Thursday, February 28, 2013

Lenten Daily Devotional - Day 14 - 2/28/13

Devotional Scripture:  John 8:42-59

Devotional Thought

"Who do you think you are?" - John 8:53

If you were to see a picture of my late father, and then see a picture of me when I was the same age, you would know pretty quickly whose son I was (except for my long hair!!)

If you knew my Mom, and observed how she spoke and addressed people in public, or watched her teach middle school Language Arts when she was a teacher . . . you would know who my Mom is.

I have some of the physical features of both my Dad and my Mom.  If you had known my Dad, or if you knew my Mom, you would know without a doubt what family I belonged to.

As I read our scripture for today, I am struck that again the crowd asks Jesus, "who do you think you are?"   Perhaps that is a way of also asking, "whose son are you?"

Jesus' answer is this question is really good.  If I may paraphrase here in my own words:

"If you really knew my Dad, then it would be obvious to you that I am his Son!"

Jesus pointed people to his Father.  As you read his words during this Lenten journey, ask yourself the question . . . "Do I see God in all that Jesus is saying and doing?"

At 55 years of age, I can say that my answer is more often "Yes" than "No."

The rest of the time, my answer is "I hope so." 

Honestly, sometimes the words of Christ as recorded in the Bible are difficult to understand.  In the difficult times of study, as well as when I am in the difficult times of life . . . I really hope I can see God through everything I read about Jesus in the Bible.

That's why I spend time each Lenten season participating in more devotional practices than at any other time of the year.  I want to read more and more about Jesus Christ . . . and in the process get to know God better than I do now.

For me, it's part of the hard work required to make the path straight for the arrival of Easter.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>



Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Lenten Daily Devotional - Day 13 - 2/27/13

Devotional Scripture:  John 8:1-41

Devotional Thought:

"Who are you?' they asked." - John 8:25

Here we go again . . . those in authority feel they are being questioned, challenged, perhaps even attacked.

Their response?  In my own words . . . "We know what God really wants! It's our way or the highway!  Who do YOU think you are to tell us otherwise?"

Read/listen to what Nathan Firmin once wrote about this text:

"The scribes and Pharisees pushed their authority, speaking without listening, demanding conformity or expulsion from fellowship.  Where are we tempted to do the same?"

Over the years since the appearances of the last prophets, and the eventual control of the region by Rome, many of the Jewish religious leaders had moved away from the authority of scripture and eventually held in higher regard their own "commentary" about, or "interpretation" of scripture.

In truth . . . the religious leaders started speaking for God.  In my heart, I believe speaking for God is the roadblock of all roadblocks.  Our call as people of faith is not to speak for God, but to focus instead on listening to God with all our hearts and strength.

Again, we see the age-old personal and religious conflict of "what we want/how we want things to be" verses "God's lvoing solution to the situation."

It is only fair here to reiterate, again,  that faith is not simple.  It's hard work . . . because at some point along the road to Christ and Easter comes the need to for many of us to say in prayer, "God . . . Your way is the best way . . . I will listen now, and wait for Your Word for me!"  Letting go and letting God is hard work.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>



Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I'd like to hear/read your comments . . .

I've been noticing that about 8-12 people a day have been following our daily Lenten Devotional journey.

Awesome.

If you have comments, I'd love to hear them.  My email address is located at the top right of this blog.  Email is the quickest way of getting a response back.  I'd enjoy the conversation.

God's graces still amazes me . . . ><>

Lenten Daily Devotional - Day 12 - 2/26/13

Devotional Scripture: John 7:30-52

Devotional Thought:

"Others said, 'He is the Christ.'  Still others said, 'How can the Christ come from Galilee?" - John 7:41

I am drawn to several things in our reading of John 7.

First . . . we begin to see a trend that will continue on through the rest of the John . . . the Pharisee's attempts to defend themselves through their veiled attempts at keeping order.

Something I've learned in life . . . that "power is as power does."

In other words, I seen throughout my life that people with power usually do what they can to keep it.

Politicians work hard to get re-elected over and over and over and over.

