The Realm of the Verbal Processor

Jarvis's Ramblings

Bible Study or Prayer Time at MMS?

Over the last couple of years I have made contact with quite a few people in the SMS/SCCM community who have let me know that they are a Christians. Typically the conversation came up when they found out that I work for a non-profit ministry.

Last year at MMS I wondered if there would be any interest in having a Bible Study or prayer time during MMS, and wanted to throw out this idea to see who would be interested, and if so what type of time people would be interested in. Right now the idea is really wide open. Some ideas of what it could be…

  • A daily 15-30 minute Bible Study (before breakfast maybe?). I could adapt the material that I have been teaching at my church on the book of Philemon.
  • A single longer Bible study at some point during the week.
  • Daily short prayer time.
  • Any other time for the above that could work with the really busy MMS schedule.

So…what level of interest and availability would you have for something like that? Let me know via my contact form, and I will gather the responses and send out an email to let you know what (if anything) we will end up doing.

[Update: The Bible Study will be happening. Check out this update. I still need to know if you are interested so that I can arrange for the proper size place for us to meet.]

April 8, 2008 Posted by | ConfigMgr, devotional, Jesus | , , | 1 Comment

Light in the Darkness

This morning I was on a flight from Asheville, NC to Atlanta that left at 6:00AM. Somewhere in the middle of the flight I looked out the window and saw that there was a light low cloud cover. Through the clouds you could see where cities were by the glowing orb beneath the clouds. Everything else was dark, but the cities were clearly visible in the midst of the darkness.

Now, the city was not just one big light. The glow that cut through the clouds was produced by hundreds of thousands of little lights working together. Each of them gave light to the area around them. Together they were able to overpower the darkness and be seen from miles away.

We live in a dark world. Jesus compared us with lights. He encouraged us to live in such a way that those around us would see the good things that we do and give glory to God. We can each bring some brightness to the part of the world that we are in. And as we do that, our collective brightness will cut through the fog and clouds to be seen by all.

The job of a light is to cut through the darkness so that people can see. Are you doing your job today?

March 18, 2008 Posted by | Jesus | , | Leave a comment

My Cousin Died

Got a phone call yesterday from my brother. First two sentences: What are you doing? You might want to sit down.

My 28 year old cousin from Oklahoma\Kansas died. She died Thursday morning in her apartment in Wichita. She was found by her boyfriend on Saturday. My aunt said that she believes the cause of Carrie’s death was SUDEPSudden Unexplained Death in EPilepsy. She apparently died Thursday morning as she was getting ready for work. Her death was covered by KWCH. My aunt was interviewed by the station as part of their story.

Carrie CollinsCarrie had been on epilepsy medication her entire life. As a result of the epilepsy medication, she was developmentally behind her age. A few months ago she went off of all medication. In those months she became what my aunt referred to as normal. She was like a brand new person that my aunt was very much enjoying getting to know. It was the first time that the two of them had been able to interact on an adult level.

Cut short.

Yes, we will miss her. Yes, we are in a bit of shock. I wish I had gotten the chance to meet the “new” Carrie, however I am comforted in knowing that she had a secure relationship with Jesus, and as a result, she is actually more alive now than she has ever been. She is in the presence of the Lord that she wanted to serve as a medical missionary. (She had just passed the EMT national registration test a few weeks ago.) Her race is finished.

Please pray for my Aunt Sue and her husband Roger, Carrie’s brother Robert, Carrie’s dad Robert, and Carrie’s boyfriend Curtis. Those are the ones who are the most intimately affected by her death.

February 4, 2008 Posted by | Jesus, life | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bible Memory

Every night, my wife and I read a portion of the Bible to our daughters. Typically, Julie reads to our eight year old, and I read to our four year old. Marybeth and I are going through a Children’s Daily Devotional Bible that my wife found in a used book store. It is in the Contemporary English Version. It covers a year and has five reading sections per week. In each section you read a portion of the Bible, and at the bottom of the page it has a portion of a sentence (Bible verse) for the child to memorize. Over the course of five days, the child memorizes a verse. Two days a week are “review night”…going back over previous verses that she has memorized to solidify them. Over the course of the year, the kid memorizes 52 verses.

