Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Wednesday!  All is well here at 811. I really like sweatshirt/sweater weather!  I have worn boots every day this week. Yesterday when I got out of the car and the school to cast my vote it was cold wet and rainy. But I was warm and dry from the feet on up. My friends, I will be leaving for the via De Cristo Weekend tomorrow afternoon and will not be able to write again until possibly Sunday night.  Please pray for the weekend, the staff and participants. I know that you may not even know for whom you are praying, but remember that the power of the prayer does not lie with the one who prays, but the One who hears the prayer.  Thank you mighty and faithful prayer warriors!

God, How awesome it is to communicate with You in prayer. You are the King of the universe and creator of all and you desire communication with your human creation above all others.  Thank you that we can come before you for help, praise, thanksgiving and forgiveness and receive all of what we have asked and praise You not for what you do, but for who You are.  Thank you that we may delight in You and that we may approach Your throne of grace receiving mercy and finding the grace we need in time of need. I love You Lord, in Jesus name, amen.

I was raised on two television shows on Saturday night growing up. I knew if I was at home or at my Mamo’s (if Mom and Dad had gone out) that I would watch these two shows; The Gospel Singing Jubilee and Lawrence Welk. Remember I am old. The Gospel Singing Jubilee was an hour long program of gospel quartet singing. The headline group that sang was The Happy Goodman Family.  This family of a mother, father, son and brother sang classic southern gospel music. The lead in most of the pieces was a woman with a big voice and big hair named Vestal Goodman. She was beloved by many.  Vestal and her husband Howard went on to sing with the Gaither Homecoming folks. ( I have always wanted to sing with the Gaither Homecoming folks and believe that I can sing with the best of them, but I am pretty sure that I do not have enough hair.)  The folks who sang with Vestal  have spoken of her faith and her extraordinary prayer life. Her prayer life was pretty simple. When she wanted to talk to God she stopped, walked into the throne room of grace and told God how she needed help, gave thanks, asked for forgiveness, praised him and told God how much she loved Him.  She was bold in her prayer life.

Prayer is a wonderful privilege that brings changes in our circumstances and in the people with who we encounter. “Prayer can be the difference in confusion and clarity, hurt and healing, defeat and victory and even between life and death.” (Joyce Meyer)  There are a lot of ways to pray, but the most effective way to pray is to pray boldly and using the words that come straight from our hearts.  God wants us to come before Him without fear and confidently being specific in our needs.  Our God knows us and loves so much that we will receive the promised help when we need it. God listens to our hearts as well as our words.

“Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace,,,that we may receive mercy…and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it.]
Hebrews 4: 16

Take joy in the journey praying, praising, encouraging and asking for help as you go.  Wear comfortable shoes and a warm jacket. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

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

The candle is lit…

My blessed and holy God, You are the great I AM. I thank you for being faithful and trustworthy in my life and in the lives of all your people. May your name be cherished forever. Lord, there are times I have questions. Please settle my heart and help me to rest in the hope that one day all my questions will be answered as I stand in your presence. Lord. There are wonderful people preparing to serve you in the Via De Cristo Weekend. Please continue to prepare our hearts so serve you. Lord please calm the anxiousness of the participants as they come in faith to learn so much more about you.  I love you Lord, in Jesus name, amen.

I tutor first through fourth graders in reading each day. When they get stuck on a word then often look on the ceiling, around the room or on my face to try and figure out the word. The mantra in my teaching is that “A good reader always looks at the words.”  The children learn this simple verse the first time I meet with them.  When they look for answers anywhere except on the page of writing I remind them that the words are not written on my face or on the ceiling, but are written on the page.  Then I have them repeat what a good reader does. 

I think this is a pretty good less for all of us when it comes to our study of scripture and using it as the place to find answers to our questions.  As believers in God we have a book that will help us find answers to the questions in our lives. And if we combine the reading of scripture with prayer allowing God wo speak to us through His Written Word and then to reveal its meaning to us in prayer through the Holy Spirit then I don’t know about you, but I find peace in the Presence of God in both written word and revealed understanding.

We may never know the answers to all of our questions from all of the experiences in our loves. And maybe we will be given those answers when we meet Jesus face to face or maybe when we reach heaven the questions won’t even matter. But I know we can trustingly place our faith in God and our hope in the wisdom of God and God’s eternal love. The words are not written on our faces or on the ceiling, but they are written in a pretty amazing book.  Remember, “A good reader always looks at the WORD.” 

