Looking for something new to add to your family’s Christmas traditions? Checkout theshepherdstreasure.com. I found this resource last year while on church staff, and think it is a fun way to connect with your family during Advent.
“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).
Psalm 78 begins with a beautiful picture of what a community of faith should look like as they strive to cross generational boundaries and be faithful to pass on the most important things to future generations. Then the psalmist gives a brief summary and commentary describing the wonders God showed to the Israelites during the Exodus and beyond.
As I read through Psalm 78, my heart swells as I identify with verses like:
“But they continued to sin against him.” (v17)
“Despite all this, they kept sinning…” (v32)
“How often they rebelled against him…and grieved him…” (v40)
Then we get verses 38-39. Oh, what a beautiful verses!! “Yet he was compassionate; he atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them. He often turned his anger aside and did not unleash all his wrath. He remembered that they were only flesh…”
Even in the midst of constant disobedience and disbelief in the wonders He performed for His people, God was compassionate and often turn his anger aside. Amen, and thank you, Lord!
As I read, my heart is moved. Thank you, God, for being patient with me, too. Thank You that You are “compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love.” (Psalm 103:8) Thank you that you are not finished with me yet. (Philippians 1:6)
“I have asked one thing from the Lord; it is what I desire: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, gazing on the beauty of the Lord and seeking him in his temple.”
~ Psalms 27:4
This verse became a frequent prayer of mine several years ago. Sadly too often, I find myself coming back to this prayer after having allowed my gaze to move off of God and onto something temporal. I need this prayer, often daily, to remind me where my priorities should be focused. It’s a prayer to realign my priorities within my heart and mind, as well as, for strength to ensure that which my heart and mind determine as priority will be lived out in my schedule.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.”
~ Matthew 6:33
“So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”
~ Colossians 3:1-2
“Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
~ 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
God, may I be so captivated by You that seeking You is my top priority.
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!
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way.” ~ Psalms 139:23-24 CSB
Another one of my longtime favorite verses. Mostly because of the vast amount of times I find myself praying it as a prayer of confession and repentance.
It was also the theme verse for LifeWay’s 2016 VBS: Submerged.
One of my favorite things to do with children is to put motions to Bible verses. I find this helps them (and me!) remember the verse better.