My Hero

tomatoes
Cherry Tomatoes Picked from Mr. John’s garden on 7/31/16

I wasn’t prepared for what I saw when I walked in John’s room last night.  He had lost weight, appeared frail and looked just a bit confused when we walked in.  It took him a minute to realize who we were.  Then his eyes lit up and the old John was back.

John’s health is not good as he has fought illness, accidents and ailments for a while now.  But I am not here to talk about John’s health.  I want, instead, to speak of his life.  This is not intended to be his history on planet Earth, but instead will speak of my encounters with my hero John Carver.

First and foremost John will forever be known to me as Mr. John – a name he earned from the many years he spent as Royal Ambassador (RA) Director at First Baptist Hickory.    Many boys in our church spent their spiritual formative years under the Wednesday night leadership of Mr. John. One year the RAs buried a time capsule on the Boone Fork Trail while on a hike.  Several years ago the RAs went to look for that time capsule and were unsuccessful in locating it, even after calling Mr. John on the phone.  He was so excited that we were there looking for it. We buried our own time capsule and hope to be able to find it at some point in the future.  His ministry in RAs was making little disciples.

Mr. John had a passion for his wood ministry.  He cut down trees.  He gathered trees that had fallen in storms.  He brought them all to his property where he would gather the Baptist Men and the RAs  and split the wood.  Those days of wood splitting usually involved 20 or so RAs, 10 or so Baptist Men, dads, moms, GAs and others.  They involved 3 or 4 wood splitters that were running at the same time.  We would show up early for what looked like an impossible task, then 4 hours later we were done.  Those work days were the most satisfying work I have ever done.  And Mr. John made sure we had plenty of food and snacks for our break times!  His wood ministry involved providing warmth to those who needed it.  But his ministry really involved making disciples.

Mr. John has always loved having a garden and growing all sorts of vegetables.  He always had an abundance of tomatoes and greens which he freely and enthusiastically shared with many people.  Just this past summer my wife and I went over in the heat of a July day and picked cherry tomatoes which we enjoyed for many days to follow.  Everything that Mr. John did was a ministry to him – and his ministry in his garden was all about sharing and Love.

Mr. John built bird houses for and with his RAs.  He built RA race cars with his RAs.  He cut down and split trees with his RAs and others.  And Mr. John never took any credit for any of the acts of kindness that he did – he always gave credit to others and most frequently to his savior Jesus Christ.  Mr. John had his own way of speaking using the repetition of certain words of phrases.  And as I think of those words and of his sharing and of his love and of his ministries right now – the tears begin to well up in my eyes.

Mr. John has lived his faith better than anyone I can think of.  He loved.  He sacrificed his time, money, talents.  He prayed.  He gave and he never took any credit.  Mr. John didn’t have to speak of his faith, he simply lived it.

 

And last night when my wife and I were about to leave we said we wanted to offer up a prayer.  John insisted this own son John, Jr do the praying.  John Jr offered up the most amazing, heart felt prayer I could imagine.  And during the prayer Mr. John would offer up his agreement with a quiet Amen or a quiet sound of approval.  John Jr didn’t pray for his dad – instead he said how thankful they were that these two friends showed up to offer a time of fellowship with their dad.  And his prayer was spoken with such boldness that it was obvious these words were coming from his heart.  After we all said Amen I told John Jr that he was obviously his dad’s son.  Father and son beamed at my words.

Last night when Diane and I turned to leave from our visit with Mr. John, we had a lonely tear in our eyes.  We are better people, better citizens, better disciples because of our encounters with John Carver.  John Carver is my hero.

Terry

ps:  John Carver was also a runner. Not only did John run to and from work throughout his years, he also ran 15 marathons.  My hero.

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What If . . . .

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A good Friend went to a Christmas Eve Candlelight Service and wrote this about it:

During this past Christmas Eve service at a church I attended, we received a great analogy regarding the meaning of the candlelight service. Let me share.

“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world.” (John 3:17) Yes! This is the reason we celebrate.

As the preacher made his way to light the Christ candle on the advent wreath he quotes, “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.” (John 1:9) Now the candle is glowing. Then he takes his own personal candle and explains how accepting this gift is now living and glowing in him. We are told not to hold this light within us for ourselves but to share it with others.  “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” (Matthew 28:19) Wow! The whole place was filled with light!

**Those are the words my Friend wrote about his experience**

It goes along with these 2 words that I have been toying with….

What If……

    • We actually loved the Lord with all our Heart, Soul and Mind
    • We actually tithe 10% of our income to the Lord’s work
    • We actually loved our neighbor as ourselves
    • We Feed His sheep
    • We actually put other people’s needs ahead of our own
    • We Pray without ceasing
    • We realize that the Lord really does have plans for us – and then find out what they are – and then have the Courage to act upon them
    • We actually lie down in Green Pastures and receive physical and spiritual REST
    • We realize that LOVE never fails
    • We trust in the Lord with all our heart and lean not on our own understanding
    • We have no fear or are not dismayed, knowing that God is with us
  • We work in our churches with a spirit of unity
    • We actually HONORED our fathers and mothers
    • We tell everyone we know about what Jesus Christ means to us
    • We actually SURRENDERED ourselves to our King
    • We raise our children in the way they should go
    • We be STRONG and Courageous
    • We by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, give our requests to God.
    • We confess our sins to each other and pray for and with each other.  Do you know how special it is to pray WITH another person?
    • We go to God when we are weary and burdened and allow Him to give us rest
    • We think about things that are noble and lovely and true and right and pure
    • We realize that NOTHING can separate us from the LOVE of Christ
  • If we did these things……
    • What would our families look like?
    • What would our churches look like?
    • What would our community look like?
    • What would our movies, music and theaters look like?
    • Can you imagine the PEACE that this planet would enjoy?
    • Can you imagine the impact we could have on the HUNGRY and THIRSTY on this planet
    • Can you imagine the KINGDOM building that would happen , if we only…
  • Carried the LIGHT of Christ out into the world and share it with others.

The time is now.

The place is here.

It’s up to me and YOU.

Are we going to continue on with business as usual, or

Are we Actually going to carry the light of Christ out into this dark and lonely planet?

Thanks to Ben Johnston for sharing his Christmas Eve Candlelight Service experience with me.

Create in us, O God, a pure heart and renew your steadfast spirit within us.

Cooper’s Christmas Cheer

cooper

This morning Cooper and I were out early – I was running at 5:15am with my Granite Falls F3 Gang, so Coop and I were out at 4:20am for his morning constitutional.  He peed – does that well.  Then he led me around the back of the house and down into the woods toward the creek.  He would go this way, he would go that way and he would pull really hard on his leash to the point I almost fell several times.  He would sniff and circle around, but the poop I hoped for wasn’t happening.

So back up the hill to the side of our neighbor’s house.  He got into their bushes and just stood there.  It’s 4:35am and my poopless pooch was just standing there in my neighbor’s bushes looking down toward the woods behind our house.

And then I noticed it.  The QUIET.  An ever so gentle breeze.  Fog.  It was amazingly quiet and Cooper stood there breathing and taking it all in.

And that moment  IT hit me.  Christmas Cheer.  It came so quietly and so suddenly and so unexpectedly.  And I began to weep.

I imagine it was like that on the night that Jesus was born.  Dark, quiet, sudden…unexpected.  And on that night the angels rejoiced!  And I stood there weeping, Cooper’s leash in my hand.

Then my Caring Cooper jumped up as to say “What’s wrong, Master?  Why are you crying?”  He gently nudged my hands with his mouth.  I smiled and gave my Cooper a big HUG, along with a smile as I wiped the tears from my sleep deprived eyes.

Christmas Cheer came to me this morning – at approximately 4:35am while standing quietly in my neighbor’s bushes.  And Cooper pooped!

I love that dog. My Caring Cooper Cuddles and brings Christmas Cheer Quietly.

It will be a Merry Christmas!

Terry

 

 

Time Keeps on Slippin’, Slippin’, Slippin’…

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Yesterday in my car on the way to and from work I had a couple of Rock ‘n Roll “Moments”.  The music on the radio was exactly in sync with my mood so I rolled with it, cranking it up quite loudly and singing along like true rocker.  The Steve Miller Band seemed to have what I needed, hearing “Fly Like An Eagle” on the drive in, and then “Jet Airliner” on the way home.  “Jet Airliner” just worked for me.  That song has just the right mix of synthesized sounds juxtaposed with Mr. Miller’s raw guitar riffs.  If you were anywhere near Lenoir, NC on Friday about 5:30pm then I am sure you heard me and Steve singing in tandem.

