Sunday, April 25, 2010

You must really love that woman!

The other night, my wife and I went to a concert here in St. Louis of an artist many people do not know who he is by name. His name is Michael O’Brien. He is actually the vocalist of our First Wedding Dance. He was a vocalist with the group Newsong and is now on his own preaching and singing. We had a great time to just be out on a date night (thanks grandparents for watching Cameron). He has talked about some struggles he has been through in his 20+ years of marriage and how him and his wife overcame them. Deirdre Pujols spoke as well about her somewhat popular husband, Albert, and their relationship and how God works in their relationship daily. We ended the evening by singing praise and worship and this is where it really started to hit me by a single comment Deirdre made and Michael emphasized.

We cannot love our spouses properly without unconditionally loving Christ.


So that got me thinking about how much I love my wife. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in everything in our lives with work and kids and issues we face, that we forget how important the relationship is BETWEEN A MAN AND A WOMAN, really means. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians was quite clear how much we are to love our wives. “25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25, NIV).

So then how much does Christ love His church? Well, we recently remembered a day in which he DIED for us so I would say He loves us quite a bit. So then I asked myself, would I die for her? I sat back and without a doubt I would. There are not many people on this Earth it would take less than a second to answer that question, but I would. I recently almost tried to die for her without even trying (See How Great is our God).

My mom asked me a great question when I told her I was going to ask Stephanie’s hand in marriage a few years back. She asked me “Can you live without her?” I immediately said no. I cannot live without her as she is the one who completes me. The main thing is that I need to tell her that and communicate that to her through action and words. I cannot get wrapped up so much in life that I forget not only who completes me here on Earth, but who was the One who completed us.

I love you Stephanie!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Book of Job, a different challenge: Who really are your friends?

I have been blessed on my thirty years on this planet to have some amazing friends at amazing times. I have some who I have know since I was six years old that I still talk to and there are those who I really only became friends with over the past couple of years. Each variety I do treasure dearly, especially when there are the times that I struggle with something. During these struggles, I have encountered many reactions and how to handle a situation. Never have I been “helped” the way Job’s friends were treating him.

During Job’s time, it was thought that if something bad happened to you, God would take personal anger on this and punish you. Here, that is not the case. God and Satan are in a discussion about Job. God shows him off as one of his most faithful followers. The Satan thinks he only serves  God because he is so wealthy and consumed with material items. Satan tries to prove his point by taking away everything from Job. Through it all, Job sticks with God.

Job is a man who had a book in the Bible written about his experience with losing everything. After Satan takes everything away from Job in the first few chapters, Job starts trying to figure out why he is going through something like this. He curses the day he was born and asks why he did not die at birth. He gets into questioning God and God giving him everything and then taking it all away, just like that. Then chapter four comes around.

His friends start to talk to him about Job screwing up and how he thought he was greater than the almighty. If he simply admits to his friends that he was wrong, God will forgive and show mercy on him. They go back and forth with this between the three friends for almost thirty chapters. They argue and each side thinks he makes a point. Then a fourth friend joins and he is not too thrilled with either side. He does make one very strong point though that hits home with Job as he prepares in his final discussion with God. The point is that God, even through all the suffering that Job is going through, is STILL teaching and loving Job.

How many times has something happened in our lives and we get so wrapped up in the situation, that we forget God has it under control? My wife was going through a tough situation last year while living in Phoenix, AZ. I had tried to encourage her many times and thought she was doing better. But we sat down with the pastor at our church and he asked, “Are you seeing God blessing you THROUGH this suffering?” It hit both of us like a ton of bricks. What was God teaching us through the pain she was going through? That was a little different than my response to the issue, which I am thankful for because of what it taught me.

There are times that us as friends see someone close suffering and in pain. We see this is an opportunity to come in and save the day. What we have to remember who is doing the saving. In good times and especially in bad times, if we remember that He is steering the wheel, all we have to do is move along with Him.

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Saturday, April 3, 2010

Phoenix Part 13- The time has come to say goodbye and oh yeah, the news!!!

Goodbye Weekend 09 018

  So we had decided that we were leaving Phoenix and I had received the news about where I was going to work. I passed the news along to my wife who was visiting her mom in Little Rock and she was excited. She was even more excited that we were pregnant. I will always remember that moment. I was calling her from the storage area in the back of the hotel I was working at in Glendale and I remember standing next to the refrigerator in back thankful that a refrigerator was there to hold me up. Man, life was changing, big time!

We slowly started letting people know that we were moving. I remember trying to figure out the best time to tell people. I remember telling my friend Steve as we were about ready to play tennis on our weekly Saturday tennis sessions. I told my buddy Erik as I passed an adult beverage his way on that Sunday afternoon. I told my buddy Rick over the phone. I told the people I worked with individually. A lot of different reactions from many people and it was an emotional time. I had only lived there just about four and a half years, but the relationships I had developed and experiences I had made it seem like a lot longer. It was a weird time and had only experienced this feeling when I left St. Louis. Goodbye Weekend 09 019

I remember the last time I was there for “wingsday” with the guys and as we started to order I dropped the bombshell that not only were we leaving, but we were pregnant. Silence for a few moments and then laughter and joy. I will remember those guys who I got so close too over the years out there. I had been through a lot with them. I know people who have friends all over and seem to know EVERYONE. It is something else when you have a few friends that really hold you up and are always there for you.

We had a few going away parties and the last one was of course at Rick’s house. We had some BBQ (asparagus of course), we relieved some good memories and of course, had to do one last cannonball in the pool. The later in the evening it got and people started to leave, it hit me like a ton of bricks who we were leaving. I could not hold back the emotion. The whole way home I was a mess. That Tuesday was my last day at work and I am glad I left while wearing sunglasses because, again, I was a mess. I sat in the parking lot trying to figure out why all the tears. Was it pain or was it thankfulness?

But through all the crying, I will always remember the words of Pastor Phillips from Fellowship of Grace. He told us that crying is not a bad thing. It shows what that person or persons meant to you. it speaks to them about the effect they had in your life. Each of those friends I know I will see again, which gives me great excitement. Whether it is here on this Earth or when we are on the streets of gold, I will see them again.

To answer the question of pain or thankfulness, it was complete thankfulness. I am thankful for all the people I met and became friends with in Phoenix. I am thankful and blessed beyond measure with the people I worked with in Phoenix. I am thankful for the people I met from the two years working as a youth group leader. What an amazing experience.

To end the series on Phoenix, I will of course end it on a song. The song is my Audio Adrenaline entitled Goodbye. Watch the video and see when singer Mark Stuart gets choked up, that is about how my last two weeks felt in Phoenix. But getting choked up, not a bad thing at all. 25279_1367826671829_1116565504_31114071_5925954_n

On a complete side note, since I have moved, I have not played tennis with anyone or put the Bowflex together. Steve and Erik would be proud. Oh and Rick, no, there has not been another cannonball.