Supervisors in the business world doing what they do to keep "up-and-comers" in line.  Seems a lot of people who have the title "boss" seem preoccupied with supressing challengers to their authority.  Efforts such as this are, in my experience, usually a "lose - lose."

I was raised to understand that authority is a privilege, not a right.  I was taught to respect those in authority over me . . . and I usually follow the same line of thought today. 

Authority is also a major responsibility.  If you are in authority, you have a responsibility to the company you work for, but also to those who work for/with you.  The religious leaders in Jesus' time had forgotten about this responsibility, or chose to ignore it.  The "least of these" were suffering mightly under Roman occupation, but also under the rule of their religious leaders. 

Second . . . as I read this text, I sense a lot of confusion.  The common people's understanding of the "Messiah" had come to be focused on their hope that such a peson was going to be a king in the full sense of the word . . . powerful, mighty, a military leader, a motivator of the people, charismatic, respected and feared by all enemies of Israel.   They were ready for, and wanted, God to live up to the promise made to Abraham.  Their desire was to be restored as God's people.

Apparantly, their interpretation of the scriptures related to a Messiah didn't reflect well on such leadership coming out of Galilee. 

I wonder if their confusion about the teachings of Jesus were related to the fact that they thought they knew everything about God that there was a need to know.  Also, what people often believe about how God will act, or what God wants, is often tied related to what they themselves really believe and want.

No wonder there was confusion.  Tying your beliefs with what you want is always a toxic recipe.  Confusion is the result.  Who is really in charge?  God . . . or us?   The answer we usually offer is one that we might hope for, more so than the honest answer.

As you continue to clear and make straight the path that leads you to Easter, you might want to consider stopping for a moment to reflect on the question, "Is what I believe in any way connected to what I want?"  Pray about it . . . and listen to the word God gives you.

God's graces till amazes me . . . ><>

Monday, February 25, 2013

Lenten Daily Devotion - Day 11 - 2/25/13

Devotional Scripture:  John 7:1-29

Devotional Thought:

"Here he is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to him. Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Christ?" - John 7:26

A friend from way back in my life once asked me a question.

"Rick, are you an incognito Christian?"

What a great question.   The asking of it implied many things.

-Was I willing to be public about my beliefs?

-Was I willing for others to see my faith through my life?

-Were there differences between my "private life of faith" and my "public life of faith?"

At that time (I think I was 18 or 19 years old) . . . there were differences between the two . . . big differences.  Mostly because I wasn't sure what I really believed.

Today . . . there are still a few differences, but maturity and a life as a pastor have taught me quite a few things about what I truly believe.  What I believe has become easier to live out in many ways becasue I know why I believe.  It has taken many years to come to this point in my life.  A long journey, with a long journey still ahead.

In today's scripture, Jesus entered Jerusalem in secret . . . but when it came time to be true to his mission, he went all in, he went public, despite the threats to his life and safety.

As you sweep clean and make straight your road to Easter during this season of Lent, are you doing it in full view of others . . . or in private where no one can see??

Are you an incognito follower of Jesus?

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Sunday, February 24, 2013

2nd Sunday of Lent - 2/24/13

Today is the 2nd Sunday of Lent . . . the 40 day period between Ash Wednesday and Easter . . . but we don't count Sundays.

Why?

Sunday is our day set aside for the task of worship!

Worship God today in spirit and in truth. Let Him know in prayer that you are working hard to clear the path, to make the road straight so that Easter may arrive unobstructed in your life.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Lenten Daily Devotional - Day 10 - 2/23/13

Devotional Scripture:  John 6:23-71

Devotional Thought:

"Stop grumbling among yourselves." - John 6:43

Verses 23-71 of sixth chapter of John contain some difficult stuff. 

"I am the bread of life." - vs. 35

"I am the living bread." - vs. 51

"For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink." - vs. 55

"Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him." - vs. 56

"This is hard teaching. Who can accept it?" - vs. 60

"The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing." - vs. 63

If this had been a seminary lecture . . . we would have been hard pressed to have taken all the notes we needed to.  I remember lectures like that . . . some of us would meet after the class to compare and share notes.  Sometimes someone would have taped (with the professors permission) the lecture, and we would all listen to it again . . . and again . . . and again.

Often, clarity and understanding came after the last "and again."

In today's scripture, there was little hope that many of the people Jesus was speaking to would understand him.  Why?  Read the first part of vs. 41.

"And the Jews began to grumble about him . . ."

And Jesus replies in vs. 43, "Stop grumbling among yourselves."

I think Jesus is telling them here, to shut up and listen. Their grumbling was a clear sign that they had stopped listening.

I have a bad habit of wanting to ask questions about things sooner than I should.  I don't believe there are stupid questions . . . but I have asked a few questions over the years that I didn't need to, because if I had just listened a bit longer . . . I would have put things together and had better understanding of what was being shared. 

Funny thing about asking a question . . . it means you may have stopped listening after the question came to mind.

On most Sunday mornings, I get to hear the sermon at least twice.  I take notes at the 8:50 AM service in a composition notebook I carry around with me, or with my iPad.  At the 11:15 AM service, I listen again to the sermon, reading my earlier notes as I hear what is being shared.

It amazes me how I take even more notes at the 11:15 AM service!

It is a matter of listening.

Living a Christian life, the definition of which is open to individual interpretation, as or as a a disciple of Christ . . . IS NOT EASY.   But clearer understanding, and the accompaning faith, comes when you daily read and meditate on the words of our Savior.  I've been reading this section of scripture for over 4 years.  Some of it is still difficult.  But most everytime I read it . . . I gain a little more understanding.  The Bible is meant to be read out loud . . . so we can hear (listen to) the words.

The unfortunate thing in this story . . . is that many of the people in the "crowd" that hung around Jesus decided to leave him during this "lecture."  After one hearing, and one hearing alone . . . they decide it's too hard.

Tragic.  Yet, at times, haven't we done the same thing at different times in our own lives?

On this Lenten road you are travelling, as you work to make the path straight so that you might come to a wonderful Easter . . . are you spending the time you need . . . listening for as long as it takes??

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>



Friday, February 22, 2013

Lenten Daily Devotional - Day 9 - 2/22/13

Devotional Scripture:  John 6:1-22

Devotional Thought:

"Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, spoke up . . . " - John 5:8

Despite my best efforts to the contrary, I still find myself overcome by an "entire situation" rather than looking at what I can do about something at that time.

You know how it is . . . a situation arises in your life, and suddenly it overwhelms you because you are focused on a "final solution."   How much easier it is when you write out all that needs to be done, and then choose from the list what you can accomplish today.

Wars are fought and won in a series of individual battles.  Life is the same way.

Sometimes though, it is hard to see where to begin.  Thank goodness for people brave enough to offer suggestions, or ideas, even though they may not totally believe what good they might bring.

In today's scripture, Andrew is such a person.   Andrew "spoke up".  Thank goodness he did.

I would like to share and understanding of the disciples that I personally have.  I don't believe they were the older men as painted by so many artists in  history.  I think most were teenagers, or men who had not made the cut at synagogue school, or called by a Rabbi as disciples.  They had all been sent home to apprentice in the family business.  Andrew was a fisherman . . . a hard life in those days. 

One thing I know about fishing . . . you have to have hope.  You have to see possibilities. You have to believe over and over and over again, that he next cast of the net or rod-n-reel will result in your catching a "keeper." 

Andrew was a fisherman, who didn't make the grade at school, sent home to apprentice with his dad.  But he was a "possibilities" person.  Such people, despite what they personally think of their own ideas, speak up.

"Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?"

Well, in the hands of Jesus Christ, they feed far more than he could have imagined.

I want people like Andrew in my life.  Do you?

During this season of Lent, on your road to Easter . . . look for possibilities . . . and speak up about them, no matter how insignifacant they may seem to you at the time. 

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Lenten Daily Devotional - Day 8 - 2/21/13

Devotional Scripture:  John 5:31-47

Devotional Thought:

"If I testify about myself, my testimony is not valid." - John 5:31

Do you like to brag?

Do you like to brag on yourself?

I guess, in theory, there is nothing really wrong with bragging about one's personal successes in life.   Self promotion seems to be something our current culture encourages.

However, there is one itty-bitty-little element to bragging that gets many into trouble . . . Human nature.

I don't know of anyone who doesn't like a good story.  And, I don't know anyone who doesn't add something unique to a story as they tell it.  

What's the harm, right?  We are only trying to make the story better, right?

Warning . . . if you keep reading, you may experience and "ouch!" or two.  I know I did.

What I believe I have learned over life is reflected in the words of Christ in today's scripture.  What I testify about myself isn't often to the level of testimony that comes from those who know me. 

Bear with me for a few moments on this.  Ask yourself a question, such as "What are my strengths?"  Sit down and write down what you believe your top 5 strengths are. 

Now . . . ask 7 of your family, friends, co-workers (people that you know well) the question, "as you see me live my life, what do you believe are my strengths?"

When they give you their answers . . . be prepared for a shock or two.  What we often list as our strengths are the ones we wish we had.  The more honest list about our strengths come from those who know us.

Now . . . ask yourself the question, "What are the things that are really important to me?"  Sit down again and write what you believe are your top 5.

Now . . . ask the same 7 people as before to answer the question, "as you see me live my life, what do you believe are the things that are really important to me?"

Again, when  you get their answers . . . be prepared for a few more shocks.  Same as before, the things we think are important to us are sometimes what we wish for, or what we want to be important to us.  

Sometimes, we add to our story . . . just a little bit here and there, because we want to make it a better story.  However, in time, the story we are believing isn't the story those around us are seeing. Often the answers from others about what is important to us, as seen through how we live our lives, can bring us to a more honest understanding our ourselves, and to the balance we all need in the relationship between our heart, mind and soul.

As you work to straighten the road to Easter, spend some time getting to know yourself as well as others in your life know you. 

Just remember, all road work is hard.

God's grace still amazes me . . .  ><>



Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Lenten Daily Devotional - Day 7 - 2/20/13

Devotional Scripture:  John 5:1-30

Devotional Thought:

"Do you want to get well?" - John 5:6

Time after time after time after time after time after time . . .

Sounds like a broken Cindy Lauper record.

Time after time, I've had to make a choice . . . at times a very difficult choice.

Do I ere on the side of grace and chose the needs of people around me in need of help . . . or do I ere on the side of law and chose to obey a rule or tradition?

I am going to be honest here . . . most of the time in my adult life, I chose to ere on the side of people.  Some of you know that I was a police officer in Fort Worth, TX back in the 1980's.  I have a healthy respect for law and order.  But that's not what I'm talking about here.  Let me try to explain further . . .

I remember as a teenager, our youth leader wanted to take us to minister in some of the barrio areas near my home/church in the Rio Grande Valley in south Texas. 

Did we go?

No, we didn't. 

Why?

Because some of the parents, as well as some of the church leaders, didn't want us messing with "those people." 

I always thought that was strange.  I wondered back then, in a teenage militant sort of way if we were all reading the same Bible.  I was later informed that I wasn't reading the correct Bible (not much love back then for the Living Bible among some older folk).

Yes, I am a white anglo-saxon protestant . . . however, I was raised in the Rio Grande Valley of south Texas . . . where whites were a minority.  3/4's of my graduating high school class were Hispanic.  I guess I've always, if I wanted to, been able to sense the pain of being made fun of for your color and beliefs.  I wasn't brown skinned, and I wasn't Catholic.  I couldn't speak Spanish.  Years later, especially in the ministry of our church to Hispanics, I can understand when they share with me the struggles they have providing for their families in a predominantly white culture.

In our devotional text today . . . Jesus chose to ere on the side of people instead of the side of the law.   And it made someone mad. 

How would you have responded?

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I miss him . . .

Today is the 2nd year anniversary of Ken Diehm's death, the former senior pastor here at FUMC-Grapevine.

I'm farther along in the grief process.  No tears today . . . just good memories of how my friendship with him blessed me.

I miss you, Ken. 

