As I am reading Proverbs this time I feel as though I’m a young man just getting started in learning how to live for Jesus. There is so much wise counsel. In reality, man shouldn’t read Proverbs as wise counsel, they should read it as a book of directions for living life. If only men could set aside our pride and our need to have choices, we would be so much better off. Slow to anger, squelching pride, holding our tongue, listening well, responding wisely (my words here) are just a few of the rules for living found in this great book.
There is a difference in pride that comes from work well-done and pride which means do it my way or else. As I read Proverbs, this comparison keeps cropping up. It isn’t necessarily worded as such, but in my interpretation, it means just this. That sense of satisfaction which follows a day of right living and right choices is an appropriate kind of pride. However, a day of demanding things be done just as you say or else could very well be the pride of a man after his own heart rather than God’s heart. I love the fact too that it is our role to simply give wisdom. We don’t need to follow through making sure one does as we say. The Holy Spirit will take wisdom and do His own follow up. If the listener is wise he will follow it. We are to be a conveyor of wisdom and not the disciplinarian for it
I have much to learn about living fully committed and surrendered. I suppose we all do. However, lets try and do it with a smile!
I’ve mentioned that I will be starting a class for Mending the Soul on April 11 at our church. I’ve struggled in my mind how to best advertise this. The past couple years we have put it in our bulletin a few weeks ahead of time outlining the classes’ purpose, but no one came from that work. The few who came were ones I had personally invited knowing their story already. Late yesterday afternoon when I’d gotten home from the school district I called our pastor who oversees the men’s breakfast we have scheduled for April 10th. I wanted to have a moment to advertise the class there with the men. There are usually from 100-125 men who come. The pastor asked that this be the program for the morning with him interviewing me about my own past and why this class is so important. I said that takes my breath away, but yes, of course, I’d do that.
This little interview is a genuine test for me. Satan has used every weapon on me that has worked in the past to keep me quiet–FEAR being at the top of the list. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt this is the right thing to do. Putting what I know into action takes TRUST and BELIEF which are young in me and yet, I am watering these two young starts so they will grow and choke out any unbelief’s.
The new creation that I am because of Christ’s work on the Cross is taking root. I want others to know they can have this freedom if they are living in bondage as I have know so well. God is FAITHFUL and I want to be a faithful servant for Him.
The young man did contact me and we are now set to meet next Saturday. I pray this leads to an actual meeting. Somehow, I think it will.
Today is early and I’m headed back to the district. It always take a moment for me to realign myself to going back after being home for a week. This is particularly true when Spring is here and I really enjoy so much being home and outside. I wait to see what is in store for the rest of this school year. The superintendent is leaving and they are in the process of choosing a new one. This transition will be a very important one in order to maintain the improvements the district has made. I keep putting this into the hands of God and wait to see how He leads this. Wisdom is a key word in taking part in this transition. Proverbs does a superb job outlining our responsibility in staying in tune with God’s Wisdom rather than jumping to quick decisions based on man’s emotions. The older I get the more I recognize this and want only to be a good model of waiting upon the Lord.
The journey does continue, but yesterday’s part in the journey did not end with the meeting I’d hoped. I have to leave this with this young man and God. I just want to be ready when he is ready.
As I am reading through Proverbs I am stricken by the strength found in WISDOM. The second half of the verse Proverbs 10:6 says, “…the knowledge of the Holy One is insight and understanding.” Man has lessened the magnitude of wisdom by putting his own definition to this magnificent word. I love what this verse says. We simply cannot have insight and understanding (the true meaning of Wisdom) if we do not continuously walk with Jesus, God the Father and stay tuned into The Holy Spirit Who resides in us. It is this relationship which allows the Wisdom from on High to be ours. Wisdom isn’t just words. It is lived out in actions by the way we respond to something said, respond to something unsaid, discipline ourselves in the pattern of building our intentional walk with God.
The depth and breadth of God’s Wisdom will never be ours fully. We are simply limited. However, staying in tune/harmony with God does allow us to tap into a reservoir which man without God can never know.
The phone call I mentioned yesterday was completed. To my amazement, the person I am planning this presentation with has her own story of abuse. She said it has been her motivation to stay in education to assist those in the profession who are still bound by their past; and for some, who haven’t even recognized their own symptoms. As she and I told our stories to one another we could easily see why God had put us together to do this presentation for the others. Now, we know our assignment, our next step is designing how to make the presentation as God wants it done. My fear has turned into anticipation as I wait for God’s Light to shine.
Yesterday I finished the last of the Spring work I wanted to get done while on spring break. Now it is just finishing up some chores for the day. A young man whom I’ve known since he was a boy is going to meet up with me later today when he is off work. He says he’ll contact me when he is done so we can set a place to meet. I don’t know what his story is, just that he has gotten himself into some trouble and wants to get back to health. His mom, who use to work for me, and I happened to meet a couple weeks ago. I asked how her son was doing and that opened the door for today’s meeting. I’m praying for this meeting to actually transpire.
Proverbs 9:8 & 9 say, “Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate you; reprove a wise man and he will love you. Give instructions to a wise man and he will be yet wiser; teach a righteous man and he will increase in learning.” This is today’s TRUST and HOPE.
I’m giving my testimony to our Celebrate Recovery group in two weeks. As I finished my devotions yesterday and written my blog entry I pulled the testimony up on my computer so I could read through it and update it. I’m always a little raw afterwards, but it’s simply reliving in my mind what it was like to live through those earlier times in my life. It was raining outside so I couldn’t go prune roses, which was on my docket for the day. Our consultants, doing the educational work I do, are going through a newly released book called Soul, by Timothy Kanold. A couple of us are to present to the others on April 15 the first section of the book, seven chapters. I thought I’d read those chapters while I was inside. In so doing I found myself gripped by the book’s message in the first couple of chapters. The author is telling his childhood trauma and relating it to his work in education today. I was feeling this strong nudge that God was wanting me to do the same.
Having just finished rewriting my testimony, I was already feeling exposed. Now I’m reading someone else’s exposure of his life. I’ve met the author a couple of times through zoom meetings and he is truly an educational exemplar. Knowing his background doesn’t change my opinion of his work, it actually makes me commend him for being able to use his background to enhance his work. It has taken me 24 hours to get to a level playing field in my mind. My emotions were wanting me to walk away. These consultants don’t need to know my weaknesses–I kept telling myself. Yet, God keeps reminding me that my commitment to education is largely due to knowing just how much the teachers in my life made the difference for me. I DO want to do the same. (I just didn’t want the group of educators I work with knowing my own story. I might find judgment I feared).
I actually have a phone call lined up with the one I’m presenting with in 45 minutes. I bit the bullet and sent her a message yesterday afternoon saying I’d like to talk about our presentation. I’m going to step into this TRUSTING it is God’s next step.
I never cease to be amazed at the intimacy of God and how He tends to the little details in our lives. I’ve mentioned of late about starting to read Proverbs and sharing it with my grandson who has been helping me. This morning as I began to journal I was telling God about the difficulty of staying focused day-in and day-out on the truth that we are a new creation. All of the thoughts that bombard my head want to have me believing differently. I get grounded each and everyday as the day begins, but as it moves on, I find the strength to combat this truth wanes. I know this indicates I’m using my strength rather than God’s, however…, it happens.
Today’s devotional was even from Proverbs–its message was to listen to wisdom rather than the evil thoughts planted by the evil one. Then, reading in Proverbs, it was saying the same thing. Joyce Meyers wrote that we tend to beat ourselves up when we don’t live a perfect day. She compares spiritual walking to a child learning to walk. We don’t criticize them, we encourage and praise for the steps they are taking successfully. We need to learn to do this as God does.
I’ve walked long enough as a new creation that I’d like these thoughts to be done. Joyce Meyers writes: “God is not angry with us because we have not yet arrived. He is pleased that we are pressing on, that we are staying on the path. If you and I will keep on keeping on, God will be pleased with our progress.” I then praised God for being such a Good Dad!
Yesterday turned out to be a wonderful day. I found the strawberry plants I wanted, my grandson came and helped me take two loads of prunings to the dump and I got much planning done for the upcoming Mending the Soul class. Along with that my grandson and I got to sing Happy Birthday to this wonderful sis of mine! Today he is coming back so we can get asparagus & strawberries planted as well as all of the early items in the garden. As Mr. Rogers said, “It’s a great day in the neighborhood!”
Last summer my grandson, who is helping me, wanted a bible. I ordered it for him at the time. As I began the book of Proverbs yesterday I was prompted to talk to him about reading this book. It is truly a book of wisdom for a teenager (as well as anyone else) and how to ground your life at this early age so one can be proud of his choices rather than trying to hide them. We talked about that. I’m glad we are together again today so we can talk further about this topic. He’s a great kid. He was reminding me yesterday that he is my favorite grandchild. I always tell my grandkids my favorite grandchild is the one with me. So, he was reminding me yesterday that he is my favorite (for the day)!
God is never not at work. The more I awaken to Him, the richer the relationship becomes. What an amazing God!
If March has a special day in it, it is today. Today is the birthday of my sis Bonnie–just older than me. She has been my cheerleader and encourager for as long as we have been together and that is a LONG time! Happy Birthday SIS! I love you!
I got a phone call early this morning with some troubling news. My thought was that when we think things are coming together, something falls apart making one want to just junk the whole thing. Then I finished my Bible reading and got my prayer list so I could pray over it. In the middle of the list I had written PRAISE reminding me of my teachings from the Psalms. Instantly I was reminded to praise God for the hiccups which come for He will use them to strengthen our ministry and myself if I stay obedient to Him. In praising God I no longer felt the frustration. Actually, instead, I found myself now praying for the one who is troubled. This is what I know God is wanting me to do instead of getting frustrated about it.
God is never done teaching us and I will never be done being a student of His. I always want to be open for the next lesson.
This morning I ended my reading of the Psalms. I don’t think I’ve ever learned so much from one of the Bible’s books as I have this time. There is a dominant word which this book uses over and over. This word is PRAISE! There are a number of things brought out in Psalms that we should praise God about, but there is only One deserving the PRAISE and that is GOD. The genuine awakening for me is that we don’t just praise God for all the goodness He provides and the beauty of our dwelling, we are to praise Him in the midst of every storm we have or anyone else is having. I have never, until this morning, looked at praise as an emotion or the expression of emotions. No matter what the trial, if I choose to praise God it lifts the burden of the trial. It is like the handing over of the trial to the very One who wants to take it but waits for us to give it to Him.
I have known for years the teaching of Praising God in the midst of our trials. I also know the teaching of Praising God for someone else’s trial knowing and trusting that trial to bring them closer to God. Reading the Psalms this time has moved this “teaching” from my mind into my heart.
God has been nudging me to begin the class Mending the Soul which is for abuse victims. I brought this up in our Celebrate Recovery leadership meeting yesterday. I was so pleased to see that one of the other leaders is ready to start a new step study for men leaving me free to focus on the abuse class. My heart is heavy with the weight of abuse. But, this weight is no longer a burden which I carry. It is a reminder to PRAISE and PRAY for these victims who will start their journey to a much greater freedom. I will PRAISE GOD knowing already this freedom He is giving me is waiting for them too!