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