My word, spring is rolling right along. It’s the last day of April. After church yesterday, where the choir number went well, I left for eastern Idaho. Today, I’m headed to a district here I worked with a month ago. They had so many issues to address I was asked to come back and give a day of technical assistance. There is another person who lives here also helping. When we were here a month ago we were met with an attitude by a couple of the administrators which I wanted to strangle right then and there. However, I kept my helping hat on and finished. Now that we are back I want to address this attitude from the get-go. I asked God about it this am and it was insightful what He said. It was like this, “If you make it about you, they will continue to think they only have to do this while you are here. If you make it about my creations, kids, then they will see the value of the message.” I would only want to do this, but when there is human emotion driving the statements its easy to turn the message right back to me. So, I’ve surrendered this to God and I will go into the day starting it with a message as to why we are here that honors the very One who created us all.
God is such a good God. I’m continuously amazed He wants to spend time with me–us. Yet He does. He says He created us for this purpose. I am humbled and honored by this and only want to honor Him in return. To God be all the Glory!
I have been singing since I was 14 years old so that makes it close to 54 years. To be nervous before an engagement is one thing, but being fearful is another. I’ve not put any thought into this until very recently. Today I’m singing a solo with our church choir in the background. Almost without exception, when I sing I do so with music in hand. It is an assurance thing–I don’t often need to look at it but if I do, it is there. Our worship pastor doesn’t allow music to be used when in front. She wants everyone fully engaged in the worship and not depending on paper and a music stand. I understand that conceptually, but when it comes to a morning like today–my fears are screaming. I took it to God this morning because it feels so different than simply being nervous. Being nervous is largely tied to excitement where fear is largely tied to failure–He pointed out. Boy, is He right! Man takes away all my crutches and replaces them with faith in the director, the sound people, God and me. When I finally put all of this together while journaling this morning I realize the truth of this matter. I was able to surrender to God my total reliance on this team. It doesn’t make me less nervous, but it does much with the fear that cripples all my thinking.
The song we are singing is not new. It is titled, “In Christ Alone”. I’m going to say a little piece as we start connecting the message of it to my own recovery journey. That part I’m nervous about, the technical part of the song is what I fear because the timing changes in each verse/chorus and I’ve never done well with timing unless I have the music in front of me to guide me. This is where I fear failure and I’ve had enough criticism in my childhood to last a lifetime in this category. Well, in just 3 hours the test will be done. I’m going to remove the word test and replace it with assignment. Either way, I’m going to leave Christ in control for He is the One who has redeemed me and called me His Own. Amen and Amen.
In my morning devotions I read that Christ is the door to all of God’s activity regarding the salvation of man. I don’t think that is much of a surprise when the scripture clearly states that: “…no man comes unto the Father except through me.” John 14:6. What was more revealing to me was the fact that all doors God’s Holy Spirit is nudging us to step through are doors of Christ. When we feel a nudge that is not seemingly connected to leading someone to Christ it seems less necessary. However, God was speaking clearly to me this morning that when He nudges I am to obey. The fact that what I’m stepping into is in His hands and He is wanting me to be a part which will have a connection to Him whether I can see it or not.
Secondly, yesterday the Lewis brothers and spouses got together as we do about monthly. I became the brunt of some sarcasm and jokes. I must have reacted someway to a statement because one brother said I needed to be more secure in being a man. (I didn’t disagree with that). Later, another brother said I was just plain fun to tease. This morning I asked God to help me know if security in being a man was part of being secure that I’m a new creation in Him? He said two words, “It will.” He went onto say that I had never connected the dots to being a new creation and also being a man secure in himself because I am on purpose. The hold that my abusive past has had on me is lessening as these realities come true. What I thought for a minute was a thoughtless statement by my brother turned into a healthy lesson.
Today I’m going into the mountains with men from our church as a get-together with the men. I’m taking one of my older grandsons with me. This isn’t something I’d typically enjoy doing for a day, but it seems to be one of those doors I’m to enter. It will be a good time to see how God uses this time.
