Today is a special day. It is the 2 year anniversary of my journaling to God. Sound silly? It does somewhat as I write this. Celebrating this however for me is and has been one of the most incredible parts of my current journey. For anyone who doesn’t know the background of this, it was two years ago today that I was starting my devotional journaling by writing Jesus in my journal. I would start by acknowledging that I was journaling to Him. As I did that two years ago I heard a voice within me say, “I don’t want you any longer journaling to My Son, but I want you to journal to Me.” Somehow I knew this was God speaking. So, I crossed out Jesus and wrote Father God. On the 3rd day of this journaling I began to weep as I wrote Father God. I told Him I wasn’t worthy to write to Him. He was pure and divine. How was a troubled, scarred soul like me suppose to write to Him? I had grown comfortable journaling to Jesus because He had come to us as man so he’d at least understand where I was coming from. On this 3rd morning as I wrote this, I heard God say, “I sent My Son to you to show you the way to Me, not to replace Me.” That message has stuck with me since. I knew God was wanting me to grow into a trusting relationship with Him personally.
In these past two years God has become my Father, my Dad. The Amazing Grace I’ve been recently writing about is Him. He has shown me my need to learn the power of choice and evil. In so doing, He has shown me that in spite of their power–He is The Almighty One. He gave man choice and Satan has influenced man into selfish choice which has led to such atrocious evil throughout time. However, no matter how strong evil may look, He is still The Almighty One. Choice is still the option. We are to turn to Him and in so doing, we see Light we had never seen before.
Lastly, God has shown me what intimacy is. It is filled with trust. I have always trusted completely when I was primarily in control of what was going on around me. I would be filled with anxiety if that weren’t true. God, over these past two years, has shown me that when I trust Him He will take care of the environment and I can let it go. I’ve surrendered so many times in the past couple years! I’m still needing to do so too. Each day is a time to surrender and I do this each morning for I no longer want me to be in control. I want to join and actively be part of The God Team.
God’s Amazing Grace is nothing less than AMAZING!
“…Grace–How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me….”. These words keep coming to mind along with the newer version of Amazing Grace. It goes: “Amazing Grace–how sweet the sound–Amazing Love now flowing down….” Grace is something all of us should take time to better understand.
Yesterday, the introduction of our forthcoming Recovery Ministries was incredible. The speaker from Pure Desire did an outstanding job. The table of resources was attended by scores of people seeking resources and asking many questions. Yesterday when I was journaling about what Grace sounds like, God told me I’d hear it in the morning. It sounded like hope for lost ones. A grandma talked with me about her grandson who she is going to talk with this week. A lady talked with hope for her friend who calls himself gay but doesn’t want to join this life. Men and women came to get the information for the classes of their interest and need. The sounds and the looks of Grace were abundant.
When I was growing up we sang the hymn Amazing Grace often. However, we didn’t support Grace the way it is supported today. Then, Grace was closely accompanied with condemnation and judgment. Yes, the day for this will come for all of us, but in-between them is God’s gracious patience waiting for us to realize His compassionate love and grace which is waiting for us to receive through His Son–Jesus Christ. He doesn’t want us to stop though with only acceptance. This is a beginning of the rest of our lives both here on earth and then for eternity. There is a lot more of the freedom of eternity available here on earth I’m finding when we learn to let go and surrender to all that God has for us. It is in this surrender that we find the abundant Grace. This Grace covers us but more importantly for me is that it permeates me. This simply brings me to tears each time. For SO LONG I ached with the sinfulness I thought I was from the sins done to me. I could not find cleansing for them. But God’s Grace has now done this cleansing once and for all. It has taken years of building trust and letting go of my control/walls I thought were protecting me from more harm.
“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, Amazing Love, now flowing down….” Stop for a moment and let it cover you and permeate you by receiving and surrendering.
“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.” Most, if not all of us, know this song/hymn. As I was reflecting/meditating this morning upon yesterday’s reunion and today’s kick-off of our recovery ministries, this song came to mind. God has been bringing Grace up to me for a couple days now. When I began to write in my journal the hymn’s words above I came to sound and stopped. It says: “how sweet the sound”.
I asked God what the sound of Grace is? The rest of my devotional time was then filled with God’s responses. The window behind me was open and a hummingbird was right outside so the sound of its wings was present, the quail singing was right behind the fluttering wings. God said, “This is Grace–it’s Peace–My Peace for you.” He then went on to unfold so much more. As the songs goes on it says, “saves a wretch like me”. I instantly knew what that sounds like. The silent sobs of regret, guilt, shame and sometimes the loud wails of this. God said this too is Grace. He then reminded me that today we will have people coming to a table of resources for the forthcoming classes which will be starting very soon. The whispered bits and pieces of hurt, hang-ups and habits will be shared with HOPE for themselves or for the one they represent. This too is sounds of Grace–Hope for the hurting.
Grace doesn’t build what man builds. Grace builds confidence, assurance, and fortitude. Grace provides a means of strength that man cannot see for it comes from the depth of his soul where only the Holy Spirit resides. Grace provides the direct connection of man to God’s Holy Spirit within. The sounds of Grace are spirit sounds. Today I am going to be listening directly for them as we introduce the new recovery ministries to a listening audience.
Yesterday was an intriguing day. In it I met with one of the recovery ministry leaders for 2.5 hours preparing ourselves for the lessons forthcoming in the topic of homosexuality. This leader has been committed from the start but is new to leading a group. Earlier in the week I had met with another lady who has come out of homosexuality years ago and is a coach today for those wanting to do the same. As of yesterday, she and this new leader will be working together to facilitate this group for the women. God is just so amazing. God told me this morning to notice that when He is allowed to be in charge and I don’t get in the way, He will complete the work He is doing just as He wants it done. My anxiousness is a deterrent to Him and me so I can and need to let it go!
A friend from high school came to dinner last night. He is a pastor in the Portland, OR area. Our 50 year high school reunion is today. He was an all-star athlete and the son of a pastor. You know my story likely if you are reading this. Bill never knew until a little over a year ago about this kid he called his best friend. He asked me again last night why I’d never told him back then? I think he understands superficially, but in the depth of his soul he knew he could have been a better friend for me. I know this feeling because even today I sense this with people I know are not opening up about the bondage within them. However, each one of us has to find our “low point” before we can ever begin to shed light on the deepest bondage within. I was still in the days of abuse when Bill and I were friends in high school. I could never have said anything then I thought.
As our talking continued Bill said more than once about God’s Grace. His words were striking. He said that Faith is the spiritual action word we are to take with God and Grace is the gift we receive upon taking the action of believing (having faith). He also said that Grace isn’t just a gift received once, it is a dynamic, living gift that continues its work throughout our life. This is what I have found so very true. Grace enters my soul and its cleansing work begins as I open up. The more I am able to share, the more light can come in and cleanse. This is so contradictory to what man would say. He says just what I believed not so long ago–“If I tell any of this I will be cast out and judged as ill-fit for all I do.” God says to have faith in Him–trust Him and His gift of Grace will send purifying Light which will remove shame, guilt and bondage while replacing it with support, love and acceptance. Wow, isn’t God Amazing!
Last night’s lesson in Celebrate Recovery was very well taught. The lesson title was “Gratitude”. This morning as I started my devotions with a devotional reading it centered around a couple key points, thanking God for who He is and living in total honesty removing all the “adjustments to the truth” we sometimes do thinking it will help the truth be accepted. Then I started reading in the Psalms where I’m presently in my Bible reading. It too seemed to be centered on David’s praise and thanksgiving of our Father.
The key element in this that hit me this morning is more than just the praise or thanksgiving. It is all about praising God for Who He Is rather than praising Him only for what He Does. I don’t think I’d ever done this before. It seemed He was challenging me to take time and meditate on Who He Is. Even now as I write this I have to stop again and let this permeate my mind and spirit. It was the first time I’ve really come up against the importance of understanding the difference in my heart and mind. My mind is the home of all I know and I’ve spent my life trying to be “good for God” through this means. My heart is the home of my spirit. The fact that God is Spirit and has placed His Holy Spirit within me hit a new level of significance as I began to just let go and meditate. I asked God how I can look Him in the face and tell Him thanks? I don’t want to do this in any arrogant way, but truly out of love and gratitude. It seemed He told me to let my spirit have more opportunity to manifest itself in me.
