Daily Archives: December 14, 2011

A Resolution to Live with Integrity

Note to reader: The following is the result of further study, research and reflection after reading a portion of The Resolution for Women by Priscilla Shirer, a book written upon the influence of the movie Courageous, which hit theaters nation-wide in September/October of 2011.

Blessed are those whose way is blameless. Psalm 119:1

It isn’t every day that I find myself reading material that makes me want to rip the book apart or shove it back on the shelf to collect dust until I either a) opt to donate it or toss it out or b) choose to read it again. I was both convicted and yet not when I got the section on integrity.

What comes to mind when you think of this 

I will not tolerate evil influences even in the most justifiable form, in myself or my home…

This point of the resolution requires an intimate, personal, introspective look at what’s going on in our hearts and homes. We then realize that these things we’ve been sanctioning with our time and attention are a glaring contradiction of who we are and what we say we believe.

This points to the types of books we read, the TV shows we choose to watch, the movies stored in our collect…the music we listen to…the way we live.

Instead of being repulsed by certain behaviors or grieved by the lies that our culture spins on our generation, we are more accepting of them; willing to watch TV shows like Glee or movies filled with intimate scenes, to laugh at Jeff Dunham on Comedy Central or read a trashy novel (because of the illusion of escape) and considering it all suitable with a side of popcorn or a comfy blanket.

Okaying these things within the confines of our own homes makes nothing more than the hypocrites we never wanted to be. We discourage one thing in public while finding it addictively exciting in private.

Integrity means to be the same underneath as we are on the outside.

Those who are careful about structural integrity build with the long-term goal of being blameless before God and others, not just on lightly traveled Sundays but at peak hours, all week long.

Living this way leads to weakness inside that won’t hold up when the time comes to hold your beliefs against you life.

This. Is. Serious.

Whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures you sense of God, or takes off the relish of spiritual things – in short, whatever increases the strength and authority of your body over your mind -0 that things is sin to you, however innocent it may be in itself. – Mother of John Wesley

You must decide…
Which do you want more?
God’s best, or our personal favorites?

We can look to King David as a man driven to resolve so seriously about living a life of integrity:

I will be careful to live a blames life – when will you come to help me? I will lead a life of integrity in my own home. I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar…I will have nothing to with them. Psalm 101:2-3

1: Have no tolerance for evil. Evil is like rat poison.

Did you know that three percent of the product is actually poison? The rest is food. Our culture is like that. Constantly distracting us with media that looks good and we dig in; unaware of the three percent that’s eating way at our insides. Before we know it, we’re dying a slow death.

But trust that we’re not alone in this. We can stop it before it’s too late. We may not be able to undo the damage done, but we can and should pray that God in His mercy and favor would thwart the Enemy from turuing those moments of weakness into strongholds on our lives. That’s where the next step comes in to play.

2: Closely monitor the type of people I allow to influence me.

One word: accountability. We need a group of close people in our lives (in my case, girls) who I can run to when life doesn’t make sense. Who I can run something by when a decision needs to be made. Who I can confide in when my life isn’t making any sense. Who I can trust to stop me if I’m heading down the wrong path. We all need accountability and having it will make you stronger in your defense against the Enemy of our souls.

3: Recognize my need for divine help.

Never expect that you can recalibrate the frequency setting on your life without God’s help, grace, and shepherding. He will be sure to alert you to changes that need to be made and then will eagerly empower you to carry them out.

Granted, these are extreme resolutions to live out. But let me ask you this. Have you ever met someone who follows this? Have you ever noticed their godly, admirable character? Those who enjoy the extra measure of God’s blessing and favor, who truly navigate their lives well, are those who discipline themselves in ways that many of us would consider borderline ridiculous. But like David, they’ve found it necessary to be as extreme in one direction as the culture has chosen to be in the other.

