Category Archives: DWELL

Last Pick’d

This Mrng as I was reading “Jesus Calling“, I came to understand more fully why I sometimes struggle with the idea of GOD CHOOSING ME to be on HIS Team!

The phrase that leapt off the page for me was: “Remember, I am on your side….” (May 8)

If you’ve never been picked last, simply because you’re the ONLY ONE LEFT in line, you don’t know one of the deepest pains known to mankind.

BeenThere, DoneThat!!
TooManyTimes!!

In hindsight, I can see how easy it was for the teacher to pick two kids (always the best) and let them take turns choosing. Did anybody know/see/understand/care
about the pain inflicted on us who were always last?

A lifetime later, I recognize it as one of the reasons I sometimes resist the idea that

GOD CHOOSES ME!

“Who, ME?!”

YES, My Son, YOU!!

I want YOU as a member of MY Team FAMILY!”

“I Asked God…”

I Asked God to teach me to Trust. Him
He taught me about His Love. For me

I Asked God to teach me to be better so He c/would Love me more
God said He already Loves me and that He can’t/doesn’t do “More”

I Asked God to help me love my fellowman.
He taught me how to love myself in Him and to let His Love flow through me to others

I Asked God to make me good so I could stay in His Presence more
God said: “My Son, Come. To me. Just Come, as U.R. – Now”

I Asked God to light my path
He said He’s with in the dark and that I can trust Him there. 

I Asked God to help me solve my problems
He used my problems to change me

I told God I needed to preach
He told me He made me a writer

I Asked God to let me see Him more clearly
He taught me He’s (my) God – even in the fog   {I was the one in the fog}

I Asked God; “But what about my sins?”
God said: “My Son already paid the price for that! Come to me – sin and all!”

I Asked God to show me the plan He has for me
He taught me to seek to know more about Him

I Asked God to help me understand
He said if I understood I would not need to trust – Him!

I told God I needed to be strong
He said He is strongest in my weakness

I Asked God
He showed me His Grace

I Asked God – “Where R.U?”
He said: “I am in U, I will be with U… Always!”

I Asked God…
He taught (is teaching) me to Praise – HIM




THE BATTLE GROUND


“There is a war between guilt and GRACE!” 

The other day, as I walked into our bedroom, I noticed these words written on the notepad next to the dual recliner where my WW sits. They come from the song by Matthew West, “GRACE WINS

Lately, I’ve been pondering the effects of GRACE in my life. I’m beginning to realize that I have greatly undervalued what GRACE DID, what GRACE does, what God wants GRACE to do in, for and through me.

Matthew West continues his song with these words; “GRACE WINS!! Every Time!! For the woman at the well, GRACE WINS!! For the beggar on the street, GRACE WINS!! For the prodigal son, GRACE WINS!!

This morning’s “Daily Verse” from “YouVersion” was Psalms 139:23,24

‭‭“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” ‭NLT‬‬

This morning, I’m saddened to think how many times I’ve prayed that from a place of guilt and shame, standing (or kneeling, as the case may be) before God but seeing him as my Judge. It makes me want to run away. Sometimes I do.

This is not the prayer of a guilty man waiting to hear sentence passed for his guilt and shame. It’s the Q posed by the prodigal son to his Faithful Father at the breakfast table the morning after the party as they enjoy steaks leftover from the fattened calf and eggs  the servants gathered that morning from the free-range hens in the yard. (Luke 15:11-32)

It’s the Q from the heart of a recovering, wandering son who has once again been embraced by “Abba-Daddy”

Let me see if I can put this in my own words as I picture myself sitting at that table:

Dad, I came back yesterday because I knew you are a man of compassion. All my life I’ve seen how you treat your servants. You’ve always treated the men and women who work for you better than most of my friends were treated by their fathers. 

Last month, I remembered that about you. Someday, maybe I’ll tell you where I was and what I was doing when I remembered, but I think I’d rather just forget about it. But let me simply say that I woke up in the blackest, darkest hole of my life. 

Then I remembered!

YOU!

Dad, I came back to be your servant. I came back to sweep the dung out of your stables. I came back to clean the hen house on my hands and knees. I came back to… 

YOU!!

NEVER in my wildest thoughts did I think I would come back and be your son!! I fully expected to grovel. I fully expected to spend the rest of my days trying to pay penance for the way I hurt you. But you… You!!!  Dad, You put the family robe around my shoulders. You embraced me!! You put your ring on my finger. You brought out the finest wine, and Oh! Wow!! This steak…!!!

Dad, (by the way, it feels strange to call you ‘Dad’)…  Let me take this moment to ask you, from the depth my heart, with all the gratitude I can manage; “Teach me. This morning, Dad, search my heart; test me and show me my hurtful ways. Daddy, I want to spend the rest my life letting you teach me how to be your son.”

THAT is the war between guilt and GRACE. The battle in my life between guilt and GRACE is fought at the gateway to the homestead. Because of my guilt, I hesitate to respond when He calls. The Father beckons me forward. I hesitate. The Father says: “Come, my son, all is ready. For you. I’ve been waiting. For you. Too often, I’ve turned away. In shame.  “I’ve been watching every day. For you. But… I’ve done all can can do. For you. Unless you come home. The Choice is yours. I chose you, but I cannot make that choice FOR you.”

BECAUSE OF MY GRACE, THE DOOR IS WIDE OPEN FOR YOU, MY SON! COME HOME!!

RELATED POSTS

Broken ‘n Unworthy

HIS PRESENCE! – HOW?

I KEPT COMING BACK

But What about my sin?

My Judge? or “Father”!

https://itreallyisjustthatsimple.com/50shadesofgrace

A Theme, not Resolutions

Rainy Monday Morning Musings…

Yesterday at New Life Church, Pastor Gary shared he “is not one to make New Year Resolutions.” I totally identified with him. Pastor Ben had already made the same statement, so I feel I’m in good company. Gary then went on the say he likes the idea of living with a yearly THEME rather than a list of resolutions.

I’ve had several words that could describe my journey over the past few (7) years of recovery. Each one seemed to build upon the last. Can I call them THEMES?

•   I think the first was “LOVE!” As in when God said: “Jim, I want to begin to teach U just how much I LOVE U!  I’ve spent much my life trying to get Him to Love me more. He showed me that He doesn’t do “much” or “more“. S’prise, S’prise, S’prise! He already does!! LOVE! (me) as much as He ever will – and always has.

  The next theme was “TRUST“. Love and Trust have become two sides of the same coin in my life. I can’t have one without the other. in ALL my relationships. The more I discovered God’s Love for me, the more I came to Trust Him. The more I Trust Him, the more I Love Him. U see, “MORE”  “TRUST” is on my side of the fence. It’s already all been done from His side. His greatest purpose in my life is to teach me how to grow in that.

  As I recall, it was Jan 10, 3 or 4 years ago. I was sick that Sunday morning, and as a result I attended the 5:30 service. One of the advantages of that later service is that we don’t have to hurry, so as I knelt at the altar that evening, the word “STILL” was on my mind. As in… “Be Still – and KNOW“! It became my theme for the year. I didn’t go home after service and make a list (of resolutions) describing how I was going to learn to BE STILL, but by November, I was amazed to recognize how the turmoil and storms of my life had calmed. I’d love to be able to say it was the end of my struggles, but I can’t, because of the next theme:

 •   HONESTY. Alcoholics Anonymous uses the term “Rigorous Honesty“. One of the reasons I ended up in Celebrate Recovery 7 years ago was because of the masks I had learned to wear. I had gotten lost behind the secrets. Guess What!!! SECRETS make us lie!! The biggest lies are the ones we tell ourselves. A young lady once shared with me: “He can’t tell me the truth, because he doesn’t know the truth himself.” It’s been a difficult journey to move out from behind the masks into honesty, from that place of hiding. It still calls to me. It seems like a place of safety, but it quickly becomes a dark, lonely place.

•  I could show U the very spot I was standing when a man called me “SIR JAMES. U can read about him here and here. One of the best things that ever happened to me in recovery is when I found out who SIR JAMES is. I’d LOVE to be able to say “he was“, but I will never be completely free from him. (pssst – we all have a “Sir James” that lives in us!) I can say however, he is nowhere near as dominant as he used to be.

  THEMES… LOVE, TRUST, Be STILL, HONESTY, SIR JAMES…, I could go on. But I said all that to say this; as Gary was sharing yesterday, this word came to my mind… “DEEPER“. On the way to church yesterday morning, my daughter shared her word of the year with us: “BLOOM. Then my youngest grandson shared his: “FAITH.”  He then changed it to “EMMANUEL” (either one is fine with his PaPa) His mother asked him if he knew what that meant, and he said “God With Us“!!

But I digress…    What does “DEEPER” mean for me this year?  I’m sure I don’t have much of a clue as yet. But if U read my last post, U might understand my trepidation as I contemplate what it might mean and where it might take me. I have to remember the theme of “STILL” and how I didn’t see it’s progress at first. Can I TRUST that SomeOne knows more about it than I do?

DEEPER… in

Relationships?
His Word?
Wisdom?

Generosity?
Prayer?
???

Time will tell…. Stay tuned, it should be interesting! and scary!! MY favorite word, perhaps the underlying theme of this journey is PROCESS. I’m glad He’s teaching (taught) me that HE knows so much more about the process than I do. After all, He’s God! I’m not!

Monday Morng Musings II

It was an amazing day when I discovered I could trust God beyond my capacity to understand Him. 

My ego says: “God, I need to understand You before I trust You.”
Truth says: “Because He’s God, He’s beyond my understanding.”
Faith says: “I can have a relationship with Him that is Beyond my Understanding.That allows me trust Him more.
GOD says: “Jim, if U understood, U would not need to trust.”

Rick Warren tweet – Nov 9, 2013:  “If God was small enough for me to completely understand him, he wouldn’t be big enough for me to completely trust Him.”

It was about 8 years ago when I wrote in my journal; “God, I’m beginning to realize that I don’t trust U in the way I know U want me to.”

Please teach me to TRUST YOU MORE!”   

I had NO IDEA what I was praying for. My life turned upside down and inside out in ways I did not know was possible.

Today, I still have to say: “God, I’m beginning to realize that I don’t trust U in the way I know U want me to.”

“Please teach me to TRUST YOU MORE!”   

The thing is, today I better understand the “danger” of that prayer – kinda like praying for patience, there might be only one way to learn it!

T.B.T.#11

ThrowBackThursday #11

My wife’n I just celebrated our 49th anniversary. I brought her these flowers and a card. Silly, romantic fool that I am, I spent an extra $3 for another Rose ’cause ’13’ has ALWAYS been our special number!! 

 
And that’s all I / we did. This was the most laid back anniversary we’ve had in 49 years. Except for the first two when I was in Japan, Okinawa, Vietnam, and she was living with my parents in Antioch, California. We usually manage to get away for at least two or three days. This year we didn’t and that was OK. Oh – we did go to breakfast the next morning. Next year is 50! So we’re making plans…

Part of the reason it was quieter this year is because I spent the day with my Teen Challenge boys at New Life Church.

At the end of the day, as I left to go home I was remarking to a couple of the guys that I’d be making a stop on the way to buy her some flowers. I said: 

Imagine with me for a moment how I would feel if, when walking through the door with the flowers, I get this response from her:”

“Sweetheart, that was so nice of you to do that for me, but I’m afraid I just can’t accept your gift. BECAUSE I’M NOT WORTHY OF IT!” I haven’t done enough for you. There are too many things in my past I still need to make up for. I still have to get you to Forgive me before I can accept the flowers. Honey, you know that I keep trying to be a better wife for you, but I’m just not sure how I can ever be deserving. Please tell me how I need to change!”

As I spoke the words, I realized how crushed I would feel to get that response from her. I was reminded of this post. How many times in my past have I wanted to come before the LORD, but because of my past, because of my sin, because of my failure, because I felt unworthy, because I thought I needed forgiveness FIRST, I turned away? 

If I, as a husband would be crushed to have my offer of Love rejected, do we not grieve the heart of God by rejecting His Love?

I wrote this on my blog 2 years ago last week. Please follow this link and let its words pierce your heart as it did mine (again) this morning…

https://itreallyisjustthatsimple.com/2013/10/20/know-gods-love/