Saturday, September 10, 2011

Happy Saturday!

Quick family updates: Travis’ Peewee football team lost their game today. Their stats are 1 win and 1 loss. Better luck next week, coach. Bruce attended a Kairos Prison Ministry team meeting today. Geni has completed her long term substituting job and is now hoping for another long term sub, but will absolutely take day to day positions. And as for me, each day is a new learning curve. Today I completed my Old Testament Test, tomorrow I will work on and complete my Old Testament weekly writing assignment and Monday I will begin my Christian Ed. paper due on the 28th.

Prayer: “Dear heavenly Father, I praise You for Your mercy and Your power. Thank You for sending Your Son into the world to save a person like me. I am forever grateful to You, and I will spend my life telling others about the gospel message that has changed my life forever! In Jesus’ mighty name I pray. Amen.”

1 Timothy 1: 15, 16 “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.”

The apostle Paul led a remarkable life. Here was a man who would drag people out of their homes and arrest them for being Christians. He even stood by and watched these faithful ones be executed for believing in Jesus. Then the gospel of Christ, through phenomenal circumstances, made a miraculous change in Paul. The gospel of Jesus changed his life forever and changed the trajectory of his life. Instead of looking for those who were already believers in Christ he began to look for those who did not know Christ and share this life changing gospel story with them.

That same power of the gospel has not changed. Paul was about as far from God as one could get and then this awesome encounter with the Holy Spirit and his life was changed forever. The same message is there for each of us. It does not matter how far we try to run from God there is no distance that can keep out of the reach of the grace of God. God can break through to the heart of anyone who is set against His purpose. The gospel of Christ reaches far more than any sin we might commit and any distance we might try to put between God and ourselves. So let us stop running from God and allow the gospel of Jesus to soak us in grace and tender mercies and change the trajectory of our lives to living and loving like Jesus.

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.
Happy Friday!

Prayer: “Dear Lord, I come to You this morning reminded of the power of the gospel . Thank You for Jesus and His activity on my behalf. Thank You that I don’t have to attempt to live this day on my own. May Your power work in me and through me today as I seek to honor You in every way. In Jesus name I pray. Amen”

Galatians 6: 7,8 “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.”

In my 30 year teaching career I have often told my students (even first graders) but more often older students who believe they can get away with something. I tell them that having integrity means how you behave when you think no one is looking. We often think we are alone when we can be sneaky about something and no one will find out. I am not speaking of a wonderful surprise for someone from whom you are trying to keep a secret. I mean a secret of which you are not proud. Or maybe it is something you think you can take care of before someone finds out.

Here is the thing, most of us can fool most people most of the time, but at no time or point in our lives can we keep a secret from or fool God. God knows everything about us. God sees past the fa├žade we put on in front of our family, friends, the one with whom we work and the clerk at the grocery store. We can fill our pockets with all of our sin and walk around like nothing is wrong, but we cannot ever pull one over on our Creator.

Sowing in the Spirit means we rely on the Holy Spirit to enable us to make good decisions and empty our pockets. Sowing in the Spirit means God loves us more than our pockets full of sin and will forgive us of our sins. When we sow in the Spirit we reap only the best of the harvest that God has to offer. So my friends, let us empty our pockets…

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 8, 2011

Happy Thursday!

Bruce is such a champion. He went 25 minutes on the elliptical machine today in Cardiac Rehab. WOW!

Prayer: “Lord, this morning, I beg You to live Your life through me. Replace my doubt with faith that pleases You. Help me trust You with the things that come my way today. You are a trustworthy God, and for that I am extremely grateful. Empower me to run to You consistently as my unending supply of hope and fulfillment! In Jesus name I pray. Amen.”

John 4: 13, 14 “Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

“Like the woman at the well I was seeking for things that could not satisfy. But then I heard my Savior speaking, draw from My well that never shall run dry.” You have to have more than a few gray hairs to remember this old gospel song. My Mamo always lived this song and I have sung this song countless times. I love the story of the woman at the well. So many amazing things happened in this brief encounter between Jesus and this woman who had sought earthly pleasures to fill a huge void in her life. And along comes a man. Men have always wanted something from her, but never wanted to give her anything without a cost involved. Jesus sat down with her and she told Him her story. Jesus listen to her and offered her forgiveness and grace.

God, through Jesus, gives us every gift afforded in heaven and on earth. But I think there are three gifts that really shine for me; prayer, grace and identity. Jesus tells this woman of shame who He is and claims her as His own child. Then Jesus offers her forgiveness and grace. Grace, simply stated, is God’s promise to be with us even when we make the wrong choice. When we make that wrong choice He will pick us up out of the muck and mire of our sin and redeem us through His forgiveness. The best decision we will ever make is to accept God’s grace with each breath we take and each decision we make. There is nothing that can fill our hearts like Jesus.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers.

“Fill my cup Lord, I lift it up Lord. Come and quench this burning of my soul. Bread of heaven feed me till I want to more. Fill my cup. Fill it up and make me whole.

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, September 7, 2011

Happy Wednesday!

Prayer: “Dear Lord, I come to You today grateful for the freedom that comes from following Jesus. Living my life within the parameters of Your Word has set me free to live the life You have called me to live. Help me walk in that freedom today and represent You well in those around me. I pray that those who are far from You would experience life in Christ as a result of Your life living through me. Thank You for Jesus! In Your name I pray. Amen.”

John 6: 47, 48 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life.”

Did you ever hear about someone you did not know and then have an opportunity to meet them? I know I have. If we hear about someone having never met them we form an opinion and a perception of them. Now whether our opinions or perceptions were shown to be true is sort of hit or miss. How we perceive someone is how we will receive them.

The religious leaders in Jesus’ day did not perceive Jesus as God’s Son. They simply saw Him as someone who was out to change their profiting way of life and would take away their source of power. Their selfish, power hungry ways enacted in the name of religion turned them away from a potential relationship with Jesus. They perceived Jesus as a threat and not as a Savior.

I cannot imagine what it would be like to live a life without a relationship with God. There are some folks who put their trust in things other than God. People who place their trust in the things of this world find that the world promises more than it can deliver. Offering “too good to be true” things in this world is a way Satan can get His grip on us. We cannot solve our sinful ways through religious effort using the things of this world. All of our attempts to work out of our sinfulness fall amazingly short of the glory of God.

If we perceive Jesus as anything other the Son of God then we have a problem with our perception. Salvation comes through Christ alone and not through any works or trust in what the world offers.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes and grab a sweater in the morning. Step into the likeness of God and help someone to perceive that Jesus is the Son of God. 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, September 6, 2011

Happy Tuesday!

I wore a denim jacket, a skirt and closed toes shoes to class today. It felt so fantastic outside. I really hope this lasts a while.

Prayer: “Dear Lord, I ask for Your strength this morning. Empower me to carry out Your will for my life. Allow me to grow in my understanding of Your love and grace. Thank You for the gospel and its effects on my life. I live this day for You. Amen.”

John 6: 39, 40 “This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows that I am directionally challenged. I do not understand maps and frequently I have to look at my rings to remember left and right. I am pretty much a land mark driver. Please do not say north or south and NEVER say Weatherford Traffic Circle or I-35 E going north. Who thought that one up? I get lost really easily. This is one aspect of my life that really frustrates me. I have this extraordinary feeling of inadequacy when I get lost and I get pretty scared.

There is more than one way to be lost. Sometimes the chaos of life can throw us into doubt and a feeling of being overwhelmed with that feeling of not knowing which way is up. In the meditation I am reading tonight it says, “Don’t lose hope!” God has given us a Savior. God gave us His Son in whom to place our faith and trust. If we place our faith and trust in Jesus He never lets us go. So my friends, when it seems we are down so low that getting up never crosses our mind, we can stand firm in the knowledge of God’s everlasting love for us and His promise to never leave us or forsake us.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes and maybe a sweater in the morning. Some of the greatest miracles experienced by the people of God occurred when they were up against extraordinary obstacles. When the nation of Israel was being chased by Pharaoh’s chariots the sea parted and they crossed on dry land. 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.
Happy Monday and happy Labor Day!

I hope you were able to do some resting on this holiday called Labor Day! I spent the day writing a paper for my Old Testament class. It is due in the morning. There were three questions to be answered and it took me most of the day and into the evening to complete the writing. But I am really learning about the Old Testament. There were some really sneaky people in the Old Testament.

Prayer: “Lord, I pray that I will live my life in light of Your sacrifice on my behalf. Allow me to rest in Your finished work and trust that Your Spirit lives inside of me, giving me the ability to live the Spirit-filled life! Amen.”

1 John 5: 9-11 “If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son. He who believes in the Sons of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son, And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.”

I love the movie “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” It is the story of Loretta Lynn, the First Lady of Country Music. As she and her husband Dew were traveling around the country trying to sell her record, they were unaware of how popular she had become. When they are told by a radio station that they were on the charts Dew took them to Nashville to the Grand Old Opry. As she prepared to go on that stage Loretta was really scared and believed she was not “worthy” to sing on that revered stage. She told her husband she couldn’t go on because she hadn’t “paid her dues.”

Most of us feel that we have to earn what we receive whether it is money earned from a job or a good grade on a paper for seminary. Working hard is an honorable characteristic to have, but this constantly working to “earn our keep” can be hard on our relationship with God. There are some people who will not accept anything they believe they have not earned or cannot pay for.

Salvation has nothing to do with our human effort or the ability to “earn our keep.” God’s love for us is unchanging. He doesn’t love us any more if we have read every word in the Bible or read none at all. The truth is that God has done all the work through Jesus. It is the life, death and resurrection of Jesus that provides our atonement for sin and not anything we do ourselves. Hard work is satisfying for our earthly time, but salvation is God’s gift of eternal life begun on earth and this life is in His Son, Jesus Christ. Our hope is in God and this is really good news!

