Feb 02

Living So that God Will…Abide With Me

abide with meWritten in 1847, Henry Lyte wrote the words to the hymn, Abide with Me as a prayer seeking God’s presence in life and death. Some contend that this hymn isn’t Biblical considering God is ‘with us always,’ Matthew 28:20. But I would encourage the reader to remember the words of Christ in John 15:5-6…I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. As we sing this song, let me encourage you to recognize the ‘prayer’ that is being offer within these words. The first verse is an understanding of how soon until this life is over (fast falls the even tide). But I’ve always been moved by the second verse which says Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day (the days of our life are flowing away quickly and); Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away (all the wonder and glory of life will fade and pass away). Still we know and realize that…Change and decay in all around I see (everything I see around me is dying, it’s a fact of life.) And yet, Thou who changest notabide with me! That is my plea, and that is what I long for. “In life and death, O Lord, abide with me!”

The above video doesn’t includes all five of the verses, but listen and notice the words of each verse as you seek the Father and strive to live so that He will… Abide with Me.

  1. Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
    The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide;
    When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
    Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.
  2. Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
    Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
    Change and decay in all around I see—
    O Thou who changest not, abide with me.
  3. I need Thy presence every passing hour;
    What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s pow’r?
    Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
    Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.
  4. I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
    Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness;
    Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
    I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.
  5. Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
    Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies;
    Heav’n’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
    In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

Jan 26

Ride the Morning Winds

A special “Thank You” to Kaleigh Hayner for providing this insight in a song Kaleigh...that has touched thousands. Kaleigh is a freshman at Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tennessee. She is from North Carolina with a strong appreciation and love for music. The video recording at the end of this article is from the Freed-Hardeman Chorale’s Winter Tour in Texas.

 

“Have you had a moment in your life where you feel so alone that you didn’t think God could reach you? I felt that way just a few weeks ago, until I heard a song sung by the Freed-Hardeman Chorale. Even though I had heard and sang it so many times before, it had a new meaning when I was in the trenches. The first line introduces something that every human can connect to: “A frightening place this world of ours, the frantic pace of changing powers.” With the presidential election in 2016 and a new president, some are concerned with what the future holds. But this song seems to remind us that in the future, God is there. Another line says “…in these days one promise holds, I can ride the morning winds and you are there.”

This is one of the most comforting things I have ever heard. Even though we fight through this life, and we all of these struggles, God is there. It’s kind of like when you were a kid and were scared to go down the slide. But all along your mom or dad was at the bottom of the slide just waiting with the sole purpose…to catch you. It was scary, but they were there. God is there, waiting for us at the bottom. “I can find the darkest, darkest night and you are there.” No matter how dark this life gets, no matter how scary, God knows, and he is there. “I can never be lost, never lost from you.” Jonah ran away from God and God saw him hiding on a boat. And even as we run and try to hide, remember that God knows our fears and he is there.”


Ride the Morning Winds is a beautiful composed by Grace Hawthorne and Tom Fettke and published by Pilot Point Music. This song is a comforting piece, reminding the listeners that God is always there, in their darkest night, and in the morning winds. The world may seem a scary place, but the Creator is always there. Written in the 1980s, the beautiful arrangement continues to offer peace to the those who hear it and sing it. The harmonies, in conjunction with the lyrics, offer a comforting message. Written in the key of Ab Major, each chord offers peace and tranquility to the mind. Instruments aren’t needed to make this piece more beautiful.”

Sep 20

So Glad…This World is NOT My Home!

Let me just say that buying and selling a house is a headache! What one headacheperson (the seller) values, another person (the buyer) seems not to…at least not yet. Either way, both want to ‘make a deal.’ Thus, the headache! Maybe it’s because of the inspector? He takes a snap shot in time (no pun intended) at the house searching every nook and cranny to see if there is any fault. And if he’s worth his salt, he’ll find a fault. Seriously, who doesn’t want to know what needs to be fixed? Truth be known, he is actually doing us both a favor. When we look at the brick and mortar from an inspector’s lens, it reveals things that the seller didn’t think was all that bad. Still, as the seller…this is my home and it’s always been good for me! Now someone comes along who wants to take this home as theirs and all those OK things are now not so “OK.”

373This home has been our investment. But not so much in the roof and walls, as in the memories found within each room. Because, to be honest, this is our “home.” We celebrated here together and we’ve wept here together, all within these walls. Memories don’t come cheap and we should never undervalue the time we spend with our family, from the earliest of years to the ’empty nest.’ And now these walls will see a new family making new memories and celebrating together. But our home HERE is not a forever home. The memories we made will not stay within these walls. Our hearts hold and cherish ‘the home.’ There will be a day when the walls of this old house crumble with age. But our memories will be passed on from generation to generation…as the Lord allows.

