Saturday, December 10, 2011

Happy Saturday!

I finished question 3. There came a time during the answering of this question where I just could not separate the information out correctly to apply it to the question I needed to write. So I stood up and walked around a bit beginning to pray for clarity of thought and the ability to write the thoughts intelligently on the paper. The thought finally came and I began to understand. Maybe some of you were praying for me at that time and if you were. thank you so much. Two more to go! Keep praying for me, please.

Prayer: “Father, the reality of Your love is both encouraging and humbling. To think that You love us while we are yet sinners and that You delay Your judgment in mercy is more than I can fathom. I praise You that Your nature is to love and that I have experienced it personally. I pray that You will continue to be patient with others just as You are with me. Create within me a clean heart that sees the nations as You do, not rushing to judgment about others. Help me, today, as I seek to be diligent about inviting sinners to Christ. Amen.”

2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. “

Today, Geni and I went to a tiny restaurant to help celebrate a friend’s birthday. It is a restaurant that uses food only grown by local farmers and ranchers. When you finish eating you pay what you feel the meal was worth. (If you decide to go, take cash because you pay for your meal in the slot of a old watering can.) When you walk in you will immediately notice that there are no two tables alike and they are surrounded by dining chairs of all different types. I think there were about 6 tables and maybe around 20 chairs. The plates, tableware and napkins were a mixed variety like maybe they came from an attic or various garage sales. I drank water from a glass with the Steak and Ale logo on it.

The restaurant was extremely clean with a kind, peaceful and friendly atmosphere. The menu was handwritten on a chalkboard at the serving counter. You go to the counter and tell the server what you want and in what portion and you are served with a smile and kind words. But the main reason you go to a restaurant is for the food.

I must admit I was a bit leery of going to a restaurant which claimed an all organic menu. I was not looking forward to eating pink tofu and something that looked and smelled a bit like my lawn until I walked inside and enjoyed a delicious meal of butternut squash soup, a slice of asparagus and brie cheese quiche and a delicious salad. They also served chocolate raspberry brownies. What a treat I would have missed had I decided not to go.

Isn’t it the most amazing thing that God delays His judgment of us? God does not overlook our sins and ignore His holiness, but the timing of God’s judgment reveals the abundance of His patience. God’s delaying our judgment instead of bringing us to His justice each time we sin is really His intentional mercy. God waited to destroy the earth in the days of Noah and today He patiently waits for the world to repent and come into relationship with Him. God has modeled kindness and patience for us and we should act accordingly as we are made in His likeness.

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.

PS The name of the restaurant is Potagers, A Natural Café and Other Stuff. It is located at 315 Mesquite here in Arlington.
Happy Friday!

Travis lifted a clean 700 pounds in the power lifting meet tonight, taking 2nd place in the adult men’s open event in his weight bracket. Congratulations, Travis. We are grateful that he did not injure himself and we are so very proud of him.

Prayer: “Lord, I worship You as the Creator of heaven and earth. I praise You as my Maker and the Captain of my soul. Today, I recommit myself to follow You more closely, seeking greater evidence of my inheritance in Christ. Restore the joy of my sanctification, as I anticipate my future reward in heaven. Because You honor me as a sibling in Your kingdom, I will honor You by abandoning pursuits contrary to Your holiness. Thank you for walking beside me with patience and love as I try to live the Christian life. In Jesus’ name,” Amen.

Hebrews 2: 10, 11 “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren.”

The universe was created by God as a place for Jesus to get the message of salvation out to us. Therefore it only makes sense that our salvation comes from Him and through Him. Jesus is sort of the Captain Kirk of our salvation as He has gone where no one has ever gone before. Jesus identified with us in so many ways, but never as strongly as the suffering He experienced on the cross. Christ rejoices in our victories and in the experiences of joy, but He totally identifies with our sufferings and our relationship with Him and His glory of the resurrection. Because Jesus was sanctified we, too, are sanctified. While any “good works” we might do would never measure up to grace we have received, walking in holiness assures us of walking with Him in this life and the next.

God’s goodness to us is beyond measure. We are treated as those who are joint heirs with Jesus. Even when we fall into patterns of sin, God forgives us and we are still members of the family (still in the will) with God treating us with His love and forgiveness.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes and a warm jacket. 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.

