Grateful for a good grade of grass

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I spent some time earlier this month at a conference in San Diego.  It was held on a beautiful resort just north of downtown.  The grounds were filled with acres upon acres of manicured gardens, flower beds and lakes.

One morning I was walking back to my room and noticed movement in a row of shrubs.  Thinking it was some sort of wild animal, I walked to the other side of the path…keeping my eye on the source of the commotion.  Suddenly, a human head popped out from under the bushes…and I realized it was only a gardner who was working on pruning the greenery.  He laughed- realizing that it must have been a strange sight!

I noticed that his shirt bore his name…Jerry.  I told him how much I was enjoying my stay at the resort- and commented that the grounds were beautiful.

After passing a few steps he called back out to me.

“Thank you, sir, for staying here this week.  Because of you- I have a job.”

Wow.

I was humbled by his gentle spirit…and his gratitude.  He was thankful for the ability to work and provide for his family.  What a blessing to hear this heart-felt comment from a total stranger.

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.  Psalm 118:24

What can you show gratitude for today?  Is it your job?  Your spouse?  Your health?

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  I Thessalonians 5:18

We have all received blessings from Jesus.  Let’s take some time this week to reflect on those gifts and offer thanks.

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.  Colossians 3:17

I pray this week that I will focus on all the good in my life- and express my gratitude for those blessings.

And let me know how to pray for you.

God bless.

Count Your Blessings- Lyrics

 

 

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An affair to remember 

Hollianne and I are celebrating 21 years of marriage today. 

Things were much simpler back in that summer of 1995. We had a one bedroom apartment, a used green Ford Mustang and a 19 inch television. I was working my first job out of grad school at a private college in Marietta, Ohio. Hollianne was student teaching at Washington Elementary school. We could both walk to work.

I also remember us having lots of free time. While we were both busy at work, the evenings were ours. We would walk downtown for dinner and sit by the river for hours on end. We drove through the Amish countryside on weekends in search of antiques we couldn’t afford. And on weekends that Fall- we made the six hour drive from Marietta to Knoxville to cheer on our beloved Volunteers.

We had time. We spent it with each other. It was an early investment in our marriage.

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.  Genesis 2:24

Life’s much more complicated now. We’d added three active children. Our jobs take us away from each other during the week, and the sports schedules of the kids cause us to split up each weekend.

We wouldn’t have it any other way…our family’s activities make for great memories.

He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.  Proverbs 18:22

While life events can complicate our marriages, it can also mature these relationships. If we’re lucky, we’ll notice when our relationships need adjustment or renewed focus. 

I love Hollianne even more today than I did way back in 1995. I’ve witnessed her give birth and raise our three children. I’ve watched her take care of parents and relatives during time of distress and need. I’ve seen her care for friends when crisis rocked their lives. 

And I’ve experienced her incredible grace over and over again. 

She’s my partner. My soulmate. My example. And my friend. 

Pray for me to be the husband that Hollianne needs. She deserves it. 

And let me know how to pray for you. 

God bless you. 
(Reprinted from August 5, 2016)  

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Smoking weed in San Diego

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I’m in San Diego for a conference this week.  I’ve enjoyed the city- especially the weather.

Yesterday I went for a run from the conference hotel.  I walked down to an intersection to cross over into a park- and was met by a strange odor in the air.  It was sharp, distinctive and permeated the air around me.  I looked sideways at two young men standing next to me and quickly determined the source.

These guys were smoking marijuana.  In broad daylight. At the corner of a busy intersection.

I was stunned, but it obviously wasn’t a rare occurrence for these two.  Isn’t this illegal? They causally talked and laughed while they waited for their bus.

The light turned green and I ran across the street into the park.  But I couldn’t get the thought out of my head.  It was just a strange sight.

I later found out that this wasn’t illegal at all.  If you are 21 and follow certain rules, public usage of marijuana is perfectly legal in California.  It wasn’t agains the law at all.

What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.  Philippians 4:9

It made me think of my own life…and how my behavior and attitude might shock others.

The times that I show greed or envy.  The opportunities to show mercy- but I don’t.  When anger takes over my thoughts and I secretly harbor ill feelings toward others.

Thoughts of anger, greed or envy aren’t illegal, but they are unproductive.  When I display those tendencies, I can hurt others or diminish my influence as one who loves Jesus.

Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. Philippians 3:17

Pray for me to be a better example to others.  I want to show Jesus in my life- even when  I think that no one is watching.

And let me know how to pray for you.

God bless.

 

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Naked on the Highway

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Our family took a seven day trip to northern California this past week.  We saw great sights like the Golden Gate Bridge, three National Parks and incredible architecture in downtown San Francisco.

But what our kids will remember most wasn’t on the itinerary.

We saw a naked man standing on the side of the road on US Highway 1.

Completely naked. In broad daylight. In plain view.

Traffic was at a standstill, as all the automobiles traveling along our path were slowing down to watch the police try to “contain” this man.

Needless to say- this incident sparked much conversation in our car.

“What’s wrong with him?”

“Why’s he doing that?”

“Is he in trouble?”

While we don’t know the events that led up to that particular moment in time, we do know that the man was under much stress.  Great despair.

When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken. Psalm 34: 17-20

While you or I may never find ourselves naked on the side of the freeway, there are times when we feel vulnerable and unprotected.  Perhaps there is uncertainty in your marriage or in our family lives.  Maybe work has created an unsettling environment for us.  Whatever the cause, life can hit us with punches that we don’t expect and leave us reeling.

But when all else fails- remember that we have Jesus.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4: 6-7

My prayer for this week is to let go of the stress and anxiety that life brings my way.  I need to focus on the calming, healing power of Jesus…and ask for his help immediately when faced with uncertainty.

Let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

 

 

 

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Cleansed from the Inside Out 

I had the honor of a lifetime late last night.

My daughter, Carson, called us from church camp in Nashville to let us know that she was ready to accept Jesus as her Savior and be baptized for the remission of her sins. Hollianne and I rushed over to middle Tennessee to be a part of this special event- and I even had the great honor of baptizing my little girl.

We are born sinners, but we do not need to die in sin. The death of Jesus on Calvary’s cross has blotted away our sins- and has cleansed us from the inside out.

Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. Psalm 24:3-4

How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! Hebrews 9:14

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 1 Peter 1:22-23

True cleansing comes from within. It’s a matter of the heart. We experience grace and salvation through contact with Christ’s blood. Our transgressions are blotted out…our sins are forgiven. What a glorious gift.

I told Carson last night that her obedience and outward commitment to God had given us a new relationship. She woke up on Thursday morning a daughter, but she went to sleep as my sister in Christ.

What a great feeling. God bless.
(Reprinted from June 20, 2014) 

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One less plate at the dinner table…

It’s a habit.

When Hollianne makes dinner at the Carver house, we set the table for five.

Carson’s departure for college this summer has changed that scenario. 

We were eating spaghetti before church on Wednesday night.  Without thinking- I set the table for our meal…and out of habit prepared five plates.

Only four of us were home. 

It was a sad reminder of our new reality. We miss Carson being there. 

We’ll see her this weekend. And for a few days our “home” will be complete- whole- again.

That joy reminds me of Luke 15.  This chapter has two parables of seeking something missing…and the thrill of finding it. My favorite is the story of the lost sheep.

‭So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.  Luke 15:3-7

I can’t begin to fathom how much Jesus loves you and me.  He loves us unconditionally and wants us to draw near to him. Even when we are stuck in sin- Jesus still seeks us. 

We can’t run away from this love. He will always desire for us to come back. 

We’ll have five plates around our table this weekend at the Carver house. Our hearts will be full.

And I’m so grateful that Jesus will always have a place at his table for you and me.

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

God bless you. 

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Forgotten treasure 

Hollianne and I scored a “big pick” many years ago.  

We found an 80 year old piece of furniture buried deep in an old barn in Greenfield, Tennessee.  It had probably been placed there decades ago.  And forgotten.

It was covered in dust and straw, but we could see the potential in it. A quick wipe with a wet cloth showed the deep, rich wood.  It would be perfect for our dining room.
But life got in the way.  Our family was  growing and our jobs got busy. We never got around to restoring that old piece of furniture. 

It sat in a corner.  Over the years it picked up lots of nicks and scratches from pets, indoor basketball games and tricycle crashes.  It was in plain sight, but we had forgotten it too.

We recently moved and finally decided to have it restored. It was delivered to our home yesterday. 


We couldn’t believe our eyes. The old wood shines with a new mahogany hue. The brass pulls and handles glow like a new penny. 

It reminded me of my own life.  Times I’ve felt forgotten and neglected. And it was a painful reminder of the times that I’ve neglected someone….or forgotten about their value.

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.  Romans 4:6

We all have blemishes and imperfections.  We are forgotten…or we choose to neglect. 

But Jesus restores us and brings out the inner beauty.

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 2 Peter 3:9
But God loves is anyway.  He loves us despite our faults and failings.  We are restored through his son Jesus. 

And those that we’ve neglected because they’ve hurt us? We need to remember that God loves them too.  

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. Romans 3:23-25 

My prayer this week is to work on the pain associated from being forgotten.  And to also work on my attitude toward those I’ve neglected.  

And let me know how to pray for you.

God bless.

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