Saturday, August 23, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Saturday!!  All is well here at 811. We had a second celebration of Bruce’s birthday tonight with the kids.  We had a wonderful time and Bruce has been so touch by the outpouring of birthday wishes he has received through cards and wishes on FB. It has kind of blown him away.  Thank you all so very much for your love and kindness.

The candle is lit…

Dear God, thank you for seeking me out no matter where I am or how far that is from you. Thank you for stretching my faith in you and making it real. Thank you for always loving me and comforting me in every circumstance.  Thank you Lord that your Word brings me comfort even when it is a difficult Word to accept. It is difficult when you tell me I must get out of the way so you can do your work. Sometimes trust is really hard, but you demand it to live an obedient life. So Lord, I trust a difficult situation to you and ask for your help to remain in your shadow because your instruction to me is to watch and see what you will do. Help me to practice spiritual trust and allow me to be witness to your promise to do immeasurably more that all I ask or imagine according the power of Jesus that is at work within each of us. I love you Lord, in Jesus’ name, amen.

As I have been a teacher all of my adult life I know the value of practice. In a classroom most children have to practice only so long before they have mastered a skill. Then they call upon that skill when the need arises. I wish it was that easy in our spiritual lives. I do not know about you, but I have to practice spiritual lessons every day and I am not sure I will ever master them. There are times I think I know most of what I need to know about faith or trust and then something happens to call those lessons into applications and what I have learned is really put to the test. My head knows just what I need to do and my mouth can say the words, but my heart doesn’t follow especially if it has been hurt, damaged or broken. 

I am so grateful that God does not give up on me and does not scold me, but continues to train me in the ways of spirituality. And God doesn’t give up on you either.  It is through spiritual training that the power of God through the Presence of the Holy Spirit strengthens us for the situations of today and prepares us for the situations to come.  So my friends let us claim the Word from Ephesians, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to his power (Not our power, His power) that is at work within us.”

“How blessed the man you train, God, the woman you instruct in your Word.”
Psalm 94: 12
“The Lord replied, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
Exodus 33: 14
Take joy in the journey praying and trusting as you go. Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep.  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Friday, August 22, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
TGIF Today God is First. And today is Bruce’s birthday.  We had an easy soup dinner tonight and his birthday cake for tonight was a piece of fudge from Gene Allen’s Hallmark Store.  Bruce was gracious and shared his fudge with Geni and I for dessert.  Taco Soup and fudge; not a bad dinner combination. Happy Birthday darlin’.

The candle is lit…

Dear God, You are truly faithful—as you were yesterday, you will be today and forevermore. Thank you that I can always trust your mighty, loving hand. I am never alone. Thank you Lord, for allowing Bruce one more birthday. Tonight’s celebration while simple was filled with joy. It was filled with the joy of Your Presence and your healing grace. Thank you loving Lord, in Jesus’ name, amen.

Cynthia Clawson sings a beautiful song titled, “It Won’t Rain Always.” It is one of my favorite of her pieces of music. Did you ever feel like (even in Texas) that the rain has not let up? About the time you get a handle on a situation another one crops up that is just as difficult or more difficult and you just want to say, “Come on Lord,  I need a break.” 

When we trustingly acknowledge God’s power and love for us, He pours His encouragement into our hearts.  Praying the prayer, “Lord, I need your help.”  I think of all of the prayers God must hear, this is the one He hears the loudest. This is the prayer that says, “I can no longer make the wrongs in my life right.  This situation is so hurtful I can no longer think clearly and I need some help. And my heart is so broken that the only love that can mend it is yours. I need your help.”  I think when we sincerely ask for help from God that God begins to work and move to bring us the help we need. Our cries for help usually come in a couple of ways. We need a change to be made or we are seeing peace in our souls.  But sometimes we just need to be reminded that we are loved with an everlasting love and that somehow all that is wrong will be made right.

So my friends, we must take heart and believe in a truly faithful God. The most difficult thing for us to do is to pray and stay out of the way so that God’s work may be done. So tonight let us be bold in our prayers. Let us walk into the throne room of grace and place ourselves on the mercy seat believing in this mighty, compassionate and loving God and simple in our language ask for the help God so wants to give and believe.

“Your throne , O Lord, has stood firm from time immemorial. You, yourself are from the everlasting past.
Psalm 93: 2
“Lord, your laws will stand forever. Your temple will be holy forever more.”’
                                                                                             Psalm 93: 5            

Take joy in the journey praying as you go. Kneel before God at the mercy seat and pray believing that God will answer and help. Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Thursday, August 21, 2014

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

The candle is lit…

Dear God, as I move through each day may it be known that I have been with you. How I need you, God! Thank you for being unchanging and wise. Thank you for always providing stability and strength to my life.  Lord, may I draw so close to you that the sweet fragrance of your love, joy and peace is found on me. Lord, may your presence in my life saturate each pore and thought so that I may be made fit for you your use in the kingdom. I love you Lord in Jesus’ name, amen.

I went to Bed, Bath and Beyond today. After making my purchases I walked to the car and two women parked near me said, “You smell wonderful.” I said, “thank you.” One of them said, “Clinique’s;  Happy?’  Yes, I was wearing Happy.  It is one of my favorite fragrances and the one I wear daily.  How interesting that a total stranger would recognize and remark with such a kind remark to another stranger.

People know when we have been with God because we made an effort to draw close to God. I believe it becomes obvious to others when we have spent time with God because we begin to take on some of the characteristics of God. The gifts of joy, love and peace give off the sweet fragrance of the love of Jesus and the kindness we have been shown. These are gifts we begin to naturally share and to pay forward. Just as my perfume announced my physical presence to those sweet ladies, the fragrance of God coming through our actions, voices and attitudes shows that not only have we spent time with God, but His sweet fragrance of beauty and holiness goes before us announcing His presence with the hope of drawing others into His presence as well.

So my friends, let us put on the love of God each day and may His sweet fragrance pervade the air with the lovely scents of peace and joy.  May others know that we have spent time with God.

“For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.”
2 Corinthians 2: 15

Take joy in the journey praying as you go and bringing with you to sweet fragrance of time spent with God. Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

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

The candle is lit…

Wonderful, merciful Savior precious redeemer and friend, You offer hope when our hearts have hopelessly lost their way. Counselor, comforter keeper, Spirit we long to embrace. You are the one that we praise. You are the one we adore. You give the healing and grace our hearts always hunger for. Lord everything I know, O God, I know because I love. The love I know is the love that you have given me freely from your great storehouse. Thank you for loving me in Jesus Christ. I love you Lord in Jesus’ name, amen.
Bruce and I have held hands our whole married life. We hold hands at the table after dinner, on the couch and especially when we sing side my side. And the best pictures that are ever taken of us are of us looking at each other and smiling. Our precious daughter thinks we are the cutest couple ever! We love each other and even after almost 34 years are still in love with each other. We have celebrated victories, given thanks for blessings, forgiven each other many times and not looked back.   I think one of the reasons our relationship through its many changes over the years has continued to always move forward is that we have stayed grounded in love for each other and God has always been present.  Tonight my meditation claims that the “quintessential ingredient to every good relationship is a servant’s heart, each person holding out the light of Christ for the other.” 

As I pondered that statement I thought about the relationship we have with God through Jesus. Jesus came to be servant to all. He modeled servanthood with each word he spoke whether he was teaching or preaching or talking in conversation.  He taught those twelve that while they were to become leaders in the Church through preaching that they must be models of servanthood and show the light of Christ to those they encountered. In other words Jesus told them to be Jesus for others.

I think that sometimes in our closest relationships we forget to have servant hearts and show the light of Christ in our daily life.  So my friends may we be reminded to  be the light of Christ to those closest to us through celebrating victories great or small, holding each other up in sadness or defeat and forgiving each other no matter what and not looking back. Follow the model of Christ the Great Servant. Be Jesus for each other.

“He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble. I will deliver him and honor him. With a long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.
Psalm 91: 15-16

Take joy in the journey praying as you go and loving those who walk with you with the light of Christ. Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep.  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Tuesday!  All is well here at 811. I spent the day with Geni in her classroom helping her set up. She has 17 bulletin boards and they all had to be covered. It was my first time to work in her room. It was interesting being the helper. She has helped me in my room for a long time. It was a joy, a very exhausting joy, but a joy none the less. She is going to have a wonderful year. 

Dear God, I do praise you! Thank you for giving me a positive attitude that I hope brings you glory.  Practicing praise strengthens me and brings me great joy.  Sometimes practicing praise is not very easy, but Lord you know I always try to find the blessing in the circumstance in which I find myself. Bless my family. Keep them healthy, happy and strong in their faith in you. Thank you Lord for the blessings of each new day. I love you Lord, in Jesus’ name, amen.

Yes, it is a late writing tonight. Each night before Bruce and I put head to pillow and turn out the light we have a brief devotional. There is a scripture and a reflection on that scripture. Last night the passage was from Isaiah 55 and it spoke of the mouth. It said basically that the words that come from our mouth will not come back empty and without succeeding in the matter for which it was sent.  I really pondered that statement for most of today. Here is what I believe that statement to me.  Isaiah knew he was called to be God’s mouthpiece and to speak God’s word to the people. He was “God ordained” as a prophet to fulfill a mission. He knew that in order for him to be faithful to God’s call on his life that he must surrender his mouth to God. The voice that God gave him must be returned back to God. 

