Today is my dear sis Bonnie’s birthday. As I look back on life I can easily see that she was my personal cheerleader from first memories to today. She is right ahead of me in birth order. We talk often and she always reminds me of strengths I possess. She struggles with life today due to some serious strokes, but her spirit is alive and well. What a blessing she is to all who know her!
Last night the step study group I put together from men coming for counseling met and we did the first lesson–DENIAL. There are only three men in the group so we were able to go deeply into the questions and their responses to them. I was amazed at the level of honesty and vulnerability that was present with them. One of the three said he struggles with trust, but that wasn’t evident at all.
One of the questions in the lesson centers around the reason we need to face what has been in denial for us. My own response to this was my need to remember how easy it is to push my past behind me and try living as though it didn’t exist. I’m much better today at facing this, but things like writing this blog daily also help me live in the present.
As I was journaling this morning and asking Jesus what He wanted me to know from Him for today, His response was immediate. He said the hurts, hang-ups and habits I’ve struggled with over the years no longer need to be considered my weaknesses. Two gifts God has given me are responsibility and discipline. What has always been considered my weaknesses are now placed in my category of strengths. This is where God’s Strengths reside in me. So, when I see my past through the lens of discipline and responsibility, I know God and I can handle them for God’s Strength in me is much stronger than any grip the weaknesses have had.
I’d never seen my past through this lens. It makes me smile to see them this way today!
Today in my scripture reading Moses goes to Mt. Nebo where he dies. God buries him after He showed him all of the land the Israelites will be claiming as they cross the Jordan River. The scripture says the children of Israel mourned for 30 days. Moses had been in charge of these people for the past 40 years once they’d left Egypt. Now he is gone and their new leader is Joshua. Moses had anointed him in front of the Israelites and God’s wisdom was given to Joshua.
Reading this, I began to ponder the level of excitement and anxiety the Israelites must have had with Moses dying and now they go into the land God is giving them with their new leader. It made me think about my stepping away from 50 years working in education to start counseling. I knew this was something God wanted me to do, (He had made that clear for me), but it didn’t remove the anxiousness I kept experiencing. We know the Israelites go into the new land and conquer one after another. God kept showing them He keeps His promises.
This has been true for me over and over as I’ve taken this new step. Even though it has only been 8 months since we started the counseling program, the benefits from it are already being seen (by those coming and by myself as I’ve gained so much new learning). The anxiety I had is being replaced with assurance. Yes, I still feel a level of concern each time I meet with someone new, but God’s Spirit always provides.
New steps in life can make us anxious, but keeping the God we serve upfront in our hearts and mind will overcome any anxiousness of flesh and the deceptions Satan wants us to believe.
Mondays are often days I can stay home and get work done. Now that Spring has arrived I can be outside and get yard work started. Yesterday was one of those where God and His timing and attention to detail were so kind. I’ve been wanting to get some work done outside without wind. Yesterday, early morning, was that right time. I quickly got into my work clothes and began. Just as I was finishing the rain began along with the wind. Amazingly, what I was doing needed rain as soon as possible. I told my wife that God just keeps showing me how much He cares about what’s important to us!
Recently I was counseling with a client who needed to address self-esteem/worth. The materials I found in the biblical counseling site seemed to criticize the one struggling saying their struggle was because they didn’t know God well. I spent so many years struggling with this issue and wondered why this great organization would be so trite regarding something so important? I took this issue to one of the two retired counselors who work with me and asked their opinion of this. I was amazed to hear that if one knows God well and believes what God says, self-worth is never an issue for them. The real problem is belief–a spiritual strength, not belief in a carnal sense.
As I began to process for myself how the significance of God has grown for me in the past few years, I easily understand what the counseling site meant. One will never believe they have worth when the very One who created them is devalued. On the contrary, when the Creator is known and fully believed, one can readily believe their value is true. This is not an ego trip, this is God’s Work. An ego trip is what Satan tries to have us believing in our flesh. This is what my father struggled with all of his life and passed the struggle onto his kids (me). God is so faithful in helping turn this issue around. I want to help others see the truth in this and to know and believe by growing in their walk with God.
God is always at work. Many years ago, I was a young man in my 20’s, my dad was on the verge of quitting a church because he was angry with one of the Sunday School teachers. I can no longer recall the circumstances and that’s not important anyway. My dad had done this so many times in the past, it was actually predictable. He and mom had retired and moved to our area from the farm.
I don’t know how our pastor heard about dad’s behavior, but he took it upon himself to confront dad. He went to their place and told dad he’d heard that he was upset with this teacher. Dad began to tell him why and the pastor’s response was a message from God. He told dad, “God is at work at our church. This Sunday School teacher is part of that work God is doing. You can choose to be part of this work or you can choose to miss out on the blessings of seeing God work. This will be your choice.”
What I recall now is what my dad did for the first time, I believe. Dad chose to turn himself around and to support. To my knowledge dad had never been confronted by someone. In so doing, he relented. He continued with the church and I don’t believe he ever “quit going” again. God’s is AMAZING in the ways He does work. I want to choose to join Him!
Yesterday was a very productive and fruitful day. My grandson and I were able to get all of the outside work done I was hoping could take place. Along with that I was able to get some errands done which were like frosting on the cake! Most of all, it was a bright, sunny day and we got to be out in it all day long!
As this day begins I am headed to a counseling appointment followed by the beginning of a 2nd small group of men where we will tackle the issue of pornography. When I was thinking about starting this several weeks ago, it was to eliminate talking about this issue one on one and do it with a couple of the men using this great curriculum. There are 6 men now on the list. I know this topic is rampant in our society. All of the ones coming are young men with the exception of one. I praise God that these men are taking this courageous step at this early stage of life. God has a freedom for us and this topic is included in it.
I personally know this topic and its bondage. Satan finds all sorts of manipulative ways to try and keep God’s kids within his grasp. Today, the Sword of the Spirit will penetrate darkness and bring LIGHT from Heaven to a darkness that now must flee!
Today is a blessed day. I had one appointment this morning which needed to cancel leaving the day wide open for being outside gardening all day! I even have a grandson coming to help which makes it more fun!
Yesterday I had a first appointment with a man who is struggling with several items which he outlined during our intake. At the end of the session I asked him if he had any questions before we closed in prayer? He asked, “How did you find your trust in God?” I teared up and couldn’t talk for a moment. When I did answer, I told him that my trust in God grew exponentially as I began to believe His Word regarding my value to Him. There are so many verses in the Bible which tell us how important we are to God. I believed all of them for others, but I couldn’t find any belief in them for me. When I began to use the 3-R’s: Recognize, Reject and Replace for the lies I was believing and replace the lies with the 3-S’s: Self-love, Self-appreciation and Self-confidence; my trust in God became grounded. I had no reason not to trust Him.
Satan cannot create as God does but he sure can confuse the truths of God with the sins of others and of our own making God’s truths seem artificial. God’s truths are as solid today as they were thousands of years ago when they were first written. Belief, Trust, Faith and more are the pillars of solidity grounding trust. Today I BELIEVE and because of this, I can TRUST!
Last night I started a small group of men using the Celebrate Recovery Step Study program. Two attending are ones I’ve been counseling with and the other man being from our CR. The group is small, but I thought that was OK and maybe the best considering the ones coming from the counseling side. One of the two from counseling didn’t attend last night saying he completely forgot, leaving two present. This morning as I began to journal I was lamenting to Jesus how disappointing it was to start a step study for only “2” men and hopefully “3”. I’ve never conducted a step study with this small of a number.
As I asked my question of Jesus, what He wanted me to know from Him for today, I was brought up short. He immediately addressed my attitude about the numbers. He said He has always been about the person’s recovery/salvation/freedom. He said that numbers to me were an indication of importance/value. He is wanting a heart change for a person who is willing to come. If I see numbers, where is my attention going?
Being of value has always been significant to me. I grew up thinking I was of little, if any, value–mostly I felt I was disappointing and in the way. I understand this, but little did I think this was still with me to the point it is. I gave this “desire of the flesh” to Jesus this morning. If 2 or 3 come and find freedom, I can rejoice with Jesus for this is why He came!
Have you ever tried to separate your soul from the rest of you? As I have connected now with the counseling program I find myself dealing with a great deal of emotion. Much of this centers around anger. The other is regret. There are lots of words which can be added to provide additional personalization to these emotions, but this is a start. I’ve spent a lifetime suppressing emotions if they were negative/hurtful so that I wouldn’t appear to be like my dad. However, I know now that suppressing emotions is not in anyone’s best interest. Yes, it is good to manage one’s emotions so they are used meaningfully for you and used at the right time. Emotions are energy which strengthen/empower us. Because emotions are energy, they can also drain us, and others too, when used destructively. All of this is part of our soul.
As I’ve spent time studying soul and spirit separate from my body, I’ve found that spirit is at our core. It is our direct connection with God for He gives us The Holy Spirit when we accept Christ into our lives. Our spirit, when used to guide us, will keep our soul focused on the actions pleasing to God and our spirit guides our worship of God as well.
There is so much more to all of this, but its enjoyable, I find, to seek this clarity instead of trying to hide the fact that I am an emotional being who is me–not anyone else. I am a child of God, created by Him, given His Spirit to dwell within me so I can honor God fully with my body and soul making choices the Spirit guides. It is “fun” to separate all of this out and then see it put together in oneself.
We are so fortunate to live in the world of today where Jesus Christ is our Redeemer. We are seen as righteous in God’s eyes when we have Jesus in our lives. I am in Deuteronomy as I read through the chronological Bible. Moses is giving his final speeches to the Children of Israel before he departs from them. In his messages he continuously emphasizes the importance of following the worship and living rules God had given them. The outcome of their obedience would be as it had been with David and Solomon’s leadership. If they didn’t, well, Israel would look like all the struggles they’ve had throughout the generations we know.
I read this and reflect on us today. We don’t need to be Jewish to disobey God. We just need to be human–the desire to disobey (live life as we want it) runs deep in mankind’s composition. I am so grateful to know and believe that God sees righteousness in me because of Christ living in me. I always want to see this through the lens of humility and gratitude for God is truly the God of Grace & Mercy which continuously forgives this humanness of ours. My job?/Our job?–keep Jesus as our reason for living. Only He can truly satisfy our soul!