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Archive for February, 2011

Make a Memory

This past weekend, the new bedroom suit we ordered for Ethan arrived.  So Saturday was spent moving bedrooms – moving items from one closet to another, and from one set of drawers to another.  Through the process we ran across all sorts of things that brought back all kinds of memories.  There were coins from trips we have taken together, old souvenirs, ticket stubs – a wide variety of reminders.

But the things that caused me to stop and take a break were the pictures.  Each of the boys has a framed picture of the four of us on a camping trip several years ago to Cloudcroft – I labeled it, “The Camping Fiasco.”  It was  a miserable trip.  In fact, one night as it got close to bedtime, a thunderstorm rolled in and it started a downpour complete with lightening.  A tent is not where I wanted us to be in a lightening storm so we all climbed in the truck and for 2 hours, tried to get comfortable.  When the rain finally let up, we got back to the tent to find that it had leaked and all our stuff was soaked.  So at 12:30 am, we rolled it all up, threw it in the back of the truck and headed home in the rain.  We arrived back home at 6:30 am.  Yep – good times!

Honestly, as miserable of a trip as that was – I would not take anything for that experience with my boys.  Now that I have one in college, one in high school and one in middle school, I look back and think: “there aren’t enough of those memories – I wish we had made more.”  Then I remember, there is still today!

What kind of memories are you making with your kids?

My challenge for us is this:  make one today!

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A Day of Love

Today is the day of love.  February 14 – Valentine’s Day.  Guys, if this is the first you have heard of this, it’s not too late, but it may cost you!

Why is it that we have a day set aside to remember our significant other?  Is it because we only care on this day?  Is it because we just needed something else to celebrate in February?  Or is it that we tend to take those we love for granted and so this is a way to make sure we think of them at least once per year?

Honestly, it may be a combination of the latter two.  But at any rate, this is the day we set aside to tell our special person we love them – that we care – and that our lives would not be the same without them.

Kristi and I very rarely purchase gifts for one another.  We used to, but when the kids started coming along, we decided that we would rather make sure we could do things for them.  So we have found other ways to express our appreciation and love for one another – dinner out, special favors around the house, phone calls, etc.

The point is this – if you have a special person in your life today, you need to make sure they know you love them.  Just follow these three easy steps:

  1. Tell them you love them
  2. Make them feel special and appreciated
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 each day for the rest of you life

Not difficult but it does take commitment.

What will you do today to make the love of your life feel special?

 

 

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I Be Blessed

This morning as I lay in bed praying and thinking about the day, my thoughts drifted to how I have been blessed.  I have a decent place to live – in fact, in comparison to most of the world, I live in luxury.  I have a wonderful family – loving wife and three amazing sons.  I have friends who love and support me.  I have never had to worry about whether or not my family would have enough to eat.  I am truly blessed.

But here is what makes me feel blessed all the more – I don’t deserve any of it.  God has blessed me so that I can in turn be a blessing.  I have not been blessed out of anything I am due – I have been blessed simply because God loves.  The blessing is not in what I have but whose I am.

LaPinsky Phillips has been mentioned here many times – he is a dear friend whom I cherish.  His response to the question, “How are you?”  is always, “I be blessed.”  I have written about him here.  I would encourage you to link to that post and scroll down to the comments.  LaPinsky explains it best himself.

Today, I be blessed!

How about you?

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Sinaia is a resort area in northern Romania.  It is nestled in a deep-cut, narrow valley that runs north and south with rugged mountains jutting up on both sides for a breathtaking setting.  The Doi Ponei (Two Ponies) sits up on the mountain on the east side of the valley.  On top of the mountain just across the valley from the lodge there is a cross.  In the early morning, the first visible light from the lodge is on that cross (a fitting setting for a winter retreat).

On the last day of Winter Retreat, little was stirring before the sun came up.  I had gone down to the dining area to read in the quiet before the students began to wake up and get ready.  But as the sun hit the top of that cross on the other side of the valley, I began to hear movement.  In the next few minutes, an entire small group began to trickle into the dining hall.  They had decided to get one more session in before the end of the retreat so they all agreed to meet at 7:00 am.

I was amazed at their dedication (especially when I learned that many of them had stayed up until 5:30 am the night before playing games and hanging out).  There they were, Bibles opened and carrying on a discussion with Kimberely, their group leader, about worship.

In that moment, I had a serious reality check on my own dedication.  There are days when I can’t even seem to get motivated to set aside time to read scripture – and that is after a good night’s rest.  They hungered for time together and time with God.

How about you?  How’s your dedication today?

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What To Do, What To Do?

