My word, it actually feels good to sit down to the computer and update readers on the current travels. Kathy and I got home last night at 11:30 from our China adventure. It was amazing to get up in Shanghai at 5:45 am Nov. 2 and arrive home 31 hours later and it is still Nov. 2! Of course, we lost most of Oct. 22 in going so this was our payback in time. I’m sure later today I will be feeling the jet-lag,but at this point, I am glad to be home and am ready to tackle the work of the day.
My mind is whirling with “what does one do with the results of a trip like this?” We brought home some “stuff” that will turn into gifts for Christmas and decorations in our home, but what glorifies God? In my journaling this morning I was asking God to show me what He wants. He was quick to remind me that He only wants obedience to His Spirit’s leading in my life. We did learn in a stark way what Christianity looks like in China. It is in the top four religions of the country but only 4% of the population is Christian. That is a population of 1.5 billion. I was told that most of the Chinese people don’t claim a religion. This is what Communism has done. One of the guides told us that when students graduate from their universities they have much passion. However, when they experience life for a couple years first-hand in the working world of China, their passion is gone. They have no voice in their life whatsoever. That voice is killed by the ruling government. We were told that imagination is not a word for them. There is no hope or dreams that they have for themselves. God is telling me they need to know He is their HOPE and their DREAMS but this message wasn’t too much a part of this trip. My first morning in Beijing I was in the hotel lobby reading my Bible waiting for our group and our tour guide. A young lady was sitting a couple chairs from me. She scooted close and asked if I were a christian? I told her I am and she said she is too. She is a university student she said. She told me the Christians meet in home churches mostly. Her English was limited so we couldn’t get too far into this topic. I was excited to meet someone my first day but this was the only day this happened. I later learned that I had met one of the 4% in the country’s population.
There is so much I could talk about in this writing and I will in the days to follow. For now my day’s journey takes me back into the nuts and bolts of daily living right here at home. I’m going to a school dist. this morning where I will be doing some part-time work for the next couple months. I’ve got some connections to make with some of the Celebrate Recovery folks and Aslan Christian Academy has a major meeting tomorrow with a potential location. These things are real and I will reconnect with them through the coming days.
Somehow I’d like to know how Kathy and I can take a trip like this and use the time more intentionally for God’s Kingdom work as well as fulfilling lifelong dreams for both of us in seeing this magnificent world our God has created. I wait to see how these two dreams can come together with greater purpose. Right now, I’m glad to be home and getting grounded again right here.
Today’s journey begins with a new journal. Yesterday I had finished the last page of the one I had been using. Today’s journaling time began with my rereading the first entries of the previous one so I can see what God is doing/has done in the past 3.5 months. There were two big awakenings for me. The first one was the amount of fear and anxiety I wrote about in the first month. I had begun that journal last early July. The 2nd one was when I had actually begun to journal to Father God rather than to Jesus at the start of each day’s entry. I had it in my head it was 6-7 weeks ago and instead it was on July 31 which is over 10 weeks ago. I read through many of those entries and realized once again why God my Father wanted me to journal to Him from this point forward. I came across the entry where He told me He had sent His Son Jesus to bring me to Him and not to replace Him. This was a huge statement for me to hear. It was also in the last few weeks that God has inspired me to accept the challenge of living the life of a new creation–His promise to each of us when He gave us Jesus Christ and His Gift–The Holy Spirit. Now that I’ve accepted this challenge of living in the truth of being a new creation, I am finding my anxiety being replaced with an assurance. Life still has its daily issues but they don’t frighten me the way they did. Somehow God is letting me see them through the lens of being His child and that I can trust Him to lead me through whatever it is. How grateful I am!
Today is a big day too for another reason. Kathy and I leave later this afternoon for a 12 day trip to China. Our leg today is only to fly to Portland, OR. From there early tomorrow morning we fly to San Jose where we catch a direct flight on to Beijing. There is a 14 hour time change. I doubt that I will be making too many entries until we return on Nov. 2. So, if you see some empty days, this will be the reason why. Just know the journey will be continuing, I just won’t record it here until we return.
I am so excited knowing I get to see and be on the Great Wall of China. This is one of the historic wonders of the world and I’ve wanted to experience it every since I first heard of it. We will also see the Hidden City, Tiananmen Square, Emperor’s palace, Temple of Heaven, Three Gorges Dam (largest in the world) on the Yangtze River where we take a 3 day cruise. We ride on the fast train. We end by taking a flight to Shanghai for the last 2 days. There are some friends going also which make all of this more rewarding. I have no idea what God moments to expect but I will have my eyes open for them. God’s blessings to you until we return.
This morning I was prompted to take some time to reflect on my belief yesterday that I am loved. I had had a couple conversations during the day regarding this fact, but the emotional response had turned into head knowledge and a conversation topic. I instantly knew why God wanted me to process this. Love is so much more than knowledge. Love without emotion is simply an assignment. I’m pretty good at completing assignments and the emotional response is that now I’m ready to go to the next assignment once the first one is done. God is wanting me to feel the emotion of being loved. I realized as I was reflecting this morning that the application of the Serenity Prayer fits here. “One day at a time, one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace.” It is sometimes difficult to “feel” love or to “receive” love. This has always brought a great deal of confusion to my mind as well as a deep sense of unworthiness. I KNOW this isn’t true any longer, but I am just now realizing I have to live this life for a while before I can find the pathway to peace in accepting love.
My Bible reading, now that I’m finished with the Old Testament, has me reading the New Testament in the Amplified version. This morning’s reading was in Matthew where Christ was telling his disciples to go to the home of the Jews and spread the Good News and heal those who come to them. He said for them to take nothing so they could receive from those they were serving. This was a powerful message to me. My assignments have always been to “do good” but the idea of receiving good hasn’t been easy. Now God is wanting me to hear just what His Son Jesus Christ was telling us so long ago and keep it real for today. I do want to find this reality so I can give and receive as Christ has shown us.
I hope this level of sharing is ok with those of you reading it. I am realizing more and more how many of us deal with similar issues. Love is a gift from God–receive it well so it can be passed along equally as well. God bless you as He is me.
The journey today has already begun. It actually started last night at the Conquer class I am in Tuesday evenings. The DVD speaker said for each of us to identify the 4 prophetic promises God has given to us during our life. We were to go back in life reflecting on the times when we knew God had spoken to us and write down the message He was giving at that time. These promises were to then be used to combat Satan’s attacks on us during the day. When I heard this command my spirit knew it was a critical one to do but it didn’t resonate within me with meaning. When we were done with our small group discussion following the large group time watching the DVD I asked the others to tell me what the command given to us to write down the 4 prophetic promises meant. I found that they were as stymied as I was. We did agree that we were to spend time reflecting on God’s message to us from specific points in our past. That became my assignment for this morning while having my devotions.
As I got to my journaling time, I asked God to help me know these 4 times and what His message was to me. I immediately wanted to write down a time when I was about 10 but God quickly reminded me that the moment I was referencing was about His Holy Spirit, not Him. The only other time I could come up with was a time my sophomore year in college when I came across a song that has run through my mind ever since. I don’t know the name of it but the words are: I met God today in the whispering trees, His voice speaking tenderly telling me of His wonderful love, whispering these words to me: I love you, I love you. I want you to know I’m with you I’m with you wherever you go. These are the words that I heard God say beneath the trees, beside the stream today. I can’t begin to tell you the countless times I’ve had this song come to mind particularly as I begin my day with devotions. Until today I’ve sung it in my mind thanking God for loving me.
This morning had a different take on the words of the song. This morning God asked me to believe the words. This morning He asked me to finally believe I am able to be loved and that I can receive love. My mind quickly began to tell him the reasons I couldn’t relating back to my childhood day. Never once in all my years did I ever feel loved or accepted. I felt appreciated a couple times by my mom when I’d do something extra nice for her, but loved??? Then God told me my prophetic promise is simply this: I AM LOVED. He reminded me of so many times (far more than 4) that He has told me this message and now is the time for believing it. He also said the 4 of last night is a man’s assignment. His assignment is for me to believe the one prophetic promise–I AM LOVED.
I know that God is getting to root of why He wanted me to begin journaling to Him 6+ weeks ago. He has been wanting me to believe that HE-my Heavenly Father-loves me. He led me down a quick path of remembrance regarding my doing. As long as I am doing, I feel fine. However, when I stop doing, I instantly start slipping into this unbelief. Now is the time to believe that in being–simply being me–I AM LOVED.
The journey today has begun with some similar interruptions to yesterday. I took my granddaughter to her home to drop off her dog and clothes and then on to her school. Her mom is home so that is good. Other disruptions came along keeping me from coming home until now so I could sit down and write today’s blog.
I had said yesterday that my spirit was troubled and I couldn’t put a finger on the why. It proved to be accurate but there was no way I could know this until I got into the day’s events. I went to the school district where I will be doing some part-time work in November and December. One of the job assignments is overseeing students at risk in the district. The morning started with me attending a meeting regarding of of these students. One of the first things said is that this young man had a long history of sexual abuse from his father and step father. He has now lived in a series of foster homes. He has 4 siblings all of which are with relatives. However, he was seen to be too troubled (abused) by relatives to take him. In hearing all of this I, for the first time, heard the details through the ears of one who has been abused in his past. I felt the pain of this young man but I didn’t shut down internally as I have always done in times past and felt that compelling need to flee. I was able to talk with the team reasonably during the meeting and stay emotionally connected inside. I I knew God was bringing about real healing as I experienced this.
So, my question has become–How does our spirit know this is going to take place? Just as soon as the meeting started and I heard this young man’s background I then knew why my spirit was troubled. There is something very tangible in this spirit world that our human side is totally oblivious to. I would sure like to know more about this but will have to learn this over time. Today is a new day and all is well.
This day has begun with some interruptions that don’t usually fit into a “retired man’s” schedule. I’m headed to a school district where I will be doing some part-time work for a couple months beginning the first of November and my granddaughter needs to get to school. She has spent the weekend with us. Thus, I’m up with a schedule and little time to get this written.
My spirit is not at peace today and I can’t put a finger on it. These interruptions are not so uncommon that they would disturb me. Yet, for some reason I am feeling very guarded. I’ve already given it to God and will simply be on the lookout for what may be contributing to it. In times past I would simply steel myself from a day like this and work through the day disallowing any feelings to interfere. Today, now that I’m living in a new creation, I want to give credible attention to the feeling in case they have relevant meaning. All of this sounds so odd as I write it. I’ll simply have to live the day and see what develops.
God is good all the time and all the time God is good. I’ve always like this saying and I’ll live it today.
There is something continuously amazing about serving God our Father. One day we have no means of moving forward and then in just a few hours there are decisions to make about which way do we go to move forward? Yesterday’s session with our Aslan board brought about three different possibilities for us. Each one of them has potential and has a green light in front of it. Now we as a board can take the time and reflect with God upon which direction He is taking us. I’m very grateful to be at this juncture. All the board was in complete agreement that we need to move forward with the property. Now it is–which one?
There is something I am learning about being a new creation and living as such. Living as a new creation depends solely on the strength of the Lord. My word, I’ve sung songs about this all my life and have read hundreds of scriptures about this but it has never clicked into place until now. My measuring stick for living as a new creation had always been to make sure my past was hidden and that I didn’t act out from the torment of hiding my past. This new creation was what I was going to go to the grave living. However, there is so much bondage in it. That bondage is what God was wanting to free me from. Now that I’m living on the other side of it, there is some insecurity and yet tremendous security.
I’ve never lived totally dependent on God’s leading in my life until now. I hate to say this, but I did lean on my own understanding contrary to what Proverbs 3:5 says. I was scared to death to risk living with my past fully exposed and for me to be the person I was on the inside living as such to the world around me. The scripture reads we are to: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” The insecurity I feel is more about the fact that I have never lived with such surrender until now. It’s like when I start a new job and I know I am where I need to be but I don’t even know where to park the car when I arrive. I trust there will be a place to park, but I haven’t driven here before. This insecurity is real, but it is minimal and would never keep me from taking the job. Well, the same is now true for living the life of a new creation. I know where to park, but the job is so new, I don’t know the ones well I’m working with. I realize now that this someone is God my Father. I am learning how amazing He is and I do trust Him. I know He knows me and that He has invited me to live this life fully with Him in complete surrender and confidence. He’s given me His Son as my model and He has given me His Holy Spirit to guide each and every step. Maybe this is like learning to walk all over again. This time however, I’m walking with Jesus and His Holy Team. Amen and Amen.
Today our board members for Aslan Christian Academy meet. We will actually go look at the property two of us visited last Wednesday. For some reason we have not been able to light on a property up to this point. I know that God’s timing is perfect and right. I would love to see the work of Aslan move forward so I’d appreciate prayers this morning that we will know beyond a shadow of a doubt what God’s Spirit is telling us. God’s Spirit only has His message. I pray we know this One Message today.
One of the men I’ve been meeting with one on one text me last night saying he was going to his son’s concert. His son recently announced to family and friends that he is gay and living in a relationship. This father is struggling to know how to respond to this but he wants to show support for his son. Supporting his son is different from supporting his son’s sin. We all struggle with this no matter what the sin is. We want to support the sinner but not support the sinner’s sin. Man looks at all of this and says we can’t separate the two. As a believer in Jesus Christ the Son of the Living God, I know I must separate these two. I’ve certainly learned this with my involvement in Celebrate Recovery and simply living life for 66 years. I know that God does this all the time and throughout the world with all of His people. His Holy Spirit is constantly working with us to support us while shedding light on our sinfulness. I know God wants us to support our fellow man and He will shed the light on the sinfulness of man. I ache for this father and I actually ache for his son. Our society in this arena is standing in complete opposition to the sin of homosexuality. It is attempting to teach the opposite of what God’s word says. God’s Holy Spirit is faithful in that He will keep working with this son, but Satan has society on his side in this and that makes the deception all the more enticing. How ugly sin is.
God is telling me to be bold in standing for Him. I want to do this in His Name. This new creation that I am will stand for all that God’s Word says.
As I was journaling just a few minutes ago I was asking God to show me His plan for today. Instantly He reminded me that today is His plan. I was wanting to know what He wanted me to do for Him today. He was reminding me that today is His plan. He is in all that takes place today. It doesn’t matter if I am planting tulips like yesterday afternoon, or rototilling my garden, watching my granddaughter’s volleyball game, He is in all of the day. I am to be a torchbearer in the day shining God’s light throughout it. I suddenly realized that God is our best teacher. He never quits on a lesson until we finally get it. Even then I need to have review lessons so the learning goes deeply into my habits of living daily. I am not to do for God, but to be for God. The doing is simply part of every day. I’ll probably need plenty of review lessons in this.
Yesterday was my youngest granddaughter’s birthday and Saturday is a grandson’s birthday. Their party is on Sunday. I look forward to this time. There is nothing like spending time with grandkids to see what spirit-filled living looks like. Yes, much of the spirit is the spirit of man but kids are in touch with their spirit. I like to watch this and try to visualize myself being that free in living the freedom of God’s spirit-filled life. He is teaching me and I am His new creation free to do this. (So are you!)
I continue to be amazed at the oxymorons of God’s work within us and in our surroundings. Last night’s Celebrate Recovery lesson was POWERLESS. Yesterday I quoted the scripture about how God’s strength is made know in our weakness–our powerlessness. I have truly never been able to wrap my mind around this for me until most recently. I have never been able to release my mind allowing me to see myself as weak until now. If I made this release I would be nothing but vulnerable to any man’s attack on me whether sexual, physical or mental. I had to stand my ground and be on guard. I would try to do all of this tactfully so that I wouldn’t be considered egotistical as my dad would say, but I couldn’t ever be weak again as I had been through all the years of childhood abuse from dad and brother. Now I more fully understand this scripture. When I am weak–admitting my inability to control any other person’s actions or reactions, I fully submit to the fact that God is the very ONE working with these other people and also with me. He is the one working through each of us waiting for us to allow Him full access to our lives. I can do whatever my assignment is and let God do His part. My anxiousness has dissipated and is replaced with a calm–“a peace that passeth all understanding” Philippians 4:7.
Yesterday I told you I was going with one other man to look at properties for Aslan Christian Academy. We did find a couple of very viable sites we will take to our board this Saturday morning. How I would love to see this ministry get roots. The realtor showing us one of the properties kept mentioning how she is asked often when Aslan would get going? She has no connection to Aslan except her own personal interest having heard of Aslan from a friend. God is always working even though we see through the glass darkly as said in I Corinthians 13:12. I wait with anticipation to see what God’s next step for us is.
Today would be a perfect day for me to fall prey to temptation. Kathy is gone all day and I’m working at home to get more of my yard work done before winter sets in. I love this work but it does allow ample time for Satan to work on my old thought patterns. Today, however, I am headed into the day with my team which has its human support and its spiritual support. It is an odd sensation, but I am actually looking forward to being alone but knowing I am not ever alone anymore. In my powerlessness, I am strong because of God’s assurance that in my weakness He is STRONG.