Do I care enough about the next generation—and ultimately God’s glory—to fight for them even when there’s nothing in it for me?
This is the question Hezekiah and Josiah’s stories have me asking myself.
Just as a little refresher: Hezekiah and Josiah were both kings of Judah. Hezekiah was crowned in 715 B.C.; Josiah began to reign seventy-five years later in 640 B.C. Overall, the Bible tells us they were both good kings (see 2 Kings 18:1–8 and 22:1–2).
But as I read through their stories recently, I stumbled across a troubling difference between these two men.
Hezekiah’s “Me-Only” Mentality
The story goes like this. One day, God sent the prophet Isaiah to King Hezekiah to tell him that the people of Judah would be taken captive to Babylon because of their sin and rebellion. God let Hezekiah know that even some of his own sons would be taken captive. And this was Hezekiah’s response:
Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the LORD that you have spoken is good.” For he thought, “Why not, if there will be peace and security in my days?” (2 Kings 20:19, emphasis added).
Hezekiah was fine hearing this bad news, because it didn’t impact him personally. How often do I have the same reaction? I hear a story or encounter a need, and I shrug my shoulders. After all, I’m busy, and thankfully that situation doesn’t impact me. . . . Or does it? Is it my little life and kingdom I’m living for . . . or the advancement of God’s kingdom?
I relate far too well with Hezekiah’s standoffishness. But then I read of Josiah’s very different response.
Josiah’s “It Matters” Mentality
King Josiah’s challenge to me picks up when he was just twenty-six. He sent a few men to the temple of God on a specific mission. While there, these men stumbled across a copy of the Book of the Law. They came back and read the book to Josiah, and when he heard it, he tore his clothes and wept before God. He then sent men to inquire of the Lord what would happen, because Josiah knew the people of Judah hadn’t been obeying God’s law.
So these men went to Huldah the prophetess, and she told them that God would indeed bring disaster on these people, because they had forsaken God and made offerings to other false gods. “But,” she continued, “tell King Josiah this:”
“Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Regarding the words that you have heard, because your heart was penitent, and you humbled yourself before the LORD, when you heard how I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you, declares the LORD. Therefore, behold, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace, and your eyes shall not see all the disaster that I will bring upon this place” (2 Kings 22:18–20, emphasis added).
What You and I Can Learn from Josiah
Like Hezekiah, Josiah heard of Judah’s soon demise and was also assured that this would happen after his death. But even though it wouldn’t impact him personally, Josiah instantly got to work.
He led the people in making a covenant with the Lord, that they would keep His commands with all their heart (v. 3).
He burned all the idols that were in the house of the Lord (v. 4).
He fired the priests that previous kings had hired to make offerings to false gods (v. 5).
He destroyed the houses of the male cult prostitutes who were in the house of the Lord (v. 7).
He wrecked “Topheth” where parents sacrificed their children to the false god, Molech (v. 10).
He commanded the people to start celebrating the Passover again (vv. 21–23).
And much more!
Even though captivity wouldn’t impact him personally, Josiah fought for the next generation. Since captivity was punishment for Judah’s sin, Josiah did everything in his power to help the people return to God.
Fighting for the Next Generation
Josiah’s story convicts me big time. Do I really care about the next generation, even when what happens to them won’t impact me personally? For starters, do I know the names of the children and teens in my local church? Am I aware of what is going on in their lives? If not, who can I deliberately reach out to this next Sunday?
Do I long for God’s glory to be seen in the next generation? Do I care that the next generation obeys God and doesn’t worship false gods? Is there someone I could begin to invest in and build a relationship with—even if it’s just to invite them to come with me when I run errands next?
How about you? Do you have the same heart attitude as Hezekiah . . . or as Josiah? What action can you begin to take today to get to work for the next generation?
This post is a bit different than what I usually share on PaulaWrites.com, but I hope it blesses and challenges you. This post was originally shared on ReviveOurHearts.com, where I’ve worked for the past eleven years. After our last national women’s conference, our team received this email from an attendee named Patsy.
Patsy isn’t the only one who saw the homeless and stopped. We heard from others who stopped and listened, stopped and prayed, stopped and gave—ministering God’s grace to those on the streets of Indianapolis. To each of you, thank you.
