The Condition Of Your Christian Condition

How’s your heart?

Are you stumbling block for someone else.
I don’t think there is one Christian who, if asked, would say they were a stumbling block to another. We all think of ourselves as encouragers of Christ. 
If we were honest with ourselves however, we would have to admit that there are times that we put what we want before what God wants us to do. Ok, I can hear the “Oh not me, I would never do that” shouts. But think about it. 

A stumbling block does not necessarily have to be a huge cement block sitting conspicuously in the middle of the sidewalk. Nor does a stumbling block have to be for people seeking Christ. You can be a stumbling block for believers or non believers. Both have consequences. 
It can be as simple as differing opinions on a book, music or a movie. If you disagree about a controversial movie,book or music billed as Christian, you see it as pure evil meant to deceive people and someone else sees it completely differently and when asked about the movie you state your case but flatly refuse to hear why they see it differently, you are a stumbling block. But more than that you leave them feeling as if you are judgemental and unbending on your opinions and their opinion is not worthy of being heard. They might walk away feeling like Christianity isn’t all it is billed to be. 
Your opinion may certainly be the right opinion but if you take away another’s right to voice their opinion you lose the opportunity to engage in a meaningful conversation and your lose the possibility of gaining a life for Christ. 
It can be as simple as becoming so focused on making the almighty buck, that we offend others with our zeal for selling just one more car, one more insurance policy or one more whatever it is we are selling and we don’t even give a thought to how it appears to others. 

It can make the person we are dealing with, who knows you are a Christian think that if this is what Christianity looks like, I don’t want any part of it and they come away with a bad taste in their mouth for Christianity. 
It can be as simple as offering an apology and instead of stopping at I’m sorry you follow that with reasons why it wasn’t your fault. That isn’t an apology at all. It is simply manipulation. 
The things we do consciously or unconsciously can make a difference to others rather we realize it or not. If we are seeking to make ourselves feel good rather than going about our business in a way that is pleasing to God, the chances are at least once in awhile, we are that stumbling block. We often don’t know if those we encounter in our daily lives are seeking Christ or not. If they see us engaging in behavior that although not blatantly offensive, makes them think twice about what Christianity is and what Christianity is not, maybe we should be looking a little more closely at what we are doing and how we are doing it. 
We may not even be aware how others perceive what we do. We may not have any idea that what we are doing can be coloring how others look at Christianity and ultimately Jesus. We are certainly not doing anything on purpose that we think would hurt how others see the Christian life. But, It happens nonetheless. We get complacent, we think that our opinions are the right opinions, we forget that others are watching us. You name it I have probably done it! 
As long as the Bible doesn’t forbid it, we are free to enjoy life. However, our freedom to enjoy all that God has given us must always be tempered with love and concern for those around us. 
I don’t think many of us wake up thinking “I will go out and be a stumbling block today”, take the time to make sure we don’t advertantly do just that. 
I am going to close with a quote I read on the internet and that I love. 
“Love always triumphs over liberty. Unity always triumphs over personal rights.” 
1 Corinthians 8:9

9 Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak.

Dottie

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Fake News

Fake news, we have all heard the term. It is everywhere.The trouble is that when you hear something often enough, it becomes gospel truth. I love the quote “A lie can fly half way around the world while the truth is still putting on its boots.”Lies certainly do fly quickly in the modern world of the internet and social media. The trouble is that fake news spreads like a contagious illness regardless of the truthfulness of the content.

I think that Christians are just a susceptible to fake news as anyone else. There are many false doctrines out there that are taken as gospel truth. This can get dangerous very quickly as it is a proven fact that we tend to pay attention to beliefs that we already hold. We seek people who hold like minded beliefs. Even when new information is presented that contradicts the beliefs that we are holding, we resist that information and double down on proving we are right instead of searching for the real truth.

This should concern us for a couple of reasons. People usually practice resistance to anything that goes against what they currently believe are much less likely to listen to what we have to share. Realize that those we are to share with are often taking in what we are sharing with a doubting heart.

