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I Will See You Again, My Uncle, My Friend

I Will See You Again, My Uncle, My Friend

We give back to you, O God, our uncle, brother and friend, whom you gave to us.  You did not lose him when you gave him to us and we do not lose him when he returns to you.

Your dear Son, Jesus Christ, has taught us that life is eternal and love cannot die, so death is only a horizon and a horizon is only the limit of our sight.  Open our eyes to see more clearly and draw us close to you that we may know that we are nearer to our loved ones, who are with you.  You have told us that you are preparing a place for us; prepare us also for that happy place, that where you are we may also be always, O dear Lord of life and death.

You'll forever be among these Harts in our hearts.  

I will remember the last words of scripture that we shared together just weeks ago:

33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. – Matthew 6

We're not worried Uncle.  We know that today you are singing praises of joy and peace to our King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  We are only praying for God's favor and grace, that we might be a strong tower as you were, a man of faith as you were.  Despite your challenges and struggles, you loved the Lord with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your might!  You always encouraged, always smiled, always loved!  We will remember the example of Christ-like character that you left within our hearts, and we'll be okay.

Marriage: Becoming One Flesh

Marriage: Becoming One Flesh

Today’s post has become a disease to our society and especially personal to me, as I watch close friends of mine who have either ended or are seeking to end their marriages, destroying 2 individuals, their kids, their families, their businesses and their communities and future generations in the process.

Fellas, I’m directing today’s energy right at us.  What are we as men doing to help sustain our marriage and our families?  What are we doing to fight off the sexual immorality and lust, and all the temptations we have to be selfish?  Are we thinking only about ourselves and our desires that conflict with us being able to realize and experience a successful relationship with our spouses?

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh [Genesis 2:24]

When we made the choice to devote the rest of our lives to becoming one flesh, there wasn’t any fine print on that vow that said:

Marriage is not gonna work out all the time and if I’m selfish and feeling like I wanna go find another woman and not work on this marriage anymore, that’s fine, God will forgive me and waive my vows in this particular instance.  Requirement for me staying in this marriage will vary based on my wife’s attitude and willingness to have sex with me whenever I want. Estimated time commitment in this marriage is limited to when I have time left, after work, hanging with the boys and watching enough NFL, NBA, NHL, MLS, or any other sporting event I feel is warranted to occupy my time ahead of my spending time with my wife and attempting to make my marriage work. My marriage can surely end if I find me someone cuter, smarter, or who is more willing to participate in my manly activities that my wife does not want to take part in. My wife is limited to anything I deem is off limits or I will simply file a divorce. See your local divorcee for more advice and details on how to destroy your life.

The bible says in Proverbs [spp-timestamp time="18:22"] “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.”

Guys, did you realize that God shows you favor by way of your wife.  One of the common problems for all men is that we always think the grass is greener on the other side, and it’s not.  The Grass is greener where you water it!

So many spouses think ‘this isn’t the best person for me’.  Well let’s see what the statistics say about this common thought that we allow to destroy lives:

According to research data on the divorce rate in America:
The divorce rate in America for first marriages is 41%
The divorce rate in America for second marriages is 60%
The divorce rate in America for third marriages is 73%

Guys, it doesn’t get better with the 2nd or 3rd wife.  In fact, it’s going to get lots worse.  You’re going to be prone to thinking you can always start over! So instead of quitting on the first, why not work at it a little more?  You’re more likely to keep her, than you are to keep any other!

There’s so much to be said about things you shouldn’t do that will cause you to go down the wrong path that can lead to divorce.  I could write tons of blog posts on what NOT to do.  But I won’t.  Instead I’ll tell you the things that work for Kristin and I that help me to sustain our marriage and keep a happy wife:

1. COMMUNICATION – good or bad, we talk everyday!  Guys, we men are horrible at listening.  Learn to listen.  It’s my worst possible trait, but I truly commit to asking “Honey, how was your day?”  and just shut up and listen.  We all know women can talk and love to talk.  But you pick up nuggets of info that help you both stay in a loop and stay connected.  If you’re mad about something, don’t keep it bottled in, talk about it… but talk civilized.  Nothing is worse that getting yelled at about something and immediately, you’re on the defensive.  Speak as you would like to be spoken to by your spouse.  We rarely ever go to bed on an argument and because we talk so much, we honestly rarely argue!  Don’t get me wrong, we aren’t perfect, not every talk ends with us feeling all warm and fuzzy, but we both get our thoughts out on the table, leaving no room for assumptions.  And the assumptions that boil up inside and manifest themselves over time are what can be deadly when they come out!  So keep talking to each other regularly, no matter what.

I remember when Kristin was training last year for her 60 mile breast cancer walk.  We’d walk for hours, literally 3 – 4 hours at a time and we’d just talk the whole time.  At first we wondered, what the heck can we talk about for that time, but we did fine for months.  We became even closer because of it.  So just remember to talk together as much as you can and as often as you can!

2. BALANCE –  Many guys think their wives should always cook, clean, iron, and do all the other domestic chores, plus take care of kids, us and home.  Grow up!  We’re living in 2010.  If you want to maintain a happy home and keep her around for a long time, learn to cook her a meal she enjoys once in a while.  It’s not rocket science, jump on stumbleupon.com and select food, you’ll see some insane recipes to some mighty delicious stuff.  You’ll have your wife talking about you for weeks to all her friends and family!!   Learn to wash the clothes for you and her and the kids once in a while.  If nothing else, you’ll appreciate the energy and time that goes into that chore.  Lastly, take the kids for no reason and every once in a while, invite her to have a night out with her girls, without you.  Guys, these are tips that will surely keep her sane and happy!  And it will add the balance that you both need to continue growing as individuals.

3. COURT HER OFTEN – Anyone wants to call my house and ask my wife how many times a day I tell her I love her?  Lol.  It’s probably something she honestly gets sick of.  But I tell her a bunch of times every day that I do.  Before the baby was born, we’d often commit one day or event each week to Kristin and Stephen time.  Meaning, we had a DATE NIGHT.  You should try that if you don’t presently.  We had Kristin’s brother babysit twice in the past month for us to continue on, so don’t make it an excuse with kids.  We’ve done it twice in the past month with a 7 week old!  You can still get out!  It’s important.

I could choose to go on and will likely follow up with many posts to this.  But let’s remember that our marriage vows are to be there in good times and bad, in sickness and health.    The day we accepted those vows for better or worse we didn’t say ‘til DIVORCE we part’…. NO, we said, til death do we part. This being said, please don’t go killing your wife! lol. Love your wife, support your wife, encourage your wife, listen to your wife, speak to your wife, date your wife, challenge your wife’s growth.  Lastly, pray for your wife daily!  And on occasion, don’t be afraid to ask her to pray for you too.  I love to hear my wife pray over me.  It’s the most awesome thing in the world to me.

Married folk, keep fighting.  Don’t give in to divorce.  Please keep me prayed up too, that my own relationship stays true to what I have been able to live out above.  God bless you guys.

3 Ways To Live A Life To Be Remembered

3 Ways To Live A Life To Be Remembered

Our lives come and our lives go, like the wind!

For many of us, we plan our lives as kids on becoming sports stars, musicians, actors, lawyers, doctors and the like.  We aspire towards greatness.  We all bask in the obsessions to get a $100 million contract like Lebron or Dwayne Wade did this past week in Miami or we hope to make $65 million in a year someday like Jay  Z did last year.

Our society encourages us as kids to become the popular and most liked.  We are taught that money is the key to success and happiness.  But how many will remember my favorite basketball player, Dwayne Wade 100 years from now in the year 2110?

Truth be told, we all encounter experiences that take each of us down different paths, and into various professions and unique life circumstances.  Rarely does the world paint a fun picture of being a model garbage man or electrician or painter or pastor or real estate agent or sales man or chef or receptionist.  But there are more of us that fall into these roles than the above ‘pie in the sky’ professions.  And funny enough, many of those who are often remembered centuries later, are from the latter.

Does it mean that our society is failing our sons and daughters by allowing them to think they’ve got to be one of the ‘popular’ Wade’s or ‘Brons to be remembered and to be a great success of all time?  Would it be fair to say money and fame don’t guarantee lasting memories as society would have you believe?

Despite our life’s experiences, our failures and successes, we all have something positive to share.  More and more, we see people dying around us with all the money and fame in the world, but totally unhappy and without much to be remembered long term.  A near distant memory of my point here is Michael Jackson.  All the fame in the world.  A pop icon of our generation.  But how will his life be remembered?  Who will talk about him in 1,000 years?  What, if anything, will be remembered and passed on?

I believe it’s important that we begin to paint a new picture.  I believe that we should begin to share a vision with our generation, both present and future, that explains that life can be a success without the monetary success and material elements which we can’t take along when we pass.

Here are my 3 Ways To Live A Life To Be Remembered:

Leave a Legacy for your children, family and community to emulate.

Despite your profession or monetary gains, if you live and leave a legacy to be remembered by your children, family and community, they will likely take that on with them, into their lives and pass that on to their children, families and communities.  The simple legacy you leave to a few, could be responsible for many hundreds or thousands in the generations to follow.   A positive legacy doesn’t have to be monetary.  It can be so much more than money could ever buy!

My grandmother left a legacy of spiritual strength, passed on to my dad, and from my dad to my sister and I.  I only hope my life’s legacy will leave some of the great principles imparted to me, on to my daughter and so on.  The gifts of being honest, noble and self-sacrificing, are some of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from my dad, and will be some of the lessons that can keep my generations to come, in line with the right way of living out their own lives in the years to come.

You serve magnanimously, giving much more to your world than you take away.

We all have heard that “It is more blessed to give than to receive” ( NIV – Acts [spp-timestamp time="20:35"]).  That is so true, but how many of us want this car and that house, but are not willing to sacrifice our time or resources to give back to the world in return!

There are men and women in the bible that gave heartily and entirely for the benefit of generations who followed them.  For an example of this, we can look into the life of Abraham in the bible.  Here’s a man who believed in God’s promises which shaped his life and more so, the lives of his offsprings for thousands of years after he was gone from the earth!  Abraham (meaning “Father of Multitudes”) broke the legacy of his ancestors who were idolators, and instead left a legacy remembered for generations to come, by his service to God.  He served his God righteously, even willing to sacrifice his son, for his faith and belief.

If you happen to live to be remembered, it becomes timeless and unforgettable.

The best example of someone whose life is timeless to me is Jesus.  No friend or family member of mine can tell me about their own great great great grandfather (only 5 generations ago) in a personal way and describe the life they lived and what people remembered about their actions and experiences.  Very few people can describe even 3 or 4 generations before.  We often wonder about and research the history of our ancestors, but it must not have been that great a life, that 100 or 200 years later, no one in our lineage remembers a speck of what their life was all about.  And in most cases, we are only able to find minor details of a person’s full life.

Even with us being unable to source someone in our lineage 100 years ago,  billions of people all across the globe today are able to talk about the life of Jesus, the perfect life he lived, the miracles he performed, the knowledge and wisdom he shared with his disciples and community. The selfless sacrifice he made dying on the cross is remembered to this day by people like you and I.

Just think about that for a minute.  The bible paints a picture full of color, full of life!  Over 2,000 years has passed and we still can read about, talk about, and live out Jesus’ principles and example today.

