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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No tricks, just treats

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Our kids love Halloween.

After a round of trick-or-treating several years ago, we returned to our house to greet Halloween guests on our porch.  JT- probably four years old at the time- enjoyed handing out candy to all the costumed characters that entered our yard.

One family stood out more than the others.  Three small children approached our porch and we noticed that they didn’t have costumes.  They weren’t dressed up at all.

The kids looked disheveled and dirty.  Their parents were in an older van with cardboard taped across broken side windows.

The kids politely thanked us for the candy and walked back to their van- driving off into the darkness.

JT asked why they didn’t have costumes.  I responded that perhaps they didn’t want to dress up for Halloween, or perhaps money was tight- and the costumes weren’t a priority for them.

It clearly bothered JT.  He wondered aloud if he could share his costume…or even last year’s.  It just wasn’t fair.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.  Genesis 1:27

Life isn’t always fair, but we should take solace that all of us are equal in the eyes of God.

For God shows no partiality.  Romans 2:11

God doesn’t care about the size of your paycheck.  He isn’t impressed with the car you drive or your job title.  God isn’t even concerned about your past.  He’s focused on you right now…and your potential for the future.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  Galatians 3:28

It’s pretty simply for us.  There are only treats in a relationship with God…no tricks.

God bless.

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What’s rocking your boat?

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My family loves the water.

We are a boating, fishing and swimming family.  The water represents a place of peace.  Tranquility.

Sometimes.

Some of my scariest moments have come on the water.  I’ve witnessed tornados, lightening storms and a hurricane evacuation during my lifetime.

It reminds me of a storm that Jesus and his disciples encountered on the Sea of Galilee.

And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but He was asleep.  And they went and woke Him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.”  Matthew 8:24-25

The disciples were afraid.  Although they had just witnessed many miracles performed by Jesus, this storm had created anxiety and fear in them.

What rocks your boat?  Perhaps you are afraid of failure.  Maybe you are struggling with a broken relationship or a bad habit that you can’t seem to break.  Maybe it’s regret from the past.  I have my demons that rise up and interrupt my peace…storms that disrupt my life.

And He said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?”  Then He rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.  And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey Him?”  Matthew 8:26-27

When doubt creeps in and disrupts our peace, we need to return to the One who provides all comfort.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  Philippians 4:6

Whatever is robbing you of peace right now, I pray that you give it to Jesus.

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

God bless.

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