Joseph, Mary and Marvin Gaye

It’s hard for us to imagine what it must’ve been like for Joseph in the Bible when he found out that his ‘wife’ was pregnant… and they had never been together. 

During Bible times, Hebrew marriage customs were much different than today. Marriages were ‘arranged’ by parents and after the contracts were negotiated and agreed upon… the couple were officially ‘husband and wife’, even though they were not sexually intimate. In fact, they were not intimate for the course of entire year! (Now that’s commitment). 

What was the purpose of this?

The waiting period was to demonstrate the faithfulness of the pledge of purity concerning the bride. If she got pregnant in that year, she was not pure and the marriage could be annulled. If she wasn’t pregnant, there would be a grand processional march back to the groom’s home, he would put on some Marvin Gaye and the rest was history.

Within that first year, Mary became pregnant.

I can imagine the pain in Joseph’s heart when he found that out. He loved Mary. He had envisioned a life together with her. He cared more about ‘her’ than himself.

You see that in his response. 

When he could have gotten even…

When he could have embarrassed her…

When he could have decided to run her name through the mud…

The Bible tells us: 

“And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.” Matthew 1:19

This is before an angel shows up. This is before he understands what is taking place. This is before God fills in all the blanks. This is before every answer has been given.

Joseph was a ‘just man’. 

Joseph, in that moment, had a choice on how he would respond. He could choose one way or the other. But, because of his character as a ‘just man’, he chose grace.

Jesus said this about our Father in heaven…

“…For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 5:45b

You have a choice on how you are going to react when the rug gets pulled out on you. You have a decision to make when things don’t go your way or you are dragged down the dark road of despair because of the decisions and actions of another. I want to encourage you today…

Choose Grace. 

Choose to be that ‘just person’. Choose to be the ‘bigger person’. Choose to hold your head high and believe that a God who is greater than your current situation may even use it for His glory in your life.

Say this prayer: “God, help me to be just. Help me to choose grace. Help me to forgive. Help me see your fingerprints on my life even when things don’t make sense. I choose today to trust you. Help my heart follow my head. I love you. Amen.”

 

 

 

 

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I’m a Crappy Friend… Until Now

They say that the first step of true lasting change begins the day when you accept the facts of your life to be true. The one fact that I have had trouble admitting until now is simply this…

I am a crappy friend. 

I don’t aspire to be this, but it’s true.

Maybe it’s the four kids I’m trying to raise or the wife I try to continuously date or the plethora of job responsibilities that I have, but my excuse is that I am just TOO STINKING BUSY to be a good friend.

I don’t send random cards or call you for no reason. There is always a reason and if you get a card… it’s probably because my wife made me write it. 

But… all this is going to change… today.

I am learning that friendships are important and they are hard work. If I don’t try, than I will be missing out on one of the greatest gifts given to mankind. 

Relationships.

The face to face… The loving touch… The call just to say HI… The sincere comment of “I’ve been thinking of you” or “praying for you” or “I’m glad you’re not dead”. All of these statements are signs of a good friend.

I heard a story the other day about a guy who sat dead in his house for a month and a half before anyone even knew he was dead. No one even noticed. And, if it wasn’t for a hot summer and no air conditioner, he might still be nestled in a Lazy Boy watching reruns of All in the Family. That could easily be me… Archie Bunker and a TV remote…  That is if I don’t choose to change. 

We ALL have a choice of how we are going to live.

So, I choose to be a better friend.

  • I will call someone today for no other reason but to say “Hi! How have you been?”
  • I will sit down with someone new this week for a coffee or tea.
  • I will answer the phone when I don’t feel like talking.
  • I will look for opportunities every day to be kind and stay present.

It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. And, just maybe, I will make a new friend or two along the way.

What about you? 

What can you do to be a better friend today? 

She Said Yes! Again – 1 of 21 Ireland Posts

So, I never really did it right the first time.

I know what you’re thinking… GP? The hopeless romantic? The guy who just oozes public displays of affection and memorizes poetry by Yeats? That guy never got down on one knee to propose to his wife!?!?! 

Well… I didn’t. And, I stink at PDA and wouldn’t know Yeats from Jagger… but there is always hope.

So, I came up with a plan. 

Step One: Tell wife she is cut off from all of my online banking and shopping activity.

Step Two: Find the perfect ring. Emerald… cause we will be in the Emerald Isle. (Well, I guess I am “kinda” romantic.) 

Step Three: Wait for the perfect moment and take a knee. 

Well, steps one and two were cake. The third, however, not so easy. 

I knew the Cliffs of Moher would be the best place because they are so stinking breathtaking! I mean… you walk up to this:

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It doesn’t get better than that! But, then there was the walking. You see, you have to walk up steps and ramps to get on top of these beasts. We came to a dead end. We have to choose right or left. Both sides are cliffs. We toss the imaginary coin.

We went right.

“Right” led us to a beautiful watchtower and a TON of people.

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They were everywhere. If people were bad mullets, this would have been a Whitesnake concert. It was infested. People were taking photos and walking with food and kids and coffees and no idea where they were going except up and out along the cliff’s edge and edging out my hopes of ever unloading this ring which was getting heavy in my backpack.

I shuffled around waiting. More people came. I spoke… “Uh, let’s go that way.”

It was the exact opposite direction that we had already gone. But, it was beautiful…. so it was fairly easy to talk her into it.

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We begin down the trail which it nice and paved and doesn’t draw the same kind of attention as the watchtower did. But, the nice paved trail leads to a dirt one as we pass by a sign that looks like this:

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Uh… yeah. Let me zoom on that if you didn’t catch it.

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This might as well be a skull and cross bones saying, “Cross this sign and YOU MAY DIE.” But, it doesn’t seem to stop the slow trickle people headed that way… so like a sheep led to the shearers, I keep calm and carry on. (Witty British connection there if you didn’t catch it.) 

We walk. I start thinking of things to say. My palms sweat. I don’t know if it is my nerves about the ring or the 750 ft. death plummet to my immediate right. I walk. 

“So… uh. We sure do some pretty crazy things don’t we?”

I see the PERFECT spot coming up. I am going to time this moment perfectly. There is no turning back.

She replies, “Yes”. She grabs my hand a little tighter. This is going to be great! and then I hear…

“BLOODY HELL!” A British teen jumps off a rock about 25 meters ahead of us. (Did you pick up on my use of meters? Yes, it had been a week and I had abandoned use of trivial things like inches or miles.) “You’re gonna push me out there.” The teen yells to an equally loud and annoying friend while motioning to the edge and the final plunge towards eternity.

I think how quiet it could become it they get a little closer to the edge. I shake out of it. I smile and offer my patented “courtesy laugh”. They continue to be loud and obnoxious, but they are headed towards us so I know it’s only a matter of time before they pass. I speak.

“Let’s stop and enjoy the view.” 

I look out over the water choke back vomit which enters my throat as a putrid smell fills my nostrils and envelopes me. I look behind me. It’s a field covered in a liquid brown fluid. I remember the words of the bus driver from yesterday, “Eh. This is the season where we fertilize the fields for planting.” 

Of course it is. Fertilizer. That season.

My wife tries to smile through a wrinkled nose. I know it’s only a matter of time before she retreats. I look at her kindly, pointing up ahead and say, “Let’s see the view from up there.” She obliges and we walk.

We reach a part where there is more land to grip my body on one knee. So, I speak… “Let’s get a picture.” I look left. I look right. The trail is clear.

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My wife is turned away looking back down the trail towards the poop stench probably thinking, “How can we get back to the car without traveling by that field again.” I pop open the box, drop my backpack, turn towards her as I lower myself to one knee. I speak, choking back tears… “I don’t have many regrets, but always regretted not doing this the right way. Would you marry me… again?”

And then I heard the words that I had longed to hear…

“BLOODY HELL!” as a British teen jumped off a rock above my head.

No, I’m just kidding. I heard the words… “Yes. Of course I would”. I stand and we do what any good American couple would do at a time like this. We kiss and then take a “selfie” of course.

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So, there you have it. There is a lot to learn for me from this day. 

Every day is a gift and sometimes things aren’t going to go the way you want. We make our plans and things don’t always work out that way. But, don’t let those moments stop you from pressing forward. Whether it’s a crowd of mullets or the stench of manure getting stuck in your nose hairs… don’t stop. Keep going. Because… the journey is the destination. So many, stop too soon.

Embrace the people in your life who mean the most. Don’t live in regrets from what you ‘wish you would have done’. Go out and do it today. Create TODAY the kind of TOMORROW that you want to live in.

I leave you with this simple Irish blessing.

“May you both live as long as you want and never want as long as you live”. 

Slainte!

3 Keys to Living In Gratefulness

Living a life of gratefulness is key to living the best possible life ever. When you think about your life, does the word ‘grateful’ come to your mind?

Oftentimes, it may only happen when we are gathered at a table with a big fat turkey staring back at us. But, when we lose something or face difficulty, gratefulness comes back into perspective in our life. When we allow gratefulness to be part of our everyday life, however, we gain a greater perspective on what is truly important.

Personally, there are 5 things that I try to keep centered in my life to remember to be grateful. You can try these too.

  1. Say “Thank You” before your feet hit the floor.Before the java hits your lips, say ‘thank you’. There are so many things to be grateful for when your eyes open. Thankful for the breath in your lungs, the pillow under your head or the opportunity to make a difference in a new day. By making these the first two words out of your mouth, you will start your day with an attitude of gratefulness.
  2. Keep your eyes open to the little things.Each day we are surrounded by so many little things that are often taken for granted. That moment we have a conversation with someone that we didn’t plan and learn something that changes us or opens our mind to something new. Or, that moment when we look around at the job or house or family or friends that we have with new eyes. These moments have the power to increase gratefulness in our lives.
  3. Ask yourself one tough question every day.
    The question is simply this. “If I only had today what I thanked God for yesterday, what would I have?” Ouch! For some of us, that question hurts. We realize that our lack of gratefulness would cause us to live in a pretty sad and empty place. I recently shared this question at THE PLACE Church. Check out the video here:

Strive to live in gratefulness. It will truly have a profound impact on how you see yourself… others… and your life.

Let me hear from you. What are you grateful for this week?

Feel free to keep the conversation on my  Facebook page. 

With a Grateful Heart,

GP

 

Books I Read in 2014

One goal I had last year was to read more in a balanced fashion. I wanted to expand the number of books and the different kinds of books I read. I wanted nonfiction, fiction, educational and some just for fun. I’m pretty happy with the reading list from this past year. With 32 books completed, 2014 was a good one!

Some books I loved and others I hated. I will read some over and over again and there are others that I will never look at again. That’s the beauty of books.

My highlight this year was Leo Tolstoy. I had never read his books before… but I loved the stories of his that I read. He will definitely make my 2015 list too.

My biggest disappointment was Kerouac’s “Big Sur”. I am a fan of Jack… but this book wasn’t my cup of tea.

Here’s the list… from Jan. to Dec. 2014. Click the book to find it on Amazon and check it out yourself. Keep reading and don’t ever forget this quote:

“You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” Charlie “Tremendous” Jones

A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards by: George Marsden

On Church Leadership by: Mark Driscoll

Big Sur by: Jack Kerouac

As a Man Thinketh by: James Allen

The Man Who Could Do No Wrong by: Charles Blair

Green Hills of Africa by: Ernest Hemingway

Four Blood Moons by: John Hagee

Who’s Holding Your Ladder by: Samuel Chand

The Renegade Pastor by: Nelson Searcy

Visioneering by: Andy Stanley

Take Time for Your Life by: Cheryl Richardson

Quitter by: Jon Acuff

The Secret Life of a Fool by: Andrew Palau

The Starbuck’s Experience by: Joseph Michelli

SEO Blackbook by: R.L. Adams

Think Big and Kick A** by: Donald Trump

How to Make People Like You in 90 Minutes or Less by: Nicholas Boothman

The Chris Farley Show by: Tom Farley Jr.

Heaven is For Real by: Todd Burpo

Generous Justice by: Timothy Keller

Pagan Christianity by: Frank Viola

Tactics by: Gregory Koukl

1984 by: George Orwell

Spiritual Leadership by: J. Oswald Sanders

Animal Farm by: George Orwell

What is Reformed Theology by: R.C.Sproul

Romans 1-7 for You by: Timothy Keller

How Much Land Does a Man Need by: Leo Tolstoy

Where Love is, There God is Also by: Leo Tolstoy

The Hobbit by: J.R.R. Tolkein

Food – a Love Story by: Jim Gaffigan

Fusion – Turning 1st Time Guests into Fully Engaged Members of Your Church by: Nelson Searcy

Don’t give up on reading. Start today and don’t be afraid to put a book down if you aren’t enjoying it. Don’t let a dud stop you from reading this year. There are plenty to pick from!

GP

Steve Jobs, Tough Questions and Life Perspective

Every now and then you hear a speech that really makes you think. The words from Steve Jobs after his diagnosis with cancer really woke me up. They were sobering words that seemed to keep ringing in my ears even after the video ended. Here is a little bit of that speech…

“When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” – Steve Jobs

We are coming to the end of another year and I want you to answer that question for yourselves. 

“Do you want to do what you are about to do today?”

If you aren’t happy with the way things are going, today is the day to make the change. These changes are often simple and easily implemented, but they make a big difference.

What is one thing that you would like to do different this year? 

Will you start today? If not… why not. This is your moment!

GP