Saturday, April 30, 2011

Happy Saturday!

I spent part of the day purchasing gift cards and greeting cards for various occasions; our niece’s graduation, a baby shower and a baptism. Bruce and I are honored that we have been asked to be the godparents to Asia May Brewer. She is the daughter of Jeremy and Addie Brewer, our music directors for the 11:00 service. She is a beautiful baby with such wonderful parents who love her so very much. Her daddy is studying to be a doctor and her mother is a musical genius who plays, sings and has strong media skills. They are very strong in their faith and will raise this precious child to have a love for God, music and beauty in all she sees. And we will get to baby sit!

I think God must love color. There are so many references to color throughout the Word and comparisons to things that are a part of our lives. One of my favorite experiences with color happened a little over 30 years ago in Estes Park, Colorado. I was attending a week long youth ministers conference. We stayed in cabins in the middle of the mountains. The first day we were there the mountains were amazing and a beautiful, lush green color. But the next morning when we awoke and looked out the window there was a brushstroke across the mountains. It was as if in the night God had taken His artist brush and placed a splash of brilliant color across the mountain. In just a matter of hours while we slept those quaking aspens were transformed from green to a beautiful yellow and the stark contrast to the surrounding area was breathtaking.

I hope when God looks down on His creation and sees our backyard that he sees the different color flowers we have placed in various spots. When I select flowers I try to select vibrant colors that cause eyes to travel to the color and not to the remainder of the yard. For you see, our backyard has a very large shade tree and other trees that prohibit the grass from receiving full sun. So basically we have ground color and dirt in our backyard. But after a couple of years of work we are making the yard into a place to spend time and enjoy quietness or laughter or comfortable conversation.

Isaiah 1: 18 “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

When I read this verse I was reminded of how quickly God changes us from the ordinary to the extraordinary with just two words, “I forgive.” When we enter into a relationship with Christ we become transformed by His love, grace and forgiveness instantly. We may not feel changed, but we must rest assured that the blood that was shed for us those 2000 years ago is still as strong, red and pure today and has covered every sin we have ever committed and ever will commit for the remainder of our lives here on this earth. We will be in a constant state of transformation through the asking and accepting of God’s forgiveness and then allowing Him to fill up those spaces with His precious Holy Spirit. So my friends…let us open our eyes to the awesome wonders of the colors of God.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. As you pray and lift each other up remember that God through the power of the Holy Spirit helps us in all we do and are going through. Love you all so very much. 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.

PS I Spoke to Carme today and she said the Susan B. Komen walk was amazing and has asked that we all go down and walk with her next year. She also says thank you for all of your prayers and support of this most important cause.
Happy Friday!

29 years of teaching and yet only 5 weeks to go before I retire from that world. As Bruce and I were coming back from Wal-Mart this evening Bruce mentioned that the months were going by very fast. I responded that it seems to go by faster the older we get!

Today I was blessed to have 4 older students in my classroom who helped clean out one of my cabinets and two of my lockers. Three boxes and four bags of trash later the second round of clean out and packing was complete in room 6. There are many more to come, but it is a start.

Prayer: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Your sight. O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14) . These words of the psalmist shape my prayer today. May my words help others and honor You. I confess I am quick to speak and become angry, yet I am slow to listen and give grace. Deliver me from a critical, poisonous tongue and help me speak truth in love. I pray this in Jesus name. Amen.”

Ephesians 4: 29-20 “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”

When teachers get to this time of the school year we live by the check list. And sometimes we are so intent on making it through the check list that tempers get short and tension gets a bit high as everything was due yesterday with all signatures and initials. I must confess that I am a part of the “we” sometimes and do not speak as kindly to my students as I should. Sometimes my words do not bring edification but bring grief. And when my words bring grief to the children in my classroom or co-workers they also bring grief to God’s Holy Spirit within me.

God intends us to speak the truth in love and build up others instead of tearing them down in criticism. When I speak unkindly to someone else I ignore and forget about the loving and renewing work God has done in my life. When we remember to ask God for help in our speaking, our words can be transformed from weapons that destroy to words that administer grace. I would really hope that this last class of children would remember me as one who spoke kind words. My personal prayer is that I would remember the verse from Psalms and practice it when the tension rises.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. When you lift each other up in prayer remember that God works with us in our struggles teaching us find our strength in Him. Love you all, mighty and powerful 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.

Prayer alerts: Carme has her Susan B. Komen cancer walk tomorrow in San Antonio. Please be in prayer for her strength and safety.

Travis begins his new job at the Embassy Suites Hotel tomorrow evening. He will be working two jobs with Starbucks and the Embassy Suites. Pray for his stamina and his happiness.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Happy Thursday!

TAKS testing is completed! The cheer went up all over the building when the announcement came across. It will be nice to get back to a regular schedule and have TAKS behind us as we look forward to the end of the year excitement and activities.

Luke 15:6 “Rejoice with me for I have found my sheep which was lost.”

As a teacher I live in a role of leadership. But as soon as I am finished giving instructions from the front of the classroom I do not leave the children to their own devices. I begin walking around the classroom giving help and assistance as necessary with the students. These students are young and are in need of a helping hand because they can get off track and become distracted very easily.

God leads us, His sheep, through briars, deserts, glades, up mountains, down into valleys and then to the calm waters. The most amazing thing is that God does not just lead us and expect us to follow no matter what, He finds ways to go that will cause us to grow and learn of Him. And just like any good teacher of children He is there to help when we stumble and fall. God is there to lend a helping hand. The most important thing for us to remember is to follow Him and stay with the flock. Staying away from the flock will find us lost, without the companionship of our fellow believers and out of earshot of our Shepherd. God may lead us to where we have never been before, but if we follow His leading then we will arrive safely equipped to act in His behalf .

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. When you pray tonight, remember to lift each other up in prayer. Remember that none of us is ever beyond God’s love and care and he is there to give a helping hand. 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 27, 2011

Happy Wednesday!

Prayer: “Lord Jesus, I lift my eyes to You. I give thanks for the Good News of Your death, burial, and resurrection. Thank You for the grace, mercy, and love that have transformed my sinful heart and delivered me from the kingdom of darkness. Thank You for the power and permanence of the Cross. Thank You for the renewal and regeneration of the Holy Spirit. Thank You for the gift of the Spirit, who secures my salvation and guarantees an imperishable inheritance. Amen.”

Acts 2: 36—38 “Let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom You crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

The meditation I read tonight is a very powerful piece of writing. I am going to share it with you verbatim tonight. The words tonight are not my words, but I certainly do agree with them.

“The Holy Spirit testifies to the truth concerning Jesus Christ: Messiah, Redeemer, Son of the living God. He proclaims that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life and that no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). Apart from the active work of God’s Spirit through the gospel, we cannot know God or the hope of eternal life. The Spirit convicts, calls, and converts weak and wayward people to live for a new purpose: to honor, serve and magnify the Lord Jesus Christ. This work of grace begins when we recognize that we are without hope apart from Christ. Repentance leads to the peace and freedom of grace. We confess our disobedience and turn away from our stubbornness. We cast ourselves wholly on the work of Christ for us, acknowledging in sufficiency, and we are saved! Praise God that His Spirit reveals truth to us and glorifies Christ in our lives!”

What a passionate description of the complete work of the Cross in our lives.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. As we lift our prayers claim the power of the Holy Spirit and believe that we can face each new day with confidence 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 26, 2011

Happy Tuesday!

Prayer: “Lord, give me clarity today. I live in a world where darkness rules, sin pervades, and deceit hinders. Help me to see Your truth. Give me sensitivity to Your Spirit, let my heart remain in tune with Your voice. As I travel the path You have established for me, let me hear Your voice saying, “This is the way, walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21). May Your Spirit be my strength and Your strength my security as I walk through this day. Amen.”

1 Corinthians 2: 12-13 “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”

I was sitting out on my new patio this afternoon after school enjoying the being outside. It was a bit cool for April but still peacefully enjoyable. And then I began to notice the blowing cottonwood falling. It looked like snow falling everywhere. Now if I did not realize it was cottonwood I would be totally confused as to why it was seemingly snowing in my backyard in April in Texas! Cottonwood also can cause sinuses to clog, eyes to water and itch and just plain misery.

I think this is what the spirit of the world is sort of like. The spirit of the world causes confusion because it is a spirit that hinders our vision. But the Spirit of God brings clarity to our thoughts and a vision that sees truth and acts as a beacon for us to walk in the steps of Jesus. This spirit of God is the Holy Spirit that dwells within us and works with us. Those who live without this Spirit directing their lives live without discernment or direction and reflect the spirit of the world. But those who live in the Spirit of God depend on and are given the assurance of clear vision and truth.

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 remembering that as we live our lives each day the Holy Spirit is there working with us. 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 25, 2011

Happy Monday!

Okay, so Travis applied for another job. He applied to be a barista at the Embassy Suites Hotel in downtown Fort Worth hear Bass Hall. In his interview they sort of summed him up in these words, “So you are a singing, strong man, hammock sleeping, coffee making, lady loving, church- going barista?” Travis responded with, “That’s pretty much it.” His interviewers said, “You’re hired!” He will now work two jobs; remaining at Starbucks and being a barista at the hotel. Please lift him up in prayer as he begins a new chapter in his life.

Prayer: “Thank You for the gift of Your Holy Spirit, Lord Jesus, and for the confidence and encouragement He brings. Thank You for the Spirit’s help in prayer, service and grace. Thank You that He works for my good and Your glory in all things. Fill me with Your Spirit and guide me throughout the day. In Jesus’ name I pray.

Luke 11: 9-13 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you…If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much will your heavenly Father give the Holy spirit to those who ask Him!

How many times have we heard the opening line of this passage? In our home right now each of us is counting on God’s grace to guide us through the changes that are about to occur with each of us. I am retiring from one career and embarking on another. Travis is adding on a second job. Geni is finishing her collegiate career and hoping to begin her professional career and Bruce is on the leadership track in the Kairos Prison Ministry. We claim this verse each day as we are all seeking God’s guidance for doors to open. We claim this verse as we are seeking His will in our lives and as we pray that what we ask is what God has in His plan for each of us.

God is not a god of confusion, of doubt or of fooling His children. His wisdom and love for each of us is so powerful because God does not expect us to accomplish His will on our own. God gives us His Holy Spirit to work within each of us to ensure His will for our lives has its greatest possibility of coming to pass. God will provide all that we need for us to live a godly life. We simply have to listen and put ourselves aside and allow God to work through us.

I think I have mentioned a young man in our school. His name is Able. He is a precious mentally challenged young man who does not speak, but quietly walks about doing his daily tasks in simple obedience. Able loves to help and no matter how simple or menial the task he goes about completing the task without thinking about the possibility of disobedience, excuse making or questioning. I am sure God wishes we were all a bit more like Able. With the Holy Spirit we can live a life of truth and receive the promises of God.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. When you pray this evening please remember that each of us is fighting some type of battle, but we do not fight alone. 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.

Joyous Easter Sunday to you all!

It was such a great day! I usually write about our pastor’s amazing sermon on Sunday night, but this morning I left worship after the praise team sang its second special to go home and finish preparing for the family gathering at our home. But I can tell you this that in the time I was at worship, God was in the house and the house rocked! The most special moment today for me was when all four of us were standing together around the same microphone singing with the praise team. We have only sang once or twice together as a family going on three years. It was so amazing to sing with Bruce, Geni and Travis. It was a pretty emotional moment for me. I am pretty sure that Casey called all of heaven into quietness because his family was singing.

As to Geni’s graduation celebration today, the girls all wore their graduation gowns and we took a picture. I looked at my Mom and said, “Mom, there is your legacy.” She was so proud as were all of us.

Prayer: “Lord, I thank You that the strength of my life comes from the source of my life—Your Spirit. The spirit of this world is dark, weak and deceiving, but You have given me Your Spirit of light, strength and truth. Today, I want to walk in the Spirit and live in the Spirit, reflecting Christ in all things. Empower me to live for Your glory. Amen”

Galatians 5: 22—25 “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”

This passage asks us not only to “talk the talk”, but to “walk the walk.” There are times we really want to say something we shouldn’t or do something we should not do. Since Christ died for each of us our sins have been forgiven. In that forgiveness God expects us to change (repent) and act more Christ-like. God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, works with us to battle sin. He allows us to make the changes necessary to follow the model set forth by Christ. God’s work in us is all-sufficient. Each day we are given the grace needed to be renewed in the Holy Spirit.

You know the battle I write about when I sign off with each night? God is right there with us in the battle and we can be assured that when we rely on the power of the Holy Spirit we get to try again to walk the walk and talk the talk.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. As we lift each other up in prayer let us remember God works with each of us in the battle 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.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Blessed Easter Saturday!

As I think back on an Easter Saturday about 16 years ago, we were attending St. John Lutheran Church in Grand Prairie, Texas. In Lutheran tradition Easter Saturday conducts a worship service with its primary purpose for baptisms. All three of our children were baptized at Easter Vigil 16 years ago. I remember the pastor pouring the water and Travis dashing from the altar because he had to go to the bathroom. Pastor Thomas, not one to get rattled very easily, simply shook his head and said, “It’s the water. It’ll get to them every time.” We all laughed and upon Travis’ return we continued with the service.

That service also held another memorable moment. Our niece, age 7 or 8, was holding a candle during the service and accidentally let it get away from her and burned a hole in the cushion of the pew.

The funny memory this year began today as Geni received an Edible Arrangement fruit bouquet from Carme and Dave. She went to get her camera to take a picture and send it to them. When she got back, Jackson (one of our basset hounds) had already sampled the beautiful, delicious arrangement. Geni was not happy!

I tell you these things because memories are what make past events so special. Those same children, quite grown up now, will gather at our home tomorrow to celebrate Easter and to honor Geni as she prepares to graduate college in three weeks. We are so proud of her and all of her accomplishments. But the celebration is quite special in that Jerry and Nita Helvey have 5 granddaughters. Upon Geni’s graduation in May all five girls will be college graduates. That is quite a legacy. We have much to be thankful for and much for which to be proud.

We spent part of our day in rehearsal for worship tomorrow. The music is positively majestic. We will be singing with a brass ensemble, tympani and praise team musicians. As we practiced one of my favorites, “Jesus Messiah.” The words speak such amazing truth. “Jesus Messiah, name above all names. Blessed Redeemer, Emanuel. A rescue for sinners, a ransom for heaven, Jesus Messiah, Lord of all!” My heart filled with such a spirit of praise and worship. I imagined Casey, standing before the Father who was seated upon the throne of grace, with his hands raised in worship toward the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and in continuous worship of our Lord of all. I envision Casey like this often and it makes my heart glad knowing how happy he is and the joy he is experiencing in full and continuous communion with the Father.

Tomorrow I pray you take the opportunity to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I pray you experience the presence of the risen Savior in the word spoken and sung and in the eyes and hearts of those you love. At Advent Lutheran, during the 11:00 worship hour, God will be in the house and the house is going to rock!

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. As you lift each other up in prayer remember that each of us is fighting some type of battle. Love you all and Happy Easter, 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.