 Second, we have to make darn sure that the news we are sharing is not fake news.

When it comes to fake news versus the truth of God, we have an enemy that is a master deceiver. Satan is the ultimate liar and the father of all lies. Make no mistake, every false religion, every cult, every misguided philosophy and every thought that is opposed to God, is authored by Satan himself.

 Satan has but one goal, to destroy that which is of God..

 

Our message should be about the faith and hope we have in Jesus Christ. Our message should proclaim the great love our Savior has for us.

Just as we are working to share the good news of what Jesus did for us, Satan is working to spread fake news.

We must become unstoppable crusaders for the truth. God is the source of all truth. God is our foundation in a world run afoul with the lies of Satan.

This means we go the extra mile and we must spent as much time communing with God and in the Word of God as it takes to make sure we know the news we are championing is based on true Godly foundations.

The real truth, the absolute truth of God must be boldly proclaimed and preached by us, His crusaders.

 Lets get out there and spread some Good News!


Dottie

Stripping Away The Dirt

Stripping away the dirt.When things get stressful I head to my workroom and start refurbishing something. The piece of furniture that diverted my attention this time was an antique table that was in my grandparents house when I was growing up.

If only the table could talk. It would tell of family dinners, and weekly card games with the neighbors. It served as a solid surface to write letters to family members spread across the country. When us kids were visiting, the table would be a work surface for cookie baking, holiday crafts and any number of other things my grandparents could think of to keep us kids busy.

I cleaned decades of caked on dirt off that table. I sanded layers and layers of built up varnish and polyurethane coating that was applied to protect the table from us kids. At long last the table stood naked and completely void of any covering. It stood in the middle of the room looking just as it had when the carpenter built it all those years ago.

I then started with bare wood to make the old table something new and beautiful.

Isn’t that what God does for us. He strips off the built up gunk we have covered ourselves with over the years. He sands and chisels the stuff that has grown hard and is hidden in hard to reach places.He works slowly and methodically until we stand before Him as He created us.

He makes us new, whole and spotless.

I don’t know about you but I am thankful that God loves me enough to refurbish me and bring me back to perfection!

Dottie

…………and so I ride

Renew your mind, avoid the hole

“I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in
I am lost……..I am helpless
It isn’t my fault
It takes forever to find a way out.

I walk down the same street
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I pretend I don’t see it
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place
But, it isn’t my fault
It still takes me a long time to get out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in. It is a habit.
My eyes are open. I know where I am.
It is my own fault. I get out immediately.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

I walk down another street.

Portia Nelson

 

I love this poem. Read the poem carefully. Read it as it was written, five different chapters of your life. It is the story of your life, it is the story of my life.

In life chapter 1 we are wandering, lost, alone and helpless. There is a hole we have fallen into through no particular fault of our own. It may be a death, a job loss, a betrayal, any one of a number of unexpected pitfalls that life throws our way. We fall into the hole and there is nothing we can do about it. Our particular hole represents anger, anxiety, worry, grief, etc. It is the darkest hole you have ever experienced, you see no way out and you are there through no fault of your own. This sucks.

You climb out the same way, on your own, with your own sweat and tears. It takes you forever. You are cussing yourself and hitting yourself with negative, critical and judgmental thoughts right and left. You are thinking to yourself how stupid you are and therefore you are right where you deserve to be.

You quickly learn that doing the climbing on your own is hard work and affords little upward motion. Day after day you toil but you stay in the hole much longer than you anticipated. It occurs to you (barely) that God may be able to help you climb a little faster but the job of climbing out takes precedence over anything else and soon the thought of God evaporates in your sweat.
In life chapter 2 you find yourself on the same street with the same hole. You are fully aware the hole is there yet you walk straight towards it. Before long you drop right back into where you were not so long ago. The hole is still deep, dark and scary, it hasn’t changed a bit it is exactly the way you left it. It is becoming familiar.
You are living the same story you always have, you are expecting different results but because your pattern is the same, the results are the same. You fall in the hole yet again. You are thinking to yourself if the other people in your life would grow up and learn to act right your life would go a whole lot better. So now you draw up a plan to fix those around you. It could be that you even enlist God’s help. If God can’t fix your husband, your family, your boss, your friends, (you know, those people who make you fall into the hole) then who can. When God fixes all those people, you can avoid the hole. It really is as simple as that. You are convinced that someone else pushed you over the edge to the hole.

