Tag Archives: Joy

Joy as a Dad

I have been a dad for 20 years now.  Over half my life.  I became a dad when I was 19 years old, when Amber and I welcomed our first born, Shawn, into the world.  We were on the early parenthood plan.  By the grace of God, we’ve made it over 20 years as parents and nearly 21 as husband and wife now with 3 children.  I had someone ask me recently about want to take parenting classes.  It was serious, but I couldn’t help but laugh a little.  Not at them, but at the idea.  I’m sure there are good classes out there, but bottom line is, you learn this thing as a you go.

So these last many days and weeks, I’ve been reflecting a lot on our years as parents and on the role I’ve played as dad, or as my daughter calls me, padre.  There’s been a lot of cool and fun things that have happened over the years.  Watching these kids grow up has had me filled with so much joy.  Have there been struggles, ummmm, yeah there have, but we’ve made it through all of them.

Now some of the coolest things are really starting to come out.  Maybe it has a lot to do with them growing older and really beginning to find their own identities, but I can honestly say that I could not have fully imagined what they would have been like once they began to really allow God to work in them and through them.

Okay, by way of background, if you don’t know us personally, we have been a very closed off and introverted family.  Amber and I marrying so young and starting a family, drifted into a life of solitude.  It was us against the world, proving we could make it starting so young.  So that led to habits of being reserved and quiet when outside of our element, our home.  This was a lot of how I operated in the work place as well, even having a colleague years back tell me that I was difficult to read because of how quiet and reserved I was.  I lived as a lone ranger and I was raising a family of lone rangers, so to speak.  Of course, the kids picked up our habits along the way.  Our sons seemed to a great deal more.

After coming to faith in Christ 3 years ago, I knew something had to change.  Amber followed over the next year as did the the kids.  I began to make new connections and grow from being apathetic, to becoming curious, to finally confessing Christ in January 2015, to becoming a disciple and apprentice of Jesus, and now to equipping others.  Amber has since followed that and seeing this beautiful woman freed up as well and seeing her come alive has been so wonderful.

With that, one of our biggest prayers and concerns was now, what about our kids?  We continued to pray for them to open up and and urging them to do so.  It was not a habit easily broken.  I’ll admit, we got fairly frustrated at times.  We wondered at times, will they ever get out of their shells.  In looking back though, I realize, we were in ours for way longer.

I don’t know what that actual pivotal moment was, or even it was just a series of circumstances, but something has clicked this year.  To seem them building real, Christ centered relationships, to see them doing life, to see them getting involved in ministry and even a desire for some missions opportunities, has been phenomenal.  All 3 of our kids, in their own unique way, are starting to get freed up and see some real God style things happening in their lives.  It fills me with so much joy as it does Amber.

I have learned previously that one of the most beautiful things that God does is take time.  Nothing is instant. I just was not patient enough for that to be the case for my own kids.  So now, and I see God, with a smile on his face, saying, “You want to see something? Watch this,” and then suddenly a fire is lit under each of them in way I never fully expected.  I think if Bruce Almighty when he says, “Now you’re just showing off.”

I share this to tell all of you and I know many who worry about their own kids futures.  Yes, our kids have to step into life and figure things out through trial and error just as we all did.  But know that God is not holding out on you.  Be faithful in prayer over them and in encouragement that God can take a hold of their heart.  The outcome is not up to us and we have no control over that.  Trust in the God that made them each uniquely and wonderfully and had each of them in mind since before the foundations of the earth.  It’s never too late.

Be Joyful Always

I was finishing up my current reading through 1 Thessalonians this morning.  Every time I pick up God’s Word, He tends to reveal something new to me, or at least remind me of something I may have gotten away from.  In chapter 5, there are, as always, so great teachings, from being prepared for the day of the return of Jesus and how He will come like a thief in the night to needing discernment in testing the spirit of everything in order to avoid evil.

One verse that stuck out to me was verse 16 where Paul says to “Always be joyful.”  That seems like such a cliche statement nowadays.  Be joyful, be happy, or as the song goes, “Don’t worry….Be happy.”  I thought about this statement more and meditated on it a little deeper this morning.  I believe there is a reason this is just a 3 word verse.  There is so much power in that statement and where we stand in the faith as children of God through Jesus Christ.

Always be joyful.  In the world we now live in, this seems like something that is just not realistic.  We see pain and suffering unfold before us in the news and we see it in our own lives and with those we love around us.  In the midst of all of this struggle, how can we be joyful? What is there to be joyful about?

The answer to this question is very simple….Jesus Christ.  He is the reason we can stand in this world and be joyful.  Why?  Because of the victory that Jesus has already won over our lives.  The Fall of mankind came just 3 chapters into Genesis.  From that point, God did not abandon us.  Through our fallen state, God had and has orchestrated a plan to restore man to the glory we were meant for as His image bearers.  He has been orchestrating our rescue.  The great invasion to execute this plan came when God took on a robe of flesh in Jesus setting aside deitic privileges in order to walk with man.  Having given his life for us on the cross and being raised to life again and ascending to the right hand of God with all authority in heaven and earth, Jesus was and is victorious.  He has won the battle for our restoration.  We, however, have the free will to decide whether we accept this and follow Him or choose to live for our selves seeking this world and all it offers, which is very temporary.

We can also choose to walk in the victory that Christ has won.  Now, because this world is still fallen and Jesus has yet to return to finally fully restore creation and man, we will continue to have pain and struggles in this life.  We will have worries, doubts, and fears.  We will lose loved ones, we will fall to addictions, we will turn to the less wild lovers of this world.  It’s now etched in our nature because in the flesh we still hold the fallen nature that came from Adam.  Christ is the second Adam and the new man.  He is what we will be restored to when we reach our inheritance in the Kingdom and at the wedding feast..

Paul says in Romans 5:1 says that we have peace with God through Jesus Christ because we have been justified by our faith.  As I have said before and I learned this from reading Larry Crabb, that we will never reach full happiness in this life, but we are justified because of faith in Christ to seek Christ and be sanctified in this life until we are glorified when we enter the Kingdom.  We can be joyful because we are justified.  We are victorious in Christ.  We will continue to have battles through out our walk in this life and in the flesh, but if we keep a fix on Jesus, we can remember to be joyful.

Verse 17 in 1 Thessalonians 5 tells us to “Never stop praying.”  This is a key to how we can keep our hearts fixed on Jesus.  Getting in the practice of praying each day and meditating on the Word.  Not just reading to read, but reading to get deeper understanding.  This will help to keep a constant reminder of the victory Christ has won for us and we can be joyful each day in that and armor ourselves to be able to withstand the spiritual battles we will face in this life.

“Joy is the serious business of Heaven.” – C.S. Lewis

“Joy is not necessarily the absence of suffering, it is the presence of God.” – Sam Storms