Dehydration

I got diagnosed with dehydration this week.

I had been knocked down over the weekend with a stomach virus. The illness left, but I still didn’t feel right.  My head hurt.  My back ached. I was fatigued and had no appetite.

All I wanted to do was sleep.

A trip to the doctor showed that I had become dehydrated.  The virus had created a water deficit, and my symptoms were an indication that I needed to properly fuel my body.

It’s taken a few days, but I’m starting to feel normal again.

Have you ever been spiritually dehydrated?

I had an incredible men’s group that met each Friday when we lived in Knoxville.  We studied the Bible.  We prayed. We talked.  It was a safe place to learn, to stretch your comfort zone and be held accountable.

My family moved to a new city in 2017.  I lost my men’s group.

I didn’t realize it at first, but I missed the study. The discussion. The preparation. A group of men that held me accountable.

I was dehydrated.

As iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

I have recently started a men’s group out of my home.  We get together every Friday at 6am to study the Bible, pray and lift each other up.

This weekly gathering has reenergized my spirit. It’s sparked more exploration of the Bible.

I hadn’t realized how bad I needed that focus and accountability. Spiritual hydration.

My prayer this week is to continue to seek more opportunities to engage my faith with others at church, at work and in the community.

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

God bless.

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Sleep-deprived and fighting a three-headed monster

I had a sleepless night last week.

There were three tough scenarios playing out in my head. There was a work problem, a family concern and a situation that a friend was facing. I couldn’t clear my thoughts.

I was facing this three-headed monster and felt powerless to fight.

After much tossing and turning I got out of bed and tried to analyze these situations on paper.

But the problems looked even more daunting when written down- and I had no idea how to begin unpacking these complex thoughts.

I recalled some great words from the book of Romans that gave some comfort.

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

We have a clear promise. God hears prayer. This verse lets us know that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us. Even when we don’t know how begin or focus our prayers, God knows our pain….our concern…our hurts.

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

Prayer is a mighty sword. It’s a protector. It’s a source of comfort. It’s available to us for defense against the concerns of the world.

And we don’t even have to know exactly what to say when we use it.

My prayer this week is to be more mindful of the care that God has for us…and to take my concerns to him immediately.

And please let me know how to pray for you.

God bless.

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Snow Days

Our kids have been out of school for a solid week.

We had ice and snow last Thursday night followed by plunging temperatures.

And before we could recover from the first round, Mother Nature threw a haymaker on Monday. Four more inches of snow overnight….followed by single digit temperatures the rest of the week.

The boys loved it for a couple of days.  Sledding with friends.  Sleeping late. Snowball fights. No homework.  There were also endless requests for hot chocolate.

Life was good.  For a couple of days, at least.  By Monday night, the boys were tired of each other, tired of their friends, tired of the snow and cold temperature.  They were miserable and ready for a return to a routine.  At their very core, these two boys crave discipline and a schedule.

I can relate.

I have snow days in my relationship with Jesus.

There are times when work, family or a life experience can get me distracted from God’s word.  I get busy or preoccupied and focused on what’s happening at the current moment.

It may be an intriguing new project at work or a long week off from work with my family over the holidays.

It’s exciting and new.  And the distraction can get out of my routine of study and reading my Bible.

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

After a while, I sense that something is missing.  I realize that the very thing that gives me strength and keeps me motivated has been neglected. I miss Jesus.

But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. Psalm 1:2

In terms of my walk with Jesus, I need a routine.  I’m more focused when I’m intentional about reading the Bible and studying God’s word.  I’m happier when I keep my dedicated time to pray and intentionally reflect on my blessings, needs and requests for others.

Do you have snow days in your spiritual life?

My prayer this weekend will be to avoid the obstacles that keep me from focusing on a walk with Jesus.

And please 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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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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Graduation: 10 things I wish I’d known 20 years ago

I had the honor of speaking at a commencement ceremony at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville last week.  It was an exciting afternoon- with happy graduates, proud family members and smiles everywhere.

As I began preparing my remarks, I realized that it was the 20th anniversary of my graduation from UT.  It was an exciting time.  I had just accepted my first “real” job on a college campus, I was about to marry Hollianne, and we were preparing to move to Ohio to begin our lives as a married couple.

Looking back, I realized how much I’ve learned in those twenty years.  I decided to share ten of these life lessons with the graduates.

10 things I wish I’d known 20 years ago:

10) Every decision you make in life impacts someone else.  Think about the implications of every choice you make.  One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is reckless and careless.  Proverbs 14:16

9)  The job isn’t ever just about you.  The opportunity to have your job is a privilege.  Treat your coworkers with care…as equals.  Success is earned by working together as a team.  Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.  Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

8)  When it comes to “being in the know”, those who talk a lot usually aren’t in the know.  Idle talk is useless in the workplace.  Be a part of the solution…not a part of the problem.  Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.  Ephesians 4:29

7)  Take tasks off your boss’ desk.  Leadership is a lonely activity.  Those that we serve in the workplace have numerous demands on their time, and they need to find people that they can trust.  Become someone worthy of that trust.  And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.  Matthew 5:41

6)  No task is too small for you.  Humility is a wonderful thing.  For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.  Luke 14:11

5)  You are replaceable.  No single person is essential to the success of a business.  You will never be bigger than the organization you serve.  When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.  Proverbs 11:2

4)  Everybody has a first name.  All people have worth.  All people deserve our respect.  It is essential that we know those people around us who are investing in the success of our organization.  Get to know their interests, their joys and their pain.  Invest in them.  Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Philippians 2:3

3)  Whatever task you are asked to do, do it with all your heartWhatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men…  Colossians 3:23

2)  Dinner with your family is important. We are all busy.  We will never complete our to-do lists at the office.  But it is essential that we invest in those that we love…and that love us.  The work will always be there.  It’s important to build our relationships with those that bring us joy and renewal, too.  Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  1 John 4:7

1)  When you don’t know what to do, remember to do no harm until you do.  Find good, trusted mentors and seek their counsel.  Wisdom comes from careful reflection and life experience- so seek help from those you trust when faced with difficult decisions.  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.  James 1:5

Let’s pray for all the new graduates- high school and college- this week.  May they find success and peace during this period of transition, and may they glorify God in all that they do.

God bless you.

(reprinted from May 2015)


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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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