Today is suppose to be a big day. Our quartet is singing for a big event this afternoon which is an annual one. We bring others into it so it is more of an ensemble. There will be 120-130 people coming for a dinner and the program. It will hopefully be very God honoring. That is our intent.
Yesterday the Lewis brothers (4 remaining) and spouses got together for a dinner at the oldest living one’s home. We’ve begun to do this monthly. It started with 5 brothers and a brother in law coming a couple years ago but the oldest brother and the brother in law have passed away leaving 4 of us. Even the 2nd oldest living brother has lost his wife making 7 when we meet. It is fun and rewarding to do this. In many regards I wonder how we can be so different and yet be so close. I guess I won’t try and figure that out, just appreciate the fact we are close.
My nephew had a stem-cell transplant yesterday. They say it went well. He has been battling chemo treatments for the past couple years. This type of cancer is very threatening so we are praying the transplant will be highly effective. As our family ages, it is difficult to watch and live through continued decline in health for our members. Kathy’s sis is with us for a few days too. She had surgery a couple days ago and is recouping with us. I feel somewhat melancholy with these issues and how little one can do to help. I know prayer is a key ingredient but sometimes that feels intangible. I know God is good and life is not forever. I’ll trust in God and continue to do my best with the time I have.
This morning’s scripture reading was in Ezekiel. Chapter 11 and verse 19 talks about God giving us a “heart of flesh”. This heart if also given with a new spirit–a spirit that is sensitive to God’s love and leading as well as sensitive to mankind. This is not my first time to be challenged by God’s promise of giving us a new heart. I write in my book about my first encounter with this phrase. I thought it meant replacing this heart of stone with a shiny heart of stone. Having a heart of flesh seemed weak to me. All of flesh is weak when it comes to spiritual matters so why would I have one?
Now, 6 or 7 years later I’m finally learning that a heart of flesh is actually the heart God gives a new creation. Learning to live as a new creation is what teaches us about the heart of flesh. A heart of flesh is one which hears the heart of God and obeys what God’s nudges say to do. It is also sensitive to the needs of man so you can see beyond the problem of man and respond to the inner need that may be causing the man to be in the problem he is facing. I know for a fact that I can know all of this as information, but it is totally a different experience to know this in my heart and respond from obedience at this spiritual level.
A real denial factor I had was in this heart of flesh. I could never be fully open to God’s leading throughout my life. There were too many times when I fought back from telling someone about my past knowing it would be helpful for the one with me. Their battle needed to know they weren’t alone in it. I couldn’t take that step. I also could never move any higher in my educational world for fear someone would want to know my background and then I’d be put out on the street so I could never touch another child. These lies I now see as Satan’s deceptions and shackles. God’s promises of a new heart and a new spirit are well worth taking on faith and allowing Him to show us just how much He will use our story for His Honor and Glory. He will also give us much joy as we see our shackles and shame used by Him to bring others His freedom. It is so amazing to see what God does. I want to stay in this realm the rest of my days.
There is one thing about having a brother working with me for a few days–it reminds me why I never wanted to work with family members, at least family members that are brothers. The constant teasing and sarcasm does get to me. It doesn’t make me mad or anything along that line, it hurts. I always forget just how much it hurts until I’m around it over a sustained period of time. Today will be day 3 of my brother helping me with the greenhouse. Yesterday he brought a friend with him which allowed us to handle some things with the assemby that required 3 sets of hands. I was awakened to the fact that when there is an audience the intensity of the teasing increases 10 fold.
As I was journaling about this during my devotional time this morning God reminded me to learn from this current event. He said that my old self was bruised a great deal from all the teasing because it always connected to the damage of dad’s ridiculing remarks when I was growing up. However, now that I’m growing into being the new creation I can see the truth in the message. The teasing is more about winning a conversation with a family member in a topic I can’t talk directly about. I know my brother is my best help. He is always right there when I can’t figure something out. Yet, he is always the first to try and get under my skin with his remarks. I do know how to get under his skin too so I’ll do my part with this too–not sure that’s the right thing to do but it feels better if I know he got bruised a little too.
Last night’s Celebrate Recovery was a big blessing. I taught the lesson on Denial. It was a good time to address my own need to step more totally out my denial. Even the topic of this family teasing and the hurt it causes is something I can actually face and admit now. God never quits working on refining us to be more like Him. However, I’m finding I can’t be at all like Him if I stay in denial to the areas of need I have within me. God is so patient and good. I want to continuously give Him all the Glory.
