Dad Jokes

With Father’s Day just around the corner, I began thinking about that special relationship between parent and child, specifically father and child. Despite what people say about making assumptions, I think it’s probably safe to assume that if you’re spending your time reading anything that gives you more insight into God and what He wants for your life–especially this blog–you’d likely do anything for your kid(s). Except watch Caillou. I mean, you have to draw the line somewhere, and I’m pretty sure even Jesus doesn’t like that whiny brat. But, alas, I digress.

For a variety of reasons, many people have developed a distorted idea of who God is. They see Him as some gigantic, powerful force sitting around just waiting to pounce on us the second we do something even the slightest bit “bad.” Maybe even sitting around concocting ways in which to wreak havoc in our lives. Sadly, that’s so very, very far from the truth. God isn’t some far-removed entity who chuckles maniacally while tapping His fingertips, plotting pain, isolation, rejection, and loneliness for his earthlings. How can I be so sure? Well, I found this really great book that tells me exactly how God feels about me. It’s called the Bible…perhaps you’ve heard of it? Maybe even dared to read it yourself? Even if I’d never read a single page of the Bible, not even a single verse, I would still have at least a small inkling of how God feels about me. Why? Because I have a father (thankfully a good one!). Because on October 1, 2012, I watched my husband become a father (and I became a parent myself), and it changed my perspective on God’s love for me.

After watching Nathan with our daughter and studying God’s own words about how HE, my heavenly Father, feels about me, I noticed a few similarities between God and godly earthly fathers:

  1. God and godly fathers love their children.
  2. God and godly fathers discipline their children.
  3. God and godly fathers bless and encourage their children.
  4. God  and godly fathers never abandon their children.

 

God loves His children—You can look at a father’s face when he looks at his child and see the love pour out. Likewise, our Father is filled with love for us. In fact, He is so in love with us that He sent His perfect son TO DIE for us before we had even had a chance to choose Him! Still not convinced? Just listen to God’s own Word: “For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal life” John 3:16 (AMP). But our Father didn’t stop there. He didn’t provide us a Savior while slipping quietly away to let us move through our lives without His help. Isaiah 54: 8 reminds us that God is still just as present in our daily lives in 2017 as He was in the biblical days. “…but with age-enduring love and kindness I will have compassion and mercy on you, says the Lord, your Redeemer.” And I know that most of us can look at our lives, at the choices we’ve made and the actions we’ve taken, and find ample reasoning  for why God’s love doesn’t quite reach far enough to cover us. Just remember, He is our FATHER. Fathers don’t stop loving their kids just because their kids make bad decisions or follow a destructive path. Good, loving, godly fathers see their kids through those things, loving them despite their choices, until they’re back on track. Our Father God is fatherhood perfected. He’s not sitting in heaven waiting on us to be good and do right before being proud of us. He’s walking around with pictures of us, showing them to everyone who will look! He loves us. He is proud of us. He wants us to know. “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in His love He will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing,” Zephaniah 3:17. Absolutely amazing, isn’t it? God is so excited and in love with us that He can’t contain it, and it comes out in joyful song.

God disciplines His children—As much as we love our kids, it does them no good and helps them in no way if we simply allow them to grow up undisciplined. Because we are still children spiritually, with a Father who knows the big picture and wants to lead and teach us accordingly, God shows His love for us through His intentional and loving discipline and redirection in our lives. “The Lord disciplines those He loves…”Hebrews 12:6 (NLT). However, instead of overreacting, saying things in anger and hurting feelings as we human parents tend to do, God’s discipline is gentle. He simply taps us on the heart, letting us know that what we’re thinking or feeling or doing isn’t in line with His will for us. I recently came across a quote that perfectly summarizes God’s approach to our discipline: “God disciplines us for our own good using the gentlest means possible to provoke the greatest change.” It’s not about punishment; it’s about pushing us to be our best selves. He loves us enough not to let us be totally in charge, because, let’s get real, we’d be nothing but a big hot mess! He loves us exactly as we are, but He loves us too much to leave us that way.

