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.
Today begins the first of 3 days for the Celebrate Recovery Summit. We will be attending it virtually again this year as in last year. They have it live for those who are attending in person. The beauty of virtual is that we have 18 attending where in person the costs make it too expensive for more than 3-4. I’m eager to learn what this summit will bring.
Today’s devotional message is all about HOPE. Recently I was talking to our prayer warrior about the absence of hope in the men attending the Mending the Soul class. I had told her they needed hope in order to even have the “faith of a mustard seed”. I even said that to me, faith is the spiritual substance of hope. Of course, this was just my own interpretation. Today, however, in Zephaniah 9:12 it says, “Return to the stronghold you prisoners of hope; even today do I declare that I will restore double your former prosperity to you.” Joyce Meyers writes that a prisoner of hope is someone who refuses to stop hoping in God.
I’ve always thought hope was a nice thing to have, but faith was far more important. Well, I’m readjusting today. Hope is far more substantial than I ever gave it credit. I’m going to picture for now a garden of hope where I plant a seed of faith and start with this. I’m going to hope for a mighty harvest!
This is getting written much later in the morning than usual. The last leg of my flight home yesterday was delayed over 3 hours making my arrival home 12:30 am rather than 9:30 pm. When I crawled into bed it was approaching 2:00 am. Far more than half of the night’s sleep was already gone! All of that doesn’t matter however when I put it up against the worthwhileness of the trip. The meeting yesterday was inspiring to say the least. This new superintendent is truly a believer with passion I don’t often see in our profession. Along with this, he is not afraid to stand up to any issue needing addressed in a supportive yet firm way. Then, on the ride back to Spokane he had his wife accompany us so she could “keep him awake on his 3 hour drive home.” She is equally as committed a Christian as he. It was a delight all the way around.
This morning as I was journaling to Jesus I was thanking Him for keeping me focused on Him and trust His leading. Instead of dreading another district to work with, I look forward to the opportunity. In my reading of Zephaniah this morning the in chapter 6, vs 15 it says in part, “…And this shall come to pass if you will obey the voice of the Lord your God.” God is sure driving home the message of obedience to His Leadership. Learning to obey and know my boundaries within the obedience is my latest next step.
Today I’m in Montana to begin the consulting work with a new school district here. The superintendent picked me up from the airport yesterday afternoon and we drove the 3 hours to the town talking intensely regarding what the work would look like for this coming school year. The more we talked the more I could easily see this connection working. He is a strong believer and was raised in a strong Christian home and continues this with his own home. He is only a year old in his superintendent role so he is very open to learning which is a huge plus on his part. As I awoke during the night I thanked God for the opportunity to work with this place and with this man.
As I was reading in Zachariah this morning earlier I find such relevant instruction. He himself is learning that his role is to complete what God inspires within him to do. He is not to do what God Himself is to do. Learning to separate my own role from God’s is a lesson unto itself. I am a doer by nature but learning my boundaries in what my job is has been a continual lesson. Providing insights is much of what my consulting work does. However, creating the desire to complete the work with the ones I consult with is God’s work. I don’t need to think I’m here to change people. God is the Change Agent through His Holy Spirit. I give this to Him. God is never done shaping us into a greater image of Himself.