Saturday, April 10, 2010

Happy Saturday!

Everybody sing…”He is the champion!” My friends, today we went to Mesquite to watch and cheer on Travis in the Ronnie Coleman Classic. It is a power lifting, arm wrestling, body building and strong man tournament. Travis participated in the Strong Man Competition. And…(drum roll please) Travis emerged the winner of the Strong Man competition in the teen category and has qualified for the National Competition to be held in November in Reno, Nevada! Travis earned 29 out of a possible 30 points throughout the day. We are so proud of Travis. As we progressed through the day we noticed that no matter who was competing, everyone encouraged and supported the one who was competing. It was the most sportsmanship driven event I have ever attended. Of course we wanted Travis to win, but over all the crowd yelled and cheered words of encouragement like “you can do it,“ “stick with it,” “great effort,” as well as others. I was completely impressed with the spirit of excellence which seemed to permeate each event.

If you would like to see Travis at the competition you can go to Facebook. Geni uploaded the videos she recorded today. They are great. It does not take long to watch, just a few minutes.

Isaiah 60:1 “Arise, shine, for Thy light is come and the glory of the Lord is risen upon them.”

Today as we progressed through the day with Travis, I kept a running conversation and updates with family and friends of the outcomes of Travis’ standings. I could not wait to grab my phone and share with these special people.

I know we usually have this scripture at Christmas, but let us look at it through the eyes of one who has just seen the Savior crucified and laid in a tomb presumed dead. Mary Madeleine and the other Mary are at the tomb and they are weeping from heartache, disbelief, overwhelming sadness and loss. Then they see someone they presume to be the gardener who asks them “Why are you looking for the living among the dead?”

I feel pretty sure that the Marys felt dead inside. I wish I did not understand that feeling, but I do. What the Marys did not realize is that their Lord was speaking to them and had conquered the grave by rising from the dead. He then charged them with the task of telling others the He is Risen! At that moment Mary and Mary had experienced the risen Lord and nothing, not their being women, or distance, or anything was to keep them from the sharing the news that the risen Christ was alive and living among them! These women would not let anyone or anything hinder the task the Lord had given them.

Are we as ecstatically excited about our encounters with God? Do we text our family and friends and tell them of what God has done for us? Can we stand at the empty tomb in our grief and sorrow, sin and shame, and let Jesus tell us “I Am Risen! I Am Risen indeed! Alleluia!” and then obediently with great excitement go and tell others “I have seen the Lord and He is living among us.” Just some thoughts for the journey…

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes, count your blessings and say your prayers. Love you all, a very proud, 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, April 8, 2010

Happy Thursday!

1 Corinthians 12:6 “God works through different people in different ways, but it is the same God who achieves His purpose through them all.”

I believe God works through each believer because we have opened the door to our hearts and allowed the love of God to dwell within. God, in His infinite wisdom, has created each of us differently. God has a purpose for each of us and He has shaped each of us for His service. There are as many ways for us to serve Him as there are believers. Each of us has a unique ministry. I don’t mean that each of us is meant to go to seminary and get a degree or serve as a pastor. I simply mean that God will use our gifts and talents in His service.

There is a group each year from Advent that builds houses in Mexico as their service. These people by day are teachers, computer people and a variety of other professions who take their vacation time to go and serve others because of their love for God and His desire for us to serve Him by serving others. Others serve on prayer teams. They receive the prayer concerns each Sunday and devote prayer time to those who have requested prayer.

There are those who clean up the communion ware after Eucharist each Sunday. There are those who quietly go about doing services for others and never ask for any recognition whether it is to clean a friend’s house when the home owners are unable due to illness, age or disability or help with someone’s children.

If you don’t think God can and will use you, you need to remember why you were created. God created each of us differently so that we can serve Him by serving someone else. Each of us has gone through different experiences in our lives. God can use each of us and the roads we have walked and the situations we have been through to help someone else.

I have a good friend at school that is going through a pretty hard time at home. She came to me to talk and pray, but I knew the best I could do for her was to listen and pray because I had never experienced her burden. So, I told her to talk to another of our faculty who was going through the same thing. They found time to visit and one was called to minister to the other. I can listen all day and pray, but in this situation someone else was the better servant.

I think for each of us the hardest thing for us to sacrifice is time. We are all so busy with work and the busyness of each day that we don’t always take the time to listen to God and seek His purpose for our lives. So maybe we should just slow down a bit and earnestly listen for God’s voice whether in the form of scripture, prayer or the calling of a friend then obediently follow the path of servant hood to which we have all be called.

