What a Difference a Week Makes

IMG_1905Jason is responding to the chemo! If this keeps up, he’ll qualify for the bone marrow transplant. We have much to be excited about!

I can help but think about what a difference a week makes.

A week ago we had little good news, little hope. Today it is totally different.

It seems as if I have crashed headlong into Easter week. We were suppose to be in Naples, with Roger’s brother, this weekend, relaxing on the beach. We cancelled the trip in light of all that is going on (a wise decision) but as a result, Easter snuck up on us.

Today is Good Friday, the day the people called for his death, the day he suffered and died.

Last Sunday was Palm Sunday, the day the people called him “King.”

What a difference a week made — to being received to rejected, from being followed to abandoned, from loyalty to betrayal.

As I go through the emotions of the last couple of weeks, I can only image how Jesus and his followers felt. It’s a whirlwind. No wonder his disciples went back to fishing. I know how comforting cleaning house and making meals has been for me. It’s doing something stable, something I know, while internally processing fears about all I don’t know.

Thank you for your prayers. I know I’m not the only one in a whirlwind. Many enter this season with their lives turned upside-down. Pray for them also.

What a difference the next three days made!

Thank you for your prayers for Jason

IMG_1926Thank you for your prayers for Jason and our family. We are truly touched by all the emails and messages. He is over the pneuminia and began chemo late Monday night. You can tell he’s excited!

If you want to continue to pray, we have set up a Caring Bridge site: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/jasoncosper/journal where you can access the most current information and receive emails when updates are posted. There is also more backdrop information if you are interested. We refreshed his 2009 site so there are journal entries from his amazing battle with lymphoma where we saw God do miracles. We’re praying for His presence again.

Please Pray

becky and jasonPlease Pray! Jason (oldest daughter Becky’s husband) almost died Thursday afternoon. He went to the hospital with back pain but caught a virus and has been in ICU. In the process, they found AML (leukemia). He battled lymphoma a little over 6 years ago. This may be a result of damaged cells from the chemo.
 
Odds are not good but we know we have a God that defies odds. He will spend the next month in the hospital. Thanks for your love and prayers —
 
Maggie & Roger 

Forward – Fixed Point

2011-5-22 Great Wall“Forward to where?” has been my question as I’ve been thinking through my word for the year. January and February was more about not staying still, but I’m too much of a deliberate person to randomly move.

That’s where faith came in. The first challenge was to break inertia.

Yesterday, our teaching pastor talked about Jesus’ last days and his upper room discussion. Everything Jesus did and said was focused on his “fixed point” – going to the cross. He was preparing his friends.

I paused and asked myself, what is my fixed point?

It came quickly and spontaneously. I’ve labored over purpose statements before, but this time it was easy:

To be salt and light.

I’ve never been a screaming evangelist, although I’ve shared my faith. I’ve never been a theologian, although I’ve taught many Bible studies. I’ve never been an orator, although I have spoken in public. I’ve never been a famous author, although I love to write.

More than anything, I want to be a friend and to have an opportunity to be with someone in a way that they see Jesus in a new light and are thirsty for more.

So…forward means to me moving in the direction of where I can be salt and light. Salt makes me thirsty so that I want to drink more. Light illumines my way so that I see things I haven’t seen before. I want to live my life in a way that others don’t squint and run away or spit out the salt.

It’s not total clarity, but it’s a direction. It’s my “fixed point” as I move forward today, and in the days to come.

Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)

What is your “fixed point?” I’d love to hear your comments.

March 2015 Letter from Roger and Maggie Bruehl

                                                                                                                                                                March 6, 2015

Dear friends,

What do you think of when you hear the term “auditor?” Do you think “evangelist?”

I have the privilege of leading the Cru audit team of four auditors. They audit all of our ministry leaders yearly and ministry accounts every 3 years on a rotating basis.

One of the auditors is Larry Kent; someone you might guess is an auditor. As I got to know him, I discovered his real passion — Sharing the gospel.

Larry has developed a tract called, “Smiles.” It has been translated into over 100 languages. He gives it out freely from his website, http://www.on-tract.com , to anyone who wants to print it.

“Smiles” has had amazing result. Every time I see Larry, he’s bubbling over with a new story of how it has been used. One email came from Kenya:

It is my pleasure to inform you that the Lord is doing miracles over here through the tracts we’ve 2015-03 Pl pictrue 1been giving out in Streets, Bus Park, Market & Schools. I was surprised yesterday when 32 students searched for me. They found me in the church compound & they said, as they were going through the tract on Sunday when they were in studies, that they felt something like a land breeze hovering around their gathering of over 80 students. So out of them 32 took an initiative of looking for me & I led them to salvation.

Secondly brother, today in the evening have received a strange phone call from a man called Tobias. This man said, he has been a Muslim for 18 yrs since 1996 but when he read the tract which his son came home with, he got to know JESUS & I led them to salvation together with his family of 6 people over the phone. I will visit him soon. There are more & more testimonies that I cannot all explain brother.

2015-03 Pl pictrue 2Vijay from Nepal wrote: I am very excited to knowing your ministry. Here I would like to share my interest to you that if it could be possible to print your tracts into Napali, it would be great.

From Pastor Buckya in Banledesh: We are printing 60,000 of your tracts in 3 languages (Banjara, Teluga and Koya). They will change many people lives from darkness to holiness. Please pray for our team. We need strength, wisdom and good health to reach many unreached villages.

What a privilege to work with someone like Larry!  It reminds me how God wants to use us in our own unique ways. The world has gotten smaller with the web. While Satan may be using it for evil, people like Larry are using it to “let the whole world know.” Thank you for your prayers and support which allows me to work with someone like Larry.

 

Roger Bruehl

P.S.  If you want to see a video of how Larry starts a spiritual conversation, check out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H35CyLmfIzQ&feature=youtu.be

Forward – “Get Out of Our Way!”

2011-5-22 Great Wall“Get out of our way,” they replied. “This fellow came here as a foreigner, and now he wants to play judge! We’ll treat you worse than them.” They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door. (Genesis 19:9)

Since the word “forward” is my word of the year, I did a Bible search of when it is used. I neatly printed the verses and placed them on my desk — which lead them to being buried under piles of papers.

This morning, it re-surfaced. “Get out of our way!” shouted at me at the top of the page.

Lot was harboring visitors in the evil city of Sodom. Men gathered outside his door and wanted to sexually abuse them. Instead, Lot offered his daughters, but the visitors (who were angels) stuck the evil men with blindness, allowing them, Lot and his family to escape.

It’s an ugly story. But the part that jumped out to me was the, “Get out of our way!”

Moving forward is about clearing obstacles.

Most of my obstacles are in my head or heart. Fear. Doubt. Organization. Memory. The list goes on.

What intensity do I have? Not an exclamation point. I’m not breaking down doors. I’m not risking my life. Instead, I work on overcoming them little by little, in far less dramatic ways, in casual ways…

Am I too casual in clearing my obstacles? Is it time for me to tell them to “Get out of my way!”? Do I feel the pressure, the urgency, necessary to move forward and break through?

Lord, help me to attack my obstacles because of my passion for you. Help me to move forward in ways that please you. Lord, let me feel pressure from you to break through. Amen.

Fearful Forward

2011-5-22 Great WallIt’s such an innocent word, forward. When I picked it as my word for the year, I was thinking that I wanted the opposite of backwards, something that would not push me too much out of my comfort zone. It wasn’t like courage or boldness, right?

And yet it is, because it encompasses those words and even more.

You see, when you pick a work like forward, you don’t know where it is going. It may take courage or boldness or waiting or patience. I think I was hoping more for the waiting and patience.

But this week, in order to move forward, I’m going to need the courage and boldness. You see, I’ve been working on a book. Shhh…I’m scared to even write it, to hope for it. It started last year in the midst of cancer treatment. So many ask how I live in the middle of life and death. So I started writing things down, moving forward.

Then, at chapter 5, I got scared.

What if I die before it’s completed? What if no one wants to publish it? What if they do? What if it’s not “good? What if it is good and sells a ton and they want me to do interviews? The “what if’s” were overwhelming me. In fact, the more affirmation I got on the project, the more fearful I became.

I took a break from the project, but it didn’t gone away. I need to move forward.

New week is the Florida Christian Writers Conference. I signed up for it months ago. I’ve been assigned 2 publishers and a seminar leader to pick up at the airport. I can’t back out. Look what this “moving forward” has gotten me into!

Now I have to move forward — I can’t leave people at the airport! But my little introverted self is terrified. Just as I am working myself into a full blown panic attack, a blogger I follow wrote

I think being gentle with my soul looks like grace. It looks like taking a deep breath and enjoying the moment. It looks like letting go of the should’s and ought’s and could have’s. It looks like smiling at the mistakes and moving on. It looks like compassion for ourselves.(Gina Butz)

I should have picked the word “grace” or “compassion” for this year. But since I picked forward, pray I will “enjoy the moment” and keep moving ahead.

What scares you? How would giving yourself grace make a difference?

 

February 2015 Letter

2015 Cartogram

February 9, 2015

Dear Roger and Maggie,

 

This map puts 2015 in perspective. We tend to think of the US as the center of the world. But if a map represented nations not by land mass but by population, this is how it would look. Australia and Canada hardly exist while India becomes massive, larger than China. Islands of SE Asia were the biggest “ah-ha.”

 

Information like this helps us realize where resources (prayers, workers, finances) could to go to reach lost sheep with the gospel. Before the re-occurrence of her cancer, Maggie was able to help Steve Douglass (President, Cru/Campus Crusade for Christ) initiate a study to determine a baseline on our vision that “Everyone knows someone who truly follows Jesus.”

 

The results are in and illuminating. Europeans have the highest awareness of who Jesus Christ is (not a surprise), but are least likely to say that they know a true follower of Jesus (sad). Awareness of Jesus is low in Africa, yet it was the highest continent to know of a true follower of Christ. And despite all of our churches, North America’s responses made it the third lowest continent to know a true follower. Generally, when asked how responders know the person who is a true follower, family (32%) or friend (37%) were the highest responses. (If you would like to see the full report, go to click here).

 

Putting the map and the survey report together, we need to build networks of family and friends in areas of large population. In Africa, those who know Jesus need to make him known. And in our own nation, we need to live lives that cause those around us to know that we are true followers of Christ.

 

Our church’s small group is studying, “Walk Across the Room.” Amazing conversations have been started just in the first week as individuals reached out and make themselves available. One man, who had cut off a co-worker when she was rambling on an IT issue, went back and apologized which, much to his surprise, opened up a conversation about his church who teaches about putting faith into action.

 

Thank you for your prayers and support so that we can work on projects like the survey.  We appreciate your encouragement to us, as we, in turn, encourage others in their walk with God. Pray about what the survey and map means as far as next steps in our lives as well as yours —

Roger and Maggie

2015 -01 New Year’s Years Letter

Happy New Year!

 

Happy New Year is what you write on the top of a Christmas letter that didn’t make it on time! Last week was a rough week in the family (including a hospital stay) that scrapped the best of plans, but we’re coming out of it and are grateful.

 

It has been a good, hard year. Maggie started with aggressive chemo treatments which, praise God, did their work, bringing her cancer marker down from 12 to .4. She continues on a maintenance dose with some side effects, but for the most part, is doing well.

 

I celebrated 44 years with Cru this last summer. The ministries I supervise are stepping into new areas of growth with exciting opportunities and challenges. They solidified their leadership and support base for which I give God all the glory.

 

Becky and her family are doing well in Orlando. The boys are in high school and over 6 foot tall(and stretching to beat me!). Her work at Clinique is stable even with economy shifts. Jason’s company was bought out which is challenging but stable.

 

Jessica and her family moved to a different house in Fort Lauderdale. They transformed their back yard from a jungle to a mini-Key West paradise. Rick’s mother, Lori, moved into the guesthouse and is working locally. The kids are having fun with Cheer and soccer. We love having them nearer to us.

 

James’ company has also gone through transition this past year, but seems to be solid at this point. Zachari is also over 6’ (we have tall boys!). His half-sister, Chloe, is still fighting brain cancer, so continue to pray for her.

 

Amanda is our “escapee,” living in downtown Grand Rapids. She moved to a new position with the Reformed Churches of America in their donor department. Her big accomplishment was a charity bike ride from GR to Chicago — go girl!

 

Time has a way of flying by. It seems just yesterday we were newly married, starting out with little more than a prayer. We feel so blessed with family and friends. Our hearts go out to those who are suffering this year, in pain or estranged. We pray that they will find peace this next year, and that they will come to know the One who delights in them —

 

 

 

“He led me to a place of safety; He rescued me because He delights in me.”   Psalm 18:19

Roger and Maggie Bruehl ● 267 Bayou Circle ● DeBary, FL 32713

 

Forward — Taking off Rules

2011-5-22 Great WallI’ve been surprised lately with the effect rules have in my life. A broken leg and then fighting cancer have forced adjustments the last couple of years, but as I think about “forward,” I’m realizing the deeper role they have played.

I didn’t see them coming at first. I was just doing what made sense. I couldn’t walk so I made a “rule” to hobble along on my walker. A walker doesn’t do stairs, so I made a “rule” to delegate the reason I mainly went upstairs — the laundry. I got tired at night, so I made a “rule” to take a nap in the afternoon.

But then, rules begat rules. If I took a nap late in the afternoon, I couldn’t fall asleep at night. So…the rule became, take a nap by 3 pm. And as I began to walk again, I made a “rule” that I could work on the laundry, just not carry it up and down the stairs. I began to see how the Pharisees got into their legalism!

Rules then became subconscious. I became tired mid-afternoon, whether or not I needed a nap. I didn’t try to carry laundry even when I was able to walk stairs. I was limiting myself without realizing I was doing it.

And I think I made a “rule” not to expect to move forward. Maintaining status quo was hard enough. In fact, just not dying felt pretty good.

So right now I’m feeling like a train who just realized it’s not moving. It’s all coupled up to freight cars, but not going anywhere. Between not remembering what it is like to move (what comes first, second, etc.) it’s not sure it should move (is it on the schedule to move? What track should it be on? What is the destination? Should I toot the horn or not?)

So I have a choice…to stay where I am or to move forward. There is risk involved. I might fail. It takes effort to do what use to come naturally.

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

I know what it is like to be enslaved to sin and freed. Our physical frailties also enslave us. They can be healed and we can be freed again. Emotional fears can be even stronger than physical limitations, but it’s as I exercise my muscles in faith, I can feel His strength.

Forward…taking off the rules.

What rules have you made that limits your moving forward? What are you going to do about it?