Since I’ve started writing this blog my own personal family has been less than connected as a whole unit. Some things happened about 4 years ago which triggered some hurt that has carried into this year. However, 2017 has been a year of taking steps by the adults. My own kids have begun to come together allowing their kids to mingle and be cousins playing together again. I write this because this Christmas has been a culmination of the grandkids being together much of the time this past week. It has been a week of joy having them together and it has also been a week of chaos. I don’t say this complaining, just saying it as a fact. I love how God keeps growing us into a deeper understanding of Himself and in so doing, a deeper understanding of how to get along with those around us–including family members. All this chaos ends tomorrow as I take our kids from Oklahoma to the airport about 5:00 am. Everyone will go home tonight to their respective homes. Kathy and I will have a home of us and our oldest grandson again. I think silence will have a new appreciation for a few days.
It seems timely to be reading Romans of late. It is a book filled with the confusion/division of sin conflicting with us being a new creation in Christ. As the book is written it is a first generation of believers having had a revelation from Christ’s days/years with them. However, I read the book and find that over 2000 years later we still have the same struggles. Living the life of a new creation in Christ is simply a complete contradiction to human living and thinking. We are so driven to prove ourselves by doing rather than accepting ourselves by being. Christ tells us He has done the work for us to be with Him and He in us. I suppose I will live the rest of my human days working through the truth of this to some degree or another. All I can say is that I am so grateful for the work Christ has done for me and each of us. Living for Him is a gift and I do want to continue this for the rest of my days.
Last night was Celebrate Recovery. My daughter from Oklahoma City went with me to assist with worship. It was a glorious experience, for me at least. We also had our first time ever Celebrate Recovery band. We had a drummer, a guitarist and a mandolin player. It was so enjoyable and I do believe God was glorified. I look forward to seeing this grow. As we got home my daughter said she saw and heard something from being present last night that hadn’t hit her. Even though her church has a CR, she hasn’t fully taken part in attending except the couple times I’ve visited them and had given my testimony for them. She was taken back by the openness of people sharing their blatant struggles out loud so all could hear. She wasn’t sure how to introduce herself until she heard these others doing it and then it hit her. I would simply say…. She and her husband have worked diligently at their own church to help it be more authentic. This candidness experienced last night gave insight as to what authentic actually looks like in a spirit-led service.
This morning in my devotions I started Romans. Paul is talking about living by faith and just how important it is to do this if we are going to be fully free in Christ to live for Him. Before Celebrate Recovery I had faith that God would keep my story hidden from the world around me so I could live for Him and serve Him in my church and in my work. I had faith so turned around! Now I do just the opposite. I live each day believing that God will use me with my past as I live each day. I no longer fear if someone finds out I was_________________ or if I had thoughts about _____________. These are simply my human side living one day at a time. As I give myself to God’s purposes each day and believe in confident faith, I can be so much freer. When I confess the truth of my own struggles I allow my truth to help others tell their own. This is putting confident faith to work by believing God is in control and I don’t need to try and be.
There is much I want to learn in this new territory of faith living. I do believe strongly that this is part of being a new creation in Christ. As we grow in being this new creation we more and more understand that doing for Christ starts with believing. I’m thinking that believing is one of the first steps in personal faith. It only needs to be as big as a mustard seed to start too as stated in Matthew 17:20. God is wanting me to take this and make it real in my life. I sense this strongly. Join me if God is nudging you in this same direction.
This journey took quite a different step yesterday as all of the family began to arrive. Only one person came for Christmas dinner outside of kids and grandkids and we had 20 people. All but 5 of them are nestled into corners and couches attempting to get a good night’s sleep. I asked God this morning how I would spend time with Him in the midst of this? He seemed to have a quick response for me. He simply reminded me that it is in my mind I can seek Him. He is never even a step away. He resides there and all I have to do is focus on Him instead of focusing on the chaos of so many people around me. So, with that in mind, I’ll see how I do today.
I am rejoicing having all of our family together this season. It has been a few years since this has happened. God has a way of using all things to grow us into His likeness. He sure has some work to do with us. I see much that doesn’t look like Him, but He keeps reminding me He is never done. I truly praise Him for His patience in all the remakes! To God be all glory!
Today the journey completes itself at Bethlehem. I should say my journey completes itself by stopping and worshipping at Bethlehem. What a sacred and holy day. This Savior born today was born of man. Yet, He was born of man so I could be reborn into eternal life. God knew there was no way any of us were going to make it on our own. We could not redeem what sin had done no matter how hard we tried. Sin is stronger than me (and anyone of us). Yet, God knew He could trust His Son to do what no man could so He sent His One and Only Son. How amazing is this!
