Friday, September 2, 2011

Happy Friday!

Did you know that there are nearly no window air conditioner units available for purchase in early September? We discovered this today. We have window air conditioner units and space heaters to keep cool and stay warm here at 811 Austin St., and today the unit went out in Travis’ room! Serious bummer! I think we may have (after a fairly extensive search) located the last small unit in Arlington. Bruce and Travis installed the unit this evening and all is well. Praise God, for He provides what we need when we need it.

Prayer: “Father, it is so liberating to know I have been set free from the ultimate consequences of sin and that I am free—free to live a life of holiness that shows the world Your glory. What a gift eternal life is! Help me to remember the preciousness of this gift and the price You paid to offer it, and may I live with a deeply grateful heart. Amen.”

Romans 6: 22-23 “Now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. for the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.“

I am a Harry Potter fan. I have not read all of the books, but I have all of the movies that have been released and I am looking forward to the DVD release of the final movie (I am planning a Harry Potter meal complete with butterbeer!). There is this little elf who is enslaved to an evil family. The only way Dobie (the little house elf) is made free is for his master to present him with clothes. Through just a bit of trickery, Harry enables Dobie to receive freedom. Dobie dies in the first of the last two movies and his grave marker simply says, “Dobie, A Free Elf.”

As believers in Christ there is no trickery involved to receive our freedom from sin. By the truth of God’s gift of salvation we are freed from slavery to sin and we are also rescued from the ultimate consequence of sin—death. Death is the payment for our sin. When Jesus conquered death through His crucifixion and resurrection all payment for our sin was paid. And as to what we wear…when our sins are forgiven and we are given the gift of salvation we receive righteousness. Scripture speaks of being clothed in a robe of righteousness. It is now our robe of righteousness we wear, God clothes us in the righteousness of Christ. God himself gives us Christ’s own robe to wear.

So when you look in your closet and are trying to decide how to dress for the day, remember this—take a few moments and remember the beautiful robe God has given you and remember to step into it before dressing for the day.

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 only moved by what I believe and I believe God.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Happy Thursday!

Well, I have joined the ranks of the “mall walkers.” Each day after class I drive back to Arlington, change my shoes, plug in my headphones and go for a walk in the mall. I used to smile when I would see these gray/white haired folks in their tennis shoes stepping it around the mall, and now I am one. But I am really enjoying the time between class and home. It sort of helps me clear my head and prep for the afternoon of studying ahead ( and I walk pretty quickly so I am getting some good cardio of my own!)

Prayer: “Father I want to experience Your love today. I know that my ability to love is based on the fact that You loved me first. Help me to receive and experience Your love so that it can flow through me to other people. Help me not to love just a little, I want to learn to love You big—to love You with all I am and have. Amen.”

Luke 10: 25-27 “Behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?” So he answered and said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all you soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

This scripture passage sort of reminds me of my scholastic life right now. My teachers often lead discussions using this method. This practice of answering questions with other questions is a way of engaging students in discussion. In seminary I have discovered that class conversations between students and professors are not just to check for academic understanding (right answers), but for individual spiritual reflection.

Jesus was not necessarily looking for the “academic answer” when Jesus asked the question, “What is your reading of it?” Jesus does not want to know what the scripture says for he already knows the passage by heart. Jesus wants to know how this man of law interprets this passage and puts it into practice in his own life. Jesus is not asking for the right answer but looking for right living in this man.
Does this apply to us today? Oh, yes! We can give right answers all day long, but sometimes we have a little trouble living out the reality of the truth. Jesus reminds us in this passage that our top priority in every aspect of our lives should be love. Very simply God wants us to love with every ounce of our being! When we love with this measure we begin to see others the way God sees them. Even those souls we find hard to love, we can still begin to see them as God loves them. This is the kind of love we need go show to others in our life. So today as we go about our daily lives ask God to help us to step into His likeness and show love to all we meet.

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 only moved by what I believe and I believe God.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Happy Wednesday!

I have completed my Old Testament reading and completed my paper which is due next Tuesday. I have my writing to finish, but I have that scheduled for Monday. I am slowly working out this whole “new normal.” I have learned that if I get to Brite at 7:40 each day I can get a parking space. So on Tuesday and Thursday my class does not begin until 9:30 AM and I have extra study time. My Wednesday and Friday classes begin at 8:00 AM so I have time to eat a quick breakfast and get to class. I am learning to read more critically and trying really hard to comprehend what I read as text and the questions that go with the readings. This is a serious retraining of the brain.

Prayer: “Father, thank You for the salvation You have provided in Jesus. I confess that this incredible gift of salvation and life is a gift of Your grace, not a product of my deserving deeds. I am humbled by Your graciousness, and I pray that You will empower me to live in light of this grace today. Amen.”

John 3: 13, 15, 16 “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is the Son of Man who is in heaven…that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

John 3:16 was always Casey’s favorite verse. My best friend Carme even printed a card with a picture of Travis lifting and this verse on the other side. The picture with the verse came from Casey’s shirt that that she wears often.

I think this is the most well known memory verse of all time. Even those who are not people of faith are at lease familiar with this verse. Being familiar with this verse is not really enough. If we are familiar with something then it usually means that we know something about it, but not necessarily anything in depth. As believers we need to know the depth of this verse and drink deeply of the richness of meaning of this passage on which we anchor our faith. This verse is the reality of what God has done for each of us in Jesus.

When God set out to save the world He did not staff it out or outsource this task. He sent His only begotten Son - the One unique Son of God - to rescue us from sin and death. God did this because we are not able to rescue ourselves. Jesus, this One and only begotten Son of God, stood in the place of our sinfulness and took our sin upon Himself as the perfect sinless sacrifice. Because of what God has done through Jesus, we do not have to experience condemnation or eternal separation from our loving God. Because we believe in the Person of Jesus Christ we will live with God forever.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. May we never fail to stand in awe of the wonder of how God loves 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 only moved by what I believe and I believe God.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Happy Tuesday!

Today I attended my first Brite convocation. Convocation is a worship service attended by Brite Students, Brite Faculty and Brite Alumnae. The dean of Brite and its president led worship with Dean Ramsey preaching the Word. She and President Williams presided over communion. I was not sure what to expect at a seminary worship service. I thought perhaps these brilliant people would speak in the sometimes lofty language of academia and I would not understand. I was wrong and asked forgiveness for making assumptions, for the blessing I received was memorable.

Interestingly enough in this Disciples of Christ, Christian Church worship service I found a great deal of Lutheran tradition, especially as we experienced the Great Thanksgiving. All of the worship leaders, especially the dean and the president, created a particularly strong spiritual presence while in worship. The theme of the service was recognizing the presence of God in all we say and do, especially with those who we encounter daily. The sermon called each of us to “pay attention” to those moments of time when the presence of God is very apparent and when the Presence is being quietly attentive. I am looking forward to other times of chapel.

Prayer: “Father, I worship You for who You are. You know me intimately, better than I know myself, and yet, You still love me unconditionally. I want to know You more. I want to hear Your voice, trust in You, and obey You, just as sheep respond to the shepherd. Amen.”

John 10: 27-29 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch then out of my Father’s hand.”

Recently my Mom and Dad were in the hospital (not in the same time, Praise God!). I could not be there with them during their hospital stays, but I always felt so much better when I could hear their voices, even over the phone. Listening to them in those always cheerful tones gave me hope and assurance that they would be okay and should be home before long.

Not many folks have the vocation of being a shepherd. But those who are in the sheep herding business understand those sheep really well. They know that sheep do not lead. They follow. Sheep must have a leader. Jesus tells us in this passage that we are sheep and we need to listen for His voice. Good shepherds lead their sheep to green grass. They lead them to fresh water for drinking and protect them from predators. Shepherds also go after the sheep that have wandered away.

Jesus leads us like a shepherd through this life here on the earth and then, because we have faithfully followed Him, He leads us at last into eternal life when our time on earth is complete. When we enter into eternal life we learn of the place where we can taste and see that the Lord is good. We also find that our earthly following has allowed us to follow Him in the never-ending life to come.

When we listen to His voice and obediently follow the Good Shepherd, Jesus, it gives us the assurance that God always keeps His promises and that nothing could ever “snatch” us out of His strong, loving and merciful hands. We rest in the Triune God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit to guide us through this life and into the life to come.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. Listen and be aware of God’s presence in each breath we take, each word we say and in each soul we meet. Pay attention! 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 only moved by what I believe and I believe God.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Happy Monday!

Prayer “Father, as I begin this day and this week, help me to dwell on the reality that my life is hidden in Christ and that by trusting in Him, I have crossed over from death to life. Help me to live with faith, knowing that You have promised to walk with me in the midst of whatever this day will bring, and resting in the assurance that You have made provision for my eternal future. I believe in the One You sent, and I believe every word You say. Amen.”

John 5:24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”

This passage speaks of the two words “judgment” and “eternal life.” In my meditations tonight the word judgment is likened to condemnation. Condemnation in the Christian sense is total separation from God and the pathway to death. My text says, “It is the payment for a life of active or passive independence from God.” It is also the punishment for sin and the ultimate wreckage of humanity. The life of the person who is condemned or judged by God has a finite ending.

But we who believe in God and the One in Whom He sent have eternal life. Eternal life with God has both a quality and a quantity of life. We experience the quality of the reality of a life spent living a life of piety in service of God through Jesus. We also have a life in the future. When we arrive in heaven, we will have crossed over the “abyss of death” and separation from God eternally. We will now live eternally with our Creator and Lord.

We did not arrive at this perfect place of heaven on our own. It took “heroic” action from our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ who rescued us from the eternal death we deserve. When we hear God’s Word, the words of the gospel of Jesus, the good news, we are told that God made a way of reconciling the world back unto Himself through the death and resurrection of Jesus. God called Jesus back unto Himself and God calls each of us back to Him because of His love for us, His children.

A Kairos friend of Bruce’s often says, “Today is a great day to go to heaven.” Because of this amazing love and grace we can live in the light of God’s love while here on the earth and live in the light of His holy presence for all eternity.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. Love you all 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 only moved by what I believe and I believe God.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Blessed Sunday to you all!

This morning during worship I was honored to receive two scholarships. One of the scholarships was from the Women of Advent. I was awarded the Myrtice Larson Scholarship. This extraordinary woman was a public educator for 40 years and has been working at leading the Texas Retired Teachers Association. She is just shy of 90 years old and she presented me personally with this scholarship. She greeted me with a strong warm hug and began to speak. It took all I had to control my emotions as she was escorted by two women to stand beside me in front of the congregation.

She challenged each of us to continue to support the practices of education and support those who are learning and leading in the classroom. Her legacy is quite amazing. She has taught grades 1 through 12 throughout her career and has an Arlington Elementary School named for her. I was standing in the presence of a woman who knew what it meant to be determined and hard working and knew the power of endurance to reach a goal. She was equipped with a notepad full of notes so she would not forget what she needed to say and then challenged each of us to stand on our faith and move forward to achieve our goals and to help others achieve theirs.

It was a moment in time I will not forget, for you see, I am the last one to receive this scholarship as the funds from the account have now been depleted. She said that this scholarship has been given to people of different ages, but I am pretty sure I am the elder one to receive this scholarship. Finally, she spoke directly to me and I received her blessing in my studies and hugged me again.

Luke 12: 48 “But someone who does not know, and then does something wrong, will be punished only lightly. When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much even more will be required.”

Today I was presented with two gifts that someone or a group of someone’s thought I deserved. Today I received gifts of grace. These gifts were sent to the Cokesbury Bookstore in Fort Worth and paid for my books for this semester. But more than paying for the books, these folks called me to the task of receiving the education to enact the call of pastoral care with full ecclesiastical authority. I am expected to take the money they have given me and not just expand my knowledge and future career. I am now scripturally expected to further the Kingdom of God. They not only are supporting me with their finances, but with their prayers and love.

We have been given so much and we can also help meet the needs of others. We are all called to surround ourselves with those who believe in Jesus so that we may encourage and support one another to further the Kingdom of God in Christ Jesus. There are so many ways each of us can help and support each other. We can listen to each other, we can visit, we can pray for each other or we can call one another just to say “Hi, how are you doing?” Christians are known by their love for each other and how they live in the likeness of God.

Step into the likeness of God today receiving His blessings and helping others to learn more about grace by inviting them to join our circle of friends.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. 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 only moved by what I believe and I believe God.