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A powerful & beautiful song by my friend Dave Pettigrew of New Jersey. On a day none of us will ever forget, we can be comforted to know “There’s A Hope!”
Sorry I have been out of touch but knee pain is killing me. Making me crazy. Unable to write. TKR or Knee Replacement surgery today. Should be back at it next week. Sorry for being away for so long.
2 Samuel 24:25 David built an altar there to the Lord and sacrificed burnt offerings and peace offerings. And the Lord answered his prayer for the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped.
So, is praying a waste of time? Based on that verse I would have to say that praying is certainly not a waste of time? You may feel differently. I used to think it was a waste of time. I mean, if we pray asking for healing, but then add “your will be done.” Are we wasting our breath? Not if we take a look at how Jesus prayed. Moments before his capture, torture and crucifixion, Jesus prayed, asking God to “take this cup from me” or in Frank speak – “Dad, can you get me out of this one?” Jesus, knew the answer before the words left his lips. But throughout his ministry, Jesus spent a great deal of time in prayer.
There was a time in my life, before I got serious about faith and a relationship with God, when I had only 3 prayers.
“God get me out of this one.” “God, let me win the lottery and I promise to pay back all my debts before I start partying.” “And Lord, please let this woman be as lonely as I am tonight.” That was it. Gee, I wonder why none of those prayers were answered. Well , actually they were all answered. And God’s answer was – “NO!” “Thank you Lord. Thank you for saving me from myself.”
All prayers are answered – but self-serving prayers are almost always answered with the word, NO!
So then why should we waste our time praying? Well we shouldn’t if all our prayers consist of is a galactic to-do list for God.
God, make me rich.
God, make this person love me.
God, get me this promotion so I can fire all the people I don’t like.
God, make my spouse subservient to all my demands.
God, help me to get back at my Ex.
God, I want a sunny day for my birthday party.
And on it goes. Me, me ,me.
I admit, that was my type of prayer list for years. And I wondered why, I wasn’t getting any favorable responses. Worse, my lifes’ trials and tribulations seemed to grow harder the longer my selfish prayer list became. Then one day, I asked the right question in prayer.
God, why am I so unhappy with life?
Then came the right answer. “Frank, the reason you’re so unhappy is because your prayers and therefore your life are all about you. You’re prayers and your life should be about Me. Not, Me personally. I am God, I have everything I want except, I don’t have you. I have a plan for your life and you’re not working it. I have gifts for you, you are not mature enough to appreciate. I have a mission for you, you are not strong enough to carryout.”
That conversation between me and God went on for years. Decades, actually. I remained basically miserable. I could see happiness in others and I was jealous. Why them and not me, God? When will I get my share? Then, I thought I heard a voice say – “You will get your share as soon as you give your share.”
I pondered that statement. And as I pondered – my misery and unhappiness dragged on. More weeks and months went by. Finally, I decided to have another talk with God.
“Look, you’ve got the wrong guy. I can’t carry out the mission or ministry you have set out for me. I don’t deserve any gifts. And, this plan of yours – Well, it’s not for me.”
Frank. Frank. Frank. Oh, ye of little faith. I can wait. I’ve got all eternity to wait. Do you?
I admitted to myself I didn’t. God had me right where He wanted me. I was at the end of my misguided journey with nowhere to turn except to Him. So, facing either a life of misery or putting my trust and life in God’s hands and not knowing what would happen, I did what any self-respecting man would do. I caved. I gave in.
“Okay, you’ve won me over. I’m all yours. I’m all in on your plan. You now have my full attention.”
The result – is this blog. Further plans include maybe 2 or 3 books.
Me? A writer? Like I said, you’ve got the wrong guy. But, Frank you now have the right Guy. You do the work. Let me worry about the results.
So I write and I create these blogs posts and podcasts and whether they touch anyone or not isn’t up to me. Whether I write well or not, isn’t the point. The point is that, I’m working God’s plan and not my own.
But maybe the real point is God brought you here today to read or listen to His words through me to call out to you. To invite you to join God’s team and work His plan. To accept His love. Just know this… When you join God’s team there’s no pay. There’s no glory. And you’re on call 24/7. There’s only one benefit. An incredible assurance plan. Eternal life through Jesus Christ. Oh, I almost forgot – there’s one more benefit. The joy of a life lived God’s way. It’s working for me. It can work for you, too. So is praying a waste of time? Maybe you should pray about that…
Today’s Song: “Won Me Over” – Audrey Assad.
Sometimes I’ll be sitting at our kitchen table, in front of my Macbook or iPad, staring out the window into my beautifully green backyard. A cup of Caribou Coffee at hand. One or both of our cats sitting on the windowsill talking to me. And during these serene moments, occasionally segments of thoughts come rolling through my head. I write them down because they help remind me what life’s all about. I hope they will remind you, too. Enjoy. And if you like these little tidbits – share them with your group or tribe or family.
Getting nowhere is actually getting somewhere. It’s a step back, but it is somewhere. We are never standing still. We are either progressing or regressing. Always. Where are you headed today?
Sooner or later – you have to stop thinking, planning and talking and take action. Taking action is the key to everything!
Always play to win. But know that winning at all cost – is a price no one can afford.
Sometimes, people just need you to listen, not solve their problems.
God is either everything, or He is nothing. There is no 50-50. 60-40, 80-20, You’re either all in – or all out.
Plan for financial success: Give 10% to God. Save 10%. Live on 80%.
If your identity is in your job, house, car, clothes, friends, bank account – you’re missing the whole point of life.
The Beatles were right, “in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”
Choices matter. The most important is who you worship. The second most important is who you marry. Those two choices alone can mean the difference between happiness or misery. Choose wisely.
You know all those marriage vows… For better or worse, richer or poorer, sickness and health? If you can’t keep them. Don’t make them. You may think they’re just words in a ceremony. God considers them a binding contract.
Choose today who you will serve, God or money. You can have both, but you can’t serve both.
Remember when God gave Moses those 10 Commandments? He wasn’t kidding.
Never stop learning. When you stop learning, you stop living.
This one’s a no-brainier. Jail is not fun! Or cool!
When you’re humble you rarely stumble.
You can fall to your knees. But not from them.
The Bible says, be slow to anger. Why? Because once you loose your temper, it’s hard to find it again.
Trust me on this one. Your spouse will never get tired of hearing you say, I love you.
Think before your speak and act.” I’m sorry”, doesn’t always solve the problem.
Children will do what you do. Not what you say.
Loyalty and respect must be earned.
Graham Nash said it best. “Teach Your Children Well.”
It’s a lot easier to “make” a baby than “raise” a baby.
Never read a book and then see the movie. The greatest producer or director in the world can not out imagine your imagination.
The more debt you carry, the harder it is to walk.
Today, you can be the answer to someone’s prayer if you stay alert to what God is doing around you.
Stop worrying! Has worrying ever made anything better?
Feeling lonely? Invite someone over. Feeling unloved? Invite God over.
It doesn’t make any sense, but the more you give – the more you get. It’s working in my life and it can work in yours.
There is no such thing as Heaven on earth. But Kauai comes really close.
You’ll never know the incredible weight of your resentments until you drop them.
The seven deadly sins; Wrath, Greed, Sloth, Pride, Lust, Envy, Gluttony – won’t really kill you. But they will murder your spirit.
Keys to success:
Be better at selling than you are at buying.
Don’t be afraid to laugh. Don’t be afraid to cry.
If your children aren’t into sports, don’t force them to be. If they are, lovingly encourage them. And be there with love when they lose.
Don’t live your life through your children. Instead, let them live theirs through you.
They say there’s no owners manual for being a parent. Yes, there is. It’s called the Bible.
Age is but a number on a page. The Fountain of Youth is found in your state of mind and heart.
Don’t fear death – embrace life.
Heard a great line in a movie. “Everybody dies, but not everybody lives.” it’s true! Don’t let that be you!!!
Sometimes it easier to talk to God face-to-face from your knees. Can’t kneel – a humble heart is just as good.
Today’s verse: Matthew 18:3
3 Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. – New Living Translation (NLT)
Most of us grew up on a playground populated with dangerous pieces of apparatus like swings, monkey bars and the seesaw. And many of us fell off each of those things. Usually to no consequence due to the deep sand on which the playground was constructed. But even deep sand could not soften the blow to our bottoms if your partner fell or jumped off the seesaw when you were on the top position. Marriage is a lot like a seesaw. Only instead of our bottoms, it’s our hearts that get broken when you’re on top and your spouse jumps off the bottom.
Using a seesaw as our metaphor, in a Godly marriage the seesaw is always moving. Somedays your up. Somedays your down.
Now those of us blessed with marriage know the ups and downs. And that’s okay because most of the time the marriage seesaw is level. We’re seeing “eye to eye” and everyone’s happy and smiling. But the seesaw can move unexpectedly if we lose track of how love plays a part in the marriage seesaw.
Think back to your wedding day. Think of the joy, excitement and fear you felt. I don’t remember much of the actual ceremony, but I do remember mindlessly muttering “I Do” to all the questions our pastor was asking.
Frank, as you stand here before God, family and friends, will you love Karen in sickness and health, rich or poor, and the key line – “for better or worse”? Yes, I will. I do. Will you mow the grass in summer and shovel snow in winter? Yes. Will you take out the trash on Wednesday night even if it’s -10 degrees? Absolutley. Will you fix leaky faucets? Yes! Change flat tires? You bet? Give up Monday Night Football? Sure! Uh – wait a minute – what was that last one again ? As I was reciting my vows tears were rolling down my cheeks. Later I thought, were those tears of joy or tears of fears?
Most likely you answered the same way, I did. But man, can the memory of those vows fade quickly. They did for me. However, the memory and meaning of those vows did not fade for God. He expected me to live up to my end of the bargain. The only problem was, I wanted to hold all the power on the marriage seesaw. I wanted Karen to hold me up in shock and awe and do all the work while I ruled the world and our household. Karen would be on the bottom position of the seesaw while I sat in glory over her and all humanity. It was a great plan. Or so I thought. But within weeks – the seesaw started moving.
One day, Karen sprang from her crouched position and the seesaw changed. Now she was on top and I was on the bottom. I didn’t like the view from down there. So I sprang up and our positions reversed again. Those of you who have the pleasure of knowing Karen understand her competitiveness and tenacity. None of which I discovered before our wedding day. Had I done so, I may have not gone to the playground that afternoon. But I did. And vows were hanging over my head. Somedays our seesaw flirted with being level. But level was never really comfortable for me. And one day while sitting on the bottom, I thought I might want to jump off.
Months and years went by. Most of them spent with me on the bottom of the seesaw dreaming of jumping off and letting her come crashing back to earth to hunt for another playground playmate. I was so close, so many times I started to get down on myself for not jumping. “Frank, you hate being on the bottom. And you don’t care much for level either. So just bale! Do it now, she’s not looking.
But those marriage vows would not leave me alone. I tried daily to find a way out. There must be something in those vows a skilled attorney can find fault with. Oh, what the heck – just jump. But just before I did, I had a little talk with God.
There was a lot of yelling on my part. God just sat there taking it all in. I railed on about how Karen wasn’t living up to my expectations. How she had faults I didn’t see during the mindless bliss of courtship. From the seesaw perspective we didn’t see ‘eye to eye” on anything. Especially money. (Sound Familiar?)
Finally, after all my complaining, I came out with what was really bothering me about our marriage. “God, I thought marrying Karen would make my life better. Instead my life is worse. I’m miserable. Now, I know I took those vows and meant it at the time, but given the current circumstances, I think I deserve a mulligan on this one.”
God straightened His position. He had been listening, but was leaning His head on His hand and His arm was resting on the arm of His glorious throne. He cleared His throat and rubbed a little sleep from His eyes and said, “Oh, you thought I put Karen in your life so that your life would be better? Frank, I put you in Karen’s life so that her life would be better. She is to be your #1 ministry. The way a real man becomes head of his household is by ministering to and loving his wife. Not by seesaw intimidation. Not by threatening to jump off. But by seeing her as I do and as you should.”
“When you look at Karen you see a woman. But inside that woman is a beautiful, happy little girl. That’s who you fell in love with. And inside of you is a sweet, kind, thoughtful little boy. That’s who she fell in love with.”
“Remember when I said “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven?” What I mean is you need to see yourself and Karen as I see you. Two innocent little children playing together in a playground.“ Can you picture that scene? If Karen fell from the monkey bars, would you not rush over and help her up and check if there were any scrapes or scratches. If she tumbled from her swing would you not try the catch her?” And would you ever jump off the seesaw and send her crashing to the ground? No, you wouldn’t. That’s why you’re not jumping off the seesaw today or anyday. You made a commitment and I’m holding you to it. I want you to love Karen as I do. From today on – that is your ministry.“
Needless to say I was stunned. That was not the answer I was looking for. I walked around the house for weeks muttering ministry, ministry, ministry. And then I started to minister. I started to see her as the little girl that God created. That God loves as deeply as He loves me. So, I decided to trust and obey God. And you know what? I’m still on the seesaw. Somedays are up. Some days down. And that’s okay. Because most of the time, when I’m in ministry – the seesaw is level and I’m looking into the beautiful eyes of the woman God has chosen for me.
Father – thank you for reminding me that my marriage vows are still as meaningful today as they were nearly 9 years ago. Thank you for showing me what a marriage truly is. Ministry and unconditional love. And 2 little children on a playground – sharing a ride on life’s seesaw.
Todays Song: Dancing In The Mindfields – Andrew Peterson. It’s available on iTunes.
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1 Corinthians 9:25-27
25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.
In a single moment, the life of elite athlete Aaron Hernandez changed forever.
Hernandez is spending his days, these days, behind bars instead of in them. A Massachusetts court has charged him with first degree murder and a host of weapons charges. Police say he shot to death a friend. While I’m no legal expert, I know this. If you’re gonna be charged with murder – the first degree kind is the worst to get.
Essentially, first degree murder means you planned it. It was no accident. No crime of passion. The gun didn’t just go off. You deliberately and willfully pulled the trigger and most likely were glad you did. In the cold bloodedness of a mindset few can comprehend, you took the life of another.
In this fallen world, murder is no stranger. But in the case of Aaron Hernandez, it’s baffling. Hernandez, #81 in your program and formerly #1 in the hearts of New England Patriot fans, was a starting and staring tight end in the NFL.
Do you have any idea how great of an athlete you must be, how dedicated to your craft you need to be, to be a starter in the NFL? It’s not something many can do. Being an athlete is one thing. Being a professional athlete requires a sense of purpose, few of us will ever know, much less comprehend.
In order to compete on the highest level of any sport you must be, what sports-niks call a “gifted athlete”. In other words, at birth, you were blessed by God with physical abilities far beyond those of mere mortal men. At some point you recognized that gift, and developed it to its full potential.
Gifted athletes who develop their gifts to full potential are usually paid millions of dollars a year. Aaron Hernandez was no exception. He was a multi-millionaire. He was loved by fans. Idolized by some and trusted by a few. Now that trust is gone, never to be regained.
Within minutes of his arrest, he was fired from his job as a professional football player. No more millions. No more fans screaming your name on Sunday afternoons in autumn. Now when the name Aaron Hernandez is spoken, it is usually preceded by “the people of Massachusetts verses.”
When the story broke – I was stunned. What? Murder? Why would a guy who has everything do such a thing? And therein lies the problem. Aaron Hernandez had money, fame, glory. But he lacked one important thing. He lacked God. He lacked friends who would find him as he strayed and bring him back to the fold.
When the story broke – I became angry. Then – jealous amazement gripped me. How could a guy who “had” it all, throw it away like that?
He was set for life financially, even if he never played another game in the NFL. “I wanted those gifts Aaron. I want to be set for life. You had all the worldy wealth a man could want and now you have nothing. Good! You’re nothing but a common criminal. A thug! An idiot!”
This poison flowed through my whole being until this morning. I was thinking about the photo many have seen of Hernandez, hand-cuffed before a judge.
A 23 year old boy, once part of a team, now stood alone. The look on his face a picture of what it means to be lost. Without hope. Standing in the quicksand of fear. Fear of what lies ahead. And in that moment , the image of Hernandez in court burning in my mind, everything changed.
In that moment, I saw me standing before God, hand-cuffed by my own crimes. Standing before my Creator. My Judge. A 64 year old boy, once part of a team, now standing alone. The look on my face a picture of what it means to be lost. Without hope. Lost and holding back the fear of what may lay ahead. Shaking at the thought of a death sentence.
Then, my Attorney steps up beside me. He petitions the Heavenly court on my behalf. In a moment that stuns me and causes me to fall to my knees in shock, my Attorney says “Father, forgive him. He knew not what he was doing. I will pay for Frank’s crimes. I will take the punishment Frank deserves. Spare this little boy Father. Put his burden on my shoulders.”
In a moment, everything inside me changed – I prayed for Aaron Henandez and will continue to do so. I can longer cast the first stone. Someday, Aaron Hernandez will stand before God. Hand-cuffed by his crimes.
Then, his Attorney will step up beside him and petition the Heavenly court on his behalf. In a moment that stuns him and causes him to fall to his knees in shock, Aaron’s Attorney will say “Father, forgive him. He knew not what he was doing. I will pay for Aaron’s crimes. I will take the punishment Aaron deserves. Spare this little boy Father. Put his burden on my shoulders.”
Why? Why would Jesus do this for Aaron? For me? For you? Why? Why? Why?
Because God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son so that whoever believes in Him may not be lost, but have eternal life.
Today’s Song: “We Will Remain” – Dave Pettigrew. http://www.davepettigrew.net