Tuesday, April 18, 2006
April 10-16, 2006
Pictures- A few crazies and Easter
Week- The biggest theme going through this week was discouragement. Jesus seemed distant, and I found it hard to connect with Him in any meaningful, intimate way. I was still going through the motions but was not finding the presence and the peace that He abundantly gives. This usually shows itself most clearly in conflicts with Laurie, and we had one early in the week. My response was despair. After a short recovery we blew up on Sunday. Easter did not bring resurrection power, but rather it felt more like crucifixion despair. By late Sunday night we had talked through most of it but were still feeling very raw and wounded.
The emotions overwhelm me when I am confronted by her, and I go into a very unhealthy mode that my mind can�t override for quite a time. I become hard-hearted, stubborn, defensive, attacking, justifying, and dodgy. I know the truth is that I need to drop it all, repent, turn to Jesus, and let His loving forgiveness bring restoration and healing, but instead I hold on with a death grip and slip ever deeper into my foxhole ready for battle. I look back on these times and wonder what was going on inside of me. I long for Jesus to break that pattern and know that He will in time.
As I journalled about it on Monday Jesus spoke clearly showing me that I had very subtly moved away from dependence on Him and into an orphan mentality of building my own record and trying to stand on my own two feet without His help. Over the last few weeks I had moved and had not seen it, until, by God�s grace, my world fell apart (in a sense), and I had no other choice. Amazing how gloriously painful God�s grace can be sometimes, and yet, in comparison to where I was heading, the pain of revelation was a wonderful kindness.
I was building my house on sand- the storm came and showed me that clearly. If I could be seen as a good leader, if I could be generous enough, could do enough good works, could get enough cool gadgets, could give wise counsel, could have all the right answers, could be a good dad, could be seen by my neighbors as �good�, could be seen by my friends as impressive, and on and on, THEN I would be happy and life would be good with no problems. And the reality is that all of those things are empty, but I could not see it as my days whirred by, until things erupted. Then it was clear. Jesus is so patient and kind. So when this prodigal came back and realized the Truth and repented, He was there to shower me with kisses and throw the party of the century.
Thank you Jesus.
Sunday, April 09, 2006
April 3-9, 2006
Pictures: Laurie's birthday
Books: I have started a couple of new books-
Abuse-Proofing Your Child- Grace Ketterman- I am finding much of it to be oversimplified but she does have some good points, and I am glad I have read it as it has reminded me of some things in which I need to stay vigilant in teaching the kids. I am guessing there are much better books on the subject, though.
Modern Uzbeks- ?- Just started it, but am really enjoying it, even though it is a bit intellectual (every now and then he uses words I've never heard of and it seems to be more out of getting to use the big word than out of necessity, but that is a personal judgment, and, not knowing the author, one I am not really allowed to make). I can't say much about it yet as I have not read enough.
Redeeming a scary time:
As usual Jesus was ever-present this week, but I wanted to give a testimony of one particular event in which He showed Himself to Hudson and I. In this event the battle we are in, the need to run to Jesus, and His readiness to come to our help are all present.
Friday night around 3am Hudson came into our room and woke me up to say that he was very scared. This was not the first time one of our kids has done this, and I responded as I normally do, namely taking them back to bed, tucking them in, and praying for them (usually in a half-sleep). I returned to bed and went to sleep.
A while later Laurie got up to go to the bathroom and upon returning heard a muffled howling sound coming from the boys' room. She went in to see what it was and found Hudson under his covers calling for us. He was weeping uncontrollably and sweating profusely. Once she removed the covers it woke me up, and I went in to check on him.
We set up a mattress on the floor and brought him into our room. I lay down next to him and prayed for him. I wanted to comfort him (he really could not explain why he was so scared- apparently did not have a bad dream) and also did not want this to be a lasting memory that would get a hold on him. I was praying for Jesus to speak to Hudson and to show him how He (Jesus) was near him. I was praying that I did not want it to be a memory of Hudson being alone but instead a memory of him being ? I could not think of what kind of memory it could be? How could Jesus redeem this? And then Jesus spoke that the major point of the experience was not that Hudson was alone but that he was rescued. Next He said to me (if you are not used to Jesus speaking to you in your inner being then this may sound weird- I can't explain it here, but would be happy to if you want to write and ask me personally- my guess is that most disciples of Jesus know what I am talking about) that He woke up Laurie. I excitedly told this to Hudson (I'm still lying next to him at this point), and he recognized it and seemed to relax a bit.
I was very encouraged and prayed that they point would stick in his mind. That he would awake knowing that Jesus was with him when we could not hear him and that Jesus rescued him by waking his mommy; and that this would carry over in a broader way seeing that Jesus is always with him and will watch over him so that he does not need to fear.
He slept in Saturday morning as long as he ever has. The experience clearly wiped him out. But when he woke up the first thing he did was tell Keaton about how Jesus rescued him the night before. Needless to say I was encouraged and thankful to my precious Savior. May the truth stick in me of how much Jesus loves my kids and will watch over them. My calling is to Jesus and listening to Him, being full of the Holy Spirit; not to worrying about my kids.
Happy Birthday to my precious wife! She is a wonderful gift from God. I would not be the man I am today if not for her.
Sunday, April 02, 2006
March 27 - April 2, 2006
Pictures: I tried to find funny or interesting pictures we have taken from the last year. I'll let you judge as to my success. This first one speaks for itself. The others follow after my weekly review.
The key event in the week, around which almost everything else happened, was the Undivided Heart Ministry (UHM) training our team received on Tuesday and Wednesday. UHM is one of many names given to the concept of deep healing prayer. One definition given was, "Jesus bringing light to my dark places." Now for some what I am going to describe below may seem a bit strange, but I will go for it anyway hoping that you will be encouraged by the way Jesus met me and ministered to me and our team through this time.
We had a three hour time together Tuesday morning asking questions and discussing hopes and expectations for the training. Then Tuesday evening we divided into men and women and had a prayer time together. In both groups one person facilitated the prayer time and one person received Jesus' healing touch. The others observed. It was a significant time for all involved as Jesus took both individuals in directions they had not expected and healed some painful memories that were still impacting their lives through unwanted behaviours.
The basic concept is that the person facilitating the time asks questions of the person or of Jesus and/or asks the person to ask Jesus certain questions. The whole idea is built on the notion that Jesus still speaks to us, and, if we listen, we can hear Him. As well, the belief is that Jesus wants to heal the dark places in our lives. Many people have found that whereas they cannot "hear" the voice of friends/family, they respond to the voice of Jesus when He reveals things that will bring healing.
So, on Wednesday morning we debriefed Tuesday night and had a group time of prayer in which the leader asked Jesus to speak to us as a group. He asked if anyone was hearing anything from God. A couple of people spoke out, and then one said that Jesus often said, "Do not be afraid", and was now asking us what we were afraid of. This lead to a significant time of almost everyone on the team confessing deep fears and giving them over to Jesus.
After lunch on Wednesday we divided into men and women again, and I was the lucky one to be prayed for. I had something specific on my mind (this is not always the case in these times), but I was a bit reluctant to mention it. We began the time, and I felt that I was supposed to go to that place. I shared that I was really struggling with negative feelings/thoughts about someone in my life. I was not "for" this person and was often disagreeing with them and challenging whatever they said. So the facilitator began the process of asking Jesus to pinpoint what was going on. He asked a number of questions about my feelings and specific instances when I felt this way, and so on, but my mind was blank and I could not really articulate what I was feeling/thinking.
The facilitator then dealt with potential demonic interferance, and we continued. I had been talking about what I did not like about the person and one thing struck me in a new way- I called what they had done bragging or boasting which I had not done before. However, my mind was still blank otherwise, and I was not seeing any deeper reasons for why I felt as I did.
I had felt that my feelings did not make sense and definitely did not reflect Jesus being in me, and, therefore, I wanted to do something about it. I had tried to be different but was unsuccessful. For these reasons I thought that maybe something deeper was going on, something I could not see, but was nonetheless real.
However, at this point I was not getting any answers from Jesus, when all of the sudden the word "Pray" entered my mind. This began a little argument with God that went something like this...
"Pray? That is what we are doing."
"But I am praying. What am I supposed to pray about?"
"What should I say?"
At that point I began praying out loud. I don't really remember what I said, but it had something to do with asking Jesus to reveal this to me and bring healing and wholeness to this relationship.
All of a sudden a very clear memory came into my head of me as a child being with an authority figure and that person talking about a friend of theirs who was a braggart. They were speaking very negatively of the person and of the trait. I could see myself as that child thinking that people who do this are losers and don't have any real friends.
I was amazed at how applicable this was to what I was feeling and how I never would have thought of that event on my own as I have not thought of it since it happened. But it was so clear how I had taken on a certain attitude at that time and Satan had used it to gain a foothold in my life. Among other things it was affecting the way I viewed people who did this.
On top of that as the facilitator asked more questions it became clear that I was guilty of the same thing and more memories flooded my mind of times I had done it and been humiliated or caught or belittled. I saw that I desparately want people to think I am impressive and try to do things to make that happen and so want to say things that sound impressive. Seeing this was not new but seeing how it related to this event was the eye-opener.
The facilitator next took me through a process of repentance and renouncing. We dealt with spiritual strongholds that were there. Jesus spoke peace and truth to the lies I had been believing. One key one was the picture that the boasting was a door leading into a room. The room was one of pain and hurt, insecurity, and loneliness. However, all I was looking at was the door, and I was judging it. I repented of that. We continued in this process for a little while and then closed the time. In all it took about 2 hours.
Now, as I sit here typing a few days later, I find that I am still not perfect in this. The process of breaking the patterns of thought ("taking thoughts captive") still needs to happen, but for the first time I recognize what is really going on and am finding it possible to deal with it by Jesus' grace. I also have new feelings of love and compassion for the person, but still struggle a bit and have more to do. I sense the same for myself. It is not like everything in my life is fine now. Jesus in His kindness of healing one area of my life has also revealed a few more dark areas that He wants to come in and shine His light. At first I was discouraged by this, but then He gently reminded me that this process will not end until heaven and the fact that I recognize that it is happening is proof that He is working in my life. For that I thank my beloved Savior and forever will praise His Name.
How Colton got in there we don't know but we let him wait until we could get the camera. He was not happy.
Our neighbors said this lamb had "Muhammad" written in Arabic on its side and charged admission to see it.