I realize that part of it may be jet lag, but this began last Thursday, long before the trip home from Romania.  For the past several days, I have woken up between 4 and 4:30, and been unable to go back to sleep.  For those of you who follow my ramblings, you have heard me say that it seems God wakes me from time to time just to talk.  And of course, I am really perceptive – normally it only takes 3 or 4 days in a row before I begin to pick up on the fact that maybe I should spend the time in prayer.  Well, maybe not 3 or 4 days, but I am not always the sharpest tool in the shed when it comes to this area.

I am not sure I have pinpointed exactly what I need to be learning from my early morning encounters but I do know this: God allowed me to be a part of an amazing Red Page Ministries team serving in Romania this past week and I am forever different because of the experience.  I was humbled to work with students who are truly hungry for the Gospel.  Here in the states, our students hunger as well, but it is rare to find a group of so many students, gathered together at one time and place, who are all seeking God with a passion for a real and meaningful relationship.

 

My mind has been racing since we left Sinaia wondering what comes next?  What would God have me do?  Where is God leading in relation to what our team has just experienced in Romania?

I have to be honest, I have been home less than 24 hours and my head is still spinning from it all.  So it is going to take me some time to process the experience and begin to work through who I have become because of it.  I will continue to work through my thoughts and emotions and continue to seek God in this.  As clarity comes, I will be sharing here.

But until that time, here is something I do know that affects today – this moment: God does not call the equipped, he equips the called.  You and I are called to make a difference in our world – not some day, this day.  How are you going to make a difference in the life of another today?

I would love to hear what God does through you today!

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Raul Is The Man

I have several new friends from my time in Romania last week.  One in particular is on my mind this morning.  Raul is 14.  He is a happy guy – always smiling and laughing, and wow, can that kid eat!  The first afternoon, the group went sledding during their free time.  I am not sure exactly what happened but Raul and his sled parted ways at some point on the run and he stopped himself with his left cheek.  For the rest of the week, he looked like he had carpet burn just under his eye.  But that did not slow him down!  He continued to laugh and have a great time.

Someone had brought an old guitar that would not stay in tune.  Raul was always on that thing, picking out tunes.  The last night, he and Joe (one of our amazing team members) sat around for a couple of hours, passing that guitar back and forth.  Joe would show Raul a new chord or rift and Raul would pick it up right away.  Before long, several of us were gathered around singing praise songs while Raul played.  He may not have hit every chord just right, but for what he lacked in musical accomplishment, he more than made up for in passion and enthusiasm.  It was a picture of what heaven will look like I think.  People gathered around from different ages and different races, worshipping together.

Raul, during the course of the week, committed his life to follow Jesus in full-time professional ministry.  He decided that God is calling him to preach.  Even after knowing Raul for only a short few days, I believe he is right.  And he didn’t waste any time getting started.  The day after returning home, Ovidiu asked Raul to lead the Bible study at his church.  I haven’t heard how that turned out, but I am confident that Raul was himself – and if that is the case, then the love of God flowed from him like a flood.

Continue to pray for the students of the Winter Camp Romania 2011.  Today marks the first day back into school or work or whatever their daily routine entails.  It is easy to worship God with all you have when among family on a retreat.  Its much more difficult back in the daily grind.

 

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Humbled By Prayer

In my last post, I shared about the moving experience two nights ago, of having students pray for Jeff’s sister-in-law as she was being rushed in for an emergency C-section.  The baby – Jacob – and mom are doing fine.  It was an answer to prayer and I was privileged to be present as Romanian students lifted the family up in prayer.

As moving as that was, last night I experienced something like never before.  I have never been more humbled as I was last night just before getting up to preach.  We sang a song in preparation for the teaching time.  Then Ovidiu stood and asked us all to stand.  He led in prayer in Romanian and then began a season of prayer in which students all over the room took turns praying out loud – each in Romanian.  I could not tell what any of them were saying, but there was one word that I had no trouble picking out – my name!  They were praying for me and asking God to use me to bring His word to them.

Now I have been prayed for by people before, and it is always a touching experience but never have I felt so humbled as I did last night.  God moved last night.  I would like to be able to say it was because of my eloquent speaking or my ability to connect with the students – but that would be a far cry from the truth.  God was moving long before I stood to speak.  The hearts of the students were open and hungry.  Honestly, I could have stood and simply read from scripture and not preached a word and the response would have been the same.  Why?  Because we, as the American team, had the unique opportunity to join in where God is already at work.

God is at work here in Romania – the people are hungry.  As Jesus said, “the fields are white and ready for harvest” – all that is needed is laborers!  Are you interested in joining in with what God is already doing?  Red Page Ministries is ready to connect you to where God is working.  Will you take that step?  You won’t regret it!

 

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