Today is a Special Day

“You have captured my heart, my sister, my bride. You have captured my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace.”

Today is one of my favorite days of the year. Today marks the beginning of one of the greatest journeys of my life. It has been going on now for 16 years and I can’t wait to see what the next 16 and beyond will bring. Today is the day the woman i love more than any other said, “Yes.” Today is the anniversary of the day I married my beautiful bride. Today is a special day.

As good as today is, it really had its start 17 years and two months ago, not merely 16. That was the day I got out of a van and nervously headed for the door of the dorm I’d called home for the six weeks on the campus of Spalding University in Louisville, KY as a Bible study leader for Passport youth camps. Before I could even reach the door, it burst open and the leadership staff already there came out to greet us for the first time. I don’t remember much else about that day or even that moment, but I do remember the beautiful girl who captured my heart with one glance of her eyes. Just that, and I was hooked.

It took a few weeks for me to convince her I wasn’t just your average nerd. It didn’t hurt that in a skit the staff performed all summer one of the lines was, “Yes, but you’re my nerd, and everyone needs a nerd.” But eventually, I wore her down. A little illegal matchmaking by our assistant camp director who was fully on board with the blossoming relationship we weren’t even supposed to have finally put us on the same page just before the summer’s end. From there, it was a whirlwind of cross country trips between her home and mine, lots of hours burning through cell phone minutes (remember when cell phone plans weren’t all unlimited?) and wearing out our fingers on AOL Instant Messenger (there’s a blast from the past for you), and graduating from college before we could start our life together.

The journey since has been one of a few challenges but far more joys of every sort. There have been things I haven’t gotten right along the way, and she has been more than gracious more times than I can count. I’ve learned far more than I could have ever imagined about how to be a husband, a father, and a man. She has been with me every step of the way, confirming again and again and again just how good the decision to marry her really was.

Lisa is amazing. There’s just no other way to put it. Besides being breathtakingly attractive, she is smart. Really smart. And incredibly talented. She’s got a mind for administrative details like no one else I’ve ever met. Our family would quickly and easily fly apart into chaos without her doing the things she does. More than that, she is wise. She has a strong sense of what is right and a drive to pursue it. She can look at a situation – whether hers or someone else’s – and know quickly what is the right way to go. More even than that, she is willing to share it with humility and graciousness. If I am at all a good man today, she has more to do with that than anyone else in the world. If I have been a successful pastor in any sense, she has played the most profound role in every part of it.

Not only is she an amazing wife, but she’s a superb mom too. We have three remarkable boys who are growing into fine young men. It is a true delight to watch her engage with them to give them all the gifts and wisdom a mother was designed to give on a daily basis. They will be a gift to the world and she has a great deal to do with that.

When I proposed on the morning of New Year’s Eve sixteen and a half years ago, I woke her up and recited the words to the Ben Folds song, The Luckiest. Sixteen years later, I can still say with absolute certainty that I am. Lisa, thank you for being the wonderful woman God created you to be. Thank you for never giving up on me or us. Thank you for showing me the love of God each day in ways I’ve never experienced by any other means. I love you, and more every day. Happy Anniversary! I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Digging in Deeper: John 15:12-13

“This is my command: Love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this: to lay down his life for his friends.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Our world is broken. There is darkness everywhere we turn. It manifests itself in many different forms, sometimes masquerading as light, but it is always darkness. As the prophet Jeremiah wrote about 2600 years ago, “The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and incurable – who can understand it?” No human culture has ever been exempt from this. If all people were saints there would be no need for laws. But we aren’t. So there is. That’s not the end of the story, though. Having laws in place is meaningless unless people follow them. But we aren’t saints. Thus we are not going to follow laws meant to restrain our behavior unless we are motivated to do so by the threat of a consequence that is more inconvenient to us than our desire to have whatever the law has forbidden. Even these consequences, though, are meaningless unless there are people who are committed to upholding the law and enforcing the consequences for violating it. In other words, we need law enforcement officers. That is, we need police officers. Let’s talk today about what a blessing they are.

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Morning Musing: Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

“Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

When God was creating the world, everything was good. Again and again this refrain echoes across the unfolding drama of creation. Each thing God makes He pronounces good. Then He gets to us and says it is very good. It’s really a beautiful picture. That’s chapter 1. In chapter 2 we get a more intimate look at the story of creation focused in on the creation of people. There, once God has created all of the world and just the man something suddenly changes. God says, “It is not good.” And what is the thing that isn’t good? It is not good for the man to be alone. We were not made to do life on our own. And while marriage is one way to make sure we don’t have to try it, this morning I want to talk about another, equally valid and more broadly available option (since not everyone is called to marriage): friendship. And I want to do this through the lens of a recently concluded Netflix series. Here’s why you need to watch Alexa and Katie.

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Morning Musing: Mark 8:4

“His disciples answered him, ‘Where can anyone get enough bread here in this desolate place to feed these people?'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever been around someone who was slow on the uptake? One of my favorite such characters is Pinky from Pinky and the Brain. The characters were originally one of the side shows of the classic cartoon, Animaniacs (currently in the second season of its revival on Hulu), but became so popular they got their own show. I watched every episode. Twice. The show is about two lab mice, one a super genius thanks to experimentation, the other a complete moron, who together try to take over the world. One of the show’s running gags is that Brain gets an idea for taking over the world, asks Pinky if he’s thinking the same, and Pinky responds by saying, “I think so Brain, but….” and then follows that up with something completely off the wall. Here’s a nice compilation of these responses. In any event, the joke is that Pinky never quite manages to be in the moment with Brain. He’s always a few miles behind the eight ball. When Jesus was facing another huge and hungry crowd, He asked the disciples yet again to feed them. From their response, they might as well have been Pinky.

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Others First

As we come to the final part of our conversation about how to love like Jesus, this morning we’re taking a look at one more example of Jesus’ love so we can understand it better. We know that loving like Jesus is important. We know that it requires both grace and truth. But how exactly do we get the one another part right. This story answers that question. Thanks for tuning in this week. Next week we’ll kick off a brand-new series looking at just what exactly followers of Jesus believe called You Believe What?

Others First

I like getting what I want. Don’t you? That’s just a sign things are going like they should be going. You’ve perhaps had those days before when everything was falling into place just like you envisioned it would go. Those are good days. You know what I don’t like? Not getting what I want. Anyone with me? Have you ever not gotten what you wanted? That’s more of the rule for how life goes than the other way, isn’t it? What really creates a conundrum for us, though, is when you getting what you want and me getting what I want are mutually exclusive outcomes. In that kind of a situation, what are we most likely to pursue? Well, if we’re being honest, it’s probably going to be our own interests. Why? Because we want what we want more than we want what somebody else wants. If we wanted what somebody else wanted, it wouldn’t be what somebody else wanted, it would be what we wanted and there would be no problem. But when it’s not? Well, that’s where things can get tricky.

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