Sometimes one just needs to stand back and see all that God is doing. Today, this morning, I am doing this and I am simply in awe. To think that God is connected to all mankind in such intimate detail–it’s amazing. Yesterday my younger brother called and came over to begin helping me assemble the greenhouse I purchased last spring. I was about to put the kit on Craigslist because it wasn’t going to work having me do it. It is so complicated. I helped him and marveled at watching him read the manual and put the right pieces together throughout the day. We will likely finish it today. God certainly didn’t wire me with the gifts He gave my brother. These are the same gifts my dad would beat me up verbally for not having all through my childhood. As old as I am I easily admire the gifts today. I know I have my own but….
Last night’s 7-Pillars class was tough but good. There has been so much denial in me regarding the past I lived through. It has fed me so many “limbic lies”. The work of the present lessons is to address these lies. The idea of taking the picture of me when I was a young child and look at it at least a couple times a day to remind me that little guy is still worth God’s attention today, is one solid example. Also, the fact that I’m even admitting this is an issue for me is another one. It’s embarrassing thinking someone like my brother would see me looking at it. God reminded me this morning that He will and does heal when I do my part. So, I’m biting the bullet and looking at the picture!
The other thing that’s somewhat ironic is that I’m teaching the Celebrate Recovery lesson tonight and it is–DENIAL. God is just driving all of this home right now. I am ready though, I believe. This time I’m not running from the help–I’m facing it. Praise the Lord!
God never ceases to amaze me. How does a God like Jeremiah presents to the Israelites and to Babylon itself, be so intimate and personal with me–each of us? I simply marvel at this.
I have the picture of myself out so I can see it. It seems silly and immature to need to look at this picture when I’m feeling tempted or insecure, but what’s so amazing is that when I look at this little guy I immediately know he is worth all that I’m doing to grow and that God is with him. All of this takes me back to the counseling of 6 or 7 years ago when I began to journal to “little Earnie”. My counselor told me this would be important so I could emotionally begin to know him and we could grow into being one. Somehow I’m sure this connection is important and related to the journaling need so long ago. I felt silly and immature then just as this makes me feel today. However, it works so I’m going to keep it up as it fills a tremendous need I’ve had knowing God is with me. Somehow this spiritual connection is what needs to be brought home to me. I know God is with that little guy but I need to bring the truth home that He is equally with me today as He was with me as a child.
Well, I’m using the new computer to type this. I’m sure any reader who is techy would know exactly what I was doing wrong yesterday, but now I too know. It took me an hour or so to figure it out and now that I have I can be here each day. I’m hoping this will be my last computer purchase!
We finally got our new computer hooked up. As typical I can’t access my emails until I can get my phone and computer to sync with the same password. Also I can’t find the administrator page on my blog site so I can write the blog using the computer so this is on my iPhone. I’ll hopefully have my act together by tomorrow.
I did something this am I’ve been struggling to do. It was to find the picture of me that’s on my book cover. I’m to keep it close so I look at it when I feel tempted to shut down or step into temptation. It’s to remind me that I’m worth the effort to overcome. Well I found the picture. I couldn’t believe how powerful that little step is. I know me now at that early age thanks to the PTSD therapy I had. Seeing me that young I do want to fight instead of cave. It’s amazing to see yourself innocent rather than helpless. I’m to do this for 30 days. I think it’s a great next step. Praise the Lord!
I want to say the journey never ends! This morning I wanted to skip writing this. I thought I’d have a legitimate excuse since I needed to be at church early. However, as only God would have it, I am ready and still have the time. Yesterday was the all day training which started off Friday night. I loved the content of it. It had significant relevance to the ministry of Celebrate Recovery and how we work with others, but it also had equal significance to our own personal walk with God.
This morning’s lesson for our CR Step Study is walking through the components of doing one’s personal inventory. It is here one goes deeply into the beliefs you have about others, God and yourself, what brought those beliefs about, what hindrances are you having today remaking them, and so much more. Doing this lesson coupled with yesterday’s work had me dreaming most of the night. I awoke knowing the dreams were just that, but I also knew I needed to take some important items to God and see if I could find a root for them which needed to be uprooted. I will talk about them in my group today and in my Tuesday night group. They are things I’ve kept hidden because they have fed my beliefs about my personal value I thought about me. God is saying that if I’m to believe I’m a masterpiece as He says in Ephesians 2:10, I must work through this. Finally, I’m ready to do so.
OK, now I can go to church. Have a good day everyone and God be with you!