Marybeth just finished memorizing her 37th verse. Keep in mind…she is four years old. Last night was review night, so we were going back over previous verses. We walked backwards from the verse we had just finished (Luke 24:46) to the last one that she could remember last night (Psalm 103:1). She was tired and basically quit trying at that point. Anyway…she went back through 16 verses pretty much on her own. On several I had to give her the first word or two, but she nailed the rest.

Now as for me…in hindsight I should have been memorizing the verses along with her, but I didn’t. I’m starting now to memorize the verses with her. I have also posted a page on my blog that highlights the verse that we are currently working on. If you want to, you could memorize it along with us. I’ll update the Bible Memory Verse of the Week page at least weekly. I haven’t decided yet if it would be best to update it daily with the current portion, or weekly with the whole verse of the week. I also put the verses that she has already memorized on the page as well.

November 26, 2007 Posted by | devotional, Jesus, kids | | Leave a comment

Bible Study

I lead a LIFE Group at my church. That’s my church’s equivalent to a Sunday School class. My class is made up of married couples ranging from mid-20s up to mid-50s. It’s a good group of people.

In the last six months or so, I started thinking about what I wanted to teach next. What went through my mind at the time was if I only had one more thing to pass on to the class, what would I teach? It occurred to me that as a result of being in full time vocational ministry, I have had access to a lot of training in how to study the Bible that most people simply don’t have access to. I’ve had a Seminary level class on Bible Study Methods that was really really good.

I’m currently taking my class through a workshop style class studying the little book of Philemon. I’ve added a page for my class (and others if they are interested) to access the files that we are creating as a class through our study of Philemon.

October 28, 2007 Posted by | Jesus, life | Leave a comment

How much does God love us?

I was talking with my four year old tonight, and she asked me if I knew how much God loved us. When I asked her how much, she answered, “115. That’s a LOT of love.”

[Edit…October 25…everything that follows]

Ya know…I’m sure 115 meant something to her. But realistically…while it’s cute and funny coming from the mouth of a four year old…it just doesn’t get the job done for the people who have been hitting this post since it first went up. In the last hour, there was someone who hit this post when they typed “how much does God love me” in a search engine.

There’s something about that question that strikes a chord with us. We want to know that we are loved. We want to know that God cares about us. We want to know that He loves us. How can we know? That’s a question I’d be glad to dialog with you about. Just send me a message. I’d be glad to answer your questions or walk with you through the process of discovering how much God really does love you. I promise it’s not a trite answer…and it’s a lot more than 115.

You could also take a look at this ShockWave thing called Life@Large. It walks you through a process to see how your story fits into the story of life.

October 18, 2007 Posted by | Jesus, kids | Leave a comment

Suicide Prevention Resources

In a recent letter I referenced some suicide and depression resources that I would post. Here they are. Basic gist of the letter is that a former co-worker and one of my uncles committed suicide within a month of each other. It definitely got me thinking a bit about what would drive someone to that point…as well as wanting to be able to be to point to some resources that could help someone overcome that temptation.

As always, Julie and I are available to talk if you are struggling. If you need to reach us, you can use the contact page to send me a message.

There are a ton of suicide prevention resources on the internet. I’ve just linked a few that I found that seemed likely to be helpful.

Links to resources on Henry Cloud and John Townsend’s website for:

Resources from FamilyLife

Two websites from Focus on the Family

Sermon resources that John Piper has preached on suicide in the past:

A site titled “If you are thinking about suicide…read this first.” [Disclaimer: Much of this site is really good. However there is one aspect I noticed on this site that I disagree with. It states that suicide is neither right nor wrong…that it is morally neutral. That’s just not so.]

Here is what seems to be the motherlode of links aimed at survivors of suicide.

Rich Mullins wrote a song titled “Verge of a Miracle“. It was written for a boy who attempted suicide. The link is to an intro that Rich gave at a live performance of the song along with the words to the song. The YouTube link below is to the song itself.

October 8, 2007 Posted by | Jesus, life | , , , | Leave a comment

Life Lessons from Hiking

Julie and I went hiking yesterday. We climbed Horsetooth Rock just outside of Fort Collins, Colorado. As we were going along the hike we kept thinking of parallels to life as we went along. Here are some of the thoughts we had…

As you go through life, realize that there is a path that God has laid out for you. Stay on the path. You can still travel if you aren’t on the path, but the traveling is much more difficult.

