Saturday, May 20, 2017

Family Dedication

Last Sunday morning, Mother’s Day, we worshiped with the people of First Baptist Church of Gatesville, Texas.  As part of the service, there was a time of Family Dedication for our youngest granddaughter, Della James Bertrand, and her parents, Chad and Lori.  Larry led the time of commitment and prayer for Della’s parents and then Chad continued the dedication service with the parents of four other children.

During the time of dedication, Chad and Lori made the commitment:
…to raise Della in a Christian home
…to have the love of God pour through their lives
…to teach Della about Jesus and the salvation He brings
…to follow Jesus Christ and demonstrate what that looks like through words and actions to Della

The members of the church committed
…to be a community where God is glorified, taught, and followed
…to teach Della about Jesus
…to disciple her into a mature follower of Jesus

As grandparents, we also want to join in that commitment desiring that our words, actions, and deeds reflect Jesus in all we say and do.  Although the time of dedication lasted a few minutes on Sunday morning, it will take years to fulfill the commitments that were made during those moments.    Our prayer is that one day Della, as well as David, Mary, Ryen, Daniel, and Sawyer will each choose to trust Jesus as their Lord and Savior, too.

Start children off on the way they should go,
     And even when they are old they will not turn from it.
Proverbs 22:6

To do what is right and just
     is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.
Proverbs 21:3

Apply your heart to instruction
     And your ears to words of knowledge.
Proverbs 23:12

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
Ephesians 6:4

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Mother's Day, 2017

Dear Mom,

This year will be your 66th celebration of Mother’s Day.  Because of your two acute strokes and a blood clot within the past few months, this has been a nostalgic week of remembering and thanking God for the ways He has blessed me and continues to bless me through you.  Even with all the health issues, you continue to have such a sweet, kind, and loving spirit.

You and Dad raised five children.  With that many kids, there was always someone to play with, help with chores, or irritate at times.  You still amaze me that you were calm and didn’t let things or your kids overwhelm you.  We were expected to speak and act respectfully.  One of the things that I cherish to this day is that Dad modeled, taught, and enforced us always speaking and treating you with love and respect.

From early in your marriage, you were intentional in raising us to be a close and loving family.  Family traditions began early and continue to be followed to this day.  You love having family around, no matter how loud or hectic it gets.  Holidays and Beach Week with family continue to be some of our favorite times of the year. 

From my earliest days I remember going to church.  We were there Sunday mornings and Sunday nights, Wednesday nights, for Vacation Bible School, choir, Sunbeams, GA’s, RA’s, and mission activities.  You taught and modeled that faith is to be a lifestyle.  When we went to the nursing homes with the GA’s, you drove and went with us.  I see now how important that was because you delight when people come to sing or do special things at Colonial Oaks.  If we went to the prom or graduation activities, we were still expected to be at church on Sunday morning.  You and Dad started teaching in the 2nd grade Sunday School Department at South Main Baptist Church, Pasadena the year before I was in 2nd grade.  Even after Dad died you continued teaching and retired after teaching more than 50 years.

You are creative and talented.  When we were growing up you made most of our clothes, helped guide us on our projects, and could make just about anything needed.  One time someone mentioned something Martha Stewart was making.  Adam (my nephew) said, “What’s the big deal.  Grandmother can do all that.”  And you could!  The grandkids learned quickly that Grandmother had the supplies for creative projects and was willing to help.  Through the years you made rag bags and bow bags for brides, baby blankets and bibs for babies, Bible and Sunday School book bags for the second graders at church, and in later years crocheted scrubbies.  You are never one to just sit and be idle.

Thoughtful is a word that describes you well.  Your words are used to build people up and not tear them down with gossip.  When we were still at home, you showed us the importance of sending cards and making cakes and food to take to people who were sick or had lost a loved one.  You also taught us to be grateful and express it with a thank you note and words.  To this day, you still ask about the grandkids and want to know how each one of them is doing.  I remind them often that you look at their senior pictures on your wall and pray for all ten grandkids every night.

One of the reasons I think I wanted to be a mom so much when I was growing up is because of your unconditional love for all five of us kids.  Thank you for loving Jesus, loving Daddy, loving us and our families, and showing us your faith in words and deeds.

I thank God for sweetly blessing me with you as my mother.  You are celebrated this Mother’s Day.  I hope and pray that every day you know how much you are loved and treasured.
With much love and gratitude,

She is clothed with strength and dignity;
     she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom,
     and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the affairs of her household
     and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed;
     her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women do noble things,
     but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
     but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Proverbs 31:25-30

Teach us to number our days,
     That we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Best Effort

Whether it’s church, worship, Bible study, work, school, sports, or other activities, one benefits most when investing in the process and doing their best.  I admire people who are willing to train, exert energy, pay attention to details, and give their best effort to their chosen activity.  With the school year coming to a close, it is an opportunity for students to spend extra time and give their best effort preparing for and studying for finals in order to finish strong for the semester.  What a timely reminder for me to be willing to do the same.

Each Sunday morning, following the early service at Tallowood Baptist Church, I look forward to visiting with Audrey.  She meets me in the aisle and we visit before going to Bible Study.  Her words are thought provoking, insightful, and encouraging.  Audrey amazes me with the ways she is still learning.  Due to health issues, Audrey is not able to attend the worship service in person for now.  Fortunately, because of live streaming she can watch the Tallowood services on line.  Just being a spectator is not good enough for her though.  Audrey also wants to participate in the singing, responsive readings, and other parts of worship.  This week, at her request, Larry took a hymnal to her home so she can be a part of worship on Sundays.  I have a feeling that Audrey will be using that hymnal at other times as well.  What a wonderful example of a person who desires to wholeheartedly worship whether she is at church or at home.

This week may we all strive to be the kind of worshipers and workers that God seeks.

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.
John 4:23

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
Colossians 3:23-24

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
I Corinthians 15:58

Saturday, April 29, 2017


“Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they have the heart.” – Elizabeth Andrew

Last Saturday, over 500 people from Tallowood gathered at the church for breakfast and then spread out to different locations in order to “Serve the City.”  For months now, plans have been made, supplies purchased and collected, details arranged, people contacted, and volunteers enlisted in order to better serve the people and organizations that had been selected.  From preschoolers to people in their 90s, families, Bible Study departments, and friends volunteered to help meet needs in Houston and Katy.  From Gracewood, Star of Hope, MAM (Memorial Assistance Ministries), the Baptist Mission Centers and other agencies, groups gathered to help.  Volunteers did landscaping, helped in food and clothes closets, fed and ministered to inner city families and the homeless, worked on houses, cleaned and organized, and lots of sweaty hard work.  Books were distributed to children, Vacation Bible School work was assembled, and widows were helped.  Several of the high school students and adults repaired homes that were damaged during Hurricane Ike in 2008.  People took time out of their busy schedules and free time to make a difference for others.  Even though rain was predicted, it was a clear and beautiful day.

Today and tomorrow around 13,000 people will be biking in the Houston 2017 BP MS 15o.   Organized by the National MS Society, funds will be raised for research in hopes of finding a cure for Multiple Sclerosis.  The participants pay an entry fee, spend months training on long bicycle rides, raise funds, and voluntarily subject themselves to fatigue, soreness, head winds and sometimes rain. There are over 3,500 volunteers, as well as thousands of spectators who cheer the riders along the way.  Help is needed for first aid, distributing snacks and water, keeping the roads clear, setting up and manning the overnight places to sleep and rest, as well as the provision for other needs along the way.  The race will start early Saturday morning and conclude on Sunday in Austin.  This year I again have several friends and friends of friends who will be riding for me.  It is humbling to realize that so many people voluntarily give these two days, and the previous months of training, in order to offer hope for a cure for those of us who can’t ride YET.

And it’s great to know that God doesn’t limit us to ministering and helping to just one weekend of the year.  When we see, hear, and feel with His heart, we can continually find opportunities to volunteer our words and deeds to help share and make the burden easier for others.

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send?  And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I Send me!”
Isaiah 6:8

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.
Galatians 5: 13

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
I Peter 4:10

If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Peter 4:11

Saturday, April 22, 2017

New Growth

Spring is here!  The trees, bushes, and plants have been cut back and pruned in order for new and healthy growth to take place.  Old plants and shrubs, some that were damaged in the two days of freezing winter, have been removed and the ground prepared for new ones to plant in their place.  Mulch has been added to retain moisture and protect against weeds.  With rain and additional watering as an encouragement, buds are becoming flowers and new growth is taking place.  The lawn has been fertilized and aerated and is thick, lush, and green.   It is already to the point where Larry needs to mow once a week in order to maintain the lawn.  What a refreshing time of the year.

Plants aren’t the only things that need attention in order to bloom and grow.  God wants to carefully cut off and discard what is not healthy or beneficial in our lives.  Once that is complete, pruning can take place so our lives are even more fruitful.  Worship, Bible study, prayer, discipleship, and accountability help “fertilize” and encourage new growth. 

Yards and people are both worth investing in and tending to this time of year.  And what we plant and take care of have the best chance to bloom, blossom, and grow.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:  The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:17

He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
John 15:2

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Ephesians 4:22-24

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Endless Hope

“It has been said that graveyards remind us of the brevity of life.  Jesus’ resurrection reminds us of the brevity of death.  His death and resurrection offer us endless hope instead of a hopeless end.” – David E. Garland

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

What powerful, encouraging, and thoughtful words to ponder as we remember the sacrificial gift of love demonstrated in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.  What Satan and people meant for evil and death, God meant for good and life.

Paul reminds fellow Christians, “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”  (Romans 6:4)  And God promises the gift of salvation to all who believe and trust in Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10)

Because of Jesus’ resurrection, and my faith and trust in Him,  I have the assurance of life with Him both now and for eternity.  And with much gratitude and hope, that should make a difference in how I choose to pursue His will for my life.  Therefore, my actions, reactions, words, deeds, and everything I choose to do or not do should all be for God’s glory.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:6-8

“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “By his wounds you have been healed.”
1 Peter 2:24

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.  And he died for all that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
2 Corinthians 5:14-15

To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Colossians 1:27

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
I Corinthians 10:31

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Being Like Jesus

“True Christian humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” C. S. Lewis Mere Christianity

Maggie Ballard and her son Paxton Burns, age 6, live in Riverside, Kansas.  In October, seeing a need in their community, the mother and son installed a “Blessing Box” in their front yard.  The large 2-shelved box is painted bright red, with a clear covering on the front, and is mounted on a wooden post.  Inside the box are soap, noodles, canned goods, pancake mix, along with other toiletries and food items.  There is a printed note on the front which states:  “Take a blessing when you need one.  Leave [a] blessing when you can.”

Since items are taken daily, every morning before school and every evening, Paxton checks the box and refills it.  People in the community have donated money and are constantly leaving items on the front porch to add to the box.  The “Blessing Box” has far exceeded their expectations.  Other people are now looking into adding the boxes as well.

In November, Shlomo Rechnitz, a California businessman, had a layover at Shannon Airport in Ireland on his way to Israel.  While waiting inside the terminal he noticed 400 U. S. soldiers sitting on the floor eating from lunch bags while civilians, some whom they were in the military to protect, were dining in the fine bistros.  Rechnitz decided he wanted to do something about the situation.  First he offered heartfelt words of appreciation to the soldiers thanking them for voluntarily serving in the military and for risking their lives in order to keep us safe at home.  Then Shlomo Rechnitz bought a hot meal for all 400 soldiers.

Besides just talking, Maggie Ballard, Paxton Burns, and Shlomo Rerchnitz saw a need and did something to help remedy the situation.  They didn’t wait for a committee to be formed, for others to offer to help in the process, or to be interviewed about their intentions before they acted.  They set into motion what their hearts felt.  What a difference we would make in our world if we were willing to do the same.

Lord, help us to see with your heart and eyes, hear with your ears, and respond like Jesus would.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Philippians 2:3-4