Today was the day God gifted me with my first born child. It was a Sunday and we had just arrived at church at about 7:45 am when the contractions started. We were having 3 worship services so we were going to stay for the first one at 8:30 and then head back home to begin timing the contractions. However, within about 10 minutes, we headed home anyway! It was 7:58 that evening that Amy was born. What a treat!
A gentleman came up to me yesterday morning at church and shared some startling facts with me. I’d met him a couple years before, but it was casual until yesterday. I don’t know how, but he’d been told of my story and so he shared some of his own with me. There is much similarity. He is starting to get help for what has been tormenting him all of his life. How I pray for God to remove the blinders he has had about who he is, who God is and what Jesus Christ has done for him, in spite of what his earthly father did to him. Satan has been defeated and he will no longer have a foothold in this man’s life. The secret is out and the healing has begun! How great our God is!
Today we are celebrating the birthday for my oldest daughter. The actual birthday is tomorrow but today is the day when we can all get together. I have always loved little ones even from the time I was very young myself. When Amy was born I quickly began to learn that loving little ones and caring for them didn’t always work smoothly. However, looking back on that time, I see just how quickly the time goes. The newborn within a year was beginning to talk and walk and these traits continue into today except the walk is now marathon running and the talk is literal or texts or calls. I love them all too. Happy Birthday my #1 daughter!
I wrote recently about God pointing out Habakkuk 3:19 for me to use as an anchor for each day. I hadn’t pointed out a specific portion of this verse that troubled me. It is in the last part where it says, “…He makes my feet like hind’s feet and will make me to walk and make progress upon my high places.” In just a few weeks I’ve found some of these high places which I’ve now begun to address with God’s Strength that He promises. The troubling part is “making progress”. I don’t want to make progress–I want them obliterated! Making progress means they still exist and I’ve pleaded with God for most of my life to remove them. Now, God is showing me His Ways. He is removing them by me taking steps which allow progress, but don’t do away with the temptations, old beliefs, etc.
Our flesh is made up of temptations in part because we have a selfish nature from the beginning. The false beliefs came from years of living and hearing lies. What God is showing me is that first I had to begin believing He cares enough for me to address these high places, Then, I needed to accept the truth that it is His Strength which overcomes them once I believe and that the overcoming starts by making progress. This life of ours is so much easier to live when we quit seeking it to be our way and learn to receive it God’s Way. I am a work in progress!
Right now God is prepping for something bigger than man sees. I believe God is continuously doing this and inviting man to join Him through the nudges of the Holy Spirit. I spent so many years using these opportunities to “earn credit” with God so He would chip away at the ugliness of my past, the scarred body that contained a desire within to serve Him. If He would just remove the past I could serve Him well and I would serve Him well–I would plead with Him ever so often. During all of these years I attempted to serve God well and keep my story hidden away.
Over and over I am reminded that our story is not “mine”. It is ours–God’s and mine. All the years I felt so alone in my story. One of the reasons for hiding it was because it was a story of sinfulness and there is no place for God in a sinful story–so I thought. I love how God chips away at these false beliefs we develop. He is relentless in helping us see Him as the Loving Father for which He truly is. Today I desire to serve Him with “our” story of love and redemption, for this is God’s Way.
It is so nice to see God working. I realize He is never not working, but of late, it has been visible in the flesh. So much of God’s Work is not seen in the flesh for He is readying the heart of man. He also is the One who takes the human plans of someone like me and stays with you until you finally surrender the futility of your plan/s so you can see the beauty of His Own.
Last night my wife Kathy gave her testimony to our Celebrate Recovery group. It was the second time she has done this. It took 11 years for her to step out and tell her own story, but the wait was worth it. There were 10 men in the share group following this large group time. It was so good to hear from them how much her testimony spoke to them. Part of her story is the time when she was inspired by a friend to begin to pray for the husband she would someday have. When she told this to me many years ago, I realized she had been nudged to start this praying at the same time I was going through a most hurtful and difficult time in my own life–my divorce. To realize that God had Kathy praying for this unknown man was amazing! She lived in the San Francisco bay area at this time.
