Grateful for a good grade of grass

IMG_4867

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

 

 

Standard

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. 

Standard

When You Lose It All

IMG_3736

The basement in our new home flooded this week.

We had terrible storms on Saturday.  Our power was out for a little over 18 hours…and it created a problem.

Our basement has a pump that automatically kicks on when water levels rise in the ground.  It keeps our home nice and dry…when the electricity is working.

You guessed it.  The power was off and the rainwater slowly seeped into our basement overnight.

We lost everything down there.  Furniture, appliances, carpet and drywall were all casualties.  To make matters worse- we were using the basement as temporary storage as we set up our new home.  We had family photos, files and other precious items stored on the floor.

Now they are all wet.

It was sobering to see what damage the water can do.  Photos and letters from loved ones are gone.  Notes and art projects from the kids were ruined.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 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. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. I John 2: 15-17

This was a great reminder for me.  I have taken too much pride in “stuff.”

As we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18

Material goods bring us comfort, but they don’t last.

The important things are unseen.  It’s all about investment.  Investment in our walk with Jesus.  Investment in our family, friends and neighbors.

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  Matthew 22:37-39

It’s pretty simple:  Love Jesus and love your neighbors.

Everything else will just get wet.

Pray for me as I try to focus less on “stuff”.  And let me know how to pray for you.

God bless.

 

 

Standard

Disconnected 

I’m not even thinking about the holidays.

I’m winding down one job and transitioning to another. My new role is with the same university system, but it’s a different position in a different city.  I’m traveling the state’s highways and interstate this month.

A lot.

The days are filled with meeting new people and saying goodbye to others.  Packing up one office and opening another.

It’s left me feeling…well, disconnected.

This transition has preoccupied my every thought.  My prayer life has suffered.  I’m not as engaged with my wife and kids.  I’m certainly not as focused on my daily Bible study.  I haven’t spent time with friends.

I’m not much fun to be around either.

Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.  Proverbs 16:3

I realize that I’ve fallen into a trap.  I’m so preoccupied with all these changes that I forget about the ONE that helps us navigate life’s journey.  Jesus wants our focus to be on him.  He will help us realize our purpose…establish our plans.

Life on this earth is about constant change, but there is one absolute for the believer…

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

My prayer this week to to focus more on the aspects of life that REALLY matter…my faith, my family, my friends, my neighbors.  If my focus is on Jesus- then the other pieces of life’s puzzle will come together.

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

May God bless and keep you during this busy time of year.  Please let me know how I may specifically pray for you.

God bless.

 

 

 

 

Standard

What to Do when your Christmas is Blue…

‘Tis the season.

The holidays are a wonderful time of year for many people.  For others, it can be a difficult season.  One recent study reported that 45% of Americans dreaded the holidays.

Some believe that the end-of-year triggers a state of reflection…a time to think about the inadequacies of life or sad memories from the past.  Other studies have shown that shorter days and the absence of sunlight can contribute to the holidays blues.  Whatever the reason- we know that the holidays can be difficult for some.

Maybe its difficult for you.

What can we do to prevent the holiday blues?

Take some time off.  Take some time during the holidays to focus on yourself.  Exercise.  Read.  Spend some time in the morning in prayer or reflection.  Just 30 minutes a day of quiet time can recharge your batteries and keep you energized for the rest of the day.

Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!  Psalm 46:10

Give back to a good cause.  Get out of your own troubles by helping someone else.  Volunteer at a homeless shelter.  Participate in an Angle Tree program.  Deliver meals to the elderly.  Do what you can to engage with others who are in need.  Helping others gives you a fresh perspective on life and your attitude toward the holidays.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Philippians 2:4

Reconnect with someone from the past.  Think about someone who has made a difference in your life.  Take 5 minutes and send them a hand-written note.  Call the distant relative who has been struggling with health issues.  Drop by and visit your former teacher who is now in assisted living.  Text your college roommate that you’ve not seen in five years.  Relationships are important.  The people that you contact will love the effort, and these holiday communications will benefit you as much as the recipient.

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Always remember- this year and every year- Jesus loves you.

We often reflect on the birth of Jesus at this time of year.  I’m happy to celebrate his birth, but it’s equally (perhaps more) important to reflect on his sacrifice and death on the cross.  He gave His life up for you and me.  He allowed himself to be crucified so that we may be free from sin- and have eternal life in Heaven.  Jesus knew we would be broken…sinners.  But he loves us anyway.  No matter what we do- Jesus never leaves.  Draw near to him this holiday season.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.  Matthew 11:28-30

Let’s pray for those who may be hurting this holiday season.

And as always, please let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

 

Standard

When you don’t have a prayer

Dad and B Chicago 2016

I’ve been struggling with my prayer life.

I think it’s fatigue.  Maybe it’s my schedule at work.  Perhaps it’s life events surrounding my friends and family that have brought me down.

Regardless, prayer hasn’t come easy lately.

I was reading C.S. Lewis this morning.  There’s a section from Mere Christianity that reads:

“An ordinary simple Christian kneels down to say his prayers.  He is trying to get into touch with God.  But if he is a Christian he knows that what is prompting him to pray is also God:  God, so to speak, inside him.  But he also knows that all his real knowledge of God comes through Christ, the Man who was God- that Christ is standing beside him, helping him to pray, praying for him.”

I’ve made prayer too hard.

I’ve been thinking that I have to be perfect in prayer.  I’ve pressed to think that God needs my heart and mind clear.

But the truth is- God already knows what I need.  He already knows my confusion and pain.

Like Lewis writes, it’s God that’s prompting me to hit my knees and pray.  He wants me humble and repentant.  He wants my effort- even if I don’t know exactly what to say.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.  Romans 8:26

Let’s don’t wait until we’re “ready.”  God is there to receive our prayers…we just need to engage.

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

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

God bless.

 

Standard

Wrecked on I-40

IMG_0945
Her Dodge Charger lunged off the interstate- slamming into the guardrail at over 80 miles an hour.  The car spun around three times into incoming traffic, narrowly missing our vehicle.

I had noticed her minutes earlier.  I looked over at her passing car and saw that she was texting on her phone.  She almost hit an eighteen-wheeler before slowing down.

Minutes later she flew past me in the right lane- again…texting.

I swerved to avoid hitting her wrecked car in the aftermath.  From my rear view mirror I watched her safely emerge from her totaled vehicle.  She was lucky to be alive.

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”- Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring.  What is your life?  For you are a mist that appears and then vanishes.  James 4:13-14

I don’t know why that young woman was in such a hurry.  I do know that she wasn’t paying attention to the road.

I’m guilty of the same thing, I’m afraid.  I can lose sight of the path I’m on.

I spend too much time chasing “things.”

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

These earthly pursuits can be distractions.  They can make me careless.

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

When I’m not concentrated on Jesus, I can wander into trouble.  How about you?

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

Pray for me to keep Jesus the priority for my life.  And let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

 

 

Standard