Author Archives: Jim Gavigan

Psalms 65:1-68:4

May the nations praise you, O God. Yes, may all the nations praise you. Then the earth will yield its harvests, and God, our God, will richly bless us. Yes, God will bless us, and people all over the world will fear him.

Psalms 67:5-7

This has been my solemn prayer for quite some time now. That we, as a human race, will come to realize WHO God really is and what he has really done. There is so much strife, hurt, anger, deceit, hopelessness, greed, malice, and just pure evil in the world right now. However, we must all realize that this is not new. We just happen to know about it in seconds, minutes, or hours now versus weeks, months, or years in days gone by. My wife Kristina sent me this the other day, as it is something I have been saying for a while now:

8Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content. 9History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. 10Sometimes people say, “Here is something new!” But actually it is old; nothing is ever truly new. 11We don’t remember what happened in the past, and in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now.

Ecclesiastes 1:8-11

So, even in this time of what we feel is unprecedented evil, human nature really hasn’t changed that much. People in bygone days also thought “this must be it – we are living in the times that Revelation talks about!” Yet, they have forgotten what the previous generation(s) have been through.

God is still firmly in control. Jesus is at His right hand. The plan is still in place. We know the ending, just not what happens here in the middle during the vapor that is our lives. The day is coming when the verse I quoted to start this will absolutely come true. Will it happen before the second coming or after? I am yet hopeful that people are waking up and asking different questions than they ever have been. I would bet that despite their outward appearances and the words and rhetoric that they use, that more people are open to hearing about God and His majesty than ever before. Their outward appearance may not say that, but I bet deep down they feel it.

I have talked with many people recently, and I get a sense this is happening. I find people are open to listen more since they see so much junk happening around them. They are looking for an potential explanation and certainly for comfort and hope.

There are still many who are walled off and closed to hearing about God, but as stated in my last post, even the stone heart that I had was able to be changed. After all, my sister-in-law, who knows me well, told Kristina she would never get me to church. Sometime it takes some really hard times either individually or collectively to realize that God IS real, that His Son did come here and die for all of us, and that we ALL fall short of the glory of God.

Lord, I continue to pray the above, that all nations would praise you collectively and that you would mightily bless us all. I pray that we will have the courage to stand before those who persecute us and who ridicule us to never back down from Your word and Your teaching. The harvest is truly plenty, but the workers are too few. Let us be a people set apart for a time such as this. Oh what a time to be alive! The world needs a beacon of hope, it needs salt and light. I pray that we are those things to this very dark world. Amen!

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Psalms 24:7 – 27:6

7Do not remember the rebellious sins of my youth. Remember me in the light of your unfailing love, for you are merciful, O Lord.

Psalms 25:7, NLT

Oh, the rebellious sins of my youth. You see, I wasn’t even a Christian until age 30. I sat in a church pew a broken man on November 26th, 2000. I had been rebellious. I thought I was going to be “good enough” to make it to heaven. I was a good person, or so I had thought. Yet, here I was about to be divorced a second time, yet this time it was someone I was truly destined to be with. The young lady that I had re-met at our 10 year high school reunion. There were no doubts that we were destined to be together, at least not at first. But then, we both got busy, living separate lives in the same house. Maybe we were just falling out of love? Maybe the grass was greener with this lady at work who was supposedly struggling in her marriage? I had scooped those coals in my lap and had gotten burned.

I will never forget that voicemail message Kristina left me. The anger and the hurt at an email she discovered that confirmed her suspicions I was looking and acting elsewhere. I collapsed and cried. It was the lowest I had felt in my life. But, I thought I was a good person? Yet, here I was.

So, on this November 26th, a Sunday, I was sitting at New Hope Christian Church in Bartlett, TN. Kurt Parker was preaching a sermon on repentance. I could have been the only one in that church that day and he couldn’t have written a better sermon. I could have sworn he knew my story, yet he had never met me.

That Thursday before, Thanksgiving, I was sitting with my older brother Jerry, and explaining what was going on in my life. He said and I quote “you sound like you are spiritually lost.” I said “Yes, I am.” He invited me to church that Sunday if he could get his schedule rearranged. Before I could even think about it, I said yes. That answer would have been no any other Thursday, but I knew I needed something. Desperately. Ironically, this was the same church Kristina had been begging me to go to for a long time and I never even considered it. She knew we were destined to be there. I didn’t.

