Unwrapping the Gift: Jospeh

Joseph, Your Fiancee is Pregnant.

We first meet Joseph in Matthew and he’s quite distraught because his fiancee, who still claims to be a virgin is somehow pregnant. Her only explanation–the Holy Spirit. That news is enough to send anyone into a tailspin.  While scripture doesn’t go into detail, I’m quite sure that Joseph was distressed. I imagine him pacing, possibly praying out loud asking his God what it was he was was supposed to do, but thinking that God didn’t actually care.

For 400 years Israel had heard nothing from God. He had been silent. If you turn in your Bible you will probably see a page at the end of the Old Testament that says, “New Testament.” Pretend that page represents 400 years of silence.  While all the earth waited with bated breath in anticipation, it was news of a pregnancy that would fling wide the gates of connection to God.

Joseph: Above & Beyond | An Advent Series with The MOB Society

Big Decisions

A myriad of decisions lay before Joseph. From the moment of their betrothal, Mary was considered Joseph’s property and his wife. A breach of this nature even though they weren’t technically married called for swift and exact punishment.  Joseph legally could have demanded Mary’s stoning, but Matthew calls him “just” and says he chose to “put her away quietly.”  Culturally this was an acceptable, merciful and just decision.

But God.

Those two words continue to change the course of history time and time again.  Joseph probably laid on his pallet that night as a defeated man. I expect he fitfully tossed and turned as scenario after scenario turned in his mind.  Then, Gabriel appeared to him.  A bona fide angel appeared and confirmed Mary’s story. That sealed the deal. He took Mary as his wife and raised Jesus as his own. I doubt that decision was easy. People are people and not much has changed in two thousand years. Humans love to gossip and judge. We look at other situations and drop snide comments without taking into account that we don’t know the whole story. Joseph must have faced many a judgement as he chose to believe God and shun the opinions of man.

Above and Beyond

Joseph didn’t stone Mary which was a merciful and acceptable decision.  He could have also just put her aside, ignore her and move along with is life.  No, Joseph chose to believe an angel and in doing so turned cultural protocol on its head.  His actions forever set an example of not only loving his wife, but valuing reconciliation and obedience over popular opinion.

God doesn’t call our sons to be politically correct.  Instead, he begs us to knock down our culturally accepted definition of care and truly buck the norm of just enough.  Moms, he calls us all, through Joseph’s example to above and beyond what others expect.  If the general population thinks you are doing too much, loving too much, or sacrificing too much, then we are probably right where Jesus would want us to be.

Joseph was a man that our boys could emulate, but his attitude is one that convicts and encourages my own heart. In this blessed season when we celebrate the divine wrapped up in flesh come down to earth, let us all be not hasty to condemn and instead lavish love.

UnWrapping the Gift:

Read the story of Joseph in Matthew 1 with your children.

1 – Has there ever been a time when you could have made one decision, but instead God asked you to follow him by making a better decision?

2 – What does the word “just” mean (as it was used to describe Joseph)?

3 – How is God calling you and your boys to knock down the culturally accepted walls of “caring” and instead care for others the way Jesus would want us to?

Locker Room Lessons: Bigger Than The Game

Locker Room Lessons is a weekly series here at The MOB Society meant to help moms connect their sons’ love of sports with lessons on life and faith.

If you think sports are just about competition and winning and great big egos and money, let me share a story with you from this weekend…

It was Rivalry Week in college football. Ole Miss vs. Mississippi State. Oregon vs. Oregon State. Alabama vs. Auburn. Georgia vs. Georgia Tech. And many more, including Ohio State vs. Michigan.

Never mind that Michigan hasn’t had the best season – that doesn’t even matter in a rivalry like this one. Rivalries bring out the best play in both teams and sometimes the worst in emotions from both players and fans. You’ll often hear from players that winning these rivalry games means more than any other game in the season. And they’ll even talk about how much they hate the other team in game-week interviews.

That’s the case with Ohio State and Michigan. They each have spiteful names for the other team. This game means everything and they played like it, going to halftime tied. Ohio State pulled away in the second half, but the fourth quarter brought about something unexpected: a nasty looking injury to Ohio State’s star quarterback, J.T. Barrett.

The injury could have been good news for Michigan. It could have provided an opening for the Wolverines to get back in the game. But Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner wasn’t on the sidelines preparing for a comeback while his opponent lay on the field. He was right there next to Barrett.

gardner barrett

photo credit: Greg Bartram, USA Today

This moment proved some things are bigger than the game. Gardner kneeling next to the injured opposing quarterback with his hand on his cheek showed there may be lots of tension in a rivalry game, but there is also respect. I wouldn’t expect a team to celebrate a broken ankle for their opponent, but Gardner’s actions were beyond what most players would do in this situation.

Locker Room Lessons Bigger Than The Game

As our children take part in competitive activities, I want them to do their best. I want them to give it all they’ve got and try to win, but I also want them to see the bigger picture. The most well-respected competitors in sports are the ones who show respect for their fellow players, both teammates and opponents. They are the ones who keep their cool in heated situations and let their character shine through in how they play and interact during a game. Devin Gardner was that player on Saturday.

The way a player plays the game is even more important than the game’s outcome. And the way we live our lives, knowing “wins” and “losses” will both come our way, is more important than what we accomplish in life.

Have you seen your child exhibit great character during a competitive event? Make sure they know you noticed! Pray with them that God will help them continue to show good character in these situations.

Unwrapping the Gift: Mary

“You’re a control freak,” he says, joking, but truer words have never been spoken.

I like to drive, tend to know a little something about everything, correct for proper grammar, and survived grad school by scheduling my life down to the last second. I like to be right, but I actually didn’t know how much I liked to be in control until I wasn’t anymore.

Motherhood stole my control.

I wish I could say losing control happened slowly, creeping up on me over time until I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror, but that would be a lie. In truth, I lost control of my life in the sixteen hours or so it took me to bring my first son into the world.

I remember looking at him, the day we brought him home, in a state of sheer panic. It was arguably the most out of control moment I’d ever experienced. I looked at him—with those beautiful eyes and swiff of blonde hair—and felt a terror I’d never known before…fear pulled me down like a vice grip telling me my life would never be the same, and that I was now responsible for someone other than myself.

We struggled with our new son in every way new parents possibly can.

He wouldn’t even eat like normal babies do for the first few days. So obsessed were we with getting him to nurse that we fed him out of a syringe rather than “ruin” him with a bottle. On day eleven of his short, tumultuous life, he got it, but nursing remained a tedious, challenging piece of work for me. I loved it, but it seriously dampened my first few days with a newborn.

Parenting began to unravel my illusion of control.

Up until June 19, 2005 I’d never met a situation I couldn’t conquer. That all changed in a matter of hours. Then, twenty-three months later, God blessed us with another son, and any semblance of control I had over my life went over the cliff, crashing, exploding, burning my carefully thought-out expectations of motherhood until there was nothing left.

Turns out that’s not a bad thing.

Parenting began to unravel my illusion of control...but it turns out that's a good thing.

My emptiness, and complete inability to control the environment around me, brought me to my knees. And it was on my knees, laid out before the Lord, desperate for guidance, grace, and mercy, that I found hope.

Emptiness causes a loss of expectations, and demands that we look up to be filled up (<<—Tweet That).

One of my favorite things about Mary, the mother of Jesus, is that she emptied herself for the sake of God’s plan. In Luke 1:38, after an angelic interruption of epic proportions, she says, “…Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”

All evidence points to the fact that Mary was very young. We might’ve expected her to ask a few more questions, have some objections, or stamp her foot in youthful defiance refusing to allow God to take ultimate control of her life. After all, she had to know what this meant…that she would be the talk of the town, the girl without a husband, the babe without a name. Hard times awaited her if she emptied herself before the Lord, but she did it anyway.

I want to be more like her.

I want to open myself, empty and ready for whatever the Lord has for me, big or small. Even if it hurts. Even if it isn’t what I expected. Even if it takes me giving up my expectations and need to control to make it happen. I want to be so awed and in love with my Savior that my heart’s cry is “let it be to me according to your word” no matter what that word is.

My history is to fight God, ask Him why, tell Him why He’s wrong, why I don’t deserve the difficult circumstances following Him has put me in. But because of grace, my future can look more like Mary’s. Holy emptiness, humble expectation, beautiful obedience.

Unwrapping the Gift

Take a moment to read the story of Mary in Luke chapter one as a family, reflecting on key points, such as her willing obedience, and humble service in the face of ridicule. Then discuss these questions (adapt them as necessary for young children):

  1. Do you think Mary was scared when she saw the angel?
  2. What questions do you think went through her mind?
  3. If an angel appeared to you, would you stand strong or run away?
  4. How does Mary’s story illustrate the importance of obeying God?
  5. What’s your tendency: to empty yourself so God can work through you, or fight to keep control of your life?
  6. End your family time in prayer, thanking God for the gift of Mary’s story to encourage your heart.

Brooke McGlothlinBrooke McGlothlin is co-founder and President of Raising Boys Ministries. She’s a mother of two boys who believes God has chosen her to fight for the hearts of her sons. She can be found most often on her knees in prayer, not because she’s so holy, but because God is. Not because she knows how to raise godly men, but because God knows the plans He has for them.

Join over 10,000 other mothers of boys in Brooke’s FREE Praying for Boys 5-day prayer challenge.

This post is a part of our Unwrapping the Gift Advent study for families, discovering the characters of Christmas.

An Advent series discovering the characters of Christmas a the MOB Society.

Our December Study (Unwrap the Characters of Christmas with Us)

More than presents, more than pageants, more than turkey, and dressing, and trees, I want my boys to know the heart of Christmas and understand the best true story ever told.

An Advent series discovering the characters of Christmas a the MOB Society.

In the month of December, as we prepare our hearts for the greatest gift, we want to help you and your family unwrap it. Join us for an Advent study called Upwrapping the Gift: Discovering the Characters of Christmas with Your Boys.

Together, we’ll study the major characters of the Christmas study, with practical applications for helping your boys understand why each one is important.

We can’t wait to get started, and invite you to make sure you get each post by entering your email address below. When you do, the gift will unwrap in your inbox each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

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You’ll also be able to check back to this post throughout the month to find a running list of posts, so if you get behind you can easily catch up!

We’re so excited to spend this sacred time with you!

Mary

Joseph

Elizabeth

Zechariah

The Inkeeper

Shepherds

Angels

Brooke McGlothlinBrooke McGlothlin is co-founder and President of Raising Boys Ministries. She’s a mother of two boys who believes God has chosen her to fight for the hearts of her sons. She can be found most often on her knees in prayer, not because she’s so holy, but because God is. Not because she knows how to raise godly men, but because God knows the plans He has for them.

Join over 10,000 other mothers of boys in Brooke’s FREE Praying for Boys 5-day prayer challenge.

Prayer isn't an optional part of parenting. Join this free 5-day prayer challenge from author of Praying for Boys, Brooke McGlothlin.

Happy Thanksgiving (& a free lock screen for you!)

We are sincerely thrilled to have you as a member of the Raising Boys Ministries family. As you enjoy yours around the Thanksgiving table today, we wish you warm hugs, funny stories, napping babes, and wonderful memories.

Mostly, we pray you’ll give thanks to the Lord. We give thanks to Him for you, and offer this gift to show our appreciation of your love and support.

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Happy Thanksgiving from our MOB Family to yours!