Saturday, December 22, 2012

Happy Friday, first day of winter! 

Bruce came home last night.  He spent 4 days at Daddy’s house repairing some things and laying some new carpet in the kitchen.  He and Daddy had a great visit.  Even though I missed Bruce I was so glad he could take the time and help out. 

In the last few years I have begun baking cookies, brownies and other baked items to have to share with friends and family, so today I spent the day wrapping gifts and doing some more baking.  Last night one of our dogs snagged an entire bag of chocolate chip cookies from the table and shared them with his brothers.  So I had to bake more this morning. 

Prayer:  Jesus, thank You for being my Savior and for being willing to transform my one and only life. I have no idea what I will face today, but You do. I open my hands and my heart to You. Please use me however You see fit today. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

“’So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?’ And He said, ‘He who showed mercy on him.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’ ”
Luke 10: 36-37

Every time I see the Salvation Army bell ringers and buckets I put something in the bucket.  Somewhere I read or heard that “you don’t miss what you give away.”  The story of the Good Samaritan is a great example of this saying.  You know the story: A man fell in among thieves and was robbed, beaten up and left for dead.   Two people walked by him and when you cut to the chase they thought their agendas were more important than helping this injured man.  A Samaritan stopped, bandaged his wounds, took the man to a nearby inn, paid for his lodging and whatever care he needed.  The next day the  Samaritan gave the innkeeper two denarii and told the innkeeper to use this for the care and lodging of this man and then the next time he came through time he would repay whatever the innkeeper had to pay out of his own pocket to care for this man.

Every day we are faced with choices.  Do we help someone if they ask (especially those we do not know)? Do we help the person at QT who asks for gas to get to their destination?  Do we help someone outside of Kroger who needs food for their family?  Do we help someone who comes to our door saying they are hungry and need food for their family?  Do we make the choice to show the radical love of God, do we walk by or do we just close the door? 

What is radical love?  Radical love is seeing a need and meeting it.  Many of you picked an angel from a tree this holiday season.  You saw the need by reading the card and met the need by providing the items of which the family or individual asks.  We make the choice to live today with the realization that God is working all around us placing us in the path of those with desperate need. When we help someone it is not our job to question why someone needs our help or what they will do with what we have provided or even if they are telling the truth.  It is our job to act out the radical love of our Lord and Savior, hope that those we help will be changed and be assured that the ones helped have been changed. After all when we were in need God did not walk past us.

Take joy in this Advent journey.  Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep. Count your blessings and say your prayers.  Love you all and stay warm tonight, 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 19, 2012

Greetings from Austin Street

Happy Wednesday!  You know when you are positive you have finished shopping, you discover that you forgot someone.  Back into the fray, briefly tomorrow!  And, Bruce comes home tomorrow.  I have missed him so very much.  He has worked really hard on Dad’s house which he still refers to it at “your Mom’s house.” 

Okay, about this brief storm tonight…Geni and I came home to find our mailbox in the yard.  Our mailbox is a galvanized tub, filled with plaster of paris with a 4 x 4 piece of wood cemented in place and the mailbox on top of the wood.  That was some serious wind.  I am hoping that Travis will put it back in place when he gets home.

Prayer:  God, thank You for another day to learn about how awesome You are and what You want to show me today.  Help me to see what You want me to see and hear what You want me to hear.  Help me to join You I where You are working today, and may it change me!  You are my God and I love You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

“I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.”

Isaiah 49: 68

I love stories of light because I have always somewhat been afraid of the dark.  I wonder what kind of darkness Joseph and Mary faced on their way to Bethlehem.  It was law that they go there to be counted and to pay their taxes.  There was not a decision to be made. It was an act of obedience.  Their primary agenda was to follow the law, but God had another item to add to their agendas; the birth of their child, the birth of the Son of God.  There was no turning back, the promised Messiah, the light of the world was coming into the world through two obedient servants.  Jesus did not come to earth on a beam of light with trumpets blasting. Jesus came into the world in the darkness of a cave as the promise to be the light of the world. 

That light is meant to intersect the lives of all humanity as the promise of what Jesus will do in our lives. This promise is also a mandate of what we are to do with the life of Jesus dwelling in each of us.  It is our agenda to tell the story of Jesus to every person.  We may not carry Jesus as Mary did, but we are meant to carry the gospel and the name of Jesus to as many possible.  So today, Jesus will intersect our lives with people walking in darkness. We have the opportunity to share the light of Christ to those who still walk in darkness.  All we have to do is flip on the switch.

Take joy in this Advent journey.  Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep.  Count your blessings and say your prayers.  Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Greetings from Austin Street

Happy Tuesday! 

Prayer:  Lord, I bless Your name today, for You alone are good.  Thank You for Your goodness to me. I am excited about what You have in store for me today.  I want to make the most out of every opportunity. You have called me to be salt and light in a lost and dying world. I am reporting for duty, my King and my God. In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

“And Elijah came to all the people and said, ‘How long will you falter between two opinions?  If the LORD is God, follow Him; if Baal, follow him.”

1 Kings 18: 21

If you have been a reader of this blog for any length of time you know that I am in seminary studying for the pastorate with special emphasis in pastoral care to hospital and hospice patients and their families. As one who has received pastoral care in the hospital and in hospice I have always wanted to publish a list of things never to say to a patient or their family.  Here are a few from that list: 

·        God just needed more angels in heaven and called them home.

·        It was just their time.

·        God caused this to happen to teach us something.

·        This is all part of God’s plan.

I have heard all of these things and graciously accepted them with the knowledge that when tragedy strikes most of us do not know what to say but are said with the kindnest of intentions.  God does not cause horrific things to happen to His children.  This is not the way of the God of Jesus Christ.  This is not the God of the Savior of the World.  God grieves. God laments. God sheds tears everytime this kind of senseless action occurs. 

If these sayings were the way God really thought I would have to really think about my faith and question as to whether it has been misplaced.  I believe that God is God.  God invites us into His holy presence to dwell with and within us.  If God lives with and within us then those around us would smell the sweet “fragrance of His knowledge in every place” (2 Cor. 2: 14)  We are God’s living ark.  The ark of perfect love God has placed within each of us who believe is the love that laments great sorrow and contains the strength to heal.  This kind of love is matchless, infinite and overflowing.  Share the love of God with those around you in the sweetness of a babe in a manger whose love changed the world.

Take joy in this Advent journey.  Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep. Count your blessings and say your prayers.  Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis

Monday, December 17, 2012

Greetings from Austin Street

Happy Monday!  First, Go Allen Eagles!  The Allen Eagles football team will be playing for the Texas State Final Football championship this Saturday at Cowboy Stadium.  We will be in attendance for the game.  Totally excited!  This event will be followed by Bruce, Travis and Dave attending the Cowboy game on Sunday while a group of ladies including Carme, Geni, Sarah, me and some others are having a ladies afternoon out.  It is going to be a fast and furious and great weekend!

Bruce has gone to spend a few days with Dad.  Dad needed some help with some fix-ups around the house.  So as you read the entries this week and find errors just remember my beloved live-in editor is not where there is reliable internet! And I miss him a lot, but I am so very glad that he is there with Daddy who is in need of a visitor.

Prayer:  “Lord, I praise You because You have done so much for me.  You have forgiven me of all my sins and taken up residence in me. You have given me a story to tell of Your love and grace.  May I not hide this story for fear of what people may think of me. May I open my mouth and take a stand for You this day as You give me opportunities. I want to be used for Your glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Christ called Paul and all of us to be witnesses.  What does a witness do?  Witnesses do not have to know all of the answers to all of the hard questions about God and why children suffer.  A witness simply tells what they saw, what they heard, and what they have experienced.  There are folks in our lives that argue about the Bible, but no one can argue about what we have experienced!  Someone cannot argue or challenge us about our personal experience with God.  Our witness is the powerful influence about Christ for those who need to hear the story of Christ working in loving grace and forgiveness in our lives. 

There are a lot of folks out there right now who are asking a lot of questions.  I do not have answers as to why this horrible act happened. I just know that to say this is part of God’s plan is not what any of the families, friends and any of us needs to hear or say. I just know that we are called to be witnesses to God’s tender heart and how much He loves all the families, friends and those who have gone to live as citizens of heaven.  And somehow, someday heal enough to forgive the one who has caused them all of their pain. 

Take joy in the journey.  Wear comfortable shoes.  Get some sleep. Count your blessings and say your prayers.  Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis

Greetings from Austin Street

Blessed Sunday to you all.  Today I presided over Communion at the early and late services at Rush Creek.  I was a little nervous, but Pastor Chris kept telling me that the bottom line is that as long as everyone is served communion.  I wore one of the stoles given to me by the son of Pastor Susan who just recently passed away.  I closed the Words of Institution with the words she always said as she invited the congregation to the table, “Come and eat. The table is set.” 

On Friday morning as the tragedy in Newtown began to unfold I was on Facebook.  I watched throughout the day to the reactions of my FB friends.  The reactions went from shock and horror to anger and blame to finally to sorrow and sadness and finally to prayer.  One of my pastor friends posted a message sent by another pastor after 911.  I shared this message as a part of my communion meditation today. 

“Gather around the table and share a meal. Make a space for questions. You don’t have to have answers, simple give the gift of listening. Then if you are a family of faith, say a prayer. Pray for the victims. Pray for the one that caused this horrible event. This horrible deed was planned in the darkness. Light a candle. Tell your children that they are the light of Christ. Each and every day as your sons, daughters and others  leave the house tell them how much you love them and remind them they are the light of Christ in the world that helps the world and community heal.

On Friday Victoria, a first grade teacher hid her students in cabinets and closets and took the bullets.  Do you suppose she thought, “This is my body given for you. On the night He was betrayed, our Lord Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it and gave it to His disciples saying, take and eat, this is My body broken for you. Do this for the remembrance of Me. Again after supper He took the cup and told His disciples this blood is the new covenant in My blood given for you for the forgiveness of sins. Do this as often as you drink of the cup.  Do this for the remembrance of me.” 

No matter what you have done, there is always a place at the table of grace and tender mercies for all who desire forgiveness of their sins.

Take joy in the journey.  Sleep well. Tell those you love how much you love them and wear comfortable shoes.  Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis