Best of 2022! The Good Life: David and Meg Robbins
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When isolation’s the new normal, how do you find your people? Dave and Ann Wilson host FamilyLife President David Robbins and his wife Meg tune into FamilyLife Today’s best thoughts from 2022.
Best of 2022! The Good Life: David and Meg Robbins
Blair: I would say, for one, it is so important for you to understand: “Who is your God? Who is this Father who longs to father you?” and spend time in the Scriptures, getting to know Him. You know, He is the One from whom all fatherhood/all the families derived their name—it says in Ephesians 3—that actually/that Scripture was transforming for me. I realized: “Well, wait, fatherhood—it doesn't start with man—it actually begins with God. He's the One who defines—
Ann: Yes, that’s good.
Blair: —fatherhood because He’s the first father.
I think spending more time, and seeing: “Okay, when He says, ‘I'll never leave you nor forsake you [Hebrews 13:5],’—when He says His promise is to you [Acts 2:39], this is different—it's not the same as the broken promises you may have received from your earthly father.”
Ann: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Ann Wilson.
Dave: And I’m Dave Wilson, and you can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com or on the FamilyLife® app.
Ann: This is FamilyLife Today.
Dave: There’s nothing better than highlights, like a football reel with highlights.
Ann: Oh, no.
Dave: You get to see the best plays of the year/the best plays of the season. Don’t you agree?
Ann: [Hesitantly] Yes.
Dave: Today is the best moments of the last year of FamilyLife Today. You just thought I wanted to talk about football. No, I want to talk about the best of the best.
We’ve got David and Meg Robbins in the studio with us; they’re going to reminisce.
Ann: We love being with you guys.
David: We’re glad to be on your team,—
Meg: We are.
David: —talking team and football—I mean, Jesus.
Dave: You would love to look at some Ole Miss football.
David: I may peruse highlights.
David: Today, I have.
Dave: Have you really?
David: Oh, yes.
Dave: Of course, you have.
Ann: Well, today’s theme is what?
Dave: “Jesus is the good life.”
Ann: Oh, I like this theme.
Dave: In the last year, we talked a lot about Jesus is life; I mean, He’s everything. One of our favorite guests was Dane Ortlund.
Ann: I love having Dane in the studio with us. If you haven’t read his book, Gentle and Lowly, you should get that—read it—give it out for Christmas this year to some friends.
Meg: Definitely; that was my favorite book of the year.
Ann: Was it?
Dave: Was it really?
Meg: For sure; yes.
Dave: It was the Christian book of the year.
David: While we were eating lunch with him altogether, I remember asking him, “Did you know, when you were writing it, ‘There’s something to this book’?” He was like, “No, it felt normal.” It’s amazing how the Spirit of God comes along sometimes and just anoints something. This really is an anointed topic and book he’s written.
Dave: I remember he said—I remember you asked him that—he said, “Yes, my books don’t sell; and this one just boom.” As I read it, and I’ve read it a couple of times, it gets at some truths about Jesus that are revolutionary/that open your mind to: “This is who He is.” Here is one of the things he had to say about that.
[Previous FamilyLife Today Broadcast]
Dane: Christ Himself, in the one place where He tells us what His heart is, when He is setting the terms—this is not one of the apostles talking about him; this is not one of the letters in the New Testament—He says the most astonishing thing. He doesn’t say [elevated voice], “I’m joyful and exalted in heart,” or any hundred other true things.
Dane: He says, “I am way down low and extremely accessible: ‘I’m gentle and lowly in heart.’” That’s the Savior we can enjoy being disciples to.
Ann: I don’t think we even know what that means.
Dave: That’s the next question: Explain “gentle” and “lowly.”
Dane: Well, when He said He’s gentle in heart, what He’s saying, guys, is He is the most tender, and non-manipulative, nonabrasive, approachable person in the universe. The high and holy Christ—the resurrected Christ; the one, who in Revelation 1, the Apostle John sees and falls down as if dead; the one, who the impenitent in
Revelation 6, want the mountains to fall on them so they don’t have to face His wrath—that Christ, most deeply, by His own testimony, is gentle.
And He says He’s lowly. This is almost more wonderful!—you don’t have to go through security to get to Him; you don’t have to take a ticket and get in line; He’s not going to put you on hold; you don’t have to raise your voice—that divine and holy, eternally existing Son of God, is way down low next to me in my worst, not waiting for me to get my act together, and then He’ll open the door to me.
This is so profound and wonderful, guys; because we deeply resist this. We do not believe this; we hold it at arm’s length. We stiff-arm this reflexively. The three of us and our listeners are taking a lifetime to unlearn the bad theology that Jesus is not gentle and lowly in heart.
Dave: Yes, and why do we resist it? You are so right. That isn’t who I’ve always believed Jesus to be, and I’m not saying my beliefs are right—they’re actually inaccurate—but we’ve carried that our whole lives. In some ways, we even resist hearing this.
Dane: We do; I do. I do—I’m going to roll out of bed tomorrow morning—and I will not believe that. I mean, I’ll believe it on paper; but the Christ that I believe I’m approaching, when I roll out of bed in the morning, is not gentle and lowly in heart. He is looking at His watch, tapping His foot—loves me and likes me—but “Dane/dufus, come on dude! How long is it going to take? You’re 42; you’re a pastor! Why are you so weird, and selfish, and proud and sinful?”
I don’t know why we resist it—Dave, to answer your question—except that we are sinners. I believe that what we do, without realizing it, is we project Christ. We think the Christ who is there is a bigger, better, smiley-er version of us. We are not gentle and lowly in our deepest heart. The heart is your motivation headquarters/what pours out of you. We’re not that way, so we think that Jesus is just a better version of us. The Scripture is defying us at that point/correcting us.
Dave: A phrase that I’ve only heard Dane say, that will never leave my mind, is: “Jesus is not a gentler, kinder version of us.” I think it hits so strong; because I think, “I’ve done that/we’ve done that.” It’s like, “Oh, He’s like me, but a little better.” Oh, my goodness; so far from the truth.
Ann: All I know is, when I listen to Dane, or when I read any of his books, I want to be with that Jesus. I think, a lot of times, our eyes and our view of Jesus can be distorted, based on other people or other things that have happened to us; but this Jesus, I want to follow.
David: In his book, there’s an analogy that he uses of taking Jesus’s hand and going deeper and deeper in the ocean. A lot of times, our skewed view of Him means that, when the next wave comes, we get knocked over; and sometimes, we’ll just want to get back to safety on shore. But Jesus is right there, going, “Nope, let’s go deeper. My grace is even deeper; My truth is even deeper. Come experience more of Me.”
Jesus keeps taking us into the depths if we’re willing to keep holding His hand because He is so secure; He is right there. He is not going to fall down. He can weather the waves that keep coming at us so well and take us to the places we really want to go. Our view sometimes is “His strength is just like mine.” No, His strength is so much more supernatural than we could ever imagine.
Meg: Yes, I think it takes some soul searching and real gut-level honesty to think about: “What do I really think about Jesus?” I think listening to Dane, and reading the book, really challenged me to think about: “What do I really believe about Him?” and “Am I following who He really is? Am I letting Him be who He really is in my life?”—the gentle and lowly description; but also, that tenderness that He’s pursuing me with His all-encompassing love that I can’t even imagine really.
Ann: It also makes me want to be in the Word to study Him more, to study His life more, to discover more of these beautiful truths of who He is.
Dave: I think—I may be wrong; you guys can tell me if I’m exaggerating—but I’ve said before that I think every decision we make, every single day, is based on two beliefs: “What do I believe about God?” “What do I believe about myself?”—theology/identity.
Dane’s getting at—Meg just said it—“How do I really view Jesus?” If He’s a distant God, every day, I’m trying to prove my worth: “Somebody see me/accept me.” If He’s a loving, gentle, present Father, and I’m His beloved child—that’s my identity—I’m secure. It changes everything. That’s why what he wrote is so critical for us to understand. When we see Him as He is, we live differently every single minute of every single day, I think. Am I exaggerating?
Ann: No, that’s good.
Meg: For sure; we long to be fully known and fully loved. That is who Jesus is. If we believe that, it does change everything.
Dave: We also had Blair Linne on. She’s a spoken Word artist, actress, Bible teacher. She talked about the same thing in a different avenue. It’s like, “How does God/how does Jesus fill the gaps of what we missed from our parents?”
[Previous FamilyLife Today Broadcast]
Blair: I would say I think that the Lord does heal us—of course, we're being sanctified—it's a process. I would say, for one, it is so important for you to understand: “Who is your God? Who is this Father, who longs to Father you?” and spend time in the Scriptures, getting to know Him. You know, He is the One from whom all fatherhood/all the families derived their name—it says in Ephesians 3—that actually/that Scripture was transforming for me. I realized: “Well, wait; fatherhood—it doesn't start with man—it actually begins with God. He's the One who defines fatherhood, because He's the first Father.
Ann: That’s good.
Blair: And so I think spending more time, and seeing: “Okay, when He says, ‘I'll never leave you nor forsake you,’—when He says His promise is to you [Hebrews 13:5], this is different—it's not the same as the broken promises you may have received from your earthly father.” I think starting there is important.
I think also seeing, Lord willing, that the church would be a refuge to the fatherless. I see so many Scriptures, where God tells us to have a heart for the fatherless. Sometimes, we think of the fatherless as the orphan; but it's like the person, who doesn't have their father. There are many—even single parents, you know; or children, who are being raised by single parents—who are right in your pew. Maybe you have had a wonderful father, who's talked to you about many different things; maybe you can pour into that person, who's right there in your pew.
Or if you are the fatherless child, seek out those who—you know, godly men who are around you, or those you see being fathered—like we did and like we're doing, to say, “We don't have this all figured out.” It's not like—okay; it's not the prosperity gospel in the sense of, like, once you come to Christ, your whole life is going to be, you know, ViVa VaVoom: everything is going to be great—it's like: “No, we're working; we're growing in our sanctification. We're becoming more like our Father as days go on.”
And then also knowing forgiveness: it's a process; it takes time; sometimes we have to forgive over and over again—especially, if our parents are still near to us—those wounds can be opened again and again. Sometimes, when we think about forgiveness, we think: “It’s one and done.” No, you need to forgive, again, at times. I think those are a few things that I think of, that might be helpful.
David: As I hear Blair share that, I can quickly go to the things that I processed with my parents. But I’m entering the stage [with] teenagers, where I’m going, “Oh, my goodness.” I know I’m having an effect on my kids in a way where we frequently joke, “Hey, Buddy, counseling will be on us.” [Laughter] We know that things are happening. As good of parents that we’re trying to be, in seeking to honor the Lord in everything we do, I am so grateful, knowing that I am an imperfect father, that my kids have a perfect Father whom they can run to and be fully sufficient.
Meg: Yes, I think it’s really easy to internalize this and think of all the things that I’ve—the mistakes I’ve made, the things I’ve said I wish I hadn’t said to our kids, or the wounds—I mean, we’re broken people raising broken people; that’s the reality of parenting. But knowing that God is so much bigger than us—and the story that our kids have—they have a Father, who loves them more than we do, which is hard to sometimes get my head around.
Ann: I think the older our kids got, the more grace I gave my parents. You know, before I was parenting, like: “Man, they messed up in this,” and “They didn’t do this.” Now, I’m thinking, “They were pretty great.” [Laughter] Because you realize, as your kids get older: “I cannot meet all your needs,” and “I was never supposed to meet all your needs.” Now, I’m going to confess—I’m going to repent, and I’m going to apologize—but I’m so grateful, as you said, Meg, we have a loving Father who fills in those gaps.
Dave: I feel like some of my hardest, toughest moments have been in recent years, with adult sons coming to me, and saying, “Here’s where you hurt me or let me down.” Ooh!
Ann: It’s awful. [Laughter]
Dave: It’s so hard. I remember sitting on the couch, looking at my son and saying, “I’m so sorry.” Because he’s right; I did. I was trying to do the best—but like you said, Meg—we’re broken people. My brokenness hurt him deeply; and he’s, now, a man, saying/he said, “I forgive you”; but you could see the hurt.
As he left, and as I crawled in bed later, my only comfort was what Blair said/was: “God, even in that, has got him. I can trust. I wish I could do it over; I can’t. But God is going to hold my son and my sons for the rest of their lives.” We can trust that.
David: Yes, as you were sharing, I was thinking of a mentor—once told me, “It’s not if you sin; but ‘How quickly do you repent?’ I just think—even you modeling, holding that with your sons, and the pain, and going and asking for forgiveness—at FamilyLife, we want to help effectively develop godly families. Godly homes, we often say, are homes that are frequently repenting, continuously surrendering, and reflecting Jesus to the homes around them.
As we seek to build into godly homes—who can, therefore, go and impact generations within their own four walls, and the kids that they have, both the dignity and depravity, and pointing them to the Father, who will be their perfect Father—and to the homes around them, the impact and the ripples that a godly home can have in neighborhoods and communities, I just want to thank those of you who partner with FamilyLife, financially, to help us build up more godly homes that will go have an impact far bigger than FamilyLife Today; but have a life-on-life impact to their own homes and to the homes around them.
When you give to FamilyLife, you give to legacies being established and rippling through generations, and through neighborhoods, and through communities, and through cities, and through churches. We’re so grateful for you joining with us. If you’d like to give to FamilyLife, this is an incredible time to do so; because we have a matching gift that’s going on because of a few generous Partners. When you give today, your gift is matched, dollar for dollar. I’d love to invite you to give to more godly legacies being established.
Dave: You know, when you say that, David, I think, so often, so many of us think: “The good life is money; it’s possessions,”—those are wonderful things—but what you were just talking about is: “No, we realize the good life is Jesus.” We got to talk about that several times this past year.
One of our—I love this guy—John Elmore, who’s at Watermark Church in Dallas. He leads recovery and pastoral care there. I did not know John very well—I read his book—and then, he came in. Man o’ man—
Ann: —he impacted all of us so much.
Dave: It was powerful. I’ll never forget some of the stories he shared; because they are stories that say, “The good life is one word: ‘It’s Jesus.’”
[Previous FamilyLife Today Broadcast]
John: I met a girl at a party. We got married soon thereafter. It was just infatuation. We were having sex; it was euphoria. Two years into that marriage, she began having an affair with one of my friends. Go figure that someone would have an affair when I was a train wreck of an alcoholic husband bringing weed/pills into our relationship; even brought porn into the relationship.
I loaded my shot gun. I called my buddy probably a hundred times in a row, haunting him: “I’ll kill you; and then, I’ll kill myself.” I thought my life was over! I thought I had squandered/I was so far gone. I knew, from my childhood, this phrase: “Jesus saves.” I got on my knees beside the couch that I was living on, and said, “I’ve squandered everything You’ve given me; but whatever I have left, it’s Yours.”
God is like: “Give Me it—give Me your divorce; give Me your alcoholism; give Me the sexual abuse you experienced as a little kid—give Me it all.” I knew, soon thereafter, I was going to spend the rest of my life telling everyone that Jesus is real: “You are never too far gone, and He can change everything.”
David: I love it when someone has experienced the transformation of Jesus and can’t contain it. I remember that day; you all burst out of the studio. There was this buzzing of just someone, who had to express/can’t help but express the things that Jesus has done for him and the way that he is living out of that.
I hear John and I go, “Okay, for some of you listening to him right now, you’re in a similar situation to him—you need to have that surrender moment and know He is the good life/Jesus is the good life—and surrender it all.”
For some of you, I’m hearing him, afresh today, going, “Okay, where’s the callousness?” I may not have a pending divorce or an addiction right now; but where is there a callousness that I need to go, “Okay, God, in a fresh way, I want that vitality of who You are—when You take over our lives—and we get to experience Your grace and mercy right now, present tense. Break open my numbness that I can grow so frequently in because I’m inoculated with a bunch of Christian stuff. God, break through it and give me the authentic Jesus through the cultural cloud that I so often wade through.”
Ann: David, I feel exactly what you’re feeling. When I was with John, it felt like a holy moment: where we all need to be on our knees; we need to re-surrender, or we need to give Him everything. I remember John talking about every morning he gets on his knees and he surrenders everything. That has impacted me.
But I think you’re right. We can hear this and go: “Oh, that’s a good podcast,” “Oh, that’s a good radio program,” and not move or work on it or, in the moment, give Jesus everything. I like your challenge of asking one another: “Where are we? How are we doing spiritually?” I think it’s a good thing to take a look deep inside.
David: Yes; even as I hear you say that, Ann, I go, “Okay, it’s one thing to have that reflection now; it’s another thing to go call a close friend, or your spouse, or someone you trust and go, “Hey, I’m prompted—I don’t know what to do with it—but I want you to circle back.”
Maybe right now you should send a text. All of us could send a text to someone, going, “Okay, I’m prompted to re-surrender, and this is the area. I want you to circle back with me on this.”
Dave: I know that even listening to that clip again, I remember we all just felt it—a zeal, a passion, a fire—that is so easy to have initially. Then, it’s sort of like marriage—you have it at the beginning—it just goes away, and you lose that first love. Hearing him say that again ignites something in us.
I’ve shared this before: when I got on my knees and surrendered, I feel like it was this in heaven: Jesus was like, “Okay, if you’re all in, I’ve got a life for you [that] you never saw coming.” John’s living that life. I think we’re all living that life. Jesus is like, “I can’t do it until you give Me everything.” The second you do, it’s like, “Here we go.”
I’m not saying that there’s not hard times; I’m not saying there’s not valleys—because we go through valleys—but there is a life that is the good life. It’s so different than what the world will tell you. It is Jesus; that’s what John reminded us of. This whole day has been that reminder.
I know this: there’s someone listening, and you’re going, “I want that! I want that life!”
Guess what? You can do what John did—you can do what David and Meg and Ann and I have all done—at some moment in our life, we have surrendered all. It’s sort of daily; but God meets you in that moment, and says, “Okay, I love you; and I’ve got something for you. I’m going to, not just meet you here, I’m going to use you to meet others.” I just want to say this: “If it’s hit you: ‘Today’s your day; surrender,’ here’s the other thing: ‘Share this program with other people, because God is going to meet them in the same way.’”
One of the ways you can help us do that is become a financial Partner with us. This is how this ministry flourishes—people, like you, give—there’s thousands beside you have given to make programs like you just heard available to people all around the world. This is yearend; we have needs, financially. We’d love for you to be a Partner. If you give today, it will be matched, dollar for dollar; your gift will be doubled. Man, jump in. You want to see people’s lives changed?—you can be a part of that. We’d love you to be a part of that; jump in today, and let’s go change the world.
Shelby: Helping to change lives for the glory of Jesus: that’s what we’re all about. Thanks to some generous Ministry Partners, our matching-gift fund is even bigger now. Every gift given, up to the end of this year, including your gift right now, will be matched, dollar for dollar, until we hit $2.3 million. You can give today at FamilyLifeToday.com, or you can give us a call at 800-358-6329; that’s 800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life and then the word, “TODAY.”
Tomorrow, on FamilyLife Today, Dave and Ann are back in the studio, once again, with David and Meg Robbins. They’ll be listening back and reflecting over clips from the last year that show us that [friendships actually do matter.]
On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Shelby Abbott. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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