Friday, June 19, 2009

Happy Thursday and Happy Birthday Casey.

Today Casey would have been 25 years old. I remember the day he was born. After delivery with Casey just a few minutes old, our pastor, Rev. Art Digby, was at the hospital and we had our first prayer as this new little family. Later that same night I was in my room and I heard this screaming baby coming down the hall. It was Casey. They brought him to me told me he was keeping all of the other babies awake with his crying. They lifted him out of the nursery crib and laid him in my arms and he was immediately quiet. The nurses were totally shocked. Casey just needed his mama. We were pretty well joined at the hip for the next near 25 years.

This afternoon as Bruce and I were talking I asked him if he thought Casey would forgive us for not celebrating his birthday today as we were all going separate ways. We will celebrate tomorrow. Bruce assured me that Casey would not mind as we are certain that if birthdays are celebrated in heaven that the cake was amazing and that Casey was sitting at the eternal table of grace bathed in a light that our earthly candles could never match.

John 3:30 “He must become greater and I must become less.”

Casey was not perfect. He was a good kid who made average grades in school, was a good athlete, sang like an angel, loved his family and his truck and had one promising relationship with a future in his 24 years with us. He had a kind and loving heart, lots of friends and a close relationship with God. If you took away his name from this list of attributes, I could be describing lots of young men. But the last year of Casey’s life was extraordinary. I was privileged to spend nearly every waking and many sleeping moments with Casey. I was witness to this scripture in the last year of Casey’s life.

As the disease of this incurable cancer slowly took his body, it never took his spirit. As more of the disease spread, the life, presence and spirit of God became greater and became more powerful than the disease. Yes, the disease took the temporal, but it could not even touch the spiritual. As Casey’s body became weakened by cancer, God became stronger in his will to surrender all to the God who loved him so.

I thought my faith was strong until I witnessed the gift of faith in the last year of Casey’s life. What I have come to know is that for Christ to grow in me, I must be willing to surrender all to the will of God. The more I surrender, the more space is freed up for God to take up residence in my life. God does not really need us to accomplish His work on earth after all He is God. But He did choose us. He chose us because He loved us and wants that intimate relationship with us.

Maybe only those who are nearing earthly death can understand fully what it means to have less of yourself and more of God in their lives. I just know this experience has caused me to look at every step I take and decision I make in a different light. John 1: 4 “That true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.” The front of the heart pendant I wear has Casey’s image etched on it and the back of the pendant says: Light, Love, Faith. These words describe the last year of Casey’s life.

If God wore our pictures on a pendant around His neck, what would the words on the back say about our lives? Friends, let us all examine our lives. Has God become greater in our life as we have diminished? If we are the greater in our life what do we need to surrender so God can take up more space? When He fills the space we have surrendered, He fills it with His light.

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.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Happy Wednesday!

2 Corinthians 4:17 “…For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory.”

How many times have we said, “I am sure God has a reason for what is happening in our lives.” We usually say this when we are going through a really difficult time. Sometimes we say, “Why me?” but most of the believers I know look for God’s reason. I don’t believe God puts difficulty in our path. But I do believe when a tough time enters our life, God creates a plan for which we are to walk the road of suffering, sorrow or loss. When we face the tough time with faith and belief that God is going to lead us through, then we bear the “weight of His glory.”

I don’t thank God for the trail, but I do thank Him that He is there in each step and His mercies and grace surround me. I give thanks that I can pray to Him who has walked the path of suffering, sorrow and loss and knows exactly the way to lead because He has walked the road before me. Because the God of the Moses, Abraham, Peter, James and John, the Father of Jesus Christ Himself has promised that through affliction He will remain. The Lord of Hosts will fight the battle for me if only I ask. And then when someday I leave this earth to be with Christ forever, maybe I will be a testimony for God’s mercy, faithfulness, forgiveness and His all encompassing love.

Friends and family, each of us is fighting some kind of battle. When the battle seems to be overwhelming and you want to give up, Don’t! For God does not give up on us. God is relentless in His mission for His glory to shine through His people especially when the times are tough.

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.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Romans 10:17 “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”

In preparing for the Burton Fellowship and Prayer Group Summer Edition, I went to the daily journal which we have been going through since Spring Break: God Calling. The title of the lesson for today is “Expect the Good”. Sometimes my attitude of faith does not expect the good. It projects a tough time either emotionally, mentally, physically or a spiritual testing of my faith. God’s Word says just the opposite. I am not to look beyond the day given to me.

I know I have said this before, but when a child is lost, everything changes. This type of loss causes me to think about everything differently because nothing is the same as it was before the loss. For each holiday and each celebration where Casey was with us last year and all of his life, this year I find myself without the same glad expectation as in the past. I usually get to gladness, but it takes a while and then, when the actual event occurs, I enjoy the family and friends, but there is still a piece missing that keeps me from experiencing the fullness of joy I once experienced. I am not claiming the expectant attitude of faithful joy and gladness to which I have been taught by the Word and its inspired writers to experience.

This coming Thursday would have been Casey’s 25th birthday. And as I was meditating on this passage of scripture I knew God meant for me to think of this upcoming event. Birthdays are a big event in our house. There is always dinner at the honoree’s favorite restaurant or their favorite dinner prepared at home and red velvet cake with cream cheese icing. Geni and Travis have already asked how we will celebrate Casey’s birthday this year. I am not sure yet, but if there are birthdays in heaven then Casey will celebrate his 25th birthday with Jesus at the table of grace with joy that that we might only be able to imagine.

So I guess the question for the day is: How am I going to greet Thursday? Will I greet the day with a sense of sadness and loss? I probably will spend some time in remembering the day of his birth and think about how I wish he was still here to eat red velvet cake and grilled bourbon chicken. But I am also going to pray, beginning now, that I will not expect a day of sadness, but will claim with joyful trust that this is going to be a good day. The same God of love who was there on that blessed day in June 25 years ago and on that darkest day back in October, is the same loving, compassionate and merciful God who will be with me today and each day. The living God, giver of every good and perfect gift will grant comfort and joy all in the same breath.

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, June 15, 2009

Happy Monday!

Acts 1:12, 14 “They went back to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives…They all continued praying together.”

I teach first grade children. They are between the ages of early 6’s to late 7’s in age. Often I have to say this phrase, “You have two ears and one mouth. This arrangement was not done by accident. You were meant to listen twice as much as you talk.”

After the disciples came back from the Mount of Olives they gathered together and continued to pray. They prayed for ten days with just a bit of preaching. Those 11 men who prayed for ten days led 3000 people to come to know Christ. These men listened to God for ten days and did little talking. What do you suppose those men prayed about and what do you suppose God told them in those ten days? I think God was preparing them for their missions after the day of Pentecost. These men had experienced the living God in their midst. They experienced His teaching and witnessed Him perform miracles of healing and change. The disciples were given the power of the Holy Spirit to heal others and to speak in the name of Jesus. They were given the authority to speak, heal, and teach in His name. The disciples were given these abilities and these instructions while they spent time praying more and talking less. As these men were praying they were waiting on the Lord. They waited not only for His return, but for His instructions. They prepared their hearts and minds for the receiving of His Word. And now it was time to take the Word out to the people of Palestine and the surrounding areas.

In our world of instant everything waiting is something we do not do well. It is the same with our relationship to God. We want instant answers to our prayers. We want instant healing from brokenness. God does not work on our time. He works on His time.

Spend time in prayer. Not just prayers for parking spaces and something we want to be on sale, but spend time in prayer getting to know the One who loves us most. When you pray, listen to God and be willing to wait upon the Lord.

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.
Blessed Sunday!! What a wonderful day! Worship was so wonderful today. Our team of volunteers returned from Mexico with the wonderful stories of building a house for a family. But mostly the stories of the “little miracles” from God that happened throughout the week were the one that touched my heart. One of the stories was that someone in the neighborhood who ran up to them told them “Don’t you know you are hammering for Jesus?” They gave thanks for things like shade, a breeze, a bathroom and hot meal and other simple gifts that we look at as everyday occurrences and conveniences.

2 Corinthians 5: 16-17 ‘So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone and the new has come.”

Our team, Advent, who worked through the Casas por Christo, were 17 people who were not master builders, not contractors or even devotees of Home Depot. They were however, people who were empowered by the Holy Spirit and the God who loved them to go and build a house for a family who now has a sturdy house with a set of keys that they can call their own. These amazing people were the “ambassadors for Christ” spoken about in this passage of scripture and the following verses. They took something old, unsafe and falling apart and replaced it with a wonderful house that this family could call their own. The old has passed away and the new has come.

They did this wonderful act as apostles. Apostles are disciples who were trained and taught by the Master and empowered to speak and act in His name.

But it was not only a house that was built. It was a mustard seed faith that as the week progressed bloomed and grew so did their faith as did the faith of the neighborhood, the local church and the family who was to receive the house. With each board that was cut, each nail hammered and each room laid out there were prayers of thanksgiving and ecstatic, exhaustive joy was expressed. One of the team members summed up the trip in these words, “How can I be so exhausted and feel so refreshed.” The Holy Spirit kept the spirits, minds and bodies focused on the task at hand.

When is the last time we have been so exhausted and at the same time felt so refreshed? When was the last time we emptied ourselves in the name of Jesus? When was the last time we showed “grace in action” and expected nothing in return? Christ emptied Himself for us out of the love for us given by the Father. By the time Jesus reached Golgotha’s hill, He was exhausted and still had a few hours to go. Just before He died Jesus looked to the heavens and said, “It is finished.”

I don’t know what the team did when the last nail was hammered and the keys were handed to the family. I don’t know if the team said, “It is finished” or not, but they completed their task. They emptied themselves for the lives of others. For just a few short days, this wonderful team became Jesus.

They took joy in the journey. Let us do the same. 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.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Happy Saturday! Today we were in different directions. Travis worked, Geni floated down the Guadalupe River and became seriously sunburned but had a wonderful time while Bruce and I went to Corsicana and Waxahachie to take care of door issues. I watched a master craftsman at work, met two different homeowners and it was a delightful day.

John 20:19 “Peace be with you.”

Okay Moms and Dads, do you remember when your babies were tiny and they began to cry? This time not just a regular cry, but a screaming cry that would not stop. This is a cry that was so hard and strong that brought about tears to your baby and to you. Your tears were tears of frustration and fretfulness because nothing you were doing was having any effect at all on this crying baby. This baby who could not tell you what was wrong, but something was definitely wrong and their only way to communicate was to cry. Did you pray peace over your “colicky” baby?

I have stood in the living room and rocked back and forth, sang, changed diapers and even gotten in the car and driven the baby around the block a few times. They don’t know how to relieve their pain and you don’t know how to relieve their pain and you feel frustrated, tired and sleepy. (Because these episodes only seem to happen in the middle of the week and you have to go to work in the morning!) Who needed peace more, you or your baby?

Jesus spoke these words to the believers gathered in that upper room after the crucifixion. The disciples were gathered knowing that when the crucifixion happened they had scattered in fear. Now they were without their Lord and Master. Among them were betrayers, failures and cowards. And then, just when the point of despair was settling into their brains and hearts and their spirits were sagging, they hear these words, “Peace be with you,” spoken by the Voice they had grown to love and count on for the prior three years. Enter Jesus. Jesus did not come into that room and say, “You guys bailed on me when I really needed you.” He said the exact words they needed to hear, “Peace be with you.” Jesus did not come to chastise them, but to offer peace to their troubled minds and aching souls. Jesus came to tell those He was so close to that He still loved them and that He forgave them and offered them peace, not judgment, not harassment, not alienation, but peace. When He offered peace, Jesus once again offered Himself. The storm in Jerusalem was still going on and the men were still afraid, but now Jesus was among them. He was in the eye of the storm where there is peace.

Do you have a lot on your mind? Do you need to sort things out? Do you need to talk to the Master? Call on the Master. Do not be afraid because I think the first words He will say will be “Peace be with you.”

Take joy in the journey. See you in worship. 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.