Saturday, August 29, 2015

Back to School

Both as a student and a teacher, I looked forward to the beginning of school.  I loved the new, fresh start of learning and possibilities.  Even though I am no longer in school, these past few days have given me the sense of that same learning process.  Last Friday evening and all day Saturday, Larry and I attended “The Making of Ordinary Saints” conference at Tallowood which was led by Richard and Nathan Foster.  I took notes, listened, discussed, and tried to absorb as much as I could.  Now it’s time to read the book and begin the application process.

Then this past Wednesday night I spoke at the Celltex informational meeting about my experience with stem cell treatment.  The personnel from Celltex, doctors, people wanting to check out the possibilities for treatment, as well as other stem cell recipients were present.  I spent time preparing and practicing for the presentation. I so wanted the message to be clear and express God’s provision and hope in the process. 

In two weeks I will begin another Bible Study at church.  The study requires taking notes, homework, discussion, and then application.  My years of preparation and study at school, church, and home have prepared me for all of these.

* I need to be intentional about learning.
* It takes preparation and time to do something well.
* Sometimes other things need to be set aside for a while to have time for the task at hand.
* Learning takes time, patience, effort, and desire.
* It’s not enough to just hear about good and important practices.  They need to be applied.
* When something makes a difference in your life, it is important to share it with others.
* I’m grateful I’m not on this journey of life by myself.  I gain strength, motivation, encouragement, and insight from others along the way.
* Whether the task is for home, school, church, or work, I need to perform it in a manner worthy of being a follower of Jesus.
* All I do should bring glory to God.
* I still have some work and learning to do.

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

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

 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

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

Saturday, August 22, 2015

And Still There is Room for More

As the rain pours outside this morning, the blessings are overflowing on the inside as I thank God for two very special men who met Jesus face to face this past week.  Tom Brokaw has accurately described these two as members of “The Greatest Generation.”  Robert Jackson Hester lived to be 91½ years old.  He served in the Army Air Corps for four years.  Jack then attended and graduated from Texas Tech when it was Texas Technological College and was there at the same time as my parents.  Lubbock, West Texas, and sports were part of our conversations many Sundays.  Being in the petroleum business, the Hesters resided in several places in Texas and were active members of the Baptist church wherever they lived.  Even though we were coming from different parts of town, most Sundays, Jack, Larry, and I would arrive at church at the same time and greet each other in the parking lot.  He was also one of the people I looked forward to visiting with once we were inside the church.  Jack still took attendance in one of the first grade departments at Tallowood.  Each Sunday, he would slip out during the invitation so he could be there to greet the children as they came to Sunday School.  I found myself thinking about, missing, and thanking God for Jack Hester when we arrived at church this past Sunday and wishing he could have beat us there at least one more time.

Lester Blackshear Collins, Jr. was 15 days shy of his 93rd birthday when he died on August 14.  He served in the U.S. Navy during WWII.  Lester served as pastor of several Baptist churches and then retired after serving 20 years as pastor of Tallowood Baptist Church.  He was the pastor when the church called Larry to be the Jr. High Minister in January of 1979.  Lester was our boys’ pastor during their growing up years.  He taught, lived, and modeled what it looks like to be a follower of Jesus.  We learned the importance of reading, studying, memorizing, and applying God’s Word.  One of my favorite memories of Lester is that every time he baptized, he always concluded that time with, “And still there is room for more.” Even after retirement, Lester was still a pastor at heart.  He pastored several churches as interim and also served as pastor emeritus of Tallowood.   Five years ago, he and his wife, Jan, founded the Chapel Sunday School class at Tallowood which now has 110 members.  Lester would still preach at Tallowood from time to time and two weeks ago, he drove himself to Dallas to preach at his grandson’s church.  The doctors and nurses at Hermann Hospital, Memorial City were the last recipients of his pastoral love and care.  I will miss his wisdom, encouragement, firm handshakes, and hugs and kisses on the cheek as we passed in the aisle on Sunday mornings and evenings.

Both Jack and Lester served God until they took their last breath on earth and their first breath in Heaven.  I can just picture God smiling and giving each one of them a big hug while saying, “Well done good and faithful servant” and then turning to us to say, “And still there is room for more.”  The baton has been passed and it’s our time to run with God’s message of grace, forgiveness, hope, and love.

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:14

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
2 Timothy 4:6-8  

 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 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 2:1-4

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Unproductive Exercise

I seem to be very conscious of the need to exercise properly and productively these days.  Exercise is not beneficial if I do not use the correct form, the right amount of weights, or enough repetitions.  Progress can be undermined, if I am not consistent about how often I go to the gym or work out at home.  There is an adage that states, “Practice makes perfect,” but if exercise is not done correctly, it can do more harm than good.   In my case, the saying needs to say, “Perfect practice makes perfect.”

Another exercise I find myself needing to be cautious of from time to time is “Jumping” to conclusions.  Hopefully I am learning, little by little, to ask further questions and check information before making decisions based on assumptions.

Jesus even warned his followers about false prophets who would exercise the telling of falsehoods to sway people to their teachings.  Their deception could easily cause people to be led astray and lose more than just a healthy life.  May my exercise and decisions, both physically and spiritually, be productive and beneficial during these coming days.

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.
Matthew 7:15

For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.
Matthew 24:24

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
I John 4:1

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:32

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
I Corinthians 6:19-20

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Pressing On

As of last Thursday, I have completed this round of physical therapy.  I have by no means mastered every item on the check list, but I now know what to do and not do to be more successful and productive in my walking and stamina.  Once again, my timing for distance covered in six minutes improved to more than 2 ½ times faster than the initial test.  That is making a difference in endurance as well.  Part of the training has been to determine when I am not walking correctly, notice what I should be doing, and then changing the habit to walk properly.  I am at the point now where I catch what I need to do quickly and then progress from there.  Although I have “Graduated” at this time, that doesn’t mean that I won’t ever need to return again to help make even more improvements.  It has been a tremendous blessing to know that we have found a place where the therapists are trained to know what to teach me to do to make progress.

The same holds true in my daily spiritual therapy.  Because the goal is always in front of me, I want to mature so that when I stray or do something wrong I am quickly prompted to stop, assess the situation, and make the change.  There are times when I also need to be willing to add and include practices for the good, even when they may not be easy.  The more I practice living correctly, the more disciplined I can be in working towards the goal of being what God saved me for and created me to be, not out  of obligation or duty but because of gratitude and love.

Blessing:  The workout gym nearest our home has been closed since early in the year so I have been exercising at home.  A few months ago the gym was bought by another company and has been in the process of being remodeled.  With the stem cell treatment completed and physical therapy in process, we needed to get serious about exercising again.  The new gym opened at the end of July!  It’s even better than before, with brand new equipment.  Now it's time to up the weights and repetitions and keep pressing on.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
Philippians 3:12

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:9