You would think this Gift of Jesus Christ would be the sufficient act of love. Yet, there is another Gift awaiting us as we accept Christ into our hearts as our Savior. This Gift is God’s Holy Spirit. I am learning more and more about this most Precious Gift as I live each day. Christ and The Holy Spirit complete the Three in One of our Godhead. God has given these other two as Gifts–one to redeem us and the other to live within us. Wow, Christmas began a change for man like no other.
Join me today celebrating this most precious love Gift from God our Father. Then, tomorrow, lets be sure the world knows just how important it is for them to know and receive Him too as our journey continues.
Yesterday afternoon I had finished the gift wrapping and took care of a good deal of clean up following Kathy’s sorting of what to keep and what do discard. I settled into my recliner and finished a book I had struggled for days to read. I knew it was good–Kathy had told me I needed to read it. As I would sit to read it I found myself putting it down repeatedly with a subtle desire to leave it. Yesterday I steeled myself knowing I needed to get it done and find out why I should read it and why I kept trying not too.
It finally hit me as I was approaching the end–VOICES. The book had several characters being developed. Each of them would eventually be connected as the plot culminated. What each character had struggling within was voices. It was so subtly woven into the writing I hadn’t picked up on it until last night. These evil, ugly voices of worth/value, conceit, judgment and much more have been the ones I’ve battled all my life. That was the very reason I had to so often put the book down while reading it. I couldn’t stand the fact I related to all of them so well. Kathy knew this from having read the book. She didn’t say I’d enjoy it–she said, “I needed to read it.” I had to weep as I finished it. It just hit so hard.
This morning as I had begun my journaling I wrote that today is the eve of our celebration–Christ coming to redeem man. Later in the journaling I asked God why that dang book was so important? He immediately pointed out the second half of Christ’s coming for us (me). In John 14:15-17 Christ is telling us that He will ask the Father and He will give us an advocate to help us…. This advocate is The Holy Spirit. Do you know how we know The Holy Spirit? It is by the gentle voice within us. He is the voice of promise, the voice of hope, the voice of direction, the voice of light.
If you are at all like me you have battled voices all your life and likely your childhood brought about hearing voices which now weigh heavily within us. As I stated in yesterday’s blog post, many of mine are dying. This is the promise of healing Christ is giving to me and to each of us who come to Him. What is a greater gift is the Voice which replaces those of lies. This is the Voice of The Holy Spirit–The Voice of Truth. This Christmas I am thanking God more than anything else for this GIFT–The Holy Spirit. He is giving me a voice of hope, promise, direction and light. I give Him much thanks for this!
If you struggle with these voices of evil–of lies, stop long enough to read John 14:15-17 and let the first voice of truth speak to you. He so wants to be your dominant VOICE.
As the day got rolling yesterday it turned out I’d be babysitting a couple of the younger grandsons. School is out and mom is still working. I had thought it would mean no gift wrapping but as the day progressed, I did get all the boys done as well as the men. As I was taking them home last night I had realized there was little for their stockings. I get caught in this each year. I watch and listen to them talk to determine the best gifts for Christmas. What I never watch for is the small things like what they enjoy snacking on. These are usually a large part of the stocking stuffers. I asked while I was driving and got a good list in my mind.
I stopped at the grocery store once they were deposited home. I had found most of the items they told me about. A couple however had me stumped. I don’t know candy well as I’m not much for snacking. As I went to the bulk dept to see if they by chance had it I ran into a lady who had been a student of mine 41 years ago. Her son had also gone to my school so we had much to talk about. She said she’d heard I’d written a book so I told her it was my autobiography. When I said it was about my overcoming a childhood of abuse she took note. I mentioned my involvement in Celebrate Recovery and then she opened up about her own involvement in the program a few years back. I suppose we talked for over 30 minutes. I’m mailing her a book as her request.
This morning I realized I had no fear in opening up to her last night. Those old voices were gone. I praise God for that. That is a real healing God is giving. I love this God of ours. He is so loving. Praise Him with me today.
I sit down to the computer this morning with a great deal of gratitude. The work I do with the schools is done except for the monthly reports I will finish this morning, shopping is done and my grandson is here to help me organize the wrapping process, the ministry work is on hold until after the new year, and I’m able to take the next couple days and get my part all done for the upcoming family days. There is something about time and having enough of it so getting things done can be enjoyed rather than crammed into a quick moment.
