Saturday, March 28, 2009

Happy Saturday! My apologies for not writing last evening, after the chili-cook off and the traditional payday out to dinner I was exhausted! The chili cook-off was a smashing success. I won three awards; one for the weirdest chili, one for the meatiest chili and I can’t remember the other one. And in the game of “Are You Smarter than a First Grader?”, the first graders “kicked parent butt!” We had the most wonderful time. We had a lot of parent participation and the kids looked really great all dressed in their Texas duds.

Travis and his plane arrived in New York without incident. One of the other planes had some cabin pressure problems and spent the majority of the night in the Nashville airport. It was a long day and long night for the kids and their chaperones. I think they finally landed at LaGuardia at around 5:00 am on Friday morning. I am very glad they did not compete until today and maybe got a good night’s sleep. (teenagers in New York resting? sure! ) As far as I know, all must be going well due to the fact that we (Bruce and I) haven’t heard from him yet. He will arrive home on Monday night. Please pray travel mercy as they continue their adventure. And pray for New York as it adjusts to all of those Texas babies descending upon the Big Apple!

Proverbs 12:22 says, “The Lord hates those who tell lies, but is pleased with those who keep their promises.”

All was going well in the Garden of Eden until God’s created being was thrown from heaven and landed in the garden. When Satan landed in the garden, lies and deceit entered the picture. When our kids were little we always encouraged them to tell the truth even if they had done something wrong. We have always told them that we would rather them tell the truth about the wrong doing than to do something wrong and then lie about it. Yes, consequences would be levied at the wrong doing, but if a lie was told or a deception was invented also, there is now an issue of trust or now distrust involved.

God loves the truth. 1 Corinthians 6: 9-10 places lies and deceit right up there with adultery, thieves, idolaters and a bunch of the other sins named in the passage of scripture. But the best part of this passage is the last verse, (10) says, “And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”

As I read these two passages of scriptures I realized the power of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as the presenter of our case before the Father. God does not hate us because we lie, God hates the lies we tell. Whether we tell lies to someone else, tell lies about someone else, tell lies to ourselves or tell lies to God (now there’s a smart move!) (LOL), He loves us so much and still wants to develop Himself within each of us. We do not serve a God who would lie. We serve a God of truth. Truth is one of the names of God. Since lies are not part of the character of God; lies are a sin that separate us from God.

God wants to live in every part of our live, but for God to live in every part of our lives, then lies and deceptions cannot live in us if we are to remain in fellowship with Him. The Corinthians scripture tells us that we “used” to be like that. But because Jesus came so that we could know Him and Jesus goes before the Father to plead for us when we ask forgiveness we are justified and sanctified because of the Father’s love for us in His Son, Jesus Christ and His grace.

Someday when we leave this earthly life we will be judged by God the Father. Jesus will go before us. I am sure that in the book of life everything that I have ever done will be written down and presented to The Judge (and it will be most embarrassing). As I stand there before the seat of Judgment and look upon God, Jesus will go before me and say to His Father, “Dad, this one is mine, please forgive her and let her live here forever.” Because God loves His Son so much and trusts Him completely, God will say, I forgive her and see you at supper.

Tomorrow at the 11:00 service I will sing the old hymn, It is Well with My Soul. This is a beautiful hymn born out of grief and sadness that the writer had at the loss of his children. His faith in God drew out these simple words of faith and peace and placed them in the writer’s heart. I ask you to pray as I sing in the morning that this piece will be a witness to all who seek Christ as the balm for their grieving souls.

Take joy in the journey friends and see you in worship. Love you all dear, dear friends, 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 26, 2009

Happy Thursday! This writing is later than usual. Tomorrow is the big chili cook-off at school and I have made three pots of chili. All three recipes are completely untried so who knows? It will be fun no matter what.

We got Travis off to New York late this afternoon. He will compete with the show choir and the A capella choir on Saturday. They have lots of other activities planned including a Broadway show and a dinner cruise on Sunday night. Through the years our luggage has had more fun than Bruce and I have had. Oh well, some day!

Psalm 37:25 says, “I was young, and now I am old, but I have never seen good people left helpless or their children begging for food.”

A school teacher and a handyman/door warranty repairman do not make a lot of money. And with two of us in college and one a senior in high school the budget gets stretched pretty far. Bruce worries when he thinks he doesn’t have enough door issues. I tell him that God has always taken care of us. And pretty soon the work picks back up and we are okay again. We have to make the occasional phone call to the utility companies to put the bill off until one of us gets paid and most of the time that works out, but I really don’t like doing that. I really hate to say the words to the kids, “we can’t afford it right now.” I often tell them that we try to give them all they need and some of what they want. Tonight as I was making chili I was thinking that I wish I was a better manager of money or that we made more money and that we did not have to worry about how we would be paying all of the bills. And then as I finished with the third crock pot of chili I sat down to read my Bible lessons and write to you for the night and this is what the scriptures showed me in the psalmist’s words.

Why would God teach us to walk just to watch us fall? And why would He die on the cross for us and then disregard our prayers? Do we forget the psalmist words that say, “He has put His angels in charge of you to watch over you wherever you go”? God has once again taken care of this heart and reminded me that He is watching over us all the time and will get us through. God loves us so much that He continues to bless us with what we need by meeting our needs. God’s Word is truth we can count on. The Holy Spirit is present with us at all times so we are never alone. We have the gift of prayer so that we can be in constant contact with God through Jesus. So praise God from whom all blessings flow because the greatest blessing of all is Jesus.

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.

PS I just received a text message from Travis and he has landed safely in New York. Praise God!!! gc
Happy Wednesday! Did you see those clouds today? Is God’s handiwork amazing or what? Thank you for the prayers for Bruce’s safe return. He did arrive home safe and sound and tonight I think both of us will sleep better than we did last night. Also, major apologies for the scripture snafu last night. The scripture was supposed to read Luke 1: 78 not 7,8. I think I must have been still recovering from the mid-term. A misplaced comma can really make a difference.

A first grade funny: Each year in March our first grade classes study Texas. At the end of the month we hold a building wide chili cook-off and then the first graders challenge their parents to a game of Are You Smarter Than a First Grader? Texas Edition. Anyway as the classes were practicing their Texas Trivia facts today the question “Name the drink made and bottled in Dublin, Texas” was asked to one of the children. His response was “Bud Lite!” (the correct response is Dr. Pepper) We laughed at that for the rest of the day.

Numbers 5: 5-6 and part of 7 says, “The Lord spoke to Moses saying, ’Speak to the Israelites: When a man or woman wrongs another, breaking faith with the Lord, that person incurs guilt and shall confess the sin that has been committed’. ”

Tonight Pastor Joel’s message was about forgiveness and prayer. He used the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15: 11-32) as his basis for the message. But he pointed out that our need for confession and forgiveness is rooted in the Old Testament scripture in Numbers. You know this passage is pretty straight forward. When we wrong each other we not only break the relationship with our spouse, child (ren), family member or friend; we break our relationship with God. The sin of the prodigal son was very identifiable. This kid made really bad choices and when there was nothing left to do but either go home or die, the boy went home. He confessed his sin to his father who welcomed him back with open arms and a party to celebrate his homecoming.

As parents, when our children confess to us something they have done as wrong, we usually don’t throw them a party. If one of our children makes a bad choice and tells us about it there are usually consequences, but no balloons and party hats. I am not sure if the prodigal son received consequences of his actions from his father or if the trials he suffered due to his own choices were all of the consequences he needed or what, but, I do know that this young man came to his father and said I do not deserve to even be your son. I am sorry and I need to come home if your will have me.

God looks on us in the same way. God sent Jesus to stand in our place before the Father and plead for our forgiveness. Then God works it out. Pastor spoke about all of the parts of forgiveness. He talked about confession (telling), repentance (changing) and finally forgiveness. Our forgiveness comes from the extraordinary, unconditional love of God the Father through His son Jesus Christ. Our forgiveness comes from the crucified Christ. All sins were paid in full on that day. Our lives were changed forever on that day and we live by God’s grace in the power outflowing from the risen Christ. So friends, confess your sins to Christ. There is nothing He has not seen or heard before and He loves us so much that He wants to live in relationship with us now and forever.

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.

PS Pray travel mercy for the Lamar Choirs as they travel to New York City for competition and sightseeing. Thanks, gc.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Happy Tuesday! I finished my mid-term! I took the test online. I am allowed 2 ½ hours to take the test. There is a timer that once you begin does not stop. I took the test in 149 min and 28 sec. About 7 minutes before time ran out I completed all of my answers and set about checking the answers and running the spell check when the ecollege window popped up and said I had a user error. I then almost had a stroke. I saved all of my answers and called my professor. Dr. Jones told me not to panic and he gave me extra time and a possible solution to the problem. To make this long story short, the test logged me off and instructed me to logon again. Praise God! When I re-logged on to the test all of my answers were still in place. I submitted the test and called Dr. Jones to let him know I had submitted the test. Now all I have left is the final belief paper and the remaining class sessions.

Bruce left this morning for San Antonio for the funeral of our friend Buck Wunderlich. He as a former Marine and had a military funeral. Bruce then went to see Carme and Dave. He says they are doing well. The funeral of my friend and co-worker Mechelle Berg’s mother was today in the Fort Worth area.

Luke 1: 78 says, “With the loving mercy of our God, a new day from heaven will dawn upon us.”

On our way to Denton last night Bruce and I were talking about all the people we know whose lives have been claimed by cancer since October. Since losing Casey we have had six friends who have lost their battle with cancer. And two more who have battled the disease and are currently in remission. Praise God!! My principal and I were talking this afternoon and she has had a similar experience with this disease seeming to be all around us. You know that experience of when you buy a car and you have never really noticed that make of car before and now they are everywhere. It makes me wonder if I have just been so self absorbed that I have not seen the suffering of my friends. Have I been blinded somehow and not seen others in need? As I said to Bruce, “Does it seem like we are surrounded by this devastating disease?”

Tonight I read this scripture and it lifted my spirits. This disease may be all around us, but God’s tender mercies are inside of us. God loves us so much that all He wants from us is to be in relationship with us. We can choose to let the things of this world get us down or we can seek out God’s loving kindness to fill the broken places and seal the cracks in our souls with His love and healing grace. God’s grace is merciful and He promises us a new day from heaven. When I think of heaven I think of a place that is so filled with light that darkness can never reach it. God tells us in His Word that His loving mercy will bring a new day from heaven. A day filled with light because it is filled with God’s light.

When there are times it feels like the darkness is never going to end remember the psalmist says, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” This scripture from Luke echoes the Old Testament promise. God will send a new day; a day filled with love, light and God’s tender mercies. Trust God to bring the dawn of a new day.

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.

PS Please pray travel mercy for Bruce as he is travelling home tomorrow from Carme and Dave’s. Thank you, gc
Happy Monday! Back to school. This is the toughest part of the year. There is still a lot to teach and the children still have much to learn, but they are already thinking summer break. At faculty meeting this afternoon one of our teachers mentioned that we have only 11 more Mondays after today. Before long we will count Fridays. I will keep you posted. The asbestos abatement has begun in our building. We have been told we will be moved to temporaries while our rooms are gutted. I have been in that room for nine years. Moving is going to be a huge undertaking.

Tonight Bruce and I traveled to Denton to see Geni be inducted into the Tau Sigma National Honor Society. It was so cool. She received a certificate, pin, t-shirt and cords. We are so proud. Way to go Geni!!

Luke 1: 45 says, “You are blessed because you believed that what the Lord said to you would really happen.”

This is the story of Mary, mother of Jesus, visiting her Aunt Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist. I love this scene in the story of Jesus. Here is Elizabeth who is far too old to have a child and she is to bear the forerunner of Jesus. Then there is Mary, who is far too young by our standards to bear a child, let alone the Son of God. Mary has been sent away by her family because she is pregnant out of wedlock. The town of Nazareth has their tongues wagging at this scandal for sure. At the greeting of Elizabeth to Mary, though, the unborn child, John, leaped in her womb. Elizabeth is given a special gift of knowledge. Elizabeth knows that the child her niece is carrying is the Son of God. No one told her this, her faith in God and her openness to listening to the Holy Spirit told her of this mysterious birth. The scripture says when the child leaped inside her, she was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Mary and Elizabeth were totally captured by the Holy Spirit. They were willing to face alienation from family and friends to carry out the will of God. God asked these two women to birth, raise and nurture the Son of God and the one who would prepare the people for His coming. What is our job as parents? When we stand with our children at baptism we promise to raise them in Christian homes where scripture is read, lead godly lives and take them to worship, teach them the commandments etc…When you think about it, that is what Elizabeth and Mary did. They raised their boys in godly homes, taught them the commandments, took them to temple. These women surrendered their sons over to the leading of the Holy Spirit. God had world changing plans for these young men. These women had the faith to believe that if God brought them to it, God would see them through it.

Raising children is never easy. And we can only do the best we can. Our best can be made better if we trust in Christ to help us raise our children. God has world changing plans for our children. God gives us the blessing and gift of faith. God will help us raise our children if we will just turn to Him in prayer and ask for His help. Let us all, as parents of children still at home, parents of children no longer at home, parents who are parenting for a second time, and those who are waiting to become parents, give thanks for our children, pray for our children and pray for ourselves to take seriously the commissioning of God at baptism and lead godly lives of faith.

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.

PS Please pray travel mercy for Bruce tomorrow as he travels to San Antonio for the funeral of Buck Wunderlich. Pray for me as I take my test. Love you, gc

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Happy and blessed Sunday to you all! Worship was excellent today. And I finished my mid-term review. There is one question about Luther and justification by grace. The answer I have prepared for this question is almost two pages long. I figure since I am the token Lutheran in the entire seminary if that question is presented then I am duty bound to answer. There are 8 questions for which to prepare. Six questions will be presented. I will be asked to choose 3. Pray for me and wish me luck.

I am using the study notes from the new Lutheran Study Bible. I just received our Bibles today. Bruce and I each have a bible and we donated one to the church in memory of Casey. I think Casey would have liked that.

Worship was wonderful today. Pastor Marc Hander preached today in Pastor Joel’s absence. Pastor Marc read from the book of Nehemiah the first chapter. The first chapter is a prayer for forgiveness of sins. The prayer is spoken by Nehemiah. Nehemiah was the cupbearer to the king. What a terrible job. The cup bearer to the king had the job of selecting the wine prior to it being served to the king to make sure the king did not receive poison wine. Such a role, as cupbearer, Nehemiah had frequent access to the king. Nehemiah spoke of God’s chosen people. When he prayed this prayer he asked God for the forgiveness of the sins of His chosen people.

Nehemiah called the nation of Israel by their name; God’s chosen people.

Names seem to attract our attention. When we were baptized we, too, were given a name. We were named “children of God.” In the book of John chapter 8, you will find the story of the adulterous woman. She had a name. Not a very nice one, but Jesus changed all of that. When she was identified by her sin, Jesus asked the others who were ready to stone her for the ones who were without sin to cast their stones. Then Jesus identified each of her accusers by their sins with the writing in the sand. After they all walked away Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven; now go and sin no more.” Jesus gave her a new name; child of God.

Jesus is the cupbearer for our sins. We are offered the cup each week and in that cup is forgiveness. Jesus says to us the same thing, “Your sins are forgiven, now go and sin no more.” We are called to be the cupbearer for Christ. We are asked to offer the cup of forgiveness to all just as Christ did so long ago and just as He does each moment and day of our lives. The cool thing is that cup never runs dry. No matter how many times we sin and even if we commit the same sins over and over again, the cup is still offered and complete forgiveness is given. With so much forgiveness given to us, how can we not forgive those who (as the prayer says) “sin against us.”

We are called to be the cupbearer for Christ. Jesus forgave us all of our sins now and forever and calls us by His name; we are children of God. Offer the cup to all who are in need. We can offer it with the assurance that the wine is perfect because we have total access to the King.

Take joy in the journey. Love you all and have a great week. Love, 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 Tomorrow evening Bruce and I will travel to Denton to watch Geni be inducted into the Tau Sigma National Honor Society. We are so proud of our daughter. Travis will travel at the end of the week to New York with the Lamar Choir for competition. Bruce will travel to the San Antonio area to the funeral of Buck Wunderlich and then to visit Carme and Dave. We ask your travel mercy on all of family travels this week. God bless you all. gc