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Sin is a Slow Fade

sf1Casting Crowns came out with a song recently called “Slow Fade” in which they explain that Christians in particular don’t just dive into sin, yet we take baby steps until we realize we are in too deep.

This is exactly what happened to King Saul in 1 Samuel Chapters 13-15. I always wondered what King Saul did that was so terrible to receive the wrath of God, and by the way how did God’s anointed get himself to that point of rebellion against God?

1. Saul let his Fear of the Enemy Get in His Head! In 1 Samuel 13 the Philistines were pushing against the army of Israel and it wasn’t looking too good for King Saul. The Prophet of the Lord was late showing up to the battle field so Saul thought oh well I better make a burnt offering and a peace offering to God so that I can get His favor.

Well… This was the wrong move he was not authorized to do that, he had a plan that God had already set out and established with the prophet, yet he saw his army scattering and decided to try to manipulate God’s favor. Saul was rebuked but God was still with him. (Praise break aint it good when we sin yet God is still with us!) Saul ultimately let fear of the enemy push him to rash decisions.

2. Saul let the Fear of His people Get in the Way! In 1 Samuel Chapter 14 the Philistine army still had the upper hand. In fact they left the army of God without weapons. Saul’s son Jonathan took it upon himself to challenge their enemies and God gave him favor. God gave the Israelite so much favor that he caused the enemy camps to be in a state of confusion even attacking each other.

In 14:24 King Saul swears and oath “Cursed be any man who eats food before evening comes before I have avenged myself on my enemies.” The Israelites took this oath seriously they fasted and were given victory over their enemies that day! Unfortunately Saul’s son broke that oath and ate some sweet honey. Not only did he eat it but he spoke against his father’s decision to call the fast! This led to even more sin!  once Jonathan had his way with the food some followed his foot steps and ate the plunder of the Philistines, breaking a Hebrew law by eating the animals with the blood still in the meat!  (Notice how one sin from one person gives way to many sins by many people.)

God shows his displeasure in this sin in Chapter 14:37. When King Saul sought the favor of the Lord for their next battle the Lord did not answer. Saul let out another oath he would soon regret, ” As surely as the Lord who rescues Israel lives, even if it lies (It being the sin of breaking the oath) with my son Jonathan he must die.” So they cast Lots and yes of course the sin lay with his very own son Jonathan who he said he would put to death.

So once again Saul gave into the fear that lead him to make a bad decision. Although he made this oath and God was clearly offended by the sin, he did not lift a finger to his son. Why? Because the men of Israel sided with Jonathan and threatened their King if he should carry out his oath.

3. Saul let the Fear of the People Get him Fired! Here comes the straw that broke the camel’s back in Chapter 15. The war is not over yet and God has given the Israelites favor so far. In Chapter 15:3 Saul receives the command of the Lord, “Now go attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.”

But what did King Saul do? He spared the King of the Amalekites and verse 9 says that They were unwilling to destroy completely everything that was good. Notice in verse 12 after this misstep having achieved victory, Saul went and set up a monument to his own honor! (Hmmm)

This is the funny but not so funny part… When rebuked by the Prophet Samuel for not carrying out the command of the Lord. King Saul replies, “The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord’s instructions.” (Side Note: Once we have descended on the slippery slope of sin we will even began to deceive ourselves. Saul seems pretty confident here that he did what God had asked him to do)

He then tried to defend his action and said it was “the soldiers” who took the sheep and cattle. He added in verse 21 that it was not for their own sake but for the sake of the Lord they spared the best of the plunder to offer as a sacrifice to the Lord.

Maybe Saul thought he knew what was in God’s best interest concerning God’s instructions. But when pressed  he had this to say in verse 24, “I was afraid of the people so I gave in to them.”

The Underlying theme? Can you see the underlying theme here? A humble young man full of promise, a righteous man that God called his anointed one has found himself fading into sin and ultimately rebuked by God and rejected as King. Why? Because of Fear. He feared his enemies, he feared the allies of his son, he feared the desires of the soldiers.

Bit by bit, choice by choice a righteous man fell to sin because of the fear of others. Interestingly enough the scripture says the fear of the Lord is the beginning of all knowledge. Fear man or Fear God? What is driving your choices? What is keeping you from fading away?

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Your Past Sin Does Not Define You

Reading 1 Samuel Chapter 12
As you know the Israelites demanded a King earlier on in this book, which God considered a Rejection of His rule. (1 Sam 8:7) Yet God gave them a great King, one that stood a foot taller than everyone else and was referred to as God’s anointed (1 Sam 12:5).

Is anyone else confused? God considered it a sin to ask for a King because God had been their protector, their ruler and their guide, but it wasn’t enough for Israel, they found safety in being like everyone else. Even thought they sinned in the sight of the Lord, God granted their request. (Side note this is a scary thing! Sometimes God will give you just what you want with an extremely difficult life lesson to follow.)

The Request for a King was so ill advised that they were to be punished for it. 1 Samuel 12:17 reads, “Is it not wheat harvest now? I will call upon the Lord to send thunder and rain. And you will realize that an evil thing you did in the eyes of the Lord when you asked for a king.”

So what is it? King is good? King is Bad? King is anointed? King is cursed? Despite Israel’s sin God showed His favor in King Saul. Despite Israel’s departure from the will of God he provides a way for redemption and reconciliation. Despite Israel’s past sins, it did not define their future path!

Notice In verse 20 even after they learned that their Kingly search was going to bring them punishment, the prophet of the Lord says this, ” Do not be afraid…. You have done all this evil YET (emphasis mine) do not turn away from the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart…. (22) For the sake of his great name the Lord will not reject his people, because the Lord was pleased to make you his own.”

The Prophet Samuel goes on in verses 21-25 to give them a choice to separate themselves from their past sins, to serve the Lord only and be defined by their position as children of the Lord. Or they could chose to persist in doing evil with the result of being swept away!

This amazes me because while the Israelites rejected God, and sinned against Him, He gave them a clear path for redemption! The Israelites did not have to be defined by their sin, God had a way to move them past it! He gave them a King and gave them victory in battle, with the choice to remain on the path toward their future or revert back to their sinful ways.

We too have a choice! The scripture says He removes our sin from us just as far as the east is from the west. We have freedom from our past sins. We are set with a choice. How unfortunate that we often, as the Israelites eventually did, choose wrongly. Proverbs 26:11 says, “As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly”

Your Past sin does not define you! You define you! Let someone else clean up the vomit!

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7 Handy Tips for Traveling with a Toddler while pregnant

Its a tradition in my husband’s family to travel to the beach every summer. I mean, who wouldn’t love that! The feeling of sand beneath your toes, hearing the blue waves crashing against the shore, and having the sun kiss your skin while it melts away your memories of work memos, lunch meetings and the likes.

BUT there’s a catch.

You have to travel 18 hours in a car with a 13 month old to get there AND you are 5 months pregnant and look as if you swallowed your very own personal beach ball. Still want to go?

This 18 hour trek took us 2 days, approximately 5 temper tantrums, one emotional breakdown from me and lots…I mean lots of CCM! So of course I felt the need to document the hilarity of some of the things that I learned as a new mom on this trip.

1. Don’t Do it! If ypoolou can afford to do so, FLY! I repeat just don’t do it! 18 hours with a toddler in the car who can barely sit still on a floor for more than 2 mins. Plus when we stopped halfway he was a giant ball of energy that had been stored up that whole trip.

And don’t forget the pregnancy on top! I’m talking swollen feet, hot flashes and lots of urinating for the pregnant mommy! Just Don’t! 2. Sometimes Your Husband is Actually Right! My baby boy is well over 25 pounds and meets the height requirement for his forward facing car seat. Yet like any other Googling Mom, I have read all of the articles forward and backward and upside down and know all of the safety requirements, so when my lovely husband suggested that we turn his convertible big boy seat from rear facing to forward facing, I put my foot down! “DON’T YOU KNOW THE EXPERTS SAY TO KEEP THEM REAR FACING FOR AS LONG AS POSSIBLE!!!” with indignation in my voice.

Turns out my hubs was right. Forward facing, when your child is big enough, is the only way to go on a long trip. Baby can see us, we can see him, and it makes it much easier to pass things his way. Which I found myself doing a lot of!

3. Jude enjoys socio-political puppet shows! Lets face it Jude cannot really understand everything I say and I was bored (and I’m quirky) so I took his teddy bear, Mr. Fluffykins, and created several political satire productions for his viewing enjoyment.  If you haven’t tried this already, it is really fun to talk about geo-politics while using a high pitched voice and moving around a teddy bear!

4. Inanimate objects make for great toddler distractions!  My little Chicken Pot Pie, as I like to call him, has never really understood toys. You hand him a stuff dinosaur and he goes for the empty ketchup bottle and has a blast. My suggestion is to have several strange things on hand to distract your toddler for the road. The following are not pre-approved by any sort of board and should be allowed under close…CLOSE…supervision, but here is what worked for my love:

  • Pillow Cases
  • Random Wires (Not plugged in of course)
  • Cardboard
  • My husband’s Blender Bottle (1000x better than a rattle)
  • My Umbrella (this captivated him for hours on end)

The List goes on, if you have it, they can play with it! … Well for the most part.

5. Baby food squeeze packets are amazing! My husband and I like low prices (who doesn’t?) so we stay away from those fancy organic baby pouches. But we discovered something amazing! Instead of buying those high priced pouches (Target $1.40 or something for 1), The apple and yogurt section of your grocery store has organic low sodium, low sugar pouches for a fraction of the cost (Target $2 for pack of 4). SCORE! If your child is anything like mine forget the spoon, he sucks those things up through the straw in 2.5 seconds flat. Its impressive. And mommy and daddy don’t have to stop to feed him.

6. Baby Jude Loves, and I mean Loves Blue Grass!  I’m not sure if this will work for all the kiddos out there, but him watching us toe tap, slap our thigh, clap, and play air fiddle to David Crowder’s I Saw The Light cover all while hootin’ and hollerin’ and baby is a happy camper. All giggles and leg kicks from the back seat. Watching him makes me smile.

And finally if you’re still debating on going cross country with your little tykes…

7. REVIEW POINT NUMBER 1! I am already thinking ahead and I realized how in the world  am I going to travel with a toddler and a 6 month old next year? The plan is to save up my pennies to pay for a flight! However I will say this, watching my boy touch the ocean for the first time was worth all the madness.

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Righteous Anger & Confidence

Studying 1 Samuel chapter 11, verse 6 caught my eye, “When Saul heard their words, the Sprit of God rushed upon him and he burned with anger.”

What was Saul’s anger about? The Ammonites were occupying part of the Land and intended to disgrace Israel by gouging out the right eye of every man in the city. The city cried out for a savior and Saul heard about the disgrace the Ammonites were attempting to bring on God’s people and he was angry!

Now this wasn’t the normal anger that makes one pout their lips, cross their arms and stomp their feet, allowing their passive aggressive nature to put on a great show, while accomplishing absolutely nothing. NO! this was an anger brought on by the Sprit of the Lord, one that produced, swift action, organization and most of all confidence in the Lord.

Notice in verse 9 Saul sends this word out to his people… “Say to the men of Jabesh Gilead, By the time the sun is hot tomorrow you will be delivered.” I love this! Saul’s Righteous Anger turned to Confidence in the Power of the Lord to achieve Victory. Not only did he KNOW they would be delivered but he proclaimed at what time deliverance would come! There is no evidence that Saul was given a vision of victory, a prophecy or even a promise. His confidence derived from the very nature of God’s person! The Almighty God and his position as a child of the King!

I have often marveled in such confidence, as we modern evangelical Christians have been so warned of making claims of God’s victories in advance. But remember little David, a soon to be King, was dumfounded when he found the Army of God shrieking in fear before Goliath. Again David had no explicit promise of victory but he acted solely on the confidence of the Name of our Great God. “Who is the uncircumcised Philistine..” challenging the Lord God of Israel! What a confidence in our great God. Lord Help us to stand on the grandeur of your name and power. That alone brings victory.