In my mind I see today’s date and tell myself it is the last day of winter. It is just a little exercise I’ve used much of my life to reinforce the hope of Spring. In February there are always days that begin to look like Spring is coming so I’ve always internally called Feb. my month of beginning Spring.
This new creation in me is beginning to make more and more sense. Yesterday’s awakening that it is 24/7 is just the start of the rest of my life. I had breakfast with a couple of guys from our Celebrate Recovery yesterday morning. We were working through some difficulties dealing with temptations. I would have said before yesterday that in dealing with temptation we need to access our new creation, use the armor of God, etc. However, yesterday I mentioned my epiphany of having our new creation 24/7. I don’t need to access or put on something as though I don’t yet have them. In my mind I’ve always dealt with temptation more like a panicked person trying to get work done and I can’t find the tools in time to meet the deadline. Where is this or that when I need them? Where is the armor? Where is the strength of God to withstand any temptation given to man? Little did I know it was already within me waiting to be accessed. I didn’t need to find them as much as I needed to be awakened to the truth that they are already within me and I can now use them. Satan doesn’t flee in my panic–He manipulates so I do panic inside. For the first time I can actually face temptation as something already defeated rather than seeing myself already defeated.
This reality of this is true for each of us. The assurance of God’s gifts to us through Jesus Christ and The Holy Spirit are the most powerful gifts we can have. The owner’s manual is making more and more sense as I learn to believe it.
This morning’s devotion brought about an epiphany for me. Every since I’ve begun to use Cook’s book: The Nature of Freedom, with my devotions I’ve wondered where to fit it in. My routine has been to read my devotional, then my Bible, journal and then pray over my prayer list. I’d tried putting the addition in at different points and finally after a couple weeks began to do it right after I read the devotional. I felt at peace somewhat about it so I let it go. The book’s entire purpose (at least for me) is to awaken the reader to the new creation God has given us through His Son Jesus Christ when we invite Him into our lives. I’ve begun to find that the message within the book jived perfected with my Bible reading. I’m now reading the beginning of Colossians. In it Paul is telling to live in joy regardless of the circumstances life has given you. This tied nicely with the wrap up Paul was giving the people of Phillipi yesterday about being thankful in all things.
My revelation this morning was the awakening that the new creation I am is 24/7. That seems so silly, yet it is true. I have desperately needed to find how God would use this new me to address my past, the character defects I’ve had, dealing with the temptations of life, the desires to flee in circumstances that brought up the fears of my past, etc. I was thinking the new me was for these times. As I was having my devotions I was pondering how one could live in joy and with thanksgiving 24/7. It seemed God simply said–“when you live in the new creation 24/7”. All of a sudden it dawned on me that I can do this! Certainly I can’t do this on my own but now that I have become much more awake to God seeing the Christ in me rather than the abused sinner in me, I am able to let God take charge of all aspects of me each day–each moment of each day.
This new creation is who gets out of bed each morning and comes to the den to commune with God. I’d always come to the den to find the new creation so I could take him to work with me or into the day whether I was working or volunteering. The new creation is simply me–24/7. I kid you not when I say that when times of temptation or intense fears had come I’d try to find this new creation so I’d face the moments with him. Now I understand why that didn’t work. This seems so elementary, yet so profound. I’m going to dwell in this for a while.
I’m always glad when January is about to end. As much as I know about the need for winter, I am always glad to get to February. I’m only one month away from Spring!
I woke this morning quite early with a number of people on my mind who need prayer. In attempting to pray for them while still in bed I also knew God was wanting me up for more than prayer. He wanted me to remember my need for giving Him Thanks through a thankful heart. As I spent time in my devotions the topic of Thanksgiving seemed to be written all through the elements of the devotional time. My friend who recently lost her husband can be most grateful He is in heaven; the young man who just can’t seem to find the right sponsor in Celebrate Recovery is finally at a place of true confession; and a man who has tried his best to drive God away and out of His life is now ready to embrace whatever God is asking him to do. These are just a few examples of what could be worry and anxiety, but instead God wants me to give Him thanks for He is very much working.
I love God for His intimate compassion and never-ending patience with us. I do want to rest in His love and I also want to be a vessel of His Light for others’ dark moments. To God be the Glory!
