Who lost the Super Bowl

Tonight’s Super Bowl was a game for the ages. It contained multiple lead changes, record setting offensive numbers and trick plays. Best of all, the outcome came down to the last play of the game.

Ultimately, the Philadelphia Eagles made one more play than the New England Patriots.

For many of these players and coaches, this will be their last opportunity to ever play in Super Bowl. Most players never have the chance to come back.

Dan Marino is perhaps one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, yet he only played in one Super Bowl…a loss.

Fortunately for us, we serve a God that believes in second chances.

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

We fall short every day. We struggle with relationships. We lose our temper. We ignore opportunities to serve and help others. We let worldly pursuits cloud our focus on Jesus.

But He loves us anyway.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:17

My prayer this week is to pursue every opportunity to serve Jesus and others. I want to be grateful for second chances- and pass along that grace to others.

God bless you.

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Chased by my past in Nashville

I went for run in Nashville today. It was just before daybreak- and it was really dark.

My hotel was near the Tennessee Titans stadium, so I thought I’d enjoy a run through downtown and across the bridge to the football complex.

I love that bridge. We’ve walked it dozens of times over the years to attend Titans games. It gives you a beautiful views of downtown Nashville and the Cumberland River.

And the view from the bridge this morning didn’t disappoint. Although it was pitch black, I could still see the lights of the downtown buildings and the channel lights outlining the river.

But I wasn’t alone.

Soon after entering the bridge I heard footsteps behind me. I turned to look and saw a dark, shadowy figure about 20 feet behind to my left.

I picked up my pace. I thought that I might be able to put some distance between the stranger and me.

But I couldn’t. The footsteps seemed to get closer and the figure appeared to be gaining ground.

My heart was racing. Was I being stalked? Was I being chased? I didn’t have my phone with me. My mind was racing with bad thoughts. I had to get away.

I finally reached the other end of the bridge and ran down the ramp to the stadium exit as fast as I could. I looked over my shoulder to see that nothing was behind me. Whatever was chasing me had stopped.

I ran for another 20 minutes to allow the sun to come up. Daybreak would give me the courage to again cross the bridge.

But in the daylight, everything became clear.

As I crossed the bridge I determined that the footsteps I had heard earlier were my own. The echo of my own steps bouncing off the bridge walls gave the impression of a second set of footsteps.

And the dark, shadowy figure? Trash cans. Large, slim industrial trash cans neatly spaced alongside my running route.

It was all in my head. The darkness veiled my view of reality.

Guilt from my past can do the same thing. It can distort my thoughts.

Sometimes my past haunts me. Even though I repent and change course, my sin follows me.

Past sin can make me feel as if I’m not worthy. Imperfect. Unforgiven.

But that’s not what God says.

I, I am the one who wipes out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins. Isaiah 43:25

Our sins are wiped away. With repentance, God will “not remember your sins.”

We need to accept God’s forgiveness. We need to quit looking back.

And we need to move forward with confidence.

The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion. Proverbs 28:1

Let’s run like the lions.

My prayer this week is to forgive myself of guilt and sin from the past- and look forward with hope and resolve to be better.

And let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

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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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When you forget your pants

img_0751I’ve been preoccupied lately.  Too preoccupied, perhaps.

New job and new responsibilities.  Lots of commuting.  Long days and many new people to meet.  A schedule full of meetings, too.

I realized yesterday that I needed to pack for three consecutive days on the road.  While packing for the trip, I decided to return some phone calls.  Admittedly, I was distracted with the phone conversations and not focused on packing what I needed for my trip.

I got to the hotel late last night and realized that I didn’t have my shaving kit.  No toothbrush or toothpaste.  No razor.  Nothing.

I had also intended to finish up a Bible study during some quiet time at the hotel.  Nope.  I forgot my Bible too.

Finally- I realized that I had packed my new suit coat, but not the pants.  Yep, I had 1/2 a suit.  No tie either.

I didn’t have time to go purchase new dress slacks.  I would have to go with what I had in my suitcase…a mismatched suit coat and dress pants.

I drew lots of strange stares at the conference today, for sure.  If I were trying to make a fashion statement- it was an epic failure.

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.  Colossians 3:2

Has this ever happened to you?  Trivial things fill our days and preoccupy our minds.  If we aren’t careful, we can get so busy that we take our eyes off of what’s truly important.  We have to stay focused.

Please pray for me to spend less time being “busy” – and more time focused on Jesus.

And let me know how to pray for you.

God bless.

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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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Everyday is a birthday

Last week I had the honor of celebrating a special birthday.  A close friend of mine became a “first time” dad…and I had the opportunity to visit his daughter soon after her arrival home.

Hollianne and I offered to deliver dinner.  Selfishly, the offer to provide food was just a means to an end…as we wanted to see their new baby!

She is perfect.  Big, beautiful eyes, smooth skin and delicate features.  Just perfect.

She’s a blessing, but she is blessed too.  She’s got an incredible mother and father that will provide for her physically, emotionally and spiritually.

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13

We have that same blessing.  We have a Father who designed us, loves us and wants what’s best for us.

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

Tomorrow is my birthday.  I’m officially closer to 50 than I am 40.  And when I look in the mirror, I don’t see smooth skin and any delicate features…but plenty of lines and battle scars.

But I have that same promise of a heavenly Father who cares for me.  And you do too.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  2 Corinthians 5:17

We all have the opportunity for renewal each and every day.  Thank God.

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

God bless.

 

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