“…Take all thoughts captive….” II Corinthians 10:5. This excerpt from the verse in II Corinthians is a big lesson for me. When I wrote yesterday’s blog you could probably read my frustrations regarding several things I’m working on. As the day continued I was able to take several steps with each of them. However, along with the steps being taken, I was deeply troubled questioning my part in all of them. Things like: did I hear God wrong?, did I offend someone along the way and they’re pulling away without saying anything more?, etc.
Last night was our 7-Pillars class for the men. The major focus of the lesson was about hearing God’s voice in the present moment and corralling the voices that would lead one into acting on temptations. The message was that our mind is a battlefield where Satan does most of his devious work. I am easily able to hear God’s voice in the morning devotional times. When I am into my day I tend to not trust the impulsive thoughts that come into my mind. They might be simply emotional responses that would lead to the outbursts my father always had. I tend to save these thoughts to reflect on later when I can sort them out. Hearing God’s still small voice during the day and trusting it is something I am going to challenge myself to work on. Hearing the truth once again last night that my mind is the battlefield reminded me that I must do just as the verse above says–take all thoughts captive. I learned from my mom when I was a boy that God’s voice gives light and focus. Satan’s voice gives confusion, deception, and discouragement. Having had the reality of this hit in the past couple days where God’s Kingdom Work is at hand, I don’t want to be responding to the wrong messenger.
So I told God this morning I am in a funk. There is nothing I’m doing that can be completed–everything seems at a standstill. Each project is waiting for someone to give a response or direction and it is only then that I can take my next step. Several years ago I took a “strength finders profile” test. My #1 strength is responsibility. When I am left to my own thinking I define responsibility as completing each task well. I named no less that 6 projects that I can do nothing with because of someone else’s need to respond. It was about at this point in my journaling that God pointed out to me that “patience in waiting” is a responsible thing to do. He is the Father of responsibility and He defined it with His own actions. He patiently waits for me on a routine basis and He patiently waits for each one of His kids. Wow, I needed this reminder of the breadth of responsibility. The completion of each project will eventually come. However, there can be no completed project if ones at this present part of the development do not have time to do their part responsibly which, by the way, happens to not include me.
Today I will wait and pray. That is my responsible thing to do. God is so good–all the time.
Yesterday’s focus for me was to listen well. It seemed God was telling me that I am a doer. That I do know. However, the doing He wanted me to do is first–listening. Little did I know how much of that listening had to do with listening to Him and His Holy Spirit’s voice within me. It became very real this morning. As I started my devotions reading again in Proverbs the ongoing theme seemed to be on controlling the thoughts that come into my mind. Proverbs 23:7 says: “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” 23:12 says “Apply your mind to instruction and correction and your ears to words of knowledge.”
The thoughts that come into my mind are generated from my own self, The Holy Spirit or from Satan. During my early mornings I am disciplined to listen carefully for God’s Spirit within me. I start my day this way each and every day. However, as I get into my day my own spirit is taking over planning the DOING I want done. I simply take for granted that my DOING is pleasing to God at this point. My weakness comes when I get tired later in the afternoon. My mind and body begin to show my adrenaline tank is depleting. It is then I become vulnerable to all kinds of wrong thinking such as: “Give yourself a break–feel better by looking at some porn. No one knows and it hurts no one.” or “You don’t need to work anymore on that–you are what your dad told you when you are younger anyway.” “Yes, you’re going to make it to heaven, but doing this here now won’t hurt a thing.” And there are many more….
Unless I am listening well to The Holy Spirit within me, I will hear only these screaming messages. These evil thoughts whether generated from me or planted by Satan are not what I want to respond to. If I go back to the two verses in Proverbs I become just what they say–what I think it in my heart becomes me. This morning God is showing me that the new creation He is making in me wants me listening and responding well to His Holy Spirit not just in the early mornings but also later in the day when I am much more vulnerable to selfishness and Satan’s attacks. We have all heard that our mind is the battlefield between Satan, our own selfishness and God’s Holy leading. The still small voice of The Holy Spirit can be heard during this time if I do what God is wanting me to learn well–Listen before Doing. So, very quickly I want to reach out to The Holy Spirit and if I need more strength than that I will reach out to my accountability partner. God’s Strength is here for us. It is our choice whether we reach out for it in our times of weakness. I’m asking God to help this new creation to BELIEVE I am the masterpiece He says I am and start DOING what is pleasing to Him rather than to selfish me.
I continue to reflect on what God is showing me/wanting me to learn from the troublesome days in the past week. I said yesterday I was to learn about surrendering what isn’t mine to lead so I stay in the work as a servant doing what is to be done. This morning I realize I don’t have the human accountability in the work I’m doing for present projects. There aren’t clear parameters set which is like poison for me. Poison in the fact that I will take on the whole project as though it were mine to lead. I don’t intent to do this arrogantly, but so that all the detail I see in my mind gets completed, as though that were everyone’s intent. This morning I realize I need to ask the specific question: “What role am I to play in this and what do you see this role looking like?” I’m pretty good at doing what I’m told to do, but I have to know it. If I think I should do more than given to me, I can then ask if that would be appropriate. I need to tell the person/s I’m working with to let me know if I am overstepping my bounds. I then need to ask off and on if we are in tandem with one another. It may sound odd to write all of this, but it is freeing to my spirit and mind to know what I need to do to not step back into the quagmire I was in most of last week.
It is quite amazing how God over time heals. Yesterday Kathy and I hosted a family reunion with the three brothers and spouses which are living in our area. In fact, the only living boys are here in S. Idaho. Not so long ago if we did this I’d be jovial, but uptight during the time and especially ahead of time. I’d need a day or two to let my emotions unwind when it was over too. Yesterday was simply a wonderful, relaxing and fun time with no anxiety, no fears, no perceived judgment. It is so good to finally be free of these imposed burdens I have carried so long. Praise be to God!
God is patient and amazingly so. Yesterday turned out to be a glorious day. I was so glad to be back with the team–even though they are all new members except for one. Just to connect with the work of school reform felt confirming all day long. God’s message yesterday of simply doing my part in whatever assignment He gives me is staying with me. I truly need to keep it in the forefront of my mind too.
As I reflected on the troublesome week I’ve had I realize just how much I had move from being a “servant” (only doing what I was brought into projects to do), to “taking charge” of whatever I was doing. God hadn’t placed me in that position, I had. I was wanting to complete His Work my way. I needed to confess this and then move back into the servant seat. Now that I am there I can easily see doing the work.
The wake up I had this morning was important. I already realized I wanted to be a servant completing God’s Kingdom Work. I’ve always wanted to do this. Little did I know though how much that crippled spirit of mine was still needing “importance”. If I take charge and get things done my way it will be done so much better. To be honest with you I didn’t think this outright, but in the back of my mind I was wanting to have the ones leading realize the work they were doing wasn’t going to be as profitable unless they did what I was suggesting. This is not what God was wanting me doing. He nicely informed me that He would be taking charge of what He wanted them doing. I needed to support this with the assignments given to me. My spirit is maturing, but it still has that selfish need in it.
The peace that passeth all understanding is rooted now. I’m somewhat disgusted with myself for getting caught up in this. I don’t think the ones leading the work even knew I felt this way, but God did and He nicely had me awaken to it. Well, He and I are back being the team He wanted–He is in CHARGE. To God be ALL Glory.
Yesterday turned out to be one of the more troubling days, yet profitable days I’ve had in a while. The projects and conference I mentioned were weighing heavily on me. Also, today I am going to the in-service training beginning the consulting work starting up again. I had allowed all of this weight on me to the point I was feeling very oppressed. Yet, each time I took it to God I could not sense He was wanting me to release anyone of the work.
In the middle of yesterday afternoon the young man who is reading my book met with me for a 2nd time. This time instead of the meeting being one of shame and regret, it was more about stepping out of the shame and regret to letting our past be a tool of God in our present. This was actually encouraging to him. It was also encouraging to me to see that he was getting so quickly what it took me years to understand. After I’d gotten home and was barbecuing our supper I got a text from him. He was thanking me for the time spent. He then said something that truly got to me. He said how much others respected me both in the church setting as well as those outside the church in the community. I thanked him for the kind words and finished my barbecuing.
This morning I was journaling yet again about all that I have on my plate and why God isn’t making it clear what I’m to do with it. It was then that He pointed out that what is on my plate is what is on OUR plate. He hadn’t placed this there for me to own. He placed it there for me to do my part with His Work. I was then set back into reality. I was able to see that the weight of all this work at church and in the world was only weight because I was owning it instead of seeing clearly that my role is to do my part. God already owns it–I need to let go. So, I’m now writing this as a freer man.
