The Journey Continues: May 12, 2016

Have you ever had a roadblock enter your life so you couldn’t get on the trail for the day?  That’s what seemed to happen yesterday and continued into this morning.  I wasn’t able to get to my blog to post the journey’s work.  Actually, the roadblock allowed me to process some very important things I’ll explain.

Tuesday evening, May 10, I co-led a step study for our Celebrate Recovery.  I’ve written about this in earlier posts.  Our session on the 10th was all about addressing “our mind” and the damage done to it and why we must address this damage in order to move forward with our recovery.  Over the years of working with Celebrate Recovery I’ve learned that my mind houses my belief system about me–Earnie.  In my book I reveal a good deal about my need to overcome my lack of worthiness.  I have spent much of my life trying to find the worthiness of God’s redemptive love and forgiveness.  Coupled with Tuesday night’s lesson, was the lesson of last night’s CR weekly meeting at our church.  I was teaching the lesson and the topic was “Forgiveness”.  There are 3 areas of forgiveness we are to address in our recovery:  1) Accepting God’s forgiveness for our sins, 2) Forgiving others and accepting the forgiveness of others, 3) Forgiving ourselves.

I knew from my past counseling experiences that when I hit a roadblock I need to take it to God and seek His wisdom and clarity for the block.  In times past I would flee to “my cave” where unhealthy habits resided and I’d be tempted to resume old patterns of behavior.  I was tempted this time to do the same.  However, in teaching the lesson last night I knew I had to get to the root of this desire to flee regarding this topic.  This morning I asked God to make it clear for me and He did.  Bringing me back to Tuesday night’s lesson on “our mind” and last night’s lesson on “Forgiveness”, Christ made it very clear I needed to address Earnie forgiving Earnie for the man he thinks in his mind he is.   Earnie never was the child his father wanted him to be (at least he believed that in his mind) and Earnie was never the man he wanted himself to be resulting from all the years of same sex abuse and the confusion it left him with.  Even though Earnie had worked through this and talked about it a good deal in later years, it still haunted him because deep inside it still shamed him.  (Note that I say all this as third person but I’m talking about me).  As we talked in our share group last night after the lesson, many of the men spoke of their disappointment in themselves and how they’d forgiven themselves for these disappointments or would now forgive themselves once they were awake to it.  This morning I forgave myself for being the disappointment to me–not measuring up to the expectations of my dad and not measuring up to the “perfect child” I wanted to be for my God.  God calls me a “child of the King” and I am now going to call myself that too–not just in words but in belief.  I write this now and I just simply feel clean.  One of the verses of last night’s lesson is Isaiah 1: 18-19 which says “…no matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can take it out and make you as clean as freshly fallen snow.  Even if you are stained as red as crimson, I can make you white as wool!  If you will only let me help you.”  This morning I let Him help me and the results are so miraculous.  Thank you Jesus!

So, I couldn’t write yesterday  morning because I had to be at a school where I was working at an early hour and when I got home yesterday afternoon I had company at the house who stayed the night.  They left this morning to head home and so I’m late getting this written.  However, because of these roadblocks, I’m giving a message I’ve longed to someday be free to give.  It also follows the time God wanted me to take to find it.  Now I am free–Praise the Name of the Lord God Almighty!

The Journey Continues: May 10, 2016

Today is the birthday of a good friend.  She’s a widow and was needing some help with her yard yesterday so I told her I’d come and take care of it as her birthday present.  I had already told someone else I’d come and help with their yard yesterday and they live in the same vicinity.  I thought this would be a couple hours total.  Before I finish this I want to tell what Jesus had revealed to me in my devotions first thing yesterday morning.  When I was journaling during my devotional time He’d told me to look around during my day and see Him.  So, now this morning during my devotional time I was journaling again.  I asked Him about seeing Him yesterday.  What I had walked into in both cases of “helping” was a real mess in each case.  Instead of needing a couple hours I needed about 6 hours.  It was nothing but hard work; not what I’d call happy gardening.  As I asked Christ about seeing Him in this He instantly said to recall what the work looked like when it was done compared to when I started.  Of course, as I did this in my mind, I saw a nicely groomed yard for the one and a nicely cleaned garden for the other.  He said to me that this is exactly what He does for each of us when we come to Him with our lives.  He takes all the mess of them and makes them into something beautiful.  It sure gave me a different perspective on what I’d done and a nice reason to have a few sore muscles this morning.

When I got home from the yard work yesterday I needed to get myself cleaned up, eat a bite of supper and go to choir practice.  By the time I got home I wasn’t feeling at all like the new creation God makes of our lives.  I even text my accountability person and told him I was feeling like my old man and rather helpless.  I use to tell my oldest daughter when she was younger and feeling down to go to bed and get the needed rest.  In the morning God would restore her vigor and give her the insights needed.  This is just what God did for me this morning.  It is fun to be used by God even when we don’t know we are being used.  So join me in seeing how God will use us today.  We are a new creation.  Feelings don’t tell the truth all the time.  I’m going to choose to believe what Christ promised.

The Journey Continues: May 9, 2016

Each morning when I type the title “The Journey Continues” I reflect momentarily about what the journey is.  I bring myself to the starting point of this journey from the bondage of abuse.  As I do this I am reminded that I am a new creation and the bondage is only part of the old self.  The new self is purified by the shed blood of Jesus Christ and the gift of The Holy Spirit is placed within me.  This journey is teaching me that I have much to learn about living in the spirit and not in the flesh.  The flesh is where the bondage is.  My spirit is free.  Our society in America teaches little about our spirit.  We spend way too much time teaching to be self-reliant.  This is a trick of Satan.  We were never created to be self-reliant.  If we were we would never need God and we certainly wouldn’t have needed Christ’s gift–The Holy Spirit.  The battle of living in the spirit is a spiritual battle and not a flesh one.  If we don’t learn about our spirit and The Holy Spirit we stay crippled not knowing how the battle is won.

In the intercessory prayer class I’ve been taking on Sunday morning I learned that the warfare is largely  won through surrender, praise and obedience.  This all starts with our surrendering the battle to the One who has already defeated it–Jesus Christ.  We then praise Him for this along with praising the Holy Spirit.  We can do this out loud too.  We can bow, kneel, raise our hands to show our appreciation for the work already done.  We can sing or listen to uplifting songs if we don’t choose to sing for music is a form of worshipful praise.  It is also good to know that praise is emotional.  There are many scriptures in the Psalms declaring our need to dance, clap, shout, leap into the air with our praise to God.  Sometimes this joy is expressed in tears of thankfulness.  The obedience comes in doing this.  It is one thing to know it, it is another to actually do it.

Personally, I am not very good at most of this.  However, I am determined to live the victorious life of the new creation Christ gave me.  So I am starting this morning surrendering my doubts to Jesus and lifting my fingers to the keyboard so I can praise Him with each of you.  God bless us all as we give our Praise to our Almighty God.

The Journey Continues: May 8, 2016

Happy Mother’s Day everyone.  Many of us aren’t moms but we all have one or had one and I do celebrate the wonderful mom I had plus the example she set for me day in and day out.

As I was reading my devotional this morning:  Every Day in His Presence by Charles F. Stanley, I was challenged to ask Jesus why a couple situations of late were so troubling to me.  It said in the devotional to specifically ask Jesus why someone’s name causes you to have ill feelings whatever the “ill” may be.  When this happens it goes on to say, “do not ignore the feeling, but ask Christ what it means.”  I did this actually for three situations involving three different people.  Wouldn’t you know that I not only got a very clear response to it, but I also was given one other name where I have ill feelings.  The disgusting thing for me to hear is that in each case it involved my pride and my judgment.  I needed to confess my pride and judgment as sin.  I asked The Holy Spirit to replace it with His fruit of the Spirit.  These people are dear to me and I’d never want to pass along my judgment instead of the Spirit’s love, joy, peace, etc.

As I was journaling all of this from the above paragraph I recognized a quality within my mom that I truly want to emulate.  She was such a great model of the Holy Spirit’s fruit.  She was always loving and forgiving as well as welcoming and nurturing.  I also recognized just how much I hate seeing sin within me.  It is now confessed and forgiven.  So, I am going to walk into this day as a new creation ready to lift people up that come across the path of the day.  I look forward to what God has in store for this Mother’s Day.

The Journey Continues: May 7, 2016

This morning I was awakened to the door bell ringing a little before 6:00 am.  I would typically be getting up about now but not to answering the front door.  I quickly grabbed my bathrobe from the closet and answered it.  There stood one of our Celebrate Recovery guys.  He had had a troubling night and needed to talk about it.  As he talked about his struggle, I was reflecting on my own life.  There is no one, no not one, who doesn’t fall short of the glory of God.  All of us want to “make it up” to God somehow.  Instead, God simply wants us to accept His free gift.  This fellow had done this but he’d lost his way momentarily and needed to refocus.  We talked about how to bring his life into balance feeding his spiritual needs, physical needs and his mental/emotional ones.  He hadn’t been coming to Celebrate Recovery in a while and I hope now to see him back this coming week.

Have you ever wanted God to take away your will so you’d not have the ability to choose the wrong?  This is something my CR guest kept saying.  I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’d asked this of God over the years.  Now I was sharing with this young man that God won’t break His promise for him just as He wouldn’t break it for me.  God doesn’t remove choice so that we always have the chance to choose Him and His ways over our own selfish ones.  We simply have to find the help to choose His ways consistently.  This sounds so easy when I type it here.  Yet, when I reflect on life, oh so recently, I know how perplexing it can be when human desires and evil lies hit us.  This is why we need one another.  The journey to freedom brings us into fellowship with one another where we find genuine support and accountability for our hurts, hang-ups and habits.  This completes the verse  James 5:16 where we are told to confess to God, ourselves and to someone we trust.  The reason we do this is because the prayers of a righteous man are powerful and effective.  When we are in need, we are the one confessing.  However, the day will come when our faithfulness to this process will lead others to include us with their confessing.  It is when we begin to realize that we have become one of the ones whose prayers are powerful and effective for someone else.  God has used our past to bring glory to Himself and to another who is presently hurting.  God is truly amazing!

The Journey Continues: May 6, 2016

Happy birthday to my younger brother Ron.  He and I are the same age now until my birthday on July 1.  I always chuckle to myself when I think of this.  My mom was 41 when I was born and yet, 10 months and 6 days later, Ron was born.  My oh my!

It is probably no surprise that my devotional  today was all about living in the Spirit of God–The Holy Spirit.  Isn’t that just like Jesus to give this to me when I was needing it from what I’d posted yesterday?  He is so Good.  I have been attending a Sunday School class one of our pastors is teaching.  It is on intercessory prayer.  Last Sunday he gave each of us attending a pamphlet of prayers to combat spiritual warfare.  I’m going to post one of them.  It reads:  “Lord Jesus Christ, my old fleshly nature is tempting me to (name the temptation) and I know that if it’s left to itself, it is wicked enough to cause me to sin against you.  Lord Jesus Christ, I affirm that through the work of Your cross I am dead with you to the rule and control of my flesh and its desire toward (name of fleshly temptation you are experiencing).  Blessed Holy Spirit, I ask you now to replace this fleshly desire that is tempting me toward (state the fleshly temptation) with the fruit of Your control.  Put within my mind, will, and emotions Your love, joy, peace, patience, and all the virtues that my Lord Jesus Christ enables me to live out for His glory.  Amen

I love this prayer.  It puts into perspective exactly what I was needing yesterday and I am sure I will need over and over again in days ahead.  I hope it will be meaningful for you also.  Thank you Jesus.

 

The Journey Continues: May 5, 2016

Yesterday I mentioned the fruit of the Spirit which we produce when we are living by the Spirit’s leadership in our lives.  This is something I know factually but I don’t know it nearly as well spiritually.  Living the journey of yesterday I stepped into several realities of living in the flesh.  The biggest one was spending 5 hours at the hospital where my nephew is.  He has been diagnosed with a debilitating disease–Lewy Body disease which is a form of dementia.  Its uniqueness is about hallucinations, voices, tremors similar to Parkinsons as well as all of the other things we already know about dementia.  This is all about the flesh and its ongoing deterioration.  My nephew’s spirit is being lost in this from a human standpoint and he is scared.  I was asked questions I didn’t know how to answer and I was feeling many more questions that I wanted to humanly respond to out of my own sadness.

In my devotions this morning I read that the assurance of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling is confirmed–Eph. 1: 13-14.  This is exactly what I meant when I said I know this is true, but yesterday I didn’t know how to respond “in the spirit”.  How do we live 24/7 in the spirit?  This ties back to the step study topic of last Tuesday also where we spent the evening addressing Integrity.  I know that living with integrity is the epitome of living spirit-filled.  Somehow, I want the cliches of “living in the spirit” or “spirit-filled living” to become more real for me–more natural.

I know from my past ventures in my journey that these times of frustration/confusion become clearer as I seek God’s wisdom (light) from His word.  If any of you reading this have wisdom to share I would love to hear it.  Yes, you are experiencing my frustrations this morning.  I hope you will forgive me for this.  However, I would surely appreciate any insights you’d have to offer.  God bless.

The Journey Continues: May 4, 2016

It is simply amazing how quickly time marches on.  I was having a  conversation with a person recently and they were telling how slowly time moved during their summers while they were growing up.  Now that they are young adults and they can hardly keep up with time.  I find I can hardly count days, I almost now count seasons of time.  Regardless, I want the days to count only for my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Last night was our weekly men’s step study for the ones in the current group from Celebrate Recovery.  We are completing the two lessons leading up to writing and giving our inventory.  The questions we answered last night were all about the topic of Integrity.  What a deep topic to address.  Superficially I want to say I am a man of integrity.  I’ve even had people throughout my adult years tell me such.  The questions under the topic align with ways one’s integrity can be damaged with the life we’ve chosen to live or the life given to us as a child when our voice was one without power over the circumstances for which we endured.  The questions primarily center around our honest talk regarding whatever is true about our lives in whatever setting we are in:  home, church, work, leisure, etc.  What are we hiding, when do we hide it, and more.  Boy, have I been caught in this quagmire.  I no longer want to be caught, and now I am conscious to when I do.  However, I am far more open to letting the past simply be a message of God’s work.  This isn’t easy yet, but it is getting better as I step more and more into this.  It is amazing how God patiently brings us through these steps of growth until we have grown into the place where we complete His purposes.  It is then that the fruit of His Spirit’s work happens:  love, joy, peace, patience, self-control and more–Galatians 5:22-23.

I want to be a man of integrity but I know I can’t of my own choosing.  It is when I am surrendered and obedient to Christ’s leadership in all arenas of my life that this will happen.  So, one day at a time–here I come.

The Journey Continues: May 3, 2016

Today is a new day and when I say new, it has new meaning.  It is cumbersome to try and put words to this morning, but I’m going to attempt to do so.  Yesterday, I talked with a Celebrate Recovery friend I sponsor who is in South Africa at a seminary/school.  We talked for about 30 minutes.  God is revealing Himself to him in magnificent ways and showing him His purpose for life.  He is a young man still in his 20’s.  This morning I felt Christ asking me if I am now ready to accept the freedom He has given me along with the freedom to be used fully by the Holy Spirit?  My answer was yes and He told me to look up and keep looking up until He was done.  In doing so He asked me what I saw.  All I could see was the morning light coming up.  He told me this light is representative of His Light He wants me to share with others who are caught in the chains of abuse.  These individuals have two sets of chains.  One of these sets of chains is binding them from the years of abuse done to them, the other set is the ones from their own sins.  How well I know both sets.  I couldn’t get to the chains of my sins until I finally got to the the chains which ran deeper within me.  They were the ones binding my identity, my self-worth, etc.  As these chains have been disappearing in my life, I’ve been able to see more clearly and hear more accurately the voice of Heaven–The Holy Spirit.

Now maybe all this sounds strange to a non-believer in Jesus, and even to a believer, yet all of this is true of today.  All I know is I want to serve Jesus however He is calling me to do so.  Wherever He takes me on this journey, I want to be a vessel displaying His Light that penetrates all darkness and displays the truth of binding chains so they can be broken once and for all!  To God be all Glory.

The Journey Continues: May 2, 2016

Today is a gift for me.  It is one of those rare days when, at least at this time of the day, there are no expectations I know about except the ones I have for it.  And, the only expectations are: to plant.  I have 18 rather large pots on the deck of our home and today I plant all of them.  I spent time last week getting the flats of annuals for them and today is planting day.  I don’t talk about this a lot because most people look at me funny if I do and say something like, “Oh, ugh, that’s nice.”  Enough of that.

I have begun to read through the Old Testament using The Message.  I’m into Leviticus and finding once again how grateful I am to be living after Christ has come to pay the price for sin–once and for all.  The rules and regulations given to man were amazing.  To think that Christ took care of all of them for us (me) is amazing grace.  For Christ to pay the price, for God to sacrifice His Son and on top of all that–to be given His Holy Spirit as a gift if we will only accept Christ as our Savior–well, how can we ever be worthy of such love and generosity?  I know I can’t except through Jesus’ paid sacrifice once and for all.

Looking at this gift Christ has given to each of us has created in me a desire to be worthy of it.  I’ve worked a lot of years on this assignment–yet I was always doing it to cover up the old man (the abused man) I thought I was.  I’m forever grateful to be awakening more and more to living in the new creation Christ gave me so long ago and only of late am I learning to accept this gift without thinking I have to earn it.  Reading Leviticus, as I said, only intensifies just how much God and Christ sacrificed for our eternity with them.  Isn’t it amazing?!

Well, if you want to find me today you won’t have to look far.  I’ll be on my deck.  Most folks look at what I have there for the day and say, “Wow, that looks like a lot of work.”  Well, I guess it would be if they were having to do it.  For me, well, it is one of the best gifts I could ever be given–a day with plants without any interruptions!