On Thursday evening this past week I was able to experience God’s presence and His work in the meeting we had with our Aslan board. As I was driving home from the school district yesterday I was called by one of the board members. She wanted me to know that I had handled the meeting well and she felt God’s Spirit in me. I was truly touched by this. She had been one of the three very upset the previous meeting. I was on my cell phone with her when I pulled into our driveway and saw two cars in our yard, one was my sister in law who was to spend the night flying out this morning from our airport and the other was a man I was to meet with and had totally forgotten. Kathy was gone and these two people were outside waiting for someone to get home–rather embarrassing.
As I quickly regrouped and hugged my sis-in-law, the gentleman and I went into our den so we could talk privately. He is one I’ve sponsored in our last step study. We hadn’t met for several weeks due to the holidays and his getting the flu. We spent a couple hours walking through situations needing to be discussed and prayed about and closed in prayer. We agreed to meet again next week and look at doing a book study together. (This time the date is in my phone calendar!)
My work with the school district is ending with a final meeting next Wednesday with the person I was temporarily replacing. Prior to taking the job I had thought I wouldn’t do any more “secular work” as I thought God wanted me doing “ministry work”. In the three months there I have been more fully awakened to the reality that God sees anything we do as potentially His work. I know I am freer to bring Godly principles into conversations I have with individuals realizing we are all spiritual beings in a fleshly body. Only man does secular work. God always does His work. I am realizing that no matter where God has me working I am on assignment for Him. I don’t need to look for ways to bring Him into the picture. If I am the new creation He has made, I will automatically be bringing Him into the picture as He is the driver of what I do whether man calls it secular or ministry.
This journey of life is never going to be done until the human life ends. I will say that living it today is so wonderful with the bondage and weight of my past being much more removed. Praise our Almighty God!
Yesterday was a whirlwind in many ways. Because I got to work and hadn’t been there for almost two weeks, I had much to get caught up in readiness for my departure from them next Wednesday. I quickly left in the afternoon to get to my grandson’s basketball game before going to the Aslan board meeting last night.
As I got to the meeting about 7 minutes ahead of its start, I saw that the chaplain at the juvenile correction center was there. She is the one who had asked me to give my testimony for the kids last fall and also to have our quartet sing for them at their Christmas event. She informed me that she had quit as of Dec. 31, 2016. The day after our quartet sang she was called into the director’s office. The director had received 3 emails complaining about my testimony and using the word “gay”. The complaints had come from the adults present who supervise the kids. No kid had complained at all. I was called bigoted, etc. She had informed the director that this was just a fact of my story and that the conclusion of my testimony was one of redemption. None of this mattered. There is much history to this that doesn’t connect to me. The director was wanting to remove the spiritual influence from the center and this was being used as another solid example of why it needed to happen. The chaplain said she was relieved and glad to be gone. This morning I have so many mixed emotions but I am assured that there is nothing I should have done or said differently. I leave it with God. It does hit me however, just how powerful Satan’s influence is when we are listening to the flesh and not the Spirit as we do our daily work.
God is amazing! I’m sure glad God has more clearly opened my eyes to living in the new creation He has given me. If I’d heard last night’s message in the old self, I would have run to my cave knowing I’d not listened to God and how in the world did I get this gal fired? What damage had I done for some of these poor kids? Instead, even though I’m sorry for this news, I know that all of this fits into a much bigger picture. These teens in this center are examples of kids abused and beat up by society and they have taken their own steps of rebellion and retaliation getting them now placed in the center. All of this pleases Satan to no end. Removing the message of HOPE from the environment of the center only allows him to manipulate more. God is bigger and more powerful than all of this. I will rest assured that He is certainly not done working with each of these kids and even the adults that complained. I leave this in God Almighty’s hands.
For the past three days I’ve been in another part of our state doing some educational work. This is the first time I’ve been gone like this and been so at peace. The earthly circumstances didn’t provide the peace. The school district had to close their schools for the days I and our team were there but we were able to do our work anyway because people came in spite of the weather. What was so amazing to me was the peace that was present within me. There was also a strength present that was only about God’s Spirit. Now that I’m becoming more aware of living in the new creation given by Jesus Christ I find an assurance I’ve never known. These trips in the past have always caused anxiety because I’d be tempted to look at porn or something along that line. This just wasn’t the case. The only time the thought even entered my mind, it was immediately countered with the awareness that this new creation doesn’t stoop to it. When it happened I thought–where did that come from? Yet, I knew.