“You know, one of my favorite movies is Gone with the Wind and one of the lines from that movie and one that makes my point today is when Rhett Butler says to Scarlett O’Hara ‘You aren’t crying because you are upset, you are crying because you got caught!'” – Kurt Parker, November 26, 2000.

That was it. That was the line where I KNEW God was speaking to ME and me alone. This epitomized my feelings right after listening to the fateful voicemail. I was crying because I got caught. God had put me at New Hope THAT Sunday to hear THAT line. When the time of invitation came, I almost knocked my brother over and went up to get baptized. I bet I couldn’t have named 12 people from the Bible: Jesus, Moses, Noah, David, Goliath, Adam, Eve, Job (only because of AP English), maybe a few more but not many more. However, God was calling me. I got baptized that day. I really didn’t even know what that meant, but I knew I needed to make that commitment that day. The day my life changed. The day when the rebellious sins of my youth got buried and a new me came up out of that water.

There is even more to that story, but the cliff notes of the story is that Kristina got baptized a few weeks later, she forgave me, we saved our marriage. We are a stronger couple than ever. I love her more by the day.

11 For the honor of your name, O Lord, forgive my many, many sins.12 Who are those who fear the Lord? He will show them the path they should choose.

Psalms 25:11-12, NLT

I still have much growing to do, but 22 years ago, those were the events that started my journey with Jesus. For quite a while, I was ashamed to tell the story because it revealed such weakness in me. However, it shows how great our God is in spite of any weaknesses we may have. I was encouraged very early on to never, ever be afraid to share that story because it could inspire, convict, or encourage someone at just the right moment.

It has been a wild, but great ride. I am not sure I would choose this path again, yet it uniquely makes me who I am. No one else has my testimony and no one can take it away from me. I am so grateful for God’s and Kristina’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness. I am not sure where I would even be without that. I cannot even fathom the path my life would have taken had God not stepped in in November of 2000. I wouldn’t be writing this, I can assure you. I encourage you to share your testimony often and to whoever will listen to it. You never know who will relate to it. It is God’s story written through you. Others need to hear it. Don’t ever be afraid to tell it.

Dear Lord, I pray that those reading this message are encouraged to share their story with people that they know, and maybe even someone they would consider an acquaintance at best. I ask that You bless these stories and testimonies about Your great love. May none of us ever be afraid to tell Your story that is being written through us. We all love you Lord. In the mighty, mighty name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

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Job 16:11-20:11

I remember reading the book of Job in AP English in high school (bet that doesn’t happen anymore!) as a literary study. Even though I wasn’t a Christian at the time, this book had a profound impact on me. I remembered Job’s suffering and perseverance for many years. It was literally the only book of the Bible I had read and I probably only knew of maybe 10-12 Biblical figures until I became a Christian at age 30. So, this book has always had special meaning to me.

In this section, Bildad and Job are going back and forth and then Zophar joins the fray in chapter 20.

Some of it goes like this (Bildad):

2“How long before you stop talking?

Speak sense if you want us to answer!

3Do you think we are mere animals?

Do you think we are stupid?

4You may tear out your hair in anger,

but will that destroy the earth?

Will it make the rocks tremble?

Job 18:2-4, NLT

Nice guy huh? With friends like these, who needs enemies? Were these really the same guys who sat there in silence for their friend? It sure seems hard to believe.

Job stays steadfast in his responses, and they go something like the below:

“How long will you torture me?

How long will you try to crush me with your words?

3You have already insulted me ten times.

You should be ashamed of treating me so badly.

4Even if I have sinned,

that is my concern, not yours.

5You think you’re better than I am,

using my humiliation as evidence of my sin.

6But it is God who has wronged me,

capturing me in his net.

Job 19:2-6, NLT

It is clear that Job is having none of it from these guys. He knows his own heart and isn’t in the mood for their spite. His rebuke then turns to despair:

‘“My relatives stay far away, and my friends have turned against me. My family is gone, and my close friends have forgotten me. My servants and maids consider me a stranger. I am like a foreigner to them. When I call my servant, he doesn’t come; I have to plead with him! My breath is repulsive to my wife. I am rejected by my own family. Even young children despise me. When I stand to speak, they turn their backs on me. My close friends detest me. Those I loved have turned against me. I have been reduced to skin and bones and have escaped death by the skin of my teeth. ‘

Job 19:13-20, NLT

I struggle to imagine a point where everyone who is important to me is either dead or turning their back on me like what Job was experiencing. I cannot even imagine this level of hurt and despair. Yet, Job shows such incredible resilience and strength in the face of all of this.

