Shots fired at home

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I seem to be on my worst behavior at home.

After a long day of work or a couple of days of travel- I’m often exhausted by the time I get to my house.

Our home should be a place of solace and rest.  A time to reconnect with my incredible wife and three great kids.  But I often let the stresses of the day continue to linger when I come home.

I can be short…dismissive.  Moody.  Quiet and reserved.  Withdrawn.

Dozens of tiring, negative thoughts preoccupy my mind and can keep me from fully engaging with my family- those that love me most.

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.  James 1:19-20

My behavior demonstrates a lack of spiritual maturity on my part.  My family deserves my best.

One of my favorite verses to help me cope is found in Proverbs.

Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.  Proverbs 16:32

I’ve been spending more time in prayer on my drive home each evening.  It’s an attempt to give the stresses of the day over to God.  Jesus promises peace for those who honestly seek it.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.  Matthew 11:28-30

No matter what you are struggling with- just give it up.  Ask for the help of Jesus and move forward with confidence.

Those that love you the most deserve it.

Please pray for me to be a better husband and dad.  And let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

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Wounds from the battlefield

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I have a friend who has completed a couple of military tours in Afghanistan.  He suffered a battle scar that he’ll carry with him the rest of his life.  While the incident did not end his life, he’ll carry this visible, physical wound around for the rest of his days.

I have not talked with him about the specifics of the incident, but he’s said enough about it to lead me to two conclusions:  1)  it provides a constant reminder of the pain and suffering that war brings, and 2)  he’s decided to let go of any regret associated with the incident and move forward with a forgiving heart.

That’s hard to grasp, isn’t it?  He’s daily reminded of the painful experience, but he’s eyeing the future with a sense of peace and forgiveness.

We all have wounds.  While they might not all be physically apparent, they are often lingering beneath the surface.

Wounds from painful past experiences.  Wounds from times when we struggle to forgive others.

And wounds from not being able to forgive ourselves- which are perhaps the most painful of all.

How do we mend wounds?

First, we need to remember that we have a caring, loving God.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.  1 Peter 5: 6-7

We also need to seek forgiveness- and grant forgiveness.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.  Ephesians 4: 32

And we need to fill wounds with prayer and other healthy activities…constantly seeking the presence of Jesus.

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  John 15: 7

I pray that you allow Jesus to address your wounds.  Mine too.

Please let me know how I may pray for you this week.  God bless.

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Naked at the Soybean Festival

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I had the opportunity to return to my West Tennessee roots this week.  My schedule took me to the UT Martin campus for a series of meetings.  While it’s always good to be back “home”, this trip was especially fun because the annual Soybean Festival was taking place in downtown Martin.

The festival brings folks from all over the mid-south to Martin.  Thousands of people were milling around the square and the shops downtown.

While on campus yesterday afternoon, I ran into someone that I hadn’t seen in almost 30 years.  They were in town for the Soybean festival and we had 10 minutes to catch up.

He started telling his wife stories about our youth.  Stories from our middle and high school years.  Some of the stories I’d forgotten.  Others I had tried to forget.

I walked away from that conversation a little embarrassed.  Exposed.  Ashamed.  I felt..naked.

We all have aspects of our past (and present) that we are ashamed of.  Bad habits or old wounds that we hope time will cover and distance can erase.  I certainly do.

But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.  Matthew 10:30

But Jesus knows everything about us.  He knows our fears, doubts and weaknesses.  We can’t hide or outrun our sinful nature.  He knows it all.

He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names.  Psalm 147:4

Fortunately, we have grace.

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

We are all sinners, but we have hope.

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

Jesus loves us- warts and all.  Thank God.

God bless you.

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Cussed out on Labor Day

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My heart aches for a little girl I saw earlier today.

I was running some errands and stopped in a local store.  I heard a disturbance an aisle over and quickly pushed my cart around the corner to investigate.  A father, obviously frustrated with his elementary-aged daughter, raised his voice and cussed her…right in front of about ten other customers in the store.

Cussed her out.  On Labor Day.

She was trying to decide which backpack she wanted and couldn’t make up her mind.  She couldn’t have been more than six years old.

He was obviously frustrated with her. And he let his frustration get the best of him…on Labor Day.

We’ve all been there.  The stresses of life can overwhelm us.  Work, family strife, illness, financial strain…the pressures surrounding us are great.  Who knows what this father was facing in his private life?  And who knows what sort of emotional toll his outburst had on his young daughter.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Matthew 11:28

Jesus wants to be our comfort in life.  He invites us to give our troubles to Him.

Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.  1 Peter 5:7

Tonight I will pray for that father.  I pray that he can find some peace in his life.  I will also pray for that small child- and that she feels some comfort in her home tonight.

Please pray for me to be a better husband and father- and that I can tap into the peace and comfort that Jesus grants so freely.

And let me know how I can pray for you.

God bless you.

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