Not My Name

This week at my church is the incredible, exciting, draining, and yet fulfilling event known as Vacation Bible School. VBS has always been an extra special time around here, and last night was just the beginning of what I am sure will be a fantastic week.

Last night in the Bible lesson we talked briefly about the Tower of Babel. Do you remember that one? It’s in the 11th chapter of Genesis if you would like to read it for yourself. (You probably should.) One of the neat things that I have experienced at just about every VBS that I have ever been a part of is that the truth shared is just as relevant for adults as it is for the kids.

Anyway, back to the Tower of Babel. Actually, the story is more about the people than the actual tower. You see, God has told mankind twice now in the book of Genesis to “be fruitful and multiply.” (Gen. 1:28, 9:1) It’s important for us to understand that God’s command to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth is about much more than just simply having babies. It is about obedience to God and making His name great.

The problem with the people of Babel? They chose not to obey God. The settled down instead of spreading across and filling the whole earth, and they tried to make themselves famous instead of God.

The ancient people ignored God’s instructions, clustered together, and tried to make themselves great.

Sadly, not much has changed.

People now, just like people then, have a tendency to ignore God’s clear instructions, cluster together in alike tribes, and make themselves great-often at the expense of others.

So, what do we, who have put our trust in Jesus, do about this? Or how should we respond?

We first start by looking in the mirror.

God’s Old Testament command is echoed in the New Testament when Jesus said, “Go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel to the whole creation.” (Mark 16:15) God told Adam and Eve to reproduce in order to produce children who would know, obey, and love God. God now tells us to produce disciples who know, obey, and love Jesus.

But the temptation to cluster together and build a name for ourselves is ever-present. Sadly, at times, churches can be so focused on programs and events that they lose sight of what is truly important.

We cannot worry about increasing our church empires, we need to be focused on increasing His Kingdom.

Francis Chan has a pretty matter-of-fact quote “Christians are like manure: spread them out and they help everything grow better but keep them in one big pile and they stink horribly.” Ouch.

The Bible is pretty clear that those who follow Jesus are to be lights in this dark and dying world. We need to shine in the dark and we cannot allow the comfort of our familiar tribe to prevent us from doing so.

Tribalism is a dangerous and unproductive thing and it has no place in the church of Jesus Christ.

Now, let me be clear, I am not advocating that we stop spending time with the people whom we love and are comfortable with. What I am saying though is, let’s be sure to be active in our love and Good News witness to people who don’t fit inside of our cookie cutter vision.

There are a whole lot of people in this world. Many of them do not look, think, act, smell, sound, or see things the way you do. That is O.K. Our objective is not to make people become just like us. Our goal is to show people how to become like Jesus.

I don’t want to make my name great.

I want to make His name great.

Dear Mom, (Six Letters Everyone Should Read)

Dear Mom,

Thank you. I cannot begin to express what you mean to me and how you have so completely impacted my life. I remember when you lovingly and carefully put band-aids on my scraped knees. I remember when you showed me grace and kindness even when I said hurtful things. You have clothed yourself with strength and dignity and have set an example to follow. You are not perfect, and that is okay. I am sorry for unfairly expecting you to be. Even in your imperfection, you have allowed God’s perfection to shine through in your life. I remember how you used to read the Bible to me as a kid. Thank you. You did that because you knew that His Word does not return void. Thank you for telling me about Jesus, and how He loves me even more than you do. Thank you for your love. Thank you for being my mom.

Dear Single Mom,

You are a hero. That word may get thrown around too much in our society now, but it is completely true in describing you. You have had to fulfill multiple roles and carry burdens that no one should carry alone. Thank you for doing your best. You have sacrificed and lived out the true definition of selfless love. Your care and attention have always been enough. You are both strong and precious, independent and wonderful. Just please remember that you are not alone. You might have been alone before, you might have been forsaken before. But our God promises to never leave and never forsake. Trust in Him, lean on Him. He will not fail you. Your love is not in vain. You sacrifice is not in vain. Thank you for everything you are and everything you have done. Thank you for being a mom.

Dear Forgotten Mom,

You feel abandoned. You feel forgotten. You feel unloved and unwanted. It is hard to think of many other greater injustices. Your hurt and pain are real, but they do not have to be what defines you. You did not fail. You are not a failure. You did what you could. You may have made mistakes and have regrets, but that is not your identity. You are Mom. You are still Mom, just as you always have been and always will be. You are beautiful. You are worth it. You are loving and lovely. Thank you for your unchanging and unconditional love. Find your comfort in the God who gave you your child. Find your peace in the God who made you and who made you a mom. Trust that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed to those that are in Christ Jesus. Thank you for being a mom.

Dear Childless Mom,

Words fall astonishingly short. Your heart has hurt for so long now. You wish that you could have exchanged your life for that of your child. You would have if you could have. But here you are forced to continue to move forward. You are brave. You are wonderful. You are to be honored. Don’t lose heart. There is hope. There is hope that is found in Jesus that you will, one day, see your baby again. Let that be your joy. Let that be your peace. Lift your eyes and know that your help comes from the one who knew your babe while they were still only in your womb. Know that that same God has a wonderful plan even when, especially when, you cannot see it. Thank you for being a mom.

