Saturday, August 2, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Saturday!  All is well here at 811. Bruce is beginning to rehab our middle bedroom and turn it into a room for our little goddaughter. I am going to be keeping her for a while when her Mom goes back to work and her Dad continues his rotations for medical school. The first task is to empty the room and then pull up ancient carpet before the new flooring goes down and the paint goes up.  Pray for Bruce as he works against the clock to have the room ready. And as for me, I began putting together a resume for chaplain positions today and created a business card. So as long as you are praying for one Chrystie, would you be so kind to pray for one more. Thank you all.

Dear God, thank you for all the ways I know that you love me with an everlasting love. Forgive me when I doubt. Thank you for your blessing when I remember to trust you first. Please transform the way I think so I won’t worry and be anxious, but always hope in you. I know your message to me is peace and the reminder of your unfailing love and ever present grace. Help Bruce and I as our lives move forward into new stages, new adventures with you leading us.  Give us the strength, perseverance and faith to live into your plans. I love you Lord, in Jesus’ name, amen.

The scripture passage for tonight comes from one of my most favorite stories in the gospels. It comes from the story of the woman at the well.  It speaks of the love that Jesus has for this woman. He loved her so much that He identified Himself to her. (I personally think that it is so cool that the first person to whom Jesus identifies himself is an unnamed woman.) The stories of the unnamed women hold great fascination for me. These women have great courage, were usually outcasts and when they encountered Jesus they realized possibilities, blessings and received the greatest love of all from the very source of perfect love; God. They may not have understood this love at first, but as they continued to be in conversation with Jesus they began to know that it was God who loved them so completely.  Jesus spoke these words to the woman at the well, “If you only knew the gift God has for you…” this outcast woman then know without any doubt or question of God’s great love for her.  Jesus told  everything about herself, forgave her and freed her from her past allowing her to live into a future knowing what it really meant to be loved. 

What would it take for each of us to realize this great love that God has for each of us?  Just askin’…

“If you only knew the gif God has for you, and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”
John 4: 10
I know the one I have faith in, and I am sure that he can guard until the last day when he has trusted me with.”
2 Timothy 1: 12

Take joy in the journey praying as you go  living and breathing the great love God has for us in Jesus. Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep.  See you in church. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Friday, August 1, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
TGIF today God is first! And Happy August!  All is well here at 811. Tonight I prepared lobster macaroni and cheese.  I only made half of the recipe to lower the cost and there are only two of us. (tons of leftovers!) I have seen it all over the Food Network and when I found cooked lobsters on sale at Kroger I thought it was time.  It is (was) really delicious.  I am anxious to find out how it tastes reheated for leftovers.  Perhaps tomorrows lunch with a salad…

August:  “Don’t ever stop thinking about what is truly worthwhile and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4: 8

Dear God, You have a name I can call on for everything I need. You know all things. Please help me to understand your Word and your will for me. Encourage me according to my deepest need. Lord you are so good and your mercies endure forever.  Thank you for your Word that speaks to me when I am in need of comfort, guidance, encouragement and affirmation. Thank you for your promises of strength that are needed to overcome the struggles in this life. And Lord, thank you for the hope and comfort that you give each day.  Lord, Travis and Sarah will travel tomorrow to New Braunfels I ask for travel mercies and a wonderful weekend as they celebrate Geni’s birthday and worship with Carme.  I love you Lord, in Jesus’ name, amen.

One of the questions that is a possibility at an ordination interview is “Who is and what if anything do we know about God?”  When I ponder this question the first thing that comes to mind is “I AM.”  It is the name that God identified himself to Moses at the burning bush.  God means different things at different times in our lives. My devotion tonight offers some of the names of God. These names are a direct response to the ways God can help us. “When we need God’s healing touch call on Jehovah-Rapha, the Lord your healer.  When you are confused about something call on Jehovah-Shalom, the Lord your peace. When you are short of energy or your finances are in bad shape, call on Jehovah-Raah, the Lord your provider.” But I think this is my favorite is “Jehovah-Nissi.” Call on this name of God when the energy level is low or we are down in the dumps and having trouble getting excited about anything. This name means, “the Lord your banner.”  When we call on this name of God we are simply asking God to be present with us and to fill us with His Holy Spirit giving us strength, joy and a renewed spirit.  I believe the banner over us is the love of God.

So my friends whatever name you use to call on God and if these Hebrew names are not memorable the good news is that God is our God . Call on Him and he will not only show up, but will answer. God is good and love wins.

“God said to Moses, I AM WHO I AM.”  He said further, ‘Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I AM has sent me to you.”
Exodus 3: 14
Take joy in the journey praying as we go. Calling on the name(s) of God and claiming His banner of love over us. Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep.  Love you, Bruce and Gaylene

Thursday, July 31, 2014

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

The candle is lit…

Dear God, thank you for answering my prayers. Thank you for helping me to be quiet at times when I would really like to talk. When I am quiet I hear the Holy Spirit speak and know that You are going to  speak through me or to me. Thank you for being my advocate and always on the side of those who believe in You. Because we are your creation and out of your great love for us I know you are always in favor of us who love you so very much.  Thank you Lord. I love you Lord. In Jesus’s name, amen.