So much of what God does for us is behind the scene. I’m beginning to recognize this more and more as I get more in touch with my spirit and His Spirit within me. Since God is Spirit, He Works in spirit. It shows up in flesh, but the work is always life changing for the flesh. It took three years from the time Kathy began to pray before we were introduced. But, during that time of three years God had prepared me to marry again and He had prepared Kathy to step away from a life of corporate work and become a wife of one, a mother to three, a grandmother to 12 and an integral part of His Kingdom Work! Boy, am I grateful to Him!
God is definitely working and has been working. Somehow, I always know this in my mind, but to see it in action never ceases to amaze me (even though I feel ashamed to think I don’t just expect it knowing God is Who He Is). The meeting with pastors yesterday in our neighboring town went even better than I had hoped. They were very receptive to working together with their congregations to get a core leadership group identified and get a Celebrate Recovery going in their community. What also startled me was their gratitude that we’d take the time to work with them getting this going. That was an unexpected blessing. There is much to do, so many details which will need to come together, but the first step has been taken. These pastors will now go back to their congregations and work with them to see who steps forth. We have another meeting set in a month with any of these folks who God is nudging. I look forward to seeing how this unfolds.
As I go into today it is a very different story. I meet with a troubled district and their leader. I’ve not been able to find a place to take root. I was wrestling with this as I was journaling to God this morning. (In fact, I had a most troubling dream about today’s meeting during the night last night). When I asked God what He wants me to know for today, He nicely reminded me that I’m working with man, but I work FOR HIM. See the issues, but look to ME for the connection rather than to the man. Boy, did I need that reminder today. I’m ready now for the meeting. God is such a blessed GOD.
I was amazed last night with the meeting of our leadership for Celebrate Recovery. It ran as smoothly as a well-oiled machine even though there had been no physical agenda prepared. It truly was God’s meeting. It turned out to be more of a time to prepare each member for reflecting. We will meet again in 2 weeks to allow each one to respond to this time of reflection and from there we will begin to move forward into our new year for the ministry which will begin on September 17 with the kickoff.
Today at noon I will meet with the pastors in a neighboring town. The seed will be planted for an ecumenical Celebrate Recovery. Two from our own leadership team will join me as we present to them how this could work. None of their churches would need to host it for it would be held in a new center just being finished in town. However, if they have individuals in their own congregation who would join other individuals from other congregations, the work could come together supporting this great ministry. This center has been built for the sole purpose of promoting a safe place for youth through adults to come and find Christ. The couple who built this center have done so solely on faith from God nudging them. Now is the beginning of seeing the community’s response.
“God is calling you right now to a faith that is bigger than your fear!” This quote is exactly where God is working on me. He has helped me begin to move my human eyes from seeing the broken person I thought I was to using my spiritual eyes to see the new creation He created me to be. This person has fears but they don’t own me as much as my faith inspires me to want to respond to this God who keeps showing over and over His endless grace and mercy. How grateful I am!
Today is the first day of taking a step I know I’m to take, but I don’t have a plan other than taking it. Our Celebrate Recovery leadership is meeting tonight to face God and each other. There are three of us who each have our own thoughts regarding this meeting and the outcome of it, but down under each of our own thoughts is God’s purpose for it. This is the sole reason for the meeting and I pray we get beyond man’s thoughts to God’s purpose. As I was praying this morning I was reminded of the old hymn: THE SOLID ROCK. My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus Name. On Christ the solid rock I stand all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.
Tomorrow I’m to take another step which is to plant the seed for starting a new Celebrate Recovery. I was called yesterday while I was driving home from the school district by the lady who is hosting the meeting. She said 4 of the eight pastors invited are coming for sure and one other is a strong “maybe”. I was thrilled to hear this because I didn’t even know if anyone would come. Out of the present darkness God is shedding a Light for which only He can give. I just know I am to be a holder for the Light and to carry it in FAITH and not fear. This is my charge for today and then again for tomorrow.
“God is calling you right now to a faith that is bigger than your fear!” This is the quote on a card my prayer warrior made for me and gave to me last week when we met. I brought it home thinking it was a beautiful card with a great message. However, Kathy put it on my desk where I see it each time I sit down. This reminder has been so inspiring the last few days–a faith bigger than my fear.
When I first retired from my full-time admin job to step into consulting 13 years ago, I was talking to a good friend about it. I don’t recall the exact conversation, but I mentioned my fears. He grabbed me by the shoulders and said, “Earnie, when will you ever quit giving in to your fears?” It was the first time someone had ever addressed my fears with me–at least that I recall. Since that time however, I’ve been much more awake to the truth of how fears impact the steps I’m willing to take. Now, 13 years later, I sense reservations, but I don’t sense the gripping paralysis I use to have. This has been such a huge thing.
“God is calling you right now….” This is the other half of this quote which speaks. The couple of meetings I have this week are important ones which God has inspired. I only know He has opened the door for them. I am joyful inside with the anticipation of what they will bring about. Only God knows at this point in time, but I know beyond a shadow of doubt God is the One who inspired them.
In my scripture reading today in Genesis, Isaac is opening up the wells of water his father Abraham had dug. These wells were filled in by the enemy neighbors over the years. Joyce Meyers writes a note stating for the reader to examine your own life. Do you have any wells (springs of life) which have been filled in due to life? If so, let the Holy Spirit reopen them so the abundance of God’s life flowing blood can flow through you again. One of these wells for me is what this quote tells–“…faith bigger than your fear”. How good God is!
A month ago I was struggling to know how our restoration classes and Celebrate Recovery were going to take place this fall. I had no Light being given. All of the energy I’d usually be putting into this work by mid-July was just on-hold seemingly. I kept turning to God wanting to sense direction but the only direction I received was to wait. The waiting has ended and now I see God’s Work at hand.
Yesterday I met with a new leader for one of our restoration classes. She is seasoned, sensitive and on fire. This week we will meet with pastors in a near community about starting an “ecumenical CR”. I’ve mentioned this and now we will see how God is preparing this. Our own leadership is meeting Tuesday night to challenge us. We have a reason for the meeting, but I’m eager to see how God orchestrates it as it materializes. God seems to surprise me each and every time. I have a definite outcome I want from the meeting when God continuously reminds me that it is His Outcome He wants me to focus on. Thus, I am surrendering the order of the meeting to Him and I wait in eager anticipation.
I mentioned the scripture Habakkuk 3:19 in a recent post. It talks about the “hind’s feet” God gives us to address our high places. I’m seeing so clearly now how God is helping me to face these current situations with faith rather than “my plan”. Hinds feet are empowered by a spiritual strength which I don’t know until I surrender my own efforts which have never achieved as God has wanted. How much I love our God’s patience in getting me focused on His Ways rather than my own so His Strength can become what moves me (us) forward.
This morning I am nothing but grateful for my Lord and Savior, my God who is much more like a DAD, and their Gift of The Holy Spirit. A devotional I read talked today about why we serve God? It caused me to realize more than ever the importance of our relationship with Jesus, God and The Holy Spirit. If we serve to help mankind we will be overcome with man’s criticism, lack of appreciation and so on. These are all reasons man burns out. The motivation is wrong. However, if our motivation to serve man is out of sheer love of Jesus and thankfulness it puts into a different perspective all that man says and does. Our motivation comes from a source within which has no end to it. The relationship we have with our God becomes the genuine source of motivation. This is the work of The Holy Spirit within us. The more we are connected the less we sense giving up, quitting, etc.
Next Tuesday and Wednesday are two meetings I have, one to plant the seed for starting a Celebrate Recovery in a neighboring area. The other is a meeting with our own CR leadership. What I am learning from my personal walk with God is that I will never achieve under my passion. It dies and it quickly dies if someone else is following the work only because they said yes to me and not to God. The timing I sense for something is often first started by what I see as a need. I use to use these things as projects to earn favor with God hoping He’d take away all the shame of my past. I never realized how He was waiting for me to understand how He wanted this past to be a tool for Him. This is the case for any of us. Using my past as a tool for God is what took away the shame. However, along with this, God wanted me to know that the motivation to use my past is out of sheer love for Him and not to earn the love of Him. I’m finally getting it! Helping others to find this too is a very important point God is using.