PS Today I got question 2 completed on my Christian Ed. Final. I worked for six hours on this one question. Please keep praying. Thank you. Peace, gc

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Happy Thursday!

I completed the first question on the Christian Education final today. It took 4 pages and all day. This final is going really slow so please pray that I I can complete the test by Monday and Bruce can give it the once over twice before I turn it in.

Prayer: “Father, I long to see Your power unleashed in my life. Help me to walk in holiness for the sake of Your name. As I do, give me the privilege of seeing Your hand, appreciating Your glory, and marveling at Your strength in all things. Protect me on this day from temptation and sin so that I will in no way hinder Your work through my life. Keep me in the center of Your will that I might experience the maximum display of Your power. I pray that today will only be the beginning of Your wonderful works. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

Joshua 3: 5 “And Joshua said to the people, “Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.”

1 Peter 1: 16 “Be holy, for I am holy.”

Sanctification is God’s ultimate means of making Himself known through us. As God’s earthly representatives we must become holy because apart from a consecrated life (a life committed to God) we have never seen the power of God. The Israelites had witnessed God’s power in the parting of the Red Sea and His leading them into the Promised Land, but this was just the beginning. Those Israelites who were about to enter into the Promised Land were yielding to God and ready to live lives no longer as slaves, but as God’s people who were created to serve Him. God’s commandments are not meant to rob us of blessing or limit us, they are meant to unleash the power of God within us. God wants to not only demonstrate His power in us, but show us His power. When we worship God we open ourselves up to be channels of his witness for the great things God has done. God has begun a great work in each of us. Let us keep ourselves open to the calling of love He has for us so that we might continue to see His glory.

Take joy in this amazing journey. Wear comfortable shoes and a warm jacket. 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.

Prayers for Travis as he competes tomorrow night attempting to lift 730 pounds. forever, g
Happy Wednesday!

Ok, so yesterday we were up to our knees and cold, wet and unpleasant weather and today it was chilly and beautiful! God does really good work!

Prayer: “Lord, today my greatest desire is to live with eternity in mind. Remind me throughout the day that I need Your grace as much as those around me. Give me sensitivity for people who are open to the saving gospel of Jesus Christ. Protect me from apathy, fear and laziness as I seek to be a witness for You. Empower me to walk with integrity as I seek to reflect the transforming power of Your grace. Increase my joy each time I hear what You are doing in the lives of others. Thank you for saving me. Amen.”

Luke 15:7 “I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who do not need to repent.”

The opening question to my meditation tonight was “What causes you to rejoice?” It is interesting that someone else today asked me a similar question. I am concerned over finals and grades. In very practical terms I am concerned because passing my classes well and keeping my GPA up allows me to continue in the seminary with a generous grant that helps pay my tuition each year. I also have embarked on this path because I am on an extraordinary spiritual journey. Which of these two should be more important? These two questions require a very honest evaluation of myself and who I really am.

I have thought about both of these journeys, academic and spiritual. On the very practical side when I have completed my studies the desired outcome of my studies at Brite will be ordination into the ministry. But on the spiritual side the outcome should be increased spiritual growth and awareness of God’s working in each soul out of His love. Today I learned that in order for me to achieve this type of spiritual growth I have to empty myself of this world each day so that God can live fully in me. When God lives fully in me then the woman God intends for me to be will be able to grow in His likeness according to His grace. The greatest admission I can make is to realize that there is nothing I can do to qualify for God’s grace. Instead of worrying about grades and doing well on my own power. I need to come to know Christ more intimately. When I have learned this extraordinary lesson then the next task is for me to make Him known to others in the most authentic way possible.

Will I still work hard in my classes and study my best for finals? Yes. But now I will pray for God to work beside me and help me to learn and remember what I am to know. When the time comes to be tested then I will give my best and ask God to bless my efforts and continue to remain with me during testing. That will cause me to rejoice!

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes and a warm jacket. Count your blessings and say your prayers. Love you all and pray for me in my spiritual growth and academic journey, 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, December 7, 2011

Happy Tuesday!

I have spent the day completing the identification of the 20 terms for the history final due next week. Two essay questions more and I can put this class to bed for this semester. Tomorrow I will begin to write the paper for my education class and then it is on to the study for Old Testament which my professor prefers we call Hebrew Bible.

