A Tale of Two Grandmothers

At The Church at Avenue South this morning, the guest pastor, Hunter Melton, talked about how four women played an integral part in the spreading of the resurrection news on that first Easter Sunday.

It may not seem like a big deal now, but in a 1st century world were women were seen as second class citizens and had little to no rights, this was revolutionary for the gospel writers to include them.

I’m certain that most of you can point back to at least one woman who helped to shape who you are today. I know that I can point to at least (but not limited to) two women– both my grandmothers, Iris and Ruby.

Iris was a lady who loved her Bible and loved her hymns. She was almost always talking about her love for Jesus or singing one of the old hymns that you don’t hear much of these days. She definitely had a huge impact on my faith.

Ruby didn’t vocalize her faith as much but she sure did live it out. She was always ready to help out and lend a hand. She made incredible sacrifices for her friends and family, and we are all better for it.

I miss both of them. If you have one or both of your grandmothers, take every opportunity to let them know how much you love them and how much they mean to you. Don’t just call– go and see them and spend time with them and listen to their stories (even if they get repeated a few times).

If you are a mother or grandmother, never take for granted the incredible influence you have on the next generations. If you are faithful to be present in the lives of your children and grandchildren, one day they will rise up and call you blessed.

My Bracket’s Got a Hole In It

Busted-Bracket

I recently checked my NCAA basketball tournament brackets– you know, the ones that were supposed to make me rich beyond my wildest dreams and completely irresistible to women?Yeah, that one– and was more than pleasantly surprised at one of them.

As it turns out, my Fox Sports bracket was doing better than 99.6% of all the brackets out there. If I believed in jinxes, which I do not, I would have thought that I jinxed myself. That was as good as it got for my bracket.

After that, my brackets went in a direction decidedly warm and southward in a handbasket. Three of my Final Four teams lost, including the team I had pegged to win it all. The team a LOT of people had marked to win it all– Michigan State. They lost. So did my runner-up, Michigan.

So, I won’t be rollin’ in a Rolls Royce or Maserati anytime soon. But I had fun filling out my brackets. And at least I got this far before my brackets busted. Unlike most of my efforts in the past.

For those of you who don’t follow sports, it means that the world didn’t end. I didn’t have any money to bet on these games, so I didn’t lose any. Not that I would EVER have bet money on sports, says the good Baptist boy.

Nothing will happen to me other than maybe me being knocked down a rung or two on the ol’ ladder of my sports pride.

I’ll be back next year, filling out as many brackets as humanly possible and basing all my picks on gut instinct and my sportly intuition. Which loosely translated looks a lot like eeny-meeny-miney-moe. . . .

I have no illusions about having a perfect bracket. I just hope my championship pick doesn’t lose in the first round.

 

An Advent Prayer for Every Man I Know

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This is my prayer and my challenge for you men.

I pray you will be men, regardless of how politically incorrect or culturally unpopular it is. I pray you will have strong values and convictions and then be strong and brave to live up to those.

I pray you will learn how to look past a woman’s outward attractiveness to the true beauty within, that you see every woman not as an object but as a Princess, bought and paid for by her King.

I pray you will find your own Princess in God’s perfect time and you will learn to love her like Christ loves His own Bride and lay down your life for her every single day of the rest of your life.

I pray you rediscover the wonder and awe of the Advent season, that you learn again to laugh unabashedly with delight and to weep unashamedly with tears of both sorrow and joy.

I pray you find your own example in Joseph, who once He understood God’s plan, took Mary for His wife and raised Jesus as His own Son and whose obedience and faithfulness was mirrored in Jesus’ own obedience and faithfulness to the Father.

If you’re married, I pray your wife and children will see you falling in love with Jesus and living out that love. I pray you will lead your family by being not the stern taskmaster but the toweled feet-washer, the servant who leads by example.

May the greatest gift you receive this Christmas be a reaffirmation of knowing that your Abba really is fond of you. May your affirmation and identity come not from your wife or your family or your career or your house or your car but from being a Prince, bought and paid for by your King.

Last, always remember this: don’t be a guy. The world is full of guys. Be a man. Be a gentleman.

An Advent Prayer for Every Woman I Know

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Note: There will be two of these. One for all my women friends and one for all my men friends. The prayer for all the men I know will (hopefully) show up on here tomorrow.

I’m praying for you tonight on the Eve of the 2nd Sunday of Advent.

I pray God’s joy invades your hearts tomorrow as you witness the lighting of the Candle of Preparation. May you truly feel the love of your Abba for you in all its fullness and depth and height and completeness.

I’m praying you continue to revel in your femininity and that you let the love of Christ define you, not your marital status, your career, your children, your weight, your reflection in the mirror, or anything else. May you only believe the voice of the One calling you His Beloved Daughter above all the other voices (including your own) calling you a myriad of other names.

I pray you’re making your heart ready to receive the Christ Child this Christmas. With all the busyness of the season, it’s so easy to forget WHY we are buying all these gifts and celebrating with so many parties and get-togethers, but remember it’s Jesus’ birthday we’re celebrating.

I pray you can reach outside of yourself to bring comfort to the ones around you who grieve, hope to the ones around you who despair, and a cup of cold water to those around you in need of the basic necessities.

To all my single friends: may God bless you with a godly man who will sweep you off your feet and show you the true meaning of Romance, not out of a Hollywood movie or a novel but out of God’s Ultimate Love Story where He wooed His own Bride with tender words of compassion. May you find a man who will love you as Christ loves His Church.

