Saturday, May 24, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Saturday!  All is well here at 811. 

Dear God, thank you for setting me free. I will live with my head held high—being the best me I can be for your glory. Lord, I think the fatigue from the radiation is beginning. I know there are things that I must still do during the day. So Lord, when I am weary let me rest in you. When I rest in you, I am close to your power which becomes my strength for life.  I pray for energy that comes from you so when I rest, may I be renewed with the energy that only you can give. Become strong in me Lord even when my body is tired. I love you Lord. In Jesus name, amen.

I began my first yoga lessons today. The video I purchased begins with a demonstration of some of the different poses used in yoga exercise. This demonstration took about an hour. I must admit I was really glad I was alone as I attempted this for the first time. Some of the poses I could accomplish and some are going to need a great deal of practice.  But when I finished even though I was pretty rough and I felt pretty good about completing the demonstration. I was not perfect or even close, but I felt pretty good about my efforts. The thing is I got up, rolled up my purple mat, corrected my posture and “held my head high.”

In my daily quest to not be held captive by cancer,  my efforts today helped me to begin to become free of cancer and move into a more healing frame of mind. Doing something I have never before considered doing has inspired me to better myself in spite of cancer, radiation and fatigue.  I am refusing to let this disease and the treatments for its cure to oppress or hurt my spirit. It is new disciplines that gives me hope and will (forgive the pun) stretch me to begin something new. So even though I do not even begin to look like the woman demonstrating on my DVD I still finished with my “head held high” secure in the knowledge that I can do this.

And when I am so very tired and do not want to do anything I know God will give me rest that will sustain me. Whether my exhaustion is physical, spiritual and/or emotional, in rest I know God becomes stronger and hopefully in my weakness God will use me for his glory.

“He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths bringing honor to his name.”
Psalm 23: 3
“I have set you free; now walk with your head held high.”
Leviticus 26: 13
Take joy in the journey and when you are tired rest in God so that he may strengthen and sustain you. I ask tonight for your prayers for my good friend Nathan Russell who is being ordained tomorrow. Ask God to bless him into the ministry of Christ. Wear comfortable shoes, get some sleep and think pink!  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Friday, May 23, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
TGIF  Today God is First!  All is well here at 811. I think I experienced my first bout with fatigue today. It sort of came on all at once.  So I took myself to my glider in my office and napped for a while and felt much better upon awakening.  No skin changes yet, but they said that might now happen until about two weeks. Today was day 7 and I do not have another treatment until Tuesday.

Dear God, how wonderful that I get to see you. Help me to be disciplined so that I’ll be prepared when I meet you face to face. I praise you that you are always mightier than any situation I am going through. Thank you for helping me and for leading me to victory. I love you Lord. In Jesus name, amen.

Tonight Bruce and I attended a Walk to Emaus Gathering. It is a worship service attended by those who have been on a Walk to Emaus or other similar three day event and any guests who want to attend. We did not get home until after 9: 30 and I had just about decided not to write tonight. But I sat down to my computer and opened my devotional book and you know what happened. The theme of the devotional writing tonight was about being disciplined and further it spoke about having a goal and a “great high calling.”  It seemed to me that God was once again  saying that even though it was late that I needed to meditate and reflect on the scriptures for May 23. It was sort of a “call to arms” for me tonight.

I do have a goal. My goal is to be ordained into the ministry of Jesus Christ. Becoming an ordained pastor is what I believe I have been called by God and set apart for service as a representative of the Church. The prophets and disciples searched out the details of the Messiah and were constantly looking for signs of his coming.  They did this so that when they did meet the Messiah they would be ready. This is really not a lot different for us with one great exception…we know who Messiah is and we know how to prepare for His return. We are empowered by the Holy Spirit to study the life of Jesus and given the gift of prayer. We can discipline ourselves to read the Holy Scriptures and faithfully pray in order to have a relationship with Him.  The good news is that when we discipline ourselves to study,  God is with us to help us understand what we are reading and how to act on it. And when we pray on that sacred Word we find the mighty and powerful Spirit of God as it guides our lives from day to day. 

I am ready to add one more discipline to my daily study. I must study and meditate on potential questions for the interviews to come. I must discipline myself to look at these questions through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the grounding of the Word and calling on many of the things I learned while in seminary. But mostly I pray to discern God’s will in all of these things and be willing to do all of these things in His time.  I pray that I am disciplined enough to be equal to the task.

