Today’s journey started with me awakening at 4:20 am full of dread. Each evening of this week I’ve been involved in the dress rehearsals for our church’s Christmas production which will take place Friday, Saturday and Sunday this weekend. Tonight is the last dress rehearsal. There is a good deal of dance type movement and much to memorize. Both of these cause anxiety! Along with them I’ve had contacts from the state dept of ed the past two evenings asking that I help with a couple federal program reviews they conduct annually. I already do this but in both cases someone has needed to drop out from the review team for emergencies. This is typically a no-stressor. Along with this I have meetings set to organize for the new recovery ministries we will be starting after the first of the year, and then I also have the current ministries to keep my part going well. The anxiety of the production this weekend was spreading quickly into all these other ministry areas. (This was suppose to be the morning I’d sleep extra since I don’t have to be to the school I’m working with until 9:00 am). God had a teaching moment for me.
As I got to my devotions this morning I was emotionally sensing I’m overloaded and cannot do any of this well–old thinking. God immediately reminded me that my job is to “renew my mind” each morning as He tells us in Romans 12:2. It says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–His good, pleasing and perfect will.” None of what I’m doing is overtaxing me. What overtaxes me is the old belief system I’ve had that I’m incapable of doing important work well but I’m driven to try and do it so I can earn my value.
It was good to write down what I’ve got going and in so doing see that these are routine things I’ve done in the past and am now simply doing it with new topics being inserted. The idea I don’t dance and memorize well is a given. However, there are a number of the participants who are just like me. God’s truth expels the fears of darkness which easily overtake us. God had an important lesson for me today that I’m glad to have taken part in. He truly is an intimate Father who leads us into His Kingdom Work a step at a time when we remember to “renew our mind” with Him each day. (I’ll probably take a little nap later this afternoon before tonight’s rehearsal!)
God is really wanting me to understand and believe something I’ve hoped all my life, but not had a tangible belief it was real until now. What I’m talking about started in yesterday’s post. Luke 16:13 says “we cannot serve two masters for we will hate the one and love the other….” Most of my life I’ve been trapped in a repeated pattern of struggling with the temptation to briefly use porn as a sedative distracting me from the memories of my past or just to get rid of the temptation. However, when I was in high school I was given the verse I Corinthians 10:13 where God promises to give me the strength to endure a temptation. It says He won’t allow a temptation bigger than I can handle. I’ve craved all my life for this to be true for me. Many times it has been but every once in a while–it is not. I knew I was the weak one and I used to think I was the “step child who wasn’t cared about”.
Now that I know Christ is in command of my brain and lives there along with The Holy Spirit, I am better understanding that the power to resist comes from this grounding. I’ve learned my need to tell my temptation at the time it comes–especially the ones which I tend to cave into. I was journaling about this step and God said something like, “Now that you are better grounded in ‘renewing your mind each day’ go ahead and make the call when temptation arrives. You know Christ lives in your heart and mind so let Him now enact Our Power as you obey Our command to you.”
I’m going to be taking this step as temptations come. I’ve already had the conversation with my accountability person. These times of attack are clever in that Satan doesn’t want me free each day. However, I now know that God’s promises are as real for me as I’ve known they are for each of you. I thank God for His patient endurance with me as I learn to more fully believe in His promises.
Luke 16:13 says we cannot serve two masters for, “we will hate the one and love the other….” This verse really spoke to me today in my Bible reading, especially in light of fully addressing bad habits, addictions we develop from abuse, neglect, whatever life gives us. I’ve talked about the fact that I use to make excuses for my “sin” (addiction to running to porn) because it was my release–my escape–my cave. When I was finally able to see that sin was sin and that there were no excuses for mine, I had to face the truth of this scripture. Sin is a master when I do any of the above trying to make an excuse for it rather than trusting the God who gave me His Son to take that sin and nail it to the Cross.