“I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains? No, my strength comes from God who made heaven and earth and mountains.”
Psalm 121: 1

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

Monday, November 3, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Monday!  All is well here at 811. Bruce is stepping out once again and has returned to Bible Study Fellowship.  He seems to be really enjoying it. I am not sure how much he discusses in his BSF group, but I know he devotes time each day to studying the lesson for the upcoming week. Way to go darlin’!

I received in the mail today my application for ordination, paper topics and search and call papers. Even though I do not yet feel called to serve as a congregational leader I most assuredly feel and believe I am called to the ministry of Jesus Christ as a ministerial presence  in representative ministry.  Please be in pray as I prepare these documents for presentation to my local committee, the area and region of the Christian Church Disciples of Christ in preparation for my final ordination interview to be held at the end of April 2015.  Thank you all.

The candle is lit…

God, in you is my all in all. My worth, glory and joy is because you loved me first making me a part of Your good creation.  I thank you for accepting me and loving me. I praise you for delighting in me and leading me in a path that leads right back to you. Thank you for your words of encouragement. As You encourage me I become the person you created me to be. Thank you for looking far enough inside the sacred space of my heart strengthening my skills…even the ones I don’t know are there.  I love you Lord so very much. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Do you ever have days when you think that you are an epic failure? I know that is a really awful question, but I have those days. Those are the days when I want to sing the song we used to sing to the kids when they were down in the dumps…”Nobody loves me, everybody hates me, I going to the garden and eat worms!”  We all get down in the dumps every now and then and when those days happen we need to stop and remember something or better yet…someone very important. We need to remember our Creator.  Our Creator; God created us out of great love for us and cares for us deeply. God has created us for a deeply personal relationship with Him through the life of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.  One of the reasons this relationship is so important is as we each commit acts of sin, God does not approve, but because of this relationship we have with God we are empowered to turn from those sins and receive forgiveness.  When we receive forgiveness our feelings of failure and doubt are turned into streams of victory and we know the delight God has in us once again.

“The Lord takes pleasure in His people; He adorns the humble with salvation. Let the godly celebrate in triumphal glory; let them shout for joy.”
Psalm 149: 4-5

Take joy in the journey praying, praising, laughing and encouraging  others as you go. Wear comfortable shoes, pray for yourself and others and get some sleep. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Sunday, November 2, 2014

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

The candle is lit…

Lord, how blessed and fitting to praise You! May my life be a psalm of adoration to you from this time forth and forevermore. I’ll love you always, my God. God, bring peace and constancy to my heart and may You find it a fitting place for You to dwell. I am hoping in your goodness and believing in Your kindness. Thank you for the remembrances of Mom and Casey today. You were there when I shed my tears of grief and loss and remained until I could smile and sing again. I know they are in heaven with You and basking in the worship and praise of Your Holy Presence.  Thank you for taking care of them Lord. Give them an extra hug from me. Lord, I love you so much. In Jesus’ name, amen.

The psalms are the most wonderful words. The book of Psalms begins with “Happy are those who…love the Lord’s teachings.” (Ps. 1: 1-2) and ends with the must jubilant Praise the Lord in Ps. 150. Psalm 150 is one we had read at Mom’s service. Mom would have never wanted sad songs or scriptures at a service that honored her life spent in faith with God.  Anyway, the Psalms have within them words that represent the vast expanse of human experience and the faithfulness of God and how God walks with each of us through each experience we have in our lives. Tonight the author of my meditation writes that the psalms represent every situation of life-- “trials, losses, betrayals, joys, hopes, promises and desires.”

Tonight’s scripture passages have particularly special meaning for me. Psalm 150 was spoken at Mom’s memorial service and the same psalm was purchased by the choir at Advent and dedicated to Casey. If I am so humbly honored to be ordained, the choral piece Let Everything that Has Breath will be sung by combined choirs as the musical offering for the ordination service. Scripture is the best place to begin in a faithful relationship with God. God’s Word is where we can learn to trust God and God’s love for us as we praise God and journey together. My friends take joy in the Lord in worship and in love from the dwelling place of your heart where God lives.

“Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heaven! Praise him for his mighty works; praise his unequaled greatness!”
Psalm 150: 1-2
“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. “
Psalm 150: 6

Take joy in the journey praying, praising, laughing and encouraging others as you go. Wear comfortable shoes, spend some time in God’s Word and get some sleep. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene