Yes, the journey continued even though I have been unable to write about it here for the past 4 days. Our time at Wallowa Lake, OR was a nice time. It showed me several things which I wasn’t anticipating in any way. I am like my brothers in many ways but I’m also very different also in many ways. The skills of these brothers and interests are what they have in common. These are also how I differ from them. They work with their hands in areas which only frustrate me. The habits of life we have in common. What I noticed and didn’t expect to was that this time I found myself no longer desiring to be like them. I am content being the man I am–who God created me to be. I’d always thought I needed to be more like them and I was less of a man because of these differences, but this is not the case. God made me the way He did with purpose in mind. I can see that and not be ashamed of it. In fact, I can be content and happy with that.
I found this morning that I actually enjoyed journaling first. As I awoke I started my devotions and journaled first thing. I wrote all that was on my mind. In so doing I found myself reading the devotional and the Bible with intent to address what the day was facing rather than to replace anxiety which wasn’t yet defined. I was calling anxiety the energy I had within to face the day’s events but not knowing how God wanted it done. After journaling I could see the wisdom of God’s Word speaking to me regarding what the day held. It was an amazing shift and makes such perfect sense. I’m glad to have finally found this process. Boy, is God patient! I’ve been doing this other way so long and even though He told me this a year ago, I skipped right over it. God is so Good and Amazing!
My post-it note on top of my devotional material worked. I journaled first. It was a rather amazing difference I found. When I started to read my devotional and then my Bible following the journaling, I found my focus very different. The devotional message and the Bible reading addressed specifics that the journaling organized in my mind. I have always thought my devotional reading and Bible reading would give my mind and emotions a focus away from angst. This morning I found the journaling organizing the angst and defined details causing it. The devotional message as well as the Bible reading gave insights in addressing the details. Wow, this one shift is remarkable!
Today Kathy and I are going to Kathy’s home place, Wallowa, OR. We are going with my two brothers and their spouses who live close by. We are staying until Sunday. We have rented a home at the lake which will nicely accommodate 6 of us. It ought to be a good get away and my brothers have not been there since Kathy and I married almost 37 years ago. I always think ahead when I’m traveling how I’ll work out things like my early morning devotional time. It usually isn’t a problem because most people don’t get up as early as me. However, both my brothers are very early risers too so I’ll just take this a day at a time and see how it works out for the next three days. I also don’t know if we’ll have reception at the lake so I may not be posting if that’s the case. Just a heads up!
As I stepped into the start of our lessons last night with the men in our group, I found myself becoming very awake to several details in the start of it that I totally missed a year ago. One in particular hit me instantly. The curriculum author states for us to start our daily time with God journaling. It tells to go deeply into your heart and the yearnings of it. Write them down. Let your spirit detail what is inside of you waiting to be noticed rather than suppressed. This is to start your devotional time with God.
I have journaled for years and have many journals filled. I have always journaled once I finish reading my devotional and then the Bible. I’ve thought I need to get my mind focused on what God wants me to read from Him. After that happens I can journal better to Him. Last night it became clear for the first time that my journaling needs to start with what is on my heart as I awaken in the morning. I have almost always awakened in the morning feeling stressed. A counselor told me not so long ago that due to all the years of suppressed emotions in my childhood I squelched my spirit to the point that only during sleep can my body deal with them. In the morning I start the cycle over trying to suppress them. What the author is saying is that I need to write them out so they are now on paper instead of being suppressed within me all over again. I told the group I was going to start this morning.
As I began my devotions today I sat down with my coffee, read my devotional, read my Bible and then picked up my journal to start writing. It was then I realized I was in my rut. I had totally forgotten last night’s message. I had done nothing to cause me to remember what my new directions were to be. I have thought my rut was a healthy one but today I realized it is an accommodating rut which doesn’t lead to the health God is wanting me to find. I’ve got a reminder on the top of my devotional so tomorrow I’ll start a new routine. What a creature of habit I am. God wants that addressed and I want to join Him in this too. Sometimes it isn’t fun knowing the humanness of me.
The problem I mentioned yesterday is real and is likely to have some negative impact before it is resolved. I can’t at this time know the specifics of it and I find my emotions in a quandary because I’m usually in the arena of helping work through these types of issues. I know I’m to be present and to simply do what I can do. Waiting at a time like this is not easy, but I know it is right.
Tonight we have our restoration classes and we will step into the lessons for each one. Unless things change tonight, we will not have classes for each of the topics. People didn’t come last week for a couple of them. There are only two more sessions to see if anyone does come for them. I fight within myself and in my mind with the wonderment of people who know they need help but won’t step out for it. How I wish man were not so resistant at times like these. I know these are God’s areas so I let them go. However, my own spirit struggles within knowing that bondage is found to be a false protection until it becomes so great one can’t live with it any longer. I pray for these ones I know by name and for the multitude of those I don’t know at all. Pray with me, please.
Today begins Fall. I love the weather of Fall. I probably say this every start of it. I love cool mornings and heat in the day with the nights getting cool again. I am not a fan of what follows Fall, but I appreciate winter because every gardener knows the importance of a good one. The cycle of life continues!
Last night a received a couple of text messages which have greatly changed the course of this week. I am hoping to find out the reality of it today. Something is wrong and I’d appreciate knowing the details of it. Until then, I wait as patiently as I can.
This journey of life is all about man, flesh, selfishness, etc. Then God enters the picture and something far greater than man and his limitations becomes the purpose for living. Being awake now to my own flesh is causing me to finally understand that there is nothing in life that doesn’t connect to man’s flesh. I’ve lived so long in my tiny closet of denial thinking flesh was what I didn’t want so I wouldn’t be dad or my brother, then I awake to find Earnie’s flesh. It is just like all man’s flesh. However, this God of ours offers so much that attracts me. Living one day at a time, one moment at a time, takes on new meaning when it is all about surrendering the flesh I now know. I never want to slip back into the old life from which I came.
Yesterday turned out to be a good day in so many ways. Every chore I wanted to get done in the yard, garden and house got addressed. I even got the swimming pool winterized. The last thing on my list was getting my hair cut and that’s being done this afternoon. These times in my life are fun for me. I feel worthwhile when a day ends like this. Last night however, things changed. The darkness of day can often lead to darkness of soul. A phone call from someone I dearly care about makes a pleasant day turn to genuine turbulence.
As I began my bible reading this morning I read Proverbs 4:18. It says: “The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining brighter and brighter until midday.” Joyce Meyer writes her own comment to this scripture saying it is so nice to know that our path of life with Christ will grow brighter and brighter as we learn to follow Him rather than thinking we need to have Christ follow us. Turning to Christ is the right start, but staying with Christ throughout the day and following His nudges is critical if we want the Light of life to brighten as the day continues. This is a hard lesson to learn for we want to have our way so often in life. Christ is truly patient waiting for us to come to Him. I want to be better at this each day.
The beginnings of Fall have started. The much cooler nights, sunny days which are getting shorter and the hummingbirds leaving. I enjoy the cooler nights and mornings, but I never like to see the joy of the hummingbirds end.
The breakfast yesterday turned into a very lengthy conversation. I was so glad we got together. My friend seemed to be equally glad. I have been commenting of late on the flesh of man. The fact that now I know and believe I’m a new creation, awakens in me why I am a new creation–my old flesh is being overcome. I write this and even in so doing, I realize even more why I never thought I could be a new creation. How can one be a new creation when you are the sin of someone’s flesh? Not only are you the sin of someone else’s flesh, but the temptations are within you. These thoughts have haunted me my entire life. God is doing a miraculous healing for me in letting me now see the true sin nature of flesh, but with it, the truth that He sent His Son to pay the price of my sin, all sin. How I could know this for so many years but not believe it for me is one thing. To now know this and to now believe it is true for me feels like one tremendously huge miracle. I honestly feel clean!
Revelation 21:5 says: “…Behold, I make all things new.” This is what Jesus is doing for me–making all things new. How much I love Him for this!
My word, how have I lived so long and been so unaware of “the flesh” of man? It is simply amazing to me to finally, after realizing I am a new creation, awaken to the flesh of man. The flesh is the residence of our sin nature. It is where Satan attacks us. It is the place I’ve always lived but have always kept myself in denial to its existence in me until of late. If I had lived knowingly in my flesh, I’m not sure what I’d done with Earnie. I was too grounded in the awful belief that I would be just like my dad had been or like my brother had been. Now that the truth is known and I realize I am a new creation, I can be Earnie in my own flesh. The sad part of this is I do truly recognize my sin nature and my helplessness without the full surrender of it to Jesus Christ. Growing in my spiritual strength is where I am today. I’ll likely be here the rest of my life!
I’m leaving in a moment to meet a young man for breakfast who had come to our Celebrate Recovery until he moved farther away. I’m looking forward to renewing the connection of friendship with him. He truly has a heart for God but battles his own flesh. The beauty is he is open to talking about it. I’ll let Jesus take the lead from here.
This is the week of new beginnings. Tuesday we started the new groups for our restoration classes. Tonight we start the new year for Celebrate Recovery. It is a time of celebration and creating an atmosphere where Hope is transformed into reality. We are having several spontaneous, brief testimonies shared. Newcomers and those who haven’t attended very long will hear from those who are benefiting from taking the steps of recovery and willing to put words to what is happening in their lives because of their willingness to take these risks. It will truly be a night of celebration!
This afternoon I will facilitate a meeting for a neighboring school district that is attempting to rebuild their trust with their community/parents. A new superintendent has been hired and has asked me to do this. We have already met a couple times to prepare for it and now is the time for it to take place. It isn’t a setting where I can open in prayer, but I have already bathed it in prayer knowing The Holy Spirit is going to be the One I rely on as the meeting takes place.
The surrender of flesh, which has been on my heart and mind of late, is truly something I want to keep in the forefront of each day and during the day. I have spent my life suppressing the flesh instead of recognizing it and then surrendering it. This I am learning is the root of all addictions. I want my life to be a vessel filled with The Holy Spirit and where He is met by a willing servant ready to act on His nudges.
Wow, what an awakening Jesus can give us so early in the morning. It started for me when I had poured my first cup of coffee and began to read my devotion for today. It was entitled, The Transformed Life. It centered around Peter’s confusion/denial of Christ to the point of him becoming one of Christ’s best apostles. It ends with the words that Peter had learned to “die to self”.
I have heard this term of dying to self for much of my life and it resonates when I do hear it. However, this morning it did more than resonate within me. It has stuck! Celebrate Recovery’s very first lesson is called–Denial. It is all about our need to stop denying what we are hiding: an addiction, tremendous bitterness/hatred, ugly hurts from our past/present and so much more. Of late Jesus has been teaching me to quit denying my flesh and to realize I am a man of flesh. It doesn’t mean that in my flesh I will be like my brother or like my dad. In my flesh means that Earnie has temptations and it makes me human, not my brother or my dad. It is the result of being born into a sin nature. My brother and my dad were born into their own sin nature.
Today, this morning, I am challenged to take Peter’s assignment from Christ and “die to my flesh”. Now that I am no longer bound by the chains of abuse and addictions of the present, Christ wants me to die to my flesh. Here is what scripture says about this: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” John 12:24. As long as I kept my past a secret, my addiction a secret, there was only bondage within me and I was a “grain of wheat” being held tightly in the grip of my own hands. As I’ve begun to step out and tell, seek help and surrender, I am planting my grain of wheat and it has begun to multiply. Now today, Christ is asking me to die to self, to deny my flesh. This is exactly what He did for me (us) when He went to the Cross. He could do this because He died to His own flesh so He could be totally obedient to God His (our) Father. Remember Christ’s words in the Garden of Gethsemane? He said, “Let this cup pass from me–nevertheless, not as I will but as Thou wilt.” He was dying to His own flesh.
I’m going to need to stay with this lesson the rest of my life. However, I do not want to lose sight of its critical importance to my relationship with Jesus Christ, God my Father and The Holy Spirit.