Now, if Jesus didn’t live such a profound life worth remembering, would He be that big an influence on billions of believers today?  Would there have been enough about his life’s story that was recorded?  What did He do for others, that allowed so many to remember so much in detail, that different authors were able to write the Gospels and so many other books and letters about him, that all tell about our Lord and Savior so clearly…

Would He have been remembered so many centuries into the future, that we could read about Him and know how awesome he was, had he not lived a life to remember?

The above being said, it leaves me to believe that my life can best be remembered by attempting to emulate the timeless perfection of those that live on and endure on forever.  It leaves me to believe that I must not allow my life to wither away, forgotten in 3 generations from now.

Wouldn't it be great if we were all to become men and women that are remembered for our goodness and righteousness?  Isn't it even more important that we're  focused on leaving positive legacies, serving with a selfless sacrifice, and attempting to emulate the life of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?  If more of us do more of that, we’ll see more of our future generation, yearning to be more like Jesus than Jay Z, more like Abraham than like Lebron, and more like Joseph than like … ((you name it)).

Let us all live on, and live lives to be remembered!

 

 

Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash

Prepared?

Prepared?

Death.  Feared by so many, yet guaranteed to all.

True?  Well, as a sensible man, I know that my time is limited and that our physical bodies will pass on some day.  That being said, as a Christian man, I also believe the Word, specifically John 14:3 that says:

3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

Each day, I like most of you, get up to the sound of my blackberry’s alarm.  With this ‘smart’ phone in my hand and my entrepreneurial mind immediately thinking about work, I’m easily caught jumping into my email app scanning my phone seconds after opening my eyes to see what challenges await me for that day!

Before you know it, I shove breakfast down my throat, help change a poopy diaper, do a good deed errand for the wife and bam, I’m off to the next ‘world ending’ work tasks for my day!  There are days (more often than I’d like to admit) where I’m even bypassing the breakfast, poopy diaper and even a kiss from the wife, to run and address a critical work task that must get done now!

Next thing you know, lunch flies by, then a conference call, preparing needed agreements to send to a broker, delivering a great client presentations… Wow!  Before you know it, it’s late!  Need to rush and go help the Mrs. with the baby, dinner and the chores that are a must do for that day!  10.30 /11p, I’m feeding baby, while sending late night emails or writing posts like this, that I forget to tend to and of course, attempting to close off the day (or night) really strong, before I fall asleep.  Great day huh?

Beep Beep Beep!  There goes that blackberry again!  Let’s start that all over again from 3 paragraphs ago… here’s where the record is scratched and repeats itself over and over again!  Listen, your story might not be the exact same as mine, but may be more similar than you think.

We all are consumed these days by our work, families, friends, projects, schools, churches, chores… all the important areas of our life, right?  Well, as you saw above, where did I prioritize God’s time?  Where did I find time to pray?  Where did I make quiet time for getting into the Word?

See the bible passage I’d shared above is followed by verse 4 that reads:

4You know the way to the place where I am going.

Well, the way to the Father’s house that Jesus was referencing sure isn’t by doing all those ‘other’ things listed above.  Just cause you put your all into your work and family and kids, doesn’t mean much here in the heavenly realms.  Don’t get me wrong, I know these are all good things to do and we all have our lives to get on with, but it doesn’t go without saying that there’s more that’s needed by our Father in heaven.

The way as shown in verse 4 above, demands so much more of us as Christian men and women.  It demands us setting aside even a little time right from that first second we open our eyes, to say:

THANK YOU JESUS for today!  Jesus I’m trusting you to direct my paths today to serve your kingdom and your will.

Doesn’t have to be an all day affair, but it’s got to be there somewhere in your day!  We’ve just all got to pray more daily…

I’m still victim to scanning those emails on occasion, but I’ve been combating it by my download of Youversion.com’s bible app on my blackberry, so even if I don’t get out of bed right away, I’ve got a bible right there at my fingertips, and I’ll at least attempt to snag 2 minutes to read a couple verses and pray, before jumping into the day’s hectic routines.

I promise you this, death to the flesh is guaranteed to all.  But if we live our lives attempting to put God first, then we stand a better chance that Jesus will take us to be with Him in His Father’s house someday, as He’s promised to those, IF He goes and prepares a place for us.  Big IF!  Wouldn’t want to miss out on that offer because of my daily ‘world ending’ work tasks, chores and other to dos!

If nothing else, we’ve got to look at our days, prioritize even 10 minutes of quiet time to spend reading the Word and worshiping in our own way.  Hard for many to comprehend, but the more that we find ourselves growing in Christ, is the more our preparation for that guaranteed last day begins to seem less and less scary.   This is because we know that our time here isn't the end, IF we trust God and believe (have faith) that we'll spend an eternity with Jesus and His Father.

I pray God’s blessings on each and every man woman and child today, that we would all prioritize our days to make time for the creator who gave us our days to begin with.  I really hope we all live a long, happy and healthy life, and hope we each find our unique purpose to serve and fulfill His will on this earth.

Be blessed and don’t forget John 14:6 –

6 No one comes to the Father except through me.

Let's make sure we know Him and take the necessary steps daily to ensure that we're prepared!

Cheers,

 

 

Photo by Samuel Martins on Unsplash

Becoming a father!

Becoming a father!

This month began on June 1 with the greatest level of joy my life has experienced to this point, as my wife went into labor with our first child.  The early hours of that morning were then followed by great fear, anxiety and worry, as both Kristin and our baby began having serious complications, which lead quickly to the doctors calling for an emergency C section.

I remember standing up as they were taking the baby from inside her, the indescribable joy of seeing my first child come free from the umbilical cord that was wrapped around her neck.  The tears and emotions were quickly tamed though, as I watched and wondered how my wife and best friend was doing, as she lay on that operating table, almost lifeless, as she was being put back together.

In the hours and days that followed, I was called on to be the best father and husband I could be.  Though I knew little about newborns, I had to fill the void of Kristin being immobile.  I had the two ladies of my life, both dependent on me to help care for them.  I wondered then and still do today, if some men knew how much went into delivering a child, if we would have so many abandoned women and children.   See, there was so much that Kristin couldn’t do, and mostly things you need a companion,  partner, spouse, trusted friend, to do, that no doctor or nurse can do without embarrassing the new mom.  I filled that void and did it proudly, but how many women will sit in a hospital room by themselves, or with husbands that scorn the process, not realizing the sacrifice made for them to have the badge of father?

As husbands, we will never know and truly understand the sacrifice that is made, both physically, mentally, emotionally, by the women that bring our children into the world

The point being made above, is that as husbands, we will never know and truly understand the sacrifice that is made, both physically, mentally, emotionally, by the women that bring our children into the world.  It is our responsibility as men, to be the supporting arm through that time and we should hold ourselves and the men around us accountable to that.  We must encourage new husbands and fathers to man up and be proud to fill these shoes.

I can remember my wife thanking me for taking care of her and I just thought to myself, why thank me, when you just gave your entire body as a sacrifice to bring a child into the world, so that I could enjoy the title of being a Dad.

1 Timothy 5:8 reads If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

I know this posting is a very isolated event in my life, but it goes without saying that I was called by God on June 1st, 2010 at 8.18am to stand next to my wife and receive the blessing that is our daughter into this world.  It’s an important day that I’ll never forget as long as I live, and I thought it was important enough that I stress the importance to other men, of being a strong man, a loving and caring husband and begin the steps, if you’re like me, of being a stellar dad.  I’ve got years of experiences and challenges ahead, but for that moment, I can assure you that both my wife and I grew our love towards each other in those days that followed and it strengthened our bond and respect for each other.

I always echo a phrase that I find applicable to end this post with:

It’s the simple things in life that define you!

Make sure that you are a great dad and husband in all you do.

 

 

Photo by Benji Aird on Unsplash