Today is a celebration! It is my oldest daughter’s birthday. She wouldn’t want me to put her age here so I’ll just let her do that part if she wants. It makes a dad’s heart happy to see our kids doing well with their lives. “Well” doesn’t mean a perfect life, but working to make the right decisions which honor God first and man second. She does a good job working on this!
I started Song of Solomon this morning in my devotions. It has always been to me the love story which is way too much like a chic-flick–it is so romantic that this guy I am thinks it is too overboard for me. Well, tucked away in the middle of it is a nugget of wisdom I would have missed entirely if I hadn’t been reading it from the Joyce Meyer bible. In chapter 2 verse 15 it says: “Take for us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards for our vineyards are in blossom.” Joyce writes a life point to this verse which I’m sure God wants each of us to better understand. She says, “What this means is that people’s lives are typically not destroyed by what we would consider ‘big’ issues, but by a series of smaller, seemingly insignificant choices or compromises. Watch for the little foxes in your life; forgive even the most minor offense so that your heart stays clean, do not cut corners in your finances or on the job when you think no one will notice, do not expose yourself to ungodly influences, thinking it won’t hurt me if I do it just this once. Little thinks add up to big things, and before you know it little foxes can ruin a strong, healthy vine.” Notice that the verse says the vineyard is in blossom. Satan doesn’t want any fruit forming so he destroys all he can ahead of the fruit.
God really wanted me to read and process this today. Yesterday was filled with little foxes. Without going into it, I witnessed it happening last night with one of our Celebrate Recovery folks. They simply left due to some circumstances, leaving Satan rejoicing–I’m quite certain. It is the little things that go unattended and build up which almost always cause the significant damage. I’m asking God to help me stop and deal with the little foxes when I see them. I also want to help others stop and do the same. This message is a tremendously strong recovery piece for which I needed reminding. It is putting Godly Wisdom to work.
Yesterday turned out to be a remarkably good day. I had 3 meetings for our recovery ministry groups which went well. A retired counselor gave me a box of excellent resources we can use. I was wanting to create a resource library for all the volunteers we have. This will be a great start for it. The two counselors who met with our group leaders last night also did an outstanding job. I think they removed a good deal of anxiety for us. It helps to know we have expertise right with us.
“Take every thought captive.” II Corinthians 10:5. This is the verse I’ve been working with for the 30 days to help me keep from stepping into anxiety and stress as we move into the start of our recovery work. Every morning God reminds me to “be still and know that He is God.” This always takes me to a place where I relax and surrender. A good friend once told me that my anxiety was a gift in that it kept me focused on what is important when starting something new. I don’t think it is anxiety when my mind is working to process all that needs to be done when getting something started well. It is when I begin to doubt that I can do this that anxiety takes over. This gift turns into a character flaw at that point. This is what God helps with each morning when He reminds me to “be still–He is God”. Surrendering all that is gripping me is done at this point. Each day He brings me closer to Him by showing me how He completes His Work well. An example yesterday was my email I wrote about. My first attempt to address it took care of it. I had prayed for God’s direction and that did it.
The week before we start the first groups, Sept. 11, I’ve asked a dear lady–prayer warrior to come and meet with all of us group leaders. She is going to be helping us address spiritual warfare. She is my prayer warrior and she gives me continuous encouragement.
Lastly, this morning I was reading in Ecclesiastes. The chapter was 11. It is here Solomon writes about not waiting when God has called you into something with Him. It would be so easy to walk away from this present work. Satan does all he can to complicate and confuse. However, God is very clear that today is the day He wants us moving forward with this. The chapter starts off saying, “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.” This present bread is recovery from brokenness. Casting this bread is hope for some very lost folks waiting to know they don’t have to live in the darkness they’ve hidden for so long. I know this brokenness, darkness and I know this hiding. God is calling us and I want nothing else but to obey.
Yesterday morning I went to update my cell phone. (I should know better). All was fine until I had to give my password for my email account which I use the most. It is my msn.com one. I’ve had it since I first started an email account over 20 years ago. At this point in time I don’t have a clue what it is. I entered what I thought and made a few adjustments fitting what I thought I may have done and of course, nothing was right. I got home and went to work to “change my password”. This requires answering questions I could no longer answer so I maxed out the attempts for both changing the password and entering the original one. My message was that I’d need to wait until tomorrow to restart. It is now tomorrow so I’m going to see if I can make this work! In times past I would chalk all of this up to the fact I’m unworthy and unfit for this type of luxury. I’m so glad those days are behind me. Now I know I’m just old and very forgetful!
