Homesick

Hollianne, the boys and I have been on vacation on the South Carolina coast this past week. We were blessed with incredible weather, warm ocean water and great food.

This year’s trip was a bit different. Carson- our oldest child-  wasn’t with us. She was traveling in Colorado for a christian youth retreat with Young Life. So here we were on beautiful coast of the South Carolina lowcountry…and Carson was 1,700 miles away in the Colorado Rockies.

The trip just didn’t feel right. We missed our baby girl. The experience wasn’t complete.

Have you ever felt like this?  Even though you were surrounded by family and friends in a comforting setting- you longed for something else?

We are born with a temporary assignment on this earth. Our bodies are not built to be satisfied with what this world has to offer. We can never be fulfilled here- regardless of the spoils and riches that this life affords.

Pain, hurt and sin are constant.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.  Romans 8:18

There’s a cure for our homesickness- that constant longing for comfort.

Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.  Luke 12:33

Comfort can be found through a relationship with Jesus and the promise of an eternity in heaven.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. Revelation 21:4

Let’s pray this week to not be so distracted by the meaningless pursuits that this world offers. Instead, let’s focus on a home in heaven with a sense of comfort that “does not fail”.

Let me know how I may pray for you. God bless.

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Everyday is Memorial Day

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Like most of you, I’m spending this Memorial Day holiday with my family.  It’s the unofficial start to the summer season.

We’ll also spend some time reflecting on the primary purpose of Memorial Day.  Both Hollianne and I have many family members who served our country.  We are grateful for their service- and want to honor the sacrifice that many service men and women gave to protect our country and to provide the freedoms that we enjoy everyday.

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.  John 15:13

It’s difficult to imagine.  People fighting for our country even though danger and death are inevitable.  It’s important that we tell our children these stories about our family members and friends who paid the ultimate price for our freedom.

But everyday should be Memorial Day.

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:8

Jesus was sent to die on the cross so that we might experience eternal life with Him in heaven.  He knew all about the sins of the world- our faults, our flaws and our every impure thought- yet He loved all of us enough to lay down His life for the forgiveness of our sins.

He died for those who cursed and spit on Him.  He died for those thieves who accompanied Him on other crosses on Calvary.  He died for you and me.

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

Enjoy and appreciate this Memorial Day.  Honor those who laid down their lives for us.  Also spend some time reflecting on the Cross- and be grateful that Jesus loved us enough to die for us…died for the sins of the whole world.

Let that soak in.  He died for the sins of the whole world.

God bless you.  Let me know how I can pray for you this week.  I love you.

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School’s out…

Easter 2015

Today marks the first day of the summer break in Knoxville.  Those of you with children know that their minds have been preoccupied with finals, end of year projects, celebrations and the anticipation of “no more school.”

Don’t you remember the feeling?  It was that great sense of freedom that we experienced on the last day of school each year.

At the Carver house, that freedom comes with responsibility.  Hollianne makes sure that chores are assigned and completed, books are read and minds stay active.  The educational process continues all summer long.

Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.  Proverbs 16:3

Our efforts to follow Jesus should never take a summer break.  We need to be intentional about our pursuit of Jesus.

The book of Matthew (Chapter 25) talks about a diligent, intentional work ethic.  A man entrusts his workers with a certain amount of wealth.  One is given five talents, another three talents and another is given one talent.  The first two men worked hard and proved to be good stewards of the talents, and the master rewards them accordingly.  The third man did nothing- as he simply hid his talent in the ground and waited for the master to return.  This third worker was reprimanded for his poor effort.

The parable has a universal meaning that we are entrusted with certain gifts and resources.  It’s our responsibility to be workers for God- always seeking to develop what the Lord has blessed us with.  All our work should be for the glorification of God and His love for us.  This is an active process.  It comes from reading His word, refection and prayer.

Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal. John 6:27

There’s no summer vacation from pursuing a life filled with Jesus.  It’s intentional and purposeful…with eternal rewards.

God bless your work this summer.  Please pray for my efforts to be a better man…and let me know how I may pray for you.

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10 things I wish I’d known 20 years ago…

Keith and Hollianne

I had the honor of speaking at a commencement ceremony at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville last week.  It was an exciting afternoon- with happy graduates, proud family members and smiles everywhere.

As I began preparing my remarks, I realized that it was the 20th anniversary of my graduation from UT.  It was an exciting time.  I had just accepted my first “real” job on a college campus, I was about to marry Hollianne, and we were preparing to move to Ohio to begin our lives as a married couple.

Looking back, I realized how much I’ve learned in those twenty years.  I decided to share ten of these life lessons with the graduates.

10 things I wish I’d known 20 years ago:

10) Every decision you make in life impacts someone else.  Think about the implications of every choice you make.  One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is reckless and careless.  Proverbs 14:16

9)  The job isn’t ever just about you.  The opportunity to have your job is a privilege.  Treat your coworkers with care…as equals.  Success is earned by working together as a team.  Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.  Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

8)  When it comes to “being in the know”, those who talk a lot usually aren’t in the know.  Idle talk is useless in the workplace.  Be a part of the solution…not a part of the problem.  Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.  Ephesians 4:29

7)  Take tasks off your boss’ desk.  Leadership is a lonely activity.  Those that we serve in the workplace have numerous demands on their time, and they need to find people that they can trust.  Become someone worthy of that trust.  And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.  Matthew 5:41

6)  No task is too small for you.  Humility is a wonderful thing.  For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.  Luke 14:11

5)  You are replaceable.  No single person is essential to the success of a business.  You will never be bigger than the organization you serve.  When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.  Proverbs 11:2

4)  Everybody has a first name.  All people have worth.  All people deserve our respect.  It is essential that we know those people around us who are investing in the success of our organization.  Get to know their interests, their joys and their pain.  Invest in them.  Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Philippians 2:3

3)  Whatever task you are asked to do, do it with all your heartWhatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men…  Colossians 3:23

2)  Dinner with your family is important. We are all busy.  We will never complete our to-do lists at the office.  But it is essential that we invest in those that we love…and that love us.  The work will always be there.  It’s important to build our relationships with those that bring us joy and renewal, too.  Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  1 John 4:7

1)  When you don’t know what to do, remember to do no harm until you do.  Find good, trusted mentors and seek their counsel.  Wisdom comes from careful reflection and life experience- so seek help from those you trust when faced with difficult decisions.  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.  James 1:5

Let’s pray for all the new graduates- high school and college- this week.  May they find success and peace during this period of transition, and may they glorify God in all that they do.

God bless you.

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Vanilla ain’t so bad

JT and B

I was visiting with a couple of good friends at the baseball field on Tuesday night (where else do folks with young kids get to see one another?).  They were telling me about a recent conversation between the two of them regarding an old friend.  The husband, in an attempt to describe his friend since childhood, said that he “was just a good guy…you know, consistent…sort of vanilla.”

This pushed us toward a brief conversation on what it meant to be “vanilla”.  What does that indicate?  Solid, yet not flashy?  Consistent, but not special?

My friend went on to say that he would describe himself as “vanilla.”  Just sort of average.

This caused me to start thinking.  My friend is a great dad and husband, runs a phenomenal business, keeps himself in great physical condition and is extremely active in his church and faith.  He’s got a permanent smile on his face and exudes a quiet strength and confidence that makes him extremely approachable.  He’s also incredibly humble.

Didn’t Jesus like vanilla?

Mark 1:16-22 tells us that he called Simon, Andrew, James and John- fisherman- to join him in becoming “fishers of men.”  These guys weren’t theologians and scholars…they were everyday people.  Workers.

In Luke 19:1-10 we learn about Zacchaeus, a tax collector (not the most popular of professions in any era) and someone who was short in stature. His heart was convicted to follow Jesus and he confessed his sins, eventually becoming a disciple and paying back the money he had cheated of his clients.

The Bible is filled with Jesus using plain, ordinary people to do incredible things.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.  Matthew 5:14-16

Remember that discipleship starts from the heart, and it radiates for all to see- regardless of what we think about ourselves.

Being vanilla ain’t that bad, partner.

Let me know how I may pray for you…and please pray for me.  God bless you.

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Numbers

B football

Numbers are important.  Just ask my kids.  Each season they lobby their caches to wear a specific number on their uniform. This means something to them.  It’s “their” number.

What’s so special about a particular number?  According to my kids- it makes them feel unique…distinctive.  Out of a crowd of kids on a basketball court, baseball diamond or soccer field- they take comfort in having their favorite number.  It’s the same number every game, every season.  It helps them stand out in a crowd.

Don’t we all worry about that?  We often times feel like we are lost in the masses.  Forgotten.  Just one of a multitude of people on this earth.  We long for personal attention, yet can feel alone even in crowded workplaces and busy streets.

Jesus longs to know us and wishes to have a personal relationship with each one of us.

Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.  Luke 12:7

Our lives are of essential interest to God.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16

We are not just a number.  We are so unique…so special to God that even the hairs of our head are numbered.  He knows everything about us and- despite our flaws- loves us anyway.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Jeremiah 29:11

You are loved…no matter what number you wear.

God bless you and keep you.

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