Saturday, April 14, 2012

Happy Saturday!

Prayer Alert! I am requesting prayer for David and Carmella Russell especially David’s family. David’s mother Jane, is dying. I received a call from Carme earlier this evening with this news. Dave’s Mom has been suffering with Alzheimer’s for a number of years. I will keep you updated.

Also, today I attended the ordination service of a dear friend of mine, Debra Patton; now Pastor Debra Patton. It was such a wonderful service. The pastor who preached her service spoke about those who are called into the service of God. We are all called into God’s service because we are believers in Jesus and are servants of God. But then there are those who are called and set apart for a Holy calling. Even though I was not being ordained the words this pastor spoke were the words I needed to hear as one who is aspiring to become qualified for that holy calling.

The preacher spoke of many aspects of the pastoral calling, but two phrases especially caught my attention. The first one had to do with the education process. Having a pastoral education prepares those who are seeking ordained ministry the knowledge to qualify to be a professional. He said, “You will take Preaching, Old Testament, New Testament and Systematic Theology. But what you must also remember that along with those classes you must practice “kneeology.” Without a doubt!

Second, the preacher spoke about being a “proven vessel.” This vessel must be capable of holding the gospel, living the gospel and preaching the gospel in all of its aspects. I just want to be found a “proven vessel” as I continue to walk this road of seminary and begin to practice the ministry of pastoral care throughout the coming year in CPE and Supervised Ministry. I am sure that a lot of “kneeology” will be practiced throughout the next year. Please practice with me!

Prayer: As I awake this morning, O Lord, I give You praise for another day of life. Thank You, Father, that I can live for You because Your Son, Jesus, died for me! May my life be a living sacrifice for You, and may my actions glorify Your name. Amen.

Romans 8: 9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.

Paul had the experience and authority to speak on matters of flesh and spirit as he was once the religious “Hebrew of the Hebrews.” Paul had been trained to be a strict, religious keeper of the Law. But when Paul experienced the Holy Spirit on the Damascus Road everything changed for him. Paul proclaimed, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation.” Paul no longer lived a life driven by the laws of the earth, but lived in the newness of life as given by God through the resurrected Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Paul learned that in order for Christ to live in him, he (Paul) had to empty himself to make room for God to work through him. Paul had always put up a barrier or wall between himself and God until God got his attention on the Damascus Road.

The same is true for each of us. God cannot truly work through us if we do not empty ourselves of our earthly self. Then God can fill us with all of the riches of glory in full measure. When we are receptive God fills us with His very essence; the Holy Spirit. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit then we are attentive. We journey through each day looking for God in wherever we go, whatever we do and whoever we meet.

My prayer for each of us is that we may faithfully serve God and His Church, rising out of our earthly self and allowing the grace, forgiveness, peace, comfort and total assurance of knowing God rises with us on this side of heaven and the other.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Give thanks that Bruce returned home safely. Pray that the storms will pass over us tonight. 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.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Happy Thursday!

Today, I completed registration for fall classes! Very exciting. I also heard three excellent sermons in preaching class. My homiletics professor has crafted the scripture verses so that the sermons delivered follow the story. We have been preaching on scriptures from Genesis beginning with the Abraham and Sarah story and today landed with the Israelites in the wilderness and the manna from heaven. It has been so great to hear different people preaching sermons based on scriptures as the scriptures are sequenced in the Bible.

Prayer: “Lord, as I bow in Your presence, speak to my heart this very moment. Lord, remind me of Your goodness and mercy. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit power. Open my eyes to the needs and hurts around me. Guide me by Your Spirit to those who are in desperate need of the Savior. Use me as Your vessel to make a difference. Grant this prayer, O Lord. Amen.”

John 3: 8 The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.

As a master teacher, Jesus taught all of the time. There are those who will say that a good teacher can teach in a cabbage patch. Well, Jesus taught in all sorts of places and times using whatever was around Him to illustrate his teaching points. Jesus used images of sheep, goats, fig trees, fish, bread, mustard seeds and small coins.

Nicodemus attended night classes with Jesus and learned about the Holy Spirit when Jesus used the illustration of the wind. Jesus used the wind to teach how the individual is transformed from flesh to spirit. The wind and the Holy Spirit are both invisible, but both produce visible change with powerful forces and go wherever God chooses. The wind as a supernatural force is compared with the Holy Spirit. On the day of Pentecost the wind is given the description of a mighty and rushing wind declaring the Presence of the Holy Spirit. God breathes His Holy Spirit upon His children, giving a new life to all who receive it. It is this very breath of God that transformed the chaos into land and water and all of creation by God’s command and according to God’s good purpose.

So my friends, let’s go to school and be taught by the Master Teacher. Let us receive instruction by His Word and through the voice of prayer, each of us being transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. Love you 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, April 12, 2012

Happy Wednesday!

Prayer: “Father God, I come before You this morning to say thank You for a brand new day. I look forward to the opportunities of this day. I ask You to guide me by Your Spirit throughout the day. Help me, O Lord, to be salt and light before those I encounter that I might represent and reflect the life of the Lord Jesus Christ. I praise You and give You glory. In Jesus‘ name. Amen.”

