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Friday Inspiration

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly beloved children, and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a sweet-smelling offering and sacrifice to God.

Ephesians 5:1

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Love and Forgiveness Modeled Beautifully

My parents and Step Mom modeled love and forgiveness. Let me explain.

My Mom left my Dad when I was 9. He was depressed for three years and my Mom didn’t know how to deal with this situation; so she left. This only made things worse for my Dad.  My parent’s marriage had taken place just a few months before my birth – in short, my mom had become pregnant due to a relationship with a man she later found out was married.  She immediately broke it off with him when she found out he was married.  At some point, while pregnant with me, my Mom and Dad started dating and were married before I was born.  When my Mom left my Dad, she proceeded to date my biological father, who was still married.  Not good, I know. I believe this may have started before she left my Dad, I don’t know the exact timing as I was quite young.  At some point my Dad found out about her rekindled relationship with my biological father.

I was raised by my Dad, Mike Hurley, from birth to age 9 when my Mom left but at this point I guess my Dad decided he did not want to pay for child support, so he didn’t. This went on until I was 18.

When I was 12, my Dad met and later married his girlfriend who became my Step Mom, and they moved to Las Vegas from L.A. just a few years after the split with my Mom. Subsequently they moved to Kentucky in 1991 and we lost all contact with them for over three years.

This upset me greatly, and when I was upset usually my Mom was as well.

As you can see, my family life as a kid was complicated.

Fast forward from 1994 to 2005, when my Dad and Step Mom were now living in Washington and were planning to move back to L.A. to care for my Step Mom’s ailing parents. Unbeknownst to me, my Mom had been talking to my Dad and Step Mom for some time and had invited them to stay with her while they tried to sort out their move to L.A.  I want to note here that these three never went to church and at this time did not have a relationship with Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Yet, in spite of all of the above craziness from my childhood, they modeled the love and forgiveness Jesus spoke of in the Gospels and modeled Himself throughout His life, especially on the cross.

“And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments” (Luke 23:34).

My Mom and my Dad are no longer with us, but my Step Mom still cannot talk about my Mom without tearing up.  Of all of the main attributes of Jesus, love and forgiveness come the easiest to me just for the mere fact that it was modeled so beautifully to me by my Mom, Dad and Step Mom.

What story of love and forgiveness would you like to share?

 

intrainig

Training

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it”  (Proverbs 22:6)

I got more serious about my faith after I met a girl named Nicole. Not because she was Christian, but because I knew, deep down, that my faith was not where it needed to be. For us to have a great life together Christ was going to have to be at the center of it.

While my faith was stronger, I was still deceived ten years later after my son Luke was born.  I was  working long hours and gaining new business, but this short term success was causing fights between my wife and me. My most important relationships grew weaker—with God, with Nicole and with Luke.

I was doing my part and more, not trusting God to do His part, and going against His word. (Matthew 6:25-34)

I was worried about providing for Nicole and Luke.  It was 2010/2011 and I was running a small, young financial planning company.  I would leave at 5am to workout with the boys at the country club who did not know Jesus but who I thought might be good potential clients or connectors. I’d return home around 6-7pm, never thinking that my primary focus should be to seek first the Kingdom of God, to have Him transform my life. I certainly wasn’t thinking about being around to live it out in front of Nicole and Luke so I could be a Godly example for my family.

I was headed for disaster and did not even know it.

I continued to buy the lie that my life was awesome, that I was working towards the abundant life. I was confusing mediocrity for awesomeness. The enemy is the greatest of confusers.

I began to read the Bible and pray more, to fast, to talk to mentors who truly loved me and wanted nothing from me—only something for me—and then I began to see time and life differently.