So let me be reminded that…”this world is not my home, I’m just passing through.” My treasures? They are not found in the price of a home, my treasures have been laid up in heaven, ‘beyond the blue.’ And the beckoning call I’m getting isn’t coming from a real estate agent. And so I ask the question, is all this really worth a headache? When we are ready to ‘move on,’ how can we ‘feel at home’ here anymore?

Aug 14

Good Morning, Lord!

sun rise“Well I’m up in the morning and I’m feeling OK…Don’t want the devil to get in my way so I’m down on my knees and I’m starting to pray, ‘Good Morning, Lord!’ Good morning, Lord! Send a little sun(son)shine down my way. Good morning, Lord! I just want to live for you today.”

Earlier this month I was honored to worked with more than 20 young people (JH/HS & College) at the 1st Annual Ark/La/Tex Singing Camp  in central Louisiana. With the combined talents of Andy Singing CampBaker, Benjamin Bruce and our camp director Doyle Bruce the young men were taught more than just how to read shape notes and understand music theory. We imparted a working knowledge that embraced the responsibility of leading singing and bringing the congregation closer to honoring and glorifying God. The young ladies were directed by Katheryn Baker, Kristy Huntsman and Emili Bruce.

When we consider our opportunity and obligation to sing and teach singing, we come closer to knowing how GREAT our God really is. We come to appreciate the vast debt we owe for the hope we have in this life and in the life to come. But when it comes to trying to understand that debt and how I should live in response to God’s great gift, we start by looking at the first chapter in the book of Psalm. Thanks, Andy, for taking us through this psalm as we sang and learned how to live for our God!

Blessed is the mantree by the river
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;

But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and in His law he meditates…day and night.

He shall be like a tree
Planted by rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.

Godly man…PARALLELED…with the Ungodly man

The ungodly are not so
But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.

Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the congregation (family) of the righteous.

For the Lord knows the way of the righteous
but the way of the ungodly…shall perish (shall not last).”

Make plans to join us next summer, but in the mean time let me encourage you with these words from Andy Baker…

“Spend time in the Son (sun),
Spend time in the Scripture and
Spend time in Self-Refection.”

 

Aug 07

A Time of Transitions

In the summer of 2002 more than 30 high school freshman and sophomores along with several adult sponsors from Texas came to Colorado to conduct a Vacation Bible School. Though we didn’t know it at the time, that was the beginning of a relationship that would last for the rest of our lives. When the group came back the following year, the summer of 2003, they helped our family pack and move from the Windsor church of Christ to work and worship with the Waterview church of Christ in Richardson, Texas. Thirteen years later we find ourselves, again, at a point of transition. Words fail me to express how much the brothers and sisters at Waterview have meant to my family and me. telephone

Few know that in the late spring of 2002, Jim Stigers called my father-in-law, Jim Knight for the sole purpose of finding a small congregation where the Waterview youth group might go to conduct a VBS. Their original plans had been to go to Nebraska, but due to some complications, the youth was without a mission point for the summer of 2002. My father-in-law, one of the leaders at the small, Colorado congregation, was glad to visit with his old high school friend and welcome the group to Colorado. Jim Stigers, one of the Waterview elders, read the following announcement, and perhaps there was no one was better suited to do so.

The following was announced on Sunday, July 24th:

“The future of Waterview church of Christ is bright! Jason Moon has just completed his first full year as the pulpit minister. Robert Oglesby, Robert Taylor, Warren Shepherd and Dustin Jones have forged a team that not only has welcomed Jason, but now Greg Parks into the ministerial service at Waterview. They work with the elders and deacons to set goals and objectives that reach heavenward…literally. Only the Lord knows how many families will continue to be blessed by Waterview church of Christ as they serve, grow and mature in Christ.

For the past 13 years, the Bruce family has been a part of the fabric of love and devotion, courage and faithfulness established by decades of faithful elders and solid preaching found here. In January 2015, Myron stepped away from full-time ministry but continued, on a part-time basis, striving to lead our hearts and minds toward a clearer, more focused worship to God. That has been and always will be his mission. But this morning, we need to inform you that the Bruce’s have announced that they will be moving from Plano and the Waterview church of Christ to live in Wichita Falls. He will continue to lead our Sunday morning song service until August 14th, but then will be making the transition to Faith Village in Wichita Falls where they will continue to work and worship.