I think that is what struck me as a 17 year old and someone who had really never been introduced to the Bible. I was awed by this man who had no idea that God was allowing this to happen to him and yet he stayed strong and never cursed God throughout all of this. I admired the strength that he showed and wanted to show this kind of resolve in my own life. I am not sure I have ever showed the strength and resolve that Job did without completely losing my cool at some point. I hope to one day mature enough to handle a tough situation with others like Job did – to not take false accusations and push back on them with logic, strength, and wisdom; yet still recognize my own weakness and call out to God to guide me and strengthen me.

Dear Lord, I pray that you strengthen all of us when our lives fall apart, either of our own doing or if you are sending us a wake up call. Let us handle our critics with grace and with courage to not back down to false accusations. Let us remain strong and true in our belief in You. We may have times ahead, as it states in Revelation, that we will endure more persecution as a people. Let us keep this book in our minds and hearts if and when those days come. In Jesus’s name, Amen!

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Nehemiah 11:22-13:22

Nehemiah is one of my favorite books in the Old Testament and the Bible as a whole. The courage, faith, and shrewdness that Nehemiah shows in this story is one I greatly admire. We did a study of this book at the church we belonged to when I first launched my business in late 2016. I took great inspiration from Nehemiah, as against all human odds and tremendous opposition, he rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem. I wanted to do build something great when I started my business.

To set the stage for what I am going to write about here, the wall had been completed. Nehemiah had organized great celebrations to commemorate God’s faith in building the wall in an almost impossible timeline and against incredible odds. The people who built it, along with Nehemiah, dedicated the wall to God. Nehemiah organized everyone and gave everyone orders on what to do next and how to conduct business and live life. He then returned to King Artaxerxes to fulfill his post.

After some time, he returned to find the people back to some unhealthy patterns (all from Nehemiah 13, NLT):

 6But during all this I was not in Jerusalem, Neh. 5:14–16for in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon I had returned to the king. Then after certain days I obtained leave from the king, 7and I came to Jerusalem and discovered the evil that Eliashib had done for Tobiah, in 5preparing a room for him in the courts of the house of God. 8And it grieved me bitterly; therefore I threw all the household goods of Tobiah out of the room. 9Then I commanded them to cleanse the rooms; and I brought back into them the articles of the house of God, with the grain offering and the frankincense.

“Why is the house of God forsaken?” And I gathered them together and set them in their place. 12Then all Judah brought the tithe of the grain and the new wine and the oil to the storehouse. 13And I appointed as treasurers over the storehouse Shelemiah the priest and Zadok the scribe, and of the Levites, Pedaiah; and next to them was Hanan the son of Zaccur, the son of Mattaniah; for they were considered faithful, and their task was to distribute to their brethren.

14Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and do not wipe out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God, and for its services!

15In those days I saw people in Judah treading wine presses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and loading donkeys with wine, grapes, figs, and all kinds of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. And I warned them about the day on which they were selling provisions. 16Men of Tyre dwelt there also, who brought in fish and all kinds of goods, and sold them on the Sabbath to the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem.

17Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said to them, “What evil thing is this that you do, by which you profane the Sabbath day? 18Did not your fathers do thus, and did not our God bring all this disaster on us and on this city? Yet you bring added wrath on Israel by profaning the Sabbath.”

As you can tell, Nehemiah was furious because his orders (God’s orders via Nehemiah) had not been followed. What isn’t stated was why the people drifted from his orders. Was it willful disobedience? Complacence? Were the distracted or discouraged by something and slowly drifted? It is hard to say.

Last fall was a very difficult one for me and for the business. We had much going on. I lost an employee to a customer as they hired him away from us, which took away almost any hope of being profitable for the year. We lost a potentially large contract that would have taken us to the “next level” and it was one that I truly thought we were going to deliver on. My mother in law was in bad health. My oldest son was still adrift. We were (and still are) trying to find a church where we feel we should belong. I became like the people in the above story. I had drifted from the things that God had told me to do that would make me successful in His eyes. I wasn’t studying as much. I wasn’t praying as much. I was distracted by other activities like golf and fishing. The events going on in the country, the world, and within God’s people were weighing me down. I was far away from the course that God wanted me on.