As one who is seeking ordination in the ministry of Christ’s church then God’s plan for me is to carry his word to the people too. For me, those powerful words can be a song, a written word or the spoken word in sermon. But what I must remember is that the words do not belong to me. The words belong to God.  I believe that God wants us to practice praise. When we surrender our mouths to the One who has given us voice then praise should be easy …right?  Well,  most of the time yes, and then sometimes no. I call it the practice of praise. I believe we do what we practice. If we practice praise then praise comes a little easier and we can help others to find ways to praise. Practicing praise strengthens us and brings us joy.  But, if we practice complaint we will be controlled by defeat and sadness. 

Practicing praise is not silly na├»ve fluffy words with no foundation. Practicing praise is claiming the unfailing love of God in our lives and his faithfulness forever. So my friends find ways to praise. My Mamo never said an unkind word about anyone in her precious life, but I am pretty sure if she were asked about Satan she would have said, “Well, he is persistent.”  God is good and love wins!

“Lord Most High! It is wonderful and each morning to tell about your love and at night to announce how faithful you are.”
Psalm 92: 1-2
“You make me so happy God. I saw  your work and I shouted for joy. How magnificent your work, God! How profound your thoughts.”
Psalm 92: 4-5

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

Monday, August 18, 2014

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

The candle is lit…

Dear God, thank you for the resurrection power in each day and for the power of the challenge.  Lord, I continue to place my trust in you with each new day. Lord, I count on your faithfulness, unfailing love and unending storehouse of hope.  Thank you that you are always present to protect and continue to bring me into a state of wholeness through your forgiving grace.  I love you Lord and thank you for loving me. In Jesus’ name, amen.

The scripture verse tonight speaks of baptism. In baptism we hear God’s loving invitation to die to our sins and are raised to newness of life. And in this new life we are given new opportunities.  We are given the opportunity to experience inexpressible joy through the forgiveness of our sins.  Paul does not mean not a physical burial and resurrection that the verse from Colossians speaks of but erasing the record of our sins and allowing us to live a resurrected life. This new life does not mean we are perfect and will not be sinners anymore.  It does mean that Jesus carries our sins to the Father and pleads for our forgiveness and we are forgiven! We continue to walk the path of grace and live a resurrected life.  We have been given the new opportunity each day to walk a resurrected life because we put our faith in the resurrected Christ.  Here is the great opportunity we are given. Our response to this gift of abundant grace is that God sends us out in the name of Jesus Christ as one who believes that life in Christ is stronger than death.

“When you were baptized, it was the same as being buried with Christ. Then you were raised to life because you had faith in the power of God.”
Colossians 2: 12
“If you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is.”
Colossians 3: 1
Take joy in the journey praying as you go. Remember your baptism and make each day a new opportunity to tell someone what Christ has done in your life and what Christ can do for them.  Christ is counting on each of us. Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Blessed Sunday to you all!  All is well here at 811. Blessed is just how I feel tonight.  I was witness to a reawakening of the Church this afternoon.  Four amazing young men attended a Via deCristo weekend. These are four young men I have watched grow from teenagers of faith to men of faith ready to take their place as spiritual leaders in the Church of Jesus Christ.  Through wonderful worship and sincere testimonies of the love and grace of God in their lives I think the church is in good hands. 

The candle is lit…

Dear God, in your love my arms are open wide to other people. In you, we have much in common. I know you won’t ever let me down. Today you have led me to the answers to a persistent prayer. I know you are faithful. I think you were just waiting for me to get out of the way and open my heart to listen. I am at peace with the decisions I have made today. Thank you. Lord, help me to keep my spirit open to your strong voice and faithful leading. I love you Lord, In Jesus’ name, amen.

I attended a Via deCristo closing service this afternoon.  I participated in worship on the music team. I reconnected with friends both laity and clergy.  Some of these friends are without ministry positions or their ministries are about to come to a close. I wonder if they thought where is God in all of this closure and where do they go from here.  I have experienced those thoughts and frankly I have wondered why those ministry doors are not opening up.  I have received a lot of “The position has been filled.” 

Well, I believe that God is still in the same place He has always been.  And perhaps the enormity of this year and the trials we have suffered and are winning victory over, are the place new beginnings are to start. God has not failed any of us, nor has He been absent. We just have not seen the wide screen and the plans have not yet been fully revealed.  I believe with assurance that God makes all of our circumstances work together for our good—even waiting.  After today I know  there are  ministry opportunities waiting out there for me.  Ministry is furthering the cause of Christ.  It is carrying the gospel to people at the point of their deepest need.  It is to share the love of Christ to those who are easy to love and those who are not easy to love. Perhaps this is the bigger picture I have been missing.  God thinks big and I have been thinking very narrowly. So my friends, I intend to hang on God and trust that God is working all of these things out.   God is good and love wins.

“To you, a thousand years is like the passing of a day, or like a few hours in the night.”
Psalm 90: 4
“Give us gladness in proportion to our former misery! Replace the evil years with good. Let us, your servants, see you work again; let our children see your glory.”
Psalm 90: 15-16
Take joy in the journey praying as you go listening for God’s voice. Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep. Love you lots, Bruce and Gaylene