16“In the spring of 2003, Vicki and I, with our three children (Logan…9, Emili…8 and Dillon…5) began a journey from the comfort of Colorado and the Windsor church of Christ, to the Dallas metro-plex joining Waterview as the Congregational Life Minister. We didn’t really know anyone, but over the years, have grown to love everyone. Now thirteen years later, we can’t begin to “Count Our Many Blessings.” The joy of raising our family to serve and worship God with this body of believers makes this day very difficult. To us, you are more than just a member at Waterview. You are, and forever will be, our brothers and sisters in Christ!  

These next few weeks we will be packing up boxes and take pictures off the walls. But more importantly, we’ll be storing up the memories and reflecting on the years God has given us with you. Raising our children in the shadow of this congregation is something we will never forget! With a common love, we have grown close to each of you!

The old hymn writer said it best, “When we asunder part, it gives us inward pain; but we shall still be joined in heart, and hope to meet again.” However, God’s word expresses our deepest emotions. In Numbers chapter 6, God spoke to Moses telling him to instruct his brother, Aaron, with the following: “Thus, you shall bless the sons of Israel. You shall say to them: ‘The Lord bless you, and keep you; The Lord make His face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace!’.”

We love you and thank you for blessing our life!”

Jul 23

The Third of Three Gifts

For the past 23 years, this home has been blessed by one, then two and eventually three gifts from God. They came in the form of Logan, Emili and Dillon! We have loved them, carried them, walked with them, and prayed with them. Having children is truly a blessing from God. But the childhood years don’t last long. In just a ‘blink of an eye,’ those little ones are asking for the keys to the car, and before you know it, they drive away from the house alone, for the last time. They have grown up, just like you had hoped empty nestand planned, but now what? With an “Empty Nest,” what comes next in this life? Some parents celebrate their long lost freedom. Others morn the change, and fall into a great depression. Still others fall apart and fall away. Things will be different for sure, but this article isn’t intended to address the ‘empty nest’ as much as it is to focus on the last one to leave home.

This coming August, after 27 years of marriage, Vicki and I will find ourselves in one of those ‘nests.’  We’ve known it was coming, and we’ve been preparing for it for quite some time. But if the truth be known, it got here a lot quicker than I was hoping for. When Logan & Emili graduated, we felt their absence to be sure. The home was different with only three when we had grown accustom to five of us loving and struggling together. But then, in a matter of months, our family of three became the ‘new norm.’ It was good and we’ve have enjoyed Dillon as an only child during his high school years. Still, we blinked and those years changed to months and the months changed to weeks. And as I pen this letter, the weeks are counting down to days.

Every parent asked the question; ‘Am I ready for them to leave home?’ But perhaps we should be asking; “Are THEY ready to leave home? Have I done the right things, have I given the proper advise and pointed them ‘in the way he should go’.” (Proverbs 22:6) We do what God calls us to do as parents, and then we pray for their safety and for the decisions they will make. As parents, there’s not much more we can do! God gave us those little ones to cherish, nurture and raise for the sole purpose of bringing them back before His throne.

FHU GCMy kids are growing up faster than I would have ever imagined.  Our oldest son, Logan, has one more semester at Freed Hardeman University.  He is planning to graduate in December. Emili, our second child, will be starting her fourth year there. Lord willing she will be graduating in May from Freed-Hardeman. And now this fall, our youngest son Dillon, will be driving down our street on his way to Tennessee as he prepares to stretch his wings and leave the nest. The Bruce home will return to the same condition it was 23 years ago, because life goes on and children grow up. We know that, and we all move across the time-line of life. And, like it or not, it’s the design and plan that our God has established.

Each year as Logan and Emili have moved out on their own taking on the challenge of college, I selected a song with a specific message I wanted them to remember. For Logan, it was “God Bless You, Go with God.” For Emili, “I Know Who Holds Tomorrow.” Dillon, the inspiration for the song that I believe most aptly expresses my hope and prayer for you could have been written about you. In you I see a young man who understands what it means to be humble and kind. Read these two scriptures first before reading the message of the song. You have blessed your mother and me when you shared it with us!

From God’s Word…Humble: “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)

Kind: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.” (Matthew 7:12)

1) You know there’s a light that glows by the front door, don’t forget the key’s under the mat. Childhood stars shine, always stay humble and kind. Go to church ’cause your momma says to, visit grandpa every chance that you can, it won’t be wasted time. Always stay humble and kind.

Chorus:
Hold the door, say please, say thank you. Don’t steal, don’t cheat, and don’t lie. I know you got mountains to climb but, always stay humble and kind.
When the dreams you’re dreamin’ come to you, when the work you put in is realized,
let yourself feel the pride but always stay humble and kind.

