The Jesus Myth

The Jesus Myth

Life is full of myths and if you don’t watch it, they will get you!

Take diets and healthy living for example. I learned the hard way but let me tell you, you quit eating right, you quit exercising, you pay for it. You develop lazy habits, lousy eating patterns and you gain “baggage” where it isn’t supposed to be.

All of a sudden you don’t feel as good as you used to, you don’t look as good and you have to start wearing baggy clothing to hide the baggage.

So it is with a relationship with God. I found out the hard way in both these areas. Well in the spirit of the new year and the age old resolutions, I vowed to get back in shape in both areas.

I had researched (of course I had) the best way to get back to where I needed to be health wise, which translates into the easiest. All I got was confused. I read that to lose weight you had to cut out whole food groups, or cut out just fat, or cut out carbohydrates, or you could exercise and eat what- ever you wanted. Well put them all together and its simple, you can’t eat anything.

So instead I went out and bought the latest on the diet subject, all the latest, greatest, easy fix diet books, I got the video that promised if I gave them 2.2 minutes a day my body would look like a movie stars, I bought wonderful new, state of the art exercise clothes, exercise monitor and tennis shoes. WooHoo, I was set to get fit. Guess what, none of that worked as long as I was still sitting in my recliner. It takes perseverance, willpower, and motivation to get healthy, mostly it takes getting out of the recliner.

 

It is a lot like that in my relationship with God. Yes His arms are always open, and He will welcome you at any time. He will soften hearts to hear the message He brings and He will provide plenty of opportunities to build a meaningful and fulfilling relationship with Him.

However, just like leading a healthy life, you have to get out of the recliner and you have to do more than “go along just enough to get along”

It takes the same perseverance, willpower and motivation; sometimes it even takes getting a little (or a lot) uncomfortable if we want all that God has to offer us.

God, diets, exercise, quitting bad habits, if it is good for you it certainly could hurt a little bit…………….for a time. It won’t last forever and God is Captain of this ship, He will bring you into port in His time.

So get out of your recliner and start building the life you want, the life you deserve and the life God wants to give you.

Dottie

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The Jesus Myth

The Jesus Myth

Life is full of myths and if you don’t watch it, they will get you!

Take diets and healthy living for example. I learned the hard way but let me tell you, you quit eating right, you quit exercising, you pay for it. You develop lazy habits, lousy eating patterns and you gain “baggage” where it isn’t supposed to be.

All of a sudden you don’t feel as good as you used to, you don’t look as good and you have to start wearing baggy clothing to hide the baggage.

So it is with a relationship with God. I found out the hard way in both these areas. Well in the spirit of the new year and the age old resolutions, I vowed to get back in shape in both areas.

I had researched (of course I had) the best way to get back to where I needed to be health wise, which translates into the easiest. All I got was confused. I read that to lose weight you had to cut out whole food groups, or cut out just fat, or cut out carbohydrates, or you could exercise and eat what- ever you wanted. Well put them all together and its simple, you can’t eat anything.

So instead I went out and bought the latest on the diet subject, all the latest, greatest, easy fix diet books, I got the video that promised if I gave them 2.2 minutes a day my body would look like a movie stars, I bought wonderful new, state of the art exercise clothes, exercise monitor and tennis shoes. WooHoo, I was set to get fit. Guess what, none of that worked as long as I was still sitting in my recliner. It takes perseverance, willpower, and motivation to get healthy, mostly it takes getting out of the recliner.

It is a lot like that in my relationship with God. Yes His arms are always open, and He will welcome you at any time. He will soften hearts to hear the message He brings and He will provide plenty of opportunities to build a meaningful and fulfilling relationship with Him.

However, just like leading a healthy life, you have to get out of the recliner and you have to do more than “go along just enough to get along”

It takes the same perseverance, willpower and motivation; sometimes it even takes getting a little (or a lot) uncomfortable if we want all that God has to offer us.

God, diets, exercise, quitting bad habits, if it is good for you it certainly could hurt a little bit…………….for a time. It won’t last forever and God is Captain of this ship, He will bring you into port in His time.

So get out of your recliner and start building the life you want, the life you deserve and the life God wants to give you.

Dottie

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Spiritual Warfare

This is scary stuff. How do you win a war if you can’t see the enemy or if you didn’t even realize that war had been declared? Make no mistake, if you are a Christian you automatically gain an enemy, we have all heard about Satan and probably even spiritual warfare. I guess what I didn’t realize is the insidious nature of the battle this invisible and evil foe wages. You can’t see Satan, it isn’t an earthly battle. So if we can’t see this invisible and evil entity that is trying to destroy our life how can we battle back? We can’t reason with or placate this enemy, you can’t reason with an invisible enemy but you… can be sure that he is on the attack.

But how do you know this is really spiritual warfare? In Ephesians 6:12, Paul writes: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Being a Christian comes with a built in enemy, he is already defeated but he is going to try to bring down as many as he can before his time is up. Satan can screw up our lives in a big way if we don’t see the situation for what it is. Remember, your fight is not against the person who just hurt you or lied to you, your fight is against Satan. Yes, it is tough at times to stand in the middle when your world is crashing around you, when nothing makes sense or nothing you do seems to help, that is absolutely  a tough place to be. It would be easier to walk away, live where there is no hurt, chaos, angry words, lies and deceit, but Satan is going to go where you go if he isn’t dealt with. Oh Satan will lie to you and try to make you believe all sorts of things, DON”T LISTEN. Once again, your enemy is not the earthly one hurting you, this is a spiritual battle that cannot be won by earthy means. John 8:44 tells us that Satan is a liar, there is no truth in him, in fact he is the father of all lies. He will tell you that God does not hold the power to fix this, that there is no hope, that the hurt is too deep and is not able to be healed. I took the following prayer list from a book on spiritual warfare because it is excellent advice.

Pray for your home.

Pray for your mate.

Pray with faith.

Pray with boldness.

Pray with persistence.

Then look within, search what God wants you to change in your heart, change begins in you. You make the changes you need to make in yourself. Then start praying for God to work, be specific, consistent and seek the truth. We aren’t guaranteed the road will be easy, we aren’t guaranteed the trip will be short and without pain. We are however guaranteed that Satan is already defeated and we are in the winner’s circle of life.

Psalm 138:8 The LORD will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O LORD, endures forever; Dottie

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The age old question, Which is more important, the destination or the journey?

You would think I would be getting used to this supernatural stuff that seems to happen when you are working on a relationship with God. However, it still amazes me how God puts exactly the right things in your path at exactly the right time.
Thanks to the tenacity of Ray Mapel and his daily postings (that I count on), today was just such a day. God threw this little gem of a quote my way.
“Don’t confuse your path with your destination. Just because its stormy now does not mean that you are not headed for sunshine.”

I can equate this with riding my motorcycle. There are many, many times I have taken motorcycle trips to destinations that were long anticipated and we were very excited to arrive. There were just as many times that before we arrived at the destination that we sat on corners with all available maps and GPS’s on deck and the guys were shrugging their shoulders saying, well I don’t know how we missed it (meaning the right turn, the right highway, the right town or even the right state.

Which is more important, the journey or the destination? It can be a catch 22 sort of situation.

We cannot let ourselves get so focused on the destination that we forget the journey, not only forget the journey but forget the fact that God sent us on that journey and He knows full well the detours and potholes we will encounter. Even though we might not be aware of it, He also knows the lessons the journey will teach us.

The destination should not be the final state of being either, don’t misjudge the destination, it is probably wise to remember that the destination we have in mind may not be the same destination God has in mind for us. Also good to remember that all the whining, stomping of feet or pouting probably won’t change the outcome.

Maybe the only destination should be to find complete and total freedom and truth in our Father God.

Sometimes the journey can feel like a bit of a secret mission, because if we are not dodging potholes, changing flat tires or waiting on the side of the road with a gas can, we are encountering storms in epic proportions. You get soggy, cold, frustrated, downright depressed, and your enthusiasm is running mighty thin. You are sitting in the storm thinking the sun is never going to be stronger than the clouds.

However, God in His infinite wisdom knows that the only journey that counts is the journey within. God knows, but we have yet to figure out, that destinations are indeed important, because they create the possibility (or need) for the journey.

The storms we walk through simply make us much more appreciative of the sunshine we will inevitable reach.
DottieImage

Merry Merry CHRISTmas

Defining Christmas

We enjoyed a candlelight service at church last night and it was meaningful and beautiful. Silent Night by candlelight has the ability to bring me to tears. The fact that this holiday is celebrated because  our Savior was born has the ability to humble me like nothing else. For me, the season is about the fact that a baby was born to save a sinner like me.

 However there is another aspect to Christmas that has long been written about, the other side of Christmas, the side that people love to ridicule yet they continue to engage in with gusto. It is the bright, glittery, and joyful Christmas. YIKES, if you celebrate that way you must have lost  sight of the real meaning of Christmas somewhere.

Seriously?

 I do celebrate that way. I love to bake my loved ones mountains of really rich, decadent, not good for them goodies. In fact I love to make more food for my boys than is humanly possible to consume, but that is part of the celebration. 

I love to shop for hours on end for just the right gift and then bring it home, wrap it with glittery, bright paper and top it with even more glitter and totally unnecessary(but fun) bows and ribbons. I love my Christmas tree and the decorations that bring back memories of the times past. I love to drive around and look at Christmas lights, cheesy or not. It all signifies Christmas for me.

I am a Christian, I love my Father God and  I celebrate the birth of my Savior in a bright, glittery, joyful way.  I love to see the Christmas spirit all around me, those viewpoints do not have to be mutually exclusive, they can co-exist quite nicely together.

I do not forget the fact that “Jesus is the reason for the season”, this is my way of spreading the joy and making the celebration of the ultimate Gift of Life”  uniquely mine.

We each have the opportunity to take the holiday and personalize it, make it special and make it meaningful. As long as we are praising God and glorifying Him (who provided the gift) , it is a good thing.

Last night (Christmas Eve)  we broke tradition and started a new one. We attended the candlelight service at our church as I stated earlier,  with good friends  and then went to their house for a delicious meal and fellowship with wonderful friends, some old friends, some new. Thank you my friends for including us!

The house literally glowed with the love of our Savior AND the joy of Christmas. I have forgotten the literal joy of a child opening gifts, it was a great joy to witness and participate in. There is nothing like celebrating the true meaning of Christmas with others that feel the same way.

Christ is the reason I celebrate but Christmas is also a time to support diversity, foster goodwill where we walk, make new traditions while maintaining our family traditions. Christmas is love.

Merry Christmas my friends,

Dottie

When life gets tough.

I know that it is popular to say that if God brings us to it He will bring us through it, that God will use bad situations for our good and He doesn’t give us more than we can handle. But what about the times you find yourself in a situation that no matter how deep you dig you cannot see the good, you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel and you feel your strength slipping away under the load? What do we do then?
This morning I am holding onto this verse. 1Peter 1:6-7
6 So be truly glad. [a] There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. 7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.
I will go forth with my eyes on Jesus and Jesus only and I will pray.
Father, deliver me from the power of darkness and show me how to shield myself with the armor of your strength. Help me to walk with you daily and to turn my eyes away from those things that are a hindrance to my walk with you.
Deliver me Father from the unhealthy holds that are present in my life, help me to see you as the most important thing in my life. Help me to seek your holy ground.
Create in me a hunger and a thirst for you that is unquenchable; fill me with your knowledge and wisdom. Show me the way I should go and help me to be a doer of your word and not just a hearer of your word.
Create a space in my heart for you and give me an escape for every temptation. Bring me to the calling you have pre-destined me for Father.
Take my heart and heal it, heal my pain and give me vision to see the situation clearly. Show me how to pray, show me how to love, please Lord, just show me how to survive difficult times.
Give me the strength to hand over to you my problems and to leave them in your hands. Heal the hurt within me. Create in me the need to seek you first, nourish my mind and my soul for an intimate relationship with you first.
Help me Father to quit worrying about those things which I have handed over to you. Help me to forget those things that make me crazy, that hinder my walk with you and help me to let you do your job.
I want to walk with you not only daily, but hourly and even minute by minute. I want to share everything with you, the good, the bad and everything in between.
Help me to recognize the lies Satan loves to feed me and help me to hear your voice strong and clear in those times.
God I know that you can do exceedingly and abundantly above all I can think, imagine or ask. I know and believe that you are greater than anything I am facing, you are greater than the pain I am feeling and I truly can do all things with you by my side strengthening me.
When others are throwing hatred and lies at me, things that have no other intent but to hurt me, help me to remember that you alone have the strength I need to stand strong.
Help me to see that emotions lie, it doesn’t matter what I am feeling, you alone are truth. My God, you truly are an awesome God, you are an all-weather God. Thank you for helping me hold on.
Dottie

Let Go and Let God

Let Go and Let God
The research has been done, the decision has been made, now what?
I begin the process of letting go, or perhaps the correct term is, Let Go and Let God. It’s not like things are not going to go God’s way anyway, but to Let go and let God is to make things easier for me along the way. Maybe to” let go and let God” is God’s way of strengthening his bond with me?
To” let go and let God “requires participation from me despite what it sounds like. It requires surrender, total reliance on God, trusting God, being still while we let God fight our fights, and it requires obedience.
I rest in the fact that letting go and letting God is an act of humility and is actually the path to authentic freedom.
Letting go is to admit to my Father that I am not in control, He is.
Letting God is choosing to trust God to do what He says He will.
Romans 8:31 seems to fit this situation quite nicely. “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
Meditating on the phrase “Let Go and Let God” it seems that this should be more than a one-time quest, it should be a way of life.

DottieImage

Hard Decisions

The joy of the season, the smiles and giggles of the kids, the bright lights and twinkling stars, children’s giggles and animated excitement are evident in our school these days. The Christmas spirit is in high gear as the calendar speeds towards the 25th. It is a holly, jolly Christmas.

Life seems to be centered on the holiday but behind the scenes the program business is still rolling along, tough decisions are being made, business must go on even during the holidays. In my job as in every other part of my life, I try to do the right thing, even if the right thing is the hardest thing.

When you are the one in charge of making the tough choices you have to have a clear goal and realize that in any given situation where you have to make a tough decision, there are lots of “easy answers” and one very difficult, albeit, right choice.

There is no question as to what the outcome has to be, no question at all, but that does not change the fact that it will be hard, painful, challenging and scary.

Sometimes the reasoning, research, guidance and prayer that went into hard decisions are not obvious to those the decision affects. That in turn results in hard feelings (no matter how you try to explain), harsh words and hurt feelings are common reactions in situations like this.

So how do you walk through the tough choices? Well for me, I ask myself these questions. The first question I ask myself is, “How do I make this decision from a Christian perspective” for me, the easy answer to that is…………………..to make my decisions from a Christian perspective. Really.

I am called to make all decisions, in connection with my Lord Jesus Christ, in total dependence on Him, with a humble attitude, a courageous attitude and joy in my heart that He is ready and available to help me.

I took the Proverbs scripture (11:14) seriously and I covered the decision in prayer. God made me a promise, ask and it will be given, so I ask.

#1 Pray

#2 Ask myself the following questions, will this be spiritually profitable, will it glorify God, is it fair, have I done my research, is this right decision for my program, have I looked at all sides, have I taken emotion and personal desires out of it?

#3 Pray

#4 Realize that not everyone around me is going to think the same way I do and not be surprised, hurt or angered by it. There could be several reasons for this. They have not done the working through the problem process I have done, they are emotionally invested, they have blinders on, they don’t see the full picture, others make just as big sacrifices and the hardships are not just one sided, well just lots and lots of reasons.

#5, Just do it.

Listing pros and cons is always a good thing, on the surface at least, but sometimes it can be a little bit like comparing apples to Christmas trees and you can get more confused than ever. I try to stick to researchable facts that can be measured and are justifiable.

I want to do the right thing, I want to please everyone and all sides, I want no hard feelings, no angry words and a positive transition. I am finding that is impossible, we are human, I have no control over the actions of others, then there is Murphy’s Law, which comes into play at the most inopportune times.

But once again I go back to what I said earlier, the right decisions are not always the easiest decisions and doing the will of God is not necessarily the easy answer, but that doesn’t mean it is not the right answer.

The bottom line is I have faith in the process used to make tough choices and am willing to stand behind tough decisions and won’t cave to peer pressure. I know that I didn’t make uninformed decisions but more importantly I had the very best guidance available to me and I utilitzed it. Thank you God, for being my wisdom, my guidance, my biggest cheerleader and my comfort when the “leader” seat got/gets hot. I stand in the wings of God’s Greatness.

So after I have achieved #’s 1,2,3 and 4. I move to #5 and leave the rest to God.

I have come to realize that often, doing the right thing doesn’t mean others will love you for it but others opinions do not alter the fact that the right thing is the right thing.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NLT).

DottieImage

Who was this Child?

 Have you ever really stopped to think about what happened that night in the stable? I mean, really thought about it?

Who was this child who lay in the manger?               

Though all children are precious, this wasn’t any child. The realities of who this child was are quite breathtaking actually.

The child in the manger in Bethlehem was God  and he was man.  He was both the creator of our universe and He was God’s begotten son. This baby was an expression of the love our Father has for us. He was God’s master craftsman, He was grace and truth and beloved Son.

In short, that baby in the manger was the Light for a dark world.

Don’t think God loves you? Can there really be any doubt? God gave his very best to us who are nothing more than sinners of the worst kind. If you look at the gift of the Son, you will see the Father.

God gave me this gift, not  in spite of who I am, (and this is the part that makes me breathless) he gave me the gift of His Son, because of who I am. How cool is that. There was nothing greater He could have handed down to me. He sent this baby because He loves me.

This is not some celebrated fable, not some big screen fantasy. This is the real deal. Mary and Joseph were real people who walked upon this earth. The baby in the manger was God. I don’t think that it is possible to really know Jesus or to gain a meaningful relationship if we do not understand that He was real, He is real and He will always be real.

God gave His Son to us and for us. There is no greater gift.

DottieImageImage

Is Christmas to commercialized?

Is Christmas to commercialized? I have mixed feelings on this subject but I do believe commercialism is in fact running rampant,   I also believe  that we have, at least to a certain extent, caused it by our own need to seek the perfect Christmas experience. We try to fill the perfect Christmas experience with Christmas glitter and glam instead of filling it with the one the holiday signifies.

I have  heard it said hundreds of times, Christmas is to commercialized, how we can’t believe that Christmas stuff is out in early October and that we have forgotten the reason for the season. However, that is usually uttered as we are rushing out the door to Black Friday or are hitting the stores with our Christmas lists in hand. We think Christmas has to be perfect and we contribute to said commercialism in our search for perfection.

We all long for the perfect Christmas. Maybe it is that longing that drives us to contribute to the commercialism that abounds this time of year. We go in search of the perfect Christmas tree, the perfectly cooked perfect meal, the perfect decorations.

I am even guilty of trying to make my dogs the perfectly outfitted canine Santa and Mrs Clause decorations, albeit decorations  that run around the house tearing up the other decorations.

I think I can be comfortable with a “less perfect” Christmas where there is more focus on the important details. The fact is this is a celebration to honor our King but as long as God knows I am taking the time to honor Him, He does not require perfection.

I can get a tree that is beautiful to me because of the ornaments made long ago by three very proud little boys, but it might not  be beautiful to anyone else.

I don’t have to spend all day cooking if I choose not to, a meal in a restaurant or a purchased meal will do just fine.

The cookies don’t have to be homemade and decorated, there is a bakery downtown that does a fine imitation.

What I am trying to say, in my longwinded way, is of course we all want the perfect Christmas experience and that contributes to the commercialism frenzy. The bottom line is however, that we can make Christmas whatever we need it to be, as long as what we need it to be centers on Christ.

Christmas is all about a humble Savior born in a barn, His parents were two very young adults that waded through a pregnancy that made her look dishonorable, Joseph thought about abandoning the whole situation , Jesus first bed was cold and hard, his first  clothes were rags, from all appearances it was just a baby in a barn.

It all screams imperfection,

……………………………. yet He still managed to rescue humanity.

He rescued me.

DottieImage