Friday, June 24, 2016

Lessons from the Carousel






On Tuesday, Larry and I met our daughter-in-law and three of the grandkids at the mall.  After a treat of yogurt, it was time to ride the carousel.  There was much anticipation as Larry purchased the tickets and the kids waited for their turn to ride.  David was able to ride by himself, Ryen needed help getting on her horse and then was able to ride, but Sawyer needed Lori there to help her balance as her little hands held tightly to the pole.  Larry was with Ryen, in case she needed additional help.  And I had the honor of being the waver each time the riders circled by.  As the music played, the carousel turned, and the kids and adults rode, I was reminded of some life lessons.

* It’s important to look at the animals, before you ride, to see which ones go up and down and which are stationary. (Otherwise Grandmom asks Granddad to buy additional tickets and everyone gets to ride again.)
* Just like riding the carousel, there are times, in the circle of life, when we need others to hold our hand, carry the weight, or guide us step by step.
* Sometimes we need a little help or encouragement and then we are ready to tackle the task at hand.
* It’s good to have someone close by to depend on when the way becomes difficult or more help is needed.
* With practice, age, and growth, we can venture out on our own.
* When we have learned what to do and expect, we are in a better position to help others.
* As new opportunities arise, we may find ourselves needing additional support.
* Every parade participant, carousel rider, and person needs people who stand by and cheer them on.
* Riding a carousel is a fun treat, but other than going around and around, you don’t get anywhere.
* Just like the carousel that is made to go around and up and down, we need to make sure we are living up to the potential and purpose for which God created us.

To make it in life, there are times we must heavily depend on others.  The more we grow and practice, the sooner we can branch out on our own.  Once we have learned, we are better prepared to help and lead others.  And we all have the opportunity to cheer each other on as we continue on this journey of life.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:1-2

Judas and Silas, who themselves were prophets, said much to encourage and strengthen the believers.
Acts 15:32

that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.
Romans 1:12

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had,
Romans 15:5

And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.
I Thessalonians 5:14

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.
Hebrews 6:10

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Submerged

Vacation Bible School, 2016 is now “In the books.”  Hopefully what was learned and experienced this week will make a difference in the lives of the children, youth, and adults for a lifetime.  This year’s theme was “Submerged:  Finding Truth Below the Surface.”  What a blessing to have a Children’s Minister, Preschool Minister, Church Staff and over 400 adults and teenagers who invested in the lives of children this week to tell them about and show them God’s love and teach them about Jesus.

Some observations:
* There is much joy and excitement when people come together to study God’s Word.
* We choose to dive into God’s Word.
* Digging deep into God’s truths requires time, effort and discipline.
* Treasures from God and His Word are waiting to be discovered and claimed.
* Knowing what God desires requires trust, faith, and obedience.
* When we know and experience God’s love and message, we need to joyfully share it with others.

They saw the works of the Lord, his wonderful deeds in the deep.
Psalm 107:24

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
Psalm 119:11

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
Psalm 119:105

But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.
Deuteronomy 4:29

He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him.
Daniel 2:22

They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience.

I Timothy 3:9

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Pouring Down



Sunday evening, as I backed the car out of the garage, it began to sprinkle.  As I eased onto the freeway, I noticed that the clouds were very dark headed into town. Therefore, I was not surprised when two exits down, the sky opened and the rain poured.  The closer I got to the church, the harder the rain fell.  As a driver, I’m a big fan of wanting to see the dividing lines for the lanes on the freeway.  When that wasn’t happening, I almost exited, with the intent of calling Larry to let him know I was going to pull over, wait out the storm, and then head back home.  What a blessing to follow an 18-wheeler.  Fortunately, the deluge eased up the closer I got to Tallowood.

In the midst of the pouring down rain, the radio station played the song “Word of God Speak.”  The words to the song gave new visual meaning to the rain storm outside and inside of me. 

“Word of God Speak”
Bart Millard

Word of God speak
Would You pour down like rain
Washing my eyes to see
Your majesty

To be still and know
That You’re in this place
Please let me stay and rest
In Your holiness
Word of God speak

I definitely needed to know that God was with me during the pouring down rain.  What a great visual to think of God watching over me while driving, washing my eyes to see Him more clearly, speaking to me through a song, and letting me stay and rest in His holiness.  Let it pour!

“You heavens above, rain down my righteousness;
    let the clouds shower it down.
Let the earth open wide,
    let salvation spring up,
let righteousness flourish with it;
    I, the Lord, have created it.
Isaiah 45:8 

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Meeting the Requirements



It’s that time of year to celebrate with graduates.  The work is complete, requirements have been met, and ceremonies to recognize those achievements are taking place.  Two very special boys, our grandson and great-nephew, graduated pre-school this year.  Because they meet the age requirement, they will begin their public school careers as they enter kindergarten in the Fall of 2016.  


Grandson, David



 Great-nephew, Eli

There have also been recognitions for students completing kindergarten, 5th grade, junior high, and high school.  This year, four of my cousins have children who are graduating high school and entering the halls of higher education.  At church, there are seniors graduating whose parent(s) were in the youth group when Larry was Minister to Students.  How rewarding and blessed to know generations of families and celebrate with them.  Still other graduates are celebrating the completion of technical schools, college, law school, medical school…  In order to earn their degrees, they have completed the requirements for their course of study.

Friday night, we had the privilege of attending the Eagle Scout Court of Honor Ceremony for Kirby Rogers.  This is something Kirby has wanted to achieve since he was in 1st grade.  Kirby has worked for years to complete the requirements for the rank of Eagle Scout.  Some badges were earned in a weekend, while others took several months to complete.  Kirby was also responsible for a service project.  Once he decided on his project, Kirby had to meet with leaders to make application and receive permission all while making sure that all requirements were addressed and completed.  Kirby’s project, at the Ballard House in Katy, also required leadership skills as he included the participation of members of his Troop and the community.  Besides Scouts and school, Kirby is also an active member of our church youth group participating in Bible studies, worship, youth choir, mission trips, and being a greeter.

Kirby with Scoutmaster
 
Kirby with Parents, Tracy and Laura 

 Kirby with Scout Masters

God also gives us guidelines and requirements for what he expects of His children.  Malachi 6:8 reminds us that, “He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.  In the New Testament, in Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus stated that we are to: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  Meeting those requirements will make a difference in our world.

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV)

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

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

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:4

Saturday, May 28, 2016

More Than a Mask



Last Thursday, May 19, 2016, Candace Payne, a wife and mother of two, went shopping for yoga pants.  Being somewhat disappointed that she couldn’t find the pants she wanted for exercising, she decided to go to the toy section to purchase something for her kids.  She had seen the Star Wars Chewbacca mask, but didn’t consider it, until her shoulder accidentally hit the box and she heard the character growl.  Then and there, Candace decided that the kids could play with the mask, but ultimately it would be hers to keep. 

After the purchase, Candace went to her car and excitedly Facebooked her friends so they could see her new purchase.  She proceeded to take the Chewbacca mask out of the box and put it over her face.  As the mask began to growl, Candace caught a glimpse of her face in the rearview mirror, and began to laugh hysterically.  As her friends reacted, the uncontrolled laughter continued and also brought tears to her eyes. 

Later that afternoon, Candace posted the video to Facebook; and as they say…the rest is history.  Within three days, the video had gone viral with over 140 million hits, breaking all kinds of records as the most viewed video.  People from all over the world have responded.  Candace was interviewed on the radio, and also appeared on several television programs.  Mark Zuckerberg even invited her to the Facebook Headquarters and made arrangements for her to visit with the “Real” Chewbacca.  Wherever she went, Candace seemed to be a spreader of joy.  Even when she didn’t have the mask on, at the time of the interview, Candace exuded joy to the interviewers and other spectators.

And for more of the story…Candace Payne credits the source of her joy to God. She is a natural spreader of joy because as a believer she knows the true Source of joy.   Candace is a worship leader and volunteer at The Oaks Fellowship in Red Oak Texas.  She is also using her platform to spread the joyous news about Jesus.  Two days after the video was posted, Candace spoke to young creatives at the Regional Fine Arts Conference in Texas.  Instead of focusing on her recently discovered fame, she spoke to the students about the importance of God in her life.  At the age of 16, she had a dream and vision from the Lord that her life was going to be used for His glory.  Now at 37 she said that she’s not sure what all that means, “But that dream has never left my heart, nor my mind, nor the way that I walk and follow Jesus.”

She continued.  “It doesn’t matter how talented, how anointed, how gifted, how passionate, or how willing you are if you’re not fit to do the things God has called you to do…And that is spiritually fit.  The thing that will take you further and farther in the Kingdom of God is three things:  diligence, patience, and obedience.

1  Diligence - Be diligent in the work of the Lord.
2  Patience – Have those moments where you stop and you wait upon the Lord.  Don’t rush into ministry or a good opportunity because it looks shiny.  Wait for the voice of God to direct you.
3  Obedience – Have obedience.  When He tells you ‘Move’ – move.  When He tells you ‘Stop’ – stop.  When He tells you ‘Indulge in the delights of My table’ – indulge.  But when He tells you, ‘That’s not yours; you can’t have it.’ – step away.  Do not try to make a name for yourself.  His name will always out shadow yours.”

She concluded her message with Romans 15:13:  “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him.  Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” 

In the not too near future, the fame and interviews will slow down and stop, the mask may eventually stop working or break, but because Candace’s source of joy is dependent on  the Lord, and not the Chewbacca mask, it will continue.  Along with Candace Payne, may we accept the assignment to be God’s bearers of joy to a world who needs to know His gift of salvation, peace, love, and joy.

He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.
Job 8:21

The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
Psalm 19:8

But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful.
Psalm 68:3

The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.
Psalm 126:3

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
John 15:9-11

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Romans 12:12

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23

Rejoice always,
I Thessalonians 5:16