I’ve been scared and reticent to get to know my spirit and give it more freedom in me. In doing this I’ve needed to let go of what I’d held onto and that’s that dad had an ugly spirit. I’ve always equated spirit to emotions. I’ve never wanted “my spirit” to control me as I thought it controlled my dad. So, in letting go this morning and simply meditating on God’s characteristics I was simply overcome with this sense of awe and peace. The intimacy of God is demonstrated often by what He does, but He also wants us to know just how much He loves us by us letting Him love us. I felt His embrace. What a powerful, yet loving moment. Boy, do I need to let go of so many false beliefs and simply let God be intimate with me and I with Him.
This brings me back to last night’s lesson on Gratitude. The gratitude I want to express to God this morning is that I love who He is even more than what He has done. “Who He Is” is Who I will live with for eternity.
Last Saturday when my family had its final reunion dinner at our home I wrote about God wanting me to express to them about His compassion. Yesterday He gave me a dose of it. Kathy and I have good friends whose anniversary is the same day as Kathy’s birthday–July 23. We went to dinner with them last night to celebrate all of this. In so doing they also gave me a card and gift as mine is July 1. The card was striking. It was a Max Lucado quote: “There is something in you that God loves. Not just appreciates or approves, but loves. You cause His eyes to widen, His heart to beat faster, He loves you. And–He accepts you.”
This came on the heels of a couple days of anxiety over getting the recovery ministry groups up and running. They included with the card a book entitled, The Way of Abundance. In the introduction of this book it says that the turmoil of our lives causes spiritual friction. God uses this friction to cause the spiritual Light He wants others to see. This was the reminder and good news I needed to confirm I’m on track with God in the recovery work we are doing. More selfishly and importantly is that I am the one God wants involved in it. God is literally using the friction of strife Satan wants to create as Light for others. Yes, Satan wants me to believe I’m not fit and that I’m unworthy but this contradicts God’s scriptural promises that I will continue to embrace.
This morning God has been reinforcing in me that we are on track together. He is not only a compassionate God, He is Mighty to Save. He wants others lost in the torment of their past to see His Light shining from the torment that has now been turned into His Message of Light for all to see. Let His Light so Shine!
Today my youngest granddaughter turns one year old. We will celebrate it on Sunday. What a sweet one she is!
Yesterday I had a meeting with a life coach–someone who wants to consider working with interested individuals who will come to our recovery classes and desires to have a person come along side helping them take steps. It is similar to a sponsor in Celebrate Recovery, but this position has a good deal of training behind it. She is able to step into these troubled areas of addiction, homosexuality, low self-esteem and more. She has her own story which adds to the strength of her work.
As my day went on I found myself becoming more and more troubled with the recovery work feeling unfit for it and tempted to step out for good. I know in my head I won’t do this but the feelings are strong. In my facilitator training I’m doing on-line right now the author of it stated that abuse victims often have trouble taking a lesson we understand in our head and taking it to our heart–our spirit level and applying it there (how we believe). I resonate with this but was helpless to know how to remedy this.
Tied to yesterday, this morning I asked God what he wanted me to know for today? He gave me a mental picture I will hang onto for the rest of my life. He said that choice–the gift He gave man, is a most powerful tool. Satan takes it and abuses it well with people who abuse and then to the victim who is abused. For the abused he makes one feel as though you have no choice and adds to it making you think you are only good for abuse. I know in my head the lies of this very well. In tempting times like yesterday Satan does his best to manipulate me into choosing self-gratification to feel better. This morning God talked to me about His Weapon He has given. It is the Sword of the Spirit. I KNOW about this sword. He reminded me to take the Sword He has given and turn it towards the enemy and pierce this dark thinking (temptation). You can do this with scriptural promises. God showed me that when I choose yielding to temptation I’ve taken the sword and turned it inward piercing my own heart. This keeps me or anyone injured and it feeds the wounded soul I am. I loved seeing me able to use the Sword of the Spirit in this way. I’m not only going to do this, I want to pass this picture along to those I know who struggle just as I do. God is such a blessed Savior and Friend.
Today is the birthday for my oldest living sis as well as the birthday for the brother who abused me throughout my childhood. We celebrated my sis’s birthday when we had our Saturday dinner together. My brother’s birthday wasn’t mentioned in the day that I recall. I use to squelch it from mind but today I can write about it without the pain of the past. I’m so grateful for that. In fact, I can recall some fun times with him.
This seems to be a loose ends week. This coming Sunday we are starting the recovery ministry work with a kick-off speaker at church. He is from a group in Portland, OR called Pure Desire. It deals with men struggling with a sexual addiction. The gentleman coming is a pastor who had his own private struggle. I don’t know all of his story, but God is now using him to help churches come out of denial regarding this toxic sin. I’ve asked the speaker to also address the other topics our recovery ministry is including. He is going to address all of this from the line of sexual brokenness rather than sexual addiction only. He said that would be easy for him to do. The next six Sundays we will be conducting a Sunday School class that will familiarize attendees of the need for help if someone is struggling. At the end of the 6 weeks, we will be starting the recovery ministry classes. With all of this, I seem to have all these details going through my head to ensure all goes well. God was quick to remind me He is in charge and I am just to do my part. I can let the anxiety go. (He does seem to know me all too well!)
Summer is still fully in place and there is much to still enjoy about it: grandkids swimming and screaming, some more birthdays, friends coming in for my 50 year high school reunion this Saturday, and more. There is also the fruit of the summer with garden produce. I certainly won’t forget this for it is the highlight of summer for me. I struggle blending assignments like all the recovery work with the pleasure of living in the summer. I tend to make everything an assignment removing much of the joy. Instead, I want to look at all of it as joy. Just writing this helps me to smile about the upcoming recovery work. It is a joy to be involved and anticipate what God is doing and will be doing. I love Him for this!
Today is Kathy’s birthday. I know she is not very sensitive about telling her age but she is sensitive about anyone telling her she is getting old like I am or like I say I am. She says I can get old, but she is simply adding another year. Either way, it is a special day for the lady I love.
“Be still and know that I AM GOD.” Psalms 46:10. I can’t begin to tell you how many times God has said this to me in the past week. Our family’s get together and reunion was priceless for all of us. Our final dinner on Saturday was an event I don’t think any of us could have anticipated. God was so present and so honored. However, with the waning health of my two older sisters I want to step in and do something! God is reminding me that He is GOD, not me. As a brother I am to support and let Him be God.
This morning in my devotional reading this message of “be still” was brought into the forefront again. This time Joyce Meyer said something I hadn’t thought about in reference to Job 37:14 where Job is being told to “stand still” by one of the 4 friends attempting to give him wise counsel. Joyce writes an excerpt saying: “Standing still is action in God’ economy. It is spiritual action. We usually take action in the natural realm and do nothing in the spiritual realm. But, when we wait on God and stand still before Him, we are taking spiritual action.”
This wisdom is what I needed to hear today. My sisters are in God’s loving care. I will act when God shows me I am to do so and how to taken action. Until then, my support can be shown through staying in touch and letting them know I’m here for them.
Today is a most precious day. Today our family will come together for our final dinner and fun. There has already been a great deal of laughter and fun through the week. God, earlier before everyone had arrived last weekend, had laid on my heart the need to check in with my family about their spiritual life. I have known torment for so long and tried to hide it for so long, also know that my siblings do the same at times. I also have learned that no one is without their own spiritual torment. This is just something Satan does to try and keep us off track.
I’ve inwardly struggled all this week wondering what God wanted me to say? I’ve talked with my youngest brother and sister to have them praying for today as well as to know I’d be opening this door as we meet today. They were in favor of this because we know even our oldest living siblings carry their own bondage from childhood. So, this morning as I was having my devotions I began to journal asking God what He wanted me to know about this afternoon? I knew he wanted a window opened widely for the Light of His Holy Spirit to shine through, but what do I say or do to open it? It was amazing to hear Him say to simply talk about His Compassion. To do this simply talk about the mates He has given to each of us. Three of my siblings have lost their mates, but all of us will know that the mate God gave us truly completes us. When I wrote this I stopped and wept. I immediately knew this was the window for today.
God is such an amazing, compassionate God. He is Almighty King of the universe. Yet, this One True God loves us intimately and personally. It has taken me so long to understand this. I know too that I will grow in this as long as I’m still here on this earth for God’s immense compassion and love cannot be fully grasped with our finite minds and hearts. How I love Him and thank Him for my family.