But keep this in mind. Not everything that bothers one believer is necessarily forbidden for all. Just because some wouldn’t consider it “good” doesn’t mean it’s worthy of being “slandered” (Romans 14:6). Consider your own structural soundness. Would it be able to bear the weight of your Christian profession? Is there anything that you do in private that the Spirit is convicting you of right now? Would your structural soundness hold up if some of your fellow church members arrived at your door unannounced?

Resolve to do this: Commit to being sensitive and responsive to any conviction the Spirit may be impressing on your heart right now in regard to a particular pursuit, decision, or activity. And remember, God’s goal is not to steal your fun but to position you as clean, pure, available recipient of His best, most fulfilling blessings.

Only by His power can you resolve to live and walk blamelessly.

And by His might can you expect to be the child who pursues in the dark what they proclaim in the light.

Day 14: Great Faith and Grace and Seeing the ‘More Than’

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. -Matthew 1:18-19

Can you imagine what it would feel like to find out that the person you had been pledge to marry was with child? Or, for us girls, the equivalent: having a child with another woman?

Joseph. A name meaning he will add or the more than. God did both.

We know so little about Joseph. He is only mentioned in the birth and childhood stories of Jesus. He was named after an ancient patriarch who used his success in Egypt to save his family and a  future nation. Joseph was a carpenter who lived in the town of Nazareth. His ancestors were from Bethlehem, so when a Roman ruler, Caesar Augustus, wanted a census, Joseph had to go back to Bethlehem, even though his wife was well along in her pregnancy. Joseph was not the father. While Christ came as the Son of Man, He was never the son of man.

The most important thing we know about Joseph is that when the time called, he displayed great faith and grace. Mary was the pure young woman he had fallen in love with and was about to make his wife. He then found out she was pregnant. While Mary had the benefit of the an angel to explain her unique conception, Joseph had not been visited yet. All he had was Mary’s word. So what was that conversation like? No, she hadn’t slept with another man. Yes, she was pregnant. And yes, a spiritual being had told her that she would conceive by a unique act of God-and as though that wasn’t enough-the child in her womb would be the Savior of the world.

Joseph didn’t act rashly, even though he was baffled by her condition. He instead sought wisdom and carefully thought of others. He was disappointed in the apparent betrayal, yet believing, he made no haste. He contemplated putting her away. He considered divorcing her quietly, so as not to bring her shame.  As a praying man, he waited on God, and his love and patience for Mary were rewarded.

Why did Joseph believe her? Why did he change his first plans to quietly divorce her so as not to expose her to public shame? Engagements were so serious then, to break one off amounted to a divorce. Why did he choose instead to take her as his wife-and then abstain from sexual relations with her until the birth of the child? If you were in his shoes, would you have believed Mary?

God understood that Joseph couldn’t wrap his mind around the situation and He rewarded Joseph’s patience and attitude towards Mary by revealing His redemptive plan. Joseph received a direct and distinct revelation from God, and once his fears were banished, his line of duty was made clear. God revealed the more than of Joseph’s life. God added.

Where suspicion once lurked, strong faith now reigned as he looked into the lovely face of Jesus. He tenderly cared for young Jesus as if the Child were His own. Filled with more awe than a person could possibly bear due to the fact that his wife Mary had been handpicked by God to be the mother of the Lord his people had eagerly waited for, we can imagine how he would manage every detail of the Nativity. At last God’s promise had been fulfilled and before him was the Babe through whom God’s covenants would be established.

Little more is shared about Joseph beyond that point, but can be sure that between Joseph and Jesus there was an affection strong and deep.

Think of Joseph. Think of him looking into Mary’s eyes, hearing her account, knowing in his heart it was true, and having the courage to act on that faith, even though he may have had doubts. As nonsensical as it seemed, he believed it. As much as the idea of a virginal conception violates both logic and science, he knew it was possible with God. As risky as it was to stay with Mary and be branded by others as the hapless dupe of an immoral woman, Joseph decided to take that leap of faith.

That is true faith. It wasn’t just that he trusted Mary; he trusted God. That God could; that God might; that God would.