Saturday, March 7, 2009

Happy Saturday!

I received a phone call from Pastor Joel this morning informing me that our friend, Robert Brooks, passed away early this morning. He had been battling brain cancer for a long time. He was such a fighter and a great friend to Casey. He came to Houston once or twice to visit Casey to encourage Casey and was a mighty warrior in body and spirit. Robert was a police officer in the Duncanville police force. He had one son and is survived by his parents and a brother. While he was still able he attended Advent Lutheran Church. I hope he and Casey have found one another. Pastor and I spoke that perhaps they were fishing or playing pool. Travis said I am sure if there is beer in heaven, these two men are sharing one right now! Our prayers are with Robert’s family.

After Pastor and I finished our conversation I continued to drive and within moments Casey’s death came crashing down on me like a ton of bricks. I think I had maybe made it to about three minutes without thinking of the last moments spent with my son. And I wept the grieving tears of a mother who had just lost her son. Casey died with his family surrounding him telling him how much they loved him and that it was okay to go and be with Jesus. Robert passed into everlasting life alone. I know that God was with him when he died, but there was no family or friends so send him off. I am told that there are some people who do not want others around when they die and perhaps Robert was one of those people. My heart breaks for his family because they did not get to spend Robert’s final moments with him. I know I will treasure the last moments spent with Casey for the rest of my life.

. Isaiah 48:17 says, “I Am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.”

I phoned Pastor Joel to ask if there was anything I could do for Robert’s family. Pastor told me that the services were almost ready and the food situation was well in hand. Then he told me that I should in time call Robert’s mother and offer to meet her for lunch or coffee or something and just talk. I am glad to do that but I wish I did not have the similar circumstances and same point of reference for the conversation. But, I believe that God will teach me what to say and I also believe He is teaching me to listen. Maybe the lessons in listening are preparing me to listen to this other mother with the broken heart. And maybe these lessons in listening are preparing me to listen to other families when I begin the hospital ministry to which I think I am being called. Or maybe these lessons in listening are so I can get to know the One who directs my life.

Can we stand before the Father and hear these words? Do we have enough faith to be willing to allow God to teach us and direct us and then do what He has asked? (I wish I could stand with this same authority with my first graders!) I can just picture God standing before me and in a voice filled with love and compassion saying, “Gaylene, I Am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you and I will direct you in the way you should go.”

God will stand with Robert’s family and direct them in the way they should go while He heals their broken hearts and mends their lives. What an amazing journey God has planned for us and how precious we are to Him that He would choose us to carry on His work in the kingdom here on earth.

Take care my friends and take joy in the journey. See you in worship. 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.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Happy Friday!

Psalm 138:8 says, ‘The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; Your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever, Do not forsake the work of Your hands.”

This was the scripture lesson from my drive time devotion this morning. The story that went along with the scripture was a story of a mother sitting at the bedside of her dying daughter. Due to the closeness of her story to my own story I am driving in a total heap. This woman spoke of having a wave of fear that swept over her as she thought she was watching her daughter slip away. But then as she was praying at her daughter’s bedside she felt a wave of praise come over her as she remembered this scripture. God said in His Word that He would fulfill His purpose in her daughter. His love would endure forever, and for her to not forsake the work of His hands. She claimed this scripture for her daughter. Her daughter survived.

As I listened to this scripture and this story this morning I began to meditate. God began to reveal what this scripture meant for me. God had a plan for Casey. God did not plan for Casey to have cancer. Cancer just happened. But God still had a plan for Casey. After Casey was diagnosed with an incurable cancer, the plan for Casey changed. I feel pretty certain that God knew Casey would not live in this world a long time. So God went to work and made His presence known to Casey, God made sure that Casey knew Him very well. When the time came for total surrender Casey was prepared and at peace. God fulfilled His plan of faith in Casey in a year. Casey received a lifetime of blessings in the last year of his life. Casey spent the last year of his life getting to know the One with whom He would spend eternity. Because Casey knew his heavenly Father so well, when it was time to die in this earthly life, Casey went unafraid because he knew where he was going and Who would be there when he arrived.

As I continued to think all of this through and allowed God to speak to me I realized what God had allowed me to see. God allowed me to see each day what a life lived in faith looks like. As Casey’s earthly life and his body weakened, the strength of Christ grew within him. Casey developed the heart of surrender.

God wants the same type of relationship with each of us. He wants to know each of us so well so when the ultimate is asked of us we will respond in faith and not in fear.

This relationship develops over a lifetime. A life time can be decades long, in a few short years or even less than a year. Don’t miss out on the accomplishments God has in store.

Take joy in the journey. Love you all so very much, 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.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Happy Thursday!! Great surprise! Geni came home tonight. We all four sat down and had dinner together. It was so great. Even though Geni comes home on the weekends, we don’t always get to sit down together for a meal. Tonight was a special treat. Thank you, Lord!

Psalm 31:3 says, “For the good of Your name, lead me and guide me.”

I learned a long time ago that without the triune God of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I am nothing. As a baptized child of God I carry the name of Jesus before me at all times. When Jesus died for me His blood was poured out and it was enough to cover my sins and mark me with the DNA of Christ. Each day in my prayer time I humbly go before the Father and give thanks for His Son, Jesus. As I am giving thanks, I pray for the transforming power of the Holy Spirit to lead me and guide me throughout the day. I pray that the presence of God will always be before me and that I will never forget Who He is and to whom I belong. Sort of like having my daddy walk me to school and then stick around to make sure I am okay.

If I ask God to go before me to lead and guide me, then I must be willing to surrender to His leading and guidance. Now there is the hard part! I did not ask God to do the work, I asked Him to help me do what He asks. I pray for a heart of surrender to do His will without struggle. When I practice the heart of surrender my day seems to go better and I seem to do better, too. When I practice the heart of surrender and I ask for an extra measure of grace, especially when dealing with a difficult situation at school, I remember to stop and ask God to go before me and prepare me to deal with the situation in a righteous manner. I have begun praying this way because I have a really difficult class this year (yes, even first graders can be tough!!). So now, instead of becoming angry and raising my voice, I am practicing speaking quietly and trying to diffuse the situation before it escalates. “Lead me and guide me, God, for the good of Your name.”

Take joy in the journey. Love you sweet friends and mighty prayer warriors, 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.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Happy Wednesday! We went to the mid-week Lenten service tonight. The coolest thing happened. I was sitting in the sound booth with Bruce and at the end of the service, Addie, our music director, came over to me and told me a woman sitting on the back row with her family was here because of Casey. I went over to talk with her and it was one of Casey’s nurses from AMH. She and her family came to church because of the witness of Christ in Casey. I was so happy to see them and felt so very proud of my son.

1 Samuel 15:22 says, “What pleases the Lord more; burnt offerings and sacrifices or obedience to His voice? It is better to obey than to sacrifice. It is better to listen to God than to offer the fat of sheep.”

I love prayer. I don’t know what I would do if I could not pray to God. Prayer has become such an important part of my life. And the part of prayer I am so beginning to enjoy is the being quiet before God. It is through listening that I am learning to be obedient. Our church’s Lenten study is on becoming a House of Prayer. The scripture lessons are all focused on prayer in all of its aspects. Tonight’s lesson was on Hannah’s prayer. Hannah was the mother of Samuel. Hannah wanted more than anything to have a child and it did not seem to be in the plan for her. She prayed a fervent prayer and told God if He would give her a child then the child would be dedicated to Him and His service. Samuel’s birth was a product of his mother’s faith and her prayer life. And Samuel became one of the most powerful prophets in the Old Testament. Samuel was the prophet who anointed the youngest son of Jesse, David, to serve God as king of Israel.

When I spent time in Houston with Casey at MDA, God spoke to me and told me that His glory would be revealed in Casey’s healing. Casey never got well, but he was healed. Casey was not healed on this side of heaven, but he is most assuredly healed now.

Tonight God’s promise was affirmed tonight in the family that visited Advent who were looking for a church. They came because of the life of Christ they saw in Casey. Casey was a mighty prayer warrior.

God would rather us listen to Him in obedience and with an open heart than make sacrifices. Jesus came to teach. Jesus selected those who were teachable (even Peter!) and would listen so the ministry would continue after His death and resurrection.

Where is the house of prayer in our lives? If our bodies are the temple of God and God dwells in His temple through the Holy Spirit then we can be a house of prayer wherever we are. I am so glad, because my drive time is one of my most precious times of the day. In the morning it’s just God, me and I-30 west. Our time dedicated to God is precious and God honors that time. Take time to open the door into your own house of prayer and God will meet you there.

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.
Happy Tuesday!! TAKS is over for a while! It is always a stressful day, but the building is so quiet. Even though first graders don’t take the TAKS Test we keep a testing atmosphere. Tuesdays are also my theology class days. I really love my class. The last three class times have been so awesome. In the last three weeks we have studied the Holy Spirit, The Church and this week The Sacraments. The discussions have been wonderful. It is really interesting discussing the sacraments as a Lutheran with a practicing Catholic professor. Dr. Jones is great about sharing his beliefs and practices without discounting any other practices within the students in our class.

Tomorrow I am to receive a student teacher. She is from TCU and has been student teaching in the Netherlands for a while. I ask you to pray that I will be the teacher from whom she needs to learn and that I will do a good job of guiding her through this practice.

2 Kings 2:1-12 is the story of Elijah passing on his ministry of prophesy to Elisha and Mark 9:2-9 is the story of the transfiguration.

Do you remember how you felt on the first day of a new job? Or perhaps how you felt the night before? Did you sleep well? Were you so worried you would sleep through the alarm that you set one by the bed and others somewhere else in the room so you would have to get up just to shut them off? I remember that feeling when I was a student teacher. I was so excited and nervous before my first day that I am sure I changed clothes numerous times before I ever left the house. And now nearly 30 years later I am preparing to pass the mantle of teaching to someone just starting out.

In the stories of Elijah and Jesus and the transfiguration there are miraculous events that occur. Elijah is taken to heaven by chariots of fire in a whirlwind and Jesus is transfigured before Peter and John. But I think there is another story to be told here. In both stories the mantle of leadership is being passed down from master teacher to student. When Elijah’s cloak is dropped onto Elisha, Elisha is expected to pick up the ministry instantly. In the story of the transfiguration of Jesus, He tells the disciples to tell no one of this until after His death and resurrection. Jesus gave the disciples the authority to carry on His ministry after He is in heaven with His Father. Peter and John still have some lessons to learn. In both stories the students have been trained and have been prepared to carry on the teachings of their master teachers.

Tomorrow I will begin the final preparation of a student who is learning to teach children. Up until now she has had professors training her and teaching through books, lectures, projects and theories. Now she will begin to learn how to teach children. She will learn to prepare lessons, teach and interact with children and begin to experience the responsibility of making sure the children understand what is being taught as well and making sure that what is being taught is necessary to their learning.

Isn’t that what Jesus did with the disciples? Didn’t he teach them the lessons they needed and then send them out to practice them on the people in Galilee and the surrounding areas? Jesus never sent the disciples out unprepared. Jesus called the disciples and then prepared all of them to minister while He was on earth being their “supervising teacher” so they could continue His work after His death and resurrection.

What ways is Christ preparing us to carry on His ministry of reconciliation? Are we listening when He speaks? Are we sharing what Christ has done in our lives and what Jesus can do for others with those we meet? Are we preparing our own children to lead godly lives and be witnesses for Christ? I am just throwing out these questions for us to ponder in our Lenten journey.

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.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Happy Monday to you all. Today school began to feel the intensity of the upcoming TAKS test tomorrow. Students, teacher and administrators are most likely not sleeping well tonight due to testing tomorrow. It is truly a high pressure day. Please offer up an extra prayer for students, educators and school administrators tonight and tomorrow. Thanks!

Psalm 29:11 says, “The Lord blesses His people with peace.”

Do you know what peace is? I mean real peace. Peace is not the absence of conflict. True peace is having the assurance that when conflict, difficulty, fear and distress happen… God is there. God, in His Word, promises and assures us that He will be with us in every moment of our day. My meditation reading really helped me to understand more fully about “God’s peace.” Max Lucado says, “ worry comes from the Greek word that means to divide the mind.” Dividing our minds causes us to become “double-minded” thinkers. Double- minded thinkers keep one foot on earth and one foot in heaven. Double minded thinkers “ride the fence.”

Are we double minded thinkers? I am a double minded thinker sometimes. I am a double minded thinker when I think I can do something better than God. When I think “my way” is the better way instead of listening to my heavenly Father and obediently following His will for my life. Being double minded depletes our power source. Our strength is divided and our energy is wasted. Remember God’s efforts are strongest when our efforts are useless. Being a double minded thinker is no way to have a life filled with God’s peace.

Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks.” Philippians 4:7 says, “And God’s peace, which is so great we cannot understand it, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Peace in Christ takes two parts; our part and God’s part. Our part is to stop worrying, pray and then give thanks. When we do our part we are trusting God to meet our needs and let Him do His work and will in us. We must move out of the way so He can bless us with His peace. When we do our part then we will keep our hearts and minds set on Jesus Christ. God’s peace comes to us when we empty ourselves of our worry and let God have our cares. When we empty ourselves of those things that are not godly then He can fill us with His blessings of peace. So friends, pray, ask, give thanks and receive God’s peace.

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.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Blessed Sunday! And Happy March! I have not abandoned you! I have been with about 20 teenagers and adults for the weekend preparing for the Happening Weekend in two weeks. The days go long into night as we prepare for the Happening weekend. Planning and team building activities are all a part of the lock-in. It was a tremendous weekend. These young people are so amazing and I am looking so forward to serving with all of these young men and women as well as the adults on the weekend. Some of the roads these young believers have walked are going to make a phenomenal impact on the participants on the weekend. I ask you to be in prayer for the Happening Weekend #39, the staff and participants and Travis as the rector of the event.

Psalm 29:2 says, “Praise the Lord for the glory of His name; worship the Lord because He is holy.”

Is that a Sunday morning scripture or what!! I love Sunday morning. I love going to worship. Today Pastor Joel’s message was on being a House of Prayer. All of the music surrounded the theme of a life lived in prayer.

The purpose of coming before our Heavenly Father is to establish His authority over us and our life situations. When we come before Him we bring not only our cares and sorrows, but also our praise. We don’t just praise Him for what He has accomplished in our lives, but we praise Him because He is God. We praise God with our voices in song, with our silence in prayer, with our hands uplifted in open surrender and a longing and expectation to be filled with His presence. We praise God on our knees when we offer all of our sin and sadness to Him because it is then we claim His Lordship over us and affirm the chain of command that He is Lord and we are His people.

Praise is our highest calling. In verse one of this Psalm the angels are commanded to praise the Lord’s glory and power. Perhaps the chief occupation of the citizens of heaven is to praise God. So for us who have not as yet reached that height in the Kingdom we need to practice praise. As a lifetime musician I believe you do what you practice. So let us make an effort in this Lenten journey as we are increasing our prayer life to add praise in our conversation. Not just praising God for what He has done but because of Who He is. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords and we belong to Him.

Lord, we praise You because of who you are…Lord we worship you because of who you are…You are God.

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.