Romans 8: 4 That the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

The law of Moses established order in the daily lives of the nation of Israel. The Emancipation Proclamation abolished the laws of slavery. But the law does not set people free. The law of Moses really did not give life, but only condemned it. The law could not set people free from sin. God sent Jesus to save us from the laws of sin and death doing what the law could not do.

I really love the part of the verse that says, “That the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us…” when Jesus died on the cross for our sins we became righteous. Our righteousness does not depend on any good work we might do. Our righteousness depends on the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Because the Holy Spirit enables us to “walk in the Spirit” we do not walk by flesh, but by faith in Jesus Christ. We no longer live under the law, but under the gifts of grace and truth.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Be receptive to the indwelling of God in Christ Jesus through the Holy Spirit and be attentive to looking for God in all we say, see and do. 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, April 10, 2012

Happy Tuesday!

I have come to the end of a very long but wonderful day. I have preached my final sermon for preaching class. I preached on the passage from Genesis 45 about Joseph being reconciled with his family. I tried something just a bit different during this sermon. I wore a scarf as a pastor would wear a stole and sandals with large jeweled looking beads on the thong part of the sandal. As I related Joseph leaving his throne in the palace of Pharaoh and setting aside his royal position I remove the scarf and step out of the sandals using this as visualization of Joseph placing family over his position in Egypt. It worked out pretty well.

Psalms class was completely brilliant as we studied different ways to look at suffering in the Psalms. It is always a great day when I have learned something wonderful!

Prayer: Father, thank You for getting me up early this morning to hear from You. Your Spirit has drawn me to the prayer room of my heart. Help me to hear exactly what Jesus has to say to me through the voice of the Holy Spirit. O Lord, speak Your truths into my heart and grant me wisdom to respond to Your will and direction. Use me for Your glory and honor. Thank You, heavenly Father, for speaking to my heart. I love You and praise Your Holy name. Amen.

I Corinthians 2: 13 When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths.

If you are a parent and spend daily contact with a baby then I hope you will understand this analogy. Whichever parent in the family spends the greatest amount of time with the baby begins to figure out how the baby communicates wants and needs. The baby does not use words or sentences but, by the use of certain syllables and attempts at language and a very attentive care giver, the language (while still developing) is figured out. Such as Casey’s word for hot dogs was “ga-gas.” He did not sound the word “hotdogs”, but we learned what he wanted by being very attentive to this repeated language for one of his favorite snacks.

If we want to understand the language of the Holy Spirit that gives us direction for our lives then we must be attentive to the language of discernment to understand. We learn this language because we live daily lives of prayer and study of God’s Word as it speaks to us and we learn to know God through Jesus more fully. When we pray we must be so bold as to pray for the Holy Spirit to teach us the Word of God. I would love to tell you that I understand the first time or even the tenth time when I read a scripture. I can tell you that as long as I continue to read, study and listen, the more I learn. Finally, the discerning Word of God communicated by the Holy Spirit speaks in a language I can understand and I will know what the Word is for me.
God’s precious Word is the “lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” (Ps. 119: 105). The right pathway and direction comes from daily walking with God and being taught by the Holy Spirit.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings, study God’s Word, listen for instructions 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.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Happy Easter Monday!

Prayer: “Father, as I begin this new day I give you praise and thanksgiving for a good night’s sleep. Thank you, heavenly Father, for the opportunities You will place in my path throughout this day. Help me to be sensitive to Your Spirit that I might use godly influence in the lives of those I encounter this day. In the precious name of Jesus I pray. Amen.”

Zechariah 4: 6 This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts.

My meditation tonight tells the story of God’s vision to Zechariah. God presented a Word to Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah. God also presented a lampstand in the tabernacle with extra features. The lampstand collected a continual supply of oil from two trees which kept the lamps burning. This golden lampstand symbolized God’s purpose for the Jewish nation to becoming a light unto the Gentiles.

The Holy Spirit is like the lampstand. The Holy Spirit is a constant supply for us today. Even when we are weak it does not keep God from pouring out the Holy Spirit in our lives. God is not hindered by our weakness or enabled by our strength. Sometimes we get caught up in relying on ourselves for everything. This makes us weak. Instead we need to call on God first when we are in need of help. God wants the Holy Spirit to provide power through we who believe. The Apostle Paul finally understood that all of his intellectual knowledge and his status in the land was nothing compared to the mighty power of Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. It was this realization that caused Paul to write Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

So let’s make a deal…the next time something happens to royally upset the apple cart of our lives whether it seems trivial and aggravating or serious drama, let us go to God first. Let us each stop and take a breath. Breathe in the Holy Spirit’s power that will calm us down allowing us to stop and listen for the voice of God to speak and guide us back on the track. I need all of you to pray this for me as the semester is rapidly coming to a close with projects and papers coming one on top of the other. I pray for clear thinking and a spirit of calm. Also, one more prayer, please, as I preach in preaching class tomorrow afternoon. Thank you. (I know…I know…take a breath Gaylene!)

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.