This morning I was reading in Exodus. Moses has just needed to go back up the mountain with two hewed stone plates so God would rewrite the commandments for the children of Israel. Moses and God have been conversing about the stubbornness of the Israelites–stiff-necked people God called them. In all of this Moses tells God how he struggles as a man to lead these people. God then assures him He is with him and will lead them. He goes so far as to assure Moses of His presence by allowing Moses to see Him and experience His presence first hand. (Read Exodus chapters 32-36)
I have begun to learn that these precious relationships with God are not just for exceptional Bible characters such as Moses. God yearns to have these with each of us today. A few years back when I was deep into therapy I had a session where I was desperately needing God’s help with the topic I was addressing–SHAME. In each session I would need to place the weight of the topic being addressed into a container where it would never be allowed to bother me again. In this case, I couldn’t budge the weight of it. In fact, I was paralyzed by the weight of it. My counselor asked me to ask God for an angel’s help. I did this but nothing happened. I told the counselor I had asked for God’s help with this before and nothing happened then either. She told me directly to not believe this lie. Ask again. When I did there were two presence about me. They lifted all the shame from me and I was free. I knew it was God and Jesus but I couldn’t explain that except I just knew it. My counselor asked me to thank them for coming and helping out. I did and broke down as I was overcome with gratefulness.
Years later I realize that this was one of those moments where God not only revealed Himself to me but He was also indicating His desire for a closer relationship I could trust and rely on. Today I know that people like you and me can have a Moses type relationship with God. He doesn’t withhold Himself from those who seek Him and work to build a relationship with Him. I’d encourage everyone to do this. We don’t need to let our hardships be the drivers behind the relationship, but even if they are (as mine were) it won’t matter. God seeks us and we in turn can seek Him.
PS–This is late getting out–as I was writing it earlier I got a phone call with one of my kids needing their car jumped so they could get their kids to school and get to work. Thus, I’m tardy just like my grandkids were!
I’m always amazed with our Lord and Savior. He pursues us and when each one of us finally realizes this, we can begin to build a relationship with God, with Jesus Christ and with The Holy Spirit we would never know otherwise. I speak to this first hand. When one reads through the Bible one finds endless number of characters God has seemingly singled out. Little had I thought about the part the individual played as God was pursuing. They had to be willing to respond through obedience to God’s nudges to them. Most of the ones we read about in scripture have huge impact on humanity. I’m also realizing that God is not wanting me to look for impact, that is His role. He is wanting me to look at Him. As He continues to nudge, speak, remind, and I learn to respond at the time through obedience, I often see impact or I sense contentment. What I’ve never expected to know is the deep peace in my soul He promises.
Today is not a day with schools or with ministry. It is a day I get to be a gardener. I have a couple things I will do like practice a song I’m singing Sunday with our choir and a quartet practice tonight, but the day is open. Even in a day like today, God is saying to listen and be awake for His nudges. Sometimes the nudge is simply to look up and rejoice. That’s what I’m doing right now as I write this. Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!
Today is the anniversary of my brother in law’s passing. He was a remarkable man in so many ways. I know my sis and their two sons and their families will be mourning today. I will too in a sense. However, I know God is wanting me to celebrate his life and help my family do the same. Randy and I wore the same size shoes, the same size ring and Bonnie gave me a ring she’d bought Randy as well as a couple pair of his shoes he’d never worn. So today I’m wearing Randy. Randy and I use to greet one another with bird calls since we both like birds. I know this sounds goofy, but I’m doing my bird call just to remember the fun we use to have simply being together. He is with our Father and a host of family in heaven. Yes, we miss him but today along with mourning his absence, lets celebrate his remembrance.
Yesterday had several important meetings taking place both with the ministry work in recovery as well as with the State Dept. of Ed where I do my consulting work. I was thinking from them I would sort out what portion of the work I’d quit. Instead, God showed me how to streamline it rather than quit it. He is amazingly detailed. As I learn to listen more closely to Him throughout my day I realize more and more how much of life I’ve struggled through because I tried for so long to do it on my own. Boy, I never want to go back to that lonely struggle.
Last night I was so touched as we went around the table and I listened to each one attending name the area of leading they wanted to pursue with the recovery topics. The momentum of the meeting was great and we got through so much more detail than I ever expected. There was a rich harmony present which I should have anticipated but I hadn’t. I was simply touched over and over by the tender and firm cooperation everyone had to grasp this work and move forward with it in nurture and support. Wow, our God is so Good!
As I am reading now in Exodus all about the rules God gave Moses for the children of Israel, I am stunned all over again. If you have read them you know there were hundreds of them. When I finished reading these chapters I asked God if there is something He wanted me to know from these? I was expecting Him to say something like these rules are no longer relevant to you so skip them. However, what He spoke into my mind was this, “These are the rules for living under the old covenant. You now are living in the new covenant where guidance is given by nudges from the Holy Spirit. In either place, old or new covenant, obedience is the key.” All of a sudden I realized a very important factor. God’s Holy Spirit speaks to us by nudges all the time. These aren’t to be dealt with as though they are suggestions. The old covenant rules were not to be dealt with as suggestions either. The rules were written for the old covenant and ours are nudged in our spirit. Both are to be obeyed. If I were to tally all the nudges I’ve had over time there would be hundreds of them too. I love the intimacy of The Holy Spirit living within me. I want to be fully awake to my need to obey as He nudges.
Tonight is the one where the team working to lead the new recovery classes will start to get going with the curriculum. First they will identify their area of interest and we will see who will be working together, etc. I’m also meeting with our State Dept. of Education this afternoon over the new process of helping failing schools starting this next Fall. I was feeling rather overwhelmed as I got up this morning but God’s message earlier about obeying His nudges makes me know I am on track. Today doesn’t start teaching the classes nor does today start the work with the schools. Today is for identifying key people to do the work, what materials we will use, and the process for all of this. Then, we will take the time to learn the materials before we teach them. God certainly is good at taking anxiety and replacing it with purpose and meaning when it is surrendered.
I’m having a problem getting this written today. I have so many things swirling around in my head. The one thing that is certain–God is steadfast, my solid Rock, and my intimate Friend. Sometimes the things in my life begin to overwhelm me but this morning He reminded me to reflect on my life and see once again where He has always been with me and I was easily able to do this. God is so Good!
Last night I was watching a Hallmark program. A line spoken in the program really hit me when I heard it. It was, “I feel cheated….” I won’t go into the setting of it but I was instantly hit with the truth that I was cheated from much happiness in my childhood. I worked hard to create happiness around me but deep inside my spirit I ached. I asked God to help me deal with this as I was having my devotions this morning. He didn’t hesitate at all. He asked me to close my eyes. When I did I was able to recall so many joyous times I had with my siblings, my mom, my dad, my relatives while growing up. I smile now recalling all of this again. God showed me that these times were examples of His presence when I had thought I was all alone. He is a joy giver and Satan is a joy robber. Yes, I was cheated in many ways while I was growing up and Satan did a number on me to keep me in bondage so much of my adult years. However, God is faithful and true to His Word. Psalms 30:11-12 says: “You have turned my mourning into dancing for me; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my soul may sing praise to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever!” Thank you Father!
The beauty of Spring has really hit. The daffodils and tulips are in their full beauty as I look out the window of my den. The air is still (no wind) and the leaves are emerging on all the trees. The flowering trees are lush in bloom right now. Yes, I do love Spring!
As yesterday began it was calm for the first day all last week since coming home from Oklahoma. I was wanting to get my lawn sprayed for dandelions and other weeds so I quickly got things ready and began the work. My granddaughter had a basketball tournament I thought at 10:30 for which I was going. I had finished the spraying and was eating a bowl of cereal when my daughter text me that she was at the game and where she was sitting (it was 9:55). Kathy was already gone having left earlier for a bible study at the church. She was driving separate of me. I quickly left the house realizing the game was at 10 and not 10:30. They usually last an hour so I knew I’d only catch the last two quarters being 30 minutes away. I got within seeing the high school where the tournament took place to get a call from my son-in-law telling me the game was over. They had played straight through. Typically I would have beat myself up at this point. Instead, I laughed knowing Kathy had told me correctly, but I had logged it in my head incorrectly. I’m sure we have all been there in our lives. I had just felt bad I didn’t get to support my granddaughter.
Being a new creation, living it out day by day, is truly a transformation of our mind. It is not a discipline as much as it is a belief. I disciplined myself to be “new” forever. Only now am I truly realizing that believing I’m new is what God has always wanted me to do. It has only been since this change that the transformation kicks in. This transformation is remarkable realizing I don’t need to beat myself up each time I make a simple error. God is so patient with us. His gifts are eternal. He gives them to us and then waits for us to finally open the gift and receive it’s blessing.
I have been a Christian for 50+ years. During this time I’ve spent most of it living as the old creation I was, fighting the haunting memories of abuse. It is revealing to take a moment like this and realize the most haunting memories were the verbal abuses along with the sexual abuse. These together had me believing for so long that I was gay just like my brother and much less valuable than most men. A gay person wouldn’t be attracted to someone who wasn’t–would they? Even though I know in my logical mind this isn’t true at all, it is something Satan has tried to keep me tormented and in bondage throughout my life.
Now that I’ve learned to trust God’s Grace, Christ’s work on the Cross, The Holy Spirit’s indwelling, I can better live the new creation life Christ made me to be so long ago. I’m realizing how much of our life we waste and how much opportunity we miss completing God’s Kingdom work when we stay in hiding. I use to equate tormenting temptations as part of me and my sinfulness. God has fully shown me this is one of Satan’s biggest deceptions. I was made clean and whole as a new creation and I can surrender each of these tempting moments knowing they no longer own me. Join me in being free and find help if you are not able to believe this. The lie has been labeled as such. You don’t have to believe it ever again!