It’s raining! Hallelujah! Some readers of this might not enjoy the rain like I do. But, living in a desert climate most of my life I know the importance of rain for the crops of the land. It brings out the farmer in my heart.
Today I get to virtually connect with the staff at the school district where I have spent the most time in these last two years. Everyone is gearing up for virtual classroom teaching. I don’t know if there is anything I can do for them at this point, but it is good to be able to connect to their meetings so I can stay abreast of what is taking place. I pray for them each day and know God will use this time as we commit it to Him and His leading.
Today my devotional brought to light the significance of temptation. I’ve struggled so much with this topic all of my life that I’ve loathed the word. Oswald Chambers said in the reading that temptation is not a sin–(I knew that–it just reminds me of the wickedness of sin and I’m now part of it because I’m tempted). He says that being tempted means we have a depth of relationship with Christ or we wouldn’t even be bothered by it. Also, no matter how close our walk with Christ is, we will encounter temptation. Our humanness is never not be with us as long as we’re here on earth.
This devotional was written around the scripture I Corinthians 10:13–“There has no temptation taken you but what is common to man. But, God is faithful and just to provide a way of escape….” This verse was given to me at a critical time in my high school days. I knew it should mean something important, but it didn’t seem to stop any of the abuse taking place at that time. I misunderstood it and have for such a long time. I wanted this promise to stop the abuse. However, the promise is for me and my sin, not for my brother and his sins or my dad and his sins. There are other promises God gives for me with them.
Today’s devotion shows me that temptation doesn’t make me a sinner. It makes me human. I loved being reminded of this. God is always so good at showing us His Light in our areas of darkness.
As I began my journaling this morning and asked Jesus what He wanted me to know for today, His message was about reflecting Him as I live. He was bringing to memory how hard I’ve worked to stop the repetition of sin in my life and to help others do the same. Today He was emphasizing the need to not only do this, but in the absence of sin in life, there needs to be a reflection of Christ replacing it. In other words, it is one thing to stop sinning, it is another thing to now be a reflection of Christ. To emphasize this even more, this was the exact message of my devotional. I told God, “Thank you, I got the message.” Somehow I think this must happen without us consciously knowing it. I surrender my will to the leading of The Holy Spirit today.
This afternoon there is an event to take place at our home. It involves a virtual counseling session for another couple. I won’t go into it’s details, but I do pray for Christ to be fully seen in this and His healing to begin as a result of it.
The world is shut down in many ways as far as man goes. However, God’s Work is never shut down. He is continuously at Work completing His Plan. Somehow I want to stay connected to this as He leads through His Holy Spirit.
I think I’d mentioned helping a widow move into a senior citizen apartment yesterday. My younger brother and I helped a small group with this. I’ve known this lady since my birth. She says she changed my diapers in the church nursery. This same lady worked in my school for a time while I was principal and was a wonderful help to so many children and even their parents. It was a joy to give back to her in a way that helps her in this time of her life.
My brother was also a big help to Kathy and me. We had, what I thought, was a minor plumbing problem. As he tore into it I found it to be much bigger, yet he had it fixed in a matter of an hour or so. The day ended with him and his wife staying for BBQ’d steaks.
Yesterday felt like a typical day in many ways. There were a number of things to do and we did them. However, I move into today and it is a day without the things to do. In fact, it is the first Sunday where I’ve not been on a vacation of sorts that has nothing to do. Yes, I will listen to our pastor give the sermon in a streaming fashion, but there is no worship, no choir, no class–all of which seem like “things to do”. This idea of doing is truly drilled into my identity so reworking that into each day is requiring some letting go of what I thought made me worthwhile.
The day will come when each of us will look back at this time and reflect on all of the learning we gleaned from this time of earthly crisis. I want to learn them from God’s Spirit’s leading and not from man. To God be the Glory for He is our Lord, Teacher and Guide.
In my humanness I have always thought that obeying Christ meant doing something for Him. Even though I know from scripture that obeying Christ might mean not doing something at this present time. In my scripture reading this morning of Acts 16, Paul and Silas were not given permission by the Holy Spirit to enter Asia. Instead, they were led to another city.
Yesterday, my post talked about my frustration with our step study for Celebrate Recovery. I needed to let the men know what virtual platform we would use to continue our weekly meetings. I knew I couldn’t do it with one of the platforms so I was researching others I could use. It wasn’t until later in the day that God finally got into my mind that obedience at this time was to “not go there”. As I talked to a couple of the individuals in the group I found that they had obstacles to a virtual platform. It simply wouldn’t work for them. Options could be meeting with each one individually, but I also knew that this removed each one’s ability to listen to each other’s responses to the important questions. The Holy Spirit uses this time to open one’s mind and heart. I finally realized that obedience was going to look like “not doing”. I finally got it!
It seems like such a small item, pausing a group getting together. However, for me, I felt like I was letting everyone down. Obedience to God really is about obeying the nudges we get. I spent half of yesterday learning that obedience wasn’t about another way around the problem. It was all about not going there at this time. The door will open again and when it does, we will know to start. Simple obedience–not such an easy lesson for me.
This morning I feel puzzled about how to move forward? Half of our step study men can’t use a platform electronically for meeting. Last night’s attempt to meet electronically for Celebrate Recovery only had 5 men and 4 women participating. Unfortunately, the ones taking part were all in leadership with the exception of one. As I write this I realize that if one benefits from God’s work, it is all worthwhile. I do need direction for the step study. Maybe the right thing to do is not to move forward but to pause until this present status passes. I’ve taken this to God earlier this morning and so I will see how He leads.
I have two conference calls this morning also regarding the consulting work which is on pause. The teachers go back to work next Monday to start virtual classroom teaching. There are things I could be doing if I were present on site, but there doesn’t seem to be anything I can contribute from home. I do pray for them each day but my emotions feel that isn’t enough. I write this knowing we have a world in crisis right now with millions of folks wondering what their next steps can be and/or should be. I simply express what my personal journey seems to be.
I do sense God nudging me to quit looking at what I can’t do and do what I can. There are those things I can do and quite a number of them for home, family, schools and ministry. So, with this written now, I will spend the rest of today working on what I can do and letting go of what is not to be done for now. God is so good at keeping us focused on HIM.
Idaho is on a 21 day shutdown. The worship team for this Sunday’s streaming at church is now not to take place. The small groups for our restoration classes cannot meet face to face and the men’s step study I lead is not to gather. We move to a totally on-line meeting platform as of today. I had hoped we wouldn’t need to go this far, but the proclamation has now been given. My brother and I are helping a widow move this Saturday from her present residence which has been sold so she can’t rent it any longer. I’m not even sure we would have permission for this if we were to ask someone. I’m not asking.
Someday we will know the entire story behind this world-wide catastrophe. For today, I simply want to trust God knowing He is ultimately in control of what man keeps trying to be. God tells us to obey the law of the land and I want to. I also want to obey God’s nudges. Now is a good time for me to question and scrutinize whether I’m responding to my will’s nudges or The Holy Spirit’s nudges. This is my test of the day.
Last night our men’s class for Mending the Soul completed the last chapter of the curriculum–Mending the Soul. It was a touching moment. Last fall when we met for the first time I gave each member a sheet of paper where they were to answer three questions: “What is my relationship with God like?” “What do I struggle with at this time in my life?” “What are my prayers, desires, and expectations for this series?” I had put each letter in a sealed envelope and kept them for the moment of last night. I gave each one their letter and had them read it silently. We then, if willing, read our own letter to the group and responded to it now that the class is finished. It was a touching and remarkable time seeing and hearing just how intimately God had been completing what each letter expressed and so much more.
Our God is so Amazing! This present time of distancing ourselves from one another is certainly not a time when I have to distance myself from God my Father. In fact, I have ample time to simply sup with Him–commune with Him. There are a number of ways in today’s society for us to connect with one another without being physically present. I want to do a better job using this time we presently have to reach out and be a “Barnabas”–an encourager for others.
Yesterday turned out to be one of those remarkable days where God seemed to proclaim Himself in many ways. A man who had struggled with porn a good deal of his life contacted me Sunday evening asking me to meet him yesterday at noon. He’d relapsed and his wife had found the evidence. I had contacted my prayer warrior ahead of leaving and Kathy and I prayed together ahead of my leaving. She actually went to be with the wife as I met with the husband. (The wife wasn’t found at work or home so this was a time for Kathy to pray rather than meet). This story has much within it that I won’t disclose, but the critical side of it needing to be addressed was fear. The husband was rather certain he’d come home to find his wife prepping for him to leave and their marriage would be over. I prayed with him that God would perform His work of healing rather than man’s work of judgment. That the intimate doors of communication would open for this couple so they would be able to express to one another their personal, intimate needs so God could use them to support one another rather than judge one another. God’s time for judgement of mankind is coming, but it is not today. We were together for most of 2 hours and then I left and he went back to work.
Last early evening I got a text from the husband. He got home to find his wife waiting to wash his feet and ask for forgiveness of her judgmental attitude towards him. They spent the night working through what needed to be talked about. Counseling is going to be next in order for them and both desire this.
I praise God for His loving concern He has for each of us. I also praise God for the tender heart this wife had in being able to listen to Him and hear the spirit of her husband rather than judging the action he still seeks to break the bondage from. The ugliness of man and sin can only be turned into Glorious Light when we bring it into God’s Light through confession and repentance . The darkness flees in the Light’s presence. Cleansing and healing come when we remain in the Light as difficult as it is at these times. To God be all Glory for great things He does!
Today is my sis Bonnie’s birthday. She is the one Kathy and I went to visit a couple weeks ago. We talked a good deal yesterday. She lives in California and has now been isolated from her work. She is that sis I call my favorite. We grew up like “two peas in a pod”. Even though she knew nothing about the abuse of my brother while we were growing up, and didn’t know how much I had bottled up inside me, she was my cheerleader. In her mind she had me believing I could do anything and she encouraged me to do so . She has done this for both of her boys and for her husband which she lost nearly 3 years ago. I celebrate you Bonnie! God has used you mightily and is still doing so!
This topic of having The Holy Spirit and being filled with the Power of The Holy Spirit just won’t leave me alone. Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit upon his disciples before He ascended into heaven. He told them not to leave Jerusalem until they were filled with the Power of The Holy Spirit. This too happened. Today in Acts 9 Saul was confronted with a Light who was Jesus and told to turn his life over to Him. Christ told him in verse 5 to “stop kicking against the goad”. Saul was blinded for 3 days and then out of obedience, Ananias came to Saul, prayed over him and the scales on his eyes fell off. He could see again. Three days later Saul was baptized and filled with The Holy Spirit.
Today we stress the importance of accepting Christ into our lives as our Savior. We often include the fact that Christ wants to be Lord of our lives. I’m being hit with the fact that Christ cannot be Lord until we are fully committed to “being filled with The Holy Spirit and surrendered to be obedient to His every nudge (where the Power comes into existence). It is then that God can do all that he wants to do with our relationship as Father and son/Father and daughter. I’ve got a ways to go here and I don’t want to stop until I’m fully committed each and everyday.
Today is Sunday–the Lord’s Day. I’m going to church to sing in a worship team which will be recorded and streamed. Even a grouping of choir members is coming together–keeping our distance from one another and singing the choir number. I’ll go from there to our step study group of men for their lesson. There are 9 of us so this group meets the criteria and none have any symptoms. I have grown so accustomed to the routine of Sunday that I feel like worshiping God is suppose to have these ingredients in it or God isn’t worshiped. All of this current crisis is bringing me back to how simple life can truly become. God doesn’t need all of the fluff to be glorified. He simply wants a sincere, genuine heart coming to Him.
We are the ones who need the congregation coming together to reinforce one another, praise God collectively and listen to God’s Word to inspire us to live daily for Him. I’m sure God is wanting us to still come together and collectively praise Him. We will simply do this virtually and stay in touch with one another through the means we still have available.
In the book of Acts the disciples are now being tortured by Saul (soon to become Paul). What is standing out to me is the miraculous work and power they have now that The Holy Spirit is upon them and they are totally sold out to His leadership. I am still wondering how this is suppose to look today? I think I have been scared of this Power and I wonder if many of us are simply scared to be the messenger of such Godly Power? I want to open myself to God’s teaching and leading in this arena.