On the business side, we had had two great years and it wasn’t like I didn’t know what to do, nor had I forgotten what it took to get there. Maybe I just started thinking we had “made it” and the business would just continue to grow. I had gotten complacent over time, maybe even a bit arrogant. I had done so much, the “wall was built,” yet it all has to be maintained and cultivated. It wasn’t like I suddenly forgot what to do.

For me, I think it was a slow drifting away from the things I knew were the best for me and there were certainly some body blows to my ego and my psyche. It hurt, but it was a slow drifting away toward complacence that was hurting me. Every discouraging event weakened my will.

I didn’t really have a Nehemiah to come in and assess my life, my business, and all of my issues. I wish I did. I wish someone would have come in sooner and called me out on things that I wasn’t doing as much as I should have. I wish someone would have called out the distractions and the things that were turning to “idols” in my life without knowing it (well, Kristina did a few times, as good wives do!). I had to get back on track with God Himself and a small circle of people. I had to admit to myself that I needed to make a course correction.

I think for all of us, especially in these crazy times we live in (which aren’t unprecedented by the way – I have to keep reminding myself of that and the Bible reminds me as well), it is easy to get discouraged, distracted, and complacent. It is what the enemy wants. He wants us away from our lifeblood. It isn’t easy to come back from a distracted state, but it can be done. What we have to guard against at all cost is willful disobedience, which can be a real danger to us. That is much harder to get back on track from.

So, what do you think happened with the people of Jerusalem? Was it willful disobedience? Or, were they just like their ancestors who were delivered out of Egypt and then complained at every turn just because things weren’t turning out how they had hoped? How about you? Have you been blessed mightily in your life only to find yourself feeling down, bitter, or nonchalant to what is going on in your life? Do you need a Nehemiah – someone sold out and on fire for God to come in and make a tough assessment and tell you what you need to hear whether you want to or not? Is there someone that you need to lovingly hold accountable for something like Nehemiah did here? I will let you ponder that.

Dear Lord, I pray for all of those that read these words. I pray that they take an honest assessment of where they stand with You and with what they are doing in their life. Are they and we obeying You the way we should? You have brought me back from dark places more times than I can count and yet I still let my fire for you burn too low at times. I am praying that my track back toward where You need and want me to be continues. I pray that the right person or people are encouraged and challenged by these words. For those in the right place with You, I ask that they stand on guard at all times. The enemy never quits, never sleeps, and is always out to destroy our relationship with You. I am sorry for drifting away and forgetting Your majesty at times. Help me stay focused on You and away from things that are not good for me. In Jesus’s mighty name I pray, Amen!

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2 Chronicles 32-35:19

There are two observations/lessons that I take from today’s readings. The first one is as follows (all translations are NLT):

Then Hezekiah encouraged them by saying: 7“Be strong and courageous! Don’t be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria or his mighty army, for there is a power far greater on our side! 8He may have a great army, but they are merely men. We have the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles for us!” Hezekiah’s words greatly encouraged the people.

2 Chronicles 32:6-8

There are those days that I see what is going on in our crazy world and forget Who is on my side. I can get afraid or discouraged at people and events that are happening. All that does is distract me from having an eternal perspective. It also makes me forget just how big God is and how I need to lean in to Him when the world (or even my little piece of it) seems to be spinning out of control.

In the above, the Assyrian army was gathering to invade Jerusalem after having already entered Judah. The people were afraid and felt overwhelmed. King Sennacherib of Assyria was executing psychological warfare on the people of Jerusalem and was mocking them and mocking God Himself.

The words above were the things that the people of Jerusalem needed to hear at that moment. There never was a battle, as God sent an angel to destroy the army:

20Then King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz cried out in prayer to God in heaven. 21And the Lord sent an angel who destroyed the Assyrian army with all its commanders and officers. So Sennacherib was forced to return home in disgrace to his own land. And when he entered the temple of his god, some of his own sons killed him there with a sword.

22That is how the Lord rescued Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem from King Sennacherib of Assyria and from all the others who threatened them. So there was peace throughout the land. 

