Posts Tagged ‘Love’

When Prejudice Meets The Word

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

Last weekend’s message was simple but very difficult for me to deliver. Remember the major point from the weekend, as Malachi helped us to Reset Justice?  – “Correcting injustice in the world, begins with God correcting injustice in me. “  It was a heavy message for me to deliver, but God lifted my spirit in an amazing way as someone literally allowed God to immediately deal with the injustice in their own hearts.

After the 11:00 service a man approached me and said he needed to ask me to forgive him. Immediately, I wondered what it could be. He told me that when I was introduced as the candidate for the position of Senior Teaching Pastor, he didn’t vote for me. “I am sure that many people didn’t vote for me.” I opined. So, his comment was no big revelation to me. What he said next was. He said, “You need to know why I didn’t vote for you.” I continued to listen. Because of his experiences in the past, he had developed a spirit of prejudice and racism against black people. In essence, he was saying he didn’t vote for me because I was black. He began to weep and asked me if I would forgive him. I said it wasn’t a problem. He retorted, “Listen! You don’t understand. I really need you to forgive me. I don’t want the junk of prejudice and racism spilling over into my kids’ lives. I didn’t vote for you and I was wrong. God has been and is using your preaching to impact my life.”Wow! To His glory!

I realized what God was doing. This man heard God and was acting on what he heard. I forgave him. We hugged for a good while, weeping in one each other’s arms (Glad we weren’t in the men’s bathroom doing this – Smile! It was a joke). I was moved, humbled, and I rejoiced as I was reminded that God has me in the right place at the right time doing the right thing. God, thank you for using Malachi to help us see that: Correcting injustice in the world really does begin when we let God correct injustice in us. For His glory!

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8 Years Ago

Friday, May 7th, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mikayla L’Amour aka “Sweetie” Eight years ago, on an overcast and cool morning, at 10:27 a.m., our Heavenly Father blessed Tonia and me with our third child, a baby girl. We named her Mikayla L’amour (The Love – Thanks grandma Daisy). She weighed 7 pounds and 4 ounces and was 18 inches long.  As I captured this moment that morning, my eyes were filled with tears of joy and heart was exploding with worship, praise, and thanksgiving. The prayer you see written in my journal, is the same prayer I continue to pray today.

DSC01718 300x225 8 Years Ago

After eight years, my heart continues to explode with joy as I am watching and enjoying my “Sweetie” grow up really fast.

DSC02584 300x225 8 Years Ago

As I have watched her grow, her are a few of my observations: She loves Jesus, her Day with Dad, getting her hair done with her mother (getting pretty expensive), reading (The Abbey Hayes series is one of her favs), memorizing Scripture, stuffed animals, cheese pizza, me reading to her at night and tucking her in, playing the Go Diego Go game, I Spy Memory Game, Trouble, and Apples to Apples, trying to hang with her brothers, her friends (Joy, Julia, Nadia, Torrie, and Coletta), her dream of being a Vet, watching iCarly, Big Time Rush, and True Jackson, VP.

I really love being a father, plain and simple. I don’t always get it right. In fact, I miss opportunities every day. However, I am watching and learning how my heavenly Father interacts with his kids, so I can be the loving and patient Father he is. Fathers, each day we have an opportunity to leave a legacy for our kids. Even if we have not been the kind of fathers we hoped to be, we can begin again today, showering our kids, especially our daughters, with the father’s love.

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The Blur

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

Yesterday my wife and I had a great conversation, and it reminded me of why I love and appreciate her so much. She told me that sometimes I am so busy and focused on ministry, writing and preaching, that everything else seems like a blur to me. She said during those times, somebody has to take care of the blur, and she would be the one who would take care of the blur (My definition in the context of our conversation: any small but absolutely important detail that helps your family, your life or your business function most effectively). Wow! I was humbled.

I am more and more convinced that one of my wife’s greatest strengths, to help our five part body work most effectively, is “taking care of the blur.” Here is a simple and non-exhaustive example: A couple weeks ago I traveled to Houston for six days to preach a family conference for a long time mentor. While I was away focused on ministry and preaching, she, while she worked her regular job at the community college, was taking care of “the blur.” She was taking care of the blur of arranging for our kids to be picked up for and from school, meeting with and talking with our Realtor,  checking on our flight costs for our vacation, and taking our kids to music practice. Man, she really does take care of the blur. This is vital to helping our five part body function most effectively. I honestly don’t know where I would be and where our family would be if Tonia did not take care of “the blur.” Thanks, Honey Brown for taking care of “the blur.”

Who takes care of “the blur” for you in your Life? Family? Business? What are some examples of them taking care of “the blur?” In what ways can you show your appreciation for them this week?

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My Vows

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

dsc02102 300x225 My Vows

I wanted to share this with you on our 15th year anniversary, but I did not have a copy with me in Aruba, plus the server was down at the resort. When Tonia and I were married 15 years ago, on the 10th day of July, 1994 @ 3:25 p.m., this is what I said to my bride:

To the beautiful one I stand before
It is you and you alone
I promise to love, cherish and adore

I make a solemn but joyful pledge this day,
before God and men
to love you in every way

It’s a love that is not wrapped in empty words,
but one that is seen
and not just heard

My vow this day is to provide and give
And a godly life before God, you and our children,
I will strive to live

I promise to wrap your delicate frame
in my arms when you are confused and afraid
and constantly remind you that His grace
is greater than our need.

I vow to look to and depend on the Lord of Hosts
and when an army of troubles come
in His power I will boast.

My love is tainted and incomplete
But in our most difficult times, when it will be hard to love,
I promise his love and grace we will seek.

I promise to trust Christ to guide the vessel of our marriage safely to port
Because never a mission have I known him to fail or abort

In the mind of God, from the very start,
Man and wife should become one flesh and never part.

So, to you and you only I will now cleave
and vow this day, except for death, to never leave

So when eyes are dimming and hair is graying
May I be found ever saying
I’m committed, to thee alone, I’m committed

When steps are shortened and beauty fading,
May I be found ever saying
I’m committed, to thee alone, I’m committed.

When these eyes are forever closed and my life’s breath cease,
May the testimony of my life be:
He was committed. To her alone, he was committed.

Over the last fifteen years, I have attempted to be faithful to live out these vows. But, I know I have failed, many times, (more than I care to recall), in living up to these lofty words. Today, I am working harder and harder to live in obedience to God’s role for me as a husband and embody these words that I spoke over 15 years ago.

What vows – marital or otherwise – have you made? Are you living up to the vows you made? What’s been the most difficult and the most rewarding part in living up to the vows you made?

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Why I Don’t Have a “Jump Off”

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

hands2 Why I Dont Have a Jump Off

By the grace and power of God, I have been married and faithful to my beautiful, funny and very smart wife for fifteen years. By his grace and power, I plan to remain married and faithful to her until death separates us. Now, please hear me. I don’t say this with pride, overconfidence, self-sufficiency or sitting in the judgment seat; I know I can fall and fail like so many others have. But, I say it with humility and gratitude to God. I think I have some compelling reasons why I have not had and don’t plan to have a “jump off.”

1. I made a covenant/commitment to love and honor my wife. When I said I do before God and those 300 witnesses, I meant what I said. I promised to love, honor, cherish and to forsake all others. To have a “jump off” would dishonor Tonia, break the covenant I made, and render my vows as empty words.

2. God has allowed me, over the years, to build a good reputation and to have a modicum of positive influence. To have a “jump off” would topple and ruin, in a minute, all that God has allowed me to build over a long period of time. It’s just not worth disappointing so many people and losing my voice of influence.

3. I enjoy living and keeping all my body parts. A twitter friend of mine (David Turner) said, ‘A “jump off will get you “jumped on.”‘ Lol! So, there are some physically compelling reasons for me not to have a “jump off.”

4. I have three beautiful children, who look up to their father and think that he is some sort of hero to them. I really try to live up to their expectations, but I know I fall short often. But, in this area, I don’t want to have to sit them down, take off the cape, and try to explain to them why my actions were less than heroic, why I hurt their mother in such a deep way, and why I broke their trust. That’s a conversation I would prefer not to have with them.

5. It is just too physically, emotionally, spiritually, and financially draining to keep up with lies I’m supposed to tell, two or three sets of places I’m supposed to be, gifts I’m supposed to buy, lines I’m supposed to have down, and important dates I’m supposed to remember. I’m just becoming proficient in all of this with Tonia. To try and do this for more than one, I’m just not that good, and neither do I want to be.

6. For me to have a “jump off” would sully the sacredness of marriage and break the heart of my heavenly Father. I still believe that marriage is a sacred and holy relationship designed by God, and I want mine to be a true and clear picture of Christ’s relationship to the church. As for breaking the heart of my heavenly Father, I am trying to do that less and less.

It is time for us to take the energy and creativity we put into maintaining “jump offs” and redirect and reposition it toward working on, protecting and saving our marriages.

