“There’s something different about a person who prays. I mean, a person who really prays. My friend Dewin is this kind of person.” (TerKeurst, Lysa. Foreword xiii “God, do you hear me?”)
Good morning family. The quote above comes from the first lines of a beautiful introduction to Dr. Derwin Gray’s latest work: “God, do you hear me?” This is the book Mrs. Z and I are currently diving into and absolutely loving. We were first introduced to Dr. Gray from The Holy Post’s Episode 477 where they sat down with this amazing man and spoke to him about the book we are reading, which had just been released. Hearing this man speak was a true blessing and we quickly did some research into his story, which is really quite amazing. Dr. Gray is a shining example of the American Dream accomplished the way it was designed to be. You can get a glimpse of that amazing story by clicking here. We’ll see it brought to life in May and June when we read his book “The Good Life.”
I wanted to start this year off with Dr. Gray’s latest book because it teaches us how to pray intently and breaks down the most important prayer we can speak: “The Lord’s Prayer.” Taught to His Disciples, the Lord’s Prayer, are the words Jesus instructs His warriors to speak to help them grow closer to God, and to form that intimate relationship with God. Dr. Gray does an incredible job breaking down this prayer to explain, line-by-line and word-by-word, how important this prayer truly, truly is.
Like Dr. Gray’s book, which teaches us to pray with clearer intent and purpose, I am going to do the same with my life in 2022. Mrs. Z and I did exactly that this past weekend as we rang in the New Year with family and friends. I had to force my phone out of my pocket just to take pictures. For the first time in a long time, I almost completely disconnected with social media, and just soaked every moment in. I poured myself into my kids and family this weekend. Pushing through my back being aggravated and playing soccer, chasing my son and youngest niece around my parents magical yard for hours on end. I call my parents property “magical” because it has enabled two generations now to disappear from the monotony of the real world and emerge into a world of adventure limited only by your own imagination. Oh, the adventures I had when I was my son’s age until I grew out of them trying to be a cool kid as I entered high school. As a kid, I fought dragons and whole mythical armies in those woods. This weekend, my 5-year-old son and niece of the same age battled an aging “Palm Frond” monster that stalked them through the natural walking paths of a small slot of true Florida. As the natural landscape of East Manatee County (where my parents have resided the last forty plus years) quickly disappears for houses stacked on top of houses, my parents yard is an incredibly unique oasis. When I was younger, it was quite a place of adventure, but that has been downsized thanks to greedy investors. What used to be an endless backyard of palmetto bushes, vines, and soaring oaks, was sold into four separate tracks of homes directly behind my parents, so that now, their property had been fenced off right at their property line. When I was my daughter’s age, I was able to escape into the heart of my parent’s block and find majesty and adventure, daydreaming of fighting dragons and goblins with swords made from tree branches.
The other part of the miracle of this weekend was that Florida had some amazing weather. Low humidity and temperatures that used to mark the beginning of spring, but have, unfortunately, now have become the norm for a quickly warming world in the heart of winter. But for last weekend, the weather was perfect to move my parents outside so they could enjoy some fresh air and watch their grandchildren run and giggle. Instead of just staring at a TV all day, my mother (who has been battling with dementia and Alzheimer’s-brought on by a Doctor’s disregard to common sense and prescribing a debilitating drug that should not even be on the market) sat in the shade of God’s true glory: shade of soaring oaks, maples and pines, the cool breeze of a beautiful winter day, and the sound of her grandchildren’s harmonious giggles creating the soundtrack for the day.
And then two days later, when I spoke to my mother on the phone, for the first time in a long time, I heard true joy in her voice and clarity from her mind.
The secrets in this life are not a secret. They’ve been there for us all along, we have just buried it, because, for some strange reason, we think the world we have created is better than what God has provided for us forever. We think our entertainment is better than sitting in nature and watching the birds jump around and sing, but our entertainment traps and poisons our minds. We think sitting and scrolling through other people’s lives is better for us than being present in the moment, when we are living our life!
Well, for 2022, I am committing to strengthening my bonds with my family, my health, my physical and mental fitness. Last year I focused on my connection to God and Jesus to reconnect to them by reading the Holy Bible again with greater purpose. Now, thanks to the lessons I have learned in 2021, I am applying that to the most important relationships God has blessed me with on this side of eternity, and that is my wife and my children. I invite you all to do the same. With your significant others and family. Not mine. Just to be clear.
The New Music Christian playlist was a very interesting mix that was released on NYE. The song below is a stunning lyrical work to introduce you to “The Jesus I Know.” Benjamin Hastings gets it. Dr. Gray gets it. I hope by the end of 2022, you get it too.