Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Wednesday and Happy Thanksgiving Eve!  All is well here at 811.  The dressing is in the fridge ready for baking in the morning. The giblets are stewed and cooling ready for chopping and I will make the mashed potatoes and green beans in the morning before we leave for Allen.  I love Thanksgiving.  When your children grow up and begin their own traditions sometimes it is tough on parents as we realize we have to grow up too. Both Geni and Travis are creating their own Thanksgiving traditions apart from Bruce and me.  But we are all going to be together at Christmas so everything works out just fine.  The good news is that they are all with the ones they love too and will give thanks. 

The candle is lit…

God, thank you for the comforting light of your presence and the comforting strength of your arm that leads me carefully as I journey. Thank you for creating me and each of us with unique purposes that fits in with your people. I praise you for uniting all of us in love. Lord, today I sent in  the first of the ordination documents. I ask you to walk each step of this process with me and teach me the things you want me to know and learn between now and April. It is my heart’s desire to serve you as an ordained pastor.  I pray to serve you with my whole heart and that you will lead me to live, walk and work among your people with extraordinary purpose.  May the purpose in which I serve You and your people be ordained by you and strengthened by your very love. I love you Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Continuing with the theme of thankfulness God asks each of us to offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving to God telling of the kindness of God   and the works of God with songs of joy!  When we bear our circumstances with courage and thanking God for God’s holy Presence during our circumstances we are praising and thanking God in its highest form. This practice is a divine power that will weaken the core of the problem we are facing. And this is the hard part, but it is also the blessing; when we place this discipline into practice we surrender our need to understand “why” and with courage and trust stepping out of the way letting God help us through the circumstance.  The sacrifice of thanksgiving is a practiced discipline that happens over period of time. When we offer our sacrifice we are asking God to let us see our situation through the eyes of God. When we offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving to God we deepen our relationship and come closer to God. This discipline deepens our trust level in ways of mercy, seeing God’s goodness and standing in the light of God’s love.  Besides the personal benefits of practicing the sacrifice of thanksgiving, as others see that we are not only able to endure in our current circumstances but thrive we are able to show God’s strength in our lives and give encouragement to others. 

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.”
2 Corinthians 10: 3-4
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on YOUR OWN UNDERSTANDING.”
Proverbs 3: 5
Take joy in the journey praising, praying, laughing, and encouraging others as you go. Enjoy a Happy Thanksgiving Day. GO FROGS!!!! Wear purple, comfortable shoes and get some sleep. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Tuesday!  All is well here at 811. I met with Chris today and began work on the ordination packet. We also began to put some language together for the paper. It was a really good meeting. I am very grateful to him for all of his help. I also made the dinner rolls with the yellow cake mix. They are pretty easy and really yummy. They are a sweet dinner roll, but if you butter them with salted butter the flavor balances well. I also thought that when the after thanksgiving lunch munchies occur these rolls will be awesome with a piece of ham as a slider.  Just a couple of hints:  I kneaded in the final cup of flour by hand on a cutting board, I oiled the bowl and the top of top of the dough at the first rising, the second rising takes around 30 minutes.  My recipe made 24 large rolls. I think I may try to make the dough into individual rolls and not cut them in the pan as the directions tell. 

The candle is lit…

Lord, I do believe in You! Thank you for sending Jesus to open the way to you and for constantly shining light on my life.  Thank you for the gift of thankfulness and when I fail to be thankful please forgive me. May I be ever mindful how fragile life is and be thankful for all of your countless blessings. Lord, thank you for loving me as if I was the only one in the world. As your child Wynonna says, “To the world I am one, but to One I am the world.”  Thank you loving Lord for prayer, watching over me and again the gift of thankfulness.  I love you Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.

In just a little more than 24 hours we will dedicate an entire day just for giving thanks.  According to Sarah Young, the author of Jesus Calling, “ A thankful attitude opens windows of heaven through which spiritual blessings fall freely.” There is a wonderful song with the lyric, “Thankfulness, thankfulness is all I long for. Thankfulness, thankfulness is all I need.  Thankfulness is all You want from me.”  God requires and thankful heart, a heart of gratitude and the blessings from the storehouse of God’s love will rain down upon us. Scripture tells us that being thankful is vital to our health and well-being and to our healing and wholeness.  Because thankfulness is a gift from God it is a spiritual blessing.

God, who loves us so very much, is the God of grace and if we forget to be grateful then all we need to do is to ask for forgiveness and be thankful for that forgiveness.  Thankfulness is a priceless gift and if we remember the cost of Christ on the cross it will help- each of us to practice thankfulness throughout the day.  God is good. Give thanks and God wins.

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. “
Psalm 100: 4
Blessed be the God, and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.”
Ephesians 1: 3

Take joy in the journey praying, praising, giving thanks, and encouraging others as you go.  Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Monday, November 24, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Monday!  All is well here at 811. It is the first day of my thanksgiving break and I got my extra errands done today before the cooking frenzy begins. Tomorrow I am trying a new dinner roll recipe that you make with a cake mix.  Sounds interesting! I promise a full report. But the best part of today was the long wonderful visit we had with Bruce’s brother, Dale from Memphis.  We had a long leisurely dinner and such a wonderful visit. We got caught up on kids, pets, music, his precious wife Twylagayle, holiday plans and when we will see each other again.  It was great!! In my devotional time this morning about thankfulness I was reminded that God plants treasures of thanksgiving throughout the day and by the end of the day we have a whole bouquet of things for which to be thankful.  Our visit with Dale tonight was among one of the most wonderful treasures. 

Dear God, thank you for the treasure of Your presence in our lives. Thank you for family and the safe arrival of Geni and Cody in Florida.  Thank you Lord for your love and grace and that Lord I can find your heart to be a resting place and a home.  Lord, tomorrow I will begin working on the logistics of the final ordination process. Help me to breathe and have a calm heart and take this final leg of the journey one step at a time. I know Lord that You will help me to do my very best and I have total confidence in You that You will do as you have promised. You have promised to provide the desires of my heart and I know you will help and inspire as I write the final paper. I am trusting my ways to you Lord and asking you to work on my behalf. I love you Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

God created each of us and calls us children of God. We are collectively the children of God no matter what we believe, how we act or what we believe. But until we enter into a relationship with Jesus we do not come to know God intimately and personally. When we enter into that relationship we are given the identity as child of God and brother/sister to Jesus. We are marked with the cross of Christ forever and begin an eternal relationship.  God sends the Holy Spirit to dwell in us making an eternal connection to the Presence of God in our lives. We can never lose this relationship because it is not based on anything we can do or should do. It is solely based on God’s great love for us. 

I have known all of these things for a long time, but tonight my meditation shares this extra piece of knowledge. When we sin we show God dishonor because the Holy Spirit is in our heart telling us, “Stop resisting my, beloved! Trust me. Rest in me. I will satisfy you and give you plenty.”  These words are ideas I will continue to ponder, but they have certainly shed a new light about the presence of the Holy Spirit. Since my heart is the home of the Holy Spirit, God’s presence in me through faith in Jesus lets me know I need to listen to the Holy Spirit a lot more carefully.  I know I have no fear of losing the Holy Spirit within me, but maybe I need to listen more closely when my heart needs a good cleaning so that there is more space for God to dwell.

“This is my resting place forever. Here is where I want to stay. I will bless her with plenty.”
Psalm 132: 14-14
“O Lord, arise, and come to your resting place.”
Psalm 132: 8

Take joy in the journey praying, praising, laughing and encouraging other as you go. Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Blessed Sunday to you all!  All is well here at 811.

The candle is lit…

Dear God, I need you in my life each day and night. Your presence is more wonderfully satisfying especially with family, friendships and all that this life has to offer.  Lord, I do not live a perfect life because I am not perfect. But Lord I do live an abundant life. I live a life that is filled with Your love, grace, peace, forgiveness and tender mercies. Lord, I thank you for the people in my life that are so precious; Bruce, Geni, Travis and Sarah. I give thanks for the family that birthed me and all of those who have been added to the family register through the years. I thank you for friends, work and ministry. As I sit in Your presence my heart is filled with thankfulness. Thank you Lord for Your continual presence in my life.  I love you Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.

I am thankful that Jesus poured out His blood on the cross that day at Calvary.  It is that radical gift of love that connects us all. For when that blood was shed we all became connected through Holy DNA with God as our Creator and Father to Jesus out of God’s great love for us.  Romans 8 tells us that nothing can ever separate us from the Love of God. 

This is Thanksgiving week.  I have many things for which to give thanks. It has been quite a year here at 811. And even though not everything that happened was a situation of thankfulness, I was able to find thankfulness in the difficult times.  And in the tough times I remembered the passage from Romans 8 about never being separated from the love of God.  What a great love for which to be thankful!

Eph. 5: 20 tells us to “Give thanks for all things in Jesus’ name.” So what are the things for which to give thanks in Jesus name? Unfailing love, eternal unmerited grace, tender mercies, healing and wholeness, complete forgiveness, salvation are just some of the things that are of “Jesus’ name.”  I do not see cancer, strokes or other illnesses on the list. While life does not always hand us situations for which to be thankful, as children of God and brother(s) and sisters(s)  to Christ all carrying the same Holy DNA we can find treasures of thanksgiving even in the toughest of situations. Because in the most difficult of times God walks with us and never leaves our side.   And if all we can pray is “Thank you Jesus.” Then we have found ourselves on Holy ground and  living the abundant life. 

“Always giving thanks to God the father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Ephesians 5: 20
“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” (we sang this song this morning!)
Psalm 118: 1

Take joy in the journey praying, praising, laughing, giving thanks for the presence of God along the way and encourage others. Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Saturday!  All is well here at 811 and we are warm and dry at the end of this wet and chilly day. It was my joy this evening to preside over worship and Eucharist at the Via De Cristo supper and instructional evening.  It was great to see everyone and a joy to worship with them once again. And finally…Happy birthday to Dr. Ken Helvey PhD.  This is my dear brother.  I love this man dearly and look forward to seeing him on Thursday!

The candle is lit…
Dear God, thank you for the promise of your constant love and the hope it brings to my life. As I continue to walk a life in grace help me to remember to pray for those it is difficult for whom to pray and to find a place of thanksgiving in situations that seem void of any thanksgiving at all. Tonight I lift to you the family of Sandy Brandon. Her family has experienced a tragic loss this week and are in great need of your love surrounding them and the comfort and peace that only You can provide. I pray that the friendship of others will cover them in love and kindness as they walk this sad and tragic road. May they come to see and feel the warmth and light of your love and the hope of a brighter day.  I love you Lord and I love sweet Sandy. Thank you Lord for being with them. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Most of us have walked through this life and at some time or other been betrayed, lost a friendship, had a broken relationship, experienced a failed relationship or lost a loved one in death. All of these occurrences have one thing in common; the result is a broken heart.  Each of these times in our lives have left us at least for a while thinking that we will never be whole again.  We may even become angry at God and ask God or ourselves “Why did God let this happen?”  When I visit with folks in a pastoral care relationship I get this question a lot. My usual answer is that it was not God that allowed this to happen, but life happens. Sometimes we bring life on ourselves in the choices we make and sometimes life is thrust on us in devastating ways.  I also get this question, “Does God still love me even after the choices I have made or because of all of this tragedy I did nothing to incur?” 

The answer is God always  loves you eternally, completely and unconditionally. God is far bigger than our choices, our pain, our doubts and failures. God’s love is not a love that condemns.  Listen again…God’s love does not condemn.”  God’s love meets us where we are and does not look back. God’s love calls us forward into forgiveness of the one(s) who have hurt us and most importantly to forgive ourselves. The love of God is “consistent and predictable.”  Because  the perfect love of God surrounds us in grace and truth and assures us with hope.  This is the hope that will allow us to love again, trust again, healing our broken hearts and gives us the courage to offer our hearts to love once again. God is good and love wins!!

“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
Psalm 34: 18
“My flesh and my heart fail :  but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever.”
Psalm 73: 26

Take joy in the journey praising, praying, laughing and encouraging others as you go.  Pray for Sandy’s family and they work through this most difficult time and try to find ways to be thankful as we are in the season of Thanksgiving. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Thursday!  All is well here at 811. Bruce is progressively getting over his sinus infection and even worked some today.  He will go to rehab tomorrow for the first time this week. The funny thing is that this was the first week he was to begin the step-down process to discharge. The plan was to go to rehab on MWF. Well, this week he is only going on Friday.  Tomorrow is another family conference and so we will see if anything changes. 

The candle is lit…

Dear God, Help us to stay steadfast in hope and to trust your perfect will.  Lord, we place our hope in you as we walk together in this life here on earth. Sometimes the road is smooth and it is easy to stay in step with you. And then sometimes the road is rough and steep and we are tempted to look to the past and see mistakes and bad choices. Forgive us Lord when we fall out of step with you and try to walk this life on our own strength. Help us to remember that any strength we have comes from You. And Lord, when we fall behind and don’t know what to do please rescue us by the calling of Your name.  We love you Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.

I have been to despair. It is no fun.  But as I have thought about the times I have been in despair over something I finally figured out that despair happens when we seek out options to problems and do not include God.  We believe we know what is best for us and we may have even convinced ourselves that God has abandoned us when in truth we have left God out of the hope of correcting the situation. 

We all know that without God there is no hope.  The truth is that no matter what is going on in our lives God is always there to help.  The catch for us is that God’s timing does not always coincide with our time table. Being ever mindful that we live in 24 days and the first of the month while God lives in eternal time, I believe there is a way to not fall into despair.

While we are waiting for God to work in our lives it is vital that we stay in tune with God and daily meditate on God’s Word. Spending time in conversation with God throughout the day through prayer helps to hold on to our real hope which is in God through faith in Jesus.  Then as we wait…wait with the expectation of God’s goodness to flow down upon us filling  us with God’s very best.  God is good and love wins!

“Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD!”
Psalm 27: 14
“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.”
Psalm 27: 13

Take joy in the journey praying, praising, giving thanks and encouraging others along the way. Stay in step with God and call on God for help no matter what!  Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Wednesday!  All is well here at 811. I think Bruce’s day spent in house really helped and your prayers have been powerful. Thank you so very much.

The candle is lit…

God, I thank you for giving us reason to have confidence in You. Lord, there are many folks out there who are experiencing such devastating brokenness in their lives. Lord, when I am hurting so badly it almost takes my skin off You remind me of the beautiful lyric, “And when my plans have fallen through and when my strength is nearly gone. When there is nothing left to do, but just depend on you and the power of Your name.”  Lord, there is such power in just speaking your name. You know our hurts, our situations even before we ask. Sometimes Lord the hurt is so bad that we cannot even voice it and all we can do is call Your name.  Thank you for Your kindness and understanding and when we are broken. Thank you for your compassion that does not call us to shame, but wraps us in Your loving Presence and cries with us. Thank You Lord and Savior that whatever we are struggling with can be conquered by Your love and tender mercies. Heal us loving Lord, and make us whole once again. We love you so much Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Through the stories in the Bible we find people who faced great hardships and seemingly overwhelming challenges. The interesting thing about these folks such as Moses, Joshua, David and Paul is that they were ordinary people of their time. Moses was a shepherd, Joshua was a stone carver, David was also a shepherd and Paul was a tentmaker.  They had no remarkable skill for leadership,  but they all had one thing in common. They accepted the Lordship of God and Paul; Jesus into their lives and acted in obedience to the call of God on their lives. And while they each faced overwhelming challenges and adversity in their lives they did not rely on their own strength, but relied on the strength in God in whom they believed with all of their hearts.  They trusted God no matter how bad it got.  They believed that God could overcome whatever devastating situations were going on in their lives.

We are given that same right to the same confidence as these legendary men of God. No matter what situation we find ourselves whether we have brought it on ourselves or it has been thrust upon us God will be with us giving us the confidence to trust in the power of God’s own love for us.  And even though it is really hard for us, we need to try not to fear being put to shame by our God who loves us so very much.  So my friends pray for healing and wholeness believing that we are loved and  made whole and in humble obedience call on the name of the Lord.

“Some trust in their war chariots and others in their horses, but we trust in the power of the LORD, our God. Such people will stumble and fall, but we will rise and stand firm.”
Psalm 20: 7-8
Take joy in the journey praying, praising, laughing and encouraging others as you go. Stay in step with the Lord not slower or faster for God will walk by our side.  Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep.  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene