Saturday, May 2, 2009

Greetings from Austin Street via Wichita Falls.

Happy Saturday. This writing is being written in my dining room and then dictated to Bruce in Wichita Falls and then he will post it to you. Boy, I miss the internet in my house! ATT tells me that we will be back online on Tuesday. A co-worker of Travis' at Starbuck's confirmed that Earthlink is no longer in business.

The prison system in Texas (or at least in Iowa Park) closed down because of the flu. Satan works really hard on these weekends, but he is not winning this battle here. Even though the prison is shut down, the warden is allowing the Kairos weekend to continue. How cool is that? Don’t you know it really hacks Satan off when he doesn’t get his way? Yeah God!

Also, I put a final paragraph on my theology paper today. The last question of this paper is on the doctrine of eschatology, or the study of the end times. I really struggled with this section. It is just not a topic with which I have ever concerned myself. I am sure of where I will spend eternity whether it happens during this writing, after I am no longer a part of this world, or if I am witness to the return of the risen Christ. Anyway, I still have some editing and revising to do before Tuesday. Please continue to pray for me as I struggle through and continue to craft this paper.

Mark 6: 34 says “As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.”

I have spoken to groups of people for many years and sometimes it is hard to know of what to speak. When I speak to Happeners, I usually look to the Sunday liturgy and tell a story that will have some meaning to a group of 15-18 year-olds. When Jesus spoke, he spoke to crowds that contained people from the ages of children to the elders of the town. How did he know on what to speak that would have meaning to all those in attendance? Besides the obvious answer, he was God on foot. Duh!!

Jesus knew that all these people needed to know that they were loved and accepted by God. He wanted them to know that forgiveness was for everyone and that the Kingdom of God was meant for each of them. The message that Jesus shared never changed. Jesus knew they were all lost sheep and needed a shepherd. These people, like me, had everything to learn. Jesus spoke a message of love and grace, not of law and judgment. In Seminary, I have everything to learn. I am being taught a new language, and I am slowly understanding what I am being taught. Jesus opened the minds of those to whom he spoke so they would begin to understand his message. I pray little prayers the whole time I am writing my paper for God to open my mind to better understand his word and how to apply it to the paper I am writing.

Let us say little prayers and thank God for his inexhaustible blessing and to open our minds to his teachings.

Take joy in the journey. Love you all, and 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, May 1, 2009

Greetings from Starbucks!

Happy May Day! This writing does some serious traveling to get to you. This writing begins at 811 Austin St. It then travels to Starbucks through the wi-fi to Bruce in Wichita Falls and then to the blogsite and finally to you. Wow! I called AT&T this morning and ordered internet service through them. That is the good news. However the service and equipment will not be delivered until Tuesday. Ah..delays.

Isaiah 55:9 says, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Today I went to a tanning salon. I do not tan very well. In fact, I burn real well and I am old enough to avoid the pain of sunburn. So, as I usually do before I try something new that will make a change I researched and talked to the company and to friends who have done this procedure. I went through the procedure and when I walked out I did not look any different than when I walked in. The staff told me that I could expect color in about 2 hours and full development in about 12. I was not changed immediately. The effect for which I am hoping will be delayed until the solution works with the pigment in my skin and I have the color I desire. If this is not the color I like then I can go back until the desired change meets my expectation. But I have to wait.

We live in a world of instant gratification. We use microwave ovens, text messaging, IM’s, email, cell phones, faxes, drive through windows and someone in a green apron who will brew the perfect cup of coffee and hand it to you almost before you order it (if they are a really good barista). I want a tan, but do not want to spend the hours it takes to lay in the sun.

So here is the question of the day. How many times do we talk to the Father and expect Him to answer our request with the speed of a text message or a spray on tan? We do not like to stand in lines or wait for anything. We do not like lag time or silence. So when we pray somewhere in our thinking we expect God to answer our prayers like we put money in a soda machine. We put in our requests and out pops an answer.

Isn’t it the most loving thing that our heavenly Father does not have a microwave mind or heart when it comes to answering our prayers? God hears and answers all of our prayers. But because God is God He lovingly answers in not only His time, but in the time that is right for His children. God takes the time to work out the answer and plan for and accomplish the desire in the most wonderful way possible for us. I personally rest in the knowledge of God’s love and grace for me and know that He only has my best interest in His heart. And I, in this world of instant, immediate gratification must learn to trust in the timing and seeming delays of the One who loves me so much that He chose to hang on a cross for many hours in suffering, prolonging His pain longing enough so that the thief next to Him could rise with Him to paradise.

Pray and wait with joy in the knowledge that God will answer with a heart that is faithful in the accomplishment of His desires in 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.
Greetings from Starbucks!

Yes, I said Starbucks. It seems that we have lost our internet provider. If anyone knows what happened to Earthlink let us know. Bruce called three numbers today regarding Earthlink in three different cities and got the recording that this number is no longer in service. So these wonderful Starbucks employees showed me how to hook up to the internet here. Tomorrow I will be on the search for a new provider. Wish me luck.!!

Well, today has just been weird! I have felt at loose ends all day and felt like I was playing hooky from school. Since I was having trouble focusing I decided that I would give myself a day to do random things and tomorrow I would get down to the task of completing my theology paper. I began the paper stating that it was the task of this theologian to tell why I believe …”Jesus love me this I know for the Bible tells me so.” And my final sentence needs to be…”Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so.” I have one more section to write. It is the section on eschatology; the end times. I haven’t decided which tack I am going to take. It will either be the end times when Christ returns and reclaims His kingdom for all time or our own end time. I do know, however, that whichever path I follow I will write it through the eyes of Christian hope. Bruce and I were talking about this last night. I told him that I really do not concern myself with the “end times” for if Christ were to return right now, me and all those I love would all be together.

Luke 11:9 says, “Ask and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you.”

Do you ever use this verse for “stuff?” I have. I have used this verse to ask for earthly things, temporal things. I prayed this verse to pray for Casey’s healing. I want you to know - God answered the prayer. Casey did not ever get well, but he certainly was healed.

But lately I have thought of this verse in a different light. I pray for God to open my mind to understand His Word and His ways. God’s ways are perfect. If I obediently surrender my heart and open my mind then God can direct my path.

As all of you know I am writing this theology paper. The paper I called “I believe…”. For me, I cannot think of this journey through seminary as anything but a spiritual quest. This can never be just an academic means to an end for me. This mind set, while it works for me, may not work as a student expected to write in a more scholarly way. But I also believe if I stick to God’s Word and base all I do and stay grounded in scripture then I have a place to defend whatever I write. I also realize my seminary studies are still in their infancy and I have everything to learn. So when I pray about this paper I ask God to give me knowledge (open the door to my mind) beyond myself in order to write acceptable piece of writing, but also that the reader of this document knows without a doubt what I believe. I ask God to bless the offering and the one who reads it.

So friends, let’s pray this verse for God to open our minds to hear His plans for us. If we follow where He leads then His Kingdom will be in perfect order in our lives. A venti (LOL) order for our lives.

Take care dear friends and stay well. 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.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Happy Wednesday! Well, the latest news is that all of the schools in the Fort Worth ISD are closed until at least May 8th. Swine flu has invaded the district. I ask for your prayers for the families affected by this deadly disease. Today at the end of the day I sprayed my tables down with oxyclean just before dismissal not knowing that the disease had entered the district.

John 5:30 says, “I can of mine own self do nothing.”

I lead a prayer group on Wednesday mornings before school at my school. Today we had 10 of our staff at the group. It was so great. I selected a devotional journal (imagine that!) entitled God Calling. Today’s lesson was on “resting in Christ.” The meditation began with “Never doubt and have no fear. Watch the faintest tremor of fear, and stop all work, everything, and rest before Me until you are joyful and strong again.” The Apostle Paul wrote “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” God did not mean that Paul was to do all things and then rely on God to find strength. God meant that for all he told Paul to do he could rely on God’s everlasting supply of strength.

How many of us have worked and then prayed for God’s approval and strength? This is not the way God works. God came to earth in the form of Jesus. God worked through Jesus so that we could know Him (God). Jesus obediently modeled the godly life for those disciples and those persons with whom he came into contact. Then Jesus showed His disciples how to allow God to work through them so His purpose could be accomplished in those who would come after and the work of God would be multiplied not because of us, but through us as God supplies our strength. God does not need us to work for Him. After all He is God! God wants to work through us. In order for God to work through us we must have a surrendered, open heart. When our hearts and minds are open then we are made ready to hear the plans God has for us through the Holy Spirit. If God calls us into service then He will give us the strength to accomplish His purpose.

Just remember. Pray first, listen for God’s leading and instructions and whatever strength or tools we need to accomplish the task will be given to us. “For we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.”

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 offer your prayers for Bruce as he leaves for Wichita Falls for the prison ministry Thursday morning, as well as for the 42 inmates who will be going through the weekend event and their “close encounter” with Christ.

PSS Pray for me to complete my paper and do a good job. Thanks!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Happy Monday! Is everyone still afloat and dry? This morning when I arrived at school there was a police car and a fire truck in the parking lot. I came to find out that the storm knocked out the power with people in the elevator. All is well as they were not stuck inside for very long. That was a wild way to begin the day!!

The butterfly count is 29. The TAKS Test is tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday. Please pray for all of the students, teachers and administrators over the next three days. It is always a stressful time. Even though Pre-K through 2nd grades do not take the TAKS test we are very respectful of those who are testing and must remain super quiet throughout the building at all times. So pray for all of us!!

Bruce leaves for a Kairos Prison Ministry weekend on Thursday morning. He will be gone through Sunday. I also ask you to pray for the 42 participants, the inside and outside teams as they lead, pray, cook, serve, count and bag cookies, sing and bring the gospel to those who are largely forgotten and are most certainly outcast. God loves them so very much who learn to praise Him in prisons. I ask a special prayer for Bruce for this weekend. If you will remember Casey served on the last Kairos weekend with Bruce. It was Casey’s last hurrah. On Thursday after their return home on Sunday Casey went into the hospital for the last time. He and Bruce sang together the song “Breathe.” (How totally ironic and completely appropriate) Casey was a vital part of the prison ministry and on this last weekend, he was an inspiration to many. I am sure there will many bittersweet moments for Bruce and the team members as they remember their team member and brother in Christ this weekend.

Psalm 150:6 says, “Let everything that breathes praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!”

Bruce is about to serve in a ministry where singing praises to God is the farthest thing from their minds. During the weekend these men will come to know Jesus. They will come to realize that even they are in a place and circumstance that separates them from all they used to know and love, God loves them enough to die for them, too. In the eyes of the world, they are forgotten, outcast and the worst that the world has to offer, but in the eyes of God through the life of Jesus and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit they are children of God. They are Jesus babies! By the end of the weekend these men are singing praises to God because they have learned they are loved.

I believe I have shared this story with you, but it bears repeating. Several years ago, upon my arrival at the prison to participate in closing, I heard this sound. It was the most heavenly sound I had ever heard. I heard the voices of men raised in song singing They Will Know We are Christians by Our Love. I have been singing that song since “God was a boy,” but I never really understood it until these 300 men being guarded by large men carrying deadly weapons began to sing this song. When I walked into that gym I was surrounded by this heavenly sound and knew I was in the presence of God. I finally understood that we are called to praise the Lord if we have breath in our body.

Do we free world children of God Jesus babies praise God with our every breath? These men do not take their salvation for granted and neither should we. These men hang onto their faith and the saving grace of God through Jesus with their very lives. Tonight when we are saying our goodnights to the Father, let us give thanks for the saving grace of God, for the forgiveness of our sins and praise God with every part of our being.

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 Sunday to all of you. Worship was inspiring today. I am a sermon note taker and in my notes I got some new material for my paper. By the way, please continue to pray for me as the paper is due by May 5. That is only a week and a half away.

Like 24 47 says, “Repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in His name to all nations.”

Pastor Joel’s sermon was wonderful as usual. Many times His sermons are more like a Bible Study. I always glean new insights when he preaches. Today, I was the lector and I read this passage from Luke. Later in the passage Jesus tells His disciples that He has fulfilled the scriptures from the law of Moses, the prophets and the psalms. And now He commissions the disciples. Just prior to the commissioning, Jesus “opens their minds” so that they may understand the Word. Jesus says because they were witnesses to all that occurred in the life, death and now the resurrection that they must go and tell the story to others. Up to now when Jesus revealed Himself to others or performed a miracle in someone’s life He told them not to tell anyone. Now Jesus is telling the disciples that because they are witnesses they must go and tell.

Jesus had accomplished what he came to do. He fulfilled the scriptures of the Old Testament. Jesus was obedient to His Father even unto His own death. He taught the disciples all they needed to know to grow the church. Jesus taught the disciples to become the “body of Christ” and now they must grow this body to include many members. Jesus told them to stay in the city of Jerusalem until the power of heaven was upon them and then they could begin the ministry of building the body of Christ; the church. And then just as mysteriously as His conception, He vanished. The disciples were now on their own.

I have a wonderful student teacher working with me this semester. She will be with me only for a few more days. I began her instruction by modeling lesson, teaching practices and classroom management strategies. I then called on her to assist the children with their lessons. Next she began taking over the different content areas with me in the classroom as her observer and assistant as she needed. Now she is teaching full days alone in the classroom with me just across the hall within earshot to come to her aid if she is in need. But next year when she has her own classroom, I will not be there and she will be on her own. It is my hope that I will have prepared her for her own classroom and that she will be successful.

I feel pretty sure that is what Jesus did for His disciples. He modeled for them. He let them practice with Him watching. He brought them back to Himself nightly for further instruction. He sent them out for practice and now they are on their own. Jesus has placed before them all they need to know to continue His ministry. What will they do? Will they stay in the city as instructed? Will they go into hiding? Will they leave the city before they are empowered by the Holy Spirit? If the disciples remain in the city in obedience to the instruction of Christ and receive the power of the Holy Spirit they will have completed their training and will go out with the authority to proclaim repentance and forgiveness of sins in Jesus’ name.

Where do we fit into this story? Are we obedient to the call and commissioning of Christ as witnesses? We were told to go and tell the story with the authority of Jesus empowered by the Holy Spirit. Will we hide the light of Christ under a bushel? Or will we slink out of town and think that God will not find us? I’m just throwing it out 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.