As if that didn’t seal the deal, the next song was “Rock and Roll” by Led Zeppelin.  I can’t imagine a more power filled song.  Zep has a song or two in my Top 20, not including this one but it was speaking to me in a powerful way on Friday.  By the time I got home I was pumped.  It got me thinking, yet again, which Rock ‘n Roll songs are in my Top 10.  The top spot belongs to Free Bird, but the other 9 are up for debate.  But in the end, when I do come up with my list, I reminded myself that it is MY list.  Not necessarily the Top 10 BEST songs, just my favorite.

But do you want to know what really gets me pumped?  What really Rocks my world?  It’s my relationship with the man Jesus.  The Son of God Jesus.  My Lord.  I claim to be a disciple, a Christ follower, a prayer warrior.  And I am, but unfortunately I FAIL my Lord on a daily basis.  I don’t like when I do that, but I just lose focus.  And then I make a connection.  Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future.

And as time slips forward, I find that I am stuck on the treadmill of the routine.  And if you know me, I hate to run on a treadmill, especially this one that seems to take me nowhere down the road of discipleship.  It’s been a long time, been a long time, been a lonely, lonely, lonely time.  I’ve got to rekindle my Faith Connection, revive my spirituality, refocus my attention on my Savior.  I need REVIVAL.

That word keeps popping up in my daily life.  Revival.  I need it.  My church needs it.  This community, state, country, world needs REVIVAL.  I am praying for that.  Will you join me in praying for REVIVAL?  Will you join me in refocusing out attention on things eternal?  Will you join me in renewing our commitment to follow Jesus Christ where he leads?  Together we can make a difference on this lonely planet.

And finally, sometime soon would you consider joining me for a drive?  We can crank up some Rock ‘n Roll and debate which tunes make our Top 10.  We need to do this soon, because Time keeps on Slippin’, slippin’, slippin’…..

Prayer:  Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

With much Love,

Benjamin Terry Johnson

 

 

The Tater Hole

taterhole

Wow!  Thanksgiving Day 2016 and no, I am not writing about what I am thankful for.  Just trust me on this – I am THANKFUL for many things.  First I am thankful for that my eternal destiny has been sealed by my savior Jesus Christ.  Then I am thankful for my beautiful bride and my children.  I am thankful for my family.  I am thankful for my friends.

So, it appears that I am MOST thankful today for the relationships in my life.  That’s the most important thing, right?  I mean my health is important.  I have a home and a couple cars and a few other possessions, but if I lost all those possessions today then I would still be content and blessed.  So I am thankful for the many people who have touched my life.

Wait – I thought this wasn’t going to be a Thanksgiving Day blog post!!  It’s not – maybe!

I have been running a bit with my friends in Granite Falls and we have visited The Tater Hole a few times – most recently on Wednesday morning of this week.   I have some fascination with The Tater Hole – not really sure why.  Maybe it’s because the tater is perhaps my favorite food.  I like them baked, mashed, fried, sweet, soupy, hashed and most any other way I can imagine.  I do like me a tater!

The four or five times I have visited The Tater Hole has involved me running with friends down to it.  It’s at the lake.  I love to run.  I love to hang out with my friends.  I love taters. I love the lake.  So it must be my destiny to have an obsession with The Tater Hole in Granite Falls, NC.

So today I celebrate the relationships in my life.  Family and friends.  I celebrate the fact that we can truly enjoy the company of each other.  I sometimes like to go alone down to the creek and sit and reflect, but even if I am alone I always, always have warmth in my heart that is put there by reflections of times spent with loved ones.

Jesus has told us to Love the Lord our God with all our Heart, Soul and Mind.  And to love our neighbors as ourselves.  He said these are the greatest commandments.  So today, Thanksgiving Day 2016 as I sit here surrounded by my family please know that my heart is filled with the warmth of fond memories of time spent with you.

On a side note, this has been a “non-traditional” Thanksgiving Day for Benjamin Terry Johnson.  I ran – alone.  I rarely do that.  I worked out with 27 buds.  I hiked with my daughter and my dog.  My wife worked.  One son worked.  The other son and his wife are on their way here.  Our FEAST is delayed until Friday.  But my wife just called me to supper.  Yes, you guessed it.  Baked Taters!  I love that lady!

Happy Thanksgiving Family and Friends.

