Raising Esthers in a Jezebel World

Have you ever felt weary from the fight? Does the state of our society ever weigh so heavily upon you that you just want to throw your hands in the air and give up? I will be the first to raise my hand and say yes!

Day after day we wake up to news of violence, scandal, disaster, immorality, and death. At times I have found myself in fear for my children, who are growing up, and will possibly be raising their own children, in this day. I wonder how things will look for them as they become adults and seek to live out their faith in the midst of growing opposition to the things of God. It’s pretty discouraging when young people tell you that they question even having kids when they get older simply because of the way the world is going.

In light of all this, it is very easy for us to get discouraged. We think back to the good ole days and wish we and our children had been born in better times. But if we allow ourselves to be overcome with fear and discouragement, we will become ineffective and unable to do what God has called us to.

It is no accident that you and I and our children and grandchildren were born at this time in history. As we look to God’s Word for answers regarding our society, we find Esther. Esther lived in a culture similar to ours. The nation she lived in was morally bankrupt, the region was under the rule of godless leadership, and there was seemingly no prophetic voice anywhere to be found. This is why I love and relate to her so much. She was just like me, just like you! Yet even in the midst of a seemingly hopeless situation, God used Esther to save her nation.

Can we really save a nation like Esther did? Esther was just a regular person. There was nothing particularly special about her; in fact, her parents had both died, leaving her an orphan and at a disadvantage in life. We are told that she was young, beautiful, and won the favor of everyone around her; other than that she was ordinary. But Esther was willing, and through that willingness, she changed the course of history.

How did one young girl take on a kingdom?

She denied herself. Esther asked for nothing before she approached the king. She came before him as she really was, not pretending to be anyone else (see Esther 2:15).

She held to her beliefs when she could easily have compromised. Esther knew what was right and stood her ground (see Esther 2:20).

She was proactive and patriotic. Esther loved her people and was willing to sacrifice everything in order to mediate for them. She instructed her people to pray and then stepped out to be their spokeswoman (see Esther 4:15–16).

She was obedient. Esther submitted herself to her Mordacai, her adoptive Father, who had ultimately challenged her to rise up. He put the fate of the Jewish nation upon her shoulders, and she rose to the occasion (see Esther 4:14).

She was courageous. Esther defied custom, put on her robes, and, risking death, approached the king (see Esther 5:1–8).

She spoke up. Esther didn’t care what the consequences were. She petitioned for what she wanted and called out the evil that was being plotted against her people (Esther 7:1–6).

She brought deliverance. Because of Esther’s courage, the Jews defeated their enemies and were granted a powerful victory over them. The king ultimately bestowed great honor upon them and granted high position within his kingdom to Mordecai, Esther’s cousin.

As we look at the days in which we live, may the story of Esther give us courage to raise our children to be the spokespeople of our day. The responsibility rests on our shoulders. If we do not rise up and challenge the culture and teach our children to become “Esthers” in their world, then we have failed and will see a generation perish. The calling we have is not for the faint of heart, but it’s the one God has given us.

Lord, help us to be Esthers is the day in which we live. When the culture has plans to annihilate Your truth, help us to be bold and unapologetic in our stand. Help us to recognize the responsibility we have and to know that we and our children have been placed here “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). Amen.

The Power of Your Words

In our home just lately, we have been talking a lot about the power of words. Having a house full of teens, we tend to have a lot of joking, teasing, and, might I say, “trash talk” between them all. Oftentimes this back and forth is done in good fun and with seemingly no ill intentions. However, at times it can become, in my opinion, cutting and negative; I would even go as far as to say it can be hurtful and disrespectful.

As parents of teens, my husband and I no longer send our kids to their rooms for being mean or disobedient. Those days are long gone. I am thankful that we are at a stage in our lives with our children that instead we are able to sit down, open God’s Word, and see what it has to say about any issue we might have to address. You see, if our children don’t hear from the Lord Himself, then our words of correction can become repetitive and mute. If we don’t show them why they shouldn’t do a certain thing or act a certain way, then they will never truly understand their place in God’s kingdom and their personal responsibility to live Christlike lives.

In our discussions over the past few days, I have realized that it isn’t only my children who need to learn about the power of the tongue. As a mom, I need to realize the power my own words have. They can bring life to my kids’ spirits, or they can bring death. Before I deal with my children, I need to deal with my own heart.

Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (NIV). The Good News translation put it like this: “What you say can preserve life or destroy it; so you must accept the consequences of your words.” Personally, at times I become so run by my emotions or moods that my tongue becomes unhinged and I forget that there are consequences to the words I speak. Whether I offend, cut down, or crush a little part of my child’s spirit, the result is broken relationship and broken trust. If I can’t control my tongue, I cannot be effective in communicating the love and mercy of Christ to others, especially my own children.

I have seen over and over a breakdown in communication between children and their parents, husbands and wives, all because a harsh word caused hurt that in turn led to resentment, anger, and ultimately a strained or non-existent relationship. We sometimes forget the bigger picture. The devil’s plan is to divide and destroy relationships, because without unity the church cannot be effective. If the church is not effective, then God’s kingdom can not be advanced. See the plan?

There are 137 verses in the Bible that talk about the tongue. Obviously, how we use our tongue is of great importance to God. In Scripture the tongue is often referred to as a sharp, divisive weapon, used to cut and tear down. But is also called wise, soothing, and able to bring healing. It can be used to alienate, but it can also unite and lift up. The choice as to how we use our tongues is ours.

So how do we in times of frustration and irritation pour out honey instead of acid? How do we lead our children by example? Because remember, to expect something of them that we are unwilling to do is hypocrisy. The answer is in daily surrender. Daily surrender to the One who is able to change our hearts and convict us of our need for Him every moment of every day. It’s in realizing that what comes out of our mouths is in direct relation to what is in our hearts. We cannot control our words in our own efforts. Like those New Year’s resolutions, we start strong and ultimately fail. It is only through the power of the Holy Spirit that we are able to die to our flesh and become the people, the moms, the parents that God has called us to be.

In those times when we want to respond in a way that is contrary to the nature of God, may we be willing to stop, take a step back, and ask, “Does this bring life or death?” We should be thankful when the right response comes, but we must be willing to humble ourselves and ask forgiveness when our flesh and our tongues supersede the Spirit! I challenge you to step out and ask God for help. He is faithful and will meet you right where you are.

“Lord, help us to use our tongues to advance Your kingdom. I pray that when we speak, we would speak life and truth. May our words build up, encourage, love, and correct in a way that is pleasing to You. I pray that we would be examples of God’s character to our children and deal with them how You deal with us—patiently, justly, and graciously—and that we can say to them, ‘Follow me, as I follow Christ.’ Amen.”