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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It’s Hard to Hate your Neighbor

IMG_2390It’s been a rough morning for the news.

The top three stories in our rural corner of West Tennessee included the school shooting in Florida, a riot and fight that broke out on a cruise ship and a local gun store that was robbed over the weekend.

Not a banner news day for human behavior, for sure.

I’m not trying to get political here.  I don’t want to use this blog to promote any big, national agenda.

But I do think that I have a reminder that might help all of us.  It’s three simple words.

Love your neighbor.

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. John 15:12

We live in an interesting time.  As a country, we are becoming more isolated.

A recent New York Times article told that since the 1980’s, the number of adults that report being lonely had doubled…from 20 to 40%.  Another recent study showed that nearly 1/3 of Americans did not know their neighbors on their street or in their apartment building.  There have been several studies about declining church memberships across our country.

We’re ordering groceries online and shopping alone on Amazon at midnight.  These technology advances aren’t bad things in themselves…but they have impacted the way that we communicate with one another- and have seriously diminished our country’s opportunities for face-to-face interaction.

We just don’t know our neighbors anymore.  And in my opinion- that’s a problem.

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:18

Isolation can bring fear.  It can also make it much easier to make generalizations and value judgements on a particular group of people.  Instead, we need to engage.  Christianity is a contact sport.  We need to get to know our neighbors.  Not just those people who live around you, but those people in your office or at church.  Those people you walk by each day at work, in the coffee shop or at the gym.

Get to know their likes, their pain and their hopes and fears. Share your thoughts with them.

Host a dinner party. Invite someone for a walk or a hike. Start a book club…or a once-a-week prayer session over lunch. Rake your neighbor’s leaves.

Be vulnerable.  Be transparent.  Be yourself.  Who knows? You may find that you may have more in common with your neighbors than you think.

It’s awfully hard to hate those that you know.

And you might even change the next series of news headlines.  One person at a time.

My prayer today is to look for ways to engage my neighbors.  One cup of coffee and one act of kindness at a time.

Please let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

Carson Hollianne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Complainers

I was ambushed by a frustrated person this week, who was angry about a situation at work.

I listened for about ten minutes. At the end of their tirade, I was asked to “fix it.”

Fix it.

My response was to ask this person what solutions they had developed. What were the possible scenarios they had thought about to address their frustration?

“I thought that was your job…” was their response. “That’s why I came to you…so you can fix this.”

I suggested a couple of ways to address the issue, but neither option was acceptable to the person.

I asked them to take some time to reflect on possible solutions to their problem. If they couldn’t develop alternatives, I would need to move ahead with my own ideas on resolution.

I guess it’s a pet peeve of mine. If someone comes to me with a problem- they should at least bring a potential solution.

I’m such a hypocrite in my spiritual relationship with God, however. I realized this yesterday when I looked at my prayer journal.

I’m a complainer.

Oh….I realize that we are told to bring our concerns to God.

Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. I Peter 5:7

Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved. Psalm 55:22

But my prayer notes looked like a laundry list of situations that I wanted God to “fix.” Instead if asking for wisdom and discernment on how to deal with each problem- I just laid it at His feet.

I had also done a great job of casting my cares, but very little to reflect on the great things that God was creating in my life.

I was complaining, but not submitting.

I was pointing out the problems, but not focusing on the blessings.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Psalms 106:1

My prayer this week is to spend less time complaining to God. I want to first focus on all the blessings He has granted me and acknowledge all of the good that God is stirring in my life.

I also want to ask for wisdom when dealing with life’s problems.

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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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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Hoping your kids forgive you

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Hollianne and I have been blessed with three beautiful children.  Our three have brought so much joy and laughter into our home- and lives.  They aren’t perfect, but neither are we.  These past 19 years as parents have been a wild, wonderful adventure.

Parenting is hard.  Really hard.  I’ve made enough mistakes to fill a volume of books.

We want guide them without being too overbearing.  We want them to develop without trying to make them something that they “aren’t.” We try to protect them without trying to hover. These are fine lines to walk.

I was talking to a mentor recently.  We were talking about raising kids- and the difficulty in being a dad.  He told me about times when he was younger when he had been tough on his children.  Perhaps they had disappointed or disobeyed him.  We talked about our tendency to “overcorrect” their behavior- over even overreact when we learn of their mistakes.  He had, however, grown from these experiences… and and he talked about the great relationships he enjoyed with his children as young adults.

It’s human nature…as we love our kids and want them to grow and mature into complete, responsible adults.  But we discussed how inappropriate, rash responses can hurt relationships.  The wrong response can build walls between you and your children. They may be afraid of how you’ll respond.  They might be unwilling to share their mistakes in the future.

I’m guilty.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time in the book of James this month.  Chapter 2 talks about passing judgement.  Two verses pricked my heart this week:

So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty.  For judgement is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy.  Mercy triumphs over judgement.”  James 2: 12-13

Mercy triumphs over judgement.

Four powerful words that apply to all aspects of our lives. But for this week- they have special meaning for my relationship with my children.

Children need discipline.  It needs, however, to be appropriate.  I want my kids to come to me when they’ve messed up or need advice.  I don’t want them to be afraid that I’ll pass undue judgement.  I’ve been in their shoes.  I’ve made their mistakes.

They need more mercy and less judgement.

My prayer this week is to seek wisdom and discernment as a parent. I want to be a more effective father.  I want to be a model for consistency.

They deserve it.

Let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

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