Unexpectedly seeing Jesus

I was preparing to leave campus for home tonight when I saw a small sign posted on a bulletin board…”Open Bible Study; Thursday evenings at 7pm; room 215.”

I don’t know why, but it surprised me. Surprised by the sign. Surprised that I saw the announcement among a host of other flyers.

I walked to room 215 to see what was going on. And there they were…four students huddled over their Bibles talking about the quest for perfection through Jesus Christ.

We run into Jesus in unexpected places.

The Samaritan woman ran into Jesus unexpectedly in John chapter 4. In a period of pain and shame, He gave her a thirst for “living water.”

In John chapter 8, an adulterous woman received grace from Jesus.

Zacchaeus was considered a cheat and a sinner…a tax collector…yet Jesus called to him and invited himself into Zacchaeus’ home. We see this in Luke chapter 19.

Where have you last seen Jesus unexpectedly? Was it in a random act of kindness from a stranger? Perhaps it was an encouraging note from an old friend.

This week my prayer is to continue to seek Jesus everyday. And to illustrate the love and compassion of Jesus in my own, public walk.

“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 5:16

Please let me know how to pray for you.

God bless.

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What’s your Titanic?

The Titanic sank 106 years ago this week. Approximately 1,500 of the 2,200 passengers died when the cruise ship hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean on April 15, 1912. It’s considered to be the biggest maritime disaster in history.

The ship had been designed to be indestructible, but five compartments were punctured by the iceberg and the entire ship sank in a little over two hours.

Pride and overconfidence can create a Titanic situation in our own lives.

I sometimes get too comfortable in my own skin. Perhaps it’s a streak of success at home or work, or maybe it’s a sense of pride that I feel in my own abilities.

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom. Proverbs 11:2

Inevitably, I then experience a “bump” that exposes my weaknesses. Life brings events that us that knock us down and can crush our spirit.

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18

The key to life is keeping a humble spirit….a prayerful, grateful spirit that guides our thoughts and activities.

For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. Luke 14:11

Spending time in God’s word keeps us centered and humble. If we make our daily walk with Jesus our first priority, we will be better prepared to deal with life’s Titanic “bumps.”

My prayer this weekend is to willingly let go of any pockets of pride in my life. I desire an attitude of service, love and humility.

And let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

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One extra hour

We experienced a time change earlier this month. Most of us enjoyed the extra hour of sleep that following Sunday morning!

What did you do with that extra hour?

In Acts 8 we read about how God used Philip with an Ethiopian leader who was traveling from Jerusalem to Gaza. The Ethiopian eunuch was reading from Isaiah, and Philip- prompted to intercede by the Holy Spirit- asked if he understood what was written in the scripture. The Ethiopian leader asked for help, and Philip engaged him in study.

Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?”

And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.” Acts‬ ‭8:35-36, 38‬ ‭

It was a gentle nudge by the Holy Spirit that led Philip to engage someone…and the results brought another soul to Jesus.

It was unplanned and it didn’t take long.

I’m easily distracted during the holidays. There’s always something that’s keeping me from focusing on what’s truly important.

My prayer this week is to slow down and listen…listen to what the Spirit is whispering.

It may only take an hour.

Please let me know how I may pray for you. God bless and Happy Thanksgiving.

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Are you bleeding?

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With three kids and a busy set of activities each week- someone is always coming home with a bump, scrape or cut of some sort. It may be caused by a fall or a skirmish on the field of play, but most of the time these accidents are unnoticed by our kids. Blood is a badge of honor from a hard-fought practice or game.

I was reading Matthew chapter 9 this week and recalled the story of a woman who had been bleeding for years.

Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak.  She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”  Matthew 9:20-21

We don’t know much about this woman…only that she had been struggling with a physical ailment for some time. She had probably tried countless remedies over the course of her lifetime. We can guess that she was exhausted, tired and had given up hope.

Until Jesus.

She didn’t know exactly what to do or how to reach out to Jesus. She simply knew He was nearby. She drew close to Him and reached out to touch his clothing.

Jesus turned and saw her.  “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.”  And the woman was healed at that moment.  Matthew 9:22

What faith. What hope. What courage.

When we are faced with adversity we often don’t know what to do. But Jesus knows what we need. We just need to reach out with that same hope…that same faith…and believe that He will help make us clean again.  He knows what we need before we even ask.

Let me know how to pray for you this week. And please pray for me.

God bless.

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Everybody is Undefeated in August…

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It’s an exciting time of year in the Carver household, as August brings the anticipation of a new football season. We talk about the returning players on our favorite teams.  We feel the excitement surrounding new additions to the rosters.  And we spend a great deal of time discussing our pre-season predictions.

This might be our year (we always say…)…with a little luck and some great coaching.

Sometimes things go wrong.  An injury sidelines a key player.  Turnovers and penalties stall drives.  A sudden big play turns a sure victory into a crushing loss.  Our teams hit adversity from unexpected places and our dreams of being undefeated slip away.

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

Football is a great analogy for my life.  My hopes and dreams are easily hurt with adversity.  Stress, illness and unexpected conflict can take away joy from my days- and derail my plans.

Pain happens.  Hurt is a reality.  But there is hope.

With God we shall do valiantly; it is he who will tread down our foes.  Psalm 108:13

Jesus has promised to be with us and provide strength when we are weak.

For the Lord your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.  Deuteronomy 20:4

We’ve got the One who overcame sin and death to bring salvation to the world in our corner.

So no mater what the day throws at you, take heart that creator of the universe is with you.  Jesus loves me, this I know.

Let me know how I can pray for you this week.  And please pray for me.

God bless.

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Stuck on the sideline…

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The Carver family loves a good ballgame.  This week we’ve watched the kids play basketball and soccer.  Within the next month we’ll add in baseball into the mix…and see an increase in the number of basketball and soccer games.  Weekends are wild…as Hollianne and I divide and conquer the schedule to transport our kids all over East Tennessee (and beyond).  And we love it.

While none of our children will ever be accused of being the next sports prodigy, they have learned valuable life lessons from their involvement in sports.  Traits such as being active and making things happen.  The competition has taught them not be afraid of a challenge and being bold in pursuit of a goal.

As much as I admire these traits, I often find myself in a struggle to adhere to these principles in my spiritual life.

So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. James 4:17

It’s one thing to have the spiritual maturity to recognize sin- but another thing to have the courage to do something about it.

Sin separates us from a relationship with Jesus. With sin there is fear that keeps us standing on the sidleine…out of the action…and keeps us from being spiritually effective.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2

God calls for us to be active.  Active in our stance for what is right and just.  Active in advancing the good news of Jesus while on this earth.

Pray for me to be bold when fear encourages me to stay on the sideline.  And let me know if I can pray for you.

God bless.

“Our days begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”  Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Walking off

I’m not a huge Yankees fan, but I have enjoyed watching Derek Jeter play during his final year as a major league professional.  On the field, Jeter has done things the right way.  Five World Series Championships.  20 seasons in the majors and 3,463 hits (and counting)…sixth all time.  But it’s how Jeter finished in his final home game in Yankee Stadium that caught the eye of America last week.

In the 9th inning of a tie game, Jeter- in what would be his last at bat of his home career- slapped a single into right field for the game-winning run.  On baseball’s biggest stage- with millions of viewers across the world watching- Jeter delivered a dramatic walk-off hit.  What a way to exit your professional career.

Don’t we all dream of such moments?  Finishing strong and going out a winner.  Wouldn’t we love to finish our earthly life in such a dramatic way?

For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’  Luke 14:28-30

Jeter worked hard daily in his quest to become the ultimate shortstop.  Our goal should be to live a life that reflects Christ. It’s a task that deserves daily preparation, work and refinement.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.  Phillipians 1:6

This isn’t easy. The world wants us to fail. We are filled with self-doubt, but we can be confident that God has supplied us with everything we need to finish strong.

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  Matthew 28:18-20

We can never be too spiritually mature.  Nor should we ever seek to be finished in our effort to spread God’s word.

Jeter retired from baseball on a glorious note.  While we should never retire from doing the Lord’s work, we know that we will have the same opportunity to walk off the field to glory.

God bless.

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