Saturday, June 6, 2009

Happy Friday! Travis has graduated!! The jumbotron at Nokia seemed to have his face on it quite a bit when the choir was singing. I am not sure if it was because he was a senior or because he is so handsome (please allow this mother moment), but it was a really wonderful graduation ceremony. The choir sounded wonderful, the orchestra played well, the speeches were kept brief and entertaining and all of the graduates appeared so excited and very happy. Nokia was nearly full of very proud parents, relatives and friends witnessing these young men and women close the chapter of the journey of their youth and begin the journey of their adult life.

Isn’t it interesting that when one journey ends another one is waiting to take its place? The Hebrew nation was led out of Egypt by Moses and it ended their captivity. Their next journey was a journey of faith that led them to the Red Sea. Their choices were simple; cross the sea or go back to Egypt. With Moses as their leader they were able to cross the sea. In their journey they were led by a cloud during the day and a pillar of fire by night. God showed Himself to the Israelites in phenomenal acts of fire, cloud and splitting the sea. The Hebrews saw God in action, but they did not have a face to face encounter with the Father. God chose select men with which to have fact to face encounters and His relationships with the nation of Israel were enacted through Abraham, Moses and others.

John 14:5 “Lord, show us the Father. That is all we need.”

The disciples were given the opportunity to be with the Father and yet they did not recognize Him. Phillip, one of the disciples, says this verse to Jesus. Jesus essentially says to Phillip, “Don’t you get it? If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father.” Jesus is trying to prepare His disciples for His final journey. But not only His final journey, but the journey we all will make some day. Jesus teaches us to not be afraid of the journey on this side of heaven or on the other side of heaven.

Jesus has taught us that true faith is not in something you have seen, but in believing in someone you have not (visually ) seen. Disciple Phillip is caught a little short in his faith when he says to Jesus, “Just show us the Father. That is all we need.” Casey came into the fulfillment of his faith when his earthly life ended and he began his journey into forever.

Tonight those seniors received pieces of paper stating that they had completed one journey in their lives. Tomorrow they will wake up and hopefully decide to step out on their faith and seek the leading of the Father in the next part of their journey.

May we be as brave as those seniors tonight and begin our next journey in faithful response to the leading of Jesus and as always take joy in the journey.

Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

I am not moved by 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, June 4, 2009

Happy Thursday! The butterfly count is 1. Tomorrow this school year will come to a close for the FWISD. As of today Travis has completed his high school career. We will be attending graduation with family members tomorrow night and celebrating on Sunday with a backyard brunch. Bruce has completed laying the flooring in the living room, hall way and dining room and will lay the tile in the kitchen one day before this weekend and build a deck. Please pray for him as he completes these tasks (the floor is soooooo beautiful!!).

John 13:15 “All people will know that you are my followers if you love each other.”
Every teacher has something that marks him/her, some quality that shows up in their students that lets you know who their previous teacher was. One of my marks is when the students answer when I take attendance they are taught to say “Here, Ma’am.” I was raised a Texas girl and as a response of respect I still answer “Yes, ma’am, no ma’am or sir.” I have been told by the second grade teachers that my previous students will answer attendance in this manner. When they answer using the phrase, “Here, Ma’am.” the teacher automatically knows that the students was once Mrs. Chrystie’s.

The mark of Jesus was love. When He called those disciples, the first thing Jesus did was love them unconditionally and then He taught those same disciples to have love not only for Him and each other, but for all people. Jesus’ mission was to show God’s love to the world through His acts of love in His relationships with the citizens of Nazareth, Galilee, Capernaum and the areas surrounding Jerusalem. The disciples walked with Jesus and watched, listened and followed His lead so when the time came for them to carry on the ministry they knew how much they were loved and how to show this same love to others. They shared the love of God through Jesus as they became empowered by the Holy Spirit.

We are marked. We are marked with the love of God because we are sealed by the cross of Christ. Jesus’ supreme act of love was to die for our sins on the cross. We are called to follow in His footsteps and act on His behalf as our mission to the world. Do others know we are followers of Jesus because of our love for each other? Each time we greet someone whether it is family, friend or stranger it is an opportunity to show that we are followers of Christ because of the love He has for us. We don’t have to say His name to show His love, but when we show His love to others “they will know we are Christians by our love.”

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

I am not moved by 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 Wednesday! It was awards day at school. The children looked so nice in their dressy clothes and the parents were so very proud of their children’s accomplishments. I am continuing to pack my classroom away a few pieces at a time. And believe it or not the children are behaving pretty well. Travis took his Pre-Calculus test today. He says it went well.

Ezekiel 37: 6 “…and you shall know that I Am the Lord.”

When God wants our attention sometimes He has to do some really outrageous things. We live in a world where amazing things happen on a daily basis and we think nothing of them. Technology has come a long way from writing on a piece of pottery to sending you my thoughts through the airways. We turn on the faucet in our homes and water (clean water) pours out. We don’t walk to the well for water or walk several days to get to church or visit family. We get in a car each day and drive to work miles from our homes. The list could go on, but you get the idea.

And yet when God wants our attention He really has to perform some really phenomenal act so that we will know that He is God. I love this story in Ezekiel. It is such a wonderful physical manifestation of the plan God had for Israel. God is telling the nation of Israel that even though you are being torn apart, because I Am God I will put you back together and you will go home and serve me just as I have always commanded. God rejoined those bones, covered them with sinew and flesh and once again the Hebrew people believed. It is also a great foretelling of the story of Christ; His crucifixion and resurrection. God brought new life out of death in Christ crucifixion and resurrection and then He presented this new life to the disciples. God got their attention.

Did you ever see the movie Forrest Gump? Forrest and Lieutenant Dan are out on the shrimp boat. Lt. Dan is so bitter and he is cursing God. A violent storm occurs and Lt. Dan goes with the storm. He is tossed all around and hanging on for dear life. The comment Forrest makes is “God showed up!” After the storm Lt. Dan is a different man. Lt. Dan needed to know that God had not abandoned him, but it took this “act of God” for Lt. Dan to understand that he was not God and God is. Lt. Dan needed to be put back together and made new.

What does it take for us to realize that we are not God? Why do we walk into situations on our own without first asking God to walk into the issue or event with us? And when are we going to remember that God wants Lordship over our lives? How many times to we take on a project or problem and pray half-way through instead of praying before we start?

Well 2,000 years ago God showed up in the form of a baby named Jesus. Now God had face to face contact with those He loved on a much larger scale, not just a select few. God shows up in our lives each day with our very next breath. The great I Am came into this world just to say how much He loves us and to make us new.

Today, let’s show someone who God is by giving Him Lordship over our lives and then share the joy and assurance of His love with those with whom you have contact.

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

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

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Happy Tuesday! Wow! The butterfly count is 3. This school year has gone by so very fast. My first graders are about to be promoted to second grade.

Anyway, our “baby” is about to graduate high school. I think it is kind of blowing him away that his public school days are almost at an end. Travis is so very ready to graduate. He has “senioritis” really bad. He has one test to take tomorrow, Pre-Calculus (I get a headache just writing that word!) and then one more day and he is finished.

John 12:24 “A grain of wheat must fall to the ground and die to make many seeds. But if it never dies, it remains only a single seed.”

I love how Jesus had the heart of a teacher. He seemed to never pass up the “teachable moment.” The teachable moment is when you are explaining a concept to children and you make a change to explain your point using another explanation or word picture to make clearer the meaning of the concept. Jesus knew two things. First, not only believers were listening to Him speak - those seeking evidence to convict Him were also listening. Next, there were those who were believers and hanging onto each word that the Master was saying. As Jesus spoke to this crowd the Holy Spirit was among the people so Jesus could speak in a language that believers would understand but those who sought to kill Him would have no clue.

Jesus used analogies to explain about the kingdom of God on earth. As Jesus explained the Kingdom of God to these believers He used the truth about seeds to explain what would happen to Him at His crucifixion. In order for the plant to grow, the seed must die in the ground and open up itself to new life. The seed not only grows a new plant, it produces new seeds. A seed that does not multiply is only a seed. But a seed that multiplies grows a garden. Jesus explains that just as the seed must die in order to live again, so must He.

Jesus reached a limited number of people in His three year ministry. But everywhere He went He planted the seeds of His love in those with whom He had relationships. As He planted those seeds in those folks they then told others about what Jesus had done for them. By the time of Jesus’ resurrection those twelve disciples had grown exponentially into the Kingdom of God here on earth. Now if Jesus had just died on the cross and that was the end of the story then salvation would have no meaning whatsoever, His story would have been just that, a really great story. But He did not just die. Jesus came back and gave final instructions. Just as the seed had to die before the plant could grow, Jesus had to die so He could grow in us through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus calls us to not physically die in order to grow, but He does ask us to die to our sinful selves and live again in His love. His instructions are simple: “I love you. Repent and you will be forgiven of your sins. Now, go and tell somebody else what I have done for you.”

God has placed a mighty task before us, but He has also placed His greatest gift in us. He has given us the task of carrying His Son into the world so that we might live in this world, but we do not have to be of this world.

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

I am not moved by 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, June 1, 2009

Happy Monday! The first day of the last week of school has brought some wonderful news and a small inconvenience. First the amazing news: Burton Hill Elementary School has been named an Exemplary school due to our TAKS scores. We all gathered in the auditorium for this awesome announcement. We are so proud of our teachers and the students for all of their hard work. And then I returned to my classroom only to discover that the computer ate my grades. I had four sets of papers left to enter into the program and I was ready to send it to our clerk who collects this information. The good news is that I still had all of the papers and so I still have all of the grades and just have to re-enter them.

Psalm 69: 5 “God, You know what I have done wrong; I cannot hide my guilt from you.”

Have you ever had company call and say they would be over in about an hour and your house is a mess? Well, I certainly have. What do we do when company comes by and we are not quite ready? We start stashing stuff. We put out of sight the things we do not want our visitors to see and go on with the visit.

When we sin sometimes we try to hide the offense from God and go on about our daily lives without the process of confession, forgiveness and repentance. We try to stash what we don’t want God to see so we don’t have to deal with it until we have figured out how to rationalize and justify what we have done. But God (because He is God) knows our hearts, minds and souls. God knows not only what we have done, but when we did it and where we tried to stash the evidence. When we stash our trash it begins to eat away at our hearts and works its way into our minds. What we should do instead is confessing our sin, asking for forgiveness and walking the road to repentance. Ladies, how much do we hate going to the doctor because the first thing they do is weigh us? And how many of us make plans to do something about a few pounds prior to going to the doctor? And then how many of us don’t go to the doctor because of a few pounds? Just like we cannot hide those pounds from the scale, we cannot hide our sin from God. The difference is that the doctor will fuss at us. God will forgive us, continue to love us and show us how to walk the road of repentance and learn the lessons we need so perhaps we will not commit the same sin again.

Since God knows our every breath and movement it is silly not to confess and receive God’s perfect forgiveness. And even when we have to walk the road of repentance, the best part is that God walks the road with us cheering us on for he is our greatest fan.

So dear friends, we all sin and fall short of the glory of God. But God loves us so much and with the simple request of “please forgive me for _____(fill in your own blank),’ the task of forgiveness is done. The rest is up to us. We must turn away from our sin and not let it separate us from God.

Let us stay strong in our prayer life, continue to get to know the Father and remember how much He loves us.

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

I am not moved by 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, May 31, 2009

Blessed Sunday to you all! Today has been such a wonderful day. Worship was so uplifting. Bruce was the featured soloist in an ensemble with members of the praise team this morning. After worship we had a wonderful lunch at church and then had friends over for a hot dog cookout this evening. We ate in the backyard and then later sat on the front porch with a cool breeze blowing on us eating pie and talking. What an awesome day! Praise God from whom ALL blessings flow!

1 Thessalonians 5:17 “Pray without ceasing.”

As many of you know through God’s grace enacted by many people our house has been going through its own version of rehab. When this process started back in the winter my prayer has been consistently that our home would be to the glory God and most of all that those who visit are loved by a godly family who loves the living God. It is my strong desire that when people come into our home they know that God is there. I want others to know that not only is God present in those who dwell therein, but to feel a sense of welcome, peace, warmth and safety. I believe God is answering this prayer. I have gone from never allowing anyone to even come beyond the porch to inviting friends over to visit and having my family over for a meal. I am so happy!

Prayer is the linking up of the soul, mind and heart to God. God loves us so much that even if we sort of just glance His way or send a word of Love then God supplies what we need. I spend a lot of time in prayer. I don’t just ask for stuff. I pray for others, give thanks that God is my heavenly Father, Jesus is my Savior and the Holy Spirit dwells in me. Because the Holy Spirit dwells in me and in you we are privy to the special language of Love in which God speaks to us.

On this day of Pentecost, the birthday of the church, God used the transforming power of the Holy Spirit to allow the disciples in the upper room to move out into the courtyard to understand His Word and His plans for the Church. These were praying folk in that upper room. They stayed in contact with God because they learned a life of prayer. Jesus taught the disciples to pray more than the Lords’s Prayer. He modeled a life of prayer in His teachings to His disciples as they walked along dusty roads, as He taught them on hillsides, at mealtime and finally as He hung on the cross and He cried out “forgive them Father…” When our souls are linked to God through prayer, God receives through Him(Jesus) all things.

So friends, spend a lot of time in prayer. Get to know your Heavenly Father, your brother Jesus and keep His very essence, the Holy Spirit as close as your next breath.

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

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