As you go on the path, take time to stop and enjoy the scenery. If you do, you will get some needed rest. You will sometimes be able to see where your path fits in with the world around you. As you see the world around you, you will be able to appreciate both the particular path that you are on as well as the beauty of the world where you are traveling. When you start down the path again, your legs will have a bit more spring in their step.

Sometimes the path you are on can look really rough ahead. If God has called you to that path, don’t be afraid of the path, stay on it. He will pull you through.

As you go along the path, take along a friend. Don’t leave them behind. The path is much more enjoyable when traveled together.

If you slip off the trail, you could have a pretty bad fall ahead of you. If you have your friend with you, they can help to pull you back up.

Try to keep your friends from doing something stupid, or at least if they do, take a picture of it!

As you go down the path, take time to notice the small things…sometimes they are the most beautiful.

Many times as you are traveling along the path, you will not be able to see the end of the path.

You need to keep your eyes on the path and the signposts that God has put in place. They will guide you to your destination.

As you tackle obstacles along the path, take time to celebrate those victories.

There are times on the path to be extra careful and serious.

There are times on the path to have fun and be silly.

As you go along the path, be sure to always lean into the Rock.

When you get to the end of the path (and eventually you will), the view from the top is more amazing than you could have imagined.

Lastly, at all times along the path, be sure to give praise to God who created you and designed your path.

July 20, 2007 Posted by | devotional, Jesus, life, relationships | , | Leave a comment

A Tale of Two Graves

Yesterday I took part in a “Day of Prayer” that our ministry takes part in twice a year. During the day we sang a song.

Lord I lift your name on high
Lord I love to sing your praises
I’m so glad you’re in my life
I’m so glad you came to save us
You came from heaven to earth, to show the way
From the earth to the cross, my debt to pay
From the cross to the grave, from the grave to the sky
Lord I lift your name on high.

Over the years as I have heard that song, different aspects of it have affected me. It takes the whole spectrum of what Christ did and puts it to song. He was in heaven, and he came and lived on earth…during which time He showed us how to live. He was crucified to pay for our sin debt. He was taken down from the cross and laid in a grave. Three days later He rose from the grave and eventually ascended into heaven.

Today the word “grave” struck me. The most vivid memory I have of a grave was at my dad’s funeral. I was twelve when he died of cancer. After the graveside service, I retreated back to the front steps of the church next to the graveyard. I saw them lower the casket into the ground and saw my uncles start shoveling dirt into the hole. That was and still is a vivid memory. It was a “finalizing” moment. My dad was not coming back. He was in a pretty box underneath 6 feet of dirt. It was over…my best friend was gone.

That is how Jesus’s friends and family felt as well. They saw him die on the cross…after being nearly beaten to death by Roman guards. They saw him taken down from the cross and placed in a tomb. They saw the gruesome results of the crucifixion. They knew that it was over. He wasn’t coming back. Some of his friends went home and prepared the spices and ointments that were used at that time on the body as it was put in the tomb…so that they could come back later to finish preparing Jesus’s body.

But when they returned on the first day of the week, Jesus’s body wasn’t there. He had come back to life. Yes he had been dead…very much so. But death had not conquered him. He was no longer there. The stone had been rolled away. In our time, I don’t know what it would look like. Would all the dirt over the coffin just move…seemingly on its own? Would Jesus have dug his way out and come out through a hole in the ground? What would it have looked like?

I don’t know…but as vivid as it is to me that my dad is still in the grave…that the dirt that my uncles threw into the hole…that dirt is still there…unmoved in twenty three years. Just as real as that is…it is just as real…even more so that Jesus is NOT in the tomb He was laid in. He is alive; He is in this world; He lives; He touches hearts and souls; He changes lives. He can change your life. This is not some trite statement. He has changed my life in very dramatic ways. Maybe I’ll have to create a blog entry about that. I guess the key question is…since he can change your life…Will you let Him?

April 25, 2007 Posted by | devotional, Jesus, life, music | | 1 Comment

Van Halen ramblings

From back in Junior High days, I have been impressed with the musical talent of Van Halen. It struck me years later that one of the reasons that I enjoyed some of their music was the fullness of it. They had the same number of instruments as other bands (electric guitar, keyboard, drums, bass), but what they did with the instruments was a step above many other bands in the same genre. Eddie had some classical training, and that comes out in the sound.

