Today is my oldest child’s birthday. She is far from a child anymore but it is funny how that word–“child” just springs forth. I suppose she will be my “child” even when I’m in my 90’s and she is in her ????. Best not put that here! Happy birthday Amy!
It seems as though I write almost every Wednesday about something that happened in our step study the night before. Today isn’t going to be any exception. Last night we finished the chapter on Relapse. There were questions about our prayer life and several pointed ones about it. Suddenly I re-realized that these questions were suppose to be specific to Relapse–not just questions about our prayer life. In other words, how does our prayer life impact our ability to not relapse or does it have an impact? I began to awaken to the truth that all the rituals we have for our prayer life aren’t anything but rituals if we don’t have a meaningful relationship with the One we are praying to: Father God, Jesus Christ, Holy Spirit. Everyone one of us knows about relapse whether we are participating in something like Celebrate Recovery or just living life each day. We stumble into old habits that have haunted us throughout life.
I finally said last night that my greatest strength in prayer support has come from building intimacy with my Father God. It started when I finally understood–He loves me–me. This has been such a huge factor for me once I’ve begun to journal to Father God these past few weeks. I’ve had to face the reality that I’ve not wanted to–what if God does think of me just what I thought He did–“Well, I made him, but he’s not what I had intended.” That lie is finally dead and I’ve begun to be awakened to the truth that God made no mistake when He had me come into my earthly family. So much strength was imparted to me when I began to come to this reality. The strength wasn’t like muscle strength, it was more about a peace that now I can trust God’s strength to conquer temptation and surrender becomes easier now that I better understand who I am surrendering to. God is amazing and I want to learn so much more about worshiping Him in spirit and in truth as we wrote about yesterday.
Today is a new day and the troubling spirit of yesterday is more peaceful. Getting acquainted to spirit-filled living is a new area for me on this journey of life committed to God my Father. In my devotions this morning I was awakened even more to what God is teaching me (us) about Him and His Team–Jesus Christ and The Holy Spirit. John 4:24 says “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” Somehow I’m just starting to understand more about this. To worship God in the Spirit is to worship him from our heart and not from our mind. Knowing much about God is nice, but it is not fulfilling to God unless we put it into action. Our heart drives us to action. The “truth” part of this scripture is just starting to become clearer. If we come to worship God out of habit and ceremony it is only a learned practice. However, if we come to worship God out of truth, we will worship him not from a learned habit, but from the desire of our heart. It is within our heart that The Spirit resides. This truth is becoming a little more tangible for me. I know God my Father is wanting to teach me much more about this and I want to be fully awake to learn from my heart and not so much from only my mind.
We are starting a new ministry this Fall addressing sexual integrity. I think I’ve mentioned this a while back. There have been many stumbling blocks in getting this organized and going–no surprise with Satan surely not wanting us addressing this bondage that grips so many of us men and even many ladies of today. This topic is what brought me to the first paragraph’s processing this morning with God. I’d had a conversation with one of our pastor’s late yesterday afternoon about finalizing some steps and addressing some complexity in the steps. The complexity is simply–conflict between those working with leadership of this. This is why God was talking to me about Spirit and Truth. I wanted to address this conflict from what I know–God told me to address it from what He does in Spirit and Truth. Now I have an entirely new approach for this and my spirit feels confirmed this is the right way. God is truly amazing when we allow Him to take the Lead. Thank you God my Father–my Dad.
Today is starting with my spirit troubled–no tangible reason, yet God tells me to move into it and do His bidding. So that is what I am going to do. I have 7 grandkids starting school today ranging from kindergarten to freshman in high school. I have two more that started school over a week ago in another state. Yet, this is the year I will have very little to do with school. I have not made any new commitments for this coming year except with our state department of ed which won’t happen until later Fall and Winter. Even that will be a small commitment. Maybe all of this is what has my spirit in unrest. I’m not sure what to do with the reality that all this is beginning and I have no tangible attachment to it. God has taken me into a different area of involvement.
Last night my siblings living in Idaho got together with spouses to say our good-byes to our youngest sis, Polly. She and her husband Dan are moving to Indiana in Sept. to be with their son’s family there. Dan is retiring. The ones of us here have been together for all our adult years. It is bitter sweet seeing her go. Even their daughter who lives here is also moving. They are the ones whose son drowned in early July. I suppose, as I write all of this, that my spirit is responding to these changes. I have nothing to do except wish all of them well and let them know I love and support them. Why does that seem so trite?