The other piece of this for me is the clarity God has provided of late regarding His Work in the church as in the world. I had on my own made a very wrong mindset thinking I needed to be spending my time with the church for that is truly where God is. Sometimes He’s in the world but it was harder for me to know when “those” times were. God has made it abundantly clear that He is in all settings IF I simply awaken to Him there. The compliment from the young man awoke in me the reality that God is using me wherever I am. I have always wanted to please Him and be His servant. Today I will continue this but do so without that “man desire” to own the work. I’m going to let Him be the Owner.
You know the saying: “God is working all the time–All the time God is working”. Well I’m finding that God’s work doesn’t have a pattern that is replicated so one can easily say–that’s God working. There are times when it is so apparent one can say it, but so many times it is much more buried. I tend to look for God’s work in the finished product. However, that end result may be weeks, months and even years away. So, is God working during these less visible moments? And, yes, of course, I know the answer is definitely: God is working all the time–All the time God is working.
The projects I’ve been working on with a couple of our pastors are approaching the visible side where the product of the work can be seen and known. Hopefully each will be a spirit-filled time. The conference I’ve also been working with which will take place this October will be another “product” where God’s work can be seen and felt. At this point in all of this work I’m wanting to have connections made so all three work hand in hand. This is when Earnie wants to come forth and pull everyone together saying, “Lets unite our efforts and ensure everyone profits from each one’s work. That’s such an easy statement to say and such a difficult one to facilitate. You see, I am not the one in charge of the three, I’m advisory with each one. So, is God working at this point? If I am deep into the work I’m too caught up to even think about it. However, when I take a step back, yes, indeed I can see His handiwork all over the place. God’s timeline for completing His Work is where I need to be.
Yesterday I spent a portion of the later afternoon with a young man who is about to finish reading my book. It was recommended to him by his father-in-law. As we met he could hardly talk without breaking down. He has held so much within for so long he is breaking up inside. We are meeting again this afternoon. It is so painful to take these first steps–how well I recall. Yet, these steps are the ones which start a journey that never ends leading to us learning the beauty of the masterpiece God is wanting each of us to know in Him. How I love Him for this.
The last three days I’ve awakened unable to sleep beyond 5:00 am. I have learned that God is wanting me to join Him when this happens so once again this morning I did just that–joined Him. I haven’t said this, but since the 7-Pillars class last week I’ve been emotionally troubled. I couldn’t put my finger on the root of it, but I thought it was the sexual/emotional, explicit nature of the lessons we are presently completing. It is one thing to have to complete the lessons, it’s yet another thing to have to share it with the ones in the group. I dreaded this.
As I completed my devotions and Bible reading I was being nudged to go into the 7-Pillars lessons. We didn’t have class last night due to a special speaker at our church we all wanted to hear. So, I went ahead and got the workbook out and began to read the preparatory part of the lesson. It was saying that the lesson I started a week ago is the one which gets to the root of addiction for men. I had found it very disturbing as I’d done it and hadn’t looked at it since last week. However, I took last weeks lesson and reread it and reread what I had put down for responses. I could see something I hadn’t wanted to see. I needed to be totally honest with God, myself and the men I will be sharing this with. I added some detail I needed to put and then did the 2nd part which is for next week. As I finished the detail I was asked to look for patterns that have troubled me for decades. I could now see them. There was one I have talked about repeatedly: my lack of self-worth and value to men. The one I hadn’t seen before was the one about Earnie and women. I have always wanted to be valuable. I hated the early value I thought I had for men so I looked for this with mom. This I have talked about. It wasn’t there I thought. My first wife left me. My engagement 2 years later ended with her leaving me. There are some other less important situations going back to high school and college that add to this, but my bottom line was that men abused me and women didn’t want me.
All of that seems so sad. Yet, the beauty in this for me is that this information is coming at a time when I am ready to call all of it a lie. The roots of shame and guilt are being disentangled and removed. As I got to my journaling time I was able to talk to God about His intimacy with me and how much it has been helping me to quit hiding these things I’ve never wanted to address. Now in addressing them I see the lie about my worth and value from my past thinking. It takes Ephesians 2:10 and makes it real for me for “I am God’s masterpiece.” This doesn’t need to any longer be a hope, but it can be a reality. How good and thorough God is. Praise His Holy Name!
It seems life is spinning and this morning as I awoke I wasn’t sure there was any control over it. The wonderment and beauty of yesterday’s eclipse was quickly past, enjoyed, but here and gone. Everything quickly went back to what’s on the plate to get done. This morning I awoke extra early and knew I needed to get up and see what God was wanting me to know from Him. My devotional reading and Bible reading seemed to be giving the same message. It centered around taking heed to what God is doing and unite with Him in it. However, when we do attempt to unite with God’s message, don’t go there unprepared and alone.
Since last Spring I’ve been working with one of our pastor’s to prepare a pathway to better connect our ministries in the church purposely to one another–assimilation. In so doing, we found God leading us to our Core Values. These are: Worship, Connect, Equip, Serve. In my secular life working in education I found that the Community Agreements we lived by were the starting point for all the planning we did making sure the work was done thoroughly. Now I’m finding the same to be true working with our church in this depth of planning. We tend to burn people out giving lots of opportunity to do things but not attaching the “doing things” to the greater purpose of God’s Kingdom Work. When we are doing God’s Kingdom Work under His empowerment we ignite rather than burn out. Burn out is truly a man’s energy/adrenaline drain.
When the pastor gives his message on Sunday morning, what does God want us doing with it? How does the message tie purposely to Sunday school classes, Bible studies, Life Groups, Celebrate Recovery, Teens, Children? Is it a message detached in purpose to these? When a speaker comes in with a pertinent message are we to take it as an informational time unrelated to ministry areas where we serve? Is there a deeper, united purpose we are missing that would help unite everyone?
As I was journaling and asking God what He wanted me to know from Him today He seemed to shed much Light. He showed me this area of Core Value is spiritual battleground. One should not go into it alone or uninformed or he will likely end up feeling very beat up. Satan wants us detached in spiritual meaning and purpose. He wants us isolated and feeling that way. We freeze up when we are–giving Satan just what he was after. I was seeing each of our ministry areas as troops within God’s Army. When we are fighting the war of spiritual victory we need to do so with everyone on high alert and fully informed. So, this would start with Worship–then Connecting–then Equipping–then Serving. Our communities, countries, world are battling spiritual darkness and attempting to give secular light instead of Spiritual Light. God is asking us to join Him and shedding His Light. Lets unite and do this hand in hand. We will do this best being united in purpose and intent not leaving those attending expected to do it on their own as they see fit.
OK, that’s my sermon. I’m not even a preacher but this message is pressing in on me today.
Today we get to experience a phenomena of our solar system. I’ve been looking forward to this every since it was announced almost a year ago. I love and have always loved science and our universe. Its immensity and precision is so overwhelming it is hard to put words and perspective to it. In fact, I can’t. Today I just want to enjoy and appreciate what God has done and is doing. I have four of our grandkids with us who spent the night. We will start with a breakfast of their choice and then go out with the eclipse glasses so we can enjoy the wonderment of God Almighty.
I awoke this morning with anxiousness. My one daughter is wanting to take some business steps which could be good for her. Kathy and I both know she needs to take these steps and develop them from her own work and not from ours. She, as any child does when they are adults, needs to be in charge of what she does. She is asking for advice which I appreciate, I don’t want her forgetting she is a single mom with 4 kids. Kathy and I are also looking at a home improvement which we want to do if it is the “right thing to do”. We need to finish this conversation also.
This morning I asked God what He wants us to do with these. I was startled and then humbled by His words. He started by reminding me He is not a consultant. He is God Almighty. There is no question to His Rightness. I was coming to Him as though I were still in charge and wanted to see what He was thinking. When I turned the stone over I found myself then talking to God from the standpoint, “I am thinking…. Does this coincide with Your Perfect Will for me and us?” It was amazing to have the calm of removing myself from the front seat to having God where He wants to be.
It is no minor thing allowing God to be Lord of my life. Little do I realize how often I attempt to take the reins of life. He is awakening me to what I’ve wanted to do for so long–let him reign supreme over all my life. Day by day he is doing this. A new creation is awake to this or learning to be awake to this. I’m right in the mix of it.