Get your minds ready for action, being self-disciplined, and let your hope be completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
1 Peter 1: 13
“You are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
1 Peter 1: 9
Take joy in the journey listen to God. Wear comfortable shoes, get some sleep and think pink!  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Thursday!  All is well here at 811.  Check off day 6 with 28 to go. In this process of recovery from breast cancer I read a lot about how to better take care of myself. I have been eating better, trying to go to bed a little earlier and now I am going to add some exercise.  In the reading I have done much of it recommends yoga. So today I purchased a yoga mat, gripper socks and a DVD of Yoga for Beginners. I plan to begin to learn yoga. Wish me luck and pray that I do not find myself in the shape of a pretzel. 

Dear God, It is hard to understand all you have done for me, but i am so thankful that you understand me perfectly.  Thank you for always being ready to help me. Please increase my wisdom by continually reminding me to seek you.  I love you Lord. In Jesus name, amen.

I have continued to ponder the image of Jesus that I received on the first day of my treatment. In this pondering I have asked myself how can a God who is limitless in power, wisdom, and love understand what it is like to live in our world?  God created this world and in its fallen nature does God really know and understand how frightening and sometimes frustrating it can be?  I received the answers to these questions in thinking on the cross of Calvary and the man Jesus hanging there. Jesus hung there filling the expanse between God and me (all of us.) Because of Jesus life here on earth and His suffering death on the cross Jesus completely understands and out of His limitless love and tender mercies mediates our joys, sorrow, gladness, fears, pain and suffering. As difficult as that image was for me to comprehend laying there on that table I realize it was a gift of grace given to me in my hour of need. In that moment Jesus shared His suffering with me in deep understanding and compassion with mine.

I pray for wisdom a lot. To be truly wise is to seek God in every situation. Each day when I lay on that table in a pretty vulnerable state and surrender myself over to the hands of the radiation experts I pray to see the face of God and ask for calmness of spirit and endurance for the task.  God is always there to help and once again I am given the gift of grace in the Presence of God.

“It was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us…so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God.”
Hebrews 2: 17
“In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering.”
Hebrews 2: 10
Take joy in the journey and seek God in every situation. Wear comfortable shoes, get some sleep and think pink.  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Wednesday!  All is well here at 811.  Day 5 down 29 to go! I had a wonderful post- graduation  and pre-ordination lunch with my dear friend Nathan Russell today. He will be ordained this coming Sunday afternoon.  The food was delicious, the conversation wonderful and the spirit of Christian friendship permeated the air.  And…the French press coffee was perfect!

Dear God, You have done astounding things. I praise you that not one word of your promises has  ever failed.  Thank you for helping me. I trust you, remaining confident that you will transform all things for the furthering of your life in me and your glory.  I claim the scripture  “I will always thank God for what he has done; I will praise his good name when his people meet.” (Ps. 52: 9) I love you Lord. In Jesus name, amen.

Have you ever been promised something and the promise did not pan out? I think all of us have had this happen.  Promises made my man are not always kept, but promises made by God are always kept. Our problem is that we tend to put an end date as to when God’s promises are supposed to be come true. I think about Abraham. He was over a hundred years old when God promised him many children and that they would have a land of their own. Well he did produce offspring. He also tried to hurry that promise along by having a child by Hagar and we all know how that turned out! The Hebrew children did have a land of their own, but only after a 400 year captivity in Egypt.  When they finally arrived in the Promised Land they realized that God had kept His promise in His time and when they were ready to receive the promise in its full breadth.  God has pledged some pretty amazing things and his record on promise keeping is without fail.

So my friends, if we are experiencing circumstances in which we are really frustrated and the path we are going seems to be going counter to promises God has made, we must remember with faith and hope that God will work out everything in His time. When we are ready to receive His promises in full measure the promise will be kept.

“Not a word failed of any good thing which the Lord had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.”
Joshua 21: 43
“It is the Lord your God who fights for you, just as he promised you. Be very careful, therefore to love the Lord your God.”
Joshua 23: 10-11

Take joy in the journey and trust in God’s faithful love forever and ever. Wear comfortable shoes, get some sleep and think pink!  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Tuesday!  All is well here at 811. Day 4 and 30 to go.

Dear God, I want your counsel and acknowledge that your wisdom is far greater than my own. Teach me your magnificent ways. You have given me a teachable heart and a powerful desire to learn. Lord, you have modeled godly character and I ask that you lead me to model godly character through knowledge of you in your word and the love in your heart. Help me not to be discouraged when I do not understand or when I miss the mark. Lord, may I honor you always by loving others the way I have been loved by you.  I love you Lord. In Jesus name, amen.

I love to learn. Each day when I would go to seminary, or go to the library and seek sources for papers to be written or listened to the brilliant minds of the professors in my classes I took great joy in what I was able to learn. There were times that the teaching went over my head and then there were the times that I understood and could embrace the knowledge that I was being taught. And I must be very honest, I truly expected each time I walked into a classroom to be taught. It was my desire to learn the subject matter and then apply it to not only the papers and class discussion, but to my own life in some way. I was prepared to accept that the knowledge of the professor was superior to mine and would impart that knowledge to me.

If we desire to be taught by God then we must be willing to accept that the wisdom and knowledge of God is superior to ours. When we accept God’s counsel we have met the requirements for Him to teach us as students of the Word and practicers of faith. When we open our souls to hear the voice of God He will show us His purposeful course.  Our humbleness is the faithful action we take to listen to God’s voice and receive the teaching of the Almighty.  “Take my yoke upon you and learn of me…”

“He leads the humble in what is right, and the humble He teaches His way.”
Psalm 25:9
“Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.”
Psalm 25: 5

Take joy in the journey and spend time learning from the Master Teacher. Wear comfortable shoes, get some sleep and think pink.  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Monday, May 19, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Monday!  All is well here at 811.  Day 3 checked off and 31 to go.

Dear God, I want to know you more each day and to trust you in all of the events in my life. Help me to be vulnerable so that I can experience you fully in all of the situations in my life.  I am not asking for suffering I just want to remember to see you and trust in your loving presence in all of my ways and all of my days.  Only the deepest longings of my heart can be filled by you. When I read scripture I learn about you, but Lord, when I pray I come to know you. I love you Lord and thanks for remaining with me. In Jesus name, amen.

Last Thursday I was prepped to receive radiation. I was not emotionally prepared for what was about to happen. I was not prepared for the feeling of extraordinary vulnerability I felt during that hour flat on my back with my arms up and behind my head and with strict orders not to move except to breathe. My arms had begun to cramp, my back was cramping and my fingers had long since gone numb. The pain was very intense and increasing with each moment. Sometime during that hour of prayer I prayed to just see the face of Jesus. (Be careful for what you pray.)  This is the image I received. It was the image of Jesus on the cross with His arms stretched out on that cross piece and the look of agony on his face was almost unbearable. At my most vulnerable I saw Jesus at His most vulnerable. I thought of His anguish far greater than mine. Here’s the thing…Jesus shared that He understood my pain and vulnerability through His own pain and vulnerability. God, in the image I was given, wanted me to live in total trust and in the suffering of Christ how very real Christ really is. Jesus remained with me sharing a very personal moment and I came to understand and know my Lord and Savior more. Perhaps it is when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable that we experience Him fully and just maybe as Jesus and I shared this holy time and intimate moment I think I experienced joy in the living presence of God.

“I admit I once lived by rumors of you; now I have it all firsthand—from my own eyes and ears!
Job 42: 5
“I will see him for myself, and I long for that moment.”
Job 19: 27
Take joy in the journey praying to know Christ more. Wear comfortable shoes, get some sleep and think pink!  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Sunday, May 18, 2014

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

Dear God, Thank you for valuing me so greatly. Please help me to endure the heat in my life so I can truly shine for you.  Thank you for accepting me and handling my life with gentleness and kindness. I am willing and eager to me be obedient and to be molded into one who is fit for your service. I do not promise to be perfect Lord, but I will do as you ask and serve as the Holy Spirit leads. I love you Lord. In Jesus name, amen.

I love watching the snippets of the shows that show refiners in their craft o refining gold and silver.  The solid mass of raw metal is heated to hottest of fires until it is melted enough to separate the pure metal from the impurities. There is also a wonderful narration in the old Ten Commandments movie with Charleton Heston as he has been exiled from Egypt and walks across the desert to Midian. During that 40 day walk the narrator compares the journey of Moses to the refining process; driving the idolatry mindset from Moses and causing him to seek to serve the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; the living God.  God even tells Moses his name, I AM.

I don’t think that God asks us to cross burning deserts on foot armed with a staff and a day’s ration of bread and water, but I do believe that God does make us ready for service through our everyday living. We do not have victories every day. In fact some days we might classify as epic failures and some days our hearts are broken. The good news for us is that God has compassion for us when we fail and treats our wounded spirits with love and tender mercies. Sometimes our lives are very heated with the pressures of each day. When we offer the pressures and heated moments in our lives over to God I believe God begins to reshape us into servants to be sent out to be His loving representatives.  And here is something to ponder…perhaps when these daily pressures of life occur we need to think that God looks upon us with such great value that He has allowed us to be refined by fire and made fit for the highest service.  Just a thought…

“I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined and will test them as gold is tested.”
Zechariah 13: 9

Take joy in the journey and be willing to be reshaped for God’s highest use. Wear comfortable shoes, get some sleep and think pink!  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene