Suffering, Perseverance, Character and Hope

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It just doesn’t seem fair to me. Just because we are Christians we have to suffer?

I’m sure you have heard the same question a million different ways.

  • Why is there suffering in the world?
  • Why do bad things happen to good people?
  • Why does the God of love allow bad things to happen to those he claims to love?

Suffering, perseverance, character and hope, there seems to be a grand plan set forth for us.

Suffering by definition is “the state of undergoing pain, distress or hardship”, as most of us know, this is not fun.

Is there more to suffering, what is the Biblical purpose?

  • Builds character
  • Increased awareness of our dependence on God
  • Refine and strengthen us
  • Etc and so forth………..

I think that the bottom line is God uses suffering to break our hearts, to shred them to pieces so that we can continue on the journey that God has set forth for us, realizing this time that we need God on that journey.

Suffering produces perseverance, the King James Version says it produces patience. I like the word perseverance better because I am not known for my patience, but I can be quite diligent at persevering. Some would call it being stubborn I suppose but that is another topic altogether!

The bottom line is the more we practice something the better we get. We pace ourselves and settle in for the long haul. We can rest in the knowledge that God is right there beside us, good times or bad, it doesn’t matter, He is there.

God wants us to persevere through our trials and in the end this builds our character.

When we can do what is right not because it gains us attention, not because it is easy or comfortable, but simply because it is right,

that is character.

I strive to be known as a person of character but not for me or who I am, I want to be known as a person of character for Who I represent, God.

Finally the Bible says that character produces hope and hope does not disappoint. That statement radiated glowing expectation of the most comforting kind to me.

Disappointment is all around us, we disappoint our families, friends, ourselves, or they disappoint us. Nothing it seems, lives up to our expectations and disappointment is rampant in our world.

However, Hope does not disappoint.

I often sell myself short because it is very easy to get caught up in worldly things, I see with an earthly vision instead of a heavenly vision.

I can be so disappointed with life but I guess that is always as the result of sin. I will strive to look forward with the perceptive farsightedness of heaven.

I will hold onto the hope that God has given me because HOPE DOES NOT DISAPPOINT.

Hope is the small light in a dark room.

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Dottie

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A Pocket Knife, A Zippo Lighter and a Timex Watch

They were just cheap trinkets really, a pocket knife, a Zippo lighter and a Timex watch but they meant the world to me, they represented a time when life was simple and less painful. Those trinkets were proof that in another lifetime, Dad lived a normal life. As much as I love him and try to join him where he is now, the fact is, life is vastly different for our whole family because of Alzheimer’s. 

This disease slowly robs us of those we love, a little at a time, painful inch by painful inch. It is a painful, powerful and devastating disease that alters the lives of the whole family. 

However no matter what is going on presently, we have memories for a reason, to help us as we journey into the future with Alzheimer’s . 

My Dad has impressed me in many ways some from my childhood, some from his presence in my children’s lives and some I have yet to fully discover. 

Those trinkets the knife, the lighter and the watch were more than cheap mementos, they were proof that Wayne Henry Raasch walked as a stong husband, father and grandfather. 

He lived a rich and full life, he had a wife who adored him, children who looked at him as a hero and grandchildren who found calm reassurance in his presence. in fact, wen still have Dad but he can no longer fullfill those roles. We mourn Dad though he still lives. Or it may be better to look at it as we mourne the Dad of our past while he still lives. 

He is still an everyday part of our lives, we still gravitate to where he is. He is still a force to be reckoned with. He can whip out one liners like no other, but in the next moment we are sharing a conversation with him while he is watching a cow (who thinks he is a reindeer) on the roof of the house next door. He seems to be enjoying whatever it is he is seeing, so we settle in and enjoy the cow/reindeer also. It is not an ideal place to be, nor a particularly comfortable place but we take comfort in the fact that we at least still have that place. 

So while he has no memory of the lighter, knife and watch he carried every day………………..i remember and I thank my great God for those memories. 

I love you Dad,

Dottie

A Moment of Truth………….or Not

Sometimes discovering the truth about yourself hurts, ask me.

 

In Titus 1:15-16 it says that “to the pure all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. Both their minds and conscious are corrupted. THEY CLAIM TO KNOW GOD BUT BY THEIR ACTIONS THEY DENY HIM.

 

Something struck me to the core this morning in my study and that was the quote “we should be shepherds of the word not gladiators of the word”. Let me give you a couple definitions and you will understand where I am going with this.

 

To shepherd= to guard and to tend

A gladiator = a captive or a slave, trained to entertain the public.

 

I guess that says it about as plain as it can be said. How many of us claim to know God but by our actions deny Him? Are we shepherding and tending to the word of God and the advice it gives us for Godly living, or are we captives to Satan and only putting on a show about our walk with God?

 

Do we pray the appropriate prayer, confess with our mouths that Jesus is our Lord, believe in our heart that Jesus was raised from the dead and then waited for things to change?

 

Are we serving ourselves under the pretense of religion? Are we saying one thing and doing another?

 

I think typically we change what we do and how we act, a little.

We try to stop cursing, we follow the rules MORE closely and stay away from “bad things” for the most part. Is that enough or are we still the same old people we have always been? Is the personal motto still “Looking our for #1”  or the always popular“do what makes you happy or feel good”.

 

We are rather good at talking the talk but not as good at walking the walk.

 

A pure heart requires strength, faithfulness and God’s approval.  A pure heart requires we put pride, arrogance, manipulation and all things that tear down instead of buildup, out of our lives.

 

Do we really have a clue what living life with Jesus as Lord of our life is like? We have tons of excuses, I hate to read, I can’t sit still for a whole hour for church, I don’t have time to devote to one more thing in my life, I’m doing fine………….etc, the excuses can go on forever.

 

The thing is, if we dig to deep into the God thing, we might actually have to give up some things we want. It is much easier to claim God rather than follow Him. Oh how that hurts to admit.

 

Truth isn’t what we happen to believe at the moment, truth is when we are “in Christ, we are a new creation; the old has gone and the new has come.

Truth is “This is love for God: to obey His commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world, even our faith.”

 

Be shepherds of the words and not simply gladiators.

 

Dottie

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True Wisdom, are we capable?

How do you define true wisdom?

Wisdom is an English word and is derived from an old Anglo-Saxon word that means “to see”. It is a moral quality and not necessarily an indicator of intelligence.

In James  it says true wisdom is “believing God, doing what God’s word tells us and living a righteous life. I like these scriptures because it gives us a living description rather than just a definition. It is pretty clear to me that for wisdom to be in the truest form, it needs to be based on the word of God.

Earthly wisdom is based on vanity, ours. Earthly wisdom is self-righteous and self-serving and quite often does not serve us well. While true wisdom comes from God, earthly wisdom comes from Satan.

Psalm 111:10 says that “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.”

Live Well-Live Wisely- Live Humbly

These scriptures (James 3: 13-18) come immediately after James talks to us about our words and how they affect us, our lives and the lives of  others. There is so much to learn here.

If we couple speaking in a manner that is pleasing to God with living our lives in a manner that is pleasing to God, we win!

Actually, it seems that one begets the other.

Ambition,  boasting, twisting truth to make yourself look good and look wise isn’t wisdom (except the earthly kind) in fact it can be quite dumb, hurtful, painful, and  embarrassing when the truth comes out, and it always does.

How often do we embellish the truth to make ourselves look better, how often do we submit to blind ambition with no worry about how it affects anyone else?  As long as we achieve our goal, we can usually justify it, at least to ourselves. How often do we talk ourselves up and talk our abilities up knowing full well it is not the truth? Quite often I suspect.

Real wisdom comes from God only, it is doing deeds with the humility that wisdom brings, it is getting along with others, it is being gentle, reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings. Wisdom from heaven is pure, peaceful, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and produces good fruit.

We are bombarded by philosophies and methodologies of the world, in an attempt to divert our attention from the true wisdom we find in God’s word.

The scripture also says true wisdom in not hot one  day, cold the next and not two faced. Ouch point taken. Steady, strong and true describes the wisdom born of God.

Oh my how I need to practice this at work at home, in my marriage, with my children, friends and acquaintances. Every word I speak, every move I make in this life should be measured against the standard of true wisdom.

Am I going to measure up every time? Not a chance, but how nice and reassuring is it that I have a loving God that has given me a living description and boundaries and goals to live up to and to help me do it.

True wisdom I believe, is measured by the depth of a person’s character.

Wisdom born of God is rich and infinite, it does not need supplemented by any wisdom we can find in the world.

True wisdom begins, lives in and ends with God. Anchor your wisdom there.

DottieImage

Why Me God?

Did you ever wonder why in the world God puts us through some of the stuff He does? I mean for crying out loud, enough already. Just when you get one thing dealt with, BAM, here comes something else……………or so it seems. Sometimes it seems senseless and well, senseless. Sometimes it appears that God sits around thinking up new ways to make us stumble and hurt, but wait a minute that is how humans work, not God.

I started  with just a few scriptures I found that describe how God loves me(and you). He loves me deeply and completely (Rom 8:38-39, He has totally and completely forgiven me (1John 2:12), when He sees me he sees the righteousness of Jesus( 2 Cor 5:21), I mean the world to Him John 3:16, He thinks that I am beautiful ( Song of Solomon 4:1), He is committed to my restoration (Rom 8:29),I am not alone, not now, not then, not ever (Heb 13:5)

Does that sound like He is out to harm us and that He hates us so much He will go to all lengths to hurt us?  No it doesn’t but why then is the world like it is, why is living so darn hard sometimes, why do our hearts groan under the pain in our lives?

I know that we all have wondered at times why God allows suffering, tragedy, heartache and evil. Usually it is just a passing thought, until it hits us smack in the face; it becomes personal when it is us suffering or a loved one. I don’t know why it surprises us, Jesus told us (John 16:33) that we would suffer, not that we might suffer but that we would.

I also wonder how much of our suffering do we bring about ourselves. Do we really think that our attitudes of selfishness, manipulation, arrogance, gluttony, irresponsibility and self-centeredness (and a lot of other things) will have no effect on what happens in our world?

Is it true that some (or a lot) of our suffering comes from our own sinful actions? It seems likely that is more than a slight possibility.

It seems to me as I research and pray upon this that God didn’t create evil and suffering but rather He created the potential for that to happen. When we choose sin and walk away from God things start to happen and some of them are not pleasant. The consequences can be harsh when you have let your life-boat drift away.

This is probably a very simplistic way to look at it but we walk away from the good (God), and this results in some influx of bad into our lives and then we have the audacity to blame God. Really? What did we think was going to happen when we show God the door?

Actually as I am sitting here thinking about it, this has been happening since the time of Eve and the infamous apple episode hasn’t it?

I don’t know why He allows suffering I just know He does. We will know some day but right now we are looking at it through human eyes and it makes no sense to us, it can’t, we don’t have the wisdom, perspective or the complete picture that God has. We are looking at things from the earthly side.

We know without a doubt that God has the power to wipe suffering out forever. The question is why doesn’t he do it? Well I am not sure but it seems the reason might be that the story isn’t finished yet; we are only in the middle of the story. Just because He hasn’t done it yet doesn’t mean He won’t do it, patience seems to be in order here. I think the time is coming when all suffering will cease, when there will be eternal serenity, calm, and comfort and it will be glorious.

In the meantime I am so thankful that I have Jesus here to help me through the suffering. It makes me think of my brother actually. He drives an 18-wheeler and when the weather is foggy it is not unusual for vehicles to get behind him and follow what they can see clearly, his tail lights. He has a huge advantage in that he has fog lights and can see quite well in the fog and can travel in safety with confidence. So it is with God leading us through the fog of our lives, follow the bright light, it will lead to safety.

Take the tough times, learn from them, and follow the light shining through the fog you will get where you need to be eventually.

DottieImage

If You Have To Ask, You Wouldn’t Understand.

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I don’t mean to sound condescending, I really don’t but I am a woman who rides a motorcycle. Either you “get it” or you don’t.

In all honesty I wish I could give all women what I have found on a bike. My baby is a 2011 Harley Davidson Heritage Classic and her name is Glitter. It might sound like I worship Glitter but I don’t, I firmly believe God have me the wisdom, courage, and tenacity to climb on and ……………..ride.

Once I did,  I was hooked, I won’t ever look back and I will ride as long as I can. I am a member of Christian Motorcyclists Association,  Motor Maids, National HOG(Harley Owners Group) and am thinking of starting a Christian Riding Club for women in my town. I write for a motorcycle magazine so I ride a lot of miles in a year. I love to ride, I love to write, seems like a good mix to me!

I have to say that I am most partial to my CMA membership, I am proud to wear those yellow patches that identify me one with Christ, that let others know I am out there working to further the Kingdom. I cannot tell you the times we have been honked at or sat at a stop light, a window will come down and we hear, praise God brother and sister!

I have ridden all over the state of WY, the Black Hills Scenic Byway, The BearTooth Highway (I got my a** and my bike over the pass!), the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway, the Bighorn Scenic Byway, the Cloud Peak Scenic Byway, the Snowy Range Scenic Byway, the Wind River Scenic Byway, the Needles Highway and Iron Mountain Road in the South Dakota Black Hills. We have ridden Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California(Highway 101 was pure heaven), and Nebraska.

I have learned a whole lot since I started riding.

  • Look where you want to go because if you are gawking at the gorgeous scenery around you. Look long enough at the side of the road and you end up there.
  • Assume you are invisible because to a lot of cagers (people in cars) you are!
  • Ride your own ride, ride your own skill level. The consequences could be deadly.
  • If it looks slippery it probably is,beware!
  • Learn to swerve, you bike will follow your eyes, so look at the way around, not at the dead skunk you are trying to avoid.
  • Potty before you leave, bumpy roads and a full bladder are no fun
  • Money tends to disappear fast when shopping for motorcycle accessories.
  • Parking lots are good places to practice those stupid U-Turns the DOT insists you know how to do.
  • People carry dumb stuff in the back of their pickup trucks and it inevitably blows out when I am riding behind them.
  • Rain gear is a must have but you have to put it on for it to do any good.
  • Wild turkeys and deer travel in suicidal packs
  • There are always people watching lame attempts to park the dang bike
  • Bees can sting you when they slam into you at a high rate of speed. At least they have the decency to die after they sting you.
  • Get your key out of your  jeans before you put on your chaps, jacket and gloves.
  • Get over your hair, nothing works.
  • When getting gas, make sure the kickstand is really down!
  • It isn’t just transportation, riding a motorcycle is fun, a hobby, a passion and in my case, a lifestyle.

Those were the lessons on the road, the other lessons came about inside of me as it does I imagine for most women who ride.

What does gender have to do with riding a bike, we all ride in the same wind right? Well I’m not sure but I know that even though we ride together a lot, we have totally different experiences when we do.

I think it has to do with the nature of being a woman. I know that now I think of my bike as an extension of my personality, but it took me awhile to grow into it.

Women start riding for many reasons but the first word most women use to describe the experience is empowerment. This is closely followed by excitement, freedom, self-reliance and maybe even a little enlightenment.

By its definition empowerment is the process of increasing your capacity to make choices and transform those choices into desired actions and outcomes. Riding makes a difference in my life, it is liberating and makes me get out of my self-imposed box. Riding helps me define certain truths.

Women who ride are a special breed of women, we are your wives, your mothers, sisters and aunts. Our roles in life are greatly varied but we share one big thing. We have a love of the open road, we crave the freedom that riding affords and we have found something in the saddle of our bikes that nothing else  with the exception of God,gives us.

It is safe to say that women who ride are exuberant, successful, spiritually inclined, tenacious, risk takers to a certain extent and creative. We are a diverse group but mostly we are a community.

We ride even though we never thought we could, perhaps the hardest (but most rewarding) thing I have ever done was to learn to ride my motorcycle. My bike weighs in somewhere around 850lbs and if she goes down, I need help to pick her up. Parking can be special torture but I am getting better at it. It has a lot to do with the weight of the bike, the slow speed and the fact that hubby picks the darndest places to decide to park.

Where does God fit into this rough and tumble world of motorcycling? Well quite honestly, He is where I am whether I am on a motorcycle or not. My husband and I belong to Christian Motorcyclists Association and are dedicated to our motorcycle ministry and are striving to live the CMA motto, changing the world, one heart at a time in the highways and byways.

God has given me life and given my life a purpose, CMA has given me the support to go out and do the work Godcma-colors edit sent me to do. Riding has given me a place where I belong.

Let’s Try Something New This Year

Isaiah 43:19

For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will  make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

Here we are again, at the start of a new year, a new beginning, a fresh start. I am determined to make this year different, starting with resolutions. I don’t want to make a resolution, follow it for two weeks and go back to the same old stuff that wasn’t working.

There has got to be a better way, there has got to be some great secret to making lasting changes, changes that can transform a life. I am pretty sure  that it does not involve breaking the Rankin bank, buying all the latest, greatest, easiest and “guaranteed” to transform your life gadgets.  I am pretty sure that it also doesn’t mean to focus on one earthly area exclusively and letting all other areas of our lives fall by the wayside.

Don’t get me wrong, we all make resolutions and make them with the best of intentions. But the mistake we make is to try to make those resolutions work under our own power. I know, we can and do get places under our own power………………..but usually only for awhile and only to a certain degree.

How do we know what God has in store for us unless we trust Him enough to give Him the chance to do it?

Maybe a better way to do it would be to make our resolutions and then turn them over to God, tap into the power He can provide to transform us.

It seems like when it comes right down to it, healthy or unhealthy living comes down to desire and the fact our lives revolve around those things we  desire. In fact our desires can get us in a bit of hot water now and again, depending on what it is we are lusting after.

The things we desire come in all shapes and sizes, money, food, alcohol, power, control, career, keeping up  with the jones, having the most, the biggest and the best.

What I failed to realize is that my focus in on the wrong desire. I asked God to give me an all consuming and overwhelming desire to be healthy. Healthy #1 Spiritually #2 Mentally#3 Physically

I truly believe that if I focus my attention 100% on seeking God that the rest will fall into place. It might not fall into place as easily or as quickly  as I want it to but it will fall into place just as God has planned it to.

I need the desire to be more than lukewarm, I don’t want it to be a feeling of “I want to be healthy but I’ll do it my way” We all know how that works out for us. I need this desire to be a powerful desire, a desire that comes from my heart and is governed by and powered through  my Almighty God.

I know I am on a spiritual journey and as with any journey, it is easy to get sidetracked. It is called a rabbit chase in a bible study I attend. But the bottom line is I am tired of compromising and settling for second best, I am tired of not being comfortable in my own skin. I want my spiritual journey to lead me exactly where God wants me to end up, therefore in this spiritual journey I have to make sensible and realistic choices.

I do believe with my whole heart that God has a plan for each of us, a plan of great detail from beginning to end.

I do believe that if our number one desire is for God that the rest will fall into place as it is supposed to and by shifting our focus to God, we can have all we desire.

Happy 2014 my friends!

Dottie

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