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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You Get What You Don’t Pay For

Hollianne and I have a coffee problem.  It’s a bit of an addiction.  We love a good cup of coffee.  She and I sip on it all day long.

And I hate to admit it, but we’ve spent lots of money over the years on coffee makers for our home.  Machines that grind fresh coffee beans.  Coffee makers that allow you to make speciality drinks.  Machines that have more advanced settings than we’ll ever use.

And you know what? We’re always disappointed.  No matter how much we spend on coffee makers, eventually something goes bad. The heating element doesn’t work. The water reservoir doesn’t drain properly. The grounds drain into the coffee pot. 

A couple of months ago, Hollianne brought home a $19 coffee machine from Wal Mart. It was a basic Mr. Coffee brand- probably marketed toward college students. There are no special features…just a plain old coffee maker that you would expect to see in any number of hotel chains across the country.

And it’s perfect. The coffee is hot. Grounds don’t seep into the pot. It’s easy to use…and the flavor is incredible.

A wonderful product at a bargain price.

As believers, we have been given THE perfect gift…a gift that Jesus purchased for us.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 6:23 

We cannot purchase the gift of eternal life. It was given to us by Jesus. 

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

A gift that we cannot buy…a beautiful promise of hope and peace. 

And unlike expensive coffee makers, Jesus will never let us down.

My prayer this week is that I’ll focus on the simplicity of the scriptures- and that I’ll reflect daily on the sacrifice of Jesus. 

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

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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A life worth living

Grady Bogue Keith Carver graduation

I’ve had a knot in my throat all week long.

My good friend Grady Bogue died two years ago this week.  I miss him everyday, but this particular week is always a tough one for me.  I cannot imagine how difficult it is for his family.

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.  Psalm 116:15

We’ve all been influenced and touched by special people in our lives. People who have lifted us up when we fell down.  Men and women who served as examples for us…through their words and actions.

I met Grady as a professor, but over the course of twenty years he became a mentor, advisor and good friend.

Grady was ethical, fair and treated everyone with respect.  He always used the right words on every occasion.  He was an intellectual giant, but a humble servant.  I stated in his eulogy two years ago that he was a champion for the underdog.  While he is gone, his lessons and example remain.

For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.  1 Corinthians 15:22

Cancer took Grady’s body, but it could not take his spirit.

We need to seize everyday, every moment to make life better for others.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.  Ephesians 2:10

Life is fleeting.  Try to make your life one worth living.  A life that inspires others.

“O death, where is your victory?  O death, where is your sting?”  1 Corinthians 15:55

I pray that all of us discover our God-given gifts and talents to help others.  It’s our duty…and our friends and loved ones deserve it.

God bless you, Grady.  I miss you.

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Everything that’s old is, well….old again.

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I’m going to lose 15 pounds.  I will read more and be more attentive to Hollianne and the kids.  I will sleep more and be more forgiving.  It’s also just January 2 and I’m already struggling with each of these goals…

The new year represents a time to put aside old habits.  A time to set new goals and create change in our lives.  The slate is clean.

Unfortunately, this is only temporary.  2015 will be filled with life events and occurrences that will disappoint us.  People will still hurt our feelings, obstacles will arise and trouble will come.  We can change our personal outlook toward life on this earth, but it won’t stop others, illness or unforeseen circumstances from derailing our best-laid plans for the new year.

This world is flawed.  Sin and despair abound on this physical earth.  It’s what happens when you place a large number of broken people in a cramped, crowded space.

For all that is in the world- the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions- is not from the Father but is from the world.  1 John 2:16

Trouble and strife, however, can serve as great reminders that this world- as we currently know it- is only temporary.

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.  Proverbs 19:21

We are fortunate to have a great hope.  A promise of better days.

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

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life.  He does not come into judgement, but has passed from death to life.  John 5:24

Jesus has given us this great hope.  His death has redeemed us from the pain of this world- and extended an invitation for an eternal, perfect life in Heaven.

So, while 2015 may be filled with disappointment, take heart.  We just need to adjust our focus to goals that are eternal and everlasting.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 6:23

God bless.  I love you.

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