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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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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Working on your marriage on Labor Day

I was nursing a cup of coffee when my cell phone rang early on this Labor Day morning.

It was an old friend that I had not talked to in some time.  We caught up for a minute before he got to the true meaning of his phone call.

His marriage was in trouble.

I was stunned.

I probed a bit.  It seems that life had just placed one barrier after another between them.  His focus had been on his career.  Her focus had been on the kids.  She had suggested counseling some time back, but they found excuses to not get help.  It wasn’t one thing…it was a culmination of years of negligence to their relationship.

Now they were strangers living in the same house and they didn’t like each other anymore.  Resentment was living in both of their hearts- and both of them had become selfishly stubborn.

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Philippians 2:3-4

He thanked me for listening- and asked that I pray for him today.  I told him that I would pray for healing and reconciliation- and that they would be able to climb over any pride or misgivings they had about counseling.  I asked that he pray about it too.

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

Marriage is work for all of us.  Our relationships need daily, continual attention.

We need to pray for and with our spouse on a daily basis.

Please pray for my friend on this Labor Day.  And let me know how to pray for you.

God bless marriages everywhere.

 

(*this post was published with permission)

 

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A visit from Big Hank

I was sitting in a hotel lobby in Memphis a couple of weeks ago.  I was anxiously awaiting for a meeting to start- thinking about what might transpire over the next hour.  This meeting had the opportunity to be unpleasant.

I decided to try and relax.  I prayed a lengthy prayer.  I then took out my Bible and read through 2 Corinthians.

I later walked around the perimeter of the large lobby to think about how I would open the meeting.  How I would convey bad news and a disappointing outcome.

I returned to my seat and decided to pray again.

Then I felt someone’s hand on my shoulder.

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

Standing in front of me was a large man.  He introduced himself as Big Hank.

“Are you ok?”

I told him that I was doing fine…just preoccupied.

He explained that he had been watching me for the past 30 minutes.  Praying, meditating, reading and pacing.  Big Hank said that he could tell that something was bothering me- and he felt compelled to come over and pray with me.  I told him I would appreciate the prayer.

And pray he did.  Big Hank said a short prayer for me- for my comfort, peace and future.

And as quick as he appeared, he turned and walked across the lobby- and outside to the busy sidewalk.

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?  1 John 3:17

Pray for me to have better awareness of the needs of others.  Help me to identify pain and hurt- and have the courage to engage and provide comfort.

And let me know how to pray for you.

God bless you, Big Hank- wherever you are.

 

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Anchors

britton track

Britton was chosen by his school to participate in the Knox County Elementary School Track & Field competition.  B’s teacher selected him for the tug-of-war team.  While B is just 10, he’s a solid little guy…with broad shoulders, strong arms and powerful legs.

B was told he would be the “anchor” for the event.  He was happy with this role, as his teacher explained that he would be the critical support at the very end of the line.

The role was simple.  He was told to not let go of the rope- no matter what.  He had to keep moving his feet backward against the opposing pull.  He was instructed to keep the line tight and encourage his teammates to pull with him.

The stabilizer.  The base.  The anchor.

The book of John discusses an anchor that we have available every day- the Holy Spirit.  In chapter 14 Jesus was comforting the disciples.  They were worried about his upcoming persecution and death.  Jesus told the disciples of a counselor that would be present to bring them peace:

All this I have spoken while still with you.  But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.  John 14:25-26

When we are distressed and hurting, we only need to pray and ask for help.  It’s there.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. Romans 8:26

My prayer this week is for awareness to call upon the Holy Spirit to provide an anchor for my life.  Please let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

Britton dad

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1.98 GPA 

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I finished my first semester of college with a 1.98 GPA.

I was notified that if I didn’t pull my grades up, I would lose my academic scholarship.  I was completely embarrassed.

My poor academic performance had created self-doubt.  Could I even finish college?  For a day or two I toyed with the idea of dropping out.

Fortunately for me, someone intervened.  A senior vice president at the university, Don Carson, rescued me.  He learned about my poor grades and reached out to me.  Dr. Carson helped me formulate a plan to improve my study habits, got me involved on campus and even gave me a job in his office.  My grades improved dramatically.  His support gave me confidence and a new sense of direction- gifts that I’ll never be able to repay.

Have you ever felt like that?  Embarrassed, scared or not sure of what to do? 

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.  Joshua 1:9

God has promised us all the support and guidance that we’ll ever need.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Whenever the trials and pressures of this world overwhelm us, we need to remember our God- who is faithful forever.

But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. Psalm 33:4

My prayer this week is to be grateful for God’s promise to protect me when I’m weak.

Let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

 

 

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What to do when your neighbor is dying 

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Our neighbor has died.

John had been sick for some time. I hadn’t seen him in almost a year, as cancer had weakened his body and trips outside the home had become few and far between.

One day I saw a number of cars in John’s driveway. His wife, Grace, met me in my front yard and let me know that hospice had moved in. She asked if I would like to say goodbye to John.

I was embarrassed.  I had often asked Grace about John when seeing her out in the yard. I had not, however, visited with John in a long time. I had prayed for him for a year- but I hadn’t prayed with him. I had failed him.

I went into the house and said a silent prayer for John as he slept peacefully. He died late that evening.

And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.  Ecclesiastes 12:7

I have since wondered about other neighbors in the same condition.  Not just those who are physically sick, but those who are spiritually troubled.

People with heavy hearts, tired souls and troubles that give them little hope.  Maybe it’s a bad relationship.  Perhaps depression.  Or maybe life has dealt them so many blows that it’s just hard to keep going.

These are our neighbors.  They need our engagement in their lives.  They need hope.

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.  I Peter 5:10

I pray for a greater awareness for pain and struggles that others may be dealing with.  I pray that I can help a neighbor with their burden…and that someone might have the awareness to help me when I am struggling.

Please let me know how to pray for you.  God bless you.

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