Truly Listening To God

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I don't know what I think. I'm certainly more proud than anyone could ever explain. But I'm also scared, very much so.....she's my wife, my best friend, my rock. She's the peanut butter to my jelly, the milk with my chocolate chip cookies, and the bread of my sandwich. 

Here's the story: Back in August Vicki and I learned of a dear friend (Deb Howley) who is in need of a kidney. Right away, I (being the super Christian I claim to be) pray for her. But my wife, clearly the more super Christian, begins a process that I know nothing about. She is actually considering donating her kidney! In the next week, Vicki begins praying about this. We go on a vacation where Vicki proceeds to tell me that she is considering donating her kidney. My daughter Sadie overhears and immediately says "No!". That weekend Vicki and I go to our friends Connor and Katy's wedding. Here Vicki meets this wonderful lady named Vanessa who said "I saw you from afar and somehow knew I wanted to meet you". She said Vicki had this glow about her. It turns out she (Vanessa) is seated right next to Vicki for dinner. They hit it off and talk as if they knew each other forever. Then this woman proceeds to tell Vicki that she would not be here (the wedding) had the bride's mom not donated a kidney to her. Of all the people to sit next to my wife! Vicki feels more inspired than ever. She arrives at church the next morning and who is the first person she sees? Deb! On this particular Sunday I have the privilege to speak (I do this once every 6-8 weeks). It's in this message that I ask: What is God telling you to do today that you need to do? She clearly sees God telling her that she should do this. The reason she knows it's God and not me is because I wouldn't tell her to do this! At this time, I was still not quite onboard. So for God to use my words to reassure Vicki to do this goes way beyond anything I could've imagined. 

I am now completely at ease with this whole thing. I love Deb. If anyone deserves a blessing, it's her. She is an amazing God-loving woman who would do anything for anyone. She loves Jesus and it shows. God has orchestrated some crazy stuff in these last 6-7 months. In looking back, I don't think I took this too seriously. I knew they both would have to go through a lot of hoops (and they did!) to even start the process, but I had no idea they would be a match. But it is a match and it is happening. To God be the glory. 

So here's my point. Listen to God. If you follow Him (like my wife does) He may just have you doing something you never thought you would. Here's the other thing: Although this story is great, my wife would want all of you to know that it's all God. God orchestrated this whole thing. Satan intervened quite a bit but God always controlled the process. My wife would want anyone reading this to know that this is all about Him. Despite the fact that my wife is by far the most amazing person I know, she wouldn't do this without His promptings. There could be no other explanation. She truly wants all the glory to go to Him. 

Today's the day. We don't know where this whole thing will end up but we do know Who is in control and for now, that will get us through. 

I'm a Bit Uncomfortable

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It was in the midst of premarital counseling with my pastor here at Fellowship Church (Andy Eiss) many years ago where we created a great friendship. It stemmed from our common love of the Red Sox and the Cowboys at the time. (As a current die hard Patriot fan, Andy may never confess to the previous Dallas Cowboy bandwagon riding but I remember it all too well) 

The closer I got to Andy the more he challenged me....as a friend and as my pastor. There were times it would stress me out when he asked me to get involved in something. I would go home and figure out a way that I can decline the offer in the best way. But as I look back now I am forever thankful. I see today that God intentionally put him (Andy) in my life to make me more valuable and available to Him (God). It was in these many moments of uncomfortableness that I grew more closer to God than ever before. "Hey Rich, what do you think about leading a Growth Group?" or "How about I have you speak in front of all these people on a Sunday?" Are you kidding me? Do you know who I am? Lead? Speak? I don't know about that. Back then (and even today) I felt like Moses in Exodus 4:10-11 But Moses pleaded with the Lord, “O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.”11 Then the Lord asked Moses, “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the Lord?

We are all created in the image of God. We are children of the living God. We have divine potential.  The world will tell us we can't or we shouldn't but God will tell us we can and we should. 

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

Today, following what Pastor Andy did for me, I do for others. I am trying to constantly challenge others and put them in uncomfortable areas where I think they'd shine. And I know some of them would wish that I'd leave them alone. I'm sure some of them see a text or phone call from me and wonder, "Oh great! Now what does he want from me?" I would answer I just want the best for you which, in turn, will be the best for those around them as well. 

God has got huge things for you and I. What's getting in the way of being a bit uncomfortable and coming out of it better than ever before? 

Look for my phone call.....I'll be in touch soon

Good for the Soul

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I have been friends with the men in the above picture for over 35 years. That states, first of all, that I'm old and secondly, that they are all great guys. It takes a lot to stay friends for that long. It takes effort. In the busyness and transitions of life (moving, having children, etc.), we need to be intentional in reaching out and staying in touch. 

In the last couple of years I've learned a lot about friendships. First of all, we need them. In the words of the great singer of the 70's and 80's Bob Seger (dating myself), "See some old friends, good for the soul." They are, in fact, good for the soul. We need certain friends who listen, encourage, and call without agenda. They're the ones who can get you through anything. They're the ones who can change your day, your week or even your month. Quality time + Quality People = Change of demeanor. Proverbs 27:17 says, "As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend." 

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The other thing I learned (or re-learned) is that sadly, we lose friends. Even more as we grow older.  In the last 2 years I cannot tell you how many losses my friends and I have experienced due to cancer, tragedy, and even suicide. 

From these sad circumstances I realized how important it is that we do not wait for one's death to eulogize them, we should do this every time we see them. They should know how important they are in your life, how they make you better and how you look forward to seeing them each time. Why wait to tell everyone how great they are, when they are not here to hear it? 

What friend do you need to reach out to today? Who can you encourage or even eulogize today?