Prayer: “Father, give me the strength throughout this day to think sanctified thoughts. Thank You for revealing much of Your will for my life within the pages of the Holy Scripture. Give me eyes to see and a heart to yield to these things consistent with Your Holy Word. Protect me from the temptation of rationalizing sin, leaving me clearly outside the boundaries of sanctification. Mature me by Your grace and uphold me by Your mercy. I honor You for never leaving me or forsaking me, even when I stumble. In Jesus’ name, Amen”

Acts 16: 31 “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved, and your house.”

The Apostle Paul was in prison and the jailer came to him in the night asking what he must do to be saved. Paul simply said, “Believe.” Then he says the really wonderful thing, “and your house.” Can you imagine having the famous Apostle Paul telling you that all you have to do to achieve salvation is to believe? So how is the house saved also? Well, I do not know about you, but if the Apostle Paul told me to believe, I am pretty sure I would and then I would go and tell somebody else. The jailer receives salvation and then takes Paul and the others (those who are imprisoned also?) to his home; bathes their wounds and then baptizes them. He sets a meal before them. Then he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole family!

WOW! What rejoicing that must have been within the lives of this jailer and his family to have received salvation through belief in Jesus and receive baptism by one of His apostles. Do you suppose the jailer had any fear of losing his job or receiving punishment for this act of escape? I don’t think the jailer gave it a thought because he was in the presence of God through this Apostle and he and his family were standing on holy ground being protected by the Holy Spirit. If you continue reading the next few verses you will find that magistrates sent their officers to the home of the jailer with the order to release Paul and Silas, bidding them to go in peace.

The jailer and his family were assured salvation and then brought into a new community of believers who could help them on this new and exciting road of Christianity. God assures us in His Word that this house is very safe in His keeping due to their relationship with God through Jesus. When was the last time we were excited enough about our salvation to tell somebody else about it?

As the Hebrew nation was returning from exile, Isaiah, in chapter 40, wrote the opening words “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed.” Throughout the Bible we are asked to tell others what God has done for us and that all we have to do to receive salvation is to ask and believe. God initiates our coming into relationship with Him and it is our responsibility to proclaim His Word to the people.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes and bundle up! 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.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Happy Monday!

OMG!!! Tonight Bruce and I had the most wonderful time at Bass Hall. I think I shared with you that a friend of mine from Seminary won some tickets to the performance of Handel’s Messiah at Bass Hall tonight and was not able to attend. We were the recipient of these tickets. The tickets were on Orchestra, Row D Seats 10 and 11. The lobby was beautifully decorated with a wonderful Christmas Market filled with all kinds of holiday treasures and ornaments. The audience was dressed in conservative black and holiday red. But the funniest thing was when the last chord had died away and the audience rose to their feet to show appreciation to all of the musicians, the applause lasted for a while and was followed by hooting and whooping that would have made any Aggie proud! And then the couple sitting in front of us elegantly dressed stood up put on their coats and light up Santa hats.…only in Texas.

The seats were amazing and the music was wonderful. The chorus, orchestra and soloists sang the entire Messiah. I have never sung the entire work before but I can tell you now it is two hours of glorious and very difficult singing and playing. I must admit I always get a bit misty eyed when the Hallelujah Chorus is being sung especially when the audience rises to their feet in reverence and honor of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This is an evening I will not soon forget.

Prayer: “Father, today I praise You that the substance of my faith is measurable in tangible ways. While I know that works will never save me, I thank You that my salvation will by necessity change the way I live. Help me, on this day, to demonstrate the reality of true repentance, both in my attitudes and actions. Protect me from bitterness over the consequences of my sins and give me the strength to honor You as a new creation in Christ. Thank you for giving me the grace that is always sufficient. In Jesus Name, Amen.”

Matthew 3: 8 “Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance.”

Tonight’s scripture verse is tough. In order to repent we must ask for forgiveness. In order to ask for forgiveness we must honestly admit to ourselves and God not only that we have sinned, but how we have sinned. I do not know of anyone who just waits to openly admit that they have sinned or who jumps with joy to say “I was wrong and I need to be forgiven and make life changes.” Do I admit when I have sinned, ask for forgiveness and try to make the needed changes? Yes. Do I like to admit it? No.

