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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Leaving the nest 

Carson moved off to college this week.  She’s beginning her freshman year and living on the university campus.

While we’ve been preparing for this moment all summer…maybe all year…it finally hit home when we moved Carson into the residence hall and drove away without her.

For Carson- it’s a time of excitement, but there’s also a fear of the unknown.  There are so many new experiences ahead.

It’s the first of many transitions for her.  New relationships.  New challenges. New obstacles.

We all face life changes.  Maybe they aren’t as dramatic and storied as moving away from college, but they are just as important- and daunting.

We encounter new roles at work.  Perhaps even a new job.

Children move away.  Parents move in.

Marriage.  Or divorce.

A move.  An illness.

But there is one constant.

Jesus.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

What an incredible comfort!  Read that passage from Joshua again.  Please.

Be strong.  Courageous. Don’t fear. Don’t be dismayed. Lord…is with you.

Life is full of uncertainty and new experiences, but the love of Jesus never changes.  His focus and love of us is ever-present.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.  Hebrews 13:8

My prayer this week will be for Carson and her new journey to college.  I will also say a prayer of thanksgiving for Jesus…and His unending love for Carson, you and me.

And let me know how to pray for you.

God bless.

 

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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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When you forget your pants

img_0751I’ve been preoccupied lately.  Too preoccupied, perhaps.

New job and new responsibilities.  Lots of commuting.  Long days and many new people to meet.  A schedule full of meetings, too.

I realized yesterday that I needed to pack for three consecutive days on the road.  While packing for the trip, I decided to return some phone calls.  Admittedly, I was distracted with the phone conversations and not focused on packing what I needed for my trip.

I got to the hotel late last night and realized that I didn’t have my shaving kit.  No toothbrush or toothpaste.  No razor.  Nothing.

I had also intended to finish up a Bible study during some quiet time at the hotel.  Nope.  I forgot my Bible too.

Finally- I realized that I had packed my new suit coat, but not the pants.  Yep, I had 1/2 a suit.  No tie either.

I didn’t have time to go purchase new dress slacks.  I would have to go with what I had in my suitcase…a mismatched suit coat and dress pants.

I drew lots of strange stares at the conference today, for sure.  If I were trying to make a fashion statement- it was an epic failure.

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

Has this ever happened to you?  Trivial things fill our days and preoccupy our minds.  If we aren’t careful, we can get so busy that we take our eyes off of what’s truly important.  We have to stay focused.

Please pray for me to spend less time being “busy” – and more time focused on Jesus.

And let me know how to pray for you.

God bless.

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No need for a Hail Mary

img_0098Last week’s Tennessee/Georgia football game was one for the ages.

A capacity crowd of 92,746 witnessed it live from Stanford Stadium in Athens, Georgia.  Another 4.2 million college football fans watched it on television.

The storyline went something like this…

Georgia scored a go-ahead touchdown with 10 seconds remaining to lead 31-28.

Thousands of Tennessee fans turned off their television sets, computers and radios and missed what happened next.

The ensuing kickoff got the Vols just inside Georgia territory.  Tennessee quarterback  Josh Dobbs had time to run one play…a Hail Mary pass into the Georgia end zone as time expired.  (see the play here)  Tennessee wins 34-31.

Statisticians later gave the Vols less than a 1% chance to complete the pass and win the game.  Think about that…a 99% chance for failure.  Victory was snatched from the jaws of defeat.

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:37-39

We are faced with challenges everyday.  Worry and fear can overtake us and leave us feeling helpless. But the sacrifice of Jesus gives us victory over all obstacles that this life can present.

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.  I John 4:16

There’s no need for a Hail Mary when it comes to life on this earth.  We have all we need for victory.

Please pray for me to worry less- and to trust in Jesus more.

And let me know how to pray for  you.

God bless.

 

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Standing in Nothing But Your Underwear

arrowwood-2016

 

I interviewed for a job last week.

The most daunting task on the entire schedule?  The candidates were assigned a topic for a 30 minute presentation.  All members of the university family were invited…students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members.   The auditorium would be filled with people.

The presentation would be fun.  What followed was the interesting part.  There would be an additional 90 minutes of a question and answer period.  Any audience member could come forward and ask questions of the candidates.  The comments did not have to relate directly to the presentation- but could focus on any aspect of the candidate’s career, background or thoughts on issues of the day.

I asked a few trusted mentors how to approach this portion of the interview.  They provided some advice, but basically told me that there was no real way to get ready.

One even remarked, “there will be a time during this process that you’ll feel so vulnerable and exposed…sort of like standing in public with nothing on but your underwear.”

He meant that when we subject ourselves to public scrutiny- there’s risk involved.  You might get asked a question or to comment on something that you normally wouldn’t discuss.  It’s the ultimate in transparency.

It wasn’t all that bad, as it turns out.

What if we approached our relationship with Jesus with the same view?

O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.  Psalm 139:1-4

Think about it.

Jesus knows everything about us. Every thought, every word, every action.

I rarely think about that.

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:8

Even though He knows all our flaws- He loves us anyway.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.  John 10:10

We have unconditional love and support from our Savior.  We need to let go of our fears and relentlessly pursue a relationship with Him.

He’ll never leave us feeling bare or exposed.

Please pray for me to seek the relationship with Jesus that He desires and deserves.

And let me know how to pray for you.

God bless.

 

 

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Working on your marriage on Labor Day

I was nursing a cup of coffee when my cell phone rang early on this Labor Day morning.

It was an old friend that I had not talked to in some time.  We caught up for a minute before he got to the true meaning of his phone call.

His marriage was in trouble.

I was stunned.

I probed a bit.  It seems that life had just placed one barrier after another between them.  His focus had been on his career.  Her focus had been on the kids.  She had suggested counseling some time back, but they found excuses to not get help.  It wasn’t one thing…it was a culmination of years of negligence to their relationship.

Now they were strangers living in the same house and they didn’t like each other anymore.  Resentment was living in both of their hearts- and both of them had become selfishly stubborn.

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Philippians 2:3-4

He thanked me for listening- and asked that I pray for him today.  I told him that I would pray for healing and reconciliation- and that they would be able to climb over any pride or misgivings they had about counseling.  I asked that he pray about it too.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Matthew 11:28

Marriage is work for all of us.  Our relationships need daily, continual attention.

We need to pray for and with our spouse on a daily basis.

Please pray for my friend on this Labor Day.  And let me know how to pray for you.

God bless marriages everywhere.

 

(*this post was published with permission)

 

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