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. Share the good news with someone who needs a free gift today. 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.

PS Good news! It is supposed to 59 degrees tonight. Now that is good news!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Blessed Sunday to you all!

Today we spent in celebration of many family celebrations during the month of August. Bruce, Geni and my Mom all celebrated birthdays. Mom and Dad celebrated their 59th wedding anniversary and Daddy retired from work at the age of 78. It was a wonderful day full of eating, fellowship, remembering, swimming, eating (I know I said that before, but we are really good at eating!) and lots of laughter. Sheena and I decided that this time she and I would prepare the lunch for our family. Our aunts and my mom have cooked and prepared for us our whole lives and we decided that this time we would treat them. It felt really great to share and honor them in this way. Families are forever and our family is so very precious.

Mark 6: 41-44 “When He had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, He…blessed, and broke the loaves…and they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men.”

Have you ever prepared a meal and had more come to the table than you had planned and were concerned there would not be enough food? I think all of us have had that happen at some time. When I read this passage I think about how Jesus not only made sure there was enough food for all to be satisfied, but to remind the disciples to rely on Him to supply their needs.

I envision this story unfolding near mealtime and the disciples began to be concerned that there would not be enough food to feed the five thousand men, but also their families who came to hear the young rabbi teach. So Jesus looks over at a young boy who had brought a lunch of fish and bread for himself and asked the boy to give what he had. As the boy handed his lunch to Jesus, I think that this young boy was not the only one who brought a lunch with him that day. Do you suppose the unselfish gift by the boy and the prayer of blessing, given by Jesus, over this lunch of fish and bread sparked an idea of sharing in the ears of those listeners? After the prayer, do you suppose there were others who opened their baskets or bags and shared their lunches with those around them? I think this is a distinct possibility. Jesus taught the Disciples the practice of radical hospitality. But Jesus also taught the Disciples to offer thanks for what they had and trust that there would always be enough.

Today at our table there was more than enough and we divided up the leftovers among ourselves and the meal continued past today. Jesus’ love is expressed at the table of grace when we partake of the Eucharist. But when we leave the table, the meal is continued when we remember how much God has loved us through the death and resurrection of Jesus. And even though we do not take bread and wine away from the communion table, we take the crucified Christ with us wherever we go and are commanded to share that same love with all those we meet. God tells us we are to look to Him to meet all of our needs…to rely on Him and drop our burdens at His feet and rejoice that are burdens have not only been lifted, but taken into the arms of the Father. When we believe in God with trust and assurance that He will meet our needs - not just with enough, but with abundance out of His love - we can rejoice even before those needs are met.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. Love you all and have a wonderful Labor Day holiday, 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.
Happy Saturday!

This afternoon I walked out onto the deck in back of our house and I felt something I had not felt in a very long time…I felt the absence of feeling as I was living on the surface of the sun! It was comfortable and I entertained thoughts of sitting out on the wonderful patio Bruce built for me. It has been too hot to sit out there all summer long!

Today Geni and I were honored to attend the bridal luncheon for my brother, Ken’s oldest daughter, Stephanie. She will be getting married in late October. Stephanie is a wonderful young woman who works for Allen ISD in the counseling office. She is the one who helps students find money for college. She is also attending school to get her degree in Art Education. We are really proud of her and excited for her during this time in her life. She is a really special and wonderful young woman!

Prayer: “Father, I ask You to direct my thoughts toward desiring You above all. May the lesser things of life that sidetrack my focus—pride, ambition, greed, lust—fade into oblivion as I bask in Your presence. May I fight the good fight of faith and continue to confess before you the same confession I made when I surrendered my life to You. You are Lord. Amen.”

1 Timothy 6: 11, 12 “You, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold of eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

Martin Luther was a strong believer in the “priesthood of all believers.” That does not mean that he believed that all of us were called to the clergy. Being a member of the clergy is a profession that sets apart those who have been called by the church to serve in ministerial pursuits. Sometimes those clergy members are easy to spot due to special ways they dress, such as with robes or collars. But Martin Luther and the Apostle Paul remind us that followers of Jesus are to be distinctive people. We are not like everyone else because Christ lives in us. Because Christ lives in us we should pursue things like righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and gentleness.

I would love to tell you pursuing these things are easy, but they are not always easy. We will have to work at showing these godly pursuits. God gives us all of these gifts through the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. And we cannot even share these gifts with others except by our faith in Christ and His leading in our lives.

It is with these gifts that we are able to fight the good fight in faith and lay hold on eternal life. We cannot earn eternal life; it is a gift from God made possible through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Eternal life is the quality of the new life we have in Jesus right now and prepares us to live our life eternal with the Father.

We need to do our best to ignore or walk away from the things that are not the qualities and gifts God has given to show that we are all set apart for His service and so that His light can shine through each of us today.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. Let us try to pursue the things of God with all we’ve got! 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.

Praise God! Bruce installed a ceiling fan in our bedroom today! Is he a champion or what!? Peace, gc