One aspect of classical music is the interaction between various instruments that gives the music a “life”. During intense or high energy sections (true classical fans are cringing at my description) of classical music, there is a fullness (don’t know how to describe it better than that) to the music. Each instrument is intimately connected with all of the others to create an auditory experience that the instruments by themselves aren’t capable of.

In a similar way, there are many Van Halen songs that do the same. The instruments combine into a combination where there is no dead space…more than the individual instruments are capable of. That was in many ways the draw of their music to me.

Now…there is another aspect here. Many indications are that much of that music was created in a drug or alcohol induced haze…do you remember the music video for either “Jump” or “Panama”…Eddie certainly appeared to be stoned out of his mind. Substance abuse is something that he has battled for a couple of decades. He just recently went back into rehab for alcohol abuse. I came across a quote from an interview that Eddie gave to Rolling Stone magazine back in 1995 where Eddie tells why he drinks. He said, “I always got hammered to be able to cope. I have zero social skills and I don’t know how to act, so I get drunk. And then I make a real a– out of myself.”

Here is a guy who has been blessed by God with immense musical talent. (Yes…blessed by God. All talent comes from God…how we utilize that talent is another story.) To many in the world…myself included in Junior High and High School…he had everything going for him…successful band, fame, money, beautiful wife (Valerie Bertinelli)…but by his own admission, he had insecurities that he didn’t know how to deal with.

Okay, so I’ve rambled a lot about VH. What can we take from it? What can we learn? Three things come to mind.

  • First, let’s pray for Eddie. As he is in rehab right now, let’s pray for him to get to the root issues and kick his habits.
  • Second, and more importantly, let’s pray for someone to come into his life who truly knows and loves Jesus. Let’s pray for Eddie’s salvation.
  • Third, we can realize that no matter how good or successful someone appears, everyone has insecurities…some are just better at masking it than others.

April 17, 2007 Posted by | Jesus, music | Leave a comment

Holding Hands

When Julie and I are in a public area or parking lot with our daughters, we make sure we hold their hands. We keep them from getting lost in a crowd or from getting hit by a car. We know where the dangers are and keep them safe.

Today I was walking out of church with my four year old. We were approaching the parking lot, so we were holding hands. As we were walking along, her shoe caught on something and she tripped. Because I was holding her hand, I was able to pull her up and keep her from falling. Had we not been holding hands, she would have at least fallen, and probably would have gotten hurt on the sidewalk.

It struck me at the time that this is a lot like life. There are lots of things out there that want to trip us up. Some are physical dangers like I am protecting my daughters from. Others are spiritual in nature…temptations that if acted upon could destroy our reputations, our families, our lives. Some of these dangers we can see, some we can’t. What can protect us from them?

How about if we hold onto Jesus’s hand? He wants to walk through life with us. He desires to protect us and keep us safe from the garbage that gets thrown at us. If we are holding his hand when the trial hits, He can pull us up and keep us from getting hurt. As long as we don’t rip our hand out of his, He will keep us safe from the temptations that could destroy us.

April 15, 2007 Posted by | devotional, Jesus, kids, life | | Leave a comment

Hearing Through the Noise of Life

Yesterday I took my daughter Laurel to a couple of easter egg hunts. The second hunt was at a very large church here in Orlando. Part of the free “festivities” at this church was a climbing wall. As soon as Laurel saw it, she wanted to do it…so… off to the climbing wall.As I am watching some of the other kids climbing, I’m noticing that as they get higher up the wall, several of them were shifting to the left of the straight up path. As they kept going on that route, when they got closer to the top, the cable they were attached to would actually pull them off the wall…because they were three-four feet off center of where the cable mechanism is attached at the top. So, I told Laurel to just go straight up and not slide to the side.

So as she is climbing up, I’m noticing her moving to the left. I gave her a bit of time to see if she would self correct. When she didn’t I called out her name. She immediately started looking around until we made eye contact. I told her to move to the right, and she saw what was going on and got back on track.

So…what difference does this make? Why am I writing about it? Because a spiritual truth struck me as soon as she started looking for me.

There was a large crowd around the climbing wall. Very large crowd. There was a lot of noise. There was a Christian band playing in the background. Lots of distracting things…not to mention the focus of a seven year old who is hanging on for dear life fifteen feet off the ground. But when she heard my voice…her father’s voice…she immediately started looking for me to find out what I had to say. And when she heard me, she remembered what I told her before she started, corrected and got back on track.

