This morning started with an unusual sense of peace for me. As I sat down to begin my devotions all I could do is say thanks to God for this unusual sense I could only describe as coming from Him. Yesterday, Kathy and I had lunch with friends from neighboring Emmett, ID. As we visited I was telling him (who is a pastor) about my current struggles. He was reminding me of what I had put in yesterday’s blog–to be aware of the evil attacks and how devious Satan and his angels/demons can be–even to the degree of seemingly light carriers. As I was taking a moment to reflect in this sense of peace this morning I thought I should read the prayers in the spiritual warfare pamphlet I have. The specific ones were for: spiritual victory and wearing the Armor of God. Each prayer began by speaking to God–Heavenly Father. I hadn’t noticed this detail until this morning as I’ve read/prayed them before today. This morning, however, there seemed to be a reason I noticed them beginning with “Heavenly Father”.
As I finished my devotional reading and scripture reading and began to journal I thought I would go ahead and journal to Father God rather than Jesus Christ. It was when I wrote this that I began to receive some real clarity. In John 17:6-26 is found the prayer Christ prays for His disciples. In the prayer He says starting with verse 15, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” I realized it is our Heavenly Father who is the ultimate protector. He is the One and Only True God. Yes, indeed, He gave us Jesus Christ and The Holy Spirit but He didn’t give them to us to replace Himself. He did this so They could lead us to Him. Maybe this is only a lot of words to you, but for me, it is hugely significant. With my years of abuse I had come to the conclusion I wasn’t important to God, at least not as much so as other men. I had learned to live with this and resorted to earning my way to significance. I’ve written this in my book and written about it numerous times in this blog. So, this morning, journaling to God my Father was a step of faith. In my journaling I heard God say to my spirit that now I am finally home in clarity. He has always loved me and He wants to be my protector and my God. Jesus Christ and The Holy Spirit point the way to Him. Yes, they are part of the Triune God, but their purposes are to lead us (me) to God.
This peace I felt this morning I now know wasn’t just a freak moment in time. God was very present in Spirit and wanted to give me clarity to what He has always offered me–protection. Tonight I give my story to a number of teens in a detention center. I’m told they have all been abused in their past and have chosen to step into illegal practices as a result. I want them to hear from one who also knows abuse that there is another path that can be taken–the path of God the Father through Jesus Christ His Son–Praise the Lord!
My day started this morning at 3:10 am. I awoke with a testimony on my mind–one I still needed to revise/finish. Tomorrow evening I give my story to the teens in a juvenile center in Nampa. I think I mentioned about 3 weeks ago meeting with the chaplain of this center. She had read my book and wanted to meet. In doing so, she asked if I’d consider telling my story to the teens as she felt they’d benefit from hearing it. I had sent her my testimony from Celebrate Recovery unsure it was what the kids ought to hear, some being as young as 12 and 13. After reading it she said it was right on track for them. I had begun to make some minor adjustments yesterday morning but hadn’t finished. So, this morning I had it done by 4:15 am and was then able to return to sleep. When I’d finished my devotions I typically sit down to the computer for the blog’s daily entry. However, I had all this yard work I wanted to do while it was still cool and I forgot momentarily about this. I don’t suppose any of this makes a difference to a reader, but it does point out for me that my journey into these “old and special” years needs post it notes everywhere!
I have been struggling of late with temptations to flee as in my “not so long ago” days. I was asking Jesus about it this morning and He reminded me of this work we are doing: getting an academy built for teen girls being trafficked, starting an adult sexual addiction ministry at our church, giving my testimony tomorrow night to a highly at risk group of teens, the Celebrate Recovery ministry, etc. And I asked why I would be under attack? I do tend to bury myself in what I am doing and have blinders on to what is happening around me. I need people sensitive to the environment reminding me to be aware and not caught off guard. As my prayer warrior told me, I need to adjust my “helmet of salvation” so I hear the voice of God when it is needed. I don’t know if this tendency of mine is genetic or if it is a result of my abusive past, either way I’m needing help with this character defect so I don’t find myself vulnerable for these attacks.
OK, now it is back to the yard! God’s blessings to you.
This is truly a journey I’m (we) are on. Everyone’s journey will eventually end with the same result–death. However, these days of living are ones where Christ wants us free in Him so when that day of ending comes, He can tell us, “Good work, my faithful friend.”
Yesterday was another day of experiencing God’s work. It started with a meeting for the Aslan ministry–the academy being started for girls who have been rescued from trafficking. Three of us met with a potential provider of land. It was a very enlightening meeting. If we were to work with him and his non-profit group, our land would be donated and labor would be done in part by the interns in their program.
In the early afternoon a good friend and accountability in Celebrate Recovery came over with his daughter so she could swim. He and I met so I could go over some inventory items I wanted to address with him. Now that my personal recovery is where it is I am recognizing “my part” and I needed to address it out loud with my accountability. It took years for me to fully awaken to the fact that the abuse of my past wasn’t my fault–now it is time for me to recognize what my part is in my present living. Examples are the character defects I carry such as the ones I wrote about in the last couple days. I don’t want to blame them on abuse. If I’m to overcome these behaviors I need to own them and then surrender them to the One True God who is my healer.
Last night Kathy and I hosted a meeting for a new ministry our church is starting in the fall. It is for men and women who are struggling with sexual addiction/patterns of behavior. The statistics regarding this need are staggering but because of the topic it is often left unaddressed by most churches. Sadly, there are many pastors struggling with this struggle just like their congregation is. I myself have my own struggle as residue from my personal past abuse so I’m so eager to have this finally starting. Celebrate Recovery identifies this as one of the addictive behaviors this ministry addresses, but the need is so great and the denial is equally as great, the struggle needs its own attention. This ministry along with Celebrate Recovery can support one another and that is what our meeting was about. We don’t want these competing with each other.
All these ministries are wonderful–but none are worth anything if they aren’t bathed in prayer. Man cannot face the demons within these addictions. Man loses each time he tries. However, Christ has already won this battle and so we start this ministry with the VICTORY of Christ’s work for each of us on the cross of Calvary. To the one struggling, all they know is that now I’m exposed. However, in coming forth with this step, one then begins to find the Victory of the Cross. Amen and Amen
Yesterday’s post had me taking a couple steps to reach out to some of the guys who had reached out for help a couple weeks ago. In so doing I will be meeting with one of them. It was a good lesson for me to learn. In fact, one of the guys in our Celebrate Recovery share group last night said that “outreach” is reaching out. I’m glad that character defect I’ve been struggling with is now out in the Light of God so I can see it for what it is–wrong thinking.
Yesterday, along with reaching out, had several disturbing elements in it. Things like men who are struggling with their addictive patterns, one who has a court hearing next week for which I’ll attend with him, problems that I can’t share here but need prayer, etc. As I was in my devotional time this morning I was journaling about all of this and what my role ought to be. Jesus instantly brought to my attention that I can release to Him all of the burden I was emotionally carrying. He is the Great Healer–not me. In fact, what I had written in the journal was about how He carried the weight of the world’s issues and I just had the weight of a few here in Caldwell, ID. That is when He enlightened me to my role and His role. I am a supporter and not a healer which doesn’t need to carry worry and anxiety. As I write this I see another character defect coming to light. Wow, two in the same day–I best go back to bed! In all sincerity, I am so grateful to God for all of this enlightenment. My lifelong journey has always had these crippling moments emotionally which I buried. It is good to have them in the open so I can let Christ’s healing power address them and I can serve Him with more freedom.
Every Tuesday night is step study with the ones attending from our Celebrate Recovery program. The lesson was Grace. How I love that lesson! The interesting twist in the lesson is that we are to learn to extend God’s Grace as He has extended it to us. We do this by making amends for the wrongs of our past and learning to do this quickly if we wrong someone in the present. We also learn that Grace is a gift from God which has no strings attached. When we offer Grace to someone else we are to do so without any expectations from them. If we have expectations, we are not offering Grace.
With all that said, I was really taken by a statement one of the men gave last night. We had a newcomer arrive to Celebrate Recovery a couple weeks back. He is really hurting, one could see. This gentleman from last night stated he’d been prompted to contact him and was now going to be meeting weekly with him. This gentleman was new to Celebrate Recovery last winter and already he is finding the Grace of last night’s lesson and is starting to give back. I was touched by this, but God had more than a touch He wanted me to receive from this. Monday morning, two days ago, I knew I didn’t have anyone I was meeting with through this week. I knew I’d met with 8 different ones a couple weeks ago but this week was empty. What I felt God nudging me with from last night’s action from this gentleman was “reaching out”. I have been waiting for people to reach out to me rather than my reaching out to them to see if they would like to meet. All this became really clear this am when I was journaling during devotions. As a child I was an eager beaver to do things and particularly do things for others. I would even ask if they wanted me to do this or that. My dad would ridicule me severely for this saying things like: “Who do you think you are anyway?” Dad saw my actions as egotistical for whatever reason and he did a good job letting me know this. So, I learned to let people ask for help. Celebrate Recovery would call this a character defect–man’s teaching rather than God’s teaching.
