Have you ever just not seen something coming? That was Rip last night around 6:45ish. We were wrapping up a FULL day of working for some clients together, and as we casually decided to grab some dinner at Georgia Blue, …. what he didn’t know is that there was nothing casual about it!! There was a room full of friends waiting on him to make a HUGE FUSS over him turning 50! Yep, August 22, James Randall Rippy “Rip” had his 50th birthday and he had no idea what all had been cooked up for him (with the help of friends) as a surprise!! As he walked into the party room, he literally was blown away with all the people and their smiling faces as they shouted “SURPRISE!!!”
One of the highlights of the night was a little jingle written for him by our friend, Tammy Bragg. She wrote THE BEST song ever that summed up the “reality” of hitting 50…and with the help of even more friends, they sang their birthday jingle to him.
He was able to be with our TN family during the weekend and then to come to a surprise party with my parents so many new friends … well, he drove away from the restaurant shaking his head, smiling from ear to ear, and just expressing to me how blown away he was by the gift of encouragement from everyone.
You see, Rip and I have sure had our “tests of faith” since we arrived to MS. Tests that we both knew God obviously had allowed Satan to customize his attacks against us both.
“I love the Lord because he listens to my prayers for help. He paid attention to me. So I will call to him for help as long as I live,” Psalm 116:1-2.
We solicited prayer warriors, we sought godly counsel, and we (most importantly) began in July to seek the Lord’s truth together – The month of June was when Satan attacked the hardest, and the month of July and August was when (through Christian Counseling) we were advised and guided to make some very necessary life-decisions.
During this time, we were also learning from Ronnie Falvey (pastor of Frist Baptist Church Madison) as he is teaching on his new series: “Alignment: Rediscover Your Focus” – This series, along with several sessions of counseling, Rip and I not only have made necessary decisions in our life, but have come to understand even more:
It is NOT the character or will of God that we live unbalanced lives.
Ronnie is teaching on how 7 areas of our life are to be in balance and in focus with God’s will … and just how to do that “in Christ.” He is teaching from Ephesians and it is the life manual for believers in understanding how to live a “balanced” life. You can watch all the messages along with him at this link – The series starts with August 7, “Alignment – Rediscover Your Focus” –
Rip and I are thankful for God’s Sovereign hand on our lives and that Almighty Hand is now leading us to work together in Louisiana this week. We leave Wednesday and will come back sometime Saturday. We are ready to get going in doing anything we can to help in the flood relief efforts in Springfield, LA. I’m praying for mothers that I can encourage…will you specifically pray this with me? I am asking God to allow me to help, to encourage and to “build up” the lives of moms / homemakers. Homes have been destroyed and to a man (a father), that is so difficult to deal with. To see all you’ve worked hard to provide for your family, gone. But to a woman, to “the homemaker” it can be not only difficult, it’s down right devastating. I long to restore hope to the homemaker…that no matter where she is, no matter what she may have to work with, she can STILL make home for her family. That God will enable her to! She can still create the life of home straight from her heart.
Please pray for Rip, too, in a similar way. He longs to work…physically, in Springfield, to get much done! He is bred for it! God is positioning him this week in such a way that HE is going to make much use of Rip’s God-shaped strengths, his people skills, and his abilities. God knows how He has wired Rip and it’s to pull weeds, cut down trees, gather up, clean up, … to get the physical needs met.
Through the helpful counseling we have received, we’ve had our eyes opened to so so many things – things that really have eternal value – and one of the most important truths we understand to an even deeper level now is this –
The life we live on this earth is not our own. Our life belongs to God. Jesus Christ is the Author and Perfecter of our day to day life. He is to have His way in us and then through us in carrying out the FATHER’S WORK. Miss that, and you miss living.
Rip and I want to highly encourage you to seek Christian counseling if you simply need help in knowing God’s will – God’s nature – God’s wisdom – God’s Word in life application, in your workplace, in your marriage, in parenting, in relationships, in finances, in social circles, … God has used 1 Christian counselor to help Rip and I rediscover our focus and that is really what life is all about.
“That’s why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus, I couldn’t stop thanking God for you—every time I prayed, I’d think of you and give thanks. But I do more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength!” Ephesians 1:15-19 The Message
Because He Lives,