As I was journaling about this topic this morning I told God this was why I struggled to give my mind over to Him. It wasn’t so much that I wanted to keep my “sin”, but the memories of all my sin and the sin done to me as well as the temptations to step into it were there and they were so evil and ugly. In myself I see me as the 67 year old man I am so why would someone like me still struggle? Why am I not stronger than this? God told me that I may be old in years, but to Him I am a young child in this area now learning to obey what this scripture tells me. Satan would have me believing I’m simply lost due to this sinfulness but God has a very different promise for me (you too!).
There is a simple promise God gives us: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” Acts 16:31. This promise is that I am saved because I believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. However, Saved doesn’t remove my humanness. It gives me a bigger promise and that is that in spite of my humanness, God has saved me. There is so much freedom in Christ once we step into the Light of His Promises for us. I choose to stay in the Light of my Lord and Savior–Jesus Christ.
These past 4 days of Thanksgiving weekend, in spite of the whirlwind of activity had an intense amount of reflecting. Maybe this is partly because of my age, but I also know I have learned the importance of doing my own reflection and helping others to do so. As I go into this week I almost feel a sense of loss in that the busyness of day to day activity will replace the reflecting time. This isn’t as true for me since I’m semi-retired. I find it true for those around me where life has them caught. I know this life all too well. Taking a daily moment however to reflect on the new day and getting God positioned into it as our Lord and Savior + Our Guide and Friend is so important. His guiding voice will help us with the planned and unplanned events of the day. I want to be good at this but I have a “lot of Earnie” to deal with in order to hear and act on God’s nudges as He wants me doing.
Starting tonight we have a week of dress rehearsals for our choir production this weekend. It is magnificent. I have all the fears wanting to spring up inside of me saying: “I can’t do this”, “Why did I ever get myself involved in something requiring dancing and memorizing?,” “You’re too old to be doing something important like this!,” and more. However, right under each of these striking fears is God’s still small voice telling me He put me here and to trust Him to do His Work. Keep Him in mind that this is all for Him while I do my part for He will help me with mine as the times come. I love Him for this. It is this quiet, reassuring message that helps keep me focused on what is most important and why it is so important. To God be all Glory!
Yesterday was a remarkable day. One of our Celebrate Recovery men had scheduled to share his inventory with me. I knew to prepare for it as he’d told me he needed to share some things which were similar to my own past abuse. As he began to share I was stricken by so many similarities to my own story. I kept reminding myself to listen and not let his story become my own bringing forth of fears and anxieties. I kept letting go so I could let God guide his speaking and my responses. After about 20 minutes of this I was able to relax and truly engage. The warfare was in the right hands–God’s.
This had reminded me of a few years back when I was younger in Celebrate Recovery. A young man had asked me to be his sponsor and he scheduled a time to share his inventory with me. I knew nothing about his story–or little about it. As we met the first time and he began to share a past of abuse so much like my own I could hardly stand it. I had steeled myself to simply sit there and endure it as though it were happening to me all over again. After that session I called my own sponsor and broke down and bawled. I then went to my counselor and asked what I could do about this? I was young in meeting with my own counselor/therapist at this time. She taught me about preparing for warfare ahead of these times of sharing. Satan is wanting to use them to get the sponsor too. His manipulative ways when roots of a story are within you too can be easily used to get you back into the bondage of sin.
Yesterday wasn’t this way. The three hours we met were remarkably in God’s hands. I know God has intentions for this man who shared his story. I was so glad I got to be a tool of God for him. Later in the day I had a call from a lady I’ve known many years. She’s read my book and wanted to tell me about her friend who had looked her up and told her about her son. He’s newly married but had confessed his own sexual abuse in childhood he’d never told his mom about. He’s filled with fear and shame because of it. My book is being given to him so hopefully God can loosen Satan’s grip of bondage by showing that other men have a past too which God has restored. The grip of bondage starts to be broken when we can tell someone. This morning I’ve prayed for the one who shared with me yesterday and this young man I’ve never met. God uses every hurt and replaces it with His genuine Love and Mercy as we are able to surrender and tell. He is so remarkable in how He does this.
My journey had me up @ 4:15 am yesterday so one of my grandsons and I could do our annual black Friday shopping. He is my best helper getting gifts for all the other grandsons. Kathy takes care of the 6 granddaughters and I do the 6 grandsons. We had a good time together. It never occurred to me until this morning that I’d not taken the time to sit down with God for my daily devotions yesterday. There were a number of times during the day I felt His guidance. He reminded me this morning that our daily time is not our only time. He is my God and He is with me with our without the hour start in the morning. I sort of knew that, but it was good to hear Him confirm it.
Yesterday while early morning shopping, we had completed the first two hours and were ready to hit IHOP for breakfast. I didn’t know where any were in Boise by the mall. I knew there was one in Meridian where we were headed so I thought I’d try and find it. It was still dark and as I pulled out of the mall parking lot I could not believe my eyes to find an IHOP sign shining in my face! We celebrated. I asked our waitress how long they’d been there and she said, “Ten years.” I laughed and she also said, “We have miracles even in the start of a day.” I don’t know if she knew how firmly that hit me.
As we got home later morning and my grandson went back to bed I began to do Christmas lights on the front of our home. Our neighbors came over with their son and daughter in law to say hi. They were going across the road to an open house a winery was hosting which had purchased the 40 acres across from me. I had been concerned because they were doing a great deal of excavating and I’d feared they were putting up a building across the road from my spectacular view of the valley and mountains. They asked if I’d like to go so I went with the desire to find if my fears were going to be real. As I met the neighbors and asked, I was told, “Oh, we would never put up a building there. We are adding a drain field. We will be planting berries and flowers in this area.”
Later in the afternoon I went to my hearing aid appointment. Once the testing was complete they fitted me with aids they thought would be best suited. I could not believe the acuity of hearing. It was spectacular. I could not remember when I’d heard so well.
As I began my journaling time this morning I was thanking God for yesterday. I was asking Him to show me what would be the perfect gifts for each grandson–a gift they’d treasure and want to hang on to knowing it was better than even they’d imagined. He seemed to ask, “You mean like what I gave you yesterday with the news about your new neighbors and the field of berries and flowers across from you and your new ability to hear along with showing you an IHOP right when you and Hayden were ready to eat?” I thought, yes, Father, “that’s exactly the kind of gift I want my grandsons to receive. The ones they know are a gift–and one which is inspired by God Himself.
Our God is an amazing, intimate Father & Friend!
Today is truly a day of Thanksgiving. However, if we only look around us at our country’s turmoil and discontent one would wonder where any Thanksgiving is. The state of Thanksgiving is within us and within each of us if it is to be found. The Pilgrims had much to be grateful with the shared help of the native Americans giving them physical needs–food and shelter.
Our gratefulness is likely more about God’s redeeming work within us. That is what’s true for me. Kathy and I are fortunate in that our material needs are few. However, my life has been filled with a desire to be free within of torment I could do nothing about I thought except steel it off. That worked for many years. Today, however, God has shown me the “peace that passes all understanding.” Philippians 4:7. This peace (freedom) is not of this world but it is a peace that only comes when we truly give God full access to our heart, mind and soul. I cannot encourage you enough to take this risk. God has proven over and over to me His genuine love and compassion. He has taken my life which I thought could only be cleansed upon death of this earthly body and made it into a living testimony for Him. This is God’s Miracle for each of us if we will trust and obey Him.
This is the story of my present Thanksgiving. Yes, my kids and grandkids are coming and yes, I’m most grateful for each of them. There are friends coming too for which I’m grateful. But, what I’m most grateful about is what I stated above. I pray this peace and freedom is yours. If it is not, I challenge you to take the step of faith asking God to show Himself to you. Invite Him to live within you. He will do it for His heart’s desire is to be in your heart.
The journey is about to face Thanksgiving. Boy, will I have new topics of thanks this year. I just barely can fathom Christ cleansing this mind of mine from all the lies I’ve believed about me, the sins I’ve done and had done to me. Just as I was typing this I got a text sent from the pastor I met with yesterday morning. In part it reads:
“The first recorded miracle of Messiah was the changing of water into wine. But wine is only wine if it’s aged. But the wine of the miracle had no past to be aged. Thus, in a sense, it had to be given a new past. If God can give a past where there was no past, then He can remove a past where there once was one.”
