It is amazing how stepping away from an issue or a problem and then returning to it helps one to see the right next step. This is definitely the case with the drama of man. I was given a most troubling situation last evening, one that keeps you awake and then causing dreams during the night. However, when I awoke this morning there was a text from the person showing the simple answer to the drama–Give it to Jesus and Trust Him with it. As I was reading in Matthew this morning I read about the drama given to Him by the Pharisees condemning Him for the good works He was doing. It is amazing how He simply puts it in perspective with scriptural truths. This is what happens when we step away from drama connected to issues and problems which men create. Giving oneself time to let your own emotions subside so God can speak to you is always the right thing to do. God always has the right course for us to take.
Today begins my time with schools. I meet with one of the high schools today and then one of the superintendents for a lunch meeting about her district. The time at home has been a good refreshment and a time to listen to Jesus knowing all of this is to honor Him. He has reinforced over and over that this work is led by Him if I only keep my eyes and ears focused on Him rather than the issues of man. He already knows these issues and knows how He wants them addressed. I can know His heart if I listen and then respond as He nudges.
Earlier this week when we were still in Joseph, OR I talked at length with Kathy’s brother Dwight. He was encouraging me to check into doing the course work for a biblical counseling license. This is what he has done and he saw this as a good tool for myself. Since getting home I have let the “other voices” go through my head which only condemn this action saying things like, “Here we go again, trying to do what’s going to make you more important.” Last night in share group I told the men about the seed Dwight had planted encouraging me. My reason for sharing it however wasn’t for any reason except to hear some kind of supportive statement afterwards. I was seeking man’s approval rather than God’s. God’s Holy Spirit checked me this morning reminding me that this is about Him and me. If this is to take place, He will open the door. The approval of man is not to be my motivation to move on this. As I prayed I repented of this selfishness. I only want to serve Him.
Once again today I am challenged by this book of Matthew. There is so much to glean from it. I’ve never read this book before and had Jesus’ words and actions speak to me the way they are now. It truly is not about knowing what Jesus said and did, it is far more about transforming me in how I “speak and do”.
In the scripture Matthew 9:13 it says, “Go and learn what this means; I desire mercy and not sacrifice and sacrificial victims….” Joyce, in her writing, says that mercy is kindness and I know that kindness is one of the fruits of the Spirit. As I tie this scripture to yesterday’s message about “do not judge,” I hear a distinct command and that is to show mercy (kindness) instead of judgment.
A few weeks ago I had a lady talk to me about her husband. They are separated after many years of marriage. He had been sexually abused by an older cousin during his childhood and had many issues due to this not being addressed. She had sent him my book and he told her he was beginning to slowly read it. Recently, I talked again to this lady. During the talk I could see how her approach to his issues could be stifling to him rather than helpful. I wanted to tell her just what she ought to be saying and not saying–I was feeling judgment towards her and not kindness. I didn’t say much of anything except to acknowledge that God’s Work takes time. I know our paths will cross again soon, and this time I’m ready to talk without the sense of judgment. My word, she is judging herself too much already. Judgment has been replaced in my heart with mercy for her. I can sense kindness now after today’s devotional time with Jesus. A sad thing to have to admit, but it is true. I ask God to forgive my moment of judgment.
As I began to read Matthew 8 this morning I found I couldn’t move past this chapter. My word, it contains so much insight into living for Jesus that I could hardly finish the full chapter. I loved the insight Joyce Meyer gave. She wrote that living the broad road is living where we respond to our emotions and our own desires. Yes, we believe in Jesus but our walk is far more driven by our earthly self. The narrow road is walked being led by the Spirit and they obey the Spirit rather than their own emotions. I love this insight. God’s Spirit has been working on this with me for several years and I finally see it this morning.
There is one other insight today that I truly needed. It is about how the chapter starts–judging others. There is a subtle difference in how we speak and pray for others which either keeps judging in the prayer or removes it. Let me give an example. I have some folks on my prayer list that I pray for each day. I pray something like, “Jesus, help them to see the Light You want them to follow. I know it is hard for them, but please help them to overcome their obstacles…” As I read this morning’s scripture and Joyce’s description of low and high road, I was checked by God’s Spirit to change my prayers. I need to pray Trusting and Believing. An example, “God I know Your Spirit is working in _______’s life. I thank you for what The Holy Spirit is doing and the overcoming that awaits them.” My entire mindset changes when I pray believing, rather than pray with little hope. I needed this insight.
As I have begun to read the book of Matthew I am reminded what a tremendous guide it is for daily living out our Christian walk. Pray specifically, pray privately and humbly, do good deeds without public notice, be free of anxiety, trust instead. My word, if we were to live daily like this it would make living much easier–particularly the worry one. The next chapter begins with the verse about judging. I only looked at this. I can deal with it tomorrow for today I know God wants me to look and deal deeply with the one about worry.
I have never liked to think of myself as a worrisome person, but I know that inside I fret and stew about things. I believe these two words are just another way of saying–worry. I don’t often let them stop me from moving forward, but I do waste a good deal of my “thinking time” with them. I know that I need to address details regarding all the different tasks being done, but to address these with worry is wrong. It truly is an absence of trust and this is what God I know is wanting me to address. I believe this is my next and immediate assignment.
My wife’s youngest brother has been one God has used over and over in my life these past many years. He is the one who introduced me to Celebrate Recovery several years ago. A few years later he introduced me to the many curriculums we now use in our Restoration Ministry at church. These address: sexual integrity, victims of sexual abuse, homosexuality, and spouses of sexual addiction.
Yesterday, as he and I talked, he challenged me to consider stepping into one to one counseling. The center where he has does group leading started using him as a counselor a couple years ago and he sees me doing similarly. I often meet with men one to one at their requests, but I always send them to someone “competent” for their real counseling. I do not know where this might lead, but what I know is that before coming on this little trip, God asked me to be ready to listen and respond to His leading. He will nudge me.
Obeying God’s nudge is the desire of my heart. The voices of my past want to scream things like, “Oh you still just want to make a name for yourself.” I know this isn’t the case and I even know this is no longer true from the voice of my dad. It is simply Satan’s minions wanting to stifle God’s Kingdom work. So, I will move forward and see what doors open as I seek daily God’s leadership in my life.
Today I began reading the New Testament starting in Matthew. In just finishing the Old Testament yesterday I have a new sense of love and appreciation for it. I use to read the Old Testament as a discipline. I would learn some things from it, but for the most part, I would discipline myself to read it knowing it was important to not just read what I wanted from the Bible, but read all of it. When I began many months ago to read the Old Testament I asked God to be the voice of the words I was reading. I wanted to read it as though I were hearing it from Himself instead of simply reading it as though I were reading someone else’s writing. It has been an amazing change. A big awakening was when I came to the Psalms. I wrote about it at the time, but my personal awakening was to realize that this book is as much for me as for anyone else. I was finally awake to the realities in my life. As I’ve finished the minor prophets I couldn’t help but think just how much God has wanted His children then and now, to hear Him and respond to Him. He is continuously giving us a “heads up”. Do we listen? My word, how we don’t listen. We just continue to repeat the sins of man and his selfishness.
Now, as I begin to read the New Testament I want to continue to read it as the voice of God directing me, teaching me, shepherding me, loving me and disciplining me. As this develops I too want to be a vessel for His Light to shine through. This is a journey of life I’m so grateful to be undertaking.
The journey today has brought Kathy and me to Wallowa, OR so she could spend her birthday with her siblings and then today attend a family reunion with all of her extended family. In fact, today is my own sister’s birthday who lives in S. California. They are having a small family reunion with her. This is my oldest living sis who resides in an assisted living home.
Yesterday the Celebrate Recovery Summit was wrapping up. We left prior to the closing activities to get to Oregon in time for us to go to dinner with Kathy’s siblings. Our last activity with the group was one regarding boundaries. It focused primarily on boundaries we learn to set with our family. For whatever reason the person presenting was focusing on boundaries with our earthly father/Heavenly Father. The ending part of it reminded me of many therapy sessions I’ve had facing my areas of need in facing my dad. It also bought to mind so much baggage I had about my Heavenly Father tied to my earthly father. Over the years I’ve been able to face these memories and let go of the fact that dad’s behaviors were about him and not about me. I’ve also learned that my Heavenly Father’s behaviors are nothing like dad’s. God’s behaviors are far more about the Fruits of the Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Gentleness, Goodness, Kindness and Self-Control. I’ve found this to be so very true especially since God helped me draw the line between what were my dad’s issues and what were mine.
God is such a loving, faithful Father. He will stay with us through these dark areas in our lives until His Light shines through and the truth is found. Don’t give up if this Light hasn’t been found for you. Keep your hope in Jesus and the day will come when understanding and peace will be yours too.
July is a special month for me. It starts with my birthday and then 6 days later our daughter Angie’s day. However, 22 days after mine is Kathy’s. Today she joins me in this new decade which I’ll leave with you to figure out which one it is! Little did I know 39 years ago what a treasure I was receiving from God when He gave me Kathy as my wife and she said yes to my question! Yes, God gives us new freedom as our journey with Him continues, but if it weren’t for Kathy, I doubt I’d ever know the freedom of being a new creation like I now know it. She has been the one who never doubted what God intended when he created me. Not only has Kathy been my most valued encourager, but I’ve watched her do this over and over again with our own children, grandchildren and a host of ladies and men who come to Celebrate Recovery. It is with much love and gratitude I wish her Happy Birthday today! What a gift to life you are! My journey stops for a moment today to tell you THANK YOU and to know you are loved beyond words!
The Celebrate Recovery Summit has begun and it started with a wonderful tribute being given for the founder of it 30 years ago. His name is John Baker and he passed away last February. His son and wife are the new directors of it and a wonderful commissioning was given for them. It was most touching.
Our prayer warrior, Lois (90 years of age), conducted a workshop for our leadership team in the afternoon yesterday. Her focus was on prayer with emphasis on believing and trusting the power of prayer. I think all of us who come to CR struggle with the power of our prayers. We can easily believe for someone else, but to believe in oneself is a whole different story. Lois provided a good deal of spiritual wisdom along with telling her own walk with God establishing her own belief. She will be coming back today to give a second workshop. This time it will be simply to answer questions from individuals who have a stumbling block in any area of prayer. I look forward to this time. This dear lady has been a huge spiritual help for me in the past many years and our group has grown to love her and her help with all of us. God is so good at putting just the right person in our path at the right time. How I love and thank Him for this Goodness.