Devotions from Judy’s heart
Where’re my lots be cast,
Until the race is run,
Teach my Thy Way!”
I heard this term for the first time when James Houston, from Regent College referred to its important for the spiritual journey. He said it has been lost to the Western church, but has always been an important ingredent in understanding spiritual growth. What double knowledge implies is that a knowledge of God and a knowledge of ourselves are intimately linked together in the life of faithfulness to God. John Calvin, for example, wrote, “Our wisdom, is so far as it ought to be deemed true and solid wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and the knowledge of ourselves….The knowledge of God and the knowledge of ourselves are bound together by a mutual tie.” Paul told young Timothy, “pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching.” (I Tim 4:16).
For the first 2o years of my spiritual journey, I never heard of this truth. I had been taught that any awareness and paying attention to heart or soul, was dangerous introspection, which would lead me into the murky waters of emotions, desires and longings. I should stay in my head, learning, absorbing and reflecting on God’s objective truth, found in Scripture. This would point me to Jesus. I should leave it at that. The problem was that I know there deep emotions and desires that would bubble to the surface that I could not control. It took me a couple of years before I was willing to begin the inner journey.
I can not impress on the men who read this blog the importance of the inner journey, in which we gain knowledge of ourselves, that is, the good, the bad and the ugly. Most men’s material and men’s group lack the awareness of this important truth. The one exception is the local AA group. There you find honesty and humility. The men in AA are willing to go to the bottom of the pain. So men, find a brother who will be a loving mirror in your life. Let him know the secrets of your soul. Find a group of guys that are willing to go into the issues of the soul, rather then staying on the surface having safe “God talk.”
I would like to quote from David Benner who has helped me so much this area of my walk. “Christian spirituality involves a transformation of the self that occurs only when God and self are both deeply known….Though there has never been any serious theological quarrel with this ancient Christian understanding, it has been largely forgotten by the contemporary church. We have focused on knowing God and tended to ignore knowing ourselves. The consequences have been grievous – marriages betrayed, families destroyed, ministries shipwrecked and endless numbers of people damaged.”
I have no idea who or how many men read this blog. I know I am committed to faithfully post each week. If you have read enough of my blogs, you get a sense that I am committed to the inner journey. This might be new to your understanding. You might not like the idea. You might be reluctent to take the inner journey. My challenge to you, is to be open to the journey. This is what God has called me to do. My call is the help in bringing healing the broken hearts of men. The church in its practice and teaching has given us permission to stay on the surface, while the souls of men are broken and hurting.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
This is my Psalm for today which is especially fitting on Thanksgiving and expresses what is in my heart.
“Shout for joy to the Lord all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful song. Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us and we are His; we are his people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and His love endures forever, His faithfulness continues through all generations.”
As we will have 3 generations around the table today I pray that our children and children’s children etc will always know the goodness of the Lord and His love….just as I am sure this was the prayer of my own parents.
May your day be filled with praise and joy and love!
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Ann has a beautiful colorful bouquet of flowers on her table from Leif, and it is made up of many kinds of lovely roses, mums, carnations, cattails, fall leaves etc. The variety and color just adds to the beauty of the bouquet and causes me to praise the awesomeness of our creator. It made me think of and appreciate our grandkids and how there is not one of them that is like the other. Our 3 grandsons are so very much their own person and not like their brothers in any way. Joe is so tall and thin and rather introverted, Paul is solidly built and very artistic. Lars may be the smallest but not to be tampered with as he is strong and competitive. We love each of our grandkids and appreciate their unique qualities. How sad it would be if we wanted them to be all alike or maybe like us. I read just this morning in my devotions from II Cor10:12, “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.” Or like the Message puts it, “But in all this comparing and grading and competing, they quite miss the point.” Let us be ourselves and let others be themselves and rejoice in His creation!
