Thursday, May 17, 2012

Happy Thursday! 

I began the reading for my class today.  The Song of Solomon is really a trip.  Some parts of this writing should be read accompanied by a funeral parlor fan!
Tonight, Bruce and I kept our two little cousins.  Their mom and dad needed a couple of hours of time together. This is the family with the little girl, Tatum, who is battling leukemia.  She goes into the hospital tomorrow for the next round of chemo.  It also happens to be her birthday.  She will be six.  Please say an extra prayer for and her family as she continues to battle this disease. 

Prayer:  “Thank You for going to the Garden on my behalf.  Your struggle had eternal consequences for me.  Thank You for surrendering to the Father’s will. Help me to surrender to Your will. Amen.”

“He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, ‘O My Father, if it is possible, let the cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”
Matthew 26: 39

I have written about this passage a few times, but let us look at it differently tonight.  Let us see what Jesus saw in that cup.  Jesus looked into that cup and saw something so horrible that he then prayed “Father, let this cup pass from Me.”  Jesus saw evil, betrayal, separation from His Father and then combined all of these things with our sin. The drink was so toxic that it may have seemed worse than the horrors of the Cross.  For Jesus, who never knew sin, became sin.  And yet, He drank the cup and went to the cross in obedience to His Father, God.  He bore the weight of the world on His shoulders in the form of that Cross and prayed “Not my will, but Thy will be done.”  Jesus exchanged the bitterness of the Cup and the horrors of the Cross so that we could have the sweet flowing of the cup of communion we do not deserve, forever.
My friends when we pray today and we lift up our own agony, pain, despair and  separation, let us find it within ourselves to pray to glorify our Lord by confessing “Not my will, but Your will be done.”
Take joy in the journey.  Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep.  Let God stay awake on your behalf.  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.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Happy Wednesday! 

Okay, I have completed two of the projects I planned for the week.  I finally had the time to put the winter clothes in the cedar chest or hang them in the closet and bring out the spring and summer items.  I also cleaned out majorly.  Tomorrow Mission Arlington is going to get a truck load of stuff.  And, I also cleaned and sifted through a book case and packed it away with some things for Half-Price Books and replaced those items and filled the book case with my books from seminary.  Now my books are much more accessible.  

Tomorrow I study for my class next week.  I am taking a week long intensive study class on Biblical Sages, Singers and Storytellers.  I will be studying The Songs of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations and Esther. It is a lot of work, but I love the OT stories and think it will be an awesome class.  One of the requirements will be to teach a lesson at some point during the week.  I will let you know.  And last, I made all A’s for the Spring 2012 semester.  I was so excited.  Thank you for all of your prayers through this semester.  I am going to need your prayers for this week long class so keep praying. Thanks again.

Prayer:  “Lord, I come to You at times with confused emotions.  I trust that You are too good to ever be wrong.  I ask for Your grace in this moment to endure during the hard things of this life. Amen.”

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your path.”
Proverbs 3: 5,6

How amazing that his passage should come to me tonight.  As I begin the massive study for this 5 day class I am going to lean on God for His understanding and look for God’s direction as I am being taught by a scholar in this area who wrote the commentary I will be reading, and in class with doctoral students who read and understand Hebrew.  I am definitely going to need more knowledge and wisdom than I have.  I am praying for God to prepare me to take this class and allow me to do my best and glorify Him as I learn and participate.

The Hebrew word for “trust” as it is used in this verse is batach,” which means to lie down and stretch out.” In other words we are called to rest in God’s powerful and loving provision of grace for our lives.  Whatever you face today may call for your greatest act of faith in this moment in our lives.  So we must present ourselves to God in prayer and then rest in His goodness especially when we face situations we don’t understand. 

The second part of the verse says we are to “acknowledge Him.”  To acknowledge means to know His nature and character which will help us see every trial, every difficulty, every opportunity to discover Christ’s rightful lordship over our lives.

Can we live lives today aware of God’s presence and trust in his love and care?  We know that we can trust in God’s abundant grace and presence because He promises to “direct” our lives.  As we learn to rest in God’s powerful goodness there will be no obstacles that cannot be surmounted or they will be removed from the path.  We have a faithful God who shows us His goodness and mercy all the days of our lives. Now let us trust Him to guide our paths.

Take joy in the journey.  Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep.  God does not slumber nor sleep so both of you do not need to be awake. Count your blessings and say your prayers.  Love you, 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 Tuesday! 

First, I must say, “OMG!” in reference to the final episode of NCIS tonight.  As cliffhangers go, the writers pulled out all of the stops. 

Prayer:  “In this certain place I meet you this morning with a grateful heart that You are faithful to meet me and hear my prayers.  I want to be in close contact with You.  I adore You and worship You, my God. Amen.”

“Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.”
Luke 11: 1

Jesus was the perfect model for prayer.  Jesus’ disciples knew that Jesus went to a certain place to pray as part of His routine.  Anything we do as part of a routine takes priority in our lives.  Prayer was a priority for Jesus.  Jesus went to His Father in prayer each day to stay in communion with God.  Jesus carried unbearable burdens and the only way He could carry them was to ask the Father for help.  The disciples saw Jesus pray. The results of Jesus’ time of prayer was a sense of peace and joy knowing that He did not face anything alone because His Father had given guidance  and direction for His life and ministry here on earth.

Jesus went to God in prayer, expressing Himself with honest, simple requests, thanksgiving and praise.  Somewhere in our prayer life we must find a place of praise even when things seems to be going so badly. More than anything God needs to know that we have a strong desire to spend time with Him.  I am not a good question asker of God.  I usually tell God I love Him, I believe Him, I praise Him for what I can think of, I give thanks, I ask forgiveness and sometimes I ask for understanding. Now, as I am seeking a deeper understanding of God, I am beginning to ask God to help me search my motives as to why I think about things the way I do and to help me understand how to think like He does.  Then I ask for God to reveal my sins to me.  There are times I sin and don’t realize it.  When I come to understand my way of thinking is not Godly (or is sinful), I confess it.  After I confess, the most wonderful peace comes over me and I feel so much closer to God.  

True and honest prayer is a two way street; each party must talk and most importantly, listen!!   It is not for me to try and change the heart of God through my requests, it is me being totally receptive and allowing God to change me by listening to Him.  Jesus is the key to this conversation because He is the place of prayer and He is in continuous intercession to the Father for each of us. 

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep.  Remember that our God never puts out the “Do not disturb sign.”  There is no need for both of you/me to be awake.  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, May 15, 2012

Happy Monday! 

What a fun day!  I kept our one year old goddaughter, Asia, for a couple of hours.  We had such a wonderful time.  She is walking everywhere, smiling, talking wonderful “baby talk” and knows to say “Uh Oh”  when she drops something.  She sings and dances and warms my heart.  She is completely delightful.

Now as to Geni...  She walked into her classroom this morning only to find it had been broken into. Her room and one other teacher’s room were the only rooms vandalized.  Her room was a mess with cabinets emptied everywhere and her room basically torn up.  The good news is that she had brought her school laptop home with her over the weekend.  The bad news is that the thieves/vandals stole her school IPOD.  This is the device she is issued to test the children in reading three times per year.  She tried to file a police report online today.  I don’t think it worked because later she got an email from the Fort Worth PD and will have to call it in to them tomorrow.  Please say a prayer for her as it will be a while before she walks into her classroom again feeling completely safe. 

Prayer:  “Lord, help me to walk in a balance of grace and truth today.  Strengthen my health so I may serve You.  Give me this day my daily needs and prosper my finances so that I may serve You with the first fruits of all You have given me. Amen”

“Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.”

3 John 2

I think some of the preachers we hear on television preach a prosperity gospel that is only a twofold gospel. If you have good financial health and you give to their ministries then you will have the blessings of God.  The part that is left out is that God has not removed suffering and pain from our lives no matter what our financial state is or how much faith we appear to have.  I believe God cares about our finances, but more than that I believe that God cares far more for how our souls are prospering that how much we have in the bank. 

How do we make our souls prosper?  We go back to what we have learned about leading a life in piety. Our souls prosper when we read and study God’s Word each day, when we are in communion with God each day through prayer, when we worship God on a regular basis with other believers, and when we share what we have with others and with the church.  It is living a life in piety that helps us to get through pain and suffering because we are in continual communion with God.  Living a life in piety allows God to grow Himself within each of us as we become less and God becomes more.  Living a life in piety means our lives are dedicated to His glory and our souls prosper. 

Take joy in the journey.  Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep.  God doesn’t sleep so there is no reason for both of you to be awake.  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.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Blessed Sunday and Happy Mother’s Day! 

Today is Mother’s Day and my Mom is no longer with us as she passed away in January.  I missed her so much today.  I have learned in the last three years that you never truly get over losses so very personal, but you find ways to get through them.  So today, we made new memories.  Even though our thoughts were of Mom and Casey, we found funny things we remembered and it was okay.  One of the kids started talking in a funny voice like Casey used to and then began to sing and we all laughed.  I wore some of Mom’s jewelry today including the charm bracelet she never got to wear and was reminded of how much she loved jewelry and picnics and cheering on the softball game that was held at their house in the country.  Today that event was replaced with Frisbee throwing and a perfect picnic at the park with a wonderful family and great friends.

