Saturday, October 31, 2015

Because We Are Family

In my growing up years, as well as when we raised our sons, there were things we did or did not do “Because we are family.”  Some were fun and enjoyable tasks while others could be tedious and difficult, but important nonetheless.  Through the years, I have been a part of many families…extended family, families at church, school, neighborhood, organizations…  In each I had the opportunity to be a contributing member.

Because I chose to attend Texas Tech University, I am part of the Red Raider family.  Sports wise, there are times that I am prouder than others as to the ways that fans choose to express their love for the university.  This week is one of those good moments.

Texas Tech is Part of the Big XII family.  They will be playing football against Oklahoma State University today, October 31, 2015.  Last Saturday, at OSU’s homecoming parade, a woman crashed her car, into the crowd on the parade route, killing 4 people and injuring 46 others.  In respect of the OSU community, still in the process of grieving and healing, Texas Tech athletics is asking for a one week moratorium on the “Wreck em” phrase which is usually posted on Facebook and Twitter accounts with the opposing team’s name following the phrase.  It is a gesture that acknowledges that part of our family is hurting and we want to be sensitive to that.  Our job as family is to do our part to encourage them and help them get back up.

I’m also part of God’s family.  As we have been learning at church, because I am a Christ follower, I want to have a relationship and learn all I can about Him so that I can live like Him and invite others to do the same.

It seems like a good week for a family reunion.

How good and pleasant it is
    when God’s people live together in unity!
Psalm 133:1

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.
I Corinthians 16:13-14

For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Galatians 5:14

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Ephesians 4:32

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.
Philippians 1:27a

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Colossians 3: 12

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

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Still a Winner

The Houston Astros had a much better season than predicted, especially since they had a young team and were in the process of rebuilding.  For the first time in ten years, they made it to the playoffs.  On October 14, 2015, the Astros lost to the Kansas City Royals and ended their run for the World Series.  Even with the Astros loss, Javier Brackamonte, a bullpen catcher, was still a winner in my book.

David Dahmer, a Royals fan, was also impressed with Brackamonte’s actions after the game and posted the following on social media:  “Last night Javier Bracamonte #85, a Houston Astros bullpen catcher showed an unbelievable act of class and sportsmanship.  After the game was over, he dug in his giant bag of gear and basically emptied it throwing stuff to all the kids.  He threw them his hat, batting gloves, his chest protector, his chin guards, tootsie pops and every baseball he could find which was about 25 balls…When he was done he threw his bag over his shoulder, clapped for all of us and wished us good luck the rest of the way.  It was so cool to see someone showing kids how it’s supposed to be done.  I was sitting there just shocked.  After getting heckled all night he showed us what he is all about…What a great guy.  I’ll definitely be rooting for him from now on.”

Lessons from Javier Bracamonte:
* Whether you win or lose, you have the opportunity to be a role model.
* Sometimes sportsmanship speaks loudest in a time of loss.
* You don’t  always have control over the outcome, but you do have a choice of how you react and respond.
* Baseball is more than a game.
* Even when disappointed and hurting after a loss, there is value in thinking of others.
* When treated rudely, you don’t have to follow suit.
* Sometimes in the most unlikely situations you can make a lasting impression.
* When you love the game, you want to share it.

Sounds like a winning plan for the Christian life, too.

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

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 

Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.
Galatians 6:45

You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.
James 2:22

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Guilty as Charged

 These past several weeks I have been working on a big project.  The first phase is finished and phase two is in the works.  I am trying to get up early each morning so I’ll have time to work on the project as well as the other tasks in my daily routine.  Then I have been staying up late to get more accomplished.  Larry pointed out that I have been burning the candle at both ends and that I would be wise to get more rest.

Late Saturday night I wanted to finish the last lesson for this week’s Bible study.  It wasn’t like I was pressed for time, since I still had three days to complete it.  That session was on Psalm 127 where Solomon warned the people about the disadvantage of getting up early and staying up late to work.  Then he said that the LORD gives rest to those he loves.  Even though there are times when extra effort and time will be needed for certain activities or projects, I am reminded that it is important to take time to get the proper rest so that the work can be more productive.  Oops.  Guilty as charged.  

And then I saw the quote above from Anne Lamott.  Sometimes it takes more than once for me to get the message.  Now that I know what the right thing to do is, I have a choice to make about whether I will do it or not.  What a great reminder to take to heart now that the holidays are rapidly approaching.

P.S.  I slept an extra two hours last night.  It’s a start.

It is senseless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, fearing you will starve to death; for God wants his loved ones to get their proper rest.
Psalm 127:2 (TLB)

It’s useless to rise early and go to bed late,
    and work your worried fingers to the bone.
Don’t you know he enjoys
    giving rest to those he loves?
Psalm 127:2 (The Message)

Saturday, October 10, 2015

First Things First

I pretty much keep to a schedule when it comes to weekly chores.  There are things that are part of my daily routine as well as things that I do once or twice a week.  Then there are meetings or activities that come periodically.  After being out of town for almost a week, several things in my weekly schedule needed attention all at once.  The week’s mail was gathered and sorted into piles so I could decide which needed to be opened and responded to first.  Then there were the piles of laundry that needed to be cleaned.  What was needed soonest would need to be washed first.  What I usually did without thinking about now had a priority rating.  It also meant I put aside some other activities until the “work” was completed.

In the book of Revelation, the church at Ephesus is commended for its good work and patience, but chastised for forgetting their priority.  Unfortunately, they had taken a vacation from the love they had at the beginning for God and His work.  After being warned, those who repented and returned to their first love were promised a reward.

Although it’s refreshing to have time away from the “chores” of life and enjoy God’s amazing creation, I want to make a conscious effort to not take a vacation, even for a few days, from my priorities with God and His purposes for my life. 

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Matthew 6:33

“Write a letter to the leader of the church at Ephesus and tell him this:
“I write to inform you of a message from him who walks among the churches* and holds their leaders in his right hand.

“He says to you: I know how many good things you are doing. I have watched your hard work and your patience; I know you don’t tolerate sin among your members, and you have carefully examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but aren’t. You have found out how they lie. You have patiently suffered for me without quitting.

“Yet there is one thing wrong; you don’t love me as at first! Think about those times of your first love (how different now!) and turn back to me again and work as you did before; or else I will come and remove your candlestick from its place among the churches.

“But there is this about you that is good: You hate the deeds of the licentious Nicolaitans, just as I do.

“Let this message sink into the ears of anyone who listens to what the Spirit is saying to the churches: To everyone who is victorious, I will give fruit from the Tree of Life in the Paradise of God.
Revelation 2:1-7 (TLB)

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Celebrating the Creator and His Creation

What a wonderful week we’ve experienced seeing and celebrating God’s wonderful creation.  On Sunday, we worshiped with Chad and his family at First Baptist Church of Gatesville.  Part of the service was the Home dedication for six children.  There was a time of commitment for the parents, family, and church members to help in the process of raising the children to know, love, and follow the Lord.  As pastor, Chad did five of the dedications.  He asked Larry to do the time of commitment time when he and Lori dedicated their home for Sawyer.  We celebrated and thanked God for the beautiful creation of Sawyer Mae.  Chad also recognized a church member who celebrated his 106th birthday that week!  He stood as they sang “Happy Birthday” to him!

 On Sunday evening we met up with Larry’s brother, Terry, and his wife, Debbie, to spend the week with them in the Big Cedar Lodge area near Branson, Missouri.  They picked us up at the airport and then we drove another two hours.  On the way, we were able to watch and marvel at the lunar eclipse/blood moon/supermoon through the clear night skies of northern Arkansas and southern Missouri.

  This week we have enjoyed the beauty of the Ozark Mountains. Tuesday, we spent most of the day and evening at Johnny Morris’ Top of the Rock Ozarks Heritage Preserve enjoying more of God’s incredible creation.   We took the 2.5 mile Lost Canyon Nature Trail from Top of the Rock on an electric cart.  The waterfalls, rock formations, Table Rock Lake, and scenery were amazing.  Part of the trail went through Lost Canyon Caves with stalactites, stalagmites, waterfalls, and more rock features.  Afterwards we went through the Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum with carbon-dated animal skeletons, Native American artifacts, and displays of historical Civil War items.


Around sunset we gathered at the Chapel of the Ozarks.  Inside the chapel, when standing by the cross, one could see their own shadow along with the shadow of the cross.  A few minutes before sunset, we went outside as a bagpiper began playing “God Bless America.”  As the sun dipped below the horizon, a cannon was fired.

Fall is just a few days from being in full swing here.  The leaves are beginning to change colors and a cool front has made the weather very pleasant.  What a wonderful display of God’s creative handiwork.

One morning we played 18 holes of miniature golf.  Larry would stand behind me, with his hands on my hips, to keep me balanced.  It took a little over two hours to play.  I was able to stand and walk for that entire time.  It has been years since I could do that.  I am grateful for the stem cells God created in my body that are bringing about renewed energy and strength.

And God created families.  It has been such a blessing to spend this week with Terry and Debbie.  They have been coming to this area for 14 years now, so they know what to see, when to be there, and what to do.  We thoroughly enjoyed and were grateful for the sweet time of fellowship spending time together with them.

And today is our oldest son’s birthday.  Scott is a blessing to our family.  I am amazed to see the ways that God continues to work in and through him to encourage, challenge, and make a difference for His Kingdom’s work.  Scott continues to inspire and teach me. 

This week we have celebrated family, babies, the life of a 106 year old man, amazing places, weather, and scenery, and a son’s birthday.  We have worshiped the Creator and thanked Him for His creation.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Genesis 1:1

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
Isaiah 40:28

Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his faithfulness.
Psalm 96:13

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
Romans 1:20

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

I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him.

I Samuel 1:27

Children are a heritage from the Lord,
    offspring a reward from him.

Psalm 127:3

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
3 John 1:4