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Lenten Daily Devotional - Day 6 - 2/19/13

Devotional Scripture:  John 4:39-54

Devotional Thought:

"This was the second miraculous sign that Jesus performed, having come from Judea to Galilee." - John 4:54

I guess it must be the mood I am in today.  I can't read this scripture lesson without focusing on the word "sign."  The word is used twice in the NIV translation, in verses 48 and 54. 

I also can't get the words of the chorus to the old rock song, "Signs" by the 5 Man Electric Band out of my mind  . . .

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blocking out the scenery, breakin' my mind
Do this, don't do that
Can't you read the sign?

I took my wife to DFW Airport this morning to catch a flight.  I had to get her there at 6 AM.  As I was driving out of terminal E, I started watching for the signs that would lead me back to the south airport exit so I could exit after the toll booths and get on Airport Drive to catch Mid-Cities Blvd back to my home.

I almost missed the exit . . . actually I sorta kinda cut in front of someone to not have to drive completely around the terminal again.  There were so many signs . . . all the same size and color . . . something that I find confusing as you weave around left and right and left and right and then right to go left . . .

The signs that help us see God are all around us as well.  But a lot of other signs block the view.

The sunrise and sunset . . . the chirp of a song bird . . . the call from a friend . . . are all signs that God is alive and active in your life.  Seeing people do kinds things to others . . . another sign that God is alive and active in  your life.

As you continue to make straight the road of your life before Easter . . . don't accidentially sweep away a sign to you from God.  God's signs are always consistent, in that they share the message, "here I am!" 

Remember, God's goal is for you to find your way to Him.  The signs are there.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Monday, February 18, 2013

Free offer if you sing in nursing homes / senior care centers . . .

I've been singing and playing guitar at various nursing home / senior care centers since I was in my teens.  I've always enjoyed it.  And I wish I had the time to do it more often.  Lot's of folks who provide music to these places try to charge money for it.  Nothing wrong with that I guess, but it's not something I have ever done.

If you are considering volunteering to sing at hursing home / senior care centers, then please let me know.  I have lots of song sheets with words and guitar chords that I am glad to share with anyone who wants them.

I will send them to you as attachments to an email.  Warning, it may take several emails to do it.  I'll send what has worked for me over the years. 

Warning!  You need to want to be able to do some Elvis songs.  They love Elvis.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Lenten Daily Devotional - Day 5 - 2/18/13

Devotional Scripture:  John 4:1-38

Devotional Thought:

"The Samaritan woman said to him, "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?" - John 4:9

We are all guitly at times of making so many varied judgements about people based on gender, age, race and religion.  In truth, most of our judgements are based on assumptions.  You've no doubt heard phrases like . . .

-"But the Baptist would never do that . . . "
-"The Methodists don't condone that . . . "
-"We believe this but the Catholics don't . . . "
-"Jews would never  allow that to happen . . . "

Seldom, if ever, are these statements backed by fact.

Over the course of my life, and on many occassions in my ministry, I've heard the phrase, "God wouldn't do that!" or "Jesus wouldn't like that!"

I've been guilty of thinking the same thing sometimes . . . guilty of saying it as well. 

The problem is . . . when we think or say anything about what God thinks or likes, we often are speaking out of our own interpretation, as well as speaking out of our hope that God sees things like we want Him to  . . . sees things like we want to.  It would sure make us feel better if He did!

Yes, that is a problem . . . because it reveals that we want God to do what we want . . . and in my experience, what God wants of me is not often what I want.  That's the continuing conflict involved in God giving us free will. 

The Samaritan woman clearly understands that Jesus is a Jew.  Jews and Samaritans did not get along.  The avoided each other . . . wouldn't look at each other . . . yelled, spit at, cursed each other . . . wouldn't do business together (which makes the story of the Good Samaritan that more poignant).

The Samaritan woman at the well is saying to Jesus, "You are a Jew . . . you can't talk to me because you are not supposed to talk to me."

In this story, Jesus breaks a stereotype.  There are people all around us that need God's love.  And yet, we don't share it because "we are not supposed to associate with certain types of people."   One of reason many good Christans church goer's don't help the poor . . . is because they think "poor" is a disease they can catch, that will infect them and their families.

That is . . . until they do help the poor and troubled, and find God in the process.  All because they risked breaking a "stereotype".  

It's the 5 day of the Lent.  As you keep sweeping and and pushing aside the clutter in your life that would serve as an obstacle preventing a holy Easter from coming into your life . . . consider breaking a few stereotypes as well.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Sunday, February 17, 2013

1st Sunday of Lent - 2/17/13

Today is the 1st Sunday of Lent.   Lent is the 40 day period between Ash Wednesday and Easter . . . but we don't count Sundays.

Why?

Sunday is our day set aside for the task of worship!

Worship God today in spirit and in truth.   Let Him know in prayer that you are working hard to clear the path, to make the road straight so that Easter may arrive unobstructed in your life.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Saturday, February 16, 2013

I had a guitar lesson yesterday

I was doing some straightening up yesterday during my day off at Grapevine Guitar Works.  Sean let's me hang guitars up, arrange things, etc.

Paul Reitz comes in most days for a while as well, and gives guitar lessons in the back of the store.  He walked up and said, "Rick, my lesson cancelled.  You want to come back for a lesson?"

Now, friends, I like to think I am a pretty good acousitc rhythm guitarist.  Paul is a classical style guitar player . . . one of my favorites to listen to . . . and I love to watch him play as well.

So . . . with nothing to lose, I grabbed a guitar off the wall and walked back with him to the lesson room.

I got worried pretty quickly when he said, "Rick, I've notice a couple of things when I watch you play that you could work on . . ."   And in the next 20 minutes, Paul proceeded to gift me with a weeks worth of lessons.

1)  Left hand placement, particularly the thumb
2)  How to more correctly hold a guitar pick
3)  Strumming the guitar with more action in the elbow, and not the wrist
4)  Placement of the right hand for finger-picking
5)  Action of the thumb and first 3 fingers on the right hand

There was probably more . . . I just don't remember.

In the process . . . Paul was gentle, kind, and explained things to me where it didn't take me more than 2 times to get every point, and to understand the drills I need to practice.

And awesome experience.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Lenten Daily Devotional - Day 4 - 2/16/13

Devotional Scripture:  John 3

Devotional Thought:

"How can this be?" - John 3:9

Just a few weeks ago, my wife and I took a short trip down to Waco.  As I was packing our car, I stepped back and said to myself, "Self, packing the car sure didn't take very long this time!" 

But as I went back into the house, and then for almost the entire trip to Waco, I kept thinking, "did I miss something?  Was there something I forgot to pack?"

Turns out . . . I forgot my C-PAP machine, my toothbrush, my deodorant, and my pillow!!!

"But how can this be?  I'm an expert car packer!"

I did remember to pack all my perscriptions . . . go figure that one out.

In the 3rd chapter of John, we read about Nicodemus.  Nicodemus has come to Jesus at night, and that implies that he did not want to be seen by his fellow Pharisees.  He has come to talk to Jesus. 

Why?

I think he knew that something was missing in his life, or in his faith, and he had come to Jesus in hopes of finding out exactly what it was.   Jesus gives answers to Nicodemus' question, which raise more questions . . . you know how it goes.  Sometimes we know what is missing in our lives . . . but the answers to our questions are not what we want to hear.

Several years ago, Rev. Melburn Sibley wrote about this same scripture . . .

"It is not what we do not know that is most troubling, but what we do know and have not accepted."

What is it that we know?

That "God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." - John 3:16.

On this Lenten journey we are taking . . . let's resolve to give what we already know some serious thought and personal reflection.  The Jesus of Easter longs to be what we are looking for.

God's grace still amazes me . . .  ><>



Friday, February 15, 2013

Lenten Daily Devotional - Day 3 - 2/15/13

Devotional Scripture:  John 2

Devotional Thought:

"Do whatever he tells you." - John 2:5

Just like a mother.

My Mom is now in her 70's.  She is happy and in good health, very active in her church and in those things that she is interested in.

I remember during my teenage years, when she would say something like, "I don't really care how old your think you are . . . if I feel  that I need to tell you what to do, I will!"

Most of the time, my mom let me make my own decisions.  I usually chose right, because I knew what was at stake.  You see, my mom had that look (all mom's have "that look") . . . the look that would chill the blood in your body, and let you know deep down-in-depths of your soul that you had dissapointed her . . . or even worse, had violated the trust she had in you.

My mom's trust was something sacred.  I appreciated and valued it dearly.  I still do.

Mom trusted me with her car, trusted me with caring for my little sister, and for helping my younger brother keep out of trouble.  Not an easy assignment, because my brother's middle name was in fact "Trouble," if I may quote a line from a certain Lynyrd Skynyrd song.

Mom's advice and counsel was good . . . and as a result, I did not get into the kind of trouble others did. 

Jesus' mom sees a problem at a wedding.  Then, just like a mom, see walks over to Jesus to let him know what she thinks he should do about it.  And then, again just like a mom, she goes and tells others to do whatever Jesus tells them to do.

In others words . . . Jesus' mom simply says, "just do it."

Several years ago, Dr. Cindy Ryan also wrote about Jesus' mother . . .

We would do well this season to listen to Jesus' mother.  When Jesus says, 'Follow me,' we should just do it.  When he says, 'Love one another,' we should just do it. When he says, 'Feed my sheep,' we should just do it."

This is day #3 of our Lenten journey.  On day #1, John cried to us to "make straight the way for the Lord."

This Lenton season . . . let's just do it.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>





Thursday, February 14, 2013

Lenten Daily Devotional - Day 2 - 2/14/13

Devotional Scripture:  John 1:35-50

Devotional Thought:

"Can anything good come from there?" - John 1:46

Happy Valentines Day!  This daily devotional doesn't necessarily have anything to do with Valentines.  However, you may need a reminder in case you forgot!

I remember serving as pastor at the UMC in Godley, TX.   Our girls where in school, part of the marching and concert bands, and in theater arts.

Our chief football rivals were from the high school in Rio Vista, a few miles south.  Our chief rivals for basketball were from the little high school in Peaster, a few miles north.

Just mention how the football team from Rio Vista was doing . . . and you would be met with scowls.

In the winter, mention anything about the Peaster basketball team . . . and people would start telling you how awful that town and school were.

Funny . . . how we treat certain rivals as if they have no redeeming qualities or character at all.

Granted, I used to feel that way about the Washington Redskins back in the 1960's and 1970's, and later the Philedephia Eagles and those "dreaded" New York Giants.  I guess once a Cowboy's fan, always a Cowboy's fan. 

Funny, I just now became very sad . . .

It was so bad one particular year when the team from Rio Vista came to Godley for our annual district football game with them, that the Methodist preacher from Rio Vista (who is actually taller than I - go figure) and I walked along the sidelines on both sides of the field.  We cheered for every good play that both teams made.  On that day, the Godley Wildcats actually upset the Indians from Rio Vista on the 2nd to the last play of the game (for the only win against them in the 4 years we were there.)

Later in the week, members of my church and people in the community I was assigned by the Bishop to live and work in approached me . . . reminding me with various stories and "personal information" about how terrible the community and people of Rio Vista were. 

My response, "funny, they must not be as bad as you believe, because my "friend" lives and works there." 

Nathaniel, on his first introduction to the possibility that Jesus was the Messiah . . . judged him without first meeting him . . . all because Jesus was from Nazareth.

In Ecclesiates 3, we read "God has made everything beautiful in it's time."  As we travel through the season of Lent, let's all work on getting rid of blind judgements based on fiction, rumor or "supposed" fact.  It's something we all need to work out in our own hearts and lives before we get to Easter.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lenten Devotional - Day 1 - Feb. 13, 2013

Devotional Reading - John 1:1-34

Devotional Thought:

"Make straight the way of the Lord." 

For many who read this story of the ministry of John the Baptist, the meaning of these words is unmistakable.  I can see John on a rock, or standing above the people on a low hill, within easy shouting distance.  I can hear him crying out, "Make straight the way of the Lord."

Some words have different meaning depending on the inflection or volume we use.  When we whisper sweetly in a loved one's ear, "I love you," we share in a tender moment of initmate communication.

Lean over and shout out "I love you," in someone's ear . . . and a fight is probably getting ready to start.  Same words . . . different outcome.

What John cries out has the same meaning if he were to have whispered it into someone ear as well.  John's message is that the King is coming!  The long awaited Messiah is near.  With that knowledge ought to come the desire to sweep and clear away the debris and obstructions along the roadway which could prevent passage.  Clearing the way means it could be time to pick up a shovel, and start moving some rocks.

What are the specks of dust, dirt, pebbles, small rocks, medium rocks, large rocks, boulders or mountains in your own life that need to be cleared away  as we begin the Season of Lent?  What needs to be done so that God knows, and we know in our hearts as well, that we really mean business?

It's time to start getting ready for Easter . . . that is what the Season of Lent is all about.  It's time to do some hard work.

Lord, give me the strength to do the hard work of reviewing my life honestly . . . so I can repent of my failures . . . and then turn my life around so I can prepare myself for the coming of the King.

Amen!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Daily Lenten Devotional . . .

God willing (along with my calendar) . . . I plan to "attempt" to write or record a daily Lenten season devotional through my blog beginning tomorrow, February 13, 2013 . . . Ash Wednesday.

Should I miss a day . . . I will endeavor to make it up in some way . . . so on occassion there might be more than one entry for a day. 

I will be filling in for Louis Carr at the Heritage Campus tomorrow night for Ash Wednesday services.  Louis is down with the flu, so please be in prayer for him and his family.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Monday, February 11, 2013

Working on a new "Happy Songs" set . . .

I'm working on a new song set I'm calling "Happy Songs" for want of a better name at this time . . .

I need this to be a set of 10 - 12 songs . . .

What I have so far is . . .

-Listen to the Music (Doobie Brothers)
-Give a Little Bit (Supertramp)
-Try a Little Kindness (Glen Campbell)
-C'Mon Get Happy (Partridge Family)

If you have any suggestions . . . let me know!

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Sunday, February 10, 2013

GGW has Guild Guitars in stock . . .

I meant to mention this last week . . .

Grapevine Guitar Works has a selection of new Guild Guitars, including the F-50R (jumbo rosewood) and F-512 (jumbo 12-string) that you see me play for the children during the Children's Time at FUMC-Grapevine, and when I play out in the public, especially when I can join my friends from Hugworks.org at Children's Medical Center in Dallas, or Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth.

They also carry some of the lower priced, but great sounding, GAD models as well.  They should be on the GGW website (www.grapevineguitarworks.com) soon, or contact the store to talk about these great guitars with Robb Kelly or Matt Ables.

I personally have Martin, Taylor and Guild guitars.  For professional use such as singing in the public (plugged into my PA) I will normally use on of the Taylor's.  For the many times I cannot plug into an amp or PA, or when just plain jamming with friends . . . I pull out the Guild's.  In a word(s) . . . they are loud . . . clear . . . vibrant . . . and tough.   As much as I want Martin or Taylor to build a great 12-string, whatever they produce will always be compared to the F-412 or F-512 Guild 12-string guitar.

Just my opinion . . .

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

8th Annual Singing of "Drop Kick Me Jesus" ...

Over the past 8 years, on the Sunday after the Super Bowl, I have been able to lead the children and congregation (the greater FUMC-Grapevine / NE Tarrant County Community Choir) in the singing of "Drop Kick Me Jesus Through the Goal Posts of Life."

I love the song, but only do it one Sunday a year during worship, and that's during the Children's Time on the Sunday we preach about some of the commercials we saw during the Super Bowl.

One of the top 5 "fun" things I get to do every year.

I actually learned it at a Scout camp.  Don't remember which one . . . either Camp Perry down in the Rio Grande Valley, or at the old BSA Camp west of San Saba, Texas.  Both of those events took place a very long time ago.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>