God gives us a wonderful promise through the prophet Zephaniah, when he prophecies, “At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home. I will give you honor and praise among all the peoples of the earth when I restore your fortunes..” (Zeph 4:20). Do you sense a restlessness deep in your soul, in that place within you that cannot be reached by your understanding and effort? Is there a kind of homesickness that makes you a pilgrim looking for a place of security, trust and acceptance? Ever since the garden, when Adam and Eve were banished from the garden, there has been a homesickness in the soul of each of us.
The tendency for men is to go in search of security and acceptance outside themselves. But home, that place of acceptance, security and rest is f0und within, at the center, in a soulful life. You don’t find home, but rather it finds you, as you are willing to pay attention to what your soul is saying to you. Listen to Jesus’ promise: “I have revealed you to them, and I will continue to do so. Then your love for me will be in them, and I will be in them” (John 17:26). Notice the preposition “in.” Jesus assures us that the same love he experienced with the Father and his very presence would be “in” us. So men, don’t go searching for security, acceptance and safety outside yourself. The love of the Father is at the center manifested in Jesus.
Remember the story of the Prodigal Son. We read, “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself” (Luke 15:17). In other words, he got stopped in his tracks and came to an inner awareness that things were going in the wrong direction. He decided to turn around and come home. Likewise we can have the same conversion with ourselves, in deciding to come home. You discern Jesus waits at the center for us. You come to our senses, by listening to the inner voice of his spirit calling us home. The difficulty will be our willingness to listen to the urgings of our soul.
I can give testimony to this reality in my life. I lived a lot of years on the surface. I tried hard to be good and worked at finding my way back, after all I was “a professional holy man.” But I never felt like I was home, in that place of acceptance and rest. I must say to any man who is reading this blog and is adrift, away from home, the way back involves trust. There is no other way. You will have to let go of the controls and as it were “be led by the hand.” You simply will not be able to find your way back by means of your “spiritual projects” not matter how sincere. Like me, you will have to be tired of your start and stop efforts, and simply yield to the inner voice of the Spirit
The outer voice, heard through reading of Scriptures, preaching, teaching and fellowship will stimulate the awareness of the inner voice. Revelation 3:20 becomes very relevant at this point. “Look at me. I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open the door, I’ll come right in and sit down to supper with you.” I assure you that God’s love for you is persistent. Augustine observed, “You were within, but I was without. You were with me, but I was not with you. So you called, you shouted, you broke through my deafness, you flared, and banished my blindness, you lavished your fragrance and I gasped.” When you dare risk in trusting the inner voice, you will not be disappointed. The struggle will be in your letting go of the controls and the need to understand the process.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Last night we took our 3 grandsons to scouts as they met at the National Weather Service. We heard a good lecture with lots of diagrams and weather patterns etc. What impressed me was he said about water…we have all the water we will ever get and it is the same water that was present for thousands of years. It just goes through different cycles…like water, to clouds, to snow. Isn’t it something to think that this same water that we are drinking could have come from the rock that Moses and the children of Israel drank from? What also struck me was that how we take care of the environment is important but if others in China or some where else don’t do their part, it affects all of us here. We have acid rain!! Isn’t that the way it is with sin too? We think we are the only ones affected by bad choices that we make but it touches everyone else in some way too. We are all connected and may we treat others and the land as we would want them to treat us.
Devotions from Judy’s heart,
When we left the North woods last Monday morning it was snowing and the temperature was only in the early 20’s. I had on a long sleeved shirt with scarf, a sweatshirt and jacket. Little by little it warmed up and I took off one more layer of clothes. By the time we arrived in Kansas I had on only my long sleeved shirt ( and jeans, of course). I thought of our hearts and how they can gradually get cold when we do not take time for Him. When we come to the realization and desire to come close again, it may take time for our hearts to “thaw” and warm up. We may not realize how far we have strayed and it feels so good to be warmed in the awareness of His loving presence. I think of this often when I am home and start the wood stove in the morning as the fire has grown cold in the night while we are asleep. Let us not fall asleep spiritually and let the fire of His love go cold in us, but let us be ablaze!!!!