Praise God from Whom all blessings flow! As I finished my devotions this morning and sat down at the computer to type this blog my cell phone rang. It was my sister-in-law. She is grandma to the niece I said yesterday had indicated on Facebook she was coming tonight when I give my testimony here at Deer Flat. My sis wanted me to know my niece is coming along with her mom and also my sister-in-law. I don’t know if my brother will come, but that would be great too.
If there is anything God is driving home for me right now it is the fact that His Word is ALIVE. I’ve heard this all my life and John says in John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” God’s Word is not given to us to only inform us. Instead, the Word transforms us. This recent trip to California is another example of how God is continuing to transform the lies I had inside my head which were Satan’s deceptions. I’ve worked with Celebrate Recovery long enough now to know that these deceptions of Satan are one of his best ways to deceive us. He causes us to believe all kinds of lies about ourselves and also about others around us.
When I had the talk with my Aunt Billie yesterday afternoon I found out that my Uncle Will and I actually have characteristics alike. All these years I’d believed he felt I was less than the other Lewis’ when all along he himself was trying to be a Lewis to please my dad. My uncle was 12 years younger than my father and he lived much of his life trying to win my dad which never happened. In the same way, I’d tried to do this with dad. It wasn’t until my counselor had me confront dad a couple months before dad’s death that I began to start climbing out of the deception Satan had me trapped in.
One of the beauties of God’s Word is its LIGHT. When this LIGHT is shown into the darkness of Satan’s lies we can begin to see TRUTH. God is doing this now for me in my own family. I am so grateful for this. This morning in Colossians 1:11 it says to endure hard times with “joy”. As I was reading this I could understand more fully why God wants us to be joyful in our hard times. When we are “joyful” we are believing God will address these hard times. It is when we aren’t joyful that we doubt whether God will do anything with them. God is teaching me of late just how much I’ve missed not being as joyful as I should be. This is going to be an area of growth I’m working with. Boy, do I love our GOD!
This morning Kathy and I head to the airport flying home. What a great time this trip has been. I have not been this surprised by God’s goodness in a while. Yesterday morning as my cousin and I talked, all kinds of generational lies were corrected and the grip of them let go. When we get home today I told my aunt last night I’d call her so we could address the last of this.
My Uncle Will had a stroke many years ago and it left him unable to participate in life without help for his last remaining years. In all of those years when Kathy and I were here I never went to see him. Somehow mixing the emotions of empathy with the confusion of my childhood were too difficult. It was simpler to not go and confront the emotions I feared. After Uncle Will’s death we began to connect with Aunt Billie and now we are connecting with their kids. So, later today I’ll talk with Aunt Billie regarding all of this. It feels so good to have this out in the open.
Something to pray about, yesterday I posted on Facebook I was giving my testimony back in Idaho at our home church tomorrow night. A niece of mine at home who has recently returned from months of being gone due to drugs and hiding commented she was coming. It would be so nice to have her come and see that there is a recovery group right here where she could find her own support. It never ceases to amaze me just how much God cares about the details of our lives. What a loving Father He truly is!
Today at 9:30 my cousin and I are talking about what I’d written in the blog yesterday. She has insights which her dad had shared with my Aunt. She said after reading my blog yesterday, we should talk. Little did I know at the time I was writing it, God was already going to have a conversation like this take place. I’m looking forward to it (with some apprehension).
I came to California this year with a lot of anticipation looking forward to being with my sis Bonnie and seeing all of the family we could work in. I knew seeing my older sis Alice would be a challenge, but I also knew I needed to do this so we could move on. Well, all of this has been rich and rewarding. What I wasn’t expecting at all is God’s continued touch of healing for me regarding pieces of my past. I had thought all of this stuff buried away in my memories and thoughts regarding Lewis’s was to just be left for what it was–sad and somewhat torturous memories. I know now God is wanting them replaced or at least leveled out with truth. The lies of Satan which he uses to kill relationships are being annihilated. How good God is!
I’m giving my testimony to our own group this Thursday night at home. I’m going to adjust a small portion of it before I do. God will show me the words to use and I look forward to doing so.
Yesterday was such a good day. The weather in S. California is like none other when it’s calm and the sun is shining. There are flowers in bloom all over the place and spring is simply in progress here. Everything is green from all the moisture of this winter.
There is a part of my journey this trip has done a great job bringing to rest. I hesitate writing it here because after Friday night and sharing my story with my cousin’s recovery group, ones here may read it. They now know of this blog. However, God is nudging me to tell this part of His journey with me. My dad was such a judgmental and critical man that I thought if your last name was Lewis, you could be too. As a kid growing up, if you participated in any of dad’s judgmental conversations or took part in any of his competitive games which often included my brother and me, I thought you were like him or you wouldn’t go along with him. I had chalked my uncle into this category. Now that I am spending all this time with my uncle’s family, I find so much in which we have in common. Dad took competitiveness to an unhealthy state not caring about the nature of those involved. I’ve never seen anyone else in my family do this now that my eyes are open. I find myself loving being with this part of the Lewis family instead of fearing the judgment of them.
I know this is a troubling confession, but I also know that all of us with a troubled past must face the pieces of the past in order to find the healing God wants for us in it. Competition is not unhealthy, dad’s use of it was what was unhealthy. Having a sense of caution or discernment is a good thing, but when it is turned into bias and judgment it is nothing but divisive and hurtful–sinful. I’ve always known my Aunt Billie was not a Lewis by nature. I’m so glad to have faced my own disbelief to find that the unhealthiness of being a Lewis was buried in the lies I believed for so long about my family, instead of one member of it–dad. I love this family of mine and find we have much more in common than I ever dreamed. God is such an amazing Father wanting all of His Family to be ONE in Him. This is exactly what He is doing for me.
This morning I started the book of Philippians. It is one powerful little book. I found myself needing to reread the first chapter three times to glean what I felt God was wanting me to get from it. The message is simple but not simple to live. It says to be joyful in all things and to persevere in living out God’s work in our lives. It goes into telling you and me to never give up and that “He who began a good work in us will be faithful to complete it.” I must say that when I first read this portion many, many years ago I had a selfish work I wanted God to do. I wanted Him to remove–obliterate–my past from my memory. I felt I couldn’t live freely for God with it being what it was. Instead, God has been faithful and kind for me to eventually understand it was the past He was wanting to have me surrender to Him so He could use it as He chose instead of me hiding it as I chose.
God is never One to change His mind about what His Will is. He is so loving in helping us come to Him and finally give ourselves over to Him in complete surrender. I never want to live another way except this. Lastly, the chapter talks about standing firm with God in resisting the temptations of life. Only God is able to have Satan flee. Learning to use God’s methods rather than my own strength is a key element in this. I will persevere in this too. To God be all Glory!
Yesterday was one remarkable day. I spent the morning simply reminiscing with my sis Bonnie and my wife Kathy. At noon we left to get my older sis Alice so we could eat together and enjoy the rest of the day driving the country-side of S. Calif. It was exactly that too. By early evening I was ready to head to my cousin’s church to give my story to their recovery group. By this time I was at the point of wanting to “get this done”.
Upon arrival I was greeted with a number of friendly people along with my Aunt Billie, cousin Sharon and of course my cousin Kathy and her husband Larry. Having this many family members present I knew was going to make the delivery of my story difficult. I had brought Bonnie and Alice with Kathy and me. What I did to begin my story was acquaint the group with their leader “Kathy” who was never known to my family with such a name. She has always been “Huck” to us. Their group seemed to need to know this about her and I was blessed to be the one to let them know a little secret (window) into Huck’s growing up years.
It is never easy to tell one’s story. However, when you are doing it due to God’s nudging, there is an entirely different motivation. You know somehow God is in control and you are no longer talking just to tell people something. God was so good and the one’s attending seemed to connect in many ways to God and my story. I have certainly found this to be true each time I give it.
This morning I was concluding the book of Ephesians reading chapter 6. This is where God tells us we are fighting the battles we face in a spiritual realm. He says that in this battle we can even stand while fighting. I tell in my story how I use to crumble each and every time I was under attack or under severe temptation. He tells us to put on the full armor of God. I’d picture myself doing this but I never knew how this was actually done. God is teaching me just as this morning that the armor goes on the new creation Christ made us to be when He came into our heart. We fight temptation in the emotional level with anger, determination, will-power and none of these last. However, when we surrender our will over to God’s Holy Spirit we can somehow relax knowing this battle is already won! I’m no expert as this, but God is wanting me to grow and learn how to let Him fight what is already WON in His Spiritual realm! PRAISE GOD!
Today is the day I give my testimony at my cousin’s church in Escondido, CA. Over 60 years ago my story began right here. When we were here visiting my sisters a year ago we spent a day with my Aunt Billie and a couple of my cousins. I didn’t know until then my one cousin headed their church’s recovery program. We decided when Kathy and I returned at some point I’d let her know so I could tell my story to their group. My cousin had read my book so she knew it. I’ve had so many fleeting thoughts since I let my cousin know 6 weeks or so ago that we were returning now. My aunt is the one who I’ve always loved and appreciated for the influence she has had on me to be the boy/man I am today. She was never timid about her praise for each person she was around. I had wanted to shield these family members from my story so they wouldn’t think less of me. Yet, I know this is only Satan’s deception trying to manipulate me.
This morning God has been reminding me that this is our story. He also reminded me that I am not telling this story as the old creation I had always thought I was. I am giving my testimony as a transforming man where God is making me more like His Son through His Holy Spirit. This brings tears to my eyes just writing it now.
My two sisters will also be attending. I’ve never given my story with so many family members present. Even though they know my story they have never been present when I gave it. Well, God is good and today I’m trusting Him and believing I am His child being formed in HIs likeness. To God be the Glory!
We had quite the trip yesterday getting into California. We arrived nicely and caught the rental car bus to the garage where we always go to get our car. When the assistant saw my papers she suddenly stopped and said I had made these arrangements with a different office which is about 7 miles inland from San Diego airport. They couldn’t help me. Kathy and I took Uber for the first time and got to the right office. We finally got our car and headed to my sister’s place. As we got off the freeway and onto boulevard which takes us to Bonnie’s a car on our left sideswiped our rental. Not a lot of damage, but…. I finally just chalked up the facts that this trip must have a lot of God’s Kingdom work attached to it. Satan is really wanting me to get distracted.
Yesterday before heading out, I had a counseling appointment. It ended with the counselor telling me as soon as I was sitting on the edge of my bed I was to remind myself who I am. I am a child of God and I am a man created in God’s image with the characteristics God made me to be. I wasn’t sure I’d remember to do this because Folgers is usually all I think about when I first arise. However, it was the first thing on my mind. I did this, went to the kitchen and got my coffee and started reading Ephesians. Chapter 4 talks only about Paul telling the people of Ephesus to transform their actions by the renewing of their minds.
This message is finally starting to make sense to me. To be transformed it isn’t about doing, it is about believing who God made me to be and believing I can have the fruits of the Spirit embodied in me without doing. This journey is like a new start and I’m thinking I’m ready to step into it!
Today Kathy and I fly to California to visit my two sisters there. It is somewhat of a bitter sweet moment as the older one Alice is now in an assisted-living place. Where I’ve always stayed is gone as that has been at Alice’s. I’d walk from there early each morning to Bonnie’s. I love the fact that now I’ll simply be at Bonnie’s, but there is no more of the two in the subdivision for which they live. It is just a moment of life moving on and I need to adjust to it’s reality.
God awakened me last night in my recovery class to an awful area of belief I’ve carried all my life. One of the areas being addressed in our class is to describe who we are and how we see ourselves. Because of my recent counseling/therapy’s help I’m much more aware of what being a new creation is. However, last night I said in class I think God is changing me or wanting me to change to be much more like the Fruit of the Spirit talked about in Galatians. I went onto say that I struggled with this because I would be “boring” if I were good, nice, kind, gentle, self-controlled, patient, etc. all the time. The men laughed and I did too.
This morning I felt God’s check on me. In short, He said these characteristics are HIM and I laughed at them. In reality as I was journaling I so easily saw my judgment coming out thinking these characteristics made me “weak”–certainly not godly. These were the charactristics in me which dad chastised when I was a young boy. I was called a girl because dad saw these as being soft and he wanted his boys to be tough. Now that I see this I told God I choose to be like Him and I confessed my sin of judgment. I want God to transform me into His likeness knowing that His Likeness is All-Powerful.
I’ve got some waking up to do in this area of being a new creation!
Yesterday had much going on in it but the highlight of the day happened when choir practice ended last night. A young man who sings in the choir came up to me as we were leaving and said, “You guys who did the cardboard testimonies yesterday are our church leaders. You are the bravest people I know. Your message was so powerful.” It is always amazing to me to hear a compliment like this. I still struggle somewhat getting in front of hundreds of people displaying the darkness of my past. I fear judgment as I suppose most if not all of us do. However, each time this takes place there is never judgment. Instead, one hears again how God is glorified. Hearing this compliment takes my eyes off of me and helps me keep them on God and His Work.
Between the Blackaby’s, Joyce Meyer, Paul in writings of Galatians and Ephesians, I am being bombarded with God’s messages about living in God’s Spirit. Our humanness wants to keep me right here and keep me in charge. But, God wants us to remain in our mind–our spirit–with Him knowing we are completing His Work while here on earth. While this is happening don’t get swallowed up in our humanness keeping our eyes on man rather than on God. This morning I had an entire list of things I was journaling to God about, but God is very consistent in reminding me to let Him be God. He will nudge through His Holy Spirit when He wants me to take a step.
God is so GOOD. I never want to be outside of His Perfect Will as I live each day.