Prayer:  “Father, thank You that I can come into Your presence anytime.  There is no problem that will come my way today that will be too big or too small for You.  Thank You for allowing me the privilege of casting every care on You.  Would You please fill me with Your Holy Spirit? May Your Son be seen by my words and deeds. May my disposition reflect the presence of Jesus in my heart.  Thank You for this day. Amen.”

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”
Philippians 4: 6

When I taught first grade and had the children write for the first time this is an example of some of their first attempts, “I like red. I like blue. I like dogs. I like cats. I love my Mom. I love my Dad. The End.” 

Some folks pray somewhat like the way first graders write; “God bless everyone, help everyone and be with the starving children in Africa. Amen” and their prayer life doesn’t go much beyond that.  This kind of praying does not show any relationship with God.  It is sort of the grocery list of praying.  Philippians tells us to bring everything before God, being specific in our requests in faithful belief that God will be present and hear our prayers.  We need to remember to be thankful as we pray remembering that it was by God’s invitation into His very presence, especially giving thanks that it was the blood of Jesus that provided the way for us to pray.  We can go to God any time and be welcomed into His presence trusting in the joyful assurance that we are welcome standing before the throne of Grace knowing our prayers will be answered.  WOW! 

Thank you Lord for listening to our prayers even when they seem repetitive and trivial.  You are the God of big things and little things and you love us as Your family.  Help me to hear the needs of others and bless those who pray from Your word. In Jesus’ name.  Amen,”

Take joy in the journey.  Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep.  God does not sleep so there is no reason for both of you to be awake.  Count your blessings and say your prayers.   Love you all so very much and to all of the Mothers, Happy Mother’s Day.  May your children rise up and called you blessed.  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! 

God was gracious and I did not flub any words or slip and fall during the Hooding Service at Brite today.  The service gave thanks to God for raising up those who were graduating and going on to serve in positions of congregational leadership, overseas mission work, children and family ministries and a variety of other callings into the anointed service of God.  Give thanks to these extraordinary people who are willing to accept the calling of ministry on their lives and pray for them as they begin this portion of their new lives.

Prayer:  “Father, thank You for my health.  Help me today to show my gratitude.  May I be sensitive to those around me who do not enjoy good health.  Help me to be a blessing to those who are physically handicapped and those who are sick.  Let someone cross my path today who needs a word of encouragement so I can share this prayer.  I make this prayer in faith, believing that what I have asked will come about. Amen.” 

“And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up.”
James 5: 15a

This prayer, scripture passage and meditation tonight are somewhat difficult for me.  We lost our son and my mother within the last three years to disease and even thought there were thousands upon thousands of prayers said for them, they were unable to sustain life here on earth. 

This is a really difficult text as are many texts of the book of James.  James is pretty cut and dried in his writing with very little tact and a lot of straight talk.  First of all I know that restored health does not always happen just because a prayer is prayed.  I also know that there are those who have been prayed over and anointed with oil whose health has been restored as well as those who were prayed over and anointed with oil but did not survive.

So here are some thoughts…even those who are committed to Jesus are going to die.  Sometimes those folks die of disease and that is how God receives them into heaven.  But here is the cool thing, the disease is left here on hearth and the one who was ill is received into heaven disease free, perfect, fully restored with a new and heavenly body and mind.  And even though we will all die by some fashion, God, through His Word, still calls us to pray for and encourage those who are sick. 

The most we can do is exercise the gift of faith given to us by God and pray in that faith to God for healing and restoration of the one who is ill, even if that is ourselves.  When we pray this prayer of faith, we must pray believing that God will hear our prayers and temporarily restore the one who is sick on this earth or make them perfect with eternal healing in heaven.  When we pray a faithful prayer believing in God and His healing grace, always trust that our prayers stem from our relationship with God.  I have shared this before, “Casey never did get well, but he was most assuredly healed.”

I ask a special prayer for today.  I need extra strength to get through the day. This is my first Mother’s Day without my mother.  It is a very strange feeling to know that I won’t get to see her tomorrow, present her with a gift, sit under the tree in the front yard of their house and be part the cheering section along with her for the family softball game.  I miss her so very much, but I know that heaven is a much happier place with Mom and Casey there.  Travis prayed tonight about how much he missed Mom, but talked about her being “the short little bag of fun,” keeping the party going.  And I am sure she and Casey are doing just that.

Take joy in the journey.  Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep.  God does not sleep so there is no use in both of us being awake.  Count your blessings and say your prayers.  Love you all so very much and if you are so blessed as to have your mother here on earth, give her a call and just tell her she did a good job.  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.