2 Chronicles 32:20-21

So, sometimes, the battle isn’t even ours. We need to call out to the Lord and ask for help as that IS our battle and He takes care of the rest.

The second observation/lesson is how just because we may show faith and do the right things and model that for our children, they may not choose to follow. This is a difficult one for me, as I have what I believe is a prodigal son in my oldest son, Thomas. The Bible has many stories of people like me, who didn’t come from a home where faith was modeled, yet who had great faith. There are also stories of people who came out of great families of faith who decided to go the opposite way. Two examples are below.

1Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. 2He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, following the detestable practices of the pagan nations that the Lord had driven from the land ahead of the Israelites. 3He rebuilt the pagan shrines his father, Hezekiah, had broken down. He constructed altars for the images of Baal and set up Asherah poles. He also bowed before all the powers of the heavens and worshiped them.

2 Chronicles 33:1-3

It isn’t like Manasseh hadn’t witnessed the great things his father had done, but maybe he was too young to fully understand what had been done and he likely hadn’t lived through the crucible above. I think when life is good and there is peace and comfort, it can make people drift away from God as they forget what has truly brought the peace and prosperity.

It takes serious trouble to bring about a galvanized faith. Until I was 30, I was not a Christian. I never believed that there wasn’t a God, but I just never knew really who Jesus was and is and just had no interest in Christianity because I was “good enough.” Maybe Manasseh was there – he just didn’t think it was important and people got in his ear at a young, impressionable age to rebuild the pagan shrines. Clearly, there were still people in that culture who didn’t believe in God and wanted to worship their idols, despite witnessing the peace and prosperity under King Hezekiah.

Much like me, it took incredibly difficult times in Manasseh’s life for God to be invited into his life.

10The Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they ignored all his warnings. 11So the Lord sent the commanders of the Assyrian armies, and they took Manasseh prisoner. They put a ring through his nose, bound him in bronze chains, and led him away to Babylon. 12But while in deep distress, Manasseh sought the Lord his God and sincerely humbled himself before the God of his ancestors. 13And when he prayed, the Lord listened to him and was moved by his request. So the Lord brought Manasseh back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh finally realized that the Lord alone is God!

2 Chronicles 33:10-13

I still remember the week I professed my faith in Jesus. It was literally during one of the lowest times in my life. I was ashamed, disappointed, and hopeless. I am not sure I cried out to God, but He sure showed up in a big way in my life and saved my life and my marriage.

I think often that when we have it too good, that we forget why we have it so good. It is all because God has chosen that time for us. Then, it takes those moments when things aren’t so good where God is acting as the silversmith and scooping the impurities off the top until He sees His reflection in us. It isn’t pleasant, but it is often necessary.

I am praying that Thomas becomes Manasseh and that his crucible moment(s) aren’t too bad. God has shown me some of his future and I know it is bright. Even though it looks dark right now, I am hopeful and expecting great things for Thomas.

I am also praying for Thomas’s offspring, if God chooses to bless him, as I don’t want them to end up like Manasseh’s son:

21Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem two years. 22He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, just as his father, Manasseh, had done. He worshiped and sacrificed to all the idols his father had made. 23But unlike his father, he did not humble himself before the Lord. Instead, Amon sinned even more.

24Then Amon’s own officials conspired against him and assassinated him in his palace. 25But the people of the land killed all those who had conspired against King Amon, and they made his son Josiah the next king.

2 Chronicles 33:21-23

In tying all of this together, I am seeing that I need to make sure I am remembering Who is in charge at all times, that I am praising Him, and modeling the right behavior. I need to encourage others that the Lord is near and we are not being forsaken and that everything happens for a reason (Romans 8:28). I need to continually pray for both of our boys so that they are protected and so that God calls both of them to be the men they are designed to be. I cannot be complacent with these lessons, as none of us know when our final day is here nor do we know when THE final day is upon us. So, we need to be mindful daily of Whose we are and be encouraging those that have been placed in front of us that God is near to all of us.

Dear Lord, I am humbled when I read your word. You have shown your mighty power in so many ways in Your recorded word. We can see it in our own lives, yet sometimes we so easily get distracted from Your majesty and how incredible you are. Lord, let us never forget that you are firmly in control and that everything happens for a reason. Help us to do everything we can to make sure that the ones coming after us in our families follow You. None of this is easy, but with You, all things are possible.

In Jesus’s might name I pray, Amen.

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