Well, birthdays are a special treat in my family. As they should be I suppose. After all, it is a day of celebrating the gift of life that God has given us. Every year when it comes to my birthday, I observe a tradition that I have developed over the years. It goes something like this. I wake up and before I do anything else, I kneel beside my bed. Then I thank God for the previous year and dedicate myself afresh to Him and His purposes. Don’t think there is anything special about it, but I think it is more for me than anything. Throughout the Bible we see men and women acknowledge God in their life. One promise I hold on to as a believer of Jesus Christ is Proverbs 3:5-6 -”Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and He will make your paths straight.” To me this acknowledgment comes in the form of yielding to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised He would send ‘Another One’, the Holy Spirit who would guide and lead us. I am thankful for another year, and hope I can walk more by the leading of God than my own ambition and desires.
Transition is one thing any church will go through as you grow. I recently read a great book titled Steering Through Chaos. The book is written by Scott Wilson who is the Lead Pastor of The Oaks in Dallas, TX. It is a book that really outlines how to navigate through all the different things a church can face.
Scott really addresses how we as leaders should respond to transitions and the uncomfortable place that change brings. It really resonated with our church that while your church is in transition it is important how and when leaders communicate. It really determines how we will make it through the transition. I really like how Scott coaches pastors on how to take on different aspects of opportunities and avoiding obstacles.
All around this book is a must read for every leader. No matter where you are, you can be sure your church will go through transitions. The principles will help you develop your map for transition. I highly recommend it!
I get a devotional emailed to me everyday called God Calling. The one I received yesterday was very appropriate as we start a new year. There are new opportunities for us and we have to make the most of everyone. Read it, be encouraged. Your life counts!
God Calling: Arm of Love
You are to help to save others. Never let one day pass when you have not reached out an arm of Love to someone outside your home - a note, a letter, a visit, help in some way.
Be full of Joy. Joy saves. Joy cures. Joy in Me. In every ray of sunlight, every smile, every act of kindness, or love, every trifling service - joy.
Each day do something to lift another soul out of the sea of sin, or disease or doubt into which man has fallen. I still walk today by the lakeside and call My Disciples to follow Me and to become fishers of men.
The helping hand is needed that raises the helpless to courage, to struggle, to faith, to health. Love. Laugh. Love and laughter are the beckoners to faith and courage. Trust on, love on, joy on.
Refuse to be downcast. Refuse to be checked in your upward climb. Love and laugh. I am with you. I bear your burdens. Cast your burden upon Me and I will sustain thee. And then in very lightheartedness you turn and help another with the burden that is pressing too heavily upon him or her.
How many burdens can you lighten this year? How many hearts can you cheer? How many souls can you help?
And in giving you gain: “Good measure, pressed down, and running over.” I your Lord have said it.
Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart; wait, I say, on the Lord. Psalm 27:14
Saw this great article on CNN.com about marriage. Marriage is meant to be forever.
Stay married if you want kids
By Leah Ward Sears, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Leah Ward Sears is a retired chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court and is a partner at the Atlanta office of Schiff Hardin, LLP. Sears also serves as the William Thomas Sears Distinguished Fellow in Family Law at the Institute for American Values and is a visiting professor on family law issues at the University of Georgia School of Law.
(CNN) — Much has been written about the Obamas’ marriage. The president and first lady have attested to the long and hard work it takes to stay involved and connected to each other while maintaining their separate identities.
Undoubtedly, sustaining a marriage is sometimes hard, as the first lady noted.
But the Obamas are an excellent example of how the fruits of marriage can be realized by those who are committed to reconciling their differences and “toughing it out.”
The problem is that, today, too few couples are willing to make such a commitment. Ever since California became the first state to sanction no-fault divorce law 40 years ago, with every state in essence following suit — some with certain stipulations — the most fundamental thread in the fabric of our American values, the institution of marriage, has been unraveling.
Before I retired from the bench a few months ago, it was my job as a judge to sort through all the issues rising, in part, from the growing lack of reverence many Americans have for marriage. In court, I often saw humanity’s worst behavior. I also dealt with teenage mothers, absentee fathers and parents who have never been married, often by choice.
I saw parents who didn’t seem able or willing to connect their children’s problems with their own failure to provide their children with the necessary road map to self-sufficiency and productivity. And these families didn’t just show up in my courtroom. They exist everywhere.
The U.S. Marriage Index shows a dramatic decline in the health of marriage in recent decades. America is a society that requires its citizens to make choices and penalizes them, often harshly, for the wrong ones.
As a child grows up, the guideposts should be: finish school; become a productive citizen; marry a person you want to spend your life with; and, if you want, have children. In that order.
But many Americans are failing their children because they have already failed themselves. They often enter the court system with domestic problems and low-wage jobs, slim educational credentials and no life partners.
It broke my heart to see so many children raising babies before they are ready: young people who made no connection between the poverty and chaos in their lives and the choices they had made.
My options in addressing these problems from the bench were limited. The courtroom is seldom the stage at which social change takes place. By the time these cases appeared in court, so much damage had already been done.
What our society needs is a solution on the front end. We should begin by considering six points:
Let’s stop glorifying single parenthood. Celebrity unwed parents like “Brangelina,” Halle Berry and the late Michael Jackson make matrimony seem unimportant and suggest that having a baby as a single parent is “cool” and even easy.
Our children need a reality check. Many young people think that having a child means that they will finally have someone who will unconditionally love them. They don’t consider, however, that babies do not and cannot love anyone but themselves, and they also take a tremendous amount of time, attention and resources.
Memo to single mothers by choice: When you decide to have a child alone in order to fulfill your deep need to parent, you may be deliberately substituting your emotional loss for that of your child, who will have to grow up without a father.
We need to respect the role of men as husbands and fathers when they do right by their families. Boys and girls need their fathers to love them and to model the sacrifice and commitment that bonds a married couple. Men who “man up” like this need our support and encouragement.
Our state legislatures should revisit no-fault divorce laws that allow one party to a marriage to opt out of it too easily.
Change now can result in change in the future. Although there are many success stories, children who grow up in single-parent families are less likely to enjoy the financial security, educational success and social skills of children living with their married parents. This only continues to fuel poverty and inequality in our country.
By the way, I’m neither a strait-laced goody-two-shoes nor Archie Bunker in heels. I would never condemn anyone who has had a child out of wedlock or who has gone through a divorce.
I was a divorcee, and with two children, I was also a single mom. So I know that these things happen. Indeed, sometimes they must happen. And because they do, we need to respect every family form.
But I’ve been around long enough to know that as marriage goes, so go our children. And with them goes the future of our country. Consequently, everyone — rich or poor, single or married or divorced, gay or straight, all races and colors, from the first family to the single-parent family — benefits from a vibrant marriage culture.
We have been in a series called “In the House” at our church (The Life Church of Memphis). Each weekend has focused on one area that we feel we are graced as a church to make a difference for the kingdom. We showed this video and spoke about how we are graced for Outreach…serving those in our community. We shared the great verse from Isaiah 6:8 - Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”.
So the past couple of years I have been running more than I have in a long time. I have run many 5ks, 10ks, a couple of half-marathons and even the beast itself, the full marathon. Yes, the 26.2 miles of pain. Recently I read a book called Born to Run by Christopher McDougall.
It has intrigued me about this idea of barefoot running. Our natural running gate is best seen when we run without the thick soles on your average running shoe. When I trained for my marathons I had a lot of IT problems. This is a cause of striking with your heel first instead of your mid sole….so the critics say. A friend of mine has been running with these weird shoes called Vibram Fivefingers mentioned in the book Born to Run. He lent me an old pair and I took a stab at running in them. I ran 4 miles and I must admit it was awesome. I think I may be purchasing a pair of these soon. I’ll keep you posted. Below is a cool deal I found on barefoot running.
Amanda and Eli at the beach in Fort Lauderdale. We got to spend a couple of days with the One Hope guys. Those guys are awesome.
Our dog does not usually howl unless we get her going. In this short video, you can see the whole family howling. Pretty funny when Eli, my 1 1/2 old starts doing it. Enjoy.
Eli is learning so many new words now. I pulled out this Bingo game that I used to play with my students, thinking he would enjoy the pictures. He can now identify about 34 out of the 36 pictures and say most of their names! I’m amazed at how quickly he learns, and I love that he seems to truly enjoy it!
This next week, July 20-25 I will be in Papua New Guinea. It is an amazing opportunity to reach one of the least developed nations in the world. Our Church (The Life Church of Memphis) has the privilege of partnering with Joyce Meyer Ministries, and Healing Place Church, and Darlene Zschech for a series of gatherings, medical and dental outreaches, prison outreach, and a lot more.
Please be in prayer for us as we travel and minister to this amazing country. What an awesome opportunity to sow into the advancement the kingdom of heaven. We will try to do some video updates when possible. Don’t know what the connection will be like.
Things to pray for:
* Safe travel
* Everyone on the team to stay healthy
* Favor in the communities we’re serving
* God’s anointing on the messages, teaching, worship, and outreaches
* Jesus’ name to lifted high and people’s lives to be changed
* Churches in the areas we’re ministering to be encouraged and built up
* Favor with the local authorities and government
* Many salvations in all the opportunities we are able to share the Gospel
Today in church we had a wild experience. Thirty minutes into the first of three services at our Cordova campus, the power went out. We have had some bad storms and thousands of homes and businesses have been without power. Our guest speaker for the day, Pastor Dino Rizzo from Healing Place Church didn’t miss a beat. After power went out, he preached his whole message with the emergency lights on (really no light at all and no a/c on).
Then the next two services we did old school worship, just acoustic guitars and voices. Our team is so awesome, they kicked into gear…put some candles on stage, opened all the doors to get some breeze and had some church. It was pretty amazing as we had church, many people gave their hearts to God despite having no A/C, no light, no videos…no anything. As Americans we normally can’t flow without precious A/C, but people were charged up to have church regardless. I was reminded as Pastor Dino preached, when Jesus is in the mix…ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN! What an amazing day! For all the people that made a Fresh Start with God, they will never forget the HOT day in church, when they made a decision to follow Christ. Coming out of the darkness, into the light. A day that we will not soon forget. Thank you Jesus that you are not bound within our limitations.
Mundo left today for Swaziland, Africa, where he will be joining our two teams from The Life Church of Memphis as well as teams from Celebration Church in Jacksonville, FL, and Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge, LA. Please pray for his safety as he travels. Pray that God will use our teams to be a blessing to HPC Swaziland and to the pastors they will connect with during the leadership conference. Eli and I will be holding down the fort at home. The most difficult time of the day is the evening, when daddy usually comes home, so please pray for peace for Eli and patience for me I am SO excited and extremely grateful that Mundo has this opportunity. We’re world travelers and world changers, baby! Oh ya! (If you’ve never been on a short-term international mission trip, I HIGHLY recommend giving it a go! I guarantee your life will never be the same! Check out our GoGlobal site)