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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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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Adopt a Spot

One of my favorite running routes takes me through our downtown city park.  It’s a nice, shaded area with lots of room for families to play, eat and relax.

In one far corner rests a small flower bed. It’s an official “Adopt A Spot” location for the City of Martin. You’ve seen these places…different organizations and businesses adopt public areas and keep them clean and beautiful. I’ve seen hands working in this particular area on numerous occasions.  Planting, weeding, watering.  Multiple people pouring time, energy and care into one small spot.  The results are, well…amazing. It’s a vibrant bed of color because of the constant attention it receives.

What if we had our own “Adopt a Spot” approach to our daily lives?

Pick someone. A neighbor. A co worker. The widow down the street. The single mom or dad next door.

What if we poured our time, attention and genuine love into someone right beside us?

There’s brokenness all around us. Pain, suffering, despair. But what if we adopted a “spot” from our neighbors and showed some attention and love?

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13: 34-35

This week my prayer will be to focus on a small need around me…and to have the courage to act and make a difference.

And please let me know how to pray for you.

God bless.

 

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Calling for Help

I need lots of help.  I realize this on a daily basis, as I struggle in my role as a husband, father and worker.  Feelings of self-doubt, loneliness and frustration can set in when confronted with life’s challenges.

Unfortunately, when faced with an obstacle, I often slip into a mode of self-reliance and forget about the promise that our Heavenly Father made to us throughout the Bible. A promise of help.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

I was reminded of this yesterday, while reading Mark chapter 10, where a blind man made desperate call for help.

And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 And many brebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” 50 And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” 52 And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way. Mark 10: 47-52

The blind man was desperate, but had the faith and confidence to boldly cry for help- even as those around him told him to be silent.  Jesus heard his cry and answered his need.

My prayer today is to stop being so self-reliant. I am flawed and broken. I need the help of our ever-present Savior. A Savior that has promised to strengthen and help me…if I’ll just have faith in Him…and ask.

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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When the room is spinning

I’ve been struggling with a bout of vertigo the past two weeks. My head spins if I make a sudden movement to the left or right. It’s even worse if I get up and down quickly.

I lose my balance easily too. It’s frustrating.

We aren’t sure what’s causing it. My doctor is hopeful that a round of strong antibiotics will help.

The only peace I have is to keep my eyes fixed straight ahead. If I stay focused on what’s directly ahead of me- I can keep my balance.

I guess that’s great advice for life, too.

Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Proverbs 4:25

I tend to get into trouble when I take my eyes off Jesus. It’s easy to do. Worries at work consume me at times. Or family issues distract me from my study of the Bible or prayer time.

Worse yet, sin can separate me from my walk with Christ. I’m too easily distracted by temptation or pride and forget the source of true strength and wisdom.

Do not turn to the right nor to the left; Turn your foot from evil. Proverbs 4:27

This week I am praying for better focus. I want to be free from the distractions of life that burden me and keep me from truly walking with Jesus.

And please pray for some relief from this vertigo. It’s dampened my spirit.

Let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

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