I do feel that God has given them to us as a gift and we ought to utilize their wisdom. But if that is all we do, then we are missing out on some great blessings and wisdom. Our relationships can be so much more than that. We are knit together with the deepest level of community that is possible here on earth, thanks to Christ. We are all seeking to grow in Christ. We need to encourage, teach, love, and gently rebuke when necessary so we each may learn from one another.

We share in one God, being unified with the same heart, serving and loving one another, praying for each other’s needs, and together we are discipling our children to love Christ. All of us desire to be the best helpmates possible for our husbands. By God’s grace, we are able to put off the old self, which makes us want to be a know-it-all over other women, and move us towards holiness (Ephesians 4:20-24). This is when we put away our pride and speak truth to one another, because we are members of the same body. We don’t hold grudges against one another. That is Satan’s wrecking ball, loving to cause division. Instead, let us speak words to one another that are good for giving grace and the building up of the saints. Let’s be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving just as God has forgiven us (Ephesians 4:25-32).  And in all situations, grant grace!

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