I want to be careful on how I write this post because I never want to come across with a lack of empathy or compassion towards others. We live in a fallen and broken world and are often victims of sin that is committed towards us. It happens to us and sometimes it involves us committing sins towards others too.
So I never want to brush past the reality of our broken world and just how much sin can hurt us. No matter of the situation you find yourself in today, I am truly sorry for what has happened to you. I’m sorry for the tears you’ve shed, the pain you’ve felt, the struggles you’ve had in your life. However, I also want to encourage you in something.
The enemy never lets down, he is always on the loose and prowling around telling you lies while seeking to destroy you. He will tell you that you are a victim…..he will tell you just how bad you are or just how bad the situation is that you are in…he will tell you there’s no hope….he will say everything he can to bring you down and to distract you from the truth.
The truth is, you are a Victor, not a victim.
A Victor is defined as “a person who defeats an enemy or opponent in a battle, game, or other competition.”
Have you defeated the enemy? Have you won the war? No you haven’t…but Jesus has and that fact alone makes you a victor. He gives us the victory.
I could spend all day swimming. I mean it. All day.
So imagine how much fun it is to see my 5½ year-old-daughter share the same enthusiasm. But, this summer is a little different.
Gone are the safety of the arm floaties and jumping into the water into my arms because I promised to catch her.
It’s the summer for her to learn how to swim.
My wife and I took a gamble on whether our daughter would learn to swim from me. I learned from my mom back in the day and I liked the idea of keeping that tradition rolling. However, would she take instruction from swim coach Daddy?
YES. Several weeks in, it’s a joy to see her progress. Reaching, slicing the water with her hand and pulling the water back while she kicks her feet reminds me of how many times we’ve talked about it.
But as she continues to move forward in the water and swimming more confidently and competently, I think this whole process had more to do with God revealing to me a few things about my relationship with Him.
I love how God teaches lessons through water.
We know about passing through the Jordan, the Red Sea and walking on the Sea of Galilee. We know the story of the woman at the well and many other stories and illustrations.
Water represents cleansing, consecration, new life and refreshing throughout the Bible.
Prayer is one of the most untapped resources we have as followers of Jesus. I’m guilty of this more than anyone else I know but the fact that we can come before God and speak to Him is nothing other than incredible! So often though (I think because we think we can’t see results), we give it a shot here or there, and then just move on with our day.
The Bible has a lot to say about God answering prayers and Him making decisions based on the prayers of His people. This of course tempts us to ask if we can change God’s mind about something, but before we get distracted with debates that we’ll never fully have the answers to, we’d be better off trusting the very Word of God that He is completely in control at all times AND at the same time listens to our prayers and answers us.
What’s clear from what Jesus has done for us is that God is personal and intimate. He would not have sent His own Son to die for us if He didn’t love us. He would not have told us to pray to Him in the Bible if He didn’t mean it and if He didn’t want to spend time with us, listen to us, etc. Imagine having a relationship with someone but you never spent time with them…that would not really be a relationship at all.
God invites you and me to come to Him at anytime, anywhere, pray to Him…give thanks to Him…confess to Him…ask requests of Him…and trust Him with His answers no matter what happens. God truly does listen to us and answer prayers.
Here is what the Bible has to say with scripture on answered prayer:
I’m learning more and more each day on what it means to be a father, on what it means to be a parent. I know I’ll be learning for the rest of my life, I get that, and I want to share what I’m learning with you and what God is teaching me in hopes that it’ll serve as an encouragement to you no matter where you find yourself today.
Let’s just say sometimes having a 4yr old and a 3yr old can be a little crazy. It’s a blast, it’s tiring, it’s emotional, it’s fun, it’s exhausting, and it’s amazing. The ability to watch a human being grow up, take their first steps, say their first words, make sinful choices, and make God glorifying choices is all incredible, and it all seems to happen at the same time.
Teaching them grace and what it means has been challenging. So one of the ways we have started to do that is when our older daughter gets in trouble and clearly deserves specific punishments we have laid out for her, there are times we take the punishments away, talk about what grace is, and have her pray and confess to Jesus. That way she can see sometimes we don’t get what we deserve at the end of the day and that Jesus gives us grace.
However, being the wise 4yr old she is, now every time she is in trouble, she is quick to point out to us how we need to show her grace in the situation. In all situations. Every, single, time. We explain to her sometimes even though there is grace, there are still punishments and consequences for our actions. You can tell she is somewhat confused by this when we explain it to her but she believes us. That got me thinking, how often do we seem confused by the same thing?
Help is one of those words with many different meanings. It’s emotional. It’s difficult. It’s where freedom is found. It’s terrible. It’s innocent. It’s many different things.
Sometimes we find ourselves in the midst of terrible tragedies and we need help. Sometimes we see children asking their parents for help. Sometimes we finally give up on our own strength and ask others for help. And sometimes we simply cry out with everything we have for someone to help us.
Whatever definition of help that resonates with you the most, rest assured God can be a help to you.
We are quick to turn away from God and look for something more tangible to help us, but we forget just how close Jesus is to us. We forget we have the Holy Spirit Himself inside us (for those who follow Jesus).
No matter what you are going through, no matter what decisions you are having to make, even if you believe you are completely alone, remember that Jesus is with you. He can relate with you in every way because of what He went through for us. He understands and can be a refuge for you and give you strength.
Do you believe this?
Pray to God, asking Him for help, and read what the Bible has to say with scripture on help:
Equipped or not, I signed up for Man Day.
I joined over 70 men gathered at our church to eat breakfast and worship before setting off to finish repairs and maintenance on homes in the community. It’s a day I’m glad I didn’t miss. The camaraderie, spending a whole day outside in perfect weather and enjoying the thread of serving that weaved through the whole day proved rich.
I almost let myself miss it.
You May Not Think So
I like to guard Saturdays with my family. It’s my favorite time. Plus, I’m not a rah-rah kind of guy and large group activities aren’t my favorite.
But the real reason, I have a longstanding feud with tools. I really enjoy the way they look when they are organized in the garage but I don’t necessarily like how they feel in my hand, especially when dealing with the millionth stripped bolt. Every triumph I’ve had with tools I’ve celebrated. Every frustration I’ve had with tools awakens the thought, “Why didn’t I ask somebody to teach me this years ago?” Needless to say, I’ve grown very fond of YouTube instructional videos.
I joked with someone the night before how I was going to bring my Swiss army style all-purpose pocket tool because that was the only tool I felt comfortable with.
The next morning, when I found out my team’s marching orders to paint a house, I breathed easy knowing nobody would depend on me to make compound cuts on a miter saw.
So, paint we did. Getting to know the guys on my team a little better, it became obvious, each one could go number one in a Man Day draft for tool expertise.
This was the A-Team. You know, the type of guys with the tools perfectly arranged in their garage and with knowledge of every nut and bolt they own? Each of them could host their own YouTube fix-it channel. Not only did they know what to do, they knew what to do with ease. But what happens when we can’t rely on our own experience?