THE JOURNEY CONTINUES: JUNE 20, 2020

Does 20-20-20 have any significance other than being the first day of summer?

Today I head to a couple’s place to do yard work for them this morning. They each have some debilitating issues not allowing them to do the work they used to do. So, I’m joining a few others to do the yard while our wives do the house cleaning. I selfishly wanted to have this day to be in my own yard and I’ll be back to do this for the afternoon. However, my own humanness wants to step in and say, “Let those others take care of this need.” I know that when Kathy and I leave we will be very glad we came. Sometimes fighting our flesh just has to be done in order to do what God nudges.

If you want to have some things to ponder–read the 3rd chapter of Titus. Paul is giving Titus some good insights to share with the people of Crete. The similarities to our own present world situation have some real commonalities.

THE JOURNEY CONTINUES: JUNE 19, 2020

Yesterday was a day of activity, not rushed, but one event following another. It ended with our Celebrate Recovery meeting and my sharing my testimony. There were three people who came that don’t normally attend. They had seen the Facebook post I’d done. It is difficult to write about this as I don’t want it to sound like–“boy, did I do good.” It was a humbling, yet rewarding time to see how God uses one’s story to prompt others to step into their own telling what has been bottled up inside them as a poison. One young man was a great example of this. He has been coming for a year or so and just couldn’t quit wiping tears as he shared in our small group time.

This morning I’ve struggled with writing today’s entry. I personally feel spent–emotionally. However, right beneath the emotional sense is a gratefulness for God’s relentless love and grace He bestows on each of us. I give much attention in my story to God’s help separating struggle from identity. He wants our identity to be in Him, not in the circumstances of whatever our lives have been. This piece was mentioned by almost every man in attendance. We all struggle with this topic. We think God sees us the way we do. This is such a lie from Satan. God sees us as He created us. If we have accepted Christ Jesus into our heart He sees us through the cleansing blood of His Son Jesus. We are seen as white as snow! It has taken me a life time to get to this reality of truth. God is truly a God of Love and Grace. How much I love and thank Him for this!

THE JOURNEY CONTINUES: JUNE 18, 2020

I’m sure we have all had the experience of being with a great friend. It just doesn’t matter what we do when we’re together, it’s all about having the time to just be together. This morning’s devotional time was emphasizing this message about my relationship with Christ Jesus. He is far more interested in in our relationship than He is about what I’m going to do with Him. I’ve always journaled what the day has in store and hoping that what I’m doing is in line with His leadership in my life. I want to make sure what I’m doing is right and done well. The light seemed to click on when I was reading my devotions. That message is that my relationship IS the most important thing between God–Jesus and me. In fact, I heard his nudge to spend all that I’m doing today totally with Him. Don’t “worry” about the things I do, simply enjoy being in the presence of my best Friend. If I’m to lend wisdom or healthy thought to someone I can know that this will be a direct result of the relationship.

I have to admit that I have been eager but concerned about today. This morning I am meeting for breakfast with a friend who resigned from her very toxic position as a school superintendent. I believe I wrote about this a week or so ago. Tonight I give my testimony to our Celebrate Recovery group. I want to “do” both of these well.

The message of this morning was an excellent one for me. I don’t want to present an anxious man as I step into the day. I step into it as a friend listening and sharing plus coming with the Wisest Friend of all–Jesus Christ.

THE JOURNEY CONTINUES: JUNE 17, 2020

I’m sure you have heard the quote: “take all thought captive”. It is actually scriptural coming from II Corinthians 10:5. When I wrote yesterday about the dreams of the previous two nights, I had told no one about all of this. To be honest, these times cripple me leaving me feeling as though I have so many things wrong. They destroy confidence. Telling my prayer warrior and writing yesterday’s blog did just what I was to do–tell. The dreams were beginning to connect to those of my younger adult years when I was so lost. Those were years of hiding and severe torment. By simply telling, they are now gone. Last night I slept far better than I usually do. I remember getting into bed and that’s about it.

Taking thought captive is what we are to do but I am helpless to take a crippling thought captive on my own. This action is accomplished when I surrender the thought to the one’s God has given me to fight by their prayers and support. It was a good lesson for me and a good reminder for me to not go back to habits of youth where I kept in secret these actions. My confidence is not found in my personal strength. My confidence is found in my humility to admit and surrender for these are spiritual battles which are fought and won God’s way–not mine.

