Sometimes the journey reaches a point where one needs to stop and check directions. I was contacted last night about taking some steps which I instantly felt as though I needed to act on them. However, just as quickly however, was a hesitance. Fortunately, Kathy said we would wait until tomorrow to take the steps due to the plan for today. So, I’m asking God for clarity about steps to take.
One of the very clear pictures one can see in the book of Acts is the direction The Holy Spirit gives when we choose to listen to Him. I am genuinely finding that the more I trust and believe in being the new creation Christ made me to be, the more I have confidence in listening to and obeying the nudges I sense from The Holy Spirit. I truly love and appreciate the fact that this Holy Spirit resides right in me. How amazing is this truth! It is for you and me if we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord.
Last night Kathy and I were able to see the production entitled, “Jesus”. It is a live production which begins when Jesus was calling his disciples and continues until the disciples are anointed in the upper room with the Holy Spirit to begin the completion of Christ’s coming. God was really pointing out to me the differences in Christ’s choices of disciples in their personalities. I’ve known this, but it was awakening for me to see them in action. I know this is a “man’s production” but God needed for me to see that He uses all personalities for His Honor and Glory to complete His Work here on earth. The production ended as the disciples were anointed with The Holy Spirit and went out to the crowds and began the same completion of work God wants us doing today–bringing His message to the lost. No one disciple was the completion of Christ’s work. The completion of what Christ came to do is done through “we” not “me”. Each of us is to join God’s Kingdom Work.
My bible reading is now in Acts where the first anointing of The Holy Spirit takes place. All of the disciples were anointed along with other committed believers. It was insightful to read this morning what I saw last night. I have had this inner voice in my head that condemns me for being who I am and I must keep me in control so I can do what God wants. God, instead, wants me to let Him have the me He created to complete what He wants from us working together. This is just what He was teaching the disciples during the time with His Son Jesus. Jesus didn’t control them, He taught them and then they were anointed with The Holy Spirit to turn their knowledge into action with the empowerment of The Holy Spirit.
God uses all personalities and abilities to His Honor and Glory. He doesn’t control as man uses control. He anoints and leads through His inspiration provided by The Holy Spirit. I loved seeing this so much more clearly and having that message in my head “replaced”.
By noontime yesterday I’d thought God was playing a joke on me about what would be in store for the day. Nothing was working out. And, the bookstore ended up being a couple shelves of books in this huge flea market-type store. As Kathy and I went back to the car I was hit with the thought that maybe there would be a Mardel in Springfield which is the city we flew into the day before? Sure enough, there was. We drove there and I had a wonderful time getting everything I was hoping to get for our Celebrate Recovery. Along with that, we found a great place to have supper. God is always good when we don’t try to set the day for Him and allow Him to lead it.
God is always working and I love watching His Work come together. One of the men back home wanted to talk last night so I called him when Kathy was gone from the room for about 20 minutes. I was amazed to hear what he had to say. Their marriage is hugely struggling, but God is having them take some steps I never thought would be done. I’m so happy to hear what he said. It is very difficult to trust God when we set the goal we want God to complete. However, if we can only keep our eyes on God letting Him lead our every step, we will never be disappointed. We will surely be surprised many times, but God’s Ways always complete His Work which eventually will bring Peace to our souls.
Kathy and I haven’t been to Missouri before and even though we have flown through parts of our country here, we have not taken time to examine it. We want to do that while we are here. As I was journaling this morning I was asking God what He wanted us to know to do while we are here? I recalled that our “Barnabas basket” for Celebrate Recovery was almost depleted of gift options so I checked to see if there is a good Christian bookstore here. Wouldn’t you know they have one and they also have a $.99 sale which ends today. When we go to Oklahoma to visit our kids we always hit their bookstore because it has a wonderful selection of good, bargain books. I can’t wait to see what is in store here.
I’m told Branson has many good shows to choose from. We have already booked “Jesus” for tomorrow night. We will see about the rest of the choices. It is fun to have a few days to relax and see a different part of our country. God is everywhere and He assures us of this each and every day!
Sometimes the journey takes us away and today is one of them. We are leaving early this morning for Branson, MO. Our original plan was to leave this weekend for a trip to Greece & Turkey which was one to follow the journeys of Paul. This is the 2nd time this trip has been cancelled. In lieu of this, we decided to go to Branson. It is a place we have talked about but never done, so here we go. I’ll be back tomorrow with a better writeup. The good news–God is in Branson too!
A young father shared with me recently that he just didn’t know how to trust God. He and his wife had divorced and he didn’t trust the parenting the kids received while with her. When he said this I was reminded of my own experience 42 years ago when my oldest two were only 2 & 4 years of age. My wife left me and moved the day of the divorce and I didn’t even know they were moving. She and my two kids were someplace and I had no idea where. I remember going to the church that night after school and bared my soul before God weeping and pleading for Him to protect my kids. I knew I had to surrender them to Him, but where were they?
I shared with the young father this story and told him that 42 years later these two little kids are now 44 & 46. Both are serving God diligently and thank me for being a stable father throughout their lives. God had not abandoned my kids or me and He certainly hasn’t abandoned him or his own kids. He began to cry and we prayed together.
This morning as I had my devotions I was nudged to contact this young father with a note of encouragement. I remembered those who reached out to me so many years ago and I needed to do the same for him. Encouragement is a tremendous antibiotic for a hurting soul.
Last night at Celebrate Recovery we began the cycle of lessons which start with DENIAL. The word DENIAL is an acrostic where the D=deny feelings. The L=lengthens the pain. As we went to our share groups following the lesson our topic question was: “What areas of your life are you now beginning to face the truth and break the effects of denial?” I was being nudged to talk about my awakening to the D & L. I had lived my entire life denying feelings which dad had crushed so many times in my childhood labeling me a sissy, a girl (even naming me Hazel when in high school), etc. For several years after I’d started CR I denied much of this. Last night I tied together the L with the D. I suddenly realized I had lengthened my pain by this denial.
The other part of my childhood where I’ve tried to deny the pain is from my brother’s sexual abuse. I’ve said over and over I would be stronger than this. I worked very hard to deny the pain all the while I was lengthening it. The lesson even disclosed that in denying the pain it eventually turns it into shame. That is exactly what happened to me. All of this made me question my own value to God. All of this too made Satan smile since he had his choke hold on me.
As I shared this awakening last night in group, one of the young men talked with me following the group sharing. He wanted to know if I’d sponsor him because he is struggling with what I shared and needs help. This morning as I journaled, God was reminding me again how important it is to be willing to share our stories and His connection to them as we walk our journey of recovery. He never wastes any of it. Once again I’m reminded just how kind and thoughtful our God is.
Today in my scripture reading in Acts I come upon “circumcised heart”. It is not often one hears this term, but we know a lot about circumcision. In essence, when we circumcise we cut away and expose. Joyce Meyers writes that we need to cut away anything that our heart wants to keep just for us, just for momentary pleasure, etc., when it goes directly against what we know God doesn’t find pleasing to Him. We can rationalize all we want that “this is ok”. It is only ________________. But, in the end we sense guilt and shame when these times happen.
It find it very fitting to have this clarity as part of the same book where The Holy Spirit is gifted to the followers of Jesus. At this point in my life I do want everything I do to be pleasing and acceptable to God. In order for this to take place I truly need to circumcise my heart of all selfish items I know are my desires but are not pleasing to God.
The journey of living for Jesus will bring each of us to this point. I find myself being brought to this point far more than once. There is always something else God wants me to cut away. It is truly awakening to know that the cutting away–when we finally get to this point–has little or no pain involved. It is like handing over something that has turned sour to God who is making me into the beautiful creation He meant for me all along. God is so Amazing!
All of a sudden today I have places to go and things to get done, but I don’t have the clear picture in my head how it is to happen. I will simply show up and wait to see how the day will unfold. When this would happen in my past I would be stewing inside putting a plan in place regardless of any clear picture. I couldn’t stand to not know a plan. Today I do have that same sense of urgency to get a plan created, but I also have a restraint which tells me I am not to try and take charge when I am not to be the one in charge. I know this restraint is from The Holy Spirit. In fact, when I was journaling about this earlier this morning and asked God what He wanted me to know for today, He reminded me to be a good listener today. Listen well before anything is said on my part. I need to keep this in the upfront of my mind today (and likely everyday).
Our God is truly AMAZING. Trusting Him when life around you needs structure and you are not the one to put structure to it, can be frustrating. However, I’ve learned that God’s Perfect Timing is always–PERFECT! My timing is nothing but interfering when I choose to insert my ways. I want to be a good and faithful servant today.
Today I am writing this blog entry with my mind flooded with wonder. As I began my journey to freedom back in 2007 little did I know what was in store. I had a couple of things at the time which would determine freedom for me. One was the ability to tell my story to others and the other was God would take away the desire to use porn and the gay thoughts. This would be freedom!
In the 15 years of intentional work I’ve come to realize that the work was not mine–it had already been done by Christ. Over the years I’ve needed to surrender what I was hanging onto so Christ’s healing work on the Cross could do it’s powerful work within me. Secondly, and more recently, I’ve begun to discover what God’s Love for each of us is all about. God doesn’t just love us, He is Love. The book of John portrays this so well.
Now, as I’m beginning the book of Acts I’m seeing with much clearer eyes, the result of God’s Love for us. He enables us to use our story as a love gift for others. Along with this sharing comes God’s Healing. Peter and John, through the Power of The Holy Spirit within them, heal a crippled man due to their Faith in Jesus Christ. They now recognize the Power Christ has provided them through The Holy Spirit. Today, God is awakening in me that this same Power is ours–mine to use for Him through the same Holy Spirit and all in the Name of His Son–Jesus.
As my journey continues I am humbly awakened to the reservoirs of Heavenly Power God is waiting to unleash as I–we better understand Who He Is and who we are in His Son’s Name–Jesus, The Savior and Lord of this very world!