Dear Not Yet Mom,

You have clothed yourself with strength and dignity each time you walk, with your head held high, into yet another baby shower that is not your own. Your heart aches with frustration and anticipation. Please continue to trust God. His timing is perfect. He made you exactly the way that you should be, in exactly the time you should be. Trust Him to give you a little one in exactly the way, and in exactly the timing He designed. You have demonstrated time and time again that you are worthy, kind, gentle, caring, compassionate, devoted, graceful, generous, patient, and overflowing with love. Do not lose heart. You have already blessed so many, and one day you will be the best and biggest blessing to a baby. To your baby. Thank you for wanting to be a mom.

Dear Spiritual Mom,

You don’t have kids, but you have a lot of kids. This life that you live, whether by your choice or not, has still been designed. God has used you to impact so many. You have been the shoulder to cry on, the smile to encourage, and the ear to listen. You have used your life to point others to the God who has carried and sustained you. You have sheltered your spiritual kids and filled the gaps left by others. You have shown selfless and unconditional love even when it wasn’t your responsibility. You have been an example to follow, and a woman to be celebrated. Your commitment to, and trust in, your savior has encouraged and inspired. We need more like you. Thank you for being a mom.

 

Share this with a deserving mom.

The Importance of Dads

I want to eat at McDonald’s?

Ok, let me back up and explain.

The other day I was driving, and a McDonald’s commercial came on.

Now, commercials are generally very annoying. Whether they are on T.V., radio, or YouTube, advertisements are normally very frustrating for me. It’s not just because I don’t like having products shoved in my face, although that is a big part. But, even more so, Ads usually use silly stereotypes and lowest-common-denominators in order to make their sell.

But this particular commercial was different. In a very subtle but important way.

It began with a mom whispering to her baby to go back to sleep. Then the dad’s voice enters and whispers, “Hi honey…” he then goes on to tell her about the “amazing” new breakfast sandwiches he got and how they were such a great deal.

So far, it’s a very typical commercial. I actually thought I knew what to expect. My prediction was that they would both take a bite and loudly mutter “MMMM, so good!” and then the baby would wake up crying. After which the mom would huff in annoyance, “it’s YOUR turn now.”

My prediction was only half-correct. The couple did, in fact, enjoy the sandwiches so much that the baby did wake up crying. But then, the commercial took a surprising and pleasant turn.

After the baby cried the very next thing heard was the dad’s cheerful voice announcing, “It’s my turn!”

And, I know it was just radio, but the way that the line was delivered made it so that you could hear the dad smile as he said it.


Alright, maybe I spent too much time analyzing a fast-food commercial. But the message that I got from it was this: dads do love and care for their kids. It’s a message that many advertisements over the years have failed to convey.

Are there men that would rather just sit on the couch? Yes. Are there men that are selfish and lazy? Yes. Are there men who are aloof and unwilling to learn how to parent? Yes.

But not all dads are like that. Mine wasn’t.

(By the way, that STUD in the picture is my dad and the adorable baby he is holding is yours truly.)

Our culture has done a pretty good job at minimizing the importance of fatherhood. So much so, that the problem has become somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Boys are taught from an early age that being a “dad” means; sitting on the couch eating Doritos, enduring the nagging wife, being inept at changing diapers (or any other simple task for that matter), and generally ignoring your family. It’s time for the dumb-goofy-uncaring-inattentive-lazy T.V. “dad” to come to an end.

We need to celebrate good fathers who absolutely dote on their children.

Shout out time. I have known and been close friends with my brother-in-law for a bit over 9 years now. In all those years knowing him I have never seen anything, or anyone bring him more joy than his son. His face completely lights up when he holds his baby, and it is truly awesome to see his love and affection. He is a good dad.

Fatherhood is so important because it is something we all are impacted by. Even if we aren’t dads ourselves we all have been affected by one, or by the lack of one.

And if you fall into the second category there is good news. There is a perfect, wonderful, loving, and caring heavenly father who loves you with a love beyond your comprehension.

There are a few things that we all should remember:

To Dads: Children are a blessing, (Psalm 127) and you have an incredibly important role in raising them, (Proverbs 22:6) love your wives, (Ephesians 5:25-37) and lead by example. (Deuteronomy 6)

To Boys/Men who one day hope to be dads: Be the kind of man that God would have you to be today (Ephesians 6:11-18) and trust in God for your future (Proverbs 3:5-6) also see all the verses above.

To those hurt by lousy dads: realize your heavenly fathers loves you, (John 3:16) and that He is faithful, dependable, merciful, and loving. (Psalm 86:15)

To those with godly dads: praise God for them and follow their examples.

To women looking for husbands: look for men with character who exemplify the above qualities, and who will love God more than they love you.

To wives: pray for your husbands and encourage them in godliness.

To all of us: let us continue to grow closer to Jesus and allow our heavenly father to continually correct us because he loves us. (Proverbs 3:11-12)