The Pharisees and Sadducees must have really hated John the Baptist when he preached. They knew they were living lives of hypocrisy and self-righteousness and John the Baptist’s words must have cut them to the quick. But John’s words of “repent” serve as a reminder to each of us that repentance is the act of making change in our lives both inside and out. We have to be willing to abandon sin and turn toward God. To repent means to turn around and change. When we are broken by sin we know we are not deserving of God’s grace and forgiveness. But when we repent and practice humility and have a strong desire to change from our selfishness to selflessness then we have reaped the fruits of repentance. We could do all kinds of “good deeds” or be involved in lots of church activities, but if we do not make the necessary changes in our thinking, then the fruits of our repentance will be rotten. Remember that God knows all about us - even those things we try to make secret. So here is tonight’s question…Is repentance something we do or is it a reflection of who we are?” I really hope it is it the latter.

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.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Blessed Sunday to you all!

Baby it is cold and wet outside! Praise God for the rain because we are so in need of rain. But as Pastor Joel said this morning, “Please don’t send any ice!” I will echo this prayer!

My friends, Bruce and I have been given a wonderful gift. One of the young men in my OT and Education classes has given us tickets to Handel’s Messiah at Bass Hall tomorrow (Monday) evening. We are so excited. Each of us had previous commitments for tomorrow evening and got out of them in order to attend this Christmas classic. I promise to deliver a full report in the journal tomorrow evening.

Today, I heard two fine sermons on the text of the Messiah. This text comes out of the Book of Isaiah, Chapter 40. As a Christian I believe these verses point to Jesus as prophesied by Isaiah. I did a little research into these scriptures and learned that these words of “Comfort ye, My people” “speak tenderly, for her sins are pardoned because God has punished her twice over for her sins.” These words were written about the return of Israel to Jerusalem out of the Babylonian exile. These weary Hebrews were returning home. They had been through a lot and were just trying to get home. If you look at the terrain between Babylon and Jerusalem you will find it is rough. God promises that on their journey home the valleys would be raised, the mountains would be lowered and the rough places would be made even. The bottom line is that this nation was on a journey home.

Doc Adams (Casey’s oncologist) often said, “The destination was never in question, but sometimes the journey sucks.” The nation of Israel was being punished by God because they were disobedient. God, in His forgiveness, was leading them home and trying to make the journey as easy as possible. I think the key might have been that the journey would have been easier if they have stayed on the path God laid out for them.

So here are the questions of the evening…First, have we ever been on a journey where there were rough places, deep valleys or high mountains and felt ourselves exiled from God? Next, would the journey have been easier if we had just stayed on the path God laid out for us? Do we trust God to get us home? Did we try to take short cuts, or go around and turn around instead of continuing the journey as God intended? And last, did we make the journey longer than it had to be because we did not let God be God and lead us?

As we journey this Advent toward the birth of Jesus once again, how will we prepare for whatever journeys God has in store for us? As for me, I pray that I will be willing to follow His plan for the road ahead and that I will listen for God’s voice in my ear; my head and my heart walking in faith behind the God who sent me on the journey.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes, a warm coat and carry an umbrella. 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.
Happy Saturday!

Prayer: “Heavenly Father, I am so very grateful for Your love, salvation, and care for me. Without You, my life would be a disaster. With You, I am so very blessed and encouraged. Please help me this day to walk in step with Your Spirit’s leadership. As I do, help me to be sensitive to the needs of others whom I might encounter. Help me to be a blessing to others! In the strong and loving name of Jesus, Amen!”

1 John 3: 17 “But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?”

God’s Word contains the most practical and, at times, challenging words we will ever hear. As I read this passage I thought about how timely these words are in this season of the year. Most of us have enough. We have enough food, adequate transportation, clothes to wear that keep us warm and dry and a house that will do the same. So here is this question from God’s Word that challenges us to ignore those who have little or nothing.

God came down from the splendor of heaven to become poor and live among us so that through His earthly poverty we might become rich. The love of God was fully incarnated in Jesus and that love compelled Him to surrender all for the sake of others. If we are called to live godly lives and imitators of Christ, how can we help those who are in desperate need? There are so many opportunities to help others during this season of giving. We can put money in the red buckets, take food the local charities, pick a name from an angel tree or find out from a church or other group a way that we can help. We can also offer our gifts of presence to those who are lonely in hospitals or nursing homes. We can make phone calls and send Christmas cards to someone who might not receive a word of hope during this season of hope. Let each of us pray about a way we can help someone during Christmas.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes and carry an umbrella. Count your blessings and be a blessing. 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.