God blesses and encourages His children—There are lots of things in this world of which I’m unsure, but my husband’s desire for our daughter to be as happy as she can be and his encouragement of her are not some of those things. Because he loves her so much and because he sees what potential she has, my daughter’s father is her biggest encourager. Our Father is exactly the same with us. He is constantly available to us, constantly present in all that we’re going through. No matter what Satan is trying to tell you, no matter how isolated you feel, God knows. Your Father is RIGHT THERE: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze,” Isaiah 43:2.  Pick up your Bible and read His love note to you, His encouragement to you in your times of stress and trouble. Don’t know where to start? Try Isaiah. I promise you will not be disappointed.

God never abandons His children—Here’s where it gets kind of tricky. While I had a great dad growing up, we all know that’s not everybody’s story (I mean, they all aren’t Atticus Finch). I totally understand how someone who feels neglected or abandoned by their human dad would struggle to see God as a loving, always present dad. We know that God’s not human, not bound by the limitations of human love, but we do know that human hurts often scar, creating difficulty in seeing God for the kind of Father He truly is. But guess what…God knows that too. He tells us in Psalms that He is a father to the fatherless. Many of you know that biology doesn’t make a dad; what makes a dad is his love, his attentiveness, his dependability. If your earthly father doesn’t/didn’t display those characteristics, if his flaws overshadowed his goodness, you have a heavenly Father who more than makes up for it.

He is right beside you, (“…for behold, I come and I will dwell in the midst of you, says the Lord.”–Zechariah 2:10).

He is protecting and encouraging you, (“But no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment you shall show to be in the wrong…”–Isaiah 54:17).

He will NEVER LEAVE YOU, (“I will be your God throughout your lifetime–until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you.”–Isaiah 46:4).

I’m sure we can all agree, this parenting mess is NO JOKE. We win some, we lose some. But no matter what, even if we completely blow it one day (or a few days in a row–Stop judging me!), our hearts are laid open with the love we have for our kids. Don’t think for one single second that we aren’t mimicking the love that our Father has for us. However, we are human, and our love is limited. His is not. No matter what your relationship with your father, whether good or bad, past or present, you can lean on the scriptural truths from your heavenly Father. No matter who you are, He loves you, He’s constantly looking for ways to be good to you, and He delights in you so much that He has to break into song. Who knows, He’s probably even got a few “dad jokes” up His sleeve as well! 🙂 Happy Father’s Day, God!

Dear God, thank you for being exactly the kind of fatherly perfection that we need. We come to you today asking that you help us to see you as loving and kind, no matter what kind of background we come from. We ask that you help these biblical truths sink deep into our hearts so that we feel Your loving presence. Help us to solidly know that your love and goodness far surpass what we could even imagine. Thank you for our fathers, Lord, all of those still with us and those who are already home with You. We are so grateful for the relationships that we have with them, but most importantly the one we have with You, Lord. Thank you for being our perfect parent. In Jesus’s name we pray, Amen.

 

 

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, put others above yourself. –Philippians 2:3

 

The Shame Game

It is mid-day in the desert, and it is hot. The sun, high is the sky, is broiling. The land is dusty and dry as you gather your empty water jug and make your way to the well. Underneath your layers of fabric and your head-coverings, you are sweltering. Like every other day, you long for the ability to fill your water jug in those cooler early morning hours, just as all the other women do. But as soon as the thought enters your mind, so does your shame, and you’re reminded again of why you can’t stomach those stares, those whispers, those turned backs. In this town, even among other Samaritans, you are the fodder for their gossip.

“…all those husbands…”

“…isn’t even married to the one she’s living with now!”

“…tainted…”

“…should be ashamed…”

So instead of all that, you go at noon. In the heat. In the isolation. In your shame. Only today, when you arrive, there’s a man there. He’s someone you don’t recognize, but you know he’s a Jew. You contemplate turning back, afraid of what people might think if you’re seen, but you desperately need your water. And he’s already seen you. I’ll just draw my water, stay quiet, and leave quickly. No one will see me. No one will assume I’m beginning yet another relationship with yet another man.

