Yesterday was one of those ideal, pristine days where the weather was perfect, every detail of work was done, and when you sat down in the early evening the sense of goodness surrounded you. When this happens, I can hardly find the words to thank God with the fullness He deserves.
Today the actual journey of stepping into one’s past begins for the men who are taking the class, Mending the Soul. Last week we met and I introduced them to the materials and some ground rules, gave their first assignment, but today is the day we step into the darkness of the past and let the LIGHT of GLORY begin to penetrate. The work of emotional healing is no different than flesh healing. We first have to open the wound, reveal the disease, remove it (all very painful) and then we can begin to experience the healing which follows. I look forward to this journey with these men.
God is so good! I Praise HIS HOLY NAME!
It was 39 years ago today that Kathy and I had our blind date set up by a teacher who taught for me and her husband. When I look back over these years I can honestly say that I would not be where I am today in my close walk with God if it were not for Kathy. She has always had the solid faith that God and I could handle facing the childhood I had. Now that I know such freedom from it, I give great thanks to God and her.
I believe I’ve said in earlier posts that I am reading through the devotional writings of Charles Spurgeon. Since the latter part of March each day’s entry has focused the reader on the astounding work of Jesus Christ building up to His crucifixion and onto His resurrection. In the last couple of days the writings have been helpful for me in ways I’ve not known until now. He writes about Christ’s cleansing blood flowing through us cleansing us of all unrighteousness and continually doing this as we come to Him each day. This is truly not new news but the mental picture of this happening for me is quite new. Up until more recent years I just couldn’t picture how Jesus washed away sins done to you. I knew in my head that they weren’t mine to wash away, but they were still present nonetheless and I felt helpless to address them so I kept all of this in “denial”. The amazing cleansing of Christ Jesus’ blood for me in this was washing away the toxic shame of sins done and replacing them with memories of Him with me knowing the sins were man’s choice and certainly not His.
It is a beautiful work Christ does as we stay with Him and open ourselves to take the steps He wants us to take. This is what Kathy has done for me, helping me to take the risk of trusting and daily stepping into LIGHT I didn’t know existed. Praise GOD!
As only God does, yesterday’s book study was amazing. I could hardly believe what I was hearing. As we broke into breakout rooms in groups of three I was astounded to hear that almost all of us had trauma in our childhoods and it was teachers who brought each one to the point of finding purpose and value. Thus, each one chose the path of education to give back. It makes me admire each one so much more and stand amazed at what God is always doing–taking our messes and turning them into messages!
Last night’s Celebrate Recovery was inspiring. A young man who had come once a couple years ago was back. This time he was back alone. His father had brought him the first time. We talked during the dinner hour and he told me about his reason for coming. God is never not working and His patience with us is stunning. He just doesn’t give up–Praise God!
Today’s journey takes me to a district this morning and then back home where I join two others leading a group of us consultants in a book study we will start this afternoon. The book’s title is SOUL by Timothy Kanold. It is written for educators but the content of the book has a definite spiritual depth and purpose. The book begins with the author telling his childhood experience of neglect (one of the five areas of abuse defined in Mending the Soul). He uses this background to create the foundation for writing this book. It was a few teachers and an aunt who turned his life of neglect into an opportunity to live life with purpose. It just so happened that the director of my consulting work asked the three of us a month ago to lead our group in this book study with part 1 being today. As I began to read this I was troubled at first thinking I didn’t want to reveal to this group of educators, my past. Yet, the more I addressed it the more I realized there was no more shame in bringing it to light. It didn’t own me any longer. Instead, my past is often used by God in the daily work being done. Our past can bring a sensitivity in us to better connect with the world of people we are involved through our relationships and through our work.
It is truly a working miracle how God transforms our mess into His message. I rejoice with others when I can see this in their lives. I sit in humble awe when I realize how He has done this for me. To God be all Glory–great things He has done!
This morning I am helping my oldest grandson do some landscaping in his yard. We need to do some shopping first to find just what he wants. All of this is fun for me! I had an early zoom meeting with one of the school districts this morning and almost forgot to write today’s entry. I had gone to the kitchen thinking I had an hour before starting the shopping. Then it hit me I had neglected my blog. Sorry for the lateness.
The Songs of Solomon are an interesting group of chapters all centered around the emotional depth of genuine love. I appreciate how Joyce Meyers brings a picture of intimate love for God as well as intimate love for our mate into the writing. To this day I still have troubling moments regarding intimacy and its connection to sex. The memories of childhood are there and Satan tries his best to remove the beauty of intimacy in this area for me. This is difficult to write about, but it is a part of the journey for me. I know that writing this helps me recognize it so I can reject it. Replacing it with self-love, self-appreciation and self-confidence is something I’ve never thought about until this very moment of writing. Wow, God has been showing me that I can let this torment go. He has replaced it with a wonderful marriage and commitment to my wife. I can simply reject this torment! Boy, do I love how God works!
Forty-four years ago today I was called out of my classroom about 10:00 am by my principal. She had been called by my wife. I needed to come home and take her to the hospital. Our second child was about to be born–Amber Jean. All of these years later, she has been nothing but an inspiration. As a dad, we always want our kids to know how to make wise choices, and if a child strays, how do they quickly get back on track. Well, this child is one who, if she ever did stray, never strayed far. She is the one who has helped so many find their way to God or back to God. Today she is a children’s pastor whose influence reaches beyond the kids to their parents and community. Along with that she is a blessed wife and mom. Her dad is proud!
Yesterday I had a moment of questioning God’s involvement with the work I do in education. Sometimes it can feel as though what one does for God at church competes with what one does in the secular world. However, just expressing it yesterday allowed God to show me throughout yesterday why I can’t lose sight of His involvement in each area of work He has laid before me. I’ve always been a passionate advocate of education and never questioned God’s leading me there. He definitely reminded me that He hasn’t stopped doing that. What a wonderful God we serve!
God is GOOD! The class, Mending the Soul, had 5 men come yesterday. We got off to a healthy start. We will keep the doors open for two more weeks in case there are others who may want to begin. The crazy thing about the training materials I couldn’t find was easily addressed too. As I was shaving yesterday morning I was reminded (by God’s nudge) to check my Celebrate Recovery bag which I don’t typically use. Once I did, I recalled coming home last Thursday night and putting them in there thinking I could remember from Thursday night to Sunday they were there. So much for the memory of a 70 year old! Well, all of yesterday is now past and a new week begins.
I’m in the middle of Songs of Solomon with my Bible reading. He talks so much about the passions of man and the ill effects of them when they lead us down the path of selfishness, self-centeredness, vain-glory. As I’m reading all of this I for the first time see a huge difference between what I do for work and what I do for God’s Kingdom. I have much passion for my work in education. Yet, I find that all work has an end and the outcomes of it are fully dependent on the buy-in of the next person. If a new leader comes, every bit of work can be thrown out if they so choose. There are measures we take to avoid this from happening, yet, the opportunity to do this still exists. (Two of the leaders I’ve been working with for the past 3 years are leaving). On the other hand, the work we do for God’s Kingdom has eternal effects both here and throughout eternity. Our passions are all about man and his desires if we don’t keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. There is a big lesson here for each of us and God is helping me see my passions as they relate to me rather than to Him.
Yesterday was quite the test. Satan did all he could to divert the breakfast meeting time so there wouldn’t be time for our interview. Two other topics were brought to the floor at the last minute which occupied all of the time which is ordinarily given to the morning’s planned topic. The pastor told me at the breakfast there was some interference. However, as we began, it seemed The Holy Spirit took control. Only God knows the impact He wanted. Today we start the class–Mending the Soul. Last night I dreamed that there was a crowd of men outside the room as we started today. The room was too small and not enough chairs. I had another dream where only 2 were present. I’ll be glad to get this started today!
After the class today our Celebrate Recovery leadership has its monthly meeting. Another gal and I are to do the training piece. We had met earlier in the week and I ran the materials Thursday ahead of our weekly CR night. This morning the materials are not to be found. As I was doing my journaling God seemed to tell me to focus on Him and to not worry about what He has already addressed. So, somehow, if we are to have the training today, these materials will show. I’m going to focus on what I know I’m to do. I TRUST our God!
A little later this morning I’ll be giving my story to a breakfast group of men (100+) at our church supporting the start of our class: Mending the Soul, tomorrow. It is a nerve wrenching time for me doing this. Most of that centers around admitting to my own abuse and the damage it did to me. I’ve always hated admitting that I wasn’t strong enough to endure it and still be free from it. However, God has made it abundantly clear that He wants to use this mess of mine as His message to support others in taking healthy steps for themselves. Once I’ve done this part I’m always glad I did for it does help people open to their own hurt and damage they’ve kept in secret. In fact, when I shared my story with our Celebrate Recovery group Thursday night, one gal who had only been coming 4 weeks said, “Now I know I’m at the right place.” My prayer this morning is that the men present will know they are at the right place and hearing the right message. I’ve included in the talk about the abused victim taking the class, but also, what an unabused man can do to help support a victim.
Sometimes taking steps with God requires us to be a “little uncomfortable”. Yet, this discomfort turns into joy when one sees the results of God working. I submit to this today and praise Him for using my story for His purposes. To God be the GLORY!
One of the toughest things for me has been going to share group after telling my story. If you are unfamiliar with this process, in Celebrate Recovery, everyone meets in large group first. This is where I told my story. Afterwards we break into small groups which are gender specific to process the lesson or the testimony’s impact on you. So, last night the small group topic was my story’s impact on the men in our group. I’ve always had a very difficult time receiving compliments, but last night, it wasn’t as though I were receiving compliments. I was listening and watching how God was using His Work in my life to impact others in their own struggles. One man who has only come twice simply wept when it was his turn. He passed and later in the hour told his part. But, what was so kind to hear was the message from one of our leaders. He is the man who has replaced me as the ministry lead. He said, “This is the first time I’ve heard your story given from the freedom side. Your past doesn’t seem to have you in bondage any more. Forgiveness is evident.” I had no idea what my story sounded like before, but I can say that the one telling the story this time believes without doubt that he is a new creation–Praise God!
The journey does continues and tomorrow morning I’ll give my story in a different context with the men at the church breakfast. I pray for the one/s who need to know their secret bondage has a freedom awaiting for them!