Saturday, August 28, 2010

Happy Saturday!

Travis took second place in the power lifting meet this evening where he competed in the dead lift competition! On his final dead-lift of the day, he lifted 600 pounds, a personal best. He was the next youngest lifter at the competition. The lifter who won first place was a Fort Worth police officer who was 10-15 years older than Travis and he lifted 740 pounds. We are so proud of Travis and are thankful that he was not injured and competed well.

Those of you who were unable to attend the Summer Women’s Bible Study held at Advent missed a completely delightful and enlightening event. The tables were filled with wonderful sisters in Christ, all conversing and sharing prayer experiences and being led by Noralyn Carpenter, Flo Forester and myself. The lunch was delicious with tables filled with salad and a delicious banana pudding dessert. Many kudos to Nancy Kuper for organizing an inspiring event. I believe we all grew in Christ’s love for each other and our prayer lives will be greatly enriched because of our time spent together. I hope more events like this one will be planned in the future.

John 12:36 “Anyone who wants to be My disciple must follow me, because My servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves Me.”

I learned many years ago about living a life in piety. A life in piety is how you spend your life with Christ. The parts of a life in piety are study of the Word, prayer, worship and service. When we come into relationship with Christ, this new life brings with it the responsibilities of living that life in service to God to His people. We serve God in love. Every action we take is in service to the One who first loved us and gave His life so that we might serve Him here on earth and in eternity. The angels are always obedient as the messengers of God and serve Him continually. Angels, who have been created by God, do not need faith. They live face to face with God and do His bidding without a thought of being disobedient.

We, however, have been given the gift of faith by God and the gift of free will to make choices. When we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior then we are consecrated, holy and set apart for His service. We begin a new life in His service, a life spent in joy with the Father and with the power of the Holy Spirit.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes, count your blessings and say your prayers. Love you all and see you in worship, 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, August 27, 2010

Happy Friday!

The catch phrase at 3:30 pm today was “I survived the first week of school!” The first week of school is always exhausting. It was a good week and I have a very interesting and really sweet class of students. We have a full year ahead of us and the journey will be one of learning, laughter, some bumpy roads and fun, but the most important path we take as a community of believers is that we always move forward.

Psalm 23: 2-3 “He makes me to lie down in green pastures: He leads me beside the still waters…He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”

Isaiah 30:15 “In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.”

Tomorrow is the long awaited Summer Women’s Bible Study event. I am excited about the event. I am looking forward to hearing the speakers and their perspectives on prayer. I am looking forward to sharing prayer with a truly spiritual group of women who value and practice prayer in their lives. I am humbly honored to be counted in the women asked to present different aspects of prayer to a room of women who are mighty prayer warriors.

I love the 23rd Psalm. It houses within its few verses so much about faith, affirmation, hope and a life with God through Jesus. This pair of verses speaks of quiet confidence. The quiet confidence is the knowledge that God is present all the time and leads us faithfully. When the pace of life gets really out of hand God provides a place of still waters for us to walk beside and focus not on the business of life, but on His life in each of us and how precious it is.

You know sheep are not very smart and if they wander into rushing waters their wool becomes very weighed down and they do not have the strength to walk out of the water to save themselves. But if they wander into a still stream, their wool still gets wet, but they can walk out when the shepherd calls onto the shore in safety. The sheep only know to respond to the shepherd and confidently they follow to him to food, shelter and safely. They trust that the shepherd will not allow any harm to come to them. He will lead them only to where the grass will be green and the meadow will be free from any other animal seeking to harm them. The only time the sheep gets into trouble is when they wander off on their own out of the sight and earshot of the shepherd. Ah, free will strikes again!

How we are like those sheep, especially when we wander away and get into trouble! The difference in an earthly shepherd and the living God is that God has provided us with His very presence in the Holy Spirit so that we are never out of ear shot of His voice and we are never out of the realm of His love and grace no matter how far we wander away from the fold. God simply asks that we trust Him in all things and trust that He will lead each of us safely, faithfully and confidently beside the still waters. God desires us to place all we have within His supreme control and trust that we will not be swept downstream, but into His loving arms.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes (I have new black heels for tomorrow.), 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.

Prayer alerts: our friend Kimmie is having some immediate financial worries. She is married with a young child and is very scared and has asked for God to intervene and provide a miracle.

Tucker Zaskoda, a 4 year old brother of one of my former students has had a violent, adverse reaction to immunizations and is in the hospital. Please pray for little Tucker and his family.

Travis competes tomorrow in a power lifting event. Please pray for him to compete well and remain injury free. Peace, gc

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Happy Thursday!

Psalm 56:11 “In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.”

God loves us so very much. He loves us so much that when trials and troubles enter our lives and at times seem completely overwhelming, God can turn those tough times and situations to work His perfect will in our lives. Because of God’s extraordinary compassion and tender mercies for his children, our tough times cannot destroy us.
God’s presence in the tough times is like sunlight in our path. Darkness can be really scary, but the light of God’s love allows us to trust in Him and go forward unafraid. His grace is sufficient for all of our needs.

Part of the meditation I read tonight said “From now a new Life is opening out before you. Yours to enter into the Kingdom I have prepared for you.”

I began to think of my future beyond the role of an educator. Being a classroom teacher is all I have ever done as a career. And then I think about Geni as her career as a teacher is just about to take off. Where did the time go and how did we reach this place in the road? I think of all she has before her and what a fabulous teacher she is going to make and the difference she will make in the lives of those children she teaches. I look and listen each day as she tells exciting stories about the children she is working with in a classroom in Northwest ISD.

Knowing that in the not too distant future I will not teach children is a bittersweet thought. I am excited at the prospect of becoming a full time student and a little sad at leaving the only career I have ever known. (This feeling really surprises me!) I am not sure when that time will happen, but I know that when it does, it will be a rite of passage from one life into another. I place my trust in God to prepare me to leave the world of being the educator and entering the full time world of being educated in the field of divinity. I must learn to trust and go forward unafraid. My prayer for Geni is that she, too, will trust and will go forward unafraid. Whoever would have thought that these prayers at opposite ends of the spectrum of our lives would have the same meaning.

So here is the question…How will you respond when God calls you to service? I fought seminary for years until I finally responded in obedience to the call of Christ. We are not all called into the professional pastoral ministry, but we are all called to serve. As children of God and followers of Christ, just as Jesus did in the garden we must trust and go forward unafraid. What a journey our God is sending us on!

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes, count your blessings and say your prayers. Let us continue to pray for each other each day. 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, August 25, 2010

Happy Wednesday!

My class is going to be amazing! My teacher spoke of worshiping in the name of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit! How awesome it that!

Matthew 7:14 “Because straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads unto life, and few there be that find it.”

One of my friends from my class this summer is in my class this fall. She is a full time student who has already been licensed from the Disciples of Christ and is currently out of work. She is in danger of losing her house and having trouble making other payments. However, she is still being led by the Holy Spirit and is more concerned about not being able to make her tuition payments than anything else. Tonight she was tearfully telling me about this and she said she was beginning to feel weary and just wanted to feel some solid ground beneath her just for a few minutes. But even through her weariness she is still seeking God’s direction in all things

How many of us have felt these feelings of uncertainty about where the money is going to come from for the utility bills or groceries or gas or whatever the immediate needs happen to be (and in some cases, all are immediate needs!) I know we have in our house. Our God loves us so much and desires a relationship with us that when we seek Him he is always present and seeking Him is never an exercise in vain. God’s very breath breathed into us will replenish and renew us.

Sometimes our weariness and our exhaustion are not signs of a lack of spirit but the guiding of the Holy Spirit. When we rest on the promises of God and give to Him our stresses and weariness then the Spirit can permeate our very souls and we will be restored. We will be restored simply by His presence for our God is tender and strong and walks all roads with us. And when the world says to turn back and not complete the journey, those who believe can confidently press on down the road, or up the mountain knowing that the path will lead to the abundant life God has planned for each of us. We can do all through Christ who strengthens us with His grace, His love and gives us strength and help in time of need.

Take joy in the journey (it really hacks Satan off!). Wear comfortable shoes, count your blessings and say your prayers. Let us continue to pray for one another. 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, August 24, 2010

Happy Tuesday!

Geni had a successful day at her school on Rhome, Texas, where she is working with a class of first graders. She was really tired when she got home. I told her to get used to it! The beginning of the school year is always exhausting.

Daniel 3:17 “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace; and He will deliver us out of the hand of the king.”

Tomorrow I begin the third day of school and my first day of class at Brite. The professor I will have is the first professor I had when I began my studies at Brite two years ago. I only got to stay about half of the semester and then Casey got sick and I had to drop the class. The class this semester is on Christian worship. I have begun the reading and I think I am really going to enjoy the class. I ask your prayers as I begin this class on a subject that is near to my heart.

As I was reading the syllabus I read the expectations. One of the terms the professor used was “flawless.” The professor expects the work to be flawlessly presented. He expects the written work to be perfect with no spelling or grammar errors with proper references etc… I don’t know if I can write a “flawless” paper. But I know that God has called me to this seminary and to learn all I can. I also realize that as a chaplain (future chaplain) whether I can write a flawless paper will not matter, but I also know that I will never be that chaplain without learning all I can and rising to the expectation set out by the teachers at the seminary.

What I am asking God to do is to deliver me from the feelings of inadequacy and help me to learn and grow in the areas of academic and scholarly writing. God is a deliverer. He is my deliverer(and yours!). God’s Word tells us that with Him all things are possible and we must continue to trust in Him and cling with joy to this truth. If we accept and firmly believe this truth that with God all things are possible, then the growth we make in whatever endeavor we undertake with be within His will and blessed with His anointing.

I am in prayer for you and whatever mountains you have to climb. May God equip each of us with the tools to climb to the summit and soar to new heights.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes, count your blessings and say your prayers. Let us continue to pray for each other. 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.

Prayer requests: I ask you to pray for Travis as he prepares to compete on Saturday in a power lifting meet. I pray for him to do well and stay injury free.

I also ask you to pray for the Summer Women’s Bible Study this Saturday at Advent Lutheran church. I will be leading the session on the power of prayer. I would love to see all of you there. Peace, gc

Monday, August 23, 2010

Happy Monday!

WOW! The first day of school is behind us and we are tired! The day was really wonderful. I currently have 21 students with the strong possibility of more to come.

Habakkuk 3:19 “The Lord God is my strength, and He will make my feet like hind’s feet, and he will make me to walk upon high places.”

As a teacher I begin the year with the end of the year in mind. I know where the children in my charge need to be in reading, writing and math by the end of the year. Student achievement is always at the forefront of my thinking. While we are climbing that mountain of learning I cannot allow the small scrapes and setbacks to allow learning and achievement to stop. We may have to back up sometimes, but we learn and keep the mountain top in our sights. If I only focus on the bumpy spots in the path or places that are difficult to master then the students become frustrated and the climb slows to a crawl. But if I teach the students that learning is stumbliness and stumbliness is goodness then each step in the learning process leads to the achievement for which we are striving. It is my job to equip the children through encouragement and teaching to keep climbing and reach their goals.

Our spiritual lives are sort of like this learning process. There are times when the climb is really tough and we just want to sit down or stay where we are. Or worse than that we want to climb back down the mountain and stop trying. God wants us to continue the climb. God will equip us through His Word, through encouragement from His children, through our brothers and sisters in Christ and through our prayer lives. If we think about each step in the climb as leading to the summit and seeing the glories and the beauty that the Father has prepared for us then we can view the climb differently. The climb may be really hard, but if we continue then we know what the summit of the mountain will hold and it changes our thoughts, feelings and attitudes about the climb. And maybe along the way we might experience a bit of joy!

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes, count your blessings and say your prayers. Let us continue to pray for each other. 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 The Summer Women’s Bible Study has been rescheduled for Saturday, August 28th from 9:00—1:30. I would love to see you there. Bring a salad and enjoy some really wonderful fellowship. Peace, gc

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Blessed Sunday to you all!

What a wonderful day! Worship was so uplifting today. Our scripture passage was from Luke and the story of the bent-over woman. When she saw Jesus she was healed of her bent-over status and was able to stand straight. She had been bent over for 18 years. Upon seeing Jesus and receiving healing, she immediately praised God.

1 Peter 4:13 “But rejoice inasmuch as you are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy.”

Those of you who read this on a fairly regular basis are aware that I am attending Brite Seminary working on a Master’s of Divinity degree. When I began this journey two years ago I thought I would seek a degree that would allow me to continue to teach as a post retirement career, just in a different capacity than in the public schools. While walking the road with Casey, my direction was changed. As Casey suffered with incurable cancer, I was witness to his suffering and death. I was also witness to other people and their suffering as they also loved and supported spouses, loved ones or friends who were carrying the disease of cancer.

I do not think I was granted the time to be with Casey during this time and met others by accident. As I was at MD Anderson with Casey I talked to so many people and shared in their suffering. That is when my direction changed. I began to hear the very strong call to help others through these hard and difficult times as a pastoral care giver. I learned to pray for not just Casey and my family, but for others: those who carried the disease and those who supported them. I learned to offer prayers for the troubled soul and prayers specifically needing to be answered. The other thing I learned is that life goes on even after the trouble and distress and the pain of each day had passed.

God calls each of us to learn from His Life of suffering so that we can help others. I watched Casey sing through his pain one night and it was as if there was a gleam of sunlight on a very gray day. When we can recognize the presence of God even in the most difficult of times and situations then we can help someone else to see a bit of hope in their suffering. After all, believing that there is sunshine behind the clouds is what hope really is. Offer a kind word, a word of encouragement and a word of hope to someone who needs a bit of joy in their life.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes, count your blessings and say your prayers. Let us continue to pray for each other. 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 Please pray for all of us who are returning to school as teachers, students and administrators. Geni attends orientation for her observations and methods classes in the morning and then she will go to her school to begin her last year. Please pray for her especially. Thanks! gc