This morning God was showing me that reaching out isn’t egotistical when I’m not trying to get glory from it. He wants me (us) reaching out when we are offering His Light to an area of hurt/bondage life has crippled someone with. This morning I’m going to reach out to a couple of the guys I know are still hurting and this time I will do it without guilt. Oh, and by the way, I think this is part of being a new creation. I need that reminder too.
It is not quite as easy for me to sit down and write this blog when life seems to be on a hiatus. I come home for a couple days without Kathy which is no new thing for us. However, this time I got the work done I wanted to do and then some things came up which I’m not sure about. I got a call yesterday from the man who is starting the Aslan Christian Academy. He is asking if I’d like to be vice president of the organization? The job description would fit my background fine but these things are ones I like to have God’s stamp of approval before saying yes. Right now this academy is unable to move forward in getting started because the property we were to build on has been pulled. We are looking for a new location. The director is fine with all this but these things leave me in a quandary that I need time to sort through. There are so many steps to be taken: fund raising being at the top, certificates from Health and Welfare for housing these troubled girls, etc.
As I was addressing these items with the Lord this morning I sensed He simply wanted me to move forward with this and take by faith the fact that He will shed His Light as we take each step. Once again, these gray areas are more difficult for me. I’d like Light right now but God is wanting to grow me. The lady who I asked to be my prayer warrior said when I am up against a struggle I need to adjust my helmet. God gives each of us His armor as stated in Ephesians 6:11. When my thinking/fears/anxieties are in the way of God’s work and its timing, I need to adjust my helmet so it is in alignment. Right now I know I’m in a time of waiting so I need to learn the characteristics God wants me to be at this time. I’m pretty good at being patient when I know what I’m doing, but having it when I’m waiting without a distinct plan is another item. OK, I’m on an assignment that I need to have. I’m adjusting my helmet for today and away I go. I’ll keep you posted.
The weekend in Wallowa is over for me. I came back yesterday with the very daughter I blogged about a couple days ago. It is a 4 hour drive so we had time to talk while her two youngest boys slept and the dog was quiet. It was nice to have the time and it was an easy conversation time. Thank you God.
Yesterday there were more at my sis-in-law’s house than my family. Her oldest brother and wife were also there and they rise as early as I do. We took our time for devotions but it wasn’t easy to slip away and write this blog so I simply chose to skip the day and be with them. This brother-in-law was diagnosed with a terminal cancer less than a year ago. The doctors have him on experimental drugs but his own words were that there is no cure–only extended time. His spirits are great and he loves the Lord. He says he has had a good life and he is most grateful for this. It was good to be with him and his wife for a couple days.
Yesterday was also the birthday for my oldest living sis–Alice. She is the one Kathy and I went to visit at the end of June. She and Bonnie both live in S. Calif. very close to one another. Alice was the first sibling that knew there was something emotionally wrong with me–long before I knew it. She had asked me before I’d ever gone to counseling the first time if something was troubling me. She could read it on my face. She said I was stressed and she wondered why. That has been over 25 years ago but I’ve always felt free to talk with her because she KNEW. I loved that about her. Now she is the one struggling with deteriorating health. I wish I were closer so Kathy and I could be of more support for her. She is one dear lady.
As I was journaling this morning I was somewhat anxious about what God wanted me to do the next couple days. It was a nice reminder when He simply reminded me to thank Him for the beautiful summer morning–no wind, temperatures in the low 60’s, and the garden is starting in its prime. So, I did thank Him. I’ll do today what He puts before me and take it one moment at a time within the day. Thank you Jesus Christ my Savior and Lord. Your Light is brighter when I remember to thank you.
Today is my wife’s birthday. We are in Wallowa County, OR so we can celebrate it with her family. There is a large reunion planned for the afternoon where we will see aunts and uncles and cousins. Also, some of Kathy’s siblings will be present so it will be nice to see them again.
