Thursday, February 26, 2009

Happy Thursday!

Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.”

My daddy used to tell me that I talk too much. Then one day I told him to remember that is how I make my living. But in my next career, as a hospital chaplain, I am going to be called on to listen far more and talk less. I guess that is why this scripture keeps coming back to me.

In the story of the transfiguration, Jesus is transfigured into His heavenly being. He speaks with two other citizens of heaven in Elijah and Moses. Peter and John are witness to this phenomenal event. John seems to be completely and totally reverent. But Peter…Peter cannot deal with silence. Peter has never been able to deal with silence until after the crucifixion of Jesus. This amazing act plays out before Peter’s very eyes and Peter runs his mouth. Peter says, “Jesus let us make three booths; one for You, one for Moses and one for Elijah. “ Oh, Peter!

And then Jesus says the worst thing possible to Peter, “don’t tell anybody.” OMG!! Peter has been sworn to silence. Can you imagine the turmoil going on inside Peter? Peter has just seen a glimpse of heaven and he cannot tell anyone. This is the same Peter who confesses that Jesus is the Christ. This is the same Peter who says, “I will die for you.” Well, we all know how that turned out! I picture Peter like some of the children in my classroom who refuse to raise their hands and just blurt out answers constantly.

Peter could not deal with silence. He could not be quiet before. He was so devoted to Jesus and I am not sure that even though Peter confessed that Jesus was Christ, the Son of the living God that he realized that Jesus was God. Perhaps if Peter had this true realization then he would have been more awed in the presence of the transfigured Jesus. My point is that sometimes we learn more by listening than talking. In my quiet time I am adding a time of quietness; no radio, no voiced prayers, no music, no recorded devotion, just a quietness to let the spirit of God enter my thoughts and meditating on His Word.

When Jesus needed to pray, He went to a quiet place and was quiet before His Father. Jesus knew the awesomeness of His Father. When the disciples were busy in the ministry and did not take time to eat, Jesus called them away for a time of prayer and quiet meditation so that they might be in the presence of the Heavenly Father in a “quiet time.”

I used to have my quiet time before I went to bed. But now I begin my day with time with God. Lately, I have been praying to God to remind me to turn to Him when the situations of the day get difficult and asking for an extra measure of grace and renewed strength. God will give us what we ask for if we make ourselves an open vessel to be filled with His godly qualities and His gracious blessings.

For someone who makes their living on their feet and talking I really have to work on this “quietness.” Maybe this is my focus in my Lenten journey. What is your focus for Lent? Can you be quiet and let God talk to you?

Take joy in the journey. Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.
Blessed Ash Wednesday! We went to Ash Wednesday service this evening. I love the Lenten journey. It is always a time to absolutely center myself on God and His work in my life. The study for the weeks of Lent is in prayer. I am looking forward to the study each week as we walk the Lenten journey.

Jonah 2:9 says, “I will sacrifice unto thee with a voice of thanksgiving…”

Lent is 40 days. Have you ever noticed that times of preparation seem too often times involve the number 40…forty days; forty years etc…Times of preparation are not always pleasant. They are sometimes downright difficult! But if God brings you to it then He will see you through it. Jonah was in the whale for 40 days, Jesus went into the desert for 40 days and the nation of Israel wandered for 40 years.

The most interesting aspect of the jaunts in the wilderness is that these people were set apart for God’s purpose and after their 40-something experience they emerged prepared for the task God set before them. I think what all of these people learned in their wilderness experience was obedience and commitment. I am sure they griped, moaned and groaned (except Jesus). After all, how many of us say “I can’t wait to walk for 40 years in the desert without a compass or map and no food, while repeating snakes and scorpions are our friends, snakes and scorpions are our friends.” Or , “I have always wanted to spend time in the belly of a fish.” That would give a whole new meaning to bongo breath!!

The season of Lent is a time of sacrifice to reminding us of the sacrifice of Christ made for us. When we are in the wilderness what we have to sacrifice is our will. We will be asked to trust God and walk in obedience. Instead we usually wander about aimlessly and balk at what God has to say and try to walk the road alone and follow our own path. These efforts usually prove to be frustrating.

I am continuing to read the book Cast of Characters by Max Lucado. The subtitle is: Common People in the Hands of an Uncommon God. One of the quotes from the book is “God’s efforts are strongest when our efforts are useless.” When we begin to listen and follow God’s plan, then the road may not be easy, but it will smooth out because now because we have a clear direction, walking in obedience and are allowing God to be in control. And just maybe along the way we can learn to say thanks for the times of difficulty because the lessons we are learning are preparing us for whatever mission God is has planned for us later in this life. The apostle Paul was on a missionary trip to Spain and along the way he landed in a Roman prison. Instead of making it to Spain, Paul decided to write some letters. Think about it…

Take joy in the journey friends. Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.

PS Happening applications are due soon. Hurry!!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Happy Fat Tuesday!! (I ate chips and salsa at On the Border tonight—maybe I will swear off for Lent!) Yesterday was a waiver day for FWISD, so no students. I spent most of the weekend grading papers and getting them recorded. I was behind in both of those areas and needed some “catch up” time.

1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Have you ever created a mess? I mean the kind of mess that starts really small and grows because you didn’t clean as you went along. You are reading the words of the “queen.” I have a tendency to make messes and after completion of whatever project I am working on I don’t go back and clean up the mess, but go on to the next project. So finally it gets really bad and I don’t know where to begin to straighten up this mess. By then the thought of tackling the mess is so overwhelming that all I want to do is go to Starbucks, drink some coffee and hope the “maid” will come while I am gone.

God is the champion of helping us clean up our messes, our sins. The first thing we must do is confess our sins before Him. There is nothing we could say that God hasn’t heard before and nothing from which we are not given the gift of grace and forgiveness. After we confess then we must walk the road of repentance. In other words, it is time to wade through the mess and find the top of our desks, dressers, car seats, closets or our hearts and minds. You know the things that clutter our lives; unforgiveness, bitterness, self-pity, past hurts, grudges, lack of self-control, justification and my own personal recurring sin: my mouth. Sometimes the words that come out of my mouth are not very godly.

As most of you know I have my daily devotion as I drive to work. I say the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostle’s Creed and listen to a drive time devotion. But lately I have changed my sequence. I have begun each of my devotion times with confession. I have begun each prayer time with asking God to cleanse me of my sins (those I specifically confess and for those of which I have not confessed). His Word says that He will cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness; all things not of God. I ask God to forgive me and then fill me with His grace as one would fill an empty glass with water. Then I listen to my devotion, say the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed and proceed with my prayers until I arrive at school. Changing and having confession first has made a difference.

Asking God to fill my forgiven and freshly cleansed soul allows me to go before Him, as an empty vessel ready to receive His blessings and mission for the day. I am not bound by the clutter and mess at the beginning of the day. I am able to think more clearly and truly confess that “This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday; the beginning of the season of Lent. The journey of Lent is supposed to be one of contemplation and preparation for Jesus’ last days on earth, His crucifixion and resurrection. As a preparation to walk this journey we have some choices. Traditionally, people deny themselves something during the season. Some people take on another activity or act of sacrificial service. I think for at least part of my Lenten walk I am going to continue to increase my prayer life through the lens of confession of my sins. If I add something else I will let you know.

Take joy in this Lenten journey. Worship and Imposition of Ashes is at 7:00 am, Noon and 7:00 pm tomorrow at Advent Lutheran Church. Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Blessed Sunday to all!! Worship was so wonderful today. I made some connections between Elijah, Elisha and the transfiguration of Jesus. (It was one of those “got it” moments) Pastor Joel is amazing. The music was especially exciting today. We sang “Breathe.” “Breathe” was the last song Casey ever sang and he sang it with Bruce. I sang this song as I served communion today at the altar. I am not sure I said the words “The blood of Christ shed for you” each time I served the wine because I was so caught up in the words of the song. I find it so profound that at the time he sang with Bruce, Casey had one lung completely overtaken by cancer and the other one covered in all but about 20%. So I served with tears streaming down my face and thought so much about my son. I was sharing these feelings with Pastor Joel and we both agreed that Casey got to sing this song all the time. And I was once again assured that Casey is just fine and God holds him in His hand all the time.

Deuteronomy 7: 9 says, “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commands.”

God loves us so much that He sent His own son to die because of His love for us. Jesus died for our sin so we do not have to die in our sin. God loves us so much that He came to earth in the body of Jesus Christ so that His Son could stand in between us and the Father so when we go before God, we go transfigured because of our transformation by the love of God in Jesus Christ. God made His covenant of love with the nation of Israel and then offered us His love in Jesus to continue for a “thousand generations.” I think we are among the thousand generations.

God called Moses, Elijah and Jesus into a life of obedience. Jesus called Peter and John into a life of obedience. The mantle was passed down to Elisha by Elijah. The ministry was passed down by Jesus to Peter and John. And Peter and John passed down the ministry of reconciliation down to the remaining apostles and they in turn passed it on to the early church and, eventually, to us. Our challenge is to obediently pass along our lives of faith and God’s love onto the next generations.

As I prepare to be a spiritual director for the upcoming Happening Weekend, I am wrestling with this challenge. What will I do to further the kingdom of God in this group of teenagers? My own young adult children will be there in positions of leadership. In what ways will I show them the love of God and help them to understand how important it is to continue to grow in their faith? And in what ways will I let them know that the God who claims to be the God of their lives…is God? The same God of Elisha, Moses, Jesus, Peter and John is our God and …is God!

The Holy Scriptures say, “He is your God. We are profoundly and amazingly blessed.

Take joy in the journey. Love you all. Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.