I do have much to do today. We are preparing to have our new year kickoff for Celebrate Recovery in Sept. and I need to organize getting it launched. The Aslan Ministry has work to be done which I can do. However, just for a moment I need to reflect on the work of my past. It seems I need to mourn saying good-by to it. I know it is the right thing to do but I did love being part of it. I have left it with no regrets. I do love what I’m doing now but there aren’t roots deeply grown and I think that’s part of my troubled spirit. I like deep roots. I know God has been needing me to better understand having my roots deeply grown into my Trust in Him. I’ll spend some time fertilizing this area of growth today and in my days ahead.
This journey is truly one of amazement. In the last couple days God has begun to awaken in me a bigger, richer understanding of Him. Just this morning He was showing me how much I had Him boxed into a god I could manage and deal with. He pointed out that He was proportioned in size to the god who did (in my mind) little or nothing while I was a child growing up. The god who was to be like a superhero never came. I’ve always loved superheros but this god didn’t fit with them somehow. Only now am I beginning to realize the impact of sin in our world. God gave us free will. Superheros dealt with man’s free will to overcome it. God said He would not do that so that we were free to choose him as a choice of our free will. Man often chooses to let free will itself become his god. This is something like ultimate sin. Within free will comes such horrific acts by man and none of them are complimentary. Pride becomes arrogant and lofty. So this morning I asked God what He wanted me to know from Him. He said to honor Him just as it states in the Ten Commandments. Instantly I realized that this free will is given perspective when I choose to Honor God. Instead of me boxing in this god who I thought had failed me, I now realize by choosing to honor God, He will box in my free will allowing me to be more honorable to Him.
There is so much to know about living in the Spirit of God. God is Spirit and His gift to us through Jesus Christ is The Holy Spirit. This human side of us doesn’t want to compete with this Gift and there is warfare I cannot see taking place regarding this reality. However, I want to know much more about this so I can be surrendered to the One who did win this war already.
Sometimes our journey includes a number of people and sometimes it is a road alone. Today, my journey includes some very dear friends I told you about yesterday. It was Wednesday they took their son to a rehab a couple hours away from this valley where we live. Yesterday they had to return and bring him back. He had walked out on Thursday night which one commits not to do when they enroll. The consequence is that one cannot return if they choose this behavior. This is a hard reality when we come face to face with life’s choices that slap us right in the face. They are all in pain right now. I know that God uses pain to awaken us to the areas in our life that need healing. Sometimes we have to submit to surgery to get areas of life removed to healing can take place. How tough all of this is–how well I know this.
Today our quartet and about 6 more will give a performance for a group of community people that has a theme of patriotism. I am amazed to find that the songs we are singing have words written as much as 50+ years ago and yet ring true for today’s political state. Let me give an example. The song, “I’m Just a Flag-Waving American” was written in 1974 so 42 years ago. Yet, read these words from the second verse: “Many things I know could be made better, I agree. In counties and states and even on capitol hill. We deplore each fraud and scandal, injustice that remains; but show me a finer country, as good or happier country, O show me a better country if you will!” These words resonate with today’s state, yet there is such tremendous strength as we pull together and unite our hearts to find God’s leadership.
I was asking God to tell me what He wanted me to know for today. His message was simple–“Obey”. This is a simple command when it means only to get up in the morning and have devotions with Him. But, when it means having a tough conversation with someone, confronting what God has shown me needs addressed, it is not so easy. However, that is the message of the day. I want to be the new creation He made me to be and I want this new creation on assignment for my Creator. I’ll step into obedience.
I found out yesterday that a couple who are dear friends took their youngest child to a rehab center on Wednesday. It was gruelingly painful for them but they also knew it was the best thing they could do for this 30 year old young man. As we all do who are struggling with an addiction, we deny its ownership of us–this has been true for their son. As I talked with them last night I told them I’d be praying for the truth to come forth for their son. There is a truth I had to face once I stepped out of denial and it was (and still is at times) a daily struggle. This is about our (my) true identity.
