Saturday, February 11, 2012

Happy Saturday!

Today was the first Kairos Team Meeting for Allred #22, the weekend which will be held in April. The folks there are amazing Christian warriors who have such a heart for this ministry. Bruce is the leader for this weekend. He has a mighty job ahead of him and led the all-day meeting today with a heart full of love and professional grace. Please pray for him, all of the team and those inmates whom will be preparing by the power of the Holy Spirit to receive the gospel through these vessels through which God will work His Will. The ministry is founded and supported by strong prayer support. So pray fervently and pray often.

Also, I am issuing an invitation to a re-wedding of the members of the Rock Solid Marriage Bible Study. There will be a worship service at 4:00 at Advent Lutheran Church at 3232 S. Cooper Street in Arlington with a reception to follow. We would love to see you there.

Prayer alerts: My dad has a really bad cold with congestion. Please pray for his health. Also, some dear friends with whom we sing in the Praise Team at Advent lost their mother and grandmother on Thursday evening. Please pray for the Trousdale and Randall families as they mourn their loss. Thanks.

Prayer: “Father, I know what I should do, but it is such a struggle. I know Your plan is best for me. Forgive me for resisting You and ignoring Your calling. God, please help me to surrender. Help me to let go of my life and experience all that You have for me. I am tired of living on my own and trying to be in control. I release my agenda and yield to Yours. Amen.”

Matthew 10:39 “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.”

Today at the Kairos meeting the theme was “vulnerability.” As many of the team expressed what was difficult in their spiritual lives the answer that kept recurring was “obedience.” Some expressed how they came into Kairos kicking and screaming. Once they surrendered themselves over to God in their response to this call to ministry they realized it was exactly where God had called them to serve.

It is a ministry that is out of the ordinary. We are easy with our jobs, our families, attending church regularly in our service to God. But God has so much more in store for us if we will just let go of ourselves and become willing to relinquish control of our wills and allow God to work through us. When this happens, then we can truly share in the life of Christ. When we surrender we enter into a life of humility, surrender and dependence on God and His plan for our lives. Here is the deal…this is a life of power, but not a life of power for us, but a life of the power to affect others with the message of the gospel. The Kairos ministry is not interested in getting the inmates out of prison, but taking the gospel inside to this group of forgotten people, showing them God’s love and helping them to learn to love and trust each other.

So I ask the question asked of me today…What are we willing to do to achieve the high calling of God in Christ Jesus? (here is a hint…it has something to do with being vulnerable to the calling of Christ through obedience.)

Take joy in this prayerful journey. Wear comfortable shoes and something very warm! 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.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Happy Thursday!

I finished the papers the from week following Mom’s passing and have sent them to their respective professors. I now get to work on the assignments for next week. I have a paper due in Psalms class Tuesday.

I treated myself to a shopping trip today for a dress and shoes in which to get re-married on Sunday. I also began the many thank you notes for those who brought food, who called on Dad, who wrote cards and who were service participants. I have not finished, but eventually I will.

If you get a few minutes go to You Tube and type in Travis Chrystie. You can see him push/press 405 pounds. It is pretty amazing!

Bruce is still busily working on preparations for the first Kairos Team meeting on Saturday. Please continue your prays for him, the team and the inmates who will gain from this encounter with God.

I spoke to Dad tonight. He seems to have a pretty bad cold and tells me he has had a rough week emotionally. Please continue your prays for Dad.

Prayer: “Thank You, Jesus, for Your grace. Thank You that even though I deserve death, hell and judgment, You paid the price for me that I might go free. Help me today to be sensitive to everyone around me who is in need of Your grace. Forgive me for not caring like I should for those who do not know You. Amen.”

Luke 23: 43 “And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

This is a tough scripture with which to greet the day. But this scripture calls us to do what Jesus did hanging on that cross. Take a moment and imagine Jesus hanging on the cross, crown of thorns on His head, bleeding, nails driven on his hands and feet. He is scorned, shamed, mocked and spat upon. He has been separated from his family and friends and even His heavenly Father cannot look at Him because of the ugliness of sin that completely taken over this One God calls Son. Jesus is hanging between two thieves; one who refuses to believe and one who is frightened and asking for forgiveness. Even with all of these devastating things happening all around Him, with the last few ounces of strength He has, Jesus looks at the crowd that is mocking Him with scorn and hatred and asks His heavenly Father to forgive them and erase their sins from His eyes. One last final act of grace, Jesus welcomes this thief into paradise. What a day this thief had! His day began in condemnation. By the middle of the day this same man was now covered in the blood of Jesus and covered in God’s grace. By nightfall this man was in heaven with Jesus. Now that’s joy in the journey!

I think the hardest thing for us as Christians to do is to forgive our enemies and welcome them into fellowship with us. But Jesus calls us to do just that. There are other faiths that call for their followers to love their neighbors, but I think Christians are the only ones who are also commanded to love their enemies. That one command sets believers in Christ apart for the higher calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Take joy in the journey and do not let the sun go down on you without telling someone about the forgiveness, love and saving grace of Jesus. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. Love you all so very much and count on you for your loving and powerful prayer support, 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 Wednesday!

I began my final paper today. With it finished, I will be caught up with the work I missed during the week I was not in class. I hope to complete this paper tomorrow and then begin on the reading and writing for next week. Thank you all for your prayers which are helping me to concentrate on the assignments that are due. The paper I am currently writing is about loss I have experienced in relationships and how it has affected me. I am also to speak about the support I have received during the grief from the loss as well as how the losses have affected my future. All of this is to go into 4 to 6 pages. Please keep praying. Thank you.

Prayer: “Lord Jesus, I ask you to full me with Your Spirit and help me to handle anything that comes my way today with Your strength. May I walk in such a way that people are pointed toward the Cross and drawn to You. May I praise You through not only the good times in my life, but also through the bad times. Use the valleys in my life to bring me closer to You and to draw those who don’t know You to their own “mountaintop meeting” with You. Amen.”

Acts 16:31 “So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

A very long time ago Bruce and I were in our pre-marital counseling. The minister who married us asked all of the standard questions and then he asked us about our spiritual lives and our relationship to Christ. Brother Johnny and I had known each other for a long time and he knew about my relationship to Christ, but he had never met Bruce until the day of our counseling. Brother Johnny asked Bruce about his relationship to Christ. Bruce told Bro. Johnny that he was a believer. Bro. Johnny then told Bruce that he believed that it was Bruce’s responsibility to make sure I got to heaven. At the time I thought this was somewhat of an archaic idea, yet tonight I read this scripture.

The context of this scripture is the persecution Paul and Silas suffered in proclaiming Jesus as Lord and witnessing lives being transformed by this preaching. They were in jail because of their power preaching. In this story, at midnight there erupted praise and worship in the jail and the jailer received Christ as Lord and Savior. Then the jailer’s family received their salvation after the jailer got home. All of this happened because Paul was bold in his preaching and belief that when one receives the transforming power of God’s love through the crucified and resurrected Christ one cannot rest until they have shared the story of salvation with those closest to them. Yes, it is an invitation that must be accepted by each of us individually, but someone must tell us the story.

As wives, husbands, mothers and dads it is our responsibility to share the gospel of grace and salvation to those who are closest to us. Maybe Bro. Johnny was a little old fashion about the husband being responsible for the wife’s salvation, but scripture demands that we take the responsibility for sharing Christ with our families.

So I guess the question for the night is…Who in our family needs to come to know Christ?

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.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Happy Tuesday!

Today I took a break from studying, reading and paper writing today and caught up on some errands. It was a break I think I needed.

Bruce and I attended this wonderful Bible Study called Rock Solid Marriage. It was a 5 week study about the different aspects of marriage from communication to relationship building. It was totally based on scripture and I highly recommend it now matter how long you have been married. The final part of the study is a worship service in which all who attended the study and any others who desire can come and renew their vows also. I read the list of known participants and they range from those who have been married from one year to sixty years. There will be a cake and punch reception following the service. I would like to invite all who would like to attend to join us at Advent Lutheran Church at 4:00 Sunday afternoon February 12. It should be very meaningful and a lot of fun. We were asked to submit a wedding picture and a current picture to be shown in a video during the service somewhere. There have been a few changes…but very subtle. (LOL!) I still do not have a dress for the renewal of our wedding vows on Sunday afternoon. Maybe tomorrow…

Prayer: “Faithful Master, Your Word says, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.” (Psalm 37: 23). I thank you as I begin this new day that I can rest in that comforting assurance. You see and watch over me. Therefore help me today that I will not fear whatever may befall me. I ask this in Your precious name, Amen.”

Romans 14: 8 “For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.”

In the morning before I get up I have begun saying “Good morning” to God and giving thanks for my life and for the breath I have. I give thanks for Bruce who lies beside me and I watch him and wait for him to breathe. When Casey was still with us I used to stand at the door of our dining room or at the door of his hospital room and just watch him breathe. Breathing is the strong reassurance that life is present. It is through the breath of the Holy Spirit within each of us who are believers in God through the resurrected Christ that we know that God is watching over us and breathing through us all of the time. This passage of scripture goes beyond the physical breath that allows us to live each of our days here on earth. The breath of the Holy Spirit is greater than our life here on earth. It is that same breath that calls us to heaven ever reminding us that because we belonged to God while on the earth we belong and will remain with God when we are joined with Him in heaven for all eternity.

When I was a teacher at Burton Hill we held a prayer and share in my classroom once a week before classes began. When one or more of us were carrying burdens seemingly too heavy to bear and were going through the most difficult of times, our phrase we would tell each other was, “Just take a breath.” Each of us were perfectly capable of drawing our next physical breath. What we were meaning for the one who was burdened down and hurting was to stop and draw in the breath of the Holy Spirit. The greatest assurance we had was knowing that God through the power of the Holy Spirit would do this at our request today and again tomorrow and every tomorrow. This assurance is praise worthy.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. I ask that you begin to add to your prayers Bruce and the upcoming Kairos Prison Ministry Weekend. The weekend is not until April, but Bruce is the lay leader for this weekend and the first team meeting is this Saturday. This ministry is a ministry to the outcast and forgotten community by most of us, but God has not forgotten them. Pray for Bruce as he has accepted this calling by God to lead this team in Jesus’ name driven by the Holy Spirit. Count your blessings and say your prayers.

Thank you, mighty and faithful prayer warriors. 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 Monday!

Today was a productive day for me! I finished the paper for preaching. Next is to read the passages for the Grief and Loss Class and write that paper and I think I will be caught up. I will then begin on the studying for next week. Bruce and I are both on new ground with the preaching paper. I have never written a paper quite like this and he has never edited a paper in this format. Please say an extra prayer for Bruce and he wades through this document.

I talked with Daddy this evening and he sounded really good. He is still finishing up some final details as he comes across something that needs to be tended to. He really misses Mom. He has to get in line for that one. I found out he did go the church on Sunday. A couple who are in his Sunday School class asked him to sit with them in worship so he did and it made worship a bit easier. Then he went to Ken and Sheena’s and watched half of the Super Bowl in Sunday. I was so proud of him because I know how hard it must have been. Please continue to pray for him as he adjusts to his life without Mom. (You can pray for us too!)

Prayer: “Precious Jesus, as I open my eyes today, I praise You that I see. I rejoice that I had a bed in which I could rest my weary body last night. I am thankful that I can begin this new day with the wonderful assurance that if I should die, I know where I will go—and with whom I shall be. And best of all, dear Savior, I rejoice that I know who made it all possible. Thank You for Your wonderful death on the Cross. May Your mighty name be praised! Amen.”

Romans 8: 11 “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”

All I have done today is read and write. I began the paper around 8:30 this morning and I did not stop except to eat lunch and I did not really even stop then. (I typed and ate soup and carrots.) As I was working on this paper I kept thinking, “Okay I will do this much more and then I will take a break.” And that deadline would pass and I would continue. I prayed for the strength to continue on more than one occasion for I was getting tired and the brain was getting fuzzy. I finally finished around 7:00 this evening.

I realize this is not a powerful image of calling on the Spirit of Him who raised Christ from the dead, but there are times when we all get tired but we must continue on and we do not have the power to continue. The power of God is within each of us who believe and the crown jewel of promises God gives us is eternal life. As I have shared with you before, I believe that eternal life in Christ begins when we accept Him as our Lord and Savior. That Spirit of Power never leaves us. God loves us so much that when we need the same Spirit of power and might that raised Christ it is there and available for us. It is simply our task to ask God to activate that power. We call on that power through prayer. God knows when we are tired and need help beyond ourselves. One of the prayers I often pray is for God to give me knowledge beyond myself especially when it comes to my studies. For me, this is the kind of power I sometimes need. The verse says “this power will give life to our mortal bodies.” The power of the living God living in each of us who believe empowers us in strength when we need it.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. Our love to you all and thank you for being mighty and powerful payer warriors, 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 My friends, the Toombs/Burns family held the service for their mother and grandmother today. I know their hearts are broken, so I ask you to keep them in prayer. Please offer an extra prayer for Geni. She is coming up on her first evaluation sometime soon and she is really nervous about it. I promise to keep you posted. gc

Monday, February 6, 2012

Blessed Sunday to you all!

Next item checked off; preached at Hurst Christian Church. The congregation was very warm and welcoming and it was a joy to preach and serve at the table.

Today was Boy Scout Sunday. At the end of worship I walked out to the foyer only to find uniformed scouts standing behind well used dutch ovens filled with warm fruit cobblers. Down another hallway the ladies were selling containers of homemade soups and super bowl snacks. I brought several samples home with me.

Later this afternoon, Bruce and In went to the final Bible Study called Rock Solid Marriage (which was really great). Even those of us who have been married for a number of years learned a lot from the 5 week Bible Study based on scripture. Next Sunday there will be a re-affirmation of wedding vows which should be lovely. Geni and Travis will be giving us away as well as being lectors for the service. There will be a reception following the service. If any of you would like to attend the service will begin at 4:00 at Advent Lutheran Church and you are welcome to attend.

Back to the schedule. Tomorrow I must begin and complete the exegesis of John 9: 1-41. Please pray for my focus as I begin this new type of writing.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for the rising of the sun and the promise of a new day in which I may serve You. Grant that Your dear hand may order my steps and that I will honor and please You in all that I do. Give me Your wisdom and discernment that every decision I make today will be centered in Your will. Keep me from presumption. Make me kind and sensitive to all those whom I shall meet. I ask all of this in your holy name. Amen.”

Romans 10: 9 “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Sometimes the Old Testament can be confusing. And sometimes Romans and other books of the Bible can be confusing and seem to explain and re-explain the same thing within the same paragraph.

But the gospel is very clear. The gospel can take things that are hard and makes them easy to understand. When we read the gospel we often read it through the eyes of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit guides our thoughts and helps us glean the meaning from the scripture and reveals it to us enabling us to understand.

Tonight my meditation gives the example of the simplicity of the gospel in examples of bread. “Salvation is as simple as eating bread.” Jesus shares the meaning of salvation simply as a hungry man eating bread in “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me shall not hunger.” (John 6:35) Salvation is as simple as drinking water. “Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water I shall give him will become a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4: 14) The gift of Christ is as simple as believing and confessing that Jesus is Lord. The gospel of the extravagant love of Jesus is so amazing and so simple that all we have to do is believe it and tell it to someone else.

Please pray for comfort for the Toombs/Burns families as tomorrow they will bury their mother and grandmother.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. Love you all so very much, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni aid 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, February 5, 2012

Happy Saturday!

First task completed! I emailed the paper from the pastoral counseling class. I was glad to have this item completed. Thank you so much for all of your prayers concerning that paper. Now I ask your prayers as I prepare to preach in the morning.

Prayer: "Dear Lord, as I begin this new day, please help me remember to number my days so that I may "gain a heart of wisdom." Help me live today as if it were my last. Grant that my words will be kind and loving, that my eyes may look in the right direction, and that my thoughts may be stayed on You. If I displease You in any way, remind me quickly so that I may repent and ask Your forgiveness. I pray this in Jesus name. Amen."

John 14: 6 "Jesus said to him, "I and the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."

Have you ever been to an invitation-only party? I remember once when I was in junior high I was invited to a dance that was by invitation only. In order to gain entrance to the dance I had to show my invitation to the ladies at the entrance to the dance. If I did not have an invitation then I could not enter and be a part of the activities. Had I not received and accepted the invitation I would have had to ask someone who had gotten to go to the dance about the event. This was an exclusive event that was not to be "crashed."

Jesus is an exclusive Lord. It is one thing to proclaim that Jesus is the Savior of the world, but it is another thing to say that Jesus is the only Savior of the world. But that is what Jesus taught. Remember in the scriptures where Jesus states very clearly, "No one goes to the Father except through Me"? If we are to be serious believers in Christ we must believe this, accept it, and proclaim it without reservation, without fear or shame. If we are to gain entrance to the eternal party in heaven and live in eternity on this side of heaven we must have a relationship with Jesus while on this earth.

The early followers of Jesus were criticized and persecuted over this very proclamation. We need to be just as bold and brave as those early Christians. We need to proclaim Jesus Christ crucified as Lord and Savior and we need to offer this invitation to all those we meet who do not know of Jesus so they can join us at the party.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and give thanks for the gift of God's grace each day. Give thanks for each breath we are allowed to take. Praise God for one more day to share Christ with someone. 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.