Saturday, February 6, 2010

Happy Friday!!

It is a bit late and I must rise early for a Saturday. I am going to begin team meetings for the Kairos Prison Ministry, God’s Special Time for the Allred Unit in the morning. This is the first team meeting and it is in Decatur, Texas. I am looking forward to a new experience in service ministry. The only thing I know is that I will serve in come capacity on the Outside Team. I am asking for your prayers for the team that will gather and prepare for this very special ministry to a forgotten people.

2 Corinthians 4:16 “We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Today as I was at school one of my colleagues was presented with beautiful bouquet of roses and a heart shaped balloon. Both gifts were beautiful and a totally sweet gesture by her boyfriend. And as I watched her receive these gifts I began to think that not too long from now the flowers will have faded and the balloon will have lost its air and the vase will be empty and the balloon will be flat. Both of these gifts while sweet and exciting to receive are both temporary. Enjoy them for today, but don’t get too attached because soon they will be gone. I told Bruce as we watched this interchange that as sweet as those gifts are I really like a gift that is more lasting.

The truth is what we can count on to last forever, as believers, is not temporary, but eternal. The gift of love given by God is Jesus and by His resurrection we are granted eternal life - eternal life in Jesus Christ. His love, grace, forgiveness and tender mercies are everlasting. His love for us will never fade and His “air”, the Holy Spirit, will never go flat.

As we plan on gifts of love to share with those ones we love the most maybe we could share some of the gifts God has given us. Let us be more loving to our friends and family. Let us be more forgiving. Let us open ourselves to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

God wishes us a happy Valentine’s Day each day. His love, goodness, kindness and tender mercies are fresh and new every day and for all eternity.

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.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Happy Thursday!

Today was a wonderful blessing. It was a day filled with productive work, answered prayer, some really cool revelations in my theology class and a great dinner prepared by my two favorite men (Parmesan chicken, made from scratch and broccoli with cheese y-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-m-m-my!)

1 Corinthians 4:2 “Those who are trusted with something valuable must show they are worthy of that trust.”

Recently I borrowed a cookbook from a friend and I cooked from it throughout the Christmas and New Year’s holiday. As I cooked with it I noticed that the pages of the recipes we really enjoyed were a little dusty with flour and cornmeal. Also, the cookbook would open to the favorites and I could really tell they had been used. I felt really bad that I could not return the cookbook in the same condition in which it was received, so I purchased a new copy and gave it to my friend. She trusted me with the cookbook and so I felt it the honorable thing to do to return a perfect copy to her since the book did not belong to me.

Everything in our lives belongs to God. Our spouses, children, homes vehicles etc…We are just caretakers and stewards. I think I learned that lesson when I surrendered Casey over to God’s care and keeping. Casey belonged to God before he belonged to me and so I felt it my job to care for Him faithfully until someone else came along who could take over the job. We found out all too soon that God was to be his next and final caretaker. It was my prayer that we had taught Casey what he needed to live out his life when the time came without us by his side. I believe that Casey spent the final year of his life doing exactly what God would have him do. Casey was the representative hope for so many people and such a wonderful example of what a surrendered life looks like as it was lived out fully in his last year.

God entrusts so many things to us. I think what he entrusts to us the most is living out our lives as Jesus did. Are we telling others what God has done and is doing in our lives? Are we helping those who need help whether it is food in the fridge, a shoulder on which to cry, praying for a family in crisis or just a listening ear? Because we are God’s, He has lordship over our lives and because He has lordship over our lives we must take the best care of each other that we can.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes, count your blessings and say your prayers. Love you all so very much, 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, February 3, 2010

Happy Wednesday!

Luke 16:10 “Unless you are faithful in small matters, you won’t be faithful in large matters.”

Did you ever consider seeing life from God’s view? I don’t mean a view high and lofty from a heavenly realm, but how God sees us as He is present with us here on earth. It seems that we are tested so that God can teach us to trust in Him for everything. What do you suppose would happen if we actually turned each part of our lives over to God?

Let me tell you what I think. If we really were brave enough to trust God with each part of our lives and loved Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength then we would be so in tune with the Holy Spirit that we would listen and be assured of God’s purpose for each us. We would not only be assured of God’s purpose for our lives but we would joyfully and without question or fear of the purpose for which He created us.

The world will offer experiences that will offer conventional wisdom. God offers through our relationship with Him through Jesus a path to Godly wisdom. God gives us wisdom through His Word and prayer.

God trusts us with many things and then He remains present with us as we work within the situations to teach us how to work and think as God would work and think. What an amazing God we serve especially when we are called to His purpose.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes, count your blessings and say your prayers. Love you all so very much, 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, February 2, 2010

Happy Tuesday!!

Today is Groundhog Day. We celebrate and study this famed little rodent on my classroom each year. I have a small stuffed groundhog that lives in a Gevalia coffee box and hibernates under my reading table most of the year. He makes his appearance to check for his shadow on each February 2. Today in Gobbler’s Knob, PA, Puxatawney Phil saw his shadow, but in Fort Worth, Texas this morning, our groundhog, Murray, did not. So, we will see if there will be an early spring.

Exodus 16:4 “I will cause a flood to fall like rain from the sky for all of you. Every day the people must go out and gather what they need for that day.”

God delivered the nation of Israel from slavery. He led them across the desert with a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day. He provided manna which they ate for forty years. God provided each of the House of Israel with what they needed to keep themselves fed and safe as they traveled across the desert to Mount Sinai. He gave them only one instruction concerning the manna, ”Only take what you need for the day.” Why did God tell the House of Israel to only take enough for the day? God wanted to teach the nation of Israel to trust Him.

We may not be the nation of Israel, but we are still held captive by our own lack of trust in God. God showed the Hebrews day after day and night after night that He was taking care of them in so many ways. Still there were those who did not trust God. They took more manna than they needed for one days worth of sustenance. When they went to use it the next day, they found it to be spoiled and unfit for consumption.

Just throwing this out there…How has God taken care of us? What has God done for us day after day and night after night without fail?

First, He has loved us unconditionally through Jesus and that will never change. Next, God has walked the deserts with us because He promised to never leave us or forsake us. God chooses to walk with us out of His love for us. God chooses to walk the journey with us and experience everything the journey holds. And when the path gets really rough and we are exhausted, He carries us. God gives us strength for the day. He gives us strength for the day because He wants to take care of tomorrow.

So my dear friends, walk in joy with the Father this day and gather the strength He offers. The strength of God will walk us safely across any desert.

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.
Happy Monday! Happy February!

I hope this day finds you well and warm. At this time each year my classroom studies Groundhog Day. There is some very interesting science to the legend. I think the people in Gobbler’s Knob, Pennsylvania, celebrate this old legend just to get hammered. They drag poor Phil out of his climate controlled apartment to see if the sun is shining or it the weather is cloudy. He is the sleepiest groundhog and would most likely just rather not!

Tonight I am writing in thanksgiving and great joy for Jeremy Brewer. He and his wife Addie are the directors of the Praise Team at our church. Jeremy was accepted to medical school this morning and the best part is that he will be doing his studies in Fort Worth! We have been praying for months as he has traveled all over the state doing interviews for different medical schools. We would have wished him well and Godspeed had he been called to study elsewhere, but we are so glad that he and Addie will remain here and do not have to move.

Jeremy leads a life of surrender and I feel fairly certain that this verse is written on his heart. Rick Warren says, “Don’t be afraid; nothing under His control can ever be out of control.”

James 4:7 “Give yourselves completely to God.”

Wow! Now there is a statement. Such a brief statement and yet it is the hardest passage for us to attain. God gave us the gift of free will. We can choose. I would love to tell you that I live a completely surrendered life, but NOT!! There are times I live more surrendered than others. When things are going well I give thanks, but I tend to rely more on me and a bit less on the One who loves me and knows what is best for me. When the road is rocky and filled with pot holes, valleys, and mountains to climb (lessons to learn), I seem to cling to the Father in faith and dependence on Him to see me safely to whatever destination set before me or teaching me the lessons I need to learn. It is sort of like the nation of Israel when they walked out of Egypt.

The Hebrew people were led from their captivity by the constant presence of God. God led them with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. God took care of them by night and day. God never left their sides or went out of their sight. They surrendered themselves over to God and trusted that He would bring them to the place He promised. Not the place for which they asked necessarily, but the place that He had prepared for them.

God does the same for us each day. When we surrender ourselves over to the One Who knows us best and loves us most then He can do His greatest work, because we are free from fear, free from regrets, free from our past and free from our sin. God can then lead us to where He wants us to go to do what His will desires for our lives. We will then have attained the “High calling of God in Christ Jesus.” The best part is that God will never ask us to make this journey alone. God goes with us each step of the way. Praise God for His love for each of us.

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.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Blessed Sunday to you all!

Worship this morning was held in Luther Hall due to construction in our sanctuary. Luther Hall is our multi-purpose building which houses Sunday School classrooms, the kitchen and a large gymnasium. The gym was set up with the stage area for the band, Praise Team, the Communion Table and in the back were tables. It was a very relaxed atmosphere for worship and I really loved it. I happen to think that this is a wonderful venue for contemporary worship. We will worship there one more week as the sanctuary is being rehabbed.

Luke 4: 16—19 “Jesus traveled to Nazareth, where He had grown up. On the Sabbath day he went to the synagogue, as He always did, and stood up to read. The book of Isaiah, the prophet, was given to Him. He opened the book and found the place where this is written: “The Lord has put His Spirit in Me, because He appointed Me to tell the Good news to the poor. He has sent me to tell the captives they are free and to tell the blind that they can see again. God sent me to free those who have been treated unfairly and to announce the time when the Lord will show His kindness.”

This is a really short sermon. In just a few sentences Jesus announces his identity and His mission. Jesus has just come from His temptation in the desert by Satan. It is now time to begin the ministry for which he was created. If you read a bit further in the passage Jesus tells the worshipers in the synagogue that “While you heard these words just now, they were coming true.”

Jesus grew up in Nazareth. Just as He had done each Sabbath day for his entire life He attended synagogue and took His place among the people Today was His day to read the scripture passage. Jesus knew that today of all days it would mean more than just reading the scripture passage to those in worship, but it would be the starting place for the final walk to the cross. He told those who had known Him since He came to Nazareth as a boy who He was and what His intentions were.

Jesus told those in worship that the scripture was fulfilled in Him: Jesus. Then Jesus said that He had come to give sight to the blind, free the captives, bring Good News to the poor and to treat those who have been treated unfairly with kindness and fairness.

I have a picture of this scene in my head. Jesus is sitting near the front and waiting His turn to read. The priests in front of the congregation leading worship and here comes Joseph and Mary’s boy claiming to be God on foot, about to turn their world upside down and perform miraculous feats of healing and turn political beliefs upside down. The priests and worshipers were appalled at these proclamations and tried to take Jesus to the nearest cliff and throw Him over.

Let’s look at this from another view point. It is 2010 and we are seated before Jesus in our houses of worship and Jesus is speaking these words to us. Is there any among us who is not in need of our blindness being healed, our sins being forgiven because we are held captive by them or to be taught how to treat others fairly and with kindness? Is there anyone among us who can honestly say we are not in need of God’s grace? When we are face to face with Christ blinded by our sin, held captive by our own will and honestly look at the ways we have treated others do we just want to rid ourselves of the One who can free us from all of our guilt, shame and sin or do we bow at His feet and cry forgiveness and mercy because of his love for us?

It is a brand new week and a great time to begin again. This God of ours through Jesus is the God of the second chance and many, many more chances. Pray for forgiveness and mercy and ask God to teach each of us how to be like Jesus.

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.

PS The church that burned down is Saginaw Park Baptist Church in Saginaw, Texas. gc