“We are not our past, we are who God created us to be.” So many of us see our identity through the lens of our past. This statement came out of the 90-day book I’m working through with the other men I counsel. I don’t think I know a single person coming for help that doesn’t struggle with this belief and I’ve been at the head of this line. Even today I have my moments where I literally have to say out loud that I am a new creation. I am the man who God created. I never was my father, my brother, my mom, I’ve always been Earnie–the person God knit in my mother’s womb. Yes, the things of my past have all been true/real, but they are things done, not identity.
The water runs deep in this belief system of ours. Part of good accountability is helping one another remember this foundation God has created in us. Satan wants to destroy it, but God is faithful and true and how much I love Him for this!
Today I read something in my devotional I can’t get out of my mind. I’m sure God wants it there for good reason. It says, “Grace…is not looking for good men whom it may approve, for it is not grace but mere justice to approve goodness. But it is looking for condemned, guilty, speechless and helpless men who, it may save through faith, then sanctify and glorify.” C. I. Scofield.
I have a client who is working through a forgiveness issue. The person needing forgiveness fits the first part of the quote, but in their lifetime committed an act of sin which hurt deeply the client. They are both devout Christians, but forgiveness doesn’t come easily just because “I’m Christian”. I know that for a fact!
It is always such a good reminder that GRACE is what God gave me and He asks me to use it too. I want to share this with the client whom I will see today. “AMAZING GRACE–how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!”
How enjoyable it is to have the family come together to honor the moms and grandma! A grandpa can never get too much of this.
Last night Kathy and I finished watching season 3 of The Chosen. We hadn’t watched any of them until a couple of weeks ago. We have done a marathon of watching and last night ended it. The closing scene of Jesus holding Peter in his lap is so touching. I won’t tell anymore as I don’t want to ruin anyone’s experience. What got to me is observing Jesus holding him. It has taken me a lifetime to get to the point of knowing and believing that Jesus actually held me with sheer love and grace and anointed with His mercy. Grieving my past and redirecting the lies I’d come to believe, were a start for knowing Jesus wants to let us know He holds us in His Spiritual Arms of love.
God is so much more loving than I was raised to believe. The days of judgment were very big in the messages I was given as a child. I know that these days of judgment will come, but right now God is wanting His kids to know this is His time of Grace. He wants to forgive our sins if we will simply come to Him asking for forgiveness and beginning to live daily serving Him. He is such a remarkably loving Father!
God is so GOOD! Last night our quartet did a concert at the home of our accompanist. There were 50+ people invited. I don’t know when I have felt so motivated to glorify God with music that points the listener directly to Him. The evening seemed to do just that. The audience responded with many wiping tears and raising hands in thanksgiving plus clapping at times to the rhythm and words of the song/s. There were times when it was simply hard to keep singing. I had my own emotions to contend with. I use to hide these emotions as best I could always thinking emotions were not good. They lead to trouble. Even good emotions trigger negative ones when they are heightened. (So my childhood had taught me). So, best to keep them all in check.
I am learning to enjoy emotions. Little had I recognized in myself how deeply I love and appreciate them. From telling a funny joke to experiencing the Love and Grace of Jesus Himself, emotions are the expression of our appreciation. God’s Spirit is filled with emotions and I now love them within myself. Our God is so patient and good helping us to grow and continue to grow even in our “older days”.
The journey’s message for today is to address The Holy Spirit’s nudges for the sake of obedience–not for the outcome. I had thought I was done with making amends as we call it in Celebrate Recovery. However, when I was reading my devotional and came across this challenge, I quickly thought–“well, I’m done with that part”. It was then that God’s Spirit reminded me of a very ugly statement I’d made a few years ago. It was in a setting when the small group of people laughed out loud. However, the statement had an underlying purpose of “hurt” on my part. The hurt I’d felt from the person I said it to has never been addressed and my sarcastic statement only added complications to the hurt for me. Well, it is time for me to address it, not for the sake of the outcome, but for the sake of obedience. I truly love that line!
I’m not sure when this will take place, but I know now that it will. I do not want to be disobedient. God has been so good to me and now I need to clean an act that sure didn’t look like one representing the God I serve.
I’m not sure when I’ve been in such a steep learning curve as I have been experiencing these past few days/weeks. It’s as though God is wanting me to finally learn once and for all what living in His Holy Spirit is about/like. Making a 24 hour commitment to sobriety has been the start to this. Keeping myself reminded that my strength is only for now, not for “the rest of my life”. That’s too overwhelming and it has never worked! I’m also learning that it is in the present 24 hours that I can rely on the Strength of God’s Holy Spirit. It is also in the present that I can say to the tempter that I surrender this temptation to Jesus Christ who lives in me. I can also call/text letting my accountability know that the struggle exists. I am learning that to live by the Spirit’s Power within me I am to make decisions built on what I Trust and not what my own adrenalin wants me to–be strong within myself. This only works for a short period of time and then I fall again.
I honestly feel as though today I’ve awakened to the truth that I’ve dealt with temptation as though I fought it like I did when I was a child–with fear and repeated failure. This is fighting in the flesh. It’s time to put into practice what the new creation Earnie is learning: Praising God that I am weak in the flesh and know this plus admit this. This allows me to then surrender my weakness to Christ–“for when I am weak He is strong!”
II Corinthians 12:10–“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong!.”
The 90 day commitment for sobriety from all sinful acts of sexual integrity is amazing. I have been laser focused on my need to keep my thoughts disciplined. Discipline is a strength of mine in my flesh, but it has never been a strength which it comes to the addiction of porn. My only successful discipline has been to stay with the struggle and keep it at bay and commit to never hiding it. So, keeping that in mind, as I read today’s devotional in the 90-day book, its entire focus was praising God.
I know a good deal about the need to praise God, but as I was journaling I was reminded to “praise God in the storms of life”. II Corinthians 12:9-10 says: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, I am strong.”
When I first read about praising God I thought, “Yes, of course, I will praise Him but I won’t lose sight of the discipline I need to keep in place. But, that wasn’t the message. The message was only to praise God. The more I thought about it, the more God was revealing to me that His Strength is provided when I praise Him, not when I discipline myself. So, letting go of what I thought was the right thing to do was my assignment for today. Do only what God commands–PRAISE HIM!
God has been very clear this morning with His message for the day. Today is to be a day for soul cleansing. As I was in counsel yesterday with a client, we were tackling a time in her life many years ago which left deep rooted scars never acknowledged at the time. She is now a widow and needs to uproot the damage. The work God did for me through my own counseling has been very helpful in assisting His work with this lady.
Yesterday afternoon I found myself being tempted to step into the sin of viewing porn. I’ve hated this addictive desire but roots seem to still be there. As I was journaling earlier I asked God to go deeply into my soul and address once and for all the roots of seed planted from the sin acts done to me so long ago for (even though it seems sick to write this) this is what the temptation was about. My devotional addressed the topic of soul cleansing and then in my bible reading I read in Psalms 35:1-5: Plead my cause, O Lord, with those who strive with me; Fight against those who fight against me. Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for my help. also draw out the spear, and stop those who pursue me. Say to my soul, “I am your salvation.”
In the 90 day book I’m doing presently, the topic today was performing the surgery God waits to do for soul cleansing. I am so humbled and now ready to trust God for this. I can’t begin to put into words all that this means to me. But, what I feared for most of my life, God does for His Glory and never for my shame. How merciful and loving our Father God is!
My bible reading has me reading the Psalms at the present time. I know I’ve written in times past about my attitude towards the Psalms in my past. I use to think they were a series of complaints with some niceties now and then. However, the more I awaken to the fullness of God living in me the more I enjoy and deeply appreciate all that they are saying. Trusting and Believing God to be the answer to all of life’s woes has become something I have learned to know is true for all of us–including me.
I have a good friend who is out-of-state presently with his wife. They have each lost a sibling recently and are having to close out estates and clean out each one’s homes. It is a miserable time for them for the siblings weren’t living for Jesus and the homes are a mess. They keep finding more and more stumbling blocks including the texts I’ve already received this morning. When I reminded my friend that he is not there alone, God is bigger than all of this and has answers which haven’t been seen as of yet, he responded with a big thanks. We are a team player when we reach out to God and other trustworthy friends.
I lived so long in isolation believing the lies of the deceiver. Helping others see and trust God’s Light is a privilege and humble honor as each day comes. Just as David was reaching out in many of his Psalms, God is wanting us to do exactly the same today.
There is nothing like the beauty and silence of the early mornings and experiencing them with their CREATOR. Today is one of those days where I just want to take a moment longer to stay in this beauty. Don’t interrupt it and don’t move for one might disturb the silence and sensing the Strength of God Almighty in it.
I will be spending a good portion of today in my garden and yard. This brings joy to my heart. Planting so much of the garden now that the fear of frost is almost past, brings about a satisfaction that I get to experience each and every year. I know that most people just shake their heads at this deep passion of mine to get my hands into dirt and watch God’s magic come to life as seeds turn into everything the earth produces. I just have to tell them that they have no idea what they are missing! The JOY of life isn’t just the life of flesh, it also includes the life of a garden!