Focus

"February 3, 2015:"

“Clear eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose!”

I’ll admit it.  Hollianne and I are fans of the television show Friday Night Lights.  Many of you have watched it.  The series is about a small Texas town consumed with the local high school football team- the Dillon Panthers.  The coach, Eric Taylor, continually has his players state a mantra for their team…”Clear eyes, Full hearts, can’t lose.”  It’s a unifying phrase for their team.  They shout it in practice, in the film room, in the weight room and during games.  It’s about focus.

Focus is important for athletes.  It’s important for us as Christians too.

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  Matthew 6:33

It’s easy to lose focus in our everyday lives.

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

Distractions are everywhere.  The Dillon Panthers struggled with pride, laziness, selfishness, arguments and envy on their annual quest for a state title.  We struggle in similar ways in our daily lives.  I’m guilty of each of these pitfalls, unfortunately.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  Philippians 4:8

Perhaps we should adopt this phrase for ourselves.  Focus for the Christian means:

Clear Eyes- But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?  1 John 3:17

Full Hearts- Let all that you do be done in love.  1 Corinthians 16:14

Can’t Lose- For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 1 John 5:4

Please pray for me for focus this next week.  And let me know if I can pray for you.

God bless.

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Sand

Spring Break family photo

Our family has spent time on the Gulf Coast of Florida this week.  It’s been a wonderful experience- filled with sunshine, warm temperatures and relaxing activities on the beach.

One of the most amazing sights has been the creativity of our fellow beach visitors.  We’ve seen amazing sand sculptures.  Castles, sharks, mermaids, elaborate starfish…even complete cities made out of beach sand.  The time and effort placed into this beach art was phenomenal.

It was equally disappointing for our boys, however, to see the sand artwork gone each morning.  Impressive and beautiful projects were simply washed away by the tide overnight.

And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.  Matthew 7:26

As beautiful and ascetically pleasing as the beach can be, sand structures are no match against wind and water.  They are fragile and delicate against the forces of nature.

Aren’t many of our own earthly pursuits similar to the sand structure?  If I could just drive that new truck….if I could achieve that promotion at work…if I could just live in that neighborhood…if I could just get my kids into that school.

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.  Colossians 3:2

These pursuits are made of sand.  They quickly wither and evaporate.  They are temporary.  I need to focus instead on the pursuit of character.  In the book of Galatians, Paul wrote of another set of traits that we should consider:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  Galatians 5:22-23

I have to concentrate on those traits that develop Christian character.  Traits that will help me prevail against difficult times.

Let’s commit to two tasks this week.  First, let’s read and meditate on Galatians 5.  Second, please pray for for us to recognize and commit to developing traits with eternal value.  We should do this for one another.

God bless you.  Let me know if I can pray for you.

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Not so easy like Sunday morning…Daylight Savings Time.

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I’ve dreaded this day for the past month…when we “spring forward” and lose that precious hour of sleep.  My kids are cranky and my head hurts during the transition.  But this is short-sighted, as the spring season represents some of the best examples of God’s sovereign majesty.

This is one of my favorite pictures.  It represents three generations of my family doing one of our favorite springtime activities…fishing on Kentucky Lake.  My dad (Big Keith) took me as a child, and he and I have passed along a love of fishing to my children.

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It’s not just catching fish.  It’s the act of fishing.  You have the beautiful waters of Kentucky Lake.  There are incredible trees that that surround our portion of the Big Sandy River.  The dogwoods and redbuds are exploding with color.  There are sounds…water slapping the side of our boat, fishing line whistling in the wind, and the soft cries of hawks and other birds in the air.  Winter’s bitter temperatures can no longer mute the enthusiasm of the birds and the splendor of the trees.

On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.  Psalm 145:5

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Fishing represents a calming, pleasant experience for me.  Not lost in this satisfying experience are God’s fingerprints on everything.

You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.  Nehemiah 9:6

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Springtime symbolizes renewal.  And the ultimate renewal comes from an experience with Jesus.

But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.  Job 12:7-10

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May you take this day to experience the sights and sounds of the coming spring- and also to thank our God for the renewal He offers every day through His son Jesus.

God bless you.

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Secrets

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Our youngest, Britton, loves a good secret.

Let me clarify that statement.  Britton (a.k.a. B) loves to tell a good secret!  If you have something in our house that needs to be kept under wraps…birthday gift, family surprise or a trip location…it’s best to not let the big guy know.  With B there are NO secrets.  If he knows something, he tells it.  If he’s feeling something, you can see it in his face.  He’s one of the most transparent people I know.

How many of us have secrets that we don’t reveal?

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 1 John 1:8

Hidden pieces of our character and our human nature that we don’t want others to see.  It might be anger, greed or jealousy.  I have them.  There are secret rooms in my heart that I need to address.

And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”  Mark 7:20-23

We all need to realize that there are no secrets with God.  He knows our thoughts and every weakness.

Secrets can consume us and keep us from walking with Jesus.  The best way to deal with secrets is to shed light on our problems.  Confess our weaknesses and ask for help.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  1 John 1:9

We have the ultimate Counselor.

Please pray for me to rid my heart of secrets.  And let me know if I may pray for you.

And don’t tell B what you’ve purchased anyone for their birthday.

God bless.

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Clutter

Sledding 2014

Clutter.

That’s the one word that can most accurately describe the Carver household for the past few weeks.

It’s simple math…truly.

Three active kids + snow and ice + freezing temperatures for weeks on end + no school since before Valentine’s Day = Clutter.

If you drove up to our home for the majority of February, you would be met by shovels, snowboards and sleds on the front porch.  As you entered the front door- you would find piles of boots and gloves in the floor.  And the laundry room….wow.  The floor was overflowing with socks, shirts and wet snow pants.

It seemed that as soon as we could unload the dishwasher, we were loading it again.  It’s been a zoo.

While the weather has provided a temporary mess around our home, life can throw many forms of clutter that distract us from a true relationship with Jesus.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.  Romans 8:5

Our lives are filled with worries about family, health and work.  We are often tired from the day’s events…and are continually looking ahead to a new day filled with challenges.

We need focus.

Jesus had focus.  He was focused on our salvation.  Oh, He had worries and concerns.  We know that he agonized about His death on the cross.

And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 43 And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.  Luke 22: 41-44

We need focus in our lives.  We need to rid ourselves of any mental clutter and think about the focus of Jesus.  He endured a horrible, physical death so that we gain a gift of eternal life and salvation.

I need your prayers to live a life more focused on Jesus.  Let me know if I may pray for you.

God bless.

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