Saturday, September 20, 2014

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

The candle is lit…

Dear God, open my ears so I may her when you come near to lead me in your way. I want to know you better. I want to know you not just so I can receive your blessings and gifts, but also so I can truly know and enjoy you more. You are my peaceful place of refuge.  Thank you for the amazing work you did in the prison today. Thank you that you have given those who many deem outside the realm of your love forgiven lives and lives of abundance because they know you and are in Your Presence. Thank you Lord. I love you Lord, in Jesus name, amen.

I love the story of blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10: 46-52) Bartimaeus was the blind beggar who called out to Jesus twice from his spot on the road. He called, “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me.” And once again, in an even louder voice, “Son of David, have mercy on me.” Then Jesus asks one of his disciples to “Call him.”  The unnamed disciple calls and says, “Take heart. Get up. He is calling you.”  The next sentence says he immediately sprang up and throwing off his cloak and went to Jesus.

This story is important in the book of Mark because it closes out Jesus’ ministry in Galilee and it is the last healing story in Mark’s narrative. This story also points the way to Jerusalem as the next chapter begins with Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem .One of the key words in Mark is the word, “immediately.”  Things move fast in Mark.

I don’t know if Bartimaeus had called out frequently as other rabbis passed by, but this time one answered back. When the disciple called him over to Jesus, Jesus asked him “What do you want me to do for you.”  Bartimaeus replies “Restore my sight.”  That leads me to think that Bartimaeus could see in his past.  Jesus restores the sight of Bartimaeus and tells him to go home. But Bartimaeus in his amazement, his gratitude and belief in in Jesus did not go home.  He followed Jesus.  Bartimaeus followed Jesus, a man he had never met, in faith not fear. He knew in his heart that he belonged to Jesus. He had felt Jesus healing touch and could see where Jesus was going determined to follow him there. There meant Jerusalem.  Bartimaeus was a man who had lost his way. He made it to the road and stopped. Jesus heals his sight and now he understood that Jesus was the way and now it was his way also.

So tonight’s question…How do we respond to the call of Jesus to follow? Are we blinded by our weaknesses or are we faith-filled enough to allow Jesus to restore our sight and strengthen us to follow Him in discipleship?  See you in church!

“Jesus said to him,’ Go your way; your faith has made you well.’ And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.”
Mark 10: 52
Take joy in the journey praying as you go in faith to follow the way of Jesus. Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Friday, September 19, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
TGIF Today God is First! All is well here at 811. Fervent prayers are being asked this night and in the days and nights to come for our friend Amber. She is very ill and in the hospital in Plano. She had a kidney biopsy and she and family are waiting on results. 

Dear God, you are always ready to come and make your presence known to us. Our friend Amber and her family need your calming voice in their troubled hearts.  Please help them. We are praising you because you will bring peace and strength to Amber, her husband Ben and family members. I pray for healing for Amber and a complete turnaround on the health issues she is having. Lord, your love is unfailing and your mercies are unending and new each day. I love you Lord, in Jesus’ name, amen.

Tonight I am writing with thoughts of our friends Rhonda and David, the mother and step dad to our friend Amber who is so very ill. I remember when Casey was diagnosed it was like an explosion and there was no time to really think or process what was going on in our lives and in the life and body of our son.  What I do remember doing was living a life in prayer. I would take a breath and pray all of the things about God that I could remember.  I remember praying for God to care for Casey and to guide the doctors and the medications he would take. I remembered that God had never let me down before.  One of the most important lessons I have learned is the power of prayer does not exist in the one who prays, but in the one who hears the prayer.  So my friends let us pray to the One who hears our prayer and ask Him to perform powerfully in Amber’s life.

The storms that happen in our lives do not always blow themselves out quickly, but while the storm is going on the presence of God through faith in Jesus “infuses” us with peace and empowers us with strength. The way God seems to work is not to stand before us, but to walk with us in the life and body of Jesus. Jesus would stand before large crowds and preach, but when people needed Jesus He walked beside them on a road, or worked with them as a fisherman or had supper with them. And even after Jesus was raised from the dead He appeared to the frightened folks who were gathered in the room in Jerusalem and without any powerful entrance simply appeared in the midst of them and blessed them with “Peace be with you.” Jesus never imposed Himself he just walked beside folks in love and care and let others know that He was with them always.  Jesus walks with us when we invite Him into the sacred space of our hearts making us aware of His presence in all aspects of our lives.

“So it was, while they conversed and reasoned that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them.”
Luke 34: 15
“He made the storm stop and the sea be quiet.”
Psalm 107: 29
Take joy in the journey praying as you go saying an extra prayer for Amber. While you are on your knees please pray for Bruce and the men who will go into the prison tomorrow to have monthly prayer and share with the residents. Pray for their safe travels, the presence of God as they walk along side these men and for their safety. Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep.  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Thursday, September 18, 2014

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

The candle is lit…

Dear God, Thank you that Jesus modeled the act of prayer so that I would learn how to talk with you. There are times when I have not trusted you fully and been discouraged because of it. Forgive me, God, and help me to always have hope in you remembering to pray without ceasing about all things.  I love you Lord, in Jesus’ name, amen.

A few weeks ago we cleaned out a bedroom to prepare to keep our goddaughter during the week days. The room is fairly spartan. There are freshly painted walls, a dresser, a bed, and area rug and a rocker.  I placed a wax warmer on the dresser with a lightly scented fragrance with a calming nature. Before this past Monday its sole use was for naps and story time.  But on Monday I found it to be a wonderful sanctuary for which to spend a prayer time before going to the ordination interview.  

Between the interview in January and the interview in September I considered giving up on this whole ordination process. We had so many difficult times go on in our life this past year that this one more thing did not seem worth it. I was discouraged in so many ways and battled with myself for a long time. One thing about me is I like to finish what I start and so even though I felt discouraged and somewhere inside me I found the determination to move forward and try again.  When I read my scripture passages tonight about the people of Israel crying out to the Lord to save them from their distress I remembered the sanctuary just one room away.

I sat down in the rocker and began to pray as I had not prayed (yes I pray daily) with passion and remembered that in my prayers I needed to move me to the side and proclaim my faith in God. In other words I remembered to become “God focused” instead of “me focused.” I knew that giving up was not in my nature and that God, my Creator, had given me a spirit of determination and would never give me a spirit of discouragement. So I began to cry out to God for forgiveness, in thankfulness, and for the power of the Holy Spirit to dwell in me and for my doubts to evaporate.  Yes, I was a bit nervous going in, but my heart was a peace because God remained with me. After the committee discussed the interview they called me back in and affirmed me to continue on to the final ordination interview. They asked me to close in prayer. As we joined hands around the table for prayer I told them “Thank you for not giving up on me.”  One of the members responded, “thank you for not giving up on your call.”  God is good and love wins.

Pray my friends and never doubt God and His loving power in your life.

“They cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains.”
Psalm 107: 13-14
By the power of his own word, he healed you and saved you from destruction.”
Psalm 107: 20
Take joy in the journey praying as you go. Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Wednesday!  All is well here at 811.  Bruce and I attended the monthly conference at CNS. He is making continued improvement and his lessons are becoming more complex. Bruce continues to work hard both at the center and independently at home.  Also, I thank all of you for your kind prayers of encouragement and congratulations on yesterday.  Your beautiful prayers and affirmations meant so much. I felt very loved and supported. Thank you again.

The candle is lit… (and it is a new candle; a gift from a friend)

Lord Jesus, I will meet you today in many places. You will be there with me. Lord, You are God of endless energy and I am amazed how you never become weary or tired of teaching me to live each day. I believe you, God. Lead me.  Thank you for being with Bruce constantly and helping him to work so hard in language and other things he has had to re-learn. You have kept him focused and have never left him even for a moment. Thank you loving God of grace and healing. I love you Lord, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Have you ever had one of those nights when you put your head to your pillow and were instantly wide awake?  I have.  I really do not like those nights. It is on those nights that my mind is usually full of so many things that I cannot quiet my thoughts and have a peaceful mind for sleeping. Sometimes I am awake brooding, pondering over decisions I have made or decisions I will need to make. It is on those nights I get up, make a cup of tea and sit on my couch in the presence of my sleeping dogs and try to sort things out. Prayer is always involved.