But this man, who seems harmless enough, throws a kink in your plan. He speaks. He asks you for water. Despite your suspicions regarding his true intentions, you enter into conversation with him. And then it happens. He asks you to go get your husband and bring him back with you to the well. Oh how easy it would be to simply lie: he’s ill and cannot come. He’s recently passed away. Instead, you see nothing but kindness in this man’s eyes, and before you know it, you’ve simply told the truth: “I have no husband.”

~~~~~

It was this moment, John 4:17, that I began to see this woman at the well in a whole new light, a light that made me envious of her relationship with Jesus. Where I tend to justify or excuse or try to explain away my shortcomings, our Samaritan friend simply stated truth. She didn’t attempt to explain to Jesus why she had those five previous husbands, why each relationship failed and how it wasn’t even her fault. She didn’t attempt to make excuses for why she was currently living with a man to whom she wasn’t married. She simply laid the truth and the shame it created for her before Jesus.

This, my friends, is EXACTLY the kind of relationship I crave to have with Jesus Christ. I want to take my sin, my shame, my destitution, my addictions, my insecurities and place them straight at his feet, without explaining them away, without making excuses for why they’re there in the first place, and without a need to justify them. I want to let Jesus carry that shame that’s so incredibly heavy for me right up on that cross where it, too, can be sacrificed.

We serve a God who is the same today as He was so many, many years ago with the woman at the well. The same Jesus who showed her love and offered her the chance to fill her emptiness with something soul-satisfying and unending is the same Jesus who offers those exact things to us today. “But whoever takes a drink of the water that I will give him shall never, no never, be thirsty any more. But the water that I shall give him shall become a spring of water welling up (flowing, bubbling) [continually] within him unto eternal life.”–John 4:14 (AMP).

The Samaritan woman was doing what you and I are still continuing to do: she was filling her empty jar with temporary satisfaction, a water that quickly ran dry. Today, you and I do the same things. We spend our days filling our emptiness with all that is fleeting: alcohol, food, drugs, sex, social media adoration, possessions….and the list goes on and on. Then those feel-goods run empty. Our shame is suddenly much heavier, and our “water jar” is empty once again. The shame game cycle begins anew. But because of God’s Word, because of the woman at the well, we see exactly what we should do. It’s time to take that shame to God, it’s time to fess up, and it’s time to follow in the Samaritan woman’s shoes. The Bible tells us that once she recognized Jesus’s power, she left that forgotten water jar behind as she ran straight into town, straight to those same people she’d punished herself by avoiding every single morning, to tell them of Jesus’s goodness. She was healed; her shameful burden was lifted. She could run into that dusty city with her head held high and proclaim her Savior’s glory without worry over who was judging her for her past. Her past was no longer with her. She had left it behind, next to that wonderfully nice man with the kind eyes that she met at the well.

The devil’s shame game (because, believe me, it belongs to him) is powerful. But his power is limited. It is NO MATCH for our Jesus. When Satan tricks you into believing that your worth is negligent and your presence is ineffectual, remind him WHOSE YOU ARE! Remind him that your worth and your value aren’t determined by your choices–good or bad–but by Jesus, whose blood was shed for you, despite knowing what choices you’d make. Satan wants you to feel so ashamed, so weighted down by your own guilt that you forget that. Remind him that your guilt has already been completely erased, for you belong to God! YOU. ARE. LOVED.

So I ask you today, friend, what shame are you holding onto because you’re afraid of what Jesus will think? What shame is keeping you isolated and lonely and in fear of our Savior’s love? Isn’t it heavy? Isn’t it exhausting? Isn’t it time to lay it down? Your God loves you. Just like He did for that woman at the well, He is seeking you out. Stop filling your emptiness and soothing your shame with temporary pleasures. Let the One who knows you and your battles inside and out fill you up. Decide now that you’re going to let that past go, let that shame go, and you’re going to turn instead to Jesus and the Word of God which NEVER runs dry. And then, take a cue from our new friend, and go tell the world about this incredible love that saved you from yourself.

Dear Lord, I am so grateful to be your child. I praise You! Thank you for your willingness to love me and your desire for my worship in spite of the wreckage I can often be. God, help me. My shame is very heavy, and I can no longer bear it. Help me, Lord, to let it be crucified with Jesus so that I, like the Samaritan woman, can be a testimony to your healing. Thank you, God, for hearing me, for saving me, and for loving me. May others be brought to you through me. In Jesus’s Name–Amen.

 

 

 

Philippians 2:3–Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourself.

The Comfort Zone

Well, well, well. What do we have here? I’ll pause while you dutifully applaud my decision to do what everyone else has already done 5 years ago: start a blog. The idea of starting a blog is something God put on my heart several months ago, but like any good Christian, I decided that God had no idea what He was talking about and that if I just ignored His prodding long enough, it’d go away. Guess what…didn’t happen. Shocking, I know! So, here we are.

If you know me, you know that blogging is not my thing. It’s about as far outside my comfort zone as it can get. To be perfectly honest (and that’s exactly what I promise to be in all my posts), I can barely say or think the word “blog” without feeling slightly ridiculous. I just can’t help it; technology intimidates me. I will be the first to admit I have zero idea about what I’m doing, but given it was God’s idea in the first place, I’m simply trusting God to guide and speak and handle this whole undertaking.

My goal for this first post is simply to help explain my purpose, or the purpose I believe God has in mind for this blog. As many of you know, five years ago I quit teaching in order to be a stay-at-home mom to our daughter. Along with many other unexpected  blessings and challenges during this time, I discovered the privilege of being able to spend time each day doing self-led Bible study. Over these last few years, I have read the Bible from front to back for the first time in my life, began collecting scriptures to pray over my family, my friends, and myself, and completed a variety of Bible studies from teacher-heroes such as Joyce Meyer, Max Lucado, Beth Moore, and Priscilla Shirer. It was during the completion of these studies that I found myself desperate to share with others, women and moms especially, all that I was learning. But it didn’t stop there–I wanted to share ways in which God was actively teaching me these same Biblical lessons and principles in my own life while I studied His Word. So, all that to say this: my goal for this blog is simply to share what I’ve learned from others, to share what I’ve learned in my own studies, to share how I’m getting it right in my daily life and how I’m getting it wrong (LOTS more in this category!!), and to encourage others to see God in the same positive, peace-inducing, love-garnering way that I have.

Now, I am CERTAIN you’ve spent the last couple of paragraphs on the very edge of your seat, anxiously awaiting my explanation of the blog title The Samaritan Woman I’ve chosen. Right? No? Weird. Anyhoo, stick around for post number two. It will all be discussed then. (Is this how we do this blog thing…this bait-and-hook tactic??)

To address the title of this particular post, let me share a little bit of breaking news: comfort zones are, well…comforting. And because of this fact, many of us stay safely tucked away in them. However, that’s not what gets us those big blessings from God. That’s not how we grow His kingdom for our unreached friends and family. I know that many of you are likely facing something in your lives right this minute that you know God is pressing you to do that’s outside of your comfort zone. If anyone knows what this feels like, it’s Jesus. Unsure of what to do? Take your honest concerns straight to the One who excelled at doing the uncomfortable unlike anyone else ever has or will. He will listen. He will comfort you. He will tell you exactly what to say and do. If you’re facing something scary and uncertain, I ask that you join me in praying this simple, scripture-based prayer to our loving Father who wants nothing more than for us to trust Him while we stand back and watch His blessings flow.

Dear Lord, I am so grateful for your love and your guidance. I feel your Holy Spirit moving in my life, Lord, and to be honest, I feel scared. I ask that you uphold the promises in your Word to go before me, to prepare my way, and to uphold me in your righteous right hand. I trust you, God. Give me the strength to press forward into your will. Thank you for hearing me. Thank you for making me a conqueror through your son. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.

As I close, let me leave you with this. A couple of years ago, Nathan and I began watching a brand new show called New Girl. After episode one, we were completely unsure of whether or not we liked it, so we decided to watch it again. Episode two came and went. We looked at each other, shrugged, and decided that maybe one more episode would solidify our feelings about it. How smart we were! Episode three had us laughing out loud, loving the characters, and setting a series record on our DVR. We have watched it, laughing uproariously, ever since (we love you, Winston!!). I think it’s only fair that you know from the start that mine is likely the New Girl of blogs. Post number one: eh. Post number two: so-so. Posts number three+: possibly worth your time. So, please, stay tuned my friends. God has lots to share, and I am (optimistically) certain I’ll get better at communicating it.

 

Disclaimer: I LOVE sarcasm. Surely that was obvious around sentence number two. I might be wrong about this, but I think that sarcasm might even be a spiritual gift…don’t quote me on that. Whatever the case, it abounds. Please don’t take it personally, and please don’t let your panties bunch. Until next time…

 

Philippians 2:3–Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourself.