Friday, October 14, 2011

Leading a Life of Integrity: Begins at Home

I've taken a bit of a blogging break this week since we've had my step-mom visiting and she'll be here next week as well.  Though  my heart has been full of blogging moments, I've just not let the writing be the priority.  I wanted to make sure that we spend every minute with her as we can since our time is always so limited! 

However, today has been pegged a lazy day with no agenda.  Even talked with the principal yesterday and decided it was a no school day.  Ahh......  :)  As a matter of fact, it's just the boys here with me at the moment.  My daughter committed to a 2nd craft fair two weeks after her first one coming up next weekend and is greatly in need of some necessary supplies.  My Sweet T volunteered to take her to Hobby Lobby so they could shop for what she need in peace!  Ahh......LOVE it!  My daughter may come home with a giant dent in her bank account, but it will pay off in the end!

I'm always amazed at how just a few words can really change a life or how just a few words can put priorities back in place.  We've definitely had those moments, especially in the last year.  The whole world can change in a fraction of a second when you hear words such as "we have to let you go" or "there is nothing more we can do for you" and even that dreaded "c" word that is robbing families when a doctor drops it like a bomb.  It can be good news with "you're pregnant" or "will you marry me?" Just a few words, with big impacts.  Think about those "I love you", "I miss you", "you mean so much to me"...kind of moments. 

Those big, life-changing words can be found through-out scripture.  I read one this morning and to be honest I really didn't catch the impact all the times I had read it before.  I guess it just "blended" in with the rest of the words and until this week when the words jumped off the page.  Oh that it has...the words are just pounding through my head and heart.  I LOVE those moments.  The moments when scripture comes alive and it pours into every deep crevice it can find.  The moments when you get the holy ghost goose bumps (hey...I'm a southern girl at heart, I don't know how else to describe it!). 

"I will lead a life of integrity in my own home."  (Psalm 101: 2b)  NLT

Having that verse jump out, I had to take it a step deeper and see how it was worded in other versions.   The place I was reading it quoted NIV "I will walk in my house with a blameless heart."  Looking the verse up on Biblos, showed some of these other versions:
  • ESV "I will walk with integrity of heart within my house."
  • NASB "I will walk within my house in the integrity of my heart."
  • King James "I will walk within my house with a perfect heart."
It all comes down to this:  Integrity begins at home.  Just like the theme of the movie "Courageous"...honor begins at home.  Integrity, honor, "perfect" heart...however you want to word begins in our homes.

Let's face the truth.  It's pretty easy to live that life in public.  It's pretty easy to look "religious" in public, especially at church.  It's what happens behind closed doors that matters.  How we treat our spouses and children behind closed doors is a bit much more difficult task!  Yet, THAT is where it matters most.  

How easy is it to "bite off" our husband's head when we are tired or frustrated?  How easy is it to lose patience with our children when we feel like they aren't meeting our standards or they fail to do something they've been asked to do countless times?  EXTREMELY easy.  It's something I fail at multiple times a day.  Yet, the Bible doesn't say make excuses.  It doesn't say that it doesn't matter.   The Bible is full of instructions on how to live.  Not once does it say, it's ok to live one life for the world and another behind closed doors.  God knows our hearts.  He sees what we hide from others.  Just like we may buzz around and deep clean when visitors are coming (hmmmm.....maybe I did this recently!!!!) because we don't want them to see how we REALLY are (the cobwebs, the bottom of the trashcan, behind the closet doors, etc).  God knows the real us.  Our spouses and children see us as well.  The REAL us behind those doors MATTER.  It's a huge reality!  It's an incredible responsibility.

Truth is:  I'm going to fail and I'm going to fail OFTEN.  God's grace is amazing.  Forgiveness and repentance are essential.   I can never reach perfection.  I can't beat myself up night after night when the house is quiet because I failed so many times that day.   Yet, it can't become my excuse.  That is the problem with so many things in life.  We take on the attitude of we can't reach perfection, so why try?  God is going to forgive, so why bother?  The condition of our hearts truly matter. 

Know what I noticed as I read into that verse even deeper?   It was the first half of the verse and the verse that followed.  In the first part David says "I will be CAREFUL to live a blameless life" and he asks for God's help.  THAT is the key portion that spoke to me.  It says to me be VIGILANT and SEEK to be careful in all things.  It says to call on God for help.  It doesn't say attempt it on your own.  It doesn't say give it a half-way effort.  It constantly says to guard our hearts, follow his commandments, to not be a stumbling block for others that are immature in their faith, and to be set apart.  Perfection isn't attainable, but with God's help I can strive to be more like him each day.  I have to accept that some days happen that I want to crawl back in bed and hide because I've completely bombed the day.  Those days are about seeking forgiveness, accepting grace, and moving ahead with new mercies. 

Verse 3 also caught my attention.  It encouraged me GREATLY in continuing to guard my heart and the hearts of my children by the choices we are making in regards to what we choose to watch, listen to, etc...  "I will refuse to look at anything vile or vulgar".  THAT is part of what is going to help me as I seek to live a life of godly integrity.  The timing was perfect for me to read that today.  I felt myself waver a bit in recent weeks in regards to some decisions we've made in our stance on some issues.  We held firm, but I admit I heard the voices of the world ringing in my head louder than I would like to admit.  Reading this verse together with verse 2 was a great encouragement!  I cannot lead the life of integrity that I desire if those images and filling my heart and mind.  I'm grateful that we've stood our ground.  The rewards are beginning to be seen.  It's well worth the "sting" of not fitting in! 

There is no doubt that I'm a GREAT supporter of the movie Courageous.  It had already been transforming our hearts EVEN before we were blessed to watch the movie on opening night.  The impacts are just beginning to be felt as the message is beginning to soak in more every day.  Though the movie was targeting fathers, it absolutely convicted me on every level as well.  It is causing to me think about so many things (which will be in blogs to come).  The main thing is that it's time to be courageous on every level.  Part of doing that is to stop making excuses and to stop doing things half-way.  I'm not happy with half-way good enough and I'm tired of watching from the side-lines on some issues. 

Though this blog post is lengthy in itself (when is it not?  LOL!), I encourage you to read this words that are beautifully written about the walking with integrity in my own home verse.  I don't find it coincidental that as I found myself drawn to this verse the last few days, that I found this post sitting in my inbox waiting to be read. 

Living a life of godly integrity happens within the walls of our own homes first. That’s really where we are authenticated. For me, what God sees and knows of me in my home and with my family is most important to me, rather than how others perceive me elsewhere. If I am living a life surrendered to Him inside my home and with my family, that life will flow naturally and freely everywhere else. It will be genuine and self-evident.

God sees and meets me when I spend quiet time with Him. God sees me when I love and serve my husband with respect and joy. God sees me when I handle His Word with tenderness and invest it into my children’s hearts. He also sees me when I fail miserably in these areas and fall to my knees for forgiveness as my heart aches with the godly sorrow that leads to repentance and thus brings forth His life. He sees and knows the real me.

If my husband sees and knows that I am seeking God daily and abiding in Him continually, then my heart is at rest and filled with joy knowing he has confidence in me. He knows I desire an authentic life before our God and in our home. My husband’s confidence in me because I love and fear the Lord is priceless. I want the same to be true of me as it is written about the Proverbs 31 woman. “Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.” Proverbs 31:11 (NIV) I want to be that crown on his head and jewel around his neck, and that must happen in our home with deep authenticity. It doesn’t happen in social settings with shallow facades.

We know that a wise woman seeks to have a blameless heart in her home. “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” Proverbs 14:1 (NIV) The destructive hands of pride and selfishness will tear apart the beautiful gifts with which God has entrusted me. I so earnestly want to be the wise woman building up my home and family.

Walking with a blameless heart is a standard set by God, and I am reminded of that moment-by-moment (especially when I am grumpy!). The study note in my NIV Bible explains that blameless is “spiritual and moral integrity”. (Blue Letter Bible: Psalm 101:2) Even when we really blow it and our uglies are everywhere, our godly integrity, born by His grace and out of a vibrant relationship with Him, brings us back to a humble heart before the Lord. When we fail, God and those around us will see our true remorse and desire to be right with Him and with those we have offended.

For a gal like me, to have a blameless heart and to "pursue holiness" (Hebrews 12:14 NKJV) seem like lofty ambitions. Yet, what a relief that God has wonderfully designed us to depend on Him for our godly integrity. “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.” 2 Peter 1:3 (NIV) Abiding in His truth and yielding to the Holy Spirit, we can walk with a blameless heart and a clear conscience before Him in our own homes and beyond our four walls. What peace and freedom that brings my heart!

You can read more posts by the same author that are sure to speak to your heart on His Table for Two.  It is quickly becoming one of my favorites!

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