Posted by: paulhollifield | April 25, 2014

20 Years This Month

Twenty years ago, this month, I said I do to the lady that God chose for me. I’m not sure she fully comprehended what the next couple of decades would look like, but she has never once flinched at the better, worse richer, poorer, sickness or health that has ensued.

This week I am fulfilling a promise that I made 20 years back, standing on a chilly street corner in Manhattan on our honeymoon. As I watched my beautiful new bride shiver and realizd that our body temps were drastically different, I made another vow. This vow was that one day we would take a second honeymoon somewhere warm and sunny.

Today, I have begun to keep that promise. As we sit here on Miami’s South Beach and reflect on this last year and God’s faithfullness in it, I realize just how blessed I am to know this wonderful, Godly woman sitting next to me. She deserves this week and much, much more.

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Posted by: paulhollifield | April 16, 2014

Junk Mail

After deleting a bundle of junk mail from my in-box the following thoughts struck me. I have never understood why people are so annoyed with receiving junk mail, whether by Internet or postal service. I guess ever since I was in school at Lee University, I have enjoyed checking and receiving mail, from anyone or anywhere. It always seemed to be a box full of possibilities. They say that “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure” and I guess following that logic explains my affinity for junk mail. If something doesn’t appeal to me I just throw it away. It really doesn’t take that much effort and yet somehow people seem infuriated with mail that isn’t highly relevant to their situation at that very moment. On the other hand, with every piece of solicitation that comes into a box, whether virtual or real, there comes real opportunities. If you don’t get junk mail, you don’t get the opportunities.

One summer, our family of six spent 7 nights in Orlando, in the middle of summer. We stayed a two really nice resorts and only paid $90 bucks for all seven nights. Sure, we had to sit through a couple of 90 minute presentations and find new and creative ways to say “no” to every single “manager” that came with a better offer, but it was well worth it. All from opportunities that came because I filled out something somewhere, got on some mailing list, and then received a ton of worthless mail that didn’t appeal to me at all.

I know I am the exception to the rule, but it just doesn’t bother me to receive mail, or a call, or an e-mail that isn’t relevant. I have learned to accept the possibilities that are good and throw out, hang up, or delete the ones that aren’t. Maybe if we looked at all of the interruptions of life as possibilities instead of annoyances, we would at least not be as frustrated as we walk out this journey.

Posted by: paulhollifield | April 15, 2014

A Second Chance

Beginnings are great! They are fresh and new with something to look forward to around every corner. There is something about the 1st time of anything. It creates a memory like none other. But there is something even more special about starting again. When everything seems to go wrong and you think that nothing will ever be right…then you get a do-over. Those moments are life changing. You get a break you don’t deserve or things just sort of come full circle and you find yourself back at the beginning.

Yea, beginnings are great but second chances are awesome! I’ve had more than my fair share of second chances…way more than I ever deserved. The greatest was the one God gave me as a 14-year-old hypocrite. I was the perfect preacher’s kid at church on Sunday, but would cuss you like a sailor at the bus stop on Monday. I wasn’t a devil-worshiper, drug addict and wasn’t invited to enough parties to make that scene, but I wasn’t living a Godly life either. Let’s just say if God will spew the luke-warm out of His mouth, when it came to me, He was spitting for distance. My life as a secret double agent “Christian” would have continued without a hitch had it not been for those righteous, holy, Spirit-filled, praying parents that kept getting in the way. My dad was not content to let me go off to school every day where I could escape to a world that was devoid of “religion.” No, he had to start a school in the basement of the church, next door to my house, where I could hear about God every minute.

Those first few months of ninth grade were like a steel cage match every morning. Out of pure fear that he would embarrass me even more than making me wear that uniform in public, I would relent and head next door to memorize Scripture, pray and worship in chapel…all things that should never happen in school. As I was exposed to God’s Word and surrounded by Godly examples of what a disciple of Christ should look like, the Holy Spirit began to draw me to a place where I couldn’t be duplicitous. A place where God met me in an altar and I was exposed. I remember thinking that everyone in that service knew why I was there and what I was dealing with and what God was doing in my life. Funny thing is that I didn’t care, because I got a do-over. A second chance. A new beginning.

The challenge with new beginnings are that you still have the consequences of the first beginning with which to reckon. I have many regrets about the first three years spent in that town. The friends I let see how phony Christianity was, the people I hurt trying to overcome my own inferiority, the adults I had disappointed because the pastor’s son was supposed to be the example for their children, all consequences that the last three years of living right didn’t seem to overcome. God has given me many opportunities since that time to redeem a torn reputation and witness. His redemption is beyond what we deserve or can imagine.

Many years have passed since then. As I prepare to enter the pulpit this Easter Sunday, communicating the Scriptures to those who need a do-over, I think of the resurrecting power of the One who gives us that second chance and know that Jesus has an abundance of grace to go around. It will definitely be a day to celebrate!

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