I looked down into my son’s dark chocolate eyes and I saw someone who really needed my help.  He would look up to me, arms outstretched, and in my soul I heard him say, “Daddy, help me, I need you. You are the one God created to teach me what I need to know.  Don’t blow it. You have one chance to pour into me, because I am empty now.  Soon I will be full, and it will be too late for you to do your job of training me properly. Don’t buy into the lies that so many other Dads have bought into. Trust that God will take care of you, me, and mom—you just need to do your part, not His.  Know that the only inheritance I need and want is right here and right now with you, and the money will hurt me if I don’t have wisdom. Don’t focus on the Joneses—focus on the Savior who was brutally murdered so you and I could live.”

God has to properly train me before I can properly train Luke. This training takes time and it takes saying no to some very good things, but as we know from Jim Collins, “good is the enemy of great.”

It is going to take God transforming my life into that which I want Luke’s to become. How can I do this if I am climbing the corporate ladder and too busy chasing the things of this world? My legacy sleeps in the same house I do, and what I pour into him he will pour into his kids, and so on.

How can we encourage one another to be trained by God until the day we die?

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Daddy Day

Most every Saturday, I spend the day with my 7 year old son, Luke. This is a new commitment for me this year, one I have enjoyed immensely.  In the past I tried to have this “rhythm” but it didn’t last.  Despite good intentions, I didn’t have accountability in place to keep me going.  To be completely honest, in 2015 and 2016 I had other priorities that came before Luke.   At the end of last year it hurt my heart to see our relationship was far from where I had hoped it would be.

Just this morning, I believe I got a sign from God that we were at a new level in our relationship as a result of months of Saturday “Daddy Days.”  A few months ago I was asked to speak to the 6th-8th graders at the weekly chapel at Luke’s school, and I was excited to do so.  We’d recently returned from a cross country trip, so this morning it was a little crazy as I got ready for the talk, but Nicole and I agreed at the last minute that although Luke was just in first grade, he should attend the middle school chapel. When we arrived, Luke and I were greeted by the Head of School, the person who originally asked me to speak.  He kindly sat with Luke in the back of the auditorium. The talk went well and afterwards I had planned to drop Luke off at his classroom and head back to the office to start my work day.

As we arrived on the elementary campus, Luke’s class was just leaving for PE.  Luke put his stuff on his desk and then turned to me with this look on his face that I had seen before. I immediately wondered why he was about to cry, as he pulled me into the kitchen that is off of their classroom.  I then heard the words I won’t soon forget: “Daddy, don’t leave me, I want you to stay with me.”

Luke was full of so much emotion it was hard for him to articulate what was going on.  I had heard these words before, but it had been some time ago.  After several minutes of tears and conversations with his teacher (twice) and the school’s secretary, he was able to explain to me what was upsetting him. He simply wanted to hang out more—he usually didn’t get to spend all morning with Dad, and today had been so fun. Possibly the “Daddy Days” are having a greater impact than I had thought? My son actually wanted more of me.

All this makes me ask the question: Are we experiencing regular “Daddy Days” with our Heavenly Father? Are we spending so much time with him that we are crying and asking not to be separated from Him like Luke was with me this morning?

God opened my eyes to three things he desires for our relationship with Him:

  1. We are commanded to love God and Jesus with all we got: “Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. (Mark 12:29-30).

Luke was not letting go this morning as he was loving me with all he had, and I had a front row seat to this love.  He loved being with me and wanted to stay with me.

  1. We are to live, to “walk” in the same way Jesus lived: “but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked”(1 John 2:5-6). We have explored this idea before about what drove Jesus up Calvary’s mountain to be crucified for us. If we are to walk in the way Jesus did do you think this includes loving God the Father as Jesus did?
  1. Our Heavenly Father wants us to have an authentic relationship with Him as Jesus did, expressing our deep heartfelt desires even when it is uncomfortable in the worldly realm, like Luke did when he was sobbing in front of his classmates who were trying to figure out what was going on with their normally joyful friend. “And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:38).

Our Heavenly Father wants us to have the greatest relationship with Him, like He had with Jesus. He wants us totally ruined with tears and sobbing when we are pulled away from Him. I believe this is part of what was going on with Jesus in the Garden Of Gethsemane when He knew what lay in front of Him—being forsaken and disconnected from the Father in order to bear our sins and forever rectify us with God the Father.

I have never had experience like Luke had with me, but I hope to.

What experiences have you had that resembles what Luke experienced this week?

May we long to be with God the Father and cry violently like Jesus did in the Garden and how Luke did this morning when we are separated from our Heavenly Father.

vapor

Fast Forward…..2072

In 1907 my Grandmother was born. Lulla Belle Stewart. She was an amazing, strong, feisty woman. I loved her so much. Most importantly, she loved the Lord. She came to Christ later in life even though she was born and raised in Kentucky.

In 2010 my son Luke was born. He too is feisty, strong and may turn out amazing. Who knows? My prayer is that he will love Jesus more and more every day, much like his great-grandmother did.

I was born in 1972. I’m thinking if things work out, I could have a great-grandson born in 2072.

Yes, I have a problem. But maybe I will live to 100 and see this young whipper-snapper?

I often think of what my legacy will be. What characteristics of mine will show up in that young baby boy in 2072?

I try and live my life as if I will not live till the end of 2016, much less until 2072. I struggle with how much I need to show, teach, and love Luke now so he will keep it going with his children, and others beyond our family.

As we know, Jesus had 33 years on earth. I am 10 years past that and thinking I’m living on borrowed time. Why, I don’t know. Maybe it is because I think of this verse often:

“Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (James 4:14).

Time is running out to love fully, laugh a lot, and to make the greatest impact in this life I’ve been given.

One day my story will be over so I want to live and love fully while I still can. Sadly, some of my time is spent comparing myself to others; in self-doubt; and being jealous of friendships I wish I had.

How about you? What do you think of when you think of your legacy?

How do you stay focused on making the greatest impact possible and avoid wasting energy on petty worries?

 

question

What do I want?

Right after Nicole and I got married, we started fighting a lot. Mostly about money, but also related to what we should be doing (calendar and calling) and how we were going to do it. Little did Nicole know that she had married a big jerk!

During this rough time in our marriage, I came up with one statement that I would repeat when we began to argue. I was having trouble winning these arguments (many men might be familiar with this), so I gave up and said:

“I don’t care where we live, what we do for a living, or how much money we make. I just want you, me and any children we have to be Christ-followers.”

That was in 2006.

That is still the theme of my life today. Although I struggle with this, it’s what I want—with one addition.

Not only is it my fervent wish that my family follow Christ, my desire has expanded to everyone else as well. Everyone! It’s my prayer that we all would live as God intended.

That’s a big, audacious prayer. But I think God loves those kinds the best; especially when they are in line with His desires too.

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

How about you? What do you want?

When you look at Paul’s life, was He confused as to what He wanted? “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).

Powerful!

How about Jesus—confused? No, of course not, He was never confused. “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

Super powerful!

God.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Perfect!

My prayer is that we would seek God in order to know what we want; and that we would ask God for those things, no matter how outrageous, with full faith that he will answer.

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Trust, Love and Vegas

Recently, Luke (my six year old son) and I went on a trip to Vegas, for one day. Family live there and other family were going to be visiting so we thought it would be a good time to fly down.

The car temperature said 122 degrees–the trip turned into me just making sure that I kept Luke alive.

I love trips like this, to unknown places for Luke. He tends to pay attention to me, hold my hand, draw real close to me, and at the end of the trip we are closer than when we first set out.

You know where I am going with this….

“…..draw close to God and He will draw close to you” James 4:8a

I feel Luke loves me more when he trusts me more and draws closer and closer to me.

It seems during times of uncertainty, like a trip to Vegas for a six year old, a cancer diagnosis, a sudden death of a loved one or a loss of a job, we draw closer to God. It is during these times where we believe God is the only answer, so we cry out to Him and trust Him more and more.

Do you think God likes these times?

For me, most of the time, I am like Luke at home, doing what I want to do, barely paying attention to his Dad, confident in his own abilities to get him through the day. During these times I am not trusting God but I am trusting myself and this is, as we know, a dangerous place to be.

How can we remain in an uncomfortable place where we are drawing closer and closer to God and trusting Him more and more?

How do you consistently draw close to God, trust Him and love Him more and more?

time

100 Hours

We each have 100 usable hours, give or take, every week after we take out sleep and commuting.

Does that seem like a lot to you? Or not very much?

With most of us working around 50 hours each week, that leaves another 50 hours for the other priorities in our lives.

I struggle with this. Constantly.

It’s hard to give enough time to my relationship with Nicole, my son Luke, my stepmom and my mother and father in law, friends, church community, and taking care of myself physically. I also need a little down time so I don’t go crazy. I wrestle with how to fit everything in, and no matter what I’m doing, I feel like I should be doing something else. I’m constantly feeling guilt, shame and fear.

UGH!

How do you do it? What do you do in order to maximize these 100 hours every week, preserving and growing your important relationships, without losing clients, getting fired, ruining your marriage, or burning out?

I use the lineup  in order to keep me focused on what is most critical. It’s not perfect, but for me, although it has been a struggle, it has improved my most critical relationships.

But I know how easy it is to slip back into old habits. I worry I’ll go back to being crazed and confused, especially now that I am launching this blog. I just don’t know where the time is going to come from.

More coffee? Less sleep? Help!

My most important relationship, with Jesus, is at risk of slipping due to my busyness and my addiction to social media. I am not where I once was spiritually. I am getting too busy and having more and more trouble saying “no thank you.”

Decisions are hard, but I know you can help me. So, come on, give me your best advice, I want to learn from you.

Thank you for helping me out!

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My Lineup

In 2010 I began doing research for a white paper to grow my business and create a niche for it. I interviewed executives and entrepreneurs, asking questions about how they balanced their career, family, and life’s challenges in order to finish well in life and not blow up all of their critical relationships. I also read books and dove deep into this topic in order to further my knowledge.

This white paper took me over 200 hours a great deal of money to complete.

I gained no new business from this white paper although I interviewed some of the most successful executives and entrepreneurs in Southern California. (I am really good at spending a lot of time, money and energy on a project and gaining no new business. Must be a gift.)

What I discovered is that we all have about 100 useable hours every week and how we use those hours will determine our destiny. Destiny is important to me and I imagine it is important to you. I tend to be all over the place with my time unless I have a path to follow and some lanes to stay in. So I’ve created nine categories that help me prioritize my time and energy.

If you’re into baseball metaphors, I like to I look at these nine categories as my baseball lineup—they’re my players. I want to score home runs—and I don’t want to get stranded at third base. So here’s my starting lineup:

Owner: Christ

Christ is the owner of the team I manage. I own nothing; I am His manager. The game I am playing is the game He wants me to play, at least this is the way it is supposed to go. No owner, no team, no team, no game, so Christ must be far and away the most important part of this team. At least this is what I think sometimes, if I played that way more often I would be winning more and hitting more home runs.

#1. Couples

For the first 6 years of our marriage, Nicole never felt like she was a priority to me. Our marriage suffered because of my insecurities and arrogance. This persisted even after I started reading the Bible in our second year of marriage and actively attending a Bible study. I am still working through a lot of stuff and will share with you in the next post just how bad it got. At least now I realize our marriage must be one of my priorities, and I continue to work on it.

#2. Children

While I am alive, no one else is better to be a Dad to my son Luke than I am. This continues to be a struggle while I work at home and attempt to balance my commitments to work, home, community, and spiritual life.

#3. Care for Self

Much like oxygen on the airplane, I have to first take in the oxygen so then I can give it to those sitting beside me, like my son and others about whom I care deeply. This means I must prioritize my own physical, mental and spiritual health.

#4. Cash

For me what this looks like is how I spend the first part of my day. I start out, though not perfectly, reading the Bible and then praying. This is my Christ time. I then, most every day, balance my checkbook (cash) and review my monthly spending plan, and look at my calendar of appointments coming up today and in the coming weeks. Some of this I do on my own, and some with my wife. This is currently working for us as a couple, though it takes a lot of time—we’d love to know what is working for you that might help us be better stewards of all that we’re given.

#5. Calendar

This is all about making the best choices in how to spend my time. Nicole and I have struggled so much with this. We argue and waste a lot of time over the calendar. (Ironic, right?) We are open to what you are doing, we will share what we have done. We’ve had some successes and we will share those with you in this series, as well as our fights, and hopefully we can encourage one another in this challenging place.

#6. Calling/Vocation

Just like #2-Children, the category of Calling will take on various levels of importance during different seasons of life. But even now while I’m in an active, growing, child-rearing season of life, I’m constantly trying to pay attention to God’s calling on my life and attempting to stay right where He wants me.

#7. Community

I think of community as many groups: People we help who will never repay us, friends at church, those we share passions with, neighbors, people who are close friends (think Peter, James and John for Jesus), those who will carry our casket if we were to die today. The list can be quite expansive, the idea, of course, is to live in community, as we cannot live the life we were designed to live without community.

#8. Care for Parents

Parents are important—God commands us to honor them and gives us the promise that when we do, things will go well. I was impatient, demanding and downright mean to my parents while I was growing up and they were alive. During this time, things were not going well for me. Hmm…..I had many major issues with this over the years, and I will share some of them with you. I messed it up and don’t have another chance with my own parents, but I can expand the meaning of this to include care for my Step Mom and Step Dad as well as Nicole’s parents and our Great Aunt and Great Uncle as well as other elderly people in our neighborhood.

#9. Designated Hitter

What other priorities would you like to include on your top ten list? For me, it is being in a Coffeehouse—this is my happy place. For you it could be cars, canines, cats, camping, college football or any other hobby/activity that you love that would help you not get stranded at third base. (Doesn’t even have to start with a C!)

How have you intentionally used your time to determine your destiny?

What do you think about this lineup?

Over the upcoming weeks, I will share struggles, arguments, failures, and successes, and I hope to hear some of yours. Let’s help each other better use these 100 hours we continue to receive every week.

 

 

 

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A Kiss

From the time I was 7, I dreamed of having a little boy. I was raised without my biological father and no one in my family really looked like me. To have a son may have been a selfish desire, but nonetheless it was a dream that never faded.

The time finally came when I was married and a child was on the way. Nesting was in full effect—we had the front door off, the floors redone, and most of the house painted. It was crazy, yet the preparations for this impending arrival were necessary. One night we drove forever to get just the right changing table. It was an adventure and I played along.

All of the prep for our son was intense but it was nothing compared to when he actually came. Like all babies, he required tremendous attention but I was happy to care for him because in him I saw myself. I loved holding him, talking to him, smiling at him, taking him in the stroller, even trying to sing to him. I was living this 30-year-old dream—yet somehow, I was still waiting for one special moment.

When you give love, the natural desire is to receive that love back, but sometimes you wait and it never comes. All this love I was giving my son was being received, with no reciprocation as far as I could tell.

One day my son and I were by ourselves on the couch watching the British Open. Coverage had finished for the day and my son, with his pure sweetness, got on my lap. With his two little hands he grasped my cheeks and kissed me. He was 18 months old. All of the love I had given him was returned in one act of love. My heart leaped and I was on cloud nine. I was so happy.

Like a loving parent, God is waiting for that kiss from us. Not an obligatory kiss, but a heartfelt one. He created us wonderfully, has been watching our every move from the second we were created. He made us for a specific purpose and longs to have our hands take hold of His cheeks and kiss Him with our own effort, our own desire, and our own love.

He is patient, a perfect gentleman, not forcing Himself upon us—but waiting for this splendid moment when we turn to Him and begin to love Him.

“And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.”
Luke 15:20 ESV