Saturday, November 22, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Saturday!  All is well here at 811 and we are warm and dry at the end of this wet and chilly day. It was my joy this evening to preside over worship and Eucharist at the Via De Cristo supper and instructional evening.  It was great to see everyone and a joy to worship with them once again. And finally…Happy birthday to Dr. Ken Helvey PhD.  This is my dear brother.  I love this man dearly and look forward to seeing him on Thursday!

The candle is lit…
Dear God, thank you for the promise of your constant love and the hope it brings to my life. As I continue to walk a life in grace help me to remember to pray for those it is difficult for whom to pray and to find a place of thanksgiving in situations that seem void of any thanksgiving at all. Tonight I lift to you the family of Sandy Brandon. Her family has experienced a tragic loss this week and are in great need of your love surrounding them and the comfort and peace that only You can provide. I pray that the friendship of others will cover them in love and kindness as they walk this sad and tragic road. May they come to see and feel the warmth and light of your love and the hope of a brighter day.  I love you Lord and I love sweet Sandy. Thank you Lord for being with them. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Most of us have walked through this life and at some time or other been betrayed, lost a friendship, had a broken relationship, experienced a failed relationship or lost a loved one in death. All of these occurrences have one thing in common; the result is a broken heart.  Each of these times in our lives have left us at least for a while thinking that we will never be whole again.  We may even become angry at God and ask God or ourselves “Why did God let this happen?”  When I visit with folks in a pastoral care relationship I get this question a lot. My usual answer is that it was not God that allowed this to happen, but life happens. Sometimes we bring life on ourselves in the choices we make and sometimes life is thrust on us in devastating ways.  I also get this question, “Does God still love me even after the choices I have made or because of all of this tragedy I did nothing to incur?” 

The answer is God always  loves you eternally, completely and unconditionally. God is far bigger than our choices, our pain, our doubts and failures. God’s love is not a love that condemns.  Listen again…God’s love does not condemn.”  God’s love meets us where we are and does not look back. God’s love calls us forward into forgiveness of the one(s) who have hurt us and most importantly to forgive ourselves. The love of God is “consistent and predictable.”  Because  the perfect love of God surrounds us in grace and truth and assures us with hope.  This is the hope that will allow us to love again, trust again, healing our broken hearts and gives us the courage to offer our hearts to love once again. God is good and love wins!!

“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
Psalm 34: 18
“My flesh and my heart fail :  but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever.”
Psalm 73: 26

Take joy in the journey praising, praying, laughing and encouraging others as you go.  Pray for Sandy’s family and they work through this most difficult time and try to find ways to be thankful as we are in the season of Thanksgiving. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Thursday!  All is well here at 811. Bruce is progressively getting over his sinus infection and even worked some today.  He will go to rehab tomorrow for the first time this week. The funny thing is that this was the first week he was to begin the step-down process to discharge. The plan was to go to rehab on MWF. Well, this week he is only going on Friday.  Tomorrow is another family conference and so we will see if anything changes. 

The candle is lit…

Dear God, Help us to stay steadfast in hope and to trust your perfect will.  Lord, we place our hope in you as we walk together in this life here on earth. Sometimes the road is smooth and it is easy to stay in step with you. And then sometimes the road is rough and steep and we are tempted to look to the past and see mistakes and bad choices. Forgive us Lord when we fall out of step with you and try to walk this life on our own strength. Help us to remember that any strength we have comes from You. And Lord, when we fall behind and don’t know what to do please rescue us by the calling of Your name.  We love you Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.

I have been to despair. It is no fun.  But as I have thought about the times I have been in despair over something I finally figured out that despair happens when we seek out options to problems and do not include God.  We believe we know what is best for us and we may have even convinced ourselves that God has abandoned us when in truth we have left God out of the hope of correcting the situation. 

We all know that without God there is no hope.  The truth is that no matter what is going on in our lives God is always there to help.  The catch for us is that God’s timing does not always coincide with our time table. Being ever mindful that we live in 24 days and the first of the month while God lives in eternal time, I believe there is a way to not fall into despair.

While we are waiting for God to work in our lives it is vital that we stay in tune with God and daily meditate on God’s Word. Spending time in conversation with God throughout the day through prayer helps to hold on to our real hope which is in God through faith in Jesus.  Then as we wait…wait with the expectation of God’s goodness to flow down upon us filling  us with God’s very best.  God is good and love wins!

“Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD!”
Psalm 27: 14
“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.”
Psalm 27: 13

Take joy in the journey praying, praising, giving thanks and encouraging others along the way. Stay in step with God and call on God for help no matter what!  Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Wednesday!  All is well here at 811. I think Bruce’s day spent in house really helped and your prayers have been powerful. Thank you so very much.

The candle is lit…

God, I thank you for giving us reason to have confidence in You. Lord, there are many folks out there who are experiencing such devastating brokenness in their lives. Lord, when I am hurting so badly it almost takes my skin off You remind me of the beautiful lyric, “And when my plans have fallen through and when my strength is nearly gone. When there is nothing left to do, but just depend on you and the power of Your name.”  Lord, there is such power in just speaking your name. You know our hurts, our situations even before we ask. Sometimes Lord the hurt is so bad that we cannot even voice it and all we can do is call Your name.  Thank you for Your kindness and understanding and when we are broken. Thank you for your compassion that does not call us to shame, but wraps us in Your loving Presence and cries with us. Thank You Lord and Savior that whatever we are struggling with can be conquered by Your love and tender mercies. Heal us loving Lord, and make us whole once again. We love you so much Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Through the stories in the Bible we find people who faced great hardships and seemingly overwhelming challenges. The interesting thing about these folks such as Moses, Joshua, David and Paul is that they were ordinary people of their time. Moses was a shepherd, Joshua was a stone carver, David was also a shepherd and Paul was a tentmaker.  They had no remarkable skill for leadership,  but they all had one thing in common. They accepted the Lordship of God and Paul; Jesus into their lives and acted in obedience to the call of God on their lives. And while they each faced overwhelming challenges and adversity in their lives they did not rely on their own strength, but relied on the strength in God in whom they believed with all of their hearts.  They trusted God no matter how bad it got.  They believed that God could overcome whatever devastating situations were going on in their lives.

We are given that same right to the same confidence as these legendary men of God. No matter what situation we find ourselves whether we have brought it on ourselves or it has been thrust upon us God will be with us giving us the confidence to trust in the power of God’s own love for us.  And even though it is really hard for us, we need to try not to fear being put to shame by our God who loves us so very much.  So my friends pray for healing and wholeness believing that we are loved and  made whole and in humble obedience call on the name of the Lord.

“Some trust in their war chariots and others in their horses, but we trust in the power of the LORD, our God. Such people will stumble and fall, but we will rise and stand firm.”
Psalm 20: 7-8
Take joy in the journey praying, praising, laughing and encouraging others as you go. Stay in step with the Lord not slower or faster for God will walk by our side.  Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep.  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Tuesday!  All is well here at 811. Bruce remained at home today and is still recovering from a sinus infection.  Please continue to pray for him. He is really tired of being miserable and miserable about being too tired to be able to work. 

The candle is lit…

Dear God, Thank you for never leaving us or forsaking us. Lord, we are coming the time of the year where families gather and share grand meals together and are reminded of the many things for which we are thankful. But there are those who feel so lonely.  Some are so lonely that they feel in bondage to their loneliness. Help us to love others as you love us and help those who are lonely to feel the love that only you can give.  I love you so much. Thank you for your gracious love that lets us know we are never alone. In Jesus’ name, amen.

I suppose there are times in all of our lives that we feel lonely. Being alone and being lonely are two different things. Being alone simply means that we are physically by ourselves and most of us do not mind small amounts of alone time. But being lonely is not just the absence of another person being near, but inner feelings of rejection, separation from loved ones and feelings of unworthiness.  These feeling of alienation can become a “private prison.”  These feelings can become destructive and a mindset that is pretty hard from which to escape.

Those of us who believe in God know and believe from scripture that “God will never leave us or forsake us.” (Deuteronomy 31: 6) Loneliness is something God desires to heal in our lives through God’s enduring presence and healing care.  Because of God’s great love and promises to us we are never alone. It is the power of the Holy Spirit living in us that we are assured of God’s unfailing love. As we grow in our relationship with God we learn to trust in God’s promises to be with us always.   Sometimes one of the ways we have God with us is to find other Christians and be a part of “God with skin on.” 

