Adopted

I want you to meet my new friend, Ben.

Ben is a nine-year old black Labrador Retriever.  He’s had a rough year.

His owner died two weeks ago.  He’s had cancerous cysts removed from his legs, which have left some debilitating nerve damage in his hindquarters.  Ben has gained a lot of weight and has developed arthritis in his front shoulders.

So when we met last week, the dog I encountered was overweight, limping and in incredibly poor health.  And depressed.  He really missed his owner and the family farm where he grew up.

Hollianne and I agreed to foster him, as Ben had no place to go.

We were prepared to deal with the health issues,  but Ben’s depression was the saddest part.  He wouldn’t look us in the face.  Ben simply wanted to sleep or just sit by the window and look outside.

Sound familiar?

Life is hard.  We face sickness and sadness.  Unexpected blows hit us at every turn.  People disappoint us.

But there’s one constant for the believer.

For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.  Galatians 3:26

God loves us.  He sent his son, Jesus, to provide salvation for the sinner and hope to the downtrodden.

For my father and mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in.  Psalm 27:10

We have hope.

Ben’s demeanor has changed quite a bit over the past week.  He loves getting exercise with the kids.  Our veterinarian has prescribed some medicine to help with his physical ailments.  But best of all, there’s a renewed sparkle in his green eyes and a constant wag in his tail.  The personality is coming back quickly.

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.  John 14:18

When you are weary- remember the one who has promised hope for all of us.

Please pray for us as we try to care for Ben.

And let me know how to pray for you.

God bless.

 

 

 

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Praying with the Dead 

I had signed up to deliver Christmas baskets for the needy through our church. The idea was to take groceries, clothing and toys to families who were struggling financially.

But the end-of-year holiday crunch had caught up with me. I was facing a huge deadline at work and kept putting off the delivery of my baskets. So here it was…December 23…and I was hastily trying to get these baskets delivered to homes all across Knox County.

My heart wasn’t in it.

Carson, my six-year old daughter, and I had five homes to visit. Our instructions were to deliver the baskets and to pray with these families before leaving. At each stop I rushed through the prayer-thinking only about the next stop on the list.

Our last stop was in a desolate part of the county. The directions led me to a gravel road that curved up a mountain. After sunset we stopped in front of a battered, aging trailer. Surely no one lived here…

A frail woman opened the door and welcomed us inside. Her trailer was sparely furnished and very cold. I could feel gusts of wind pushing through cracks in the windows and doors. It was obvious that she lived alone.

She told us that she was facing a losing battle with cancer. She had been hopeful that her treatments would help, but rounds of chemotherapy and radiation had ravaged her body and weakened her ability to fight the cruel disease. She told us that she had a few months left to live.

It was a sobering sight.

I felt sorry for this woman- fighting cancer all by herself. I didn’t know what to say, as I was overwhelmed with grief.

Carson reminded me that we needed to pray. The three of us stood in her trailer and I said a soft, sad prayer for her.

Then it happened.

We were turning to go and she asked if she could pray for us. She took our hands and led the most beautiful prayer I’ve ever heard. She prayed for me as a husband, father and son. She prayed for Carson as a daughter and leader at her school. She prayed for family’s health and happiness. And she prayed for our “unselfish act of service” that night- and how much that visit had meant to her.

With all her pain and suffering- she thought of us. She prayed unselfishly for us while facing the reality of death.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33

She told us that she had no fear about her circumstances. She had already overcome this world.

Carson continued to talk and hold her hand as I returned to the truck to get extra food we had packed. We wished her a Merry Christmas and headed back out into the night.

I fought back tears as we drove down that mountain. I was ashamed that I had approached this task with such a bad attitude.

We delivered food for her that evening, but she returned to us an even greater blessing. She gave us a gift of hope.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6

I pray that we all have good attitudes this holiday season. I pray that we find someone to lift up during this time of year. Perhaps in doing so- we’ll be the ones who receive the blessing.

Please let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.
 

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The Ultimate Sacrifice…a tribute to Zaevion Dobson

It’s been exactly one year since Zaevion Dobson was shot and killed in Knoxville. 

On this important anniversary, I thought I would reprint my 300 word blog post about his life and incredible sacrifice. 

The Ultimate Sacrifice

Zaevion Dobson was shot and killed last week in Knoxville.
I had not met Dobson, but I’ll never forget his name or the impact of his life.

Dobson was a victim of a shooting late Thursday night. Each day there are senseless acts of violence throughout America, but this one was different.

Dobson, a brave 15-year-old sophomore, heard shots being fired. Without hesitation, he threw his body across three young girls walking nearby. A bullet hit Dobson, but no one else was injured because he acted as a human shield for his friends.

Think about that.

When gunshots are fired most people duck or run…take cover. Not Dobson. His first instinct was to protect his friends- even when it cost him his life. What a gift he gave to these young women.

This incident reminded me of the frailty of life.

It also made me grateful for Jesus, who died for us all.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. … Romans 5:6-11

This time of year we celebrate the birth of Jesus. We also need to reflect on the gift of salvation He gave to us…and His willingness to die for you and me.

Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. John 14:1

This world needs more people with courage like Zaevion Dobson.

And we also need to be grateful for the ultimate display of courage from Jesus.

Please pray for the family and friends of Zaevion Dobson. Also pray for Fulton High School and the Knoxville community.

Also give thanks for Jesus protecting us from a death in sin. Jesus gave us the hope of an eternal life. What a blessing.

God bless all of you. Merry Christmas.

(Reprinted from December 2015)
 

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Disconnected 

I’m not even thinking about the holidays.

I’m winding down one job and transitioning to another. My new role is with the same university system, but it’s a different position in a different city.  I’m traveling the state’s highways and interstate this month.

A lot.

The days are filled with meeting new people and saying goodbye to others.  Packing up one office and opening another.

It’s left me feeling…well, disconnected.

This transition has preoccupied my every thought.  My prayer life has suffered.  I’m not as engaged with my wife and kids.  I’m certainly not as focused on my daily Bible study.  I haven’t spent time with friends.

I’m not much fun to be around either.

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

I realize that I’ve fallen into a trap.  I’m so preoccupied with all these changes that I forget about the ONE that helps us navigate life’s journey.  Jesus wants our focus to be on him.  He will help us realize our purpose…establish our plans.

Life on this earth is about constant change, but there is one absolute for the believer…

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.  Hebrews 13:8

My prayer this week to to focus more on the aspects of life that REALLY matter…my faith, my family, my friends, my neighbors.  If my focus is on Jesus- then the other pieces of life’s puzzle will come together.

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

May God bless and keep you during this busy time of year.  Please let me know how I may specifically pray for you.

God bless.

 

 

 

 

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What to Do when your Christmas is Blue…

‘Tis the season.

The holidays are a wonderful time of year for many people.  For others, it can be a difficult season.  One recent study reported that 45% of Americans dreaded the holidays.

Some believe that the end-of-year triggers a state of reflection…a time to think about the inadequacies of life or sad memories from the past.  Other studies have shown that shorter days and the absence of sunlight can contribute to the holidays blues.  Whatever the reason- we know that the holidays can be difficult for some.

Maybe its difficult for you.

What can we do to prevent the holiday blues?

Take some time off.  Take some time during the holidays to focus on yourself.  Exercise.  Read.  Spend some time in the morning in prayer or reflection.  Just 30 minutes a day of quiet time can recharge your batteries and keep you energized for the rest of the day.

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

Give back to a good cause.  Get out of your own troubles by helping someone else.  Volunteer at a homeless shelter.  Participate in an Angle Tree program.  Deliver meals to the elderly.  Do what you can to engage with others who are in need.  Helping others gives you a fresh perspective on life and your attitude toward the holidays.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Philippians 2:4

Reconnect with someone from the past.  Think about someone who has made a difference in your life.  Take 5 minutes and send them a hand-written note.  Call the distant relative who has been struggling with health issues.  Drop by and visit your former teacher who is now in assisted living.  Text your college roommate that you’ve not seen in five years.  Relationships are important.  The people that you contact will love the effort, and these holiday communications will benefit you as much as the recipient.

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Always remember- this year and every year- Jesus loves you.

We often reflect on the birth of Jesus at this time of year.  I’m happy to celebrate his birth, but it’s equally (perhaps more) important to reflect on his sacrifice and death on the cross.  He gave His life up for you and me.  He allowed himself to be crucified so that we may be free from sin- and have eternal life in Heaven.  Jesus knew we would be broken…sinners.  But he loves us anyway.  No matter what we do- Jesus never leaves.  Draw near to him this holiday season.

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

Let’s pray for those who may be hurting this holiday season.

And as always, please let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

 

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