Stuff

How much is enough?

And he said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics. And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. Luke‬ ‭9:3-4‬

My family has lived in our new house for 15 months. We’ve finally placed pictures on the walls and figured out what furniture goes in which room. It feels like our “home” now.

Hollianne and I had a revelation over the weekend. While we downsized our possessions when we moved across the state, we’ve somehow- in just over fifteen months- started accumulating more “stuff.” Our attic is filling up. The closet in our basement is crowded. Our pantry is packed…and we are thinking about doubling its size.

Some of the happiest people I know are those with very little in terms of worldly possessions. Missionaries who have dedicated their lives to living with (and serving) the poor. People who have committed to living in rural, impoverished areas to improve conditions there….or social workers who are fighting poverty and crime in urban areas.

Its time to refocus. Our purpose has nothing to do with finding comfort through worldly possessions.

We are not called to be comfortable.

We need to invest in relationships. Good, nurturing relationships that spread the love of Jesus.

“But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” 1 Timothy 6:6-9‬

My prayer for this weekend is to focus on what I truly need- rather than what I want. I need a renewed attitude toward sharing the hope of Jesus and His message of forgiveness and love. This is what will bring contentment.

Please let me know how I can pray for you.

God bless.

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No returns allowed

I remember the first gift I ever really wanted.

I was eight years old. It was an Earl Campbell football from the Western Auto store. I was a Houston Oilers fan and Earl was (and still is) my hero.

Santa came that Christmas morning and to my great disappointment- he brought a Tony Dorsett football. There had been an apparent mix up at the North Pole and I’d been given a football embossed with the name of the star running back of the rival Dallas Cowboys.

Fortunately, Santa made it right a day later.

As I’ve grown older, my thoughts about gifts have changed. Trips with Hollianne are cherished gifts, as were the births of our three children. I consider each time I see my parents as a gift.

I know a man who received a kidney transplant from his brother. I’ve read of another who received a heart from a complete stranger. Precious gifts indeed.

But the greatest gift we will ever receive came centuries ago.

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 1 John 4:10

This was the ultimate act of love. Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins.

Jesus died for the Jews and Gentiles.

The Republicans, the Democrats and the independents.

The wealthy and the poor.

He died for you and me.

He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. I John 2:2

During my prayer time over the weekend I’m going to specifically focus on the sacrifice of Jesus and His willingness to die for you and me.

It’s the greatest gift ever.

Please let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

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Respect those folks

It’s the week of the Thanksgiving holiday. Like many of you, we’ll be hosting family and friends over a three day period. It’s a time for fellowship and food…and THE occasion where we are continually reminded to be thankful and aware of all our blessings.

I was reading in Proverbs a little earlier this morning. One passage struck me in the heart as I studied:

Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.” Proverbs‬ ‭16:31‬

Gray hair is a crown. Gained in a righteous life.

This verse tells me two things. First, gray hair is a crown of glory…it symbolizes wisdom and discernment.

Next, gray hair is gained in a righteous life. It’s the result of life experience- and doing the right things for a long time.

This Thanksgiving holiday I will pray for a couple of things. I’ll pray that I take the time to observe and listen to those “gray” folks in my life. I’ll make an effort to watch their behavior and listen to their stories.

Next, I’ll try to realize that I’m starting to turn “gray” too. I’ll pray for more awareness that younger family members are watching for Christ’s example in me…and for me to share my failures and successes with them.

Experience is the greatest teacher.

Please pray for me to be more aware and awake this holiday season. And please let me know how to pray for you.

God bless.

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Grateful for a good grade of grass

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I spent some time earlier this month at a conference in San Diego.  It was held on a beautiful resort just north of downtown.  The grounds were filled with acres upon acres of manicured gardens, flower beds and lakes.

One morning I was walking back to my room and noticed movement in a row of shrubs.  Thinking it was some sort of wild animal, I walked to the other side of the path…keeping my eye on the source of the commotion.  Suddenly, a human head popped out from under the bushes…and I realized it was only a gardner who was working on pruning the greenery.  He laughed- realizing that it must have been a strange sight!

I noticed that his shirt bore his name…Jerry.  I told him how much I was enjoying my stay at the resort- and commented that the grounds were beautiful.

After passing a few steps he called back out to me.

“Thank you, sir, for staying here this week.  Because of you- I have a job.”

Wow.

I was humbled by his gentle spirit…and his gratitude.  He was thankful for the ability to work and provide for his family.  What a blessing to hear this heart-felt comment from a total stranger.

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.  Psalm 118:24

What can you show gratitude for today?  Is it your job?  Your spouse?  Your health?

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  I Thessalonians 5:18

We have all received blessings from Jesus.  Let’s take some time this week to reflect on those gifts and offer thanks.