With much love,

Terry

 

 

 

Paradise City

paradise_and_heaven_by_vxsideThen I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. – Revelation 21:1

Dear Readers:

This morning I woke up early like I do EVERY day – about 4:30am. I did a quick check of the news and saw the headlines, I saw that it was 54 degrees and that it had rained a bit last night. I saw that my dog Cooper needed to go out for his morning business. I saw that my wife was sleeping. I saw PEACE in my household.

By 5:15am I was running with friends in Granite Falls and everyone was talking about the election. Rich read us a rousing prayer about how God is still in control, we all said AMEN in agreement and then we took off for our HILLY run. Rich had managed to chart out the most hilly course possible, going on Laurel Street, down to the Tater Hole, then in to Blackstone neighborhood which is all about being DARK and HILLY. We ran up Duke Street, by the brewery, to the post office and back to the square.

Today, 11/9/16 we woke up to another day of life on planet Earth. It’s a special day, mind you because it’s yet another day God Almighty has made and given to us. OK, so we elected a new president last night. Here in North Carolina we most likely elected a new governor – the results are tight and not final yet. Today when I took Cooper out something amazing happened. He pooped! Outside! He is just a puppy and it’s always good when he does that there!

Then I saw a new heaven. And a new earth. That is one of my most favorite Bible verses. Look, God’s dwelling place is now among His people. Those verses give me such comfort and hope as I face the hills and challenges of life on this earth. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death. I don’t know about you, but merely typing those words brings forth a tear or two from my sleep deprived eyes this morning. There will be no more mourning or death or crying or pain.

Then on my drive in to work I hear these lyrics on the radio:
“Take me down to the Paradise City
Where the grass is green and the girls are pretty
Oh, won’t you please take me home” – from Paradise City by Guns and Roses

I really enjoy rock and roll and I have for many, many years. I make no apologies for that. I imagine that emotion to continue through my golden years. Some day I am going to count how many times they sing that Paradise City chorus during that song – because it’s a lot. I cranked up the volume and cruised on up Hwy 321 toward Lenoir. Take me down to the Paradise City.

Today, 11/9/16 is a new day. The Almighty gave me friends to share a good run with. He gave me air to breath, water to drink (and coffee!), and an egg and sausage biscuit to eat while listening to rock and roll. And God, this very day, has given me the HOPE of life with Him for eternity in this new earth called heaven. No more tears. Oh yeah, on this day the good ole USA got a new president. And Cooper pooped outside!

Challenge: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” – Luke 10:27

Be filled with HOPE.

Terry

I Need You.

So do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
—Isaiah 41:10

The last 2 weeks have been challenging for me and my family. My brother died on August 22 – his 66th birthday. No, it was not expected. Yes, he was sick. His disease has been with him for many years, but we did not expect this – not now. But it did happen. “Danny is gone”, my sister told me on the phone on that morning. Gone.

Tears.

Since that moment there have been phone calls, visits, gatherings, memorials, prayers, food, tears, hugs, emails, texts, songs, words. I needed them everyone. I still need them. I need You.

Tears.

Dear God – This hurts, God. Why? Why did my brother have to die? Why were so many years of his life lived in the darkness of his addiction? Why does his wife and son have to continue on without her husband and his dad? Why do I hurt so much? Is he there with you God? Is he smiling and laughing and full of life, just like I am going to remember him, God? Why do I hurt so much God? God, You know I love you. That will never change. But right here, right now….I need You!

Danny and I had a lot of history together. A LOT. I will cherish the years we shared a duplex together – Me and Danny on one side, our sister and niece on the other side. Built in friends. Always something to do and somebody to do it with. Living life with gusto. The lake, camping, a concert or two, beach trips, music, food, celebrations. I will always remember Danny’s 30th birthday party.

I need You, God.

God, I have put on a good face lately. I am trying to be strong. But just under the surface, the memories linger. And the tears flow again. God, please uphold me, ok? Strengthen me. Help me.

And then it happens. A text from a friend. A phone call. A hand on my shoulder. I need You, God. And you are there. In the heart of a Brother who cares about my well being. In his words of concern. Ready, willing, able to offer a hand or an ear. I need them, God. I need You.

Tears (of Joy)

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You.

God, I am not fearful, You have strengthened me. You are upholding me right now. I need You. I will always need You. And I need them too, God. Your obedient servants, my Brothers who have listened to your call to minister to me. I love you, God. I love them, God.

We will get through this, together!

With much Love, many tears, and still being needy,

Terry

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. – Psalm 19:15