“A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath.” ~ Proverbs 15:1
Let me start with this confession: This is hard for me.
I don’t know if you struggle with being snippy and harsh with your loved ones, but I do.
Not too long ago I confessed that to someone close to me, and their response startled me a little: “I have a hard time believing that. You are always so mild-tempered and never seem frazzled by anything.”
Why did this startle me? Because I know the truth in my heart that controlling my tongue is hard. It was during that conversation I realized something about myself. I intentionally invest and expend a great deal of energy in appearing “in control” at work and, in general, when away from home. What I don’t do often enough is give my family that same level of energy. They are often stuck with the leftovers of my relational energy.
How can this be?!? These are the people I love the most, and yet, they are the ones I treat the worst!
It turns out that James’ caution about the tongue is spot on (James 3), though that really should be no surprise. At times, taming my tongue seems impossible. And it takes an amount of energy and restraint that I struggle to have.
The more important issue I have to deal with, though, is not what comes out of my mouth but my attitude and the condition of my heart. Jesus said that my mouth speaks from the overflow of my heart (Luke 6:45). So when I let my guard down and speak with anything less than a respectful, gentle tone to my family, what is really happening in my heart? It typically boils down selfishness.
Regarding sin, Paul says “whoever thinks he stands must be careful not to fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12) The only “cure” for the real issue is the transforming power of the gospel, that is, the Spirit of God’s renewal of my heart and mind (Romans 12:1-2). After all, the fruit of the Spirit is… gentleness and self control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) I must daily… hourly… moment-by-moment submit myself to the Spirt of God and let Him transform my heart.
God, cleanse me from my hidden faults and keep me from willful sins; do not let them rule me… may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, Lord, my rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:12-14).
It is with sadness I announce that on June 13, 2017, I submitted my resignation from FBC as Minister to Preschool and Children to Gil and our staff. Being just under 3 years, this is not the short tenure I anticipated when I came to Tuscaloosa. I have been offered an opportunity, that my wife and I believe to be God’s direction, to join the LifeWay Kids curriculum team.
This announcement was officially released yesterday (June 22, 2017) in our weekly newsletter; found here: http://www.firsttuscaloosa.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/fsw062217.pdf
For those who have encouraged and welcomed us, thank you. It has been my joy and privilege to serve the families of First Baptist. While we are excited for a new opportunity, which will also includes an added blessing of being close to our extended family, this decision to leave has not come easily or without sadness. We were not actively looking to leave so this opportunity came unexpectedly. We will miss the families of First Baptist and the Tuscaloosa/Northport community.
Whatever good God may have done through us during our time in AL, we pray the God of all wisdom and power will carry out His good work in your families far into the future… in fact for generations yet to come. As Aaron was instructed to pray over the people of Israel, this is my prayer for you:
“May the Lord bless you and protect you; may the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; may the Lord look with favor on you and give you peace.” ~ Numbers 6:24-26
“A person should think of us in this way: as servants of Christ and managers of the mysteries of God. In this regard, it is required that managers be found faithful.” ~ 1 Corinthians 4:1-2 CSB
How are you managing the gospel which you have received?
I must admit, I’ve heard verse 2 (above) many times before. It wasn’t until today, however, that I really read verse 1 and saw that the “thing” which we are to be faithful managers of is the gospel (the mysteries of God) mentioned in verse 1.
Now that question is burning deep in my heart: how faithful am I in managing the gospel in my life? In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul said “For I passed on to you as most important what I also received.” Am I being intentional in passing along that which I say I believe is most important?
As a husband?
As a dad?
As children’s minister?
As a Christian?
Psalm 96:2 says, “proclaim His salvation from day to day.” So what am I doing with the gospel? Am I allowing the truth of the gospel to permeate and rule every area of my life?
God has chosen the people of God, empowered by the Spirit of God and equipped with the Word of God, to be about the mission of God to make disciples (Matthew 28).
In The Gospel Project we studied Jesus’ Parable of the Sower. Ultimately Jesus alone holds the power of the gospel message. We, as His disciples, are responsible, though, to spread the seed of the gospel wherever we go. “Go and make disciples of all nations…” Jesus said, “…in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Matthew 28:19 & Acts 1:8) I must diligently and consistently apply the truth of Scripture to my life while simultaneously letting the gospel of Jesus overflow into my decisions, my speech, and my behavior as a husband, dad, and every other role I step into.
God, give me strength and wisdom to manage the gospel well by spreading the seeds of the gospel in all the “fields” of my life.
June 3, 2017, marks the tenth birthday of our stillborn daughter Carsyn. I have written about her impact on our family a few times over the years. The most recent post can be read here: http://jeremypcarroll.com/celebrating2livesonjune3
My wife and I have tried to make the date of June 3 as a memorial stone on our family’s calendar. In Joshua 4 God instructs Joshua to have the Israelites take stones from the Jordan river to remind of God’s faithfulness and miraculous provision as they cross on dry ground. After collecting the stones, Joshua told God’s people: In the future, when your children ask their fathers, ‘What is the meaning of these stones? ’ you should tell your children, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the water of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over, just as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up before us until we had crossed over. This is so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord’s hand is mighty, and so that you may always fear the Lord your God.” (Joshua 4:21-24) We will find great benefit in life if we establish landmarks in our lives to help us remember God’s provision lest we fall into taking God’s graciousness for granted.
It is difficult for me to believe that season of our lives was only 10 years ago. So much as happened since then: lived in 3 different states, added 3 more children, welcomed into several church families, God has healed our family from that dark place in ways we could never had imagined at the time.
This year we were blessed to be able to celebrate in a special way with almost everyone from our extended family in TN. Just spending an evening of together. Enjoying each other’s company. God’s faithfulness was on display.
God’s faithfulness is most often on display during life’s trials. An interesting thing about life’s trials… they do not play favorites. Someone once said about the trials of life:
You are either in a trial, just coming out of one, or… buckle up because one is likely around the corner.
We all face them. This means we all have various opportunities throughout life to witness and be thankful for God’s faithfulness. In fact, how we deal with the trials of life reveals the depth of our own faith. In fact James said in the New Testament:
Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. ~ James 1:2-3
Now, I have NOT reached the point that I can consistently rejoice in the trials I face in life, but by God’s grace and with the support of my wife, I have been able to find the strength to submit to His leadership through them. I am inspired by Paul’s dependence on God’s grace in the midst of his “thorn in the flesh.” (2 Corinthians 12). God’s power is perfected in my weakness.
Whether you are in the midst of a trial, heading into one, or in a place of healing from the last one, may God’s grace be your abundant supply at all times!
“Be gracious to me, God, according to your faithful love; according to your abundant compassion, blot out my rebellion. Completely wash away my guilt and cleanse me from my sin. God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Restore the joy of your salvation to me, and sustain me by giving me a willing spirit.” ~ Psalm 51:1-2, 10, 12
Even though he was king and a “man’s after God’s own heart, David’s life was not completely glamorous (Acts 13:22). His life was filled with great turmoil… some due to other people and some due to his own chooses in life. Regardless though, the honesty of his prayer life has always resonated with me.
The two phrases “according to your faithful love; according to your abundant compassion” bring me great comfort because forgiveness for my sin is not based on my worthiness but on God’s faithful love and abundant compassion. Even with all of David’s wealth, fame, and power, he bowed before God’s mercy and grace.
God, thank You that Your love, compassion, and grace are greater than all my sin!
“He must increase, but I must decrease.” ~ John 3:30
Can you imagine being one of Jesus’ relatives living in His shadow? Especially during His adult years. In fact at one point, some of them thought He was crazy (Mark 3:21). Then when they wanted to talk with Him, He said “Who are my mother and my brothers? …those sitting in [this[ circle… are my mother and my brothers!” (Mark 3:33-34) From their perspective, it must have been hard to watch a member of their family do and say the incredible things Jesus did. Fortunately, the New Testament and church history tell us that some of those in His earthly family believed after His resurrection.
John seems to have been different, though. From the beginning, John had an honest understanding of his role within God’s salvation plan. Jesus had to be front-and-center. “One who is more powerful than I am is coming. I am not worthy to untie the strap of his sandals.” (Luke 3:16) “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) John did not seek fame and spotlight. His mission was to be “a voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Make straight the way of the Lord.” (John 1:23)
God, help me have a true understanding of my role within Your kingdom work. Moment-by-moment, day-by-day, help me “lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares [me and] run with endurance the race that lies before [me], fixing [my] eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of [my] faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
“Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” ~ Proverbs 31:30
A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. This verse is frequently used in churches on Mother’s Day. In fact it was YouVersion’s Verse of the Day today (Mother’s Day 2017). And we should celebrate our moms. They work hard, some away from home and some in the home. Regardless of where they spend their days, moms are incredible. They are selfless. They are nurturing. They give of themselves when there is nothing left to give.
But Mother’s Day can be difficult for some ladies due to a variety of reasons.
Whether mom or not, a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Today I am thankful for the women of faith in my life, including but definitely not limited to:
- My wife and the mother of my children, who loves me more than I deserve and who daily works diligently to pass her faith to our children.
- Susan, the woman I call mom who passed her faith to me by showing me what unconditional love looks like through the way she loves me and my siblings, as well as, the way she loves my dad.
- My Mimi, my mom’s mom who passed her faith down to her daughters.
- My mother-in-law, who passed her faith down to my wife.
- My sister, who works to pass her faith on to communities of people often overlooked.
- My sisters-in-law who love their families and work hard to pass their faith on to their families.
“Jesus answered them, ‘You are mistaken because you don’t know the Scriptures or the power of God.’ ” ~ Matthew 22:29
“But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” ~ Ephesians 2:13 CSB
What a glorious truth of the gospel! Though we were once far away, Jesus has brought us near. Though we were once foreigners, we are now citizens of the Kingdom of God with unrestricted access to the King.
“Through him we… have access in one spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone.” ~ Ephesians 2:18-20 CSB