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.  Colossians 3:17

I pray this week that I will focus on all the good in my life- and express my gratitude for those blessings.

And let me know how to pray for you.

God bless.

Count Your Blessings- Lyrics

 

 

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One less plate at the dinner table…

It’s a habit.

When Hollianne makes dinner at the Carver house, we set the table for five.

Carson’s departure for college this summer has changed that scenario. 

We were eating spaghetti before church on Wednesday night.  Without thinking- I set the table for our meal…and out of habit prepared five plates.

Only four of us were home. 

It was a sad reminder of our new reality. We miss Carson being there. 

We’ll see her this weekend. And for a few days our “home” will be complete- whole- again.

That joy reminds me of Luke 15.  This chapter has two parables of seeking something missing…and the thrill of finding it. My favorite is the story of the lost sheep.

‭So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.  Luke 15:3-7

I can’t begin to fathom how much Jesus loves you and me.  He loves us unconditionally and wants us to draw near to him. Even when we are stuck in sin- Jesus still seeks us. 

We can’t run away from this love. He will always desire for us to come back. 

We’ll have five plates around our table this weekend at the Carver house. Our hearts will be full.

And I’m so grateful that Jesus will always have a place at his table for you and me.

Please let me know how I may pray for you this week.

God bless you. 

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Everyday is a birthday

Last week I had the honor of celebrating a special birthday.  A close friend of mine became a “first time” dad…and I had the opportunity to visit his daughter soon after her arrival home.

Hollianne and I offered to deliver dinner.  Selfishly, the offer to provide food was just a means to an end…as we wanted to see their new baby!

She is perfect.  Big, beautiful eyes, smooth skin and delicate features.  Just perfect.

She’s a blessing, but she is blessed too.  She’s got an incredible mother and father that will provide for her physically, emotionally and spiritually.

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13

We have that same blessing.  We have a Father who designed us, loves us and wants what’s best for us.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Jeremiah 29:11

Tomorrow is my birthday.  I’m officially closer to 50 than I am 40.  And when I look in the mirror, I don’t see smooth skin and any delicate features…but plenty of lines and battle scars.

But I have that same promise of a heavenly Father who cares for me.  And you do too.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  2 Corinthians 5:17

We all have the opportunity for renewal each and every day.  Thank God.

Let me know how I can pray for you this week.

God bless.

 

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Skipping Thanksgiving

FullSizeRender[1]I think that we’ve skipped Thanksgiving this year.

If you’ve walked into a large retail store or shopping center since Labor Day, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

We’ve jumped from Halloween straight to Christmas.

Last year Americans spent $7.4 billion on Halloween.  That’s billion with a B.  Empty stores are rented and filled with Halloween costumes and decorations for two months following Labor Day.  It’s a big business.

And before Halloween is over, the Christmas push begins.  Holiday songs hit the radio airwaves and decorations take over as much as 25% of the space on retail shelves.

And somewhere sandwiched in-between is Thanksgiving…although you wouldn’t know it by the commercials, advertisements and store aisles.

Thanksgiving.  The holiday that’s traditionally been about friends, family and fellowship.

Thanksgiving is my favorite time of year- as I’ve been blessed in many ways.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.  James 1:17

I’m grateful for Hollianne and my children.  My mom and dad are both still living and available for guidance and counsel.  We’ve been blessed with good health in 2015.  I have a fulfilling job and a supportive, loving group of friends and family.

Take a minute and do an inventory of the good things in your life.  We all face difficulty and strife, but there are blessings for all of us.

I urge us to a couple of things before the Thanksgiving holiday.  First, write down three things for which you are grateful.  Then take the time to write a note (or two) to those folks who have assisted in these blessings.  Maybe it’s your aunt or a former teacher.  Perhaps it’s an old friend.  Write them a short note and let them know how much they mean to you.  Thanksgiving is a time to express gratitude to others for helping you along the way.

Next, think about those who need a lift this time of year.  Maybe it’s your neighbor who was widowed last year.  Or perhaps it’s a single parent from your office…or seniors who are unable to leave their homes because of health reasons.  Reach out to them and provide some cheer.  Invite them to eat with your family on Thanksgiving day.  Or perhaps they just need a phone call of encouragement or a visit to provide dinner.  We can help by lightening a burden that they are carrying inside.

I pledge to do these things in the week leading up to Thanksgiving.  I hope that you’ll join me.  Perhaps we can provide a blessing to someone- just as we’ve been blessed.

Give, and it will be given to you.  Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap.  For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.  Luke 6:38

Pray for me as a husband, father, son, friend and worker.  Help me be a blessing to someone this week.  And let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless you.  Happy Thanksgiving.

 

 

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