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.
I have to apologize for missing yesterday’s entry. I came to McCall, Idaho to join Kathy and when I went to do the entry yesterday, I didn’t have the password for using the wireless where we are staying. I didn’t want to wake Kathy to find out what it was and so it just didn’t get done. I was in the midst of some struggles/confusion yesterday anyway and God provided a way through them I’ll tell you about.
I came to McCall to close on a house Kathy and I are selling here. We bought it about 14 years ago thinking we would use it as a vacation home. Well, in truth, over the years we’ve found that lots of friends and a few relatives have used it as such, but it just doesn’t fit well for us. I brought a friend and his wife with me as I needed a 2nd driver when I returned home today. I am taking a small U-Haul truck back and I needed someone to drive my car as Kathy already had a vehicle here since she came a few days ahead of me. This friend is the one I mention in my book who is my long-time college friend I sing with and he has been my confidant. After we loaded the truck yesterday afternoon I began to talk with him about my struggle learning to live as a “new creation”. I asked things like, “Does a new creation have temptations resembling the old man I’ve always been and if so, how does a new creation handle them as a new creation rather than as an old man? Thus began a great dialogue processing through this. Over the next hour or so he helped me see that the promises of the New Testament are delivered through the new creation I am. It is simply an emotional, mental block to think I have to handle any temptation as the old man. It is going back to handling the temptations as I always did when I went to my cave or into secret. Our conversation also made “self-control” sensible as we talked. I have always looked at self-control as something I did with my own strength in handling any situation. The new creation uses self-control to fulfill what scripture says to do. An example is in the book of James when we are told to confess to someone we trust so that the prayers of a righteous man can be powerful and effective. Rather than handling the temptation on my own (old man style), I call someone I trust to confess it in obedience to scripture and as a new creation’s response to self-control.
So, I’m now ready to take a step into today as a new creation handling any temptation that might come my way. I’d love to hear any reader’s response to this.
Today has always been a special day to me–it is my sis Bonnie’s birthday. She is the sibling just older than me and we were soulmates as we grew up. Happy birthday Bonnie!
I am co-leading a Celebrate Recovery Step Study on Tuesday nights. Our lesson last night was preparing everyone for the upcoming inventory. The process of doing the inventory is often what causes many participants to quit. The reality of doing it surfaces the rawness of whatever brought you to Celebrate Recovery in the first place. There is a very intentional path one walks in order to complete this. The results of doing the inventory should be cleansing for the one doing it. It allows them to safely share all the hurts, hand-ups and habits that have keep them in secret. I’ve done it 8 times now so this shouldn’t be anything new. However, last night I had an epiphany. The reality for me has never been freeing to do the inventory. Instead, it is a burden I feel I must bear as I once again bare my soul. Only last night did I start to understand why this has been so.
Everyone knows I’ve written my autobiography and I’m doing this blog. I’ve done this to support and encourage others to face their own demons of the past. I actually enjoy this in spite of the initial “yikes” I feel on the onset. Doing one’s testimony is the giving back to Celebrate Recovery which comes when you finish the step study. As I said, I get pleasure from this. So, last night for the first time I understood why I would find pleasure in doing the testimony parts: giving my testimony at Celebrate Recovery’s or events, writing my book, doing this blog, etc., because this I do for the sake of others. When one does the inventory it is done so you can help yourself. You have to come clean to yourself and to the one you trust–your sponsor. Deep inside me is a sense of “worthlessness” that the inventory brings out. I feel selfish when I do it and the reasons are for someone unworthy of the cleansing it is to provide. I got really uncomfortable as this truth came out for me last night, but this time I was able to face it as the lie it is. In my devotions this morning I was able to give this lie to Jesus thanking Him for the work He’s done in my life. I for the first time have a new found eagerness to do my inventory this go round. I love to hear someone say they have found their worthiness from their participating in Celebrate Recovery. Well, Praise the Lord, I am finding mine!
I spent a couple hours yesterday with a man who wanted to meet for coffee and talk through some things related to his past being similar to my own. He’d read my book and there were many parallels. As we talked I found it to be very true. Another truth came out of the meeting that was most unexpected and one for which I was most thankful. I’ve mentioned the new man God has created in me, and for each of us as we give our lives to Him, replacing the old man. I’ve also mentioned how I’m learning that I’ve lived all of my life thinking I was remaking this old man into a new one rather than replacing the old man with the new one. Last week, starting this blog site, I hadn’t realized until yesterday how much I’d let that old man Earnie take over again. I was fearful all week, I had temptations to fight that I hadn’t experienced for weeks and months and it wasn’t until yesterday’s talk that the reality of what I had done hit me. I was living in the fears all week that I had kept secret all my life. Here I was writing a blog that anyone could access if they wanted because I knew God was prompting me to do this, but I was doing this out of fear rather than out of joy and obedience.
It is an odd moment as I write this, but I feel free this morning. I can’t explain it any other way. The reality of who God is and what He wants us to know about Him and His Team: Jesus Christ and The Holy Spirit are remarkable! Learning to surrender totally to Him is an ongoing process and one I don’t want to quit until the day I arrive to my eternal home.
The scripture I Cor. 10:13 has always been critically important to me. I’m not sure when in high school I heard it used in a sermon, but I always wanted it to be the one promise from God He worked in my life. If you are unfamiliar with it, it reads: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
At the time I became aware of this promise, I was still being abused by my brother’s sexual use. I was in high school and so my own sexual feelings were becoming fully awake. What seemed so awful to me was the fact that my brother was sick, and I was sick and there was no way of escape. In so many words this verse seemed to be saying that every type of temptation was common to man. Along with that, God would provide a way of escape so I could stand up under it. I was hugely confused, but the promise seemed to be clear. I clung to it for dear life. I would plead with God to make it real for me.
We all know that God’s timetable is not one that man creates. I wanted my freedom from my brother’s abuse right then and I wanted the confusion of my sexual thoughts to be cleansed right then, 50 years ago. Well now, 50 years later, I’m blogging about how God is showing me His purpose in this scripture. Now that I’ve opened myself to share my story, I’m finding many people who are struggling similarly (common to man). I’m 65 years old and the temptation still exists, yet the truth of another verse: Ephesians 6:13 reminds me to put on the full armor of God, and when I do, I can stand. Am I a master at this–No. Am I learning how to be a master at this–Yes. I’m finding yet another truth from James 5:16. It says: “confess my sins to someone I trust and pray for each other because the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” I’m just now learning to swallow the pride I spoke about yesterday and tell the ones I trust. I’m old in body but young in this practice. However, when I apply all these truths I find the truth of I Corinthians 10:13 to be as solid as any other promise. Isn’t our God amazing!
Today has been an interesting day and not at all routine. I’ve had pets, (usually dogs) since my wife is allergic to cats, most of the years we had children at home. Now that they are grown with their own children, I’ve enjoyed the freedom of life without pets. However, yesterday my wife and youngest daughter went to McCall, ID with my daughter’s four kids. The 2 dogs are now with me. The one is timid and shy while the other is so rambunctious he runs into himself trying to decide which way to go next. I’ll have these two for the next four days. This isn’t a huge thing, just a reminder that the peacefulness I love can have many interruptions.
In my devotions this morning I was reminded of Matthew 5:3 where Christ says: “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” This time I looked up “poor in spirit” to find its actual meaning. I found that poor in spirit means recognizing how weak we are if we operate in our own spirit. If we recognize we are poor in spirit we can then claim the strength of The Holy Spirit and surrender our weakness for His Strength. This is such a simple truth, yet profound when trying to apply it. As the ones who have begun to read this blog know, today ends the first week of it. I can see how many are following it, but I don’t know how many actually read it without responding to it. My pride wants my book and this blog to reach everyone who is hurting and lost. In a week’s time I want this done. Well, in reality, I have a very few followers and probably just a few more readers. So, this morning when I was having my devotions Christ reminds me of Matthew 5:3–“Blessed are the poor in spirit….” My spirit was mine rather than His at the moment of my pridefulness. So, I surrendered it and now feel much better! The new me knows that each one of God’s children count. If I can help one or a million ones, it is not up to me but up to Him who leads me.
Yesterday was an interesting day for me. I told the Lord in my journal I was feeling emotionally exhausted and somewhat physically exhausted too. I was disappointed in myself thinking I was stronger than I am. The idea that I had begun a blog to carry on the message of healing from my childhood abuse was just an assignment in my head. However, stepping into doing it brought out many old fears and anxieties. I’m not writing this to say I’m sorry I did it, just to explain life in my flesh. So while I was journaling yesterday I heard Christ telling me to remember to only live in today. His Holy Spirit is always with me in the present day. Don’t be anxious about anything but surrender it to Him. So I did that yesterday saying I would be joyful in the day.
The day ended up being just as Christ promised. During the morning I met with a mom about her high school child who is struggling, talked with one of our Celebrate Recovery guys who is struggling to live a pure life and lastly talked at length with a lady who had just finished reading my book and its impact on her. She called to say it was bringing her to the point of seeing that she can face some giants in her life she hadn’t faced yet. I only write this here to indicate just what Christ is able to do when I quit trying to do it on my own. I had no idea I’d be having the conversations with the man and the gal who had read the book. I had made the appointment with the mom and that was it. The rest was simply God’s planning and my surrender. I continuously need to be reminded that I should never try to take this on my own. God uses a surrendered soul–one who is joyous living surrendered knowing Christ is in control and I don’t need to try and be.
When I was a child growing up and listening to sermons each Sunday at the little Free Methodist Church in Adrian, Oregon I would often hear the pastor talk about the “old self” and the “new self”. I had ugly pictures of this old man and handsome pictures of the new self. Now, 50+ years later, I can look in a mirror and see the same face when I look at the old self or the new self. Only recently, do I realize that the difference between these two is actually a spiritual being rather than a human one. I really like how Colossians 3 in The Message words this. In the second paragraph it reads, “Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life–even though invisible to spectators–is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too–the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.”
I’ve always translated my old self as the abused self, the filthy self, the one I had to hide from society. The new self was the image of the one I portrayed by living a good life, doing good deeds and working to be a good person. Working through this in the present is confusing and sometimes frustrating. I’m learning that the spiritual self (the new self) is obscure because it is all about trust, surrender, hope and faith. These terms are tangible in the spiritual realm and often intangible in our human realm.
I realize this is why Christ tells us to not worry about tomorrow. If I even try to take my mind into the things of tomorrow I find it is only the old self that goes. The new self is grounded in today because that is where The Holy Spirit is present and Christ is living with us. So, join me in living in today. I commit to living joyfully today and trusting Christ throughout it.