Tonight is the time when the two counselors are meeting with our recovery group leaders. I’m really looking forward to having all of us together to hear what we can learn from them. Our time is drawing close to our start.
Last night our worship pastor (choir director) had everyone involved in our forthcoming Christmas production come together to try out for specific parts. I was only there because I volunteered to be a caroler and in the choir portion. One of the main characters in the production is someone who’d make Scrooge look polite and nice. When I heard several of his lines I made the statement that he had a lot in common with a “horse’s part”. In so doing I offended a man sitting close to me and he lit into me like I haven’t been since dad days. I wasn’t sure what to do with this so I asked God for direction this morning. It seemed clear I need to apologize for offending him. I know my “humor” has done this in times past. So, I will apologize when I see him again.
It is funny how two rather small things: updating a cell phone and taking part in a production tryout, can lead to such major time consumers. I know I’m to learn from them what God wants me to glean and then let go of the rest. They seem small but when living one day at a time, they are routine items I don’t want to repeat any time soon.
Yesterday turned out to be a day for God to show Himself. Kathy and I bought a new washing machine last Spring. It was the “exact one” she’d been wanting–so she thought. No matter what she tried she could not find satisfaction with it. Yesterday we went back to the dealer and even though it has been 4 months, they are taking it back and letting us choose which one we want for a straight across the board trade. I was hearing all kinds of excuses in my mind as to why they couldn’t do anything for us, yet they didn’t even question us. They actually thanked Kathy for being so diligent in trying to make it work for her before coming in. This might seem trite, but I was very appreciative of God’s involvement in this.
In the afternoon yesterday I got a text from one of our pastors wanting to meet with me 30 minutes ahead of choir practice. Somehow I knew it would be to “scold me or reign me in” in some category of the recovery ministries. However, when I got to the church he had an order of curriculum materials for me and some great news about a volunteer who might be a tremendous help for us.
This morning I was processing with God about this mindset of mine–always expecting that I’ve done something wrong and needing to be lectured. Well, God simply reminded me of the scripture I am using this month to reframe my belief system. It is II Corinthians 10:5–“to take every thought captive….” Proverbs 23:7 also tells us “As a man thinks, so is he.” God is truly wanting me to break away from this “old man” thinking pattern I’ve had. I’m a new creation and He wants me believing I’m a new creation in every aspect of my life. Once again the words of the Serenity Prayer ring true: “one day at a time and one moment at a time”. I am amazed always at this Almighty God we serve. He truly is interested in every aspect of our lives. I want to be always growing closer to Him and to serve Him well.
The smoke-laden West is getting some rain this morning. I don’t know when I’ve been so happy to see drops of rain falling from the sky. The clouds aren’t dense, but they are letting drops fall enough to hit the earth and in so doing it will dampen the fires burning and remove the pollutants keeping air quality in the “hard to breathe” range. Thank you God!
Today’s scriptural message in Proverbs seemed to direct me to stay focused on what God is telling me–not what man is saying. Man wants the first seat at the table and God says to take the back seat and if you are asked to move to the front seat you are being truly honored. Proverbs 27:1&2 tells this nicely.
A couple of weeks ago I was told something that was very troubling to me. It is not in the realm of things I work with, but nonetheless, it was troubling. This morning I was asking God what He wanted me to do with it. I was surprised with His response (even though I should not have been). He seemed to say for me to address what He has given me to do and to leave for Him and others what is told to me only out of the need to tell. As soon as I heard this message I felt like Satan was trying to use this information to distract me from the work God has me doing. He is the master of deceit and this could have been one of them for me. There are many details to get into place as we approach the launch of our recovery ministries and I don’t want to do anything which would deter me from God’s purposes in this. Let God alone be honored this day by my words and deeds.
Yesterday afternoon Kathy and I went to a birthday party for a little 2 year old boy. He is the son of the young man I went to lunch with last Monday. I believe I mentioned this in a blog earlier last week. This little boy’s dad had a very troubling childhood. When we went to lunch I gave him one of my books. He told me yesterday he had finished it. He also told me there were too many things alike between his grandma (his adopted mom) and my own dad. When his grandma saw me at the party her words to him were, “What in the h…. is he doing here?” He told me this because he felt bad she still harbored much resentment towards me. I told him to let that go. This was her problem, not his or mine. Back 20+ years ago when they were working to adopt him I had written a letter which describe some of my concerns about her ability to be an adopted mom. This young man’s life today still carries the weight of these wounds. I was glad to be there and besides, it was no surprise to me she felt this way. It only confirmed she hasn’t changed. The party was lots of fun and Kathy and I got to meet a number of people we would never have known otherwise. This young man is surrounding himself with good friends who are a good influence. I see him trying to please this “mom” just like I use to try and please dad. I hate to think it will never change, but he’s in his early 30’s and she is approaching 80 so I think the chances are growing slim.
As I was reading this morning in Proverbs there are many verses which describe yesterday. The haughtiness and pride of one’s attitude will drive people away from you. The tenderness and support of one’s attitude will be like a magnet to others who enjoy being with you. I remember my dad asking me why no one came to visit him in the nursing home? He died a lonely man. I’m afraid this lady will do the same unless there is a miraculous turn around. Only God can do this but we also must make this choice. God is Amazing. He wants us to be the same as we strive to live amazingly for Him.
So what about love? When I spent time yesterday doing what was to be done: working in my brother’s garden and then in my own, mowing the lawn, etc., I found myself not being so troubled with this love item. The only times I’ve heard anyone say “I’m in love with you” is when they are courting one another. Last night Kathy and I were going to dinner with friends and I asked her about the two phrases. She’d read yesterday’s blog so she was familiar with it. She wasn’t at all troubled by the two phrases. She simply said the “I love you” is the phrase one uses after they say “I’m in love” with you. It is as though the one phrase is an awakening phrase and the other is the confirmation of wanting a lifetime commitment. I’m probably making this much bigger than it is, however, the piece that hits me this morning is about spirit. It seems our spirit is the driver of love. I loved my mom due to her gentle, loving spirit. I resented my dad due to his selfish, conceited spirit.
These past two years+ have been spent journaling to God Himself. In this time I can honestly say I have moved into a belief and state of being that now trusts God fully and deeply respects and appreciates Him. I can honestly say, I love Him and over the two year time I have been falling in love with Him due to the continuous discoveries of His steadfastness and the truth of every scripture He has had written in His Word–the Bible. When I realized in loving God I am also loving His Holy Spirit, it is helping me come to know The Holy Spirit that lives within me. This is the remarkable part. This God I love is Spirit and His Holy Spirit has been given to me to live within me. Awakening to my spirit and to God’s Holy Spirit helps me to be more anchored in what God is doing and what He wants me doing to support it. Wow, do I love Him!
I’m not a big sports fan. In fact I give no thought to sports most of the time. However, when grandkids are involved I have a motivation to go and support them. Well, last night my grandson’s team beat their opponent 49-6. (First game of the season) I found myself feeling sorry for the opponent. Those kids are human’s with feelings just like my grandson. Not to get lost in all of this, but it was fun to see my grandson play. He is extremely good which makes it even more fun.
Now onto this journey—Have you ever thought about the differences between these two phrases: “I love you” vs “I’m in love with you”? In our preparing for the recovery classes with a couple of the leaders yesterday I was given this as the definition of love being used in a perverted way. I love you means you are supported fully by me. I’m in love with you means a deep emotional commitment where my spirit wants to join your spirit. (Keep in mind these are all Earnie terms). I was not raised in a family where the word love was stated. I never had my mom tell me this except in response to me telling her this as an adult. I never wanted to hear it from my dad and I don’t recall ever hearing it either. I don’t find myself ever thinking I should say it. Mostly, it never comes to mind. However, yesterday when these comparative statements were made differentiating love I was hit with a sense I had to know what makes them different.
This morning I spent ample time with God regarding love and in love. Love surrounds us from God. The Holy Spirit enters in us with God’s love. When I am in love I desire to enter into the spirit of the person or if someone is in love with me they want to enter into my spirit. (Writing this sends chills down my spine. It is a huge awakening for me). I can hardly fathom any of this happening. What I pictured this morning with all this processing was my dad’s harsh, belittling times and words. I learned to protect my spirit at all cost from his words and disgust. Finally, as of yesterday’s conversation, I’m starting to see something I’ve never seen before. It is, “it is ok to let someone inside my spirit”. I don’t need to protect it. They are not entering into the heart of me to destroy me. I would never want to do this to anyone. Somehow, unconsciously, I’ve been protecting myself all these years–I thought.
When I wrote yesterday about the book on abuse I’m reading, I said how much it sickened me. Well, the words of the abuser that I now see in my dad entered into my spirit and tried to destroy it. I learned to try and protect “me” from it and in so doing learned to not allow anyone in. God is abundantly showing me I can now let this go. This is raw for me but I know it is genuine and true so I am trusting fully. God is wanting me to let His Holy Spirit fully enter into me and to let those He brings into my life for whom I say “I love”, I can say, “I’m in love with you” and be safe and ok with it.
I’m not sure this is even understandable to any reader. However, as the days continue, I will make it clearer as it becomes clearer to me. Also, if for some reason, it does make sense to you because you know this as true for you, I pray for your healing time. God’s precious Holy Spirit wants to heal us from all the past wounds we are carrying.
Have you ever realized that the biggest problem we face might be ourselves? I’m seeing that this morning. Yesterday was a calm day for me as far as activity goes. I had things to do in the morning leaving the afternoon open. I used it to read a book that feeds information for one of our recovery classes. In fact, it is the book first written ahead of the curriculum for those dealing with abuse. The curriculum is so thoughtfully done as it is written for the abused. The book I’m reading is written to understand abuse from the standpoints of what it is, characteristics of the abuser and steps for overcoming abuse. The author states he has tried to write it so it is not too clinical, but I will say that in spite of his attempts–it is very clinical. More even than this, I find the book depresses me. I know I must realize what happens to us in abuse and what the characteristics of the abuser are, but I find myself realizing this was true about my dad and my brother and it sickens me. In my career of education I’ve also known scores of people who abused their kids and I keep seeing their faces as I read. I know this is real and I must understand it and face it. I will too.
So, I’m writing this because yesterday I found myself automatically shifting from why I’m reading this to what else I could be doing with my “retirement time”. Yesterday late afternoon and evening I had fleeting thoughts that I might try…. This morning as I was bringing all of this to God He reminded me of His Wisdom and His Timing. I just finished a week ago the on-line training provided for the abuse group which the book author, his wife and staff had created. Now I needed to read this book. Every abused person has an abuser. I need to be well-rounded in my awareness of detail if I’m going to promote this and lead it. The timing for reading this book is now. God doesn’t want me shifting away from the topic but to be fully equipped in it. Who ever said these topics would be easy anyway? Well, today I’m ready to move forward. No more skipping to new topics to see if maybe I should be doing something else. God has made it abundantly clear He wants me to stay put. I actually want to stay right here too. It is where I find Him working and I find He wants me joining Him.
Proverbs is a continuous book on Godly Wisdom with capability of helping us stay out of a lot of problems. What I am seeing as I read through it this time is a difference between manly wisdom and Godly Wisdom. The main ingredient missing between the two is God or God’s Holy Spirit leading the one speaking the wisdom or acting on it. The feelings of man do enter into wisdom and I believe this is the area of vulnerability man has when using wisdom. Satan so easily and craftily adjusts wisdom with our feelings making it ugly and selfish rather than Godly. It is so easy to take a wise choice and turn it into a selfish item. It is also easy to take what man knows about something and think he is being wise when he doesn’t have the big picture as God always does.
I have learned over the years of my life that I have tunnel vision when I am focused on what I believe God wants me to do. This becomes my big picture. God is teaching me today that my big picture can be quite small compared to His own. Before I act I always need to take a step back (emotionally) and look more objectively at the work I’m doing. This is also when I need to bring someone else into the picture to see if they see what I do and if I’m leaving out a major piece/s due to my tunnel vision.
Proverbs is a book we can read often and always glean Guiding Light. I need to do this far more often than once a year or so.