THE JOURNEY CONTINUES: JUNE 16, 2020

II Timothy 2 starts with this message: “So you, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” I’m giving my testimony this coming Thursday night for our own Celebrate Recovery group. Why in the world would I be uptight about this? I’ve done it annually now for 11 years. These folks know me best. In addition to these times, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve told my story to other groups. Yet, these last two nights I have been unable to sleep. I keep having dreams which awaken me with confusion and anxiety. When I got up this morning and started my devotions I was journaling about all of this. It was then that I felt God’s nudge to tell my prayer warrior (why I hadn’t thought of this is beyond me!). She isn’t usually up that early in the morning, but today she responded almost immediately with verses and promises God has for each of us (me) in our times of distress.

In my past I’ve tried to “bite the bullet” with these anxiety attacks keeping them to myself knowing they will pass once the time (event) is over. God has been teaching me that “telling” is what He wants done. It not only allows Him to take charge, but it also gives others the chance to do the part God wants them to do. Why would I have a prayer warrior if I don’t allow them to fight in prayer? Even though my guts may be in knots right now, I am confident that God is going to be glorified just as He always is when we surrender to Him.

THE JOURNEY CONTINUES: JUNE 15, 2020

Today Paul wrapped up his letter to Timothy in I Timothy 6. “Fight the good fight”, “learn to be content”. These two focus areas were big ones for Paul as he is instructing Timothy. God took Paul through many strenuous circumstances teaching him these character traits. Paul is instructing Timothy about their importance. While I am reading this I felt like Timothy. I am needing solid instruction in what a good fight looks like which we participate in but let God do the fighting–all the while being content.

One of the quotes Joyce Meyer provides is a home-run for me. It reads: “We usually don’t learn contentment until we give up seeking it our way. What usually happens is that we live discontented lives for a long time and then finally pray, ‘Lord, I do not want to live this way any longer. Getting this thing or having that thing is not worth it. I do not want to be miserable anymore!'”

Right now for me it is about waiting patiently and being content in the waiting. There are many unknowns I’d like to put a plan to but now is not the time for the plan. I sense strongly God is working out details I can’t see. I really needed today’s lesson. I want to fight this battle by being content in waiting. This is another one of those “one day at a time–one moment at a time” items.

THE JOURNEY CONTINUES: JUNE 14, 2020

The journey of life is not to be taken lightly. Each morning as I get to this point in my day where I sit down at the computer to write this entry I reminisce the previous one. Sometimes this is easy and even rewarding. Others are ones I’d like to steel off as I learned to do as a child. Still others are ones where I seemed to forget I was suppose to be seeking God and I only sought my own self. All of this certainly shows my humanness. However, each and everyday, I renew my commitment to serve God well, listen to His Holy Spirit as He nudges, and respond to each nudge as it comes. Do I do well with this? Reading those three categories above answers that. I don’t tally each day to see where I light, but always my goal is to have each reflection be easy and rewarding because my obedience has been sound.

Today I go to church early because our quartet is leading worship. At noon time our Celebrate Recovery leadership is meeting. In both cases the ministries look very different than before this current crisis. I keep wanting to have them go back to the way they were before all of this hit. However, I need to not steel off the crisis we are in. Many people say we are in the last days. I don’t doubt that’s true. However, I don’t know how to respond to it. I write this last sentence and I hear God’s voice say to not respond to “it,” but, instead, Respond to ME.

Yesterday’s message was about disillusionment. I don’t want to be living where I judge others. I want to support and to respond to God’s nudges with obedience that looks like support. I pray for God’s strength to do this well and that I will not steel off the reality of today, nor will I try to interpret reality through my own thinking. Instead, I will respond to my One True God–Jesus Christ and The Holy Spirit He has given me.

THE JOURNEY CONTINUES: JUNE 13, 2020

This morning Paul is giving Timothy a great deal of information about being a good leader. Sometimes I wish I could put my life in reverse, back up so I could redo my earlier years. I am not talking about my childhood. I’ve never wanted to reenter those years . It was bad enough reentering them through the years of counseling. What I’m referencing today are the younger adult years. These years were absent of sound mentoring like Paul is giving Timothy in chapter 3 of I Timothy. I know that I had read this chapter and the others in these two little books but I had no one taking the information and helping me process it into my actions and decisions at the time.

When I read Oswald Chamber’s devotional this morning he had written about disillusionment. His writing was helping me see that when we are working with and socializing with others, we must be careful to not overly criticize or judge. We can get disillusioned when we have expectations for others which don’t fit them. We need to see beyond present behaviors and ask God to help us see others as He does. The time of judging man is never ours. God has an appointed time for which He will judge. He asks us to discern and to pray for discernment. I needed help with this area in my younger years and sometimes I do today. God sees all men as His creation just as you and I are. He sent Jesus to die for us and give us first hand opportunity to come to Him. So, He sure doesn’t want me judging or criticizing as I get close to others. He wants me to help, support, love and discern just as Jesus modeled so well.

This is my lesson for today!

THE JOURNEY CONTINUES: JUNE 12, 2020

Yesterday I wrote this statement towards the end of my blog: “Keeping my eyes on God and staying obedient to Him is what will keep me steadfast and patient.” Yesterday’s lesson for me was entirely on patience. Patience is a key practice of separating what is mine to do and what I need to surrender to God for it is not mine to do. Keeping my eyes on God and listening to Him is critical. The other piece to yesterday’s lesson which didn’t hit me until this morning is obedience. Today I need to address this more fully.

I started I Timothy this morning where Paul is writing to his “spiritual son” Timothy. All we know is that Timothy is young and is being discipled by Paul who is now older. Paul has learned a great deal from the time of his zealous pursuits of killing and imprisoning the Christians of the early church. He writes to Timothy outlining how to pray and for whom he should be praying. Paul also tells Timothy of his ignorant disobedience to God in his earlier years and of God’s mercy steering him into conscious obedience. It is this that hit me so squarely–conscious obedience.

There are times during the day when I don’t want to respond to a nudge God gives me. Lots of reasons may be given for this but it usually centers around being tired or focused on something else at the moment. Sometimes it is simply–God, I don’t want to do that. The fact that this too is sin hadn’t hit me as it did today. When God nudges it is because His timing is perfect. If I disobey the nudge I am putting my own timing ahead of God’s. The other part of this ties to the lesson of yesterday about patience. There are times when I want to do something and God is nudging that it is not the right time. If I choose to pursue anyway, I once again sinfully disobey.

The last thing that is becoming very clear to me is that even though we are a new creation, we still have choice. I’ve spent my life addressing the sins of abuse–hiding them, counseling about them, writing a book about them, etc. In all of this I wanted to be free of sin’s bondage. What I thought I’d have on the other side of this bondage is freedom from sin. I hadn’t thought about the fact that Earnie would still have choice to sin as a new creation. I was too focused on sins of the past. I’ve heard many older people talk the choice to sin is ever before them. Finally I understand this. I want to choose obedience to God but my humanness is always with me. I truly want to be awake to this truth.

THE JOURNEY CONTINUES: JUNE 11, 2020

This little book of II Thessalonians is quite an insightful one. The three chapters have, in my words, a two focused message: keep your eyes open to the fact Christ is returning knowing what to look for; secondly, be diligent in doing what God is nudging you to do during this time, while being PATIENT.

I have never, until this morning, looked at patience from a spiritual lens. Patience has always seemed to be an emotion which keeps other emotions in check. Things like anger, impulsivity, talking too much, etc., are all kept in bounds when patience is practiced. I’ve always looked at this from my own emotional makeup. I can appear to be patient while inside I’m about to explode.

This morning as I read the 3rd chapter of Thessalonians, I find in verse 5 this message: “May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness and patience of Christ and in waiting for His return.” Joyce Meyer writes in response to this verse: “…I have learned that patience is not my ability to wait; it is how I act while I am waiting. I need to learn to wait with a good attitude.” My emotions will not lead me to steadfastness and patience as verse 5 says. My spiritual growth is what will do this. Keeping my eyes on God and staying obedient to Him is what will keep me steadfast and patient.

Jesus is an amazing example for living like each and every day. He had learned to stay steadfast with His eyes being focused on His Father’s plan for Him. The chaos of the world in which He lived was not where He looked for leadership in His life. We can all learn a great deal from this as we keep our eyes focused on God’s leading.