Comparison is a Thief

Like many of you, we are dog people. We’ve got two rescue dogs that keep us entertained and laughing.

Mack and Sky have similar stories. Both were abandoned as pups and were hungry for attention and permanent homes. But that’s where the similarities end.

Mack is a laid back pup that is grateful for anything. A rub on the head. A treat. A long walk. Whatever the day, he’s just grateful to be with you.

Sky is different. She’s never satisfied with what she has…but wants more. Take her for a walk? She wants to go farther. Give her a snack? She’ll ask for more. Rub her back or belly? She’ll cry when you stop.

Her biggest issue? Comparison. She will let you know if her meal isn’t comparable to Mack’s portion (although he outweighs her by 80 pounds). She’ll check out Mack’s treat before she’ll enjoy her own. It’s a running joke around the house…Sky just can’t fully enjoy life.

I’m not altogether different.

Like Sky, I often compare my life to others and let that dictate my own happiness.

A better car. A nicer house. The perfect family.

Comparison robs me of happiness.

Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

Be content with what you have. Take notice of the blessings God has given you. He is faithful and gives us all we need.

This week my prayer is to focus on my blessings, and to be content with my present situation.

And please let me know how I may pray for you.

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Beware of the Lions

I had the pleasure of traveling to Africa several years ago. It’s a fascinating continent and the beauty of the terrain and the warmth of its people make it a wonderful place to visit.

I’ll never forget the lions, either.

There’s nothing more incredible than watching lions in their habitat. They are stately, handsome and powerful creatures. Lethal hunters too. Watching them stalk and attack prey from the safety of our vehicles was an incredible…and eerie…sight.

Beauty and death. All in one package. I couldn’t take my eyes off of them.

Isn’t sin like that too? It’s enticing and fun to watch. It feels good too.

And while we are warned of the devil’s power, his tactics of deception often times make sin hardly detectable. Sin creeps into our lives and clouds our vision…changes our hearts. Before we know it, sin can overpower us.

Let’s not kid ourselves. The enemy is real. And he is ever-present.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

My prayer this week is to take an honest assessment of the sin in my life. I don’t want the attractive nature of sin to take my focus away from a full life with Jesus.

And please let me know how to pray for you.

God bless.

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Hoarders

We adopted a rescue dog, Sky, almost 10 years ago. Sky is a terrier mix…full of nervous energy and excitement.

Perhaps it’s because she was on the streets and abandoned for a while, but Sky is a hoarder. She collects food, toys, food wrappers, containers and other household items- and she hides them in various places. Her favorite spot is her bed, which Sky will crowd with her “prizes”.

While hoarding sometimes has a negative connotation, I thought about another concept this week when I was studying the book of Psalms…where we are asked to fill our hearts with God’s word.

“I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your statutes! With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth. In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.” Psalms‬ ‭119:11-14‬ ‭

How do we store up His word? We’ve got to commit to seeking wisdom from the Bible daily.

Find a Bible study and commit to finishing it. Join a small group through your church. Commit to reading God’s word at a certain time each day. Download the YouVersion Bible app on your phone and read a plan with a friend.

If we store up God’s word in our hearts, it’ll spill over into every other aspect of our lives.

My prayer this week is to become increasingly intentional about reading and studying the Bible. I can do better.

And please let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

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Abandoned coffee

IMG_0716For Hollianne and me, one of life’s greatest joys is a hot cup of coffee before daybreak.

Our boys are coffee drinkers too.  Or- should I say- coffee pourers.

My boys are notorious for preparing a fresh cup of coffee, doctoring it up with their favorite sweetener…and then leaving it on the kitchen counter.  For hours.

They get out of bed with lots on their minds…last minute homework, packing duffle bags for football practice and getting ready for school.  Breakfast is almost an afterthought.

And so is their coffee.  Cups filled with cold coffee adorn our countertops each day.  Forgotten.

I have a parallel in my spiritual life. I’m great about reading my Bible each morning. Praying too. But the busyness of the day soon provides a big series of distractions.

Duties at work, home and in my personal life consume my mind and daily activities. My self-centered nature prevents me from reflecting on the words of God…and from praying throughout the day.

In short, I’m a reader and listener…but not always a “doer.”

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. James 1:22-25

I have this great gift- a daily, unlimited source of grace, hope and forgiveness.  Yet I leave this joy untapped.  A cold up of grace and hope that often goes unused throughout the day.

My prayer this week is to be more intentional of reflecting on God’s love. I want to drink of His love and mercy and let it impact my whole being…all day, every day.

And please let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

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Down and out

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I received an interesting birthday gift on Sunday…an injury to my back.

It was sudden and unexpected. I was running and lifting on Sunday morning, and was flat on my back just a day later.

As I laid in my bed on Monday, all I could think about was getting my mobility back…just to be able to walk again without pain.

What a difference 24 hours makes.

Isn’t life like that?

I was reading the story of Joseph this week. We know that Joseph was the favorite of his father, Jacob. This favored status made him the target of hatred from his brothers.

Jacob’s brothers conspired to kill him. They instead decided to throw him into a pit, and he was eventually sold into slavery and taken to Egypt.

You know the rest. The Lord granted Joseph great favor in Egypt, and he went from being a slave to the chief administrator of Egypt.

So Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.’ So Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.’          Genesis 41:39-41

Joseph went from favored son…to fearing for his life…to slavery…to a position of high honor.

What a difference a few years can make in our lives.

We have a wonderful promise through Jesus. A promise that our realities today- however difficult our current circumstances may be- don’t completely define our future.

My prayer today is that I will look beyond my current condition and seek God’s will for my future. I want to see how my current situation can lead me to a better walk with Jesus.

And please let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

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Cheap Easter candy

Easter has come and gone. And- as with all holidays- the retail stores have marked down the Easter-themed decorations and associated seasonal items.

The biggest surprise for the Carver kids has been the discounting of the celebrated Easter candy. Chocolate bunnies, brightly colored jelly beans and marshmallow peeps are now 75% off their original price. Just over a week ago the aisles of the local stores were filled with colorful packages. Now the remains of the holiday treats are contained in a couple of bins near the check out counter.

Cheap candy. Valued one day, forgotten the next.

But to be honest, I’m often guilty of cheapening the sacrifice of Jesus and diminishing the blessing of His resurrection.

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.  I Peter 2:24

Easter Sunday is filled with great sermons about the fulfilled promise of salvation. We should be careful that we don’t limit this celebration to a few special occasions.

So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.  John 2:18-22

While the Easter holiday has passed, the significance of Christ’s death and resurrection is something that we should appreciate every day.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  I Peter 1:3-5

Pray for me to be more diligent in my study of the life of Jesus and His powerful teachings.

And please let me know how I may pray for you.  God bless.

reprinted from April 2015

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Smoldering churches

img_0685The haunting images of the burning Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris dominated the headlines this week.  This church had stood the test of time, as construction started in 1163 and took over 100 years to build.  But in a matter of minutes, the blaze took down a historic spire and engulfed much of the facade, stained glass windows and roof.

We’ve got our own destructive fires in churches closer to home. Fires of indifference and apathy.

Results from a Gallup Poll released last Thursday show that adults who belong to a church or other religious institution has dropped by 20% over the past two decades. Church membership is at an all-time national low, dropping to 50% (church membership was at 70% in 1999).

We are encouraged to gather together.

Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:25

Indifference and apathy grow in spaces that are void of genuine relationships.  Churches can thrive when we create a loving, warm environment.  That can’t be done by our ministers, counselors, elders and deacons alone.  The membership has to help.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. I John 4:11

Talk with the church leaders about lapsed members. Volunteer to write letters or call these folks. Ask and listen about their needs.

Create opportunities to serve with others: Visit the sick or the elderly. Get a small group together to serve at the homeless shelter.

Fellowship is a contact sport.  Assembling for worship. Praying together. Singing together. Studying God’s word together. Attending to each other’s needs.

And if you find yourself in a spiritual funk- pray about it. And then tell someone about it. Your brothers and sisters in Christ want to help you…they just need to know how.

My prayer this week is to be more aware of ways to encourage old friends and engage new ones in their spiritual walk. And in doing so, I know that I will be uplifted as well.

And please let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

 

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