So my friends let us  be observant of those around us and see if there is someone who needs to have a Thanksgiving dinner with a family or a group of friends and set an extra place. The One who will never leave us or forsake you will rejoice if you do for in that space and time it will be a glimpse into  kingdom of God.

“I feel completely secure, because you protect me from the power of death. I have served you faithfully, and you will not abandon me.”
Psalm 16: 9-10
“You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”
Psalm 16: 11
Take joy in the journey and know that you are never alone. Go down the path praising, praying, laughing and encouraging others as you go. Wear comfortable shoes and get some sleep. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene

Monday, November 17, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Happy Monday!  All is well here at 811. Bruce is improving.   Thank you for your continued prayers. 

The candle is lit…

Dear God, I praise you for working out all things for the good of those who love you and are called according to your purpose. Thank you for using my life’s boundaries for your glory, the benefit of others and to show us your purpose for our lives. Thank you for the rewarding work I am blessed to do each day. I am led by you to help children learn to read and spend time each day with friends and loved ones.  And as I pray each day to place before me someone I can help, I surrender my time each day to you.  Help me to stay in tune with you throughout each day so that I do not miss an opportunity to share your love and grace with others.  I love you Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Tonight my meditation really hits home with me and has given me some thoughts about how God uses our life situations to shape our personalities and how we will choose to serve God.  We may go through really tough times and even if those difficult times are happening now they are not a mistake, but a way to trust God to help when we are in need. Do not misunderstand I do not think God thrusts difficulties upon us. I happen to believe that life happens and life is not always strawberries and cream and lovin’ all the time.  But I do believe that trusting our brokenness to God for healing allows God to shape us and use the difficulties we have faced to help others.

When life presents us with adversity and brokenness we can ask God to heal our brokenness and use this situation for good.  We can ask for the pain we are experiencing to be changed into a purpose.  We may not always understand how God could use our situations for good and healing, but God will bless abundantly (I love that word) if we will ask for help and then allow our loving God of grace and mercy to lead us through. And if we are so courageous and trusting to find a hint of praise in the brokenness no matter how small God rejoices in our mustard seed of faith; for that is all God asks. Listening to God and seeking God’s wisdom deepens our relationship with God and reminds us of God’s faithfulness to us.  God is good and love wins!

“I will praise the LORD who counsels me—even at night my conscience instructs me. I keep the LORD in mind always, because the LORD us at my right hand, and I will not be shaken.”
Psalm 16: 7-8

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

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Greetings from Austin Street
Blessed Sunday to you all!  All is not well here at 811. Bruce seems to have a pretty nasty sinus infection.  It has been a few years since he has had one and it has hit him pretty hard. He will not be going to rehab tomorrow and hopefully another day at home will help. Say an extra prayer for him. Thank you so very much.

The candle is lit…

Lord, thank you for your gracious presence in our lives. Thank you for helping when we ask and making the provision we need. Thank you for days of dedicated worship when we can praise you in song, Word, preaching, prayer and offering.  Lord, I am not worthy on my own of your love and eternal life so I have trusted you for my salvation. Thank you for covering me with your goodness, your grace, your mercy and forgiveness. But most of all Lord, thank you for loving me through the life of Jesus your Son.  I love you Lord so much, amen.

I have a confession to make. I have spent most of my life thinking I would never measure up to those around me. I felt others were smarter, faster, prettier, better liked etc…in my meditation tonight I read Psalm 15 and it  discusses this very issue.  I love the Psalms as they are the prayers of God’s people to God written for all kinds of reasons.  It examines “the heart of humanity’s deepest problem—is anyone worthy of living in heaven with God?”  If you read the psalms they tell that we must be honest, kind, keep all of the commandments and never do wrong to others. “  I don’t know if I can meet all of these requirements.  But of these two things I am sure…first, because I do not have the ability to be “good enough” shows my great need for God’s help and presence in my life. Second, my help comes from the Lord through the death and resurrection of Jesus as I trust Jesus for my personal salvation. When Jesus goes before God to plead for us we are covered in righteousness and we are worthy of dwelling in heaven and to be a part of the kingdom on earth. 

“Lord, who can dwell in Your tent? Who can live on Your holy mountain?”
Psalm 15: 1
“Such people will stand firm forever.”
Psalm 15: 5
Take joy in the journey praying, praising, giving thanks, laughing and encouraging as you go. Wear comfortable shoes, stay warm and get some sleep.  Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene