As you know, the past few days have been in the schoolhouse planted right in the center of the path my journey is taking me. Two days ago I’d never expected the simple, yet profound learning from these couple days that have come about. After writing the blog and posting it yesterday I was talking this through with Kathy. I then needed to make a couple phone calls before I started on the work I was doing in the morning related to the Boise State assignment.
One of the phone calls was to a person I suddenly realized was the one God was wanting me to talk to all along about my Spirit-filled living questions. After I’d asked her about the original reason for calling I asked if she had time for a second question and she said that was a good time. I went on to ask her about living in the Spirit each day. I knew she’d been attempting this for many years and wondered what she could tell me about it. She surprised me by saying she thought I already did this. I told her my hangups about it: spirit lives in heart which is the home of emotions, dad’s statements of killing my spirit when I was growing up, dad’s teasing and tormenting about my own emotions like crying when Lassie did something wonderful in weekly TV program back when I was a boy, etc. I also told her I always saw emotions as a weakness and my own tears as such. After telling her all of this she said what was simple, yet profound. It was, “Oh, so the voices of the past are still haunting you with their messages.” She went on to say how much she hates Satan and the awful deceiver he is. She told me that when I talk and tears come she is confirmed within her own Spirit living in her that what I am saying is authentic from the Spirit within me. Spirit speaks to Spirit in this way. She said she has known many times when man’s spirit was speaking and it never was confirmed by the Holy Spirit within her. You know this through the tender response within your own Spirit. I then said I had always thought this tenderness was part of my weakness ridiculed by dad. She reinforced the fact that this is part of Satan’s lies and deception and my dad’s confusion at the time. So, you know what was amazing when this conversation was taking place? I began to shed tears on the phone feeling the confirmation of truth by God’s Holy Spirit within me. The Holy Spirit living within my friend was confirming to the same Holy Spirit in me. I finally saw the truth and strength in this rather than the weakness in this.
So, it seems odd to say this, but today I feel like I can go back on the trail again. The lesson of the schoolhouse is learned for now. I sure hope this lesson will mean something to a reader and if so you’d let me know. Our God is a tender, intimate, loving God who is also Almighty. Isn’t this AMAZING!
Yesterday had me sitting in the schoolhouse receiving my lesson on spirit-controlled living. In reality of the day it was more about spirit-controlled hearing a lesson for the first time fully awake to the fact that I have The Holy Spirit within me waiting to take the controls if I will just let Him. The conceptual side of spirit-filled living sounds so wonderful. I have always wanted this. Now that I’m fully awake to the need for this in my life I find myself wanting to dig my heals in just a little. My human side is at risk somehow, it seems. As I’ve actually lived through yesterday I found myself tormented at times with my selfishness. I have been bringing this to God this morning for His clarity. The first thing I read was I John 2:1 stating: My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. My devotional went on to say that “The Father understands that you are not going to be a perfect Christian. You will falter and fail, but He will not forsake or abandon you. His grace is sufficient for you–each and every day!”
It is at this time in my life I wish I could talk with my Grandma Wreting, Elijah or someone else who lived by the Spirit’s indwelling and seemed so obedient to this lifestyle. I wonder if they had this same struggle? If so, how did they deal with it and learn to surrender that willful tendency of our human nature when it is in conflict with what one knows is The Spirit’s leading? What I do know is that there is no other way I want to live. I never again want to willfully live my life. The new creation Christ gave me is for Spirit-filled living. I want to be on track with this new lifestyle. I know I’m not so young anymore–I turn 66 in just a couple weeks. However, I feel like a child in this new and improved way of living. I don’t want old age stubbornness clicking in now. I want someday to hear, “Well done good and faithful servant.” I’m staying on this track one day at a time and hopefully learn well the steps to Spirit-filled obedience.
The journey of yesterday had me sitting in “a schoolhouse” which was planted in the middle of the path my journey has me taking. In that schoolhouse is the Spirit of God–The Holy Spirit. I know this sounds ridiculous but stay with me for a moment. There are some key elements to living in the Spirit of God that need to be learned and grounded by actual living each day if we truly intend to be living by faith as Christ directs us to live. I am no authority in this and sure don’t want to sound this way. However, this blog is intended to let readers in on what God is working me through as I learn to live each moment of each day in His Presence and completing whatever He wants me to do in each day.
If you have read I Kings you know that Elijah is an epitome of man living by faith and obedience to God’s Spirit within man. As I read more of this book within the Bible I begin to see that Elijah’s living of each day isn’t so much different than ours. Yes, the time in history is entirely different, but I’m talking about the drama of daily living and struggling to know just what to do this day that is in congruence with God’s intent for me. So, Elijah confronts King Ahab telling him to gather the priests of Baal (450 all total) and prepare a sacrifice. They do this and at the same time Elijah is preparing a sacrifice to the One True God. A half a day is spent trying to get the gods of Baal to burn and take their sacrifice but nothing happens except man’s actions. Elijah then prays intently to God and God burns up and removes all of the sacrifice to Him right there in front of all the people. There is more to this, but for Elijah his obedience to God caused him to flee the threats of King Ahab’s wife Jezebel. She said Elijah would be dead by tomorrow because he had slain the 450 priests of Baal for leading the people of Israel into worshiping a man’s god. After Jezebel’s threat Elijah flees. Of course, God takes care of him by sending an angel who feeds him and the story goes on. It is all found in I Kings 18 & 19.
So, what is all of this saying for me today? Actually, for today the lesson is simple. I have always worked for man and done so to please God and connect as best I could to God’s Spirit I thought I could sense now and then. Well, today it has become abundantly clear God no longer wants me working for man but for Him. Just as God’s Spirit led and cared for Elijah He will do the same for me (us) if we follow Him. Instead of working for man, I want to work for God and do this with man. Seems like a simple shift in the words of a sentence but it is actually life-changing for me. I’ve got to stay with this for a while so I feel somewhat grounded but this is the message of today. I’ll stay in touch.
It is as though my journey has me paused at a spiritual schoolhouse. It is right in the middle of my path and the door into it is fully open. Last night as our step study for Celebrate Recovery started, my co-leader had us open to Proverbs 1:7 which reads, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. At some point in my past scripture reading I’d put the statement by the word fear–“hold God in reverence” as the definition of fear. Our group talked for a moment about how fools despise God’s wisdom. I noticed I’d also marked in chapter 2 of Proverbs its description of moral benefits of wisdom. It says in vs 10 that “wisdom will enter your heart and knowledge will enter your soul.” It says also in vs’s 1&2 My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding….” All of a sudden the connections between wisdom and heart were popping out. God’s Holy Spirit gives wisdom but it comes through my heart because that’s the home of His Spirit within me. Man places wisdom as a mind item and I was one who did this with much intent. God is awakening in me my personal need to grow more fully in the spiritual realm not my mindful one.
When I was growing up (I mention this in my book) my dad would say he needed to kill that spirit within me. He did a good job damaging it and so I spent my time growing my mind thinking that was the right thing–he couldn’t get to that part of me. The character defect that grew out of this behavior pattern was my lack of attention to growing my spiritual living in my heart rather than my mindful living. I had this awful thinking that my heart was only my home for all emotions. I had narrowed my belief about spirit and heart to only being emotions. My dad was full of raging emotions and no way did I want any of that for me. Maybe all of us struggle with this to some degree. Right now it is like I’m moving into a foreign land as I desire to learn about my heart and spirit living and I don’t know the language or where I’m to reside while I’m here. However, I know God is wanting me to stay put and let His Holy Spirit grow me in “spirit and truth”.
If I have neighbors here, I’d sure like to meet you and talk through your journey into this land of spiritual heart living. It’s now I wish my grandma Wreting were alive. She was truly one who lived each day in God’s Spirit.
Today’s journey hasn’t budged an inch from where it left off yesterday. God has given me His Holy Spirit as my gift for accepting His Son Jesus as my personal Savior and Lord. However, Jesus will never be Lord of my life if I do not listen and obey the voice of The Holy Spirit within me. This was so clear this morning as I was reading the scripture part of my devotional time. It was stating that the kingdom of Israel was divided upon the end of Solomon’s reign due to his lack of listening and obeying God’s voice/message. Jeroboam became king of the northern kingdom. He wasn’t following God’s leadership either so God sent a messenger to him from Judah. Jeroboam wanted the messenger to stay for a meal and he said he couldn’t. God had specifically instructed him to not eat or drink from this kingdom. However, a different prophet came to him and told him he had heard from an angel of god that he should eat with him and so he did. The original prophet who came to Jeroboam was then killed by a lion on his journey back home because of his disobedience to the message God had personally given him. This was my wake up. How many times have I had a message/focus from God and had it diminished or ruined because I listened to a lesser god? The lesser god for me is often money. God will nudge me and I will listen and rationalize what I think is comfortable. God says to sacrifice joyfully to Him. I give comfortably and will never know the blessings of genuine sacrificial giving when I disobey God’s original message.
This is only one example of my needing to learn not only how to hear God’s voice, but to then step into complete obedience of following the message to completion. This sometimes takes Kathy and I doing it together–when it’s the message like the one above. Regardless, God’s messages complete His Kingdom work. I sure don’t want to stand in the way of my own personal involvement in this. It makes me think of something that happened to my dad years ago. He was grumbling to our pastor at the time about a focus the church had. The pastor told him, “Harold, the work of the church being done is God’s kingdom work. You can join it or you can turn your back on it. God will see that it gets done whether you take part or not. If you choose to not, you will be the one missing out on the blessings of obedience. That is your choice.” I remember my dad telling me this. His response to the message was to quit grumbling and start obeying. Today’s message for me is obedience to The Holy Spirit’s voice within me.
There is something about 5:00 am and the body waking up. Yesterday it was 4:55 and today it was 4:57. The only reason I don’t want to get up is because I set the coffee pot to be done by 6:00. I don’t like to wait for my coffee. Not sure who will win this battle–my body’s time clock or my stubborn will.
Yesterday I wrote about becoming more sensitive to the spirit within me/us. I was very serious about it too–still am. This morning when I was having my devotions I reread my journal entry from yesterday and it was as though I’d written it, written this blog and then walked into the day as though I were only human. Not once in many of the events of the day did I recall this commitment. I’ve prayed this morning for the Holy Spirit to somehow awaken me during the day to what His nudges are like. If anyone reading this has some thoughts in this arena, I’d sure love to hear/read them.
One thing really stood out to me this morning as I did my scripture reading in I Kings. In it King Solomon is dedicating the temple just finished. There are thousands of cattle and sheep sacrificed during these two weeks of dedication and celebration. My human mind quickly thought this was a waste of animals for God certainly wouldn’t want all this meat going to waste, there are so many people to feed. Right at that point God nudged me and said this was a good example of spiritual trust vs human judgment. In my human mind I thought that was a waste while God thought it was a beautiful sacrifice. The sacrificial giving was just that–a sacrifice. I really want to learn more about spiritual living and be able to put it into my everyday practice. I’d like to believe I’m much more committed to God’s ways than I am. For most of my life I’ve been in too much denial here. I want to step into God’s way of living out each of my days.
PS More raspberries to pick this am!
OK, the journey has a little gardening moments in it–I picked 1.5 gallons of raspberries yesterday morning. The season is upon us! That is good news by the way. I do enjoy harvesting what is planted each year. Now onto spiritual matters….
I have been wanting for years to be more awake to the spiritual world around me. I’ve known that for this to be true I needed to be more awake to the fact I am a spiritual being housed momentarily in a human body. The perplexing thing for me has been more about the day to day part of living–how is it connected to our spiritual self or is it, etc. I know that God has been little by little introducing me to more of this spiritual side in the past many weeks and months. I’ve found that I do like to take charge of me and what I do, rather than being totally submitted to God. I also have found that I don’t “take charge of my decisions” with the intent of abandoning God’s leadership, I simply find taking charge easy and I do it automatically. Afterwards I come to God for His blessings upon what I’ve taken. This practice is what God is wanting me to address. A perfect example of this for me is a project I accepted to work with from Boise State University. I was contacted by a couple people I highly respect and asked to support a project they are building from a 4-year federal grant. I accepted quickly as I typically love this type of thing. However, now that I’m into the work of it I see why I should have asked if God’s blessings were on it ahead of saying yes. It will consume the rest of this month with the work it will require. It is not a bad thing, but it is not what I know God wanted me doing with “our time”. As I was praying about it this morning I got His message very clearly. “Check with Us before saying yes to what you enjoy. The feelings you have are not always in congruence with our focus for you with us.”
Spiritual Listening is a new thing for me. I really do want to be sensitive to The Holy Spirit in my life. All of my life until the most recent time has been lived thinking I’m not worthy to house the Holy Spirit. I knew somehow He lived within me but my time was mostly spent pushing away the thoughts of this because I would be overcome with the shame of what I thought I was. Now that Christ has more fully awakened me to the new creation I am, the reality of The Holy Spirit’s presence is a natural outcome. I have much to learn in all of this. “Lord help me be a good learner, listener, and responder to You and The Holy Spirit in this day.
Yesterday’s journey did go well. Thank you for lifting a prayer for the couple we met with. It was a God meeting and He was glorified in it. I am most grateful for His leadership, wisdom and timeliness.
Two things really stood out to me this morning as I was having my devotions. Neither are new items, but the reminders are truly timely. The one reminder is to live in the new creation Jesus gave us when we accepted Him as Lord and Savior. In my one devotional, “Every Day in His Presence”, it says, “If you still see yourself as a sinful individual, then you’ll likely act like one. But if you accept your identity as a completely new person in Christ, then you can behave as His blameless, beloved child.” Maybe in this human flesh I will always have moments of struggle with seeing myself as the abused, sinful man I was–thinking I am still him. I love these reminders however of who Christ made me to be.
Secondly, my scripture reading this morning was the concluding chapters of II Samuel. In it King David had his army leaders go throughout the country taking a census of the people. As it turned out there were 1,300,000 able army men between Israel and Judah. When this information was given to David he was stricken with guilt because he realized he had replaced his trust in God with statistics/hard data. This hit me right between the eyes. I like to believe I am a man of trust. However, when push comes to shove, I will always have my data with me. This was a good reminder that when my trust is only built around what I “know for sure” I’ve just replaced trust no different than when David did this. Somehow, a new creation in Christ should find trust as a natural thing to do. I’ve got to keep this right in the forefront of my thinking as I move forward on this journey.
OK, it is raspberry picking time! I’m going out to pick the first picking of the season! Yeah!
Today the journey takes me, along with Kathy, into some troubled territory. A married couple we know is having some severe issues. We have been asked by them to meet and counsel. This happens in just a couple hours. As I have been praying this morning for them and having my devotional time and reading, I have noted the Holy Spirit’s focus. Doing something like this, meeting with someone, isn’t new to me or to Kathy and me. However, there has always been an element of trying to find self-worth in how well it would go. The Holy Spirit this morning has shown me that He wants to be the only one leading this meeting today and His outcome to be the only outcome. I want that to and I feel as though this is my first attempt at meeting with someone fully awake and committed only to the Holy Spirit’s leadership. Please join our meeting in prayer for The Holy Spirit’s will to be done.
It is amazing to me how much “struggle” is connected with my and our spiritual growth. I have always likened spiritual learning to my educational learning and teaching. Educational learning was somewhat easy for me so I’ve always wanted spiritual learning to be the same. However, as I step back and look at these two arenas I now easily see they are far more alike than different. My spiritual learning has always been clouded with my past and that self-worth piece. Thus, struggle was always present. My educational learning has always been used to hide my past. The struggle there has been connected to the hiding, but it has nonetheless been a tremendous struggle. Struggle always connects to our emotional side. When the struggle becomes severe we starting feeling things like we aren’t smart enough or good enough. God is really wanting me to learn that struggle is a direct connection to learning in any arena and that struggle isn’t always connected to past abuse. However, if it is connected to a past problem, I need to deal with that rather than hide it. A light never clicks on with learning something new if there weren’t some type of struggle (darkness) attached to it. How else would we see light if there weren’t darkness? I am beginning to see this more clearly now. I hope my learning will help you with your own if you have had similar struggles.
There is something adventurous about being on a journey. I remember back about 32 years when Kathy and I were backpacking in the Sawtooth Mountains using a backpacker’s terrain map. She can read maps well. Our trail had disappeared to us in real life but on the map we were to climb this steep terrain following a creek that didn’t exist on the actual earth where we stood. We trusted the map and kept going thinking the creek was underground at this point. It truly was steep and when I finally reached the crest of the climb I saw the most stunning, beautiful site. There before me was a magnificent lake just beyond the crest. I helped Kathy get to the point I had reached and we both celebrated reaching what we weren’t really sure existed until that point.
I’m telling this story because this climbing experience had me in sheer knots. I get lost very easily and following Kathy and the map were sheer obedience but not without much internal angst. When I told you a couple days ago that I was sharing the raw truth about the aftermath of my sexual abuse and the lingering gay thoughts I have which come and go, I had the same angst. This was a steep climb and I couldn’t see it on my journey’s map except it was an obstacle in front of me I needed to climb this time rather than try and go around as I’ve always done. I then told my step study group on Tuesday, told my share group last night in Celebrate Recovery. Amazingly, I feel free rather than filled with anxiousness. The last question of the Confess lesson in Tuesday night’s step study was about accepting God’s forgiveness for our sins. My whole life I had harbored my brother’s sins against me as though they were mine. I saw the gay thoughts I have as the manifestation of my brother’s sins in me making me the same abuser he had been at the time. However, because I was finally obedient and did confess this, what God promises has begun to be true for me personally. I can now see the truth of my brother’s sin of me. I did not commit the sins against me–my brother did. If I am tempted with thoughts, I can choose to act on them or dismiss them. Only if I were to act on them do I sin. The crazy thing is that I know all of this. I just didn’t have my personal connection in place until now regarding the deep wounds of my past. I’m so glad I finally reached this leg of my journey. God has brought me to a point of freedom I haven’t yet known.
I do hope my writing these past few days has helped any reader. Confessing our past sins or sins against us will only bring freedom if God is prompting you to do so. I would encourage you to take this risk. The beauty ahead is breath-taking just as I found 32 years ago when I reached the crest of the mountain I thought had no real trail until all of a sudden–there it was! God’s map is in His Word. If you need a translator at times, reach out. I’m so glad I have done so.