Today is a big day. I’m going to the district where I’ve been working the past three months filling in for an administrator there. I’m prepping to leave as I’ll be done next week. This isn’t such a big item, but it is saying good-by to some mighty good folks. Tonight I have a board meeting with the Aslan group. We have some critical conversations needing to take place and I’m leading them. God has provided me with materials I sense He is wanting us to use. I woke up anxious about it at 5:00 am and got up. God was wanting me to see all of this in His perspective. There is so much for me to learn about living in the spiritual strength of being the new creation Jesus gave us. Instead of fear, I go in anticipation of experiencing God’s Spirit doing His work as I obediently do mine.
Lastly, we had Celebrate Recovery last night after 3 weeks of cancellation due to this weather we’ve had. How great is was to experience God’s presence once again with those who are so honest with their hurts, hang-ups and habits. God is so GOOD!
I know I said yesterday that this title needs to adjust to the journey begins. I still feel this way today. It is as though the journey continues all right, but now I’ve finally found the true path to righteousness in the journey. The path has always been there and I’ve somewhat been on it. What is so different is the person on the path. I have not been awake to this new creation God has given me. Now that I’m actually awake to being this new creation I see a path I’ve never known. This path is one of assurance.
So much of scripture is about spiritual living but I’ve always tried to translate it into a flesh meaning. No wonder the Word of God has been such a mystery for man. Jesus talked often in parables. Just the statement that man must be born again is a perfect example. We say, “How can a fully grown man be born again?” It is so simple when I see this birth with my spiritual eyes open. Please don’t think I’ve not understood being born again. I just am using it as a simple example. What I haven’t known and understood is living in the life that is born from this second birth. God is helping me see this new creation not as a hope but as a reality.
I am going to be here the rest of my earthly life. I want to be awake and a good learner in this new creation. What freedom is mine and how wonderful to not feel the shackles of man’s bondage and shame. To God be the Glory!
As I write this morning’s entry I feel as though I should entitle it: The Journey begins. It is the first day of consciously living as a new creation. All day yesterday I kept being reawakened to the fact I am no longer the old me. All the teachings of Celebrate Recovery, Conquer, the counseling I’ve had, church sermons, Bible studies and more are now making complete sense. I know that 24 hours of believing this new me is nice, but I also know that life moves on and so does the fleshly side of living. The amazing thing is that I have an inner assurance that this fleshly side is not what owns me. To choose to live in the Spirit is now in ownership. Before, this has always been somewhat of a mystery and grounded more in hope. Today it is a belief that goes clear to the beginning of me–when I first came into existence thorough physical birth. I learned awfully early that I wasn’t what man wanted, however, I was exactly what God intended. I no longer have that baggage being dragged along with me. I have always wanted to dislodge it but with all the learning I had, I couldn’t seem to do it. Now that I have been able to allow Christ to take Him and me to the very core of me, I am FREE.
Christ was tempted just like we are but He never chose to sin. For the first time I can see myself choosing not to sin too. This is such an amazing awakening. I know there will be much more for me to learn in the days ahead but I don’t look into the future with any kind of fear. I only look with anticipation for I am stepping into it as a new creation. I am led by a God I now trust fully and with His team of Christ within me and The Holy Spirit for whom I have much to still learn.
Yesterday when I ended my devotions God did something I didn’t find until this morning when I began my Bible reading. I’ve said for several days that God has been working with me about intimacy. Yesterday I mentioned what He’d showed me about receiving any type of praise or affirmation. Well, yesterday was a rather typical Sunday with church and choir, my step study for Celebrate Recovery, The CR leadership meeting and then a quartet practice later in the afternoon. During this time I’d had a lady wanting to talk to me about her relationship with her husband and the lack of intimacy in it. She’d asked Kathy if she could talk to me. This talk was about a 30 minute one and she had much to vent. I did tell her that God was working on intimacy with me so I wasn’t sure how much I could help her except to understand the need to grow this in their relationship. I helped her see a couple items like judgment and some rigid boundaries which wouldn’t help intimacy at all, instead it would squelch any ounce of it. I gave her some thoughts about stepping into a conversation of this topic without these elements being present. She text me last night saying she just couldn’t do it, she was too anxious about blowing it. I assured her God’s timing was critical so if last night wasn’t the right time, let it go.
Yesterday I finished reading Ephesians 6 and was ready to start Philippians this morning with my Bible reading part of my devotions. However, when I opened my Bible and started to read I saw the insert Joyce Myers had written entitled “choose life in the Spirit”. I was struck by the title’s word: choose. It was the first time I’ve actually seen and comprehended the fact I can choose to live in the Spirit. Living in the Spirit has always been a mystery for me but this title said I can choose. The interesting piece to this is that I’d just read this a few days back but didn’t catch it. It is at the 6th chapter of Galatians, not Ephesians. What’s even more interesting to me is that I have no idea why my prayer list was in this page. I had finished Ephesians yesterday, not Galatians, but that is where my prayer list was. The added piece to this is the song: “He Loves Me”. The words go: “He loves me, before the world began–He loved me….” These words and tune have have been going through my mind endlessly for a couple weeks. I love the song but hadn’t pieced them to God’s intent.
Yesterday I’d asked God to plant the seed of intimacy in me and let it take root. So today as I began my scripture reading He had me rereading what I’d read about a week ago but didn’t get. I was telling the lady yesterday things that were in this passage of reading but I hadn’t applied them to me. He wanted me to see this morning that this applied to me as well as to everyone else in my life and in this world of people He’s created. I get to choose to live by the Spirit.
The sexual abuse of man and the physical and emotional abuse of man had scarred my own spirit badly enough in my early years I couldn’t awaken it. However, God, in the past many weeks has been awakening for me a belief that I am His child and I’m on purpose. Along with this is the fact that when I was born He had this already in mind. This wasn’t nurtured when I was a child, dad thought it best to kill it. Now I realize that dad just didn’t understand living by the Spirit. He was living by the flesh. I was so deeply influenced by this early treatment that I lost my ability to trust spirit. In fact I have always believed that spirit and emotions were synonyms and I didn’t want anything to do with them because dad’s emotions were out of control and my brother’s sexual emotions were too. This morning I was awakened to truth. God loves me and gave me the opportunity to live by the Spirit–His Holy Spirit. I needed to awaken to the fact that my spirit is alive. I surrender it to God so He can help me live by His Spirit.
Yesterday God had me using tools He’s given me without my own understanding of their personal application to me. I wept when I finally realized just how much He does love me and now I realize He loved me before the abuse ever started. I’m utterly amazed by all of this. Yet, it is true. I am going to be far more intentional in living by choosing to live by His Spirit from this day forward.
It is nice to be home and using the computer to write this rather than my iphone. I’ve almost finished reading a book on the early life of John Newton, a British man in the 1700’s who worked to abolish slavery in England. It was funny to watch his life develop as I’ve read the book and to process intimacy in it. He was a very passionate boy who had it severely treated by a father who loved him but didn’t know how to show it and a mother who died when he was only 7 years old.
This morning God has been pointing out that I haven’t been able to grow with intimacy because I have so many walls still “protecting me” from it. These are the walls of resisting compliments, talking down words of affirmation, belittling my personal capabilities, etc. I won’t let myself be touched with words or with human hands. I shy away from physical touch rather than embrace it. I will embrace someone but I won’t let them embrace me. I suppose I’ve known this but I sure haven’t been awake to it like I am now. Actually, what I awoke to this morning is that the old me is what I become when I am placed in a situation receiving any type of praise or personal affirmation. If I am touched it is my old self that responds. These times are when I must let my new self receive, relate and respond. I’ve asked God to show me what intimacy is and what to do with it. He is doing this. Now, I need to do my part.
This is going to be an interesting day. I have church, choir, step study, Celebrate Recovery leadership meeting and quartet practice today with one right after the other. It will be good to try and stay awake to intimacy during these times. God is a mighty good teacher. I want to be a mighty good student.