I John 2: 1 “If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” How awesome it is that Jesus advocates for us before God the Father and Creator of us all when we are in need. According to scripture Jesus advocates for us when we ask forgiveness and have sinned. Jesus speaks to God of His great love for us asking God to forgive us or help us. I don’t think God denies Jesus anything.  As I read this scripture I am greatly encouraged when Jesus speaks to God about us, Jesus speaks in favor of us and pleads our case before the God of heaven and earth. That is what an advocate does. An advocate is one who argues in favor of a person, a group of people or a cause. When we cannot utter our deepest sins, heartbroken sorrows or greatest needs,  Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit advocates for us.  To put it simply, Jesus has our back! God believes in us and is our assurance and is on our side giving us the courage to tackle whatever challenges life brings to us. This does not mean that the storms of life will stop, but that we will survive the storm.  We are never alone because God is at our side and on our side. God is good and love wins!

“O God, do not keep silent, be not quiet, O God be not still.”
Psalm 81: 1
Make glad the soul of Your servant, for to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. For You, Lord, are good and ready to forgive, and abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You.”
Psalm 86: 4-5
Take joy in the journey praying as you go and remember you are never alone. Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep.  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Wednesday!  All is well here at 811. Today was National Cheesecake Day!  I met two wonderful friends at Cheesecake Factory today for lunch and a slice of their delicious cheesecake. Red Velvet is my favorite. Suffice it to say that the place was packed with at line out the door to have a half-price slice of their delectable specialty. 

The candle is lit…

Dear God, I praise you for all the good things you give me. And Lord, even if I can’t hear you. I trust you. Thank you for your exemplary character and for continuing to work on my behalf.  Lord, I thank you so much for great friends that are people of faith and courage and great love. I pray a special prayer for Carme tonight as she begins to clean out some of David’s things. It is such a hard step and it may not be an easy time for her tomorrow. Thank you that Geni will be there to help her.  I know there will be laughter and tears as they remember, share and move forward. Thank you Lord, for giving us only one direction…forward.  I love you Lord. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Tonight Bruce and I watched the movie Noah with Russell Crowe.  It was a bit quirky and Hollywoody, but also had some points to ponder. In the movie Noah had a crisis of faith and most likely the original Noah had a crisis of faith. One of the questions tonight’s Noah asked God (the Creator), “Why won’t you answer me?” And he did not just ask this question, he shouted this question to the heavens in an angry impassioned voice.  Noah sought the instructive voice of the Creator and the voice was silent.

Do we ever ask God for His voice and we get silence in return?  Sure we do. But here is what I think.  God does not speak to us until two things are in alignment; first, He is ready to speak and second, we are ready to listen and follow. While the silences of God are pretty difficult for us, it is in those times of silence that our faith grows. It is in those times of silence that we are to stay on the path always going forward as we have been instructed without any encouragement for an outside source.  The good news for us is that we can depend on the trustworthiness of God and lean on His unfailing love and unmerited grace. I believe that in the silences God continues to work on our behalf preparing the next leg of the journey and the twists, turns or straight paths it leads.  We can also take heart that we will always be moving forward.  And when God and we are ready we will hear His voice very clearly. 

“O God, do not  keep silent, do not be still, do not be quiet!
Psalm 83: 1
They will know that you are the LORD, that only you are God Most High over all the earth.”
Psalm 84
Take joy in the journey praying as you go and always facing forward. Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Tuesday!  All is well here at 811.  What a wonderful day! First the weather was amazing. Next a sweet young couple, the best man a Travis’ and Sarah’s wedding and his lovely wife delivered a beautiful healthy, perfect son. And finally to end our day, we met our nephew who lives in North Carolina at the airport for a brief time. We had dinner from Jason’s Deli on top of luggage overturned luggage crates used as a table, eating in the floor and catching up as quickly as possible before his connecting flight. It was a wonderful day! Please pray for this new little family and for a safe flight for our nephew as he heads for Seattle.

Dear God, whatever I can do to deepen my life in you is a great and rich blessing. I ask you to help me understand scripture more, to increase my prayer life, to help others and to worship with my whole being.  Thank you for this new little life in Ryder Watson.  Help his Mom and Dad to teach him and be taught by you how to be his parents. As they learn to love this little one may their love for each other increase and may they find a new and renewed awareness of your presence in their lives. Thank you Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.

One of my favorite moves is Evan Almighty.  It is a modern day story of Noah.  Noah’s (Evan’s) family leaves him due to the pressure of the ark being built over 28 lots in their neighborhood. God played by Morgan Freeman shows up at the diner where Evan’s wife and sons have stopped for dinner. In their conversation God makes some pretty powerful theological statements. God (Morgan Freeman) tells Mrs. Noah that when you ask for patience God does not zap you with patience. God gives you something in which you learn patience.  I you ask God to bring you closer together as a family God does not zap you with loving, caring thoughts about your family. God puts you on a journey that will cause the closeness of your family to be forever bonded.  Neither of these things happens quickly, but slowly and over a period of time. 

