Saturday, June 17, 2017

Oh, Be Careful!

This was the week of Vacation Bible School at Tallowood.  The children heard Bible stories, learned Bible verses, sang and practiced hand motions to songs, and were taught that God, the creator of the universe, loves them.  There are so many adults and young people who invested time, energy, love, and patience to model being like Jesus to the kids. 

Amazingly, the kids picked up the words and actions to the songs quickly.  They practiced the songs at home and sang as they went down the sidewalks at church.  Because they are memorizing and practicing the songs and scriptures, hopefully they will be able to recall them for a lifetime.

Many ages ago, when I was in Vacation Bible School, we learned a song that I thought about this past week.

“Oh Be Careful Little Eyes”

Oh, be careful little eyes what you see
Oh, be careful little eyes what you see
For the Father up above
Is looking down in love
So, be careful little eyes what you see.

Oh, be careful little ears what you hear…
Oh, be careful little hands what you do…
Oh, be careful little feet where you go…
Oh, be careful little mouth what you say…
Oh, be careful little mind what you think…
Oh, be careful little heart what you love…

With six grandchildren, I so want to carefully model what I see, what I choose to hear, what my hands choose to do, where my feet take me, and what my mouth speaks.  Two of our younger grandchildren are two years old.  They are in the process of learning and repeating what they hear at any given time.  When a new song is sung or new story told they want it repeated over and over again.  It is a reminder that I need to be on notice at all times to make sure the words I speak, my actions, what I choose to do, where I choose to go are in line with God’s truth and love. 

Last week I was reading Mary and Daniel a book.  There was a critter that was part of the story.  After reading one of the pages, I exclaimed, “Gross!”  A second later I heard a little voice repeat, “Gross!  Gross!  Gross!”   Daniel repeated the word with the same intonation and feeling that I had said it.  What an instant reminder of how important it is to have words, actions, and deeds that are worthy of being copied and repeated since our Father up above is looking down in love and little eyes are watching and little ears are hearing, too.

Jesus said, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”
John 13:15

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Psalm 19:14

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

In everything set them an example by doing what is good.  In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.
Titus 2:7-8

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Gracious Encouragement

Composer John Williams has contributed to some of the most popular movies in the history of cinema including Star Wars, Jaws, E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, Superman, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List, Home Alone, Harry Potter as well as numerous others.  He has been awarded 5 Academy Awards, 6 Emmy Awards, 25 Golden Glove Awards, 67 Grammy Awards, and 7 British Academy Film Awards.  All of this to state: John Williams is a very accomplished musician and composer.

In July of 2016, trumpeter Bryce Hayashi, 13 years of age, and his mentor flugel player Mickle Miller stood on the sidewalk in front of John Williams’ home in Los Angeles, California, set up a music stand, and began to play the Star Wars theme song.  Someone saw what was happening and began to record the 2 musicians.  The young men were not aware that about half way through the song, the door opened and Williams listened from his front porch.  Afterwards, he came walking down the sidewalk and met the two young men.  He told a neighbor, referring to the high notes, “Hello!  I thought to myself that they would never make it, and they did!”  When he found out that young Bryce was the one who had been able to play the high notes he shook his hand and said, “Fantastic!”  That encounter is one that Bryce and Mickle will remember and be encouraged by for years to come.  How wonderful that someone took the initiative to record it.

In May of 2017, John Williams attended the graduation ceremony for Harvard University where he was given an honorary doctorate in music for his contributions to the motion picture arts.  As part of the ceremony, Williams was further honored by Harvard’s 15 member all-male a cappella group, Din and Tonics, performing a five minute medley of some of his most memorable music themes from Star Wars, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, ET:  The Extra Terrestrial, Superman and others.  The audience responded with claps, laughter, and cheers as the music to each theme song began.  Along with being talented musicians, the men were also delightful entertainers.  Throughout the music, the camera people focused on John Williams' face as the group sang and the audience enthusiastically responded.  He was constantly smiling, laughing, and enjoying the music, harmony, and reactions to his music.  After the musical tribute, the graduates were instantly on their feet with a standing ovation.  They were joined in the ovation by John Williams who held out outstretched arms of appreciation and gave the young men two thumbs up for their performance.  What a fitting tribute to John Williams and a gracious encouragement for the singers.

John Williams could very easily be content with what he has accomplished and keep to himself or choose carefully where he wants to go and what he wants to do.  How encouraging that he graciously chose to leave the comfort of his home to compliment a young thirteen year old and his mentor and also took advantage of the opportunity to acknowledge and appreciate the creativity of 15 young college students at Harvard’s commencement.

I wonder who’s is need of an encouraging word or deed from us this week?  It could make a difference for a lifetime.arva

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
I Thessalonians 5:11

When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.
Acts 11:23

Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.
Romans 15:2

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Ephesians 4:29

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Without Fanfare

After the deadly concert bombing in Manchester, England, Queen Elizabeth II visited victims of the attack at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.  Queen Elizabeth chose for her visit to be unannounced so that the patients and their families were the priority.  While talking with 14 year old Evie Mills and her parents, the Queen expressed, “It’s dreadful.  Very wicked, to target that sort of thing.”

During President Trump’s visit to Israel, Noam Cappon wrote of a touching moment when Nechama Rivlin, President Rivlin’s wife, met First Lady Melania Trump at the door of the home of President Rivin.  Before entering, Mrs. Rivin whispered to Mrs. Trump that she would try to keep up with the walking pace, but due to her medical condition, which required her to carry an oxygen tank,  she might be slow.  Melania Trump reached over, took Nechama Rivin’s hand and told her: “We’ll walk at any pace you choose.”  According to Cappon, “And so they walked, slowly, gracefully and proudly, hand in hand.”

He continued, “That is the moment I chose to cherish.  That silent gesture has neither any political significance nor any colorful tone to it, but it is everything.

It is the hope we yearn for when we speak of peace.
It is the kindness we wish to protect when we speak of defeating terror;
It is the dignity we want to teach when we speak of stopping hate;
It is the friendship we pray for when we speak of our unbreakable bond.

In other words, this gesture encompasses everything that is good, kind and human.”

What a wonderful world it would be if we each chose to do the right, honorable, and kind action in love, whether anyone was watching or not.

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 others.
Philippians 2:3-4

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:8-9

A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
John 13: 34-35

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Living Expectantly

Dan Yeary was the University Minister at First Baptist Church Lubbock when I was in college at Texas Tech.  He preached at the “9:30” college worship service and led the student ministry.  Although it’s been over 40 years, to this day there is a sermon illustration that Dan used that continues to remind me of how important it is to prepare for worship, come with the right heart attitude, and expect God to speak and move.

Browning Ware was the pastor of First Baptist Cleburne where Dan and his family went to church.  The order of service was pretty much the same week after week.  One particular Sunday the congregational hymns were sung, there was prayer, the offering was collected, and the choir sang the anthem.  Then it was time for the sermon.  Browning Ware walked to the pulpit and told the people that God had not given him a message to preach to them that morning.  With that he walked off the platform and left.  The people sat in silence.  Finally the Minister of Music prayed and dismissed the people.  That afternoon there was much talk, phone calls made, and speculation about what had happened.  Not surprisingly, there was a standing room only crowd for the evening service.  Once again, the service went in the same order as other times, but this time when it was time for the sermon Ware bypassed the pulpit, walked done the steps of the platform, and stood at the front of the church.  He challenged the people to be the church, to come with prepared hearts for worship, and to come to church with an attitude of expectancy.   The following year, the church saw a record number of people come to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

That is a lesson I still try to consciously practice each Sunday.  I will admit that I do better some weeks than others.  Last Sunday was one of those days I could hardly wait to get to church.  We arrived at church early.  It was Senior Recognition Sunday and our pastor, Dr. Duane Brooks, was preaching on “How does your family say, ‘Goodbye.’”  Senior Day is already an emotional one, as you celebrate the young people you have watched grow up, some for 18 and 19 years.  The sermon is one to encourage and challenge the graduating seniors, but also one for the rest of us to take to heart and put into practice as well.

Sunday was also the day to honor Randy Kilpatrick on the occasion of his 35 years as the Associate Minister of Music and Worship at Tallowood, along with his retirement.  All four Ministers of Music and Worship that he served with were at church.  Randy led the two anthems that the choir sang that morning.  Several of the young people who had been in the youth choir through the years came back to sing with the adult choir and the current high school choir for the services.  The music ministry commissioned Mary McDonald to write a song to commemorate the day based on Isaiah 43:1-19, a scripture passage that has been meaningful to Randy since college days.  “I Will Make All Things New” is already one of my new favorite anthems. 

The choir also sang “The Mind of Christ,” by Mark Hayes.  Besides being a beautiful anthem, each time I hear it I am blessed, challenged, and convicted through the scripture selection of the importance of desiring to have the mind, love, and actions of Christ.

Once again, God used the message from his Word, the lyrics to songs, and people to make Himself known.  Not only does God want us to be prepared to worship on Sundays, He also wants us to live expecting him to speak, teach, correct, motivate, and challenge us on the other days of the week as well.  It may be summer, but there are still lessons to be taught, learned, and applied. 

I rejoiced with those who said to me,
     “Let us go to the house of the LORD.”
Psalm 122:1

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.
Jeremiah 33:3

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.
God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.
John 4:23-24

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming    fire.”
Hebrews 12:28-29

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