May we not be like the fat and sassy women of Amos 4:1 who oppress the poor and crush the needy. Instead, may we reach beyond our comfort zones into places of need with the hope and love of Christ.
Why Patsy Didn’t Want to Come
I attended your True Women Cry Out! Conference in Indianapolis this past September. Though I must admit, I wasn’t looking forward to going, because I had lost my mother this past summer and had spent enough time crying. I had committed to going with a dear friend from the Dominican Republic, though, so I couldn’t back out.
From the first speaker, Russell Moore, God was tugging on my heartstrings. Two things Dr. Moore said struck a chord within me. The first was:
The problem with the church is we look like everyone else.
And the second was when he was telling the story of Jesus healing the demon-possessed man. Dr. Moore said:
If you are going to be a follower of Christ, then you must be willing to go where Jesus went.
Why Patsy Left the Conference
At that point, after a little discussion with another friend and a prayer, I left your conference. You see, on the way to the conference I was struck by the multitude of homeless people on those downtown streets.
We passed a girl on one corner with a sign saying, “I just want a happy birthday.” We passed other men and women who had varying signs asking for food or money. As we were trying to figure out how to get to the conference, one homeless woman asked if we were trying to find the convention center, and when we said that we were, she gave us directions but asked nothing in return.
We were the church on the streets of Indianapolis, and we looked like everyone else. Many times we don’t help the homeless because we are afraid or we judge that what we are doing does not help them. I knew God was compelling me to GO.
A friend and I went back to find some of the women. We found the girl who gave us directions. Her name is Alisha. We talked with her, prayed with her, asked if she would come to the conference with us. We also asked her how we could help her. She asked us for a tent, as hers had been stolen from her. We told her we would get her a tent and would meet her at 8:30 a.m. at the same corner.
Why Patsy Returned
When we got back to the conference that night we asked if we could buy tickets for the conference but were told they were sold out. However, there was a board on which people posted phone numbers if they had unused tickets. A woman named Sarah gave us two tickets. We were still hoping to find the “birthday girl” on our way back to our hotel. (Sadly, we did not locate her.)
We got up early on Friday and bought two tents. We found Alisha exactly where she said she would be with another homeless lady, Rebecca, standing near. They both came to the conference that morning with us and heard Jennifer Smith speak. Talk about God’s timing. What a perfect message for these two young women to hear! We had lunch with them, prayed with them, and listened to their hearts. Alisha came back that night and spent hours in prayer with us.
Alisha is a caretaker for other homeless people. We saw her feed others food that was hers so they wouldn’t be hungry. Rebecca sleeps on the downtown streets under the lights and cameras because she is alone, and it is not safe for her to go to the tent city. We asked them why they don’t go to the shelters, and they said they did—only when they had to keep from freezing to death. They pick up bed bugs and lice there.
I am sure their stories can be told by countless people on the sidewalks in this country. That is why I am writing you. You called us to cry out in prayer for our own sins, for the lost, for our families, for our country, for our world. What if:
We cried out for each city that you had a conference in?
We stopped for a second of feeding our own spirits and feed the spirits of those hurting that we walked past?
In each city—you had ambassadors who were willing to go out on the streets and pass out blankets to the homeless and give out tickets that would have gone unused? I bet there were 100 tickets listed on that board that were paid for but unused.
You had people donate in advance to provide brown bag lunches for the homeless, and you passed them out over lunch break?
I know there may be a lot of details to doing these types of things. However, 7,000 women walked by hundreds of homeless. Did you know that Indianapolis has anywhere from 4,500—8,000 homeless people on the streets on any given night?
By the way, the conference ended up being just what I needed. Though I am still grieving my mother’s passing, what a great reminder in my life that we are called to be different.
Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with attending a conference for a couple days, and the challenge isn’t for you to leave the next conference you attend to care for the homeless. But it is a good reminder for everyday life.
As you and I encounter people—homeless or not—do we see them as an inconvenience and obstacle? Or as individuals made in the image of God, in need of being reconciled to Him through Christ (Matt. 9:36)?
Is there anything you can take away from Patsy’s challenge?
Hey, girls! Since it’s the day after Valentine’s Day and love is still in the air (or at least on our minds), I thought I’d share this interview with you from GospelMag.com. I hope my responses will help you as you think about someday possibly moving from singleness to marriage. Enjoy!
Q. Since you wrote Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl, you got married. Congratulations!
A. Thank you. God gives great gifts. I was starting to think I’d be single for the rest of my life; I’m still amazed I’m married . . . and to a wonderful man!
Q. What changed in your life when you met the man who would become your husband?
A. At first not a whole lot, other than that I spent a lot more time on Skype. As I look back over the past two-and-a-half-years since I’ve known him, though, I can see that I’ve changed a lot. Trevor has challenged and changed the way I think about a host of issues. He has pushed me (in good ways) in areas where I felt fearful and inept. He has been a tangible picture of God’s steadfast love for me, even when all that is ugly is stripped bare and out in the open.
Q. How did you meet him?
A. Seven months after publishing Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl: On Her Journey from Neediness to Freedom, I inadvertently started following a guy named Trevor Marsteller on Twitter. At the time, I was reaching out to bloggers asking for honest reviews of my book in exchange for a free copy. When I followed him on Twitter, I saw he had over 1,000 followers and had also done book reviews on his blog. I asked if he’d like to review Confessions, he said yes, and we kept talking from there. (You can read all the juicy details here.)
Q. Did things change right away, or has your relationship gradually become special?
A. I’m not the only one who has changed. Trevor has become more and more kind and affectionate since we first met. In fact, he puts me to shame with the way he loves me! I’d say our relationship has become more special over time, through tears, hard conversations, forgiveness, kindness, and love.
Q. Did God show you in one way or another that Trevor was the man you should marry?
A. I believe God communicates to us through His Word. In the Bible, He has made it clear that believers are not to marry unbelievers. But other than that one stipulation, He has given us freedom to make our choice based on wisdom.
God didn’t “speak” to me and tell me to marry Trevor. But as I got to know Trevor, as I asked others who knew him well questions, as I saw how he loved me and how I could just be myself around him without needing to impress him, it became obvious. This man loved God, loved me, and was pursuing me. It was a no-brainer.
Q. What would you say to girls who want to marry and don’t know on which basis to make their decision?
Stop looking for handwriting in the sky telling you that this guy is “the one.”
A. Stop looking for handwriting in the sky telling you that this guy is “the one.” Is he a believer? One who is serious in his pursuit of God? Is he pursuing you? Are you comfy with him? Do you communicate well? Do your family and friends think he’s great?
Make a wise decision based on the Word of God, wise counsel, and common sense. God has given you a ton of freedom. Choose wisely, and as you do, be blessed!
Q. We often tell people who aren’t yet married that they need to date, meet more people, and subscribe to dating websites. In this, we lead them to understand that they have to do more to make it happen. What do you think?
He is the One who gives us every good gift. Pursue Him. Serve Him. Trust Him.
A. I was given the same advice over the years, but I think it falls short. Ultimately, most of us underestimate God’s sovereignty. He is the One who gives us every good gift. Pursue Him. Serve Him. Trust Him. This area of life is not ultimately something you control; it is all under His wise, good, sovereign control.
Q. We often say to girls that they will find someone when they least expect it. What do you think?
A. I think it’s very unhelpful advice. People probably mean to be encouraging when they say it, but as a single I always felt this enormous pressure to somehow trick my emotions out of longing for marriage. It sounded like if I could succeed in that, then marriage would somehow just fall in my lap. But there’s no such prerequisite in God’s Word. He gives us undeserved gifts freely; we do not earn them.
Q. How did you find your smile (joy) back when you went through moments of discouragement regarding romance?
A. It took a long time, but as I got to know God’s character through His Word and by sitting under solid sermons Sunday after Sunday, I grew in my knowledge of God. And as my knowledge of God grew, so did my trust in Him and my enjoyment of Him.
Whenever I sign my books, I include Psalm 16:11: “In your presence is fullness of joy.” True joy is not found in our circumstances but in spending time enjoying God, which we can do anytime, anywhere.
I’d love to hear from you. Did you learn anything new through this interview? Anything you disagree with? As you think about marriage, are there any questions you want to add?
After taking the Boy-Crazy Quiz, girls often ask me, “Is boy-craziness really all that bad?”
Attraction Isn’t Wrong
What a great question! Let me start by stating that being attracted to a single guy isn’t wrong. After all, God made guys and girls. Genesis 1:27 says, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
There’s a world of difference between thinking a guy is cute and being obsessed.
And marriage, the most intimate relationship possible between a man and a woman, was His idea. Genesis 2:24 says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
So “liking” someone of the opposite sex who isn’t yet married isn’t sinful in and of itself.
But there’s a world of difference between thinking a guy is cute and being obsessed.
Obsession Is a Problem
My obsession looked something like this. Time after time I would:
Spot a cute guy,
Daydream about him all day long, and
Do whatever it took to get him to notice me (even swallowing a live goldfish!).
When he didn’t fall for me, I’d get over him by hating him.
Then I’d transfer all my affections for him to the next cute guy and begin the cycle all over again.
When I was younger, I often joked about my boy-craziness with my friends. It didn’t seem harmful, just funny. But as the years passed, my crushes became more and more frequent . . . and more and more costly.
Your boy-craziness might look different than mine did, but the root sin is still the same. Faith wrote:
I have prided myself in not being boy-crazy . . . but most of my answers to the quiz were “yes”! I guess I am just one of those “on the inside” girls. But I have never acted on my feelings ever since seventh grade. I am pretty good at pretending I am not always thinking about guys.
Faith’s comment raises an important question. Is boy-craziness okay as long as you don’t act on it?
Well, in the first of the ten commandments, for starters:
“I am the LORD your God. . . . You shall have no other gods before me” (Ex. 20:1–3, emphasis added).
Only God is worthy of being first in our hearts.
A “little g” god, or an idol, is a cheap substitute for the “big G” God we were made by and for. An idol can be any good thing—food, sports, anime, horses, or fashion. But when we set it up as the ultimate thing in our lives, it becomes sin. Only God is worthy of being first in our hearts.
Once, when God’s people had turned away from Him to serve idols, He told Jeremiah the prophet to proclaim:
“My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jer. 2:13).
God is painting a vivid word picture here to communicate that His people have left Him, the Fountain of Living Waters. He is the best and only source of life available to them, but they have settled for “little g” gods that compare to stale-tasting water polluted with dirt and debris. Not only that, but their water source leaks. It’s broken and useless!
How about you? Do you know what your idols are? If not, ask yourself, When I’m feeling empty and needy, where do I run for satisfaction?
As for me, I’m convinced boy-craziness is a serious problem. Treason, actually. What about you? Do you see boy-craziness as idolatry, or do you see it as an innocent but bothersome issue almost every girl struggles with? Oh . . . and why?
Don’t think you’re boy-crazy? You just might be surprised.
Take the Boy-Crazy Quiz
Take the Boy-Crazy Quiz to find out where your focus is. Simply answer “yes” or “no” to these thirteen questions.
In a room full of people, do you always know where “he” is? (yes/no)
Are boys your number-one favorite topic of conversation with your friends? (yes/no)
Do you often dress to catch a guy’s attention? (yes/no)
Do you replace one crush with another almost as soon as you realize the first relationship is not going anywhere? (yes/no)
Have you asked a guy out? (yes/no)
Do you have your eye on more than one guy at a time? (yes/no)
Do you believe you’d finally be completely happy if you had a boyfriend? (yes/no)
Do you change your schedule or plans in order to bump into him? (yes/no)
Do you tend to have more guy friends than girlfriends? (yes/no)
When you’re relaxing with a good book, movie, or song, do you pick those that are filled with ooey-gooey romance? (yes/no)
If you journal or pray, are your pages or prayers filled with thoughts and requests about guys? (yes/no)
Are you always trying to figure out which guys like you? (yes/no)
Would you be willing to get a total makeover for a guy? Not the hair, make-up, and new-clothes kind, but the “I’ll change who I am at my core if that’s what it takes to get you” kind? (yes/no)
Where to Go from Here
If you answered “yes” to several or all of these questions, that says something important about your heart. It clues you in to what your heart loves. What your heart fears, even. Do your answers point to you being more crazy about your Creator God or about guys?
Speaking from experience, boy-craziness is a road that will ultimately lead to heartache and loss (Ps. 16:4). True joy and freedom, on the other hand, are found in God’s presence (Ps. 16:11).
We’re giving away three copies of Confessions today. To enter to win one, log on to the giveaway widget and then leave a comment below by Valentine’s Day, letting me know what you learned from taking this quiz.
In the meantime, let’s continue this conversation. Over the next couple of days, we’re going to explore two questions: