She said YES…

September 17th will always be a special day in my life.  It is the day I asked Paula to marry me.  When it comes to remembering dates, I am not the stereotypical guy who always forgets.  For some reason, September 17th is easy for me to remember.  Probably because I know I married up, and for some reason Paula said YES!  I felt like I won the lottery…

When I think about September 17th, 1994, I am amazed at how young we were.  Paula was 19.  I was 21.  She had no idea what she was saying “Yes” to…

She thought she was marrying a chemist, and ended up being a pastor’s wife.  The only problem is that she didn’t wear her hair in a bun, or know how to play the piano.  She didn’t wear her dresses down to her ankles or talk in that high pitched pastor’s wife prayer voice that must be taught somewhere in seminary.  She has always been unique, which is one of the things I love about her.

When Paula said “yes” that day it wasn’t a one-time “yes”.  It was a continual “yes.”   A “til death do us part” kind of “yes.”  For her, it meant taking on a role that she never prepared for.  It meant becoming the pastor’s wife.  And, I may be a bit biased, but I think that she is an amazing pastor’s wife.  On that night I proposed, Paula had no idea where that “yes” would take her.

I think what God really desires from all of us is a continual “Yes.”

Sometimes we have boiled the Christian experience to a “yes” to God at an altar somewhere.  That “yes” is important, but it also has to be followed up by a continual, daily “yes.”  Sometimes saying “yes” to God will lead us to places we never dreamed we’d be, but if we trust that our Creator has our best interests in mind, we know that wherever He leads us will be the best place for us.

Much like when Paula and I got engaged, when we launch out into a life of faith, we have no idea what all we are saying “yes” to.  We never know where we will end up.

I think the key to this kind of living is learning to enjoy each day and say “yes” to God in the smallest things in life.  We may have no idea where it will take us, but we can be assured that wherever it takes us, we won’t be alone!

Just a thought,

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Why Integrity Matters…

I am a huge sports fan.  I especially love Big 12 Football.  In our corner of the world, the sports media outlets have only had one story to cover in the past 2 days.  The Sports Illustrated article called “The Dirty Game”  that details all kinds of underhanded activity going on in Stillwater.  I’ll have to admit that when I first read the article on Sport’s Illustrated’s website, I thought that OSU was in for some serious trouble.

Then I started hearing former players calling into the local radio station vehemently denying the allegations.  Which is pretty standard for stories such as this…

But on my lunch hour I heard Billy Bajema, who played tight end for OSU during the time period described in the article.  I don’t know Billy Bajema personally, but several of my friends do.  One of them used to be his youth pastor.  He came and spoke at my Alma Mater’s chapel this past year. (Southern Nazarene University)  He is known to be a Christian man of integrity.

So when he went on the radio and completely denied that any players were receiving money after games or that boosters were allowed in the locker room, my ears perked up.  Then I started to hear the radio hosts say things like this:

When Billy Bajema says that these things didn’t happen, I believe him.  I covered the team for his tenure there and he is a stand up guy.  He is a man of integrity.

I heard at least two different radio show hosts say something like this.

And then I started to look at the other side of the story.  One of the writers involved in the story has a history of writing articles that are more fiction than fact.  Another way of saying it is he makes up stories.  When I was a boy, my mom called that lying.  His name is Thayer Evans.  Until yesterday I didn’t know who he was, but since he was trending on twitter I looked him up.

Apparently, Mr. Evans did a similar piece on my beloved Texas Longhorns on the recruitment of Jamarcus McFarland.  Unfortunately, he hadn’t verified his facts.  He later wrote a retraction, although the folks in Austin felt like the retraction was a bit of a joke.  He also went after Cam Newton and even tried to convince others not to vote for him for the Heisman.  In short, Thayer Evans has a history of writing stories based more on speculation than truth.

It didn’t take long of me scrolling through the twittersphere to realize that there are a great number of journalists who consider Thayer Evans to be less than credible.  His reputation precedes him…

Not to mention the fact that the folks that SI spoke to all tended to be guys who did not make it in the program.  They were guys who had an axe to grind.

Now I am not suggesting that the team at Stillwater is a bunch of choir boys who would never do anything wrong.  I am not that naive.  I also know that a person like Billy Bajema could be lying.  We have seen even the most well-respected church leaders fall from grace right in front of our eyes.

But I think there is something to be learned from all this mess.

How you live today matters…

Your reputation proceeds you.  If you live your life as a person of character, when someone calls your integrity into question, you will be vindicated.  Eventually the truth will come out.  When God tells his people not to lie, it isn’t because God is some sort of killjoy trying to ruin everyone’s fun.  It’s because lying destroys trust, which in turn destroys relationships.

It can even destroy football programs…

Just a thought,

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Just keep swimming…

Diana Nyad captured media headlines today by swimming from Cuba to Florida at age 64…

All I can say is WOW!

Her mantra was “Find a Way”.  She did.  Five attempts and 36 years later.  Talk about perseverance. She just kept swimming…

I was sharing the story of Diana with Paula tonight while she was running.  We decided it was the day for Paula to achieve one of her running goals.  She wanted to average a 10 minute pace for three miles.  We had already run a mile and a half and the first mile was at 10:30, which meant she had some catching up to do.

We started to pick up the pace and made it to the end of the second mile and the pace was 10:10.  So she was going to have to cut quite a bit off her third mile if she was going to make it.

She killed the third mile at 9:17. Putting her in under her goal of 30 minutes total.  She found a way.

All I could think of was the girl I married who had never run before in her life.  She wanted to run her first 5K just after we got married.  We went on our first run through the neighborhood and she couldn’t make it past the first stop sign.

Last Sunday morning, she ran 10 miles before church and then came and taught Sunday School.  She is training for her 2nd half marathon that she will run September 22nd, and is threatening to run a full in december. (I’ve never even run a half)

She just keeps running…

Here’s a picture of her run map from Sunday…

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I think a lot of people like magic when it comes to life as well as faith.  We want a magic pill that will make us lose weight.  We want to get rich overnight.  We want to be able to run 26.2 miles without all the training.  In faith, we want to boil it all down to a trip to the altar.  We want magic at our youth camp to “fix” us for the rest of our lives.

In all areas of our lives, we don’t want to have to persevere.

But it seems to me that the life of faith is about learning to follow Jesus in the daily grind.  Like a runner getting up in the morning to lace up the tennis shoes, or a swimmer going to swim laps in the pool at 5:30 AM, a big part of the faith is learning the daily disciplines.  Fighting the tendency for magic cures, and doing the hard work of prayer.  Making time to meditate on God’s word.  Learning to believe when we don’t “feel” the spiritual high of a camp service.

We could say, “Just keep believing…”

Or maybe Journey said it best, “Don’t stop believin’…”

Come to think of it, if we viewed faith as more of a journey and less of a transaction, we might see the need for perseverance.

Please don’t get me wrong, the life of faith is a life of grace from first to last.  In fact, without the grace of God we have no hope.  But when we learn to persevere, we learn to “show up” everyday so that we are available to receive grace.  Jesus tells us to seek and we will find.

What all of us Christian folk could learn from Diana is what it means to never give up.  I have learned that from Paula as well.

Maybe you are walking through a difficult time in your life and God seems strangely absent in the middle of it.  You wish there was a magic prayer you could pray that would “fix” everything in your life.

To you I would say, “Don’t stop believin’…”

Determine that you will seek God today, and tomorrow, and the day after that, etc..  One day you will look up and realize you have reached your lifelong goal.  It will come with the words, “Well done my good and faithful servant…”

Just a thought,

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