I’m always amazed at God’s Work. Yesterday as I got to our church for the meeting with the two pastors for our Restorative Ministry classes, I had a call. It was our Ministry Leader for Celebrate Recovery. He said last night’s lesson was GRACE. He asked me to show him grace and teach it. He was on the Oregon coast, the gal who was to teach it was sick and would I do it? I of course said yes. In preparing to teach it and then in doing it last night I was struck once again with God’s never-ending connections. I had written at the top of the lesson (I don’t even know when I’d done this) “God, do you realize what I’ve done?” His response, “Do you realize what I have done?” What God has done is given us GRACE through His Son Jesus Christ dying on the cross of Calvary allowing our sins to be buried once and for all–He was the final sacrifice.
The lesson goes on to tell how we give grace when we make amends to someone we have hurt or to give forgiveness to someone who has hurt us. A huge awakening for me yesterday was how much more I now understand Grace, forgiveness and amends since I’ve finished the class on abuse: Mending the Soul. The things I’d thought were just to be left alone as human mysteries were brought into focus so I had to deal with them. The big one was dealing with the absence of mom during the years of abuse. When I say absence I mean the absence of her “help” by simply checking in with me to see if I were ok. I was always left to deal with the sexual abuse or the physical/emotional abuse as my problem. All of this is now settled and buried at the foot of the Cross thanks to Christ Jesus’ work there. GRACE is received and so appreciated! I didn’t truly understand until last night’s lesson just how much God has still been doing in my life until I prepared and taught that lesson.
How much I love and appreciate our God!
Today is the last day of school for the district I’ve spent the year with. Yesterday I was with them all day. The superintendent had planned a lunch for all the students who had shown growth in the state testing to reach proficiency or above. He then had root beer floats for all the students who had simply shown growth in their learning. It was quite the celebration and I was able to help serve the kids. One kid asked me, “What do you think of all our learning growth, Mr. State?” I suppose someone told him I was there all year from the State Dept of Ed. He was a proud kid and I told him I was proud of them too. It was a nice celebration.
Today I go to our church to solidify the start of our recovery ministry start up in the Fall. I’m meeting with a couple of our pastors to get this done. It seems the message of late for me is to be a messenger and a listener. I am not to respond until I’ve carried the message, listened and then asked for The Holy Spirit’s confirmation.
I read in Numbers earlier a quote my Grandma Wretling use to use all the time with us grandkids. It was, “be sure your sins will find you out.” I thought that was her line but there it was, a line Moses was telling the children of Israel. It’s found in Numbers 32:23b. At first I thought it was cute to see this but God wanted me to know the message is His to all of us. He reminded me that my lessons of late to be a messenger of Him is not to then control. That is His role. My action is a sin when I take this upon myself. To trust and obey is my rightful role. I’ve always said I want to be a good student my entire life. This is a big lesson this student is learning.
So today is one for clarifying more about yesterday’s message. Yesterday God was helping me see the difference between carrying a message and carrying a message I think I’m to ensure happens (as I think it should happen). The day yesterday didn’t complete itself at all like I’d had planned in my head. It was a day where I was going to do the “good deeds” needing done and then I’d do the things I wanted to do. Well, other than mowing the lawn in the afternoon, I didn’t get anything done I wanted. Instead, I found myself patiently/impatiently doing for others. At first I reminded myself I was a messenger and not a creator as of yesterday. By the end of the day I was wanting to control it all.
As I was having my devotions this morning I had read more in Numbers and had begun to journal. I was writing the things which seem so out of control in spite of good efforts. As I was writing this I asked God what He wanted me to know as I ask each day. Instantly I looked at the bottom of the journal page where a scripture was written: Galatians 5:22-23–the Fruits of the Spirit. The last one of them is self-control. God nudged me to see control with a “self” in front of it. Immediately I was given the insight I needed. Once again I was reminded that I am a messenger. I am not the creator. God hasn’t asked me to give a message to then control its outcome. He asked me to give a message and let Him and His Holy Spirit be the controller. He asked me to use self-control. This is what He will help me with as His personal gift to me.
I keep telling myself I’m an old man learning such important life lessons. The ego of man sure wants to be in control. God wants me controlling only myself. He wants man to be focused on Him so He can be the One and Only One in control. I’ll keep working on this!
Today’s Bible reading, still in Numbers, had some significant messages. Moses takes control of a message God has given him regarding bringing water from a rock and because he adds his own message to God’s he is told he will not enter the Promised Land. Also, Aaron is taken away by Moses, stripped of his robes which are now placed on his son and he dies. Then the Israelites enter the territory of Balak who is threatened and wants Balaam to give him a blessing so he won’t be destroyed by this threatening group of people called Israelites. Balaam is offered great riches if he’d agree to what is offered him. God is steadfast however and brings Balaam back to Him primarily through the voice of his donkey!
I take a look at this powerful message of today and am awakened to how many times I’ve wanted to have a piece of the glory from a message man wants to hear. God has provided a message, but in delivering it I want to feel good about being part of it as though I were the creator of the message. This morning as I was journaling regarding this ego of man God reminded me that through all of time He has been giving His message to those who will deliver it. He looks for those who will keep Him the Creator and let themselves be the messenger.
Man really does have a thing about pride and ego. After getting awakened this morning to today’s message, I really want to evaluate my purposes, my motives. So much of what I do these days in my consulting work is to be built upon solid guidance. What more solid guidance can be given except that coming from God? Do I give Him the credit for that which works? Do I try to keep any praise for me? This isn’t just about educational consulting but also about working with our recovery ministry and even meeting with an individual which I’m doing later this morning. I am a provider of God’s message. That is the focus of what I want to do each and every day as I surrender myself wholly to God my Father.
Today we head home. I’m always glad when this time comes. I enjoy getting back and being in familiar territory even though the getting away helps me to enjoy the familiar territory more. I always appreciate what home is after being away from it.
This morning’s Bible reading had some tough consequences. I’m into Numbers where the spies Moses had sent into the Promised Land came back with the report that the land was filled with good and plentiful crops but the people were mighty and big. 10 of the 12 thought they couldn’t conquer them. Yes, they were forgetting to look up instead of looking at their surroundings. Only Caleb and Joshua were able to see the blessings God was about to give them and that God doesn’t put us into circumstances without His Presence going before us. We know the rest of the story I believe, that God made them turn around. He wasn’t going to let a host of unbelievers enter His Promised Land. He would wait and take their children in instead. So, 40 years of wandering followed this refusal to trust God.
There is so much in this I relate to. I lost many years of living by not trusting God to be the Mighty God He is. I spent them hiding instead of believing. I don’t want to live the remaining years this way. Yes, there are times in today’s living I need to be reminded to believe and not question. This weekend has been a good time to reawaken the strength which God gives when we BELIEVE.
I have said this many times before, and I’ll say it again now–“the best thinking always comes when one gets a step away from the fire burning to know how to address it”. This weekend trip has been just that for me.
As I was having my scripture reading this morning, I’m still in Numbers, God gave directions to Moses for the Israelites. He had him gather 70 of the leaders within each tribe so God could share His Spirit, anointing Moses, with them so they could have God’s wisdom assisting His Work through the leadership He’d given to Moses. As I was journaling afterwards I was writing the word direction and felt as though I needed to seek clarity as to why writing the word checked me. In seeking God’s clarity I found myself realizing just how much clarity God gave to the Israelites through His “direction”. When the Israelites followed them, they succeeded. If they attempted to do things on their own–they failed. When direction wasn’t clear Moses was to wait until direction was given and also understood.
As I began to process this simple but powerful clarity, God began to show me areas of my present living where I was attempting to move forward without clarity from God. Also, in a bigger picture, He helped me see where some of the consulting work I do needed to be focused on helping others see the clarity they need rather than attempting to stumble through on what seemed right at the moment.
This is so easy to see when one is a step away from the burning fire. I want to also apply yesterday’s lesson in this too. So often when we are in the “midst of the storm” we think we have to act immediately when God simply wants us to be still in the midst of the storm. Trusting God each and every day is critical. When the directions aren’t clear, I need to be still and wait until I have God’s clarity. This I believe is another characteristic of living as a “new creation”.
There is nothing like getting away from the routines of life to better see how well you are handling each part of life back home. I forget this far too often. Yesterday was a wonderful day of getting some work done for my sis-in-law in-between storms and quietly reading a book I’ve been wanting to read when I had some downtime. In the midst of this, God certainly quiets the soul.
Today as I’ve finished my devotions I can see areas I need to back away from and others I simply need to trust God as I move forward with them. God is so good this way. God reminded me just how much he cares for those I care for. In fact, he reminded me there is no generational gap for Him. He is the first generation God for all mankind. I loved being reminded of this!
Trusting God 24/7 is something I want to do but I am sure learning it is only able to be done one day at a time and the commitment has to be renewed each and every day. There is no way I as a human can rely on yesterday’s commitment to be strong enough to carry me through today. Today I’ve made my commitment!
As I began my devotions this morning I started Numbers. It certainly does start with a lot of numbers as God is directing Moses and Aaron about setting up the tribes of Israel according to their camp around the Tent of Meeting after taking a census of each tribe. I finished reading the first few chapters and then turned to my journal. It was there I felt God’s Spirit needing to give me some direction. It turned out the direction wasn’t just for today, it was for the rest of my life.
As I started to journal I was outlining for God the things I felt I needed His Light in order to handle them. This isn’t an uncommon thing for me. However, what was uncommon this morning was the direction I received, not about my requests, but about my approach with God. It was very clear to me that I was no longer to approach God asking for His Light. His direction was for me to stay in His Light. I’ve been journaling of late and concentrating of late on staying close to God throughout the day. I realize that when I don’t stay close to Him I lose the sensitivity of His Spirit’s leading. It is so natural for me to want to “take charge” that I do this. I was wanting God to shed His Light on how to “take charge”. Well, He is wanting me to realize I am never to take charge, He already is in charge and He wants me responding to Him rather than Him responding to me. If I will stay in His Light during the day I will know as He nudges what I am to do and in so doing I will have the Light I so desire.
God’s ways are amazing and His direction to us is always amazing. What I am hearing from God is that He wants me to stop asking for insights into my behaviors for things in my day. Instead, stay close to God and ask for His Strength and Guidance to be what comes from me so it is always about Him and not looking like it is about me. I think this must be another step in learning to live as a new creation.
You know what happens when the flurry of needs stop? The adrenaline stops. You know what happens when the adrenaline stops? You feel like I do this morning! Yesterday was a good, productive one. It revealed for me some areas of need I hadn’t given any attention this year. When I talked to the administration about it, we could easily see the need to address it as we begin next school year.
Today, we head to Wallowa where Kathy will have her reunion. I’m sure she will have a much better turn out than my class did a year ago when we had our 50 year reunion. We had 3 out of 36 come. Kathy’s class was 42 so Saturday we will see how well they show up.
This morning in my bible reading I finished Leviticus. God is outlining the last of the details for the children of Israel regarding living wholly for Him. He uses a line, “in due season I will….”. In the flurry of activities as I’ve just lived through in the past few weeks I get very caught up in setting the timelines for each activity–particularly if I’m going to be involved in it. I don’t like procrastination and I sure don’t like “laziness”. Well, this morning as I read God’s Word I was checked about “my timelines”. God works in His due season. Joyce Meyer even writes in a subscript that she often wonders why God doesn’t do this and that as she can see it? However, when we step back and look at the work and at God we see the readiness factor God is always working to achieve. God sees the whole picture and He also sees the readiness for each one involved. The activity is easily completed once everyone involved is bought in. This is what God does. This was a good lesson for me today!
Today will end a flurry of mixed activities which have sustained for a few weeks now. It seems there hasn’t been a day of simply quiet and peacefulness. I go to the district I’m working with and spend a very long day with them. We have seen tremendous growth this year and the end of year learning data tells it. We will take a look at this today and set some goals for next year with the teaching staff. Then tomorrow Kathy and I will go to Wallowa, OR for her 50 year high school reunion. I will do some relaxing and helping my sis in law with her yard. But mostly, I’ll get to free my mind for a couple days. I’m needing this and looking forward to it.
There is so much in life to be thankful for. I quickly lose sight of this when I’m in the flurry of each day’s activities. This morning for a moment I thank God for the beauty of spring and the evidence of new life He creates all around us. What a great and loving God we have and get to serve!