To all my married friends: may you be reminded that while your husband and children are gifts, they are not your world. Jesus, who came to us so long ago, is the only one big enough and strong enough to be your entire world. May you see them through the eyes of Christ this year and be more than ever a conduit of His blessing to them.

May you be able to truly experience every part of Christmas this year and find the same awe and wonder that the Shepherds and Wise Men once did so very long ago. May the best gift you receive this year be a heart captivated and enthralled all over again by this Baby born in Bethlehem who grew up to be King.

Amen.

 

Counting Crows and Everything After

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I drove home tonight with a Counting Crows CD playing in my car. I know the hipsters either listen to digital streaming or old-school LPs, but I still like my CDs. And yes, I was singing at the top of my lungs, not caring if I looked ridiculous to the fellow drivers.

Music takes me to a happy place. So does good writing.

I read something today that was written to women, but with a little work, I think I can take away something for me as well. It goes like this:

“You’re fine exactly as you are.
Your curves, words, flaws, strengths, thoughts.
You don’t have to change.
You aren’t fat, stupid, or worthless.
You are you.
You are amazing.
You are wonderful.”

I think those could be God’s words to His children tonight. No wait . . . I know those are God’s words to YOU tonight. Right where you are, sitting in your robe with curlers in your hair. Or sitting in your t-shirt and boxers with hair defying all the laws of gravity.

A random sire note: I spent too much time trying to find this on Pinterest again after I lost it the first time. I wanted to share it with a friend of mine who needs this reminder. I almost forgot that maybe it was me who needed reminding more than anyone else.

God loves you exactly the way you are. That makes you loveable. That makes you valuable. That makes you somebody. That defines and completes and identifies you.

You may need to lose 10 (or more) pounds. You may not always like the person who looks back at you from the other side of the mirror. You may hate your job and your life and even yourself at times.

But you are amazing. You are wonderful. You are beautiful.

And you are the apple of God’s eye, the delight of His heart, and His beloved Daughter or Son.

Don’t ever forget that.

In Search of Boaz and Ruth in the 21st Century (Yet Another Blog About Singleness)

I had a good friend commenting on how she couldn’t find any men who fit the role of Boaz in the Bible. I have to agree. Not too many godly men stepping up and taking charge spiritually. There are lots of guys out there, but not nearly as many real men.

Then again, as a single guy, I have a hard time finding Ruths. There aren’t too many women pursuing godliness with a passion these days. As before, there are a lot of girls out there, but not too many real godly women.

Then I got to thinking on the way home. Maybe the problem is me. Maybe I’m not finding my Ruth because I’m not trying consistently to be a Boaz. I’m all for godliness and holiness when it’s convenient and cheap, but not so much when it takes time and costs me something.

If I’m looking for certain qualities in a mate, I need to have those showing in my own life. Or at least I need to be developing those characteristics. I can’t expect kindness in a future mate if I don’t show it myself. I can’t expect deep spirituality if I am shallow when it comes to the things of God.

I think this applies to married people as well. You can’t expect your spouse to be something you’re not willing to be. You have to own up to your part and change yourself before you demand change from your husband or wife.

I know I have a lot of work to do before I can call myself a godly man. Sometimes, it seems like an impossible task and I feel like I will never get there. But God is best at taking the impossible and making it reality.

So before you point the finger at the opposite sex, make sure you look in the mirror first and find out if you need to get your priorities right first. That’s all.

 

 

 

What true beauty looks like (from a guy’s perspective)

grace kelly

This may get me into trouble. I’m venturing out beyond my comfort zone into uncharted territory for me as a man. I am probably way out of my league on this, but here’s what I believe about true feminine beauty. So read it with a dash of salt and a touch of grace (or more like a whole heaping handful of grace).

True beauty is more about character than cosmetics. Instead of putting on the latest fashion, it’s about putting on “compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it” (Colossians 3:12).” Some questions I would ask any woman who wants to be known for her beauty are: 1) How do you treat those who are different than you? 2) Do you go out of your way to associate with those who are not in your social circles, and possibly beneath you in terms of societal rankings? 3) Have you given of yourself to someone you know will never be able to repay you?

In my opinion, true beauty means a woman need not always try to prove or justify herself. It means that she knows who she is, or better yet Whose she is. That she is a daughter of the King, a princess and knows how to act like one. It means that if I ever want to pursue and court her, I must treat her like the princess and child of God she is. True beauty means that if I took her and turned her over, I would see God’s signature as proof of her priceless worth (and yes, that one came from Mike Glenn, not me. Gotta give props where props are due!)

Charm is deceitful and beauty of the outer kind is vain and fleeting. But fearing the Lord is what makes a woman lovely. I have always thought that Grace Kelly was one of the most beautiful women ever, and I think it’s because you see gentleness and kindness in her eyes.

I’ve changed a lot in my views about what makes a woman beautiful. Now I think what makes her beautiful is her transparency, where Christ shines brightest through her. That’s what I want in a wife. That and a sense of humor, cause she’s pretty much gonna need it with me. And maybe Rachel Ray’s cooking skills. Ok, that last part was a joke. Maybe.

I’ve probably got a whole lot to learn about this topic, but I hope I’ve made a good start. Which is always being willing to admit how little you know about what you thought you had all figured out. That’s where I am.