Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pay Attention!

How many times have we heard this phrase? "Pay Attention!" I know I heard it as I was growing up at home, in school, in sports, and the list goes on. Someone wanted me to stop drifting in my thoughts of somewhere else and focus on what I was doing at that moment in time. Instead my mind was wandering or my thoughts were onto whatever was happening later that day or week. Why is it so hard to focus? Why do we have to be told to "Pay Attention?"

In my opinion, the first part is the reason. In order to get focused a price must be paid. We have to stop where our mind is and focus on the task at hand. We have to surrender our mind to the here and now. In some cases means that we face the pain of today rather than the pleasure in our mind of what might be. It may mean facing some ugly circumstances in our life or the pains of our own sins.

In the book by Andy Stanley, "The Principle of the Path", he lays out the idea that our attention = direction. So whatever we are focusing on, our direction in life will lead us. The analogy he uses is driving a car. If you look anywhere but straight ahead while driving, the car usually drifts that way as a result. So if you are looking on either side of you or behind you will likely go off the road. The same is true in our lives. The distractions in life are usually on the sides of the road. Illicit pleasures and false comforts are placed along the tough and bumpy road of marriage as the mirage. If we take our eyes off of Christ and His comforts then we soon head down the side roads that lead to broken bridges and desolate swamps with signs that read "Dead End"

In the book, He continues the equation with attention = direction not intention determines destination. What destination do you want in your life? I know I have searched that recently since reading the book. These are a few of the places I long to be in life:

1. In a close intimate relationship with Christ
2. In a marriage where one another is fulfilled, nurtured and valued
3. A family that knows Jesus and shows it to others in practical ways
4. Financially strong where I am debt free and providing for the needs of my family
5. Using my failures in life to help others avoid the same dead end roads I traveled.

Those are what I have come up with so far. I am far from achieving all those right now. I am however trying to find the "on ramp" to those paths. I still make mistakes daily but each day I learn how to stop at the "dead end" sign, turn around, look for a way back to the path that leads to God's destination for my life. What is your destination? What direction are you heading and are you paying the price of attention?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Heart of Gratitude

Aug 3rd, 2010

If I really take time to think about the significance of today, my eyes well up with tears and my heart is a bit sad but overflows with gratitude. Today is the day that I married my beautiful wife 14 years ago. I ponder the past years and realize that Andrea is a true gift to me. It has been 14 years of laughter, love, memories, struggle, pain, faith, tears, forgiveness and restoration.
I see how truly amazing the love of Christ is by just revisiting who my wife is through His strength. We have shared in so many trips and vacations, blessed with 3 awesome kids and our needs are met daily by His provisions. He has worked with us, through us and most of all in spite of us.
I take great sadness in the ways that I have hurt Andrea through my actions and thoughts through the past 14 years though. I have not always shown her respect and honor. I have not loved her completely as Christ told us to love. I have been selfish with my own thoughts and desires. My actions have betrayed her trust and caused us to question how we would stay together. She has had a few opportunities to call it quits and leave for justifiable reasons........but through her reliance on Jesus she stuck it out.
She sees me as a work in progress by God. She has shown me His grace time and again. She loves me with all that she has and then digs into His reserves and asks for more when she doesn't have enough. She gives more than I deserve and that is why I see so much of our Savior in her character and heart. Once I push past the sadness of what I have done, I see the joy and gratitude for what HE has done!
So today I stand before you saying after 14 years, I understand each day a little bit more of God's love, forgiveness, and grace because of the undeserved gift of a Godly woman who was entrusted to me 14 years ago today. Andrea, I love you and pray that God continues to use us and know that He has many things purposed for us in the future!