2) Don’t expect a free ride from no one, don’t hold a grudge or a chip and here’s why, bitterness keeps you from flyin’. Always stay humble and kind.
Know the difference between sleeping with someone, and sleeping with someone you love.“I love you” ain’t no pick up line so, always stay humble and kind

Chorus:

3) When it’s hot, eat a root beer popsicle. Shut off the AC and roll the windows down. Let that summer sun shine. Always stay humble and kind.
Don’t take for granted the love this life gives you. When you get where you’re goin,’ don’t forget turn back around and help the next one in line.

64

Always stay humble and kind.

Dillon, as you face new challenges in this life you must remember to accept them with God’s guidance. Open doors will appear before you, but the threshold of those doors can only be successfully crossed if you go with God. If you will continue to live by the motto and “Always stay humble and kind,” I can only imagine where and what you will do! It has been an honor watching you grown into the strong young man you are today.

.

 

Nov 10

On the Sea…On the Land…In the Air

eternal father strong to saveOn the 11th day of this 11th month, our nation will pause to remember and honor all those who have served this country. Recognizing this as Veterans Day, our nation owes a debt of gratitude to all those who have served and are currently serving in the armed forces. From the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard, we offer our tribute of thanks for protecting and defending these United States of America.

For years this ‘hymn’ has been known as the Naval Hymn, but for a moment consider the following verses and how they reflect a prayer for three of the services. We are thankful for all those who have served on the sea, on the land and in the air…

“Eternal Father, strong to save, whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bid’st the mighty ocean deep its own appointed limits keep:
O hear us when we cry to Thee for those in peril on the sea.

O Christ, the Lord of hill and plain o’er which our traffic runs a’main
By mountain pass or valley low; wherever, Lord, our brethren go,
Protect them by Thy guarding hand from every peril on the Land.

O Spirit whom the Father sent to spread abroad the firmament;
O wind of heaven, by Thy might save all who dare the eagle’s flight,
And keep them by Thy watchful care from every peril in the air.

O Trinity of love and power, our brethren shield in danger’s hour;
From rock and tempest, fire and foe, Protect them, wheresoe’er they go.
Thus evermore shall rise to Thee glad praise from air and land and sea.”

Oct 12

How Can I Promote the Brand of NT Christianity?

Those who have lived or worked on a ranch know the job is long and hard. Branding cattle is star brandmore than just rope ’em, hold ’em, brand ’em, but it’s part of the process every rancher takes if he wants to maintain his herd. And the distinguishing ‘mark’ serves to show that there is an owner. Simply put, this animal belongs to someone.

But what could the idea of ‘a brand’ have on New Testament Christianity? As children of God, we belong to Him, we have been bought by the blood of Jesus Christ (I Peter 1:18-19). But if we belong to Him, if we have His ‘brand,’ does the world know it? When world looks at Christians…what do they see? If you aren’t wearing the brand of Christ, you’re wearing the brand of the world. But if you are proclaiming Chrisitianity there are a couple of questions you need to ask yourself; 1) does the world know Who you belong to and, 2) ‘How can I promote the “brand” of New Testament Christianity?’

“…I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also.” I Corinthians 14:15

Jul 19

He Walked Like a Man

“Do you fear the force of the wind, the slash of the rain? Go face them and fight them, be Walk Like a Mansavage again. Go hungry and cold like the wolf, go wade like the crane. The palms of your hand will thicken, the skin of your cheek will tan. You’ll grow ragged and weary and swarthy…but you’ll walk like a man.”  Hamlin Garland

This poem was introduced to me early in my adult life by a good man who I’m honored to call my father-in-law, James  Knight. He was a man who loved God, served the family and truly understood how to walk like a man. But Jim was more than just a swarthy man. He didn’t fear the wind and rain, but accepted them as God’s creation. And though he knew what it was like to wade like a crane, he was more interested in walking with God. And…I will never forget the strength in his hands. Even as the last years of his life was crippled by Parkinson’s, he maintained a strong grip on life.

Born and raised in Colorado, Jim taught me more about understanding and appreciating God’s creation than I would have ever imagined. His love for God’s handiwork was manifested throughout his life. From hunting the Colorado Rockies to driving the golf range, Jim loved the great outdoors. But the true joy of his life, next to his love for his family, was living and serving his heavenly Father. God was the source of his life. Jim made heaven his priority for each and every step of his life. His priority, even when his steps failed him, was to walk like a man of God.

IMG_0668And as a faithful man of God, Jim served more than 25 years as an elder in the Lord’s church. He would lead the congregation with his teaching and when necessary, preaching or song leading. Walking like a man in the Kingdom of God, perhaps one of the things I will miss most is his strong bass voice. He loved to sing praises to God, and he used that deep voice God gave him to praise and admonish the Lord’s church. I can still hear his voice thunder through the chorus as we sang; “There is a God…He is alive…In Him we live…and we survive.”

On Saturday night, July 18th at 8:30 MST, surrounded by his wife and children, his last steps led him home. He never faltered in his faith, and he always stood strong in his devotion to God. We will miss him in this family, but the legacy he gave us will provide a direction that follows faithfully the word of God. And it is from God’s word that he often recited the words found in 3rd John 1:4… I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.” Jim, thank you for walking like a man, your children will follow your lead.

Jul 17

How Can I Be a Christian in a Corrupt Society…July 19th

What does it mean to say that something is corrupt? A warning on your computer screen that reads, “Corrupted File” will no doubt put a damper on your day. If something has been corrupt messagecorrupted, the original has been compromised, damaged or destroyed. By definition, to be corrupt, there has been a negative impact that causes someone, or something, to be ‘dishonest, immoral or impure.’

But aren’t we as Christians called to be lights in darkness? How can I be a light in a dark place and not be subject to corruption? Wouldn’t it be best if I just kept to myself and left ‘well enough alone?’ The task is unmistakable. Christ called us to ‘go into all the world.’ Therefore we have an obligation to shine our light, but to keep ourselves ‘unstained by the world.’ (James 1:27) So how can a Christian keep from being corrupted? Join us on Sunday morning as we example our responsibility as Christians.

“…I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also.” I Corinthians 14:15

Sunday morning, July 12, 2015praise the Lord

The following songs are found in the hymnal, Songs of Faith & Praise.

“All Things Praise Thee” – 43

“All things praise Thee – Lord, may we!” Written not as a question, ‘May we praise you Lord?’, but as an exclamation, ‘May we praise God like the things that we sing about in this song. The earth, sea and sky. The silent night, the sun by day, those in ‘heaven’s high shrine,’ seraph and arch angel. We, too, are God’s creation…may we ever be praising Him!

“Doxology” – 6

Immediately after we sing, ‘Ever praising – Lord, may we!,’ our hearts continue the song of praise. “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow.” For more than 300 years these words have stood the test of time, and for more than 450 years this tune has been resonating in our ears. Careful not to just sing the tune, but speak the words with understanding.

“I Come to the Garden Alone” – 595

A quiet song of reflection as we consider our prayer to God. Consider this song as if written from the view point of Mary Magedalene during the early morning hours, John 20:1. Following Christ resurrection, she stands in the garden and we sing, “I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses…” Notice verse 3, ‘but He bids me go…His voice to me is calling.’ John 20:17 “Jesus said to her, ‘Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren…’

“In Christ Alone” – no book

In order to keep ourselves free from corruption while living in this world, we must fully rely on Christ, and on Him alone. For it is in Christ alone, in Him, that we find our hope!

“I Am a Sheep” – 533

Perhaps one way we can stay free from corruption in this dark world of sin and death is to remember the words of this spiritual song. As we sing the chorus we’re reminded, “And when the wind blows He is my shelter! When I’m lost and alone He rescues me! And when the Lion comes (Christ’s return) He is my victory! Constantly watching over me.” That is how you keep from being corrupted by sin…stay in Christ!

“I Know that My Redeemer Lives” – 528

It’s one thing to say, “I know,” but what do you do when the world says, “no one can know”? As a believer we have faith, and in our faith…we know! So we sing a song of affirmation, echoing through the ages, “I know, I know that my Redeemer lives, I know, I know eternal life He gives. I know, I know that my Redeemer lives.’ How to keep yourself from a corrupt and perverse generation? Believe, obey, follow and KNOW the Redeemer.Trusting like a Child

“Purer in Heart, O God” – 671

This is the perfect invitation song as we consider how to keep ourselves from a corrupt society. We must have a purer heart! But will we ‘devote’ our lives completely to Him? Are we willing to confess our ‘secret sin,’ and ask Him to reign in our lives? When we do, if we will, then we’ll be avoiding the corruption of the world.

“How Shall the Young Secure Their Hearts” – 432

“How shall the young secure their hearts and guard their lives from sin?” We sing the question and we might as well read the title of today’s lesson, “How can I be a Christian in a corrupt society?” The answer is right in front of you, God’s word will guide our youth (all of us) and support us throughout our days. We can still be God’s children in this corrupt world, as long as we don’t let the world corrupt us.

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