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, April 7, 2010

Happy Wednesday!

Tonight I am going to get right to it…!

Matthew 20:27-28 “Jesus said, “Your attitude must be like My own, for I, the Messiah did not come to be served, but to serve and to give my life.”

I have been struggling with a point of service for some time. I committed to serve on a Kairos Prison Ministry Weekend with Bruce. The problem is I am not sure it was the right decision and I am battling a timing issue. I have two major projects due prior to the weekend and a commitment at school that I must honor. The commitment at school happens on a Friday and I am supposed to be on the weekend on Thursday (the day before). And frankly my attitude has been that this is just one more thing to do and not the joy of servant hood it should be.

My favorite television show of all time is Touched by an Angel. In one episode there was a man struggling with a similar issue and Tess (Della Reese) bluntly said, “God called you into service and you didn’t go?” That is sort of how I feel. I am questioning “Did God call me into this service or did I offer to do this out of love for Bruce and a desire to be able to sleep?” (If you are a reader of my blog you know that when Bruce serves on these not weekends I do not sleep.) I have witnessed the love this team has for each other and their totally devoted commitment to this ministry and yet I have not yet experienced the same joy these gracious, amazing people show in their commitment to this ministry to a forgotten and marginalized community.

And then tonight (after sharing my thoughts and feelings with Bruce) this verse is presented to me. This is what I have learned.

First, service is not optional. I cannot look at my service to God as something to tack onto my schedule for something to fill my spare time. God gave His all for us and He calls us to give and serve.

Second, the purpose for our lives as believers is to serve God by serving others.

I am not sure that this will be my place to serve, but I will honor my commitment and serve beginning on Friday instead of Thursday. I pray God will make clear to me His purpose for me and how I am to serve in this ministry. I ask for your prayers for the 42 residents of the prison who will be pilgrims on this weekend who will hear the word of God as experienced and shared by the Inside Team. I ask your prayers for the team of men who will serve inside and those of us on the Outside Team who will prepare meals, count cookies, pray and worship throughout the weekend. I would also ask a prayer for me to fulfill the scripture placed before me; that I will have a Christ-like attitude and remember why I am there or at least find my purpose.

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, April 6, 2010

Happy Tuesday!

Tonight I prepared dinner using some of the herbs from my kitchen window herb garden. That was really fun and tasted and smelled wonderful! Now if my Topsy- Turvey tomato planter will bear fruit then I will be really excited. The plants are growing and for that I am happy!

2 Timothy 1:9 “It is He who saved us and chose us for His holy work not because we deserved it but because that was His plan.”

Easter is an act of God. Easter is an act of grace. Easter is an act of redemption. What does it mean to redeem something? Read a coupon sometime and you will find it says “redeemable at any Sears or JC Penny’s or wherever.” The coupon will offer an amount of money towards the purchase of something. Kroger sends me coupons for items I really use. (Somehow they keep track of that sort of thing.) When I take that coupon to the store it allows me to get $.50 off of coffee creamer. The coffee creamer’s price is still the same, but because of my coupon I don’t have to pay as much. I get to redeem the coupon that is worth $.50. I pay less, but the value of the product is still the same.

When Jesus died on the cross He redeemed each of us. All of our sins from the past, present, and future were presented to God and instead of the price being reduced it was marked paid in full. The assignment God gave to Jesus was to reconcile the world back unto Himself through His death on the cross and His glorious resurrection. Jesus went about doing God’s holy work. Jesus worked in service to His Father. In the Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren he states, “We are not saved by service, we are saved for service.” Jesus spent His time on earth living a life of obedient service and showing us how to serve others through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus had a purpose. We have the same purpose. We do not all accomplish this purpose in the same way. Just remember that God has a purpose for each of us in the ministry to His Body. Our mission is Easter. It is time to reach out to others and tell them about what Jesus has done in our lives. Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

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, April 5, 2010

Blessed Easter Monday to each of you!

Have you ever been confined with 23 six and seven year olds the day after Easter? Let me tell you, 23 six and seven year olds who have tanked on sugary Easter eggs are a group of noisy and very busy people. I am hoping by tomorrow most of the sugar will have worn off and we can have a better day. I ask for special prayers for all who are taking the TAKS test over the next two days. It is a really stressful test for students and teachers alike.

Ephesians 2:10 “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Easter is an act of God. Easter is also an act of grace. God comes to earth, puts aside His omniscience and His omnipresence and chooses to live among His people so that we could come to know the One who is our Father and Creator. Just as God prepared Jesus to do good works among His people, so He too created us to do the same by following the model of Jesus.

God did not put Jesus on the earth as a full grown man. God placed Jesus on the earth the same way we are all placed here on earth - in the form of a helpless baby. And just as all babies do, Jesus grew. God prepared Jesus to be a man by putting Him in a family where there was love, caring and faith. Jesus grew in wisdom, stature and in favor with God and man. Jesus came to earth to make a difference by serving God and others. This is also God’s purpose for our lives.

Whenever we serve others we are serving God and fulfilling our purpose for our creation. We were not sent to earth just to breathe, eat, play video games and take up space here on this planet. God has called each of us, His children, to make a difference. We who are sinful, willful, stubborn and sometimes totally goofy people are the ones He has called into His ministry of reconciliation. We are the focus of His love. We are forgiven. We are prepared through His Word and prayer and He has placed His trust in us. WOW!!!

So Easter people…take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. Love you all friends and mighty 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.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

What a glorious day of worship and praise to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We celebrated our first contemporary Easter Service at Advent this morning. The orchestra began with a wonderful instrumental piece called Come Celebrate Jesus and the Celebration Choir (praise team) followed with Make His Praise Glorious. I went over and spoke to a friend before the service and she introduced me to her daughter and husband who were visiting for Easter. I told them to be prepared because the house was about to rock! They were not disappointed.

Pastor told a wonderful story this morning. It went something like this…there was a wedding and just as the pronouncement was made a man in the back of the sanctuary yelled “Yes!” “Yes!” and punched his fist in the air. After yelling this, he looked around and realized where he was and slid back down in the seat where he took off his headphones. It seems instead of paying attention to the wedding he was listening the University of Texas play Texas A & M in football and whoever he was pulling for had just done something in their favor.

Last night we talked about the empty tomb and the Marys who went to pay their respects. Upon their arrival they discovered an empty tomb and Jesus standing before them. Do you suppose when they discovered they were talking with the One they had followed for all this time, had watched Him crucified and laid in a tomb, then to walk out of the tomb completely healed of all beatings, blood loss due to the crown of thorns and hands and feet healed from the nails driven into bones and torn flesh, that they said, “Yes, Lord!”?

These women witnessed an act of God. Pastor Joel talked about what Easter is. One of the things he shared was that Easter is an act of God. Resurrection is an act of God. It was not the disciples, not the women or the followers in Jerusalem and not us who caused the resurrection. It was by God’s power and His authority that Jesus was raised from the dead.

Then Pastor told one more story that explained act of God in our time. Terry McVeigh was one of the ones who helped bomb the building in Oklahoma City in 1995 that killed so many people including children in the day care center there. When the trial came about, the grandmother of one of the children who was killed was at the trial. She saw the mother and sister of Terry McVeigh sitting alone on the other side of the courtroom bearing the weight of Terry’s crime by taking the insults being hurled by others in the courtroom. This grandmother went over and sat with McVeigh’s mother and sister trying to comfort them. During the trial the grandmother invited McVeigh’s family to stay at her home. The women became friends.

Pastor shared that we often talk about acts of God when there is a tornado or a hurricane. But those seem to be acts of nature. The compassion of the one who lost her grandchild through her loss and pain reached out to one suffering just as she, performed an act of God.

Can we open our hearts and let the love of God flow through us and act on His behalf? Can we show others what Easter is by performing an act of God? God watched His Son suffer and die a ghastly, horrible and humiliating death. And yet, Jesus walked out of that tomb made anew and is prepared to make each of us new also by forgiving us our sins out of His love for us. This act of God happens everyday.
Lent is behind us and Holy Week is over. Let us show others that we are Easter people. Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes, count your blessings and say your prayers. Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

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 I have a paper due on Thursday. My research material did not come in until late last week. I have begun my research tonight. So you might hear from Bruce some this week. Please pray for me. Just letting you know.

Prayer alert! Our niece’s grandmother Noelle who was gravely ill and near death a couple of weeks ago has rallied and the doctors have given her about a year. So please give thanks and continue to pray for Noelle, Lani (daughter) and Bianca (granddaughter and our niece.) Peace, gc