Last night Kathy and I participated in a group of 10 Celebrate Recovery leaders working through a video series topically addressing God giving man a second chance. This is being led by one of our pastors. The second video tackled Guilt/Shame. I knew shame has always been a huge part of what kept me in bondage (and still does to this day at times). It is difficult to tell my story fearing someone will come along and validate the old beliefs I’ve had of myself. There was a magnificent quote that was in the materials saying the greatest bondage of shame lies in me being unable to forgive myself. I am fully aware of this need. Yet, it keeps popping back up anytime I’m facing directly the torment of my past.
Last night God was showing me again the tentacles still clenching some of my soul. I am so much freer than I’ve ever been but God isn’t done healing until I can say all these tentacles are gone. I’ll know this when the memories of past don’t want to shut me down. I say in my testimony as given last weekend that God has laid a passion within me to tell others caught in this bondage of shame. Well, I still know the bondage but instead of it crippling me into silence, it only holds me back somewhat. I’m becoming more and more aware that I’ve still have some denial to face. I do get lost in the work I do and it does mask the pain of shame. But, I released it to God this morning and I’ll continue to do so until the last tentacle is cast out.
Our God is truly a God of Love. This is what folks need to know more than anything else. No matter what has been part of their life or what is presently part, God is waiting to hold you, redeem you through His Son Jesus and to fill you with His Mighty Holy Spirit. It is a life of freedom one never knew could be lived when shame has owned your identity. I’m so grateful to have found and to be finding these TRUTHS!
Fall definitely hit quickly this year. We have rarely had a year when summer ended so abruptly. I’m rather glad however. The heat of summer wears on me just as the cold of winter does. That must be another reason why I love Spring so much.
Yesterday as I had blogged about letting God be God and in return I’d do what God was wanting me to do. I needed to call my co-leader for Celebrate Recovery who takes on the assignment of lessons and testimonies. She asked me to teach next week’s lesson for our group. Well, the lesson is #1 since we are starting the new year. Of course, it is all about admitting “I’m not God”. I told her I already have my most current example in place to share. (I think God was smiling at the time). As I got further into the day I was doing some “helpful work” for one of my kids. While doing so I found a number of things not being cared for as I thought they should be. I jumped right into thinking of all the reasons they weren’t being properly cared for and when I talked to my daughter to “scold her” I found out the actual reasons. Well, God reminded me all over again that He is God in all things–even with my close family. If I am going to do some helpful work, it is not my place to take charge of all the other details.
Today I go to our State Dept. of Education for a day with them preparing for the work of this coming year. In so doing, I once again am going to start Spirit led. I truly do not like letting myself show up as I did yesterday and the day before. I want to be a man who models living the life of Christ, not man.
Tonight and tomorrow our pastor overseeing the work of Celebrate Recovery is taking the core leaders through a book study on the topic of God giving man a second chance. I am really looking forward to this. God is so good in doing this. I’m so glad too that He doesn’t keep track of how many second chances it takes. To God be all Glory!
Last night was our kick-off for Celebrate Recovery’s new year. We have finished 9 and beginning the 10th. It was a wonderful evening of honesty. Eight people talked about each of the 8 Principles and told why it was meaningful to them and their own personal recovery. One of the things I loved about it was my own wife stood before the group and gave her 4 minute testimony. She has never stood before our group to do this in our first 9 years.
I have spent the past two days in training for stepping back into the educational consulting work I do. In it I learned the adjustments in federal and state requirements meeting educational laws of the land. These always adjust somewhat with each new administration. I found myself getting more and more disturbed as the day went on (yesterday). Some of these changes are only due to the administration change. They won’t change anything relevant to kids learning and what teacher’s need to do to instruct well. All of a sudden I was wondering why I was back here?
This morning as I had stepped into the journaling part of my devotional time I was writing out my frustrations to God. I was telling Him how I had gone into education 45 years ago and wanted my years to be worthwhile for Him and for educational work. However, all these years later, I find the system repeating the cycles it had been doing 45 years ago. Yes, we know more about what to do with kids and their learning but getting a system that better ensures this is done well for all kids is about where it was many years back. So, when I was done writing this out God reminded me of Principle One from last night: “Know I’m not God….” God was reminding me I wasn’t in education to change it from the top down. I was in it to make a difference for each one I was directly in contact with. Even though my thinking might be somewhat good, I am not God. I am man/flesh. My thinking goes right up against that of other men. If God is not at the helm the thinking stops with man. God was asking me to take His Spirit into the work I do. If man sees His Spirit in me, His seeds are planted. I can only do this if I allow God’s Spirit to dominate my steps each day. Well, this is exactly what I have wanted to do all along. Let God be God and let me be a good representative of God’s Spirit at work.
OK, I’m better set now. To God be all Glory!