Friday, December 21, 2012

Love Thy Neighbor

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”  Matthew 22:36-40

Every year around December 20th, Dee and I have an annual Christmas get-together with a few of our closest neighbors.  This year as the month was flying by, we thought about maybe foregoing the annual tradition.  However, at about 12 PM yesterday we decided to go for it, and quickly made a few calls in hopes of getting us all together for dinner at 6:30.  We had one couple confirm, one politely decline, and another that confirmed after receiving our message about 3 minutes before the party was set to begin. 

About one hour later around our dinner table, I had to do everything I could to keep from bawling during the meal.  One neighbor told the story of a potential serious health issue he was having with test results due back in a week.  Another neighbor told the story of having to yield her driver’s license, getting ready to sell her home, and then soon thereafter moving into an elderly-assisted community. 

I had so many emotions running through my head.  I thought about that lost opportunity with Uncle Joe.  I thought about my last birthday party with my Dad and my Grandmother, and wondered if this was going to be our last annual Christmas get-together.  As the door closed with the final goodbye for the evening, I lifted up a prayer of thanks to the Lord for all the memories from this very special evening, and for encouraging us to make those calls a few hours earlier. 

May God bless you all this Christmas, and throughout the New Year ahead.  May it be a year filled with loving our great Lord and all of our neighbors.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Gift of Mom

She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.  She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.  Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.  Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate. (Proverbs 31:26-31)

Today my Mom celebrates another birthday.  Unfortunately, I won’t be able to celebrate it with her in person, but I will certainly be with her in spirit. 

My Mom is just one of those very special people, who has always put her children (and now her grandchildren) first.  That example of sacrifice has left an indelible mark on me that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.  The Lord has blessed me with so many great things over the years, and that started on Day 1 when He selected two amazing people to be my parents.

Living half a country apart, I don’t spend as much time with my Mom as I used to, but it does make those times together all the more special.  Although I could never repay all of her sacrifices over the years, I do my best to try...she will always deserve nothing less than that.

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Godfather

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8)

I did some internet surfing the other day on ‘How to Be a Good Godfather’.  One of the best quotes I found was the following:  “The best thing you can do to be a great godfather is to be a mentor for your godchild.  For some men this will mean taking on the traditional role of being a spiritual guide for your godchild.  For other men, it may mean being a mentor in other aspects of the child’s life.  Either way, do your best to provide a good example to your godchild.  The mentoring relationship you have with your godchild will depend a lot on your geographic proximity to each other.  If your godchild lives far away, keep in contact by writing letters, calling them on the phone, or sending an email every now and then.”

It was a humbling read for I know over the past couple decades I could have and should have done more.  Sure there were those moments of shooting baskets together, chats every Christmas Eve, and even showering him with Jets gear on his 21st birthday (Go Cowboys!), but in my heart of hearts I know I never deserved any ‘Godfather of the Year’ awards.

A few months ago this really started weighing on me as my godson’s wedding day approached ever closer.  I lifted up a prayer to the Lord that I would be a spiritual part of his special day by getting the opportunity to lead grace that evening.  The days and weeks went by, but a couple of weeks ago I was extremely blessed to receive that call.  I’ve lifted up a lot of prayers of grace over the years – and all of them carry an extreme level of importance for me.  As I grab the microphone this weekend, this will ring ever true as I get the opportunity to demonstrate the love of not only a godfather, but more importantly their heavenly father.

(Submitted by Frank Z – 8/3/2012)

Friday, June 8, 2012

It's Still Father's Day

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:20)

My first Father’s Day without my Dad in 2007 wasn’t a good one.  I was like a fish without water, without that father to call or thank you card to fill out.  I remember receiving my first Father’s Day marketing email with spite, and questioned the nerve of that company to send me that note with him being gone.

Five years later I still receive those emails and there is still no Dad to call, but the feelings of emptiness and bitterness are gone.  The pure fact of the matter is that my Dad will always be with me – his example of dedication, work ethic, and fatherly love is in every fabric of my being (that no cancer cell can ever take away).

So with each new Father’s Day that comes along, I no longer cower away from it.  I make sure to take time out for a prayer of thanks to the Lord…to thank Him for all the wonderful years with my Dad, and for providing me an example here on earth of His fatherly love for all of us.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Standing Firm

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

A friend of mine sent over a word of encouragement to me yesterday, asking me to write my first verse application in unfortunately way too many months. I lifted up a prayer to the Lord, that He would inspire me to finally write something again. The answer came less than a day later when I logged into Facebook, and read the following status update from my cousin: “I sure could use some prayers to lift me up today. I won't detail why, but life just got a whole lot more complicated. Standing up for what is right, will bring glory to God in the end.”

I love this. No, I don’t take pleasure in whatever challenges or complications may come a family member’s way, but I certainly do take pleasure in difficult decisions that are made in submission to God – especially with a seemingly undesirable earthly outcome.

The bible lists many people who faced a similar crossroad: from Abraham to Stephen to the apostle Paul to many others – all opted for the road less traveled and reaped their heavenly reward. In a world in which it is becoming increasingly more difficult to stand firm and submit all of our ways to God, I take joy in those like my cousin who are doing just that. The bible doesn’t promise an easy path, but it does promise one that is guided and directed by the Lord...and that’s always been more than good enough for me.