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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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 Your New Housemate is Rude…

We’ve got a new housemate.

It’s of the four-legged variety.  We’ve recently adopted a rescue dog.  His name is Mack.

Mack was abandoned by his prior owners.  He’s still a puppy…only 18 months old, but already over 100 pounds.  Mack is going to be a big one.

Despite being orphaned, Mack is a loving guy.  He’s loyal and playful.  He loves to be with our kids and follows Hollianne around the house and yard like a house cat.  He and I love early morning runs around town.  He’s been a great addition to our family.

Well, almost.

Mack does have a flaw.  He’s a drooler.  And by drool…I mean an epic drooler.

It’s especially bad after he eats…or after exercise.  Bless his heart.  And to relieve the annoying presence of this substance, Mack will whip his head back and forth- and sling the drool all over trees, shrubs, furniture and…yep…humans.

It’s been a tough adjustment.

We’ve almost got the perfect pet.  Good-tempered, loves people, enjoys exercise, loyal and protective.  But a drooler.  It’s tough to overlook.

Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins. Ecclesiastes 7:20

Isn’t Mack like all of us?

We’ve all got imperfections to our character.  For some of us, we are well aware of these flaws- and know what we need to do for improvement.

Perhaps we have a temper.  Maybe it’s jealousy.  Still others struggle with pride or lust.  Or maybe it’s a strained relationship that we are unwilling to address…or forgive.

There are other flaws that we can’t do much about.  Perhaps it’s a physical limitation or an illness.

You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.  Matthew 5:48

God is perfect- and he made us “perfect” through the sacrifice of His son Jesus.  He also calls for us to strive for perfection- despite our flaws.

God calls us to work on those imperfections that we can address.  And we are also called to examine the good in others- and be willing to accept the things that we- or they- cannot change.

Even if it requires living with a little drool.

My prayer is to have the awareness and wisdom to work on my flaws this week.

And let me know how to pray for you.

God bless you.

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Decisions


Our youngest child, Britton, struggles with making decisions.

It’s not surprising, as B is the youngest of three kids in the Carver house.  His older sister and brother have been making decisions for B his entire life.  It’s like he’s got two dads and two moms.  Advice abounds for the little guy.

Truth be told, I struggle with decisions too.

I often know what needs to be done in my life, but I resist.  I make choices out of selfish desires, wants and convenience.

Fortunately, Jesus never flinched when faced with the biggest decision in history.

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.  2 Corinthians 5:21

Jesus knew why he was sent to this earth.

Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.  Matthew 20:28

How often do we think about the magnitude of that decision?  Jesus died so that we might live.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.  Proverbs 3:5-6

My prayer this next week is to intentionally reflect the power of this one, unselfish decision- and to seek the counsel of Jesus for all the choices of my life.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.  James 1:5

Please let me know how I may pray for you.

(Kentucky Lake sunrise; March 16, 2016.  Big Sandy, TN)

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Everybody is Undefeated in August…

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It’s an exciting time of year in the Carver household, as August brings the anticipation of a new football season. We talk about the returning players on our favorite teams.  We feel the excitement surrounding new additions to the rosters.  And we spend a great deal of time discussing our pre-season predictions.

This might be our year (we always say…)…with a little luck and some great coaching.

Sometimes things go wrong.  An injury sidelines a key player.  Turnovers and penalties stall drives.  A sudden big play turns a sure victory into a crushing loss.  Our teams hit adversity from unexpected places and our dreams of being undefeated slip away.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.  John 16:33

Football is a great analogy for my life.  My hopes and dreams are easily hurt with adversity.  Stress, illness and unexpected conflict can take away joy from my days- and derail my plans.

Pain happens.  Hurt is a reality.  But there is hope.

With God we shall do valiantly; it is he who will tread down our foes.  Psalm 108:13

Jesus has promised to be with us and provide strength when we are weak.

For the Lord your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.  Deuteronomy 20:4

We’ve got the One who overcame sin and death to bring salvation to the world in our corner.

So no mater what the day throws at you, take heart that creator of the universe is with you.  Jesus loves me, this I know.

Let me know how I can pray for you this week.  And please pray for me.

God bless.

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Numbers

B football

Numbers are important.  Just ask my kids.  Each season they lobby their caches to wear a specific number on their uniform. This means something to them.  It’s “their” number.

What’s so special about a particular number?  According to my kids- it makes them feel unique…distinctive.  Out of a crowd of kids on a basketball court, baseball diamond or soccer field- they take comfort in having their favorite number.  It’s the same number every game, every season.  It helps them stand out in a crowd.

Don’t we all worry about that?  We often times feel like we are lost in the masses.  Forgotten.  Just one of a multitude of people on this earth.  We long for personal attention, yet can feel alone even in crowded workplaces and busy streets.

Jesus longs to know us and wishes to have a personal relationship with each one of us.

Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.  Luke 12:7

Our lives are of essential interest to God.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16

We are not just a number.  We are so unique…so special to God that even the hairs of our head are numbered.  He knows everything about us and- despite our flaws- loves us anyway.

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

You are loved…no matter what number you wear.

God bless you and keep you.

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Black ice

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I’m tired.

The ice, snow and freezing temperatures have worn me completely out.  The kids have been out of school for two complete weeks, and we are all feeling the effects of cabin fever.

Britton, our nine year old son, has been fascinated with the talk about “black ice”.  How can such a thin, transparent layer of water cause such havoc across the state?  He’s noticed abandoned cars and trucks stuck along the roadways, seen semi trucks jackknifed on the interstate and heard the warnings to cancel travel.  Black ice is bad news.

There’s an analogy to be made.  Sin can create an equally dangerous situation in our lives.

So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.  James 4:17

If we are honest, we’ve all got patches of black ice in our lives.  Those bad habits and the dangerous thoughts that can cause us to stumble and fall.

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

We are imperfect people…born sinners.  I am worse than most.  But we can realize our brokenness, ask for forgiveness and the strength to do better, and rest assured that we have a loving Savior who will protect and keep us in His arms.

Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  James 4:7

Read His word.  Obey His commands.  Invite Jesus into every facet of your life.

The presence of Jesus…it’s the best de-icer around.

God bless you.  Please pray for me, and let me know if I may pray for you.

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