Today I am stepping into something I’ve only done a couple times in my life–fasting. Our church is promoting a time of prayer and fasting for four days with each evening having a prayer time for ones to come and have requests prayed over and anointed as needed. Others will come to pray over requests left on cards yesterday at church. I am writing this because God is continuing to awaken me to the need for building strong relationships–relationships that reflect spiritual definition rather than human.
I said yesterday that I was looking forward to the 5 grandkids being here with for the day. I did a lot of reflecting on relationships during this time privately as I wanted to see what relationships actually felt and looked like from this human point as I was with my kids and grandkids. I saw bossiness, I saw love and concern, I saw selfishness and I saw sharing–lots of sharing. The thing that is standing out is that there is always the element of human selfishness involved. Humanness is selfish by nature. It is only when our selfishness hurts someone else that we see it within us. And, it is only when we like that other person enough to admit our wrong to them that we address the wrong in our selfishness. We parents step into this with our kids so they learn to repair the damage selfishness causes. When adults do this to one another it is another story. Now we avoid one another.
When I was growing up the relationship I had with my dad was one of avoiding at most any cost, I didn’t want to risk being hurt by him physically or emotionally. Only when a rare moment came that he wanted to talk to me about something important to him did he come to me and I felt safe with him. I always felt safe with my mom, but I also always felt somewhat abandoned by her because she would listen to my pleas about dad and his abuse, but the help ended with the listening. I could talk with my siblings about dad’s abuse because we all understood it and knew it personally. The sexual abuse from my brother taught me avoidance. This I could share with no one so no relationship was safe with this topic.
Now, let me bring all this back to the fasting today through Thursday. Every request I wrote to pray about while at church yesterday was about relationships–broken ones and/or fragile ones. I was stunned to see that this was the case for each burning need. Most of them involve another human and one involves the person and their relationship with Christ. My awakening is that in each case, the relationship is broken or fragile. But, regardless, it is about relationship.
I have avoided relationships all my life even though I have always had them. I just didn’t step into the reflecting side often because there had only been much hurt there in my past. I’ve dealt with the hurt from the childhood ones, but God is awakening me to be much more alert to having strong relationships with Him and others on an intentional level. This is my fasting prayer for the ones on my list which include me. Because we are all human, we must know selfishness will be present. This requires communication to identify it, confession if it hurt someone and forgiveness if it caused pain. This is God’s spiritual definition of keeping relationships strong. I want to be very intentional in this.
The older I get the more I understand and appreciate relationships. For me, there is something about grandkids that teaches the purity of how relationships ought to be. I always wanted to be a parent as I do love children. However, I was so filled with fear by the time I was a parent I often erred on the side of absence in order to not harm them. Now I can easily see the faults in this. My fears were in direct relationship to the bondage of my past. So simply participating in relationships with my grandkids is not only an awakening of God’s intent for them, it is just plain fun. I love the way they run to you, hug you, want to kiss you and play with you. There are no expectations, it’s just pure love at its best. I have 5 grandkids coming today–I’m looking forward to it!
Relationships with adults are not so simple. This seems to be, at least for me, the expectations part. Did I do this right, did I say this wrong–these factors seem to be in the forefront of the relationships. When I was journaling this morning and asking God what He wanted me to know for today, He nicely reminded me to simply focus on my relationship with others. He would take care of His relationship with them and He will nudge me when He wants my assistance. I don’t need to worry about their relationship with Christ. His love and ways will open these doors and He will include me when He wants me included. For some reason this did ease my mind. How often I forget just how Almighty God is as well as how lovingly intimate He also is.
Trust is a word Jesus is often reminding me to put into my daily practice. If someone asked me a few years back about worry/trust I’d tell them I wasn’t much of a worrier. Today, now that I’ve awakened to the truth about me, I confess I often worry. I worry about my kids, my grandkids, the problems others are experiencing in their lives who are connected someway with me or our family and the list goes on. Much of the worry centers on my desire to have healthy relationships (as man would define them).
This morning, in my devotions, I was journaling and praying about some issues surrounding my family and the families of the Celebrate Recovery ministry for which I’m involved. A couple of the cases are seemingly severe and I wanted to get myself involved knowing my involvement could help a great deal–see where that ego comes in. Jesus quickly reminded me about TRUST. In fact he quite bluntly said: “I am glorified through your trust. When you trust you stay out of the way and I am able to do the work I want done. You know when I involve you as I nudge you. Today I’m nudging you to trust in me. There is a song for which some of the lyrics are: “I will trust in you, I will trust in you….” I wish I could remember the rest of the words but the tune and just those 5 words keep repeating in my mind. I want this lesson to be one I let the roots grow deep. I actually hate worry and I love trust so for today, I WILL TRUST IN YOU.
It may be April Fool’s Day but I don’t intend to write anything that will be an April Fool’s type message. Yesterday I exposed a part of me I have never liked–that selfish need to feel worthwhile and meaningful as man would define. You know, I’ve sought this all my life but I’ve also buried the feelings because they reminded me of my dad who was a very egotistical, emotional man. I never wanted to be self-centered as I saw him to be. Yesterday I mentioned the brilliant thinking from Graham Cook. God showed me His brilliance for a moment yesterday in a human way. Not only did a few of you send affirmation but I also happened to find out that I can see how many log into the message each day. I hadn’t given any of this a thought when I started this, but my selfishness began to creep in–my ego needed to be stroked I guess. Anyway, God used this incident to awaken me to Him and His Ways. For a moment I could see that my vulnerability is indeed His tool when used for His glory. I don’t want to lessen it to becoming a human reward only. The purpose is of eternal value and meaning. I commit to continuing this until God removes the nudge to do so.
So I’m learning about my new nature in Christ. This new nature is the actual presence of The Holy Spirit within me replacing my old nature. I just tear up writing this as it is so humbling to know this is true for me. The tarnished vessel I was in my eyes overshadowed any value I could be for the Holy Spirit. The ugliness of the sexual abuse and the resulting, ongoing thoughts I’d have left me “knowing” I was of no value unless I did valuable things for God. God is now wanting this thinking GONE. It is not brilliant thinking. Being in education all my life, I’ve experienced countless times the aha moments when a learner gets it. Their face brightens, the eyebrows go up and their verbal response is something like: “YES!” That’s the way I feel about yesterday’s lesson. I get it! In my new nature I do all things for the glory of my God. I will never know that confirmation of “YES” if I try to do this just for me.
Thanks everyone for being part of God’s lesson for me yesterday.
Yesterday I wrote that I’d been listening to Graham Cook’s CDs regarding “Brilliant Thinking”. The brilliant is reflecting God’s thinking which The Holy Spirit helps us do once we’ve given our life to Jesus. So, I’m going to get personal here. In my heart I’ve always wanted my life to be a reflection of Christ and for Christ. However, Earnie wants that to be recognized once in a while by man so his ego can feel good about “being a reflection for Christ.” I have been really challenged the last couple days by this and here’s why. In starting this blog I thought I was taking a “next big step” in doing what God is placing on my heart to do. I’d written my autobiography and finally, 8 months later, I started this blog site to continue to write about what God is teaching me regarding the topic of being an “heir” to Him.
In the first two weeks of the blog there were a few who made comments and a few who began to follow it. That stroked the ego. In the last few days there haven’t been any comments or new followers so I began to question whether I should even be spending time with this. There isn’t anyway to know if someone simply reads it. What was sad for me is seeing myself as the selfish man I am when my eyes are on the “outcome of my work through man’s recognition” rather than through sheer obedience of God’s nudging. My eyes had shifted to man rather than being kept on God and His purposes for my time.
There is a freshness in spirit knowing I’m doing something for Christ and out of sheet obedience to Him. However, it sure is easy to let my old self creep in. I want to be better at recognizing this in my days ahead. So, not for selfish reasons stroking my ego, but for true learning about being obedient of Christ, I’d like to hear from anyone who is willing to share their own experiences along this line. Thanks and God bless!
Yesterday I left home to work today in Leadore, Idaho. It is a tiny town of 105 people in the mountains of Eastern Idaho. On the way I listened to a CD from the evangelist I like so well–Graham Cook. The topic was relationships–the relationship between myself and God. Graham Cook points out that the new nature given to us when we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior replaces our old sin nature. I’ve not heard this explained the way he does. The key for me is that the old nature is now gone. However, the habits of sinfulness will still be present if we allow them to come into the new nature. Scripture in the New Testament is filled with guidance about living in the new nature, but I’ve always applied it to the old nature rather than learning my new one. I don’t know if this is awakening for you, but if so, I’d sure like to hear from anyone about how they are doing at living in the new nature. There is much for all of us to learn here.
I was actually going to skip this blog today, but I couldn’t get this topic off my mind so I’m planting the seed for responses. Let me know your thoughts and what you’ve been learning here.
This is the day that the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalms. 118:24 NKJV. Yesterday I wrote about self-control and my focus on self being the power of the control. I stated I wanted to learn Christ’s reason for making self-control one of the fruits of the Spirit. In doing this I’m learning that the power of self-control comes from my human surrender for the real power is not a human kind of power. The power to surrender is the only power I need to exert. I had a chance to do this twice yesterday. I was in Boise in the morning having the oil changed on my car. As I left I was prompted to go to the Christian Book Store and leave a copy of my book. Any other day I would have bypassed this thought as something too intimidating to do. However, having had my wake up yesterday morning about surrender, I stopped by and talked with a sales person who then talked with the manager. The manager couldn’t see me at the time but wanted my information and a copy of the book. So, I did it. Later in the day I was getting filled with anxiety and temptation so I texted my accountability and within a minute he responded and all was better. Two simple surrenders allowing God to have His way in my life. Well, I am learning.
This morning I awoke filled with anxiety again. I got up and started my devotions. My Bible reading was the book of James. I love his honest, direct approach to living the life Christ intended for us. To put faith into action is a driver along with knowing and using wisdom. I love the fact that God tells me to take one day at a time and live only in the present day. I need to be reminded of this frequently. I also need to have “the worry” I often carry hidden inside me be my reminder to shift my thinking into living in the present. This morning I was able to do this.
One speaker I enjoy listening to says we are in for an upgrade when we find ourselves up against obstacles that seem insurmountable. So, this morning I thanked Jesus for the ability to give my anxiety to Him and for the upgrade in store which I know nothing about at this point. I’m simply going to trust Him this day while I rejoice and be glad in it as I’m told to do in the Psalms quoted above.
I’m perplexed this morning as I begin to write this. I got up feeling very weighed down. During my devotions I was reminded that it is not what we know that makes the difference in our lives, it is what we do with what we know. Christ has given us a new creation as we accept Him as Savior and Lord. It was obvious to me that I was needing to pay attention to the fruits of the Spirit with self-control being the one standing out. In my Bible reading this was stated and in two devotionals it was the focus. However, my whole life has been with the emphasis of self-control on the first word–self. I was to control my self so I lived rightly for Jesus. I’m new in this learning about self-control being centered on surrender to the battle being won by Jesus Christ’s work on the cross.
My response to self-control is not trying to take on the battle, but to remind Satan of His loss to Christ and, if I still struggle, call my accountability team. I made a commitment to Christ this morning to do this. I contact twice daily my accountability but it’s at set times. I’m not changing that but I’m simply adding that if the battle seems to rage within, as Satan often tries to do, I will then contact in obedience to the scripture. James 4:10 says to: “Humble yourself before the Lord and he will lift you up.” Man is so egotistical that in this case of scripture, humble means surrendering to call in the team rather than trying to fight alone. Humble is the right word because I do need to humble my pride to do this. Humble is a new kind of strength I want to learn and learn well.
If you are interested in joining me in this new strength–Humility–I’d like to hear about it.
HE IS RISEN! YES, HE IS RISEN INDEED!
This glorious truth becomes real for us if we accept the gift Christ offers with it. This truth is simple too. We accept Him as our Risen Lord and Savior. He fought the battle. We quit fighting and we surrender to His fight and accept His victory as ours (as mine). I am constantly reminded that the “new Earnie” is not from what I’ve done, but what I’ve accepted as the gift of Christ’s redeeming love. The other gift with this newness of life is the Gift of The Holy Spirit. This is the Spirit Christ anoints us with when we accept Him as Lord along with His being our Savior. I know all of this so well. I struggle to live as though I do from day to day.
Today is a glorious day. Let us rejoice and be glad in it! Have a wonderful Easter everyone!
As I write this blog title this morning, I am prompted to clarify something. I don’t want anyone to think that “the journey continues” because Christ’s work isn’t yet done. The reason the journey to freedom is not complete for me is my humanness. I Corinthians says I see through the glass darkly, and then I will see face to face. The “then” is being in heaven. So as long as I am in this human frame, I shall continue to grow in my fullness of Christ’s work for me.
Easter is amazing. I told Kathy, my wife, last night after coming home from the Good Friday service at our church, that I do not like Good Friday services. They are DARK. I know they are planned that way because of the darkness Christ faced as He was nailed to the cross for me–for each of us. I’ve lived in so much darkness of soul so much of my life, the service haunts me. The good part however, is that I know the outcome. The disciples were told to anticipate, yet their belief at that time was shallow as mine has been about Christ’s work for me while I was still in the throws of my living in the secret of my past. The outcome of tomorrow is Christ’s brilliant light shining forth. I want to be a carrier of this LIGHT for Christ. God bless you as we all anticipate the Glorious Resurrection of tomorrow.