Homeless in Nashville

I was early for a meeting in downtown Nashville last week, so I decided to take a stroll down a side street just south of our state’s Capitol.

It was a chilly day- and the brisk wind made it even colder.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw a man approach me.  “Pardon me,” he said in a meek voice.  I turned to face him.

“My friend has a bad cold,” he said. Would you mind buying him a cup of coffee to warm up his throat?”  I looked behind him to see another man propped up at the base of a building- layered in tattered, dirty blankets. 

I told him I would- and hurried across the street to a coffeehouse to buy a large, hot coffee. 

I returned to the two men and gave one of them the coffee.  He didn’t speak or make eye contact, but the other man said “thanks so much.”  He then turned back to his friend and helped him place the cup to his mouth. 

I walked away stunned.  It was a complete display of compassion and concern for another person.  

After leaving my meeting, I wondered about the two men.  It was about an hour before sunset, and I knew it would be getting even colder soon.  I decided to walk back down that street where I’d seen them earlier.

And there they were.  Sitting and talking. Smiling. Content for the moment.

I decided to buy them hot sandwiches, water and coffee.  They were grateful.  I asked them why they didn’t ask for more when I encountered them earlier.  The more verbal of the two answered, “I only ask for what I need at the moment.”

I thought about that all night.  What if I did that? What if I could truly separate my requests from God into needs versus wants?

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Phillipians 4:19

I often craft my prayers as a wish-list.  I “want” comfort, peace, love and wisdom.  I want it all. 

Give us this day our daily bread… Matthew 6:11

But what do I really need?  I need help and comfort for today.  God will provide if I am faithful and believe.  He will take care of me.

My prayer today is to be satisfied with what I have- and to truly focus on my immediate needs and the concerns of those I love. 

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

God bless. 

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Letters from home

img_1507We celebrated Valentine’s Day this past week.  My family did the normal things…preparing treats and cards for my son’s elementary school party, exchanging cards and- the best part- Hollianne’s baking.

My biggest surprise, however, came in the mail.

I arrived home after a long day at work and discovered a letter from my mom in the mailbox.  A hand-written letter that read:

“KS-  You have had my heart for 46+ years.  I think about you everyday and pray for you.  I appreciate your friendship and am so very thankful and blessed that you are my son.  God has been/is so good to us.  I love you- Mom”

I shouldn’t have been surprised.  Mom has told me that she loved me almost every day of my life.

But there’s something special about the written word that made this communication extra special.

I’ve got a family of writers.  I’ve got notes from mom tucked away from numerous periods of my life.

My dad is a letter-writer too.  He’s sent me letters for high school and college graduations, before my wedding day and to celebrate milestones in my marriage and career.  I cherish all of these.

We are called to encourage.

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

Jesus was the ultimate encourager.  He lifted those who were hurting.  He provided hope for the lost.

And He still does today.

You never know when an encouraging word- or note- can lift the burden of another.  Just like my momma did on Valentine’s Day.

My prayer this weekend will focus on being more of an encourager.  Please pray for me to be more aware of how I can lift the burden of another.

And let me know how I can pray for you.

God bless.

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Doubts

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I’ve got a good friend that asked for prayer last week.

He had a friend who developed a life-threatening illness.  His friend was facing death in his mid-40’s.  His friend had doubts…doubts about his mortality…doubts about his treatment.

My friend was heartbroken.  How can this be fair?  Why could this happen to someone so young?

John chapter 20 chronicles the empty tomb and the resurrection of Jesus.  It also described doubt and the need for faith.

Thomas, one of the twelve Disciples, hadn’t been around when Jesus initially appeared to a small group of followers.  As a result, Thomas publicly voiced his doubts about Jesus being raised from the dead. A week later the Disciples, including Thomas, were gathered and Jesus appeared again. This time he asked Thomas to feel the holes in His hands and the scar in His side.

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” John 20:27

We have to do that too. We have to pray for our faith to increase so we can stop doubting.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

Through prayer and study, we can grow our faith and experience Jesus.  Faith brings assurance over doubt…and confidence over fear.

Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’   John 20:29

That’s faith. When we can believe in that which we cannot see.

Please pray for me to have an increase in my faith.  I want to feel, experience Jesus more.

And let me know how to pray for you.

God bless.

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Now that I know how you really feel…

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I experienced a tough situation recently.

I was forwarded an email by a friend.  As I read through the email, I realized that there was a large portion of the message that I probably wasn’t supposed to see.

Near the bottom, there was an exchange between my friend and another person that wasn’t flattering toward me.  This third party (also a friend)  was venting about a decision that had been made, but it got a bit personal.  I realized that a) our relationship wasn’t what I thought it was and b) she was freely sharing her opinion with a large audience.

At first I was frustrated.  Why hadn’t she called and let me know how she felt?  We interact often, so the opportunities to talk were frequent.  Frustration then led to disappointment.  I wished that my friend would have talked to me rather than airing it to others first.

But I’m truly no better than her.  Truly.

Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.  Psalm 139:4

While I might not write it down, I have those same thoughts from time to time.  I’m frustrated with the actions of others…disappointed…and let my emotions get carried away.

But God knows.

In 1 Chronicles chapter 28 the writer tells us that God searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought.  We don’t have to write down our thoughts- God knows what’s written on our hearts.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.  Ephesians 4:32

I’m called to forgive.  I need to forgive, because God has forgiven me- a chief sinner.

Please pray for me to be a better example of grace with others.  I need it.  And let me know how to pray for you.

God bless.

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Extra Steps

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The Carvers have started taking extra steps each day.

Call it fitness or competition, but all of us have become increasingly aware of how much we walk.

We’ve all gotten activity trackers, and while some of us are more obsessive about the numbers than others- all of us are working hard to move more often each day.

We’re parking further away from buildings.  We’re taking the stairs at school and work.  The little things add up quickly.

I need to take extra steps in my spiritual life, too.

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.  Romans 12:12

I’m not constant in prayer.  I’m not even consistent.  Some days are filled with rushed prayers…quick words offered up as I drive to work, tuck the kids in bed or rush toward a deadline or meeting.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.  Psalm 119:105

God’s word is to be used to illuminate our daily walk.  A lamp.  Unfortunately, I don’t study the Bible as much as I should.  Work, activities and even family get in the way of my personal study.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  1 John 4:11

It’s hard to love the unloveable.  I don’t often have the patience or desire to truly love those difficult people in my life.  And if I’m completely honest with myself, I know that I’m often perceived as the unloveable one…and need to be given grace.

I need to be diligent in my prayer life.  I need to be more disciplined in my personal Bible study.  And I need to be more forgiving of others- just as I need to seek forgiveness.

Pray that I work harder to make the extra steps in my spiritual life.  And let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

 

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Cracked

Hollianne and I were recently driving back from a dinner when a semi truck threw a rock into my windshield.

The impact created a crack that was less than an inch long.  It was just a little scratch.

The scratch quickly grew.  The damage now stretches across my entire windshield and has started to splinter off in a couple of new directions.  It’s now difficult to ignore the damage when driving the truck.

Isn’t that a lot like sin?

I sometimes let anger or pride overtake me in a weak moment.  It may not be expressed outwardly, but it’s there…just beneath the surface.  And while it might not dominate my day- it stays in my head and heart…and I can dwell on it.

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.  1 John 1:8-10

Left unchecked, this sin can spread and grow into other aspects of my life.  It can leave me bitter, unfulfilled and angry.  It’s noticeable to others.

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

My prayer this week is to recognize the sin in my life- and to have the courage to confront it before it overtakes me.

Please let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

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So you think you’ve had a bad day?

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Ever feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders?

Perhaps it’s family problems.  Or money is tight.  Maybe you or a loved one are battling an illness.

How do you respond when your back is against the wall?  Do you submit your concerns to Jesus and fully trust that He will sustain and keep you?

I’m studying Matthew 15 this week.  There’s a great story of a woman who was at the end of her rope.  She was from Canaan and had a daughter that was possessed by a demon.  She was desperate for help from the Savior.

There was a cultural divide to cross as well.  The Jews and Canaanites were not on good terms.  They hated one another.

Jesus refused to help her at first.  He ignored her initial plea and later dismissed her with some sharp words.

The woman came and knelt before him.  “Lord, help me!” she said.  He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”  “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”  Matthew 15: 25-27

The woman persisted.  Her faith led her to swallow her pride and simply fall down before Jesus.

Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith!  Your request is granted.”  And her daughter was healed at that moment.  Matthew 15: 28

I have a healthy prayer life…but I struggle with patience.  I often want immediate help with my concerns that are offered up in prayer.  And when the answers don’t come immediately, I get frustrated.

I wish I had the faith of the Canaanite woman.

Pray for me to better respond to bad days.  And let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

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