Friday, November 5, 2010

Happy Friday!

Rev. 3:20 “Behold I stand at the door and knock…”

On Thursday morning prior to going to the memorial service for my Uncle Rodney, I needed to get my nails done and get a haircut. I was rapidly running out of time and looked for the nearest place to get my haircut so I pulled into a shop on Cooper Street. When I walked into this shop it was attended by a totally African American staff and clientele. There were a great number of men waiting to get their haircut.

One of the barbers asked if he could help me and so I said, “No, thank you, you have a large number of people waiting and I am short on time. Thank you.” I returned to my car and looked up to find a lovely young woman coming out of the shop and asked me if I needed to get my hair cut. I said yes, but the line was really long and I had only a little bit of time. She said, the front side of the shop was the barber shop and the back part was the girl’s area. So I had a choice to make: I could accept her invitation, I could look elsewhere or my hair could remain uncut. I chose to accept the invitation.

I began to think about the spiritual parallels that had occurred on this brief outing. First, I was uncertain that I was in a place that would meet my needs. Next, I tried to leave. Then, someone sought me out and invited me in and meet the need I had been seeking. Last, I opened the door and walked in faith placing my hair in the hands of someone I had never met and surrendered myself into her capable hands.

This brief encounter is much like how scripture tells us that Jesus enters our life. Jesus stands at the door and knocks. We have a choice to make. We can walk away, we can go somewhere else or we can open the door in faith and let Him in. When we let Jesus into our lives He begins to gift us with His grace, love and forgiveness. Not too long after I sat in the stylist’s chair she began to talk about the gifts God gives each of us. At that point, I I knew I had made the right choice. I knew when I accepted Jesus as my Savior I had made the right choice.

Thursday morning, I was the only Anglo person in the shop and yet I was welcomed and treated with kindness and respect and received a wonderful haircut. I did not know what the outcome of this haircut would be, but God cares for us, treats us with kindness and meets our every need when we surrender ourselves in faith to His leading. Bosha, the stylist, had no idea that in our brief encounter she was acting as Christ. She preached Christ in her actions. What a wonderful witness. We could all learn a lesson from this young woman.

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.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Happy Thursday!

Today we traveled to Grapevine for the memorial service for my Uncle Rodney. The service was so uplifting. The music was amazing. It was a time to visit with family and give thanks for the life of Uncle Rodney. We will miss his smile, his laugh and his servant’s heart.

Also, I got to hold my great niece Holly today. She is beautiful!

Psalm 16:11 “In Your presence is fullness of joy, at your right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”

Psalm 51:12 “Restore unto me the joy of Your salvation and uphold me with Your free spirit.”

My Uncle Rodney was one who experienced joy each day of his life. In the picture presentation that spanned his life, we all saw the extraordinary joy with which he held each grandchild. The photographs were a witness to the happiness he felt each time he was with family and showed those present how selfless he became as he volunteered himself in service to God in so many ways and times.

This type of fullness of joy cannot be found in our own efforts. It cannot be found by being near friends and family or fulfilled by work. This kind of fullness of joy is experienced only by knowing that Jesus is your Lord and Savior and by taking joy in the journey of each day with Christ in your heart. The way we can make sure we can walk with Christ each day is by calling His name, “Jesus.” Each time we call Him, we do not actually summon Him (for Christ is with us always), but it is as if the scales are removed from our eyes and we are aware of His presence. My meditation tonight likens it to the “pressure of a loved one’s hand that brings an answering pressure, and a thrill of Joy follows, a real and a joyful sense of nearness.”

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes, count your blessings and say your prayers. Let us continually lift one another up in prayer 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.

PS Please continue to pray for me as I write this rather lengthy paper on sacraments. I have about half of the drafting done. Please pray for my time and that I will write an acceptable piece that will be a witness to the sacraments and how they are a part of my own life and satisfy the academic requirement my professor desires. Thanks again, Love you all, gc

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Happy Wednesday!

James 4:3 “And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.”

In all of the seasons of the television show “the King of Queens”, I have only watched one episode. The story line was that a local minister visited the couple and invited them to church. They enjoyed the service and were introduced to prayer. After attending the worship service they began to pray. However they did not understand that prayer. They thought prayer was like asking for things at Christmas. They prayed for expensive shoes, sports event tickets and other temporal things. When they received everything for which they asked for a few days, they attributed their acquisitions to their praying. Then one day soon after they prayed for something and they did not get that for which they asked. The couple then quit going to church and thought that God was no longer going to supply their every want.

They asked for things that would only satisfy for a short time. Their motive for prayer was all wrong. They thought that God’s power was only to supply temporal things of this world. Their relationship with God was based only on those things that would give pleasure.

God never runs out of supply for all things heavenly and eternal. God desires for us to have big faith. How can God fulfill the promise of His Work in us when we think that it is our work that brings us faith. Faith is one of God’s gifts to each of us.

It is through the gift of faith that we receive our salvation. It is through the gift of faith that God changes us more into His likeness. Faith is the supply from the storehouse of God that never runs out. We don’t even have to pray for more faith because it is God’s gift to each of us. God never took back that which He first gave to us. Claim your gift!

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes, count your blessings and say your prayers. Let us continue to lift one another up in prayer 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.

PS Tomorrow we will travel to Grapevine to my Uncle Rodney’s memorial service. I ask your prayers on all of our family as we gather together in the celebration of the life of Christ in Rodney Smith. Peace, gc

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Happy Tuesday!

I believe fall fell today! I am asking for your prayers as I write a rather lengthy paper on sacraments due next Wednesday. I am somewhat confident in my ability to write this paper except that one word in my professors notes “flawless” is intimidating! As you all know I am not a very good academic writer. This paper is the first one that must have footnotes and five sources. This makes me a bit nervous. Please pray for me as I continue to write and especially for the time to write. I tutor three mornings and two afternoons a week, so my time is limited.

1 Timothy 6:10 “For the love of money is the root of all evil.”

You know I usually do not disagree with scripture but I struggle with this one. I think the word I struggle with is “all.” When I think about money I think of myself as the “middle man.” I work for it, receive it and then just give it to someone else.

But I think in this scripture it is speaking of someone who has money, but does not share any of it. The old saying “You can’t take it with you,” comes to mind. That will never be an issue in this house!

So let’s think of this in another light. God does not view us as just spenders in the kingdom here on earth. He looks at us as vessels of giving that are expected to be emptied each day and allowed to be refilled by Him. God, because of His love for us and call to service gives us the gifts of love, faith, forgiveness and grace. His gives us these gifts through the sacrifice of Jesus. We do not have to work for these gifts and we are not the middle man in the eyes of God. Jesus emptied Himself for each of us upon that cross so that we never need to earn or work for the love of God, His forgiveness or grace. We need to just stay open to receive these gifts.

We need to stay ever empty so that He may continue to fill us with His abundant grace as we live a life of giving, sacrifice and abundance just as Jesus did for us. We need to use these gifts of love and grace as we go about our day sharing these gifts with others and prepare to be refilled with His goodness each day.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes, count your blessings and say your prayers. Let us continue to lift one another up in prayer 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.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Monday!

Sort of a sad day for the Rangers, but there were only winners on the field. One team just scored more points than the other.

Revelation 8: 3,4 “Then another angel with a gold incense burner came and stood at the altar. And a great amount of incense was given to him to mix as an offering on the gold altar before the throne. The smoke of the incense mixed with the prayers of God’s holy people, ascended up to God from the altar where the angel had poured them out.”

Each year during the season of Lent, the 40 day prior to Holy Week and Easter we sing a piece with the words “Let my prayers rise up like incense before You. The lifting up of my hands is an offering to you.” It has a beautiful melody that tends to stay in your head and you will find yourself singing it numerous times.

Prayer is like incense rising higher and higher or it can be like the fog I see on some frosty cold mornings. Sometimes our prayers soar up to the throne of grace and there are times our prayers are so close to our hearts that they keep us in the tender arms of God like a warm blanket of protection and comfort. The prayers of believers lifted in faith are prayers of joy. The lifting of our hands in prayer is an act of surrender to God to take us as we are and teach us to be like Him. When I lift my hands in worship or prayer I close my eyes and picture Christ on His throne drawing me closer and speaking so softly and gently that I feel so perfectly loved. God knows the heart of each believer and in love the prayers rise to greet our beloved Father and we await His glad response.

Take some time to pray this week. Not just a prayer for others and ourselves and situations, but prayers that will cause us to come closer to the Father. Let’s take time to pray and be silent before God allowing Him to speak to us by silencing all of the voices in our heads except His own and learn of Him.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes, count your blessings and say your prayers. Let us continue to lift one another in prayer 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.

PS My Uncle Rodney’s memorial service will be Thursday at 2:00 pm at First Methodist Church in Grapevine, Texas.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Blessed Sunday.

Today I thought I would write a bit about my Uncle Rodney. The picture is of Ken and Uncle Rodney at the family reunion this past July.

I have two special memories of my Uncle Rodney. First, he was a man of extraordinary faith and a man of extreme joy.

I grew up in a family where family dinners were held at my Mamo’s house on Sunday. Each time we gathered Uncle Rodney was asked to deliver the blessing. It always impressed me that he was always given this honor. But when I knew he really was a man of faith was one Friday night in Van Alstyne, Texas.

Howe was playing Van Alstyne. They were arch rivals. If Howe defeated Van Alstyne then the season was victorious. My brother, Ken, played for Howe and a young man by the name of Eric McKinney played for Van Alstyne. Eric was sort of a Tony Dorsett/Emmitt Smith in high school and I think he may have even played both ways and I think Ken did too. I came in from college to see Ken play on Friday night. Uncle Rodney was there and we were playing in Van Alstyne. It was cold and by half-time Van Alstyne was wiping the field with the Howe Bulldogs. I think the score was like 21 to 0 in favor of Van Alstyne. I sat in front of Uncle Rodney in the stands and he said, “This game isn’t over. We will beat Van Alstyne.” I do not know if he prayed in the stands or if the coach lit a fire under the Bulldogs, but when the final buzzer sounded Howe had defeated the next town rival soundly. I am sure I remember just a tiny smile and a victorious laugh of joy at the end of the game cross my Uncle Rodney’s face.

About joy…I never saw my Uncle Rodney without a twinkle in his eye (just a bit of mischief), a smile on his face and a hug for whoever was in his path. He may have been in pain, but you would never hear it from his lips. He might tell you what was happening next, but never with complaint. My other favorite memory is the garage sales my family put on. Each year for a long time my family held a family garage sale. Those involved were two sisters, two brothers and one Mamo. It was large, a lot of work and a great deal of fun. There were folks in Sherman who waited for this giant sale each year. This is where Uncle Rodney would shine and we would just sit back in our lawn chairs and watch him wheel and deal with every person who came to the sale. I am convinced he could have sold snow to Eskimos and been quite successful. He loved the yearly garage sale.

How completely profound it is that at the moment of his death my Mom and Aunt Linda were hosting a smaller version of the yearly garage sale at my Aunt Linda’s house. He was not there to wheel and deal and push the merchandise, but I will just bet that he stopped by and whispered in someone’s ear that they really needed to buy that item and once again gave his blessing to a wonderful family event.

But what Uncle Rodney really knew was that now there would be no more wheeling and dealing. There would be no need, for God, in His amazing grace, had done all of the dealing that needed to be done that day on the cross. The joy Uncle Rodney has expressed all of his life is now made full as he has left his earthly family and joined a heavenly family. It is my prayer that those who have gone on before us were there to greet him.
We are all saddened because his smiling face and heart of joy is no longer present with us, but his memory and our memories of him will always remain forever in our hearts until we are joined with him and become citizens of heaven ourselves.

Aunt Peggy, Joyce, LaRhonda, Linda Kay, Mom, Linda, Betty and Gene, I wish I did not know how you are feeling right now, but I know exactly how you feel. You are grieving, for the hole in your lives that was just created by this loss is huge, but you are not sad for him, because even though Uncle Rodney was never restored to health and wellness, he was and is, most assuredly healed and his faith and joy are made full and complete forever.

I love you all and you are all in my prayers. Love, Gaylene

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.
Today around 1:30 pm my Uncle Rodney passed away at the VA Hospital in Dallas, Texas. He battled melanoma skin cancer for many years when it reached his lungs. A former pastor of ours used to say of the person who died, that they transferred membership from the Church Militant into the Church Triumphant. Tonight the Church Triumphant has a new member who always smiled, was always happy and always glad to see his family. He will be missed by each of us. I ask your prayers for his wife (my Aunt Peggy), surviving children, grand children, great grand children and siblings.

Psalm 33:29 “Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. “

I found myself praying without ceasing throughout most of the day. As we were at the power lifting meet with Travis my thoughts were with my Uncle Rodney’s immediate family, my mom and her sisters and surviving brother. I thought of them when they made the decision to disconnect the ventilator and what a difficult decision that must have been. And then I thought of the time of waiting for them. Waiting and hoping the one you love is not in pain and yet not wanting to let them go and praying for God to be merciful. I prayed for God to be merciful not only to my uncle, but to his family who had gathered to spend those last moments with him and together.

God knows the depth of our sadness and is ready to be our help and shield. God does not always shield us from pain and sorrow, but does promise to have full understanding of our feelings and promises to help us as we walk the earth without our loved one. We never get over the loss of someone as close as a parent, child or spouse, but we can get through it by remembering to wait on God and remembering the joy of the Lord will bring on calmness and peace. The most difficult lesson to learn is the one none of us likes. None of us like to wait. Face it, in our world of instant gratification the art of waiting is lost.

Healing over a loss is far harder than mending a broken leg. Mending a broken heart takes a lot longer, but God loves us so much He is willing to remain with us while we heal. We heal through prayer and belief in this suffering God and relying on His kind and tender mercies. We heal because those who love us stay close by and lovingly care for us. Our loved one may have never been brought to wellness, but they certainly received healing as they were received into the loving arms of the Father. Now, it is our turn to heal. And a new journey begins…

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes, count your blessings and say your prayers. Let us continue to lift one another in prayer each day. 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.