Saturday, March 8, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Saturday!  All is well here at 811.  Began my first day of spring break with a wonderful cup of home brewed Starbucks Coffee lovingly prepared by my sweet hubby. Luther asleep beside me on the couch and a couple of Ben Matlock reruns.  It was a very relaxing way to begin a Saturday. 

Dear Lord, Please teach me how to live a life worthy of the calling to which you have given me. Forgive me for making idols of broken relationships, unrealized dreams  and thoughts that are not of you.  When these thoughts and hurts enter my heart and mind help me to call on you. Help me find a song of thankfulness and praise to sing and I know you will be there to care for me and those I love so dearly.  I give you my brokenness and fears because you care for me and those I love and long to be reconciled.  As I look at you Lord, in loving worship I rejoice in your unseen reality and trust in your unfailing love and healing grace. I love you Lord. In Jesus name, amen.

Some Lenten journeys are harder than others.  As someone who has for a very long time put fear away, it seems to have found its way back into my thoughts.  What I am discovering that fear is a very subtle sin and that it is imperative that I put my worries and cares at the feet of Jesus and leave them there.   Carrying around worries and fears is a roadblock from enjoying the life God intended me (all of us) to live.  Fear is a predator waiting for any sign of weakness and can ravage our lives. There are times in our lives that experiences we have seem to distance us from having our dreams realized.  This may make us think that all we have worked and hoped for has been in vain.   The good news is that God’s has given us the gift of faith which is the weapon to fight fear.  Faith is the gift that protects us from the torment of fear and allows us to face each new day with hope and confidence.  For me, faith is the gift that helps me deal with the difficulties that may or may not happen. Faith gives us the courage to let go of fear.  I believe that if we stay as close to God as we can that perhaps the seemingly distancing experiences are not a complete change in the journey, but a delay for the glory of God to be made witness is us.  God is good and love wins!
“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?  The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”
Psalm 27: 1
“I praise God for what he has promised. I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me?”
Psalm 56: 4
Take joy in this journey of faith as we walk the 40 days of Lent together.  Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep.  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Thursday!  All is well here at 811. Funny from school today.  I passed a little boy in the hall today. I remembered that yesterday he had been in a lot of trouble so I asked him if he was having a better day today.  I asked, “Have you been behaving today?” His response was, “I been havein’ all day.” I did not think I would ever stop laughing and I still break out into a fit of giggles when I think about it. I told my principal the story and her response was, “He needs to ‘have’ all day!”  More laughter!

God, help me understand your compassion and mercy. Help me see others as you see them, and turn my thoughts and actions into forgiveness.. Thank you for giving me the desire to serve you. I praise you for giving me the ability to do whatever you call me to do.  Thank you for forgiving me my sins through faith in Jesus. I love you Lord. In Jesus name, amen.

“Create in Me a Clean Heart, O God.” Is one of the pieces I sang with the Rush Creek Choir last night for Ashe Wednesday service.  The text is from Psalm 51.  This is the psalm I can say by heart when I am steeped in my own sinful nature and I have kept God at a distance because of some unresolved conflict in my life. I think I have finally stopped praying for people to change and have begun to pray for me to change the way I think and feel about someone who has hurt me.  Forgiving someone who has wronged me brings me to a deeper understanding of the character of God and how to see others as God sees them. I have received forgiveness and mercy from the compassion and tenderness of God. How could I not forgive someone else when I have received such grace.  When we come to God we come with a heart in need of forgiveness and making the choice to walk the road of repentance. For me forgiveness without repentance is cheap grace.  Forgiveness is the foundation of our relationship with God. When we let go of our grudges, bitternesses, hurts done by others and wrong choices we have made, we are restored to God instantly and the inner peace we seek returns.  The good news for all of us is that there is not one of us who is beyond the forgiveness of God.  I would encourage each of you to forgive and ask for forgiveness and experience the wonder of God’s mercy.
“Look on my affliction and my pain and forgive all my sins.”
Psalm 25: 18
Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit within me.”
Psalm 51: 10
Take joy in this Lenten journey. Ask for forgiveness. Forgive someone else and be filled with joy. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Welcome to Ash Wednesday.  I remember Ash Wednesdays when the kids were young. After worship, they wanted to go somewhere like the grocery store or other public place with their ashes proudly on their foreheads.  They loved to see others wearing ashes too. Tonight, we needed to make a stop after worship. I watched other throughout the store with and without ashes.  Those who were still wearing their ashes would smile knowing the reason for the recognition. As we were in line checking out one of the clerks in the store came over to me. I could tell by her apparel that she was not of the Christian faith. She asked me about the ashes. I began with the words, “In the Christian faith …” and then I went on to explain (briefly) that the ashes signified the beginning of the season of Lent as a time of repentance, self-examination, self-sacrifice and prayer for the next 40 days.  She smiled and said thank you and went back to work. 

I think the Lenten season for me is always a journey. I am not exactly sure what I am to learn during the next 40 days, but I do know that I am to fix my heart, soul, mind and actions on God. I am to listen and learn what God is teaching me and I know that by the end of the 40 days my life or parts of it will once again have responded to the creative gift of transformation by God’s very hand. I hope to gain wisdom. I hope to have a heightened perception of what God’s will is for my life and to see how God is working through the spiritual eyes of faith and an open heart.  Join me in this Lenten journey. Let us pray for each other offering a repentant heart to God who loves us so very much and walk the path of forgiveness.  The ashes I wear tonight are not a sign of showiness, but a witness that I am a sinner in need of forgiveness and the sign of the cross claims that through Jesus all sins are forgiven through faith.

“For dust you are and to dust you shall return.”
Genesis 3: 19

Take joy in this Lenten journey and be led by the Spirit of God. Wear comfortable shoes and gt some sleep. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Shrove Tuesday!  All is well here at 811. Tonight’s dinner was Sausage and Shrimp gumbo and Fried Cornbread with Bacon, Cheese and Whole Kernel Corn. Totally yummy! 

Dear God, Thank you for teaching me your will. Help me to stay so close to you that I always know I am doing what you want. Lord, It is my desire to follow you and I cannot imagine what I would do if I did not have you to cling to. I praise you for your faultless character and that I can always depend on you. Lord, you are wonderful. You plant my feet on the solid ground of your Word.  Help me to stay on the solid ground of faith and stay on the path you have set before me.  I love you Lord. In Jesus name, amen.

“What is God’s will for our lives?” (No, I do not have the answer.) But I think that we ask this question when it comes to making decisions.  When the decisions are really important we very often pray for God’s will to be done because we either do not want to disappoint God by not inviting Him into our decision making process or that we truly have surrendered this decision over to God and ask His guidance with the willingness to be obedient and accepting of the decision God has made. God wants us to be so close to Him that we walk confidently in His leadership. God is so powerful and yet so humble that He can lead us over the roughest roads and bumble enough to walk by our side. Sometimes it may seem as if we are walking in the mist like in Gone with the Wind always looking for our way. The good news is that God always knows the way. While we are seeking God’s will for our lives and travel the path with God, I firmly believe we are taught wisdom and we will continually be taught to be faithful. Listening to God is one of the most important things we can do. If we continue to listen and pray and act in obedience to God I think we may find that we are already walking the path God has meant for us.  It never fails that God and I journey through the season of Lent together.  I am sure there is a journey to be made during this season of Lent. I encourage you to embrace the journey, take joy in it and keep God very close as you walk. 

“Whenever you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear this command behind you, “This is the way. Walk in it.”
Isaiah 30: 21

Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Monday, March 3, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Monday!  BRRRR!!! To quote Bruce, “I am ready for this cold weather to end.”  Other than that al is well here at 811. 

Dear God, I do want to honor you. Examine me Lord, reveal the deep needs within me so that I can love you with my life. I thank you that even the inconceivable things are possible with you. Lord I enjoy your companionship. Help me Lord to hear your voice and receive your promises. Make sure I am fit inside and out so I never lose sight of your love and keep walking right beside you. I love you Lord. In Jesus name, amen.

This morning since I did not go to school I had a wonderful quiet time. The meditation was thoughtful, but the referenced scripture verse has been on my heart and mind all day. 

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.  Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope, when you were called—one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
Ephesians 4: 1-6

This letter of the apostle Paul offers instruction to all who are called to serve.  These instructions require that Christ dwell in our hearts and that all that are called to serve understand the extent of God’s work with Christ in our hearts.  With Christ in our hearts we are never apart from God and that putting the love of God into practice promotes Christian unity demanding that the Church reflect the love of God as found in Christ Jesus.  God wants us to live in ways that bring Him glory and give us pleasure. Delighting in the Lord needs to be our most joyful activity. There are many beautiful things in this world created by our loving and creative God, but God’s love outshines even this grand creation. This scripture passage spoke to me today and I am praying for the Holy Spirit to teach me its deeper meanings.  Be in prayer with me and I will be in prayer for you.

“The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”
Zephaniah 3: 17

Take joy in the journey remembering that faith, hope, prayer and praise do not disappoint.  Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you the meanings of God’s Word. Wear comfortable shoes, throw two extra blankets on the bed tonight and get some sleep.  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Blessed Sunday to you all!  All is well here at 811. This wonderful old house is a bit drafty, but we have gas heaters and we are staying warm and with someone I love.  My prayer for all of you is that you too are warm and with someone you love. 

Dear God, thank you that impossible situations are your specialty and that nothing is too hard for you. I count on your wonderful faithfulness.  I love you Lord. In Jesus name, amen.

The compassions of the Lord fail not for great is God’s faithfulness.  I am assured of this because my blessing reservoir is full to the brim.  It is because of these blessings that I am able to patiently wait for answers to prayers because I have entrusted all of my prayers, family, friends, dreams and desires into the care and keeping of God.  Garth Brooks sings a song about thanking God for unanswered prayers. I don’t think I agree with that piece of theology.  God is not a God to overlook even one of our prayers.  God loves us so very much. His love has no limits and is filled with compassion.  Even if we have prayers not yet answered by God we can trust in the great faithfulness of God and God’s perfect timing.  Another of God’s unfailing promises is God’s promise of peace.  This is the peace that passes all understanding replacing the troubles and fears we carry around.  My meditations offers tonight something I had never thought of before…while we are waiting for our prayers to be answered, God waits on us too. God waits until we are ready to receive the blessings, gifts and graces that have been prepared for each of us.  Perhaps that is the part where we get out of the way and making room for God to work in us and bless us. Waiting is pretty hard for us here on earth, but it sounds to me like waiting and preparing our hearts to receive God’s blessings are worth the wait.  God is good and love wins!

“Because of the LORD’S great love we are not consumed for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning, great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
Lamentations 3: 22-24

Take joy in the journey remembering that hope and God’s unfailing love never disappoints. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Wear comfortable shoes, throw two extra blankets on the bed and get some sleep. Dress warm and be safe going to work tomorrow. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene