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Love

one

Numbers

The bible is full of numbers.  I believe God really likes numbers—he even named a book in the Bible after them.  I’ve always liked numbers too.  I’ve been playing with them since I was four. It began with playing cribbage with my uncle, then baseball cards and statistics, multiplication tables, algebra, pursuing an accounting degree in college, and now I work in finance. The importance of numbers is woven throughout my life.

I remember in second grade, I learned my “times tables” quickly and earned fifty cents. It doesn’t seem like much now, but back then I felt I had been rewarded for accomplishing something. I was one of only two in my class to accomplish the feat, and I was proud of myself.

It’s a great feeling when you’re seven, but this pride in my accomplishments and comparison with others became a struggle in my life. It’s an ego issue that I need to be aware of and often fight against.

It seems somewhere in my life my love of numbers became a vanity thing. I believe it might have started in that second grade class when I compared myself to everyone in my class and I felt superior to them.  Eventually I felt the sting of being on the losing side of the numbers game. Fast forward to ninth grade history class (clearly no numbers involved in this subject) and I got a D-minus on an exam. The results were posted for everyone to see.  I felt inferior, stupid and ashamed; this time being one of the last in my class.

But that was just a blip on the screen for this numbers game I was playing. Comparing my numbers with my friends’ numbers to see how I was doing continued throughout high school with my student ranking, how many points I was scoring per game in basketball (or not scoring), how many home runs I hit versus others on my team, my SAT scores . . . there was no stopping it and no one to stop it. I felt like I was on the right side of the numbers game.

Other blips came up in college and as I started working. A earned a whopping 1.78 GPA my first semester of freshman year. Ouch. In my first job as a financial advisor associate at the bank, every week our division office would send out a list of the top five producers (who sold the most in investments) for the previous week so that we all could see who was on top. I longed to be on the top of the list and be recognized.

The continual ranking and comparison was having a negative impact upon my life. If I am being honest, I have to say comparison still does sometimes get the best of me.

I have started a few practices in my life to stop this superior/inferior comparison game:

  1. Know the truth that I am loved by God without having to do anything. “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 John 4:16).
  2. Seek God above all else. “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). This means focusing on things above not things below. “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2).
  3. Know God more by praying more and being quiet in his presence.

“…pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10).

  1. Know I was made by Him for a specific purpose. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).
  2. Limit/eliminate time on social media where a lot of my comparison occurs.

All of this leads me to the only number that truly counts. Number 1. God is to be number one in my life.  He is to be primary, preeminent, the top, and I when recognize God’s proper place, the comparison subsides and I am able to become more and more aware of how much I am loved by Him. My Heavenly Father does not care about comparisons.

How can we start today anew by eliminating comparison in our life, to live the life we were created to live in Christ?

Friday Inspiration

So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:

They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.
We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.

None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.

Romans 8:31-39, The Message

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Jesus, Saul and the Truth 

The road to Damascus forever changed Saul’s life. He had lived his entire 33 years on the path that he thought was serving God. He was trying, to the best of his ability, to eliminate this new and growing group of people “belonging to the Way” (Acts 9:2b) and that was the purpose of his travel at the time of the interruption that changed his life and gave him his new name—Paul.

There are so many ways Jesus could have “scolded” Paul, but He did not. As He did so many times, Jesus posed a question.

Why?

Jesus did not need to prove He was right or explain himself. Jesus was looking upon His creation, Paul, and interrupted at the perfect time to get him on the path for which he was created.

Paul moved eagerly into the life he was created to live, writing almost half of the New Testament and planting twenty churches.

With this question — “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”— seven words brought truth into Saul’s life for the very first time and changed him forever. How beautiful!

The right question at the right time can be life changing.

When Jeff asked me “have you ever asked God what He thought you should do?” this brought truth into my own life, possibly for the first time for me as well. My life was interrupted and Jeff, just like Jesus, could have condemned me but he did not.

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17).

Jesus also did this with Peter (Simon) after he had denied him. “He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” (John 21:16).

I believe Jesus used Jeff to bring truth into my life just like Jesus brought truth into Paul’s life. Sometimes a perfectly timed question can propel us toward the life God created us to live. We often need a nudge to live out the calling for our lives.

What question has been asked of you that propelled you into living the life God created you to live?

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

forgive

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?

 

Define Love According to 2 Corinthians 8:2

Recently I heard Dr. John Piper speak at the Celebration of Generosity and he touched my heart deeply. Below is just an excerpt from a sermon that he gave at the conference. I consider that sermon to be a contender to be one of my Top 5 sermons of all time. I believe you will be deeply impacted by it:

https://generousgiving.org/media/videos/john-piper-joy-in-poverty

Friday Inspiration

Love, is the overflow of joy in God that meets the needs of others especially in times of suffering and loss.

John Piper at Generous Giving’s 2017 Celebration of Generosity

Check the video out here: https://generousgiving.org/media/videos/piper-2017

Greg pool 2

Confidence and Joy

I have been looking at this picture for months trying to figure out what I am supposed to write about it. I still cannot believe I was ever that joyful. Mom used to call me “happy baby.”  I was confident and joyful.

Just look at me.  I didn’t have a care in the world.  Looks like my belly was full and I was enjoying the sun as I played in the neighborhood pool.  Heck, I might even have a gift for the pool man in my diaper.

When this picture was taken I had been greatly loved and taken care of since birth.  At that time, my confidence and joy came from my Mom and Dad.  My Mom was a very loving and confident woman and I was her pride and joy.  She had been dreaming of having a baby for many years.

Before I was born, my Mom had 2 miscarriages and had tried for many years to have a baby.  In fact, as the story goes, more than ten doctors told her she would never have a child, so when I came along it was a very special time for her.  I was secure in her and my Dad’s love, fed by them both emotionally (love) and physically (food, clothing (some), shelter, and care).

Since this picture was taken in 1974, I have a struggled with confidence and joy ̶ but why?

Growing into a young man, I slowly began getting my security more from myself and less from my parents.  I became more and more self-reliant and confident in myself, which is developmentally appropriate. But I also became self-centered and arrogant. My joy dwindled and my confidence declined when life happened – ridicule from others, passed up for promotions, grades falling below those of my friends, being laughed at for my speaking abilities, and on and on.  I arrived into my mid-twenties angry, depressed, lonely and self-important.

I’ve been clawing my way back to the Greg Hurley of 1974 ever since.

I’m learning my confidence comes from the Lord.  “For You are my hope; O Lord GOD, You are my confidence from my youth” (Psalm 71:5).  My joy comes in knowing Jesus as my Lord.  “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice” (Philippians 4:4) and knowing that He will never leave me nor forsake me.  “For God has said: “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5b). And God calls us “to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

God loves me so much that He sent His only son to die for my sins, (John 3:16)  ̶  for my arrogance, anger and self-centeredness. “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”  (Romans 8:32).

In 1974, I believed wholeheartedly in my Mom and Dad and that they would give me everything I needed.  And they did.  I was blessed.

It’s not always easy, but in 2017 I am trying to believe wholeheartedly in my Heavenly Father that He will give me everything I need – love, food, shelter, clothing.  Everything. That He will be the source of my confidence, security, and joy.

What are you doing to make sure your joy and your confidence come from the Lord?

gap

Love Gap

When Jesus was asked “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these. (Mark 12:28b-31).

Seems simple – love God with all my heart, mind and soul and then love my neighbors as myself.  So how are we doing with the “Great Commandment”?

When people think of us as Christians do they think we love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and that we love our neighbors as ourselves  — I would say probably no, at least not all of the time.

Could we be suffering a “love gap” that is the distance between how we are loving and how God created us to love?

Maybe we are failing to manage the time (calendar) God has entrusted to us in the manner in which God created? For me to love God with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength and to love my neighbor as myself it takes less time wasted and more time with God, reading His Bible, praying to Him and being in a listening posture. I still struggle with all of this because of the pull of the world is constantly telling me I have to do this and that and be busy, busy. Why all this busyness? Perhaps because most everyone else I know is doing it and busyness seems like the natural thing to do.

But I fear that we are quenching the Spirit when we are too busy with the things of this world and not focusing on things above and instead focusing on things below.  My focus too often is on what is right in front of me instead of heavenly things.

I need to remember that God is awesome and that He knows best and that is why I need to spend as much time possible with Him and Jesus.

I need to be reminded that I should not feel obligated to do my quiet time but instead be super excited to know our God more, to fall deeper in love with Him so He can be my everything including my most, by far, important relationship. I also must be reminded that when I do not live up to these goals, I should not feel shame or guilt but know that God loves me greatly and for Him there is no love gap.

What will we give up today, to close this love gap?

filled

Jesus’ Vacations

I’ve always thought Jesus was a foodie.

The feeding of the 5,000. Turning water into wine. The Last Supper. Even the resurrected Jesus had a barbeque for the disciples (John 21:9).

Once a foodie, always a foodie! I think He would love San Francisco restaurants.

When Jesus wasn’t praying, telling a parable, performing miracles, and travelling, I think He enjoyed some downtime—not in a place like Hawaii, but close to where He was doing the will of His Father. He relaxed and refreshed with close friends like Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, at their home.

“Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home” (Luke 10:38).

Imagine the scene! Candles, good food, close friends, deep conversation, Jesus being served and cared for. He most likely departed feeling restored, filled up, and loved.

If Jesus needed this, don’t we?

I feel refreshed when I’m with close friends, usually one-on-one with no cell phones, dreaming of a generous and Christ-centered Bay Area. Just two hours can fill me up so much! Grabbing coffee—has to be iced coffee!—I love it. No travel. No plane. Not a lot of cost.

Real simple.

What do you do to get filled up?

Friday Inspiration

No one will ever love us like God the Father.

No one.

Not even close.

Let’s start living in this truth and not to seek the love from God from others.