Today’s journey message is going to be different. I’m sharing a blunder I made on this day over 30 years ago. I had taken my oldest daughter to her driver’s training class at 6:00 am. I went from there to my school to start my day. It was a Thursday which was staff newsletter day. As I sat at my computer to begin writing the newsletter I typed March 13 at the top. As I did I recalled it was an important day but what was it?? It then hit me that it was St. Patrick’s Day! I quickly assessed my attire to see I was wearing no green. I didn’t want to go home and change so I looked over my office and found some green M&M’s. I took one and with double-sided scotch tape, put one on my sports jacket lapel.
The morning didn’t go far before I realized my blunder. It came about in a most embarrassing way which I won’t take the time to express here. For years the staff would celebrate two St. Patrick’s Days in recognition of this. From then to today when I see March 13th I cringe recalling the moment. It does bring a smile!
As the journey continues so does reflective moments!
Today is the birthday of my prayer warrior–my 2nd mom. This lady is truly one of God’s treasures. I find it amazing that she doesn’t see herself as this treasure any more than I find this true for me. Yet, she tells me I doubt God when I don’t see the truth of His Word when it says I am a treasure to Him. Well, I do understand our flesh and its selfish desire to do what it wants which is all too often not glorifying God. This selfishness makes me doubt myself being a treasure. Yet, when I am reminded that Jesus Christ lives within me along with His Holy Spirit and this is what God sees in me, then I understand the treasure.
Lois McMillan is this treasure. Her physical body is an earthen vessel (II Corinthians 4:7) which is filled with the Light of Jesus Christ and out of her mouth and out of her hands come support and love which God has used to help scores of people over the years see His Heavenly Light for themselves. When we see ourselves we most often see this earthen vessel with its many flaws. God, on the other hand, sees what inside this vessel–His Own Son and His Own Spirit. What an amazing God He is and what a privilege to serve Him!
There is a conflict of interest within each of us that I am finding very real. This centers around our spirit. Understanding our spirit and the Spirit of God is somewhat mysterious. Neither of them are tangible in our flesh. Our spirit motivates us from our flesh and God’s Holy Spirit motivates us to listen to Him rather than our spirit of flesh. My devotional is addressing the Power and Strength of God’s Holy Spirit within us. Yet, accessing this Strength when our own flesh is screaming is somewhat of the mystery. I face this with others I counsel and I face it with myself.
In my devotional, yesterday’s message says, “For when I feel my weakness and endure mistreatment…I am made yet stronger. For my weakness becomes a portal to God’s power.” II Corinthians 12:10. I love the clarity of this stating that my weakness is a portal to God’s Power. I can access God’s Power from my weakness or in my weakness. To do this I must admit my weakness and seek God’s Spirit rather than submitting to my own. Helping others see this also helps me see it much more clearly. It’s part of that message from a day or two ago–teaching a lesson–the teacher learns as much or more than the one being taught. God is always at work and I love Him for this!
If you want to learn something really well, don’t just attend a class on it or read a book about it, teach it to someone else. This is something I’ve heard since I was in college so many years ago prepping to become a teacher. I’m finding the same is true for one who counsels. If you want to believe something is true for you, counsel someone to believe it is true for them. The truths of God one can easily know. Believing the truths of God for oneself are a different story.
The young man I wrote about yesterday was a great example of this. He had asked Jesus into his heart when he was a child. He hadn’t asked God’s forgiveness for the sins of his current years so we did that. He then knew and believed God forgave him. I asked him how God saw him and he said his mom told him God saw him as a diamond–a treasure. I asked if he saw himself that way–having forgiven himself? His response was a no. We undertook this and he accepted the challenge to forgive himself. The change in his countenance was remarkable.
This young man is in his later teens. I was in my early 40’s when I was confronted with forgiving myself. I didn’t actually believe this forgiveness until I was in my 60’s. Experiencing this with a young man was so rewarding knowing he doesn’t need to live his life as I have in secret and in guilt. It is so amazing to use one’s past to help someone not let life and Satan build a similar one for themselves. Our God is so AMAZING!
It seems as though my journey is becoming more about stories from the counseling program. I find that as I am working with these others, I find new truths for myself. Here is the most recent one.
This morning I will be meeting with a young man who has had a struggling childhood. He is the oldest of 8 children. His reason for coming is his addiction to pornography. As I listened to him last week he said towards the end of the session that some people think he is arrogant. He went onto say that he isn’t really, but he thinks he needs to defend himself to others because of his sinfulness and being told that he is “bad”. When someone tells him he’s bad he corrects them with “his truths” of what he calls “good”.
As I was preparing for him this morning I was journaling and Jesus pointed out how God sees each of us who have invited Him into our lives. He sees us as righteous because God sees Jesus in us. He went on to say that when we look at Jesus we tend to see Him through our sinfulness rather than our righteousness. Boy, did that hit home with me! We don’t need to defend ourselves to others, we just need to live in our righteousness and let others see Jesus in us. If one reads Ephesians 1:3-11, you find this clearly stated.
When God looks at us He sees Christ within us. When I look back to Christ I have tended to see my sinfulness rather than Christ’s righteousness. Christ is reminding me that all of my sinfulness is forgiven and to not let the sins of my past be used yet again by Satan to cloud my picture of Him–we are righteous in His Sight! Live in RIGHTEOUSNESS and let others see this in us. In so doing we don’t have to defend anything. What a humbling truth!
Yesterday my last counseling session was with a couple who wanted to work on their communication. They are an older couple who are newly weds. Both have lost their first mates and are devout christians. Just in a couple of sessions they have made tremendous progress by simply recognizing their communication looked mighty selfish in how it was delivered. At the end of the session the gentleman asked me if he could give me money for my service? I told him this is a ministry and he could give to the church if he wanted. He then said he wanted me to have something from this service. It was then I could hardly talk.
Instantly I was brought to the reality of what God has done for me. I told them they wouldn’t have time to hear my story, but God has done so much to give me freedom from my past, that giving back to him through this counseling opportunity is a greater blessing for me than for anyone coming for the counsel. To have this opportunity in my later years of life is such a huge blessing! I choked up then and I choke up now as I reflect again on the goodness of our loving Father God!
Last Sunday my son-in-law in Oklahoma sent the link to my daughter’s sermon that morning. She is the children’s pastor at their church in Oklahoma City but was delivering the morning message. I had called her last Friday where she told me the struggle she’d had putting this message together. It came from Mark 10:17-22 where the rich young man came to Jesus. Jesus asked him to sell his goods and give his wealth away. At this point the young man walked away very sad.
My daughter’s message focused on our full obedience to God’s Spirit within. Will we pick and choose or will we choose to obey all? Today she is giving the same message to the students at Southern Nazarene University in OKC.
I write this not so that you know about my daughter, but because this message fits her dad. I like to think I’m obedient but I know that I still do pick and choose. My selfishness comes through at these times. I suppose this message hits all believers who walk with God. As I listened to the message there were two important items that hit me. The first is that someone is missing out if I disobey a nudge from God’s Spirit and secondly, I am missing out on the JOY of obedience. God is so GOOD. I thank Him for his love and patience as I continue to grow in my journey with Him.
“God is always at work. Do you want to join Him? If so, do what His Word says to do.” These few sentences were said to my dad many years ago when he was upset with an individual in our church. Our pastor at the time said these words to my dad and my dad changed for the good because of it. It was one of the few times (in fact the only time I can recall) when one’s message actually changed my dad’s anger and he joined the work.
There is a group I’m sensing God is wanting me to start with our counseling program. As I was addressing it this morning with Jesus in my journaling I asked what I should do? His message said to do what My Word says to do. I knew He was referencing James 5:16–“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
This verse (message) has been a paramount one for me throughout my journey. It still is. Confessing sin and confessing temptation to sin is a step I believe every person struggles to do. However, when healing is the outcome, it helps turn the struggle into a hope which then leads to a new reality that only a new creation can find. Wow, our God is so GOOD!
The journey from error to heir was a phrase God gave me during a message from our pastor on a Sunday morning. He had used the statement that we are all heirs of Christ Jesus. When he said this I instantly wrote on my bulletin error instead of heir. I wrote it this way–heir (with the poison sign here) error. When I wrote this I was only thinking that my belief system had always been that I was an error–a mistake. My mom didn’t really want me (I was kid # 10), dad was embarrassed by me because I didn’t have his skills nor likes and God certainly didn’t think much of me or He wouldn’t allow his kid to be treated the way I was. With all of this, my brother wanted me for distorted sexual reasons. Satan had a hay day with my belief system from all of this.
What God did give me through salvation, accepting Christ into my life at a young age, was HOPE. I put all kinds of Earnie ideas into action: trying to live a good life attending church and being very active in it, sing only “church songs”, don’t swear, read my bible daily along with praying, etc. But, what I knew from scripture’s promises just weren’t coming true for me.
What is so amazing to me is the way God has taken all of these lies and turned them into ministry. I hear similar lies in almost every counseling session. I can identify with the lies and with this I can point them to a most loving God, Savior and Holy Spirit. These Three in One are the key to finding the truth of HEIR. My journey is not wasted. It is not to be a secret. God has turned it into a meaningful purpose for His Work. I love Him for this!
The message of yesterday’s post is one that a single post does not even begin to address the complex depth for which it saturates one’s entire belief system. Growing up being used as someone’s sex toy (man to boy) and then being told by one’s father that you are a girl or have the characteristics of a girl, well, the belief system gets mighty confused about one’s identity. So restoring one’s mind to believe one is “fearfully and wonderfully made” seems impossible. Boy, did I live in this world for a LONG time.
I have found that in coming into the belief system of being “God’s masterpiece, God’s chosen one, being fearfully and wonderfully made, a new creation,” takes the truth of God’s word when it says, “…renew our minds in Christ,” (Romans 12:2). In the past two days I’ve had letters of support from my prayer warrior reminding me who I am in Christ Jesus and how God created me in HIs Own Image. Using the three R’s I’ve mentioned numerous times, I can Replace the lies which want to surface in my mind with these truths of scripture. As I do, little by little, my belief system grows. Amazingly, as my belief system grows, so does my humility with intense thanksgiving for my Gracious Redeemer–Jesus Christ.
God our Father wants to replace every hurt from our past with the Joy of His Salvation as we take the steps of Faith into this healing process. How worthwhile it is!