When we ask for spiritual growth we need to help that growth along with God guiding us along the way. We can only grow spiritually as far as we are willing to work in the spiritual areas of prayer, worship, service and study. When we put these acts of piety into our lives we grow spiritually because this is how we learn about God. When we nurture these acts of prayer, service, study and worship God will flourish them in our lives and our relationship with God grows.  When we put these disciplines into practice in our daily lives the choices we make and the goals we set become well defined in the will of God. Determined intentionality, disciplined practice is a vital to our spiritual growth and growing in relationship with God.

“Jesus said, ‘My Father has never stopped working, and that is why I keep on working.”
John 5: 17
Take joy in the journey praying as you go. Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Monday, July 28, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Monday!  All is well here at 811. My writing is starting a bit late tonight. Bruce and I watched two of the DVD’s from our vacation. The ship records events on a day by day basis and then compiles them on DVD’s for sale.  They were wonderful.

Dear God, by your plan and power I grow toward the goals you set for me. There are times it is hard to imagine how you will meet all of the needs in my life, but you always meet each need in your time and your way. Your provision is always perfect in time and execution. Lord, thank you for the blessings of the past, the blessings of today and the blessings to come. Help me to not move faster than your plans allow even though my anxious heart is ready it is your plan and your timing that I seek. I love you Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.

I was blessed with a Mom who was so very wise. She would never admit to this attribute. She was the salutatorian of her high school graduating class and when going through her things shortly after her passing I found her speech. It was typed on 3 x 5 cards and edited by her hand in red pen.  One of the statements in her speech was that the best things in life never happen quickly. 

I think about that statement when I am anxious about beginning a life in the ministry. I think about her wisdom as I prepare for ordination interviews and have gained a better understanding of the spacing between the interviews.  In both of these instances I must live into the calling upon my life. These are growing processes.  I taught for enough years to know that growing like learning is stumbliness and stumbliness of goodness.  But I guess as long as I stumble forward then I am still going in the right direction. Forward is the only direction to which we are called. 

Our relationships with God are times of growing and learning. It takes time to develop a loving, caring and strong relationship with God. The relationship that is developing is one that will endure and persevere in all things. It takes time to understand how God speaks and how to speak to God.  It takes time and prayer to understand how God makes His will, purpose and plan known to us.  And then it takes patient, faithful belief to wait on God.  My meditation tonight says, “God is a long-range planner.”  God’s long-range plans last over a life time and into eternity.  So my friends, let us hang in there and trust that God has all of this under control and try to get some sleep.  God is good and love wins!

“Oh that my people would listen…I would feed you with the finest of wheat, and with honey from the rock. I would satisfy you.” (Do you suppose God says this every day!)
Psalm 81: 13, 16

Take joy in the journey praying as you go and listen to what God has to say.  Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Blessed Sunday to you all!  All is well here at 811.  Bruce and I spent the afternoon at Walmart in the Photo Center printing pictures of our Alaskan vacation.  We both printed collages to get more pictures for a bit less money. I finally began to go just a bit bleary- eyed and stopped after a while.  I am almost finished.  I also was a witness/participant to excellent worship services today. I love being double blessed!  I would also ask you to pray for a woman who waits on me at the office supply store where I ship. She has cancer that has metastasized throughout her body. She is receiving chemotherapy with the goal to get the tumors to an operable size. Her attitude is first rate and she has lots of family and work support.  And she is in need of our prayers.  Thank  you.

And the candle has been lit…

Dear God, It is by hope that I long for your presence and by faith that I come into it. Lord, it is by faith that  I came into relationship with you. Your faith which is far greater than mine is the love that eternally binds You and I together. Because of Your great faith and the gift of faith you offered at the moment of my salvation nothing can separate me from your love and grace. My hope is continually in you. I am so very grateful.  Thank you Lord. I love you Lord. In Jesus name, amen.

I heard the most wonderful children’s message this morning.  The scripture passage was from Romans 8: 39, “…nor any created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Followed by the brief parable of the leaven. Matthew 13: 33, “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened.”   The children’s minister had some flour in a bowl and added yeast.  She stirred the yeast into the flour very well and then handed it to a child with these instructions, “take out the yeast.”  The child replied, “I can’t.” (this is going to find its way into a sermon someday!)

WOW!  What a perfect demonstration of the love of God . Our relationship with God is founded on faith. It is faith that brings us closer to God. It is faith that binds us to God and it is faith that makes us align our purpose according to God’s purpose for us. It is faith that in prayer that takes our needs, desires, groans, joys and victories and in turn carries God’s power to us. It is faith that brings us to God and brings God to us. In this most intimate of relationships as we faithfully come into the presence of this loving and faithful God taking him at his word as he speaks to us. God’s faith in us is unshakable even through our failures and shortcomings. Faith first enters our heads when we believe and makes its way to our hearts opening the eyes of our souls and just like the flour and yeast nothing can separate us from the love of God.

“To have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see.”
Hebrews 11: 1
Take joy in the journey praying as we go. Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep.  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene