Saturday, December 11, 2010

Happy Saturday!

Psalm 118: 24 “This is the day which the Lord has made: we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Lately I have discovered my thoughts going to Casey. I mentioned this to Bruce today and he said it is probably due to the fact that I did the recent research writing about a celebration of life worship service coupled with having to write a personal theology of death. This writing piece of the paper was directly involved with the loss of Casey. It is also the holiday season and I miss him. He loved Christmas and he loved his family. I thought about the Christmas we spent in Houston three years ago (was it really that long ago?). We ate Christmas dinner in shifts as the volunteers prepared dinner for all of the families. Casey was so sick so we took turns going down to Café Anderson having Christmas dinner so Casey would not be alone. It was a bit difficult to rejoice in the day but Christmas still came anyway.

Mary and Joseph had lives that were full of struggle. They were a Jewish couple who were not married and yet expecting a child. The child was not the natural child of the father who would raise Him, but the Father in heaven had given Mary and Joseph the task of raising this most precious child through a tough set of circumstances.

God did not choose a wealthy couple, or a set of experienced parents or a life that would be easy in which this child would be raised. Instead God chose a life of poverty, danger and working within a family in which to grow His only Son. And yet I don’t ever read about Jesus, or Mary or Joseph ever complaining or asking for an easier time. They simply rejoiced with their child each day He was with them.

Today, Geni asked me to bring to her an apple, granola and peanut butter snack with a glass of milk. I went to the kitchen and prepared the snack for her with great joy. Yes, she could have done it herself, but I was glad she was there to make the request and to receive the snack. It was my joy to do this simple task for my daughter.

It is important to take each day as a joyous gift just waiting to be opened like a package from God. Each day holds all of the promise of a package under the Christmas tree. You do not know what is inside, but the giver of the gift loves us so much that whatever is inside will be something to be treasured. So when you rise each morning have great hopes and expect great things.

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 A special invitation! The Festival Choir from Advent Lutheran Church is presenting the Christmas Cantata at both services in the morning, 8:30 am and 11:00am. We would love to see you there. Peace, gc

Friday, December 10, 2010

Happy Friday!

Song of Solomon 2: 10 “My lover said to me, Rise up, my darling! Come away with me, my fair one!”

Well, here is a verse I never thought I would write about! But the meditation was really wonderful. Sometimes I sit in front of this laptop after reading a scripture passage and the meditation that goes with it; praying about what this text has to tell me and I draw a blank. I cannot think of what to write and no words are coming from my brain to the keyboard.

Those are the times I remain silent before God. I don’t even ask for words, I just sit and enjoy His presence. Do you have a best friend? In your friendship do you always have to be in conversation or can you just sit together over a cup of coffee and take comfort in being together? Bruce and I have been married for almost 30 years and we still have not run out of things to say (no great surprise!), but we can also be quiet with each other. This quietness comes because we love and understand each other and are willing to wait in quietness until one of us is ready to speak.

God is the same way. There are times when God is silent. When God is silent then we need to just stay on track and continue to grow in His likeness each day through study, worship, prayer and service. God is still enabling each one of us to grow in His silence. Just because God is quiet does not mean He is not still at work.

I think about Mary. The Holy Spirit spoke through the angel and then God was quiet. Mary still had to walk the path God had placed before her, continuing to grow in faith and believing that God was still with her even though God was quiet. So she waited for God to speak again. She magnified the Lord with a song and rejoiced in God her Savior.

Let us take joy in the journey to Bethlehem. Wear comfortable shoes. Count our blessings and continue to say our prayers and remember to 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.

Prayer Alert: The candidacy interview is a week from today, 10:00 am next Friday to be exact. I pray that by this time next week I will be able to write to you as an approved ministerial candidate for ordination. I ask your prayers for this time of prayer and preparation (a time of advent) for this interview. gc

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Happy Thursday!

Geni finished her fall semester today! We are so proud of her. But I share this with you because in one semester we will have graduated our first child from college. That is amazing!

John 18: 7, 8 “Who do you seek? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus answered; I have told you that I am He.”

Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane. He is praying and His communion with God is disrupted with the sounds of Roman soldiers bearing torches, lanterns and weapons. Jesus leaves His time of prayer and greets these men. He asks them, “Who do you seek?”

Jesus knew that everything he had ever done, each word He had ever spoken, and all the roads he had ever walked were all leading to this moment. After He revealed His identity to these soldiers the chain of events that would unfold could not be stopped. The horrors of the cross would begin within moments and conclude on Friday.

Fast forward to today. Do you suppose God was greeted by the bus company who allowed an atheist group to post signs on their buses stating “We are good without God”? Do you suppose God greeted the atheist group with the same words, “Who do you seek?” They weren’t Roman soldiers with lanterns, torches and weapons, but the message they wish to send is the same. The Roman soldiers did not believe they needed God so much that they were determined to rid themselves of this One who claimed to be the Messiah.

The point here is that Jesus met them and looked them in the eye and stated, “I Am He who you seek.” He knew the consequences of this answer and still answered with confidence and with the full authority of the Father.

If Jesus asks us, “Who do you seek?” what would our answer be? Would we answer, “I am seeking someone who can get me out of debt?” or “I am seeking someone who can make me beautiful?” or “I am seeking someone who can make me successful?” Or would we answer, “I am seeking Jesus Christ, Son of the living God and I am not good without You. In fact, I am a mess”?

When others seek God, where do they look? Do they look in the mirror, at their check book or the business plan that they believe will allow them to climb the ladder of success? Do others look at Christian believers and know how much they need God in their own lives? Does the light of God’s love shine so brightly in us that others want to seek Him, learn of Him and come into relationship with Him? Just some food for thought…

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

Prayer alert! My dear friend and co-worker Lisa Smith’s family is in great need of God comfort and our prayers as her husband Bruce lost his brother today. Let us lift up these families in prayer and pray for God to heal their broken hearts and grant them peace through faith in Jesus. Peace, gc

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Happy Wednesday!

My paper has been sent off and I am praying that the grade this time will be higher than the previous one. But more importantly it is so important to me for the professor to realize that the witness to a victorious and resurrected Christ is primary in my writing even if it is not as academic as the writing of others. I wrote a paper on funeral practices with emphasis on the celebration of life service using the service I wrote for Casey’s service. It was an interesting paper to write although it had its moments of difficulty as it brought back a number of memories. Please pray for this piece of writing.

1 Corinthians 15: 20-21 “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also, the resurrection of the dead.”

The disciples always amaze me. They were in the presence of the living God and they somehow still did not get it. They were present at the revelation of who Jesus was at the Last Supper and believed that by some super power or magic moment that Jesus was going to be rescued. I think the disciples must have believed that the forces of evil were just too strong and that the mission Jesus came to fulfill was a dismal failure. Perhaps that is why they fled when the soldiers came. My meditation suggests that perhaps they were not so much afraid of the enemies but that they had been following the wrong “Way.”

But then the resurrection came and hope was restored and faith revived. They would gather and remember all they had been taught and all that had been revealed to them. They would have the assurance of the Divinity of Jesus and His “Messiahship.” And most important was that they would remember that the Holy Spirit was coming and would help them. Because they were to be empowered by the Holy Spirit, they would be able to do greater and more far reaching works in the name of Jesus and His Name would increase.

As modern day disciples we are given the same Holy Spirit and are given the same calling. We are called to spread the name of Jesus and share the love of God to all we meet.

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.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Happy Tuesday!

John 4: 34 “Jesus said to them, My meat(food) is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work.”

Bruce tells a story that he heard about fighter pilots. Fighter pilots tell that just after take-off and for a while the flight is smooth and reasonably stress free. Far away from the target you pose no threat to the enemy. Just watch the sky and remember the mission you have been given. However, it is when you are getting close to the target when the enemy attacks. It is at that time that a pilot must work very hard to stay focused on the plan and finish the work they have been sent to do.

This brief passage of scripture reminds me that Jesus spoke these words to his disciples and the meat He spoke of is to do the Will of God. Meat (a big item around this house) is to sustain the body and must be eaten on a regular basis. Spiritual meat can be found in scripture, worship, service, fellowship with other believers and prayer. These spiritual proteins help prevent soul-starvation. Soul starvation will happen when we fail to live a life in piety and fail to do the Will of God to the best of our knowledge and ability. We may not always follow God’s will with gladness, but He sure is happier when we do! (I used to tell the kids when reminding them to do certain chores, “You may not do it with gladness, but you will do it!)

So my friends and mighty prayer warriors, let us eat of the meat provided by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He offers nourishment at the table of grace each time we ask and there is always enough. Strength and power to overcome will be the reward for maintaining a steady diet of the food that only God can provide. It is through the strength and power of God’s love and grace that even though the enemy attacks, it knows that we are strong in God’s love and power and will finish the task set before us. The enemy might win a battle or two, but we know Who has already won the war!

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.

PS the editing is almost done. The paper is being polished. The final touches will be put on it and it will be sent. Praise God!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Happy Monday!

Matthew 6:13 “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.”

As we continue through the holiday season the temptation to really go off a healthy eating plan is around every corner. Just about the time I tell myself, “Okay, no more sweets until whenever, a table full of tempting delicious goodies is presented and the promise I have made to myself is forgotten in the chocolate, gingerbread and peppermint deliciousness.

But I don’t think that succumbing to the temptation of chocolate is exactly what Jesus was talking about when He taught His disciples to pray this prayer. Perhaps the meaning of temptation goes a bit deeper. Here in this holiday time we are all busy. I am busy trying to get my papers graded and posted on the new grading system, completing my research paper, writing a sermon for my worship class and preparing for the candidacy interview among the things I do each day in teaching school and taking care of my family.

The temptation I think Jesus wants me to recognize is to use tiredness and busyness as an excuse to not share the message of Jesus with those I meet each day. My temptation is to not give an encouraging word to someone who is in need or to not fulfill the mission given by God through Jesus or to allow the evil one to invade my thoughts and actions and lead me off of the path of righteousness. These are the temptations that Satan uses to cause me to take my eyes off of Christ and back onto myself. How about you?

Scripture says that His is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever, not that Gaylene is the power, etc. Satan’s temptations are intended to tempt us to put ourselves above God and into Satan’s grasp. To conquer temptation is to recognize the Kingdom of God is born again in the babe of Bethlehem under the stars with shepherds and animals for witnesses and not even Satan himself could stop what God began.

God has begun a good work in each of us and even though we may walk off the path sometimes and temptations come before us, God is always there with His power to lead us away from temptation. As we journey toward Bethlehem this season of Advent let us focus on the light that led those first two travelers, Mary and Joseph, to the stable - those travelers who might have been tempted to turn around and go home, but chose to stay on the path and complete the mission God had given them.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. Let us continue to lift each other up in prayer each day. Love you 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.

PS Prayer alert! Bruce is giving my paper the once over twice and then I prepare to send it to my professor. Please pray for the words I have written and the one who will read it. I pray he will find it acceptable. gc
Blessed Sunday to you all!

We finally got the tree decorated this afternoon. And yes, we had one of my favorite Christmas movies playing as we decorated: White Christmas. We even had a turkey and dressing casserole for lunch and pumpkin bread with Holiday Peppermint coffee for dessert. It was a great afternoon.

We are so excited about this Christmas as our best friends Carme and Dave Russell will be coming to spend Christmas Day with us. We are all so happy to have them joining us. We have never spent Christmas together. We spent many New Year’s Eves, but never a Christmas. So this Christmas will be extra special.

Luke 2: 9-10 and 14 “Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, (10) but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.

(13) Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

There are several places where angels appear to those in the nativity story. The angel appears to Mary and tells her she is to bear the Son of God. An angel appears to Joseph in a dream and tells him not to divorce Mary, for he is to be the earthly father of Jesus. An angel appears to the shepherds and announces that Jesus has been born and then this one angel is joined by a host of other angels and together they sing praises to God for this miraculous birth.

These people to whom the angels appeared were rather ordinary. They seemed to have uncomplicated lives without a great deal of extraneous busyness. The shepherds, who spent long hours outside with time to watch the night sky and maybe count the stars, were visited by an angel who told them to “fear not.” They were treated to a concert with the voices of heaven. Then they were instructed as to where to find the baby.

Do you see a pattern forming here? The angels appear with a message and then some instructions. They did not announce the coming of Jesus to high government officials or royalty or rock stars. The coming of Jesus was announced to a simple young lady, a carpenter and a bunch of shepherds. These people had time to hear the angels speak and sing, and then they believed.

Do we hear angels? Do we slow down in our lives to listen for the voices of angels? Do we hear the voice of angels when we hear the bell at the red kettles out in front of stores and shops? Do we hear angels when our loved ones call our names?

In the busyness of this season let’s slow down and listen for an angel’s voice. Listen for an announcement, fear not and then follow the instructions given by this messenger from God.

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.

Take joy on the journey to Bethlehem. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. Let us continue to lift each other up in prayer each day. Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.