God, our loving Creator, knows all that we are going through and how we should handle the difficult situations.  If we ask, God will help us with the decisions that we have to make.  When we ask in faith God will help us make right choices for what is best for us.  God speaks to us through His Word. God speaks to me through devotional reading and through music and singing. And then God speaks to us through those who believe in Him; our Christian friends and family.  All of these ways are ways God answers prayer. So my friends let us listen in all the ways we hear God speak and then walk in the way God directs. 

“He saved them for his name’s sake that he might make known his mighty power…Then they believed his words:  they sang his praise.”
Psalm 106: 8, 12
“Hallelujah! Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever. Who can declare the Lord’s mighty acts or proclaim all the praise due Him?”
Psalm 106: 1-2

Take joy in the journey praying as you go and listening for the answers God has to give. Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Monday, September 15, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Monday! All is well here at 811. I am very happy to announce that I have been approved for the final ordination interview to be held in April.  Thank you all for your support, prayers and loving words of encouragement. 

The candle is lit…

Dear God, thank you for loving me more than I can understand and comprehend. Thank you, God that your mercies are new every day and your care for me never changes. Teach me through your Holy Word how to walk in your way. Thank you that today I received the humble honor and affirmation to move forward toward to ordination. I love you Lord, in Jesus name, amen.

Sometimes when we have so many thoughts about the different things that are going on in our lives and things seem to get all tangled up we forget what scripture tells us about the promises we are given. First, God love us so very much. God wants us to understand that his mercies are available and new to us each day and that his provision is always there for us. Provision does not always mean in temporal things, but provision for a relationship to be restored, healing for our bodies, souls and minds. God gives us hope and wisdom for each new day.  This may seem like a simple statement but the Bible was written for each of us and the truths in the Bible are just a powerful now as they were at the time it was written. God promises eternal love, unrelenting grace, tender mercies and the strength and endurance for each new day.  

“God, who is rich in mercy, out of his great love with which he loved us, even when we are dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.”
Ephesians 2: 4-5
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!”
1John 3: 1
Take joy in the journey praying as you go. Thank you all once again. Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep.  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Blessed Sunday to you all.  All is well here at 811. Wonderful worship this morning. We were also very blessed to meet our second goddaughter Ayla Lee Brewer.  She is 5 days old; beautiful, perfect and loves to be held by her Mama G. (That’s me!) Her sister is also our goddaughter. We love these two precious ones and their parents. Please pray for them as they begin a new journey as parents, sisters and family.

The candle is lit…

Dear God, I celebrate a life lived in the joy of your presence and the pleasure of your company.  Help me to love you so much that I automatically ask and obey you in every circumstance. Thank you for showing me the way to victory.  Lord, you have blessed us with families by birth and families by choice. Bless Jeremy, Addie, Asia and Ayla.  Keep them close, healthy and protected by your unrelenting grace.  Thank you for the joy they bring to us.  Please keep our friend Amber in your care. She is very sick and so in need of your healing. Bring healing to her, peace and comfort to her soul and that of her family. I love you Lord, in Jesus’ name, amen.

In the movie Karate Kid 2 there is a wonderful scene with Mr. Miagi  and Daniel. They are in Okinawa in the Miagi dojo. There are two long banners on the wall of the dojo written in in Japanese.  Daniel asks what the banners say. One banner says, Rule #1: Karate for defense only.” The second banner says, “Always follow rule #1.

Psalm 105: 4 “Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!” This could be Rule #1 for daily living. Seeking the presence of God in daily situations whether the situation is adverse or filled with joy declares a relationship with God. It is a pretty simple rule.  Showing joy in our lives says that we belong to God. “Joy is the unfallible and undeniable sign of the presence of God in us.” Joy in our lives declares that our relationship with God is founded on faith and nurtured in the love and grace of God through faith in Jesus. While our precious god-family does not belong to us by earthly blood, they most assuredly belong to us by the blood of Jesus as we are the body of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Having joy in our lives shows undeniable proof that we belong to God. 

My friends we are all beginning a new week. Tomorrow holds all of the promise of joy and blessing. So throughout the day let us each seek God and then do what God asks. Let us seek his wisdom and direction in all circumstances.  When we are guided by God throughout each day we come to know him better and we will be filled with joy. 

“Sing to Him, sing praise to Him; tell all about His wonderful works! Honor His holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.”
Psalm 105: 2-3
Take joy in the journey praying as you go and follow Rule #1; Seek the Lord…Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep.  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene