Wash and Be Clean

I want to thank you guys for all the prayers as I write my book.  I’m about two-thirds of the way done.  It has become a little more slow going.  Especially when I hit the “Blessed are the pure in heart” beatitude.  I thought I’d let you guys read how I started this section of the book.  Keep up the prayers . . . I’m looking crazy forward to when this book is out of my head and on paper.  Thank y’all so much!

Wash and Be Clean

How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be clean?’ — 2 Kings 5:13

Up until this point of the book, I have been really cranking the pages out. I thought I would get up and continue as usual. As it turns out, this time was different. I could not begin to write this chapter. I thought, “No big deal, I’ll just read my next section in the Bible.”

I did just that. I happened to be in the middle of Leviticus at the very parts where all that blood from all those animals makes all that atonement. I didn’t think much of it and went back to write. Once again, I could not write. So I knelt down to pray, “Lord, why can’t I write?” “Adam, you have the world all over you,” was all I heard in my spirit. I thought about it. We had a snowy, lazy weekend. In fact, right now the area that I am from has had this consistent rainy, cloudy dreariness for quite a while now. I have been dutifully reading my Bible, writing, and praying. But, when I’m finished I’ve just been doing worldly things like watching television, movies, and doing a whole lot of sleeping. I’m not saying these things are in and of themselves sinful, I’m just saying they probably are sinful at the amounts that I’ve been doing them. Upon realizing this, I simply washed and asked God to fill my clean vessel.

I really hope that you know what I’m talking about here. It’s like that feeling where you haven’t taken a shower for a few days, you just know you have to take one. My spirit gets like that more often than I’d like to admit and I take the spiritual version of a shower. I think it is important that I write exactly how I do this. This does not mean this is the way that you should do it, but it will give you some guidelines to figure out your own way to go about it.

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Foreword Progress

Hopefully, by the time you read this, I will be finished with chapter 5 of my book.  I have 4 more to go.  I have been relentlessly determined to get all of the information out of my head and onto the Kindle App I’m using to write.  I can’t thank you guys enough for the prayers.  I know they are working on so many levels.  I decided to say a prayer, and then have you read the foreword for my book.

Lord, I pray for every reader that reads this today.  I pray that today they may walk one step at a time.  I pray that they live moment by moment so aware of Your presence.  Help us to be more than conquerors and enjoy the day . . . regardless of what we have to do.  Let our lights so shine before men that others see our good deeds and glorify You, Our Father in heaven.
Foreword 
I have always loved reading The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan.  In fact, along with the Chronicles of Narnia, I try to it every few years.  The main thing I like about Pilgrim’s Progress is that every time I read it, I’m someplace different in the book.
I wish I had read it as soon as I became a Christian.  I believe it would have helped me tremendously.  In my heart I always believed that early on in my walk with the Lord I simply should have been further along than I actually was.  John Bunyan’s book, along with his testimonial book, Grace Abouning to the Chief of Sinners, taught me that it is okay to be a work in progress.
My book is not nearly as cool as Pilgrim’s Progress, but what I hope that it does is allow you to find exactly where you are in the process, realize that it is perfectly okay to be at this place in your life at this exact moment in your life, and know exactly what to do about it.  The last time I read Pilgrim’s Progress, I was in the Valley of the Shadow of Death.  I was ready to quit ministering and turn back.  I felt God telling me, “Adam, keep going forward, for the journey back is longer than the journey forward.”  This helped me to endure to the end.  I was motivated to march forward with my Lord and never look back. I made it through that particular valley.
This is my hope and prayer for you, the reader.  I hope that this first time through, you see exactly where you are in the process and it propels you forward in His Name.  Then, should you find yourself stuck in your spiritual walk in the future, you pick up this book and you see that you are in a different place this time.  Once again, you figure out exactly what to do and continue to walk humbly with your God.
Lord, let your power and presence be all over this little book with these words that You have given me.  Help us all to complete the process and be what You created us to be.
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Dedication

The title of my book is “The Process:  Using the Beatitudes to Explain how God Makes us Holy.”  As of today, I’m probably about 25% done with the book.  I’m trying to just write and not worry about editing and stuff like that.  I’m sure I’ll have to read it all 100 times and re-write a bunch of stuff.  All I ask is that you keep praying for me.  For some reason, I can crank it out between 3 and 5:30 am.  After that, I head to work and I’m one sleepy dude.  Fortunately, the Lord has been more than faithful.  Here is the dedication that I wrote for the beginning of the book.  Even though I hope that many people enter the process, I want my children to know that I wrote this for them.  Maybe when I’m dead and gone, they’ll want to hear my voice and will be able to find it in my writings.  Maybe every time they read it, they will want to go deeper and deeper with their Creator.

 

Dedication

 

It is no coincidence that I am writing this book during the only year that my two kids are in middle school.  My son, Jameson, is in the sixth grade.  My daughter, Caroline, is in the eighth grade.  The idea for this book was birthed while meeting with a couple of middle schoolers years ago.  I will always be grateful for the lunch conversation I had with Dillon and Marcus where God revealed The Process to me.

 

I have always prayed for my children.  I know being a pastor’s kid is difficult.  People on the outside looking in simply hold them to a different standard.  I knew I could basically force my children to look the part of a “good church kid.”  Or, and this is the route I chose to take, I could pray for them and plead with God to truly grab hold of their hearts, minds, and lives in His perfect timing.  I want them and every other person who reads this book to go deeper in the process.  I want to see and hear over and over stories of the greatest miracle God still performs today:  Changing the hearts, minds, and lives of sinful men and women.

 

 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

 

Caroline and Jameson:  I love you with everything that I am.

 

Lord, please help my children to complete the process.  Please let them read this book and let the words just sink in.  May they truly get it.  Let your blessed Holy Spirit begin to infiltrate them so that they want to love You with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength.  On that day when they draw their final breath, may they hear the sweet words we all long to hear: “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” 

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The Lord is My Shepherd

So for the next few months, I’m going to finally write a book that God has been after me to write for years. Recently, He has given me some cool stuff to go along with it. I definitely have everything I need to get it done. With that said, I’ll more than likely be posting my old WMD’s or even excerpts from the book. Definitely say a prayer for me as I attack this.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.  — Psalm 23:1

I remember memorizing psalm 23. I was just getting into Bible study about 20 years ago. I knew John 3:16 and I knew Genesis 1:1, that was pretty much it. I asked my mom if she had any Bible verses committed to memory. She rattled off some verses but then said, “I know all of psalm 23. I learned it at Bible school when I was little.” She then began to quote psalm 23. I thought it was one of the coolest things I had ever heard. I immediately went to Psalm 23 in my Bible and read it over and over again. In about a week, I had committed it to my own memory.

It was years after I memorized Psalm 23 before I realized that to call the Lord “my Shepherd” was to call myself a sheep. I learned that sheep are possibly the dumbest animals in the world. I read of a shepherd in Canada that lost over 100 sheep when he went away and hired a substitute who didn’t watch after the flock like he would have himself. A sheep had wandered too close to the edge of a cliff and fell to its own death. Other sheep became curious as to what happened to the sheep, went to the edge of the cliff themselves, and fell to their own deaths. This happened to over 100 sheep before the substitute shepherd realized what was happening.

What a picture of my life, especially as a young Christian. I wanted to follow the Lord, I just didn’t want to deny myself and stay close to the Shepherd. I wanted to do the things that I wanted to do and wanted all the benefits of a person that followed the Lord with his whole heart. When you do that, or at least when I did, it made me quite miserable. I had too much of the world in me to be happy in God, and I had too much God in me to be happy in the world. I feel sometimes like I was that 120th or whatever number sheep that was about to walk over the cliff. Fortunately, for me, the Good Shepherd made it just in time to keep me from walking over that cliff. He saved me. He loved me too much to let me destroy myself.

When I realized I was a half-way in Christian, I knew it was time to choose who I was going to serve. I could not continue to walk towards the cliff Monday through Saturday, then walk toward the Shepherd on Sunday. It was after I went to a revival meeting on a Sunday through Thursday that it all truly began to turn around. I still feel God when I think of the song that the choir sang when I walked in the door. I‘ll never forget it:

Here I am

Here I am

I’m the one the Shepherd left His fold and found

There were ninety and nine

But He left the fold to find

One little lost lamb and here I am

I still have to thank the Lord for that moment. I have never in my life felt such great love. I knew He loved me and only wanted the best for me and my life. Why in the world was I continually rejecting Him? I went from being a rebellious believer to a committed follower. All I could do was pray the prayer that would come 2 chapters later in Psalm 25: 4 – 7:

“Show me your ways, O Lord,

teach me your paths;

guide me in truth and teach me,

for you are God my Savior,

and my hope is in you all day long.

Remember not the sins of my youth

and my rebellious ways;

according to your love remember me,

for you are good, O Lord.”

Man, He is awesome!

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Breakthrough

 

And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. – John 8:32

 

A handful of times, there have been these incredible moments of clarity within my walk with The Lord.  I am right now in the process of having another one.  It’s like in an instant, I have become this brand-new creature.  Old things have passed away and all things have really become new.  It’s like I’m looking at the world for the first time. I just want to take the time to write down just how much God has moved in my heart and life.  In the future, when my heart is in turmoil, I hope to stumble across this writing.  I will remember that God has done it before, and He’ll do it again.

 

I started a 21-day fast on Christmas Day.  I only had a few requests for God, the main one being that He had to take away this hurt that I’ve been feeling ever since leaving the church that I pastored.  Just hours ago, I received my breakthrough . . . it was like it was just handed to me all of a sudden.  I was able to spew out my venom to one of the church leaders that I respected and had probably grown to love the most.  He was my main connection since the beginning of it all.  He was and is the OG . . . to me anyway.  He then unleashed his side of things.  We texted back-and-forth for the rest of the day.  I now totally believe that saying, “There are two sides to every story, and the truth is somewhere in the middle.”  The biggest reward of all is that I now have my friend back.

 

I honestly don’t know how Jesus took what He took.  He literally did nothing wrong His entire life; and was placed on a cross for it.  He endured it.  He just took it, and with no vengeful reactions.  When I thought I had done no wrong, it absolutely consumed me.  I could not take it.  I was like James and John, the “sons of thunder,” calling down fire from heaven.  Now that I see my part in all of it, I can take it.  It’s like I don’t mind self-destructing, but nobody else better destroy me.  What is that?  My guess is that it is the pride and selfishness that still resides in my heart and mind.

 

At any rate, it’s over.  Freedom feels absolutely amazing.  Perfect peace and joy is back to resting in my spirit.  I could not be more thankful.  It’s like seeing a perfect, glorious sunrise on the horizon, looking back at the past one more time, and then starting a new journey towards this marvelous light . . . wherever it may lead.

 

For all the prayers last week, thank you!  They worked.

 

Of course they did.

 

When ole Gabriel blows the trumpet

And we rise up in the air

In less time than a split second

I’ll be changed from here to there

 

Where there’ll be no grief or pain

Perfect peace and joy shall reign

Home at last I shall proclaim

Lord, here I am!

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Prayer Request

And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to everyone according to his work.  — Revelation 22:12

 

For two weeks in a row now, I have written WMDs that I don’t get to publish.  I’m going to go ahead and lay it all out there . . . I am bitter in my heart towards some people, and it shows up in my writing.  I am also in a fasted state right now.  I know you aren’t supposed to talk about it, but I’m not doing it for attention.  I don’t really care if I lose some reward for this fast, but I do care if this bitterness remains in my heart.  As the verse up top says, He is coming back . . . I want to be ready!

 

Fasting is kind of like spiritual surgery.  It opens up your spiritual heart, and whatever is in there that does not need to be there is just laid wide open for you to see and cut out.   I know many times I don’t want to deal with my spiritual issues, or worse, many times I excuse them away.  But here, right now, my soul feels split wide open and I’m allowing God to cut away as He sees fit.  It’s not fun, it’s definitely not comfortable, but I know it is necessary.

 

Now, here is the best part:  100% of the time, when you’ve said that last prayer in a fasted state and have thanked Him for helping you and cutting on you, it’s like surgery is complete.  You do have this healing period much like having stitches after surgery and needing to rest and all that.  But, on the other side, you don’t struggle as much with whatever was cut out.  It’s like it really was removed and you can move forward.

 

Here is another crazy thing:  God is probably using me more right now than He ever has.  It would be so easy for me to keep ministering with all this junk in my heart and think that God was okay with it.  But I just finished reading the entire Bible from when I started back in October 2018.  When I read that last chapter . . . time is so short.  I am going to be standing before Him before I know it.  I want that reward.  I want my heart to be pure when I see Him face to face.

 

So, in 10 years of writing, I don’t think I’ve ever flat out asked for you guys to pray for me.  I might have, but I’m not going to search through 500 WMDs to find out.  Anyway, pray that God gets ALL this spiritual cancer out of my heart.  Pray that I continue in this new decade to write only what He would have me write.  Pray that one day at a time, God will continue to lead, guide, and direct me.  Pray that I get to grab ahold of that reward.  I want nothing more than for my work and my life to please Him. I want nothing more than to hear the words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

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A New Decade

 

Then God said, “Let lights appear in the sky to separate the day from the night.  Let them be signs to mark the seasons, days, and years.”  — Genesis 1:14

 

I started writing WMDs in 2009.  This means that I began this ministry at the end of the 2000s.  I have been writing for all of the 2010s . . . a full decade.  My kids at the start of this past decade were 1 and 3 years old.  They are now 11 and 13.  A lot happens in a decade.  Lord willing, I will actually retire in this upcoming decade.  I probably won’t, but I actually could.  That is crazy to me.  I just wanted to reflect a bit on this past decade.

 

One thing I do know is that I have drawn so much closer to The Lord over the last 10 years.  A really strange paradox about God is that the more you know Him, the more you realize you don’t really know Him.  He is so vast.  I feel like a drop of water in all of the oceans and lakes combined compared to Him.  Yet, He cares about me.  He loves me.  He walks with me when I take my prayer walks.  He talks with me when I kneel down to pray.  When I go days without doing these things and go back to them, I just think, “Why in the world would I ever skip this?”  He prompts me to do right.  He gently lets me know when I’ve done wrong.  He has never let sin overtake me.  He convicts me so gently and asks me to just hand it all over to Him.  His love for me is absolutely immeasurable!  Oh, how I want to love Him back!

 

For six years of this past decade, He allowed me to pastor a church.  How crazy is that?  The entire time, I’ve never felt more unworthy to do something in my life.  How does a math teacher from the alternative school get a chance to do something like that?  I am incredibly grateful for that time.  I got to know some incredible people.  I grew so much.  I got in the habit of studying and praying consistently.  Before, I might would take weeks off.  As a pastor, Sunday was coming so quickly.  I didn’t have time to be mad at God, mad at the world, or mad at people . . . Sunday was coming.  I had to be clean.  I had to be prepared.  I loved it!  I loved my spot at the altar on the left side of the church where I’d go right before I preached.  I’d plead with God to remove anything that didn’t need to be in my heart, mind, and life.  I’d ask to be filled up with the Spirit.  I’d forgive if I needed to forgive.  I’d make right if I needed to make right.  The last thing I wanted was to be some tainted vessel up there speaking for the God I love.  I loved preparing messages at the church.  I had another favorite spot at the altar where I would ask Him to tell me what to say.  Not one time did He ever deny me.  He is amazing!  He is God!  He can do whatever He wants, yet He chooses to care about me?  On my last Sunday there, I sat at my favorite spot and sang “I Give Myself Away” by William McDowell.  I still think about it because it was so powerful.  So many gathered around me and Tonya as we tearfully said goodbye.  It was a fitting close to a pretty killer six years.

 

A whole decade is behind us.  What are you going to do with the 2020s?  My kids will be 21 and 23 at the end of this decade!  I will be 54 years old.  I think of that Tracy Lawrence song, “Time Marches On,” because man, it does.  I think of Bob Seger, “20 years, where’d they go?”  The truth is . . . all of this is so temporary.  At the end of it all there will only be one thing that matters:  What did I do with Jesus?  Did I get to know Him?  Did I love Him?  Did I fractionally grasp just how much He loves me?

 

Lord, You are amazing!  This is life like no other . . . this is the Great Adventure!  I can’t imagine what I’d be doing if I had chosen to hang on to my life as a 16-year old kid and not give it to You.  I’d be so boring.  You have led me to a beautiful, wonderful wife.  You have given me two children that I love and adore.  I do ask for Your help in this decade.  They will be leaving our nest near the end of it.  I’ve only asked one thing, Lord:  that they really know You.  That they really have the Holy Spirit living inside them and that they impact souls for You.  I pray that many souls enter the kingdom of Heaven simply because they exist and they know You.  I pray for my marriage.  I pray that Tonya and I will get closer and closer every year.  I pray that I continue to love her more and more.  I would have never thought that loving her like I love her now was possible.  I pray for my future ministry.  I don’t care if I’m in the public’s eye or in the wilderness by myself, Lord.  As long as You are there, what else do I need?  You are the God of it all!  One more thing:  Will you bless like crazy every person who reads this today?  Will you allow the Holy Spirit to just jump off the screen and breathe fresh life into the readers?  Bless them, Lord.  Continue to give me just the right words at just the right time to help as many as possible through this little devotional ministry.  Continue to allow me to pray with people who were touched right in the middle of Ingles, Wal-Mart, or even in front of the post office.  Make this the decade of the third Great Awakening!  There is and never will be anyone like our God!  I love You, Lord.  Thank You for giving me another set of 10 years.

 

Many things about tomorrow

I don’t seem to understand

But I know who holds tomorrow

And I know who holds my hand 

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