What are some other compelling reasons to remain faithful to your spouse? What practical things would you suggest or do you have in place to guard yourself from having an affair or committing adultery?

BTW, if you see me doing something, saying something, writing something or relating to someone in a way that is deemed inappropriate, you have the freedom to check me.

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Making Poverty History

Monday, July 13th, 2009


1. Repent of our stinginess and be more generous 
2. Use food wisely at parties, reunions and open houses (take extra or leftover food to a homeless shelter) 
3. Have a family garage sale and give the proceeds to a cause fighting poverty, shelter or food bank
4. Serve at a homeless shelter or a soup kitchen, as a family
5. Meet and get to know people of all socioeconomic levels
6. Make one “poor meal” a month in your home (eat a very, very, very simple meal to remind your family that for many people such a meal is not an unpleasant reality that happens once a month. It is a way of life). 
7. Become actively involved in causes fighting and decreasing poverty – One, Samaritan’s Purse,, Plumpynut
8. Change your lifestyle – Live more simply
9. Start a family charity box or coffee can, where you put extra change, money you would spend for coffee or fast food. Each month determine what charity, shelter, or poor person the money will go to. 
10. Be homeless for a day or night
11. Adopt a child or children
12. Take a homeless person to dinner and actually sit and talk with him/her
13. Skip a weekly trip to the grocery store and donate money to a poor single mother, shelter, or food bank
14. Talk with your children about poverty and its affects
15. Avoid overconsumption
16. Fight injustice and oppression – in schools, among women, people of color, etc.
17. Get involved with Tabitha’s Closet 
18. Invite friends to watch a documentary on poverty and how it affects the futures of poor people
19. Give people what they really need and lack; don’t give stuff away just to be kind or to not feel guilty
20. Educate yourself on at least one aspect of poverty over the next month 

I know we will always have poor people in our world. This simply means we have more opportunities to bless them with our generosity. What are some other do you think we can make poverty history in our world? 

Don’t forget to leave a comment. Later this week I will let you know what organization we’ve chosen and how much we will be contributing. Thanks for your partnership. Grace and peace.

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Finding a Soul Mate is Overrated

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

dsc018902 300x225 Finding a Soul Mate is Overrated

Last night, after dinner, my wife and I engaged in a deep conversation about our relationship. The magic of Aruba will make you do that. We talked about the last fifteen years – when we first got married, the ups and downs, the good and the not so good, the high points and the low points, the hilarious and the serious times, of our marriage. As we sat on the beach, listening to waves crashing onto shore and looking up at the moonlit night, we talked about how God had given a measure of success in our marriage (a far cry from being perfect). We have had a level of success because of: 

How much work we’ve had to put into it

How many adjustments and compromises we’ve had to make,

How we’ve had to ask forgiveness and be forgiven,

How many times we’ve had to let go of our own agenda and make the other the priority, even when we did not want to, and

How we’ve had to wrap the towel around our waist and wash each other’s feet.

It was really a great conversation (We’ve only just begun). From our conversation, I concluded this: We don’t find our soul mates (I’m not knocking those who say they have found theirs). I know “finding our soul mate” implies such compelling compatibility that it feels like this person is the other half of your soul and God created this person just for you, to complete you. For some, it also implies that the relationship will be as close to perfect as possible. I think finding our soul mate is fantasy, one from which life and reality will wake you. I think we choose if we are going to love as Jesus loved and who we’re going to love that way. I think we choose to do the every day work of love and become what we need to become to build up and complete our spouse and significant other. It doesn’t happen automatically because we say we’ve found our soul mate. This kind of love happens through intentional:

Hard work









Toppling personal walls we’ve erected,

Asking forgiveness and learning to forgive and not holding grudges

Learning to love what he/she loves

Making him/her the priority

After fifteen years, we are convinced that love is not an emotional noun – something you feel; love is an active verb – something you do. I believe when you do the work of love, the feelings of love will follow. You don’t find a soul mate; you become one. 

Do you agree or disagree that you don’t find a soul mate but you become a soul mate through choosing to love a person the way Jesus loved? Why? 

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My “Ride or Die”

Monday, June 8th, 2009

Jackie Robinson was the first black to play major league baseball in the modern era (Moses Fleetwood Walker played 42 games in 1884). Breaking baseball’s color barrier, he faced jeering crowds in many stadiums. While playing one day in his home stadium in Brooklyn, he committed an error. The fans began to ridicule him. He stood at second base, humiliated, while fans jeered. Then, shortstop Pee Wee Reese came over and stood next to him. He put his arm around Jackie Robinson and faced the crowd. The fans grew quiet. Robinson later said: “That arm around my shoulder saved my career.”  In that moment, Pee Wee Reese was Robinson’s “ride or die.” A “ride or die” is someone in your life who will be there with you through thick and thin. They will do what they need to do to help you make it through difficult times. In short, a “ride or die” is a very close friend. King David had a“ride or die” list, and we can find that list over five chapters in 2 Samuel (15-19). David’s “ride or die” list include: Ittai, Zadok, Abiathar, Hushai, Shobi, Machir, Barzillai, and Joab. Their examples help us to see what a true “ride or die” looks like. A true “ride or die” will:

1. Pledge absolute allegiance to you, even if it means death
2. Tell you the truth about your life and decisions 
3. Love you when you have nothing else to give
4. Put you first 
5. Not let the past to ruin the friendship 
6. Accepts you, even when he/she doesn’t understand you or agree with you 
7. Will stand with you regardless of risks involved
8. Lay their lives down for you 
9. Give without being asked and they ask for nothing in return
10. Give out of love with no hidden agenda

No price is too high and no inconvenience too great for a true “ride or die.” As I look over this list of characteristics, my “ride or die” list is very short, maybe 5-7 deep. Based on these characteristics, and others you can add, prayerfully make your own “ride or die” list. Who are the people who would be on your list? Why? How can you demonstrate your appreciation for their friendship to you? Would your closest friends consider you a true “ride or die?” 

There is a “Ride and Die” who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24)

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What Men Want from Their Women – Part 2

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

I hope you have enjoyed these last couple of posts; the responses have been overwhelmingly insightful, encouraging, funny and positive. Keep them coming. I really appreciate you taking time to read and comment. As promised, here is the second half (11-20) of What Men Want and Need in Their Women. These are not necessarily in order of importance. Round 2 – ding:

11. We want and need our women to understand that we don’t mind being told we look good; just don’t call it a “cute outfit.”

12. We want and need our women to communicate without being too critical. Men don’t mind being told they’re wrong; they just don’t want to be emasculated in the process. You can tell us when we are wrong, but preserve our dignity and manhood in the process. We want you to communicate with us honestly and lovingly. We want to see our home as a refuge, not the boxing ring at Caesar’s Palace. Ladies, tone in everything. The Bible talks a lot about how the tongue can build up or tear down.

13. We want and need our women to be faithful and committed in the relationship. Faithfulness is an absolute must. In fact, men want a woman who does not have a “roaming eye” and who can wholeheartedly commit to the relationship. Commitment is faithfulness plus the willingness to work on the relationship, even when things get really rough. See 1 Thessalonians 4:1-7

14. We want and need our women to know how men need to be treated. Many women treat men in ways that diminish their egos, making them feel inadequate. Men would rather have more praise and more acknowledgment of what they do right rather than what they’re doing wrong. We want more acknowledgment that we are great guys who are loved and appreciated. We shut down when we are taken for granted and compared to other men.

15. We want and need non-sexual affection, too (Whoa! Did I just say that?) Really, there is something fulfilling and satisfying about long walks in the park, snuggling up on the couch together watching our favorite movie, escaping to coffee houses and jazz clubs, receiving an email or call in the middle of the day, or an “I was just thinking about you gift.” We want and need private and personal time alone with our women, not just for sex.

16. We want and need our women to be emotionally stable and physically attractive. Men are attracted to women who are developing themselves and growing personally – reading, thinking, questioning, and even keeping up with current events. We want women who are not needy and clingy and helpless without us. Also, we want and need our women to look good. I am not talking about supermodel attractiveness, but I am talking about maintaining an attractive appearance – getting your hair done, keeping your nails and toes manicured, and working hard to maintain that girlish figure.

17. We want and need our women to be godly women. There is something absolutely exciting and attractive about a woman who is following Jesus in her daily life. When Tonia wakes up in the morning and she is praying and reading her Bible to get direction from God, that is a turn on to me, not in a sexual way, but in a godly, beautiful way. When I know she is praying for me and when I hear her praying for me, I feel like I can move mountains. There is something cleansing about it.

18. We want and need our women to listen and treat us with respect. The Bible is very clear about the role of the wife and the role of the husband (Ephesians 5:22-33). The role of the man is to love his wife like Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, and the wife’s role is to respect her husband. When there is a break down in these roles, the relationships gets on this crazy cycle of the man acting in unloving ways and the wife acting in disrespectful ways. The cycle will continue until someone is mature enough to apologize and forgive. 