When I was journaling earlier I asked God what he wanted me to know for the days ahead when all the family is here (arriving Sunday evening for the week)? I’m always taken back by His immediate responses to questions. He simply said, “Don’t allow anything to interrupt our time each morning. You need to know that I desire it with you, you need it and desire it, and your family actually looks to you in admiration for taking the time with Me each day. ” I do love how plain God makes His messages. I can get all befuddled trying to analyze things, but when I simply ask, He gives a clear and concise response.
So, into the day I go ready to sort, wrap and enjoy!
As today begins I’m pondering just what God wants me to post today? Last weekend I had a rather disturbing situation occur. I didn’t post it at the time because I hadn’t know what God wanted me to learn from it. I was accused of saying something very hurtful about someone I’ve known much of my life. I supposedly said it to someone else I know well who told this other person. “I had said it in jest, I was told.” I was made aware of this last Sunday morning before our first service. What is so troubling is that I did not say any of it. I’ve only talked to the two directly involved–the one who said I told her and the one it was said about. I apologized to the hurt person because I care deeply for them and never want them thinking otherwise. I’ve puzzled over this wondering what I’m to do with it? Do I just chalk it up and let it go or is there a lesson for me to learn? Those who know me well know I can say some pretty stupid things in jest. However, I always remember saying them and always feel that little prod from my spirit when I need to apologize for it. This just wasn’t like that in any way.
This morning I asked God if He wanted me to know anything from this experience? Instantly I felt Him saying that this kind of sly deviousness is exactly what Satan does to put question marks in people’s mind about God’s Kingdom workers. He wanted me to know I need to be fully awake to this. Instead of being stunned, expect it. I will do just that from this point forward.
One more thing–one of our men from Celebrate Recovery was ambulanced to the hospital with heart issues last night. A stint surgery followed and he is doing well from it. This man has struggled for some years now. I am watching and waiting to hear just how God will use this in His Miraculous Ways to not only physically heal him, but to heal a very wounded man emotionally and spiritually. Our God is so amazing! I so love watching Him work.
Yesterday someone I love shared with me how God had blessed them in a most significant way. They felt most unworthy of the gift, but yet it was given. This morning I’ve not been able to get this out of my mind and heart. It has taken me so long to learn that what God wants most from me is my love demonstrated in my trust and faith in Him. This action of love is driven by the passion of heart rather than the discipline of mind. The passion of my heart is directly tied to my spirit. The discipline of mind has been in the control of my humanness thinking that is how I should obey God. It hasn’t been until I’ve learned just how tender and kind God’s love is through getting to know Him more, that I’ve taken the steps of greater faith and trust. These steps have been the steps of coming out with my past, to stop hiding behind walls that only kept in the hurt rather than give real protection, and more. It is even to tell when I presently struggle. My humanness is not over until I die, so the fact I face temptations and struggles is a given. God doesn’t want me hiding them.
I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that God is most interested in our relationship with Him first and foremost. The reason for this is that it isn’t until we have the deeper relationship that we begin to trust God enough to tell the truth about our struggles. Then when we do we don’t find condemnation, we actually find support and greater love. As I was journaling this morning about this I asked God what He wanted me to know. He brought to mind The Lord’s Prayer. It says in part, “…Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven….” God reminded me that His Kingdom is the universe which includes us–earth. He wants what is in heaven right here on earth. We cannot be separated from sin’s influence while on earth, but when our relationship is strong in the Lord, we can have His Power to protect us from these evil influences. All of this comes from a relationship God continuously pursues with us. All my life I tried to get there through my works. Little by little I’m getting straightened out. I must say that God is truly the best and most kind teacher. He is also the most patient One!
There’s some startling truth that begins to unfold when I read the book of Acts. The boldness of the disciples came when the Holy Spirit filled them. Secondly, The Holy Spirit didn’t just fill them, He gave them words He wanted spoken. This isn’t just found in the initial anointing which happened at Pentecost while they were in the upper room. Throughout Acts, The Holy Spirit is very present and is always bold and giving words which are to be spoken.
My religious upbringing talked about being filled with The Holy Spirit but not in the way Acts does. I know we all are given the Gift of The Holy Spirit when we receive Christ, but to be filled with The Spirit is another item. I’ve never really struggled to talk about my relationship with Christ. What I’ve struggled with is talking about my abuse thinking it would keep me from having this relationship. Now I sense The Holy Spirit is wanting me to be bold in it. For this reason I do take the opportunities to speak out. I don’t think I do this with boldness. There are times when I am talking about all of this with someone and words are said which make me wonder where they came from. I sense they are from The Holy Spirit within. I just know I want to be obedient to His calling and His leading in my life each moment of each day.
What I desire most of all is intimacy with God’s Holy Spirit. I’m not sure what that would be like, but I will continue to seek His fullness within me as I take my daily steps to follow His lead in my life.