In Celebrate Recovery we introduce ourselves as “Hi, I’m ________, I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ who struggles with ______.” We do this to help convince ourselves that our identity is in Christ Jesus and not in our struggle/addiction. I was sharing this with them last night to emphasize why so many of us want to stay in denial–we are convinced by our own thinking and Satan’s deception that our struggle is our identity. We are ashamed of this and want it hidden forever. The fact that Christ paid the price for this sin just doesn’t ring clear during this time in our life. Please join me in prayer for this young man as he begins to awaken to himself and the true self that God created in him from the beginning.
Our church is starting a new ministry this Fall for men struggling with a sexual addiction that is solely for this topic. This addiction is part of Celebrate Recovery, but there are stigmas attached to attending CR. We hope men will be more apt to attend under this new title. I’m writing this in the blog because we need prayer for this ministry as the time to start it approaches. I think I’ve already talked about it a couple weeks ago. Anyway, two of the potential leaders we had intended to use have relapsed leaving only one to begin the work. Satan is actively wanting this to not take place. This awful sin is rampant in our country and world. Please join me in praying for bondage to be broken in this as we begin on Sept. 20.
I know I can easily get caught up in “ministry work” forgetting momentarily about my personal side and daily struggle. This type of work has always been a means for me to be lost in my denial–God uses me so I don’t need to address this other part of me–I use to think. However, as my journey continues, I become more and more aware that God loves me in spite of all my sin even to the point of erasing it through the blood of His Own Son–Jesus. I want to claim this and let the truth of this be my shield as I step into the battle of living one day at a time.
Little did I know a couple weeks ago what God was wanting me to learn about Him by journaling to Him. Journaling is very intimate for me. I do get into the anxiety, fears, doubts, bitterness and yet, the longings, deep yearnings I have. To be taking this to God my Father has been a real stretch for me. I just didn’t know the impact that dad’s early childhood abuse had on my belief system until I began to truly tackle it this way. I simply knew in my head that I would be judged severely if I ever talked to God the way I would with Jesus or with The Holy Spirit. I knew God had provided them so I could have a softer/kinder approach to this ugliness within me. God would not have any patience with me dealing with this. Well, I am beginning to learn just what God told me yesterday morning–He is the ONE of the Three in One. Yes, my dad did judge and punish severely throughout my childhood but God has been so deeply compassionate as I’ve begun to share with Him.
I had an interesting lesson once again last night. Before our Celebrate Recovery dinner started at 6:00 pm, I had our leadership team meet so we could finalize our kick-off structure on Sept. 21. I had had a couple of folks in our Celebrate Recovery group ask me why the quartet I sing with never sings for CR? I had told them we just didn’t fit the style of music CR uses. In reality, however, I was scared to death to actually sing for our group and hear the judgment which I knew would follow. As I have given personal thought to our kick-off this fall, I keep getting nudged to ask the leadership group for their wishes. Well, I was overwhelmed by their response last night saying–“I wondered when you would ever consider singing for us.” One of the guys said–“You hear this? Now just do it.” I asked God this morning for His insights for me. God tenderly pointed out that my fears were not His voice. The nudges I’d felt were His Spirit prompting me to ask. The groups response was His voice. He then went on to say that the harshness of dad’s messages were not from Him. He said that He had given me talent and gifts and I was withholding them out of fear and judgment. I now needed to let this go. Wow, what an awakening for me. The kindness of Christ and the tenderness of The Holy Spirit are all grounded in God the Father. I have much to learn here and I feel more brave each day staying on the journey with Him. All praise to God my Father!
Last night in our weekly step study class our lesson was on Relapse. In the back of the Celebrate Recovery Bible there are 30 daily devotions which coincide with each of the lessons taught in CR and in the step studies. In reading the devotion last night it states that our temptation isn’t sin–it is a battle. As I was journaling about this statement this morning God pointed out something for me I truly needed to experience. He said this is why I’ve placed My Holy Spirit within you and why I have My Son Jesus standing before you. This battle is not to be fought by you. Surrender it and let those who have already won the battle stand in this gap for you. I have always struggled with my identity in Christ and have always simply tried to fight the good fight on my own. Even though I’ve known for years what God was telling me, I for the first time saw it in my own personal circumstances. There is a little more to this story because He also told me that He had created me to be a saint, not abused. Man did this, not Him. He has restored the original creation within me, I just haven’t ever been able to fully accept it. I found this so humbling and I wanted to believe it as truth too.
I went into our bedroom and was sharing this with Kathy. As I was trying to articulate it to her I broke and wept. The reality of this truth seemed to good to be true for me. God is wanting me to know this truth at each moment of each day–not just when I may be experiencing an emotional high or a spiritual high. I love this and desperately need it.
The other thing God pointed out this morning had to do with my journaling to Him. I told Him I felt as though I was losing touch with Jesus and The Holy Spirit when I journaled to Him only. He was quick in letting me know He is All Three. He is the ONE of the Three in One. Somehow this reality is going to take root. I look forward to grasping this reality more thoroughly.
I was lastly informed this morning that I am not alone with this battle. Much of mankind struggles with this mostly in silence. He asked me to share this with you so that is why I am placing it in today’s blog. I hope it speaks clarity in truth for you as it does for me. It also shows such intimacy about this magnificent God our ours.
There is an old hymn, “Be Still My Soul”. Its first verse says: “Be still my soul the Lord is on thy side; bear patiently the cross of grief or pain; leave to thy God to order and provide; in every change He faithful will remain. Be still my soul; thy heavenly, Friend through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.” I have always loved this hymn and God often reminds me of it when I am anxious. These past couple days are a perfect example of when God reminded me of it. I know so well the truth that God’s plan and timing of His plan being implemented will disrupt man’s ways. However, when it becomes personal to my family and me I do just what I did this weekend. I draw inward, overly scrutinize all I’ve done wrong or not done as right as I should and wonder if God is doing this because of my ill ways.
This morning’s devotions were perfectly in tune with God’s leading in my life. It stated that there can be peace in obedience. I know I have a bad habit of doing what I described above when all I see around me is trouble. I did not in those 48 hours sense any peace, yet by last night the work God is doing in my family began to unfold just a little. Light began to shine forth. It had little if anything to do with me, I, on the other hand, simply needed to keep the problems before the throne of Grace until those involved got their own light. The other thing this morning’s devotions brought out is our need to understand–God doesn’t want to fit into our plan; He, on the other hand, wants us fitting into His perfect plan. This is what He was wanting me to do for this weekend. He was wanting me to see the problem, feel the pain involved and pray for those in pain even though the expression of the pain had many accusations. Those accusations were expressions of deep hurt yet unresolved with God and man.
God is really working on me wanting me to know He is fully in charge. He has a place for me in His plan. I no longer need to try and take charge. I can fully trust Him. My heart’s desire is to do this each day and each moment within the day. I hear–Be Still My Soul. That is a command not a request. I love it when God’s direction becomes very clear.
This morning is one of the times I’d like to back up Father Time 48 hours and try again. Everyone knows that life’s road has curves, bumps, ruts, etc. in it. We can easily have this conversation. Well, when we come to these obstacles in real life, they are only later on called bumps, ruts, etc. When they actually occur they are called hurtful words, gossip, anger and more. These cut into the road causing one to swerve to miss them only to find there is another one there that one hits head on. I’m attempting to paint a word-picture of this weekend.
I got to a quartet practice last night full of hurt and needing to simply tell it to someone I could trust. As I got there I only found they had their own hurt and needed to tell someone. I ended listening to them and having practice carrying home the weight of my own. I got home to company who had come to spend the night so I couldn’t talk with them either. This morning I realize that my personal hurts of the weekend are happening all the time all over the world with others. How does our Heavenly Father deal with this? The pain of just my own cripples me. As I’ve begun to journal to Father God it seems He is wanting me to better know the hurt around me and in me. I truly do know that I’d learned well how to shield myself from the pain of hurt as a child growing up. I don’t want to go back into that shell, but I can sure see why we humans do so–the pain is real and awful.
I know that pain is attached to wounds and healing. The pains of this weekend attach to exactly this. God has reminded me yet again that He is working and this is the work He does. I’ve given it to Him and thanked Him for what He is doing even though I don’t see anything at the present. I’m needing to be reminded that Trust is a powerful word at this time.