We live in a noisy society that is full of distractions. There are so many things that want to pull us away from the path that God has mapped out for us. He has uniquely created each of us with certain gifts and strengths. He has given us a path to follow…if we will only follow it. There are even things that look good…like the other handholds that the kids were following off track…but they aren’t the best things. For that matter, sometimes the best thing for us is more difficult than what we would like…and we reach for a handhold that is off track…never realizing that we just settled for second (or third or tenth) best.

The key for us is to be able to decipher our Father’s voice in the midst of life. We need to be listening to God as we read the Bible. Then when we get in the midst of our day, we need to listen for His voice guiding us back where we need to be.

April 8, 2007 Posted by | devotional, Jesus, kids, life | | Leave a comment

Southern Accent

Over time I have definitely lost a lot of my southern accent. My first time out of the deep south…on a missionary project in New Hampshire…there was a guy from New Mexico that wasn’t even sure I was speaking English. :-) Being around people at work from all over…and the fact that my wife is from Pennsylvania…I have lost most of my accent. However…

If I go back to Mississippi for even a short time; I begin to pick up the accent again. Within a week or two, it has gotten pretty strong again. It is a very natural occurance…my voice is going back to it’s roots. In a different way, my wife will pick up the accent of nearly anyone she is around. It’s been funny hearing her on the phone with someone in England…within ten minutes she is starting to sound British.

Now…why am I noodling on accents? It occurred to me recently that there is a spiritual truth that can be learned from the accent effect.

We live in a “fallen world”…a world which is significantly different than it was like at creation. As humans…descended from Adam and Eve…we have an innate propensity toward sin. We are not perfect. We will head toward what is “natural” to us unless we put safeguards in place to protect ourselves. Our natural tendancy is to sin…to desire things that are not of God. We tend to act like those that we are around.

What safeguards do you need to put in your life to protect yourself from yourself?

March 18, 2007 Posted by | devotional, Jesus | | Leave a comment

Watching You (Song by Rodney Atkins)

Driving to work this morning, I was listening to the song “Watching You” by Rodney Atkins. (select from the drop-down list)

The song is about a dad and his son. It goes through a couple of episodes where the son is doing things that the dad asks where he learned to do them…one is cuss, the other is pray! In both instances the son responds with:

Let’s take it a step further…Are we watching Jesus? Are we watching to learn what He is like? Do we know his likes and dislikes? Do we care? Are we wanting to be like Him? Do we want to become the kind of person who does what Jesus does…simply because it is what Jesus does?


As I listened to it, I thought about what application it could have in our relationship with out Heavenly Father. The illustration breaks down a bit with the cussing part, but we can learn a lot from the interaction that kids have with adults.

This kid had been watching his dad…both the good and bad things. He wanted to be like his dad. He could see the things that his dad liked and wanted to be the same way.


My heart’s desire is to be able to see what Jesus is doing and for that to be what I desire to do as well. I want my life to reflect the work that He is doing in living through me.

March 14, 2007 Posted by | devotional, Jesus, kids, music | | Leave a comment

The Great Disconnect

Today has been frustrating. I have so many things in my mind. So much that I need to think about and take action on. So many things swirling through my mind. And I can’t seem to concentrate on any of them long enough to really do anything about them. I have projects around the house to work on. I need to fix Julie’s van. I need to take the van to get body work done. Investment decisions. Need to work on raising support. SMS…good grief SMS. There is so much to do with SMS…and I can’t THINK long enough to map out the plan. Exercise. Purchases that I want to make.

I need God’s help to concentrate. Like I was telling Philip recently…it’s entirely possible that God designed this weakness into my life to cause me to depend on him. Kind of like the quote that I have taped to my computer…Matthew 20:32 “What do you want me to do for you?” That is the story of the two blind men asking for help. It’s very obvious what they want…come on…it’s two blind beggars asking for help…what do you think they might want? Yet…Jesus asks them “What do you want me to do for you?” It’s not like he didn’t know what they wanted. Still…he wanted them to ask…to acknowledge their desire and dependance on him. Jesus still wants us to ask.

Where that has me…it’s entirely possible that Jesus has built a weakness into my life…an inability to handle lots of details without depending on him. He wants me to ask for help…to acknowledge my need for Him. To invite him into the details and ongoing aspects of my life.

July 13, 2006 Posted by | devotional, Jesus, life | | Leave a comment