This is exactly what I now see God has done for me. He has backed up my past to the very point where He created me. All the memories of abuse He has now changed to lessons to be shared in helping others unravel their bondage. How does a Savior do this? Well, He is Almighty and full of Compassion. He does not want any of His Kingdom creations to be lost as I’ve been for so long. He does this as we are ready for these steps to take place. His miracles are truly Miracles!
Yes, I have much to be thankful for and this year I will praise and glorify my God as I worship Him!
The journey has me continuing to grow in my spiritual awakening. Yesterday I went and talked to a good friend and co-leader. As we talked I asked her if she was aware that the home of the Holy Spirit was our mind? Her response was something like, “Oh, you are just now realizing this? I’m glad to know you are catching on to what God is wanting you to know.” As I talked to her about deep taproots needing to be removed, she likened them to the roots of wild morning glory. This is a noxious weed which grows in our area of the country. It is almost impossible to completely remove without intense attention. These are the very roots I know The Holy Spirit is removing from me of late. These roots were my beliefs about my value, who I thought I was and so much more.
I can hardly put into words the gratitude I have for all the help God is providing me these days. Now that I can see a clear picture of Christ on His Throne in my mind it becomes easy to let Him respond to issues I have to face within a day. I know I’m only a few days old with this clarity, but I can now see this growing instead of fading in time. The picture of Christ in my mind is not fading. It is clear and anchored. The Holy Spirit is also free to work in me and through me now that I know Christ is at home in me.
My one question at this point is centering around why the church doesn’t teach this better? I asked this of my friend yesterday and she said she wondered if the church leaders are aware of this reality? I’m meeting this morning with one of them and I’m going to ask.
God being Almighty God is also Almighty and Powerful in His Intimacy towards us. His love and compassion towards us is shown by His relentlessness in pursuing us and patiently waiting for us to see Him as our personal Lord and Savior through His Son–Jesus Christ. How I praise Him!
The reality that The Holy Spirit’s residence in our lives is our actual mind is still a stunning reality to me. I don’t know if any of you readers have wondered–struggled–contemplated this over the years, but I sure have. I’ve never been able to grasp an understanding of my body being the home for God’s tremendous Gift to me–The Holy Spirit. In the past several days, God has made it abundantly clear that this is not only something He wants me to know, but He wants me to now respond fully to this.
Since I first heard that The Holy Spirit lived within me when I was a preteen boy I’ve often wished I could better understand His presence. I’ve never wanted to disobey Him but I’ve struggled to know His whereabouts within me. The idea He was in my heart seemed nice, but my heart was simply an organ pumping blood. It has a vital role for life which I understand. I could see why The Holy Spirit was said to give me a new heart, but my heart was still just an organ/muscle responding to unconscious commands to pump. Christ is Alive and The Holy Spirit had to be too so why would He live in a muscle?
The clarity that He lives in my mind–that is His Home, is so striking. My mind is always full of thoughts, ideas, things to do and complete. Of course it makes sense this would be what The Holy Spirit wants to take charge of if I surrender my heart to Him. The heart of my thoughts and actions is my mind. It is there I pump out all the thoughts of what I do each day or don’t do. It is there The Holy Spirit can not only influence me but He can take charge of impulses which happen when crisis hits. I can trust Him to do this. I simply need to be willing to surrender control of my life to Him and I do this by giving control of my mind to Him. (I know I keep saying this but I need to in order to bring this reality home). I’ve lived so long with this mixed confusion and I love the fact I am seeing it so clearly now!
If this has any meaning for you, which I hope it does, know that Christ’s redemption on the cross was for each of us no matter what memories are stored in our bodies, what actions we have done or what thoughts we’ve had in our mind. Christ’s redemption has left us debt free and this is why we are said to be “born again”. This is a spiritual act performed in human form by Jesus Christ. Our gift included in this redemption is The Holy Spirit and His home is our mind. Let Christ establish His throne of Grace in your mind as He has done with me.
“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see!”