The Journey Continues: Dec. 31, 2016

This morning I continued my reflection walk.  I got out the journals which compile my morning journaling for the past 2 years.  I was looking to see where I was 2 years ago today in my spiritual development and again a year ago.  I was rather amazed with what I found.  Once again it is a reminder to the truth of the fact that our current walk is not the walk of our life.  When God is working and we are listening, changes are continuously taking place.  We often miss the lessons learned if we don’t take the reflection moment.

Two years ago I was just ready to start my book (and God reminds me–our book).  I was journaling about the anxiety and fear I was feeling about this.  I also wrote that thinking of the book was starting the voices of my past to scream at me again.  These truths of only 2 years ago have been hugely addressed in my walk with God over the 2 years.  It was literally this fall when God brought me face to face with my fears and my need to address them so they no longer own me.  In doing this, the voices stopped.  I wouldn’t have known these two were so closely connected until now.

A year ago I was journaling about my need to address what I do–my actions.  In doing this God began to show me He was more interested in working with me on who I am rather than what I do.  He said I would adjust what I do and why I do it when I recognize who I am.  This topic has been the very current work God is doing with me.

I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful it is to recognize that the time we spend with God is not futile.  In fact, it is my most important time of every day.  This morning’s reflection walk has solidified this for me all over again.  The evidence of God’s faithfulness to us, His love for us and His patience with us as we work through our struggles is nothing less than amazing!

It was about a year ago when I started listening to the CD’s about living in the New Creation God has made in each of us.  My 2017 goal is to live each day in this new creation.  My one personal step is to reach out to my accountability partner when I am tempted to live a moment in the old self.  In fact, each of us could have quite a conversation about what this looks like for ourselves.  I do challenge us to reach out to the one God will place on your heart to find support with this important step.  If you are interested in doing this, ask God to show you who your right person is.  He is faithful and will do this.  The new creation He wants us to know is already here waiting to be recognized.  To God be the Glory!

The Journey Continues: Dec. 30, 2016

This morning I am having a moment of reflection.  As I do I question the title of this blog–The Journey Continues.  It seems that continue means moving forward.  However, as soon as I write the phrase:  moving forward, I realize that the definition I have in my head is very restricted.  To continue anything simply means to be in it.  So, with that said, I can continue.  I write this because when I reflect I stop all forward motion in order to see where the past motion has brought me.  I set goals from this practice.  Even though I’m very much like most others who set goals and then wonder why I do it, in the long run when I do set goals I still work on them even though they lag at times.

This morning I finished Romans.  This book, for the first time, motivated me to take further steps in my spiritual walk than I ever have before.  Always, prior to this reading of Romans, I’ve found condemnation from it.  Somehow the Light of Jesus broke through this time.  As I write this I realize that I’ve stopped condemning myself so much.  The belief that Earnie has been a failure all along and I’ve needed to shroud it with “good works” is going away.  My whole being wants to sob in gratitude for this release!  The weight of self-condemnation is huge.  I’ve carried it so long I didn’t realize how much it weighed me down until now.

Romans 15 talks about pleasing God rather than man.  Even though I’ve always wanted to please man, I’ve been driven to please God by doing, doing, DOING.  I know I’m a doer by nature, but the stress of doing to overcome “failure” is daunting.  For the first time in my life I can truly see this.  The truth is:  I have never been a failure to God.  What I had learned to believe from my dad had automatically transferred into what I believed about God.  Now I know that neither is true.  My dad never saw me as a failure I finally learned and God hasn’t either.  I was the one who saw myself that way.

Today I am ready to continue this journey as a new creation.  Join me if you’ve struggled with this too.  In so doing, tell someone you are doing this and set some God supported goals that you and your friend (accountability) can use to anchor yourself in this.  I am going to be doing this with my accountability.  Yippee–we are free!  (It sounds goofy to be 66 years old and feeling this way!)

The Journey Continues: Dec. 29, 2016

God is not letting up on the application of Romans for me.  Today has already been a most informative time.  It all began as I read Romans 12:3.  Within the verse Paul is writing “to rate your ability with sober judgment….”.  The Holy Spirit was really nudging me to take this portion of scripture and let God speak to me about it this morning.  As I did I began to awaken to much truth.  I go back to the circumcision God did several days ago cutting away the blinders I have had about me.  Now He is telling me to rate my ability with sober judgment.

As I pondered all of this I knew immediately I had never been able to rate myself soberly.  If I did I would come up with the short stick every time.  Somehow, the verbal beatings from my father took deep root in me.  If I were to be a success in life I would need to cover up well what I wasn’t so I could be good at what I also wasn’t.  This was going to be a lose-lose no matter how it turned out.  This has been me “in my mind”.  This morning however, as I read Romans 12:3 I was ready to do as the scripture commanded:  rate my ability with sober judgment.  If I were to rate myself as a loser then I was also rating God’s creation as a loss.  God never wastes any of His creations.  I am no exception to this.  Satan certainly wanted me to believe otherwise, but I already know He is the author of lies and deception.  I now could aptly apply God’s truth to me personally.

It was in junior high that a teacher first told me I was smart and good at things.  As I got to high school more teachers reinforced this for me.  At church I had people reinforcing this message.  However, dad was my main messenger of who I was really.  All these people complimenting me now had to be fooled into thinking they were right even though I knew they were wrong.  I’ve lived with this internal battle for 50+ years.  Today, I am free of it.  I’m sure I’ll have to go back to this platform now and again, but the lies have been removed.

This is the first time I’ve ever written something like this where I feel ok about it.  Others have told me they identify with this struggle.  If you are one of them, don’t stay in that lie.  Let God show you as He did me that He never creates a mistake–NEVER.

The Journey Continues: Dec. 28, 2016

I keep saying that the book of Romans in the Bible has so much for me to learn, understand and live.  Today I’m reading the 11th chapter.  The 6th vs says:  “But if it is by grace, it is no longer conditioned on works or anything men have done.  Otherwise grace would no longer be grace.”  I have always found much satisfaction from works.  Notice I say “I”.  I’ve also transferred this into my walk with God.  Not so long ago I had to do good works so I’d be considered good.  I now know this is not the truth but my inner being is driven to work–do something.  God is wanting me now to know that works and grace are diametrically opposed to one another.  If I am working to find Grace, I am doing the work for my own ego.  God has never told me to do anything but accept His Grace.  Somehow I needed the work to gratify the unworthiness factor so I could be worthy of Grace.  Jesus Christ did this for me (us).

Now that I’m this far along in my journey and with my recent circumcision of heart, I can see motives for my work I’ve not yet seen.  These motives are selfish and pride fulfilling.  I enjoy doing work that is good.  The problem arises if I am doing the work still to find value rather than to fulfill a day of being God’s committed servant.  If I am committed fully to being who God wants–filled with His Grace, I will not only do what is to be done but the one doing the work is reflecting a Spirit of Grace within and for others.  These truths of late are awakening me to a reality I’ve needed to find.

As I was journaling this morning and ending with the question I always ask–Father, what do you want me to know from you today?  He told me what Christ says in Matthew 11:28-30.  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  He reminded me that the light describing the burden is two kinds of light.  The one is the traditional light meaning without much weight.  But He also told me that the other light is the brilliance for which I can see Him in the burden as well as others can see Him as I live the burden.

I am going to need to spend some time reflecting on this new understanding.  I want to embrace life through God’s Grace and not through my old thinking about work.  God is not done with my journey yet and I’m sure He isn’t finished with yours either.  To God be the Glory.

The Journey Continues: Dec. 27, 2016

Today’s scripture reading in Romans 9 & 10 talks about obeying God’s Spirit.  Our mind and our spirit may not be on the same page, but it is our spirit that is to be honored.  Our mind has many rational reasons for justifying what we do.  However, if our spirit is not in sync with our mind, we are to not do what the mind is saying.

I am in a state of learning about my spirit and relearning about my mind.  I’ve always given too little attention to my spirit.  That goes back a long ways.  I’ve said many times that I’ve always attributed my spirit to my emotions.  Emotions are what I used to define my dad and I wanted nothing about me looking like that.  My mind is what I used to determine my outcome.  I know my spirit played into this but I would not give credible attention to it.  I’m learning now to let my spirit find voice within me.  This is what is difficult–finding what the voice of my spirit is.

I wrote the last couple days about the dysfunction in my family presently and the difficulty of it.  When I was asking God to help me with it this morning I was concentrating on the hope He provides.  However, He reminded me that I must first believe in order for Hope to have root.  Hope comes from believing.  I have to first believe that God is as capable of helping my daughters as He is me and that they are capable of responding to Him.  If I believe this then I can have hope.  As soon as I heard this from God my spirit was freed.  I hadn’t been believing for a moment.

Present circumstances can truly cloud the reality of God’s work and what we believe about God’s capability to overcome any obstacle/s.  This day I am choosing to believe and to give thanks for what I don’t see but have great HOPE in what God will do and is doing that I can’t see from my human eyes.

If this speaks to any reader, I’d sure like to hear from you about it.  Sharing one each others experiences helps build the belief.  To God be all Glory.

The Journey Continues: Dec. 26, 2016

Have you ever been at the point where you didn’t want to be on the journey any more?  The path is too tough, what you see is too difficult to see and then know that it is true for you.  This has been my recent days.  We are having two Christmas days with our kids.  Dysfunction is the reason and we accommodate it.  I know that the dysfunction of my personal family is present but I have kept blinders on to its effect–convincing myself it isn’t as bad as it might seem.  My recent circumcision has removed all blinders.  The way we are having Christmas allows me to see each one of my kids personal walk with God and how mine fits into it.  It sounds sick, but I’ve tried to let my own walk superimpose itself into my kid’s walk with God.  God has been waiting patiently for me to let Him have His own walk with all my kids and grandkids.  Keeping them exposed to God is one thing, trying to coax them into Godly living is yet another.  God is the only one who makes the personal connection for each of us.  He uses His entire team–God Himself, Christ His Son and His Holy Spirit.

Today’s scripture reading was in Romans 8.  I’ve said a few days ago that this book is all about the personal struggle and freedom of walking with God at an intimate level.  Each chapter is packed with truth that I’m finally seeing much more truthfully.  It is not easy but it is true.  Joyce Myers, present day preacher, has written the following quote in today’s Bible reading:  Romans 8:6-14, “This passage helps us understand the differences between following our fleshly desires and allowing God’s Spirit to lead us.  Any time our flesh wants to do one thing and the Spirit of God wants us to do something else, by choosing to follow the Spirit of God we need to know that our flesh will suffer.  We do not like that, but the Bible says that if we want to share Christ’s glory, we have to be willing to share His suffering.  I like to encourage those who are just beginning to walk with God that once the fleshly appetite is no longer in control, they will get to the point where it is easier to obey God.  Even if obedience is difficult they will get to the place where they actually enjoy doing it.  If you are new to the Christian faith, be encouraged!”

I’ve wanted to help my kids find what Joyce is saying here by blinding myself to their truth and thinking “I can help them.”  Well, the truth is that I’ve simply gotten more in the way.  Only God can complete His own promises for each of us.  I’d sworn when I was younger I’d never let my kids suffer life like I had to (hurt like I did).  Little did I understand that I could not replace life’s living (life’s hurt) for them.  Each must choose their own path and live out the consequences.  God will be with them as they allow Him to be.  My role is to support and be obedient to His Holy Spirit’s nudges.  God’s role is to save and guide just as He does for me.  It has taken me a long time to get to this place of understanding.  My journey is a little more clear for me.  God never wastes a moment and He certainly hasn’t wasted the moments of this Christmas season.

The Journey Continues: Dec. 25, 2016

Happy Birthday Jesus & Merry Christmas to you.  Today we celebrate the HOPE of the world.  I am so glad we are able to do this.  Without hope, we would endlessly be caught in the bondage of sin:  sins very grip on us.  Jesus came and broke that grip and released the chains for us.  Our assignment is to first accept that HE broke our chains, we can’t do it.  Secondly, accept the Gift He Gave us–HIS VERY HOLY SPIRIT.  With the Holy Spirit comes tenderness, patience, kindness and more–the gifts of the Spirit.  Also with this comes our own ability to see sin as it really is:  bondage.  I don’t care how rich or poor we are, if we do not have Christ in our heart, we have the bondage of sin within us.

The birth of Jesus leads us to the celebration of just four months from now:  Easter.  It took 33 years for Easter to come in the Biblical times.  However, we live in the time where we only reflect on all of this.  The HOPE we know of Christ’s birth was thought to be a fleshly hope–one that brought peace from the bondage of another government, from man.  God, on the other hand, had a much richer peace to offer–the HOPE of eternal life with Him through His Son Jesus.  Spiritual freedom is very different from earthly freedom.

The birth we celebrate today ended in a death (earthly death) which brought the HOPE of Eternal Life–spiritual life.  As I reflect today on this, I rejoice.  As I look at the lost world around me I could easily get weighted down with grief.  I shared this with God this morning.  He reminded me that He is still the Savior of the world.  His free Gift:  The Holy Spirit is still the same GIFT.  I am to do what He instills in me to do and He will take care of the reason He came in the first place.  He will still be the Savior of the world.  We all come to Him one at a time.  I commit to do my part in only acting on the nudges The Holy Spirit gives me and to not act on the nudges my fleshly Earnie gives me.  Those nudges I surrender to God my Father.  Thank you Jesus.

The Journey Continues: Dec. 24, 2016

Today is the eve of the most significant day this world has ever experienced or known.  Yet, this very day starts like all others.  It is dark outside, coffee is made, furnace is running due to the cold of outside, Kathy is still snuggled in bed and I’ve finished my devotions and ready to write this blog.  Yet, what is truly different is what makes tomorrow so significant.  We see an earthly king with pomp and circumstance.  Christ came with none.  His Kingdom is Spiritual.  Only man wanted it to be earthly.  His pomp and circumstance is personal.  The freedom He gives is internal and not external.  His laws and control are provided by a gift provided within us–The Holy Spirit who leads and guides from a “still small voice”.

This morning’s Bible reading is Romans 5.  This is the chapter that has always started the guilt trips for me in the past.  Even the first verse has always made me question my relationship with God.  The “right standing” it talks about is one I always saw as a hope rather than a reality.  Little did I understand that until I let the circumcision of the veil I used to hide behind be cut away, I could never know the right standing with God my Father.  The promise of peace and freedom which man celebrates as a human for our country’s leader/s is all intrinsic with our spiritual leadership from God, Jesus and The Holy Spirit.  The “peace of reconciliation” still spoken in verse 1 was also just a hope for me until of late.  I could have a momentary belief that the truth of this reconciliation and right standing were possible for me.  Yet, hours later I’d be convinced that, no, this just couldn’t be.  I had too many lies screaming in my head.

This morning, I am not momentarily free.  I am free indeed as is stated in John 8:36.  Romans was never written to be a hope of a relationship with God.  It was written by Paul the apostle as a template for clarifying how this walk is possible.  Now I am able to accept what Paul is saying as true also for me.  I also know that it is true for you.  Lets believe it together.  The Christ who set us free is being celebrated the world over.  Lets join this celebration knowing the Prince of Peace (peace that passeth all understanding) is HERE.  (This makes me tear up).  How I love and adore Him.  Thank You Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The Journey Continues: Dec. 23, 2016

Yesterday I told you I was starting the book of Romans in my Bible reading.  I mentioned that this book always has troubled me somewhat because it went into living the Christian life in ways I just couldn’t seem to comprehend or live.  An amazing thing is happening however as I read day one and day two of this remarkable book.  Yesterday, God showed me about circumcision.  He showed me the old, unneeded flesh that I still struggled to have Him cut away.  This flesh being removed, today He showed me how His Son Jesus paid the price once and for all for what that old flesh was covering.  In Christ so doing this I was a new creation.  I was no longer bound by the grips of this sin.  Along with the truth that I was no longer bound by the sin, I could have it exposed and still hold my head high.  Exposing it made it a testimony for God to use assisting others with their own bondage.

As I write this I am thinking that anyone reading this would think I’m talking about a past time in my life.  I’ve written about all this in different ways for the past few years and in my book.  Well, the actual bondage that has still had its grip on me is that of homosexuality.  Yes, I was used this way for 12+ years.  Along with this my dad called me “Hazel” and said I’d make a good wife for someone someday.  He belittled all the manly characteristics within me.  These acts of man did their number on me and what I’ve believed about me.  Today, however, God did His final weed pulling.  He got to the end of the root on this false belief I’ve struggled with and tried to hide behind.  Little did I understand that this would be what the old flesh I had God cut away yesterday would expose.  Yet today, God said it was time for me to have FAITH in what Christ did for me so many years ago.  The veil of darkness from this haunting past is finally “rent in twain”.  This ugly belief I was left with is gone.  I’m sure Satan will try to replant it in days to come.  When he does, I have a new response for him which now for the first time–I believe to be true.  I will tell him he is a liar and I am a born again child of the King.  I am a new creation.  He has no place in me.

Being the gardener that I am, this whole thing makes me think of 18 years ago when Kathy and I first moved into our present home.  It was February of 1998.  The 1+ acre we purchased had been a cow pasture prior to this but hadn’t been used as such for several years.  It was nothing but a weed patch.  When I planted my first garden here I was stunned by all the morning glory that was growing everywhere strangling out everything I’d planted.  In order to dispose of it I had to literally kill everything I’d planted and focus only on killing the morning glory.  I cringed the day I went out and sprayed the entire garden knowing there would be no harvest the rest of the season.  However, each garden since has been a great crop of vegetables and berries able to be shared with many.

Today I feel like God has removed the last of the morning glory which Satan had planted so many years ago when this older man was a young boy.  There are so many song phrases going through my head right now.  The one I want to type here is:  Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee, How Great Thou Art–How Great Thou Art! 

The Journey Continues: Dec. 22, 2016

The start of today’s journey had me reading the first chapters of Romans.  I had finished Acts yesterday.  I always tremble slightly when I’m going to read Romans knowing this book challenges my daily living with Christ and usually leaves me wishing I were stronger and more capable.  Reading the Bible for the first time in the Amplified Version is bringing some insights I hadn’t had before.  As I got to the end of chapter 2, it states:  “…and true circumcision is of the heart, a spiritual and not a literal matter.  His praise is not from men but from God.”  I asked God to help me understand this spiritual circumcision and boy did I get filled with new information!  I googled spiritual circumcision and the first post was a writing by Steve Highlander called, “Understanding the Principle of Spiritual Circumcision.”  As I began to read it I became clearer and clearer as to this journey God is taking me through.

We all know that circumcision is the cutting away of flesh.  In the spiritual sense, God is cutting away my old flesh that I have used to “protect” me.  He wants me to be fully exposed, not so that I’m naked in body, but that I’m naked in spirit.  If God’s Holy Spirit is going to be free to use me fully, I need to be sold out to God’s purposes.  When I said yesterday I wanted to use my strength fully to share my story, I’ve done this at times using my own strength/determination.  This was particularly true as I first started telling my testimony in Celebrate Recovery.  The strength and courage to tell is not something I do to gain glory from God, it is something I do out of faith.  This faith is in God.  God uses my story and He uses your story to shed His love and grace.  The people around us wouldn’t know about this grace if we keep our story protected by “old flesh”.

I know there is much God is wanting me to learn about His spiritual circumcision, but the one thing I’ve already learned is that He does His work kindly and respectfully.  Yes, there is pain in surgery, but He always waits until we are ready for the next piece of flesh to be pared away.  How I love God for His sensitivity.