Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The things that never happened


I’m at a friend’s house after returning from a doctor’s appointment with her. She had a major surgery a few weeks back and complications set in. According to information given her by the doctor earlier, we anticipated what might be a very difficult appointment. Perhaps even a return to the operating room.


But it didn’t happen.

Her status was better than expected.

I’m sitting on her screened porch as the sun sets and glints off a maple. So thankful. So very, very thankful for God’s grace in the things that never happened.



Perhaps this is a different take on Thanksgiving this yearbeing thankful not only for what we have but for what we don’t have, all that God has kept from us. Like the sickness we never had, the accident that never happened, the financial problem that failed to develop, the car didn't quit, or the friend that never left. The list goes on.

The sunbeams hit my hand as I type and leaves shower down around the porch. Up the street, a father plays basketball with his sun, their laughter scattering in the air. In the beauty of this afternoon, I’m taking time to remember God’s gracious goodness demonstrated in so many ways.

The Psalmist might have been experiencing something similar when he wrote Psalm 145:6-9. Here taken from The Message, “Your marvelous doings are headline news; I could write a book full of the details of your greatness . . . God is all mercy and gracenot quick to anger, is rich in love. God is good to one and all; everything he does is suffused with grace.”

As we enter this season of thanksgiving, friends, I pray we are more aware than ever of the all the ways God has “suffused” our lives with grace, especially for the things that never happened.

I'm so excited to share the cover of my new book releasing in January,
A Plan for Everything!
 

It is the sequel to, A Key to Everything available HERE.


 
 

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Rusty, and what we won't forget


Rusty Griffin and Jerry Varnado in their early years.
This past week, Jerry lost a lifelong friend, Rusty Griffin.

Because Jerry is a pastor, we attend and/or conduct many, many funerals, but I can’t remember one that was more inspirational than Rusty’s service.

Here’s why . . .

Rusty grew up in a small town where his family owned a regional agricultural chemical business. Rusty’s father died when Rusty was in his mid-twenties, leaving him to run the company. One speaker at the service jokingly said many were just waiting to see how long it would take for the business to fold.

But Rusty took a hard look at the future of the market and made what might have seemed at the time unorthodox choices. Those choices enabled the company not only to survive but to thrive.

He took that company operating in three states to one that did business not only nationally but in eighty foreign countries.

Additionally, he sat on prestigious state boards, served on the board of directors for a large entertainment company, and served as chair for a private school among many other accomplishments.

Somewhere along the way, Rusty could have decided to exercise his Christian faith in terms of being a benefactor alone. But Rusty didn’t accept a position behind a desk simply writing checks. He didn’t phone in his service. The day of Rusty’s funeral, he was scheduled to be in a state prison ministering to inmates, a place he routinely visited to share his witness. He also participated in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, The Mailbox Club, his church, and many other ministries.

According to Rusty’s obituary, “He desired to spread the name of Jesus across the globe.” In Sunday school this past Sunday, we covered verses in Deuteronomy 4. Interestingly, those verses were also my daily reading yesterday. As Moses was giving instructions to Israel just before they entered the Promised Land, he said in verse 6, “Observe them (decrees and laws) carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations . . .” That's what Rusty did. He lived his life with an intention to spread the name of Jesus among the nations.

God honored that desire with enlarging his territory as the prayer of Jabez says. (I Chronicles 4:10). God allowed Rusty to realize his heart’s desire through his global business and ministry opportunities. I would imagine that many of those he conducted business with knew of his Christian faith. Who knows what God has done through those connections? Sometimes, I think we forget how big God is and that He desires for us, as he instructed the Israelites, to reach the nations.

John Wesley wrote in his journal in 1739, “I look upon all the world as my parish; thus far I mean, that in whatever part of it I am, I judge it meet, right, and my bounden duty to declare unto all that are willing to hear, the glad tidings of salvation.” I think it would be safe to say that Rusty followed Wesley’s admonition.

As family pictures scrolled before the service, the thing that most struck me was how joyful he seemed. His facial expressions were not “let’s all pose for the camera.” They were “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.” His love of his sweet wife, Barbara, his three daughters, and nine granddaughters was so evident. Rusty and Barbara’s fifty-two years of marriage are a glory to God and a witness to all who know them. Truly inspiring.

Though we lived a distance apart, I feel privileged because of Jerry’s friendship with Rusty that I was able to be included in Rusty’s orbit a few times through the years.

He has left me with a renewed desire to leave it all on the field, to live with intentionality, to touch as many people I can with the love of God, and to create a legacy that will last.

Thank you Rusty, for all you’ve given us. We've heard your message loud and clear. We won't forget.

I'm so excited to share the cover of my new book releasing in January,
A Plan for Everything!
 

 
 




 

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

My First World Problems


I returned home from helping a friend in Atlanta who had major surgery last week. I discovered as I exited my car I’d left my heart monitor doctors were using to determine the cause of a few symptoms I was having. I’m fine, but I needed that monitor. I turned around and went back to get it.

On my second return after around five hours in the car, Jerry and I did a quick turn around and went to an out of town high school football game. When we parked in the school lot, someone approached us to point out we had a flat tire. Jerry had to rush off to the locker room because he was the team chaplain, so I stayed to wait for roadside assistance.

As the mechanic wrestled with changing the tire, I was just about to stage a pity party for my challenging day. Then, I had the thought that these are first world problems.
 



Now that I’ve done a little research, I see that thought was right.

Only about a third of the households in the world have a working car. In many developing countries, that number drops to single digits. When a dear friend from Africa visits us, he will pass by a junkyard and want to stop and make a car. “Those cars would be on the road in Africa,” he says. The cars in our junkyards would be considered luxury vehicles in many places.

In fact, the car was only the beginning of the blessings I enjoyed that day. With this in mind, I give thanks for the surgery my friend had which was potentially lifesaving, for doctors who could do it, and for medical technology that even enabled me to have that heart monitor. I give thanks for our vintage but working car, for roadside assistance, which is virtually unheard of in many places around the world. The list could go on.

I say these things not to make us all feel guilty about our blessings, but to remember as we enter into this season of Thanksgiving to see clearly what God has provided. Let’s acknowledge His amazing blessings and to remember to share what we have with others. None of the aggravations I experienced a few days ago would have even been possible had not God already showered so much on our family.

Here’s to giving thanks in the middle of aggravating days and realizing we are so blessed.

“Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live” (I Thessalonians 5:18 The Message).

 I'm so excited to share the cover of my new book releasing in January,
A Plan for Everything!
 
 
 
 





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