19. We want and need our women to support us at home, work and play. There is something energizing about the support and cheers of our number one cheerleader. When Tonia tells me that that was a great sermon or article or you “kicked butt” at the karate tournament or “Baby, I’m proud of you!”, that is the wind beneath my wings that causes me to soar. A man needs to know that if no one else will support his efforts and even his wild and crazy ideas and ventures (barring those ideas don’t bankrupt the family), he needs to know that he has the support of his woman. A man needs to hear that his woman is proud of him.   

20. We want and need you to know that we truly desire to follow Jesus and lead our families. Each man grows and progresses at his own pace. Don’t nag him to be someone he’s not. Here is a tip: pray that God will surround him with strong and godly men to help him fill up some of the spiritual gaps in his life. Men tend to follow other godly men they respect and love.    

There you have it, my brothers and sisters. This is, by no means an exhaustive list, but I think it does cover the bases fairly well. Tell me what you think. Type your comments directly in Typepad. Watch out for the next post – What Kids Want and Need from Their Parents.

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What Men Want from Their Women

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

 All right, I’m back. Ladies, thank you for your insightful and helpful feedback. I will be posting all your comments later this week. Now that the women have spoken, let’s hear what men want from their women. Now, I will be speaking in broad brush generalities, but I am sure that if you ask your husband, significant other or any other man about most of these (some things on this list are just for married couples only), he will tell you that I am in the house or not far from the kingdom. What I have done today is broken the list up into two parts. I will post one today and the other part of the list on tomorrow. Tell me what you think and feel free to send me more suggestions. Here we go:

1. We want and need our women to know that our sex drive is powerful, persistent and normal. We are not weird because we want sex all the time (Single brothers, God wants you to wait until you are married. Until such time, take up karate or jujitsu to get rid of all that energy. I digress). Women, sex is to us what affection is to you – our #1 need.  Satisfying sex reassures us in our manhood. Real sexual fulfillment for us is nearly impossible unless we can sexually fulfill you. Brothers, we must handle the business of emotional security, daily affection, validating her feelings in order for our wives to feel like having sex with us. I am still learning that sex begins, not in the bedroom, but when I perform small acts of sacrifice, affection, and attention. Robert Lewis says, Husbands need sex to feel close to their wives, but wives need daily closeness to feel like having sex with their husbands. Let the church say Amen!!!!! (Single men and women, honor God with your bodies and wait until marriage)

2. We want and need our women to know that we like helping to solve your problems, but a woman who solves her own problems while we watch, is an instant turn on. Ladies, we desire a self-sufficient, secure and confident woman. Men need to be wanted and needed by their wives or significant other, but we desire women who have their own identity within the relationship and are growing in that identity. We want you to be independent, with the ever increasing tools to solve your own problems.

3. We want and need our women to know that they should not expect us to enjoy shopping with you. Do I have to say anymore? 

4. We want and need our women to know that you can have sex with us any time you like. see #1 (This is for married couples only. I repeat, for married couples only)

5. We want and need our women to know that if you like or show genuine interest in baseball, football, basketball, hockey, Pool, Soccer, working out (lifting weights, running), Ping Pong, Nascar, anything remotely recreational, we just might fall in love all over again. Men desire their wives or significant other to be a recreational companion. It’s cool to workout with the boys, but a man really likes it when he can play with his wife or significant other. Keep it holy, y’all.

6. We want and need our women to know that we want a manipulation-free relationship. Men want no manipulation of any kind. We don’t want to read your minds or interpret signals. We don’t want to be forced to move faster or accept blame when things go wrong. We don’t want you to use tears, silence or even withholding sex to get your way. When men feel like they are being played, they shut down.   

7. We want and need our women to know when the game is on, we will pay attention to you if you are nice about it. If you bark at us or nag us, we will shut down.

8. Did I mention you can have sex with us any time you want? 

9. We want and need our women to know that anytime you cook for us, especially our favorite meal, we’re happy. Tonia’s dressing, cherry cheesecake, and cranberry chicken is off the chain – Fa Sho!

10. We want and need our women to know that we need to go out with just the guys once in a while. When we want to go out with just the guys, it doesn’t mean we don’t want to be with you or we’re doing something that we not supposed to; it simply means that we want to hang out with the guys. There is a camaraderie that exists between guys that I really can’t explain. It really is a guy thing.

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