The 90 day journal/devotional I’m presently doing had a devotional writing that asked the reader to read a chapter of the bible and thank God for His Word. I had already had my bible reading ahead of this so I wasn’t going to read anymore. After all, I have several little chores I want to get done before I head into the activities of the day. However, the Spirit was prompting me to be obedient. The scripture reference for the devotional was John 17:17 so I grabbed my bible and read the 17th chapter. In this chapter Jesus is praying to God thanking Him for the opportunity to serve Him. He goes onto ask that in the same way God led Him for the 33 years on earth, please now lead His children (you and me) in the same manner. My word, I was filled with GRATITUDE!
Tomorrow night I teach our Celebrate Recovery lesson which is GRACE. God’s Grace is just what John 17 is all about. God gave to us Jesus Christ to be our Savior and hopefully Lord (if we will determine to live for Him in our daily lives). More than any of this, when we accept Christ into our lives, God sees Christ in us so all of our sinfulness is never seen–He only sees His Son Jesus. The reality of this truth is so humbling and amazing–this is GRACE in its fullness. How grateful I am!
Yesterday was a grand day. I had 3 grandsons come and help me get our pool out of winter mode and ready for summer use. I am most grateful for their help!
I have written many times about my dad’s prideful ways. Most of our beatings as a child were driven from his pride being hurt in some way only he could determine. I’ve always thought of pride as an ugly beast. In my current years I’ve found that pride is simply an emotion like all others. It isn’t right or wrong until we act on it. I’ve also found that my own pride is huge too. When I looked at the three grandsons helping me yesterday I was filled with pride. They not only helped but they were great workers as well. Of course grandpa would be most proud. Where I stumble is when pride for “my way” gets into the way of obedience. The selfishness of pride can be very sinful.
As I am reading through Proverbs presently, there are so many scriptures talking about pride and selfishness. I see myself way too often. Instead, I want to model Jesus and have others see Him in me. In order to do that I have to have more than an exterior that looks right. I also must have a motivation from within that is driven by my prideful spirit being surrendered to The Holy Spirit. This is an everyday surrender and I can only live it out one day at a time.
Today is Memorial Day where we honor those who have gone before us. This focus is first and foremost for the veterans who have died for our earthly freedom. Along with this I want to honor those who have modeled living the spiritual freedom which God gives as we surrender all of our struggles to Him. This was first and foremost modeled for me by my grandma Wretling. Even when she was in the nursing home her spirit of freedom was alive and well. She had over 60 grandchildren including the greats and great greats. She said she prayed for all of us and I asked one time how she could remember all of our names? She told me that she didn’t but she knew Jesus did and she was holding Him accountable for every single one of us! Her freedom was so solid in Christ that she held Jesus accountable! I’ve never known of anyone else who had such a solid relationship with Jesus.
My mom was my other freedom modeler. Mom was a quiet individual much like my grandpa. However, mom lived with dad for 72 years and I never once heard her complain of him. She modeled for all of us kids what living in the love of Jesus was like. She never complained but simply did all that she was to do with a sense of peace. How she did that I will never know. I can only chalk it up to the peace that passeth all understanding which only Jesus provides. I honor these two ladies today!
Paul refers to the Christians of his day in his writings as saints. In Corinthians he refers to the sins of the believers, but he still calls them saints. This is the message in my devotional this morning. (And I love it). It identifies us as God sees us through the work of Jesus Christ on the Cross, not as we often see ourselves. Paul wants us to believe how God sees us, while Satan wants us to see ourselves as he sees us. Well, I’m going to follow what Paul’s suggests and see myself the way God asks us to. I encourage you to do the same! We are SAINTS! Thank You Jesus!
Jesus is the Solid Rock upon which I want to daily live my life. I loved the message in my 90 day devotional which stated that when we are fed a lie in our thoughts, we can question and dispute it, embrace it, or we can put it up against the Truth of God’s Word. Lies cannot stand against Truth–just as Satan has to flee in the presence of God’s Spirit, so do his lies and the lies of our flesh.
The reason I love this message so much is that I have struggled most of my life believing lies I thought were truths about God and me. Today, I know and believe what God’s Word tells me. I have to confess that there are times when I must remind myself to believe them, but as soon as I do I have a quiver full of arrows I can shoot at the enemy.
Last night I had a young man text me who was struggling to believe what we have been working on in our counseling sessions. My return message was to take the 3-R’s and put them to work: Recognize the lie, Reject it and Replace the lie with the TRUTH of God’s Word. (How often we all need to have this reminder). In a short while the reply came: THANKS!
Yesterday was a remarkable day. I had been invited to my old school to attend a retirement luncheon for one of the teachers I’d hired 26 years ago. She wasn’t new to teaching when I hired her but new to our area. She had all of the academic background I was looking for and seemed to have the “spirit of teaching” within her. Twenty-six years later this spirit of teaching has been SO evident. It was a tremendous tribute. When I retired 16 years ago from the district I had prayed the Spirit of God would remain. Looking back I somehow thought this would be at risk. All these years later one could immediately know that God’s Spirit was rich in presence. This was never about me, but always about God. These things I “know” but struggle to always “believe” are evident and God is faithful to continuously teach that HE is ALWAYS present. All we need to do is reach out. Hiring people who know to reach out to God keeps His Presence alive.
Secondly, last night I sat down with a young man who came to Celebrate Recovery for the first time. It is always amazing to hear one’s tender, broken story with the hope that the story can change to one of Glory with God’s help. God has been working on him and he’s ready to do his part. What an honor it is to get to be a part of God’s Work in this ministry. GOD IS SO AMAZING!
I have talked infrequently about someday completing my lifetime story I started with my autobiography being published in 2015. The book ends with the section called “Finding Freedom”. In order to complete this autobiography I’d need to write what I’d call “Living in Freedom”. This last section would start in 2020 when I went to my prayer warrior Lois. She had given me the book, I Give You Authority. The author talks about what I call the 3-R’s. (I’ve written about these several times in the past few years). They are, Recognize, Reject and Replace. We need to recognize our struggle, reject it and replace it. In my case I was struggling to believe I could ever be a new creation. I wanted to believe what scripture says is true for me, but I had to many lies going through my head. I recognized them and rejected them, but I couldn’t find anything to replace them with.
When I shared all of this with Lois, she prayed over me with her hands on my shoulders asking God to help me find, self-love, self-appreciation, and self-confidence. These became my 3-S’s to follow the 3-R’s. The voices would scream in my head that to love self and appreciate self were arrogant and selfish just as my father had pushed me away telling me to go off and do my thing. I didn’t care about my family. I just wanted to live for me and do my thing. This was never true, but the hurt of the message had never left me.
As I began to pray for the 3’S’s to be real for me–they began to become real. Amazingly, this truth of believing (more than just knowing) we are fearfully and wonderfully made (as stated in Psalms 139:14), is real. It doesn’t make me arrogant, but instead, it has made me grateful. I can more than know this truth, I can believe it for me. Living in Freedom has so much gratitude in it and a genuine absence of self-doubt and ridicule. How grateful I am for God’s faithfulness to each one of us!
Today I get to go fishing with my brothers for a second time. Wow! I haven’t gone fishing two weeks in a row since I was a much younger man. It is a real treat.
Yesterday I had an opportunity to see a lady in her 80’s have God’s brilliant Light shine into an area of darkness she has carried for more than half of her lifetime. She had come for counsel to address the period of darkness she was trying to keep to herself but it was overwhelming her just as sin always does when it’s kept in secret. I am always amazed to see how God’s Light anoints one’s countenance. This older lady was simply beaming!
Our God is so Amazing and what an honor it is to get to live life where He takes our messes and turns them into His Messages. Is He Worthy of our honor and praise? HE IS!
I was asked by a leader in our Celebrate Recovery ministry, “What do you do when someone keeps relapsing even though they are daily committing to sobriety to God and to their accountability partner?” Because of my own interest in this, I emailed the author of the book Freedom Starts Today and asked him the question. To my surprise I got a response within a couple of hours–(good leader). He gave several reasons this may happen which we could all expect. His last one was the one that truly hit home. He said, “Most often, I find, it’s a spiritual apathy and love for the sin. We cannot serve two masters.”
As I look at this statement I see in my mind the picture of Jesus Christ taking my sins to the Cross. Right beside this picture of Christ I see myself handing Him another sin that I chose (you can put any sin in this picture). With this I tell Him that I chose this one over Him just for the moment. I hope He doesn’t mind, I just had a moment of selfishness. This ugly reality is the attempt to serve two masters. It is spiritual apathy. I never want to do this, yet at some moment, we all do.
What I love more than anything is the reality that I can commit just for today that I will serve only God and He will help me do so. Tomorrow I can do this again and will do it again. However, my focus remains on God being with me just for today. That’s why He called Himself–“I AM”.
Yesterday was our monthly Celebrate Recovery leadership meeting. I was to bring the devotion and the training. I had decided to introduce the book I’ve mentioned a few times–Freedom Starts Today. I was amazed afterwards for every person wanted to have one so they could go through the 90 days addressing something they face in their own life. I had been hesitant to bring this book to the group since it is not part of the work of CR. Yet, I had felt God’s nudging so I did it. I know that no ministry in and of itself is complete. Ministries thrive when we can use them to complement one another and that is exactly what God was wanting.
I greatly appreciated the message for today in this book. It is addressing the fact that we often ask God’s forgiveness for a sinful step we have taken knowing it was taken out of our selfishness. Examples would be: taking the drink I know I can’t drink, looking at a website that I just can’t enter, eating just a bite of this, reacting to a gossip just because I had something to say, and the list goes on and on. I deeply appreciate that this book identifies so many “selfish things” we do and calls them out. If our freedom from sinful behavior is to take root, we have to go to the root of the behavior and that usually is “a selfish desire to indulge just one more time” but, only for a moment.
All of this certainly emphasizes the patience and love of God for His children. How grateful I am for His patient endurance as each one of us learns how to battle our own flesh by surrendering it and turning away from it.