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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Pursuit of Love

You know what I love about going home at the end of a day, other than being able to be with my family? My youngest son, Nathan, who just turned one cannot talk. But, oh, can he communicate!!! When I walk in the door, Vincent (age 4) and Faith (age 2), both start declaring with excitement that "Daddy's home!!" and they run and give me a quick hug, and then return to whatever it was they were doing.

Nathan, however, has his own method. From wherever this little crawling, non-walker, may be, he begins his journey to side door where I am taking off my shoes and hanging my keys. It takes him a little bit, but he gets there, grabs hold of my legs, pulls himself up, and embraces my legs. I pick him and hold him close, while he plants the side of his face on my chest and lays there. He doesn't speak with words, but my son communicates greatly and effectively.

You know, God's love is so great in my life. I have always known it, even at times when I didn't feel very "lovely" or "loving." But, through it all, I have grown more and more in love with Him. No matter what I'm going through, He is there ready to embrace me. My heart, like my son to me, is to get so close to Him, reach out for Him, to have Him embrace me in His arms. I can pursue loving Him, because He first pursued loving me.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Nathan's First Birthday Party!

video
Our youngest son, Nathan, will be one on Sunday the 15th, but we celebrated a little bit tonight...with a cake! You gotta watch this and understand that for the first year, our children eat NO sweets...at least none that we're aware of. Their reaction to the cake is always fun!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

House of Cards

I have tried on several occasions to make a house of cards. It's pretty frustrating, actually. You have to get two or three cards to be exactly perfect while trying to get two or three more, then trying to connect them. Every time I try, by the time I get to the 2nd or 3rd set, the 1st set is back resting flat on the table, floor, or every other surface I have tried.

It seems so overly idealistic to try to get it to look as fascinating as the pictures portray. And once you do get the house of cards built (not that I will be the one in charge of construction), it continues to be fragile. One card moves, the entire structure comes crashing down, in a soft, cards kind of way.

Do you ever feel like that? That your life is like a house of cards. You feel like you've worked so hard to get things a certain way. You crashed and burned and have paid your dues. You finally get the structure built, and out of nowhere, one card gets moved, and the whole thing comes crashing down.

I know a lot of people right now who are going through situations that could make them feel this exact same way. Jobs, family, marriages, children...oh, the list can go on and on.

Martin Luther once said this: "Feelings come and feelings go And feelings are deceiving; My warrant is the Word of God, Naught else is worth believing. "

"I waited and waited and waited for God. At last he looked; finally he listened. He lifted me out of the ditch, pulled me from deep mud. He stood me up on a solid rock to make sure I wouldn't slip. He taught me how to sing the latest God-song, a praise-song to our God. More and more people are seeing this: they enter the mystery, abandoning themselves to God." (Psalm 40:1-3 (MSG))

Monday, February 9, 2009

Seth Franco Preview



Those who are coming to the HonorBound Men's Ministry Launch tonight at CrossWay, I thought you might like a preview!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Trusting God

Last night, my oldest son, Vincent, who is only 4 years old, starting complaining about his throat and his eyes. "It's really itchy, Daddy." With his swelling and water eyes, hives on his tummy, and his well developed hysteria, I realized what had happened. We gave him a peanut butter ball. A few years ago, we thought he might have an allergy, but nothing really came of it.

Well, I grabbed the Bennydryl, called a guy on my board who "just happens" to be a pediatrician at Children's Hsopital, and was told to take him to the local ER. Once, there, they told me there was some wheezing in his lungs and would need to be transported by ambulance to Children's and admitted overnight for obersvation. Then they gave him a breathing treatment and stuck him for an IV. Oh, how he cried.

On the way down in the ambulance, my mind started to go where any parent's mind would...you know, to all the places it SHOULDN'T go. Then I realized something. 4 years ago, my wife and dedicated him to the Lord. No matter what, God is in control. No, that doesn't mean that nothing will ever happen to him. But, it does give me the peace of mind to know that God loves him even more than I do. Of course, that's hard for me to believe, but I do. Because of THAT, I know that I can trust Him.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Too Much Love?

Last night, my son Vincent and I went to the grocery store to get a few things. I always enjoy spending one on one moments with my children. It's during those times that they know they have my complete and undivided attention. I so enjoy telling them and showing them how much I love them.

So, last night on the way back from FoodLand, I'm talking to Vincent and I ask him, "do you know how much Daddy loves?" He responded back very quickly with a huge smile, "you love me too much, Daddy!" I looked back at him and said, "if that were only possible."

I think that's similar to heart of God. He has blessed us in such immense ways, shown His love for us in ways that we just cannot fathom, yet with God, there is no such thing as TOO MUCH LOVE. His very essence is love. 1 John 4:8 reminds us that GOD IS LOVE.

I pray that you are reminded today that no matter what, God, your Heavenly Father, loves you so much. So much in fact, in our own human understanding, it seems like to much. "If that were only possible." I'm so glad it's not!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Hide and Seek

Hide and seek. This is my children's favorite game to play at home. It's a lot of run, it really is. They hide in the same places, and always make a little noise so that we will be sure to find them, as if it were to be difficult as it is.

It often reminds me of a story told by Tony Campolo. I want to share with you:

The God we worship is a hidden God. HE does not force us to confront Him, but waits patiently for the time to come when we will seek Him out. He longs for us to seek after Him with heart and mind and soul.

A rabbi's child was playing hide and seek with some children. She went away and hid herself. But the other children acted cruelly. While she was hiding, they ran away and left her behind.

When the little girl realized she had been abandoned by her friends, she went running home and threw herself into her father's arms and cried, "Daddy, I was hiding and nobody tried to fine me!" The father hugged his daughter and said, "God understands. He understands more than you realize."

Indeed, it must be the ultimate frustration of God that we seldom seek Him out. The Bible says that if we truly seek Him, we will find Him."

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Just Not Funny Enough, I Guess...



Just when you thought we had entered the time of equality, NBC passes over a message of truth for the sake of "public" opinon.

The Shack

I Just recently finished reading this incredible book by William Paul Young. I'm normally not into reading fiction (especially if doesn't involve some sort of political, anti-terrorist thriller plot), but this book was like none other.

It explores the heart within human tragedy. It seeks to help answer questions that everyone has about the nature and character of God when bad things happen to good people. And what's more, is that it seeks to answer them in layman's terms.

The book has come under fire from certain theological circles concerning the character of God in the story. Let me just say that's funny that humans living within an finite existence find it within their credibility to arrogantly declare the rights on knowing the exact form and character of an INFINITE God.

The story line is indeed both challenging and liberating. Challenging, because it takes you task on all preconceived notions of the sovereignty of God in ALL situations. It challenges your emotions, your thoughts, and your heart...towards others and towards God. It also challenges you to forgive...even at times when you think that forgiveness is utterly impossible.

It also is liberating, as it frees you to know that you're not the only one that has had these questions. It's also liberating to know that God is not offended because you DO have these questions. It's a refreshing look at the love, grace, and redemption that comes from the only One that truly knows how to live out the concept of UNCONDITIONAL love.

I highly recommend this book. It's a great read. Just make sure you have time...because it's very hard to put down after the first couple of chapters!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Family

This weekend, I preached a message on "Believing God for More: In My Family." The family is under attack. The abortion rate and the divorce rate continue to sky rocket, while the US Speaker of the House thinks that contraception and the limiting of human life is considered a plus in an economic stimulus package. Help us, Lord.

I pray that today you think about your family. Think about the blessing that they are to you. Whether it's you and the wife or husband, maybe a few kids, or perhaps extended family or church family that helps you know that you belong. Invest in them. Realize that time is a great thing when we have it, but it's not something that we're promised.

God has been showing me, that it's not just the time you put into the family, but the heart you put into the time.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Super Bowl XLIII


Well...today is the BIG day. Oh yes, as I write this, it's Sunday morning, and I am sure that there will be no shortage of black & gold in church this morning.

Of course, being a Dallas Cowboys fan, I'm being asked all the time who I am rooting for today. Hmmm...it's actually a very interesting question. I moved to the Pittsburgh area 4 years ago from the philly area. Yeah, I know...going from one place of hate to another when it comes to football. But, I decided, you know what...I can root for the Steelers, too. I don't have the same feelings for them as I do the Eagles, and they're not in my division, and not even in my conference should be ok.

Well, well, well...that didn't go so well. That next season, the church I was the youth pastor at, was very instrumental in the direction of my attitude. LOL! One Sunday morning, the pastor took my Cowyboys winter jacket to the stage where the congregation BOOED, then throwing it to the floor while they cheered. THEN, going to my car at the end of service, someone actually egged my car!

So....who am I rooting for? LOL!!! All I can say, is I'm sure I will get it today for wearing a white shirt and red tie! Actually, I'm not all that crazy about the Cardinals, but there are three things about them that I do like. 1) I met the coach in the Pittsburgh Airport while taking 30 teenagers on a missions trip to Mexico. He talked to a few of the guys and took a picture with them. 2) I'm a BIG fan of Kurt Warner - He's such an example of Christian chararcter. 3) I'm a sucker for the underdog - yes, I, too cheered for the NY Giants last year!

Either way...one of the things I love about the Super Bowl, is that it gets people together around a common love, not of football, but the unity that comes from it. God, too, has called us to unite together, regardless of our differences in sports teams, political affialiations, churches, etc... He called us to LOVE one another. It's a tough task to tackle, but so worth it!!