Life chapter 3 finds you on the same familiar street and the deep, scary hole is still where it has always been. It is almost a weird sort of comfort to see it because you count on it to always be where you left it. Yet once again, even though you know the hole intimately, you know if you take the next step you will tumble downward, you do it anyway.

You know you did it and you know you are totally responsible but because of your past experience with your hole, you climb out immediately. Having fallen into this same hole so many times you are awakening to the source of the problem. Maybe it’s time to find a different route, after all it is your fault you are there. Repeating the same mistakes over and over will have the same results over and over. Having come to this conclusion you can begin to change. God is reminding you that He is there to help you with your “hole” problem. There is a nagging in the back of your mind that if you seek Him before you begin your trip down the street with the hole, maybe He will come up with a different answer to the same problem that has always plagued you? As you are jumping (literally) out of the hole this time, you are coming up with a goal to include Him in your “hole” plan. You come to the realization that every trip into the hole has increased your need to ask for God’s help. Yes it was in slow increments because you have always been a slow learner. However, every time you asked Him, He helped you. When you asked Him for little He helped a little. What would happen if you asked Him for a complete solution to this nagging “hole” problem? After emerging from the brief stint in the hole, you head home to open that Bible that is……….somewhere in your house.

Life chapter 4 Is walking down the same street, coming upon the same hole but avoiding the hole. It is a whole new exhilarating experience. You saw it coming, knew what to anticipate from past experiences and you simply walked around it. A talk with God has given you a change of course which gives you a whole new set of possibilities. There really is something to this God thing. He is here to help you dig out of the hole, you are now beginning to have experience of that. But the amazing thing you are learning, is He is here to help you not only climb out of the hole, but to conquer the hole. God has shown you alternate routes and He has given you the gift of the knowledge that you are free to take them.
Life chapter 5 is your new day. It is the day you finally change streets. Life chapter 5 is the marvelous renewing of your mind. It is the time you realize that there will be holes in the street but you now have the courage to walk a different path, around the hole. You know you can because you trust He will do as He promised and give you exactly what you need to take the detour.
Renewing of the mind is happening. When you mind is changed by God, your life changes and the hole no longer consumers you. So when someone asks you to help them climb out of their hole, say, here, let me show you what worked for me!

Dottie
…………and so I rideimage

Unconditional love, even when I am unlovable

God loves us not in spite of who we are but because of who we are!
God loves us in spite of what we do.
We hear that and have trouble believing it. We know we are not lovable all the time and we know that our hearts are in deplorable condition. We feel we do not deserve His love even for a little while.
Our narrow earthly vision has trouble coming to grips with the fact that God doesn’t just love us once in awhile and only when we are good. He loves us every single minute of every single day. How do you visualize a love like the one God offers us? What does infinite, unconditional, enduring, sacrificial, and perfect love look like?
We are used to a love that is attached to some sort of condition. Sadly, we both give love and receive love conditionally. It is human nature. It is your nature, it is my nature.
It is easy to believe that we are not good enough to be on the receiving end of such a love. We are used to thinking of ourselves as not worthy, we feel we have blown any chance we have for a love like that.
That is not however, how God works.
God loves us freely- Hosea 14:4. Imagine that for a moment. Don’t skim over the real meaning of a love that is given freely.
God has desires, plans and intentions for us specifically that are for our good benefit. Jeremiah 29:11. I don’t know about you but just knowing that the Creator of the Universe has desires, plans and intentions specifically for me gives me goosebumps.
Psalm 139- Read it and bask in the comfort and knowledge that you have a keeper who has thought of everything. Your keeper will stop at nothing to show you He loves you and is there for you.
God knows when we are feeling whatever we are feeling. If we are in pain, He feels it also. He longs for us to come to Him with our inner most thoughts.
There is no where we could go and no one who gives us the deal God does. He loves us completely for the unique and specific people we are. He loves us with a love that is whole, deep and completely honest in spite of and completely apart from anything we have done or accomplished.
Keep seeking God until you see Him for who He really is. Although God does love you, He is so much more than that. God is love. Love is His nature and His very essence. Who else do you know that lavishes that kind of love on undeserving people?
Seek Him, Find Him, Keep Him. You will not be sorry.
Dottie

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Prayer of Restoration

This is a hard conversation to have. Bad things do happen to good people. When things happen that scar the soul and deplete hope, we turn to coping mechanisms just to get through the day. Those actions may be misunderstood and cruelly criticized. I guess what I am trying to say is we don’t know what anyone else has or is walking through. We don’t know from where a person is coming. Remember that there is usually a rational reason somewhere in the picture for that irrational action. These kinds of things can cause insecurities, a feeling of unworthiness, self-doubt and self-hatred. Be kind at all times because a person may be struggling with something that you know nothing about and the behaviors you see being displayed are the only way that person has to get through life.
For those who struggle silently, I offer the following.

Prayer of Restoration

Lord God, I tried to play the game of life by the rules life demands, but I was soundly defeated. I am tired, I have come to the conclusion that I cannot win. Lord I want to be delivered from the stress and strife of playing the game by others rules and not those you set forth. I want to be free. Help me to be free.
While trying to make it from point A to point B in life, you come to think that you are alone and if you want something done, it has to be you that does it. When you try to get through life in a manner that you believe is necessary to you at that moment, it seems to upset someone because you didn’t do it their way or it was taken differently than you intended. Father help me quench the desire for any game playing and manipulation without resigning myself to a life of misuse. Help me to allow you Father, to do for me what I cannot do for myself. Help me to look to you for my answers and not to man.

You formed my inward parts and knitted me together in my mothers womb. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. You saw me before I was formed, my days were written in your book. Your breathe gave me life. I am your workmanship, created in your image. Help me to hold fast to who you created me to be and to realize that you have given me a spirit of power, love and self-discipline. Help me to realize that I no longer have to surrender to fears and insecurities, instead I can give them to you. Help me to quit using other people as mirrors and let me see myself as you see me. Engrave upon my heart that you knew what you were doing when you formed me and you are still working for me and in me. Write upon my heart the fact that you love me for who I am not in spite of who I am.

Remind me Lord that the timing of all things belongs solely to you. Help me to remember that the worlds ideal time table for the healing of emotional scars is not the timetable you are giving me. You will help me heal the scars burned deep in my soul in your time and your way. It may not make sense to one single person on this earth,but keep reminding me that for me, the timing and method is perfect. Deliver me from caring that others do not understand where you are leading me and help me to ignore the scalding criticism of others and listen solely to what you are telling me to do. Give me the courage to stay the course with you. You are the only one with the map to the destination where we are heading.

Deliver me Father from thinking that I am the only one who can solve my problems. Help me to come to you with the things that are dragging me down. Remind me that there is nothing I can ask from you that you cannot give me. Deliver me from making an idol of myself and remind me to keep my eyes on you and look to you before I look to the world.
You long for me to live free from any ambitions that prove unhealthy. Supply me the courage Father to live a life filled with worthy ambitions, the ones that draw me closer to you. Help me to eliminate my need to hide from you and give me the courage to come before you with total transparency. Give me the kind of courage that propels me to you just as I am. Help me to forgive those who don’t understand my world. Remind me that you love me even though you know every single stupid and ridiculous thing I have said or done. You don’t look at my failures, you look at my needy heart. Help me to remember that the world does not.

Father not only do I ask you to reveal yourself to me clearly and consistently, but I ask you to reveal to me all the parts that make me, uniquely and totally me. Give to me eyes to see the areas I need to work on and where I have created my own insecurities and troubles. Turn me from any pursuit of self worship and control. Let me see the world as an opportunity to show others who you are and not as an arena of competition. Forgive me Father when I fail to appreciate the person who you have made me to be.

Free me from the chains of self protection that I have clung to but have only proved to keep me tightly bound.. Show me when the insecurity and fear I am feeling are of my own making. Show me Father the rational beginnings to my irrational fears so that together we can conquer them.

Help me to avoid believing in any man more than I believe in you. If I have been hurt, let down , failed in any way, help me to see them who have injured me as you see them, as broken and needy people who need you as much as I do.
Help me to realize Lord that Satan will keep me in bondage by convincing me that I will never be ok I am not and can never be worthy and that there is no hope. Help me to see Satan’s true colors. Make a miracle of me. Show Satan to be the liar he is.

Deliver me oh God, make a miracle of me. When I feel the panic rising in my soul, empower me to trust you. Help me to see that just because my circumstances have changed and I feel the sand shifting beneath my feet, I have not lost you, you do not change, you are forever there for me.
Restore to me Lord, all that my insecurities have stolen from me. Cover me with Your strength and allow me to show the world I am firmly grounded in and clothed with your dignity. Help me to quit surrendering my strength, dignity, passion and worthiness. Let me live solely for you and follow your path in my healing. .

Dottie

Don’t Stifle the Holy Spirit

ABC’s of Faith
1 Thes 5:19
Don’t stifle the spirit.
The Holy Spirit is a fire burning inside each of us. That fire can be a steady, bright guiding beacon or a soft glow in a dimly lit room. The fire can also be stifled into an unsteady flickering and inconsistent smolder that ebbs and flows in an unpredictable fashion.

The Holy Spirit wants to articulate himself in all we do. Oftentimes however, we do not allow the Spirit to be seen in what we do with our lives. In fact there are times we douse the fire with water by doing what we know full well is wrong or not doing what we are being prompted to do.

One thing is certain. Normally, a fire is not quenched by accident. When we are camping and it is time to go to bed we take definite steps to make sure the fire is completely out and will not burst into flames during the night. The last thing we want is for a storm to blow in and for the sparks from our fire to blow all over the campground and start other fires outside our fire ring. So we take steps to make sure the fire is completely out.

I am relatively certain it is safe to say that our inner fires go out from neglect or because someone takes the necessary steps to put them out.

How do we put that fire in us out every single day?

This is how.

Disobedience, criticism, sin that we just can’t seem to let go, bitterness, unforgiveness, no compassion, gossip in any form, these things will stifle the Holy Spirit as surely as if we drowned the fire with gallons and gallons of water. As detrimental as those things are, the real dousing of the fire comes when we know we are ignoring God’s call, the real dousing comes with repeated refusals to do anything about these things.

Surely the biggest way to put that inner fire to bed for good is to say NO to God.

We must answer when God calls. But we all know that often the call that God gives is met with a resounding answer from us that goes something like this. Seriously God? Do you know who I am and what I am doing here? You cannot ask me to do this now, I can’t, sorry I am doing too much good where I am, catch me next round, we will talk then.

Without even realizing it we have just lost time, opportunity and possibly even lost life. Life will go on to be sure but in a much more difficult way.

If we answer when God calls and obey, the Spirit’s fire will burn strong in our hearts. It is like adding wood to the campfire and watching it bring light to the surrounding darkness.

The actual fire may be contained in a fire ring but the evidence of your light can be seen in the whole campground of your life and I guarantee you people will be drawn to your light.

So let the sparks of the Holy Spirit fly and watch as those embers drift away and ignite the waiting, watching and listening bystanders at your campfire with the same fire that burns inside us.
Dottie
……………………and so I rideDistant-campfire-Thompson-Nicola-British-Columbia-Canada 12002332_10206656297400053_5005078583630896450_n