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Fun was needed…

I don't know about you but every once it's just good to get away from our regular routine… yesterday was one of those days. So yesterday morning we packed up the car with chairs, towels, boogie-boards and friends and headed for the ocean. The sunshine, beach air, good waves and fun with our family and friends was just what I needed to hit this week head on.

Did you do anything fun for the Memorial Day break?


Michael Jackson, Death and Friends

This has seemed to be the "week of death".

It began with Farrah Fawcett, the iconic female that many of my male readers had that famous poster on their walls (you remember, the one with the short-shorts, right?) passing last week. I wasn't shocked as I had heard that she was fighting cancer.

It then moved on to the death of Michael Jackson (of which I WAS surprised) on Thursday. For me, Michael had been out of sight, out of mind for a long while – I fully expected to see him again in the news, if not for a "comeback tour" or another wierd happening. I didn't expect that my next thoughts of him would be driven by a 24 news cycle capitalizing on his death.

On Sunday we heard about Billy Mays, the guy who sells cool, quirky things on TV. He is always pushing products that aren't quite needed enough to make me buy BUT ARE cool and intriguing enough to make me watch the commercial (or maybe it was the man filming the commercials – either way, I watched).

Finally, on Monday I get the news that a guy that I grew up with, went to school with and have basically known all my life had passed. The first thought was, "wow… he's my age" – you know, although I know this isn't a truth it sure does feel like "we're" too young to die. My second thought was about all of you who read me – that thought was, "are you prepared to die"?

The bible tells us in Hebrews chapter 9, verse 27 and 28, 

27Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

You know, we're all sinners (Romans 3:23), those of us who don't believe it are only fooling ourselves. We all need forgiveness for that sin therefore God has paid the price through the death of Christ on the cross. You receive that forgiveness by opening your heart to Him and, well, receiving His forgiveness:

9That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. 11As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame."[e] 12For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

Friends, just because Jesus died for all sins does not mean that all is well with Him – don't believe it, check out Jesus' words to a very religious man in John 3. Do you understand that you can be religiously "lost"? With that in mind I ask, have you received His forgiveness?  Have you humbled your heart to Him? Have you admitted your prideful heart and the fact that you have lived for yourself? I would plead with you that you would call on His Name while it is still today for none of us are promised tomorrow.

With the fact in mind that none of us are promised tomorrow, we must LIVE TODAY! Beginning next weekend, July 12th, we will start a new series, titled, "30 Days to Live". Not only should this series be an eye-opener but hopefully an encouragement that there are many reasons that God has placed us here – may we not demean those reasons by living beneath their calling.

(By the way, if and when you pray to receive Christ how about letting me know – I would love to celebrate with you as well as send you some free info that deals with the next step in your spiritual life)

Anniversary Day – 19 years is the “new” 25

Keyna Have I told you lately how much I love my wife?

Today is my wedding anniversary. Can you believe that I have been married for 19 years?!!!? I don't EVEN look that old, do I? (and you can hold the old jokes… i know what kind of crazy readers I have here on WholeHearted :)). I really can't believe it. You know, they say that 19 years is the "new" 25! Just kidding… nobody said that except me.

Keyna and I really have had a good marriage – probably much better for me than for her (hey, she has to live and put up with me). We married young – the early years were a bit of a strain financially as we were both in college not making much $. Not to mention the fact that every spare dime I had went into my dream of becoming a rock star.

She loved me, endured me, and held out and look what happened: God is still in the miracle working business, amen?

My relationship with Keyna is THE most important earthly relationship I have – she's above the kids (whom I love with every part of me). She's above the church (which I have given the work/serving portion of my life to). She's above everything and anything besides my relationship to God (and luckily, my love for Him only increases my love for her instead of draining it – amazing!).

I'm amazed at the ways that God uses my marriage to teach me about my relationship with Him. Things such as…

  • My reading of the bible is much like the way that my relationship with Keyna is growing. I read the bible to grow deeper in my knowledge of Jesus. Growth in my relationship with Keyna doesn't happen by accident – it's a diligence that I can't be lazy with. Just as scripture teaches me – paying attention to who Keyna is helps my love with her to grow.
  • My prayer life reminds me that I must listen to her. How easy is it to allow your prayer life to become me telling God what I want from Him and then shutting the door of communication? How easy is it for your marriage to become the same? If I want to know God's heart I must listen to Him as He teaches me. In the same way, If I want to know Keyna's heart (and I do!) then I must listen to her as she tells me the particulars of her day. After all, I am interested in knowing what she deals with and particularly, who she is… (even if it is at the most inconvenient time… like during the game… or when I'm… you get the picture :))
  • Quality Time is not more important than Quantity Time. Whoever came up with the phrase that it's not how much time you spend with your family but how good it is was just plain lazy and looking for an excuse to spend less time with those they love. Same with the Lord: if you wanna know God you gotta spend time in His presence. When my love for Him grows a little dim I can usually track it back to inconsistency in my time dedicated to Him.

Here's a tip for us all: In your marriage, turn off the radio and talk to your spouse – turn off the tv and do something WITH your spouse. In your relationship with the Lord, turn off the radio and listen to God. Has it ever occured to you that Satan would rather you listen to christian radio than pray? 

"Thank you, Lord, for 19 wonderful years with the woman of my dreams! I don't know what I've done to deserve a love like this… thank You for blessing me with her. Help me to continue to try to apply these things to my life as I try to love her with the love that You have lavished upon me. May You always be at the center of who Keyna and I are – it's in Your Name that I pray this."

Shocking Answer…

IdeabubbleAs I was preparing to drop Matt off at school the other morning I told him that I loved him and the thought crossed my mind to ask him, "Matt, Do you know how much i love you?"

"I don’t know…" he said, obviously pondering the question. We used to play this game when he was little, but being a man of 7 it was obviously too deep in the recesses of his "long-life" to remember. So I decided to ask him some questions.

"Do I love you more than this car?" I asked. "Yes." he said.
"What about our home?". "Yeah, you love me more than the house." Matt said.
"How about the world? Do you think I love you more than the whole-wide world?" I said. "Yeah." was his simple reply. Then another question popped into my mind, could i ask it knowing that it might confuse him and challenge me: "Matt, do i love you more than the church?"

"I don’t know…" he thoughtfully replied. Granted that Matt may have confused the question because:

  • He probably still equates the church with JESUS – Matt has repeatedly heard me tell him that we are to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.
  • He might wonder because I work at the church. Many times, when he’s been with me at the office (being the "talky-talk" child that he is) I’ve had to say, "Matt, I’m working man – you gotta let me do this…" Maybe that confuses him.
  • He might wonder because He knows I’ve given my life to this… He sees his dad’s passion and hears many conversations of this type.

None-the-less, I was still horrified! Nothing, NOTHING in this world means more to me than my family – nothing is more challenging to me than the responsiblity to raise them to have their own, personal, love relationship with JESUS – too many pastors have "lost" their kids to the church. So I told Matt,

"Hey man – I LOVE YOU MORE, MUCH MORE, than I love the church – you will always come before the church – i love you! Church is important Matthew – it’s JESUS’ Body on the earth, but you come first. Do you understand?"
"Yeah, dad." He said as he smiled.
"So which comes first, Matt: you or the church?"
"I DO."
"That’s right, Matt – you will ALWAYS come before the church. ALWAYS."

I’m sorry that I had to clarify to my son. I hope that he gets it and I also hope that you get it yourselves, which leads me to ask you a question : When was the last time you told your children (no matter how old they are) that they are more important than anything in this world? (with the exception of JESUS and your spouse – in that order, hopefully. :)