Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Three Times a Lady

Ahhh…love is in the air. Cupid has drawn his bow. Pepe Le Pew is getting his smooch on. “C’est L’Amour!”

To be honest, I really don’t get into the whole Valentine’s Day deal. The best part about it is spending a meal alone with my wife – quietly, with no kicking, squirming, or arguing from our two boys. It’s the simple pleasures that you really cling to.

But, even though I am generally not a romantic guy (I do like to plan trips with my wife, but I am terrible about saying “mushy” things to her), I would like to dedicate this month’s article to Amy, the love of my life. So, without further ado, here are the three things I love most about my wife.

(1) My wife loves God more than anything. I am a pastor at a church, and I am the spiritual leader of my household. But, both of these responsibilities are SO much easier, and are enriched because Amy loves the Lord with all her heart. When I hear her sing in the services on Sundays, it really tenders my heart and fills it with gladness. When I walk in on her reading a daily devotional, it motivates me to thirst after God even more myself. When she serves selflessly in the nursery at church, it reminds me how much of a servant she really is, and that she does it because she is serving the way Jesus served. Is Amy a saint? No. She simply loves God, and it shows in all that she does.

(2) Amy goes the extra mile – always. You could never out-do Amy. Not that it’s a competition, but Amy will always do more than what is expected of her. Professionally, she is almost always the first one to arrive at work in the morning (she gets there by 6:45 a.m.), and often leaves at 5:30-6:00 p.m. Is it overwhelming for her? Yes – many times it is. But, she does all things with excellence. When we’re supposed to only provide a side dish for a gathering, Amy will not only make the side dish, but she’ll also throw together a delicious dessert and a pitcher of sweet tea. She hand-made 155 Christmas cards this year, working easily 40-50 hours on them, and staying up until 2:30 a.m. some nights. In case, you are wondering – YES, I helped. Some.

(3) She loves me, and more importantly, makes it very clear that she does. Some men and women never communicate their love and affection to one another, except by signing a birthday card or anniversary card, “Love, Larry.” And, that is a shame. On the other end of the spectrum is Amy. She is always demonstrating her love for me – with her words and her actions. She cannot get enough hugs and kisses (I need to improve in this area). In fact, “physical touch” is one of her primary love languages. Unlike some wives, she wants to be with me as much as possible. We do stuff together all the time – trips, movies, Bible study groups, you name it. We really DO “do life” together. And, that is my primary love language – quality time. When I give her the love and affection she needs, she is eager to want to do things for me. Funny how that works.

I could ramble on about all the other qualities I adore in my wife, but this is a snapshot of the blessing God gave me more than 13 years ago when I married my best friend. My prayer for you this Valentine’s Day is that you will show AND tell the love of your life exactly what you appreciate about them. Trust me, it will pay off for you, too!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Who Needs Church?

We had a special guest at our staff meeting yesterday. His name is Allen Hunt, host of the Allen Hunt Show, which airs locally on AM 750 on Saturday and Sunday evenings. Allen's show blends faith and "real life," and is one of the most interesting call-in shows on the air today. MUCH more intriguing than Sean Hannity, if you ask me.

As business leader and author Patrick Lencioni once said, "We don't need to learn more and become more educated. What we really need are reminders." And, that's what Allen did for all of us in attendance yesterday.

A few days ago, Allen was talking on-air about the report that had come out stating that President Obama had only attended church three times in his first year in office. This is a man who attended church in Chicago quite regularly over the previous 20 years. But, having become the "most important" official in the world has evidently precluded him from being an active part of the church.

Allen said callers came flooding in. Some said they were "proud" to have a President who didn't go to church, who didn't "need" God, and who was "his own" man.

But, Allen said the majority of callers were so-called Christians who said they didn't believe Obama needed church, just like they didn't need church. "All I need is Jesus," many of them said. "As long as I have Jesus in my life, I don't need church."

Really? I mean, if that was true, would Jesus had left the church for us? Would he have changed Simon's name to Peter, saying, "Upon this rock I will build my church"? The church is known as the Bride of Christ. It's the body of Christ. And, as Allen pointed out, in the New Testament, the church is referenced as family more than 200 times.

All that said, here are some things Allen shared with us:
  • For someone who has accepted Christ, church is not an elective. It is essential. Giving up church would be the equivalent of giving up your family or oxygen.
  • Max Lucado said, "The church is God's forever family."
  • Church and faith are team sports, not individual ones.
  • Love is both a unifying and separating force. It unifies those who belong to Jesus, but sets us apart from the world.
  • People WILL find any substitute for a loving family!
The evidence that God has left for us revealing His plan for the church, as you may guess, is in His Word - the Bible. Time after time, we see the believers engaging in authentic community with one another - unity, fellowship, sharing, and communion. This unity has a name: koinonia. It's when Christ's followers engage with one another, sharing in his sufferings, in his glory, in his godly nature, in the breaking of bread, in teaching, in serving, in loving.

Allen added tons of other insights, but one more I'll mention briefly is this: we are God's poem. Each of us is only a letter or punctuation mark. If it's just a few of us, we may be able to form a word or phrase. But, when all of us come together - and become the church - God forms a beautiful Masterpiece that is unlike anything else on earth. And, that was His intent from the beginning.