I was journaling earlier this am during my devotional time about my relationship with my youngest daughter. She arrived last night with her kids for the weekend. Angie is adopted so there has always been some behavior patterns she exhibits which startle me–they aren’t like anything resembling Kathy or me. I find myself taking a step away from the conversations because they are usually about drama which churns my stomach rather than pulls me in. I’ve never known if this behavior of mine is due to dealing with all the drama of my childhood and dad’s emotional ups and downs or if I am just wired this way. I was praying about this asking the Holy Spirit to help me connect with her spirit. He gently nudged me into realizing my pattern of pulling away is an old self pattern. Why wouldn’t I try to join her in my new creation where The Holy Spirit resides and has free reign? Wow, this was a wake up for me. Why would any dad want to be with their kids in their old self rather than the new creation God has given them? So, I surrendered this behavior to Jesus and asked for help to stay in my new creation today.
Ok, I have a little more yard work to do for my sis-in-law before the party begins so out to the yard I go.
Today begins early morning in Joseph, OR. The morning air is so cool it almost has a chill to it. A nice break from the desert heat of home. On our drive here yesterday I got a call from a close friend to pray for his son. This son with his parents had earlier in the week gone to a recovery center for drug detox. His call was to let me know that his son had walked away from the center the next morning and no one knew where he was. Of course I prayed. This young man is very close to me. Within 15 minutes the father called again to say his son had just called. He was at the home of a widow friend. He wants to stay there and try to detox on his own. I won’t step into this choice, but I will say that God is so good having the son call his dad. That in and of itself is a wonderful answer to prayer. God is so patient and good at taking each of us one step at a time.
The events of late for me have opened my eyes to a clearer reality I’d like to explain regarding my journey of present. Not so long ago I would have been feeling fully exposed having had 8 conversations one on one with people about their abuse and my own. I would be feeling raw and extremely vulnerable. This isn’t true now. Instead, these feelings have been replaced with the desire to pray diligently for these ones caught where I’ve been. On July 31 I’m speaking to a group of youth at a detention center in Nampa, ID. The chaplain for the center had read my book and asked for me to speak as many of these kids know my story first hand. The anxiety I so recently knew is turning into a deep concern to do God’s Kingdom work. No longer do I feel the paralysis of spirit to tell the raw truth of my past. This is all God’s story of His redeeming power. If others can benefit from this–to God be the Glory!
Not so long ago I wanted freedom from my past–I wanted this freedom to be the absence of my story and the raw, powerless feelings I had from its control of me. God is replacing this with His definition of His freedom. This freedom is to keep the story real and remove the raw, powerlessness. He is replacing it with the strength to let this story be a torch of His Light and His Love. Only God does such work as this. My selfishness wanted the story removed. God, instead, wanted my story to be our story which made Him the main character. I’m so grateful for the purifying power of His presence and for never answering my prayer. I would never want to restrict God’s purposes for me. I just want to say–thank you Lord.
Yesterday I started with the note regarding the phone message. After I’d finished the post I called the friend who said she’d be my prayer warrior. She prayed with me and gave me some sound scriptural advice like remembering to put on the armor of God. I really appreciated that. Nothing more came of this. It was a good reminder to be on spiritual guard.
Last night one of our own men gave their testimony for the first time. He has been coming to our Celebrate Recovery for about 2 years now. He’d been part of another one for a couple years prior to that in another part of our state. Much of his story centered around anger. It triggered in me so much of the anger I grew up knowing and fearing from dad. What was really beautiful however is that his story ends with him having made amends for all his choices earlier in his life. It also goes on to describe how he’s learned to make quick amends for choices he makes in living life one day at a time. I loved hearing all this. It was a sad reminder that my dad died a sad man because even though he had his relationship with Christ, much pride remained and crippled him from addressing the mistakes he’d made and the relationships he’d injured. I am most grateful God and my counselor had me repair this damage with dad prior to dad’s death.
Today Kathy and I leave for Wallowa, OR where she was born and raised. Her birthday is Saturday and there will also be a family reunion from her mother’s side of the family that day. They are a fun-loving bunch so we are looking forward to this. I even get to do some yard work for Kathy’s sis where we will be staying. For people who know me well, this is the motivation for me to go!
God continues to remind me and awaken me more fully to the reality of sin’s damage and man’s pride. There are many, many people stuck in their past but crippled to address it out of fear/pride and things just like this. He continues to remind me to be patient with them not knowing where and who He is working with, but to simply be ready to do the part He wants me to do when the door opens. He is the one who takes responsibility for opening doors. I want to trust always in Him.