Saturday, January 23, 2010

Happy Saturday!

I spent the day in Tyler with Geni and Travis and the Happening community and Steering Committee. I announced my resignation from the steering committee due to more demands being made on my time with teaching school, being a seminary student, having a husband, family and house to care for and I am going to serve on the upcoming Kairos weekend with Bruce and Geni. Travis has a Saturday class this semester and will be unable to attend all of the trainings and the majority of the weekend. Sometimes it is time to move on as the Spirit leads. Happening gave me an opportunity for spiritual growth and leadership and to meet, serve and love some wonderful people. Travis is the chairman of the steering committee with his sister sitting by his side taking notes on everything that is said. I am so proud of my children and the spiritual growth and leadership this movement has afforded.

John 6: 2 “Do not be afraid. I am here.”

As I celebrated Eucharist today with the Happeners and adult sponsors I shared with them this message. If you are a Happener, were at the meeting today and a reader of this journal then you have already heard this message. This is the message I prepared for the Happeners.

Announcements, Promises and Impossible Situations

This has been a tough week and a half for the people in the nation of Haiti. They have experienced devastating destruction, loss of life and separation from those they love wither by death or geography. So let’s talk about some other tough situations faced by people from the Bible.

Noah. Now here is a man who heard from God with the message, “build me a boat.” The world had become corrupt and God wanted to start over by saving this righteous man, his family and two of the animals. This appears to be an impossible situation and yet God brought good from evil and promised when the Noah family reached dry land that He would never again destroy the earth with water again. He placed the rainbow in the sky to seal His covenant with Noah. I can only imagine the faith of Noah as he began this enormous task and God saying, “Do not be afraid. I am here!”

Fast forward to Abraham and Sarah. Being told in their advanced age by angels sent from God that when they return in a year, Sarah and Abraham would have a son. Sarah and Abraham laughed at this seeming impossibility. For me the thought of starting over and raising a child at 54 is a bit of a stretch, but if I was in my eighties…that would be scary. Well, God, true to His Word, provided Abraham and Sarah with a child. Again, God must have told them, “Do not be afraid. I am here.”

Fast forward again to Jesus and the disciples. The disciples are out on the sea in a boat and see Jesus walking on the water and Jesus calls out to them saying, “Do not be afraid. I am here.” As soon as Jesus got in the boat the disciples reached their destination.

In Haiti this past week, the resident’s world was destroyed. My faith forces me to believe that although God did not cause this disaster to occur I must believe that God was in the midst of the terror and the evidence of His presence is in all of the rescue teams, the telethons, donations given and prayers prayed from around the world. I must believe that God’s strong promise from the gospel of John “Do not be afraid. I am here.” And God will be with the nation of Haiti as they rebuild and begin again.

We all face many decisions and changes in our lives. Let us take comfort in the passage written for all of us “Do not be afraid. I am here.” Claim this verse when the world seems to be crumbling around you and claim this verse when the way seems impossible.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes, count your blessings and say your prayers. Love you all and see you in church, 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, January 21, 2010

Happy Thursday!

Thursday is a really long day. I tutor five students beginning at 7:15 am and leave my class at Brite at 7:45 pm. And my wonderful family graciously had dinner ready when I arrived at home about 8:15 pm.

Tonight I led the evening prayer service from The Book of Common Prayer. I am a non-Episcopalian leading a very high church prayer service as the first one in class to perform this practice. Well, as Dr. Brockman said, “Somebody had to be first.”

I practiced and learned what to do and what to read. Then I was asked to remain at the front after the service for the class to offer constructive criticism of my leadership of the service. They kindly kept their fruit at bay! This was not announced as part of the exercise when the assignment was given. At the very least no one (including me) was maimed, injured or offended. The comments were mostly concerning nuances of the service of which I was unaware. The members of my class are really wonderful and I am totally enjoying the class. The two priests, Father Bruce and Father Sam, are hilarious and are wonderful resources. I think it is going to be a really great semester. I turned in my first paper tonight on the topic of “How does the BCP mark the identity of Episcopalians?” I wrote the paper through my knowledge of the Lutheran Book of Worship and titled the paper “One stop shopping…”

John 4: 1-14 this is the story of the woman at the well in Samaria and her encounter with Jesus.

Jesus walks through Samaria and engages this woman in conversation by the simple request of “May I have a drink of water?”

There are so many things in this story that point to Jesus and His plan to establish God’s kingdom here on earth by establishing a “new order.” First, Jesus, a Jew, walked through Samaria. Jews and Samaritans did not even speak much less cross over the land boundaries. Then Jesus engages this woman in conversation. A Jewish man would never speak to a Samaritan woman. And then Jesus asks her for a drink from the well. She notices that he has no canteen or other container or water and Jesus has no rope to lower into the well for the water. The woman reminds Jesus that the well is deep and it will be difficult to attain water without a canteen and a long rope.

Then Jesus says tells her “I have water that is so satisfying that you will never thirst again and the well will never run dry.” She pleads for this water. Jesus then gives her the most wonderful gift of all. He gives her His identity. Jesus tells her who He is and invites her to be a part of the kingdom of heaven. She is beside herself with joy and runs to tell others of this one called Jesus so that they might receive His identity also.

When was the last time you told someone about Jesus and what He has done for you? God rains down His blessings of grace, mercy and love on us all the time. Let us not miss an opportunity to share what Christ has done for us with others. Invite others to be a part of the kingdom.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes, count your blessings and say your prayers. 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, January 20, 2010

Happy Wednesday!

Well, tomorrow is the day! I will go to my second class on the Book of Common Prayer. I will lead the class in the evening prayer service from the Book of Common Prayer (BCP). Please pray for me as I, the lone Lutheran at Brite, will lead the first service of the semester with a class primarily filled with Episcopalians.

2 Corinthians 12: 9: “Each time He said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness. So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.”

If I had to choose the most common ailment among most people it would be stress. It seems that everyone is under stress about something. Today one of my colleagues was so distraught over the performance of the children in her class that she was in tears. Stress is a part of our lives. But while it is a part of our lives, it does not have to run our lives. When the stresses of home, family, work, health and difficult decisions begin to overtake our thoughts and we think we are going to have a come apart, STOP!

Come apart with God and regroup before you really come apart. God has promised us through Jesus that His grace is all we need to get through times of stress. Stress comes in situations in which we do not have control. When we control a situation we can usually control the outcome. But when the situation is out of our control then we must surrender it over to God who has given us the tools to be strong in our weakness. It is also at times of the darkness of adversity that the light of God shines its brightest and gives off its greatest warmth. Our surrender allows God’s greatest chance to work His grace and strength into our lives and relieve our stress because the stress is not longer ours. The stress belongs to God as we gave it over to Him. Now that you have given the situation over to God, don’t take it back!
The next time you are overcome by stress and think there is no way to climb out of the darkness, open up your heart and allow the grace that God so desires to bless each of us with and surrender the stress and relax.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes, count your blessings and say your prayers. 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, January 19, 2010

Happy Tuesday!

Psalm 9:11 “Sing praises to the Lord…Tell the nations what He has done.”

Have you cleaned up after the Christmas holiday yet? I must admit the tree, ornaments and lights are put away, but the dishes are still out. The wrapping paper, bags and bows are in the attic, but the snowman candy jar is sitting on my printer! The gifts so lovingly given are in use, or eaten, being worn or waiting to be worn. On the calendar Christmas is either behind us or a long way away depending on how you think about it.

Did you ever think about Christmas every day? I know it is a child’s greatest fantasy to have Christmas every day. But for the believer, we can have Christmas every day…not a Christmas filled with new sweaters and electronics, but a Christmas filled each day with new birth. The gift we receive each day is the gift of Jesus Christ. Jesus offers Himself to us each day…not wrapped in ribbons and pretty paper, but wrapped in the blanket of grace. God works through Jesus to give us the gift of the work done on the cross in the resurrection. We receive His energy because the Word says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” We need to rely not on our own strength and stamina, but on the strength of the God that lives within us. Gifts like this are not found under a tree filled with lights, but laying in a manger and resurrected from a cross.

We accept these gifts unworthy as we are because they are given by the King of love. We accept His love for us and become soaked in His grace and blessed with His forgiveness and tender mercies.

So friends, open your heart and receive the gift of Christ’s love each day. Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes, count your blessings and say your prayers. 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, January 18, 2010

Happy Monday!

Romans 14:10, 12 “Remember, each of us will stand personally before the judgment seat of God, Yes, each of us will have to give a personal account to God.”

Today was the day to remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. What do you suppose the conversation was like when he went before the Lord? Dr. King met with a tragic death, but the life led before his death was a life ordained by God. God raised up this man in a family with a tradition of treating others with respect and kindness even when he was not treated so. God prepared him with a dream that people could solve problems by using their words and non-violent ways. God called Dr. King to a purpose that he met with the courage of conviction and a firm belief that he was following the will of God for his life. Dr. King was willing to follow that calling no matter where it led and into what danger might be present. Dr. King was a man driven by the purpose to which God had called him. I can only imagine when Dr. King went before God and God asked him, “ How did you spend your life telling others about my Son, Jesus? What did you do with the gifts I gave you?” I am sure Dr. King after this conversation entered into the kingdom with the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Most of us do not or will not have the global impact as did Dr. King. Children will study Dr. King for generations to come and say the most amazing things about him. But you know what, it really doesn’t matter what others say about you or me. It is about what God says about us. When we come before God and enter the kingdom of heaven for all eternity there is nothing God will not know about us and He will not listen to what others have to say. God will listen only to what we have to say about how we have spent our lives.

Let our lives be driven by love for God and listen and watch for how He wants us to spend our lives. We must be continually seeking God’s plan for our lives and then have the courage of conviction to carry out the purpose God has put before us. When we come before God someday and He asks us how we spent our lives then we can say we spent our lived driven by His love for us.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes, count your blessings and say your prayers. Love you, 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!

Pastor Joel changed his sermon topic from weddings to the tragedy in Haiti. I apologize for not having a scripture reference tonight as Pastor used the book of Job.

Job was the most righteous man in the kingdom. Job had everything. He had a family, land, money power and a fair amount of faith. Then the entire bottom fell out of his life. He went before God, tore his clothes and stood naked before the throne. Everything that had meaning to Job was suddenly and tragically gone. Job goes into mourning and grieving and has no place to go but to God and begin again.
The people in Haiti have been stripped of everything that has meaning to them. Their families have been torn apart. They are experiencing loss, sickness, separation, violation and death. This small nation is standing naked before God with nothing but their faith and the hope of beginning again.

Proverbs 3: 5,6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

There is that word again, all. Job and the people of Haiti have a lot in common. They have both experienced devastating adversity and have no way to look but up. God did not cause this act of nature to occur, but God will be in the midst of the healing and reconstruction.

When we are hurt so badly it almost takes our skin off whether it is physical hurts or emotional hurts we all need a balm for the hurts of our souls. God’s love and trust should be applied as a soothing balm for all of the worry, hurt, cares and tragedies of life. These soothing aloes should be applied all at once and liberally to aid in the healing process. As love and trust is continuously applied to our broken hearts and wounded souls, a spirit of perseverance should begin to arise and the desire to keep going.

My prayer for the nation of Haiti as they continue through the ghastly devastation is that they realize how much God loves them. I pray the Haitians will never lose heart and know that the world is praying for them.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes, count your blessings and say your prayers. Love you all so very much mighty and powerful 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.